Saturday, November 21, 2009

Catching Up on Rambling x 10

I can't believe the entire month of October passed without me posting even a tiny blog entry.

Well, actually I guess I do believe a whole month can pass without me posting...truth is that I can't believe the entire month (and most of November) has past. Period.

This time of year seems to pick up serious speed. I wonder if I would get Christmas shopping done early if the Oct.-Dec. time period would slow down a bit.

Since I don't see me actually getting Christmas shopping done before December 24th, I probably will never know the answer to that question. Oh, well.

My reconstruction surgery is scheduled for December 17th...so I guess I'd better start figuring Christmas out a little sooner rather than later. I don't think my kids will be that thrilled if I tell them my new boobs are their Christmas present this year too. I can see how well that conversation would go over... ;)

Here are some catch up topics I wanted to touch on that have gone through my head at least twice these past couple of months:

First, I want it on record that I personally think the health care issue thing about not getting mammograms until age 50 is retarded. If I had waited that long I would be looking into mastectomy, chemo, the works. There has to be a happy medium for the higher-ups. Or they need to put a woman on their panel. Either way is good. Enough said.

Second, Montana is a lovely State. We went there last weekend for my nephew's non-farewell and non-open house. He entered the MTC this past Wednesday and will be going to Costa Rica. He is excited. Great kid.

I thought that I would freeze in Montana in November, but actually Utah right now is colder than Montana.

Third, I could go my whole life and not have to spend an aimless hour and a half driving around Idaho Falls again. Been there, done that. On the way home from Montana we stopped at the Walmart in I.F. and bought a fuse for the converter thingy (yes, that is the technical term) to the power do-hickey (not the technical term, but it should be) so that the kids could continue watching movies on the way home from our trip and the parents could maintain some semblance of normalcy. Then we found out that Wendy's closes early in IF. And we drove around looking for another fast food place. Seriously took waaayy longer than it should have. And it put is home at 2 a.m. instead of midnight like we had planned.

Fourth, have you ever looked back at what you had or didn't have your kids involved in and wondered where you went off track? I remember when I first got married and though about having kids, I pictured my daughters all taking dance and playing soccer (I took dance from the time I was 3 until I was 16...and I've played--and still play--soccer forever), and my sons would be involved with baseball and soccer (husband is the baseball guy, and again me with the soccer). I also thought my kids would love horses just because I do--having owned horses and having been able to ride since I was 3, and because my husband also had a horse growing up).

I know those aren't huge problem type issues, but I really pictured those things being part of our lives. Soccer is, so I guess you can see where my real priorities have been. But my kids have never taken a dance lesson, my older son played 2 years of baseball and that is all, my youngest hasn't ever played; my oldest daughter is actually afraid of horses--which is actually what shocked me into this direction of thought. Some of my most fun times were with horses. My first date with my husband was me taking him riding through Snow Canyon when we were both at Dixie College. I feel like I've cheated them out of something. I'm sure they don't mind at this point, but when I was first married I would never have thought that 18 years later I wouldn't have dancing baseball playing kids.

I'll get over it eventually. It is just such a weird thing to me.

Fifth, have you noticed that you look better in some mirrors than others? Maybe it is just me--okay, most definitely it is just me, but still...--It might be the lighting, it might be the actual mirror itself, but some mirrors I look at myself and think "Huh. Not too shabby today", others I have an almost uncontrollable urge to give myself the wink and the gun, and then the evil mirrors that make me look like a 41 year-old housewife (oh, wait...that's what I am....dang). I was thinking that if I could figure out what makes the wink and the gun mirror work the way it does, and then make that work the same way in a camera--I'd be set for life. Because honestly, even if I pass a wink and gun mirror and then get my picture taken...photo ends up looking like I got ready in front of evil mirror. Why can't someone invent a camera that REMOVES 10 pounds instead of adding it?

Sixth, here is another thing I have always found myself doing. I want to decorate my house more. I want nice paintings, etc. So I go look at home decor places or boutiques and look around. And I see a lot of things that I could totally do equally well if not better (in my humble opinion), so I don't buy any of the paintings, etc. But the key here is that I don't actually go home and make them myself. So just because I CAN do something better, doesn't usually (ever) mean that I will actually DO the thing. So my house isn't decorated like I'd hope because I'm too vain to buy something I think I can do better, and yet also too lazy to just get off my backside and do it. Which is an annoying trait to realize I have. And it is even more annoying to know the odds of my getting over the trait is slim to none.

Seventh, I decided I'm already not looking forward to January and New Year's Resolutions. Just so you know.

Eighth, I think that people who dread being called to serve in the church nursery either haven't actually been in the nursery before, or they are not seeing the great potential that is there. I mean seriously. How bad can a calling be when you have the parents take care of any diaper issues, you take kids to their parents if they are being overly upset that day--both of which means that you really only get to have the good part of playing with little kids--happy and dry and non-stinky--and you get to sing songs, play with toys, color, and--hello--eat snacks. C'mon. Seriously. It is a primo church calling.

I am not in nursery right at the moment. I am in YW. Not a bad gig either, but 16 and 17 year old girls tend to frown on their adult leaders breaking out into 'Once There Was a Snowman'. I have found they are fine with being offered mini-marshmallows or goldfish crackers though. :)

Ninth, what is hotter? A man in a tux, a man in a military/police/firefighter uniform, or a man giving out free chocolate. Not just any chocolate...but your very favorite kind? Just wondering.

Tenth, there are a few videos/movie lines etc. that can make me laugh just thinking about those particular scenes. Some like in the movie 'Night Shift'--that I can't actually see again since I've given up on 'R' rated movies, but it is still one of my favorite comedies of all time--when Michael Keaton's character yells "I'll save you Chuck!" and belly flops off the balcony. (You had to be there). I like things that make me laugh. I've shared these two things before, but I figure if you've read through this far you deserve a little humor too. The first is a link to one of my all-time favorite Barats & Bereta clips from YouTube and the second is the German Coastguard thing that cracks me up when I remember the punch line. So enjoy.

And thanks for putting up with 10 rambling topics. :)



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn1-M5Ze0p8




video

Monday, September 28, 2009

Update on Me

It is official.

I no longer have cancer.

I'm not done with reconstruction...but the cancer has been removed completely with something as "simple" as a mastectomy.

I had it a little easier than some. I won't need radiation or chemo. All the test results came back that they got all of the cancer and it had not spread or moved into lymph nodes.

Everything moved so quickly from getting the mammogram to having the surgery--July 23rd was the mammogram, Aug. 26th was mastectomy surgery--that it has taken awhile to really sink in that I just kicked cancer's butt.

I have learned a few things through all this.

One: I have pretty fantastic friends and family and neighbors. Everyone has been supremely supportive and helpful. I have been given the luxury of not having to worry about my youngest kids after school or dinners for my family for the three weeks following surgery because of volunteers who wanted to help.

It is actually pretty humbling to see everyone around so willing to serve and go out of their way so that I can get back to normal as soon as I can. There really isn't anything more surprising to me than people actually saying yes when asked if they can watch three 5 year-olds for 3 hours after they get home from kindergarten. And to top it off, they have actually said nice things about my kids after the fact. So either my kids were on best behavior or my neighbors are fabulous liars. :) Either way, I will forever be grateful to everyone and am going to be permanently put on the list on helping anyone else in need in the future. I am looking forward to being on the other end of the service thing.

Two: I have a pretty fantastic community too. School teachers making sure my kids are dealing okay with everything. School administrators letting me get a parking pass for my daughter at the high school even though she is a junior and passes are for seniors, just so she can be mobile during my recovery and better able to help me out. The list is longer, but you get the idea...there are genuinely nice people in this world.

Three: I still really need to work on showing gratitude. My whole life I have had a hard time showing excitement about anything. At birthdays, Christmas, baby showers, etc. I have had to psych myself up to force a cheerful expression. On the inside I can be happy and grateful, but I've always had trouble showing it on the outside. So I tend to come across as not very grateful or excited, which is usually far from the truth. Which probably makes all of the above mentioned genuinely nice people maybe not quite as thrilled about giving me service. It is hard to serve people who give the impression of maybe thinking that service is somehow 'owed' to them. Which is how I am afraid I come across sometimes...although that is far from how I actually feel.

Well, that was depressing enough.

I just want to thank everyone who has asked about me, prayed for me, thought about me, helped me. Even if I haven't demonstrated sufficiently enough, I am grateful. You have all cheered me up, eased my mind, and helped me in more ways that I can count.

For a physical update on me, I am almost done with the tissue expanding part of my reconstruction. My surgery to complete all this is scheduled for December 17th--mainly because I really want to get it done before the end of the year so I don't have to cough up the insurance deductible again--but also because it will make it easier for family to shop for me for Christmas :) I'm getting new boobs for Christmas so I've got bras and shirts on my list. :)

The feeling is coming back in my chest--the nerves are healing and putting themselves back together--which means that I actually have more pain at the moment after each tissue expanding appointment than I did after the mastectomy surgery. Which is unpleasant. But I should only have one or two more of those appointments left since I am close to the size I am shooting for.

Everything seems to be going well. No more cancer and a bra size I never in a million years would have thought I would wear without dr. assistance--and since that wasn't ever happening as an elective surgery (I'm not a fan of pain, even for vanity), I'm perfectly fine with this being my 'silver lining'. If I had to get cancer, at least I get a bigger chest out of it. :) I do wish my nerves decided to take longer to heal so that I couldn't feel this expansion thing quite so well, but I can't have everything.

So thanks to you all for your thoughts and prayers. They were felt and needed. And even if I don't look it on the outside, on the inside I am filled to the brim with gratitude and appreciation for you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why Women Need Mammograms

For those of you who are on facebook and are a friend of mine there, remember that status I put for myself at the end of July when I mentioned getting a mammogram?

Women don't want to get them because they hear all the stories about how it squishes the heck out of your chest (it isn't pleasant), or they don't want to bother with them because it will take too much time (for the record, from the moment I walked in the front door to the minute I walked out only 30 minutes had past...that isn't a lot of time).

Well, funny thing, mammograms...

They actually find cancer sometimes.

Which is what happened with me.

Kind of a bummer to go to your very first mammogram and find cancer. I went in because A. I'm over 40 now and I figured I should go, B. My maternal grandmother had breast cancer, so it made me paranoid since I'm in that over-40 age category, and C. I had a gland under my left arm that was bugging me, so since I was already paranoid, I figured I would go make sure that wasn't something to worry about.

It wasn't.

The Breast Care Center folks called me back after a few days and told me that they had found something on the right side that they needed me to come back in to have another mammogram and an ultrasound to check.

Being the genius I am, I did ask "Are you sure it isn't on the left side?" Like they wouldn't know how to read the charts....but my left side was the one that was bugging me, so I had to ask. Right?

I went back in for a 2nd mammogram and ultrasound. This time the radiologist checked the results immediately and I was then scheduled to come back in for a biopsy. They needed to check two areas--one that looked like calcium deposits, and one that was a dark mass.

The dark mass turned out to be just a benign lump of nothing.

The calcium deposit looking thing turned out to be a "Ductal Carcinoma in Situ" or DCIS. You can go here to read about what that means exactly if you want.

Basically it means that I have the very beginning stage of breast cancer in my right breast. So early that it would have been at least 3 years before I felt anything, so I am also textbook as to why women should get mammograms even when they don't think there is a problem.

Treatment for this is a lumpectomy and radiation. Being the worrier I am, however, I have opted instead to have that breast removed. So I will be going in for a mastectomy on Wed. Aug. 26th. Not a double, like I was also seriously considering. I will wait and if anything ever shows up on that other side I'll have that taken care of at that time.

I wanted them both taken when I was still in panic mode. But I know that right now my left side has no cancer, so I've dialed back the panic and will just go into it a bit slower.

Two good things come out of having a mastectomy....1. I won't need radiation with the whole breast gone, and 2. my insurance covers reconstruction when it is cancer caused, so I get to upgrade my chest size. :)

Silver linings and all that, right?

I've also pulled the "cancer card" a couple of times, and people are pretty darn sympathetic--which is nice when you are trying to get dentist appointments for a child before I go have surgery. They have no room for another appointment, but when I say "Oh, Thursday won't work because I'm going in on Wednesday for cancer surgery" they seem to be more than happy to work something out.

(I felt a bit bad about using the cancer card on that one, but I hadn't tried it yet at that point and was a bit amazed at the immediate sympathy I was able to garner on that one )

Besides getting to have a bigger bra size out of this whole fiasco, the other thing I am looking forward to is getting and wearing this t-shirt:


I keep thinking that because I have an "easy" type of breast cancer, that I don't really get to put myself in the category with all the other women in the world who haven't been as lucky and have to go through so much more than just a surgery or two. I don't need chemo, and since I'm opting for mastectomy I don't need radiation...so I don't think of what I'm doing as "fighting" cancer. I have to remind myself that yes, I do have cancer..and yes, when I have it removed from my body I will have fought it and it will hopefully not return and I will be a cancer survivor.

So this shirt, while it made me laugh...also reminds me that what I have could kill me. And probably would have if I had waited on the mammogram until I felt something worrisome in that breast. Or at least it would have been a longer, harder fight.

Not to be melodramatic--I don't like to do drama--I really do hope that if you are a woman reading this who hasn't had a mammogram yet...or who hasn't had one for a long time, that you will make an appointment and just get it done. Or if you are a husband of a woman who is 40 or older, encourage your wife to go in and have a mammogram.

Peace of mind is worth a little squishing and some of your time.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Writing it All Down So I Don't Have To Become a Scrapblogger

You know, when you aren't blogging like a scrapbook of your life but are trying to just write about random ponderings that have entered your head at any given time, you can have long dry-spells between entries.

I haven't mastered the skill of writing down thoughts to blog about as they come to me. I drive down the road and have a couple of dozen "great" blog ideas come to me, but by the time I get home...nothing.

Or worse, I get the idea for a decent blog and sit down at the computer to get it all typed up--I even get the first couple of paragraphs and I can feel my head jumping ahead certain directions as I type that I am hoping my fingers can keep up with--and then kids come in either screaming, fighting, or bleeding (or any mix of those three), and by the time I turn back to the computer the idea is completely gone. Zip. My brain is shockingly blank.

When that latter one happens I usually keep muddling through hoping for a new grip on my previous brainstorm.

What usually results from that muddling is about 75% of what you read here on my blog. Rambling, miscellaneous quotations, and usually a lot of head-scratching "what-is-she-talking-about?" type bogging.

I have 4 unfinished blog entries waiting in my "Edit Posts" area for me to get a clue and hammer them out.

THIS blog entry will probably have 67 re-writes and will still make no sense, but what the heck?

[Not that you would know it reading this after I've put it all together, but I just got sidetracked with a little yogurt mishap and my 4 year-old. All is well now--and as a bonus the room now smells like strawberries... What was I talking about?...oh, yeah...]

Sometimes I think it would be easier to blog like a scrapbooker/scrapblogger type, but then I remember that I don't really have a life either and would be stuck with just as much material to write about that way so I might as well stick to what I know. Or what I do anyway, since I can't always claim 100% knowledge on any given topic that I've spouted off about.

I also don't have fun or interesting photos to help my scrapblogging.

And what the heck, let's go for broke: I don't LIKE scrapblogging. But I do enjoy rambling masses of confusion.

I suppose all this means is that I either need to start writing down topics of discussion for my blog when I get a half-way decent idea, or I continue on as always.

You all know me well enough to know which way I'll go with that one.

And do you know what? I'm okay with being that predictable. Better to be predictable than me forcing you to all look at photos and read about saccharine stories of my perfect children or tell you about the results of my latest dentist appointment, right? :)

[What was I talking about? I started laughing about the perfect children thing and my mind blanked again....Ya...Nope, I've got nuthin'...]

Monday, June 29, 2009

Career Choices and Growing Up

My teen aged daughters are getting to the age where adult pressures are starting to work their way into their lives.

They are being asked frequently by friends, neighbors, & teachers the dreaded question of "What are you going to be when you grow up?"

Since I still don't know the answer to that same question, I've been interested in watching my girls' thought processes as they work on their own personal answers.

When first asked that question, my oldest daughter told her friend that she plans on marrying a rich guy who will let her stay home and go shopping. Since the friend who asked her that question was of the male variety, he was a bit offended at her attitude and asked other pertinent questions like, "What will you do if he dies? Or if he loses his job so you have to help support the family?...etc."

That actually helped get her thinking back to reality and she has since decided that she wants to be a middle-school p.e. teacher.

I'm not sure how she made the leap from 'kept woman' to 'gym teacher', but it works.

My 5 year old daughter, when asked about her future she said "When I grow up, I'm going to be a woman. And I'm going to marry a man who always says 'Yes'."

I guess she liked my oldest daughter's first "career" choice.

In thinking about careers and how one decides what direction to take on that path of life, I thought of some jobs that I wouldn't mind having...and a few I would absolutely hate.

Everyone knows that a meteorologist on the news would be a fairly low-stress job. You study the weather, you make your predictions based on the years of knowledge you gained at school, and then when it snows after you promised sunny skies your job is still secure because you are dealing with 'Mother Nature' and not an exact science. In other words, you can be horribly wrong and still keep your job.

I could totally love a job like that.

What people might not know is that being something like a comedian would be really hard. Sure, to your friends you are funny. Your co-workers laugh hard enough to do spit-takes during lunch breaks at something you say. You even find yourself thinking funny things more often than not, and trying not to suddenly laugh out loud at something that struck your fancy.

But think about it. A professional comedian is always expected to be hilarious. Someone says they are a comic for a living and the person they are introduced to says "Really? Say something funny."

Talk about pressure.

Or they are on stage at a comedy club and the crowd that night just doesn't 'get it'. The best joke in his repertoire gets blank stares or courtesy laughter when two days before in Des Moines that same joke brought down the house.

Even a meteorologist can be funny in his delivery of the weather, but he doesn't get hecklers insulting his mother because his 30% chance of showers ended up being more like a 30% chance that you won't have your basement flooded in the deluge of water pouring from the skies.

I know my examples are cliche.

Everyone makes jokes about meteorologists and their uncanny ability to get the weather wrong. Those same jokesters also think that being a comedian would be an easy job--sleep late, think funny things all day, get paid to stand on a stage and make people laugh at the stupid things your brain came up with that day.

I suppose I should have picked two more obscure occupations to blog about and avoided the cliches...

But I was feeling cliche-like today, so I'm going with what works for me. :)

I'm glad my oldest daughter decided on a career to focus on. She is already a giant step ahead of me in that sense.

My kids are growing up with focus and direction. I am realizing THEY were my focus and direction, and now I need to do some growing up too.

I hate that.

I have put off deciding what I want to be when I grow up until the very last possible moment.

If I could get a job as a professional procrastinator, I would be their most excellent employee.

Until that "dream job" opens up, I guess I will figure out what I like to do and go from there.

Maybe it isn't too late to grow up to just be a woman...and teach Doug to always say "Yes". :)

(Right...and maybe the weather guy will hit 100% accuracy on his forecasts this year...)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tristi's July Writing Challenge

Tristi Pinkston--author extraordinaire and all-around fun gal--has posted a writing challenge on her blog for the month of July. Check out her blog here and see what I'm talking about.


I have accepted her challenge and have decided that my goal for July will be to write every single day--without fail--except for the week I spend at YW girls camp. During which time I will be at least THINKING of what I want to be writing...and perhaps even scribbling out notes and plot twists on the backs of paper plates.

During the month of July I will be posting on my blog about my progress. I won't necessarily count that as my writing for the day though unless it is more than just a simple blog entry. You'll see what I mean when I get to that point.

When you check out the details of Tristi's challenge, look to the link on the right of her page and go browse her regular blog. You'll be glad you did. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kady

My oldest daughter has now been 16 years old for 5 whole months. These are a couple of photos of her:










She hasn't been on a date yet, and while that is just fine with me I think it is starting to bother her a bit.

Luckily she isn't thinking "What is wrong with me?" but rather, "What is wrong with these dang boys? Are they afraid of me? Do they think I will laugh at them if they suggest going out?"

She can be a bit intimidating to boys, so I vote for her response too.

I do have to admit that she was sort of asked out on a date last week but couldn't find anyone to double-date with so she had to cancel. (That is a rule here...no single dating until she is 18...and I didn't even have to say anything to her about it. She just took care of it with no argument--shocking, huh?).

When I asked her if she called a particular good friend of hers to see if she could find a date and double with her, she looked at me like I was insane. "NO!" I asked her why not, and she replied that she is too good of friends with her and would probably end up spending most of the date chatting with her girlfriend instead of her date.

(Again, I see nothing wrong with that...but what do I know?)

When I told her that the idea of going out with a group of people you like is in part to help you if your date ends up being horrible--at least your friends would help salvage a decent time--she just sighed and said "I'm not looking for great advice from you."

Note: She did actually notice that it was great advice. From me. Her mother. The one human that most teenagers pretend to not know and are sure have no common sense. I'm writing that down here for all to see.. :)

A lot of boys like my daughter. She, unfortunately, is a practiced flirt and quite fickle. So I don't think any of the boys believe that she really likes them enough to say yes if they were to ask her out.

The advice I give her on that one is not listened to very well. (NOT a shocker)

Have you noticed that as an adult giving opinion and advice and telling stories of your own teenage years to your kids, that because you have the 20/20 hindsight your advice is brilliant and your stories make you sound like you actually had a clue as a teenager?

I don't tell many stories about my flirting gone bad. Or about when I didn't listen to my mom's advice. Or anything that I might have done at their age that I would ground them for life for if they did it themselves...

The stories I tell are more like how to act really well when you see the dumbest movie in your life and your date goes on and on about how great it was...He paid for it. It was free to you and only killed half your brain cells and took up two hours of your life that you will never get back, so suck it up and pretend you enjoyed it a little.

Or, if you ever go to a batting cage with a date and you know you can hit the fast pitch balls...but your date is struggling and not hitting any and it is making him upset because his idea to be all manly in front of you isn't working out--don't hit the fast pitch balls either. Trust me. It will only end in tears. Unless of course you never want to date that guy again. Then, by all means...smack the heck out of the ball and watch a boy cry.

I also give great dating hints like, always have at least $20 with you in case your date runs out of money--or in case you mix signals and end up being on a dutch-treat date and didn't know it until he pays for himself and then stands aside to let you pay. (Usually with this type of date, I'd be seriously looking for the batting cages....)

Another less popular hint is that if you are having a really awful time, your mom is always more than happy to get a call from you and come pick you up. Not sure if she would take that advice, but one can hope. And she knows the offer is always out there. And if it is a REALLY bad date, her dad is even MORE happy to go rescue her.

So she has that going for her. Even if right now she might not see it as a good thing.

I hope I have told her enough of my lame-date stories that she realizes that sometimes not dating is better than dating a jerk. I might have to pull out some of my better (worse) dating stories to share with her if she starts questioning herself instead of the boys.

For now, I will just enjoy the time before she starts dating. Enjoy the slow progression of gray hair instead of the influx of gray that I am sure will come when I add "Kady dating" to my list of worries. Enjoy having her think I have a clue when I dole out unsolicited dating advice. Enjoy spending time with her before it starts getting taken up more and more with friends and boys as she experiences life.


And until she starts dating, I think I'll take her over to the batting cages and teach her how to hit a fast-ball.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's All About Me

I know my previous post says 'it is all about love', but I've changed my mind.

It has come to my attention that I am not only shallow--as per described in an even more previous post--but I am also fairly certain that everything is all about me.

When something like this comes to ones attention, it isn't actually a positive and uplifting moment in time. It is unpleasant, really.

I won't mention the specifics of this particular epiphany.

I will only give 'lovely' examples of my world as I see it and why it is all about ME. I will start out easy so that you can see the natural progression of my thinking:

1. When I finally have a 5 year old who is a good soccer player--i.e. doesn't watch butterflies and only look forward to the halftime treats, but wants to play soccer and KICK the ball...and doesn't have to ease into the sport and only get good at the age of twelve...or older--I take full credit. My kid has inherited a love of this sport and is actually good. Must be my doing. Can't be because he has watched his older siblings play and is good on his own merit. Nope. It is because I love soccer so much so I have at least osmosised (is that a word?) the love into his little, learning and growing body.

2. When the Relief Society president gets up and complains (well, 'constructively criticizes' since RS presidents are all good at talking sweetly even in reprimand--which is probably why I only lasted a year in that particular calling because I couldn't master the removal of my foot from my mouth...but that is another story all about me that I won't get into here...) that "we" haven't done our visiting teaching and our numbers are down, I don't think to myself that our ward is at 30% for visiting teaching so a lot of ladies are slacking off on that particular job. I think she is speaking directly at me. It is my world after all. She is just making is sound like everyone is a slacker too so that I don't get offended and leave the church forever just because I don't like bugging the women in my ward on a monthly basis on purpose. Bugging them accidentally on a weekly basis every Sunday is more my style.

I don't think you get style points in heaven. So I might need to adjust that thinking....

3. When a family member has regrets about a life choice, I don't think to myself that I wish they had made a different choice. I wonder what I did to cause them to make that choice in the first place. What could I have done differently to make their life happier? I'm sure I am the cause of all their displeasure and pain.

I know. I should seek professional help. Expand my world to include other people's worlds. Embrace the fact that some (most) of the time it really isn't all about me. Sometimes [gasp] it has absolutely nothing at all to do with me.

Shocking.

If I could learn that, I think I would probably be a better listener.

(What?)

I don't think I could empathize better, because right now I empathize so much that I make it personal. So really I should probably learn to empathize less.

I could--maybe...if I try really hard--try to do things strictly because I know they will be helpful to someone else, and not because it will benefit me in any way.

Now that I have rambled this far, I have realized that I can't call this revelation an epiphany. Doesn't an epiphany imply that I have discovered something and it is life changing? I'm not really planning on this being a springboard for change.

In a perfect world I wouldn't need to change. In a semi-perfect world I would see the need for change and try to accomplish that task. In MY world I see the need, weigh the pros and cons of making any kind of effort and then I probably make a few better choices and still keep the status quo for bad choices.

On a good note for anyone who wishes, feel free to blame me for any time your mouth has worked before your brain could stop you. It is all about me so I know that if I had been around, my great capacity for speaking before thinking would probably have been transferred to you anyway...so I'll just expand my influence and take up that slack for you. Nice of me, huh?

It might be all about me, and you all might just be visiting my world...but no one can say I haven't been an okay hostess. Usually. Sometimes. Okay, whenever I make an effort.

Thanks for putting up with me. :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"It's About...Love"

I have mentioned my lovely family in my posts.

I usually throw in the caveat that two of my kids were adopted when I mention that I have seven children--not because they are different or not as much a part of my family, but probably because in this day and age when one says they have seven kids you get a lot of shocked looks. So I think I am sort of apologizing for having more than the 2.3 kids that is the 'norm'.

I shouldn't do that.

I don't love my adopted children any less than my biological children.

I'm really going to have to start being more proud of the fact that I have 7 kids. I adopted two...so it isn't like they were a surprise. :)

[I've been writing this post over a few weeks, tweaking it here and there, and I just wanted to pop in a quick story here that happened at kindergarten open house last week. I had this topic on my mind, so when I checked my 3 littles in, the lady asked if the two were twins. I simply said "No." And she waited. And waited. And waited. I finally rolled my eyes and said that one was adopted, and then the woman was fine and moved on. But it bugged me that I had to clarify. Maybe my answer from now on will just be "Yes."...]

I do wish that I had a wonderful, warm-fuzzy story about their entry into our family though.

You know what I mean...everyone has heard the touching stories about how a family went through the adoption process and had grandiose spiritual experiences that solidified the fact that their children were meant to be with them.

Sometimes those stories are so fantastic and tear-jerk worthy that I am sure that for a few seconds in time I can hear the violin playing in the background and hosts of heavenly angels singing the Hallelujah chorus....

That didn't happen with us.

That doesn't mean my two additions weren't meant for my family.

We genuinely wanted them. We got into adoption on purpose. We were foster parents to two other separate placements before we were able to bring these two siblings into our home.

So let me break a couple of myths that people tend to think about fostering and adoption.

First, fostering isn't a horrible thing. Even when you take in children and love them and get them in a home that finally gives them structure and stability, only to know that they will be returning to the chaos that they called home before they lived with you.

You know that for the short time they are with you, you will be giving them what they desperately need. And also during that time you know that their parent (usually just one parent) is trying to get his or her life back together enough to be able to get their child--who they really do love, even if their life choices don't seem to reflect that--back with them.

In my mind, I always switch places with the birth parent. If I were in their situation and had my child taken into State custody, I would want to have every opportunity to work to get my child back. It only makes sense that reunification is a State's first priority.

That said, when I took in foster children I never gave my whole heart to loving them. I was more like a caregiver who loved them as much as I knew my heart could take if they went back to their birth family.

After two placements being returned, I had shut down a little more of my heart by the time we had our two placed with us.

By the time we realized that our situation was going to become permanent, it wasn't a big 'a-ha' moment. It had evolved into something more like instead of 'knowing' they were meant to be with us, we knew it would just simply feel wrong if they left.

That is a different feeling, even though it might sound redundant.


I think it just took me awhile to let go of the clamp I had cinched around my heart that was protecting me from the 'just in case they go back' thought.

The second myth is that all foster kids have issues.

A lot of them do. You would too if your parents were on meth and cared more about their next 'hit' than feeding you. Or protecting you. Or keeping you clean.

But honestly, I know more kids with "issues" who aren't adopted, than those who are.

That's the thing with agency. Everyone chooses their own actions and regardless of your familial status, you might choose right or you might choose wrong.

I think every kid has caused some grey hairs on their parents' heads.

It isn't fair to blame it on the biological link. As if they would have been perfect if they had been the fruit of your own personal loins.

Right.


At least with foster kids you have an idea as to WHY they are acting and reacting the way they do. That makes it easier to help them, or to get help for them. A lot of parents with biological kids with issues go so long in a state of denial that by the time they realize that maybe they should step in and do something, they have a lot of sifting to go through to pinpoint the method of assistance that would benefit everyone the most.


(I'm trying really hard to not point fingers...in my experience, the second you point out someone's poor parenting skills you have a child that suddenly gloms onto that and decides to take that exact poor parenting example and magnify it tenfold.)


Third, remember that what you hear in the news about adoption or foster care that is negative is the extreme. It doesn't make the news unless it is shocking or dramatic. For every case of neglectful foster parents who chain their foster kids to their beds, there are thousands of fantastic foster parents.


As a matter of fact, even if you have never in your life considered fostering children or teens, I highly recommend everyone who has kids or who deals with kids to take the foster parenting classes. They teach you how to be parents. They teach you to understand why your child acts a certain way--foster, adopted, biological...it doesn't matter. Some things are universal. And the foster care system has developed a fabulous course to help adults be, well, adults.


For example, I learned more about the world a 4-6 year old lives in. If you see your 4 year old break your lamp and you ask "Did you break that lamp??" and they say "No." They aren't lying to you. Honest. They are telling you the answer they want to have in their world. In their world, they didn't break the lamp. So where I might have been mad that they broke the lamp and then mad again when I thought they were lying to me--"Helloooo...I just SAW you break it"--really I should have asked, "Why did you break that lamp?" Or send myself to timeout until I can deal with a 4 year old and a broken lamp with some level of maturity since last time I checked, I was the adult. Mostly.


So there you go. My ramble on foster parenting, adoption, and things I've learned in that whole process.


We are truly blessed to have all seven of our children.

When people hear we were foster parents and that we adopted two from the foster care system, I hear too often responses such as "Those kids are lucky to have you."

The truth of the matter is that we are the lucky ones.



I might not have had a burning flame of confirmation that our two we adopted were somehow pre-ordained to be in our home, but the gaping hole I am sure we would feel if they weren't here is confirmation enough.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May Writing Challenge

Christine Bryant has issued a May writing challenge to those of us in A.I.


In a moment of weakness--and knowing that I should take every advantage to write--I agreed to her challenge this month, and the following is the result. The challenge is to write about a woman that has influenced our lives in some way--the key being that it cannot be my mother, so don't feel bad, Mom, when you read this and it isn't about you. :)

Now, before I begin my challenge piece let me just say that 'challenge' has been the key word for me on this one. As I have admitted freely in previous posts, I am basically a shallow person. I thought about a lot of different women in history, in the Bible, in my neighborhood...and realized I don't often think hard enough about anyone to have them effect me in any way that hits me hard enough to stand out.

I had to be a bigger person than that, right? I thought harder, and vague visions of past women in my life floated just out of reach for my head to wrap around any one person in particular who could stand out as having an impact on my life.

Then I made the mistake of reading Christine's own entry on her blog, and that threw my thinking in all sorts of different directions.

But the following story began to stick out a little bit more and a little bit more. And while I'm not 100% positive it fits the May writing challenge criteria, it is a decent story about a great female. One who I hope to grow up to be like someday.





To a missionary new in the field, if you are waiting for your visa you aren't always excited to be somewhere else. You aren't supposed to be spending three months in the States, you are supposed to be immersed in the country you were called to serve in. But sometimes the Lord has different ideas. Sometimes a short stay in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida mission ends up being a time for growth and learning that you couldn't have developed anywhere else.

What Hollywood, Florida did for me was teach me through the simple choices of an investigator what true sacrifice is.

Carola Davis was only twelve years old. She and her parents had been taking the missionary discussions for a few months. They lived in a poor area in town, in a simple duplex. They loved my companion, who had met them tracting--going door to door in their neighborhood. They first tolerated and then accepted me, and we had many visits with them to help them overcome some issues, such as a 20+ year smoking habit of Carola's father.

Carola wanted to be baptized. Her mother and father wanted to be baptized. They had done everything that had been asked of them to take that next step, except attend a church meeting. Every week we would invite them to church, and every week something would 'come up' that made it impossible for them to attend.

During these visits we talked with Carola and she would tell us how she is doing in school and with her friends. She talked on and on about an upcoming band trip her class was taking. She had been selling candy door-to-door and had finally raised enough money to pay for her bus ride with her school. She was thrilled, and we were excited for her.

Before leaving her house, we asked her family again if they would like to attend church services with us the following Sunday. They knew that it was the last requirement they needed to take in order to finally be ready for baptism, but with reluctance they once again told us no.

Not having a ready excuse this time though, Carola's mother finally admitted that the reason for not being able to attend church was that they didn't have any good shoes to wear to church.

It surprised both my companion and myself enough that we had no immediate response except to say that we were sure everything would work out, and that we would do what we could to help them.

That Sunday morning just before leaving for church, my companion and I received a phone call from Carola's mom asking us for directions to the church and to double check on the time. We told them we would wait on the front steps of the church for them and introduce them to the bishop and show them around.

When they finally arrived we could see all three of them wearing brand new shiny church shoes. All three had matching smiles and such a great spirit about them.

My companion and I complimented their new shoes and Carola's mother hugged her daughter to her and told us with tears in her eyes, that Carola had heard her excuse for why they had been refusing to come to church. She had then immediately gone to her room after we had left that night and had brought her mother the money she had earned to pay for the school trip.

Carola told her mom that it was more important for her to see her family baptized and able to become sealed in the temple for eternity than to go on a trip with her classmates.

Two weeks later, the family was baptized.

Carola's example--even twenty years later--has stayed with me. I don't know if I would have sacrificed what she had when I was twelve years old. I would like to think I would have done the same thing, but I remember that age being one of self-import.

It has stayed with me enough to help me prioritize what is really important in my life.

It influence my decisions because it taught me to look at decisions in a bigger scope.

Will my decision help other people? Or will it only effect my life?

Is it a worldly desire? Or a decision that will have cause and effect forever?

A twelve year old girl.

You never know who is going to have an impact on your life. I never would have dreamed that I could learn so much from someone so young. But I did. And I will forever be grateful to her for the example she set for me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

'What if's' in April

Have you ever looked back on your life and wondered what it would be like now if you had married someone else? Seen the life of one of your old boyfriends and pictured yourself in that situation instead of the one you are in now?

No?

Must just be me.

My husband and I went through bins and bins of scrapbook stuff (took 5 bins down to 2 with all the crap I ended up throwing away and wondering what in the heck I was thinking when I saved it in the first place...), but we saw old photos of ex's....some of his old girlfriends, some of my old boyfriends. And I wondered.

I think I would have driven a lesser man completely insane by now.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Doug is the only guy that could have put up with my idiosyncrasies for this long without killing me--or divorcing me, or at least kicking me in the shin really, really hard.

I hear about what some of my ex-boyfriends lives are like now and think they really got off easy when I made them break up with me. ;) The wives they have now are exactly right for them.

I hear about some of Doug's ex-girlfriends and wonder if he would have been happier with someone with more emotion, better conversation, and a bigger set of...um...mammories.

To his credit, he hasn't complained. (Not even about that last item... ;) )

I'd like to think I have him snowed into thinking I was his absolute best choice. I mean seriously... After reading my previous post about all my talents who wouldn't want to be married to me? The pie I make alone would be enough to convince a man to take a chance on marrying me.

Doug and I both dated a lot of people before we got married. So it isn't like we were scraping the bottom of the dating barrel and decided that we'd better just get married because nothing better was coming along....just to clarify.

We had options.

We ended up preferring each other over everyone else.

Nothing wrong with that.

But I still wonder how it could have turned out differently.

If I hadn't worked for a year after high school before going to college I wouldn't have met him.

If he hadn't had a freak baseball accident in the 8th grade that hurt his vision in one eye, he might have joined the Air Force (he wanted to be a pilot) and I wouldn't have met him.

If I hadn't held up my bargain with Doug's cousin Jason about bringing Portuguese socks back for him from my mission--thus having Doug find out I'd returned home after I dropped them off at his uncle's house--we might not have crossed paths again.

Heck, if the girl he started dating seriously while I was on my mission had chosen to stay home and get married instead of going on a mission herself...he might have married before I got home and reminded him that I was his best option. :)

If, if, if. Lots of ifs in this world. But they all worked out exactly the right way to make it possible for Doug and I to meet and fall in love and get married.

I guess in this rambling I just wanted to vocalize on the 'what-if's'. And in doing this I realized that whether he is thrilled about it or not, I'm glad I married Doug and that he has put up with me for this many years.

Some days I'm sure I exasperate the heck out of him.

Turn about is fair play, after all... (did I 'say' that out loud?)

But that's the fun. Keeps him on his toes :)

This is an old photo of Doug and me in the summer of 1989. We dated until I left on my mission in October of that year.


This is Doug and me on our wedding day. I thought about posting a photo from our photo album instead of this snapshot, but the photo album photos are too detailed--made me realize that I have a huge head. Just like the kid on 'So I Married an Axe Murderer'...

"Look at the size of that boy's heed... I'm not kidding, it's like an orange on a toothpick...Well, that's a huge noggin. That's a virtual planetoid. ...Has it's own weather system....I'm not kidding, that boy's head is like Sputnik; spherical but quite pointy at parts! Now that was offside, wasn't it? He'll be crying himself to sleep tonight, on his huge pillow. "

But again, I ramble myself into a nice digress....

All I'm saying is that even when looking through old scrapbook photos and pondering lightly on the 'what if's' while listening to Little Texas sing 'What Might Have Been', (which is why I added a playlist today so that you can all get the "mood"..) I'm glad things turned out the way they did in my life and that my husband is my husband and my ex's are my ex's...

And I'm pretty sure everyone involved feels the same way. :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Positive Talents

I have decided that I would like to dedicate just one blog entry on things I think I do well. I keep writing blogs about my bad habits and keep admitting to things that normal people would try to keep to themselves...like my previous post on how great I am at procrastinating.

I don't count procrastination as a talent. Although I do procrastinate better than probably 95% of the population, I was thinking more along the lines of talking about things I am good at that are a positive thing.

This could be a very short blog. Maybe I'll add pictures to make it more interesting....

[5 minutes later...I'm still trying to come up with something....]

Okay, I guess I should put down my stand-by "Artist" talent. I don't work on that as much as I should, so the quality isn't what I think it could be...but I do like to draw.
This is a drawing I did of Max a few years ago..a dog that belonged to a friend of a friend...long story...
Right now my big daily art project is to draw in Sharpie a picture on my kids' paper lunch sacks. I'm not sure if they are enjoying the artwork, but it does give them a unique lunch sack. I've drawn two different things each morning since school started in September. I got tired of coming up with new scenes, so at the moment I'm going through the alphabet and drawing animals that begin with the letter of the day.

Let me just tell you that if I were to ever discover a new species of animal I would probably name it something that begins with the letter 'X', and rhymes with 'orange'. X because really the only decent animal out there is the Xoloitzcuintli--or Mexican Hairless Dog. And the orange rhyme is just because nothing rhymes with orange.

This is the Xolo...not very attractive is he?:

[Another 5 minutes later...Why are lists of my negative qualities so much easier to come up with?]

Okay. I'm a fairly decent athlete. I'm better when I'm not carrying an extra 20 pounds, but I enjoy sports. I like it that I can still (20 pounds too heavy and more grey hair than I want to admit) take a soccer ball and school young punks. I can still have a man goal keeper run out at me thinking I'm an easy pick, casually slide the ball around his hulking form, and leave him on the ground while I put the ball neatly in the back of the net at an outdoor co-ed soccer game.

I can bake a mean pie. (which doesn't help the shedding of those extra 20 pounds, but brings happiness to everyone enjoying said pie)


I like to write. Not sure how great I am at it, but I enjoy it so I'll count that as something I can do.


I sing really well to the car radio. Not so much on my own, but imitating other singers is fun for me. Probably has to do with my sadistic liking of mocking people...which I probably shouldn't have mentioned in a blog I'm trying to keep to positive things I do well....

[Another 5 minutes later....this is getting depressing....]
I'll stop now before I hurt myself.
The photos made it look like a longer post anyway, so that's something.
So now you can all say that yes, I have positive talents. Everyone does. And to stay with a bit of a trend here, I found this quote that made me feel a little better:
Talent counts thirty percent; appearance counts seventy. - Chinese proverb
So I'll take that and go about my life with 30% talent, and will appear to have more. :)
Works for me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I've put it off long enough--another blog on procrastination

I believe I have mentioned before that I have an innate ability to procrastinate. I have procrastinated things for as long as I can remember.

Countless last minute hours were spent finishing homework assignments that I knew about for a month, but started and finished the night before it was due.

I STILL haven't taken Christmas neighbor gifts around. For Christmas 2007.

My house needs a good thorough cleaning, but is kindly waiting for me to stop putting it off and just get to it.

And right behind me as I type this blog, I have 5 really big Rubbermaid bins FULL of "scrapbook" stuff that I have just thrown in the bins over the years to 'someday' get to and put in some sort of order showing that I actually care about my family and the mementos we have kept. I can't procrastinate this one much longer. The bins were kept tucked neatly "out of sight, out of mind" in our storage room, but when my husband decided to clean out the room he also forced my hand on the scrapping crap.

And trust me, most of it IS crap.

I am fairly certain that if/when I do finally go through these bins that I will take the number 5 down to just 2 bins.

Because I also put off deciding what is really worth keeping, so have been known on way too many occasions to just open a bin and throw in things to decide about later.

Old school work my kids have done over the years. Art work, fine. But I'm talking spelling tests and math homework. I didn't even want to DO math or spelling as a kid, why would my own kids want to keep old paperwork? For posterity? "Hey look, back in the day I could add." Ah, the memories....

I'm really not looking forward to going through the bins. But I know it has to be done. So I will do like I always do and put it off to the last possible minute.

In the dictionary the definition of procrastinate is this:


pro-cras-ti-nate

–verb (used without object)
1. to defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.

–verb (used with object)
2. to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.

I admit to having looked that definition up before I started this blog entry. It is another case of me knowing half the definition. #2 was the way I thought of the word. It is exactly what I do. Put everything off till another day or time.

The first definition made me actually pause and think. "To procrastinate until an opportunity is lost."

If I were the type of person who looked back a lot on things I've done or decisions I have made, I would probably be able to come up with a pretty long list of opportunities I have lost because of my procrastination.

Luckily (or unluckily) for me, my memory is not that wonderful--especially on things that might dishearten me. I have a fairly selective memory I think. I don't hold grudges--well, except for that one chick in band in high school who borrowed $20 from me on our band trip to Edmonton Canada to buy a cashmere sweater that looked fabulous on her and then she would run the other way when she saw me and never repaid me or the other people she borrowed $20 from to have enough money for the sweater...that still bugs me even 24 years later. Not that she didn't pay me back, but that she hid from me and wouldn't just tell me she couldn't pay it...but I digress--

I don't remember reasons for arguments, which can be good and bad. Good because I'm not walking around mad all the time (and holding a grudge), bad because if the argument is with my husband he has been known to take my forgetting of the reasons for our disagreement to mean I am pretending it never happened. I remember the part where we were disagreeing, but rarely remember the why of it all.

Which I guess makes a good case for my husband because if I don't remember why we were arguing, how am I going to not do or say whatever it was that started it in the first place? But it also makes a good case for him because if whatever it was that we fought about was HIS fault, I'm not going to nag and whine him to death about it all.

Seems like a win-win for him, doesn't it? :)

I do need to work on not procrastinating. I do see things that I am missing because of this particular skill I have.

Simple things like being late for most things because I just flat out put off getting ready to go. Putting off writing so that I miss the deadline for the 'First Chapter' contest at a writer's convention this year.

Complex things like not becoming friends with new neighbors because I put off meeting them until it becomes downright awkward. Not going to see new nieces or nephews when they are born because I put it off so long that they are home from the hospital--and sometimes crawling--before I get my backside in gear and go see them.

Things that when I am old and have nothing better to do except finally let my brain look backwards into things I have or haven't done with my life, I will regret. Or I will do my best to talk myself out of the regret--even though I will have earned every twinge of guilt or remorse.

Arthur Miller said: Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.

So I will do my best to stop procrastinating. Then maybe I will have the right regrets.

Easier said than done when you have made procrastination an art form like I have.

I will probably just ease myself into it...be closer to on time to things. Meet my neighbors within at least the first 6 months of them moving into the neighborhood. See my new nieces and nephews before they speak in complete sentences...

I guess to start I should wrap up this rambling blog that is really only helping me ignore the Rubbermaid bins behind me...

Here is a quote I found that I like..and when you read it you'll see why...and then you will have zero faith in me that I will ever stop procrastinating. :)

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow. ~Mark Twain

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Pi(e) Day!


In case anyone wants another reason to have pie...(does anyone need a reason??)

Today is 3.14

Pi Day

I'm not good at math, so Pi means pretty much just another number to me.

But I'm good at pies :) So if there is a day that combines something I'm horrible at and something that tastes pretty darn good, then I'm all for it.

So whether you like a nice fruit pie, a cream pie...a Kahlua cream cheese pie from Marie Callendars--seriously tasty--...Or even a chicken pot pie, take advantage of an excuse like today's date to indulge.
But do it my way and leave the math part out of it--no counting calories, no adding up the weight gain that will come with having that extra piece of your favorite kind of pie....
Happy Pi Day everyone :)


Sunday, March 8, 2009

March Ramble

Just a bit of rambling thought today. Shocker, I know.

I was driving down the freeway the other day and a car passed me that had those vinyl letters in the back window that said "Die Trying".

They were young punks in that car, so they probably thought it was a fairly tough statement and didn't mean for it to cause undue thinking on any one's part--especially a kooky lady in a crapper suburban like me.

But I did think about it for awhile. Probably longer than I usually think about things, and I'm sure I'll get over it sooner rather than later....but still. I actually pondered a bit. (Write that down, because it will probably be awhile before I ponder again..)

My first thought (after the one about punk kids and their driving habits..,), was that the phrase 'die trying' is actually what everyone should hope for.

In the religion I belong to, we believe that everyone should strive toward perfection. Christ gave us the perfect example and we should emulate that and do good deeds, love thy neighbor, etc.

But also in my religion--especially in the women--I think that they have taken that perfection route a bit too literally. There are all sorts of statistics on the number of women in my State who are on anti-depressants. And I have felt for awhile that a lot of that is due, in part to the drilling in of the perfection statements.

The key is that we are to strive for that. It never, ever says we will actually become perfect. No one can. It is just part of being human that makes it so. We cannot become perfect in this life. We can, however, try to become better people. Better wives, husbands, friends, brothers...We can help others, we can volunteer, we can set good examples and try our darnedest to not be judgemental of other people and the choices they make. And we can be easier on ourselves and those around us.

No one is perfect. It isn't going to happen in this lifetime. All we can do is try to become better tomorrow than we are today and not be hard on ourselves when we slide backwards a bit because of our human nature.

All we can do is try. Try to just be good to yourself and those around you. Try to give up bad habits and replace them with good ones. Try to learn more. Try to be an example of a decent human being when the rest of the world is going to crap. Try to be more involved. Try to be more forgiving. Try to love yourself and not stress so much about being perfect.

Try every day until we die.

Hence, the 'Die Trying'. That's what we should all be doing. We should die trying to be better people. To make the world--at least our little part of it--a happier place to be. Die trying to make other people's lives a little nicer.

A great thought that sort of goes along with this whole jumble of ramble is from Marvin J. Ashton, an apostle from my church. He said:

“Be one who nurtures and builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them”.

I know it isn't a huge epiphany of sorts. It is just a reminder that even if we die tomorrow, we won't be dying perfect...but we will hopefully die trying to be a better person than we are right now.

And like my favorite part of that quote..."Leave people better than you found them."

If we do that, we won't just die trying.

I think we will have died succeeding.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Reflections

In case you missed it, Valentine's Day was a couple of days ago.

Hallmark's favorite holiday after Christmas.

Did you know that one billion valentine's day cards are sent worldwide each year? It's true. I looked it up and learned something. One b i l l i o n. (Go ahead and say that drawn out with a pinky held at the corner of your mouth. It's more fun that way when you bring in a little Dr. Evil to the mix)

I was not one who joined in the masses of Valentine's card mailings. Or givings. Or even post-it note leaving.

It isn't that my husband and I didn't participate in some semblance of Valentine's celebration...we went to dinner at a friends house with some other couples and had a lovely meal, great conversation, and watched a really bad movie. So that was something.

I learned early on in my marriage that Valentine's isn't my husband's favorite holiday.

I remember buying a card (apparently Hallmark sold one billion and one that year), and a shirt for my husband of 5 months and presenting the gift to him that evening when he got off work. Our first Valentine's as a married couple...no kids yet to kill off brain cells...you know the drill.

I have pulled way back on my Valentine's giving since that year. He tried really hard, but couldn't actually bring himself to like the shirt I bought for him. He did keep the card though, so over the years I have given the occasional card, but left the clothes buying to him.

It all reminds me of the advice I have heard given to newlywed couples: Start the way you mean to go.

If you don't want to have to add Valentine's as a holiday to remember, don't start off with the extravagant gifts.

I can check that box off. Tried it the other way, didn't work. What we have now works fine. It is what we expect. It isn't a romantic holiday, but it is a good excuse to pretend to make really yummy sugar cookies to give to neighbors, but eat them all yourself...:)

Starting the way you mean to go is like when you make your husband a lunch to take to work. If you start packing a lunch for him, he is going to expect it. Makes sense. So unless you are going to keep doing it willingly, don't start making his lunch unless you are in it for the long haul.

Or like when you are first married and you and your husband are watching TV together and he says "I'm really thirsty", so you jump up and get him a nice beverage. Maybe even add crushed ice...and a straw if you are feeling really loving.

Fifteen (or seventeen) years later when he says "I'm really thirsty" and you pop off with the "Great. While you're up..." That doesn't go over quite as well when he has you trained to help him out of his parched predicament.

(I find it hilarious...my husband? Not so much. But we are getting to a good middle ground now, which is nice).

The one thing I never started was ironing. I hate to iron. Hate. But when I do iron I figure it shows that I care, right? (I'll just keep telling myself that...)

Starting as you mean to go is harder than it sounds. When you are newly married, you are still in the 'honeymoon' stage where you are trying harder to please so that your spouse doesn't start praying that they are just in the middle of a bad dream and are begging to wake up and find themselves single again.

The stage where your "quirks" are still endearing and not yet annoying.

So making lunch everyday with a cute little note slipped inside is more likely to occur in the first year of marriage.

By the fifth year, the note--if there still is one--will usually have fewer little heart doodles and more lists of 'To-do's for when you get home from work.

By the 23rd year you are probably making your own lunch and wondering how you got to that point.

Don't take it personally.

Life changes. Stuff happens. You get more comfortable with each other and don't feel the constant need to remind your spouse that you love them.

Which is probably the very best reason we have to celebrate Valentine's Day.

After a year of living and getting through all the ups and downs that life throws at you, it is nice to have a holiday that reminds you to tell your significant other how much they mean to you.

Because even if you are certain that they already know--I mean, after all...I DID iron those shirts for you...that one time...a few months ago....it is nice to have your partner acknowledge that you are an important part of their life. Someone you care for. Appreciate. Can't imagine life without.

You know. Love.

So if you forgot to mention to your better half on Valentine's Day that you are grateful for their presence in your life. Maybe we should change that.

You can never be told too often that someone is happy you are in their life and that you make living life more fun and entertaining than it would be otherwise.

Even if you go through life with a slightly wrinkled shirt and you pack your own lunch.

Happy belated Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"English is your mother tongue, and stuff."

Human vocabulary is fascinating. We have dictionaries with thousands and thousands of words--with pronunciations, forms, and a lot of the time the words have multiple definitions.

If you pick a random word of which you are fairly certain you know the correct meaning and look it up in the dictionary, there is a decent chance that it will be a little different than you thought. You might have the basics down on that word, but sometimes there is more than one way to use that particular word that catches you completely unaware.

For example, since I was feeling a bit melancholy today, I looked it up. One of the noun definitions for melancholy is 'black bile'.

Whatever the heck that is. I couldn't even really figure out how you would use the word melancholy to talk about black bile.

So you see, you don't always use some words in all the ways they could be used.

With my attention now caught for a moment, I saw that one of the synonyms for melancholy was 'funk'. So just for fun I entered f-u-n-k into the search and pulled up this definition:

Funk [fuhngk]

–noun
1.cowering fear; state of great fright or terror.
2.a dejected mood: He's been in a funk ever since she walked out on him.

–verb (used with object)
3.to be afraid of.
4.to frighten.
5.to shrink from; try to shirk.–verb (used without object)
6.to shrink or quail in fear.

I am probably showing my ignorance of the English language here, but honestly I always thought that only #2 was the definition of funk. When I think of being afraid or fear, the word funk never comes to my mind.

Of course, part of that could be due to the addition of the letter 'Y' to funk for a completely different word. Because, c'mon. How can you be afraid if you are funky? :)

I admit that I am not a wordsmith. Keeping it simple works for me. I don't have to think too hard, and anyone I am talking with doesn't have to pretend to understand what I am talking about.

I will admit that in the past I have pulled the 'dumb blond' maneuver to get out of a relationship with an overachieving wordsmith type. I was a senior in high school and dating a guy who was fond of coming over and reading the paper. He found me a bit naive and childish when instead of watching him read the paper (there was no paint around for me to watch dry...), I chose to go outside in the snow and play catch with a stray dog that happened by. Silly me.

Once I realized that his intelligence was his point of pride, it was really quite simple for me to figure out how to make him think it was HIS idea to break up with me.

I played dumb. And I played it well.

This is the guy who I might have mentioned before, as the one who poured out his life's drama to me and then got angry with me when I didn't have any similar stories of pain and anguish to share.

He popped off with a "Doesn't ANYTHING bother you???"

And my smart aleck (read "dumb", but I meant every word..which I guess is kind of sad...) response was "Yes. I hate it when you eat a peanut M&M and there is no peanut in it."

And the last nail in the coffin could be heard echoing throughout the room.

I saw him a couple of years later and he rattled off a complete sentence with more large words than a Thesaurus, then smiled a cocky smile and waited for my response to that one.

I honestly had no idea what he had said. Not one. I'm not sure it was even English. So I did the only thing I could do in that situation.

I looked at him blankly, shrugged, said "Nice talking with you" , and walked away.

To this day, the man still believes I am dumb as a post. Maybe so. But his life is still miserable and I still only really get bummed about peanut M&M's without a peanut. I can handle the dumb as a post title if my other option is so depressing.

This has been my pensive ramble for today. I hope someone learned a little something here--mainly for my resolution for 2009--and I hope that you think about looking up some words and learning something on your own too.

And if anyone can explain that 'black bile' thing to me that would be great.

Melancholy? Black bile? I just don't get it....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Broken Resolutions (Already) and BFL

I know it has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote here in my blog.

Truth be told, I totally ruined any chances of ever writing in this again when in my last post I made the huge error of deciding that my New Year's resolution would be to not write here unless I had some sort of point. That right there killed any ability I had to write in my blog unless I wanted to immediately cancel out my resolution.

You see which part won.

I really shouldn't make resolutions. They are depressing when you don't keep them.

Maybe if I'm really lucky I will be able to throw in a good point today so that I can not completely fail in the resolution...we'll see.

I went out to dinner last Friday with a good friend of mine from high school. We hadn't seen each other in years, but it didn't seem to matter. We ate really bad food and had a wonderful time.

One thing that came up in our discussion--and I told her this was what I was going to write about in my blog--was that there are some things that people will not show other people, even if you offered them a large amount of cold hard cash.

The 'thing' in particular that I had in mind was the "Before" photo of anyone doing Body-for-Life--as long as you haven't as yet reduced your mass to an "After" type body.

Body-for-Life, in case you aren't aware, is a diet and exercise lifestyle that includes lowering your fat intake, exercising daily (alternating between cardio and weight training), having 6 smaller meals per day instead of three large ones, and having one blessed day known as your "free day" where you can eat ANYTHING you want. Most people live for that day.

At the beginning of this program, they encourage you to take photos of yourself in a swimming suit. This photo is to be posted somewhere where you will see it and be motivated to continue with the outlined diet and exercise. Because, seriously...who wants to be a 'before' photo?

I happen to have 'before' photos of myself.

You will never, ever, ever see them. And that is because I still look exactly like my 'before' photos.

It is funny how the vanity of humans make it so that the instant we become an 'after' photo, we will be more than happy to show those frightening 'before' photos. I would actually look forward to showing them if I had an 'after' body.

The reaction in my mind would be someone taking the photos from my hand and gasping "That was YOU???"

(I would at that time smile demurely--assuming that my 'after' body also included the ability to suddenly be demure...right now I'm not sure demure is in anyone's description of me--and say, "Yes, that was me. Shocking isn't it? Look at me now. --I would pause and dramatically add--I can be dramatic even now--"It took a lot of hard work and dedication, but I love my 6-pack abs and my size 4 jeans.")

Can you be demure and mention being a size 4 at the same time? I think the word demure becomes something a lot less lady-like..

Showing the 'before' photo before there is an after photo is not nearly as satisfying.

The thought of it is actually frightening.

Can you imagine? "Here, look at this 'before' photo of me."

Stunned silence. Glances from the photo, to my gelatinous self, back to the photo. "Uh. Before what?"

At least in real life I have clothes that cover my 'before' body. Those photos are 'before' body in a bikini. If you are a 'before' photo type, it is easy to ignore when you are always fully clothed. Throw a swimming suit into the mix and there is no more hiding. It is cruel, but effective.

I know you've seen people in bikinis who should never, ever be out in public in such a state of undress. I have seen them and have actually thought to myself, 'They must have a fabulous self-image to have looked in the mirror and thought that looked good." Good for them.

Not so good for the rest of us.

Maybe someday I will post my 'before' photos. That would be a really nice day for me, because it would mean that I have finally achieved my 'after' body.

Either that, or I will have joined the ranks of the bikini-wearing heavy folk who have magical mirrors, good self-images, or rose-colored glasses. Or my eyes will be poked out. Or all my friends will be even larger than me so I'll be known as the skinny one (thanks Sinbad for that idea...).

Pretty much don't count on ever seeing my photos.

But for fun, you can go here and see the before and after photos on Body-For-Life. If you go there and read about the program, you might learn something--which will make this post meaningful. Which means I will have not broken my resolution.

Brilliant.

Still a "Before" body type, but brilliant just the same. :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

From Shallow Rambling to Waist-Deep Pointed Trivia

I'm not a very deep person. As a matter of fact, if I were a swimming pool I would probably be the shallow end--but at the TOP of the stairs going into the pool..you know where I'm talking, the part where you stand in water to your ankles and wonder if you should dive in or keep edging your way deeper.

In other words, I'm almost dry-land I'm so shallow.

(Reading my blogs probably points that out since I admit that I am a rambler without much aim)

I have, however, been reading articles in magazines and newspapers and online from authors who are consistently writing about subjects that are important to them, yet they are able to add the humor and fun that makes reading their articles entertaining. They are featured writers in their respective columns for a reason. I admire their ability and prose.

For example, I think the ESPN writer Rick Reilly is a hoot. He writes his opinions well and is able to add phrases like: "It's like being named Miss Ogallala. Or Best Amish Electrician." That is funny to me. (read his whole article I took that from here)

Mr. Reilly is knowledgeable on sports. He has an actual opinion and is able to get that point he is trying to make across to a lot of readers. He is able to be funny enough to get those same readers to make a point of reading him consistently.

Another more local newspaper man I enjoy reading is Robert Kirby from the Salt Lake Tribune. He causes a lot of lifted eyebrows in the Mormon community--which is exactly why he writes for the Trib and not for Deseret News, even though he happens to be a member of said community. :) He actually lives near me, and I often pass him in the frozen food section of the local grocery store...his photo looks just like him. Poor guy. ;) An example of his work can be found here That is his piece for today's paper.

In the past when I have thought about the kind of writer I would like to be, I assumed I could just write and all would be well.

Then I attended some writer's conferences and learned that I should write what I know, or get to really know something so that I can write about it. One speaker at a conference said to become an expert in something and then people would want to read your book and have you speak about that subject that you have become an expert on. (Apparently run-on sentences would be a subject I could excel at...and dangling prepositions, and excessive use of parenthesis).

After that particular conference I realized I really have no single minded knowledge of any particular subject. Unless you count 'How to Go Insane with Seven Children or Less', or 'The Best Places in Your House to Hide the Good Snacks'.

I suppose Kirby doesn't have a single subject he is attached to but he has been writing his column so long that no one cares. Now they just read it for the laughs and to see if anyone in their church congregation resembles people he has mocked.

I'm rambling again, I know. But there is a point I am trying to make.

I am shallow and have no focused knowledge of any single subject. So against everything I believe in regarding resolutions, I have finally found one I think I might be able to pull off.

My goal is to write blog entries that will have some sense of meaning. Maybe give anyone who reads the blog a tidbit of information that they never knew before.

I'm not kidding myself (or you). I know that what I write here--even with a concerted effort at having actual meaning--will still be classed as rambling trivia. I can't help that part.

I can help directing the blog from rambling trivia to rambling trivia with some sort of point.

Maybe.

And I can try to keep them light in tone. Which is pretty easy, actually since--Hello--I'm shallow. Remember?

I can't guarantee that you'll learn anything from my blogs. I can't even guarantee that I'll write something funny enough to make you want to keep coming back to see what I write next. I can barely promise myself that I'll come up with a topic to write about that will keep me interested enough to keep writing any particular entry.

The only thing I can guarantee is that the sun will rise tomorrow, I will have to come up with something edible for dinner tonight for my family, and that the water in the pool is easier to adjust to if you just jump right in.

So I'm jumping. No diving. No running. No lifeguard on duty. Just me getting used to learning something new, sharing it here on my blog, and at least giving myself a chuckle out of the whole mess, even if no one else does.

Monday, January 5, 2009

January

I am not a fan of January.

For one thing, it is too stinkin' cold outside. I am a fan of sun and warmth. Snow and ice? Not so much.

For another, it is the new year so I always contemplate resolutions I should make, resolutions I have failed at achieving, and resolutions that I think other people assume I should make. (In other words, I think far too hard about how much extra poundage I have going and try to justify it by saying that at least I haven't GAINED any weight this past year...which in reality only really means that I have officially hit a much too comfortable rut).

Another reason why I'm not a fan of January is that it is my birthday this month. So I'm not only chubby/stocky/pleasantly plump (take your pick)...but I'm old too.

I have decided though--and I'm only putting this down on the blog so that I can look back on it in a year and remind myself of another resolution that I have made (and am still hopeful that I will attain)--that although I can't do anything about getting older, I CAN do something about being heavier than I would like. So I'm back to the "eat less, move more" plan and am doing my best to not label it as a new year's resolution. It is just me deciding that if I can't stop time, I will not be old and fat, but will instead be old and fit.

This year I'm also not a fan of January because my oldest child will turn 16. That brings on a whole other set of worries. Dating, the drama that comes from dating, the boys that cause the drama...I'm not sure I'm ready for this. My daughter is sure she is ready. I wish I had her confidence.

Of course, with my added age and the 'been-there-done-that' that comes with being my advanced age, I can see more of what my daughter is in store for than she does. And she has the added burden of being pretty and nice and friendly to everyone. I had the nice and friendly part down when I was 16, but I was never as self-assured of myself as she is.

I can't decide if that is a good thing for her or a bad thing.

But it doesn't help my worry factor for her at all.

January would probably be more palatable if I snow skied. But I am one of those rare Utahns who has only skied one time. Ever. And the rented skis I had were cheap and the bindings broke on the first run down the mountain. So it wasn't exactly a successful outing.

Skiing wouldn't solve all my problems. I would still be fluffy and old. I would still worry about my 16 year old daughter. And I probably would still prefer the heat over the cold. I just have one hangup about skiing that I've had trouble getting past enough to attempt the sport again, and that is that I don't know how to stop. If I could snow plow, or do the fancy turn that brings me to a standstill, I think skiing might hold some appeal.

But since I can't stop in skis, all I do is picture me hurtling down the frozen mountainside trying to dodge other skiers and various trees, praying that by some miracle I will stop without causing bodily damage to either myself or some unlucky bystander(s).

("Go that way, really fast. If anything gets in your way...turn.")

Maybe I will just stick to working out in my basement, trying to skip the sweets, worrying about my daughter, and trying to stay warm until the sun decides to live in Utah again so I can do some real skiing--the kind that involves water and boats and a single slalom ski.

Hibernating until February would be a nice second option.

To wrap up my rambling first blog of the new year, I'd like to stick with my John Cusak movie quotes. It won't make a whole lot of sense, but it does fit with the whole skipping the sweets theory. That is a grasp at a straw, but I'll take it.

If for no other reason than because I love this quote. :)

"You know, junk food doesn't deserve the bad rap that it gets. Take these pork rinds for example. This particular brand contains two percent of the R.D.A. - that's Recommended Daily Allowance - of riboflavin. "

Happy New Year. :)