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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crazy: Up Close And Personal

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I wish I had time to write a blog post today, but life is crazy at the moment.

If I had time to write I would tell you all about how much I love Halloween, but I have roughly 45 pumpkins to gut and carve.

I could go on and on about how this is my favorite holiday, how I am that crazy neighbor that you don't understand because our family gets so into our Halloween decor, but I have a clown costume to fix and one more clown mask to find.

I'd tell you about how we transform our house and yard into the Cemetery Hotel and how this year is the off year when we throw in a spook alley, but I need to get to making the food for the disgusting dining room.

I'd love to tell you about how huge it's become this year with a cast of almost 30 teenage spooks and creepers from the neighborhood, but we're getting our haunted corn maze put back together after the continuous rain and wind that all but destroyed it a couple of nights ago.

I wanted to write about how fun it has been decorating the interior of the top floor of my house in preparation for having hundreds of strangers wander through it this weekend, but I still have to measure, cut and lay carpet remnants in the walking areas.

I wish I had time to tell you about the additions this year - the haunted lobby and creepy laundry room, the catacombs and south cemetery where the zombies come out at night, the forested tunnel and honeymoon suite... but the spider's lair is not yet complete and, well, someone's got to do it.

What I will tell you is that if you live anywhere near me and would like to come, we had tickets printed for both Friday and Saturday nights and we'd love to have you see what we've been putting together for the past few weeks in anticipation of this weekend.

For us, the real treat is having our friends and neighbors come through and enjoy a bit of a scare on Halloween weekend.

If you'd like a ticket, just let me know in the comments or send me an email at gerbdonna at gmail dot com. If I can't get one to you before this weekend then we can put one on hold for you with the lady who'll be passing out candy in front of the Cemetery Hotel.

I hope you can make it... we're dyyyyyyying to see you. (insert evil laugh)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cats and Dogs...

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I was a cat.

I say this not because I really was a cat, after all, I am actually allergic to them (plus the fact that I hate them too). I say this because I have been a dog before…in fact, some days I am a dog, while other times, I find myself being a cat.

Let me explain…

A dog is an animal that just seems to love you, no matter what. He goes out of his way to be around you too. A simple scratch behind the ears completely makes his day. He comes when you call, and always wants to play. No matter how many times you throw the ball or want to run in the park, he is there. If it’s raining, and you are going out in the rain, the dog usually wants to go with you…he just doesn’t care what the weather is.

Not so for a cat. A cat is a solitary creature; it wants nothing more than to do what it wants, when it wants. If you call it, it does not come. In fact, the more you try to get it to do what you want, the more it tries to stay away. If you give it an order to stay, or to go, it usually does not. When it rains, the cat stays inside, and just lazes around, staying where it is warm and cozy. Maybe if the weather is nice, the cat would oblige to go outside…maybe.

It seems that all of us, at different times or other in our lives, have been either a cat or a dog.

It rained for three days.

I am so a dog...

Images so swiped from somewhere on the Internet which I have since forgotten. Yeah, I'm pretty fickle like that...

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Slacker Mom and Her Offspring

Pin It I am such a slacker.

I admit it: I just plain stink at this whole "trying to live life as usual while pregnant" thing.

I can't even seem to blog about anything except being pregnant. I'm sorry, really I am.

I apologize profoundly for my slacker-ness (read: not blogging, cleaning, doing laundry, exercising, or anything else remotely productive) but let's face it--I can't see it changing any time soon.

Energy levels are at an all-time low, which essentially means if I have the choice of sleeping or scrubbing a toilet, I will choose sleep every time. Add in the fact that I cannot take my ADD medication, and you have a complete Slug. It's so bad, I actually had Lawson bend down to pluck a can of chicken gravy off of the bottom grocery store shelving unit this afternoon...I just felt it would require too much effort to lever myself back up.

Now, theoretically, I know that it is indeed possible to live life normally while pregnant. I understand that you can exercise (in fact, you should exercise), you can bend and straighten, mop the floors, haul laundry out of the washer, and do any number of other things.

I just don't want to. I want to revel in my first trimester fatigue, and have an excuse to block out the world for a little while with a nap. (Do you know how long it's been since I took a nap? When I was pregnant with Lawson. That's eight-plus napless years, folks. ) I want to delight in my awkwardness and shifting center of balance, and baby it with frequent "feet up" moments. I want to concentrate on gestating with minimal interruptions.

Now, this is very difficult to do when there are two smallish humans who have become pretty well established as your kids. Lawson is entering the world of "you're so cute; will you be my special friend?" with the little girls in his class, and is requiring many lessons in how-to-talk-to-girls. Autumn is entering the world of we-must-straighten-the-hair-and-find-the-perfect-polish before school every morning. I love that Lawson comes to me for these man-to-Mom talks, and that Autumn wants my fashion advice. Their interruptions of my Gestational Concentration are fierce and lovely and anything but minimal.

That's okay, though. It's funny...I think I want to focus so intently upon this time because, having been there before, I remember all too clearly how fleeting it is. And this time, it's not miserable for me. I'm not assaulted with nausea and/or puking 24/7. While a little draggy, I'm not finding it necessary to slip into a coma to cope. So instead of shutting my small humans out in favor of hermetically celebrating this bond I'm forming with this new small human within me, I'm bringing them in to share it.

Showing them the illustrations, and measuring a growing distance between our forefingers and thumbs. Discussing names. Letting them laugh at my awkwardness, and enlisting their help.

I love that they're willing to help, and so ready to celebrate with me.

And I promise that I'll try to write about something other than being pregnant next week. I'm kind of in a one-track-rut right now. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010


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I guess the real reason that my wife and I had children is the same reason that Napoleon had for invading Russia: it seemed like a good idea at the time. Bill Cosby

I have a fun going to church.

Is it fun because if the spiritual edification and social solidarity that comes from worshipping with others of your faith?

No not really.

It’s fun because I get to sit quietly and unencumbered while I watch the families with young children try to wrangle them into good, reverent acceptable church behavior (insert a little bit of evil laughter here).

I’m honestly not judging on the success of the other parishioners parental efforts. I’ve been there and done that and I know that sometimes you can fight the good fight and work the positive reinforcement with quiet books, the bible-story finger puppets, the baggies of cheerios, and sometimes you just give up and take the kid out to the foyer and let him run around. But as my kids are all grown up now, I have to admit to a little perverse pleasure in watching other people take their turn attempting to subdue the ankle biting crowd.

Kids are fun to watch and there are some families that I particularly gravitate towards because the little people seem to be such a hilarious challenge for their parents. I sometimes help the parents out if I think they need it by giving the kid The Look as Ebay calls it.

Let me explain The Look.

Through all my years of parenting and school teaching, I have developed a particular facial expression that seems to be effective in stopping an errant child in his/her tracks and helping them take a moment to perhaps re-think their current behavior. Think Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. It usually involves an uncomfortable and lengthy amount of eye-contact, a certain pursing of the lips and, if I think that they really need motivation, I can raise my right eyebrow. I sometimes pull it out at the grocery store if I see some kid throwing a fit right there in the cereal isle while the poor mom is struggling with baby and just trying to get the shopping done. I just kind of stand there perusing the cornflakes till the fit-thrower catches my eye. I give them the stare for a few seconds, raise my eyebrow if I think they deserve it – and I tell you what, it almost always works.

Ebay hates when I do this.

“Mom, cut it out.”

“What?” I ask innocently.

“You know what.”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“You’re doing The Look.”

“I just thought the mom could use a little help.” I answer sweetly.

“Well, you’re freaking the kid out.” Ebay snaps.

“Just trying to be helpful.” I say while Ebay rolls his eyes.

I know I’m freaking the kid out, but that’s kind of the point – mind your manners in public and quit making life harder for your poor mom. And frankly, now that Ebay teaches primary, I’ve seen him use the very same look – so how do you like them apples?

Anyway, watching the kids at church is fun for me whether or not I pull out The Look. It’s kind of like a real-life National Geographic Special. The rambunctious young cubs pushing the envelope of their environment while the parents try teach them to stay by the waterhole and not run away to the elephant graveyard.

There’s one little guy in my ward – about 2 years old - that I particularly like to watch. I’ve taken to calling him “Genius Baby.” This little guys seems super-smart to me and he really gives his parents a run for their money. He’s an only child right now, but part of his genius seems to be his ability to recruit other toddlers into his life of crime so good luck to his parents if/when they have more kids.

For example…

A few Sundays ago I got to church late (no good excuse, I was just late) and so was sitting out in the foyer. Well this seemed to be a day when a lot of the parents had just given up the fight, because there was quite the social hour of young parents out in the foyer “watching” their toddlers. Both of Genius Baby’s parents were out there, standing next the doors that went into the cultural hall (a fancy word for the gym) talking to the parents of another little guy who was about the same age. Since the parents were engaged in talking to one another, they weren’t as engaged as they maybe should have been in watching their little off-spring. At first this wasn’t a problem. Genius Baby and Little Guy were just kind of playing hide and seek through and around their parent’s legs. But then Little Guy (who was particularly enthusiastic and puppy-like) grabbed hold of the handle to the to the cultural hall door. It’s a heavy door, and being such a little guy, he was only able to pull it open a couple of inches. But this was enough to catch Genius Baby’s attention. Genius Baby had obviously been in the cultural hall before and realized that that was the place to be.

Freedom! Room to run and scream and play! Genius Baby wanted in the cultural hall.

He too pulled on the door but also wasn’t strong enough to get the door open far enough to get through it before it closed on them again. They both tried back and forth for a few minutes and then sort of started squabbling a little bit over whose turn it was to try and pull – Genius Baby – Little Guy – Genius Baby – Little Guy. After a few minutes Genius Baby got tired of waiting for Little Guy to take his turn at pulling – especially when it wasn’t working. He grabbed onto the back of Little Guys pants and pulled him backwards away from the door. Well, Little Guy was still holding onto the door handle and when Genius Baby pulled on Little Guy while Little Guy was also pulling on the door - together they were strong enough to open the door. Little Guy was so excited that the door was open ( I think he thought he’d suddenly been able to do it himself) that he let go of the door handle, jumped around a little bit in celebration, but unfortunately by the time he was done, the door had shut again. Little Guy, pulled on the handle again, but couldn’t get it open this time. Little Guy was clearly puzzled – why wouldn’t it open now? Where had his massive muscles gone? But the light bulb had gone on for Genius Baby. He waited until Little Guy pulled on the door again then he wrapped his little arms around the waist of Little Guy and pulled with all his might. And sure enough, the door opens wide – Success! The two little dudes run through the door into the grand open freedom of the gymnasium with the door closing quietly behind them. Meanwhile, their parents, still chatting away, hadn’t seen a thing. I get up, cross the foyer to open the cultural hall door and enlighten the parents that their toddlers have disappeared. Just as I opened the door, but hadn’t yet had a chance to say “Hey Parents, you’re little dudes are running around unsupervised in the gym,” Genius Baby’s mom notices he’s gone, looks through the open gym door, sees her toddler running free, and gives me a look like “Why did you open the door for two toddlers?” and heads into the gym with the other parents to gather their kids. I didn’t push it. I just went back to my chair in the foyer. The parents came back with their little dudes and resumed their chatty position next to the cultural hall doors. But now Genius Baby and Little Guy had a system – they knew how to get this done and it didn’t take long before they were off again and had involved a couple of little toddler girls in their escape plans too (shades of things to come?). It took about three times before the parents realized what was happening and that their toddlers had masterminded the great escape on their own (apology to me...anyone…anyone?).

Anyway the whole thing was pretty hilarious and, as I said, reminiscent of those nature specials that describe how the chimpanzees figure out how to use a stick to get the ants out of the ant hill. I wonder if the old chimp parents watch the young chimp parents and just laugh and laugh.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Switching Perspective

Pin It Yesterday was one of those days.

For me, that means I've been coughing for 2 weeks straight and was able to sleep maybe a total of 2 hours at night because I woke repeatedly in various panicked half dream/half awake states and my body refused to cooperate when I attempted to get out of bed in the morning.

I lamely told my kids to pull out the cereal for breakfast and that I'd give them all money for school lunches then went back to sleep.

About 5 minutes before the elementary kids left my 11-year-old came in to report that they had all eaten cereal AND toast, brushed their teeth AND hair and that I could continue to sleep knowing all was taken care of for the day. I thanked him and drifted back to sleep.

I didn't give it a second thought until I went to pick my kids up after school.

My 6th and 4th graders turned out just fine, but when I saw my sweet little 2nd grader approaching the car, I about died.

She had very obviously done her own hair that morning...

Initially I was mortified. Because I have a large family I am self conscious about what others think of my kids appearances and do my best to be sure that none of my kids look neglected or orphaned. I guess I'm trying to avoid the whole stigma of oh, his pants are too short because he only wears hand-me-downs or her hair is always a mess because her mom has no time to get to it with all of the other kids to tend to.

When we got home I decided to talk to her about it. I asked, "Princess, did you do your own hair this morning?" "YES!" she answered, excited. "I did the ponytail all by myself so you could sleep! Isn't that awesome?"

Her response caught me off guard. She was so pleased with herself and what a big girl she was to have taken care of her own hair. She saw this as a gift to me, allowing me more time to rest that morning. What could I do? Besides, I am always trying to foster independence in my children. So I decided to change MY attitude. Was this any worse than allowing my 5-year-old to wear his long-sleeved skeleton pajama top all summer because it made him happy? Not really. And it certainly didn't hurt anyone - unless you count my silly pride.

"That IS awesome," I told her. "And it was so nice to sleep in this morning. Thank you, sweetheart."

"You're welcome!" she answered, beaming, as she skipped down the hall. Then she turned and added, "I love you, Mom!"


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Can I Help You Today?

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I stopped off at the local grocery store to pick up a few odds and ends tonight. Before entering the store itself, I noticed the large containers of pumpkins and stopped to dig through them in hopes of finding the perfect specimen for a Jack-O-Lantern.

As I was doing this, a young man approached me with several pumpkins already in his shopping cart.

“Excuse me, how much do pumpkins weigh?” he asked.

I was dumbfounded. How in the world was I supposed to know that? Also, why in the heck was he asking me? Did I look like some type of pumpkin expert? For a brief instant I wondered if this were a previous student from years before, trying to be funny. A second later I discarded the idea…he was too old to have been one of my fourth graders from my first year’s teaching.

“Um, that all depends,” I responded uncertainly. “On the size of each pumpkin.” I hefted a medium-sized squash in my hands and quickly estimated its weight. “This one weighs about nine pounds and therefore would cost about seventy-five cents.”

The man looked thoughtful then asked, “How much would it cost for all of these?” He indicated the eight or nine pumpkins in his cart…some large, some medium.

I shrugged. “I’d estimate your total weight at somewhere around ninety pounds, at nine cents a pound you’re looking at something just under ten dollars after tax.”

The young man thanked me and went on his way.

I shook my head. That was weird.

I moved into the building and was greeted by an old student now working at the store, and then by a friend I hadn’t seen for a lifetime or two. I chatted with each of them in turn and then found myself approached by another patron in the meat department.

“Where could I find your frozen chicken breasts?”

At home in my freezer. I thought silently.

I was again dumbfounded but pointed the man to an aisle where the frozen meats were housed.

I again shook my head and continued shopping.

Really weird.

It wasn’t long before another individual approached me, wondering if I could I point her to the blank CDs; she had looked everywhere and couldn’t find them.

That’s when it hit me.

They all thought I worked here!

You see I’d left school still dressed in my customary black slacks, white shirt, and tie; I looked like a professional. I must have looked like the manager.

To be honest, I was flattered.

I started to walk around the store and whenever asked for assistance, I willingly gave it, fully taking on the role of Macey’s Grocery Store manager. I even offered help to a few folks who were lost in looking for a particular item.

It was fun. I think I even sent most of them in the right direction.

I made my way to checkout and paid for my items. As I was walking to the front door an elderly woman approached me. “Excuse me, young man,” she said in her cracking voice. “Why is everybody crowded around the pumpkins like that? What’s going on?”

“The pumpkins? Oh, you see the reason they’re there is because right now we’ve got a spectacular sale going on,” I responded. “At eight cents a pound, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal anywhere else in town.” I paused. “And I’m not just saying that because we’re standing here at Macey’s, but simply because it’s a great deal.”

The woman nodded and proceeded to tell me about her grandkids, she told me about wanting to have enough pumpkins for all of them to carve. She chatted on about her garden and her dismally failed attempts at growing her own. After a few minutes she wandered happily into the store.

I gathered up my bags and headed out to my car.

As I eased into the driver’s seat and started the ignition I gave a sigh of relief. I had finished yet another job and had helped a dozen or less people at the end of their own days.

I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m the recipient the employee of the month award…

Thursday, October 14, 2010


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Hold on, man. We don't go anywhere with "scary," "spooky," "haunted," or "forbidden" in the title. ~ Shaggy- Scooby Doo

You may never guess from my mild-mannered appearance, but I have a thing for the paranormal. I loved reading ghost stories and science fiction as a kid. And although I haven’t done as much reading for fun in the last while as I’ve been in school, I still have a soft spot for the spooky and weird in my recreational reading material.

I’ve noticed lately that this longtime penchant of mine might actually be a little trendy now. Maybe it's just the season, but I’ve noticed that there are several ghost hunter and ghost investigator shows in the TV mix these days. The idea here is that official ghost investigators set up their super-sensitive recording/electronic equipment in a supposedly haunted spot to see if they can capture some physical evidence of the spirits (just how one becomes an “official” ghost investigator is still a little unclear to me). There are also several more shows where people talk about their own ghost stories – personal experiences with seeing ghosts, living in a haunted house or being haunted themselves. There’s even a show about celebrity ghost stories (well, of course there is). And of course you can always find something about UFO’s, cow mutilations, and crop circles somewhere on cable TV. So, just like I was drawn to several Richard Peck ghost novels as a kid, I am drawn to these ghost investigator and UFO shows now. I am compelled to listen to the EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) captured by the sensitive equipment. I watch the orbs captured through the night vision goggles, and I guess I’m as interested in the next geek in whether the Egyptians and Mayans could have built their pyramids without E.T. .

I realize that it would make this blog about a million times more interesting if, after that introduction and admission that I am somewhat “paranormal,” I launched into my own ghostly or E.T. experience…

…but I got nothin’.

To the best of my recollection I have never experienced any sort of unexplained phenomenon. And apart from my unfortunate propensity to form judgments about people only moments after meeting them; I do not appear to have any discernible psychic ability. And to top off this lifetime-long paranormal dry-spell, I have driven through the American Southwest between Utah, Arizona and New Mexico dozens of times and have never, not once, seen anything that even remotely resembles any type of UFO (although there may have been a few alien life forms at some of the rest stops).

Maybe it’s because I’ve never experienced it personally that I can watch the ghost investigators and listen to the ghost stories and not be creeped out by them. It’s not that I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits (or UFO’s for that matter), but I guess the absence of actual personal empirical evidence helps me to keep it in the realm of entertainment.

To be honest though, even though I like watching these shows and hearing the theories, I’m not sure that personal experience with paranormal phenomenon is something that I would, or even should wish for. Kind of like taking some drug like heroin. It might be thrilling, it might be compelling, it might be life altering. But it also might open some doors that it’s just as well to keep closed.

Maybe if it happened spontaneously some dark and stormy night in an old abandoned…nah, I’m probably better off just sticking to other people’s stories. Anyone got any good ones?

Happy Halloween Season Everyone.

P.S. I am still looking for UFO’s every time I drive to New Mexico.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Getting On My Soap Box

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photo from vergemagazine.com

I'm going to write today about a topic that can be a bit controversial because it's all I can think about right now. It's all my kids can think about (and talk to me about) right now because they just had an assembly all about it where big promises were made. I'm talking about school fundraisers.

I hate school fundraisers. With a passion. And my kids hate that I hate fundraisers because then they can't win the prizes and parties that motivate the students to participate in the fundraisers.

How many people honestly want to buy wrapping paper, cookie dough, magazines, jewelry and whatnot at a ridiculously inflated cost? I'll tell you this: I sure don't. But yes, I do. If a kid that I actually know comes to my door selling something then I almost always will because I'm a sucker for kids. My kids hate this, too. If I won't let them sell these things then why do I buy crap from their friends?

I guess I'm sort of a hypocrite in that regard but I don't care. I'm the mom and I can do what I want - plus I don't think it's fair to lecture the neighborhood kids about what I think when their parents are obviously fine with it. That's not my place.

Well, push the wrapping paper and cookie dough sales aside because the latest trend in fundraisers seems to be more along the lines of Can you just give me some money for (insert school name here), please? In exchange for your donation, the kids will run a certain number of laps or shoot a basketball into the hoop a specified number of times in succession. I don't allow my kids to do these fundraisers either. Why? If the kid never ran one lap or if they missed a few baskets then the money is still collected. And even if they did run or make baskets, why should anyone be paying them to do this? Isn't that what kids do? Play?

I guess that what it comes down to is that I don't like the idea of teaching my kids to ask for something while giving back nothing in return.

I am not opposed to the idea of finding a way to generate money to donate to their schools, however. I have allowed my kids to do bake sales in our driveway, offer their babysitting or yard work services in exchange for payment, collect aluminum cans or even sell the clothing they have outgrown to a children's resale clothing store. I let them come up with their own ideas for fundraising, too - and sometimes these are awesome and sometimes they fail. But the point is that they are learning something. I will even take them to the dollar store and let them choose prizes if they earn the donation amount they were trying for. As long as they are learning to work for what they get.

It seems to me that many of the kids of today suffer from an entitlement syndrome. They feel that they are entitled to whatever they want and if they don't get it then all aytch-ee-double-hockey-sticks breaks loose. Fits are thrown. Tears are shed. This makes the new fundraising approach ideal for most kids. Collect money from friends and family, turn it over to the school and claim your prize. Easy.

My 5-year-old told me this week that if he did not bring any donations to the school for the current fundraiser then he would be the reason that the school did not get to have an ice cream party and he would not have any friends at recess. I am not cool with this type of motivation. It only makes me firmer in my position.

I hold on to some small glimmer of hope that my kids are learning something from all of this lesson I am trying to teach. I want them to learn the value in hard work. I suppose that only time will tell whether or not my methods are effective.

What do you think about school fundraisers? I'd love to hear what YOUR perspective is. Please leave a comment and we'll continue the conversation there.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Charge it, Please...

Pin It It was such a beautiful day, and I was able to spend a portion of it with a group of good friends. It is moments like this which make time a thing of great value.


I was recently taking some photos, and I saw an elderly woman moving along the sidewalk with her walker. As I watched her, I was suddenly taken with the thought that we need to enjoy each and every moment which we are given. It won’t be long before we’ll look back on these days and remember them with fondness—or possibly regret...I certainly hope that we won’t reflect on our lives thinking of the things we should have done, but didn’t.

And so, I now sit here at my keyboard and I find the lyrics to “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)” running through my mind. Could I share a few that jumped out to me?

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on…because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Tomorrow is yet another day, and you know what? I think I’ll charge it to my Golden Life Card. After all—for the time being—It has no limits.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's All About Me

Pin It A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
Mignon McLaughlin

I mentioned awhile back that Superdude has a girlfriend. Well, as is wont to happen with LDS young men having recently returned from missionary service, the girlfriend has now progressed to fiancée and the big day is actually approaching pretty fast – less than a month away at this point.

I have to admit to a range of emotions surrounding the nuptials of my first-born son – most of which I’m probably not going to blog about. It’s honestly not about The Fiancée and no girl being good enough for my little boy. She is a lovely girl and actually probably a bit too good for Superdude (sorry son, but it’s true). I hope that Superdude can step up and be a good husband and, of course I want the Fiancée to be a good wife. I guess it boils down to that I hope that they know what they’re doing…even though I know they don’t. I hope they’ve thought about what they’re committing to…even though I know that they can’t really conceive of it yet. In short I really hope they’ll have enough love, enough sense, enough commitment and enough luck to live happily ever after.

But enough about them, let’s talk about me.

I have a friend whose son (the same age as Superdude) got married just a couple of months ago. She advised me that the job of the Mother -of -the-Groom is to wear beige, sit in the corner and keep her mouth shut. I had to laugh because, while things aren’t that extreme, it is kind of true. I find that I’m having a hard time knowing exactly how to behave as the MOTG. I have organized a lot of parties, events and yes, even a few weddings in my day, but even though this is the wedding of my very own first-born child, as the MOTG it isn’t my party to organize - and that’s fine really. I honestly don’t have strong feelings about “the perfect wedding” for my boy. With the exception of what color dress I’m expected to wear, I’m fine with the Bride-side doing whatever they want to do. But the flip side of laying low is that one is in danger of coming across as apathetic. How does one portray an adequate amount of interest in the details of a wedding while simultaneously expressing no discernable opinion?

Fortunately the Fiancée took pity on me and has let me help with the flowers. Because it’s a fall wedding the Fiancée wants to do something with sunflowers. A nice choice I think, but also a little tricky. Real sunflowers can be kind of big for a boutonnière or a bouquet and the smaller version, while abundant and beautiful tend to be rather delicate and droopy. And wedding flowers have a lot of work to do. They have to be stalwart little soldiers for that long day of photos and handshakes and hugs. Silk flowers are an option of course, but they’ve always seemed a little more at home to me in the lobby of a hotel than in a bridal bouquet.

So what to do?

Research on the Internet of course. As you might imagine there are TONS of wedding websites with advice on everything from cakes to catering. I looked at dozens and dozens wedding flower photos and came across some sites with some really beautiful handmade fabric flowers.

Flowers out of fabric…I can do that.

Well, eventually I could do that. It took me a while and several prototypes before I managed some that I was actually happy with. You know that poem that says…

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

I wasn’t attempting a full tree, but I have a much healthier respect for a Heavenly Father that can make something as amazing as a rose. I only managed it after several mistakes with floral wire and a good deal of hot glue. But once I got the hang of it I spent several enjoyable hours creating a variety of flowers – I can see why God made so many different kinds – it’s pretty fun seeing how they’re going to turn out. And luckily the Fiancée was happy with them too.

I am very happy to have a wedding prep project – a way to help with the wedding while hopefully still managing to remain in the beige MOTG corner with my mouth shut. Actually, I am doubly grateful for the floral project because it is helping somewhat to take my mind of what is sure to be just a super-comfortable day hanging out with my ex-husband, his wife and kids, my ex-in-laws, my ex-husband’s new wife’s parents and my own parents who haven’t spoken to each other in at least 30 years.

And on top of all that – what on earth am I going to wear?

Like I said, let's talk about me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In The Clouds

Pin It I have had a lifelong love of gazing at clouds, watching as they drift lazily past then gather in beautiful formations or discovering shapes and stories in their changing forms.

This began as a young child in Clinton, Iowa where I learned to watch for the fast-moving, greenish-gray clouds which usually foreshadowed a city-wide tornado warning. This fascination continued as my family moved to southern California and my younger brother and I would climb onto the roof of our apartment building to watch the bright golden-red sunsets behind the cotton ball clouds which hovered over the ocean. After moving to Utah and falling in love with the mountains I have observed the clouds that tend to linger at the tops of the majestic peaks.

Simply put, I love clouds.

I have realized over years worth of observation and fascination that the clouds could be considered something of a metaphor for my life.

Sometimes I feel as though I am stretched much too thin, like cotton batting clouds, pulled so tightly in so many directions that holes begin to show through.

Other days, like the clouds I see so often clinging to the tops of mountains, I just need something to hold on to, whether it be my family, my faith, my memories or any other thing that can sustain me until I am ready to stand on my own again.

Some of my best days are the ones where I am like the clouds which are filled with light. I feel ready to conquer the world - or at least the various tasks associated with being a wife and mother and human being - with a bright and happy countenance, filled with hope and possibility.

There are also times when I feel like a storm cloud, dark and angry and ready to burst. I reach a point where I am filled to capacity... and then, when I can no longer carry the burden or hold another drop of emotion, the tears fall like rain until I am empty.

It seems that as I have passed through each learning phase of my life, I have been like a cloud formation - changing slowly, almost imperceptibly, into different shapes and forms depending on which way the wind was blowing. It often happens so slowly that before you know it I have become a person who is completely different than I was to begin with.

However, no matter the state I'm in, there is usually a silver lining if I'm just willing to find it.

And just as I am mesmerized by watching the clouds and the way they change and morph depending on the atmosphere around them, I enjoy watching people as they do the same. No two are alike - each is unique in its color and form and structure, and that is what makes each one fascinating.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More Than Yesterday...

Pin It It has been an eventful past few days.

I feel I need to write this entry for all of those who do not feel that they are who they should be—those people who feel that they are not living up to the expectations of their families, their God, their workplace, themselves…

I used to go to the gym back one upon a time ago. I remember being pretty devoted for quite a while. I’d be up at 5:00 A.M. and would get in a session before work nearly every day—there were also days I’d go back to the gym after work and hit the treadmills or stair-steppers.

Like I said, that was once upon a time ago.

I suddenly stopped going. Life got busy, and I found myself pressed for time—time which I did not have.

It was several weeks before I was finally able to make it back to the gym—and this was only for a short 15-minute visit.

I was berating myself for not having stayed longer, and for just how terribly I was doing. Later, when I was with a friend, we were having a discussion and I mentioned to her how I just wasn’t doing as well as I should in regards to the gym.

My friend looked at me and said, “Well, you’re doing a lot more than you were yesterday, which was nothing.”

These words have stuck with me throughout the past few years, and I find them reverberating in my head—quite often to be honest.

There are times in all our lives when we find ourselves lacking in one or more areas. Perhaps we aren’t eating quite as healthy as we should be, perhaps we are feeling that we aren’t spending as much time as we should with our families, maybe we’re disappointed with ourselves because of our seemingly-lowered spiritual levels, or maybe we didn’t complete that project which has been begging for our attention for quite some time.

Always know that tomorrow is yet another day—a day without mistakes in it. I’m not saying to only live for tomorrow, but instead know that it is a new start. By doing just a bit more than we already are—even just a little bit—is doing more than we’re doing now…just remember to take it bit by bit and don’t let discouragement overwhelm you.

A wise man once said that it is by doing little things that great things will ultimately come about.

By eating one less cookie than you normally would have, by putting away just one stack of papers, by walking for one song on your iPod...all of these things are milestones in the sense that they are all perhaps more than you were previously doing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Solid Gold: Just a Little Funny

Pin It I missed Lawson's Saturday morning soccer match this past weekend...I was off in Roanoke, enjoying some inspirational and kid-free time at the Extraordinary Women conference. When I returned, though, we all piled in the car to go out for a family supper.

Duane peered into the rear-view mirror. "Hey, Lawson. Did you tell Mama about your soccer game?"

"I blocked three goals!"

"Wow!" I murmured. "That's awesome, Lawson."

Duane snickered. "Tell her how you blocked the goals."

Lawson smiled placidly. "With my guts."

"With your guts?!" Autumn giggled.

"I think it was a little lower than your guts, son."


Duane was busting up at the memory. "He doubled over, said 'uuuuuhhhhh,' and was rolling around on the ground. The ball was just beside him, but he had stopped the goal...I said 'get the ball, son! Get the ball!"

Lawson laughed. "And I did!"

I looked askance at my husband. "I am surprised you are finding such a thing funny, being a guy and all. 'Get the ball!?' Really?"

He shook his head, still laughing.

We were all silent for a few minutes, until Lawson finally broke the quiet. "I told Coach I was going to ask Santa for a pair of solid gold underwear."

I'm not sure if Santa will be able to find a pair of solid gold underpants, but she sure will look.
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