I woke up to a smiling toddler and a text message from a friend "singing" happy birthday to me. Its a gorgeous western Montana morning, with sunshine and flowers everywhere, and I'll be spending the day at a remote mountain lake with my kids, my parents, all my brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews and quite a few cousins.
I can't say beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I'm reasonably certain that heaven looks an awful lot like western Montana in late June--a glimpse of the world as it should be.
Its going to be a glorious day.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Keilana has to give a talk tomorrow in Primary. When we sat down to write it this evening, I asked her what she wanted to talk about. "Jesus Christ," was her reply. "What about Him?" I asked. "How He was nice to everyone."
With very, very little guidance from me (seriously, it was almost all her--I just helped her shape it into a paragraph), this is what she came up with, sentence by sentence, to share with her Primary:
"Jesus Christ was nice to everyone. He said that the most important commandment was to love Heavenly Father and the next most important commandment was to love our neighbor as ourself [not a bad summarization of a scripture just read to her--pretty darned good for a 6-year-old, actually!]. That means we should treat everyone how we want to be treated, so if we meet someone new, we have to be nice to them. Jesus taught the people that no one else would talk to because He loved them. Even if someone speaks a different language, He wants us to love them and teach them because He knows their language and He loves them. Everyone is our brother or sister and Jesus Christ loves them no matter what."
This tells you something about the little girl I got lucky enough to get, and what's important in her life right now.
Of course, earlier in the evening she also squished a bug and then told said creepy crawly, "See you on the flip side!"
So existential, that one.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
So I took Kylie in for a well-baby check up today and discovered that she has an excellent memory for faces (this shouldn't surprise me, given her history). She was happy and talkative on the ride there, as we checked in and while we played in the waiting room. She read some books and played and chatted with her brother and sister. The nurse came out and called her name, and she happily crawled down from her chair and started heading to the door, realizing it was her turn. Then she saw the nurse. It was the same nurse she had last time, the same nurse who gave her five shots.
From that moment on, she was pretty much impossible. When we took her back to the scale and told her to stand on it so she could be weighed, she tried to either sit down or back off of it--while glaring, of course. She didn't want to stand against the wall for her height, standing sideways and fidgeting, and glaring. We went into the examine room and when the nurse dared to try to affectionately touch her, she let out an angry fake cry and glared. Then the doctor came in. Poor Dr. Resa--he loves the littlest people the most and she's never been a big fan (we all know how she feels about people who aren't me or daddy), but today all he got was a series of angry fake cries and glares.
Then the nurse came back in--with a tray full of needles. Kylie pointed frantically to her dress and shoes, clearly ready to go. When I tried to lay her down, she stuck her elbows behind her, fighting to stay upright. Finally I got her pinned (she's a strong little monster) and the nurse quickly gave her two shots in each leg. She continued her angry fake-crying throughout (not terribly loud, nothing shrieky) and jolted her head subtly each time a needle went in. Then the nurse left, we put on her dress and she was perfectly alright. You'd never know the child got any immunizations today. But my goodness is she stubborn!!
She is 31.5 inches tall and weighs 30 pounds, so she is in the 50th percentile and above the 95th, respectively, for her age. Lets hope that those relative proportions don't continue into adolescence.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
So I've been as busy as a little bee this week trying to get lots of cleaning and organizing done before we head to Montana. That means, however, that my kids have spent much of the last week penned up in the house.
And that means everybody's whiny. Real whiny. And selfish and mean--they're constantly picking on each other, taking things away from each other, yelling at each other and just being generally naughty.
I must renew my license before we go to Montana. I waited too long to do it by mail, so now I have to go to the DMV. So I'm leaving my kids with the blessed auntie Manda while I run to the DMV office in Tulare.
Never in my life have I been so excited to be heading for the office of a government bureaucracy.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Monday night, I left town with very little warning. My husband went with me, but we didn't take our kids. When we left, we weren't entirely certain how long we'd be gone. I had not packed a single thing for any one of my kids, and left rather abruptly without really knowing who would be getting Keilana to and from school, making sure she was ready for her last-week-of-school activities, etc. And yet I left with total and complete confidence that all three of my little loves would be well-cared for, happy and safe until we returned, whenever that might be. With little-to-no notice, my sister-in-law and several different friends stepped up and took care of my little girl and other kids without a second's hesitation and with very little knowledge of where I was or why I was gone. All I heard from them about it was what a delight she was. Not a word was breathed, nor I doubt even thought, of inconvenience or burden. I have never doubted my friends, and it was gratifying to see their love for my family in action.
Last night, I had a wonderful conversation with my dad, where I could hear the smile in his voice for much of the time we spoke. He talked of the power of the scriptures to heal a wounded heart or darkened spirit, and stated so clearly and concisely the importance of having a strong relationship with the Savior, of what that means in our lives (namely, everything). I smiled as he told me had resolved a personal/work crisis that day, then stopped to correct himself and clarified that he didn't do anything, other than be "ambushed by the solution". I spoke with him for more than an hour and delighted in hearing his voice again and being reminded strongly by many of the things that he said to me that I am, indeed, very much my father's daughter. And have never been happier to be so.
Today I went to the temple. I received no profound answers to any particular questions, nor received any significant new enlightenment about any particular topic. I was simply at peace and filled with the Spirit. That's all I needed today. As I looked around the ordinances rooms and then the Celestial Room, I was again struck by the utter simplicity of the place. The layout of the building is very simple--nothing superfluous anywhere. It is extraordinarily clean and neat and beautiful, but nowhere is it ostentatious in any way. There is nothing in the building's design or decor to distract from its purpose. And so, there in the House of the Lord, we have a more complete peace, a truer fulness of joy, than can be found anywhere else on Earth. I believe that when we step into the temple, we do step out of the world in a more literal way than we can possibly understand yet. The simplicity of the building itself, and the simple profundity of the things taught therein, always reminds me that the rest of life is just stuff. Oh, sure, its stuff we have to take care of to keep life running smoothly, but its not what life's about. Its really about individual and families, all trying, and helping one another, to get back to a Heavenly home, to Heavenly parents who know us and treasure us. Its about diligently pursuing, individually and together, our eternal potential and destiny. And its a joyful process.
As I started to prepare my lesson for tomorrow, the week I've just had ran through my head, and I thought to myself, after such a week how can I feel anything but gratitude and joy for all that I have? Is there one richer than I?
Thursday, June 10, 2010
and offer you the only thing I have to give:
It may not seem like much
and you certainly need much more
but I hope it can help you
take a first step.
Because the truth is
its my greatest blessing--
my most treasured and precious possession.
It breathes life and meaning into all my other blessings.
It keeps my grounded
when I might otherwise be swept away
when I might otherwise lose my head.
Hope and joy are eternal and constant.
They never go away,
we simply lose sight of them.
we feel the mist pressing down on us
and we start to let one hand
then the other
slip off the rod,
until before we know it
and not entirely sure how it happened,
we're wandering in strange paths,
groping desperately in the dark,
unable to see the rod
and starting to doubt its even there anymore--
starting to think
that perhaps the memories of ever grasping it are an illusion,
becoming more and more certain
that we can never find our way back,
if there's even a "back"
to find our way to.
And we can't do it on our own.
We've wandered too far away
to reach it ourselves,
too far out of sight to find it on our own.
And so He sends us helpers--
ones who love us,
who may be terribly flawed,
perhaps sometimes impatient
but whose hand is still grasping firmly to the rod.
They stretch out a hand to take yours
to guide you back,
to promise that the rod,
with all its hope and joy,
is still there,
to hold you up
until you are ready to grasp it again yourself.
So take the hand that is offered to you.
Because men are that they might have joy.
Monday, June 7, 2010
I hurt, everywhere. I seem to have been hit pretty hard by some kind of bug. Every muscle in my body is sore and achy (trust me, every one--I took a cadaver anatomy class in college and have already identified two muscles today that I didn't know I had until they started hurting), I have a head ache, my lungs are oh-so-painful and uncooperative, my throat is so sore that all I've eaten today has been two popsicles and a string cheese, and I slept in clear 'til 8 and then took an hour nap while my kidlets played on the computer and I'm still tired. I am most annoyed. There were a lot of things I wanted to get done today.
Suddenly I find myself wishing for cold weather so that the thought of eating soup for dinner was tolerable. And, most of all, I find myself pining for a big, old clawfoot tub in which to soak.
Last night at 10 o'clock, I felt fine.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Orson Scott Card (the one writer I may be accused of having a minor obsession with--although I think I'm developing one with Aleksander Solzhenitsyn) writes a weekly column for Mormon Times (mormontimes.com, part of Deseret News), and its usually pretty good. The last few weeks, he's been writing columns about different aspects of marriage and/or choosing a spouse. This is one of his suggestions about dealing with disagreements in marriage, and I absolutely loved it, because it applies so well to every relationship that matters in our lives, not just to marriage. Everywhere he has written "spouse", you could substitute in "mother", "brother", "good friend", "uncle" or "daughter" and it would apply just as well.
Being able to have healthy disagreements and crucial conversations is so vital to any good relationship. I have at times responded poorly by giving in to my emotions, and I have been yelled or snapped at on several different occasions by several different people for not responding when I have held my tongue and tried to smooth things or at least not make them worse. In the long run, I've found that the control is always the better option, even if it can sometimes frustrate others or myself momentarily.
"4. If the other person shows emotion, you cannot.
The more emotional your spouse is, the calmer you need to be, especially if your spouse's emotions are negative — and directed at you.
Anger answered with anger only increases, until terrible things are said and both spouses start to wonder how they ever ended up married to an enemy.
But anger answered with calmness — infuriating as it might sometimes be, for a moment — is like a wave crashing against stone. Be the stone. Bear all that is said, and say inside your heart — or with your lips — "I love you so much that I can hear this without forgetting how important you are to me."
Your primary objective, when anger is present, is to say nothing that will continue to hurt the other person after this particular argument is over.
Section 121, verses 41-44, offers a complete guide to decision-making in a marriage: Lead by persuasion. Be patient by allowing your spouse to disagree with you for a long time without having to force a resolution. Find the gentlest way to say hard things. Be meek enough to hear hard things without anger or resistance, and then consider them carefully.
Do not pretend to love, really love, which means putting your spouse's happiness ahead of getting your own way — way ahead.
Be kind: look for ways you can serve your spouse's needs and desires.
Don't offer arguments just because they come into your mind — take the time to make sure you're actually right before declaring the other person wrong. When you advance a line of thought, make sure it consists of "pure knowledge" rather than your visceral opinions.
Never be hypocritical by pretending to be dispassionate or rational when in fact you're just trying to get your way. Nor is there room in a marital disagreement for tricks, traps, half-truths, or deliberate misreadings of your beloved's statements, just so you can "win."
Sometimes in a marriage you do have to say things the other person doesn't want to hear. But the "sharpness" mentioned by the Lord in his words to Joseph Smith refers to clarity, not anger. "I think you have made a mistake in this precise way," you may need to say.
But you do this when the Spirit of God suggests it to you — which means never in anger or vengeance or to counter a sharp, clear reproof that has been offered to you. "Oh, you think I was wrong to do this? Well what about when you did that!" That's how children and politicians argue. There's no room for that in marriage.
And the moment you have offered that clear reproof, you show greater tenderness, affection, caring, kindness, gentleness, and service than ever, so your spouse can see visible evidence that it was love, not anger or contempt, that offered that reproof.
Good marriages have disagreements, and they don't have to be hidden away or denied. You don't have to be a doormat by giving in on issues that matter to you — as long as you don't try to compel your spouse to give in, either.
Before you speak a word of disagreement with your spouse, especially if you feel angry, you should reach out your hand and say, with your lips and in your heart, "Your happiness and our marriage are both more important to me than anything we ever disagree about."
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Our five year old, wireless keyboard went kaput last week. The space bar kept getting stuck and it was just getting a little "sticky" over all. So we went and bought a new keyboard on Monday. And its so pleasant to type on that I keep wanting to sit down at the computer and write just so that I can use it. Yes, I love typing on a good keyboard that much.
Its like when I have a fresh new notebook and a new pen with the perfect flow and a fine, sharp tip. I just want to spend all day writing. Seriously, office supply stores make me so excited. All those fresh, clean notebooks and beautiful, perfect pens. And all the folders, binders, and various organizational supplies.
When I was a teenager, I always had a ball point pen hooked to the pocket of my jeans--seriously, always, everywhere I went. There was always a thin little silver clip hanging over my pocket. Often two. Or hanging off one of the various necklaces around my neck. But I always had a good pen.
Then I had children.
But I still love pens and notebooks and keyboards. And some day I'll be organized enough and my children will be old and self-sufficient enough that I can again spend hours just thinking and writing. And still sleep (because it seems once you have children, everything productive must happen between the hours of 8pm and 8am).
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I really, really like this kid:
I know, its pretty obvious, right? But seriously, she makes me laugh and laugh
She's very happy, very playful
(my apologies to those who have only seen
the buddha face
or the scowl.
Very, very slowly, the shyness is getting less severe).
She's a tease
and when she's around people she knows well
she's a ham.
She's just always giggling about something.
By the way,
this is what I grabbed my phone to snap pictures of:
They love to watch their daddy work.
And isn't working more fun
when you have an audience?
They like to interrupt me when I'm working,
but they don't so much care for watching.
But I guess it is more fun to watch
someone operate power tools
than to watch someone type
or scrub a broiler pan
Yes, daddy's projects are a bit more visually interesting than mine.
But mostly they just like having him around
and spending time with the big guy.
They like being a part of his world.
And he sure likes having them as part of his.