Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nine little ladies jumping on a tramp

"You're weird."
"Hey, say sorry to my friend and be nice!"
"Let's not jump with Little Mother. Let's go off by ourselves."
"This is the worst birthday ever. Ladybug is taking off with my friends."
"Well, who am I supposed to play with?"
"I'm bored."
"Why isn't there more drink?"
"Can't we jump on the Velcro jumper and pay more money?"
"When is the pizza getting here?"

The momma wanted to crawl under a rock. And stay there. And eat all the pizza herself. Luckily her good friend had her back. "Come on kids! It's present time!" The mama slunk in the back and watched as Katie Sue distracted them into good relations once again.

"Katie, please tell me they get over this stuff. Please tell me I am not going to have to deal with this for the rest of their growing up time."

"Well, we still still do it. We still deal with the same things. There is always someone at church who is super sensitive and someone who stirs the pot. We are trying to figure out who we feel comfortable with. Its just that we learn to handle it better. You are just teaching skills to handle it better. Over and over you will say, "you may see it that way, but that is not how others see it. Your vision is a little bit skewed."

The momma felt a bit more patient at that point as she realized that people skills are a life long learning process and these little ones were just beginning their journey.

Time for cake. Nine young ladies jumping on trampolines were devoured before they could even be recorded in their cuteness.In a rare moment of creativity, the momma filled Little Mother's dreams of a trampoline cake by cutting out shapes from fruit roll-ups and laying them over doughnuts. Though no one ooohed and ahhhed like the mom would have liked for her own gratification, they did eat them... quickly, leaving no little crumbs to record. Ah Birthdays. I am toying with the idea of making each birthday a "serve others day" where they pick a service to offer others. Or perhaps the birthday person should just pick an experience for the family to share. So much me me me is not healthy for any of us. I wonder if I could pull it off with girls already full of expectations.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cocooning Ladybugs

"We will stick together and be partners in this growing up thing." My Ladybug spoke with confidence. "You know, I want to be a young lady, but I don't." Stuck between bugs and boys, my caterpillar is thinking of cocooning.

Where has my baby gone? Some girls run headlong into growing up, pulling parents behind them. Others go kicking and screaming. A few move gently and gracefully into their teens. My bug, who has not had a graceful transition period yet, is one of those.

No topic is off limits between the two of us and she has covered many of them. I feel that she views me as a full partner in "becoming a young lady" - that our relationship provides confidence to move forward with a little trepidation and a little excitement.

She draped my arm around her and held it tight as we walked into Walmart. Holding tight to each other we found new young lady things. Many children are such darling little ones then frighten as teenagers. My wild bug is nesting with her mother, trusting firmly in my care to see her through.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The End of the Rainbow

I watched Ladybug sing her heart out during her year end concert. No one watching knew what emotions stirred Briz and I as we watched our miniature pre-teen. The countless hours of encouragement, frustration, and song requests to a seemingly mute child will remain unknown to all who watch my seemingly normal little girl. But we know . . . and our hearts just about jump out of our chests when we hear her sing.

Elisabeth has full blown Autism. She is assisted to the mike and proceeds to sing The End of the Rainbow. She does a beautiful job. She remembers every word. The crowd is moved. Several wipe their eyes in recognition of a mountain crossed.

But I have eyes only for her mother. She mouths every word. Throughout the performance she mouths animated encouragement and gives thumbs up or clasped hands. She is connected to that little girl as though they two were the only two on the face of the earth, as though no one else mattered. In her face, I see the thousands of hours of work, worry, and love that have gone into Elisabeth. In her eyes, I see that she understands that this three minute song is the pay check for years of effort, the pot of gold at the end of the elusive rainbow. I understand.

I see her, I know her . . . I see myself.

The Ride

"Mom, mom." I felt someone tug at my warm covers. "The bike ride?" I didn't move. In a few minutes I felt a light silky body being held on my chest, a lure of one of my favorite things to wake me up. I scratched Pye's chin, nuzzled her fur, stretched and groggily rolled out of bed. Twenty minutes later we were on the road.

My daughter rode up to me at an intersection. "I love bike rides! Don't you? I feel like I'm on a roller coaster with the wind in my face." At another intersection, "Wasn't this a great idea? Aren't you having fun? Can we do this again?"

Twenty five minutes later we pulled up to her school. Her body language showed her confidence in her achievement. After parking her bike and receiving the accolades from her teachers for her long ride, she walked up to me and held me close then with head held high, walked into the school.

I rode home, no longer worried about a tailing biker. I reveled in the honest open interaction with the world and thought about all I had missed, driving this route twice every day. One home was replacing it's solar panels, another the roof. There was a funeral program in the ditch in front one home, and another was growing a beautiful purple ground cover I'd like to try. I felt a connection to the unseen homeowners.

Biking brought a more direct interaction with the drivers as well. They saw my smile and responded in kind. Some paused for my safety and others sped by as though my presence at the side of the road was a mortal offense.

I turned down my lane. Intoxicated by the smell of summer flowers and freshly cut grass, I zoomed down the hill. The spokes hissed and I raised my arms to feel the wind rush to meet me.

It felt like a roller coaster.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I dreamed up the little musicians class as a way to pay to take my husband to NYC. I ended up really enjoying my time with these little ones.

Today, 7 small children excitedly gathered to share their cleverness with their mothers. They did not want to play, they wanted to show. But the excitement of the moment was too great. They could not focus on their learnings, so great was their joy at their mother's presence. I finally gave up helping them show off and served refreshments. Killing Two birds with one stone, I made the same thing for our Teacher Appreciation dinner - so recipes are on the dinner blog.
Nonetheless, these little ones have learned about 6 different composers and classic works, volume, instruments, rhythm, tempo, staccato, legato, major and minor keys. One or two just liked to race around to the music, but some were really gifted in the area. I hope they go on to greater things. I am pleased with all their progress in 12 weeks. I think I'll miss their happy little noises, their smiles and their hugs. Most of all their hugs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Flexible and Responsible

Ladybug designed 2 cards for a set of Character cards made for Barnes and Noble. Above is her art work on the printer's proofs. I think I'll frame the printer's proofs. We attended a kick off for the product at the local B & N where local dignitaries came to meet the artists and learn how to use the cards. She's a talented little bug all right!

Monday, May 25, 2009

First Snake Day of the Year

Sunshine looked down and chuckled. Then she looked up. "Dad." she was popping out of her skin with her own cleverness. "I'm holding a weo snake." This is her first experience with her sister's honored Summer pastime.
The snakes have emerged to bask on the warm dirt and concrete in our yard. For the next 4 months, I will hear the doorbell ring. I will answer it to find grimy fingers pushing a snake in my face. What a growth experience for me. I hate snakes and bugs but wouldn't destroy my girl's excitement for the world. All the princesses love snakes. I have seen several kissed. Perhaps they have mixed up the frog story... no, I guess not. They kiss frogs too.

Some women get excited over clothes, others decorations. I get excited over great food. Today was the perfect day for the perfect BBQ. Ted and Andrea from an old neighborhood hosted us for a picture perfect evening. The food was so perfect that I filled my plate over and over.

We had Rib Eye Steak with Gorgonzola Butter, Market Street Salad WITH HUGE SHRIMPYS and GRAPEFRUIT, grilled corn on the cob and potatoes.

Oh, yum. There are some families of kids that just fit. Ours do perfectly. They love each other and get in trouble together perfectly. It's great to know that there are like minded people out there mindfully raising their children. The adults chatted and monitored Liam (their littlest) who found ways to get the the cutest trouble every time our backs were turned.

Happy Memorial Day!!!

Family Memorials

Today was flavored with memories, inspiration, healing, and family love. We traveled to Cache Valley, where I was raised, pictures in hand to remember. The Hyrum
cemetery, already bright with offerings was still and quiet early in the morning. I shared stories with the next generation, and stilled my own heart in the process.

While searching for a set of great grandparents I never knew, I spied a solitary elderly woman, bent over meditating. Though I'd never seen her before, she seemed so familiar I approached.

"Who are you?" She demanded. I hesitated, not knowing how to respond. "Why are you in the McBride plat?"

"I'm Elva's grand-daughter." I replied. "Well, you belong here then. I'm her sister. Folks call me Ginger." She shared some hazy memories and showed me graves of 3 toddler siblings. She asked for a visit and invited me to her reunion. We embraced, then I left to calm my agitated and bored crowd.

The majority of my day was spent with those I love in Logan. I was inspired by the creativity, depth, and relationships of my friends. They are true artists with the deep inner vision that the rest of us gaze through. We dined together, and I felt gratitude for the funny thing called genetics that allows me to have so many friends that might not have given me the time of day if not for shared genes. How richer my life is for that fact.

My grandma took me to a Northern cemetery. "Children, I know you are getting tired. Please come and listen. Someday, you will need to share the stories with your children. Its very important." So they came out and tried the best they could (like I used to) to pay attention to a long winded Grandma. As we moved off, we were spotted by other Memorial visitors and a small and family reunion ensued. Clyde, Stella, Harley, and Mary were aging. Clyde now looked just like the Great Grandpa whose grave we were visiting.

Time heals. Time brings all things together. Our journeys take us various places in pain, or joy, but bring us back to this.

On our way out of town, we stopped to see Greg and Deonne. Dinner cooked on their open fire, cousins shared, enjoyed and chased.

"What do I have to do to get you to stay the night?" D asked? "Provide us with some clothes." I answered. "Done."

It's amazing what a smart determined woman can do.

Clothed in skulls, mutant turtles, and other space ships, my girls enjoyed a late night movie party with their cousins, while the adults talked.

Morning brought bad breath (no toothbrush), sweet babies to love, and homemade pancakes with strawberries and cream. I arrive home, smelly, tired and happy.

"Wow, we're having just a good old time this weekend!" announced Ladybug.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Super Sunshine

"Super Sunshine" leaps, twirls and races down the street with the bike stroller (really a super jet). Her super hat flows behind her like a cape and her gardening apron (really her super suit) is stocked with trowels, sparklys, and bits of string. "What does a Super Sunshine do?"

"I use my Super tool to save worms so they don't get cut in half."

The castle worms rest safe tonight.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hair Togetherness

So I am looking for examples of selfless actions in marriage . . . something to pattern after.

Today in Smith's Marketplace somewhere between the cucumber starts and the reduced price ground beef I received enlightenment. A couple, in the late forty, maybe early fifty range, held hands, by the fingertips. Both smiled with enjoyment at friends they were talking with. As I approached I noticed they looked like twins.

My mind processed the meaning of their matching haircuts. Both were shaved to the skull. My heart twisted as I recognized the solidarity of the action. The wife was obviously being treated for cancer, and in my mind's eye, I saw them sit down together with the hair trimmer the night before chemotherapy. He refused to let her face it alone and shared it with her the best he could. I have never seen a more attractive couple. Even now, I cry as I think about it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friends and Food

There is not much that food and friends can't fix.

Due to hormonal influctuations, I have had a little black thunder cloud following me the past week. Poor kids, poor husband, poor me to have to listen to my sad thoughts running through my head. No one cares. I'm just an uninteresting drudge. Everyone uses me..... you know, the horrible ridiculous thoughts that are blatantly wrong due to their "everyone" and "nobody". Anytime I hear one of those thoughts I know it is faulty because there is never a time when everyone and nobody does ANYTHING!!!!!

Anyhow, yesterday afternoon, I returned home to find Melanie left this Low Carb Bible/Cookbook on my steps.
How thoughtful its that? She LOVES me!!!!! It is the perfect complement to the low carb/ high carb macro patterning I use to regulate my sugar levels. I spent the evening reading the cookbook and feel better about the food that would be coming my way soon.

Then, this morning, Little Mother and I met Margaret and Colden at Elisabeth's Tea Room.
I tried Welsh Rarebit for the first time!!!! It was savory... and satisfying. I doubt I'd have the courage to buy the beer they used though. What would my kids think?

We snacked on ginger scones with lemon curd, sausage rolls and currant vanilla tea. We laughed and talked and I felt the remnants of the cloud blowing away.

Tonight, I met Liz and Amy at The Merlaine downtown. Located in a quaint old building, the food was spectacular and the company stimulated and comforted. We shared, we thought, and giggled.

It is late and I should be going to bed, but I am so grateful for the influx of friends and food. Just when I needed them the most, they all pop up. Everyone is so wonderful!!! My tummy is full and so is my heart. I can't see a trace of that thundercloud.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Romance in Central Park

Biking through Central Park I thought through the hundreds of romantic scenes I had watched played out on its grounds, particularly at the angel fountain, most recently seen in Enchanted.
All romances stop at the kiss, the engagement, or the wedding. Few movies or books take us beyond these pivotal , tear jerking, orchestra swelling, song-worthy moments. I saw a few couples taking advantage of the flowers to sneak in a kiss or more. But they were all young, unmarried. Does love continue to exist? I'm still working on the Love Dare, so it is on my mind. Here is what I am thinking about.

A girl, a boy, attracted... seek to attract. For a brief period of time they are share, forgive, serve, offer continual acts of kindness. A more perfect version of themselves reflects back at them from the other's eyes. Each expects that same kindness, that same consideration for the rest of their lives. Stirring. String playing. Screen filling.

Now roommates, co-bill payers, parents, with late nights, piles of dishes, unmade beds, commitments, needs, endless jobs, endless worry . . . Kindness? Consideration?

Each is consumed. Eaten alive with demands from others. Exhausted, disappointed with self for accomplishments, daily and life. They must DEMAND their share. They must wrest their fairness out of life because who is going to look after number one? When so much is given/taken, if you give the final bit, what does it leave you with? Wouldn't you be gone? Vanished?

My Love Dare journey goes slowly as I seek to incorperate each principle. Principle #3. "Love is not selfish." Well I've certainly got that down. What do I do all day for myself? My life is for others. I read on.

"When a wife constantly complains about the time and energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband (and kids), that's a sign of selfishness." And, "Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive."

Love seeketh not her own. (1 cor. 13:5) Does that scripture really mean that I should not look after myself? Think about what is best for me when so much is already given?

I have been pondering this question for days. Studying, reading, seeking and praying for an answer. I must admit now, I am a selfish human being. Second, I am afraid to do anything about it. What will happen? Will I end up a drudge or a slave?

I can't find a model. No true heroine would be such a pushover in the movies. Strong intelligent women are really in right now. Their men and kids know they need to toe the line have the priveledge of being with these amazing women. In chit chat, we girl friends are constantly telling each other, "You do not need to put up with that!" We women have been slaves long enough. NO MORE we say! How can I prioritize the well being of my mate without losing my authenticity?

I turn to the example of Jesus Christ. Goodness. He really didn't seek his own did he. I mean really! Who wants torture, ridicule, and death? I'm not lining up. I guess he sought for others, in all things unto death. He held nothing back. Nothing. But he was completely and entirely himself. He never bent his thoughts, standards, or actions to suit others, yet all he did was for others long term best interest.

Darn it! It is much more complicated than I would like. Luckily I have a life to practice. But . . . will I be happy? Can I trust that less selfishness will bring a happier existence? Jesus Christ's philosophy is that we will find our life when we lose it. When I become invisible, my needs, my rights.... I will find what I'm truly after.

Well my life has been based on trust in his teachings. Thus far he has not let me down. I am finally ready to move forward with the challenge of Day 3, adding selflessness to patience and kindness. I think I am ready to graduate... from "movie love" to something better, from a movie heroine to someone better. Nineteen years later I'm ready to pull the cord and J U M P. Is that worthy of a shot in Central Park?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Broken Laws

"Rules are meant to provide us our greatest happiness," explained Rabbi Bernstein. I agree. In fact the more experience I gain, the deeper this truth becomes.

When we are little, we must learn this truth in small things. I stepped onto the front porch and saw my two youngest speeding down the hill in the plasma car without shoes or helmets. Now the rules have been laid 100 times if they have been laid once. "Girls, you know the rules. Go get your gear!"

I turned back to my reading as they walked up to the garage. A few minutes later, I heard the bike thunder again down the hill. I looked up just in time to see two little girls, without shoes or helmets plow straight into a thick solid metal pole. Sunshine's face went 20 miles an hour smack dab into the pole. Little Mother fell off the back and was dragged a bit. The screams of pain started and I . . . I hate this part of motherhood. I want to shrink and hide. I cannot bear to look. The accident could have killed my little ones. Do they have concussions? Broken bones? They pick themselves up and I know they will live. I am furious, yet I realize that natural consequences teach far better than any I could impose.

Broken rules at 4 and 7 lead to scraped knees, toes, bruises and swollen faces. Broken laws/rules at 30 lead to unimaginable pain . . . So, I try to look on the bright side. Perhaps helmets and shoes may not be seen as such a pointless parent driven burden next time. Well, we can always hope.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fun on a shoe string

Six ribbon sticks sell at Oriental Trading company for under $9.00. Little Mother and Sunshine race up and down the cul de sac, listening to the ribbon whip in the wind behind them. It becomes a snake, a circle of fire, an object of envy for the neighbor kids visiting their grandmother.

I read at the window and watch the hours of creativity and expression. I walk into the kitchen to get a drink. I return and find Briz zigging and zagging, waving and looping. I giggle. Soon all children are lured into the front room by the prospect of a ribbon fest with Dad and hero.

When they tangle . . . or rip off . . . or get lost . . . I am going to shell out another $9.00.

By the way, we are still celebrating with dinner. I added a new post on the dinner celebration blog tonight. I am toying with the idea of discontinuing the dinner blog, particularly the recipes. Does anyone have any input?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Friends and Biblical Roots

In a moderately run down area of Brooklyn congregates a large Chasidic Jewish population. Looking at their long beards, black suits and hats, and dangly strings hanging at their waists, one would assume that they are an introverted clammed up sect. However, the opposite is the case. Their leader, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, has directed his people on final preparations for the Messiah. To do this, they wish to let the world see them, understand them, and to teach us, Jew and non Jew alike, what we must do to have a world ready for a Messiah. For this purpose, they invite strangers in to see their way of life.

Briz and I had such an opportunity on his birthday. We waited for Rabbi Beryl Bernstein in a library filled with books written in Hebrew and Yiddish. I was particularly taken with an ancient collection called THE KOSHER HOUSEWIFE. I was fascinated by the various recipes, and numerous rules to help a household remain kosher.

There we sat discussing chassidic philoshophy - one swaying Chassidic Rabbi from Tennessee, 2 southern baptists, 1 modern Orthodox Jew and 2 Mormons. He took us to the synagogue. We watched from above in the women's section as the men took out their phlacteries, and bound one box on their heads and another around their arm. The married ones, covered their heads with the white prayer shawl. Some had strollers with young children who toddled around getting into mischief as they worshiped. They began reading to prepare their minds to talk with God. Then they met in groups around the room. As the spirit took them, they rocked to and fro, and the praying took on a sing song quality. I was mesmerized... moved... longed to know more.

The Rabbi spoke to us with much wisdom. He told us that the reason they do many things that seem silly is to increase their relationship with God. He compared it to a husband/wife relationship. The man works hard to pay the rent, but that does not build the wife's love. The flowers and the things a man does that make no sense to HIM make her love him more. Therefore it is in the nonsensical that we build our love for God, not in just doing what makes sense to us.
We toured the Mikvah, a place he said many Jews had never seen because only the women go there to ritually clean each month before resuming relations with their husbands for the two weeks allowed to them. The twelve days when the man and wife are not permitted to sleep in the same bed, pass each other food, talk with each other or even touch fingertips seemed really harsh, yet after the Rabbi explained how what they were doing was to create love, bonding, and commitment, I understood and more... I deeply respected them for going to such lengths to follow the commandments.

We were allowed access into the Rebbi's library where their priceless treasures are kept- 770, the world wide center for their sect of Judism.

We watched scribes use a feather quill to painstakingly print the Mezuzah on the hide of a Kosher animal following the hundreds of rules that govern this practice.

We visited the small room where 3 men worked by hand to shape cow hide into phlacteries and fold the Torrah passages and place them in the correct compartments.

In short, this was the highlight of my New York trip. It was so comforting in a world full of depravations and self gratification to witness a community deeply dedicated to God, spirituality, morality, marriage and community. The rabbi could tell I was hungry for more, so he gave me websites where I can peruse Jewish scholars and daily discourses from the Torah. Yeah!!! I am so excited. The websites are a treasure trove of fun for me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Huddled Masses

We were herded onto the ferry. Hundreds of smelly people jostled, pushed and fought for a seat, then for a view. Completely exhausted from our red eye flight, I had little patience for the crowd around me and wondered how the experience could be worth it. Upon reaching THE statue, the lines were hours long to go through security just to get in the base. As I stood awaiting my turn I marveled at my companions. In front of me was an Iranian family wearing head scarves. Behind was an Indian family with flowing scarves and red forehead dots. I made it a game to find an English speaking group somewhere in line. I finally found a Jr. High group. Germans, French, Armenian, Brazilian... endless nationalities crowded in anticipation to see the statue. Where were my fellow Americans? Recalling the crowd of the boat then watching the grateful eyes in the multi national and lingual lines, I could picture easily the boats filled with immigrants who waited patiently for days outside Ellis island hoping for asylum. By the time I reached the inner statue, my heart was full. The immigrants had faces for me. When I read the plaque on Lady Liberty, I wept.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus
My generosity toward the huddled masses on the ferry ride back was markedly different. I thought of another who did not say, "Send me your rich, your famous, your talented." But,"bring me your children, your lame, your poor... the least of these and they will find rest." I knew better how to behave.