Friday, February 27, 2009

Compare and Contrast

I have a neighbor who has got it all going on. She has been PTO president, helps with EVERYTHING, thin, always dressed nice, always on time, never a hair out of place, you get the idea. Inevitably, whenever I am in her presence, I do something stupid. This morning I was feeling really good about myself. I got dressed (!) -- and put on some cute new wide leg capris with some cool striped knee socks, was even wearing makeup, made beds, cleaned up breakfast, got the kids out on time, stopped at the store to get treats for Lulu's class (Happy Birthday sweetie!), pulled up to the school, but then there is a bus still there so I have to go around the other side and then SHE drives up and my car is facing the wrong direction, my daughter runs out in front of her car, the baby has snot running down his face, and I look down and my socks are now pooled around my ankles. Suddenly I am all wrong. If the kids have strewn garbage across the lawn, or their knees are bleeding, or I back into one of my bushes, or the baby is being held upside down by the toes, sure enough I can look up to see her little frown smile staring back at me, mentally shaking her head. I am a confident, completely capable adult one minute and then the next -- doh. can. not. func. tion. don't. know. own. name. need. help.

There are other times I feel this way and it is often at church. The women there are not judgmental (usually :), but something happens to my brain when I enter that building. Before Sunday, a friend asked if we could meet after church to plan Activity Days for the next few months. I said sure and then the wind blew and it was gone. After the first hour I ran into her in the bathroom and she asked if I was coming to our meeting. I said sure, then thought how nice it would have been if I had brought lunch -- oh and something for the kids, too -- and the baby will probably be wanting a nap around then, why did I say yes to the meeting? Then the wind blew and it was gone. After church I start rounding up the kids and their coats and then I see her -- Oh! I am staying after. I cannot remember things for five stinking seconds! (Of course, this is the same Sunday I had my shirt on backward so maybe we can chalk it up to being a bad day -- but these are not isolated incidents). And other people are always prepared, have great ideas, are so talented... I am grateful for them. They pick up my slack.

I suppose I need to reconcile myself to the way I am, but where is the line between acceptance and using the negative as an impetus to do and be better? I don't know. It is a constant struggle and in the meantime I need to paste on that smile and wave to Miss Perfect over there -- "So glad you caught that -- have a wonderful day!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Does This Calzone Make Me Look Fat?

Yesterday I decided to have the Weight Watchers brand frozen entree "Calzone Italiano" for lunch. I saw it at the store and thought, "Wow, that looks pretty good for 6 points. I will try it." I opened the box and noticed that it contained two calzones. Oh, good. I looked down at the instructions and here is what I read: "Remove one Calzone (one serving) and one sleeve from plastic wrapper. Return second Calzone to the freezer." (Bolds and italics snidely included).

Here is what I heard: "Listen, we know you have a weight problem or else you wouldn't have bought this delicious looking product. However, you cannot possibly imagine that both pieces of this cheesy goodness would be allowable within your alloted points. We know that you wouldn't have ended up in this situation if you possessed any semblance of self-control and/or the ability to read your body's cues, so here is what you need to do. You need to quickly wrap up the second calzone and pack it tightly back into the box. Now do this at once before you have inhaled it without realizing. Next, you need to run over to the refrigerator (the thing that got you into this mess), open the freezer door, launch the remaining calzone into any available spot (we know there probably isn't much room since you are more than likely hoarding chocolate in there), resecure the door, and back quietly away before you do any more damage."

What a bossy box! I don't know if I have ever before encountered a box with such explicit ideas about what I can and cannot do with my own food. How did it know if I was going to share it with someone (I was) or how did it know I wasn't going to throw caution to the wind and eat an entire 12 points in one sitting?

Later in the evening, Matthew came home and had heard that they were serving free pancakes at IHOP in honor of National Pancake Day. Who knew? So, of course, we all piled in the car and went. Forget that it was already past the girls bedtime, forget that the youngest three were already in pajamas, and forget that the two eldest had homework. It was fun, it was late, we all ate every last bite. We weren't hungry but it was free and it was there. Ah-ha, dear Watson! I believe we have discovered the root of our problem.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mysterious Ways

On Sunday I had got to teach the lesson. When I woke up I prayed that everything would go well and that I would feel confident and prepared. I then proceeded to calmly get ready for church. Ha - Picture if you will a typical Sunday morning. Matthew leaves in the wee hours, five other people clamoring for privileges in the one bathroom, girls arguing, baby holding onto leg (mine) screaming, no one breakfasting, sliding into the pew at two minutes to 9:00 with a sigh... But that wasn't where I was going with this. So the baby hadn't been fed in all the commotion so I head into the mother's lounge for a little snuggle, leaving the other kids to fend for themselves which doesn't always work out, and smallest girl was eventually brought in by oldest girl to join me. Again, not my point. I feed the baby, sit him up, pat his back, and soon he spits up all over my shirt and down into my lap. And it isn't somewhere as acceptable as my shoulder, just right smack dab down the middle. He has drifted away from being so explosive so of course I had nothing to wipe it all up. A friend kindly offered some wipes, but it still left its mark. Oh no! I knew I was soon going to be standing in front all of the nicely dressed women with my lovely white badge proclaiming to all the world that yes, I am the mother of a small child. I rush everyone to their respective classes, make copies for my lesson, go sit down in Sunday School and soon it is time for another feeding session. I find myself once again in the lounge, funnily enough with the same friend, and exclaim as I notice that I have had my shirt on backward for the last two hours! I am filled with chagrin. It seems I cannot even dress myself properly. My friend then points out that since the front (I mean the back that was on the front... are you following this?) is dirty, I could now just turn it around. Genius! And since my lesson was on the talk Pray Always we figured it was a great example of the power of prayer. I prayed and then since Heavenly Father knew what was going to happen, the Holy Ghost inspired me to put my shirt on the wrong way so that I could then switch it and wear the fresh side while I taught. He knew that I probably wouldn't have even thought of turning it around to be backward after the "incident," but maybe next time I will...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Aah, Nursery

I have never been able to decorate a nursery for my baby. When I had babies 1 and 2 we lived at Wymount Terrace. Need I say more? Okay, I will. Cinderblock walls and absolutely no money! Number 3 was born in Japan and settled onto the floor with us. Later, thanks to generous friends she moved to a crib in the room with the other two. Babies 4 and 5 have only lived here in Illinois (technically #4 was born in Utah and we were homeless) in our 3 bedroom house. We now have 4 bedrooms, but still not too roomy for seven people and certainly no neglected space waiting to be filled with pastel baby yumminess. My friend posted pictures of her nursery and I just had to share because I cannot STAND how darling it is. The paint color is the exact color of my bedroom and I am loving it with the green accents.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am not one to keep the TV on all the time. I really like quiet so I rarely have music or any other background noise going on during the day. Lately, though, I have been streaming BYU TV through the internet because it seems to keep the baby happier while I am trying to do things. So far I have only been doing this on Thursday mornings while I am attempting to do orders and it really is amazing how he will wander a few feet away and play (as opposed to being completely attached and peevish if I move 12 inches). I am not, however, merely grateful for the distractive abilities of BYU TV as I imagine anything that is making noise would do that. I am most grateful for the wonderful things that I have seen on there. Usually when I turn it on there is a spotlight of an LDS person. There are some exceptional people who have really dedicated their lives to doing good. Such good examples! And then after that comes Total Body Workout so on days when I haven't exercised I just get up and do that and it is really fun. This morning something came on that made me realize that I have to repent. In the past I have been known to make derisive comments regarding Janice Kapp Perry. I have thought her songs were a little too complicated for little kids and also when I was a teenager you couldn't turn around without bumping into one of her melodies. I suppose the sheer number made her songs seem trite in my eyes. But, as I said, I have now repented. She was highlighted this morning and she is a remarkable person. She isn't trying to be famous or flood the world with duets, she is just trying to talk about her love for Christ and put to music some of her thoughts about life being hard or feeling alone or being in awe of blessings. Before she writes anything, she sits down, reads the scriptures, prays, and then does housework and it just comes to her! She says that it isn't her, that anyone could write the songs God wants. That is so humble. My kids favorite songs were written by her and her songs have helped me remember scriptures. I like the song "His Image in Your Countenance" and our stake did a lovely cantata by her a few years ago. The whole show was very moving and the baby kept looking up at me as I cried and cried. So today I am thankful that in the midst of the craziness the we call Life, I could have a spiritual moment and I can any other time I want, too. How great is that?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine Greetings

(Oh my, the reds are clashing!)

I thought that I would be good about doing Thankful Thursday or My Favorite Monday, but I just can't be chained down to those kind of schedules. This is why I can never have a real job. Picking my kids up on time from playdates is just about more than I can muster. Oh well. I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how much I love you. You are wonderful and I hope that you have a very Happy Valentines Day. I thought I would do this today since tomorrow I will be way too busy with Valentines activities to do something as mundane as writing here. Oh, come to think of it I have no plans whatsoever. I guess I will just leave things open for the sake of spontaneity. And Happy Birthday to my brother Bryan today! And Happy Friday the 13th! Hope no one is having bad luck -- yikes!

I just finished preparing some chili. I made my mom's Veggie Chili that I love so much. I can tell that I am growing up because fifteen years ago I would think, "Oh my heavens above! How many vegetables do I need to chop, chop, chop?" It seemed to take way too long and was so much easier to just open a can. Now I think, "How many more vegetables can I put in? What is going bad in the refrigerator and needs to be used STAT?" Maybe I should rename it Triage Chili for those vegetable emergencies we all have. Later I will go help at Ibby's class party and then get the gift for her birthday party later. And Lucy has viola. And Charles has a basketball game. And we have the great Chili Cook-off at church at the same time as all of these things -- the usual "a clone would sure be nice Friday." Wish you could all come eat chili with us because as Jen says, "Nothing says 'I love you' like chili." Actually nothing says 'I love you' like the day after chili.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gray skies are gonna clear up...

Growing up, whenever we would plaintively ask, "Do we have to?" my mom would always cheerily reply, "No, you get to!" Which, of course, meant that we had to. This morning I was thinking more about this and realized how thinking that way can really change one's attitude about virtually everything. Do I have to make dinner? Well, I have two capable hands, food in the pantry, a lovely (hungry) family, I don't have to work outside the home, I have a gas stove, pots and pans, exotic seasonings at my fingertips... so, no I don't have to, I get to! And suddenly it seems like quite a blessing indeed to be able to walk into the kitchen and make dinner. And I always have such difficulty trying to decide what to make -- well, there are certainly worse trials in life. We have so many choices! Another wonderful blessing. I have an embarrassing admission. I will say it quietly. Years ago I read the book Angela's Ashes. It is truly an amazing book if you haven't read it. At the time I had two small children and looking back I know I was very depressed. Everything was hard -- cooking dinner, keeping the house orderly, being kind -- you name it, impossible. So I was reading this book and the family is so poor. They have nothing. One set of clothes, the bare minimum to eat, no furniture and do you know what I thought? Oh, that sounds so nice and simple. That mom didn't have to clean anything -- because she didn't have anything! She didn't have to do laundry -- don't have to when you don't have clothes. She didn't have to cook dinner -- great, no food. Can you believe I had that thought? Terrible. Affluenza -- I obviously have too much when I envy people with nothing. (I think I think I don't have enough, though. Another embarrassing thing. Today I ate a potato chip that was on my kitchen floor. What was I thinking? That I couldn't get another one from the actual bag? And do chips eaten off the floor not have the same calories? I shouldn't have been eating chips at all let alone the detritus of my son's snack). So along with my new "Get To" attitude I have been trying a new smile therapy. I find that I frown too much and I would hate to get frowny wrinkles! So in the name of vanity and sanity I am trying to glow instead of glower, grin instead of looking grim. It is actually really amazing. I was driving along and yet another irritating driver crossed my path. Instead of my usual judgement of her poor choices I just smiled and soon I felt great. Just paste one on your face and within approximately 3 - 5 seconds your smirk will become a real smile. You should try it. I'll wait...

See? My seventh grade p.e. teacher tried to tell me with all of her peppy posters, but I just didn't believe it could be true.

Sing it out now -- So put on a HAP-PY face!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lions, tigers, and bears...

I suppose that everyone has phobias of one kind or another. Some that are reasonable and healthy, and some slightly irrational. I have some fears that I don't even know are causing me stress until the danger is no longer there. For instance: When we lived in Japan there were always earthquake tremors and living as we did on the fifth floor, we would sway back and forth until it ended. I was also having dizzy spells at the time so I would have to look up and see whether the light fixtures were moving or if it was just me. Every morning when I woke up, I would wonder in the back of my mind if today would be the day for the "Big One." Almost subconsciously I would go through safety steps throughout the day, "Okay, in this subway station, where is the nearest escape," etc. I really wanted to have eye surgery because I didn't want to have my glasses smashed and be half blind. Although in retrospect did I really need to see to survive by drinking my own urine and witness the destruction all around me? (A guy in Taiwan really did sustain himself that way for two weeks and it haunts me). When we moved to New Hampshire it was like a weight I didn't even know I carried was gone! The relief was palpable as I realized how miniscule the likelihood of an earthquake was. It was something I knew I was thinking about, but didn't realize was causing me actual stress. The next one is: I suppose there is always the chance that I could be attacked at any given moment. I am completely unaware that I have this thought until winter strikes. Throughout this season I get in my car and think, "Good thing there isn't a maniac hiding in the back seat because it is much too cold." Or when I walk from my detached garage to my back door late at night I think, "What a relief that there is no one waiting to strike from the bushes because the temperature just isn't favorable for that kind of activity. You would have to be crazy to be doing that." As if a serial killer isn't crazy -- ha, ha, oh. I may just have to rethink my complacency here. This thought relates to all crime. I don't worry as much about someone trying to break in the house because they don't know how long it will take and it just isn't worth spending time outside. So yet another reason to be grateful for the cripplingly cold, mind-numbingly bitter, winter we are having. But, once again, normally I don't even realize that I am worried about this.

Right now it is 5˚, feels like -12˚ with the interminable wind. You know it has been a bad winter when... it is 17˚ and you think, "Hey, I don't need a coat, it is downright bearable out there."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Metaphorically Speaking

So it is Monday again and I was thinking of a favorite. I can't really write about my favorite sister, my favorite friend, or my favorite child now can I? I am just kidding, I don't have a favorite of those. I love all of them equally. I do have a favorite yoga dvd that I am liking a lot and that is "Dance the Chakras." My sister, Ellen, sent it to me and I really like doing it. The absolute best part of the practice is when I do shoulder stand and my tummy fat is no longer just sitting there, but actually going up (or down, whatever). This is very motivating and I really like it every time (not really, no). Today I was listening and discovered that apparently what happens on your yoga mat does not stay on your yoga mat. She said, "What happens on your yoga mat becomes a metaphor for your life." Oh, no!!! There are so many things wrong with that. For one, I never, ever, finish the whole dvd! What is that saying about my life? I can tell you it is pretty accurate, but one just doesn't want to be faced with that kind of truth. Another problem is that I rarely even get to yoga at all. Almost every day I think, "I will do yoga first thing in the morning. No, kids are up -- get ready for school. Now I can't because I just ate breakfast. Now I can't because I am wearing jeans. Now I can't because I just ate lunch. Now I can't because I have to pick up kids from school. Now I can't because I have to make dinner. Now I can't because I just ate dinner. Now I can't because I have to get kids in bed. Now I can't because I am too tired!" If that is a metaphor, I don't want the reality. Let's see what else. Oh, half the stuff I cannot even do. I am not flexible enough (too set in my ways?), not strong enough (timid? indecisive?), and generally unbalanced (???). When I do actually get to it, though, I really enjoy it and feel better all day. This morning the baby was climbing all over me and laying his head on my tummy -- I love that. Here is hoping that I can take this metaphor and be the conduit for my soul's expression rather than be the gutter for my incompetence.

Of course I would like to wish everyone a Happy Groundhog's Day! Six more weeks of winter, super! I would hate to be warm.
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