Friday, March 23, 2012


First I have to mention one new development for me:
     I successfully completed my application to a creative writing graduate school program. I'm of the belief that every bad situation has good come out of it. This is manifest everywhere. The plants of spring will inevitably push through the harsh edge of winter and then eventually take over. That's how good is. Even when bad seems to have won, good will always make a comeback. Anyway, the whole reason I am getting to go back to school now is because my Dad died a few years ago. His death from what began as pulmonary cancer was ruled agent orange related because he served in Vietnam. Thus it was considered a war-related death which entitles his family to certain Veteran's benefits. For me that is an educational allowance even though when he died, I was married and no longer a dependent. This allowance will pay for my schooling which is fantastic because I certainly wasn't going to justify taking out more student loans to go back to school. So now I get to write and write and write some more and get better, which is important to me and gives me something to work toward aside from trying to be super-mom.

So music.
     Beya has taken an interest in music. She's always liked it, of course, from a primary songs sing-along kind of way, but recently she has been asking me for my phone to listen to music. I watch her curiously, trying not to make her feel self-conscious about it because I'm interested in her honest taste. I've discovered that she really likes rich voices with very little "busy" background instruments. Her favorite song is "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri. I actually only have that one Christina Perri song on my phone because I think that's the only good song she's put out. Beya knows almost all the words to it which I know because occasionally she'll sing along with it. It's a little weird to hear my 4-year old singing "You're gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul. Don't come back for me. Don't come back at all!" and "I wish I had missed the first time that we kissed," but I suppose it could be worse. The other things she'll listen to are Owl City's Fireflies, One Republic, and Vitamin String Quartet. Occasionally she'll listen to my latest favorite group "The Civil Wars." I'm pretty thrilled about the Vitamin String Quartet because you have to really like the violin to listen to them with any appreciation and I think the violin and cello are the most amazing instrumental inventions ever. Aside from desperately wanting to learn how to play myself, I really want at least one of my kids to learn. Appreciating the music is the first step in the right direction for that.
     I got really sick of hearing Jar of Hearts over and over so this morning I took her on iTunes with me and had her pick out some new music. I made a couple suggestions based on what I new she liked and we found a few Adele songs and another by Birdy that she really liked. Anyway, I'm liking this new music hobby of hers. I can really get behind it. And hopefully soon (although not too soon) she'll be asking to learn how to play an instrument.

     Now I am sure I am not the only person in a marriage in which the spouses like completely different music but I don't think you could get music tastes that differ much more than Brad's and mine. I think Brad has a fickle taste in music. I think it's awful really. Occasionally we'll both like the same song but most of the time, his music choices leave much to be desired. He likes rap. I think it's mostly soulless garbage. He likes pop. I think it's "ear candy".... good one day, totally forgotten the next. He likes country. I used to. Not so much anymore. Country seems to be the more muted equivalent to rap. I mean, have you heard what country songs are singing about these days? Beer. Women. Beer. Soulless. Just like rap.
Brad has a word for my music tastes though. Weird. He says I like weird music. I think that's accurate. I do tend to look for weird stuff off the beaten path. I use "genius recommendations" a lot on iTunes because it helps me find music I haven't heard before. My library is full of singles because I'll find only one or two songs from an artist I'll like and then I'll continue the search for something different. Occasionally I'll settle on one artist for a bit, like Mumford & Sons or more recently The Civil Wars. I'm also a long time fan of Coldplay but I have to admit their last album was pretty much trash. Anyway, I'm hoping Beya will have similar more thoughtful music tastes so there can be one more member of the family on my side to pick good music. I don't think I can stand to listen to yet another Backstreet Boys album without putting earplugs in. I really need another connoisseur of weird music in my home to even up the score.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Hate Western Medicine.

I hate western medicine, don't you? 
Hehehehe! Probably not but I do. And I hate the impersonality of the whole thing. And I hate the guilt tripping that doctors like to do. And I hate getting harassed about why my child isn't vaccinated yet. And I hate lugging multiple children to a doctor's office. I hate not being able to put my baby down at nap time in her own crib because I've been waiting at the doctor's office for 3 hours. Yes. THREE hours.
You know how you go into an urgent care and you really have no idea how long it will be before you are seen? About 30-45 minutes in, you're re-thinking the necessity of having gone at all but you've already invested the time! You can't turn back now! You have to stick it out because you have to make all that time MEAN something.
Well that was my morning. My ENTIRE morning. Because Iyov had a mad case of pink eye, which I have mixed feelings about treating. I have mixed feelings about treating ANYTHING really, especially mild infections like pink eye.  And then, by the time I get seen, THREE HOURS AFTER ARRIVING, the very LAST thing I want to talk about are the risks of not following the recommended vaccination schedule. I still feel on the fence about having gone because I swear his eyes were starting to look better before he ever got any antibiotics. But Brad probably would have harassed me about it until it cleared up.
Ugh! Social pressure sucks!
Along with the phrase "LOL" and being told I should vaccinate my 2.5 year old, I also get annoyed at people who overuse the doctor. As if healthcare prices weren't high enough, (and believe me, if you have never had to pay for your own private insurance, you have NO idea how expensive it is) you have people charging 200$ visits to their insurance companies like it's no big deal. Somebody pays for that, ya know. Aside from the monetary issues, there's just the simple fact that people are so heavily dependent on healthcare and they are OK with the fact that they know nothing about how their own body works because "Oh my doctor will tell me when something is wrong." It's just plain annoyingly ignorant.
And why do doctors ALWAYS have to treat you like you don't know anything? They're always all patronizing and sometimes even brisk and snide. Why do doctors think that just because they have a medical degree, they know EVERYTHING there is to know about health? They're so arrogant. I honestly think that sometimes they are worse than lawyers. They must learn some special language designed to convince you that you know NOTHING and they know EVERYTHING. It just really pisses me off!
*Breathe* OK, so I can't speak for every doctor, just the multitude of OB/GYNs, Pediatricians, and family practice doctors I have encountered.
Anyway, I say all this because I really want to avoid this type of situation in the future. I really would like to avoid the doctor unless something catastrophic has happened. The problem is that I don't have a naturopath (nor do I know any around here) and I am not knowledgeable enough to treat things that might need treating. I generally know when something is serious enough to need medical attention, but if I knew what to do to keep things from ever escalating that far, I would be a much happier person. I really get my panties in a wad about anything western medicine related and going to the doctor is sure to raise my blood pressure every time.  I don't think the stress is good for my health. So I'm going to start looking for some kind of way to educate myself... a book probably, so I can start being a more active participant in helping the immune systems of the members of my family. I'm up for suggestions for books you like or have used to be able to treat things yourself... if any of you readers actually do that. Otherwise, I'll be cruising amazon to find highly rated books about this stuff.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Are you REALLY laughing out loud?

Some of you may consider this a truly silly pet-peeve but I simply HAVE to mention it because it bugs me on pretty much a daily basis. If I didn't have to be exposed to it practically daily, I probably wouldn't even mention it.
First, a back story. :-)
When I was a young teen, we were sitting at the dinner table and either my older sister or I was talking about something (no idea what) and my dad stopped us in the middle of it and said, "Is it possible for you to tell a story without saying the word 'like' even once?"
I guess we took it as a challenge and commenced trying to talk without saying the word 'like'.
We were unsuccessful. Horribly unsuccessful. I remember struggling to get through even one sentence without the word. 'Like' had become some new part of speech which one was required to use in order to speak the English language.
But I think it cracked my dad up. I remember feeling a little ridiculous that I was so dependent on one word. It was very much a teen thing to use the word 'like' so prevalently and I despised being a 'typical teen'... which I was, make no mistake. But teens never like to be told they are typical teens.
Anyway, I consider the word 'like' in my teen years to be equivalent in overuse as the phrase 'LOL'.
EVERY time I see 'LOL' or 'Lol' or 'lol' I just want to take a black permanent marker and mark through it on my screen. I actually did that with a book once, "The Catcher in the Rye", because every page had at least 15 occurrences of the word "G-damn" (insert intended vowel and consonant).
I'd like to say something rude every time I see a rendition of 'lol', like "OK are you really laughing out loud or could you not think of anything else to say to express that you found it humorous?"
Then there's the times people just put 'lol', not even capitalized. What does that mean? It was mildly humorous? Well then you couldn't have possibly have been laughing out loud. Liar.
I get all bent out of shape if I have to see it too many times in one day. Once is enough. But as I cruise through facebook, or a text message, I mentally cringe over and over and Over and OVER.
'Lol' seems to have become it's own word. It no longer actually represents 'laughing out loud' to people. It just means "hey that was funny" even if there was no laughter involved.
So while you're grinding you're teeth right now because I'm being utterly absurd, in the memory of my dearly departed father, I'd like to present you with a challenge. Do you think you can refrain from using any form of 'lol' for a month or so? Can you try to be more creative and descriptive with your language? Can you challenge your teenage kids to do it too? Pretty please?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

TV-Holics Anonymous

Hello. My name is Rachel and I'm addicted to Television.
     Not my kids. Me. I don't like to watch it much personally. But I like to let my kids watch it. Far too much. I'm addicted to the peace and quiet it brings. I'm addicted to the moments I can sit and not have someone bug me for something. I'm addicted to having an in-home babysitter. I have tried to stick with a moderation approach and have not been able to. Past experience has taught me that I am much better at the cold-turkey approach over moderation. I tried, back when we first moved here, to convince Brad that we should just not have our satellite TV transferred. He didn't agree. He won. I lost. And in fact I thought Brad was going to go stir-crazy without being able to watch Gold Rush every week as we waited for the satellite TV tech to get to us. But I don't blame him. He works hard and likes a little relaxation with me at the end of the day. It's nice background noise when we are doing our various tasks at the end of the day. But I MUST stop letting my kids watch so much because I am sick of feeling guilty about it.
     So I've been trying to figure out a solution. A while back I decided to cut back Novan's computer game time to only Wednesdays and the weekend. That has worked really well. But I would honestly like no TV at all rather than moderating it. At least at first. So I declare a no-TV month for my children. I think I'll just unplug the receiver. Except for General Conference, then we'll plug it back in.
     In the meantime, I've got to figure out a solution I can stick to. I am open for suggestions. I like simplicity, not charts and timers. I can do routines well-enough. Just tell me what has worked for you that has been lasting. I'll be asking myself if I really need them to watch it ever during the course of the month so I can assess whether I really want it. It really would be easier if we didn't have it at all but we have it, and it's apparently not going away any time soon. Maybe I should move the TV out of the living room? But I'm not opposed to occasional TV or movie nights. I don't really want all of us piling in my room every time I allow them to watch it. I need an easily communicated plan. When I tried to limit Novan's computer time at first, he would get bent out of shape because there was no quantifiable rule in place. "You've had enough" is not an appropriate answer to Novan. So I need something simple that my kids can understand and follow.
And I need some accountability here because I really want to make a change. So ask me how it's going if you get the chance.

Monday, March 12, 2012

"He went and preached unto the spirits in prison"

There are just so many things I love about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have had so much trouble deciding what topic I should kick off my dedicatory year.
But the beginning, I keep thinking. The topic that made me look twice and awoke my malnourished soul is what I should talk about. I take it for granted now because it is so ingrained in me and everything I do and how I view the world around me.
So there was this day, shortly after becoming friends with Brad where we were in my dorm room. I don't recall what we were talking about... religion maybe. But anyway he said "I'm a Mormon" off-hand like he might have been telling me he was going to see a movie. Given the type of person I am/was, I probably acted like I knew what he was talking about but inside I could only associate the word "Mormon" with "Weird" because that's pretty much all I knew about it. I pictured bonnets and petticoats in my head because maybe I was mixing up Mennonite with Mormon, what with them both starting with the letter M. I'm surprised (given my experience since then) that I really had never had ANY interaction with anyone I knew to be Mormon, had never heard anything about Mormons (good or bad) but yet I had heard of the word. I was immediately curious for Brad had declared that he was one. That's a whole other story but it was shortly after this that he explained to me just what it meant to be a Mormon, ie, his core beliefs. He started with the Joseph Smith story, the pre-earth life, and war in heaven. Really, in true missionary style. Weird, weird, and weirder. Just weird. I mean, what is wrong with you Mormons? That's what I was thinking anyway. Pre-earth life? What have you been smoking? It was probably the strangest religious doctrine I had ever heard of.
Then there was the "aha" moment. When Brad explained baptisms for the dead and the spirit prison and preaching to the spirits in prison. Nothing had ever made more sense to me. In the years prior to this, I remember wondering what happened to people who were born before Christ came. I wondered what happened to the billions of people who never had a chance to learn about the doctrine Christ. What about the good people who never knew Him? It wasn't fair in my mind. It didn't make sense. Therefore, God never really made sense to me.
So when I heard that Mormons believed that those who have not a knowledge of Christ are preached to in the spirit prison after this life, that they got a second chance, it blew me the heck away. It was like God finally made sense. He was finally the benevolent being I had always known He had to be. And that, my friends, is what made me want to know more. It was the spark that ignited the inferno that now lights my soul. The domino effect, if you will. The Spirit (which I had not learned to recognize at this time) bore a solid witness to me that this doctrine was true. It felt like I had always known it was true, I had only just forgotten it for a while. And I still know it is true. It's not something I bear testimony of often now because to me, it just is. There IS no question. It's like the laws of physics. God wants us all to return home and he will exert EVERY possible effort to get us there, INCLUDING, giving us an opportunity to accept truth AFTER this life. As confusing as spirituality is for so many, what a wonderful plan to give us every chance to accept the truth? So yeah, I was intrigued. "What other tidbits does this strange religion have?" I thought.

1 Peter 3:
 18 For Christ also hath once asuffered for sins, the just for the bunjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to cdeath in the flesh, but quickened by the dSpirit:
 19 By which also he went and apreached unto the bspirits in cprison;
 20 aWhich sometime were bdisobedient, when once the clongsuffering of God waited in the days of dNoah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were esaved by fwater.

Doctrine & Covenants 76:
 72 Behold, these are they who died awithout blaw;
 73 And also they who are the aspirits of men kept in bprison, whom the Son visited, and cpreached the dgospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh;
 74 Who areceived not the btestimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.
 75 These are they who are ahonorable men of the earth, who were bblinded by the craftiness of men.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When Consciences Collide

Novan and Beya are playing memory and I'm putting Keshet down for a nap and I hear from the other room the following conversation.

Novan: Let's go up high so Iyov can't get to us.

Frantic climbing is heard as children ascend the bunk bed followed by Iyov's immediate crying as he is apparently prevented from doing the same.

Beya: Awww, it's ok Iyov. Don't cry.

Iyov is whimpering.

Novan: No Iyov! You can't play.

Beya (sadly): But he doesn't look very happy Novan.

Novan: Beya, we're older than him.

Beya: But Novan, remember what Mom said? We can help him get matches so he can play too.

Novan: But Beya, there's no room up here for him.

Beya: If I sit over here, he can sit next to me and then there's room.

Pause as I assume Iyov is getting to his appointed spot.

Novan: Beya I think my bed isn't big enough.

Beya: He's sitting right here Novan.

Some chatter about who's turn it is. Apparently it's Iyov's turn.

Iyov starts crying.

Novan: NO IYOV!

More crying by Iyov. 

Beya: But Iyov you can't take OTHER people's cards. Here, choose this one..... Good job buddy!

You know, it's moments like these that you think "Score!" as a mom and you get warm fuzzies but then on the other hand, you're thinking about the child that's acting like he's got Satan on his shoulder and you're reminded to revert back to your humble self... or maybe just take claim of "the good child" and disown the bad one.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Love Story: Chapter One

Since this year is also my 10-year marriage anniversary, I thought I'd also celebrate being married and the road that got us here. I think I can come up with 12 (1 for each month) chapters about my relationship with Brad. Today I figured I'd start. What better place than at the beginning?

Brad and I met at Wal-Mart (much to my chagrin because really, who wants to admit they met the love of their life in wal-mart of all places??) when I was a freshman in college. I believe it was around October of 2001. I had been working there for a few years and being the experienced professional that I was, was often charged with training new cashiers. I happened to be assigned to training Brad on that fateful evening how to count down his register till. I wish I was into journal keeping back then so I could remember exactly how it transpired. Indeed, I often think our story would make a good novel but I have a hard time justifying making up facts that I can't exactly remember correctly just for story-telling's sake What I DO remember are 3 things:

1) Brad was as skinny as a string bean. Of course he's thin now too but not like then.  It was mostly noticeable because he had the signature wal-mart vest which, at that time, had not been upgraded to the longer version that they later adapted. His torso was much longer than the vest and it made the vest look kind of goofy hanging off his skinny body. I remember trying to decide if he was in high school or college because he had the signature teenage acne that so many adolescents are plagued with. I decided at that time that he must be in highschool and found out at some later date, and was very surprised, that he was, in fact, a senior in college! Ha! I guess that can give you an idea of how young he looked.

2) He was very smart. Like the Brad I currently know, there wasn't a whole lot of "learning to count down a till" involved and it was more like Brad went on his assumptions and only asked for my approval on whether it was correct. He just went at it like he'd been counting down tills his whole life. He's a self-taught kind of guy as I was to find out but it was no less impressive that he caught on so quickly when I had trained dozens of young wal-mart hopefuls who ranged from "I don't think this is the right field for you and maybe you should consider transferring to the sales floor and folding shirts" to "You really ought to stop working menial jobs and go get a degree" smarts.

3) He was a darn nice guy. I know I wasn't smitten right then and there because he wasn't all that attractive to me at first (not to mention I decided he must be too young for me being in highschool and all). I don't think I gave much thought to it other than thinking it was nice to meet someone so nice and so smart. Brad's pretty expert at flirting but I don't think he put on the moves that night. Probably because he was going out with this chick, we'll call her Julia to protect he identity. But he was still nice. Really nice. And he had a smile that put me at ease with him.

So now that I think about it, Wal-mart isn't a bad place to meet someone. At least it wasn't a bar. That would probably be the worst place to admit you met someone. It's like the watering hole in the animal kingdom where everyone who doesn't already have a mate goes. And really, that means you're getting the ones that everyone else doesn't want. The dregs, if you will. OK, so that probably only applies like 95% of the time. But I'm of the opinion that if you're looking for a keeper, you should stay far far away from bars and night clubs.
But I digress. And so it was. Brad and I met each other at Wal-Mart. And so ends chapter ONE.

Friday, March 2, 2012

On Buying a House in Williston

I've recently, (like in the last week or so), been leisurely house shopping. I'm pretty aghast at the housing situation here. As if house shopping weren't one of the most stressful things ever, you add having a VERY limited supply of houses to the equation and that equals "wow is this actually WORTH the stress??"

My mom, a few months ago, equated the housing situation here with prospecting. The demand is so incredibly high for places to live that the prices, quite literally, aren't in any way shaking out to being predictable at all. You'll see two houses, seemingly similar enough for comparison purposes and one will be listed for 800K and the other for 400K. I think these people just throw a price out there like they'd throw spaghetti against a wall to see if it sticks. Unfortunately it usually does. As a result, there's no way normal sane people would want to afford the prices here if they have other options (we have a VERY affordable trailer to rent indefinitely).

I check listings very regularly. Any time I've seen anything even remotely affordable, I call the agent and am informed that the home or piece of land is now under contract. Without fail this has happened EVERY time.

So my last option is buying a home that hasn't been built yet. There's actually one (for our situation) fairly affordable housing development. I have to tell you, because (by comparison) the houses are so much cheaper, I am itching to get my foot in the door and put a deposit down on something just so they'll hold on to it for me and I can have a guaranteed price even if I'm not quiiiiiite ready to buy just yet. Fortunately, there are no homes being built that will be ready before May. I feel like how I felt in California when we first moved there. Brad and I looked briefly at buying but decided we were at the peak of the housing bubble. Well we weren't. We were only about halfway to the top at the time. We just kept wondering if it was really possible home prices would continue to go up. Well they did. And we missed out. I am NOT missing out this time because if I do, it will mean being stuck in 1000sqft for the next indefinite number of years.

It's interesting to me though that not only do I live in North Dakota (a place I never thought I'd live) I'm now also probably going to end up buying a new build tract home (which I swore I'd never do). How's that for irony?

I'm just never going to say never again because I think God takes it as a dare.