Friday, February 26, 2010


I no longer teach in my church women's group once a month, and as much as I love the turning-eight-year-olds that I teach every Sunday now, I really miss it. So when I got asked to give a short presentation for the Relief Society's mid-week February activity titled "How Do I Love Thee?" I jumped at the chance. There were to be three women speaking, each with a different topic on expressing and growing love in our families, with our husbands, and the topic I got, toward our friends and neighbors.

I worked pretty hard on the presentation, and I wanted to share the meat of it with y'all. First though, I am compelled to give you a bit of back story on how I arrived at my approach to the material. I call it my "provenance" and I when I say I am compelled, it's no joke. I pretty much have to do this or I can't go forward, a little thing I learned about myself and teaching style when I used to teach RS. It's sad that I cling to this teaching conceit, my little crutch, but it appears to be my one nod to the streak of OCD that crops up now and then in my family. So suck it up, ya'll... or I guess you could just skip the following, and check back in tomorrow for the first installment of Love Your Neighbor: The Six B's of Friendship.

But where's the fun in that?

When I said earlier that I "jumped " at the opportunity to teach when I was asked, I am mostly telling the truth. My only reservation was that making friends and being a good friend is an area where I have felt weak most of my life. Starting in grade school when I wished so hard for a good friend, a bosom-buddy-friend-for-life type friendship that I had read about in books. Instead I ended up in friendships that were not satisfying and that were fairly shallow. In High School I became one of those girls who you would often hear talk about how being friends with guys was soooo much better, "cuz girls are just so silly, and they are mean... mnyeah!"

Looking back as I started to prepare, I began to realize that the potential for friendships that were nourishing and fulfilling were always there, I just didn't know how to make those connections. I started looking at what was different about me and my approach to being a friend that made this so, tried to put my finger on what worked.

The first thing that came to mind was my mouth. Seriously. My main focus on being a good friend and neighbor is centered on three activities that are managed by mouth. Eating, talking and shutting my pie-hole (both in terms of letting someone else share for theloveofpete, and refraining from gossip). I have discovered as a mother of young children that I was feeling isolated and lonely, and mostly in the middle of the day. So I started inviting women over for lunch. And when I say lunch, sometimes it's as simple as tuna fish sandwiches and a bag of tortilla chips. I think I have even done PB & J's with a girlfriend in my messy kitchen during a problem stretch of time when I was nursing Pearl. Sometimes I make it a little nicer, trying out a recipe that I know my kids and Dadguy will not be able to choke down but sounds good to me. Mostly though, I have this recipe for vegetable soup that I got from Weight Watchers that is amazing; tastes awesome, is filling, nourishing and I have yet to meet a dieter or non-dieter who does not love it with some buttered whole grain toast. The conversation and confidences that have occurred over bowls of Friendship Soup at my table have enriched my life and quite frankly made it possible to keep going with a cheerful heart, or at least a lessening of the obscenity track that plays in my head. Dadguy can tell the days that I have had one of these lunch dates or something similar, I suspect that I am more bearable and fun to be around, so I can even consider these lunches as helpful to my marriage and family. You know it's true; If Mama ain't happy, NObody's happy!

Obviously these lunches aren't gonna work so well for those of you who are 9 to 5, but then again this is not rocket science, we each have our own style and depending on our lives and even the time of life, we have different needs.

The content that I am gonna be posting for the next few days pretty much assumes that you have opportunities to meet other women (work, church, playgroups, school), and yes.... the "friendship" aspects will contain language that assumes you are a woman, and probably growing friendships with other women. Mostly because as a married woman I find it is prudent to not pursue close friendships with men, but also because I was covering a this material for a fairly narrow audience. I don't see any reason to do otherwise, and you can correct me, but I suspect that you can find your own, or broader applications of these principles if you so desire.

Meantime, I am always looking for suggestions on simple ways of being friends. For instance, I have been thinking about starting Mommy Late Overs. The idea being that once ya get the kiddos down at night, leave your husband in charge and come over to my house for a chick flic and popcorn. Whaddaya think? Simple and fun, yeah? No?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lilac Turns Six

So much has been going on in the House of Chaos; some new, some exciting, but really.... most of it mundane.

On Monday my parents went into the MTC in Provo... for all y'all who don't know Mormon lingo, they entered into the Missionary Training Center in advance to heading off for the Washington DC South Mission, where they will serve in various places (mostly VA) for the next 18 months.

They gonna be doing a full-on Proselyting Mission. Dude. My 'rents are hard CORE. I feel something trembling on the cusp of amazing.... something momentous, at their making this commitment. The sight of them in their name tags at the restaurant on Friday night as they had just left the MTC and were yet to begin their drive to the East Coast, I swear that I could see... something. Something not quite of this mortal realm, something of eternity in them, or around them. Was kind of like sitting down to have a steak dinner with my parents, and maybe some angels.

I have a lot more to pray about these days. I have been more regular about saying my personal prayers, and put more of my heart into each prayer than I have in years.

Among other thing, I have a baby sister doing some work overseas right now. In one of those places, those scary places that I will be glad to have her back from. Not directly in harms way, but not far enough away that I rest easy.

I have learned a few things that I had learned before. Guess I will have to relearn them again next month or next year... 'cause apparently I learn like some kind of sieve. One lesson that I want to talk about, but may be redacted later for Birdie's sake:

Lilac's birthday was yesterday, Valentine's Day. But since this year it fell on Sunday, we decided to celebrate it on Saturday. I try to let the kids have a "friend" party on the odd number birthdays, and reserve the evens for "family" parties. Hopefully it keeps them from getting inflated expectations... we'll see. She turned six this year, so it was to be a cousin party. Anyway, I did not entirely have my act together and we had to hit a couple of stores Saturday morning to pick up some last minute items for the party that afternoon. I couldn't leave anyone home because Dadguy is taking every spare minute he can to put into programming an app for the release of Apple's new iPad, so he was long gone working. Birdie was having a rough time of it. Actually, she was being downright ugly about having to come along to the store, about Lilac's birthday, about not being the center of the excitement. Although, to be fair, Birdie really hates going on shopping trips in general.

I got pretty fed up with it pretty fast. She was really raining on Lilacs parade, and I was also feeling pretty outraged that she would be so nasty about someone else getting to have a special day so soon after such a lovely fuss had been made over her. I felt like she was being very ungrateful and very selfish and very shortsighted.

"Why," I thought, "couldn't she just enjoy the moment for someone else? Why couldn't she be happy to think that her sister was about to get lovely gifts that she would probably share with her sisters? She was about to attend a party, eat cake and generally make merry even if the party was not all about her?" I finally got in her face and informed her that I was not about to let her be so nasty about this, not going to allow her to attend the party if she couldn't find a way to turn it around and help make this a special day for Lilac. It is to her credit that it took her maybe three minutes of silence before she chimed in with an idea for the party.

Sigh. Gratitude. How must I offend my Father in Heaven with my shortsightedness and nastiness, my unwillingness to be happy for others having so much. My ingratitude and insistence that being invited to the party is not enough. That I must be the star or I will be ugly about it.

I pray that I can be like my Birdie, that I can turn it around so quickly. Dang, I cringe to think of how I must hurt and offend my God when I turn a blind eye to my blessings.

Anyway... speaking of blessings! Look at this glorious six year old !

And a close-up of the cake. Feast yer eyes, cuz this will the last super-fancy cake I make for quite a while. Took six-seven hours to make all told, I started making it the day before and I was still up against it time-wise at the very last... to say nothing of my helpers "helping." Too much time and too frustrating, and all I can see is how sloppy it looks. I know I know, it's fine, it looks great. But I am thinking that the time investment is not worth it. Really. The kid woulda been thrilled for a bakery cake from Wally World.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Birdie wanted a Sand Bucket Cake, and she wanted to decorate it herself.

Birdie and Dadguy right before we left for the Church for Birdie's Baptism.

The dress, the girl. Wow!

The Hair, very easy yet dramatic and princess-like.

The Valentines Box for school. Theme for second grade: Love Bugs.

Kindergarten Theme: Nursery Rhymes.

Little Sister Theme: I Am A BigGirl And I Get To

...and, um, Henry. Just cuz.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


One really good way to cuss up a perfectly good plan is to talk about it. Like that painting idea I had that I mentioned in my last post. Oh, it's still there, and I have some canvas and a plan to have the next-door neighbor guy make up the frame.

But that's about it.

I already knew that my story idea for a book was gonna sit on a shelf, probably for forever... but the painting kinda hurts.

Slow steps. Yeah. I know. Just some days it makes me want to peel my own skin off, this scattered way of living that seems to be the norm with this many small kids, their projects, homework, piano, the distractions and mess; the simple inability I have to finish the dishes, let alone a painting.

Gughk. Wah wah wah. I piss myself off.

Another note... I have been thinking about the homeschooling from last post too, and some of the comments combined with a post by a friend (and the resulting comments) , I remember now some of what I like about sending the kids off to school.

They get more room to become, more room to grow and grow UP. They have a whole new set of people telling them they should be brushing their freakin' teeth and using good manners.

Sometimes I get the feeling that my kids think I make up half the crap that I am trying to teach them as it is, do I really want to take this fight into academia? Seriously.

I want my kids to become self sufficient, to know that they can do stuff without me. Successfully. And I personally got a lot of that sense of "can do" from going to school. Public School. So I am feeling a little easier, with that in mind, easier enough to sit back and wait and see what happens next year. Chillax a bit. Breathe.

On another note. Wow. Hey. The Bird turns eight today. Eight years old. For those of you who are LDS, you know what this means. For those of y'all who aren't, it means she is now at the age of accountability. She is old enough to get baptised and become a member of the LDS church. Old enough to be held accountable for her decisions, old enough to make this covenant to follow Christ. This a very important time, a very sacred time.

I cannot seem to wrap my head around this; my baby is here already. And then again, this Birdie is more than ready. She is strong and whole and prepared, and I am so proud it hurts.

I was thinking the other day about how I used to think of myself as "damaged." I used to, but I haven't even thought about it for years. I used to feel bad that my sweet Dadguy had to get a broken version of me, but I think maybe, if I ever was in fact broken, I am now healed. If there are broken bits left? They are pretty much immaterial, they just don't matter in any way that matters. I love to look at my life and my family and revel in the goodness of it. To feel the love and joy with my whole body, visceral feeling of love. Funny how these moments don't inspire these feeling, but they sure do put them at forefront and grab ya and say "LOOK!"