Would you like to translate this into another language?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Take a Peek

We had family photos taken by the very talented Julia Shinkle last week. It was GREAT! For a little sneak peek, check out Julia's blog.

Thanks Julia! You're amazing!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Tower

Two kids packing everything they own--one to head off for life; the other for the take over of the coveted "tower."  The tower is the training ground for real life. It's basically like a studio apartment. #2 can't wait to get moved in.

I asked him what he was going to do with his stuff once he got it packed today. He told me he was just going to start moving it up. Uh, no......

I asked him if he wanted to paint it first. I mean, the tower IS purple. "Nah. I don't care what color my room is." He is THAT excited.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reflections on Mothering Infants

DISCLAIMER:  I feel sad that I have to preface this post, but it seems lately that any time I write anything about pregnancy or newborns or anything of the sort, all kinds of feelings and comments come out about how some can't have them, and so I become insensitive, and it becomes an offensive topic. I want you to know that I in no way mean to offend. I'm simply writing to write. I hope you will take the things I write in the spirit with which they were written--merely for my own reflection. If you have tender feelings on the topic of pregnancy and newborns, please do not read what follows.


My son asked me this evening when I was going to have a baby. I guess that's what got me thinking along these lines.....

I have decided that there's just nothing in this world like bringing a brand new baby home from the hospital. It's better than Christmas. It's better than any birthday party could EVER be. It's magical.

Oh, I should add here....NINP (no, I'm not pregnant).

Maybe it's because I'm not pregnant and have no plans of ever being again, that I can look back and write on this topic.

I think babies are amazing. I have a definite philosophy on infants. I think that they're each their own person from the very beginning. They have things they like and things they don't like. They have so much potential it's overwhelming to even think about--it's kind of like thinking about where God came from--that kind of overwhelming.

image credit: migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au
When I was little, every so often, my mom would get the Japanese puzzle box down for me to look at. My dad had brought it home from one of his trips on the oil tanker he worked on in the Navy in the early years of their marriage. With the box, if you knew which panels to move and moved them to just the right spot, a little door would open. Inside that door, was a key, and then if you moved other panels to other positions, there was the key hole. Once you turned the key in the hole, the box would open. It was pretty fascinating to me. That's how I feel about being a mom to a new baby.

I guess I have taken it as my personal mission, as the mom, to find out just what has made each of my little ones tick. What does he like? What makes her happy? I feel lucky to be the person to have figured these things out first. I have felt it my blessing to be the one that has gotten to meet these needs. To me, nothing could have been better. What an honor--there is none greater.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Converse at Church

image credit: http://style-bard-shoes.blogspot.com
While I was getting ready for church yesterday morning, I received a text. It said something like this, "Do you think it would be bad if I wore my Converse to church today?"

Texting has kind of become our in-house intercom system, to tell you the truth.

Wow! So many ways to answer this one.... I mean everybody's doing it. I've even seen wedding photos with the bride wearing Converse under her gorgeous gown. I have an opinion on that, but I'll keep it to myself....for now.

So hmm....how to answer...."Heck no!" "Oh yes, and I'll wear mine too," "Whatever you want, dear. The choice is yours," "If you have to ask, I think you already know the answer...." The list could go on and on.

As I  contemplated something as simple as what shoes to wear to church, my wheels started turning, and some much deeper lessons entered my mind.....

First, I knew that by answering this question for this child, I was taking away his/her right to choose and the opportunity to learn from the experience. I'm learning, however, that sometimes my children think I'm setting them up--as if there IS a right response, but I'm waiting for them to figure it out. This is not the case, and I'm trying to teach them that really, I want them to learn from whatever choices they make.

I mean, really, it's a pair of shoes. Who cares? Would I wear them to church? No, but that's me. If it were something life threatening, then yah, I'd have a really strong opinion. For this one, this kid has to choose.

Second, I got to thinking about why I wouldn't wear the shoes to church. I mean, like I said, they're just shoes. So, here's what I came up with....

First of all, for a 40-something woman and Primary president to wear Converse to church, that'd be all the talk. Do I care that they'd talk about me? No, I'm sure they do already. It's not that I don't give people enough to talk about. In some ways I'm already a walking conversation piece, so that's not really a reason not to wear them. The real reason I learned a few years back when I served as Ward Music Chairman. I hadn't known this before, but there are some rather strict guidelines about music and instruments that can be played in sacrament meeting. I was intrigued by these and inquired a bit as to why. What I learned was that the main purpose of EVERYTHING that happens in sacrament meeting is to invite the Spirit. The purpose of that meeting is to help make that relationship between individuals and that member of the godhead stronger.

Does everything matter in sacrament meeting? I mean, if EVERYTHING that happens in sacrament meeting is to bring the Spirit, then does what I wear and do in that meeting have that effect too? If I were to wear the shoes, would I cause others to be so distracted by my footwear that they couldn't pay attention to other things, or even worse than that, would I be so distracted by the fact that maybe I'd made the wrong choice for my feet that day that I wouldn't be able to pay attention and learn something.

So, my response to this child:
"Umm...what do you think? Is it your Sunday best? Will your attire help bring the Spirit to the meeting?"

I really did want this child to ponder the question and answer it for him/herself. There is no right or wrong. I mean, no one told me. I had to make that decision on my own. I guess I felt like I owed that to this chid as well. Would I be disappointed if the child wore the shoes? No. There just comes a point where each of us has to decide for ourselves, right? Maybe this was this child's chance.

My third thought though was more important that any of the others....The Spirit is ALL that matters. I have no doubt that it's a real power. I think anybody that's read me or known me for any length of time knows this. I mean, the entire trip to Japan would NEVER have happened if it weren't for that little voice that I chose to follow. I mean, seriously, in three week's time, how could things have ever fallen into place for a mother of seven with no funds or passport for such a trip? How could I ever have done this on my own. There is only one answer to this question....I couldn't have. To take that one step further, without this tie to God in my life, how could I do the things I do on a daily basis? How could I ever function with what each day brings me?

So, although this all started with a simple question about some cool, red kicks, what it all boiled down to was there are little things in life that effect my ability to not be distracted. More than anything else in this world, the Spirit is what I want. I want it with me all the time--whenever possible. It's my link to God. It's my compass in a world where I'm pretty lost. I can choose to keep it with me through simple choices I make, or I can drive it away. Why on earth would I want to do something that would make it leave me?

image credit: ecobridge.wordpress.com
Way back at the beginning of the year, I decided to dub 2012 "The Year of the Upward Spiral." It's interesting when I look around me to see all of us who sabotage ourselves. I was in Target today and saw a girl with the most beautiful face and hair. Seriously, she was lovely, but I couldn't get past the bull ring that ran through her nose. Really? What a shame! Why do we do things to ourselves? We may not do things outwardly like that, but we may do things internally--negative thinking, etc. that have the same effect. Why? Isn't it a fact that everything in this world, if not acted upon, will return to a state of entropy (disorder)? How can we control that in our own lives?

The last lesson I learned by pondering on the red Converse was more based on what it made me think about sacrament meeting and its purpose. It's the fact that that's the place where I get in contact for the week. It's the only way to upward spiral and stop erosion in my life. It is the one thing I have that pulls me in the opposite direction from this world and where it's going, and it's up to me to seek for it. I'm so glad to know that there is a power to stop the downward progression in life.

Yes, they were just a pair of red tennis shoes, but the child's answer...

"Probably not. Okay."

Maybe fine for kicking around town, but not so much for a place as important as church.

Another Laundry Solution

A year and a half ago, I wrote this post in response to a friend's question.

Things have worked smashingly since that time. Kids forget their laundry days, but you know what? It's not my problem. I love it when their problems truly start to become theirs. They have, from time to time, had to come up with some creative solutions to those problems. That's even better. I love to watch my children's wheels turn as they figure things out for themselves.

The one problem I've had since we implemented this laundry system, has been trying to figure out what to do when a teenager, who has his/her own laundry day, has laundry showing up in the laundry I'm responsible for. This has been on-going and growing since I handed laundry control to the older kids.

At first, I thought I'd charge a quarter for every piece of laundry of theirs that I washed. That didn't work--at all. It was too hard to collect and keep track of who owed.

Then, I thought I'd charge them with extra work. I mean, since I was doing the work they were completely capable of doing, shouldn't they do part of mine? Well, that didn't work very well either. Some days are just too busy and then with so many, it's easy to forget who is supposed to be doing what.

This morning, as I sorted laundry, I found way too many items that weren't belonging to #5 on down. I know they were just some of those "Oops. Well, I just threw them in the laundry room on my way from the shower" kind of items, but still....

As I sorted through this, it hit me....The solution to this on-going problem. Here's what I've shared with my kids...

"I am happy to wash your clothes that end up in the laundry room. I am even happy to dry them, fold them and put them into piles, but I no longer make piles for children older than elementary school. So, I'm going to assume that, if your clothes show up in the laundry room, you have handed them down to #5, 6, or 7 or that you suddenly assume that your dad can fit into them. This is very nice of you."

Ah! Freedom! So, when my older children show up at things with no socks on, and my little ones are wearing huge socks and running around with assorted sock "mittens" and sock puppets to spare, you'll know that the system's working.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Such Sweet Sorrow

Went to Ikea with #1 and #7 today. Our mission: to purchase the needed items for a college apartment. To be honest, we have no idea what we're doing. Shh... Don't tell anybody.

On the way home, I tried to brace #1 for the fact that I will be crying when we leave her at school. She's not an overly emotionally expressive kid, so I thought a warning might be appropriate. She asked, "Mom, are you already crying?" I nodded my head. I'm not one of those pretty criers who can talk through her tears.

She asked why.

Ugh! Did I really have to answer that question? Then I realized that I was glad she asked that, so I could face the inevitable before it even arrived.

I shared that I was glad she was going. I was happy that she was going to be in this wonderful new world with so many great opportunities. I also told her that I had no doubt that she would make great choices with her life, so it wasn't that.

Then, the truth came out....I feel like I'm cutting off a limb. I said for people who've moved around a lot in their lives and have come in contact with many different people, maybe it's easier to say good-bye to important people in their lives. I'm not one of those people. It's hard for me to let people go. I told her that I wonder if, after all of my children leave home, I'll have any of my heart left, or if maybe I'll be an empty shell of a woman.

We discussed the fact that with Skype, texting, cell phones, Facebook, and email, we'd be as close as ever, but then she said, "I know what you mean though. I won't get to share the funny stories of my life with you while we're riding in the Beast on our way home from eating meatballs at Ikea, huh?"

Yup. That about sums it up. Dang, I'm going to miss her!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Favorite Quote

Years ago, I had the very last sentence written in the margin of my scriptures. Those scriptures ended up getting lost--it's a very long story.

Tonight, the Warden shared this with me. I LOVE it! Funny thing is, he shared it with me without even realizing it had been just the thing we'd been talking about a few minutes earlier. It tied in PERFECTLY!

image credit: myjdl.com

“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Female Stuff

So, if you're a man, you might not want to read this. It's not gory or anything, nor does it have details about secret woman stuff. I'm just sure it would not interest you in the slightest.

The reason I'm writing this is because I've been told by doctors that this is a fairly common problem and that there's nothing that can be done about it. I thought if I threw it out, someone might just know something or at least be able to commiserate with me. I've posted about this before with the same motive but haven't received the answers I hoped for.

image credit: dutiee.com
To start off with, you're going to want to go back to this post for some background. You'll also notice, if you do a little search, that I write a post about my heart about once a month for the couple months that followed this linked-to post.

Well, things have been nice and quiet here as far as my heart is concerned....Until this morning.

image credit: bostonherald.com
I have to share that the reason I started checking in with doctors about this was because, the first chance I had to give blood after #7 was born, I went in and did so. In the questionnaire they give you that practically asks you how many hangnails you've had in your lifetime, asks about lung and heart problems and if you've ever had them. Well, of course, knowing what I had just been through with my pregnancy and delivery, I marked yes.

When the Red Cross person came back in to check my answers, she inquired about that one. I explained and told her I wasn't having any problems. She explained that I needed to be careful of that because of so many silent heart attacks women are having at menopause. YIKES! Okay, so I don't want to be one of those statistics.

image credit: mlive.com
Here's the story this morning. I am now almost 100 percent sure that this heart thing is tied to my hormonal cycle. If you read the previous post, I went to bed TOTALLY wiped out last night--unusually tired for the amount of activity I did yesterday. Last night I had insomnia. It's been a long time, but I used to wake up when my heart would flip out. That one strong beat was enough to wake me. I don't know if that's what caused it this morning, but it very well could have been.

I was up for quite awhile and finally tried to sleep again at about 5:30. As I would drift off, my heart, which seemed to be beating normally, would suddenly thump really hard. I'm sure it was doing it more frequently because even though I'm pretty sure I slept, it felt like I wasn't sleeping at all. When I woke up this morning, Aunt Flo had arrived. I'm pretty sure she brings it with her.

image credit: flickr.com
I really hate going to my doctor. She passes things off quickly and solves every problem without probing deeper. She's in a hurry to move onto the next set of problems that sits on that paper-covered table. I've tried to change doctors but have had little luck.

So, I think, maybe this is just a very common thing. I know it will pass again here in a couple of days and maybe it'll even go away for a number of months like it did this time, but for the time being, it's such a pain--not in the literal sense. It just makes me super tired.

The Importance of "Stuff"

Yesterday was a very full day. As we drove home, I found, because I was driving like an idiot--thank goodness I didn't have far to go--that I was wiped out.

I started to mention to #7 that it was time for bed when we got home. Then, as a joke, I said, "Will you put me to bed tonight?" She agreed that she would. #3 chimed in and shared that #7 is very good at "putting people to bed." She knew because of a time when she had asked the same thing of #7 when they shared a room.  #3 shared the following story:

One night, I had #7 put me to bed. She covered me up, tucked me in, pretended to read me a story, listened to my prayer, and sang me "Popcorn Popping" (as best she could for a two-year-old). She gave me a kiss and said "Good night." She walked out of the room and closed the door behind her.

A few seconds later, the door opened and there she was again. She peeked her head in and said, "Don't touch my stuff!"

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Crash

I promised, last week on Facebook, that I'd write about this, and finally...here I am. I wrote it once and erased it, so here's take two.....

image credit: www.orrandonneurs.org
We live in a beautiful part of the world. The interesting thing I learned recently is that sometimes that beauty has a pretty big price tag and that price is paid over and over again in many cases.

A week ago, we headed over the mountains from the Oregon coast back to the Portland area. It is a gorgeous drive. Much of it is forest land.

We were going along at a nice clip, but as we rounded a curve, we came upon red brake lights. Two years ago, in this same spot, we had found similar traffic. At that time, we never understood why, but we were stopped in that spot for quite a long while. Thank goodness we were in good company. Needless to say, as we came upon this again this year, we groaned in unison.

We found ourselves approaching two cars and a very large RV standing stock still in front of us. The cars from the other lane were curving into our lane and back into their own. We knew something was up. It was then that we saw a white minivan with it's front end crunched and it's back up against the hillside. It was sitting perpendicular to the lane opposite us. Airbags had popped out and deflated. I could see at least one person sitting in the van.

credit image: dponline.org
I leaned over to the Warden and said, "Somebody needs to be directing traffic." He said something under his breath and then said, "Move over and drive." He climbed out and ran across the lanes to the minivan. I didn't watch him much from there because I found that I was finally able to maneuver around the traffic. I was just hopeful that there would be a shoulder where I could pull out and wait and not have to drive far away from where the Warden would be.

As I inched my way behind the cars and R.V., I tried to piece together what had happened. After passing the minivan, there were pieces of glass and metal and even a wheel that had come off of a car strewn for at least three yards until we saw a gray Cadillac with California plates. The car was sitting diagonally across the other lane with it's rear end facing us. The wheel had come from the front and the entire front driver's side quarter panel was destroyed. Because of the angle of the car, I couldn't see if anyone was in the car, but I was sure there must have been. How would they have escaped something like that?

image credit: etoncorp.com
I was able to pull off onto a sizable shoulder just beyond the Cadillac. Shortly thereafter, my older brother pulled in behind us with his family. He got out and ran over to assist the people in the accident. His wife came to our van. I tried my phone, #1's phone and my sister-in-law's phone, but even though each said "Emergency calls" on it, I found that that was a lie. We were unable to get through. There was no service in the area. Calling 9-1-1 was pointless.

The Warden directed traffic coming one way while another young man directed the other. They each held back one direction of cars while the other let his go. It really went very smoothly considering what they were dealing with.

I later learned that at one point, while holding his line of traffic back, the Warden chatted with a driver and asked if he would go to the nearest market and stop in to call 9-1-1. The man agreed to do so.

We waited and still no one came.

image credit: thefind.com
My brother ran to our car and asked if we had blankets or water. We handed him all that we had. I grabbed #7's Tinkerbell blanket and explained that there was someone hurt who needed it. She didn't understand, I'm sure, but she let my brother take it. We pulled the rest of the case of water out of the back of our car and sent it with him too.

During this time, an R.V. pulled onto the shoulder on the opposite side of the highway. They were towing a trailer of horses. This was perfect entertainment for the kids. I watched a couple women get out of the R.V. Next thing I knew, they were passing around a small baby.

I later learned from the Warden that shortly after the accident had happened, a car pulled over to help. The driver and his wife were both EMTs. They ran to the rescue and had all kinds of equipment in their car. The Warden says if it weren't for them, the outcome of this accident would have been so much worse. He even went so far as to say they may have saved lives that day.

The baby the women were passing around belonged to this husband and wife. When they arrived one of the R.V. women asked how they could help and the wife-half of the EMT team asked them to take care of her baby for her. The baby was crying in his carseat when they got to the car. They got him out and calmed.

image credit: enotes.com
The Warden called for #2. I watched #2 head across the highway. Next thing I knew, there he was holding up an I.V. that was attached to the driver of the Cadillac. Later, he shared that as he held it the man was just sitting there screaming in pain. It was clear that the driver had a compound fracture in his left leg.

It was after this time that the emergency vehicles began to arrive. First on the scene was a white pick up truck with the word "Sheriff" written on the side. Over the course of the next fifteen minutes or so, other vehicles arrived--a fire truck, an emergency response vehicle, and finally an ambulance followed a bit later by a second ambulance.

I have to be honest, I was SHOCKED at how long it took for the "good guys" to arrive. We were there for pretty close to an hour.

After the emergency vehicles arrived, the Warden and his counterpart stopped the traffic on both sides. People started to emerge from their cars. There was even a man with two little boys who took his camera up to the scene and video taped all that he could. I was amazed that someone would have this kind of cajones. Wow! Really?! I sincerely hope I'm never in an accident in public like this if there are going to be people like this around.

image credit: wendyquest.wordpress.com
The jaws of life cut the man in the Cadillac out of his car. They got him in the ambulance. It was after this that the Warden and #2 returned to our car. The Warden got in and explained that the man was going to be life flighted to the hospital in Portland. He has a teenage son who was in the car with him. We need to follow the ambulance up the highway a bit until they can get the man into the helicopter and then we'll transport the son up to the hospital.

Right before the ambulance pulled away, we tried to warn the people that it was coming and to get out of the way. No one moved. Weird! We pulled in just after it and followed it for quite awhile until the traffic was stopped again--this time by a firefighter. We pulled over. The Warden got out and followed the ambulance on foot. The man was put on the helicopter and the Warden was accompanied back to the car by emergency workers and the teenage boy.

The boy didn't talk much to us. He couldn't tell us where he lived or what school he went to. We wondered if he was in shock. I couldn't say as I would blame him if he was. Wow! What a day for this poor kid. When the Warden got in the car, however, he and the boy had a nice little conversation going. I guess all that experience with middle schoolers pays off in times like this.

The Warden encouraged the boy to call an adult, so he finally called his mom and told her what was happening.

We got to the hospital and the Warden accompanied the boy up to meet up with his mom. He made sure everything was under control and left.

As we headed to the store to buy another blanket for #7 (a promise I'd made to her when I took the original, well-loved one), #2 mentioned how he had some of the man's blood on his hands. I told him not to touch anything. He got out with us at the store and went in to wash. What an experience for a 16-year-old young man.

image credit: target.com
We were unable to find a Tinkerbell blanket, so we ended up with Disney princesses. We got home and got everyone to bed for the night.

The next day, we were driving in the car and the boy's mom called us. She wanted to update us on the boy's father's condition. It seemed that things were stable and that he would be going into surgery soon. It was very nice of her to call us. While on the phone, she shared some interesting experiences she'd had recently--little miracles that helped prepare her for what had happened.

There were so many interesting things that happened during all of this. One thing that amazed me, though, was that when the Warden had a chance to speak with some of the emergency workers, they shared that this kind of thing happens all the time on that stretch of road. That being the case, wouldn't you think there'd be some sort of communication system set up--even a cell tower or something--something to get emergency personnel there a bit faster?

Like I said, all that beauty has a price. I'm just glad this time no one paid it with their life.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Friends in Tillamook

image credit: chenected.aiche.org
Last Friday, because family was in town, we went to Seaside and played in the sand for a bit and then headed to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I love that place! We always watch the cheese making process, taste the cheese samples and get an ice cream.

image credit: gogobot.com
While we sat eating our ice cream, my older brother, who is the adventurer of the family, leaned over to me and asked if the three people sitting at the corner table were Japanese. I told him they were. He asked how I knew. I shared that one of them was holding a book with the title written in Japanese. 

He told me to go over and talk to them. I refused. He couldn't understand why I wouldn't do it. I explained that, first of all, my ability to speak Japanese is more than rusty; it's actually almost non-existent (sad, huh?) and that, in the past, when I've done similar things, it's seemed like my speaking Japanese to them was like a slap in the face--basically saying that I don't think they can speak English when, in reality, they spend every year from at least middle school on up learning English.

He didn't even hesitate but got up and walked over to their table. Before I knew it, these three beautiful Japanese faces (my brother described them as doll-like) were sitting across from me at the table and we were talking--in English mostly. They were a young couple who had just been married and the wife's sister. The wife and her sister would return to Japan and then the wife will return to be with her husband in about half a year from now.

I just heard from the wife tonight via email. She's back in Japan. When she moves back, I hope to be able to get together with her. We talked about helping each other with Japanese and English. Should be fun!

On our way home from Tillamook was when the crash happened that was mentioned by my daughter on Facebook. I will share more on that, like I promised on Facebook, in my next post.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Getting Closer through Therapy

image credit: earthpm.com
I attended two meetings last night. A point that was brought up in each was the importance of reading the Book of Mormon. I honestly think that the time I spend reading the Book of Mormon is therapy. It makes me happy. So, if we go back to the previous post, and I share about needing to change to be happy in this society--I guess it's the Book of Mormon that does that for me.

image credit: shepherdsnotes.com
This morning, I had the following thought occur to me. I was reading Alma 25, and I came across verse 12. The words "sheep having no shepherd" grabbed me, and then I read what happens to those who have no shepherd, and I decided that that's not what I want for myself or my family.

So, a little phrase, that for some reason's been popping into my mind on and off this morning, comes to the forefront of my thinking....

Did you know that in the introduction of the Book of Mormon it says, "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book"? (I know my question mark is in the wrong place, but I didn't want anyone to think that this quote was a question).

Well, that's been on my brain. The reason I think of the Book of Mormon as therapy is because it brings me nearer to God. It straightens me out. It's like going to the spiritual chiropractor when I'm "out of whack."

So, after reading about the "sheep having no shepherd," I thought about just who the shepherd is and the following thought occurred to me....

When I study the Book of Mormon (regularly), I am reading the book that says it will bring me "nearer to God." This really is what I want--to be close to God. I don't just "want" it, I NEED it. By repeating this act, I'm showing God where my heart lies. I'm expressing to Him my desire to be close to Him. He, then, rewards me by drawing closer to me and teaching me the things I need as an individual and as a mother to His children. Thus, His Son becomes my shepherd. As time goes on, and I work hard to continue in this pattern, I, like His sheep, learn His voice and learn to trust and follow Him.

image credit: jimrobertson.net
There you have it. Therapy.

If you haven't tried it, here, have some therapy--for free

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Looking at Both Sides of the LDS Hubbub

image credit: pretamarque.com
Before I went to bed last night, I went to check my email. On Yahoo's front page, lies a perpetual list of top ten most-searched-for topics on the internet. Last night, number one, simply said, "Mormon Church." I, typically, because I choose not to be a crowd-follower (I mean, seriously, how much do I care about Lady Gaga?), don't click on any of those top ten topics, but last night, I couldn't help it. That topic is near to my heart. I had to click. I just HAD to. I wondered what made everyone so curious suddenly. I mean the LDS church has been around for a long time, and yes, we have an LDS presidential candidate, but that's old news too, so what was suddenly hot and making everyone search?

As I got to the link, I saw that it was an article about how wealthy the LDS church is because of membership donations (a.k.a. tithing). Eh, okay. No biggie. I closed the site and went to bed.

image credit: mormon.org
This morning I'm up early sitting here reading the scriptures--somedays I'm better at this than others, but as I'm reading (Alma 23 in the Book of Mormon--all about the conversion of the Lamanites), that article keeps coming back to me. I keep thinking how funny the division is. We're all human beings, but there are those who are ticked about how wealthy the LDS church is, because they don't understand, and then there are those like me, who think "Eh" and roll over and go to sleep. What's the difference? As I read about the Lamanites and their conversion, I think I'm starting to get it. I look at the change in their lives, and it all starts to make some amount of sense to me.

My brother was here this past weekend. His family attended church with us. My brother's a member of the LDS faith and everything, so his response after the meetings was interesting to me. He went on and on about the wonderfully intelligent and beautiful people who were members of our ward. He exclaimed about how many of them were converts and many of them new converts. He said, "Gosh! I'd move here just to be in this ward!" I agree. It's a wonderful place to go each week. I feel honored to rub shoulders with these people on a weekly basis. These aren't bigwigs and heads of state. These are just regular people trying to raise families and trying to live their religion....and according to the world at large, they're all brainwashed--poor souls.

Yes, the LDS church is wealthy. To me, that's no big surprise. Other churches pass the basket and hope and pray that their members will pay in. The LDS church does not. To outsiders looking in, that's odd and wrong. To those inside, paying  tithing is a privilege and brings blessings. I am a recipient of those blessings. I could share stories, and maybe someday I will, but for now, it would go on and on, and this post is already long enough. To outsiders looking in, all of those people in my ward and I are brain-washed and coerced to pay that ten percent. To me, I am fulfilling a commandment that is ages old--one that was required of Christ's followers anciently. Unless you are an insider, you will not understand. Unless you know what I know, you won't get it.

For a cult, gosh, the LDS church is doing really well. How does that work?

As I'm reading this morning about the conversion of the Lamanites, I'm seeing some of the blessings that come to them as they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm seeing some of the wonderful things I enjoy in this life. The gospel brought freedom to them. It brought them increased love and understanding for others. It made them want to do good and be good and help others. This isn't something they had desired before this time.

Hmm....Did you ever think there might be something to this? Yes, there are those who've turned away and scoff and say we're brainwashed. Did you ever consider those individual's lives and what might have made them bitter? For the most part, however, I would like to assert that LDS people try to be just like the Lamanites were becoming in Alma 23. We try to be kind. We value our freedom. We try to follow Jesus Christ, and we are grateful for the blessings that those attempts bring to our lives, which thus, make us want to do it more. Is there anything wrong with that? Does it take brainwashing to follow Jesus Christ in our society? Hmm...maybe so. Maybe you have to be changed to go against the crowd. Maybe you have to accept completely different ideals than the rest of the world embraces. Maybe you have to be just a bit different--maybe even odd.

It's so easy to listen to the scoffers and judge, but I think you'd find, if you listen to the general membership of the LDS church, that we really have no complaints. Life is good. There are ups and downs. There are hard things in every life. We endure what everyone else does, but sometimes we look at it just a bit differently from others you might know. Did you ever wonder why? Did you ever ask?

image credit: legendsofamerica.com
In my state, the extremely liberal state of Oregon--not a breeding ground for conservative faith, the LDS church is the second largest Christian faith. In the United States, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is fourth largest. Do these sound like cultish numbers to you? There's a heck of a lot of brainwashing going on.

If you believe me to be brainwashed and a member of a cult, I just wonder if maybe you've been listening to the wrong people--those who are either completely ignorant, those who have something to lose by my membership in the LDS faith (preachers, priests, etc. who are missing out on their paycheck because of me not contributing to that passed basket), or those who have been offended or somehow hurt by something that went wrong as they were members of the LDS church and have thus chosen a different way.

Do you know members of the LDS church? I know there are those who live their faith, those who live it part way, and those who don't really live it at all. I also know that it's hardly fair to judge anyone or anything by just one individual. So, I ask, do you know members of the LDS church who live their religion? If so, what kind of people are they? They may seem odd and different, but when you strip all that away, what feeling do you have about them?

You know, we often hear, "By their fruits, ye shall know them." This refers to followers of Jesus Christ. What kind of "fruits" do the members of the Church, that you know, bring forth for the most part?

I'm not sharing all of this to cram it down your throat. I'm simply urging you not to make judgments only knowing one side of the story. So often it's the outsiders point of view that judgements are made by. I'm just asking you to be careful of that.

Outsiders are offended and outraged. Insiders think it's fine. Unless you understand, you just won't get it. Unless you reap the rewards that come from being part of the LDS faith, you won't be able to conceptualize what makes us tick. Here, I'm not referring to financial rewards because we really don't get any of those. It's the intrinsic rewards that we benefit from. So, the next best thing to being an insider is seeking to understand just what's going on inside the mind of an insider. This holds true with anything you might read or hear about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

You can take the time to read up on it all you want. I mean, seriously, I guess enough people were last night to make it Yahoo's number one, but do you ever stop to ask someone who lives it and loves it? Do all of your opinions come from people who watch from the outside? I don't think you'd do that about anything else, would you? An opinion should be created by looking at all sides, shouldn't it?

So, the things you read and hear about us being intolerant, those things are either written by outsiders (who don't get it) or by those insiders who aren't catching the vision of what being a Christian is all about. There are many ignorant members of the LDS faith; actually, we're all ignorant in one way or another, but aren't all human beings? We're just all at different places in our development. I will openly admit that I am ignorant about so many things. I have areas in life that I haven't experienced yet, and thus, haven't made up my mind about those things yet. This is a big world. There are lots of things to think about and learn from. But, I will also assert, that my bottom-line is this, I want to follow Jesus Christ--religion or no religion. I don't always succeed, but I try. In my mind, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that; on the contrary, there are so many things right with that.

So, as the LDS church seems to be at the forefront of many minds these days, I want to urge those who seek to understand us brainwashed cult followers to seek out good members of the Church. Seek out someone who is truly trying to live the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the LDS faith, and ask them what they think about things. I would also urge you not to condemn us, approach us with an open mind and see if what we say doesn't make a little bit of sense.

Clearly, at some point in my history, actually in many places in my history--my mother (Ruth Hamm), my paternal grandfather (Roscoe Hamm), and my paternal great grandparents (George and Julia Dye) and even one more generation back (Isaac Riddle), had it make sense to them. Thus I am where I am today. I strongly feel that they have allowed me to reap some wonderful benefits in my life that I don't know I would have had if I'd had to find them for myself.

If you've been intimidated to approach an LDS friend and ask questions, don't be afraid. We're open. We know what the world at large thinks of us. It doesn't matter. We're happy to share. We may not know how to verbalize all that's in our hearts, but we'll do the best we can.

If you truly want to have an opinion, don't just read what the outsiders are saying. Seek out the insiders too. I mean, really, what are you afraid of?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reflections on a Potty Chair

There are certain things you don't share on your Facebook page. Really. I think there has to be a line drawn where things are socially acceptable and not. I know a woman who posts such things as her husband grabbing her in intimate ways in front of her children, and I've cringed. I'm sorry, but those are things that are just reserved for you and you alone. You won't see those kinds of things on my page.

This morning, something happened in our home that was momentous, but it's not something I'm going to throw out to my Facebook friends. Not that it's inappropriate, it's just that I don't think the world needs to know. Here, though....Here, I can share anything and everything I want to, but I will say, you won't be reading about how, where, when, and in front of whom my husband grabs me. Sorry, folks. I'm sure you're sorely disappointed.

#7 starts preschool in September. I've been asked to teach writing twice a week and am very excited about that prospect! The program is run through the high school, and the teacher is FABULOUS! So, I will be working with high schoolers (an idea I TOTALLY LOVE!) and preschoolers, and who doesn't love that? Well, I'm sure there are many who don't, but I assure you, I'm not in their ranks. I mean, how could I be considering the life I live?

Anyway, one little point here that you may have overlooked is the fact that #7 HAS to be potty trained before school starts. Ha! Yah. No pressure, and surely no stress, right?

Okay, so now you know why I haven't been blogging much. Besides many projects I'm working on right now, my mind is in the toilet--literally.

It's not that it's been a tough journey, and by my saying that don't assume the journey's over. Oh no, it's just begun. It's just that, you know, who really wants to do this job?

image credit: potty-training-tips-by-caitlin
My other kids were all fall and winter births. They had to wait until they were almost four to start preschool. #7, though, is a June baby. Here we are, just barely three, and getting ready for school. Yikes! Mentally, I'm not ready to be focusing on this task I dread.

I feel like I've potty trained a different way with every child. I've pressured. I've bribed. I've begged. But, I finally feel like I have some sort of grasp on it. So much of it is just plain attitude, but isn't that the story of everything in life?

Here's how it went this morning....#7 came into our bedroom. The Warden and I were still laying in bed (I was up working on a slideshow with a good friend until 1:30). She said, "Mom, can I have something to eat?" The response she received was, "As soon as you go sit on the potty, we'll take you down and get you something to eat." She messed around for awhile (not literally) and then asked again. Well, by this point, I was thinking, as I'm sure you are too, that she'd already gone in her Pull-Up, so eh...yah, kid, go sit on the potty. Nothing too sensational--just like every other day this past little while.

She finally went in. She sat for a few moments and then she says, "Mom, I went in the potty." Just like it was something she said everyday, so I still didn't think too much of it. The Warden, whose side of the bed is closest to the bathroom got up to check. Sure enough!

Well, as you can guess, there was some MAJOR whooping and hollering going on in the master bedroom. "YAY!...Nice job!...I'm so proud of you!" You know, that kind of stuff.

She came out BEAMING!

I just have one thing to share on this whole matter....I think, when you want a child to learn something new, there has to be a level of discomfort for the child.

In this case, she's been wearing panties around the house for the past week or so. We've let her have the accidents. She hasn't liked it. We've let her clean up her messes. She hasn't liked that either.

To some degree or another, we've had to push her into making the change. It's had to dribble down her legs at times. She's had to do a lot of wiping and scrubbing.

So, my final conclusion, if we want our children to grow and develop into responsible human beings, we can't shield and protect them from all that is uncomfortable. We actually have to judge when they're ready and give them a little nudge, and sometimes a push, in the direction toward the next step they need to take.

To be honest, I'm sharing this, not for the masses, but for myself. I know there are going to be things that are FAR more uncomfortable than potty training in my future. There's going to be poop to clean up in other areas of life. Who knows what life will hold as children leave home, and I have to trust that they've figured many of life's basic lessons out while they were under my roof. I hope they've learned that it's often only through discomfort that there is growth and progress. Sometimes life just just hands you puddles and a whole lotta poop, but once it's all cleaned up, life is better than ever, and you're better than ever. I also hope that they've learned that that poop doesn't have to be self-created, and more often than not, shouldn't be. Let life hand you the poop; you don't have to find ways to make it for yourself. Self-sabotage is just plain dumb.

#7 has taught me something funny in her habits. Something that counteracts self-sabotage. One thing she does after going potty is she grabs her toothbrush and brushes her teeth. Not sure why, but I guess the lesson to be learned here is to be good to yourself. When you do something good, keep doing good. Be a blessing to your own life and to your own self.

I just got done writing and found that #7 was nowhere in sight. I went on a hunt, and would you care to know where I found her? In my bathroom sitting on the potty! YAY again! I sat and read her potty book to her (thank you, Megan!) and blew bubbles for her until the room was practically filled, but sadly, no success this time. Darn! On the contrary, she promptly went downstairs in the kitchen, and when I turned around, there she was with her pants half down standing in a puddle. Not sure what she was up to, but at least there's hope, right? We're definitely heading in the right direction. If nothing else, she knows the proper tools and methods for cleaning a floor and is becoming quite well-versed with the laundry room.

I hope I'm teaching them all to clean up properly. Little did they know that those spraying and wiping skills'd be a metaphor for so many of life's lessons in their (and my) futures.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Madhouse Munchings: PEACHES!

Such a great day! I felt like I was at the top of my game.

I was offered another job today and am looking forward to diving in. I was also given an assignment to edit a 90 page manual. Fun stuff! Who knew I'd fall into something I'd love so much. So grateful for these tender mercies.

Today, the Warden had the day off. He usually has Fridays off during the summer, but because of budget cuts and having to break some pretty bad news to some pretty great people, he's worked a few Fridays here and there. We took advantage of this day with him.

We went out to North Plains and picked peaches at Jossy Farms. In our family, I am the one who takes the kids on outings like this one. The Warden's usually at work. I don't know if he's ever been on a picking expedition with us before.

He called the local grocery store and asked the produce manager if they had any boxes they might part with. They did, so we stopped by to get them, and we were off.

The trees were SO FULL of fruit. It was amazing. My mouth was watering before we even got out of the car. It took us no time at all to fill our boxes up.

When we got to the scale, we found that we'd picked 78 pounds of peaches!

We each ate a peach on our way to the car. I had actually picked a HUGE one and put it aside just for that purpose. I think each member of our family had done the same.

I made peach cobbler when we got home. I asked, a month or so ago, for a cobbler recipe for the boysenberries we'd picked and was given a few different options from friends. Thank you very much, by the way.

In the meantime, I found my old recipe--the one I couldn't find when I had all those boysenberries. So that I don't find myself in this predicament again, here it is.....


1 1/3 C. sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 C. water
8 C. fresh peaches, sliced
2 C. flour
1/2 C. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
8 Tbsp. butter
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. milk

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and water in a large saucepan. Add the peaches. Gently stir and cook until thickened. Keep warm while making the topping....

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon and cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl. Pour in and mix just until the flour mixture is moist--don't over stir.

Pour the peach mixture into a 9x13 pan and drop the topping in mounds on the top. Don't worry about spreading it around just strategically place them. As they cook, they will spread out a bit.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick.

Here's the best part....serve warm with ice cream.

I'm working on completing a few entries for the "Neighbors of the Madhouse" posts and hope to have them up very soon. If you're interested in joining in, please contact me. The more the merrier!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Tube Teaches New Vocabulary...NO!

When #1 was tiny, we tried everything we could not to use the word "no." Not that we always said "yes." Oh no! That was definitely not the case, but we tried to find alternatives so that "no" wouldn't be her first nor her most used word as a toddler.

There was "uh uh" and "I don't think so" and words and phrases such as those, and sure enough, "no" just wasn't one of her words. I was so glad to know that it was avoidable.

There's one thing I've learned since, though, that I think is an even better way to go. I learned this quite by accident (which is the case with many things I learn as a mother).....

When you have a large family, younger kids learn some pretty mature things from older siblings. Sometimes it's pretty darned shocking. 

image credit: youtube.com
One day, the older kids were watching a video on You Tube. They were laughing and having a good time. Little brother just couldn't stay away. They were all enjoying themselves greatly. It was fun to watch.

The next morning, though, I paid the price. After everyone had gone to school, #6 was sitting at the kitchen table. He let out with  a word that I hadn't even heard my 16-year-old say. #6 was three. I'm sure my chin fell to the floor, and my eyes were as big as saucers. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out where this word had been learned. Later, when I watched the same video the kids had watched the night before, I knew....Thanks, You Tube.

Well, the word flew, and "We don't say that," automatically left my mouth. It was purely knee-jerk.

Again, he let the word fly. Really?! Was this a challenge he was putting forth? Oh, little man, you really don't want to go there.

Here I was. How was I going to control this one? You know, I've shared before that there are things children do that you just have no power over. I mean, what was I going to do? What's the saying?...
Ah yes, I suppose this was an option, but he didn't know what he was saying. I mean, he knew what he was saying, but he didn't know what it meant. All he knew was that it had power--it was getting a rise out of me. Just the perfect thing for him to take with him to church on Sunday or to preschool when the time came. The more I begged, pleaded and implored him not to, the more he said it. He tried various expressions and volumes each time I responded. I was getting nowhere but he was walking into zones he'd ever knew existed.

Suddenly it occurred to me....what if I offered him a replacement word?

image credit: stitchintheditch.blogspot.com
That day, he learned the word "darn." Once he learned it, the other word melted away, and the look on his face was classic! Something clicked. I've not heard that You Tube word since, and he's now 5.

Sometimes I wonder if I couldn't have avoided a lot of situations similar to this one if I'd just been a little better problem solver and offered a new word or a new coping strategy. I mean, if a child was hitting, instead of saying "no," couldn't I have taken the child by the hand and taught him/her to use it in a gentler way? Maybe what the child was doing was only because he/she knew no other way. Just saying "no" is ineffective.

When we took our dog to puppy training years ago, one of the things we were taught was to only use the word "come" in emergency situations--if the dog was in the street and a car was coming, for example. Okay, so I hate to hear a two-year-old spouting off with "No....No!....NOOOO!!!" but maybe my two-year-old is just as tired of hearing me say it. Maybe I should only use "no" when my child is in the street and a car is coming.

So, at some point in #1's development, "no" crept back in. Maybe it was after toddlerhood when we thought it was safe--when we knew she had enough other words that that one word wouldn't overtake all others. In hindsight, I now see that there really was no need for it to return. Sometimes maybe instead of turning to that annoying word, all we need is a little bit of creative action.

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