Sunday, August 23, 2009

Like a Little Child

I sat at the edge of the pool watching children leap, dip, and wallow in the shallow end. A small bikinied girl swished by. She smiled at me. I smiled back. She made a few turns then came over and conversationally mentioned, "My name's Kylee." I solemnly told her my name, said glad to meet you, and we shook hands. She asked if I was enjoying the pool, told me she liked my swim suit, and asked which little girl was my cousin. I pointed out Sunshine, then we introduced ourselves to another little girl eavesdropping on our conversation. By now we were firm friends so Kylee held onto my legs and I swung her around under water till my own jealous little one came to claim me.

Every pool chair was filled with lounging mothers and a few fathers. Yet none of them offered me the gift of a smile, sat down to enjoy my company, or trustingly took a ride on my legs. Startled, I realized I truly love children, not just mine, but most of the messy, unpredictable, authentic little carrier monkeys. Their sacrifices and exposure of self are so real. I thought about other gifts I have received from children.
  1. Notes, hidden where I will find them.
  2. Shoes lined neatly in my closet.
  3. Full outfits coordinated for my wearing pleasure and laid out on my bathroom floor.
  4. Pictures, pictures, and more pictures.
  5. Jewelry, strung on yarn, fishing line or string.
  6. Dramatic shows and musicals put on for my enjoyment.
  7. Breakfast in bed.
  8. A portion of ALL their special treats
  9. Berries picked from non-edible bushes.
  10. Bouquets, bouquets. Wildflower, neighbor's flowers, my flowers...
  11. Hugs, sticky kisses, love signals, morning, afternoon and evening snuggles.
  12. Personal disclosure: who they like, when boys saw their underwear, when they make a mistake.
  13. Favorite walking sticks.
  14. "Found treasures" such as broken i-phones, 1 ear ring to hang on a necklace, or a mottled tennis ball.
  15. Crafty creations from clay, glue, pom poms, sticks, and google eyes.
  16. Mud pots made from the clay from our yard.
  17. Unadulterated joy at seeing me.
  18. My own belongings recycled back to me in gift form.
In the mail, I just received a box from Ladybug. It is for MOM with love. The jewelry box has a little clock and tinks out Fur Elise when the top drawer opens. Over the phone my bug excitedly revealed that it was SOOO expensive. It cost the entire $7 she had earned in her first two weeks working on the farm. The relative value of her gift is staggering. At my last job, eleven years ago, my two weeks earnings would be around $1,800. If I didn't know more money was coming, would I blow the whole wad on someone without saving myself enough for an Italian soda?

Childrens' gifts remind me of the widow's mite. They give their all. EVERYTHING that they have available to them, their time, their resources, their souls, their dignity, and their talents goes into showing appreciation and love. My adult self begrudgingly feels that I offer them my life. And I do. But I look at their list and wonder ... When was the last time I sat down to draw a friend or my child a picture of us holding hands? Would I share all my hidden Sees Nougat Bars? Are most adults as giving, trusting, open, and friendly as children? My experience says No.

Yet. . .

Children are us in our purer form. They are us before we get jaded, selfish, or fearful of rejection. Behind each adult is a small child that once offered someone a dandelion bouquet. I hope that adult took their offering with gratitude and humility. But if not, it's never to late to be the adult who paddles on by, smiles and says, "My name's Midodi. What's yours? Which cousin belongs to you?" When their child-self peeks out, I hope I take their the childlike offering of themselves with humility and gratitude.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rejoice with me! What was lost is found

Tolerations are holes in your personal success cup,
Draining away contentment and good fortune
-Thomas Leonard

Apron strings and unrolled cords peeked out from underneath the bottom cabinet to the left of the dishwasher. Three or four place mats had slid off the unmanageable untidy pile and hung next to the strings.

As usual, the untidy display caught my eye and bothered me on an almost unconscious level.

Voice: "Why don't you ever fix that overflowing shelf?"
Me: "Because I never have the time."
Voice: "You know your tolerance of that mess wastes your time, weighs you down, and gives you negative feelings about your life every time you see it.
Me: "Time, time, time."
Voice: "Sounds like you need to take the time to make this cupboard work for you so it stops talking to you each time you pass it."

I threw away a kitchen garbage bag full of place mats. The rest were filthy from young dish doers putting them away without wiping. I washed each one then laid them over the carpet to dry.

Now for the aprons. Does anyone really need 7 stained adult aprons and 10 ripped child aprons? Well some must go and the rest needed a good wash. I picked up the pile. CLING! CLING! I heard a metallic sound on the tile. I stooped down and saw two familiar gold rings.

My wedding ring and a pearl ring from my sweetheart disappeared before we moved over 4 1/2 years ago. I screamed a happy scream into the phone (sorry Elisabeth). Years of searching had not turned up the missing jewelry. Only releasing my excess blessed me with the abundance I have sought.

Obviously, it's time to bless someone else with that chef's coat!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hero Worship

Ladybug has been in California with my parents for the last month. She spends the mornings working on the organic chicken farm "doing the dead", or removing hundreds of dead chickens and burying them. She is dedicated to the work, as her artistic envelope shows. She reports that the little ones are less gross than the big ones that have guts coming out, fall apart easily, are see through and turning blue.

It is a true blessing that she can learn responsibility from those who love her. In addition to frog collection and duck rearing, she is learning about social relationships while spending time with two cousins, Natalia and Joseph. Home schooled for years, they have no pre-conceived notions of how someone "should" behave. They share similar interests, thus they accept her and give her a great gift, friendship.

She is in her safe place, a magical world where critters abound, no schoolwork exists, and swimming in the pool occurs each afternoon. So I was surprised to receive her letter, sharing her heart. I am shocked and touched to realize that she misses me. Me, the reading enforcer, the disciplinarian, the spoil sport. I would make her life there, in California, perfect. The thought makes me feel very small, and very unworthy of the role I play in her life. I never set out to be any one's hero. With parenthood, no one can escape it though. No matter how hurtful the parent, when sick, you really want your mom. When achievement is reached, what you wouldn't give to see your dad cheer.

It's heady stuff. Parenthood. I love you too Bug. You are my greatest teacher. May I live worthy of your lessons.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

All that Glitters

Squishy sparkly smelly play dough heaven assisted the still incapacitated mother with her rambunctious Sunshine today. She made Red Cherry Sparkle and I made Golden Yellow Lemon Sparkle. I thought it was the funnest dough I've ever played with. My crown looked more regal, and her corn looked fancier and smelled better.

"Aw you show we can't eat it? What will happen if you eat glitter? Is it poison?"

"No," I answered, "It probably is just hard on your system. Your wastes would probably come out sparkly."

"Oh, Mom, that would be so pwetty! Let's try it."

"Uh, No I don't think so."

Sparkle Glitter Play Dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 T oil
1 cup water
2 T cream of tartar
2 T glitter
1 pkt. Kool Aid

Mix all ingredients except water in a saucepan. Add water, then whisk. Cook over medium heat untill stiff and sticking together in a ball. Dump it out on wax paper. Knead untill smooth.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I am thinking about the princess who kissed a frog today. Was it a show of affection motivated by real love (Agape) bound by law to produce intimacy? Or was she motivated by other things like loneliness, power, lust (doubtful), or friendship, any of which, according to my class, can only lead to disappointment and disillusionment.

Thousands converged upon the BYU campus for the beginning of Education Week. My friend Jodi and I were two of the anxiously seeking middle aged women who race walked from building to building with our comfortable shoes, and packed granola bars. We giggled and cried and had our minds enlarged.

During a class on Love and intimacy, we learned about the 4 words for love in the Greek language, Philos for friends, Storge for family, Eros for romantic love, and Agape, for charity or the deepest of all loves that added to any of the other loves makes it deeper and long lasting.

Directly in front of us a 50ish woman adjusted in her seat. Out came the loudest and longest flatulence I have witnessed since high school. Though many curious people around us whispered, the class continued. After a minute or so, the woman's husband softly reached up his arm around his wife and discretely patted her shoulder in comfort. "I'm here for you" this gesture said. "I still love you." Jodi looked at me and said, "Agape."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

When the student is ready. . .

Sometimes you are given a prompting, something that is important for you to know and work on. You begin. Then information and helps appear every where you turn, when you are least expecting it. New Age people would say "the universe is conspiring to bring you what you ask." I think that is silly. A loving Heavenly Father is working with each one of us right where we are and gives us all the tools we need as he sees we are sincere.

I started to simplify my life to find the things that are really important for me to accomplish on my short sojourn here. I am dejunking my physical and mental self in order to focus. A friend introduced my to Secrets of Simplicity. I bought it on faith and was amazed that she is on the same quest as I am. When I dropped off a load at the DI, I was drawn to a book that is AMAZING and is helping me on my journey. When looking for a recipe to surprise my husband with, I found this talk from a beautiful young mother named Rachael on a random site that should have had decoration ideas. I lay on the floor next to my computer as my husband read Harry Potter again in the next room. I was sobbing by the end. Not only was I touched by her faith, I had received more guidance. I want to share it with anyone I love that wants to invest 55 minutes in soul food. Do laundry, open another window, sort pictures while you listen but do listen to the end. You will find something for you too. I am sure.


more about "Death Is Not Dying", posted with vodpod

Thursday, August 13, 2009

From Running Shoes to Slippers

Once in awhile, God stops me midstride and forces me to turn my running shoes into bedroom slippers. To do lists wait, messes pile, and I must sit. With a pounding top heavy head and half open eyes, I slide into the tub, hoping the mint scented bubbles will ease the pain, the weariness enough that I might keep Sunshine occupied for an hour. I close my eyes. I can't move. Suddenly I feel a plop beside me, I open my eyes a crack and find a bath buddy. "If you ever need me, just call. I'll aways be dare." She turns on the jets and begins to wash me. "I'm youw suvant." I then get the most thourough cleaning of my life. My hair, which I was going to leave gets washed, massaged, and rinsed. I get a bubble outfit. I get a rat (plastic one) continually removed from my tub. "I can speak with animals and so I know his name. No more baths for you!" Then it sneaks in again.

Finally, with prune fingers and toes we leave our bubbly playground. We each get a pumpkin smelling lotion and lather it on. When my buddy's feet shine with body creme, we know we are done.

I am moving down to lay on the sofa. I hope I can keep my eyes open. But happily, I've discovered that Sunshine may even like the slippered mom even better than the one in running shoes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oh how the great have fallen

A few tiny tree boars gnawed their way into our Purple Robe Locust last summer. I purchased the appropriate insecticide and fed it to the tree. Supposedly, it made the entire tree poisonous to insects. The boars disappeared, but left a small opening into the tree.

A few days ago, the wind whipped over our yard as it sometimes does, shredding leaves off trees, oppening gates, and dumping garbage. I heard the strangest creaking sound coming from the tree. Creak, creak, creak... it matched the wind gusts. I went inside and continued my labors. The next time I looked out, the tree was on the ground. The small hole had weakened the tree, leaving it vulnerable to the harsh attack from the wind. It was a beautiful tree and we mourn its loss.

In the meantime, the children and Pyewackit have claimed it as a hideout.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Wedding

I love witnessing weddings like this one. Both parties were pure, beautiful and so in love. She looked at him with a glow that could have lit a stadium. He looked back at her with such deep, slow love I felt I was intruding by witnessing the moment. They have no idea what is ahead of them (I sometimes feel that is best, we might run if we knew what awaited us). . . They simply face the future, hand in hand, together.

The mom is so beautiful, so graceful. I am so proud she is my aunt. She watches this milestone with mixed emotions. So proud, so happy, yet the moment is bittersweet as this boy who has been her gentle companion for over 20 years moves on to another love, another life. Never again can my uncle Wynn fool me. He likes me. I know it. I saw his emotions for the first time ever and I now know what I've always suspected. He is a deep thinker and an emotional man who hides it behind his jokes and teasing. I am so pleased to have seen his soul for a moment.

"Do you remember when we got married?" I ask my sweetheart? Do you remember how we looked at one another, how we felt, how we loved?

"I remember" he answers. "Yes I loved you a lot that day, but I love you more today, over eighteen years later. It's deeper - more complex. True, our romance isn't what it once was. Kids take a lot of our time. But I adore you."

I am reminded of this couple here, who show everyone in a very physical way, their excitement and feeling of celebration in their union. I want to tell both couples . . . "Just keep that celebration going. Celebrate that you have a companion to face whatever with. Celebrate that they are different from you. Celebrate their willingness to clean up your throw-up, to hold you when you cry, and to put up with your funny family things. Celebrate the toilet seat up, the shoes left all over the house, the whiskers in the sink, and the toothpaste spats. They are visible signs that your partner is THERE. Just keep on dancing. Even after the kids go to bed, keep dancing and you'll do just fine.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cache County Fair

Carnival colored rides beckon my small ones like a pied piper not to be denied.

Beloved cousins run, play, look, share, and make everything more exciting.

Sensory overload excites as you pass the food booths. BBQ, Navajo Tacos, Thai, Chinese, Greek . . . Support the sheriff's office, save the children, or buy from the cute little girl who is helping her mom sell chocolate covered bananas. Choices, choices. Then the inevitable disappointment when you spend $12 only to find your Navajo Taco has no meat and your kabob is dry and tough.

Children are fascinated by a Ronald McDonald comedy/magic show so painfully awful Vegas that I must leave to keep from jumping on stage and hauling him bodily off.

Some of our party experience the victory of taking on "the Bull" while we cheer.

My personal highlight is the 4-H displays. Children in boots and white starched shirts proudly walk their animals back to their stalls. Auctioneers chant, pigs sleep, children curry, or brush. Blue, red, and the occasional purple ribbon hang from brightly and sometimes sloppily labeled signs denoting "makin-bacon" or Fluffy.
I tear up, not from the allergies of the livestock but from memories. I stood in front of the auctioneer with my sheep, with my boots and long sleeved white shirt and watched my bidder walk off with my pet sheep. I had washed him that morning with blueing and polished his hooves with shoe poilish. I had fed him with a bottle when he first arrived. He trusted me and I realized I had just sold him for lamb chops.

The indoor displays fired me up. I brought Little Mother in to show her. Look what you can do in 4-H. I did ________ and _______ and _______ when I was little. Wouldn't you like to learn how to do these things and get a ribbon? Snickerdoodles, cabbages, art, photography, aprons, and chef hats. Each entry represented the culmination of a club's effort, an excited child learning, then placing their best on the line for judgement. Each entry, even the melted cakes tickled my heart because I saw the child working hard on their project and their mother "assisting" in the background. There is no active 4-H where I live. But, when has a little detail like that ever stopped me? I am so excited, I think I've talked myself into leading my own little 4-H club.

I love that part of America that still holds a "true" county fair. That smells of cotton candy, stale popcorn, cow manure, and chicken droppings. God bless that America!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I rush in and out of my room. The dogs must go out, the cat is yowling for strokes while she eats, Little Mother is ready for a hair style, Briz is leaving, and I must get ready so I can leave for an appointment. I return to my room to find Sunshine in lotus position, fingers in small circles of uninterrupted energy. Uhhhhhhhhmmmm. Ahmmmmmmmmmmm. She hums and hums. I stand, transfixed.
"What'cha doin babe?"


"Where did you learn to meditate?"

"From Tae Kwon Do."

"Oh. Does it help?"

"I'm feewing peaceful. I center mysewf to stawt my day."

"Well. Carry on then."

"Ahmmmmm. Uhmmmmmm. . .

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Walking to School

Realizing that my time with Little Mother is short these days, I take 25 minutes and walk her to school. Already straining at independence, she holds the dog's leash and walks ten steps ahead of Sunshine and I. Either she is embarrassed by her entourage or she is hoping all admiring comments and glances at the gregarious pug will be directed at her and her adultness, not her mom and kid sister. I sigh. Yet I understand. Despite her distance, at the crosswalk, we unashamedly pile into a large group hug. Kisses and expressions of love are shared while all around us bikes, scooters and strollers pass and stare. One more hug. Fifty yards later, "Mom! Mom!" An I love you sign and frantic wave.
On the walk back, I turn my attention to Sunshine. She gathers up the roly polys that have escaped the morning sprinklers on the sidewalks. A snicker. "They're tickling me Mommy!" I pause and wait as she picks up another and another. I pause again. "I didn't mean to make you stand and wait," she humbly submits. "It's okay. I don't mind." I answer.

After a minute she adds, "After all, cleaning the house isn't that important."

"No, sweetie, it isn't. Being with you and the roly polys is much more important." We walk a little further.

"Not fighting and being kind. That's weally weally impotant. Wight mom?"

"Yes, that is really important."

We round the corner. "What is most impotant Mom?" . . . I don't believe in giving five year old answers to an old soul. I hope my brain will work quickly.

"God is. Loving Him. Knowing he loves you. Having him as your friend."

"How mom?"

"Talking to him lots of times during the day through prayer. Listening to him by reading the words he wrote in scriptures. Talking and listening. That's how you make a friend."


We continue home, finding more roly polys.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My older girls have moved on and I have a new group of girls that come play with me every other week. I cannot express how much I enjoy this experience. We play, we craft, we learn, we talk, and I love this girl time. Today, Tomiko and Soki (behind the sofa) from Japan came and shared some of their culture with us. We taste tested Japanese candies and cookies, learned new Japanese words, and folded paper into delicate little birds and animals.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Secrets of Simplicity . . .

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Life is a series of journeys, that bring us closer to the life we envision for ourselves. The beginning of the school year is my "new year". I reorganize, re prioritize, and plot a continuation of my path.

My first step is to bring balance and unity between myself and my surroundings. I was inspired by this quote.

He who must travel happily must travel light.
-Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Oooooh! I believe in traveling light. Do my surroundings reflect this belief? I wandered though my home, where I spend most of my days. I noticed the piles of possessions that have been holding me prisoner. I indignantly yelled, "You will not get my time anymore! I barely have enough time for my life's purpose. I organize you and reorganize you, and pick you up, and put you away . . . you are taking time from those I love the most. I DON"T love you that much!!!! You're out of here!"

I started late at night with my closet.

I asked each item,

Do you fit?
Are you worn or torn?
Are you out of fashion?
When was the last time I wore you?
Will I wear you again?

Some items put up quite a fight. The most defiant were the oldest and most deeply entrenched, (over 14 years old). A black bikini and a beautiful dove gray suit with pearlized buttons refused to go in the give away box, even though they did not answer my questions appropriately. I finally asked myself. Why can't I get rid of these? I would die if my kids found the bikini! The suit has dust on it. A small voice defiantly answered, "I looked hot in that bikini! I was in shape back then." and "That was my favorite business suit that I wore to all my most important meetings. I was respected and important back then." I realized the crux of the matter is that I was relying on these ancient items, hidden from sight, to give myself value. As neither reflect who I am today, I knew they needed to go.

Three carloads to the D.I. in three days have left me feeling lighter, happier and ready to move on to the next defiant object. I'm a fighter!