Friday, February 26, 2010

The One With All the Mysteries

I have had some conversations lately about religion. There is a phrase that I find so interesting. It is this: “That is just a mystery. We can never know the answer.” There are mysteries. I get that. My life is, in fact full of mysteries. Things I really don’t understand.

For instance, chicken and waffles. Together on the same plate. Sorry, Roscoe. Or why I have an appendix. I mean, it is actually called an appendix. An add-on. By definition, an extra part. I won’t even touch the whole “socks in the laundry” phenomenon. I gave up on that one years ago. I have compensated for the mysterious loss of socks by a) never wearing or owning any of my own, and b) dumping everyone else’s socks, the ones that survive the Roulette wheel we call a dryer, into a basket where they have to rummage when they want a pair. This is admittedly not a very “good mom” kind of solution, but, oh well, there you have it. Anyway, point is, there are mysteries in my life.

But when it comes to God, and the doctrines of truth, I think that God wants us to understand his plan for us. There is a scripture I really like in the Book of Mormon that says “… and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.” That is found in the book of Alma, Chapter 12. If you get a minute, read verses 9-11. Yes, there are mysteries in the scriptures. And no, I don’t understand them all. For instance, even though I understand the basics of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can’t fully comprehend it from a mortal standpoint. But the more I study and pray, the more I understand.

An awesome recently returned missionary told me something very profound. He said that partway through his mission, he came to realize that his first responsibility was to testify of Jesus Christ, and of His infinite atonement, and next to testify of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is that simple. Sometimes when people are studying the principles of the LDS church, they are called “investigators.” I have always thought that was an odd choice of words. But, I suppose... what else do you call someone who is trying to solve mysteries? They may be asking: Why am I here? What am I supposed to do now? What is my relationship to God? Where am I going after this? Those are not mysteries to me. Why? Because I am not just an Investigator anymore; I am also a Believer. I have seen that transformation happen to others as well. It happens when a person allows the spirit to teach, rather than just deciding that it is a mystery, that we will never understand. I don’t think Heavenly Father wants us to just give up and call it all a mystery. He wants us to be believers.

I saw a sweet little video clip today about what happens when you embrace being a believer in your everyday life. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The One With the Little Skateboarding Accident

So, Sunday I tripped in high heels and a dress and ate the sidewalk while walking out of church had a little skateboarding accident. Naturally, the first thing I did was look around really quick to make sure no one saw me shook it off and got back on my skateboard. I drove home and found that my first aid kit had been completely raided of anything even vaguely useful got patched up.

An hour later I decided to make bread. I managed to drop one of my steel bread pans on my big toe, which immediately started to turn purple. I yelled out loud, threw things and burst into tears bore this further insult to my body with good humor and then spent a nice afternoon on the couch with Skippy crying my eyes out.

Thank goodness I’m so chill.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The One Where She Was a Fan

There seems to be a surge in popularity on Facebook of “fanning” things. No, not like when you are lying on the beach with a native fanning you with palm fronds. Nothing like that at all. No, it is like this: Joe Lemming became a fan of “drying off after a shower.” Or maybe Christi Follower became a fan of “getting to the middle of a Tootsie Roll Pop.”

If you are not on Facebook, you think that I am exaggerating the prolificity of the fan clubs that are available to join. Here is a list of just a few. I found them just looking at my incoming news feed… these are things my friends have “fanned” in the last few hours.

i finally stop laughing... look back over at you and start all over again
if you should be doing homework now, become a fan
cuddling is not a crime
Bad day? There’s a Taylor Swift song for that.
Don’t ever break a pinky promise.
Texting on dates
Adddddinnnng exxxxxtra letterssssss to worrrrrddddsssss!!!!!!
Real Housewives of Orange County
Picking your nose
Laughing so hard it works out your abs

I am a fan. Of a lot of things. I just want to come up with them myself. I don’t need the companionship of others in my fan-ship to tell me that I am on the right track. Here are a few that I am a fan of (and apologies about twelve times for ending my sentence with a preposition):

I am a fan of going back to sleep for two hours after I drive to 5:30 seminary.
I am a fan of apple crisp for breakfast. With ice cream, if I am so inclined.
I am a fan of unsolicited neck rubs.
I am a fan of Thomas S. Monson.
I am a fan of really sexy high heels, makeup that I have to pay through the nose for at the Lancome counter, J. Crew t-shirts, expensive hair appointments, and that cheap body spray they sell at Victoria’s Secret.
I am a fan of spelling things correctly. And using proper grammar (incomplete sentences don’t really bother me ☺). I am a fan of not caring so much when other people misspell.
I am a fan of letters in the mail, and I am also a fan of text messaging.
I am a fan of sports movies that make you cry when they win in the end.
I am a fan of being alone in my own house.
I am a fan of rain.
I am a fan of my family.
I am a fan of pickup trucks. Especially the kind that are already a little beat up so that you can throw things in them and not worry too much about it.
I am a fan of Shannon Hale’s books. I wish there was one she wrote that I somehow didn’t hear about, so that I could discover it today, and say “Oh my gosh! I never read that one!” and then I would read it. Maybe with a fire in the fireplace, and rain outside.
I am a fan of friends.
I am a fan of someone else doing the dishes.

Some of the things I mentioned are Facebook fan clubs. Who knows? Maybe I should even join a few. In fact, you can be a fan of Jesus Christ on Facebook. Just to be clear, I am a fan of Jesus Christ. I just find that I don’t want to be one on Facebook. I think it worries me that last time I checked, he has less fans than Twix bars. That’s just not right.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The One Where She Got Caught. Twice.

Today, I answer the all-important question: Is there really any bad time to eat a root beer float? I won’t sport with you here: YES. The answer is yes.

This morning I discussed healthy eating with Cambria, and then we worked out what her exercise for the morning would be. I let her eat a healthy, low-fat breakfast of cereal and milk, and then she went to get her walking shoes on. That was when it happened.

I spotted the root beer from across the room. I knew there was ice cream in the freezer. I have been trying not to eat a lot of sugar, and on the top of the no-no list is soda. I love soda. I love the fizz… I love Sprite with Mexican food. I love root beer with pizza. Dr. Pepper any old time. Love love love. But I don’t buy much soda, and I try to limit myself to an occasional sugar-free one as a treat. Be that as it may… there was that A and W... winking at me, I swear it.

In theory, I don’t have a big problem with root beer floats for breakfast. It’s dairy, right? I thought to myself, I will just wait until Cambria leaves before I have a root beer float for breakfast. I mean, how bad of a mom gives her daughter the health lecture and then eats a root beer float in front of her. All I have to do is wait ten minutes. But no. I couldn’t wait a whole ten minutes. I thought, I will just make it really quick while she gets on her shoes. She will head out the front door and won’t even see me. So just as I was taking the first bite, Cambria walked in to fill her water bottle. Oops. Caught!

As nonchalantly as I could manage, I walked into the backyard to sit in the sun and eat my float. Don’t judge me. And that could have been the end of the story. But no. I finished eating that root beer float, and I thought to myself, there was just enough root beer and ice cream left for another. Cam was nearly five minutes’ gone. So just as I was pouring and slurping foam on root beer float number two, Cambria popped back in to grab the ipod shuffle. Caught. Again!

I know what you’re wondering… what am I planning for lunch, right? A whole cheesecake? A batch of cookie dough? I’m open to suggestions.

The One Where He Raced Against Death

When I read a hardcover book, the first thing I do is whip the dust jacket off and stow it somewhere safe. I would guess that at least half the time I never manage to reunite the book with its cover… but it is always my intention. I finished a book last night. It was the twelfth in a series of books that each spanned about 800 pages.

Back in 2005, Robert Jordan (which is a pen name for James Oliver Rigney, Jr.) announced that this twelfth book would at last end the series. He had slowed down to a book about every two years, and long about the beginning of 2007, I began to search the internet for news about this eagerly awaited (certainly by me) novel. I found a website called “Dragonmount” which was apparently Jordan’s official website, and also a blog of sorts for him. It was then and there that I read the distressing news: Robert Jordan had been diagnosed with the fatal heart disease cardiac amyloidosis. He had begun a race against the disease to finish this last book, A Memory of Light.

I began visiting that site frequently, as I was saddened by this news, but also fascinated by the idea that he was so determined to finish this work. The disease unfortunately progressed quickly, and rather than working to complete the novel, Jordan began to feverishly prepare for the eventuality that another novelist would complete the novel for him. He said, “I’m getting out notes, so if the worst actually happens, someone could finish a Memory of Light and have it end the way I want it to end.” On September 16th of 2007, Jordan lost that race, and the conclusion of his life’s work was up in the air.

In December of 2007, Tor Books announced that Brandon Sanderson, a fantasy author and Brigham Young University professor, was to finish A Memory of Light. He was chosen by Jordan’s widow in part because she liked his fantasy novels, and in part because of a eulogy Sanderson had written for Jordan.

So… back to last night. I got to about 100 pages from the end, and I realized something. This book is not wrapping up to a conclusion. Since the entire series pointed to a “last battle,” the final showdown, so to speak, I had to imagine that by page 700 of the last book, we would be getting to said showdown. But no… not even close. At midnight last night I finished, and… the story definitely did not. I retrieved the dust jacket to find some sort of explanation. Here is how observant I was: first of all, the title of the book is “The Gathering Storm,” not A Memory of Light. Secondly, right on the dust jacket, it says, “First book of A Memory of Light.” Like I said, I had that dust jacket off pretty fast. I went back to Dragonmount and found that in 2009, Tor Books announced that A Memory of Light would be split into three volumes. Haha! Silly me.

I am totally down with that, since I was not really ready for it to be over, and also because Sanderson did a bang-up job of honoring the memory of Robert Jordan with a seamless transition in this book. I don’t do many book reviews here, but if you are an utterly hopeless sci-fi fantasy geek like me, and prefer books that are not sexually explicit (too many of them are, I am afraid), and you don’t mind an 800-page read, this is a great series. I love the characters, and the amazing premise Jordan created. If you decide to attempt it, you will want to start with “Eye of the World.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The One Where She Faced the Dragon

I am at war. With my 12-year-old daughter. I tell her what to do. She agrees (often angrily, tearily or both), and then does what she wants instead. Maybe my boys were this hard to motivate, but I knew that for somewhere between 20 and 40 hours a week, they were going to be at school, where inspiration would be the job of the best teachers my tax money can buy. That didn’t always work out so well, either. But with homeschooling, it is my job 24/7. And about half the time, I am failing.

My own mom is a lot better at this. When she comes down for a visit, or when Cambria goes there, they turn out piles and piles of art and math and writing and social studies... but I seem to lack the Girl Mom gene. When I suggest such industry, I just get that look that says, “As if.”

Her education is not necessarily suffering... her standardized test scores remain very high. She is very talented and clever and witty. But she is happy to make me crazy for hours over one small writing assignment. I also don’t understand the tears. Clearly, I am making her cry. That I understand. But all I asked her to do is finish a science page.

Perhaps the key is to include an art assignment on each page. The dragon illustration was part of her English assignment... maybe I just need to figure out how to get her to illustrate her math?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The One With the Burning Love

You know I love Valentine’s Day. I am practical, yes. Logical... more than most. But I love romance. And surprises. And sugar cookies with frosting. And the list goes on. So here is the short version of my weekend.

Friday: I made DK a pretty good dinner. New York steaks, roasted asparagus, and melt-in-your-mouth Mushroom Risotto. Muy bueno. He loved it so much that he broke out my Valentine early. It was a big pink-wrapped box of Belgian chocolates. I ripped off the paper, lifted the lid, and removed the padded paper from the top... and found that someone had tampered with the package. Two thirds of the candy had been unceremoniously dumped, and replaced with... a brand-new cellphone! It was pretty cool. Pull-out keyboard, touch screen. I was excited. I have been without a cellphone for six weeks now. He asked me: Do you like it? Of course I like it! Oh... then you probably don’t care about this (pulling another little box from his bag of tricks):

Yes, an iPhone. He said I could choose between the two phones. Man, I hate when he does that. How can I not choose the iPhone, for goodness sake? It doesn’t have a phone number yet, because AT&T did not hear that it was Valentine’s Day, and that they should make my day by letting us add a line... no... they do not share my love of romance. But we are going to figure that out this week.

Saturday: Drove down to pick up Ethan from the Marine base for his three-day weekend. 72 degrees. Ocean views. Not a bad way to spend the morning.

Sunday: Making BBQ brisket, macaroni and cheese, homemade rolls... for Valentine’s Day, yes. But for this guy:

Home from his mission, and here to visit, and I can’t wait to see him. In fact, I am not the only one. Skippy has asked me fifteen times in the last hour... is he almost here? Yes, he is almost here. Oh. And I am making those aforementioned sugar cookies. Which may be my favorite treat. In. The. World. Ever. The End.

Happy Valentine’s Day... love love love love love love...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The One That Explains Quite a Bit

Heard around the house:

Dillon: So, Mom, this whole dating thing pretty much sucks, right?

Cambria: I’ve finished my school work for the day. I’m just going to kill Nazi Zombies for a while.

Ethan: Mom, who do you think is the smartest in our family? And don’t tell me I’m in the top five or six. I hate that.

Tyler: Mom, can I have a machete for my birthday?

Dillon: If you felt like making some white bread once in awhile, I could totally get behind that.

Josh: Mom, please never put Jessi in charge of us again! Me: Josh, she is your wife, and besides, she got you and your brothers to clean the whole downstairs. Josh: I know. It was awful. Dillon: Yes, Mom, she was super mean. And besides, it’s not even fair... Casey ditched out after half an hour. Casey: Yeah, Jessi told me to get back to work, but I asked Josh if I could go, and he said yes. Jessi: Now we know which one is going to be the nice parent.

Skippy: Mama, is there homemade bread? Me: I just put loaves into the oven for Dillon. They’ll be ready in a half hour. Skippy: No! That’s white bread. I mean homemade bread.

Casey: Mom, you don’t let Skip watch Dora, the Explorer, do you? I mean, you know she is totally an illegal immigrant, right?

Ethan: Guess what, Mom... I got Dillon an iPhone! Me: What? What about me? You know I have been wanting an iPhone for forever. Ethan: Mom, it wouldn’t do you any good. You don’t even have a phone number. And besides, you know Dillon has always been my favorite. Me: Thanks.

Skippy: What is our dinner going to be? Me: I was thinking Mommy’s super-duper homemade hamburgers and chips and soda. Skippy: How come we never have shrimp?

Tyler: Mom, can I have a chainsaw for my birthday?

Dillon: Have you ever noticed that Cambria has a really evil laugh? Me: Dillon, that’s not very nice. Cambria: {evil laugh}

Jessi: I think Josh is cheating on me with Apple Computer.

Dillon: Mom, can you take me? Dad likes to conserve gas.

Kevin: Hey, do you think you could take a few pictures of my rear end for the insurance company?

Casey: Mom, how come Cambria is always so mean? Me: You mean, mean in a nice sort of way? Casey: No, I mean, mean in a mean sort of way.

Skippy (the day he was the spotlight child in primary hour at church): How come you told them my favorite places to eat are Subway and Flame Broiler? Me: Because you like to go to those places...? Skippy (with angry tears): Round Table! Geez.

Cambria and Skippy: Mom, we are making you a Wii “Me.” It is going to look just like you. There’s one that has wrinkles. Do you want us to use that one?

Tyler: Can I have a blowtorch for my birthday? Me: Fine.

Casey: Can I bring a couple of friends over, and we have taco night? Me: Sure. How many is a couple? Casey: No more than fifteen.

Ethan: Mom, I was on your Facebook profile, and my Master Sergeant saw your picture. He said, “Who is that?” I said, “That’s my mom, Master Sergeant.” {insert favorite Marine expletive here.} He wanted to know if you were single. I told him you were married, so he said, “Happily married?” What do you want me to tell him?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The One With the Ultimate Makeover

February is my second-favorite month. I love that it only has 28 days, except when that oddity known as Leap Year makes it an uneven 29. I love days off school courtesy of long-dead presidents. I thoroughly {heart} Valentine's Day... love and candy and frosted sugar cookies, all inextricably entwined... more on that later...

AND I adore Groundhog Day. Why? Because of Bill Murray, Andie McDowell, and, yes, Punxsatawny Phil. On February 2nd, somewhere in Pennsylvania they pulled a rodent out of a cage to predict the weather... whilst I was wrapped up in a blanket watching Groundhog Day. We quote lines from that movie all the time... It has become a family tradition of sorts. But what I love most about the movie is Phil Connors’ (yes, he shares a name with the groundhog) transformation at the end of the movie. I love a good makeover, and this one is ultimately more satisfying than the physical kind.

Finding that he, alone, is repeating the same day over and over, he goes through various stages of coping, including taking advantage of the lack of consequences, repeated suicide attempts, and using his knowledge of the other characters (and that there is no tomorrow) to indulge his worldly appetites. But eventually he chooses to be good. But not just good... He develops new talents and begins to spend his days performing acts of service. He learns how to be unselfish. He makes friends of everyone in the town. It is when he realizes he can actually be happy even while repeating the same day over and over, that he is finally able to move on to tomorrow.

So much of real life is the same day over and over. We go to school or work, or care for our families. I think I just like knowing that I can have a transformation if I want it, too. Learn something new... step out of my comfort zone and make a CD. Practice and make perfect. Read something great. Be a cool friend. Change my whole heart. Every day is a new opportunity to choose how to spend my extra time... and yesterday is not so important. I love that. February is pretty much amazing. It is 10:46 a.m. and I am still in my pajamas. What is wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The One Where She Caught a Break

I caught a little break this week. I have been trying to stay on top of things, and for someone who is practically a shut-in, I always seem to have a lot of little things to do. Preparing lessons and planning activities for girls at my church, baking twelve loaves of bread so far this week… those are just the usual. But I have had something more important weighing on my mind. Maybe I should say someone more important. Tandy.

If you followed my Christmas music blog, or listened to any of the music, or bought a CD, then you know who Tandy is. She is one of my favorite singers. I know that I am supposed to make another CD this year, and I have been determined not to wait until I only have two months left before I start. I also know that I would really like for Tandy to sing two or three songs on that CD. The only thing is, Tandy is leaving. She is going to be serving a mission for our church in Kobe, Japan, and she leaves in three weeks!

I already have one song I want her to sing, but I wanted to write and record two original songs in addition to that one. So this week I set a goal that I would get one of the songs written. There is a really nice lady named Zoe who is planning to be baptized on Saturday, and she asked Tandy to sing at her baptism. Since I actually work better with a purpose and a deadline, I decided Monday that I would write a song that Tandy could sing on Saturday for the baptism. I was barely hyperventilating about that at all.

So yesterday I made myself sit down at the keyboard and start playing. I kept playing a certain melody that sounded familiar, but couldn’t quite place it. Then it came to me: I already have a song! The melody was from a song I wrote in the summer. I tried to record it, but it wasn’t working. Something wasn’t right about the words, the melody, the accompaniment, or all three. I just don’t know. It was very discouraging at the time. I felt like I had felt so inspired to write those words, and yet they didn’t work. It made me question what I was doing, and I threw the whole thing… not into the trash, but into my deepest drawer, and covered it with papers.

So yesterday I dug it out, dusted it off, and played through it with Tandy. And guess what! We are doing it for the baptism… and then recording it next week. I feel like I just got a little boost that I wasn’t expecting. The Spirit is like that sometimes, when you least expect it, and sometimes don’t even deserve it. Now I can’t wait for Saturday! If you want to hear the premiere of the song, you can come to the baptism:).

I haven’t decided whether I will post music that is going to be on my next CD. What do you think? Do you listen to it? You can tell me the truth. Meanwhile, I thought I would put up a hymn for you, in case you do. I admit, I hate it when we sing this when a missionary leaves. It makes everyone cry. I think I begged them not to do it when my boys left on their missions. But I still love the hymn… Mind you, this is very rough, so ignore mistakes!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The One With the Five-Minute Poster

Bad mom moment, averted. At least for today. This morning I woke Skippy up for school. There was no school yesterday, and he was tired from all that rest. By the time I dragged him kicking and screaming coaxed him out of his warm blankets, he only had about five minutes to get ready. That was when it suddenly occurred to me: Skippy is Star of the Week. {insert curse words here} Do I seriously have to make another Star of the Week poster? I have been making them for lo, these twenty years.

Miracle #1. I found a piece of poster board that was not too wrinkled.

Miracle #2. My color printer does a pretty decent job, so I was digging through digital albums on my computer, not through shoe boxes in my laundry room shelves.

Miracle #3. iPhoto prints in standard photo sizes... 3x5, 4x6, 5x7, 8x10... and it will even add a nice-looking mat or double mat around the photo.

Miracle #4. Wood glue will glue paper to poster board.

Miracle #5. Skipster was only ten minutes late to school.

Now, I just have to make sure to send in a picture of his favorite food tomorrow. He insists that his favorite food is cotton candy. Yes, out of all the food I make, his favorite is cotton candy. I don’t think that qualifies as a food, and I am not even positive he has ever even tasted cotton candy before, so I’m not sure where that came from. But, well... okay.

P.S. Why do I never get to be Star of the Week? (okay... repenting, here... on New Year’s Eve, we celebrated Victoria Day, wherein DK made me Star of the Day and we did everything I wanted to do. But I could still come up with a pretty good list of the privileges that come with Star of the Week, Victoria-style... haha!)