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?"



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.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Glorious Sabbath

I just read the blog of a good friend of mine who posted a long ode to eight o'clock church. If only I were that spiritual. Here it is posted publicly: I detest eight o'clock church. like when they announced that it was switching from glorious 11 to 8, I pretty much said a little prayer that went like this. "Heavenly Father, Thanks for blessing me with membership in thy church. As much as I love partaking of the sacrament, it will have to wait for next year when we return to a schedule that I am capable of attending. Until then, I will see ya around nine. That will be me wrestling the disheveled children in the lobby and whispering threats of violence into their ears just loud enough to frighten the other lobby families but somehow not loud enough to produce any actual fear from said disheveled boys. Father, your gonna have to cut me some slack on this one. Perhaps you could check out the insane quantity of wheat in my storage closet or give me bonus points on how well I keep my journal (does it count if I burn it when it is full?) and we can call it even. Amen"

I think it would be easier if I wasn't a single mother on Sundays. John has worked weekend mornings for years and he will for years to come, so the whole routine is up to me. Sometimes I get motivated and iron everyone's clothes on Saturday night and lay everything out down to the sock. If I don't think of every detail, I guarantee we will be late. Then I had the genius idea to make the boys get dressed in their church clothes before bed and sleep in them. That week we were on time but nobody got breakfast.

Reading this you would think I think that the root of the problem is that I am not a morning person. Oddly, I totally am a morning person. I'm just not a morning mom . I always prided myself on the fact that my babies were awesome sleepers. I was a hard core user of the Babywise technique for getting babies to sleep and between that and a dose of really good luck, we all slept well from the time the babies were about 6 weeks old. Even before that I could squeeze five hours out of them. The point is, I am hardwired with the concept that one should let a sleeping baby lie. Always. It is so counterintuitive to me to wake a baby. Even if that baby happens to be a seven year old on his twelfth hour of sleep. I can't bring myself to do it. Plus all three males in the family have throat/sinus/apnea problems so I just encourage unconsciousness as much as possible. I am, of course, a terrible insomniac so its ironic that I spend half of my life coddling the sleep of the rest of the household.

Speaking of sleep, My husband is a diagnosed hypersomniac. That means he can sleep anywhere anytime and he does. He also has terrible sleep apnea so when he sleeps his body stops breathing for little chunks of time (32 times per hour, to be exact, according to the sleep studies he has undergone) We thought it had to do with his tonsils and a crooked septum and an abnormally low palette but then he had surgery to correct all of that and the apnea stayed exactly the same. If you are even interested in seeing a throat without an uvula hanging down, have John say AHHHH for you. Its a little freaky. So his only option to get decent sleep is to wear what I lovingly refer to as "the fighter pilot mask" It is a full face mask that covers his mouth and nose and anchors to his forehead with two sets of velcro straps and a big flexible tube piping in pressurized air. It makes him sound like Darth Vader or waves crashing on a beach depending on who you ask. Once its on his head, he can't talk or hear anything much so he doesn't know that I call him Maverick when I say good night. I used to have a problem with grinding my teeth at night and my dentist made me a device that fit on to my two front teeth which made it impossible to clamp my jaw all the way down and gave me a duckbill. There's nothing sexier than the two of us before bed. I'm sure you can imagine.

John loves his CPAP because he loves his sleep. The problem for a confirmed hypersomniac with sleep apnea is that as much as you want to catch a few winks on a road trip or on the couch in front of the TV on a lazy weekend, you have to go get the gear and find a plug and do the whole production or else it is completely pointless. Sometimes he tries to sneak a nap without his headgear on and I catch him every time because as soon as he falls asleep he starts twitching and kicking and chomping his teeth. Because it is such a hassle to move his sleeping set-up, he often ends up sleeping in random places in the house for days at a time. He tends to favor one blanket too so you can always spot a John nest: The machine, the mask, the blankie, and a bottle of Tums. He is a lot of things but unpredictable is not one of them.

So back to my unrighteous complaining about eight o'clock church. I thought this was one of the perks of being a Mormon. Sleeping in on Sunday. There are people in our ward who say they love that when they get home from church it is still morning and then they get the whole day. Call me a pessimist, but after getting up at the crack and wrestling two kids through sacrament and then teaching primary and going to relief society, I feel like my day should be at least mostly over with. No, I get to come home and make a big meal because there is no chance anyone got breakfast and then clean up and then find something that will fend off the repeated "I'm Bored" argument. And then I have to feel guilty if I let them watch TV or run around irreverently or go somewhere and inadvertently cause someone else to work. Then John gets home from work and I get to create and serve and clean up after another meal. I get it that it's supposed to be a day of rest, but any mom can tell you that resting has immediate negative consequences. This may look like a regular middle class house in the suburbs, but it is really a giant treadmill of housework that will throw you off if you even think about slowing down. A Sunday of rest is guaranteed to equal a Monday of hard manual labor and might possibly get you featured on an episode of Hoarders. "We used to be able to see the floor in this room, but then I decided to take a nap after church and spend some time in prayer and when I came out, the camera crew was here."

Actually, Hoarders is my favorite show. John hates it. I like anything that makes me look extremely sane and tidy. I get my kicks wherever I can find 'em. There was an episode where they found THREE dead cats in a woman's living room in various stages of decomposition. No matter how messy this house gets I love being able to say, "Well at least there is no rotting flesh in here."

Okay, so back to Sundays. When I was a missionary in France we would always snicker when the sacrament bread was warm from the oven of the local bakery. Even the bishop insisted that it was okay to buy bread on the sabbath. Once we were teaching a girl named Lucille in Metz and when we got to the discussion about keeping the sabbath day holy and not working if possible. Lucille replied, "But what if you are a police officer or an emergency room doctor or a bread baker?" I love that baking bread is considered vital to civilized life. I'm starting to wish I was French.

When my dad was a kid they used to go to a restaurant for dinner specifically in effort of keeping the sabbath day holy. They reasoned that going out to eat would be restful. This was a generally accepted practice in the church until later when church leaders began to recommend not causing others to work. My mom hates to be teased about this, but when I was a kid it was a weekly tradition that if we could tell my mom what our lesson was about in the car on the way home from church she would stop at Circle K and let us get a Thirstbuster as a reward. To her credit, she dragged four kids to church every week without the help of a churchgoing husband so who could begrudge her a Diet Coke? Not to use my blog to spew unrighteous sentiment, but lets all admit that sometimes it is hard to do what we know is right. Our testimonies, our attitudes and behaviors are constantly evolving. I'm sure that one day my testimony of the sabbath will be right up there with Joseph Smith and forever families, but for now it is hovering right above Boy Scouts and Kolob.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I try to be a perfect mom, but I have to admit one of my major failings. Pop music. When were driving in the car it is next to impossible to ensure that they don't hear inappropriate lyrics. There are some things that I'm good at staying vigilant about but I too am a sucker for a good beat. Once when Jack was three he announced to his sunbeam class that he was "bringing sexy back" around the same time I heard him absent-mindedly singing "If you like it then you should have put a ring on it. Uh oh uh oh uh oh…"When he could barely talk he would cry in the car and beg for "Wock" We knew that this meant he was requesting Def Leopard. Specifically, Pour Some Sugar on Me. There was nothing cuter than his little fat babyface singing earnestly, "Do you take sugar? ONE LUMP OR TWO? Pour some sugar on me…In the name of love" etc. etc. I have to say that as hilarious as those gems were, my all time favorite is still when he was getting down to Kanye West (Yes, I told you I'm a bad mom) and he sang the lyrics to "Stronger" and afterwards required an explanation of the words "Since Prince was on Appalonia, Since OJ had Isotoners" Not the most simple task to bring a preschooler up to speed on the history of the artist formerly known as Prince and his revolving door of muses AND The history of OJ Simpson before he became an aquitted murderer and was hawking leather gloves that may or may not have been used in said murder. I'm always guilty of over-explaining things to my kids and I could see them glaze over before I even got to the part about the white bronco. By the way, I give mad props to Kanye for such a hilariously obscure and bold rhyme as Appolonia and Isoton-ah. Genius.

Pink has some catchy tunes out on the radio these days but she has to add things like "Its just you and your hand tonight" or "I wanna get in trouble I wanna start a fight".

I should probably be a good Mormon mom and play the primary program CD that they pass out on Sunday but honestly, I think I would have a mutiny. They were raised by Dr. Dre and Aerosmith and Black Eyed Peas. I try to keep a parent ear alert but I know there have been slips. It was bad when I heard something from the backseat about "lovely lady lumps" Also I didn't quite know how to answer the inquiry as to why Katy Perry had indeed kissed a girl. The best I could come up with: "Maybe she's a little retarded. how sad."

So I have a new clean music policy that lets just say is evolving. I thought I was doing well by putting in my 80s music CDs but then I heard "Who do you want me to be to make you sleep with me? and realized I need to go back a few more decades or perhaps spend some time creating kid friendly playlists. Now I'm seeing the goldmine that is KidsBob although I would rather listen to liberal talk radio than those obnoxious kids slaughtering pop songs. Either way my ears will bleed and no one will be happy.

Speaking of the media that our kids are exposed to, I am ready to permanently remove Nickelodeon and Disney from our Lineup. Every single show has the same theme: Hooking up. I can't believe the pressure they put on kids to date and "make out" and "hook up" and also everyone is famous or magical. No normal people allowed. You have to be a wizard or a webshow star or a rich kid raised on a cruise ship, or an incognito popstar, or the teenaged CEO of a huge company. What ever happened to 8 is enough or Different strokes or Facts of Life? Damn, I sound old. Just let the kids be kids!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Let's just say… I have a type

John and I went out last night to dinner and a movie. We saw Battle: Los Angeles Its basically an alien invasion movie that follows a group of marines from before contact till they defeat the ETs. When I heard about it I knew that I would end up seeing it. not because this genre holds any intreats for me but because my cute little husband's love language is movie attending. Yes, thats right, there is a sixth love language and it involves watching other people shoot guns and pretend to die.

I don't usually write movie reviews on here but, damn. It was great. So great that by the time I left the theatre I was just so happy that we weren't running from scary aliens. It was like Independence day but without the Hollywood-ness (or the stripper) and it was like Cloverfield but less home movie-ish. It was just intensely real. My husband is the kind of person who has no problem with a movie where the trees come to life and save the cornered good guys. But if he's watching a movie with any police or military action in it he will lose his mind over something like "that guy just shot 31 rounds out of a 20 round magazine. I can't watch this crap." or "So how is a German soldier in 1944 carrying a rifle that wouldn't be manufactured in Czechoslovakia until 1945? this movie is lame." Nothing gets past John as far as military accuracy and he loved it so much that he saw it twice in two days. Everyone should go see it. theres no sex, no swearing (maybe a word or two) and it will keep you engaged the entire time. The cast consists almost entirely of men. Marines. Later on there is one woman for a little while and a couple of kids but for the most part it is pure military men. They didn't cast it with anyone you'd know. They all just look like regular guys. No moviestars. I sat there marveling at how damn attractive they all are. And as I snuggled my husband in the movie theatre I was so glad I had a hot military police man of my very own to take home with me. The reason I say this is not because I'm confessing that I was turned on by the manly men in the movie but it was the first time I realized that it is not a coincidence that I married a man in uniform. Maybe because opposites attract and if I were invaded by bad aliens I would just try to hide where as my husband would be on the front line. John's ability to protect our family is extremely hot. John is the quintessential good guy. When I met him I said "You look just like Buzz Lightyear!" Incidently, he does look just like Buzz lightyear and Dudley Doright and just about every other hero character they have ever invented. He is all about fighting for the greater good and helping people and saving the day so I'm glad people like John exist especially if aliens ever attempt to colonize our planet.

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys