Sunday Survial

Miracle of miracles, church wasn’t bad today! Dread and trepidation were all I could think of when switching from 11 a.m. church to 9 a.m. church- and surprise! It wasn’t horrendous. The kids were reasonably well-behaved. I had told the boys they could play Wii before church if they got up and got dressed, including shoes and socks, and lo! they were both playing Wii at 7 a.m. Dressed and shod. It was lovely.

All I had to do was get myself and Abby ready, and that was easy. No yelling, no tears, no tantrums. We even got there early enough to get a real pew, and not a folding death-chair in the overflow.

Both boys were assigned talks today, and both did spectacular. Beanie jumped right up to the microphone, and thoroughly enjoyed the sound of his own voice. He never even tried to crawl under the podium. It was awesome. Jeffrey was poised and composed as he read his talk, and he did wonderfully, now as a big kid in Senior Primary. Abby’s new Sunbeam teacher is our old Stake President. Yes, I am totally serious. That’s how stacked our ward is- the most recent SP teaches Sunbeams. I love it.

My new Sunday School kids are going to be super- and most of my old kids came up and hugged me today, telling me they miss me. I am friends with their new teacher, and know she’ll do a great job, but I love that I have relationships with these kids that will hopefully continue on for a long time. My teaching style is a little unorthodox- not what I teach, but my style. I use the book as a springboard and never, ever do a lesson just reading.  I like my classes to be more of a round-table, vibrant discussion of ideas, and not me droning from the book.

And we were home in time for lunch. Huzzah!

Jeffrey: Baptized

My oldest son entered the waters of baptism tonight. While I’m not so sure about an 8 year-old being able to understand the ordinance- he was so filled with joy it was clearly a good decision. We need more joy in our lives these days.

I know it’s hard to say the choice was all his, but he turned 8 back in August, and I really made a point of putting no pressure on him. He knew his dad would not be allowed to perform the ordinance, but when he learned an older boy he admires was free to, he eagerly asked him.

Dad did show up, and mercifully, I don’t think Jeffrey realized he was so late and missed the actual baptism. Jeffrey was glowing with happiness. The rest is his story to tell, should he ever decide to.

The turnout from our ward was huge, and the room was full. All for one little boy. I am so grateful for all the people who showed up, who love my family, who help us hold ourselves up everyday, in ways I know about, and in a million ways I don’t.

(painting by Minerva Teichert)

Count Your Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m revolting. By that I mean I am going to revolt against tradition, not that I’m disgusting. Although I might be disgusting- I don’t know- I did shower today. Anyway…

I holler Uncle. While I like the idea of a day of thanks, I really, really hate all the foods and gluttony associated with this day. I don’t like Turkey, marshmallows are disgusting, and they are in everything, from the yams to the jello to the pumpkin pie- which all three of those food, even without the marsh of mallows, would still be on my Hate-It food list. Stuffing and gravy can bite me. Mushy, soggy bread with turkey fat? How many ways can I say “No thank you!” Yes, I even hate pumpkin pie. I know. So sue me. I’m really sorry if we can’t be friends now- I promise I won’t care what your oddities are. I’m a picky eater. Oh yeah, that and the wheat allergy. Look around at your table and figure out what a Celiac could nosh… Yeah. Slim pickins.

The idea of getting out the good dishes, setting the table and putting on the pomp and circumstance of a formal holiday was just more than I could bear. Things are NOT normal, and no amount of pinecone centerpieces and orange cloth napkins is going to cover the fact that there is a permanent empty spot at our table. I’d rather not draw too much attention to it.  Believe me, no one forgets anyway.

So I’m revolting.

We are having a Mexican fiesta. I’m fixing pulled pork tacos, tamales, relano pie, guacamole (which you know I own) and even homemade corn tortillas. Nothing makes Beanie happier than squashing masa on the press. My single nod to tradition is a tiny, teeny little pumpkin pie I picked up for Jared, since he was in Iraq last Turkey Day. Otherwise, all bets are off.

Happy Turkey Day everyone. Count your blessing, name them one by one…

1000 Posts: The Ultimate in Naval-Gazing

Today marks the 1000 Post mark for this little joke of a project I started more than four years ago.  Never intending to start a blog, actually unsure of what a blog even was, I wanted to reply to something someone said somewhere on the internet (imagine disagreeing with someone, somewhere, on the internet! My naivety was so cute!). Anyway, I didn’t like what she said. So I wrote her a letter. And then I couldn’t post it on her website, because she wouldn’t allow me to. So I had to start my own.

Even the name was picked spur-of-the-moment. I clicked on Blogger, and you had to put in a name, so since my hair was wild and curly that day and I felt like a weed, I picked a dandelion. That’s it. That’s all there was to it. And I posted my letter. It’s still there, and the woman it was meant for eventually did read it and comment. A very satisfying experience. But the Genie was out of the bottle.

Once I had an outlet to write, I found immense satisfaction putting my thoughts into cogent form. For most of my life, I had felt bombarded by ideas and images and words, and they whirled around in my disquieted mind like a maelstrom- I couldn’t talk about my point-of-view to someone, because my windy mind was so influenced by others that I couldn’t sort out me from them. But when I wrote… Oh, when I wrote… the storm quieted. The waters stilled. The skies cleared, and I could figure out who I was again. It was 10,000 years of solitude. It was peace in my soul.  It was a room of my own. It was a clean well-lighted place. It was an unforeseen gift- one I had no idea I was missing.

And now because of this gift, I have a chronicle of my children’s lives that I hope someday they will cherish. This blog pre-dates even finding out I was pregnant with Abby, and it chronicles much of my sons’ lives as well. I would treasure a diary of my mother or grandmother when they had young children. Maybe my kids will too. Probably not, because I get the feeling that’s just not how it works. But still, a mama can hope.

Along the way I have celebrated great happiness, and shared personal sorrows, too. I try always to be honest and candid, while still walking the line balancing the private lives of my family and loved ones with what I chose to publicly share. It’s a line I’ve messed with a few times, but I think I finally have a good sense of where it is and how to toe-up.

The last couple years, the sorrows have tipped the scales too much, at least if anyone is asking me. It’s not done yet- but I know the wheel never stops spinning, and that the depth of my sorrow is also the wellspring of my understanding and happiness. I borrowed that from Kahlil Gibran. I’m nowhere near as cool as he is.

Now I find myself on a new path- one I was never anticipating walking. And yet, here I am. People keep telling me they think I am so strong. It makes me laugh. Well, what else am I going to do? I briefly considered hiding in the closet with a year’s supply of chocolate chips and a jug of egg-nog, but that wouldn’t solve anything, and would cause some bloating problems I’m better off without.

So instead, I get up. And I get up again. And again if I have to. And then I write about it.

I don’t know what the future holds- and isn’t that marvelous?  What a great adventure. I do know writing is now woven into the tapestry that is me. It’s in the fold of my arm, the set of my hip, the curve of my neck, the glint in my eye- and with apologies to Maya Angelou, the joy in my feet and the palm of my hand.

Thank you for being a part of my life.

(If I were cool enough, and my computer wasn’t utterly trashed and gimpy, I totally would have this song playing for this post.)

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Small… Tentative… Good Things

  • We spent all morning at the hospital, and after 4 X-rays, Abby’s arm and shoulder look fine. The radiologist said the doctor would have to verify, but that it’s looked good. *Whew*
  • Someone from church has offered me a two-year old computer they have because they had to upgrade their business. I’m hating having to rely on others, but right now, I don’t have a lot of choices. I’m grateful.
  • I made enough money this month to actually pay some of my own bills, on my own, with my own money. First time in ten years. It feels kind of good.
  • Forecast is for snow here tonight, our first of the year. I’m so not ready for snow yet. It’s all me shoveling the drive and walks. Yippee. I guess that’s not a good thing, but the kids are excited.
  • My soon-to-be ex-M-i-L send money for the kids to go see Disney on Ice next week. They are thrilled. If taking a Valium was funny and not heart-wrenching, I would make a joke about it.
  • It’s almost knitting season! Hooray! For reals.
  • I don’t want to push my luck, so I’ll stop now. Baby steps.

Crazy Chicken Beanie

These pictures make me really happy. There isn’t a ton of joy around our house these days, no matter how hard I try and keep things normal. So this morning when a friend asked the kids over to play, and some of her chickens had gotten lose from their pen, Beanie was in heaven. The boy loves him some chickens, and he chased them around the yard until he wrangled both the freedom hens into his eager arms.

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Their names were Stella and Big Mama. He floated on air the rest of the day… I’ll take the victories, small though they may be, wherever I can get them.

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Aaaaaaand there’s that smile again. Dang if he’s not caught unawares, it just takes over his face…

Leaf Ninjas

 

autumn-temari-largeYesterday when I got home from the chaos of the kids’ parties at their respective schools, I pulled in my driveway and noticed something odd. Kind of puzzled for a moment, I looked around- something’s differnent- but what? My yard looks… nice. Oh MY GOODNESS, someone raked all my leaves!!

It took me a second to register, because really, it just looked nice, and couldn’t put my finger on why. But there it was- all raked and tidy. When I got inside, I could clearly see out the back door to a dozen piles of nicely raked leaves, and my emerald grass peeking out again. I hadn’t seen green since I got home from California two weeks ago.

Leaves are my nemesis. I adore my deciduous trees- the canopy of summer, the home for my butterflies, the bird’s nests they harbour, and the fantastic color they give me in the fall. But the leaves, when they do fall? Bad, bad news for asthma and allergy sufferers. So the leaf-raking has always fallen on my husband… and well, now, that’s not really an option. I’ve been looking at them with dismay as the layers grew deeper and deeper.

And then the Leaf Ninjas showed up.

In my mind, I rolled over who it might have been. Friends? People from church? My neighbors got sick of my yard? A boy-scout project? Hmmm….

Then the rest of the night got crazy and I didn’t think about my leaves anymore. Until this morning, when I was getting ready for the day, and my doorbell rang. It took me a moment to get to it- and by the time I answered, there was no one there. But in my driveway was Mo and her entire family, gloves, rakes and leaf bags, ready to go. They live about 45 mintues away- and they had driven out here yesterday, worked, then come back this morning to finish the job.

Friends sure do make life a better place. I’m humbled by the constant stream of goodness being directed my way- so many people have reached out to me, in small (and grand) ways lately to let me know they love me and my children. I am so grateful.