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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Random Blog Thoughts

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cartoon from kaushik.net
Random is what I do best, actually.

Seeing that I could not come up with any aha! moments to write about, I'm just going to put some semblance of organization to words that have been drifting about in my brain for the past couple of weeks.

I worry when I write on this blog that I am much too serious. If you were ever to meet me in real life you would see that I am a generally happy person. I am fun-loving, a bit crazy, even sarcastic and witty at times. I wonder if I am giving you any insight into the real me or if all you are seeing is the writing side of me - the part that uses the magic of the written word to illustrate thoughts rather than the convoluted phrases that just come flying off the cuff when I speak.

So in case you were thinking that I only write introspective, serious posts, I'd like you to know that I wrote this.

Blogging can be frustrating. It's an entire online community; a parallel life to the one I live in the real world. As in life, the blogging world has some amazing people who I would love to be friends with in real life. But it also has cliques, little blogging buddy groups, and I often feel like a 12-year-old kid again when I am in the comment section of some blogs. Like I can't leave a comment for fear of... what? I'm not sure. Being internet-ostracized? Laughed at behind my back? So instead I read, enjoy, get to know others and feel like we're friends... and then leave without saying anything. It's silly, I know! But it's really how I feel. I hope that no one who reads here ever feels this way. We're a friendly bunch here at 4P. I promise.

On another blogging note, there is a blogger conference coming up here in Utah and I have read about some of the many people who are planning to attend. For a short few days I even debated attending. However, I just can't get past the inclination that I would feel even more awkward and uncomfortable in real life, surrounded by well-known bloggers, than I do in the cliquey comment sections. One thing that you probably do not know about me is that I do not do well in unfamiliar environments. I am actually now to a point where I can not believe that I even considered attending. Things are much more comfortable here in my shell, under my rock, in my own little world, thankyouverymuch.

See what I mean? So serious.

And random.

However, for today, that's all I've got.

I used to eat salad

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Seriously, I really used to eat the stuff; moreover, I felt that the wonderful thing about a Spring Mix bag of salad was that it wasn't simply iceberg lettuce, but instead a medley of baby, greens, Endive, Radicchio, and baby spinach.

During this particular time in my life, I was all about trying to create a lunch that was not only healthy, but delicious as well. I’d always spice up the mixture of flora and fauna with Huckleberry chicken, cubed cheese, candied almonds, and a poppy seed or honey mustard dressing.

It was—in a word—delish.

That is, until the day of the insect.

It was a Tuesday; I remember it well. How could I not? It’s one of those days that seem to leap from the calendar and burn itself into the frontal lobe of your brain, permanently affixed like a tattoo.

I was getting ready for work—more specifically, my lunch for the day. I took the large container of varied greens from the fridge and proceeded to heap them into a Tupperware container. I’d already consumed nearly half of the bag up to this point, and was looking forward to today’s lunch.

This was the time I noticed shallow moment from somewhere amongst the medley of assorted vegetation. Curious, I carefully moved a few leaves of spinach to unveil the daddy long leg spider.

It’s kind of hard to describe the feelings one has at a moment like this, the rush of emotion and onslaught of thought when they’re gazing at an eight-legged monstrosity from the heart of their lunchtime fare. Words tend to fail, and it seem to never quite do it justice, you know?

I could say I felt nauseous.

I could say that I had a churning that ebbed throughout my body.

I could say that I was grossed out.

I could also tell you that I remembered the time my mom had told me about eating half a bag of chips, before she realized that there were live ants in it.

I stood there for a few moments of shuddering horror. I threw the bag of Spring Mix away…

And I haven’t bought it since.

By the way, don’t click here.

Or here either…

Image pilfered from: http://www.wildharvestorganic.com

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monkey See Monkey Do

Pin It The kids were at it again yesterday. I could hear them in the playroom, snarling and swiping at each other.

Part of me was sympathetic. It was raining outside, and we'd been home for a little under an hour from church, where we'd been all day. We'd had an array of exhausting activities (all the more so because of my duties as chief organizer), including a covered dish lunch, Easter egg hunt, bounce houses, panel board games, and Travis the Balloon Dude. It was fun, but we were all sapped of energy and just a little on edge. I was feeling a little snarly, myself.

The other part of me...the tired, had-enough, Mom part of me, was done. I carried two stools into the middle of the floor and set them twelve inches apart. It was time for some serious intervention, courtesy of Bonnie over at http://www.mammahasspoken.blogspot.com/ . Last time my kids had an argument, she gave me this brilliant discipline tidbit.

"Both of you take a seat on the stools," I ordered. With some grumbling and a "what the heck?!" from Autumn, they obeyed.

"Now, you are both going to tell each other ten things about the other that you love."

They looked at each other warily, but no one spoke a word. Apparently it was okay to tell each other how much you despise them, but love? HA!

"You're not getting up until you do," I added. "Autumn, you start."

She immediately began squirming on the stool, laying belly down across it and kicking her legs up in the air. "I-like-your-blue-jeans," she mumbled.

"Ehhhh. Compliments on clothing are not allowed."

Some more squirming ensued. Finally, "I love your brown eyes." I wasn't a big fan of appearance compliments, either, but decided to let it pass. I kind of loved his brown eyes, myself.

Lawson giggled. "I love your brown eyes, too." They were kind of the same, a deep sherry brown color with a darker rimming of chocolate.

"I like the way you take forever in the bathroom in the morning." I looked at Autumn in consternation.

"You like that?" She nodded affirmatively.

"It gives me an excuse to be late." Hmmm. Sneaky child.

Lawson spoke up. "I like that you help me with puzzles."

And so it went, until each had reached the requisite ten loving compliments. All told, it took around twenty five minutes to get there. Once complete, they looked at me expectantly.

"Alright...are we going to get along now?"


Giggling, they replaced the kitchen stools and resumed play. I didn't hear a single contrary word the rest of the night.

This exercise taught me a powerful lesson, and it's one I hope my kids got, too. It is amazing to me that insults and deprecations fall so easily from our lips to those we are closest to, but compliments are so difficult to squeeze out. I made a point later that evening, when my husband walked in the door, to thank him for all of his assistance during the Easter festival, and also for washing the dishes for me that afternoon. Then I proceeded to laugh like I was eighteen again at all of his corny jokes. I made sure the kids heard it. I want them to know that it's okay to be nice, polite, and good-natured to those we love, and to express gratitude toward them, because after all...monkey see, monkey do. I'm guilty, after fifteen years of marriage, of taking my wonderful husband just a little for granted.

After last evening, with my "nice" button firmly turned on, he's probably wondering what got into me.

It was just Mamma's teaching. Thanks, Bonnie.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On Heroes And Being Awesome

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My husband and I recently went to see Brian Regan perform live. If you don't know who Brian Regan is, then I suggest you look into him. (Those words are blue because they are links. Click on them. You're welcome.) He is one of the most hilarious, yet family-friendly, comedians I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.

One of his little bits in this new show had me laughing, but it also got me thinking.

He talks about the time that Captain Sullenberger made an emergency crash-landing of his plane safely into the Hudson River. We would all call him a hero, right? Well, here's what Brian Regan noticed; heroes are not allowed to think they are heroes. That's one of the rules. Someone has to ask if they think they're a hero, and they have to say no. Then they are heroes!

Regan went on to say, "I think it would be okay if he admitted it. 'Captain Sullenberger, do you think you're a hero?' 'Um, YES! Did you see the footage of that plane coming in? You have any idea how hard that was? Keeping the wings level and the nose up at a survivable speed? OF COURSE I AM A HERO!'"

It's funny because it's so true. Why do people have a hard time admitting to greatness? I can understand wanting to remain humble but in some circumstances (such as the one mentioned above) it is such an obvious label for an unmistakable act of amazing skill and quick thinking. I think people should just start owning their awesomeness.

When someone pays you a compliment, instead of hem-hawing around it or making excuses for it, OWN it! Just say thank you as acknowledgment that what they are saying is true. Especially when you know it's true (and you know you know it's true) but just don't want to seem vain about it.

Is there some rule somewhere that you are not allowed to look great? To own an attractive article of clothing? To cook a fabulous meal? To be wonderfully talented at something? To be the best at what you do?

Don't make excuses for your awesomeness. Get out there and OWN IT.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Woman in the Red Coat

Pin It Once a month I organize ‘The Breakfast Club’—a traditional gathering of teachers that all used to work together at my first school. Funny that I should say ‘my first school’ when I’ve only been a certified teacher at two.

On this particular Saturday I chose The Cracker Barrel as our meeting place. This was mostly because it was a place we hadn’t gone to yet, and it’s variety that adds the zing into daily life.

We were seated amid the hubbub of dozens of conversations that rained about us with the clinking of plates and silverware. We perused the menus, and made our selections. Soon afterward our meals arrived, and we began to enjoy the wonderful food before us, all drenched in frothy butter and rich maple syrup.

Just the way food should be…

As we were eating, one of the teachers noted a silvery-haired woman in a red coat; she was seated with her daughter and granddaughter at a table near ours. He identified her as a retired member of the school board, who had always been going to bat for teachers. He told us all about how amazing she was, and about the positive difference she’d made in the school district.

I decided to go and thank her. I approached her table and, after a few moments, we were laughing together—having remembered many of the same people and things in the educational circles in which we’d both worked. At one point, she turned to our table and said something to the effect of:

“You people are doing the greatest job of all time, working with children. I salute you and the work that you do. You’ll have no idea just how much good you’re doing in this world…”

I was flattered.

We all were.

A few minutes later we returned to our table-bound worlds. My friends and I continued our conversations and simply enjoyed each other’s company.

The waitress who’d brought our bills only a few minutes before returned, saying that she needed to ‘borrow’ them for just a moment—she assured us that she was not adding anything to them, but just needed to see them again.

It wasn’t long before we were ready to leave, but still awaiting our bills. Our waitress finally returned, smiling as wide as Christmas and said, “Your meals have already been paid for by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. You have a great day, now.”

All eyes fell to the silvery-haired woman in the red coat, now absorbed in deep conversation with her daughter.

We were all speechless.

The woman gave no hint as to what she’d done. She expected no thanks or repayment. She’d wanted to remain anonymous.

As a collective group we decided not to mention what she’d done—because like I said before, she’d wanted to remain unidentified. As we left though, we did thank her for the years she’d spent fighting for the rights of educators.

Her twinkling eyes and rosy smile sent us all on our way.

I’m still smiling, even now.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Pin It I had a whopper of a dream last night...it involved a couple of REALLY BIG SPIDERS and a Barbie-sized Spider Queen.

I was in the movie theater, trying to find money for a ticket (since I'm now broke because of health care reform), when I saw the first spider scuttling across the polished floor. Rapidly. Towards me.

I ran.

I was hiding in the ladies' bathroom, my feet up on the toilet seat,when I heard the scuttling of eight long legs again.

Another spider came creeping under the stall door, closer and closer to the toilet.

At this point I think I decided I needed to be a little proactive with this creature, since clearly it was spoiling for a fight, and I stood up on the toilet, ready to jump down on it and smash its brains to smithereens. As I leapt into the air, though, I saw my sturdy Danskos turn to nothing on my feet. I was barefoot, with a Pretty in Pink pedicure, and about to sail down on this huge beast of a spider that would surely eat my big toe in one measly bite.

I somehow managed to twist and crash into the stall door, avoiding said hungry arachnid, and fled, again, for my life.

I ran into my kitchen (? quickest trip home, ever!) and there was this Barbie-sized female standing in my floor, accompanied by a spider henchman. She had wavy black hair and black eyes, and was carrying a wand.

Now, I'm sure everything I've written thus far would give a psychiatrist ample reason to put me away for at least a week. Even I, in my dream, was a bit wigged out by the next part.

I grabbed a sneaker and started advancing on the spider. It must have seen Death in my eye, because it took off under the refrigerator. Barbie Spider Queen was hot on its heels. I managed to snag her legs just as she dived under the refrigerator, noticing that under her cobwebby ball gown she was wearing Converse All-Stars.

I dangled her upside down by the feet, and then started to bash her Barbie head against the side of the appliance. "NO MORE SPIDERS!" I was shouting.

That's when I woke up.

I have no interpretative words for this dream, except:
  • I'm really not a bloodthirsty person, and I rarely pick on those smaller than myself.
  • I was reading Greek myths yesterday for Children's Lit. Perhaps the myth of Arachne and what's her face stuck?
  • I definitely, absolutely, beyond any shadow of a doubt possess a HUGE spider phobia.

I welcome any sense anyone can make of this craziness.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One Fish, Two Fish

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We come from people who brought us up to believe that life is a struggle, and if you should feel really happy, be patient: this will pass.

Garrison Keillor

I wonder how many of you have heard of the radio program on NPR A Prairie Home Companion. It’s kind of an old fashioned radio variety show with famous musical guests (usually folk or traditional music), tongue-in-cheek radio dramas and the wonderful witty story telling of the show’s host Garrison Keillor. Whenever I get the chance I will tune in on either Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon for a nostalgic and witty visit to Lake Woebegone (Keillor’s hometown).

I mentioned in a blog around Thanksgiving that I do a little weekly trivia challenge with the boys at my school. I usually try to pull questions from some of the things they’ve been learning about in History or Science. But I’ll also throw some questions in there about Bella, Edward and company since they’ve all ready the Twilight series - which totally cracks me up by the way that all these big tough guys are into the vampire love story. Anyway, lately inspired by A Prairie Home Companion, I’ve been adding some “punny” jokes to the mix just to test their reaction time and see who gets it and who doesn’t…which also totally cracks me up. Some of them laugh right away but some of them get a sort of puzzled blank expression on their face for some seconds before the light bulb turns on.

Here are some of my favorites:

Technology: I don’t need a smart phone. I just need is one that is reasonably intelligent.

Animals: What came before chimpanzee? Chimpan Y.

Politics: If con is the opposite of pro, is congress the opposite of progress?

Relationships: Why did God create man before he created woman? He didn’t want any advice.

But the best reaction came from “The Goldfish Joke.”

Two goldfish are in a tank. One fish says to the other fish, “Do you know how to drive this thing?”

Painful? Perhaps, but it made all of them smile…eventually, and that's not the easiest thing to do with my little delinquent boys sometimes.

Try it out and see if it works for you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No More Birthdays

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photo from babble.com

My 5-year-old boy has been asking me some tough questions lately. I'm not sure what has brought on these thoughts which seem much too deep for a 5-year-old mind, but almost daily he brings them to me.

"How come some people get in car crashes but some people don't?"

"Do birds go to heaven, too?"

"Why don't big people like wishing-flowers (dandelions) or dirt?"

The list goes on. But yesterday morning's question was the most unexpected. It was still dark outside and most of the house was asleep when Hubba poked his head around my bedroom door and timidly called out, "Mom?"

Hubba usually sleeps until well past sunrise so I welcomed this early morning visit with my boy. "Climb in," I invited him, pulling back the covers.

He snuggled in next to me and immediately asked, "Mom, are you going to die?"

I was surprised, but answered, "Someday, buddy. But I'll have many, many more birthdays before that happens."

"I don't want you to have any more birfdays," he responded.

"Well, I really like cake and ice cream and presents, though. How will I get those if I don't have birthdays?"

"You can have them on my birfday, okay? Promise you won't have any more birfdays? I don't want you to ever die."

What do you say to words like these? My heart melted. What a beautiful thing to be so loved. I decided to try explaining things from another perspective.

"Well, I plan to live a very, very long time. I hope I'll live until I am a very old grandma with a whole lifetime of happy memories."

"I don't want you to be a gramma. I will never be a dad and I will never have a kid and then you will never die, okay?"

We continued this conversation in the quiet of the morning, back and forth, point and counter-point, until the rest of the house began to stir and slowly come to life. As we got out of bed to start the morning I made one last attempt at helping him to understand, in a gentle, five-year-old kind of way, that death was inevitable. That we all continue in the circle of life whether we choose to or not.

"Tell you what, Hubba," I started. "I'll stop having birthdays if you just stay little. That means you'll never get to go to school or be a firefighter or train engineer. You just have to stay here at home with me and Dad for the rest of your life and never grow bigger. You'll never get to drive a car or learn to build things. You won't ever be a boy scout or ride a big bike or shoot guns with Dad. Can you do that?"

Hubba sighed. "Okay, Mom. If you stop having birfdays, I will just stop growing." And then he looked at me with his sheepish little smile, gave me a squeeze and said, "Fanks, Mom. I love you!" as he happily made his way downstairs to get dressed.

I'm thinking we haven't quite come to a conclusion with that whole conversation just yet. But for now, I'm content to just let it be.

P.S. In the spirit of my Grandpa Royce and his rich Irish heritage I would like to wish the luck o' the Irish upon every one of you today. Are you wearing your green? Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

9 3/4 Years

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I’ve been a teacher for ten years—well, 9 ¾ anyhow.

Some would say that it’s been ten long years.

Only, it hasn’t been…not really. It has only been long in the sense that the span of years has affected all of the children that I’ve taught over the past nearly-decade. It’s changed them. They are no longer children, but instead young men and women.

I don’t suppose that one simply gets up one morning and thinks, “I’ve been a teacher for ten years counting this one.” It’s simply not done in my world. Therefore, something must be the catalyst to get one riding on this train of untraveled thought.

My personal catalyst came in the form of a phone call at school yesterday; a call from a boy who’d been in my class the very first year I’d taught.

I listened to the young man on the other end of the line; the deep, bass voice from the phone carried with it only the barest hint of the tousle-haired boy I’d remembered. This boy who’d been a member of my class back at a time when Blink 182 was at the height of their popularity, and ‘cool’ was defined by whether or not you drew a picture for your teacher, and he hung it up on the wall behind his desk.

In other words—a lifetime ago.

This particular boy had graduated high school this past year. I’d thought about him several times over the flurry of lightning days. I’d often wondered just how he was doing, and what might be going on in his life.

Now here I was, hearing it all.

As he spoke, the groggy memory of visiting my old first-grade teacher, Mrs. Woodbury, the year I graduated high school flashed through my mind. I remembered walking into the old school, and how it was like being transported back in time. The school still looked—and even smelled—the same as I’d remembered. Walking down those familiar hallways were both weird and wonderful, I was seeing them all again through eyes which had aged eleven or twelve years.

My teacher was not the same as I remembered; she was older. I was hesitant upon entering her classroom, but this quickly faded away when I saw the kids still lining up on their knees in front of her, awaiting their turn for help. She was Mrs. Woodbury.

I spoke to her, and discovered that she remembered me, even though I’d only been in her class for half a year before we’d moved. While the class worked on their individual projects, she chatted with me for a few minutes. We reminisced (or rather, she shared and I listened) of moments of times past. I was amazed that she even remembered who I was, and when I left that day I felt important. Memorable even. Then again, how can you really forget that kid who was convinced that the ‘tunnel of love’ on the playground was a binding contract, and that animal crackers would come to life in your stomach if you didn’t chew them up properly when you ate them?

I shifted back to the present as I spoke to this boy from my own teaching past. He’d called to tell me of the events in his life, his accomplishments, and how he was doing.

I told him what I remembered from the days back when he was two feet shorter than I was, and the memories I had of back when he was my student…things like the time he’d written a song about germs with his two friends - and had even added an interpretive dance to make it better.

After fifteen minutes, the conversation drew to a close; I found myself sitting in my classroom, thinking over the chat I’d just had with this young man.

The years did not seem so distant, the memories not nearly so faded, the situations not so different.

Ten years. Two lifetimes. An epoch of moments.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Stupid Farmers

Pin It We set the clocks forward Saturday night and I've been good for precisely nothing ever since then--including getting this post completed and posted in a timely fashion. (Sorry, comrades. :)

While I relish setting the clock back in the fall, for obvious reasons, I have always thoroughly resented this day just before Spring that steals an hour of my sleep and disrupts my body clock for what seems to be the entirety of the following week.

Sure, we get more sunlight in the evening. I'm always inside, though, making supper and doing the dishes, so that means little to me. In the eternal words of Homer Simpson, "stupid farmers." I now have to wake, though, in darkness...just when I was getting accustomed to rising without the aid of an alarm, attuned rather to the early morning sun filtering in through the sheers in my bedroom.

I didn't make things easier on myself this year, as I always promise I will, by going to bed early the night before and being prepared. Nope. I let Autumn have a sleepover, and spent a good portion of Saturday engaged in girlie activities. And then I agreed to fill in as a Sunday School teacher the next morning, and so spent a good portion of Saturday evening panicking and going over notes I'd been preparing for the past week. And then I had planned my Vacation Bible School organizational lunch meeting for Sunday following church, and so spent the tiniest sliver of time I had left before I collapsed with sheer exhaustion cooking and...well,...organizing.

And then I collapsed with sheer exhaustion, only to wake at 6:30 a.m. by the rude call of the alarm. This was when the full reality that it was dark, and would be thus for a while, hit me. I wanted nothing more than to burrow back under my covers and shut my eyes until the sunlight opened them properly, but I couldn't. I had more cooking and organizing and such to do.

I hate waking up when it's dark. Intensely.and.personally.hate.it.

But it's okay. I'll deal with it so the Farmers of America will have an extra hour of daylight with which to plant their crops. (Oh, wait. That was, like, a century ago. Do we still have farmers in America? Or do we just import every blinking thing from Mexico and China?)

I'm totally kidding. I love farmers. In fact, my husband has strict orders to plant a vegetable garden this spring, with all sorts of heritage vegetables and fruits and these lovely white sweet potatoes that I haven't had in years. That, along with the cows and occasional wandering possum, might almost qualify us as farmers, I think. But this whole Daylight Savings Time thing?

So not my idea.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Everybody Has A Story

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I love my husband. I love my kids. I read a lot. I write almost every day. I try to be nice to people. I fail too often, but I keep trying; that has to count for something, right?

“So, are you dating anyone?”

That’s the one I hated when I was single and all my cousins and friends were married.

“When are you going to start a family?”

That’s the one I hated when I was married and undergoing infertility tests.

“Which ones are really yours?”

That’s the one I hate now that I have children—children I’ve adopted and children I’ve birthed.

I hated it when people asked me questions; they all seemed so nosy and insensitive.

I decided that it would be much better behavior to politely wait for people to reveal themselves than to risk being nosy and insensitive. So I stopped asking questions.

And I stopped getting to know the people in my world.


My mom moved in with me recently. She’s fine. My family is fine. It’s an experiment in multi-generational living.

But she left a lot of people she loved and a place she loved, and in spite of half a dozen kids beating on her door every hour of the day, she’s been lonely.

In an effort to have a starting place for conversation, she asks me questions at church.

“What does ABC do for a living?”

“I don’t know.”

“What happened to DEF’s husband?”

“I don’t know . . . was she ever married?”

“Where does HIJ come from?”

“I’m not sure . . .”

After several weeks, she took the bull by the horns, printed out an address list and began calling people; “Hi, I’m Judy and I’m new at church. May I come get to know you?” Or something to that effect.

It’s difficult; she takes one or two of my kids along to help break the ice.

She asks lots of questions.

And she comes home with stories.

Like the woman who doesn’t have to go grocery shopping because she raises everything she eats herself—in a suburban backyard garden.

Or the man who escaped to America with nothing and has built a beautiful life and has gone back on occasion to bless and serve his country of birth with his education and faith.

Or the little old man who used to be a Navy Seal.

Or the woman who birthed a 13 ounce baby—and that baby is a perfect and delightful teenager today.

And others.

I’ve lived and worshiped and served alongside these people for nearly a decade, but I didn’t know.

Because I was trying to be polite.


I have a good friend. We talk freely and trustingly to one another. But I haven’t been much of a question-asker because of my be-polite resolution.

Her baby recently had to have a G-tube inserted. She hadn’t talked much about it. Was it so traumatic she didn’t want to talk about it? Was there some reason she hadn’t told me? Did I dare ask?

I finally took a deep breath, “Was it hard to hand your baby over to the surgeons?”

She sighed . . .

(My gut twisted in fear that I’d been insensitive.)

. . . and the story came pouring out.

I’m so glad I asked.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Race

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photo from runalong.se

For the first time in almost 20 years I am going to run a 5K.

The last time I did this was in late May of 1990 as an almost graduated, 18-year-old senior on the varsity cross country team. It was our city's annual Armed Forces Day run and I easily took first place in my division.

A lot of things have changed since then. I went to college, got married, had 9 kids... the list is endless. Time was one of the greatest factors in my lack of exercise, but beyond even that is the fact that I have gotten older and less invincible. That can be a pretty tough pill to swallow.

When my oldest 2 kids started running cross country the bug started to gnaw at me again. Running used to be such a big part of my life and although it brought me much happiness to see my kids enjoying something I used to love, I had the desire to join them. I knew I would not be as diligent about taking the time to get out and moving if I did not have a goal, so I found one, a local 5K on March 13th. I would run the whole 3.1 miles without stopping to walk.

I have tried since then to be diligent about running regularly. However, life continued to happen all about me. My running was sporadic; 4 days a week here, 2 days a week there, some weeks not at all. I worked my way up to running a full mile before needing to rest, but it is too late to reach my goal. The date is suddenly upon me and I find myself unprepared.

I initially had visions of friends and family cheering me on or even running with me, but as the date came closer I stopped talking about it. I knew I would not reach my goal and I do not like to fail. I decided that I wanted to face my failure alone.

Here is where I learned a valuable lesson. It is a good thing to have a goal but it is not always an indicator of failure if we do not reach it.

When I told my husband, Allen, that I didn't want him to run with me he told me that he was still going to. Same with my little brother, Chip. They wanted to be a part of this experience, to offer me support and encouragement when I needed it along the way. I realized quickly that arguing with them was futile. So I laid down some rules, hoping to dissuade them.

I told them both that I would not keep up with any pace they would set. They both agreed to keep pace with me. I told them that I would not be able to run the whole way and when I stopped to walk they should continue on without me. They let me know that they are running this race with me - not ahead of me, but beside me. I expressed my frustration with their being there to see me falling short of my goal.

"There will be other races to run the whole way," Chip told me. "There is nothing wrong with walking. If you know you finish having done your best, that will be good enough."

Such is life.

We are not meant to run this race alone. It is not always easy to allow others to run with us, encourage us when we falter or offer help when we become too weak to continue. However, it makes the race so much easier when we can let go of our pride or whatever it is that holds us back and allow others to run with us. We can't compare ourselves to any other runner, regardless of their speed or agility. We just have to be content with our own abilities and knowing that we've done the best we can when we cross the finish line.

For the first time in almost 20 years I am going to run (and I use that term loosely) a 5K.

My goal is to cross the finish line.

For now, that will be good enough.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Clean Plates & Silverware

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I’m convinced that the world would be a far happier place if we could always start off with a clean plate and new silverware.

The other night a friend and I went out for dinner at an extraordinary restaurant…Chuck-A-Rama. While some may turn up their noses, or proclaim that this restaurant is not the best when it comes to culinary fare, let me rally to its defense.

Cornbread. Where in the world can you get warm cornbread every single day and not have to make it yourself? Fresh, buttered, and drenched in lemon juice?


The smells of two-dozen different things coursed about in the air. Steam wafted up from the freshly-baked rolls, slathered in cinnamon honey butter, the roasted pork ribs drenched in barbecue sauce, and salted fries, just waiting for a proverbial swim in ruby-red ketchup.

Ah, the deliciousness of variety

As my friend and I finished one plate of food and went back for another, we each picked up a sparklingly new plate—clean and fresh, glinting our reflections back at us…new silverware also gleamed under the incandescent lights. When we arrived back at our table a few minutes later, our old plates had been magicked away, as if taken care of by Hogwart’s many house-elves, and a clean table awaited us.

We proceeded through our second plates and decided to go for desert—getting new plates to fill to content with whatever we may: berry medley drizzled over vanilla ice cream and Oreo crumbles, raspberry cobbler, and caramel cinnamon pull-aparts.


As we returned to our table, we immediately noticed that the old plates had been whisked away by some mysteriously silent and unseen power. We sat to an empty table and enjoyed our desert amidst thought-provoking conversation.

Sometime later, when we felt we’d had enough and it was time to leave, we did so.

There was no cleanup, no washing, nothing but the fresh night’s air awaiting us as we made our way to our vehicles and each drove home.

Ah, the thrill of a new plate and a clean table—what a great thing to have.

Image swiped from: http://blogs.citypages.com/

Monday, March 8, 2010


Pin It Sometimes I feel a little as though I'm sinking. The ocean is named Everyday, and I am beset with seaweedy tendrils of Tasks that cling to my calves and tug. My life preserver is Time, but it's pocked with nibbles and missing chunks. More often than not, I find it floating an absurd distance away, and must hasten to catch up. Sometimes I sleep when I reach it, only to awaken and find another missing piece.

As I type, I look over the top of my laptop and see a floor covered with neatly folded laundry. It's been sitting there for three days, waiting for the last load to finish being washed, dried, and folded so everything can be put away at once, instead of in fitful spurts.

Laundry doesn't end. It doesn't go away.

I have homework to do for this stinking class that I only signed up for to get a discount on software.

I have breakfast dishes to wash.

Supper to cook.

Children to chauffeur to practice and home again, home again.

Jiggity jig.

I would actually enjoy mopping my floors, since that hasn't been done in a week or maybe two...I forget.

I am adrift in a sea of "need to," hampered and held down by waves of "want to." I want to sit and wallow, for just a little while, in a book or a nap. I want to order some vegetables and plant a garden. I want to decorate my house for spring, go scout out some stories with my camera, and eat bananas foster until I puke.

I think what I really want is to need to do nothing.

A life driven by necessity is no fun. This is why yesterday Autumn and I went to see Alice in Wonderland, Tasks be hanged. Could there be any better reminder of what it is to live freely, outside of the stupor of "must" and "have to"? Alice learned a magical lesson in suspending reality, embracing her own alternative desires, and doing for herself instead of the one-hundred other people that surrounded her.

It was a good reminder, well-worth a missing chunk of Time.

Speaking of which...I have forty-five minutes before I need to leave to pick the kids up from school. (Yes...another "need to"...one I think I'd get in trouble for abandoning.) I'm thinking dishes and laundry can wait.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oh, The Things That I'll Do!

Pin It Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.
~Victor Hugo

I don't want to tell you exactly how old I am. I’m going to invoke that most feminine of rights to obfuscate a little about my exact age. Although, I have made references over the past months to my forty-something attitude; and I have talked a great deal about my 21 year old son - that I did not have when I was a teenager…so I’ll just let you all do the math.

I bring up age today because I am thinking about retirement – my retirement to be exact. I don’t mean this in the sensible-making-plans-for-the-future kind of way, I mean it in the what-would-I-do-with-myself-if-I-could-do-whatever-I-want-to-all-day-every-day kind of way. I’ve got a lot going on right now with work and school and church and stuff. It’s a lot of stuff that takes planning and some brain-power with schedules to organize, papers to write and activities to plan. I don’t mind being busy – in fact I like it most of the time. But I know my brain is getting tired when I start making a mental list of what I want to do when I retire...25 to 30 years from now (sigh).

  • I want to have garden and maybe even a greenhouse. I want to wear big floppy hats and grow flowers and vegetables that I might even enter in a county fair just ‘cause I want to win that blue ribbon.
  • I want to learn how to play all the hymns in the hymnbook even the ones that have more than one sharp or flat. And maybe throw a little Beethoven in there too. Of course this will probably mean that I’ll have to practice the piano every day (which will probably be good for my arthritis). While I’m at it I’d like to learn to play the guitar.
  • I want to find a “story” that I have to watch every day – as in “It’s time for my story.” I’m not sure I really want to get into soap operas – but maybe it would be a good time to catch up on Lost and try and figure out once and for all what in the “expletive” is going on in that show.
  • I want to learn to paint better or at least be more prolific with my painting. I may even start to give my paintings away as gifts – which may either give great pleasure to my friends and family or make them roll their eyes behind my back and dread every birthday and holiday. To be honest I’m not sure which reaction would be more fun for me.
  • I want to learn to be a great cook…maybe even verging on the word chef. I am hopeful that this process will involve the use of a great deal of butter.

That's just my preliminary list of course. That should keep me busy for first year or so right?

The reality will probably involve something to do with grandchildren too. But as Superdude just got home from the mission and, as someone commented on my last post, he’ll soon be on the hunt for a wife - so the “G” word can’t be far behind…but I’m not ready to look that reality in the face so I’m not adding it to the list...yet.

Oh yeah, and it might be nice if I was able to get my blog-post written and posted on the actual day that it’s due.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Coincidence? I Think Not.

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I had a pretty harrowing experience with my oldest son this week. (You can read about it here if you're interested.)

It left me thinking about many things, but the one thing which has remained foremost in my mind is that I do not believe in coincidences.

Let me explain.

It was no coincidence that somewhere between the time that my boy sustained his injury and I rushed to his side there was a nurse available to help him. Someone who just happened to be there with her own kids that night. Seeing that he was already being cared for by someone who knew what to do gave me a sense of calm that was much needed just then.

It was no coincidence that one of my son's friends happened to be there with his family that night. He was right there when it happened and acted as a liaison between my kids and I, running to them with messages of what I needed them to do so that they would not have to come close and see his injury.

It was no coincidence that one of the paramedics was from my old stomping grounds in California and that we shared common experiences in growing up there and in moving to Utah. He kept me distracted with friendly conversation and cheerful recollections when my mind wanted to go in so many other directions on the way to the hospital.

It was not a coincidence when we finally made our way to the operating room and saw that a former neighbor would be assisting with the surgery. He came out afterward to chat with us for a moment and was able to let us know that things had gone well. He did not know that the doctor had forgotten to visit with us following the surgery because he had been quickly called away to another situation.

It was no coincidence that we ran into a cousin at the hospital, well after midnight, who was there visiting his baby boy. We learned that his son is hospitalized with RSV. Talking with him helped me to realize that my own boy's situation was not dire; that he was healthy despite being broken.

Not one of these things were coincidences.

They were blessings, tender mercies, evidences to me that we are never left alone to handle things beyond our ability.

Coincidences? No. I have no doubt that every single thing that happened was part of a plan, orchestrated by a loving God who was simply trying to remain anonymous.

But I'm on to Him.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Tale

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nce upon a time there was a blogger…

Now, the writer of this blog was exceptionally handsome. One day, this blogger of the blog decided to write a post which would cause his readers to smile. He wanted it to be uplifting and fun.

However, after his day of work - tending to the slaves in the salt mines - the blogger was exhausted. He made his way home and prepared himself to write his post. He turned his computer on and stared blankly at the empty screen. As he watched, the screen would fill up with words that the blogger would write, and then delete.

The blogger did not like the words that he’d written

After several hours of sitting at the computer, the blogger realized that he’d started nearly fifteen different posts, but each and every one of them was trashed. It was a few moments later that the writer of the blog was overcome with a magically-induced enchantment that caused him to become drowsier and drowsier. The blogger could hardly keep his eyes open, and though he fought against it most valiantly, it was of no use. The blogger fell into the enchanted slumber that from which he could only be awakened by his iPod’s alarm that would sound early the next morning.

The blogger slept.

When the alarm did go off, the blogger was still very tired from his night of endless dead-ends with writing. But upon awakening, the blogger was not thinking about his blog, but instead about the Hawaiian Haystacks he'd be having for lunch later that day.

The blogger went about his usual morning routine when suddenly…he remembered the blog that he'd not been able to write the night before!

The blogger panicked. He pulled at his hair wondering how he could have been so short-minded. He hurried to his computer, but alas, the blogger's mindblock remained. The blogger was sad. He closed his laptop and entertained an idea about not blogging for the day at all.

Then the blogger thought of his readers. He knew that his readers would be sad. He did not want to see this happen.

The blogger reopened his laptop, and began to write the first thing that came to his flurried mind - amidst the plans for the slaves at the salt mines which flitted about in his head.

As the blogger wrote, the words flew from beneath his fingertips and lit up the screen. The blogger smiled. His readers would not be disappointed…even if most of them were secret lurkers who had not yet made their presence known unto him—yet the blogger knew that they were there.

The blogger cared.

The blogger published his post at his usual time of eight o'clock.

There were many comments.

The blogger was happy.

So were the readers.

The End.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Drip, Drip, Drip

Pin It No one does Chinese Water Torture like women, small children, and babies. This is perhaps part of the reason my husband has said he does not want a third child (he'd be utterly surrounded); but I'm here to re-state the obvious: I'm breaking him down.

I'm working on Phase Two of the Lori Wants Baby Campaign, whereby I stealthily leave seemingly random photos of our children as infants in seemingly random locations around the house. Like, beside the toilet. Nothing says daddy needs a third baby like a picture of Lawson eating cheerios while he makes a deposit.

Phase Two also involves seemingly random conversational interruptions designed to break his concentration and focus it on said infant. Example: "Don't you think it's strange how neither of our other children ended up with dark brown hair and blue eyes? Our next could, though. Because I have a gene for brunette hair, and you have a gene for blue eyes, and I think that works, even though I'm not a geneticist. Wouldn't that be a lovely combination?"

Even though he stares at me in something akin to horror, and turns the car radio up a little louder, I think it's working.

Phase Two also involves random, but entirely logical attacks of pure unadulterated reason. Case in point. We're in the middle of discussing...I don't know. Something. Dinner. "You how there's that one buck that you haven't gotten yet?" He looks at me warily. "That Pope and Young or Brooks and Dunn or something? That raison d'etre that's just waiting for you in the woods? The reason you can't stop deer hunting yet?"

"Well...I don't know about a raisin, but it's more the challenge than anything else..."

Hmm. I try to figure out how to work this into my speech. The reason for motherhood is not the challenge. Definitely not. I decide to ignore it. That usually works. "Whatever. If I told you that you had to stop hunting tomorrow, how would you feel? If you fell out of a tree and had to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of your life, how would you feel? Would the longing go away?"


"Yeah--when you were eighty!"

He laughed. Gotcha. "That's how I feel about having another baby."

He gave me a pointed look. "What's to say you won't continue to feel that way after you have another one?"

I don't really have an answer for this. Except--"Well, I'll probably be old by then and have more sense."

That effectively ends that random attack.

Phase Two also includes the immediate and completely annoying dispersal of any and all notifications of the presence of infants and/or large families in my immediate vicinity. This can be as simple as a "Ooooh, look--someone's having another baby on Private Practice!" when we're watching t.v. (which can backfire when that same someone has a miscarriage or goes haywire and kills their husband or something) or it can get a little more complicated. For example. The other morning when I was dropping the kids off at school, I noticed I was behind a van with those little white stick-figure families on the window. The family had three--count 'em--three children, and the license plate said "HVNSNT." How perfect. So I snapped a picture with my phone and sent it to him with a text that said something along those lines. "Family of FIVE. How adorable." I do that all the time now--call when I'm in McDonalds--"guess what's in front of me? A cute little baby..." (in cutesy baby talk, of course). When we're out together, and pass one somewhere, I start singing. "They're everywhere! They're everywhere!"

Like, I said, folks. Chinese Water Torture. Feel the drip. Be the drip.

I am The Drip, and I am Relentless.
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