Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No, is too much. I sum up.

Actually I'm not even summing up, just highlighting.

We spent the last 2 days in Oregon with cousins. It was great fun and we stayed up very late each night playing games. Yay!

Prior to that, I lost my voice again. Just in time to not be able to sing and record our Christmas poem/song to post on youtube. (if you haven't gotten our newsletter yet, don't despair. We're still getting to most of them. It may expedite the process if you email me your address. Otherwise I will try to find it. If you don't ever get one, assume I never found your address, rather than that I didn't think to send you one, please.

And lastly for today--a thought I had while again trying to parent with no voice: (and I think that sharing a spiritual insight automatically counts as a recognition of the Hand of the Lord in my life, because I know that is from whence they come) It is really hard to instruct children when you have no voice and sign language is not fluently spoken in you home. It wasn't so much that I couldn't get my voice to make any sound, it was just that I knew my voice would not heal until I stopped using it almost completely for a day or so. So there was a lot of the time when I wanted to say something to my children and just couldn't, or rather, didn't. I often tried to communicate in other ways, with expressions, clapping, and seldom understood hand motions. And when I finally did have something important enough either to me or to them that I was going to do what it took to communicate it explicitly, I had to go to the child (usually Willow) and put my mouth right up against her ear and whisper very softly.

Spending so much time actively not talking inspired more thinking, and some thoughts that I had revolved on how much more my parenting during this period looked to me like how I see Heavenly Father parenting us. Most of the time, he does not speak to us directly. He relies on other clues and cues--scriptures, the order of nature, prophets, to let us know what we should (and should not) be doing, and leaves us to do it. When something is important enough to explicitly communicate, it still comes by small, quiet whispers--ones we have to still ourselves and pay attention to to hear.

I don't think that the Lord lacks power to communicate with us directly, at any point, and with utter clarity, but I do think that the physical world is very, very loud and easily drowns out the voices to be heard by our spirits. Hopefully, these reflections will inspire me to seek stillness in my life more regularly, so I may listen and hear the whispers of my Heavenly Parent.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Yuck Thing

Tonight Kevin had a short meeting to go to at about 6:30. We had dinner about 6 and he said he should be home in time to help put the kids to bed. So at around 6:40 when we were finishing dinner I thought to myself, "What would be the easiest way for me to keep the kids occupied and out of the way so I can keep working on Christmas presents until Daddy comes home?" And I figured it out: a bath! My kids are always begging for a bath. And as long as I keep them within earshot and can hear two happy voices and not too much splashing, I figure I'm OK.

After Rhys' initial protests, I get them both in the tub and fill it while Rhys is periodically sticking his mouth in the water and coming up coughing. As long as he's coughing, I know he's breathing. So I go upstairs to catch up on my blogging for a few minutes before starting to sew again. Then I hear Willow say, "Yucky! Hee, hee, hee." I figure Rhys is sticking his mouth in the water again. Then a moment later, slightly more concerned, "Mommy! We found a yuck thing!" So, now a little concerned myself, but more for missing out on my child-free work time than for their safety or comfort, I hasten to the bathroom to find...Yuck.

Someone, I'm guessing Rhys, relieved himself with great fluidity in the tub. Yuck. Unplug the drain. No hope of scooping any out to contain it, So I just let it drain as I start to pull toys out and wipe them with disinfectant. The kids have to stand there in the water as I let it all drain because I don't want them dripping poo water all over. After the toys are out and the tub is drained (and rinsed, thanks to Willow's industrious efforts with the bathtub cup), I wipe down the tub then suds up the kids. Rinse the kids with the bathtub cup and let the water drain again. Refill the tub and call Kevin, "When are you supposed to be coming home again?" "Soon." I wait. He can take it from here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

14 ½ hours later

The Hand of the Lord: Tonight Willow got in big trouble. She intentionally hurt her little brother for fun while simultaneously breaking rules and Christmas decorations. The particular decoration, I was not too upset that it was broken. I was really upset by how unphazed she seemed to be by what she had done. It was just a funny thing, “Oops, hee, hee, hee.” I collected myself enough to refrain from spouting whatever came into my head as a properly intense punishment and just told her that I would have to talk to Daddy before I knew what the consequence would be.

As I was discussing it with Kevin, I explained that I really don’t want her to just forget this ever happened. But I was utterly blocked as to how to accomplish this. I wanted her to remember how bad what she did was so she will never do it again. It was while I was explaining this to Kevin that I realized that I sounded to myself like I was reacting very emotionally—from my frustration rather than her improvement.. “I want her to remember how bad this is,” sounded vindictive, even though what I meant was that I wanted to create in her an emotional recognition of bad behavior. And at that point I stopped to re-evaluate my thought process.

I realized that what I really wanted was for Willow to have a soft heart that recognizes others’ feelings. As I saw this, my heart softened. I recognized that there was no way I could force that on Willow, no matter what I might do to her. This helped me to see that the consequence of this action did not have to be a life shaking event. It was only going to be one drop in a continual bucket of reinforcement throughout her life. It didn’t make it suddenly easy, but after that point I finally could start to see appropriate consequences in this case.

And that moment of pause and reflection that turned the focus of my deliberations to Willow right now and gave me a little better perspective on this moment in her life, I credit to the Lord’s intervention in my thoughts. I am grateful I took the moment to acknowledge it and let it guide my conclusions.

New Babies—Not Mine

I made bread last night and I forgot to bag it and freeze it before I went to bed. Oops. I’ll have to do that after this.

Friends came into town last night. One of my old roommates (but a good friend before and after that, too) and her husband and 3 kids. They were about 3.5 hours later than they thought they would be, so my kids had to go to bed before they got here, which bummed them out. But they got here safely, after fixing a flat tire on the pass. They were coming from Salt Lake City, and frankly I’m amazed they made it as early as they did, even without a flat tire.

I just looked down to discover spit-up on my nightgown. I am up by choice right now so I can blog before the rest of my day starts. My friend is up by compulsion right now because her 6 month old is teething. I held the baby while she went out to the car to find the baby Tylenol. And the baby gave me that little momento I failed to notice until just now.

Admittedly, spit-up and milk-fed baby poo are not in and of themselves necessarily wonderful smells, but it is amazing how nostalgic they are for a mom who no longer has an exclusively breast-feeding baby and is already baby hungry anyway. I’d like one of those soon. In any case, we will have a baby in the house come February. It will be so strange for my sister to have a baby and me not. I don’t know how to handle it. But I guess I’ll get used to it soon enough.

Well, I have to get to scriptures, so I guess sharing the Hand of the Lord will have to wait (which it did anyway, at least until I thought of something to share).

Monday, December 20, 2010

This is NOT What Christmas is All About

I've had such dreams this year. Mostly of gifts for my kids. I think most parents do this, but it's just beginning for me, so I'm a little unsteady in my handling of it. I'm waffle-y and grandiose in my visions of what we will give our kids. There are so many things I want to make for them, but there is not enough time for all of it, and besides that, I don't think it's good for them to have a glut of presents on Christmas. But where the issue really hinges is on the fact that in pursuit of these grandiose visions I have been staying up hours past my bed time and unable to get up on time in the morning every day. This leads almost inevitably to delayed if not entirely dismissed personal devotions because I lose my focused kid-free time in the morning.

I've been letting it slide because I actually have more time to work on things in the evening than I do in the morning because I always remember to put studies first in the morning and sometimes that leaves me with no time before the kids are up, whereas I know once the kids are down they won't be up for as long as I am working before I go to bed. But I also don't usually make myself have my studies before I start working in the evening and at least 2 different days over the past week I have put it off until I passed out and never did it at all. This is a problem. And finally yesterday morning I decided it has to change.

I determined sometime as a teenager that the way to give gifts to Christ was to make improvements in yourself. Since what He wants most is for us to live with Him and Heavenly Father again, then the most loving thing we can do for them is progress along that path. I think I can also agree with the idea that serving others is also a way to give gifts to Christ--the least of these, and all that--and I want to include that as an integral part of our Christmas celebrations, but that is a different topic. It still remains that letting good habits that I have been cultivating slide because of distractions by gifts during the Christmas season (even if it is about giving to others) is like and anti-gift for the very One whose birth we are celebrating. This should not be.

(An entirely side note. Willow is looking at a book with Rhys right now and said, "It's a zebra. It's like BRA. It has that word in it: ze-BRA.)

So I made a commitment yesterday. I will not let any planning or crafting or working keep me up past the appointed bed time and I will get up at my determined wake up time and start my day with the studies I know are most important to my personal improvement. The coolest thing about decisions like this are that even though I can trick myself into feeling selfless about it, at the same time it gives me access to promised blessings that make it entirely worth while, even if it wasn't done for a gift to Christ--I know that as I work to improve my habits and correctly order my priorities each day I will be blessed with abilities beyond that which I can know foresee. I know that I will still be able to accomplish all things that are important or requisite. I have faith that He will bless me, even as I am trying to bless Him.

I am very grateful for the gentle reminders from the Hand of the Lord that bring me to a place in which I can see the need and commit to change before it is too late for this Christmas time.

And now for reality--it's not even 6 am and my children are both awake and kicking. Why? Why do this to me on my first day of new determination? They were knocking on our door at the same time my alarm was first going off. Why? They surely have not had enough sleep. Sigh. Well, if I can pass this test, all should be well. I told them, even as I brought them upstairs with me, that Momma and Daddy have some things they need to do without children for a couple of hours in the morning, so they have to play by themselves until we are ready to play with them. It's worked alright so far--I got to blog--but then, Kevin is lying in the middle of the floor asleep with the kids climbing on top of him right now. We'll see what happens when I have to engage Kevin for couple study, too.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nocturnal Habits of the Juvenile Vezzani

This post was originally composed on November 12th, but I did not publish it because I could not get the video to upload. I've finally put the video on youtube, so here it is. Since this was put together, Rhys and Willow share a bed almost every night. And the kids will be getting a big bed for Christmas.

I almost quailed, but in the end I determined to risk it. Even at the risk of losing my solitude for the entire morning, I had to try to capture on film the potential adorableness of my chillun. Based on the data collected at the last observation, I had absolutely no idea what I would find.

Notice how I turn the video on before opening the door, and don't turn it off until after it is closed. It is great danger to enter my children's room in the morning unless I want them to be awake because they always seem to be in a lighter phase of sleep then, and even just the light from the open doorway is often enough to wake up Rhys. But, abandoning my better judgement, I forged on, what ever the cost might be.

Here is the raw footage:



Look at those two little bums in the air. Perfect examples of juvenile recumbent posture, or "Child's Pose."

A couple of nights ago Willow decided to sleep on the floor instead of in her bed and Rhys wanted to lay down with her. So I let him, and they both slept there on the floor. Last night, Rhys wanted to climb in Willow's bed instead of his crib, and she agreed, so I let him then, too. But Willow's bed is a lot narrower than the floor, so they were a lot cozier.

When I put the kids to bed I read stories and sing songs and then I leave the light on slightly dimmed and let Willow and Rhys look at books til they fall asleep. This has virtually eliminated all complaints about bed time and getting up when she should be in bed. Then I come in a couple of hours later when I go to bed when they are invariably fast asleep (except for once, and Willow and I had a discussion about that), put the books in a safe place, make sure their covers are on, and turn out the light.

Last night I went in to find Willow partially dangling off the side (thank goodness for the rails on toddler beds) with Rhys crowded up against her and almost half of the bed (which is as narrow as a crib) bare of children. As I bent over her to pull up her blankets, Willow's eye popped open, but I don't think she was really awake. I did take the opportunity to ask her if she wanted Rhys to go back in his own bed. It took a while to get my question through to her, but she said no, she wanted him there.

The whole time I was talking to Willow, Rhys had been wriggling like a sleeping puppy over the pillow and Willow's side. I don't think Rhys has REM sleep. I think he only has RLM sleep--Rapid Limb Movement. I covered them both with the blanket and went to sleep myself.

And as I was laying in my own big, empty bed all I could think about was how I wish I could fit on that toddler bed with them. I've been thinking for a while about moving Willow to a big bed, and if I did that, it made more sense to me to put Rhys in the same bed with her rather than a second bed in the room because she wouldn't even take up half of it. And I think I have become even more stuck on this idea because I am a snuggle sleeper and in the absence of my husband, my kids get elected to fill that need. I finally realized that it would be a lot easier to have a bed I fit in in the kids room than to try to make my room entirely unsupervised-kid-proof. So I think Willow will be getting a big bed for Christmas, and that means Rhys, too. And me, I will be getting a bed to snuggle my chillun in all night long.

Good Parenting

Does anyone else parent by ignoring? I don't mean the active "you're trying to get my attention but I am not going to give it to you" kind of ignoring, but rather the passive "if I can let you do your thing while I do my thing then I'm OK, you're OK" kind of ignoring. Of course, not all day can be spent like this. Sometimes kids need attention, and I will give it to them, but largely encourage them to play on their own, even out of my line of sight (in another room, in the fenced backyard). Right now we have a friend visiting and I can hear that he, Willow, and Rhys are in an upstairs bedroom 2 half-stories above me. And I'm not worried. No one is crying, but they aren't silent either. And this is my measure of whether things are going fine--we're right in the middle. If it was absolute silence, I would get suspicious (after I noticed), and if they fussing got too severe (a little fussing/crying to work out on their own is pretty healthy, I think) I would intervene. But for now, I ignore them and do my own thing. I think this is good parenting. What do you think?

There is so much of our day that I do and must interact with the children--meal times, prayer times, family night, scripture study, bath times, church, running errands, transitions (getting up, going out, going to bed)--and then times when I play with them because I want to--they are incredibly cute after all--that I don't feel bad leaving them to themselves in the in between time. They demand attention often enough.

Maybe that's how God parents us, too. Not that he's ever truly ignoring us, but maybe not always actively engaged in our day-to-day life. When we're doing well, in the in between times, he just lets us take care of ourselves--but is always within earshot for when we find ourselves so distressed we need help. And he may not always come right away, even when we think we are stuck, because he knows our abilities better than we do and sometimes a little struggle is the best way for us to grow and learn. And the more capable and mature we become, the more he ignores us. He also knows that when he has heard absolutely nothing from us for a while, we're probably getting into trouble, and He will come look for us.

Not being actively engaged, however, does not mean a lack of perceptible presence. Even when my Daughter is in a different corner of the house she can see my influence in the nature of the home--the decoration, the toys and things she has to play with, the clothing she has to choose from, and even her own ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, have been largely developed in the image of mine (I do pray that mine are correct ones!). Thus she can see my hand every moment, if she just looks around, even when she does not see my direct physical presence.

On that note, I see the Hand of the Lord in the way even a seemingly flippant reflection can ultimately turn to a serious meditation on a spiritually enlightening level. I am grateful for His influence all over my life, even when He's ignoring me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Instrumentality

Today's notice of the Hand of the Lord is not directly in my life, but rather an instance of how I see the Lord use us as instruments in His Hands.

Kevin had a meeting this morning and received notice that it was canceled just as he was about to leave due to the fact that the basement of the man who was supposed to lead the meeting was flooding. (It's been raining quite a bit here.) Instead of taking it easy thanks to the unexpected free time he and my brother-in-law, who was also supposed to go to that meeting, headed right over to the man's house. They, along with some other brethren from church were there all afternoon and into the evening helping to get out the water and set up a way to keep it from flooding back in. That kind of immediate selfless service is nothing less than allowing yourself to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to bless the lives of others. I love my man.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Quote of the (Other) Day

I have been watching episodes of "Get Smart" because I got them from the library. Because of the way you check them out, you have to watch an entire season in one week or else miss seeing some before you have to return it (and get back on the waiting list for it). So there has been a lot of smarting going on around here. There are a lot of guns and shooting, but no blood, so I let my kids watch it. But it makes for interesting scenarios to explain that make me re-think this decision sometimes.

Willow, while watching Maxwell Smart load a gun: He's putting batteries in it!

Me: Yep.

Freecycle Karma

I like Freecycle, and those of you who are cheap and thrifty and hate to see good, useful things go out into the world without knowing that someone will love them (As much as we all love thrift stores, we all know that too many poor textilular souls pass through their doors unwanted and eventually leave, unloved, to languish forever, stubbornly refusing to biodegrade, in a un-environmentally friendly landfill.), should check out Freecycle, too. It mostly exists as individual Yahoo groups for different locations. I belong to 4--Freecycle Woodinville, King County, Central King County, and Snohomish County. It is a forum where people post things that they have to give away and people can respond and then come get them. I have received a couple of things and given a couple of things away so far.

Today I posted about 5 things that have been sitting in the garage forever hoping to clean some of them out without even having to leave the house. One listing was a set of 2 samurai-style swords. They are decorative pieces, and kind of cheap. They were given to us for free and they aren't really anything that I particularly want. I realized after I received 5 requests for them within the first 20 minutes, followed by 9 more over the next couple of hours before I finally posted that they were taken, that I probably could have sold them on ebay or craigslist and made enough money to have been worthwhile. I could have simply retracted my offer and said that they were taken (by me) and then sold them, but it just didn't feel like it would be worth the effort when I could just say "yes" to any one of these and they would come take them from me. And besides, I liked the idea of storing up some good Freecycle Karma.

I figure if I really show my commitment to generosity and sharing what I have, eventually I will be able to cosmically cash it in and someone will offer something very valuable that I really need or want. Right now I have a specific Christmas present in mind for Willow and am hoping I can get it for free. Though I think I may be using up some of the Karma already simply by the fact that multiple people have responded to my offer for every single item, potentially getting all of these things off my hands without lifting a finger higher than from keyboard to mouse. This is pretty exciting. I'm especially attracted to those who respond saying they would like what I have to give someone for a Christmas present--like that will help narrow down the scope of the Karma to the exact category I want it in--free Christmas presents.

I like the stage of life where time is not actually money because there's not really anything I could be doing instead of what I am doing at this point that I could be paid for, so I can take time to do things like hand-rinse and line-dry diapers, make meals from scratch and put them in the freezer, scour garage sales in July for gifts in December, and haunt internet posting sites for cool free stuff to give away instead of buy to give away. This is a nice life. And I credit the Hand of the Lord with bringing me a husband who does not ask me to work outside the home and is excited about the efforts I make to live thriftily.

Good night.

Rad-tastic Body Love

This is a shout-out to my little brother (can you say, "back and forth"?). (By the way, how's that for punctuational overload? Don't often get to see "?). all in a row, do you?)

I fully agree (if you don't read the comments on previous posts, he is the one who there posited) that it is easier (often) to generate hilarity when two exchange words than only one in a monologue. So please feel free to exchange with me. I will try to better address your comments in future. Thank you to those who responded correctly to my self-depreciatingly named post with ego stroking affirmations of my awesomeness. (Special note to my slave-for-life: Your duty for life is to read my blog and make me feel good about myself with occasional murmurs of awe and wonder and love. P.S. I think you are awesome-rad, too and am way excited for your two baby boys, and also the fact of your whole family, even though I never told you before.) (And special note to my self-designated most favorite roommate ever--she might just be right--I'm so excited you found me and I need to seek out and catch up on your life sometime soon! I like you.)

And as a final note to my little brother--actually, as fun as it is that you can make my back pop, usually the "Aaaahhhhhh." is more like an "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!" of "Oh, no. I know my brother loves to do that but I can already feel it starting to give me a headache." Unfortunately, my back doesn't like being vigorously popped any more now that I am an old lady. But feel free to give me a massage any time and then ease pressure onto my back and see if it wants to pop a little then--that is always welcome. And I love you.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

15 Crafting Days Left Til Christmas!

We went to the Temple last night. We didn't spend a long time there, but enough. Then Kevin and I did some Christmas shopping--just Dollar Store stuff, but it was fun. I like Kevin. I'm mostly done with Christmas shopping for my kids. But there are still the siblings we are giving gifts to this year and I don't feel satisfied with what I have for Kevin. But I have a whole load of Christmas present projects in the works (mentally at least). I'm pretty sure I won't get to them all, but I still cling to them and try to make a little progress every day. But it is a very little, because I have very little children. sigh. But I wouldn't trade them. I guess they're worth it.

The Hand of the Lord: He gave me a husband who is so gentle. While we were driving, Kevin brought up something. It was a concern he had had that I thought we had addressed. He was seeing a potential problem with the solution I thought we had come up with. My reaction was initially very hostile to the whole topic and instead of figuring out why I felt that way, I let it all vent onto him. My wonderful, gentle husband just let me for a minute, then explained that he was just wanting to have a discussion about it, not a "what are you thinking?!" explosion. And I was immediately disarmed, realizing what I had done. When I apologized, he didn't hold it over me, he just helped me over it. How sweet is he? I love him. I don't know why I have been blessed with this even tempered man, but I sure am glad.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Analog* Fail

I hadn't recorded anything until it was bed time last night so I brought my journal to bed with me to jot a few lines before going to sleep. It didn't work very well. It ended up as one of those few words, random lines, blotches and unrelated thoughts kind of entries that didn't even have an end to the forst sentence before I gave up on trying to wake back up after I dozed off and I put it to the side.

So here I am back, and I hope you will forgive the everyday overload, because it helps me to actually finish my thoughts when I can be excited that someone out there in the ether may read them.

The Hand of the Lord: OK, here as really simple one--For the ward Christmas party the person in charge of decorating had different people each bring unique center pieces for the tables. There was some concern in the couple of days before that there would be more tables than centerpieces coming, so I put together about 6 possibilities from my Christmas decorations and brought them all with me. When I got there to help with the decorating on the day of, all of the tables were already set. So I had 3 boxes of decoration and no table to put them on. But over the course of setting up for the evening I discovered other places that needed decorating (like on top of the piano) that I simply had not thought of before, and it was super easy to re-arrange some of my decorations to fit there. Sometimes little blessings like that--mini-crisis averted quickly and smoothly--are easy to miss. But I know I would have remembered it if I didn't have anything there to fill the gaps. I am grateful for a Father that helps me be prepared, even if what I think I'm preparing for is not what I end up needing, it just made me also prepared for what actually ended up happening.

*I know that "analog" is not technically an accurate word to describe writing by hand, but I couldn't think of a better one, and I thought perhaps the pressure of pen on paper as recorded by the presence/absence and thickness of ink line left by the trailing ball point might satisfy the "mechanism that represents data by measurement of a continuous physical variable, as voltage or pressure" that the definition calls for the word to be "of or pertaining to."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In a Mysterious Way

Sometimes it is very easy and obvious to see the Hand of the Lord at work directly in my life and it is only a matter of moments to capture it in words. Other times it takes forever of sitting and really thinking hard to figure out a specific and unique instance for the day. Sometimes what finally makes itself visible to me is such a twisting history of tenuously related events that I would never have seen it if I hadn't spent the time in intense meditation. So I guess those periods of reflection are good, because they expand my view of the Lord's Hand at work in my life.

Last week our ward Choir director was sick and emailed to cancel choir practice that day. I called and offered to lead the choir practice and so it was back on. My daughter has been coming with me to practice and loves the special with Mommy time. Because Kevin was also home, he kept Rhys with us at practice as well instead of sending him home with Neoma like I have usually done.

At practice I was up in the front and Kevin let the kids run around. Spurred on by Rhys (usually she would sit next to me most of the time) Willow joined him sneaking snacks from the table in the front and using the music stand for a Maypole. I mostly ignored them, and I thought everyone else was fine with it too, but a couple of days later I got a phone call. The caller was very kind and had no word of hostility or condemnation, but just wanted to sympathise with the difficulty of handling hungry little children who have just been at church for three hours, emphasize that both my and my husbands voices were needed in the choir, and suggest that perhaps we can find a way to occupy the kids elsewhere during rehearsals in the future.

A couple of days later this same Sister called again to tell me about the wonderful idea she just had--she would take our children to a different room and give them a snack, freeing up both my husband and me and if my sister and her husband would only come also, she could take their children as well and trade her one voice for all four of us.

I love this sweet woman. Neoma and Jason have not come to choir for quite a while specifically because it is just too difficult to take care of the kids at the same time. I was finding a way to work around it by sending my kids home with Neoma (except when Willow promised to be very well behaved she got to stay with me). It was (I think) just one week of misbehaviour because of me being unable to corral kids due to conducting and Daddy being distracted with music he was seeing for the first time. But because of that week and the stir it caused, a need was seen and acknowledged that applies to more than just me. And so now Neoma can come back to choir, which I know she enjoys, but not when it is filled with the stress of unwelcomely rampaging children. And that is a strange and mysterious working of the the Lord.

I'm glad I didn't feel inclined to be offended when someone told me (however nicely) that what I let my children do was not acceptable. In fact, the better I am coming to know this woman, the more I want to be like her when I grow up. She is a widow, I think, and I'm sure she is older than my mom, but I have no idea how much. She is still bright and witty and funny and helpful and lively. I want to be like that when I am a grandma or great grandma, or whatever she is. And I hope I find the opportunity to tell her how much she is my hero.

I Think I Must Be Boring

A post of self-pity, and hypocrisy. But not too sincere, never fear.

I bluster and brag about how I don't care what people think of my blog, but I secretly do want to entertain, enlighten, and inform people I know and care about. And the only way I know it's working is through comments. So I always feel depressed when there are no new comments, even though I've put up 5 new posts. And I persist in stalwartly refusing to do anything specifically to generate popularity. I just want people to love me spontaneously for my show of not caring whether anyone cares. sigh. Why is that so hard to achieve?

But I guess, because I'm stubborn, I will continue to persist in not attempting to cater to my target audience or even admit I have a target audience. And privately wallow in illegal self-pity. Because self-pity would be stupid. Because I'm the only one imposing arbitrary rules on myself. If I want to change them, I can. But I won't. Because then I will have to change the name of my blog and that will basically negate all the coolness I have sought to establish in having it up to this point and that is not allowed, even though I negate it every time I make a metablogically ridiculous post like this.

The End

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm a Free Woman Again! Let Christmas Begin!

It's done! The ward Christmas party happened and was well received. I'm so happy.

This year we did a celebration of Christmas music. We started with Hors 'Devours then had the first half of the Program: secular Christmas music. Then we had Desserts and the second half: sacred Christmas music. I was a little worried that the program would be too long. I tried to be generous on my estimates of time and I figured we would end around 8:15 or 8:20 (we started at 6:30). We ended up finishing the program at 8:00. Yay! I'm always concerned about not going too long on programs. I hate making people sit, especially children, and I want ward parties to be very family-friendly. We had people sing and play the piano, violin, and guitars, even a banjo and bells. And one poem, and one dance. We had a few congregational (audience) numbers and for 3 of the songs we had a Mary and Baby Jesus come sit on the stage.

The numbers were all chosen by the individuals who performed them. I was initially planning to weave the songs together into a telling of the a story, but it didn't work out very well, so mostly people just performed them. The problem that I ran into in that department was that I wanted to have a progression through the songs through the Christmas story, but the songs that were chosen mostly had a sort of progression of their own and most of them repeated what others already said. And then there were some random ones that didn't really match with anything. So I gave up on telling a complete story with them and just let them bring the Spirit how they were.

At some future point I think it might be cool to work out the nativity story in song and have people dress up and stage the performing of them, but this time the way it worked out was just right. And I am grateful that it all went well and that it is now done because that means I can concentrate on my own family's celebrations and gift making and decorating (my decorations got torn apart to bring to decorate the church).

The Hand of the Lord: Not so much in my life specifically, but in the church, specifically the youth of the church. Tell me if this sounds like what you hear of most "young people these days": several times during the course of the evening I called to a group of teenagers that was chatting together halfway across the gymnasium and said, "could you do this for me?" Sometimes it was sweeping, or moving things, or carrying boxes to my car. I don't actually know these kids very well. Some I have interacted with more than others, some I've never actually seen before in my life that I know of. Every single time, every one of them dropped what they were doing and with smiling faces and helpful hearts jumped to what ever it was I asked them to do. Every time, every one, whatever it was. I never got a surly look or a "who do you think you are to ask me to do something?" scoff. We truly have wonderful youth in our church. And I know it is not happenstance or luck. It is because of the lifting and refining influence of the Spirit of the Lord--His hand stretched out over His children as they try their best to follow Him.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Skills I Lack

Willow has been experimenting with locking the door to her room. For some reason the locks on the downstairs bedroom doors require keys. Unfortunately, there are no keys for them. Usually it has been when she is playing in the room and I always make her open it when I discover the door is locked and tell her she is not allowed to lock the door when she is playing in there. Yesterday she locked the door when I sent her down for her rest time, but apparently she didn't close it (you can't turn the handle from the inside when it is locked) until she came out a few minutes later. Rhys was still inside. Luckily, Rhys was sleeping soundly and never knew that for an hour we were frantically working on the door to his room.

I learned 2 things from this experience: (1) there are a million videos about how to pick locks on the internet and (2) they all make it look eaiser than it actually is. Some of the videos said you could do it with a bobby pin or a paper clip, but they all also required a "tension wrench," which I've never even heard of before and which, apparently, you get in a lockpicking kit, which if you have, I don't know why you would need a bobby pin or a paper clip in the first place. Since we didn't have a lock picking kit or a tension wrench, we tried using a screwdriver and a knife in place of the tension wrench. If you sear picking locks on youtube, you will see what a tension wrench is and why a screwdriver or a knife is much less effective in the roll.

I felt pretty calm about the whole thing, but I guess my even bloodpressure belied how upset I actually was because when Willow kept asking questions and getting in the middle of things, I sent her to time out. I know she didn't know she had done anything wrong so I tried to explain how serious what she did was, that Rhys was locked in the bedroom and we couldn't get to him, but she just kept asking why. Finally I told her that even when we don't do something on purpose, sometimes there are consequences, and her concequence was that she had to go sit in time out.

So I have come to the conclusion that lockpicking is a skill, and one that it takes more than 60 minutes to learn. The moral of the story is: Start picking locks now. By the time you need the skill, it will be too late.

And the Hand of the Lord is: I have a husband who knows how to remove a door frame and bypass the handle to get a door open without causing permanent damage.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Family Birthday! and my very intelligent girl

Kevin and I decided when we got married that we wanted to make our Anniversary a family celebration because it is not just when we got married, but it was the birth of our family. We decided it would be a good time to plan an annual fancy dinner out for the whole family. Although we dress up and practice our good manners, however, so far we've still gone to family restaurants. This year we went to Sheri's. The waitress took this picture for us.

Happy 7 years!

When we got home Neoma took some more pictures for us. I love my little family.

Willow took this picture for us.

And since I was finally dressed up in something flattering, I had Neoma take some skinny pictures of me, too. I haven't done that yet, and it was fun.
For the record, this was the dress I wore to my high school prom 10 years ago. It fits me better now than it did then.
My little Willow is learning to read. It's still shaky, but it's coming. We read scriptures as a family every morning, and usually for a verse or two I will say it to Willow and she will repeat it. The other morning I helped her sound out the first two words: And it. I had to work with her to string the sounds of the letters into a recognizable word. She can get every letter sound, but has trouble blending them together accurately. (It will often go, "/a/-/n/-/d/, nad!" or, "/i/-/t/, tit!") But after getting those two we went back over them and she said them, then I pointed to the next and without even saying a letter or a single sound she said, "came," which was correct, then "to" and "pass." She stumbled on "after" and guessed it said "Ammon" (whom we are reading about), but she is beginning to recognize patterns and some words by sight. I am very excited and a very pleased Momma.
The Hand of the Lord: OK, here's a roundabout blessing. On black Friday my brother-in-law and little brother went to Target for their super sale. I had seen some plush blankets on sale there the night before and my little brother knew I wanted them, so he called me to see if he wanted me to pick any up while they were there. I was in the shower while he called and so Kevin talked to him for me and couldn't think of why we would need them (I particularly wanted one to use in making Christmas presents) so he told my brother not to get any. Kevin thought, if I really wanted some, we could go later in the day ourselves. So we did go later in the day, in the afternoon, but by the time we got there they were entirely out of the size and color that I wanted for the sale, which saved about 30%. I picked 2 other blankets in colors that would work just as blankets to have and went to check out. They rang up as full price and when I mentioned the problem to the clerk and explained the sign she checked and told me that that was a "door buster" sale that was only on until 10:00. But while I was figuring out if I should just put them back and go home the manager came over and let us have them for the sale price and dispatched someone to go take down the faulty price sign. I realized as we were on the way home that at the point my little brother was there the sale had already ended, and it is very probable that since he was not the one who wanted them for that price he may very likely have either just put them back or bought them full price and they would have taken the sign down and I would not have been able to get them later. So even though I didn't get the color I wanted initially (Kevin found me some later at a different store), I did get the extremely good price. And it was a blessing.