Sunday, July 11, 2010

Me Again

Yesterday was Kenny’s 9th birthday. Mom and Dad were able to make it over and we had a houseful of boys and chaos and cupcakes for a few hours. Unlike my fabulous friend Nikki, who throws parties that put professionals to shame, I am rendered useless in the bright light of an oncoming birthday. I just want my kid to have fun and then, for it to be over. Is that so wrong? Of course it is.

Thank goodness I’ve got some very cool next door neighbors (truth be told, I have a number of very cool neighbors—the 1300 block of Kimball Avenue is legendary). These particular neighbors have a lovely pool and they’ve been quite generous with the invites. And since last summer they’ve let the kids have swim parties on their birthdays. Since our first one last year I’ve come to realize that when it’s over 100 degrees and you have a pool, you don’t need games, goody bags, or even a piñata. You’re golden.

This birthday was even easier because my parents were here and my parents make everything easier. My plan was hotdogs but Dad fired up the grill and cooked hotdogs, burgers, brats, and homemade sausages. Homemade, I tell you! I invited the Pollicks down to join us and before they left, Dad had dinner, an impromptu party, planned for us and the Pollicks and their houseguests. My smoker perfumed the neighborhood all afternoon. In the evening we gorged on barbecued ribs, chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad, coleslaw, etc. Dad can throw a party with one hand tied behind his back.

Well anyway, it was good and it’s over. Until next month.

Have I mentioned how warm it is? Is it humid? I don’t know. Not like the humidity I remember from living back East. But my bedroom is w-a-r-m. Two fans pointed at me only produce a sort of warm wind. Man, I sure miss that crazy cool June.

How are you? Well, I hope. It’s been too long and I really should write more often. But when? Who knows.

Have I mentioned that I like a blank book? When I see one, I’m generally tempted to make a purchase. Still, I’m not fantastic about actually using them. I do have one I haul out for General Conference and that sort of thing and I pulled it out tonight for the fireside at church. It only has a few pages filled but I added a few more this evening. The topic was, broadly speaking, missionary work but there was a lot said about teaching our children. A reminder that they learn the most at home and how crucial the short time we have with them is.

I know. I know, I know, I know. It was the small kick in the pants that I need every now and again. A reminder that in general, turning a deaf ear to the complaining, whining, carrying on, and foolishness, pays big dividends. That it’s the (seemingly) little things we either do or neglect to do each day that have a cumulative effect one way or the other.

“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” Doctrine and Covenants 64:33

Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Not that it’s easy or anything. Just easier, right? We listened to a talk by Elder David A. Bednar entitled “More Diligent and Concerned at Home” and it was about just that. Something he touched on was damage done by hypocrisy in our lives.

“A public statement of love when the private actions of love are absent at home is hypocrisy—and weakens the foundation of a great work. Publicly declaring testimony when faithfulness and obedience are missing within our own homes is hypocrisy—and undermines the foundation of a great work. The commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:16) applies most pointedly to the hypocrite in each of us. We need to be and become more consistent. “But be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).”

I’m not ashamed to admit I have work to do in this area. Clearly, I should be but nonetheless, there it is. It’s something I’ve mulled over long and hard—long before this meeting and even longer, before I read Elder Bednar’s talk. I remember once sitting in the basement, folding clothes and watching TV. One of my not-so-guilty pleasures. I have Oprah set to record each day on the Tivo but most of the time the topic is of little interest and I push ‘delete’. On this particular day it was one of those in-depth deals with Lisa Ling and she was going to hang out with The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They’ve experienced a flood of young women interested in becoming nuns. In fact, at the time, the average age of these sisters was 26 and the average age of one of the postulants was 21. Lisa Ling interviewed several, asking pointed questions about what they’d left behind and what they felt they’d received in the bargain. I remember clearly, one sister talking about how amazing it was to live what she referred to as an “integrated life”. Each day, what she said and did was in accordance with what she believed. It got me thinking. Bridging that distance, no, reducing or even eliminating that distance between what we believe and what we do, must be the key to something real, and true, and important.

Well, on that note, let me leave you with two thoughts: a) I still miss chatting at you quite a bit and b) tonight I wish I could sleep in an igloo.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This One's Mostly for You . . . That Is If You're Josh

Check this out! You know how I feel about succulents. A little obsessed, right? Well, one aspect of that obsession is the whole concept of propagating echeveria. If a person could really pull off a leaf and produce another plant, I’m interested. I decided to try it out a few weeks ago and pulled off leaves from several varieties I’ve got sitting on the front porch. I laid them on the window sill at my kitchen sink and gave them a few days to develop a callus. Once they looked about right, I laid them in a container with a mixture of potting soil and sand and ignored them for a week or so. And look what I found today! Roots, baby! I may actually be able to pull this off!

That was yesterday. And yesterday morning started off great. Fantastic, even. And then, at 8:15 a.m., Sierra looked at the giant calendar on the wall and said, “Mom! Michael has a test this morning! Oh! So do I!” Uh oh. How did I miss this? I don’t do things like this. I was mortified.

I yelled orders and headed the kids to the van. We dropped off Kenny and Sam at school and headed to Kennewick where Michael and Sierra would be tested for the next several hours. When we reached Quinalt Baptist Church, the WAVA (Washington Virtual Academy) teachers laughed and headed the kids in the right direction. I sure appreciated the kindness. I would learn later they these two were not the last kids to show up and testing didn’t start until closer to 9 a.m. As Josh and I headed out I asked when they would finish and found out they’d need a snack at 10:30 p.m. Nice. That meant I was coming back in a few hours. But still, crisis averted.

Next thing on the agenda was to rush home without getting a speeding ticket. My parents would be there any time and the laundry wasn’t put away, the floors needed sweeping, and my bed wasn’t made. MY BED WASN’T MADE!!!

Josh and I managed to put things to rights just as they drove up but the bed remained unmade as Skipper was unwilling to extricate himself from my comforter. He isn’t allowed to sleep in beds at Mom and Dad’s house and he took full advantage of the Tempur-Pedic magic that is 85% of our tiny bedroom. Once he realized they were here, he evacuated and hurled himself directly at his true love, Dad. That boy was ready to hit the road.

I thought they’d stay for a bit but as it turned out, the plan was to pick up the dog and head out. That is until Dad decided he was going to mow the backyard (actually, he said, “I’m gonna mow this !@%$#%@” but you know, nothing unusual there). In my defense, I did mow it last Wednesday—it wasn’t a jungle or anything. But I sure appreciated it. Mom and I made snacks for the kids and before I left to deliver them, she had the weed eater started and was finishing up Dad’s work. They don’t do anything by halves, those two. They blow into town, work like a team of oxen on crack, and they blow right out; never a dull moment and never a job left undone. Except my garage. They’ve never stuck around long enough to fully take on that train wreck (though to their credit they have built a full complement of shelves to accommodate any organizing we may one day attempt. Ha!).

Did I ever tell you that Michael works 26 miles away? Well he does. So it was a treat to meet him for lunch. He happened to be at WSU-Tri-Cities attending training on ASME B31.3, whatever in the world that is (you could tell me and I still wouldn’t know), so Sam and Josh and I met him at Burger King. Because Iron Man. Obviously. Sporting upside down crowns, they put their Iron Mans (Iron Men?) together and began yelling, “I’m Sally O’Malley and I’m FIFTY YEARS OLD! I like to kick, I like to stretch, and I like to kick!” as they kicked, stretched, and kicked with the toys. I think Michael was a little embarrassed; the place was full of people from the training. Those are my boys! They obviously pay way more attention to my antics than I thought!

Have I told you lately of the very sad news that my favorite lip gloss has been discontinued? I’ve been using it for ages and then BAM! it’s gone. I made a pilgrimage to all three Walmarts in the greater Tri-Cities area and located six tubes. Another five online. But I’m still a little sad. R.I.P. Rimmel Vinyl Gloss in “Snog”. Yes, I’m being dramatic. I suppose. SNOG!

Tomorrow my baby turns four. Can’t hardly believe it. Four years ago I sat in a hospital bed at Kadlec Medical Center, disappointed a little. My doctor thought for sure Josh would come by the time “E.R.” was over. He walked in to check on me again and noticed Michael sleeping on the couch. He decided this was a good time to talk to me about making sure this was the end of the line. He said, “I know people. He could wake up with a bag of frozen peas in his lap.” I needed the laugh.

My sweet surprise was born a few hours later. And he’s kept us on our toes ever since! He is awesome. He makes me laugh every day and by way of entertainment value, he gives way more than he gets. Tonight he spent a few hours with Sierra and the boys while Michael and I went to the Delta High School orientation with Michael Jr. I imagine a fair amount of television was watched. When I turned on the bath water for him tonight, he hopped in and began singing, “Who’s that lady? Sexy lady!” from the Swiffer commercial. Seriously. You KNOW laughing is both not an option and the ONLY option. And that’s how it always is.

Tonight I wrapped him up in a few blankets and took him out front for a cuddle in the swing Michael hung in a big sycamores while I was still in the hospital, recovering from this little man’s exit. From the swing we could see the glowing “Kadlec” sign and I sang “The One Bathing Suit Your Grandma Otter Wore”. I don’t think he gets the humor of the song but he’s a good audience.

Tonight, as his eyes were closing, he murmured his last words as a three year old: “I want ice cream . . .” Sounds about right. Man, I love this kid.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Me Again.

I miss you! I’ve been wanting to write you a little something lately but my time’s been filled with new obligations and old ‘shoulds’ and, well, I just haven’t done it. But I miss you.


Seriously. What’s new? Furniture is new here. Finally. After a year and a half of complaining about the shoddy quality of our original set, the replacement set arrived. Not without a lot of effort on Michael’s side though. Thanks to his persistence we have this newer, nicer, pricier set and only had to surrender the old stuff. And put the slipcovers on because Some Assembly Required. But it’s Awesome because you know (YOU KNOW) it’s only a matter of time before Josh does a chocolate-covered face-plant with a running start. It WILL need the recommended dry cleaning. Probably on a fortnightly basis.

Did I tell you awhile back that Michael had Charter bundle the cable, phone, and internet? The Googles, the interwebs, and the e-mails? Anway, he did. And it was FANTASTIC! Fantastic because we upgraded enough to get me my BYU TV but also Super Fantastic because we now have . . .*drumroll please* . . . Caller I.D.! I didn’t realize this was part of the package but when someone called while the technician was still here and I could see it was an unwanted solicitation (are there ‘wanted’ phone solicitations?), I couldn’t help but share with him my newfound joy. He just looked at me. Gave me the old *blank stare*.

Charter Technician: “You mean you didn’t have Caller I.D.?”

Me: “No sir, I did not. Not since the electronic ankle monitor!”

Charter Technician: “I didn’t know anyone didn’t have Caller I.D.” *extra blank stare*

So I have Caller I.D. And I am so screening my calls. Not yours of course. No. No, I’d never do that, but you know. There are People That Need Screening. Some of you have been accidentally screened because apparently we also now have Voice Mail. I was sort of confused when people began asking me if I got their messages. Um no. My answering machine wasn’t flashing anything new. Then Michael reminded me that there wouldn’t be any more flashing lights. So now to remember how to use Voice Mail. This is not making me feel any younger.

I’m having a small problem. Tiny really, in the big scheme of things. When I used to post every day, I knew I was sharing my Stuff with a large group of friends. Most folks I conversed with on a regular basis had access to my blog and knew what I was up to. I never felt the need to apprise folks of my details during real life interactions because anything I cared to share was already Out There. Now it’s different but my mind hasn’t caught up yet (big surprise, eh?). I still write daily; haven’t skipped a day, but it’s only a journal on my computer. And now when I have real life conversations I find myself holding back because it feels like I must’ve already shared. I’m still assuming everyone knows everything. I’m saying “Oh. I didn’t tell you that?” a lot lately. I’ve got to learn to share and relate like a normal person again. So anyway.

The kids are doing fine. All the regular stuff. Sierra and I started watching The Food Nanny on BYU TV and have made a few of the meals we’ve seen. Although the Food Nanny’s dishes are a little pedestrian and she herself is so aggressively wholesome that it can be difficult to watch, the kids have mostly enjoyed the food. I need to work harder at getting the kids involved with the cooking. They’d probably learn a little something. None too soon; yesterday when I asked one child (who will remain nameless to protect the theoretically innocent) for a can of chicken broth, I saw him shake the can and give another sibling a knowing look as it was handed over. Seriously. Carbonated chicken stock? There was a little disappointment when I was able to open it without incident.

Random thought: “Ghost Busters” and “Phineas and Ferb” are both located in “The Tri-State Area” and both involve vast amounts of attempted “busting”.

Okay, my eyes are burning and I’m getting sleepy thinking of all the yard work that’s waiting for me tomorrow. Darned teenagers and their blasted sprinkler head stealing. *shakes fists in the air*. I have no proof but I only ever see teenagers and old Ukrainian women walk past. Anyway, trees to plant, smalls section of lawn to mow (the part that Mr. Malley’s sprinklers hit), weeds to pull, annuals to arrange, deck to tidy up. Blah, blah, blah. I’ve lost you already. But you’re awesome. And don’t forget, I miss you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm Okay, You're Defriended

Miss me? If not, please go to the “She’s in the House” fan page and de-fan yourself because I only want to talk to my besties. You know who you are. And who you aren’t.

Today I was able to spend some time with Michael in the morning at such lovely establishments as the Bark and Garden Center in Olympia (thanks for the suggestion Kellie!) and Trader Joe’s. Never enough of this sort of time. In the afternoon I helped ready the church for Corrina’s wedding and loved hanging out with old friends for an awhile. In the late afternoon Michael took me to Red Nails for a manicure/pedicure and what started out as a little pampering turned into a torture session. It started out with a simple question: “Can I fix your eyebrows”? Well sure. It’d been a bit since Sinar plucked the daylights out of them (to keep me from looking like a logger!) and they could use some grooming.

Before this woman came down on me with waxy terror, she said she wanted to wax my upper lip. “It’s been awhile?” Um yeah. I’ve never had my upper lip waxed. Didn’t even realize I had a mustache. Searing pain, searing pain, and I’m hair-free. Next some crazy awful eyebrow waxing/plucking and I felt like my entire face was on fire. I’m crossing my fingers that the redness and swelling goes down by tomorrow but I suppose it’s no big deal. I sort of enjoy giving my friends a reason to laugh.

Tonight Dad asked me to listen to a song and help him figure out what album it was on so he could pick it up. It was a cover of The Who’s “Love, Reign o'er Me” by Pearl Jam. I liked it a lot. We’ll have to help him download it because it wasn’t on the soundtrack for the movie it came from (“Reign on Me”). Next we watched “Survivor” because I missed it last night. I’ve been enjoying this season but man, that Parvati makes me itch.

By this point you may be wondering what’s up. What’s she talking about? Oh I don’t know. But anyway, as you know, I ended the daily postings. Since then though, Michael helped me realize that there’s nothing wrong with taking some time here and there to share some thoughts. So I will.

As some of you know, I was defriended by a high school friend on Facebook yesterday. She wrote a very long (VERY long) message about it (of which I read the first few sentences) and then blogged about ‘breaking up’ with me. Her reason was that at some point I pushed the ‘Like’ button when I saw this on Facebook: “DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN”

I was a little surprised. When I first saw this, I chuckled; I didn’t take it as a serious prayer or sentiment. That she did? Well, I’ll just say I’m in no way surprised. I’ve given it some thought since yesterday (though nothing like the agonizing she apparently went through) and my thoughts are as follows:

1) I’m sad that I may have represented my faith poorly and this “letter” was in poor taste.
2) It still makes me chuckle a little.
3) I can’t take life this seriously.
4) It reminds me of a Simpson’s episode where Bart prays for God to kill Sideshow Bob. His mom says, “Bart, no! You can’t ask God to kill someone!” and Homer says, “Yeah! You do your own dirty work!”

What I’ll also add is that I’m perfectly okay with this. Wouldn’t have it any other way. If anything about me is irritating, unnerving, or upsetting to any one of my 393 friends, family, and acquaintances on Facebook, they ought to defriend me. What reason would they have to keep me around? To be nosy or have something to complain about? No. Just defriend me now. Trust me; I’m cool with it.

So anyway, if I don’t actually want Mr. Obama to die, what do I believe?

Although I wouldn’t characterize myself as a Republican, I am, most definitely, a Conservative. Maybe Libertarian fits the bill more closely. I don’t know. What I do know is that when I listen to Herman Cain talk about government and politics and Thomas Sowell discuss economics, I hear that ring of truth. I don’t mention these two men because they’re black. I only mention them because I’ve loved them since the first time I heard them speak and read their words. They are the reason I moved from being a mushy-headed twenty-something full of empty feel-goodisms to someone who has enough love for her fellow man (and woman) to expect more from them.

Additionally, I should add that although folks like to describe conservative thinkers as without heart or feelings, nothing could be further from my personal truth. In our family we believe in giving a tenth and helping anyone who needs a hand. We believe in support of those unable to care for themselves. We believe that help should come in forms that are basic and straightforward. That help should come after a person has demonstrated, for example that they aren’t using the resources they do have for luxuries or lifestyle enhancement. The problem conservative thinkers have with help coming from the federal government is that it’s no longer personal. Recipients don’t have a face to put to the aid. Maybe Uncle Sam, I suppose, but not their tax paying neighbor. Sure, there’s potentially a minority of people who have only used aid for the short term when completely necessary and you know what? I probably know a few of these people. They are grateful, especially in this economy, that the help is there when they need it. No doubt about it. But we’re fooling ourselves if we pretend that most recipients of this sort of aid do anything more than become dependent on it. See it as a right. A right to what truly belongs to someone else. Because the funds only come after someone else gives up their time to work.

But where was I? Oh yeah, I expect a lot from people. Although I’ve heard folks use racism as a reason for disliking Mr. Obama, for me it’s less about him and more about the ideas. But it is a little about him. The fact that he listened to an America-hating preacher for years and associated with a person who bombed the Pentagon during the Vietnam War is very disconcerting. But back to ideas. I think government policies should be based on what’s constitutional and what works, not on whether something makes us feel Nice or Mean. I don’t believe it’s the federal government’s job to make or even help us be successful. I believe the market and private industry are able to do well what the federal government can only complicate and confuse. I believe our country isn’t in a mind-blowing amount of debt because we aren’t taxed heavily enough but because politicians are spending too much. Way, way too much. If we have to figure out a way to live within our means, we should expect the government to do the same. I believe too much help is just another word for hurt.

So anyway, me and Mr. Obama, we may not be on the same page but I have no interest in his death. And not just because the thought of President Biden gives me serious pause. Defriend me if you will; it’s all good.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

This Is It

I don’t know why this is so hard. I’ve been typing and back spacing for half an hour now. But still nothing sounds right.

Do you know what tomorrow is? It’s the anniversary of my first post. The birthday of ‘She’s in the House’. It took some serious stick-to-it-iveness but I’ve managed to hit this dubious milestone with a gold star for Perfect Attendance.

What started out as short journal entries each day turned into longer and longer visits with you. In the beginning I didn’t know if I’d ever be writing with a contemporary audience in mind; it seemed likely that these would only be read later by my kids. Somehow along the way I’ve been able to collect a little cheering section and you don’t know how much this has meant to me. No sir, you do not.

I’m grateful for the year I’ve had to really think. To mull things over. To get to know myself. And friends, as you know, this wasn’t always pretty. Before this blog, I went through a dark period marked with ignorance, selfishness, and poor judgment but this place, and the knowledge that you were all there interested and ready to ‘listen’ was the succor and support I needed to make a fresh start. You are AWESOME and don’t you dare ever forget it. President Spencer W. Kimball once said, “The Lord answers our prayers, but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.” Thanks each of you for being an instrument in His hands.

Good grief this is difficult. I’m not good at this at all. Let’s see. It’s not you; it’s me. We need to talk. This hurts me more than it hurts you. Let’s just be friends. No. None of this is working.

You see, the thing is I’ve known for a couple of weeks that this would be my last post. If you would’ve told me before that point that I was going to pull the plug on it, I would’ve laughed. Or punched you. Something along those lines. Lest you think Something Happened, let me assure you that it was simply a quiet confirmation in my heart that it was time to move along. *sighs* This is harder than it should be; more necessary than you know.

This is it. *cue the Kenny Loggins music*

Thanks to each of you for sticking with me and keeping me sane this year. I love you tons.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Easy Isn't Always What It's Cracked Up To Be

In light of my Facebook post yesterday that I noticed I looked pregnant when I glanced at my reflection in a glass door, I thought this conversation with Sam today was sort of funny. He walked in as I was looking for something in our room and this is the conversation he began:

Sam: “What if we had six kids?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Sam: “I had a dream we had six kids.”

Me: “Was it a good thing? Would you be happy if there was another?”

Sam: “No. I don’t want to share my bed.”

Me: “Well, I’m not in a position to be producing any more so I think you’re in luck.”

He smiled and rolled his eyes. He walked away saying, “Ten days later . . .” What in the world? Interesting sense of humor that boy has but ten days later nothing. All good things must come to an end (keep that in mind) and this is one end I’ve come to terms with. I don’t look it in the eye or anything but I know it’s there.

This afternoon I ran into Albertson’s for a gallon of milk and a big candy bar to drop off for someone’s birthday. That I totally missed last week. *sighs* As I was deciding on which big bar to buy, a bright green sale sticker caught my eye. Instead of the $1.79 the rest of the bars were, these bars were only $1. I picked one up and saw that they were Hershey Bars with Crisp Corn Bits. Really? I had to look closer. Yep. Corn. Right there on the label. Well, no wonder they were Reduced for Quick Sale. I mean really, who comes up with these ideas? Who hears these ideas and doesn’t say, “Um, no.”?

Clearly my thoughts on this aren’t universal. I mean someone must have thought it was a bang up idea. Also, when I came home and showed the kids, Michael Jr. and Kenny grabbed their money and headed straight over to Albertson’s to buy a few. No, I’m serious! They did have the generosity to buy an Almond Joy for their sister, the frugality to bring back something to placate Josh from the 75% off Easter section, and the wisdom to pick up some Coconut M& M’s for their dad, so there’s that. But remember, it was the Corn Bits that sent them running. And friends, I tasted it. If you like Fritos with your chocolate, you’re in luck.

So what’s this got to do with anything? Only nothing. It’s all part of the completely unrelated randomocity that is my life. Like sitting down to dinner and realizing that Kenny’s using the words ‘Trinidad and Tobago’ in every sentence. There can’t possibly be a reasonable explanation. So I don’t question, I write. And I write and I write and I write.

After returning home from a board meeting tonight, Michael called me upstairs. He wanted me to look at Sam. I’m not sure how I’d missed it, but the poor kid had bruises on each hip. How odd. After talking for a few minutes we realized it was from his insistence on pulling his pants off without unbuttoning them first. He’s capable of buttoning but it seems easier not to. As he’s grown since we bought his pants in September, this has become more difficult but he keeps doing it because it’s ‘easier’ than the alternative. Wow. It really made me think. I mean, yeah, it sounds crazy but when I think about it, I can point to plenty of examples in my own life of times I’ve taken what appears to be the path of least resistance, the easy way, only to find I made life tougher on myself further down the road. Much of the time I figure we really do know when we’re cutting corners. Maybe this analogy doesn’t work. I don’t know. I’m tired. I just know that being lazy about anything will catch up with you. The chickens will come home to roost.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Three Completely Unrelated Paragraphs

I’m not sure why Michael Jr. watched 2012 tonight; he already has a number of concerns regarding Death and The End of the World. Before watching it he came to me and asked a few questions about Death, if the world might really end in 2012, what happens next, is it likely to be painful, etc. I reminded him of all the things he already knows but ultimately, all I could tell him was what Jesus had to say on the subject: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only (Matthew 24:36). Besides, it’s not like there aren’t Mayan ruins with inscriptions dating beyond 2012. Sheesh. It feels like Y2K all over again. As he walked away he told me he felt better. He said he wasn’t so anxious but, “I just hope my death doesn’t involve fire or black holes.” Good heavens; so do I!

Later, as I was washing up some greasy dishes (Sierra made us sliders for dinner courtesy of our Billy Mays Big City Slider Station), Kenny came in for a bowl of cereal before bed. As I washed, we talked about school and the Native American groups he’s studying. Apache, Pueblo, Navajo, Zuñi. He told me which were hunters, ranchers, farmers. I told him that the Navajos and Apaches drove the Anasazi to create those cliff homes. He knew that. Oh well, I try. We talked about potential 4th grade teachers but the only one we’re really interested in is Mrs. Fankhauser. Michael Jr. and Sierra both had her for 3rd grade and she’s great. Also I have no idea who the other 4th grade teachers are. He asked why we only have two ‘man teachers’ at school. He’s got a male student teacher right now, Mr. Diaz, and Kenny seems to like this. I didn’t have much of an answer. The money, I guess. It probably doesn’t pay the greatest and honestly, I doubt many guys relish the idea of spending all day with elementary school kids. Or would have the patience for it. I don’t know that I’d have the patience for it. Scratch that; I know I wouldn’t. And the parents! But anyway, Kenny didn’t think any of my answers/guesses made much sense. “Wouldn’t you like to boss kids around all day??” Frankly, no. No I would not. I feel like that’s all I do as it is. I asked him how he’d like to be responsible for making sure each of those kids in his class actually learned something every day. And did well when tested. “Oh. Maybe not”.

This morning was M.O.P.s and Tia crashed it with me. It was good to spend some time together with the old gang. (Okay, Tia, please don't hate me for posting this picture. I know you feel self conscious about the Bell's Palsy but I love you! You're my true blue friend and we can't stop taking pictures! And look! My cold sore is still hanging in there!) Gail Johnsen came to speak to us like she does each year and she talked about the things we should never sacrifice when we have kids. She made us come up with these ourselves and the consensus seemed to be soul care and marriage. It makes sense. She spoke about raising her children and as much as she loved being a mother, she always felt there must be something more. Eventually she was able to earn a master’s degree. She loved writing so she made time for it when her kids were young and now she’s a published author. Something she said next resonated with me and I want to remember it. When she finally attained those worldly goals, she realized they were nothing compared to the joys of being a mother. She was enraged that Satan had stolen the joy of the season she was in when her children were small by encouraging her to think being a mom wasn’t enough. We must embrace the season we’re in. Because this is it. It’s not coming around again. There’s something to appreciate about every stage of our life. She felt during that time that there must be more. Out there. Something she was missing. But really there wasn’t. God’s purposes aren’t out there. They’re served right here, where you are. In this family. In this place. That’s powerful stuff.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is Anybody Listening?

Tonight I combed the greater Tri-Cities area for a different dress to wear to Corrina’s wedding but came up with nothing. Okay, okay, I gave up after three stores. I hate dress shopping. I hate dress trying on. I hate looking at myself in those mirrors. So I tried on a few things, threw in the proverbial towel, and headed to Sweet Treats. Valaney mentioned going there for bubble teas after Stake Conference with her husband and I figured I’d better check it out. The things I do for you.

Sweat Treats is over by Carmike and it’s open later than most places in the area; Mon-Thu, Sun 11am-10pm; Fri 11am-11pm; Sat 10am-11pm. They have several board games you can play if you feel like hanging out and the biggest banana split bowl I’ve ever seen. But I was there for something else. Chin was the gal who seemed to be running the place and she showed me the list of flavors. After clarifying that there wouldn't be actual tea in these and gagging a little when I got to ‘Avocado’, I chose Mango for me and Raspberry for Michael. She mixed them up, sealed them, and gave me two super-mega straws to deal with the incredibly large frog eye-tapioca they were populated with. Chin warned me that they weren’t everyone’s thing. That if we didn’t actually like them, she wanted me to come back another day and she’d make us something different, no charge. That was awfully nice! She also gave me three different samples of frozen yogurt she makes from scratch. The raspberry was AMAZING! Actually, so was the lemon. Hmmm.

Okay, I didn’t actually like the bubble tea. The gooey black tapioca balls freaked me out and made me gag a little. Michael liked his though, so you never know. The yogurt though, it’s really good!

So. Today. I’ve been feeling like I’m living in a Peanuts special. You know, where the teacher says, “Wa wa wa wa wa wa”. Jibberish. Unfortunately, I was that teacher. It was a day full of The Blank Stare.

It began bright an early. Kenny walked into the kitchen after watching “Curious George” and asked me question about twins. What’s the difference between identical and the other kind? Awesome! I love questions I can answer! I grabbed a piece of paper and pencil and started drawing. My diagram looked more like the Dodge Ram emblem than an actual body part but I kept going. I carefully explained each step from start to finish for a set of identical twins versus a set of fraternal twins then turned to look at Kenny. Any questions? He was pulling on a string from the Clementine bag and said:

Kenny: “Um. Look Mom. I made a parallelogram.”

Me: “Are you sure you don’t have any questions?”

Kenny: Blank stare. “Mom. Look.”

Me: “Um yeah, but do you understand?”.

Kenny: *sighs, pointing to the ovaries* “Well, is there a boy side and girl side?”

Sierra: *yells from the living room* “MOM!!! What are you telling him!”

Like it’s her personal secret. As if she’s the only one with that particular configuration. There was a whole lot of talking going on but not much communication.

I often feel like I talk, talk, talk, saying the same things over and over but the sinking in part isn’t coming together like one would hope. For example, I’m having a heck of a time getting a particular child to remember to flush the toilet and remove the ring from the seat before washing his hands and leaving the bathroom. I say it and I say it and I say it and I still walk in to find he’s sort of gone his own way with it. Today I marched him back in and asked what we do after we use the bathroom. His answer? Blank stare. Then: “Say sorry?” Although I imagine there are times when that might be appropriate, no, that’s not the answer I was looking for. Seems like all he’s heard me say was “Wa wa wa wa wa wa” over and over.

Later in the afternoon I went to the garage to find the next size shoes for Kenny. Turns out I didn’t have the next size but I did find some sandals that looked good. I handed him those and received, once again, the blank stare.

Me: “You can wear these”

Kenny: “For what?”

Me: “For school!”

Kenny: Blank stare

Me: “What? People wear them.”

Kenny: “I go to school. People Do Not wear them.”

It was my turn to give the blank stare.

Being understood has been on my mind since Friday night. Kenny had a friend stay over and Michael Jr. and Sierra were in charge while we made a Costco run. Sometime after dark the boys decided they needed something at the other boy’s house and instead of calling us or the other parents to take care of it, they decided to get on their scooters and head out on their own. Michael Jr. warned them not to but they did it anyway. When we got the call from Michael Jr. we called the other parents and we went looking for them. In the end they were safe and sound but my gosh, they’re only 8 and 9. Wearing dark clothes, they weren’t even particularly visible to cars. It was just such a stupid move that I questioned everything I thought he must already know and understand. If he could think for a moment that this was acceptable, what else could he have up his sleeve? Is he really just hearing “Wa wa wa wa wa wa”? Maybe I need to employ three point communication like they do in the Navy and commercial power plants. Lives are at stake here folks. Maybe not in terms of twins, bathroom etiquette, or sandals, but some of this stuff I’m trying to get across to them will actually matter at some point.

And then I feel a little guilty because I know I’m not the best listener. I can zone out, smiling and nodding just when I need to. Like when certain children need me to hear all the minutia of their Pokémon dealings or listen to their retelling of the latest episode of Dateline or get my feedback on their thoughts about augmented reality technology. Sometimes all I hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher too.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stake Conference

This is Stake Conference weekend. Stake Conference and us, well, we don’t have a great track record. We never get there early enough for soft seats and there’s something about sitting in the overflow area of the Cultural Hall that brings out the (extra) worse in my kids. And really, from the sound of it, I should say Everyone’s kids. In the past I’ve vowed to attempt it but time after time it’s been a disaster. Is it the two hours in hard seats? Is it sitting in the Cultural Hall, surrounded by a different mix of vaguely familiar people? I don’t know but it’s never good.

I decided to give the dress I bought for Corrina’s wedding a test run this morning and darned if it wasn’t meant for sitting. At all. By the time we walked into church I looked like I’d pulled the dress out of the laundry bin. Lands’ End is going to be hearing from me tomorrow.

So obviously we were not in the comfortable seats but we also weren’t in the very back of the overflow area. We had a view of the big screen and a side television as well. Note to self: If ever you find yourself in the Stake Choir (ha ha ha!!!) never sit under or next to the plaque displaying hymn numbers. I don’t know who that gal was right underneath it but the poor thing had the camera square on her the whole two hours. I’d never be able to sit as calm and cool as she did. I know I would forget the camera long enough to yawn, roll my eyes, whisper something to the person next to me, or develop and uncontrollable itch. This woman was like a ninja! So cool and composed.

One of the speakers today was Jessica Warren. I don’t know how old she is but I know she’s in high school. I was impressed with her composure and her ability to keep our attention. She told us that she and her family (large family; she’s one of seven girls) enjoy movie night together and one of their favorites is “Evan Almighty”. Now I have to admit I’ve never seen it (as much as I enjoy “The Office”, I can only take Steve Carell in small doses) but apparently it’s about a guy who’s asked by God, just like Noah was, to build an ark (although didn’t the rainbow signify God’s promise to never flood the earth again? Well anyway . . .). Jessica said that in her home they’ve placed these wooden letters in their living room: ARK. In the movie it’s pointed out that it stands for Acts of Random Kindness. I’m probably totally screwing up what she was trying to say but I think she was saying that we can all build our little arks. We do what we can for others. Boys, open that door for the girls. She mentioned her friends calling to check up on her from school when she was home sick. Not the big gestures necessarily but the little everyday things that we can do to build each other up. To let people know they have real value. The collective power of little arks can change lives.

There was a focus on repentance today. Specifically, coming unto Christ through repentance. One of Satan’s favorite tools is encouraging us to feel less than. Not worthy of the blessing God would bestow on us. I remember President Belnap telling us that we’re all to come unto Christ. That there was no group he singled out as not fitting the bill. He quoted 2 Nephi 26:33:

“For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”

This is, of course, Awesome. It reminded me of the $20 bill story that has been repeated in different places by different people. Here’s a version Michael found on www.ldscompanion.com:

“A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this." He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up.

He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air. "Well," he replied, "what if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.

"My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.”

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless.

But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God's eyes. To Him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to Him. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know but by who we are!

I absolutely love this analogy. It’s something we can all understand. Sure, we might prefer an uncirculated, crisp $20 but we also know it’s not worth anymore than one that’s been through the wringer. Doesn’t it make you look at people differently? That value is there.

Sometimes I leave things like this feeling sort of overwhelmed. The whole Matthew 5:48 thing can feel like a brick wall in front of my face (“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”). I think I read somewhere that there are maybe seventeen different Greek words we translate into English as ‘perfect’, ‘perfection’, ‘perfectly’. That gives me hope that maybe it’s a little more nuanced than my vision of Perfect but anyway, last night at the adult session, President Pulsipher left us with these words that gave me comfort: “We're never going to be perfect but we need to be consistent with our efforts.” I think I can legitimately strive for ‘consistent’.

It was a Conference Miracle folks. We made it through all two hours with all five kids. Maybe consistent effort does pay off.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Once Upon a Time in New Hampshire or Herpes is Forever

Finally, all those flowers, succulents, herbs, and tomatoes we bought are in the ground. It was well into the afternoon by the time I was done planting window boxes and man, do I regret not wearing gloves. My garden gloves just felt too heavy and I didn’t feel like going in the house for examination gloves. Mom never works outside without them and there’s a reason she brings them to me by the boxful. I’ve scrubbed my hands and used lotion but they’re still rough and dry. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Right now Michael’s got the oldest three and they’re watching “Clash of the Titans” after Kenny’s soccer game. The day’s grown overcast and the wind’s kicking up so Sam, Josh, and I are inside watching a Pokémon movie. I guess I could be ironing clothes for the boys tomorrow or folding some laundry but you know, I could also just sit here and procrastinate. And/or finish telling you about our move to New Hampshire.

Let’s see. I had the kids in Yelm with my parents, right? I think it was something like the last week in October of 2000 that we flew back to be with Michael. We moved into a hotel for a week while the house sale was finalized and on the evening of Halloween, papers were signed and we received the keys to 226 Lawrence Road (these two photos of the back of the house and backyard were all I could find). We spend the evening Trick or Treating in the rain with Rick and Elizabeth’s girls and I remember she made the yummiest tacos in the crock pot. I wonder if I have that recipe lying around? I’ve asked for it more than once and lost it as many times.

During the previous year or so I’d purposely avoided getting pregnant. I just really wanted to feel like we were making more permanent roots before going through all that. I guess I really thought New Hampshire was the end of the line; I was pregnant before we moved in. Which wasn’t the greatest plan. I had painting to do (lots of painting; the living room was Battleship Gray), lots of heavy lifting, tons to unpack. Christmas was less than two months away and we were hosting. No time for slacking off.

November was good but stressful in that Too Much Too Do in Too Little Time sort of way. I unpacked and painted like mad. I didn’t take time to find a doctor; I figured I’d done this before and it could wait until after the holidays. On the day before Thanksgiving we brought Skipper home from Maine and we spent the holiday with Rick and Elizabeth. Sometime around here Ellen and I realized we were both due to have babies in July. This is one of my favorite memories.

December came and with it a stupid cold sore. My body responds with cold sores whether the stress is from too much good stuff going on at once or the really lame stuff. HSV-1 is the one thing my mom’s given me that was truly uncool—I assume it’s from her as she’s dealt with cold sores as long as I can remember. Unfortunately friends, herpes is forever. So anyway, I was sporting this beauty when the month began and was only just healing up when my 31st birthday rolled around on December 12th.

A week or so earlier I noticed some sores on Sierra’s gums. She would fuss when I brushed her teeth and I had no idea what to do. I talked to my parents but it didn’t sound like something they’d ever seen. Mom said I needed to keep brushing but it was awful to hear her cry. I hadn’t found a family doctor yet, leave alone a dentist but I knew it couldn’t wait much longer if something didn’t improve.

On my birthday Elizabeth and the girls took the kids and I to Chili’s for lunch. I miss Chili’s. I really miss their All-You-Can-Eat Fajita nights. But anyway, Sierra wouldn’t eat but I wasn’t surprised. She hadn’t eaten much in days. After lunch I put her down for a nap and continued with the unpacking. What happened next I figure I’ll probably never forget. I heard Sierra crying and I ran upstairs to see what was wrong. The poor thing has stuff oozing out of these sores and it was on her pillow. Just then the phone rang. It was the guy who’d been Michael’s contact person for the job at Energy Northwest when the offer came up the summer before. He wanted to speak to Michael about the job. Could Michael give him a call back? What what what what what what???? This was not computing. “Um, sure.”

So. I’m freaking out. Sierra needs help but I don’ t know what sort. It’s late afternoon and I don’t even know who to call. Michael’s deal was making my head spin. So I called him. I needed some answers.

When he answered I heard lots of voices in the background. He was at a restaurant. I asked him why I answered a phone call from someone from Energy Northwest. Guess what? He and almost everyone else at Lavastorm had been let go. This was the moment the internet bubble burst. For us at least. He was having a late lunch with what had been his co-workers. What in the world? Tears flew from my eyes. Happy Birthday to me.

As it turned out, we were lucky. When Michael found out he was out of work, he immediately called Energy Northwest and they were still willing to offer him the job. They would send a moving company a few days after Christmas and they would fly us to Washington before the end of the year. It was an awful lot to process but we were going to be okay.

I still had to figure out how to help Sierra though. I grabbed a phone book and found the name of a pediatric dentist and gave his office a call. They said they could take a look right away. I don’t know when I’ve ever been so appreciative of anything. So I packed up the two kids and Michael met us there.

The dentist was young and he knew right away what we were dealing with: Gingivostomatitis. And how did he know? Only because his daughter had just recently had it. Wow. As it turned out, there wasn’t much to do. A medicated mouth rinse, bland soft food. It was sad though because these sores weren’t just any sores. Gingivostomatitis is an outbreak of cold sores on the gums. I’d given this to her.

We met with the same real estate agent that sold us the house—she was more than happy to list it again. The next few weeks were crammed with getting ready for my family’s arrival and our move a few days later. It was exciting to know we were going back to Washington but it was very sad to leave our new home. To knew I wouldn’t have a chance to paint the kids’ rooms. To see green leaves on the huge maple tree in the back yard. To take the kids to see the Old Man of the Mountain (at least I saw him before his nose fell off). To find those boots and bushwack my way to Worlds End Pond.

On the night we turned out the lights for the last time, I felt the familiar tingling. This is where I would insert curse words if that was my thing. I was furious! I felt, totally unjustifiably, that I’d been Jobed. Sure, Job went through way more but you know, I was pregnant. Emotional. House ripped out from under me after just six weeks. Forced to move again. At the busiest time of the year. Didn’t know where we’d be living. There was a lot coming at me at once.

So anyway dear hearts, this is it. We moved to Richland and lived in an apartment at the end of Duportail for a few months. Our house sold in less than a month to the folks we outbid when we bought it in October. Because we lost everything we’d gained from our sweet home sale in New Jersey, we rented an “A” house for four years. And that, as they say, is that.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Even If It Was Friday

Starting a little late tonight. Michael and I are watching "Fever Pitch" and enjoying some peach pie. A little celebration. It’s been a big day.

I don’t like Fridays. I’m supposed to like Fridays; everyone does. They’re just sort of lame for me. Too much stopping and starting. Kids getting out of school early. All I want to do is nothing. Something comes over me on Fridays. I pretty much just feel like clocking out as soon as I roll out of bed.

But I can’t do that, can I? Nope. Because the garbage man waits for no one and I never remember to move the van for him the night before. How wrong would it be to teach Michael Jr. to move it up a few feet after he brings the garbage bins to the curb? No! Of course I’d NEVER do anything like that . . .

What did I even accomplish today? Let’s see, some laundry. And a trip to Winco. Oh and I cleaned out the refrigerator and nagged a couple of middle schoolers who seemed to have Fridayitis too. And then the phone rang.

It’s not like it doesn’t ring all the time around here. Automated messages from Rite-Aid about prescription refills, friends arranging rides for kids, Michael wondering what’s up. This call didn’t sound any more interesting than those; just some lady asking to speak to Michael. That always drives me crazy. Who calls in the middle of the day looking for a grown man? If he worked nights he’d be sleeping, right? And they always seem surprised that he’s not home. Anyway, I told this lady that he’s at work; could I take a message? “Are you his mother?” What? Oh! Michael Jr.! Okay, yeah, I’m his mother. This was the call to let us know that Michael was accepted to Delta High School for next year! Giddy up!

His face lit up like a Christmas tree when I told him. It was great to see the smile. He even let me record him playing “Clocks” (Coldplay) on the piano but stopped short of letting me post it on Facebook. Oh well, it’s something. We also found out today that three other kids we know will be there. It feels so great to finally know.

So my day was made. Even if it was Friday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Great Night Anyway

You’d think with as many kids as I’ve got that this would happen more often. For whatever reason though, scheduling conflicts haven’t been a big problem. So far. Tonight though, we had Kenny’s soccer practice, Sam’s Kindergarten Music Program, and the Relief Society birthday dinner. I was heading up the decorating/setting up so I helped Sierra make ten centerpieces and then headed to church later in the afternoon to get everything ready. Yureli, Chris, and Katrina showed up to help but guess what? My key to the church was completely impotent. It could not make that light turn green, that door open. Michael told me I shouldn’t use that word but it was impotent. COMPLETELY. I called Lynn to ask what I ought to do and but she just sounded strange. Like she wasn’t completely there. What was I going to do if I couldn’t get in? In frustration, I shoved the key in and out several more times and then suddenly, the light was green. And we were in.

Set up in the gym was okay. Turns out that eight around the round tables was a very tight fit. What did I know? Well, you know the answer to that. And that lattice we were supposed to use as a backdrop for the skit? How would one connect each piece? Katrina to the rescue; she ran home to borrow some wire from a neighbor. So, with the tables set up and everything all set, I left to rush through the Burger King drive-thru. And while I was waiting I received a text from Lynn. Good grief! The poor thing was very, very sick. And here I was bothering her about keys and the impossibility of using Styrofoam plates with prime rib. But anyway, at home we had ten minutes to eat and rush out the door to Sam’s Kindergarten Music Program. So we scarfed and ran. We made it with enough time to get average seats. It was cute but my arms were shaky and weak(er) after holding up the Flip for the twenty minutes it took to film it. It ought to be a lot of fun to watch later (yeah, right); there was a steady stream of folks walking back and forth in front of me and their backsides took up most of the screen. That and Sam spent the whole of the program fiddling with the Sponge Bob rubber digital watch that came with his dinner. It was great though. They regaled us with favorites such as "Welcome to School", "Puppies", and "The Kangaroo Hop". He belted out the songs, did all the crazy hand motions and seemed to have a good time.

After a quick few pictures they dropped me off at church and what do you know? I wasn’t even late. So really, the only casualties tonight were Kenny’s soccer practice and a sit-down meal. Could’ve been worse. And apparently it was, just before I arrived. I am so, so glad I missed The Situation while I was busy watching Sam check the time ever two seconds. Apparently we had a little miscommunication. Somewhere along the line. The net result was that some guys involved in a volleyball tournament showed up and started taking our stuff down. Because they had the gym scheduled. Katrina was told that we had the church, not just the Multipurpose and Relief Society rooms but I guess that wasn’t quite the deal. So anyway, while I was gone, a group of fabulous lady go-getters (and probably some helpful husband and son types too) set up the Multipurpose Room with a number of long tables and redid everything. It was a tight squeeze, the room felt like a sweat lodge, and Stefany and Linda’s skit was crammed in the middle of the room but do you know what? I think it may have turned out even better than had we remained in the gym with our tableclothes and breathing space. We were crammed in, cracking jokes, and loving on each other. Laughing about what happened. Trying to figure out where the butter went and how we missed that it was right in front of us. On paper this would’ve been a catastrophe but really, it was sort of great. My heart just swelled with love for all of these folks who pitched in and smiled and made it work. And seeing John cut up that prime rib (that he bought for us!) and Bishop Jacks wash the dishes? Amazing. I don’t have family in town like so many people I know but when I’m at church, I’ve got it. It’s nothing short of Awesome. I better stop; I’m getting all weepy and lame.

Tonight as we talked and laughed and ate, Camilla told me more about where she and Steven and the girls are moving at the end of the month. The description sounded familiar and I mentioned my friend Sinar. She and her husband are selling a similar sounding house in that same area. Oh my gosh! It’s the same house! I love it. You may know Sinar from such Fabulousness as my profile picture eyebrow (she plucked it) and Sierra’s ‘Twilight’ birthday cake (she baked it). It totally is a small, small world. I bet they become dear friends. Just like my newer neighbor lady Berta and my first neighbor lady Marijke. Love it, love it, love it.