Sunday, July 10, 2011

Abe to me: Mommy, go wash your face.





Today was my last Sunday as a single mother in Sacrament meeting. I know I have been a total martyr about the fact that my husband has worked on Sundays for years but finally there is a glorious light at the end of the kid-wrestling-bread missing-fighting-about-wearing-a-belt-and-tie-tunnel. Even with twice as many adults in the process I don't expect to actually be on time for eight o'clock church, but I do expect to have someone to take turns with to take children to the foyer and threaten physical harm. Today was a particularly difficult sacrament meeting for us. Somehow we scored a small padded row in the actual chapel. If you happened to be in this same meeting I was in then sorry if you got pelted with a flying fruit snack or had to hear Abraham announce at full volume that he has to go poo poo potty and then subsequently inform he entire congregation that it was a false alarm and "just farts". My kids turn into crazed monkeys when they are forced to sit in the same seat quietly for over hour and I turn into an angry prison warden. I'm not sure they even know that there are speakers that they are supposed to be listening to. The only time they acknowledge that someone is speaking at the pulpit is when the speaker cries which inevitably prompts my children to wonder very loudly what in the world is wrong with that person. If nothing else I need to teach them to whisper. This year's shift change is nothing short of a blessed family miracle.

I must admit that there was another reason that I wasn't in the best of moods for church today and it has little to do with my primate children and more to do with a very unfortunate run-in I had this week with a bottle of sunless tanner.

I have always been a very vocal opponent of tans in general but especially the fake variety that inevitably make people look like their liver may be on the brink of failure or one of their parents worked at Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. As with any bad decision the logic that was used seems hazy to me now but I remember it having something to do with trying to make my freckles blend in to the rest of my complexion and a theory that surely cosmetic chemistry/technology must have advanced enough in the past decade since I originally tried self tanner with yellow streaky results. I mean, now-a-days they can grow human organs in pitri dishes using stem cells. DNA science has become so mainstream that there is a freeway billboard that says "call 1-800-WHO-DA-DAD". You would think that health science in this world had advanced to the point that they could sell a decent sunless tanner that didn't make a person look like a traffic cone. You'd think that perfecting the fake tan would be top on science's list. It is after all a capitalism driven affair and people will pay big money to look sun-kissed with out the wrinkles, freckles, cancer and Snooki jokes. Turns out that today's self tanners are exactly the same as they were 20 years ago, they just smell a little better. The best part is how you don't see the result until it has developed on your skin hours later. Before I put it on I followed all of the instructions and I diligently exfoliated and sloughed and scrubbed every inch of my body and face. Then I applied evenly and awaited my new exotic look. After a couple of hours I was hiding from even my own children and weighing my options for a lawsuit. I looked dirty. Not just dirty, but orange dirty. like I had been working in a rust mine all day. I thought the pigment would make my freckles blend in more but instead it grabbed hold of the freckles and made them dark dark brown and found a few dry patches and made them look like unfortunate birthmarks. picture Gorbachev as an Oompa Loompa with rampant liver spots. The worst part was that since I had so thoroughly exfoliated before I began, it was all live skin cells that were pigmented and the new color couldn't be scrubbed off. I tried applying makeup to blend it but it took so much makeup to do the job it created a whole new undesired look: Tammy Faye Baker (with an orange cast). I'm usually pretty good at laughing at myself and just facing friends and family with a funny explanation, but I couldn't even have a sense of humor about this.

The decision to show up at church like that was true evidence of my faith. All I could do was hide out and apply mass quantities of Prescription Retinol to get the skin to regenerate. Now I am peeling and flaking and look a little bit like I have leprosy but I am more of a normal color. I'd rather be a leper than pumpkin face any day. From now on I am going to stick with the white look. Some people call it pasty, I prefer to call it porcelain or even pale but either way, I have turned in my notice to Willy Wonka and will embrace my un-exotic fair freckled face.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

consistency has never been my thing

I was blogging like crazy there for a while and then the charger on my computer broke and even though the Mac store would replace it for free it still took me three weeks to get over there and make the exchange. It actually involved multiple attempts wherein I dealt with a "genius" named Kenneth who was super helpful and we bonded about my account history and he promised me the free charger if I brought the old one and told me to just come find him because he'd be working every day and if he weren't there you tell them that Kenneth said I could have a free charger if I turned in the old one. So yesterday I did that and as I made the super long walk from the front of the store to the genius bar at the back scanning for my Kenneth and dismissing non-Kenneths, I got all the way back and had to talk to the guy at the counter. "Kenneth said I can have a free charger"

The color drained from the guys face and his smile disappeared. "Kenneth was in a horrible biking accident. He broke his back and he's paralyzed and may not make it. We don't know much but things are bad and he'll never be back here. " then he scrambled to the shelf and got me my charger and sent me on my way. I felt so bad for my poor Mac genius Kenneth. I don't even know him but he was helpful and kind and apparently had a lethal love of BMX. I said a prayer for him and thanked god for my new charger while I was at it because being without my computer has been paralyzing. Okay, not as paralyzing as a spinal cord injury but the whole exchange filled me with a prayerful heart on many levels.

So the point is, I should be blogging some more if all goes according to plan, which of course it always does (just ask Kenneth). Over the past few weeks we have had so much happen. and I plan to go into further explanation about the following recent happenings:

My dad had a "cardiac event" and a couple of heart surgeries which was terrifying on a level I have never felt before. He is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery. The day that happened was actually a kind of hilarious comedy of errors and mishaps but I am so glad that it turned out okay.

A MAJOR problem has come up in regards to my husband's career so I have had more than a few sleepless nights. Probably wont blog about that one but if you want to hear a tale of soul crushing bureaucracy and government in-efficiency just ask me in person. It involves Union Attorneys and Official Meetings and a Wizard behind a Curtain and it will all be over soon, but it has nearly sucked the life out of this family.

We hosted three British Soccer Players in our home for a week and had a blast getting to know them and deciphering the thick Scottish Brogue of one of them. We loved being a host family so much that we are going to do it more and hopefully make it a big part of our family life. We have two more arriving tomorrow.

In other happy news, I discovered a miraculous Laundry service that picks up all of my laundry weekly and returns it the same day sorted, hung, folded, IRONED, and April Fresh for $75 bucks a month which has pretty much changed my life. They even pre-treat stains and match socks. They serve the entire East Valley and everyone should use them because if they ever go out of business and stop doing my laundry My life will be over because they have permanently ruined me as a homemaker. I can never do my own laundry again. never. Sign up at www.laundryloaders.com

Summer is in full swing and cabin fever has set in. Jack and Abe are attending Amber Olsen's weekly summer school which is the first school experience that Abe has had. He loves being a big boy and I gave him a buzz cut so he looks like an eighth grader instead of a three year old over night. He can write his name and draw pictures that don't require explanation and he is officially, completely, irrevocably potty trained. He is even in undies all night long with no accidents and we don't even own a pull up. If you don't understand what a big deal this is then you obviously do not have children.

The Family Bird, Dude, who has resided in my home, my parent's home, and my sister's home suffered a horrible injury when Christopher accidentally dropped a sofa on him in an effort to "save him" after he flew off of the cage and retreated under the couch. The bird was falling off of his perch and unable to use the left side of his body for days. The Gartner's went on vacation the same day it happened so we got the task of nursing / debating on mercy killing him. but the little trooper bounced back. The psychological healing took a few days longer than the physical healing and there was a day or two when I thought he would hate all humans and seek to destroy them with his beak for the rest of his life, but he calmed down and is back to taking abuse from toddlers and cat whistling like a horny construction worker every time he sees me. He is back at Kristen's house which is great because we get all of the perks of having him without the giant mess and 2-3 hours of daily maniacal squawking. He finally found his forever home. It is a forever home that may very well end in a horrible bloody tragedy, but for now everyone is fine.

That last statement applies to everyone around here. John got a shift with Sunday's off and that will start next month, which is a crazy big deal to me. I can't wait to not me a single mother at church and John is looking forward to being apart of the ward again. Studies have shown that kids end up believing what their mom believes but worshipping how their dad worships. Hopefully John has enough seniority to keep a Sunday free schedule for years.

So thats our update we have all had some drama and some close calls but we are all surviving. Thats all I really want.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Forever Family

If I were to die an early death I would want my husband to remarry. There is a catch though. I have spent literally years training John on how to deal with this worst case scenario. He has specific instructions about how to choose the second wife and I have promised him that I will personally haunt him and make his life miserable if he strays from the plan exactly.

The problem is that John has horrible taste in women. I know that is an odd thing to say since I am the person that he ultimately chose above all other options but when I look at his romantic history before I entered the picture, it is full of crazy bi-polar bitches and lushes and skanks. Not to mention all of his previous girlfriends had been liberal democrats and John didn't even realize that nice single Republican girls who wanted families even existed. Obviously he had not discovered the Mormon Singles Ward where beautiful accomplished educated girls who want to be wives and mothers are a dime a dozen. He didn't even know chicks like me were real. I give him credit for snapping me up but when I think about him as a grieving widowed father, I have a feeling he would end up back in Skankville. Since this person will inevitably have direct influence over my own precious children, I want to hand select her.

So here is the plan: John is to show up at the temple every single week after my death until I personally appear to him in a vision and tell him who to marry. I will pull whatever strings are necessary behind the scenes to make this happen. Submit a post-mortal petition… picket the pearly gates… lobby prophets and saints… whatever. I will make sure it happens. I will find a way to appear to John in the temple. I'll worry about the details of the appearance later. I can get anything done if I want it bad enough. I just have to make sure that John keeps his end of the bargain and shows up faithfully until I can get it all pulled off. He is not to date or flirt or associate with any women until I have told him who the lucky girl is. Even if it takes years, I don't care. Keep going to the temple and awaiting my angelic appearance. I figure he can't get too far off track if he is attending the temple weekly and if I can accomplish the whole vision thing then helping some single Mormon girl be inspired to be into my husband should be a piece of cake.

I realize how controlling this may make me seem but really it is in everyone's best interest. John would not do well as a widower and I can't even think about my kids being exposed to a revolving door of random girlfriends. Of course, If John dies young, we don't have the same agreement. John would get stuck in heavenly red-tape and lose patience with the grueling Heavenly Apparition Approval Process. Plus, there is not a huge chance that I would make a bad selection. I trust my own romantic judgement way over John's. He agrees, by the way.

So every now and then I quiz him. "What do you do if I die and you need to find a mother for the children?"

"Go to the temple every week and await your instructions."

"Good husband."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Educating my child: important stuff

madonna_m_music_v_front.jpg
I recently found my old Ipod from years ago. Its amazing what a difference it makes to have good music playing while you go about the day. My brother is always talking about how he would like to either be on The Hills or to have a similar loosely scripted reality show about his life. He wants it for one reason. He wants his life to have a soundtrack. He is always telling what song would be playing in which scenario and how awesome it would be. I agree. We should all have a life soundtrack. Everything is more dramatic when set to great music.

This morning I had the device set to shuffle all the songs (which can be irritating when you get Mormon Tabernacle Choir followed by Naughty By Nature followed by US Army running cadences followed by Hall and Oates) I was making French toast for breakfast (the least actually French thing I can think of) and grooving to the music and Ray of Light came on by Madonna and I was grooving in my robe and and slippers and I reminisced. "This is a great album."

Jack looked at me strangely and said "Who is this? I have never heard this singer."

Who raised this kid? "Of course you have heard this before. You used to beg for this very song from your car seat in the van as a baby. You know who this is."

Blank stare.

Emma happened to be there waiting for the French Toast and she is a little pop music savant so I knew she would back me up. She was totally stumped. "Common, Em. You can do this. Tell me who this is. "

More Blank Stares. "The Material Girl… Evita…Desperately Seeking Susan….Like a Virgin? MAN you guys are Killing Me! Who raised you? Who provided your music education?

To make a long story short, the next hour was spent educating the kids on why the Immaculate Collection is one of the greatest albums ever made even though Madonna Is a dirty tramp who most likely sold her soul to the devil.

I was raised by a Madonna hater. Every time my mom would hear a Madonna song she would rant about how talentless she was and how sad it is when girls turn slutty to get attention. Madonna was always a cautionary tale in the Haws home.

"Did you know that La Isla Bonita means the Beautiful Island?" and Papa Don't Preach Is about a pregnant teen who doesn't want to give in to her father's demand to put her baby up for adoption. She has had number 1 hits in 4 consecutive decades, people! Love her or hate her, you gotta respect.

Then a Vivid memory flashed back to me. It was the end of August of 2001 and I was living in my little house in Tempe with Tommy my best gay friend (I was a fabulous Fag Hag back in the day). He was bummed out and when I asked him what was wrong he told me a tale of woe about how he had dreamed about going to a Madonna concert since he was a small child and Madonna was coming in concert in September but she was not coming to Phoenix, only to Los Angeles and all of the shows were sold out. His dreams of attending a Madonna concert were crushed.

After I mocked him mercilessly for having such a ridiculously shallow life ambition I went into pep-talk mode "If this is so important to you then we will do whatever it takes to make it happen! I will personally see to it that you dance your tiny gay ass off at that Madonna concert."

The next day I bought a pair of tickets from a scalper for a few hundred bucks. A tiny price to see my best friend happy. This was of course back in the day when I had almost unlimited disposable income, zero expenses, and a totally flexible schedule. I booked us two round trip tickets to L.A., reserved a rental car and booked a fancy hotel room at the W in Beverly Hills. Tommy and I would turn the stereo up so loud that the windows in the house would rattle and we watched Madonna's music video with the hot cowboy line dancers so many times we knew the whole dance exactly. Nothing was going to stop us. NOTHING.

The next day four airliners were hijacked, the twin towers fell, the pentagon burned and Tommy and I cried and sat watching the news for days on end. It was surreal. Nothing could cheer us up. The entire nation reeled and mourned. All flights were grounded and all concerts were cancelled. Every person reading this can recall exactly where they were and how they felt when they saw America brought to its knees. The economy went into a tailspin, commerce instantly froze up, everyone took inventory of their loved ones and we braced for war. I just wanted some kind of distraction. Something happy to look forward to. It felt wrong to turn up fun music and dance in the living room. Then we found out that Madonna rescheduled the show. Our tickets were good for the new date but all flights were still cancelled. Fulfilling Tommy's shallow dream became a symbol of overcoming so much other darkness. I was more hellbent on showing up to that stupid concert than anything else. After all, if we missed this event, then the terrorists win. No way, Osama. So we got into my BMW and drove all night long.

I had been to a lot of concerts before then and I have been to a lot since, but I have never had such a wonderful time in my life. Tommy went out to the Hollywood gay bars with some other friends after the show and I lounged by the pool and mingled with celebrities in the W hotel bar and enjoyed in-room spa treatments. It was the most luxurious experience of my life. We drove home the next day and bragged to all of our envious friends about our insanely indulgent weekend. If there was an award for Fag Hag of The Year, I would have owned that trophy in 2001.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

gestating books

This is the one holy day that I anticipate more than Mother's Day. Father Son Campout. I have two boys and one husband and one glorious night off. I was going to clean or get caught up on laundry but instead I read and laid around and went shopping. Perhaps I don't need a daughter after all.

I have had so much on my mind lately that I really want to write down but of course there is never the time or opportunity to actually get it out. I took a writing class once and at the beginning of the class we all went around and introduced ourselves to the group. Most of the class members said something to the effect of "I just know that there Is a book inside of me and I just have to get it out." I'm fairly certain that I expressed a similar sentiment. Then the instructor told us that everyone in the world has a book in them and wants to get it out and we are not to say that ever again in her class because it is cliche and impotent. So I have never since claimed to have a book in me but these days I don't know how else to say it. sometimes cliches come in handy. Sometimes you want everyone to understand what you mean with one worn phrase.

The problem is, I don't know what kind of book I want to write. My kids give me enough material to write an encyclopedia set on parenting and there is a marked absence of parenting books written by people how are actually in the process of raising children. Most parenting books (I swear I have read close to all of them) come from wise grandparents who remember things pretty rosy. I'm waiting for a chapter on what to do when your seven year old still hollers for you to wipe his butt each and every time he has a bowel movement and then how to respond when he thanks me profusely and tells me that I am the "Queen of butt wiping" and that "no one else can get a butt as clean as you, mom." I haven't read a chapter on what to do when your kid cashes out his lunch card and pays other kids to play with him at recess or accepts money from other kids to play with them. My mom is a doctor and literally an expert in the field of early childhood social development so I could team up with her and make a fabulous parenting book.

I'm also tempted to write a marriage book. The same phenomenon applies to this genre of self help book currently available. Its all old married couples congratulating themselves for being so tolerant and staying married. Most of them are totally useless unless both members are reading and applying the material. Perhaps my marriage book will be interlaced with chapters about how to field strip an M16 rifle and tips for surviving urban combat scenarios. I recently learned that porcupines mate for life and If you ever see porcupine roadkill, you will always find a bewildered mate not to far off. It made me sad but I instantly related to these poor quilled animals. It takes so long for them to learn where every little barb is and they have to be in a very comfortable state to even touch each other, let alone mate. They figure out one another's timing and take turns revealing dangers that may hurt the one they love if not approached just right. By the time they have gotten acquainted enough to get it on, they have invested so much time and energy with each other that of course they will stay together until the day they die. This thought came to mind when I was letting John tweeze stray chin hairs from my neck that I couldn't see in the mirror but was paranoid of leaving behind. Or when John belches and I can tell by the smell if he has taken his medicine. You may call it gross, but I call it investment. I can't even imagine starting over with a different husband and going through the process of educating one another of all of our smells and deadly quills and turn ons and stubborn follicles. I want to read a marriage book about getting through the real life power struggles and fear of getting hit by a Volvo or being impaled by passive aggressive quills.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Missionary Opportunity

Like any believing Christian, I seek to follow the admonition of The Savior to Peter when He told him to "Feed my Sheep". Missionary work has always been a pleasure to me and I have found that when I sincerely pray for opportunities to bear testimony of His Grace they always come. I'm not saying that I'm always successful in convincing people that Christ lives or that His church has been restored or to repent but I am always uplifted and better off for having the experience even in the face of total rejection. This was a lesson driven home many times during the years I served as a full time missionary in France back in the day. I was statistically more successful than most of the other missionaries I served with but in France that isn't saying much. That just means I was able to see some people I taught choose baptism. More often than not we were either flat out rejected or else knew that our message had hit home but the person was unwilling to act according to what the spirit was telling them. I went on my mission totally convinced that it was all about spreading the word. After all, there are many who are "kept from the truth because they don't know where to find it." right? I felt like I had been so lucky to have been born right into the faith and I just wanted to sound the alarm. Besides I was a natural salesman and I loved talking people into things. I was the number one sales girl at The Gap for like a year straight. If I could talk people into sandblasted easy-fit jeans and wool sweaters in April in Phoenix and grass scented unisex fragrance (do they still have that? I freaking loved that stuff) Then how hard would it be to close the deal on something they actually needed? Truth! Salvation! The Gift of the Holy Ghost! Eternal Families! This was going to be a slam dunk. Every green missionary secretly fantasizes about marching into the mission field like Alma and telling everyone where to line up to be dunked. We imagine making eye-contact with someone on a bus and we instantly have an electric connection that draws us to one another and what do you know? That person just prayed that morning to find the True Church and if you both think about it enough you are sure that you recognize them from the pre-mortal existence. Then you picture them and their family in white at the baptism..no, wait, at the TEMPLE. Making eternal covenants and thanking you for being on the bus that day even though you may have preferred to have been sleeping in or a thousand miles away making out with some guy after a church dance. It sounds a lot like falling In True Love but I'd be willing to bet that every missionary of every faith has had some version of this fantasy. Then you get out there and figure out that they speak an entirely different language in this crazy place and even with the occasional brush with the Gift of Tounges you are pretty much as articulate as a three year old caveman. Once you get over that little obstacle you can get to work convincing French people to not drink wine, smoke cigarettes, engage in premarital sex, have affairs after marriage and to give ten percent of their income to the church and spend three hours of every single Sunday in church. Also, all of your friends and family might disown you, you'll need an entirely different wardrobe and all of your dating options will immediately disappear, and you will be given a volunteer job that is just slightly less time consuming than an American work week with no vacance. Your Father owns a winery? sorry. You pay your rent working as an underwear model? sorry. You are a chainsmoker? sorry. You spent 50 years of your life as a Catholic nun? sorry. You are Muslim and your family might have you killed just for listening to me? sorry. You live with your boyfriend and he pays all the bills but doesn't want to get married? sorry. You are clearly insane with an IQ that hovers just above retarded and you require money, food, friends and regular government imposed psychiatric treatment? PERFECT. Lets set a date for your baptism. To say the least, the culture and the experience and product I was pitching turned out to be totally different than I had expected. After one particularly devastating rejection I cried for days. The thing that freaked me out was that we had taught this girl, Faouzia, and she was golden. She understood every point of doctrine and the spirit bore witness to her heart. She knew that the message we taught was true and she was totally ready to follow. We set a date for her baptism and continued with the scheduled lessons. She was on fire. She was so interested and it all made sense. She happened to be our age so we bonded with her on many levels and developed such a close authentic friendship which was of course magnified by our shared spiritual experiences. Nothing seals a friendship like the Holy Ghost. Of course days before her baptism she realized that she could not demand these new caste standards for their relationship and she was unwilling to choose the church over him. She know the church was true at that point, she just didn’t care that it was true quite enough. I realized that that is exactly the same challenge of all believers. Its pretty simple to decide if you believe or not but giving a crap about it to the point that you will rearrange your life to live it is a whole different ballgame. I felt like we had spent all of this energy converting her and when she was ultimately unable or unwilling to step up and make covenants to seal her testimony, we had done her no favors. Good news is the Church is true. Bad news is now you know. Faouzia tearfully backed away from her baptismal commitment knowing full well what she was turning down and we all grieved for days. It was a major eye opener for me. I knew the church was true but how much did I really care about that fact? Would I pack up and leave a hot sugar daddy with whom I had a fabulous relationship in order to follow found spiritual truth? The days following Faouzia I did a lot of crying and a lot of soul searching. I wanted to be a follower of Christ for the right reasons not because it had been convenient. I also felt guilty for imparting this testimony on Faouzia who would be forever responsible for her choice to follow or not. I felt like maybe she would have been better off in ignorance. I couldn’t bear the thought of damnation. I had to put my faith in the fact that life is long and Faouzia’s story was just beginning. I had done what I had been called to do and that’s all I could do. From that moment on I began assessing my own motivations for keeping the commandments. Was I doing it because It was the thing to do? It pleased my family? It made great stories? Or because I had an honest love of the gospel and wanted to share it with my fellow man. It was a turning point in my life . One day I will write a book about all the ways serving a mission prepares you for the future. Life, Marriage, work, Parentling, Church service, dealing with people…etc. There is no better training ground for life in general.

At one point I had a trainee who was struggling with her mission because of these unmet expectations. She wanted to go home. The problem was that she was just a wee bit umm..how do I say this?…. Crazy. She had heard somewhere that the church would send a sister home from a full time mission no-questions-asked with an "honorable discharge" if the purpose for going home was to get married. Instead of just facing her disappointment she began a letter campaign to every male she had ever known. The letters were full of things like "My mission has filled me with the Spirit and now things that were confusing before are totally clear to me now. I know that we never went on a date but I need to tell you that I love you." These letters went out to the Idaho State Fencing Club, the Pocotello Medieval Reenactment society, The Central Idaho Dungeons and Dragons Fan Club and every dude at the Ricks College Institute. You get the idea. She just needed one taker and she was ready to reveal her true destiny to our Mission President and be on the next plane home. First of all, I have no idea where she got this ridiculous notion of chicks bailing on a very serious commitment without recourse but It started to get old in a hurry. Especially when she started sleeping in and refusing to work and throwing huge tantrums over just about everything. I've lived long enough to know now that she was clearly bi-polar and definitely narcissistic but at the time I just wanted to get the work done instead of constantly trick my comp into working. This is a sample of one of our morning companion prayers. "Heavenly Father. We come to you with confused hearts and seek thy wisdom. We want to be thy servants but how best to do that is unclear. Soeur X feels like she has received direct communication from the Holy Ghost instructing her to have us not get up early but to sleep till our regular time and then go down town because someone there needs our message. As much as I want to help Soeur X to become a missionary leader and eventually a senior companion who could make this kind of decision on behalf of the companionship, I feel confused about weather we should go ahead with the plan that we wrote down and prayed about and felt good about or if we should go with this new plan of Soeur x's. Help us to make a wise decision based on what is thy will and not just what we personally want. I know that I was looking forward to attending the Ward Pic-Nic in the French Countryside where we would be able to introduce Christine to all of the ward members before her upcoming baptism and perhaps create a social foundation for her within the community of members in the area. I was also looking forward to touring medieval castles and seeing renaissance era relics. It is very selfish of me but I wanted to get great pictures of myself clapped in irons in a real dungeon. Also, many of our ward members are bringing non member friends and I would be lying if I said that it wouldn't be personally satisfying to reach all of our goals in one morning hike. Nevertheless, not our will be done, but thine. If someone downtown needs us in a few hours on some random bus or tram, then we will go ahead and flake out on our commitment to attend the Ward Pic-Nic and we will be happy to serve wherever we are needed most. We will do thy will even if we have to miss out on awesome suits of armor and castles with drawbridges and moats. Its not about us, its about the work. And if we miss out on a golden contact on the bus, please put that person in our path another day. Amen"

You get the idea. She hadn't realized the location of the Pic-Nic (its amazing how much French you miss when you insist to everyone that you already speak it fluently because you are a language prodigy and by the way you don't need a "trainer" either because you are already trained.) I wasn't too surprised when she "received revelation" that Plan A was a-okay. She was constantly contacting people on busses (or more likely taking credit for a contact of mine) and then stepping off and bursting into happy tears because she Is just sure that that was the ONE person that she was sent to France to meet and now her work is done. Usually there were tears again when that person would blow us off or hide when we rang the doorbell. Thats the thing with missionary work. It is not about having a series of mind-boggling spiritual experiences and re-uniting with souls you met before this life and promised to find Saturday's Warrior's Style. It is about work. Actual work. They don’t call it missionary work to be poetic. You have to actually work. To be more accurate, it is about working your ass off. every. single. freaking. day. You just work and work and work and if you can get good enough at plugging away at an almost impossible task, unexpected miracles start to happen. Like one day realizing that you care about God's Kingdom more than your own ego. Your clothes get thread-bare, your scalp produces relentless dandruff, your pantyhose get runs, your white garments are closer to charcoal, you have used your last squirt of grass perfume and you wake up with the sound of the alarm every single day and you eventually forget that snooze bar technology even exists because you just want to get your day started and there’s no way you would sacrifice any of your prayer time. Almost without noticing, you become a different person. The huge miracles you had hoped for happen but they are not the dramatic friend-from-the-preexistence kind. And then if you can keep your shoulder to the wheel and keep on keeping on, you will get to look back at the end of the whole thing and realize that you did after all meet dozens of pre-mortal BFFs and you did keep your dramatic Saturday's Warrior style promises. They don't happen until you stop looking for them, and even then, you will not know what it was until you are long done because it will just have felt like work. Missionary Work.

By the way, this "hindsight miracle" system describes Motherhood exactly too. If you want to have amazing family experiences? Do the laundry. Mop the floor. Put your kids in time out when they are sassy. Force them to sit still in Sacrament and throw together FHE at the last minute. Get the groceries, shampoo the carpet, bounce a check, bring cookies to the elderly neighbors, throw a towel over the peed on sheets at 3am, pack those lunches, open that mail, change those diapers, burn the Pancakes, do your calling, fill the dishwasher, go to Chuck E Cheese, scrub the baseboards, clip the coupons, just get to work. The miracles will be obvious later.

I firmly believe that there are seasons of life and we can't do everything at once. Sometimes I miss the days of experiencing missionary work on a daily basis and I know that I could be incorporating more of that into my daily life if I just gave it a little more thought and secreting. but I have also accepted that my main calling at the moment is going to keep me from doing splits with the full time missionaries every week. I am teaching the Gospel every day and bearing testimony but it happens to be to the two little men who used to reside in my womb and not to randoms on the street anymore (although I am not opposed to that kind of thing on occasion) If I can successfully feed these two little lambs I know Christ will accept my offering.

I would stop this little missionary post right here but John and I had a kindof unusual experience this week that is worth writing about. Luckily this person doesn't follow my blog or even know it exists (not unlike the rest of humankind) So I will just tell it how it went.

There is a dispatcher at John's work that John has been friends with since his first day at Gilbert. John knows that a cop's quality of life is totally dependent on how good his relationship is with the women in dispatch and he is no fool. This particular Dispatcher is extremely good at what she does. Thats a job that takes a really quick mind and an even temper and the ability to multi-task to a superhuman degree. The officer's lives' are often in their hands so we always appreciate sharp dispatchers. Plus that whole office upstairs is populated with Alpha Women which leads to lots of cattiness and territorialness and gossip but this particular gal is smart enough to stay above the fray. She invited John and I on a double date with her and her husband years ago when John first started with Gilbert and they have kids that are similar ages to ours so I usually see her at kids birthday parties and things like that. She and John hit it off as friends and because he is so chivalrous he goes out of his way to include me in their friendship. If they are taking luchbreak together, he calls me and invites me, if she calls him at home for some reason he puts it on speaker. John is such a rule keeper. Its cute. Because of this, I have gotten to know her more than any other colleagues’ of John. I like her a lot. She is very different from me. She is kindof a tomboy and she doesn’t often show a lot of emotion. She has a dry sarcastic sense of humor and she is very straight forward. I feel like a giggly flamboyant girly loud mouth around her but I am glad that I have had the chance to really get to know her because she has a beautiful multi-faceted soft feminism about her but she keeps that guarded until she is comfortable. I had no idea of what her religious beliefs were but she seemed to gravitate to all of the LDS cops and in a lot of ways she seems like a Mormon. She is from Gilbert and very family oriented with a very tame lifestyle. Apparently people assume she's LDS a lot. I like her and I always tell John to say hi to her for me. I vaguely knew of some personal struggles she has been facing lately so I have been asking John for reports on how she is coping more regularly.

Then John got a call from her a few weeks ago asking if he would go to lunch with her to discuss the Mormon Church. She has a lot of questions so she decided she would just go to the source and pick the brain of a Mormon she trusts. I think she also selected John because she knows that he whole-heartedly converted to the religion in adulthood and so she felt he may have some insight that others might not. They went to lunch and she was full of questions. The adversity she has been facing in her personal life has caused her to search for deeper meaning in life and her search keeps leading back to the same place. Not an unfamiliar pattern. The issues she was hung up on were actually pretty simple things and John had the chance to tell his story and bear his testimony to her and offer insight. John said that the Spirit was definitely present and there were many points where she teared up when talking about certain things. She was definitely emotional and touched. Also of her questions relate to the treatment of the role of women in the church and while John knew how to answer her he felt like it would be better if she heard it from me, an actual Mormon Woman. That and the fact that John loves to defer to me on just about every topic known to man religious or otherwise. And understandably, he didn't want to make it a habit to start regularly having one on one lunch rendezvous between two people who are married to other people. I have no worries of impropriety but John is the ultimate Gentleman and Insisted that they continue the conversation with me present. In the day leading up to the dinner we had planned she got antsy and started reading anti-mormon websites to find answers to her questions. That is frustrating but totally surmountable. They can make up all the lies they want about us but will get trumped by the truth every time. At least it gave her topics from which to springboard into good gospel centered discussions. There is really no topic that I shy away from. I say bring it all on. Thats the best part of the fullness of Christ's Gospel.. all the answers are there. Plus she is doing the asking so I am just doing the answering and inviting not trying to talk her into being interested the first place. I have been to this rodeo enough times to know that at the very worst, it would be an interesting spiritual discussion and at best it could be life altering. We farmed our kids out to family and went to dinner. On the way over she was texting all of her questions because she was just convinced that she was going to offend me beyond what our friendship could withstand. That amused me. I have had Muslims spit in my mouth and slap me when I declined an offer of marriage and then gracefully thanked him for his interest and encouraged him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon before walking away and puking. It would take more than a little anti-Mormon rhetoric to piss me off.

Her thing is that she is a raging liberal Women's rights activist. Equal Pay for Equal Work, No Glass Ceiling, We can bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan etc etc type. Equal treatment for women is a big deal to her. She becomes physically angry at the thought of a woman being treated in any way inferior to a man and she wants to throw punches on behalf of oppressed women everywhere. Women can have it all weather they want it or not, damnit!

The Church has long had a very erroneous reputation among the uninformed about some mythical occurrences of oppressing women. I assume that this comes from the fact that The Priesthood, or authority to lead in the church is reserved for worthy males. Women do not hold the priesthood in the LDS Church and this fact had our friend's hackle's up well before we sat down for dinner. The funny thing is anyone who claims that LDS women are oppressed has clearly never met a real life Mormon Woman. I grew up in this church and the ONLY message I have ever received from the leadership of the church or my fellow members is that womanhood is the highest most noble calling in the universe.

So we got to talking about the whole issue of Women's Right's and I asked " Do you feel like you experience some form of discrimination because you are female? "

"Well not me personally, no. But I know it happens all the time.

"Okay, so you think that some people don't believe that women are capable of doing what a man does? They can't make a living, or own a business, or hold office or whatever? Because they aren't smart enough or good enough or whatever? Or is it that the things that come most naturally to a woman; bearing and nurturing children, teaching, homemaking, comforting, encouraging, making things beautiful, feeding, caring, sheltering etc. are just valued less by our society than traditionally male offerings like providing income?

"Well I never thought about it." So she is a die hard feminist soldier who didn't even know what she was fighting for

"I don't think there is anyone left who really believes that Women are mentally inferior or incapable of anything they want. Its been proven. I'm sure there are dark places in the world where women are treated as property and their opinions don't count and all of those horrible unenlightened things, but here in the free world I have yet to meet someone who questions weather I could do a man's job if I wanted to. Men can be stay at home moms and nurses and teachers and women can be astronauts and lawmakers and CEOs and mechanics. It really isn't up for debate anymore."

"Then why can't a Mormon mother baptize her own child?"

"Do you want to baptize your child?"

"Well, no. I personally don't but if there was a woman who wanted to she should be allowed to."

"Do you know any woman who has wanted to baptize her child?"

"Well, No. But it is possible."

Okay, so I'm totally willing to talk about this but before we move on, lets be clear that we are looking for a solution to a problem that does not exist. It may exist somewhere sometime, but it has never existed in our own experience. Right?" I wasn't condescending or rude but I felt like we should at least identify the scope of the issue

In my opinion it is FAR more offensive to suggest that a woman needs to behave like a man or produce what a man produces in order to be equal to a man. As if it is a given that men are inherently superior and the only way we can reach equality is to prove that we can do what they can do. How bout we back this truck up and look at it a whole different way. How about we value the feminine contribution for what it is: totally different from the male contribution but just as valuable or even more so. The Mormon Church I know puts women on a pedestal so far beyond what the Feminazis ever thought to want. I have always been taught that during the Creation God created man and then as His crowning most glorious cherry on top, he created Woman. Then he commanded Man to till the earth and work his ass off so that Woman could be freed up to do the work that actually matters. The Priesthood is not some kind of self serving prestigious title, it it a tool. and like all tools it is used to accomplish something bigger. Everyone has their role in the Kingdom of God and the job of leading the earthly church fell on the men. I don't need the priesthood to make me feel valid in the work of the Lord, because I already know that the work I produce with my feminine nature is of far greater value. I can create life in partnership with man and God. I can nurture and teach and comfort and care. My role makes this life worth living and every priesthood duty performed is done so that the way is clear for me and my fellow righteous sisters to get down to business. Do I want to baptize my child? No. I want to raise it and teach it and nurture it and instill righteous desires within it and then I want to print the programs and make cheesy potatoes and fruit salad for the post baptism party and then I want to see my studly righteous husband serving our family by performing the baptism and then I want to speak at the program and make a scrapbook page about the big day. I'm not worried about getting left out of the process because we all know that kid wouldn't exist, let alone be there choosing to covenant with God if it weren't for his diligent unwavering righteous mom. Let the men have the priesthood. Here’s a newsflash: Most of them wouldn’t show up if they weren’t in charge or if someone wasn’t counting on them to do something. Faith comes more easily to the feminine mind just as football or hunting come more easily to the male mind. The bottom line is, Women don’t need to be in charge in order to participate. The priesthood is nothing but a means to serve or support others. A man certainly can’t baptize himself. The priesthood gives men the power to lead and serve and heal and ordain so that Women can get down to business with the really important stuff. The argument comes down to how you value the innate nature of each gender. True feminism would glorify my work as a mother. A true feminist should be offended by the suggestion that she should use her talent for something as common as money. You will not attend an LDS meeting that doesn’t involve women teaching or speaking or leading in some way. You will find no other church on earth Christian or otherwise that shows such respect for the divine role of womanhood and enobles its female members. If your issue is outrage over women being treated as inferiors, you have come to the Mecca of Girl Power. People make a lot of lame accusations about Mormons but this is one that I can’t tolerate for even a second. It is pure ignorance and sexism at its very ugliest.

So after I have gone off on this long monolog about how I have attended literally THOUSANDS of LDS meetings including 5 days a week in the early morning all through high school and a 19 month full time mission and watched 68 three day sessions of general conference and read the standard works multiple times and the Book of Mormon dozens of times and been anointed, endowed and sealed in the Temple and held every calling from hymn book gatherer to Relief Society President and have known tens of thousands of Mormons on a very personal level and probably hundreds of thousands on an indirect surface level, if there was a culture of putting women down going on somewhere I probably would have come across it at some point. It just isn’t there. The Church does not oppress women or even tolerate some members oppressing women. I’m not saying that every social group doesn’t have their share of bad apples and I have definitely met some serious losers who claim membership in this church, but even then, you are far less likely to come across them than in any similar group. Yes, the church teaches that women are to be treated not only as equals but with nobility and reverence. If you come across a Mormon man who behaves superior to his female countrpart, it has nothing to do with what he has been taught in church and everything to do with him being an asshole. The church is full of imperfect people trying their best and as with any scenario that involves imperfect human beings, there will be a share of idiots and Satan will be all over that situation blaming one man’s sin on God’s Church. I consider the LDS church to be light years ahead of the rest of the world on this topic. Why don’t they go harass the Muslims or the Catholics or the Hillary Clintons who will put up with any degrading treatment without batting a lash.

The funny thing after this whole discussion which I felt was so well delivered and directy directed the entire issue complete with statements from modern day Prophets and scriptures that back up my point exactly, Her response was not what I expected. Condecending is the only word that I can really think of that comes close. Maybe patronizing or even slightly amused. She expressed to me how nice it must be for me to be so sheltered from reality and didn’t I probably have the nicest parents ever to raise such a positive girl who is so able to stick my head in the sand and ignore injustice and have a positive attitude no matter what. Good for you and your manufactured life experience. I hope that never comes crumbling down on ya. Aren’t you cute.So it turns out that I’m not quite as unoffend-able as I once claimed. I don’t take too kindly to being called na├»ve or sheltered. In reality, I think she knew that what I was saying was right but for right now she wants to indulge in the feeling of injustice, reality be damned. Oh well, It was still a fun dinner and I do adore her. I think she just has some journeying to do before she is ready to really hear without getting tripped up by all of this prejudice and rhetoric. I respect her for thinking about it in the first place. It will be interesting to see how her spiritual quest goes. I wish her the best. I am actuakly honored to be apart of her contact with the church, Church statisticians have estimated that the common convert has eight positive contacts with members before they are ready for baptism. I am happy to be contact number two or contact number eight as long as she knows what a blessing Jesus and His restored church has meant to me and my family. I know it is true. I know that it is His original church restored in our modern day through a living prophet and through it we can find all of the answers we seek. I know he is mindful of us down to every disappointment and joy. He is the way the truth and the life. The only way back to live eternally in the presence of the Father and have Eternal Progression. Count me in. I want to be with my sweet family through all of eternity. Not just till death separates us. I am so thankful for the plan of happiness and the chance it gives us to be forever families.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Vote for Ashton

This is little Ashton Allen who I taught in primary last year. He is the most hilarious precocious kid I have ever met. He wanted to enter the Mix 96.9 Kiddieokee contest to win a trip to Lego Land. This was all his idea and he came up with the song and the moves. I will be surprised if this video doesn't go viral. This is our next Justin Bieber. Take a look, you will love him. Vote for him every day with as many valid email addresses as you have. send the link to everyone you know. When News Channel # was covering the radio contest they showed his video. He has a chance of winning but he needs more votes! You don't have to register to vote and they won't email you anything. It just takes a second. copy and paste the link and send it to your friends. Lets get this kid to Lego Land. Enjoy…


Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

I am almost embarrassed to admit this but I must. I am obsessed with Will and Kate and the Royal Wedding. I love every second of it. I am watching 24 hours of wedding coverage and I have seen all of the shows detailing their courtship and engagement.

I have been a little startled by my own interest in an event like this because I usually recoil at celebrity gossip and our cultural obsession with wealth and fame. But finally I had to just throw in the towel and admit that I love this couple and I would buy the monogramed dinnerware set. I'm tossing the guilt from my guilty pleasure and will now openly enjoy every one of the wedding shows on my DVR.

The reason I love it so much is that I believe in marriage. This kind of mainstream promotion of holy matrimony is hard to come by these days. I loved the article in last month's Ensign by sister Beck about the family and how we will be called upon to defend marriage and family. The legal definition of marriage is under attack not just in our nation but across the globe and it is our generation's responsibility to solidify the role of man and wife. The family is the basis for civilized life and I love to see a nice couple making a vow to God to be faithful to one another and to stay together no matter what. I love the dress and the bridesmaid and Prince William's uniform. I have always been a history buff and I adore the military uniforms and the medals and the horsemen and the ceremony of it all. I loved speculating about which designer Kate would choose and which uniform the Prince would wear. I love that he wore the Irish Guard red coat. As Americans that red coat uniform is such a symbol of the British. "The Red Coats are coming!" Now everyone knows I love the Mother Land.

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Easter That Will Come Up In Therapy Years From Now

I have been collecting random stuff for my kids' Easter baskets for months but I hadn't gone and actually picked up baskets and finishing touches. I was going to wait until the kids were in bed and go to the store. Of course, by the time bedtime rolled around I would have rather shoved icepicks under my fingernails than go to the store. I checked next door with the Gartners and they had extra Easter baskets I could borrow and between the stuff I already had and Kristen's stuff I could escape a late night trip to Wal-Mart. Plus if those kids get totally different stuff than my kids we always deal with questions about who the Easter Bunny likes more and why he clearly favored one family over the other. I arranged for Kristen to prepare my baskets along with her own and left the doors unlocked so that she could come put them in the house in the night. I thought it was all taken care of and was impressed with myself for orchestrating such a hassle free plan.

Over the course of the night Jack ended up in my bed with me. I think it was because he was too excited for the Easter Bunny to come. At the crack of dawn I heard him stir and say "Its Easter! I'm going to go see if the Easter Bunny came!" He ran out of the room. He was gone for about two minutes and then I heard him crawl back into bed. I figured that he went down and saw his loot and then decided to sleep in a little longer. I was mostly unconscious anyway so I didn't think about it much more. Until I realized that he was quietly sobbing real tears. "What in the world is wrong?" At first I thought maybe he was disappointed with the basket which was going to annoy me and I was gearing up for a big lecture on gratitude and entitlement.

"The Easter Bunny didn't come. Maybe I was bad. Abe was bad too. There's nothing down there for us." There was real grief and regret going on.

"WHAT?! The freaking Easter Bunny didn't come? Hang on a second. I am going to figure this out. I am sure the Easter Bunny has a great reason for not coming and I'm sure that it has nothing to do with weather you were good or bad."

My plan had a major flaw. I didn't discuss with Kristen what our Easter morning tradition was like. Every year we leave the baskets right at the base of the stairs where they make a big visual impact when the kids come down on Easter Morning. It never occurred to me that Kristen would HIDE the baskets.

There was a few minutes of chaos as we sorted it all out and found the missing baskets and then Jack came down and hunted for them desperately. Finally he claimed his stuff and dried his tears.

This is probably the last Easter we have with this kid believing in Peter Cottontail hopping down the Bunny Trail and I am hoping that he forgets it. In the weeks leading up to Easter we love to threaten that the Easter Bunny won't come if he behaves poorly and the poor kid's nightmare came true… for about ten minutes. We might as well have just filled the baskets with lumps of coal.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Law of Attraction Proven

We have all heard of the Law of Attraction. It has become such a commonly experienced phenomenon that it has permeated all of pop culture. The movie "The Secret" turned the word secret from a noun into a verb overnight. At first we were "using the secret" to get things we wanted and now we just say we are "secreting it". Actually, thats one of the things I love about the English language. we can turn anything into an action word and everyone gets it.

The Law of Attraction is basically the concept that we attract into our life that which we think about. Our thoughts have power to draw things and circumstances and experiences into our path. I think this is a concept that is true and that we all kind of intuitively know from the get go. We can attract good things or bad things. The video and book that they produced a few years ago was super cheesy but did a great job of bringing this truth into the mainstream.

I have been working of secreting good health and wellness into my life. I believe that the Law of Attraction mingled with faith in Christ is the most powerful way to bring about our righteous desires. If we meditate or think about how we want our life to be we will eventually bring it about but If we pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ for the good thing we seek and seek to have the will of a loving God in your life, we can bring about any miracle. This is how faith works.

Unfortunately, when we obsess about negative things, we invite that too. It is tempting to wallow in disappointment and then unintentionally bring about more disappointment. For instance, I can get to feeling pretty sorry for myself when I want another baby and my body doesn't cooperate. Instead of thinking about how much it sucks, I am better off thinking about how grateful I am for the children I have and focus on the health that I do have and the things that my body is doing right. I saw a naturopath once who looked at the sores on my hands and said "This is a fabulous sign of health! Your body is putting up a huge fight against something. an unhealthy body could never produce such huge sores. This is a sign of health." Since that day I have seen my autoimmune disorder differently. I cheer my body on in a valiant fight. This, of course, has healed me more than anything.

John has a case of secreting that we could document statistically and prove that worrying about something makes it more likely to happen. Scissors on the couch. Before I met John, I had lived my life totally free of sharp objects and upholstered furniture combined. Now it happens almost daily. When John was a kid, they were on vacation and he jumped onto a couch in the hotel room. There was a pair of scissors hidden between the cushions and when he landed they fully lodged into his butt all the way to the handles. The pierced the flesh and muscle just to the side of his anus and missed tearing his rectum out by millimeters. He was rush the the ER where they removed the scissors and stitched him up and informed him that he came very close to a lifetime of crapping into a bag. This is the day that he developed a serious and well justified phobia of scissors on couches. The phobia extends to sharp pencils on chairs, forks on beds, or letter openers on recliners. You may ask yourself how likely he is to encounter such an obscure threat to personal safety. The answer is ALL THE TIME. It Is like our household seating is magnetically attracted to sharp objects. The kids are possessed with demons that compel them to leave the scissors on the couch. Unless John is not around. Then it never happens. The poor guy vigilantly checks every time he sits down and he shakes out blankets and it feels like more often than not, something deadly is discovered. If we kept track of the numbers, we could prove scientifically that the law of attraction is real. We get what we expect to get.

Four and a half years ago I was working full time, had one child and had been trying to get pregnant for a year. I was six months into fertility treatment and we were deeply in debt even though we had two decent incomes. I wanted lots of things to change in my life but I felt like we were running on a treadmill. I prayed often for what I wanted and tried to visualize it. I have always found writing to be cathartic so one day I decided to write my prayer out in a letter to God. I made a list of what I wanted. I was almost embarrassed when I finished because it seemed so outlandish to ask for all of it. I wanted in one year's time to have another child. Not to just be pregnant, but to have a baby already born and in my arms. I wanted to be able to stay home full time with my kids and not have to work for income at all. I wanted to be out of debt and I wanted to have money in the bank. Amen. It seemed like I was asking for contradictory things. Its not like my husband has a job where he could make more money. He is a cop. His income is totally fixed from here until retirement with very little variation. I decided to stop thinking about how it would happen and just ask nicely that it would. I put the letter away and forgot about it.

A year later I was writing in my journal and leafed through the past year of entries. I came across my letter to God. When I read it I felt light headed. I wouldn't have believed my own story if I didn't have the evidence written in pen by my own hand. As I sat reading it, I was nursing my brand new baby, I was a full time stay at home mom. We had just paid off all of our debt and we had money in the bank. Every single thing I had asked for came true. Every single thing without exception.

Shortly after I had written my list, John was T-boned while he was in his squad car going code 3 to a call. He was pinned in the car and his pelvis was broken in two places. He had been hit by an old lady in a minivan who was well insured. He was totally unhurt besides the broken pelvis and although it was extremely painful, he healed up with no long term damage. There were a few terrifying days in the beginning but in the end we got a very good settlement from the driver's insurance and John was back on duty in a few months. Also It turns out that a broken pelvis isn't nearly as disruptive to one's reproductive life as you might assume. I was knocked up before he was even cleared for patrol.

Its an unbelievable story, right? It sounds like an exaggeration or even a fabrication. I swear on my life it is one hundred percent true. Of course, after that when I knew the power of making lists of demands on God, my lists got much longer and more specific. For a small fee I will be happy to include any of my reader's personal requests on my next list. You might have to suffer a painful injury, but all your dreams can come true. My next list will be sure to include a specific request for all pairs of scissors to be put away safely after use.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sheriff's Eyebrows: an insight into Abe's mind


Abe's foray into the world of makeup as encouraged by Ella's never ending industrial strength cosmetics set has been photographically documented and those photos will most likely be shown at his wedding at some future date. We are hoping that will be to a woman in the temple after a mission and that he will be make-up free for the occasion. Yesterday he walked in to the house wearing huge brick red eyebrows. Really heavy and dark and high up on his forehead. I left my camera at my uncle's house this week otherwise I would have captured the moment. John is less amused by his son wearing makeup than I am and he scolded him a little bit when he saw him."Abraham, makeup is for girls. You are not a girl. You are a boy."

The effect of the makeup job was anything but feminine so I suspected that maybe he was going for a Ronald McDonald look rather than a transvestite look. He confirmed my suspicion with his offended response to John "This is not girl make-up! This is Sheriff's Eyebrows. I'm a man Sheriff with big high Sheriff Eyebrows!"

So that explains it. Everyone knows Sheriffs have giant exaggerated eyebrows, right? I don't know where he comes up with this stuff. He was just so sure of his eyebrow concept.

Yesterday to church I dressed him in a cute little suit with a vest and everything. While I was tucking in his little dress shirt and installing his tiny clip-on tie, he looked at himself in the mirror and said "Wow. I am so HANDSOME!" He was right. He was handsome. The only thing that could improve his look was a nice set of Sheriff's eyebrows.

Speaking of Abe's mind, He brought me the paper yesterday from the driveway. He had opened it and zoned in in the weekly CVS ad that is chock full of Easter Eggs and Candy and Peeps and plastic grass. There were tons of plush toys including a rabbit, a chicken wearing a rabbit disguise and a duck wearing a bathrobe and Bunny Slippers. One side of the page was colorful and alluring and the other side advertised regular pharmacy fare. Toothpaste, Pantyhose, Lotions and Perfumes and Huggies Diapers. Abe was all lathered up over the Easter stuff and pointing out what he wanted to buy. I agreed that all of that stuff was awesome and I would like to have it too. But ever the downer, I had to take the chance for a guilt trip. "I wish we had some money to spend on this stuff! I would pick this robed bunny and jelly beans! But unfortunately we don't have any money for this stuff because we have to spend our money on this." Of course, pointing to the Jumbo pack of Diapers on the opposite page.

"Nah, we don't need to buy those. Lets get this stuff!"

"Well, that would only work out if you could go poo poo on the potty every time and wear big boy underwear everywhere we go. Then we could spend all of our diaper money on whatever we want!"

Never one to overcommit himself, he thought about it really hard and sighed. "I'm just not ready yet." with the sincerest little sad face you ever saw. Lets just say we will find some room in the budget for both pages. The kid is good.

Ruining Easter

My calling in the ward is to teach primary. I have eight little eight year old girls. I don't know why they split the boys and girls up, but I got the girls class, and while there are times I wish that Sunday was a chance to catch up with the grown ups, I have definitely come to love these little girls. They are so pure and sweet and well behaved. Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice. I tend to overestimate their maturity for some reason. I always want to answer every random question because I think they are at a really critical age where they need to know that there are answers to all of their questions. I know that sometimes I go a little bit over their heads and then I will be brought back down to earth when they make totally unrelated statements. For example, I will be bearing down in passionate testimony about some point of doctrine and one of them will raise their hand and say "My dog threw up on the couch this morning". And then all eight arms fly up and they all want a turn to tell a story either about their dog or a time they witnessed vomiting. Still, I press on. They are baptized and accountable and there are moments when the spirit is so strong and I know they get it.

Yesterday the lesson was of course the lesson leading up to Easter so we learned about the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. They were totally enraptured as I told the story of Lazarus falling ill and Mary and Martha just knew that Jesus could heal him because they had seen him heal people. They had seen him turn water into wine. They knew he could walk on water. But when Jesus was sent for he didn't come right away. He took his sweet time and Lazarus died. By the time Jesus got there he wasn't just dead he was stinking and rotting and entombed. Everyone was ticked. If Jesus would have hurried he could have saved him.

You could have heard a pin drop. These girls had never heard this story and and they were gripped. I asked "What were these people missing?"

"He could bring him back to life." There is one girl in the class that is about twice as smart as all of the others put together. She runs circles around everyone else and she makes it a sport. She is a handful but I can always count on her to get the real message.

I testified that Jesus has power over death and he demonstrated this power by bringing Lazarus back. But he wasn't done showing his power over death. He was preparing to perform another miracle that was infinitely more important that would change the mortality of every single person who had ever lived or ever would live. He was preparing to bring himself back from death. Not just alive but perfect and immortal, paving the way for all of us to live forever. This is why we celebrate Easter. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe. This is the greatest miracle that has ever been conceived.

The spirit was so strong. It was so satisfying to feel the message hit home to these little eight year old hearts. This moment was worth every dog vomit story I had ever heard from them. Then I said "How do you feel RIGHT NOW? Excited, worried? scared? pleasure? or peace?" They all agreed they felt so peaceful it was warm in their chests. One of them told me that it made her want to cry but not a sad cry, just a happy cry."

"Girls, for the rest of your lives I want you to remember this moment. Whenever you want to know if anything is true I wasn't you to think back to when you were eight and learned about Lazarus and the Resurrection and remember how you felt. If it is not just like this, it is not true. Satan can make any feeling but he cant make this. This feeling is peace and it is telling us that Jesus us real." I was barely able to speak by the end because I was so choked up with emotion. I felt the spirit of the lesson so strongly and I felt these girls feeling it too. It was a powerful moment.

Then Miss Smarty Pants realizes that she has a golden opportunity to demonstrate her superior knowledge over the rest of the class and to nail the teacher to the wall. She couldn't resist. "So where does the Easter Bunny fit in to all of this?" I have no doubt that she knew full well what the Easter Bunny has to do with the real Easter and she had me pinned. She was very curious to see if I would come clean in front of everyone.

I explained that people have always enjoyed celebrating springtime and that as is often the case in human history people ended up mixing the celebration of spring and Easter. We are lucky enough to know the real meaning of Easter.

So She looks me in the eye with a smirk on her face and said "So are you saying that the Easter Bunny is NOT REAL?" She had gone all Katie Couric on me and she was not going to back off until she got a full confession.

At that moment and under those circumstances, it would have been morally wrong to dodge the question or to leave any doubt on the table about the existence of the Easter Bunny. "The Easter Bunny is not real. Jesus is real. I know it because I have prayed about it and I have felt the Holy Ghost confirm to my heart that Jesus is real."

I was a little worried that some of them would e crushed. I could tell from the looks on their faces that this Easter Bunny thing was totally new information. I was imagining irate parents calling and complaining. I felt just a little bit like the Grinch but I knew that ultimately I was doing them a favor by being truthful. How can we expect these kids to have authentic faith in Christ and also promote mythical Easter Eggs and Rabbits who can get into your house and leave candy? These kids end up with more tangible proof of Santa and the Tooth Fairy than they do of the Savior. I had to set the record straight. The thing is, not only did I have the comfort of knowing I was magnifying my calling, but I sensed a great feeling of relief from the girls. It all made much more sense and the Spirit was making it all make sense.

Then I very hypocritically passed out Peeps and Cadbury Eggs and we all basked in Truth and Sugar. A perfect Easter high.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Marathon Morning

Why do I feel compelled to archive the hell of sabbath morning to blogworld every single week? I guess its therapy. I feel like I just got done with a three hour marathon. Every week I get a little better. We are a little more well groomed and we get there a little earlier and we are to the point now that we hear the opening prayer and get all of the sacrament and we appear to be just like any normal LDS family without a dad which is how I was raised and which I subconsciously recreated in my own family. Not that John wouldn't be there with us if he could. He loves it when we get to go together as a family but he will work this shift that includes Sundays for probably years. I would probably be wise to stop feeling sorry for myself and suck it up. This morning we had to choose between consuming food or getting there on time and I would starve a hundred babies rather than be late to sacrament again. I stuffed my bag full of cheese sticks and granola bars and candy and capri suns and we were seated before the opening prayer was said. At this rate of improvement we will be translated before a more humane start time is restored. As trials of faith go I am a pretty major wuss because I seem to have a massive existential crisis every single sunday. The important thing is not how much I don't want to go, the important thing is that I do in fact go every week and I have faith that it will be a blessing to me and that it will eventually get easier. Sometimes obedience is all I have to offer. Today was a minefield of challenges. The kids slept in their church clothes which woud have put us ahead except that Jack decided to pick up a game of old school Mario while he waited for everyone else. By the time we needed to depart he was in full blown psychotic episode mode kicking and screaming and wailing over some stupid level that he just couldn't beat. Yes, this game just earned a one way ticket out of our house forever. I know it was the low blood sugar and the lack of sleep and the stress of the rush but the kid needed a straight jacket over a pesky flying fish that would come out of nowhere and destroy him every single time it was irritating but his reaction was so ridiculously out of proportion. Finally I got everyone hauled into the car and headed to the church, I passed out all of the snacks and in typical martyr mom style I got nothing which was a bad idea because I could feel my blood sugar dipping and it felt stuffy and I was woozy. I had to keep getting up and leaving the meeting just to keep from passing out and ended up in the restroom a lot. I felt like I had already been through three hours by the time sacrament was over but I had to press on and teach my primary girls. The lesson went well and I felt the spirit but I couldn't shake the feeling like I was going to pass out or something. We went to sharing time and I pretty much ditched so I could walk around and get fresh air but they had just fertilized all of the outdoor lawns so it smelled so strong of rotting manner or something equally vomit inducing. There was no where to escape. Then everyone I passed in the halls made comments like "wow your skin is so fair!" or "I never knew how porcelain your complexion is." which is polite for "dang girl, you look like a ghost." I had driven Rob's car to church and by the time it was all over with I just wanted to get home in record time. It was hot my then and I didn't know that Rob's car doesn't have air conditioning. I honestly don't know how I pulled it together to drive home without puking all over the front of myself. I think the fact that I had nothing to puke was a blessing in disguise. When I got home I just wanted to veg out on the couch and get a hold of myself. Of course the kids were begging for an elaborately cooked dinner and would not stop with the begging. Then Kristen came over and wanted to talk about her plans for next year which would require her going to school three days a week and would require me to raise her kids those three days on a volunteer basis. It was more than I could take in. I was just not in a mental place to make commitments or take on more responsibility. We postponed the conversation to think about it some more and just when I got settled in to read some scriptures and wind down I heard a funny noise. It sounded almost like trickling water. no, make that gushing water. No make that a full on House flood coming from a tub left on by Abe hours ago. The entire upstairs carpets and cabinets and walls and the ceiling downstairs and the AC ducts and the light fixtures…all of them gushing water everywhere. all over papers and pictures and electronics. The best part was that I received an email yesterday saying that when our home loan was sold a few months back there was some confusion about the transfer of the homeowners insurance policy and so the house was currently uninsured and the matter would need to be tended to first thing monday morning. It only stands to reason that the house would flood on the sunday before this error was corrected. I think everything will be fine but it did all happen a half hour before the wedding of one of my dearest friends. Her name is Chaunte and she was my little sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters years ago. We have always kept in touch and I have loved seeing what a wonderful responsible adult she has blossomed into. Not in my wildest dream would I miss her wedding and there I was on my hands and knees with a shop vac in hand salvaging all of my earthly possessions. I hope I can make it up to her. A healthy check is already in the mail. Isn't it amazing how like knows just how to kick your ass when you are down? Its a phenomenon that amazes me. I guess I need a major overhaul on my Sunday attitude or else I am doomed to Snafus like this every single week. Heaven help me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

my fertility

A very personal title for a very personal topic. Wow. I never knew how fraught this kind of this would be for me. I was one of those girls with the super human ovulation timer that never failed. Never a minute late, never a day off and never a case of PMS. Not to mention the totally painless deliveries and supernatural recoveries. I was the woman who was put on earth for the sole purpose of birthing children. I am tempted to write it on personal profiles and get to know you questionnaires "I crank out perfect children after perfect pregnancies and then they sleep and nurse and do long division right on schedule without so much as a menstrual cramp.

That was then. Now is a different story. Now the story is about betrayal and a stubborn defiant ovaries who have ganged up against me and decided that I shall have no say in the reproductive future of my nether regions. This act of war was responded to swiftly in the form of high doses of Provera a treatment of progesterone that should make Al Pachino sprout a vagina and bleed. No dice. You're supposed to take the progesterone to force the bleed so that you have a day to start counting from and then on day four you start taking the pills that force your ovaries to attention and make em kick out a perfect ripe egg or two. My body is in full mutiny. It will not respond to any of it. Not that we needed to check John but we did anyway just to have that special feeling of utter mortification when you leave your deposit and walk out avoiding eye contact with all humans. John's count was high and that just confirmed what I already knew. My womb is a rocky place where his seed can find no purchase. It only makes me sad when I think about the fat faced baby girl who will never inherit my eyelashes or call me every day when her kids are driving her crazy. I just want my Friend For Life. Weather we acknowledge it or not, we live in an extremely matriarchal society. A daughterless mother becomes an over-involved mother in law. Our boys are bound to marry and join their wives families because thats the way it goes.

The worst part of late infertility is that I don't get the luxury of complaining about it. I have two healthy perfect children born of my own body. How dare I feel sorry for myself that I didn't get more? I want to feel grateful for what I have and focus on what is. What is is blessings so great that they can't be spoken. Children so precious and of infinite worth that I have no business associating with let alone raise and teach and let them call me mother. I'm too blessed to ask for more but in the very moment of humble gratitude a little riot breaks out in my chest and screams JUST ONE MORE! ILL DO ANYTHING FOR JUST ONE MORE!

I guess if I were really serious about getting another kid cooking I would start making all kinds of invasive appointments and loading up on hormones and supplements. Perhaps the fact that that sounds too exhausting to bear is a good indicator that maybe a newborn isn't the best answer at the moment. No amount of sound logic can calm the heart of a baby hungry woman.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

embracing his feminine side

This was the handiwork of Ella. She dressed Abe up in a dress and a wig and applied her signature make up look "Two Dollar Hooker".

Our living arrangement with the two households connected results in lots of random strangers visiting. The just appear in the back yard and often wander in uninvited. John and I both thought this was another random kid overflowing from Kristen's house. It took a minute to realize that this was our own child…in drag. He makes a pretty cute girl and Ella was thrilled to showcase her styling skills but he only put up with it for a few minutes before announcing that he was a boy and he was all done with his stint in cross dressing. I would be worried but this kid is all boy.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Life is a bowl of Eagle's Eyes

My kids love maraschino cherries. When we go to sonic we order extra cherries on the side. They are floored by my ability to tie the stem in a knot with my tongue.

I saw them at the grocery store and decided to buy a jar of them knowing that I was risking starting a major addiction especially with Abraham.

When I unpacked all of the groceries I made sure to put the cherries away in a place that wasn't super obvious. I buried them in the back behind jars of pickles and sauce and other uninteresting items. We had been home and had everything put away for maybe ten minutes when Jack opened the fridge to browse and Abe walked in from the back door at the same moment. From across the room his eyes honed in on the one unfamiliar object. He didn't even know what it was but all of his kid instincts were abuzz. "red. I want that. Its red."

I knew what he was asking for without even looking. He is a heat seeking missile when It comes to finding sweets. He has always had an unparalleled ability to find candy "You have Eagle Eyes!"

Still pointing and closing in on the fridge he continued "I want the red. I want the eagle eyes."

No amount of explaining would convince him that this delicious new delicacy was anything but actual eagle eyes. Telling him that they are cherries is clearly just another deception to throw him off the trail. He wont be fooled. He wants Eagle Eyes every day now. He offers them to visitors. When I make smoothies he begs "With an Eagle Eye on top!"

I have a feeling that this title is going to stick. Years from now we will be ordering sundaes with Eagle Eyes. We are omnivores but we try to stay away from the endangered species list.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Swearing at church: not recommended

Today we got to church in time to partake of half of the sacrament. As I posted before, I have been feeling sorry for myself recently because I don't have a spouse to help me on Sunday mornings and eight o'clock church is killing me. I begged John to take the day off so that we could have a nice Sunday together as a family. John doesn't exactly have to be begged to take a day off. Vacation time burns a hole in his pocket. He can barely stand to let more than a few days accumulate. He sent a text message to his boss to let him know that he wasn't going to come in.

I made the boys sleep in their church clothes and I set out all of my clothes and made sure John had crisp ironed shirts. I even stashed my church bag full of granola bars and fruit roll ups and apples so that I could avoid the usual low blood sugar meltdown. Turns out I should have made John sleep in his church clothes too because when eight o'clock rolled around we were all ready to go and he was totally undressed and unshowered and insisting that he didn't own even one pair of pants that fit. At about the same time he got a return text message from his boss telling him that he could not take the day off because they were already short handed. His shift starts at five so he was already three hours late and I know he was a little relieved to dodge his tight pants appearance. He drove us to the church and dropped us off at the door. We rushed inside in a chaotic flurry. "Have they passed the sacrament yet?"

"Yes."

"Damnit."

Then I apologized profusely to all of the families in the foyer who very clearly did not expect to hear the d-word while they were waiting for the deacons to pass the blessed water. Not my finest moment. Luckily I was able to repent and renew one half of my baptismal covenant thirty seconds later. I'm hoping thats enough to get by. The boys were unusually well behaved today and I actually had a very satisfying Sunday. I had expected to teach Primary but I have a teaching partner who also thought she was teaching. I let her take it and enjoyed church with the grown ups.

A friend of mine in the ward just gave birth to her seventh child in seven years. Her baby came early just in time for two weeks of spring break. Her mom was going to come help her for a while but was unable to come. Her husband couldn't get any time off of work either and he has been in and out of the hospital with blood pressure problems. So she was there at eight o'clock with two children not old enough to be in nursery and she clearly hasn't rested for an insane length of time. She also told me that she has been struggling with a bit of postpartum depression and feels like her emotions are out of control. I wondered if anyone could have a stable mood all alone every day with that many kids. I got to hold her baby and I wanted to put him in my purse and take him home. During class I sat by another friend who just lost her first child during childbirth. This happened after a long battle with infertility and I could barely look at her without bursting out crying. I got to thinking about these two women with their totally different trials and decided that I am thankful for my small bag of problems.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Salad Dressing

I have never been a huge fan of corporeal punishment as a method of disciplining kids but I can't claim that I have not administered many many spankings in my career as a mother. I think that there are very few children who get swatted and think "Oh, I get it, when I do something bad, I get spanked" . Most kids think, "Oh, I get it, when someone upsets you, you hit them." With that said, I have to confess that it is sometimes very satisfying to paddle a rear end. I'm a fan of the Love and Logic method where consequences make sense.

When my niece Emma was a baby she went through long difficult bout of biting people. Poor Kristen was literally dumped by dozens of friends who told her that they couldn't let Emma near their children because it was too dangerous. They tried everything they could think of to stop her from biting. She even bit people's pets and babies. She would bite so hard that she would draw blood and it was usually totally unprovoked and unpredictable. Finally they came up with one consequence that seemed to deter her. Vinegar. When she would bite someone they would put a few drops of vinegar in her mouth and she would freak out. She bit so often that Rob started carrying vinegar in a little vial on his keychain and when they thought she might bite they would just jingle their keys and she would recoil. Eventually she stopped biting and eventually they made new friends who weren't afraid of their toddler.

The vinegar punishment has become a popular alternative to spanking in our family. Its great because kids HATE it but it is totally harmless. I have some guilt issues with it because it doesn't always fit the love and logic pattern or else you have to get really complex in explaining vinegar in the mouth as a natural consequence of anything other than eating pickles, but the kids aren't being spanked and I say we applaud progress wherever we find it. On a side note, My husband was disciplined with tobasco sauce on his tongue for spitting as a child and thats just plain cruel if you ask me, but he does love spicy food now so maybe it was just exposure therapy more than abuse. No method is perfect because they are all being used by imperfect parents just trying their best on kids who drive them crazy every single day.

So I know it sounds like this is my story for this post but actually I was going to tell a different story about something that happened this week. Because of the aforementioned vinegar wars that have occurred in the past, we have stored vinegar in a number of convenient locations around the house. If anyone bites or spits or uses bad language you gotta have your vinegar within arm's reach. I have a little squeeze bottle of it in the kitchen and another in my bed side table. Incidentally, these squeeze bottles resemble the bottles that you buy oil in for consecrating for priesthood use. It is just olive oil but it is set apart for the healing of the sick and afflicted. A priesthood holder administering a blessing would drop a few drops of the already set-apart oil and then lay hands on the head of the person receiving the blessing and anoint their head with oil and then in a second blessing seal the anointing and offer inspired words of counsel or comfort or instruction or whatever. I have many experiences where I have seen the power of the priesthood heal people of deadly disease or given relevant counsel that could have come from no other source than the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. I have a deep and abiding testimony of the priesthood in general and specifically to how it is used to lead God's church and bless the faithful. The other night I had such a bad flare up in my joints that it was impossible to sleep just from the pain. I was on every narcotic you can think of (legally prescribed and obtained. I'm not a junkie) and they weren't even scratching the surface. I was in bed sobbing out of pure pain. I asked John to get up and give me a blessing which he was more than happy to do because it is hard for him to feel helpless when I hurt and he was glad to have something that he could do for me. I just wanted him to bless me with sleep for that night. I wasn't going after any huge miracles, just let the ambien be more potent than the pain. So we were preparing for the little private blessing and I realized that I knew exactly where our bottle of consecrated oil is. I found it in two seconds and handed it off and John did his manly thing. We had a very spiritual experience as he told me of God's love for me and gave me council and blessed me that my pain would subside enough to sleep. It worked like magic, or more accurately, it worked like the power of God. Way better than magic. I fell right to sleep. But then something kept waking me up. A smell. Id drift off and then there it was again. I couldn't put my finger on it. It was sour and sharp and kindof food-ish. Finally it dawned on me and I rolled over and looked at the bottle of consecrated oil that John had used. It was vinegar. No wonder I felt it trickle fast and cold down the back of my head when he anointed me. no wonder it looked oddly clear. I had assumed it was super fancy extra virgin cold pressed oil or something. Nope it was vinegar. The great news is these blessings are according to the faith of those involved and I know that John's blessing council was inspired by god no matter what he just put on my head. I did wasn't to be anointed again just to be sure and I found the identical bottle of oil but that was actually clearly marked as such. So John anointed me again and then my hair was basically a very tasty salad dressing or even a dip for breads. The next morning my pillowcase needed to be bleached in boiling water to purge the Holy Vinagrette and I just chucked the pillow (gotta love Ikea and the disposable lifestyle it provides) I will say that It was one of the best nights of sleep I've had in a long time and one of the best blessings I have ever had. The pain left me and my mind and body truly rested… or marinated. Depending on how you look at it.

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys