Sunday, December 15, 2013

It is Enough.

The other day I was on the phone with a friend who was, bless her, "offering the opportunity" to go into business for myself. Multi-level marketing of some kind. I believe the new word for it these days is "direct sales." That's not what this post is about, however. Let me break down part of the conversation that followed after my friend had finished her well-meaning spiel:

Me: Okay, let me just be honest. I have no interest whatsoever in selling stuff like that. And I know you probably get this excuse from people all the time, but this time I am dead serious. Even if I had an iota of interest, I absolutely and unequivocally have ZERO time to devote to it. I already don't sleep and I already spend every waking moment editing and planning for my books to be published. So I appreciate the--"

Friend, cutting me off with a laugh: Oh I know! I know how crazy it is as a mom. I feel the same way. We barely have time to do our hair. And you have 4 kids so I can only imagine... Thanks for being straight with me, but I just wanted to make the offer because I think you'd be great at it... 

Commence pleasantries.

Now I'm sure that this friend of mine truly does know what it's like to be a busy mom. She has 3 boys under the age of 4 which is nothing to sneeze at.  But it was clear that she didn't believe me when I said I have zero time. I was pondering this after we got off the phone and have in the week or so since. Time is something I have precious little of and I mean that literally with every bit of literalness that the word "literal" encompasses. There is no "rearranging my schedule." The solution is not cutting out frivolous activities or re-prioritizing my days. I have already, long ago, cut out every smidgen of fat. I stay up to at least 1 am every night; 3 or four of those nights I make it to 3 am (this past week I was up til 4 one night). I wake up at 7:30 every day. If I nap, it may be once a week and then only for about 30 minutes. I don't watch TV except for Sundays with Brad. I don't go out. I don't have a social life. I am lucky if I make it to church activities that happen during the week and then I always go begrudgingly. I have managed to put PTO on my priority list, and arranged a regular play date for my kids each week. My husband does my grocery shopping. I make dinner. I pray. I read my scriptures (a LOT actually). I do FHE. I walk to and from my kids' school twice a day.

All that time in between? I am editing/writing/researching. I am a regular on facebook, but it is a convenient outlet that accomplishes both my social needs and research needs.  I get an incredible amount of fulfilment from it. It is, by no means, wasted time to me.

In fact, I work SO hard on editing and everything it encompasses that a few weeks ago I said to Brad, "I finally get what a Sabbath day is all about. If I didn't have it, there is a real possibility I would edit myself into the grave." Brad replied, "I know. You need it to save you from yourself."


Let me switch gears now.

A couple days ago, it finally hit me how CLOSE I am to publishing. My kids were running around downstairs, playing some game, and I had just sat down to start working again and I had the overwhelming urge to hide in the closet and speak to Diety. You know those moments I'm sure. But it wasn't necessarily to escape my kids. It's just that I think better in a dark, enclosed space and I felt the need to do a self-assessment. This urge to pour out my heart can hit me rather suddenly at times.

So I did. And while I was in the closet, in the dark, I felt utterly drained. Not tired physically (I think I've gotten used to constant physical exhaustion), but tired emotionally. Tired of the last 2 years in which I have set everything aside to pour everything I have into this. I've sacrificed everything there is to sacrifice that is morally and ethically acceptable. I have not held back. I made a commitment to publish and I come from a long line of Wirsings (my mom's side) that believe that if you are going to pursue something, your goal should be to be the best at it. You don't  settle for less and you don't stop until you ARE the best. What that essentially means is we don't half-ass the things we commit ourselves to.

While I was in the closet, I cried because I think that's just what you have to do sometimes. It's cathartic. I asked myself why I was crying, and the only answer was that I felt like it. And as I was crying, I began to do a self-check on this project of mine, questioning my decisions for this or that, asking myself if I have regrets about any of it. Asking myself if I could have done more but didn't.

And the only answer I had was peace and genuine anticipation to share this baby of mine. I am positively thrilled with every aspect. And in retrospect, I can see how perfectly the whole plan has aligned to make this work worthy of the effort I have put in.

My editor, my photographer, my cover designer, the research for my Colorworld concept--these are all aspects that have aligned with a congruency that make me marvel at how effortless it all was. I didn't have to cross any hurdles to achieve them. There have been no false starts.  There are thousands of moments in the last 3.5 years that I've had in which I've seen things just end up in my favor when it comes to this series. Sure, everything else in my life for the last 3.5 years since I started writing Colorworld has been a load of mad chaos and trials, but through all of that, my efforts to write this series have never been thwarted. Inspiration has always come nearly instantly. Answers to prayers have come quickly. The way has always been made in such a way that it feels like Heavenly Father Himself has come down to open the doors for me.

The encouragement that kind of divine validation has brought is nothing short of profound. I don't know that I can properly express it so I won't try.

These are the things I thought about in the closet and these are things I have poured out tearful gratitude for to my Heavenly Father over and over since all this began. But this moment was different in one way; there is one flaw amid all those inspired moments:

Why am I still editing?

Because really, despite how AMAZING this journey has been, I am STILL editing. And I probably will not be done editing until I hit the publish button.

Let me make sure you know how frightening all this is. Here I am, about to put out a portion of my 3 years of sweat, tears, and massive sleep-deprivation for the world to rip apart. Despite being committed to doing it and having no doubt it will happen, it's still scary as heck. Because although I believe in and LOVE my concept, the story is the vehicle. And the writing is the vehicle for the story. And both the story and the writing are all on me. And I am perfect at neither.

And THAT, my friends, is the one part of this that still leaves me wanting. I could always say it better. I could always be a better writer. Heavenly Father has given me everything I have needed on this journey, but the project, as much as I'd like it to be, as much as I work to MAKE it so, will never be perfect, because it ultimately depends on ME and no one else. It's both a sad and a happy revelation.

But to have these two conflicting concepts coexist is the definition of beautiful.

Because I DO know that I have tried my hardest. I have expended every effort. I've read everything I can fit into the moments available. I've typed until my fingers hurt (literally), until my eyes sting, until my body BEGS me to sleep. I've read article after article. I've read story after story. Analyzed structure. Picked apart grammar rules. Read every word I write at least a hundred times. Deleted most of it. Rewrote it anew. Deleted. Wrote. Over and over I've done this process of ripping it all apart only to re-piece it together again in a different and better way. And it is STILL not perfect.

But in that dark closet, I found peace finally. I finally believed that it is enough.

And in case you haven't seen it yet:
You should check it out.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Book is Almost Here!!

It will be available December 24th, 2013 on Kindle! For release dates of other formats and a book description, click here.Book_cover

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Metaphysics of Modesty

Modesty of dress, that is.

I saw the Evolution of the Swimsuit and thought Jessica Rey was a nice gal who understands that men have sexual appetites and doesn't like the idea of being objectified. I don't like being objectified either, but what she said wasn't earth-shattering. I came away wondering why it is women feel they need scientific justification for what they wear.

I read Mrs. Hall's letter to teenaged girls on modesty and thought she is a woman who believes the chastity of her sons' thoughts are controlled by girls. I was a tad angry, I'll admit.

I saw a YouTube video "Virtue Makes you Beautiful" featuring a group of young men telling girls that they are lovely with clothes on. They "need" our modesty. Please. Let's GIVE them our modesty. We're more beautiful that way. Furthermore, their clever lyrics implied that "virtue" and "clothing" are synonymous. They're cute boys. Well-intentioned. Just misguided. I want to pinch their cheeks and wag a finger at them at the same time.

immodest manure
So you're saying that my clothes will win me a good man. Every girl's dream is a man that likes her for her clothes...

The more I read/see/hear on this modesty issue, the more I feel like Goldilocks trying to decide which version of modesty is "just right." There seem to be too many extremes.

I like to strut my 30-year old self that's born 4 children and still turns my husband on in a fitted sweater dress complete with boots with four-inch heels out on the town because it makes me feel good to be admired. It makes me feel powerful to embrace what I know is a beautiful body by sharing it.

Yet at the same time I recognize that everything ought to have bounds. I need to recognize that the intent I have when I get dressed matters. Do I want to encourage a man to have indecent thoughts? No. Do I want men to admire me? Sure as shootin'. And women, too! I'm beautiful. I have something beautiful: this body. We all want to share the beautiful things of life. There is nothing wrong with that. When we adorn ourselves, desiring to be admired, we are giving away part of ourselves. This isn't wrong. It's a gift we have to give. It's our right to give it. Humans have the natural and divine desire to share what is beautiful. But how much giving is too much? How will we know?

How do I live as a sexual being that is also beautiful where sexuality and beauty so often cross paths?

I have a six-year old girl who already feels uncomfortable discussing her body. I don't know if it's because of something she learned or that she just came out that way, but the word "vagina" makes her crawl under a table. Something in her intrinsically knows about sexuality and she is already shaping her view of it before we've ever even had "the talk." She also knows about and follows the same modesty guidelines now that I will expect when she is older. I don't want modesty standards to change just because she hits puberty. Doing so further confuses the modesty/sexuality problem. But we have yet to get into the whys of modesty. Someday soon I will have to explain all the things she can do with her body. And I will have to differentiate sexuality from modesty for her.

How do I do that?

What IS modesty really? How in Hades do clothes have any connection to worth? And WHY, if God made women exquisitely beautiful creatures that men just LOVE to look at, is it WRONG to reveal our beauty as much as we want? How can we separate objectification and control from admiration and loveliness?

I struggle. I don't like the sinking feeling in my heart when my daughter refuses to talk to me about her body or to spell out why she feels the way she does. I don't like that my cleavage makes me feel inappropriate and always has made me self-conscious. I don't like scrutinizing what I wear based on worries over the reactions of others. I want confidence in myself enough that I don't desire lascivious attention but rather want to be beautiful because it brings joy. It's hard, if not impossible though, to differentiate proper feelings from improper ones.

The other day I was looking through a clothing catalog with Brad. He likes to buy me clothes. He likes to dress me up and take me out for people to admire. I dress him up, too. Because I like showing off his manliness. We like to revere each other that way. But let's just say that I often think his choices are inappropriate. A skin-tight red dress? Are you serious? And I also think that he overlooks clothing that doesn't "do it for him" even though I think it flatters. A shirt that doesn't mold my breasts can still be beautiful.
We crossed a page of a woman wearing an off-the-shoulder loose sweater. He thought it was dumb the way that sweater only covered one shoulder. It looked like a poncho hanging on her body like that, I guess.
I thought it was flattering. "I think shoulders are graceful. They are one of the most attractive things on a woman," I told him.
He wrinkled his nose. Didn't get it.
The problem of modesty struck me again. How we can see the features of the female body so differently... How modesty, sexuality, objectification, and beauty are all wound up and tangled together... It's impossible for us to make a determination about what should be appropriate. What's okay to feel as a woman when we put on an article of clothing. What reaction should we want to get from our clothes?

Oh my, so many impossible questions. How can I expect to explain modesty to my daughter if I can't even explain it to myself?

Girls come into the world with a sense of what is beautiful before boys ever even get the meaning of the word. But we are notorious for beating ourselves up. We are never happy with what we are. We are never as pretty as the next girl. We are never as interesting as we'd like. We're never as talented. We doubt ourselves. Constantly. This is what makes the modesty/virtue connection so dangerous. To shame ourselves while at the same time having our choice of dress be shamed due to it's "effects" on others compounds the problem.

When I became a member of the LDS church, I accepted the standards of dress because it didn't bother me to do so, not because I felt any certain conviction about the importance. But even so, self-consciousness of my cleavage hasn't left me. And I still question, all the time, what to wear, gauging my decisions on what I anticipate the reaction will be. I question my intent. I question the appropriateness of dressing up at all. Where is the balance in this most complex problem?

So I took a step back and stopped looking at modesty in relation to others. What is the true purpose of modesty?

Well what is the purpose of any standard? To set limits. Self-control.

-I don't drink coffee, tea, alcohol or do drugs because abstinence is easier than moderation when it comes to these things. If given a choice I eat seasonally. I eat whole foods. Because these things bring my body health. And health brings with it a clarity of mind.

     Drinking iced tea is not, in and of itself, sinful.

-I attend my meetings because it takes effort and because it sets the example for my kids. Routine is key when it comes to children. I attend my meetings because it tells Jesus I care. It tells me that I care.

     Skipping church is not, in and of itself, sinful.

-I read my scriptures regularly because it takes effort. It causes me to set an expectation for myself. And I do it because to question is to grow. And reading scriptures gives me a LOT of questions.  

     Not reading my scriptures every day is not, in and of itself, sinful.

-I do family home evening every Monday despite the raging circus it always is because it sets a routine for my kids, and talking about spiritual things on a regular basis instills them with it's importance.  

     Not having family home evening is not, in and of itself, sinful.

-I execute my callings. Because the structure of the church needs me to. Because it teaches me how to deal with people. Because primary kids are far less frustrating than adults. Because it gives me a chance to serve. Because it gives me a chance to return and report.

    Not accepting a calling is not, in and of itself, sinful.

-I refrain from foul language because it sounds ugly. And it's unimaginative. And it's trendy (I hate trends). But I do like the word 'badass'. :-)

     Using the word 'badass' is not, in and of itself, sinful.

-I will raise my children to honor sexual monogamy. I will encourage them to bind sexual appetite within marriage. Because sex is a gift. Because it binds two people in spiritual ways that I still don't fully comprehend but have experienced. Because it requires the deepest level of trust to truly appreciate. Trust comes from commitment.

     Sex, outside of marriage, is not, in and of itself, sinful.

-I wear clothes according to standards set by my leaders because it's easier than trying to figure out how much is too much.

     To wear "less" is not, in and of itself, sinful.

There are a slew of more nuanced reasons for the above standards I impose on myself. The benefits of following them are mine alone because the "blessings" of such standards are different for everyone. You cannot quantify standards. There is no consistent cause and effect when it comes to mastering the spiritual self.

But I agreed to the rules. I figured they'd better me. I wanted to be better. The missionaries said it would help me be better. So I did it. And I tried hard.

And guess what? Now I'm better.

I'm better than better. I now understand what all those rules were for. They were to help me control myself. We are only ever frightened, unsure, anxious, or suffering when we fail to have that control. What people do to us cannot take away what we do with our minds. These bodies are magnificent things. What I put in, on, and what I allow to come out of mine will determine whether I control myself. When I control myself, my spirit can shine through and I begin to get why I'm so important to Divinity.

Standards allow me to mold myself rather than be molded.

Modesty of dress is just another way to mold myself. To control some nuance of my body.

It's not about clothes themselves. It never has been and it never should be. A modesty lesson should never be aligned with a sexuality lesson. If we accept a standard of modesty, that standard should apply equally to boys. Virtue and modesty (of clothes) should never be thought of as co-dependent. Sure, all of the above have ties that bind them. Every principle of the Gospel and of life is interconnected and cannot possibly be fully separated. WE cannot properly be separated from each other. But virtue, true virtue, is learned through temperance of self. How we choose to temper ourselves is our choice because we should be the makers of our own spirits. We should not temper ourselves based on the actions/reactions of others. Because then we put the making of ourselves in their hands instead of our own.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Meanderings of a Sleep-Deprived Writer

I miss my blog.
For real. If I were to have blogged regularly at all in the last... I don't know how how long, it probably would have included some of the following:
-The crazy interesting stuff I've been studying for my books.
-How writing blows my ever-living mind. Probably every other day, I think to myself "Holy crap, that's amazing!"
-My kids are all growing and doing neat things.
-My husband and his ten irons in the fire... He claims he would stop working so hard if I'd just make some money as an author, but I don't believe him. I do know that part of it is that we have a passive-aggressive competition to see who can work the longest with the least amount of sleep.
-Williston is this crazy fun and interesting place to live.
-Crap keeps knocking on our door and wanting to stay awhile.
-How I'd like to sit down. Read a book. Stare out of a window. Sew something. Expand my hobby base.
-How the most important thing I've learned in this very LONG process of editing/writing is how much TIME people waste. How TIME is the most precious commodity people have. And they WASTE it. And how that makes me more upset than probably anything else the most often.

I. Need. More.Time.

There is a serious lack of sleep around this house already that I can't possibly squeeze in one more project, brain waves for a clever blog post, or playgroups and church activities. By lack of sleep, think 4-6 hour nights every night, usually 6 nights a week. It's been like this for several months now. Believe it or not, I'm actually used to the routine of no sleep. I never thought I'd say that.

Trying to bring my first book to publication is kind of like pregnancy. I can't manage much more than keeping people alive. I'm tired. I'm on and off my writer's high. One minute I think I'm like C.S. Lewis or Mark Twain and the next minute I'm like that piece of trash novelist that nobody will ever want to read. It's a brutal fight every day. But I'm persevering. The only reason I push through is because I made a promise that I would get this thing off the ground by the end of the year. I don't break promises, ya'll. Unless I forget. That's happened. Otherwise, I'm on it like Blue Bonnet. And for months now, I have definitely been on it. And it's looking good. I think. I hope. My gosh, for my own health, I MUST get my first book published so I can stop this madwoman writing spree. I'm pretty sure I've knocked a couple years off my life.

Excuse me while I go knock off a few more.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Beya, who is 6, has been dealing with a girl in her class that doesn't like her for no apparent reason. The girl ridicules Beya whenever she sees an opening, excludes her whenever possible, and generally acts nasty toward Beya in particular. So we've been advising her to be extra super nice to the girl. We come up with scenarios and tell Beya how she should respond. So every day Beya has tried to win the girl over with kindness. Just yesterday Beya asked the girl if she could be her friend and the girl responded, "No, I already have enough friends."

So far the plan isn't working very well.

But my Beya is a trooper, and if there's one thing she can't handle, it's someone not liking her. Today she complimented the girl's outfit. At least the girl said, "Thank you."

I explained to Beya that people who behave that way are usually sad inside and the only way to help them is to just love them. Well Beya knows how to love and she has been determined to bring happiness into this girl's life so she can be happier inside. She even prays for her every night. It's been a couple weeks now, and she doesn't seem to be making headway with the girl.

I've been amazed, truly, that someone could actually dislike Beya for any amount of time. I don't say this as her mother. I say this as someone who is continually floored by the goodness that just oozes from Beya's every pore. I tell her constantly that I want to be like her when I grow up. And it's true. Brad always tells her, "Beya, you are the nicest person in the universe." She inspires the both of us. She was born just wanting to serve people.

My plight has now become how to help Beya understand why it's not working and why people would choose the wrong anyway despite love being lavished on them. Heavy, right? I explained that when you are super good at something, people tend to dislike you for it. I told her Dad works super hard and people hate him for it. Mom tries to be super compassionate and people always think I'm condescending and therefore don't like me. And Beya is out-of-this world nice and people are going to make that the thing they don't like about her. I also told her Jesus healed people and loved them but they hated him for it. I honestly didn't think she would entirely grasp the concept enough to really draw the direct parallels to her own life, but she did. And it ended in tears. "I never knew that!" she cried. Life was definitely NOT what she expected and she suddenly realized how very hard it was going to be to be herself. I mean she was genuinely and deeply troubled by it.

"I just want to be unique!" she cried. I admit, I was blinking in astonishment when she said that. I hadn't been saying anything about being herself and being an individual and what that means in the scope of things, but yet she articulated it internally anyway and it's been coming out in her actions.

"I know you do," I replied. "But you can't make people like you. You have to accept that you can't make people be your friend."

"I don't want to make them be my friend," she said. "I just want them to feel the love I have for them."

She is SIX and the girl brings me to tears. And, uh, my daughter apparently already has her own metaphysics she's been working out.

This isn't the first time her world has been upended this way and every time it is, I'm blown away by how easily she grasps things that even adults fail to get. She reasons through it all, always, always considering things through the lens of love and completely getting that people are not like her. She doesn't expect them to be. Every time I give her advice, she carries through and tries SO hard. Whenever I have a serious conversation with her, I get schooled on how to interact with her. She is WISE beyond her years. She blows me away.

But it did get me thinking. Like I said, I never thought someone could not like Beya. I told her being nice is her superpower and she should never let it go. We all have superpowers--and power is what they are. Yet our power is the thing people hate the most, even and especially when we use it to help others. And somehow my daughter knows this. Tomorrow I'm pretty sure she's going to have all the secrets of the universe worked out. I'll let you know how that goes.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My house--I mean, my, uh, mansion.

Welcome to my home. What can I say? Brad and I just can't stay away from the 1920's era.
It looks small from the front, but this house is huge, as you are about to see. This is a view of the side and you can see my sunroom and patio over there.
Other side

Back yard. There are 2 apple trees (not pictured) and on the right you can just see the edge of our 2-car garage.
Living room seen from my front stairs.
From the front door. Excuse the box. We are still unpacking.

Front stairs. And to the left is the doorway into my office/library. And the door you see there is to a closet.

Library/Office which I have claimed as my own space. Still haven't fully organized it. Mom's space is always the last space to get done, am I right? But just looking at it makes me happy. And those shelves are calling for my book collection which is in NC still.
Dining room

Kitchen. Really, it's the only space that matters to a mom. And this kitchen is divine!

Another view. I left a fridge behind just like this one in NC. I am SO glad to have it back. No, the walls are not purple. I have no idea why it looks like it in this picture.
Down the hall which leads to the half bath and the laundry room.
The previous owners really knew how to design a kitchen. There is so much SPACE! I'm sure you thought I staged the kitchen to not have anything on the counters, but the truth is I didn't. I literally have nothing out because there is a place for everything. And all the cabinets and drawers have this slow-close mechanism that keeps them from being slammed. I am so spoiled over here.

Laundry/Sewing room. That desk is built-in and has one of those holes for a drop-in sewing machine. For now it's the guinea pig's home. But the neat part of this room is that little door there behind the ironing board. It's a secret passageway out to the den which the kids just love.

I love the kitchen so much I thought you needed another shot. :-) Glass front doors, dishwasher back finally, HUGE apron sink? Yes, please! And note the counters are butcher-block. My NC kitchen had faux butcher-block. This is so my taste.
Den/green room/movie-theater carpet room/EMPTY room. I literally don't have enough furniture to fill this house. I moved to ND into a single-wide trailer so many many things were left behind. Anyway, I really love the empty space. It's so great with kids and with generally feeling free in your own house.
Sun room which is right off the den. Another empty room that really needs a hot tub or something. But that will have to wait.
Back stairs. The door on the right is a closet which is where the secret passageway from the laundry room ends up. And further to the right and not pictured are the stairs to the basement.

The finished part of the basement. Cute little saloon, eh? Currently this is the play room and I dare not show you a current picture. I'll just say that my house stays exceptionally clean now that all the toys are DOWNstairs instead of upstairs or on the same level as the living area. I LOVE that.

The den and master(on the 2nd floor) were added around 2000 and they added on to the basement also. You can see the newer basement through there.
This is the newer basement. And this was our electrical inspector. Picture was taken before we closed and this room still looks like this. I have way too much storage space in this house. Our plan is to put in an apartment in this part of the basement since it already has an exterior entrance.

Older part of the basement. Through the door is my food storage room. My food storage, which hasn't been added to for a couple years, is looking pretty meager. The room is big though with lots of shelves. I'm looking forward to seeing it filled.

And turn to the right and you can find where I'm actually storing things. Lots of shelves. Lots of space. Too few things. Actually, scratch that. I like having too few things and too much space.

Up two flights of stairs we find the master. Brad and I finally got a king-size. He complains it's so big that it's like we don't even sleep in the same room anymore. Ha! Well, I love it. I hate when people are touching me when I'm sleeping. I am NOT a cuddler. There's a deadbolted gun room through that door on the left but since we don't own any guns, I just keep Brad's massive t-shirt collection in there. ;-)

Our bathroom straight ahead and the walk-in to the left. Oh walk-in closet, I've missed you too!

Brad's office. Yes, he does have that many computers. This is a really large room and behind me is going to be a twin-sized bed once I get another mattress.
The pink bathroom that Beya fell in love with. Sorry it's so dark. It's the kids' bathroom though and I love not sharing a bathroom with those small people. Boys are so gross.
Guest bedroom. An honest-to-goodness one. We're like real grown-ups or something now.
Kids' room. They all dig the cloud ceiling and the room has two very large walk-ins on either side. I was able to fit a dresser and a chest INSIDE each closet for their clothes. The girls have one side and the boys the other. We considered having boys and girls in separate rooms but honestly every time we've tried to separate them, they end up in the same room anyway so we're going with it this time.
That concludes our tour. This is back down the front stairs and halfway down there's this adorable built-in chest/bench where we keep blankets for the couch. Old homes... *sigh* I just love them.

And that's our house! People are always amazed that the mortgage on this house is far far less than rent in this area. I'm still in a bit of disbelief myself that I actually LIVE here. It's the kind of house that I can see myself living in forever. I certainly won't put a timeline on it though since our lives seem to fluctuate so regularly, but it's nice to know that Heavenly Father has allowed us a space to live comfortably, for a while at least.  Now it's time to get back to book editing!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In Sickness and Health?

I remember the first time in our marriage that Brad got laid-out, miserable, coming from both ends sick.
I remember getting him water then going to the store because he complained he needed gatorade. Cleaning the toilet and sheets after, well...gross. Getting him applesauce because that's one of the things you can supposedly eat. And if all that weren't enough, I was expected to *rolls eyes* rub his back because he was all whimpery and expected me to hover like a doting nurse-wife.
Through the years I have begrudgingly done various things at the request of my oft-sick husband such as go to the grocery store to find this Kosher, Jewish-made chicken broth that all good Jewish wannabes eat when they're sick. Supposedly it's a miracle-cure that his rabbi friend told him about. *eye roll*
I have gone to the store multiple times to get gatorade because apple juice would not suffice. "It doesn't have electrolytes!" he complained. I've gone to the store to get ginger ale because that's what his mom gave him.

More recently I have gone to the store for some kind of "Carbohydrate snack" that my husband felt he needed in order to keep up his strength and recover.

"What kind do you want?" I asked.

"Whatever. Just get a variety."

I come back from the store with a few choices, none of which are acceptable. I still remember his complaint that the chips I got were all "too sharp" and might stab his throat going down. (No really, that's what he said!)

*Insert stupefied incredulous look* "Uh, Brad, that's why you chew them before you swallow. Why don't you just eat the applesauce if you are so worried about things stabbing your throat?"

"Because..." whines the DH, "I need carbs."

*Insert 'if you weren't so sick I would smack you for being so dumb' look* "Whatever Brad. Eat the chips or don't eat the chips. I am NOT going back to the store."

Hours later the DH lies in his miserable sick-bed: "My mom says I need a humidifier. Will you go get one?"

*Eye Roll, eye roll, eye roll while cursing said Mother-in-law who so obviously spoiled this man when he was sick as a child* Then I go because if I stay in this house with this nancy-man any longer I will probably make him cry with all the mean things overflowing in my head. I also pick up the %&$#@! saltine crackers he asked for after failed snack trip that he should have told me he wanted to begin with.

My husband, when sick, will invariably think it likely that he is on his death bed.
"Should I go to the doctor?" he asks.


"But what if this is something serious?" he pleads.

"It's not."

"How do you know?"

*Exasperated sigh* "You're eating. You're drinking. You don't have too high of a fever. You're fine."

"I think I'm dying. What if I really am dying?"

"I'm not worried," I reply. "I have life insurance on you."

Through the years, he has become like the boy who cried wolf when it comes to being sick. It doesn't matter if he has a cold, the flu, or (like last year) pneumonia. He still behaves the same way about it such that when he asks me if he should go see a doctor I say, "If you want to" because I have no friggin' clue how sick he actually is with the way he acts. And he has this ingrained fear of getting sick. If his throat starts to tickle he has to take major evasive measures. He's a hypochondriac about it, actually, and it's like life is over if he's got the sniffles.

Now I, on the other hand, am a stalwart sick person. I got the stomach flu last year and was laid up in bed all day. I didn't ask for a thing because I got it all myself in between puking. I knew it would be over soon so I just endured. But when Brad came home from work and saw the state of things (ie, every toy the kids owned out in the living room) he started summoning the force of the relief society to come take care of his poor sick wife because CLEARLY a messy house for a day is an indication that I am indefinitely bedridden and unable to fend for myself or keep children alive.

I was like, "Brad, do you remember when you went to CA three years ago and I was at home with a two-month old baby(Iyov) that screamed all the time and never slept?"


"Well did you know I got strep throat during that time? I took care of 2 kids and a newborn, kept everyone alive, and did you know the house was a disaster during that entire week? But guess what? I cleaned it up when I felt better. I think I can handle a day of puking without bringing in the cavalry."

And quite literally, and to my embarrassment, I had to politely explain to the relief society president when she called later than evening to arrange meals that no, I'm feeling quite better. Don't listen to my husband. He thinks I'm a permanent invalid because he can't handle the sight of the legos on the living room floor.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this today because Beya is sick. The "Can't move and can only lie around and puke and go to the bathroom every now and then" kind of sick. She is NOT a stalwart sick person. She moans and cries when the nausea gets bad and asks for me to rub her back all the time and sit next to her while she suffers. I thought maybe this kind of whiney clinginess is hereditary.

 Yesterday I was trying to book some plane tickets while on my computer, Beya laid out next to me even though I really didn't want to be around all that sour sickliness (see how much I can sacrifice for my children?), and she asked me to rub her back.

"Sorry," I replied."I need both of my hands right now."

"But Dad rubs my back."

Ohhhhh, I see now. He's spoiling my children when I'm not around. I brought it up to him later that unless he planned to be around 24/7 when our kids got sick, he needed to keep his molly-coddling to himself.

"Did you know when I got sick as a kid, my mom only had to hand me a bucket, a drink, and the TV remote and I was good? I never bugged my mom," I said.

"So that's what's wrong with you," he replied.

*Eye roll*

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Mom

I'd be lying if I said that I've never considered homeschooling. I admire the dedication it takes to create a structured environment like that and the intense amount of time it requires. I have a number of reasons that I have leaned on in the past for why I don't want to do it, but I always try to remain teachable so homeschooling is always on the table. In fact, most things are always on the table for me when it comes to parenting because you never know when you'll need one of those tools you've been neglecting. Anyway, in the past weeks I've actually come up with a new reason why I don't want to have all my children home with me all the time. That reason came from thinking about these two cuties:

From about 8:15 until 3:30 monday through friday, I get to hang with these guys. For one thing, they are both really fun to be around, and for another they play well together. It's pretty peaceful around here during the day with just the two of them.

But the real reason I love it is because for a portion of the day there is a lot less contention around here. So I was struck with the need to examine this and to figure out why it is that 2 is easier than 4 when, for all intents and purposes, the older 2 ought to be mature enough to actually be helpful rather than sources of chaos. However, when all 4 of my kids are home, it often seems like utter mayhem. I don't think it was always like this. It seems like the older they get, the more independent they are which is good for being helpful and managing some things on their own. But on the downside, the older they get, the more independent they are... Yeah, it's a dichotomy which one has to navigate at all times.

They are so prone to bickering because (due to their wealth of experience *rolls eyes*) each if them thinks they are right about this or that ridiculous triviality. Now I know that essentially there is one of them that is more right than another, but to me it doesn't MATTER who did this or that, who said that, who hit who, who called that person a name, or took that toy away from that person. NONE of it matters to me when they are trying to pound their understandings/beliefs into one another, especially when their personal "truth" is so limited. They are unaware/ignorant/or plain just don't care that each of them is a different age, of a different gender, different personalities, different experiences and that's why they think different things and act differently. Getting them to understand is, I believe, a life-long, endeavor and possibly the most important one of all. I really don't care what the core issue is that they are fighting about. I don't care even a little bit unless it involves serious bodily harm. All I want is for them to recognize each other as individual beings that have something to contribute to our family and appreciate each other for that.

You can probably see where I'm going with this. There is a direct parallel here for how we, as humanity, behave with one another and how we view our children and what we expect of them. It doesn't really matter if you believe in God as our father or not. I think all parents just want to see their kids get along and be not just civil, but loving toward one another no matter what the "truth" is or who has it. I couldn't care less what the original argument is about. When my kids are being ugly and generally unloving toward one another, no matter who is right, I turn into dragon-mom, spewing condemnation and wrath down on those souls whom I expect more from. It gets all fire and brimstone around here, you know what I'm saying?

Now I realize this is an exercise in patience for me and that I have to learn the right way to help them understand and appreciate their differences, but more than anything, it makes me aware of how I interact with people and how I think of others in my own mind. Because peace starts and ends IN the mind, not outside of it. We are beings meant to act, not be acted upon. Knowing what I know about children and their very limited perceptions gives me an incredible amount of peace with the world around me, even as tumultuous and variegated as it seems. We are, more often than not, fighting over trivialities.

In fact, the more I grow as a parent, the more I love everyone and everything around me. And I appreciate these simple times of peace when our familial numbers are cut in half for a bit while kids are at school. I want the little ones to know what peace is, and to look for it, which is another reason I appreciate that they (and I) get a break from trying to "get along" all the time when everyone is under one roof. More and more I get that no matter how old we are, we are all just children, struggling to learn, and someone, somewhere, is looking down and trying to help us appreciate one another. We need times of peace so we know to appreciate it, but we also need times of interaction when we learn how get along and to understand that the real lesson is not about being right or wrong, but it's about learning to love one another--I mean real love, not just tolerance--as starkly different beings and value each other BECAUSE of differences, not in spite of them.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Beya: Moooom, when's dinner going to be ready? I'm soooo hungry!

Mom (snarkily): Well gee, Beya, I just started cooking and can you believe that food actually takes TIME to make? I know, it's like SO annoying, right?

Beya (unbothered by my sarcasm in the least): Seriously?! I wish you had a magic wand and you could zap it on the table... you know ZAP! and there it is!

Mom: Don't I know it.

Beya: It would be so much easier to ZAP! things. Then you would never have to cook.

Mom: I agree. If you ever see anything like that at the store, you be sure to let me know.

Beya: Okay, Mom. I'm going to invent one when I'm bigger. It will ZAP! food whenever you need it.

Thoughtful, ain't she? Interestingly, this conversation occurred about a month ago and she's still stuck on zapping. It's common to hear things like, "Too bad we can't just ZAP! my clothes into my drawers." "Too bad we can't ZAP! our way to Williston." (It's about a 50 minute drive from here and we drive there occasionally for groceries and stuff). "I wish we could ZAP! Novan's room clean." "Too bad we can't ZAP! to church." "I wish I could just ZAP! my clothes on."

ZAP! is always said with a snap and occasionally she claps her hands together vigorously for impact.

Yes, she's very impatient for things to get done and to happen. And the zapping of Novan's room is always funny to me. Beya, as I mentioned in a post a while back, is turning into kind of a neat freak. She keeps her room quite clean most of the time. She always gets mad at me when I allow Iyov or Keshet to go in there while she's at school. And when Novan and Iyov's room gets messy (which it is regularly) she says, "Mom, can you make Novan and Iyov clean up their room?" And when I fail to do so that day, she says, "Mom! I thought you were going to get Novan and Iyov to clean their room! It's disgusting!"
I'm a bad mom... I tend to think that as long as at least ONE kid room is clean, I've scored. But really, it's none of me, and all Beya. I wish I could let her take over the parenting for a while.

She's a funny little thing. She doesn't want to eat off of anyone else's food. You know, like when we're having dinner and she's finished her portion and wants more but all I have left is Iyov's food because everyone knows 3-year olds are either photosynthetic or hydroponic. Hmmm, or maybe he's a vampire and he sucks my blood while I'm sleeping and THAT'S why he doesn't require real food. He DOES hiss alot and act like he owns me. 'Scuse me, I need to go check my neck in the mirror......................................................

Anyway, yesterday we were filling out spotlight forms in Primary and there was a question, "What's a food you really DON'T like to eat?" Beya was like, "Ummmmmm, I don't know..." And it took me a while to think of anything either because the girl really does eat everything. Oh to have more children like her who eat all their food and keep their rooms clean and organize my cabinets for fun... Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure God was giving me a pre-apology for sending me Iyov, the demon child.

Yes, that IS a do-rag and she did that swagger pose all on her own. I wish I'd had a cool friend like Beya when I was a kid.