Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wacky, Wild Seven Meme

Thank you, Josi. I hope to do you proud.

1. I still have the placenta from Conor's birth in my freezer. The goal was to plant a tree, but since we rent here, I'm not sure where to plant it. But I can't bring myself to just throw it away! We were almost in luck with a Stake tree-planting service project in the Angeles National Forest, and I was going to be the weird(er) Mormon gal that showed up with her placenta to throw in the hole for fertilizer, but then that activity was cancelled. Anyone planning to do some landscaping?

2. I have very gray hair. Salt and pepper, heavy on the salt. I started getting a few grays early on, but the year my husband left, most of my head turned gray literally within a few months. So, at age 29 I began dying my hair, and now there is no turning back, even though as my roots grow in my kids tell me they like my "sparkly hairs".

3. When I was a pre-teen and would ride my ten-speed to softball practice, I used to pretend I was driving a car. I would pretend to smoke and I would talk to my imaginary passenger friend and use all kinds of cuss words to try them out, you know, to be cool. I never had the courage to cuss out loud around my friends, so I had to get it out of my system in imaginary situations. Must have worked. I never actually tried smoking, and I very rarely cuss. Well, I had one or two years when I was single that I really loved the "s" word in particular, and sometimes I use a well-pointed word in frustration, but mostly I have pretty clean language.

4. I kissed way too many guys in high school. Way too many. I'm not sure if I could show my face at a reunion. Wait, I could! Most of the guys I kissed were either younger or older than I was. But still, I regret giving away too many kisses. And I now tell my kids that if they can make it to 18 without kissing (besides on the cheek) then they get $5000.

5. I don't immunize my babies. I don't let the dentist give my kids fluoride. Most of my children have never had an antibiotic. And I think Mormon wives should have a lot more sex with their husbands. Well, now. There's some random weirdness.

6. I am obsessed with 'things to accomplish'. I love to help my kids do scouting, Personal Progress, Duty to God, Faith in God, whatever. I get such a rush out of checking things off and achieving goals. Fortunately, they do too. On Sundays after church, the kids have to do 30 minutes of scripture reading, write in their journals, and do something in their PP, D to G, or F in G books. Other goals for PP and for scouting are incorporated into their homeschool schedule. And that's how it all gets done.

7. I love Puffy Cheetos. Partly stale Puffy Cheetos, but not too stale. They need a good day of the bag being opened to reach full ripeness. And there is a proper way to eat them. You put one in your mouth and bite it in half. Put one half on each side of your mouth and suck until they collapse, then chew and repeat. It's the only way to go.

Okay! Seven Wacky, Wild, Random Things. Should I add 'desperate'? I will spare my friends the tag, but feel free to play along and let me know so I can come read your answers!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

There's Got to Be a Song There

I was doomed to this way of life from both of my parents. My clever, artistic, word-oriented parents, who love song. There really was no other possible outcome for me, and I have a feeling that my eight siblings share the disease: we can't help but twist songs for our own use and make up new ones to suit just about every situation. If you can say it, then you can probably sing it even better.

I've mentioned before how we grew up with Dad singing loudly from the bathroom, for even the neighbors to hear, songs about his failing health and the validity of our mother's love for him. My mom's preferred musical canvas was her brood of children, and I can vividly remember her making the babies "dance" to silly pop songs that she would re-arrange to fit them, and then all of us breaking into fits of laughter. I think it was Noah or Jonah who was made to "dance" to the babied-up version of Miami Sound Machine's "Bad Boy".

I just know my sisters have this tendency, and I've heard that my brother, Josiah does too. The "singing mom" is active in this house, for sure. Each of my children has had a "baby song". For Lyndsay, it was "Little Bitty Pretty One", and for Conor, it was "Sweet Baby Conor" to the tune of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline", for example. But it doesn't stop there, I'm afraid.

This morning when I was changing the baby and snapping up his onesie, I broke out into "Gonna Snap You Up With My Love" to the tune of Madonna's classic. I can't help it. I haven't snapped up a onesie without singing that made-up ditty in 14 years!

I made pancakes for breakfast. I ask the kids what they want on their pancakes, and they inevitably ask for jam. So then I am left with no choice but to break into (and demand that they sing along) "Jam on it! Jam on it! J-J-J-J-Jam on it!" Ridiculous, I know.

And then it's family prayer time, and being as I'm a child of the 80's, I must call them together with a slightly more hymnal version of M. C. Hammer's "We've Got to Pray Just to Make it Today".

The day is still young and there will be more songs to create. My kids roll their eyes, but I'm pretty sure I'll have the last laugh, for I think I've passed on the curse and they won't be able to help themselves either.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Same Old Prayer

My husband and I had an interesting disagreement the other day. He was on the side of "only meaningful prayer" and I, surprisingly enough, found myself defending rote, repetitious prayer. Here's the scoop:

He feels like everytime he turns around it's time for another prayer. We Latter-day Saints are a praying people: personal prayer, breakfast prayer, family prayer, dinner prayer, Family Home Evening opening prayer, Family Home Evening closing prayer, bedtime prayer. Prayer for this, prayer for that. It makes him weary, and it makes him grumble. "If we're just saying the same old thing over and over again, then let's not say it!" he gripes. Let's say fewer, more meaningful prayers.

Now, I know the leaders of the Church have counseled and cautioned about the quality of our communications with God. We should be wary of falling into patterns of 'vain repetition' in our prayers. We should be aware that we actually are communing with Deity, and not just muttering words into space. But as a parent, and even as a human being, I am seeing prayer as being necessary in both quality and quantity.

Teaching a child to pray must start from a very early age. It begins with patterning and routine. A child copies what we do and say, thus the primer prayers we give to our children often keep surfacing even years later when dinner is on the table and they just want to quell the rumbling in their empty tummies: "Please bless this food to nourish and strengthen our bodies."
Or when we don't know what else to say first: "We're thankful for this day." Or last: "Bless us to sleep well. (or go home in safety, etc.)"

And though I will continue to teach my children (and reinforce to myself) that prayer is an active, living communication, and should reflect our most personal, intimate feelings of concern and gratitude, I also defend the 'same old prayer'. Here's why:

Much of what we do we do because we've always done it that way. Patterns and habits have to be put in place in our lives, and that happens purely from repetition. I want my children to feel that they've forgotten something if they begin to eat a meal that has not first been blessed, just like I would want them to feel that they have forgotten something if they accept a birthday gift without first saying 'thank you'. I want them to feel that they're missing something if they lie down to sleep at night without saying their prayers, just as I want them to feel that they are missing something without my kiss and love before they fall asleep. We pray often because we're commanded to, and because it keeps our Heavenly Father on the front burner of our minds. I never want too much time to go by without turning to Him.

There will come a day when my children live outside the walls of the home I have prepared for them. There will come a day when they are lonely, or confused, or angry, or betrayed. There will come a day when the buffetings of the adversary will try to crush them. I hope in that day that they will automatically turn to prayer because that's what they were taught by example. If we only make the effort to pray when we're really feeling meaningful, it's like only taking out the good china for a special occasion. . .that never happens.

In my own life, the quality of my prayers has steadily improved with practice, just as anything else I do improves with practice. I trust it will be the same with my children. But thank goodness my parents taught me to practice! Thank goodness I never had to wonder where to turn or what to do. I do what I have always done, sometimes more meaningfully than others: I pray.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The kiddos are back after a long two week visit with their dad in Arizona. They all participated in the annual Pat Tillman 5K Fun Run, and they all finished with impressive results. They all came home tanned, freckled, and bigger. But they still remember me, and I think they're still fond of me as Mom.

So, life is back in full swing. Food is flying out of the cupboards, fridge, and freezer. The washer and dryer are running every day, and the dishwasher sometimes twice. The towels are piling up, there is a mountain of shoes by the door, and my favorite sign of family life: there are books everywhere. Someone is always playing piano, boys on rip-sticks keep whizzing by the window, and Conor has someone besides me to play with. Life is full. Life is good.

Becoming a stepmother has been a very difficult transition. I could probably write an entire book about the truth of step-parenthood. It isn't pretty, folks, and sometimes it has little to do with the actual step-children. But I've gained confidence somewhere along the way.

This is my home. I am a dedicated mother. I work tirelessly hard. And I think I'm really, really good at what I do here. Not perfect. Not by a long shot. But I'm proud of who I am as a mother, and I believe I am a blessing in the lives of the children who come into this home, whether I grew them in my womb or not. I am not going to demean myself to myself any longer. I will stand up a little straighter and act with more motherly grace and claim this calling, for that's what I believe that it is. I think I am a really fantastic combination of strict enough and fun enough. I believe that I deserve the respect that my children have for me. And I will continue to earn it.

I am much stronger than I realized before. I can do hard things. I can forgive the unforgivable. I can keep improving (thank goodness!) and evolving. I can get up even after being crushed down. I am a good woman, and I am worthy. I think I'm doing okay after all, and I think the best is yet to come.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In the Groove

You know the feeling. When you're right where you're supposed to be, doing just what you're intended to do. In the groove. I'm groovin'.

My friend, Luisa, was the first to invite me to blogland, and though I initially felt small and insignificant, befuddled, and bemused, I am so grateful that she believed in me enough to coax me along out of my comfort zone.

My new writer and author friends, Josi, Annette, Heather, Julie, and Traci, who honor me with their continued readership of this little blog, have also given me a virtual thumbs up to pursue writing beyond it. Their votes of confidence have filled me with enough courage to give it more focus.

So, it was with huge thrill that I received a pat on the back in the form of an acceptance for a little article I sent off to Desert Saints Magazine last week. (Thanks for the nudge, Heather!) And I've sent several other projects off to various publications, and have begun more earnestly on THE BOOK. I also was asked to write a Christmas play for a ward in Arizona, and the opportunity both humbles and excites me. It feels really, really, well...groovey.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Language of Love

One of my sons has made a little tradition of finding "love" for me in nature. It started when he was a preschooler, and was going on an outing away from me and I asked him, "Are you going to think of me?" He answered with an exuberant, "Yes!" and I said, "Then, bring me back a really special rock, just for me!" That first time, he was hiking in the woods with his dad and upon looking down, found a flat rock with the top baring a chip out of it in the shape of a heart. He brought it home to me, so pleased with his treasure, and I have kept it ever since.

Just before he left with his siblings to spend two weeks with his dad in Arizona, he brought me in an assortment of leaves he had gathered, which when held upside down were heart-shaped. Into the largest, he had carved with his pocketknife "I Love You".

There have been many of these little tokens of love throughout the years. It is our special mother-son language, and I cherish it. I love that Heavenly Father scatters love around His world for the taking, and for the sharing.

This past weekend was a soul-stretching experience of humility, teaching, and awareness for me personally. The Lord has said that whom he loveth, he chasteneth (Heb. 12:6). I know that is true in my role as a parent as well. I will correct and redirect my children's behavior because I love them and care about where they are headed. I consider my chastenings from the Lord a privilege and a heavenly tutelage of parental love and concern for me. If we go to him in humility, not only will he show us our weaknesses, but He will make our weak things strong (Ether 12:27). I felt that I sat at his feet for several days having my eyes opened to my possibilities as his child. I felt that he opened my heart a bit wider and taught me how I might love more as he did. The evidence of his love for me personally seemed to come from every direction so that I would be sure not to miss it. He knew I was broken-hearted with the weight of my shortcomings, but he wanted me to focus on His love, not my weaknesses. I can do all things through him (Philip. 4:13). I am strengthened by him.