Monthly Archives: January 2008

Some Stereotypes Exist for a Reason

For instance, the “clueless male” stereotype.

Last night, Sean told the boys that he would try to take them swimming at the YMCA today. For the record, we have never done this. Sean told them they would go “if he could work it out.”

I should have been concerned right then.

This morning, N~ was talking again about swimming. Sean again stated the “work it out” stipulation. After N~ walked away, he asked me, “What would you think of taking the kids swimming on one end of the pool while I do the water aerobics class this evening?”

Honestly, I thought he was kidding.

Honestly, he was not.

I resisted the urge to ask him under what circumstance he would think that a woman, bloated with 8+ months of developing child, would be even mildly interested in squeezing her expanding bottom into a bathing suit so that she could go swimming (in public!) with two preschoolers and a toddler on her own so that he could do water aerobics with overweight women with AARP memberships (OK, maybe not all of them but, again, some stereotypes exist for a reason). Instead, I just informed him that, while I may be willing to sacrifice my dignity enough to help HIM take the kids swimming, I sure as heck would not be dealing with all three on my own.

By this afternoon, he didn’t really feel like splashing around in the pool either. Especially since he had hoped his brother would come with his daughters (again, thinking he could do the class if said brother was there to “help” me), but the daughters didn’t bring their bathing suits to his house.

New plan–I get to convince my children that going to McD’s play land with their cousins would be more fun than swimming. Yeah, right. Sure. W~ was buying it, to some extent, but N~ wasn’t going to be convinced. Sean’s brilliant idea? Just tell N~ that he (Sean) will be taking the other boys to the play land with their cousins, and I can take him to the Y to go swimming. Yeah, ’cause that will persuade him he doesn’t want to go swimming enough to miss out on McD’s. As I expected, N~ thought this was a great solution. The only thing able to get me out of it was that W~ then was sure that he wanted to go swimming with me, too.

So, it’s back on Sean to be the bad guy. As I told him, I’m not going to be responsible for carrying out his idea. Not this time. Not when it involves exposing an extra 30 pounds of flesh. No ,thank you.

Pregnancy Update

I had another appointment on Tuesday. From here on out, I am now on the once-a-week schedule. I also got the handy little “What to do if you go into labor” sheet. Yay! There is something wonderful about being far enough along to get that little slip of paper. I am, quite honestly, ready to be done with this.

When I was going through all of my fertility stuff, I really hated it when pregnant women complained about being pregnant. All I could think was, “Be grateful for the experience!” I would have given anything for the puking, aches, pains, and other socially-unacceptable aspects of carrying a child. And I still hate it when women whine incessantly about the normal aspects of pregnancy. But, sometimes, well…

I really think I would be fine if not for the fact that I have been sick for almost three weeks now. Really, the bad stuff has been gone for about a week, but I’m still coughing. Imagine doing a backbend so that your stomach muscles are stretched as tight as they possibly can go. Then hack, consistently, for the next three weeks.

Exactly.

I have a spot on the left side of my stomach that pretty much feels like it is going to rip open every time I cough. I can’t help but imagine the scene from Aliens where the alien comes crawling out of the guy’s stomach, except I’m the host organism.

Yes, I’m grateful for the chance to be pregnant. However, I will also be grateful for the chance to STOP being pregnant.

Not Everyone Deserves to be a Parent

I have, once or twice before, mentioned the ex-lesbian-in-law and her stellar parenting skills. Well, she’s hit a new low. The other day, my 14-year-old niece told my brother that, in addition to cigarettes, her mother (and mom’s girlfriend) smoke something else that smells “kinda sweet, and old.” And, apparently, their smoking paraphernalia was getting a bit rank, so she decided to have my niece, her 14-year-old daughter, wash it out for her. The niece described it as looking something like what the caterpillar was using in Alice in Wonderland. Imagine being a responsible parent, and having to explain that to your child.

He’s contacted his lawyer. He’s trying to set up an appointment with the mediator. He’s hoping for mandatory drug testing to prove what she’s doing.

I’d be contacting Children’s Services and creating one hell of a paper trail for the custody hearing.

But that’s me.

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Gordon B Hinckley: June 23, 1910-January 27, 2008

Last night, as I sat contemplating my own faith, a man who inspired faith in literally millions of people passed away. Gordon B Hinckley had served as the Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since March 12, 1995. I was a Senior in high school at the time he was called, so President Hinckley has had a profound impact on shaping my faith in the years since then.

George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying:

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.

I can’t think of a sentiment to more perfectly describe President Hinckley. He was 97 years old. During the almost eighteen years that he served as the President of our church, he oversaw tremendous expansion. The number of LDS temples, alone, more than doubled. I read yesterday that our church is growing at such a rate currently that we are completing, on average, a new meetinghouse every work day. Pres. Hinckley traveled the world (many times) to bring the gospel, and hope, to thousands upon thousands of people. Indeed, almost his entire adult life was spent in service to the church.

As a young man, Pres. Hinckley studied journalism. He went from his studies to the church’s headquarters, working with others to develop written manuals and other forms of media. As President of the church, he entered uncharted waters by doing media interviews with the likes of Mike Wallace (60 Minutes) and Larry King. Even Pres. Hinckley admitted nervousness over the ways in which these interviews opened our religion up to misunderstanding and criticism at the time. The fears, though, were unfounded. The interviews were fair and very positive. Pres. Hinckley even developed a friendship with Mike Wallace. When his book, Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues that will Heal Our Hearts and Homes was published in 2000, Mr. Wallace wrote the foreword. Wallace said this of the experience:

Well, what happened was that my 60 Minutes colleagues and I learned, from the time we spent with Gordon Hinckley and his wife, from his staff, and from other Mormons who talked to us, that this warm and thoughtful and decent and optimistic leader of the Mormon Church fully deserves the almost universal admiration that he gets. I know that may sound more than a trifle corny coming from a dyed-in-the-wool, jaded, New York-based reportorial cynic. But it was difficult not to arrive at that conclusion after talking not only with him, but about him with hardheaded folks such as Orrin Hatch and Bill Marriott and Steve Young and Dave Checketts…

Further in the interest of full disclosure, as an 81-year-old myself, perhaps I can be excused for recalling the exchange I had with President Hinckley near the end of that 60 Minutes profile.

Wallace: There are those who say: “This is a genontacracy…this is a church run by old men.”

Hinckley: Isn’t it wonderful to have a man of maturity at the head? A man who isn’t blown about by every wind of doctrine?

Wallace: Absolutely, as long as he’s not dotty.

Hinckley: Thank you for the compliment.

He is far from dotty. As you read on, you’ll find an agile, thoughtful, and engaging mind bent on persuading us to ruminate, along with him, on old-fashioned values: by name, Virtue and Integrity.

                                                                                             ~Mike Wallace

Since I attended Brigham Young University, I had several opportunities to see Pres. Hinckley speak in person (one time, I even got to be present when both he and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher spoke–definitely on the list of cool moments in my life). Wallace is absolutely correct–nothing about him was “dotty.” He was amazing, inspirational, and filled with the Spirit. He was the type of person that you truly loved without knowing. Every time he came to BYU, he packed the Marriott center. And every time he left, it was with a smile and repeated waves to those of us in the stands. Each section would wave back because we knew the gesture was genuine.

Pres. Hinckley’s beloved wife died a few years ago. Since that time, his mind remained sharp, but his health has steadily declined. After so many years of such an amazing life together, who wouldn’t be ready to join his beloved in the eternities? While so many of us who loved and followed Pres. Hinckley are truly mourning the loss of this tremendous man today, I have no doubt that there is a celebration occurring in the Heavens. A family has been reunited. And a man who “thoroughly used up” his life is being welcomed to a deserved rest.

If those around him can convince him to take it.

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What is Faith?

Faith as a grain of mustard seed. Faith can move mountains. Faith in every footstep. I walk by faith. Be faithful to those you love. Old faithful. Trial of faith. Go on faith. Keep the faith. ‘Cause I gotta have faith, faith, faith-ah.

What is faith?

faith   (fth)
NOUN:

  1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
  2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief, trust.
  3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.
  4. often Faith Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
  5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
  6. A set of principles or beliefs

                                                                     ~American Heritage Dictionary

 

Does that really clear it up? Faith is a concept that I frequently struggle with. The scriptures site many examples of great works and miracles being performed on the basis of faith. I read of mountains moved, famines begun and stopped, city walls tumbling, and the dead being raised. And I’m sure that my faith is lacking. I question to what extent it even exists. If these things can be done with faith equal to a grain of mustard seed, then where does that leave me. Honestly, folks, it just doesn’t look good. And, from that perspective, I become discouraged.

But, is this perspective accurate?

Hebrews 11:1 states:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Alma 32:21* shares a similar sentiment:

And now as I said concerning faith–faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

And Ether 12:6* completes the idea:

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.

These are the scriptures that I cling to when I struggle with the concept of faith. Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of something. Indeed, once we do have knowledge, we no longer have faith. The two cannot exist together–you have one, or you have the other. This concept is stated in Alma 32:18:

Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.

So the question becomes, is my hang-up with the concept of faith, or knowledge? If I am being completely honest with myself, there are many things of a religious nature that I don’t feel I can say that I know are true. Things I haven’t seen, or experienced. Things that fall under the physical limitations of this world. But I believe them. I have hope. I have experienced their effects. The desire to know is there. The faith, then, exists.

Which, I suppose, takes me back to my initial concern–is the faith sufficient? Or do I fall into the trap described in Alma 32:17:

Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.

What is the true desire: to have faith, or to have some sort of proof? Hebrews 11 gives repeated accounts of scriptural figures that demonstrated faith and received signs: Moses, Abraham, Noah, Sara, and on, and on…Does the questioning come from a lack of miracles on the scale as these people? Certainly, though, as I explore my own life, miracles have existed. Heck, Sara and I certainly have a little bit in common (I may not be past the age of conception, but I was certainly told–numerous times and in no uncertain terms–that I would never conceive without major medical intervention). I have seen my children protected in frightening circumstances. I have seen those close to me healed. I have felt a deep realization that the Lord knows me–who I am and where my strengths lie. I don’t think that my uncertainties necessarily come from a desire to see some sort of sign.

Truth be told, I think my fears come because I wonder if I’m worthy. What, exactly, determines if you’ve reached a mustard seed? Could I have wondered in the wilderness for 40 years, following a man who was slow of speech, and not complained? Could I, like my religious forefathers, have built and left multiple homes and cities to follow Brigham Young through uncharted wilderness to live far beyond what currently constituted civilization? If I were the wealthy young man asking Jesus what I should do to more completely be his disciple, could I have answered the call to sell all that I had and leave all that I know to follow Him?

I wish I could say that I know that I would. I can’t. But I certainly hope that, if the trial were to come, my faith would  not be lacking.

 

*I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as Mormons). As such, I believe in the Book of Mormon, in addition to the Bible. As I explore the concept of faith, my own religious beliefs will, naturally, be used and the Book of Mormon will also be quoted.

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Finding Faith

I have mentioned on several occasions before that I work with the twelve to eighteen-year-old girls at my church. I don’t think that I have ever really gone into the role that I play with them. Officially, I am the Personal Progress leader. To anyone who is not LDS (Mormon), that probably doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. Heck, even for some people who are LDS it may not sound familiar.

Our church has a program to help our Young Women work on developing their spirituality and learn to set goals. It is called Personal Progress. It revolves around seven core values: Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, and Integrity. During the six years that the girls are in the Young Women program, they are to complete six smallish goals in each value, then do a ten-hour project for each value. If they complete the entire program, they get a necklace to commemorate their accomplishment. My responsibility is to help these girls stay motivated and complete the program.

When I was in Young Women, the Personal Progress program was somewhat different, but it still existed. My mother was in charge of the entire Young Women organization for our congregation, and she really wanted/expected me to finish my Personal Progress. She pushed. She nagged. At times, she even threatened. She never figured out the fact that I hated doing anything that she had pushed/nagged/threatened me over because I didn’t want to encourage that type of “motivation” by allowing her to see that it worked. Nevertheless, I did finish the Personal Progress program. Kind of. I did all of my goals. I completed all of my projects. I never filled out the final paperwork and got my necklace. I just didn’t feel like I really deserved it since those final projects were done as a result of much, um, encouragement.

Now, as one of the Young Women leaders, I have the opportunity to complete the Personal Progress program (again, and officially). The leaders don’t have to do as much as the girls (we usually don’t stay in the organization for six years, after all). We have to do three of the smaller goals for each value and two ten-hour projects. I have already done one project. I’ve actually talked about it here–my Vietnam blankie project. I’ve decided to make my second project a regular part of this blog.

The actual goal I will be doing is to “Write original stories, poems, or songs, or complete a visual arts project that illustrates your faith in Jesus Christ.” Every Sunday, I plan on working on a written piece about faith. It may be examining a scripture or talk. It may be something else. Ultimately, I would like to put together a multiple-style piece on faith. Something similar to The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje (except religious). I’ve always thought the way that book was compiled is exceptionally cool.

So, there you have it. If you aren’t interested in religious discussions, ignore me on Sundays. Seriously, if you aren’t religious and might be incline to post comments telling me that you think my beliefs are stupid, please just don’t read on Sundays. This is a topic that I really don’t want to argue about. Honest, open, and productive discussions, however, are absolutely welcome.

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Twice as Effective?

OK, so here is my question of the day:

If you drink pepper juice (which burns your ears), then cough so hard that it comes back up (and really burns your nose), are you doubling the effectiveness?

Why won’t this hacking just go away???

On a brighter note, depending on which “due date” you want to go by, I am exactly eight months pregnant today (I’m going with this one because I trust its accuracy more than the initial ultrasound, where they first measured me almost two weeks behind where I was before then putting me three days later than my due date based on LMP). Anyhow, only one more month until eviction day. You hear that, kid? Your days in there are numbered. Consider this your notice.

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My Ears are Burning

No, it’s not because I am so neurotic that I think that you have all been talking about me. Speculating where I have been for the past two weeks. Wondering if maybe, just maybe, I’d had a baby. The answer to that, by the way, is “no.” The baby is still where he belongs, although I must admit that I would love to have this over with. In the past two weeks, two of my friends from church have had their babies and I am jealous. At least I’m next in line.

My absence from the blogging world has actually been due to my absence from most of life for the past two weeks. I have been sick. Not just a little sick. It started with my attempts to hack up a lung. That was two weeks ago. Friday and Saturday was just the hacking, so I was in total denial that I was really sick. After all, I am downing so many immunity boosters to try and beat my Strep B test next week that no germs would dare settle in now, right? Wrong. By Sunday I had no appetite. At my OB appointment that Tuesday, I had lost three pounds since the appointment two weeks before. By last Thursday, I was so completely lacking in energy that Sean’s grandmother came over Thursday and Friday to take care of the kids. I didn’t get off of the couch until this Monday, Tuesday was the first time I got back on my computer, and I didn’t leave the house until Wednesday. I have had coughing fits so horrible that they made me throw up. I have a section on the left side of my stomach that feels like it might rip open when I cough. In short, I have been miserable.

Many years ago, when my mother was quite ill, her bishop told her that she could take a shot of whiskey for her cough. Anyone who knows anything about Mormons knows that we don’t drink alcohol, so it seems like a strange recommendation coming from a church leader–I guess the idea was that it was for medicinal purposes (cough medicine tends to have quite a bit of alcohol in it, anyhow).  Back then, my dad’s company would give him a bottle of Crown Royal every year for Christmas. Some of the bottles were given away, the rest sat in the kitchen cabinet for occasional use as cough syrup (I can hear those of you who do drink groaning at the thought). I could never bring myself to do it, but was told that there was something truly amazing about the effects of whiskey on a cough.

About a year or so ago, I got really sick. So sick that I finally broke down and walked next door to get the bottle of whiskey. Long gone was the Crown Royal bottle. It had been replaced by an old bottle of Wild Turkey that was in my grandfather’s house when he died. I only took one tablespoon of it. It burned like heck going down. But, oh, the relief. Yes, there truly is something magical about whiskey on a cough. The past week or so, I have been tortured by the thought of that Wild Turkey next door, knowing that I would have sought that relief again if not for my pregnancy. Anything, anything to take this hideous hacking away.

Yesterday, after listening to me hack and finding out just how long I had been sick, a chiropractor friend of mine recommended that I try what he takes for a cold–Teton Valley Pepper Juice. Sean picked it up at his office today, and I just took my first dose–two tablespoons mixed in 1/4 cup V8 juice. The feeling going down was much like that spoonful of whiskey. And each sip (which were spread out–you don’t down this stuff in one quick chug) made my ears burn. I figure that has got to be a good sign. Of course, you would expect something made of apple cider vinegar, habanero peppers, garlic, horseradish root, and ginger root to burn the snot out of you (quite literally, thank heavens). We’ll see how it does over the next few days, but at least I have hope.

 

On another topic…It is interesting to realize just how much blogging has become a part of my life. For instance, I have spoken to no one in my extended family today. But I found out the status of my sister’s adoption, the fact that my parents are apparently so confident that I won’t go into labor before my due date that they are going on vacation in another state until 3 days before I am due, the fact that my divorced brother apparently has some honey in Vegas that is coming to visit in a few weeks, and that my younger brother will be moving back to our state this summer after years of living out West. It all came from my mom’s blog. Yes, the mom who lives next door to me. For four years now, I have teased her about the fact that I have to come up with some reason to bribe her to walk across the yard to my house. Now, I am reduced to getting my family updates over the internet. Of course, pre-blogging, she just would have forgotten to tell me any of it, so I guess this is actually a step in the right direction. 😉

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Mother Nature is Such a Tease

I’m confused–isn’t it January? The past two days here have seen me wearing short sleeves. Both days we have gotten into the mid- to high-60’s. Even with today’s rain, I have been in heaven. I’ve had windows open with fresh air blowing through. The doggy door has been serving its full function. Life has been good. Too bad tomorrow is only supposed to be in the forties (which, by the way, is still well above average for this time of year in my little corner of the world).

I Have Hobbies!

OK, I know this is probably pretty pathetic, but it just hit me this evening that I have actual, certifiable hobbies. See, every Wednesday morning, I get up at a horrible hour and go to a business networking meeting. Each week, one person in our group does a ten minute presentation on his or her business. When it is your turn, you fill out a little bio sheet to introduce you to the group. One of the sections on the sheet is “hobbies.” I have always felt like a loser when I got to that part, and would just joke about the fact that, with three small kids and a business, I just don’t have time for hobbies. I honestly couldn’t think of any.

Tonight, it occurred to me that that has changed. First, obviously, is this blog. Yep, I would put my musings into the category of a hobby (I’m certainly not self-centered enough to think that I could claim anything loftier than that).

My other hobby, though, has become sewing. It is really kind of funny. I mean, my mom taught me the basics of sewing when I was a kid. I can remember being in a 4H group for sewing when I was about eight or so. Since then, though, I have never considered myself to be someone who knows how to sew. Then I started the blankie project for the orphanage in Vietnam. And I realized something–I know how to sew! My parents got me my own sewing machine as a Christmas present, but I know it has my mom scratching her head. All of the sudden, I am addicted to the fabric store (much to my sons’ dismay). I peruse patterns. I look at things and think, “I could make that.” Tonight, I bought some great pre-quilted fabric that I plan to turn into a messenger-style diaper bag ( a la Vera Bradley). Assuming I can figure the pattern instructions out–it claims to have an A and B style, but only one set of directions and nothing to explain the difference between the two styles. Even my mom, who has sewed for many years, is confused.

There is something almost cathartic about making things.

More About the Pea Brain

No, I promise that talking about my dog is not going to become another one of my hobbies. But one more story couldn’t hurt.

Tonight, Sean took the boys to go hit up the closest Red Box. (What, you haven’t heard of Red Box? It is new in our area, but oh, so cool. It’s like a DVD vending machine that rents new releases for a dollar a day–and you can return them at ANY Red Box. Most of the  McDonald’s around here have them. Way freakin’ cool.) He let Thunder ride in the car with them. The first Red Box they went to was out of order. They drove to another, then came home. As Sean was unloading the boys from the car, he came to me in a bit of a panic. Thunder was missing. All he could figure was that he somehow jumped out of the car at one of the two Red Box stops. I told him that he had to go back to both and see if he could find the dog (feeling no small amount of panic myself at this point). As Sean hurried to unload the kids, we heard a dog tag jingle–significant, since only one of our dogs was currently wearing a collar with a tag (they usually just have their invisible fence collars on). Yep, it was Thunder. He was practically under the car seat.

You would think he would have learned his lesson after the night he spent locked in the car a couple of months back. You would think that we would learn our lesson and never let him out of the house.

He, of course, was unfazed by his temporary disappearance. By bedtime, he was happily tormenting W~ with an attempted forced snuggle.

The Germs Are Getting To Me

And I’m not even sick. Each of my kids has been going through some weird cold. But it starts out with a fever and a TON of whining. I know that sounds incredibly unsympathetic, but today started the third round of whining. W~ had it first, then N~ came down with it last Friday. C~ started to come down with it while I was trying to make dinner. I have just never seen an illness where sensitivity and moodiness were such consistent and major symptoms. It’s a bit rough (for them and me). I’m just hoping that the Tylenol works and we can all get some rest tonight.

After all, tomorrow is another day (and I’m going to have to deal with it).

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