Monday, February 28, 2011

It's a boy NOT a space lamb

Oh, man, oh man, oh man, oh man.

The phone just rang.  Little Mother shut herself in her room and started to jabber.  She had it on speaker phone.  The voice sounded funny.  "Who is it honey?"  I asked.  "It's Treyson!"  she answered with that excited sparkle in her voice.  "Oh.  All right then."  I reply casually.  After all, he is one of my students. "He wants to know if I like him or Sam better." she explains. 

Uh Hmmm.  We are 9 years of age.  This is a phone call from a BOY!!!!  My tummy turned a bit.  I reached down and gobbled a handful of Cadbury Mini Eggs I have sworn off.  Nervous food you know.  Should I listen?  How long should it go on?  Will this happen again?  What is my life turning into????? AHHHHHH!!! Did I mention NINE and that the called party's nickname is Gurgi due to her messy habits of hair in her eyes and smearing her munchings and crunchings from ear to ear? 

She is happily chatting upstairs, unaware that she has just crossed a family milestone and launched me into a new space.  In the car today, she told me that Sam and Treyson (close friends) are getting in fights at school over who liked her first.  A few weeks ago, one was disciplined for trying to make the other cry by telling her of his affections.  
Thank heavens, Sunshine is swooping and launching Space Lamb.  I get lambs with their heads stuck in canning jars, tutus and wiggliness.  But HOLY COW, I'll be talking with my girlfriends who have paved the path before.  I'll be calling you soon!  Maybe tonight... But first I have to sneak back upstairs and hear what they are saying.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What do you want to accomplish?

Every time my parents visit us or we visit them, they offer the same question, "What do you want to accomplish with this visit?"  That has always struck me as an odd question.  Do I really get to pick what is accomplished?  Being a good hostess is making sure that what you want to accomplish happens.  So,  20 years of visits have gone by without me choosing to accomplish anything.  

They are leaving for 18 months... not reachable by phone at my whim, not available for summer or Easter visits.  My little people, especially my two oldest will be completely changed by their return.  This emboldens me to ask, "would it be too much trouble to paint with my little ones?" 

First Nana teaches them how to plan a painting, to get several ideas, then pick your favorite.  Then they sketched on their canvas, then covered the canvas in a white base coat.  

When the base dried, they focused on their artistic endeavors for the next hour.  The girls took my pillows as inspiration and my mom said, "This is how I see my daughter."  It is beautiful to be seen and portrayed by loving hands.  

I was so proud of my four girls (mom included), I hung their beautiful art above my sofa.  If you come to our house, sooner than later, you will be pulled to view the great art by small hands.  They are pleased with themselves and can't believe I hung up their work.  

True, at one time in my life I wouldn't have.  But that was before I loved my children.  That means I love every little squiggle and plan that comes out of their heads.  I love all my mom's art work, but this one is a visual love letter I can look at each day. 
Mission Accomplished!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Adventures

Bedrooms were vacuumed, garbage cans emptied, game closet straightened, bathrooms scoured.  Little ones did well today.  Snow fell and fell.  Light soft flakes, from sunrise till noon.  It was time for an adventure.  I don't like snow, but I love childlike excitement.

Sled races

Orchestrated Crashes

Rolling the biggest snowball in the world down the hill

Shrieks of laughter

Wet hair

Frozen pants under snow bibs


 I am sad that my oldest chose not to come.  I just bought her a new sled... $2.00 clearance at Walmart.  Not that I wasted soooo much money.  But I am disappointed that we cannot all do the same things together.  For a moment I stew about teenagers turning snotty, wishing for nothing but computer games, i pods, and their telephone.  Do they have to all be that way?   

I realize that as she changes at a rapid pace, I must change with her.  Yet, I still have influence, as long as I have a relationship.  Surely there are other things to interest a teen that are more wholesome. 

Stacy comes to visit.  They talk about walking the mall.  Can we come up with anything better?  Yes, we can.  They don my aprons, tidy the kitchen, position the camera just right, play soft background music and film their own cooking show. 

I sit out of view to motion frantically when they try to put a metal bowl in the microwave, or when 1 stick of butter is thought to be 1 pound.  Proudly they serve their fruit salad at dinner and their cookies to those who eat all their food.  They watch their movies with delight.  This is the funnest time we've had in a long time, they agreed. 

Okay.  Momming teenagers takes as much if not more effort than my little ones, now, I just must mommy on two different levels.  Adjustments are good.  I guess I was getting stale. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Soul Food

"If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
alone to thee are left,
Sell one & from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul"
- Muslihuddin Sadi,
13th Century Persian Poet

It's going to be a good day.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Believe in What You're Doing, Believe in Who You are

This plaque sits by my entryway... I liked the sentiment... It seems relevant somewhat... right?  I'm sure I'll need it sometime.  Now is my sometime.   Why don't women share the really gory days, the ones that make us want to sink into the earth?  Why do we pretend that the worst it ever gets is, "I was a little down today."  

Well, that's not the worst it gets here at the castle.  But I'm still okay, and I'm going to be okay, and my kids are going to be okay.  That is the message of "The Plaque".  

I am now at the 3 month mark (of the 3-6 month doctor plan for recovery) for debilitating illness.  Somehow, I've taken a down turn in the last few days.  I yawn, over, and over, and over.  Briz says I look like death warmed over.  My hair is crackling off from the bottom and it sticks out all over my head like a fuzzball.  Several of my friends are offended at my lack of calling, walking, crafting, or party hosting.  My home hides scary killer dust bunnies and the basement is a deadly maze of toys, paint cans, hidden spoiled snacks, and dirty clothes.  

I have tried to accept my situation, but have noticed that I have grown steadily more and more depressed.  The signs are all there.  It's not fun to go to church any more.  I am annoyed by people I love.  I long to stay home and really want to crawl under the bed where no one can find me.  But, lessons, callings, service, and taxi service don't stop for my illness so I keep chugging slower, slower, slower, then, stop.

The SD card with Middle School's commercials wouldn't convert.  The expensive card falls from my pocket at the library...lost?   There is no lesson plan.  I'll have to punt.  Middle schoolers are angry.  They wanted to see themselves.  They are naughty.  Even with 2 Diet Cokes in my system, I lean on the wall, without enough energy to hold myself upright.  Their chatter and clinking of the instruments cascades over my ineffectual instructions.  A teacher's husband walks in.  He sees the disarray.  "Stay and keep these kids under control."  his wife pleads.  "What's wrong with the music teacher?  Why can't she keep them under control?" he bellows with disdain.  The room instantly quiets as they all listen to him belittle me as he finishes his complaints about me to his wife.  

I am too tired to care at the moment, but at home, my chemically depressed system starts to stew.   I haven't picked up the plates and napkins for the daddy daughter function tonight.  I haven't returned 7 phone calls.   "I am a loser" reruns over and over in my brain.  I can tell I'm going to crack.  Can I hold off till my best friend and greatest supporter gets home?  I call.  I give a short synopsis... really to say, "I need you.  Be kind to me today.  I'm fragile."  Ooops.  He didn't get the message and in annoyance accidently squashed whatever remained of my self esteem.  I can feel it swelling in my soul, rising, higher, higher, I am going to drown.  What can I cling to till the waters of depression subside?  

My oldest leaves the garage door open... again.  I call out, "Please shut the door."  I get an answer and nasty look that basicly meant shove it where the sun don't shine Mom.  Through gritted teeth I advise that it as I am getting ready for the looney bin, it would be wise to stop the rude comments and shut the door.   Uh oh.  More nastiness, a look that says, "you're an idiot" and a downright refusal!    The pressure holding inside takes a few seconds, swells, bulges, then the damn breaks and so do I.  I want to break something.  I resist the temptation.   "Get the h--- down here and shut the d--- door!  Then march on downstairs and stay there!" 

Oh the horror!  The shock!  Ladybug burst into tears and fled the scene.  I am appalled at myself.  A few minutes later, the middle child (who had been eavesdropping upstairs) walks, tears streaming down her face into the kitchen.  "Are you okay?"  I ask.  "No.  I'm scared.  Why did you say those bad words?"  Uh Oh.  My inch big self is now a negative size if that is at all posible.  How do I explain the whirlpool I am in...  and almost under.  My self loathing takes over.  "I am wicked and evil, and I'm going to h--- with the devil."  I explain.  She burst into even bigger sobs.  "I'm taking myself to my room for a time out."  I say.  I hear her call her dad, sobbing... heartbroken that her precious mother is no longer a hero in her eyes, but wicked, evil and scary.  "Just leave you mother alone for a while.  I'll be home soon."  I cannot bear it.  "Jodi, Where are you?  Can you come get me?"  I say into the phone.  "As a matter of fact, I'm one block from your house.  I'll be there in 1 minute.  I run away, too ashamed of myself to look into my daughters faces, too fearful of the monster that lurks inside to allow it anywhere near my precious babies.  

I return 45 minutes later.  Ladybug races to me and wraps her arms around me?  "Why are you hugging me?" I ask through broking sobs and swollen eyes?  "I am a bad girl.  I swore at you."  

"Oh. mom.  You are a very good girl.  I am so sorry I was awful to you!"  Oh the graciousness of forgiveness!

That night, I need to set it right with Little Mother.  I creep upstairs to have a little heart to heart.  I come upon her pleading her little heart out.  "Please help me!  Please help my mom.  And don't let Satan get me so I will say bad words."  Yep.  I'm still dog dung.  I crawl into bed beside her.  "Honey, I am so so sorry you had to hear those words out of my mouth.  My body and my mind aren't doing well right now and I'm making some mistakes.  But it's okay because Heavenly Father is going to help me through this.  He is going to forgive me just like he forgives you.  Do you remember last week when you came home after throwing the snowball?  I told you how when you were honest about your mistakes you could really feel my love, because I loved even the arts of you that weren't perfect.  Now you get the opportunity to see me make mistakes and love me anyway."

"Did your parents ever do anything awful like that?"  she asked.  I didn't know how to answer so I let it be.  

This morning Jodi comes over first thing... to check on me and to keep me from lounging in my pjs and wallowing in self pity and loathing.  She helped me buy paper plates for the next week, showed me how to hide my piles of clutter so it can't hurl insults at me from the kitchen table, and told me I'd need fresh flowers and a good smelling candle.  Most importantly, she left me a letter from God.  After she left, I wandered around the house.  My eye fell on the plaque.  Believe in what you're doing, Believe in who you are. What am I doing?  I'm mothering.  I'm all about my little ones.  I'm doing an imperfect job, but teaching them how to access the atonement as I clean up my messes.  I'm teaching them about forgiveness, apology, Godly sorrow, and downright hard days.  That's okay.  Who am I?  My letter from God helped me with that one today.  Here is some of my special letter.
My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.

Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.

Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.

Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented
by those who don't know me.

John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.

1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5 

So I'm still pretty okay.  I am a God's treasured possession... Believe in who you are.  His beloved daughter, known, understood, treasured.  

Days come days go.  Joyful, happy, proud, and downright miserable.  Throughout it all, ups and downs, the saintly and the sinning, BELIEVE in what you are doing, BELIEVE in WHO you are.  There is power to the plaque.  And it's going to be okay.   

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Midodi the Pest

Dear Briz,

You left just now... called out to late night work.  We just finished watching Ramona and Bezus as a family.  You loved it.  You laughed that infectious laugh at all my favorite parts.  "This is you."  you said.  "This is a Dodi-ish movie if I've ever seen one."  "Well, I certainly love it.  I can't put my finger of who it reminds me of, I know its not one of my girls, but someone I know really really well.  Maybe its a combination of all of them." I replied.  "Silly girl.  It's you.  This is your mind, except you are much cleverer.  Don't you think I know your little girl self hiding in there?"  "Hmmmph."  I answer.

You kiss me on the head as you go to leave.  "Please get that movie.  It is awesome!  It's even a Sunday movie."  You drive out.  I start to tidy the kitchen.  Why on earth would a tough guy love Ramona & Bezus?  And what on earth makes him connect that movie with me?  I am mostly quiet, intimidating, sensitive, well mannered, and well... somewhat refined.  NOT RAMONA!!!

As I clear out the quinoa with freezer burn and wipe up cookie crumbs, I realize you love this movie because it parades two things you love about your life. If I think hard, I remember a little girl who walked outside in the moonlit snow hoping to get pneumonia.  She romantically hopped up and down under her parents window so with one look at the tragic sight, they would be sorry they were so mean.  This little girl trekked down the Black smith fork river as though on a tour of the Amazon, naming each curve and dip.  She was a spit fire whose father had to weekly sit with her Sunday School class (to keep her from pulling chairs out from under the other children and otherwise driving the teachers insane).  Without saddle or bridle, she jumped  on a horse and heroically rode out into the pasture to round up the cattle loose in the alfalfa, only to be bucked off, and picked up by the minivan.  I remember the pearls... and scarves worn every day in 4th grade, befitting a fine lady with a long elegant neck instead of a scrawny trouble maker with octagon wire rimmed glasses.  Where did that funny little girl go?  I forgot her...

But not you.  You know even the parts she tried hard to forget, and strangely you are crazy about them.  That's one of the reasons you love Ramona.  The other reason is you see yourself, not as a child but as the father who sacrifices all to be a family man to the wild bunch that brings "color to his life."  The father in the movie is devoted, crazy fun,  and beloved by his three girls.  This is you and who you seek to be - not a climber of a corporate ladder, a brilliant discoverer, or a distinguished anything... just an amazing dad. 

The laundry now folded, I gasp at the beauty of you, loving Ramona and Bezus because you love us so very much.  I just want to remember this.  You see me.

Love you honey.
Midodi the Brave

Chinese New Year

Gung Hey Fat Choy!  
Sing to health and wealth
Happy New Year
Gung Hey Fat Choy!

Yes, I made up that amazingly fabulous song to teach my classes WITH instruments.  My talent amazes me. 

I've been teaching my students all about Chinese New Year so Thursday my family received a similar treatment.  

After-school cuttlefish and shrimp snacks from the Asian Market. 

Music with unintelligible words and a lot of banging to wake up the dragon.

$3.00 silk fans (they're really Japanese, but they were cute)

Chinese bubblegum in unique flavors that doesn't stick to your nose

Jasmine sorbet for a palate cleanser that Ladybug said tastes like lotion.

 Chinese party poppers that ended up taped to Ladybugs ceiling for a Mardi Gras meets Fairy Garden effect

A friend called Ladybug toward the end of the meal.  I heard, "Not today.  My family is in the middle of this really cool dinner and I don't want to miss any of it."