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.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Once Upon a Time in New Jersey

You’ve been waiting all day for this, haven’t you? Checking in to see if I’ve written yet. No? Well, anyway, I’ll think of something.

Okay, where’d we leave off on the tale of our days back east? That’s right. Panic attack on the plane with a newborn Sierra. Well, with that behind me, we arrived at our new home in Ocean County, Lacey Township, Forked River, New Jersey. Mom stayed for a bit and helped us unpack and then we were on our own. In the middle of the scrub pines and summer cottages.

Our house backed up to The Woods but my biggest fear was actually deer ticks, not the Jersey Devil. In truth, the real menace was the wild turkey that took up residence somewhere in the thickets beyond our backyard. That was the real Jersey Devil. At first it was cute to see him perch on our deck or wait outside our front door. Unfortunately he was aggressive and I remember throwing snowballs at him just to allow a neighbor to get into her house. The kids thought he was cool but he was definitely a jerk. Someone really needed to have him for dinner.

I think Michael liked living and working in Forked River. We lived maybe two miles (closer as the turkey trots) from Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station where he worked and he made a lot of friends right away. For me, it was a little different. I really wanted to be out west but if we’d at least had some family or friends nearby, that would’ve been something. We belonged to a small branch with no couples our age. Additionally, it was so spread out geographically that the only other member living anywhere near us was an older widow. I’d never heard of M.O.P.s so my days consisted of Michael Jr. and Sierra and the occasional trip to the grocery store.

Jim Barton began work at the plant when Michael did and he and his wife Pat became our closest friends there. They kept me sane. Another bright spot was the Young Women at church. I was the Young Women President and the girls, especially Loretta and Liz, were over all the time playing with the kids. They’d babysit, have sleep overs, and even accompanied me on a trip to Yelm one summer. So anyway, I had these folks. These folks and the hope that something would bring us west.

Almost two years after we arrived two job offers materialized. Job #1 was here , working for Energy Northwest. Job #2 was outside of Boston, MA at Lavastorm (an internet company—they created Monster.com and FamilySearch.org). On the one hand, the job here seemed like a no-brainer. It was so much closer to most of our family. It was a good job. The thing is, the Lavastorm job seemed to have way more potential for growth. And Michael would be working with his best friend Rick. And it paid way more. In the name of Hey, We’re Young, we decided on Lavastorm.

I remember a busy summer before we moved. Michael and I spent several days in California by ourselves when we attended Ruben Navarrette’s wedding in Santa Barbara CA—one of only two times we’ve gotten away without the kids since we’ve had them. When we returned we put the house on the market and sold it within a month. Just like that. We packed up our life and moved up north into a Marriott extended stay sort of place (paid for by Lavastorm) and a storage unit and started our house search.

Again, apartments and rental houses were out of the question. Nothing available within an hour’s drive of the job. We decided on Salem, New Hampshire because New Hampshire is AWESOME and it’s not Massachusetts. Also, no income or sales tax. Our town was right on the border and it had every store imaginable and a million tattoo parlors (because you could get them at a younger age). What we found was that although Michael was making way more money than ever, the housing was just way, way, way more expensive. Way. We finally settled on a home built in the 1940’s (just like we’ve got now, I guess) on a half-acre lot. It faced The Woods this time but the GPS in our new (at the time . . .) Honda Odyssey showed that there was a body of water not so far in. Worlds End Pond to be exact. I meant to hike in there at some point. When I finally found my boots.

After we decided on the house, I took the kids and headed to Yelm for a month or so. The house would take time to close on and Michael could move in with Rick and Elizabeth for the time being. Well friends, I still haven’t reached the part of the story that involved multiple cold sores but hey, the one on my lower lip is still hanging in there. Seventeen days later. Wow. I guess I’ll pick this up another time. I need to go give Michael the Evil Eye—he just mentioned buying a new Tivo machine.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

3 Nephi 18:20

It’s quiet right now. I just finished the latest “American Pickers” and all I hear is the hum of my laptop and Michael mumbling something about “The iPad is here . . .”

This morning I hopped out of bed and landed on my knees. I had a serious favor to ask Heavenly Father and I was willing to skip a few meals to let him know I was serious. Today was the lottery for placement at Delta High School and I pleaded that the outcome would be in Michael Jr.’s best interest. I needed to get moving and didn’t have time to dig into the scriptures before I got the kids out the door so I grabbed my books and silently asked to be shown something I needed to know. Here’s what I got:

“And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.” 3 Nephi 18:20

I laughed; I looked left, I looked right. Seriously? I’ve never had such an obvious reply. I’m feeling very confident that if this is right for Michael Jr. then it will happen. I can’t ask for more than that. I mean I could, but you know.

I meant to accomplish some Things today but an appointment with the ophthalmologist and a visit to the Fred Meyer garden center absorbed any usable time I had for extra projects. And a kick in the wallet rounded off the morning. I learned today that Miss Sierra’s eye sight is rapidly declining. Time for bifocals. Is it insane that I’m getting weepy writing this? The poor kid is only eleven. There’s always Lasik right? Hundreds (and hundreds) of dollars later we walked out with new glasses ordered and my head spinning. We had some time before we needed to pick up Sam from kindergarten so we stopped by Fred Meyer to pick up some basil I needed for dinner. We ended up with a few $1 fuchsias, a couple of small strawberry plants, two pink calibrachoas, a few echeverias someone was administering a death blow to (way over watered), a basil to plant and some for tonight. While I was there I called Michael Jr. to ask how many eggs we have. I knew I needed six for dinner but he confirmed that we had 17.

This afternoon Sierra, Sam, and Josh pulled out a long roll of paper and the paints and brushes Josh talked his dad into yesterday. Note to self: Either pay full attention to what Josh is doing or confine the painting to the great outdoors. I’ve cleaned paint off the bathroom walls, the stairway, and the table. His shirt was covered with it and he turned the bathwater colors. Which is fine, I mean it has to be, but some days I just haven’t budgeted the time for that sort of catastrophe.

I made pork chops for dinner. I’ve never made them before (I KNOW!) so I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out. I’m going to write down what I did so I don’t forget. Let’s see. I mixed up something like a teaspoon of cayenne, a teaspoon of paprika, and a couple teaspoons of thyme with a cup and a half of flour. I dredged the chops in that mixture, browned them, and put them in the crock pot. Then I cooked down a few cups of chicken broth, about a half cup of lemon juice, and some minced garlic and poured that over the pork and left it to cook for a few hours. Everyone ate it so it will probably get a repeat.

When I mixed up the batter for zucchini fritters I found enough eggs but not nearly as many as Michael Jr. claimed we had. Turns out he was counting the Easter eggs on the fridge door. Some days I just shake my head. But I laugh too, you know? This recipe is worth sharing because it’s really tasty:

Zucchini Fritters

6 eggs

3 zucchinis, shredded

1 zucchini, diced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl with a wire whisk until smooth. Stir in the shredded and diced zucchini, then season with salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and basil. Add the flour a little at a time, stirring between additions until no dry lumps remain. Heat the oil in a large skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Drop the batter into the hot oil by the spoonful a few at a time making sure not to overcrowd the oil. Cook until the fritters are golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate before serving. We like them with ranch dressing.

All this writing about food has me feeling peckish. Hmmmmm . . .

Monday, April 5, 2010

When the Family Gets Together After Evening Work is Done

Back to the old grind today. Quite the rude awakening for Kenny and Sam. I let them sleep longer than I usually would but they appreciated none of it. It was one of those mornings when I wished I’d mounted the stairs prepared with a spray bottle of water. Poor boys but you know, the whining is so ridiculous. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when they ran out of the van to school. *sighs* It’ll be better tomorrow. It MUST.

I decided today that I’d listen to General Conference talks and Ensign articles on that Mormon Channel app while I ran errands. I made the decision from a sort of One Day At A Time, YOU CAN DO IT, white-knuckled, sheer will, this is going to be lame, kind of place. I am a music freak and you know it’s not the sort of music you hear at church or when you walk into Far West Books. But you know what? I did it and the more I listened, the more I wanted to hear. Shocked myself a little. I know it’s all good stuff but sometimes what’s good for you isn’t hugely appealing and there are so many other shiny things vying for my attention. You know how I feel about peas and cauliflower and you know how I feel about Reese’s Eggs and Cadbury Mini Eggs. I know what’s better for me but what do you think I’m interested in right now?

Anyway, I listened and listened. And I prayed for the fortitude I would need to conduct Family Home Evening. I have no idea why it’s so hard for me but I think it has to do with the fact that no one will quit talking or fighting long enough to hear a lesson. It’s insane. But I know my attitude has been a huge part of the problem. It’s so easy to throw in the towel when there’s contention and frustration. But I guess the prayer helped because I kept on keeping on, even in the face of, well, in the face of Everything. I sure wish our Family Home Evenings were like there’re meant to be. How does that song go? "When the family gets together after evening work is done, then we learn to know each other popping corn and having fun. Then our father tells us all a story, mother leads us in a song, and it seems that nothing in this world could possibly go wrong!" Bah! But hope springs eternal, right? It has to get better. There are blessings to be had and darn it, I need them.

So anyway, that’s my Monday. That and I decided to read The Federalist Papers. Or listen to them. I may be getting too lazy to read.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter

We woke this morning to, drum roll please . . . . No Rain. Lots of packing to do but no rain. Dad hid lots of eggs (66 total) first thing so after breakfast, Easter baskets, and a heated discussion about whether it was right to limit each person’s ability to find more than a fifth of the eggs or to divide up the eggs evenly after they’d all been found, the kids hit the yard. Eventually all the eggs were found but only because my dad was smart and drew a map of where they all were as he hid them!

We got a decent start home; sometime after 10 a.m. With two red coolers tied to the top and the van loaded down, we were off. The day before I was fiddling with my Mormon Channel app and realized that we could probably listen to General Conference on the way home. Michael set it up while I drove and we were able to listen most of the way to the pass and then most of the way after. It was great to hear, especially in a place where there really weren’t any other distractions.

Having General Conference on Easter is unusual I guess but it was nice to have the uplifting messages on the long ride home. Lots of things to think about on a day like today. I thought about the article we discussed at our Ensign meeting a week or so ago. It was about dealing with trials and how to learn from them. The author pointed out that the atonement, though often looked at as relief from sin and guilt, is so, so much more. According to the Book of Mormon prophet Alma:

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.”

(Alma 7:11-13)

So the truth of the matter is, Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane not just for our sins but our afflictions. Our pains. Our infirmities. He’s perfect and sinless but he gets us. And he can lift our burdens because, well, he already carried them. I need this. Because I know He won’t take my Stuff but He’ll strengthen me and make me equal to it all. And maybe help me see what I shouldn’t be carrying to begin with.

He is AWESOME.

“But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.”

- Mosiah 16:8