Sunday, December 30, 2007

Holiday Greetings

I haven't been around much this week, for two reasons: the first is that at any given time during the day one of the young people in the house seems to be sitting at this computer. The second is that I've been struck...blind-sided...whacked over the head...whatever you want to call it...with this enormous load of sentimentality. If you've read my past several posts you'll understand why. And as a result, I've felt a need to spend every possible moment of this vacation week just enjoying those computer-hogging young people. I've put together several jigsaw puzzles and played countless board games. I've also washed several million dishes and swept the floor and wiped down counters hundreds of times - but few of my week's activities have involved this computer, which has been great.

Christmas day, in the evening, there was a moment where I was struck with a feeling of complete happiness. Snow was lightly falling outside; I had just finished talking to my son, the big guy in Mexico, for almost two whole hours! He sounded so good, it was amazing. The rest of my family was with me, all of them happy enough with their day and their gifts. Christmas dinner was excellent. Life was good. My heart swelled two sizes in that moment, and its' kept me going the rest of the week.

So here's wishing you all a happy new year - and if you've got a loved one in the house, may I suggest you click out of this page and go find a jigsaw puzzle or board game - you won't regret it!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My secret life of crime

I really don't have time to be spending on my blog. My Christmas shopping has had to be condensed into a couple of days since I took off all of last week, the week before that was spent getting ready for last week, and by my calculations Tuesday is the worst time for a Christmas to fall, because: one never wants to go out shopping on the weekend before Christmas (nightmare), which starts this Friday evening; Friday happens to be my birthday, and I'm sorry but fighting crowds is not my idea of a good day; Sunday is out for me anyway, even if it weren't a horrible day for shopping; Monday is Christmas Eve and one should really be done by then anyway; which leaves TODAY as my last shopping day! Yikes! And I only got started yesterday! And I have five kids! (ok, four if you don't count my missionary who has his gifts, but five if you count my son-in-law. Six if you count my dog. which I don't, but some do. But only dog extremists.) Anyway, the point is I shouldn't be HERE. Oh, did I mention that I have to help in my son's third-grade class with his Christmas party today? Yikes. Anyway, my dear brother forced my hand by mentioning a letter that I haven't had time to write about. I've been dying to anyway, so I'll make it short.

I just happened to be in Cancun last week. Just dropped in. And if you've been following my blog you might remember that my son is near there. Ok, he is there. It was my 25-year anniversary (thank you, thank you. Yes, we're considering cemetary plots for our Christmas gifts.) And we planned this trip long before he arrived, or we knew he would even be there. But he was.

And if you know anything about mormon missionaries, you know that contact is restricted, in order to keep the missionary focused. As in, emails or letters once a week and phone calls twice a year. That's it.

So I tried really hard not to see him. Really I did. But it is Christmas time, so I brought a Christmas package for him - much more logical than sending it by mail. And I made numerous attempts to get it to him without physically going there. Really I did. But none of them worked out. And when my son finally had to call me (a kind man who was supposed to come pick up the package thought his errand was done when he picked up a letter that told him how to find us. My son got the letter, which fortunately told him how to find us) and told me to just bring it, and that his mission president wouldn't care, well, I did what any person in the world would have done!

Isn't he beautiful? Whatever happens in the next few days, I've already had a wonderful Christmas!

More later - for now I've got to get to the mall!

(Oh and Vic - your crime was SOOO much worse!)

Monday, December 17, 2007

I believe...

I took my 8-year-old to the mall on Friday to see Santa. We stood in line for the obligatory 20 minutes, and I even shelled out the $15 they wanted for the little picture. I did it because my heart was being pulled by a million sappy heart strings. I held his hand in line and felt a combination of joy at his innocent excitement, and mourning at the loss that I know is going to come - probably by next year, maybe not until the next, of that Christmas wonder he was feeling.

While we stood in line, a little boy behind us decided to announce loudly that his little sister should be told there isn't a Santa by the time she's ten, since that's when he found out. I planted myself between that boy and mine, like a shield. He repeated his announcement three or four times before the mother came out of her stupor long enough to realize what her young charge was saying. She quietly chided him, and I wondered what effect, if any, his declaration would have on my son. Sure enough, with in a couple of minutes he asked me if I believe in Santa. "Of course I do," I said. "Yeah," he agreed, "parents would have to know. Since there are presents under the tree that they don't buy." And then of course I felt guilty. And sad. It's starting...the won't be long now.

But apparantly I've got a little more time. The next day, as we were driving in the car, he told me that when he grows up he wants to be Santa. I asked him how come, and he said: "For one thing, I believe in him. For another, he gets to travel all over the world. Plus his elves do all the work for him, he just sits around and eats cookies and hot chocolate all day. Besides, he gets to live forever."

"That does sound like a pretty sweet gig," I told him, "if you can get it."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


That's the word I thought of when I saw this picture. Have there ever been two more beautiful people? That's my girl and her hubby cutting down a Christmas tree this weekend. The picture came with a letter that told about a friend who told her how grateful he was that she made it and then told her a story about a lady who had a seizure after childbirth and is now in a coma. This is what she said, "I am grateful that I walked away from everything just fine, but that story really put into perspective what could have happened, and I am so much more grateful that I will still be able to live my life. I can still finish school, still have kids and raise them, still be with my loved ones, and the list goes on and on. It could have all been taken away from me in just a few hours like it was for the other woman. But for me, I still have a chance. I get to live..." I told her I hope she can always hold on to that wonder of being alive - it's a wonderful gift.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

How I Spent My Thanksgiving Vacation

This Thursday I ate my turkey dinner in the car, enroute from the emergency room of Alta View Hospital to the emergency room of UofU Hospital. My husband, one of my daughters, and my son-in-law ate theirs together a little bit later, in the ICU waiting room. Yep, it was quite the day.

And I was wondering if I should post something sweet and sentimental about Thanksgiving…this isn’t exactly the post I was planning on. In fact, it’s one of those entries you hope to never write. It was a holiday none of us will forget. Except for my oldest daughter, who will never be able to remember it. Fortunately for her the entire day is an empty slate.

The story actually begins the day before, when she had surgery to replace her eardrum. Yes, you read that right, they replaced her eardrum. Not your run-of-the-mill surgery, but her old one was full of scar tissue and causing her all kinds of problems, so hopefully it will have been worth it. The surgery went fine, and she was as well as could be expected afterwards. But she woke up the next day feeling awful, terribly nauseous. She and I were sitting on her bed discussing ways to help the nausea when she let out horrible wail. My first thought was that she was in some kind of pain. Then I saw her eyes, which were locked and glazed over. My next thought was that our lives were about to change forever.

She launched into a grand mal seizure. I turned into a basket case. Someone upstairs called 9-1-1 in response to my yells, and her husband bolted down the stairs. The two of us made an Abbott and Costello type of rescue team. Fortunately a cousin, who had made the phone call, came downstairs and started calling the shots.

The next few hours involved two rides in ambulances, two emergency rooms, and eventually an ICU. My usually-sweet and mild-mannered daughter couldn’t calm herself down, even after the seizure ended, and eventually had to be put in restraints to keep her from ripping out her tubes and anything else touching her skin. She didn’t know who or where she was. I didn’t know who she was. I can’t begin to describe the fear that she might never come back.

Fortunately a young doctor who bears an amazing resemblance to Dr. House, and who talked about having to put together a puzzle (but fortunately had a very nice bed-side manner), figured out the problem. In a nutshell, and in layman’s terms, a drug they used during the surgery has a possible side-effect of causing extreme sodium depletion, which can lead to seizures. The next step after the seizure is coma, followed by death. Fortunately he was able to start her on sodium treatments in what I believe was just the nick-of-time. She ended up spending a couple of agonizing days in the ICU while they got everything stabilized. But the good news is that she’s home now, and almost as good as new – except that she can’t hear out of one ear, and she’s got some big chunks in her memory. Hopefully both will improve soon.

I’ve decided the only thing that would be more difficult than watching an amazing, beautiful creature that somehow remarkably came out of your body struggle to hold onto the life you gave her, would be to watch her lose that battle. My heart goes out to all parents who have had to do that. And I’m so thankful I didn’t have to on this particular Thanksgiving day.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mental Defense, or Confessions of a Warped Mind (?)

I'll let you be the judge of which this posting should be titled. Before I start my story, I have to preface it with something that happened on Sunday - I happened across a couple of women in the church library who I didn't know. They were carrying on a lively conversation, and joked that they might look like innocent librarians, but they were really having a therapy conversation. It turned out that one of them really was a therapist, and I told her it was a coincidence I would run into her on that day, because I was currently questioning my sanity. I went on to tell the story I'm going to tell here, and she gave me a clean bill of health. Of course, as I've thought about it, I'm not sure if it was the therapist or the friend who gave me the diagnosis, but I liked it, and the other didn't disagree, so I'm going to run with it. I have to preface the story with that incident, so as not to give the impression of total insanity. Or at least to give myself a defensive argument to the insantiy plea. And after long's the story...

A week ago Monday I got a letter from my missionary son...just like I've gotten on every Monday of the past year, except for the two that weren't written because he was in a third-world hospital with dengue fever, which I didn't know about until after the fact. This particular letter went something like this:

My email isn't working so I didn't get your letter.
My mission president sent me to the doctor and I have Typhoid and Ameobas.
We couldn't baptize the girl we've been teaching.

Now I know how a normal person would read the letter:
My email isn't working so I didn't get your letter.
My mission president sent me to the doctor and I HAVE TYPHOID AND AMOEBAS.
We couldn't baptize the girl we've been teaching.

But this is how I read the letter:
My email isn't working so I didn't get your letter.
My mission president sent me to the doctor and I have Typhoid and Ameobas.
We couldn't baptize the girl we've been teaching.

I was very sad after reading the letter. And I did read the entire letter. I just didn't absorb it all. I sat there chastising myself for not sending a letter to his backup email. Here he's had a discouraging week, and then he didn't even get a letter from his family. I was so sad, in fact, that I forgot to forward the letter to the rest of the family.

When my husband got home from work that night he asked if Daniel had sent a letter. "Oh, didn't I send it?" I asked. "He's fine. But he didn't get our letter. His email wasn't working." And that was the end of it. Didn't give it another thought. Until a whole five days later - Saturday night. I was with my other children, visiting and laughing and having a good time, when all of a sudden the word TYPHOID popped into my head.

"Daniel has typhoid!" I blurted out. The kids gave me a quizzical look. "And something else!" I ran to the computer and found his letter, thinking maybe I'd had a nightmare or something. But I hadn't. He had typhoid, and amoebas (which it turns out is probably the worst of all three tropical diseases he's contracted). My kids were baffled. "You didn't tell us?" "You FORGOT?"

So you see why I was questioning my sanity. Here's the diagnosis, or theory, or whatever you want to call it: There was nothing I could do about it, and I was on stress over-load (I could list a whole slue of health and financial problems my family is experiencing, but this blog is too long already), so my brain brilliantly decided to tuck the news away in some corner, where it was no-doubt curled up in the fetal position sucking it's morbid little thumb, until I was ready to deal with it. It's a pretty neat trick, actually.

As for my son's diagnosis, I wish I knew more, or maybe less, or that there was something I could do for him. I can't begin to describe how helpless I feel. But in the meantime - I wonder how many other things I don't remember?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Best Husband Ever...

My friend and fellow blogging babe Candace is holding a contest that I entered today. ( And since I figured it would be a shame to keep a good essay about a great guy to myself (and to her empirical decision of the top six entries) I figured I'd post my entry here:

My cute and adorable husband lives by a philosophy that I believe makes him a hands-down winner in any husband contest. After a few, short years of marriage, when I became a stay-at-home mom, he told me that he believes my job in the home is just as important as his job outside of the home, and that since we both spend our days working, when he gets home we’re even. He claims he doesn’t understand men who think they have the right to sit around in the evening while their wives continue working. The minute he walks in the door he jumps in with dinner preparations, laundry, dishes, homework assistance—whatever still needs doing. He has continued with that practice for all 25 years of our marriage, despite three facts that should get him off the hook: 1) all of our children are now in school. 2) much of my “working” day consists of writing stories that thus far have made no nominal contribution to the family budget. And 3) I’m a dreadful housekeeper who obviously doesn’t sweat much during her “work day”.

This would be enough to make him a keeper, but he doesn’t stop there. He was my rock and head cheerleader when I decided to go back to college at the age of 39, despite knowing that the financial cost of earning my journalism degree would never be returned. He’s been by my side through multiple illnesses and surgeries. When I had open-heart surgery months after the birth of our fourth child, he took on the role of nurse to me, and mother to our four little ones ages seven and under, without a single complaint. Any time I have been in a position to select a new course in life, he’s been there to encourage me to do the thing that will please me most, even if it isn’t the most convenient thing for him.

Best of all, he has a quiet sense of humor, and a gentleness that never falters. I can honestly say that in our 25 years of marriage he has never so much as raised his voice at me. My littlest son recently observed my oldest daughter and her husband playfully pretending to fight over something, and he said “Why are you fighting? You’re married!” Imagine that, despite my growing up in a home that fought more often than it didn’t, I have an eight-year-old who has grown up thinking married couples never fight. Believe me, I can’t take credit for that.

My Robert is not flashy or wealthy (though he is terribly handsome). He has worked in the same non-glamorous job for the past 20 years, and has never failed to be a good provider for our family. We don’t take fancy vacations, he doesn’t drive a sports car or wear designer clothes, and he doesn’t buy me expensive jewelry. But he loves me and our children immeasurably. He does bring me flowers, often for no reason other than he senses I need a boost, even though he considers them a waste of money, just because he knows they’ll make me happy. Sometimes I have to be careful before asking for a favor, because I know he’ll do it, no matter how much of a hardship.

That’s my man – my boyfriend, my best friend, my rock.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

And the Winner Is...

As expected, new opportunities are starting to present themselves (Yeah! I can put off cleaning that closet for at least one more week!) I received a new unofficial church calling - unofficial because it came from the ward music director instead of the bishop. We're not sure exactly if it's legitimate, but I'm not going to ask too many questions unless I get fired.

The story starts several months ago with our previous ward music director who decided to start a youth choir. No one asked her to, she just did it as part of her calling because, as she told me, it gave her the "youth fix" that she needed. It was a big hit - about 60 kids in the first performance. (Yes, we have a gigantor ward) But as happens when you do your job too well, she was put into a leadership position, namely primary president. She really wanted to keep doing the choir, but it proved too much, so she asked the new music director to keep it going.

So guess who she called? Yep, little 'ol me. I admit I might have dropped a hint about how fun that would be when I talked to her about the choir's next performance for the ward bulletin. But it's not like I forced her to call me.

As I told my daughter, if the bishop had asked what I'd like to do next when he released me, I would have said, "Well Bishop, leading that youth choir looks really nice." So maybe Karma is finding me after all.

Here's the deal about leading a choir: I lead one a while back, and decided right away that this was the perfect job for me. It basically requires waving your arms in rhythm to the music, which is absolutely the best use of my musical abilities (notice I don't say talent, having rhythm is the only talent that comes naturally to me. Remind me to tell you some time about the time I played a piano solo and asked the congregation to leave so I could get through it. I mean, I literally got up to the microphone and asked them to leave. And that's after about 100 years of lessons.)

But this arm waving thing--I can so do that. And better still, I get to do it with my back to the audience, while MOUTHING the words. I don't even have to worry about staying on pitch. And the best part is, I get to make faces at the choir to get them to sing louder. It is so absolutely fun...well, assuming you don't get carried away and fall off the podium like a doofus. But that's yet another story for another day. Anyway, now I get to make those faces at those young women that I've been missing. And if I do fall, well, hopefully they'll have my back.

Friday, October 5, 2007

New Chapter

Writing a life story is kind of a tricky thing. One never wants to write it while right in the middle of it, that's like writing a novel with no ending. But if one waits too long...well, obviously there's a point where it's too late.

So, assuming I get the timing right and manage to sneak mine in before I die, there would be periods of time that would naturally be headed under different chapters. For instance, there would be the Newlywed Years, the Huge-Bellied-What's-My-Name-Again?-Baby-Years, the Lost-In-a-Fog-And-Oh-Yeah-I-Remember-You're-My-Husband-Years, the Where-Did-All-These-Hormonal-Teenagers-Come-From?-Years. I'm not sure exactly what the years I've just had will be entitled (maybe The Nest Starts to Empty?) or what the next will be, but I'm sensing a new chapter is about to start.

Like most people, for years now my days have been filled with a variety of activities that keep pretty much every hour filled. When any one project ends, another is soon found to fill in the gap. Or sometimes one has to be dropped, or postponed, because another has become all-consuming. All those activities weave together kind of like a quilt. They don't usually all come to an end at the same time.

But until recently, I've been: my girl's yearbook advisor - they're done at that school; Young women's counselor - finished; building a house - built, and I won't be doing that again while the housing market's in a coma; an at-home auditor, well, not quite as recently, the company was sold last year; a wedding planner - all involved living happily ever after, with no future brides or grooms coming of age for several years; star of stage and screen - that was a fluke and will require a long recuperation period.

I'm enjoying the time off, and there are plenty of small projects that that could still use my attention (like finding the answer to the elusive question: what is the color of the carpet in my bedroom closet?)

But I've decided, while hanging out around the house the past week or so, that one of my biggest fears in life is not being able to fill in the blank to the following statement: "Please excuse the mess, I've just been so busy with ________________."

So there's my motivation. I've got to get started on that new chapter soon so that it doesn't become "The Cleaning Years." Ugh. Not that I have anything against a clean house - just having it as my top priority - well, not in my life story.

So I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

To Do List

Here's my to-do list for next week:


That's it, for the entire week. If we're desparate I might go shopping by about Thursday. And I'm sure I'll end up cooking a few meals. But it is with great determination that I keep the list like it is.

I've had these huge amounts of adrenaline pumping through my veins for days now. First with the musical, then getting the yard and the house ready for the wedding, then moving the wedding to a local church house because of rain. Not to mention getting my daughter off to a homecoming dance. I didn't stop moving once yesterday, except to make a wedding video, and I am so...very...exhausted.

The good news is the wedding was beautiful, tons of people came despite the rain and change in locations, the bride was happy, and there were no assaults. What more can you ask for in a wedding?

I've had three naps today, and I'm thinking about bed, even though it's only 9:00. If I'm still asleep in a week - wake me up. Otherwise, just close the door softly and go away please.

Friday, September 14, 2007


(So Funny I couldn't resist!)
Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device
Trade named: BOOK

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere -- even sitting in an armchair by the fire -- yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc. Here's how it works:

BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder, which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKs with more information simply use more pages.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

Unlike other display devices, BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, and it can even be dropped on the floor or stepped on without damage. However, it can become unusable if immersed in water for a significant period of time. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session -- even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOKmarkers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. Also, BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Here We Are! (By popular demand)

Ain't those costumes great? (Linus! Play for me son! Play for me!)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Footbridge Foilbles and other Fun

We've now performed twice, and I have to say I finally feel ready to do it for real. There were mistakes galore - although overall I think it was a fun show.

Poor Harold (who is marvelous by the way) psyched himself out by telling us before going on stage for the first time that if he forgets the words to 76 trombones ("I'm not going to, I'm just planning for disaster") no one should help him out but Marcellus. He doesn't want everyone calling out the words, so Marcellus is the only one who should. Well the poor guy went blank - worse than he's ever done in a rehearsal, and Marcellus was stuck in a corner where he couldn't get to him. The rest of us just stared at his pained face, helpless. The good news is that he recovered after the song and pulled off an excellent performance from there on out. And he nailed the song the second time around.

My big mistake was in getting myself and my son from the stage to the back of the theater between Iowa Stubborn and Trouble. First, my son forgot to bring his prop (he's the little guy with the dime novel) and had to run back for it. I didn't realize that there was absolutely no time to pause, I guess we'd always paused before that. I heard the music starting, and since I was in a dress with heels and have to enter from the back of the theater and be the third group on stage, I hollered to my son to come right now, and took off in a sprint. Well, wouldn't you know that back door was locked? Needless to say, we weren't the third group on stage. But we did get there in time for his bottom to be swatted.

The biggest foible of all was fortunately during the dress rehearsal. We had a brand-new footbridge to run over during the final moments, on our way to the picnic. First some townspeople, then the pick-a-littles (affectionately referred to as pickles) do their prancing, then the shapoopi kids (my daughter is one of those - more about that later).

So here's the thing about the footbridge. It is very steep, and very slippery. But none of us knew that until the moment we stepped on it. When it was my turn to step on it, I was greeted with a pick-a-little bunny ahead of me. (Note: whenever we turn our backs to the audience, the director calls out "I see bunnies!" Terms like "Move your bloomin bunny" and "I don't give a rat's bunny." Have been sprinkled liberally throughout the rehearsals)

This particular bunny was not moving, so I literally put my shoulder to it as I stepped on to the bridge, the treacheries of which I had yet to discover. The result was that I fell backward, was caught by the pickle behind me, who pushed on both of us as she attempted to step onto the footbridge.

We officially had what I believe can be called a Pickle Pileup. I decided then and there I was going to have to invest in some Depends if the footbridge didn't get fixed. (It did, by the way, double-sided tape - now our only problem is that we stick too well.)

One other favorite opening moment. As I came off the stage after the first act, a cute little girl stopped me and asked why people were in the audience. I told her it was because we were performing. "But it's not 2 o'clock!" she said. "Yes it is. We're doing the real show now!" I said. Then her face fell. "So why aren't there MORE people in the audience?"

Welcome to theater life, kid!

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Show Must Go On...

So tonight was supposed to be our opening night, but about three days ago we learned that the stage we've been waiting around to get on (practising in practically a closet instead) is not going to be ready until next week. For half a day we didn't know if we'd perform at all, but the powers that be found us a junior high auditorium. Tonight will be dress rehearsal instead.

I'm exhuasted, harried, and every muscle in my body aches - more from cutting out Grecian Urn dresses than anything. Instructions: cut out five big circles and five big rectangles, cut holes out of the middle of both, sew the square to the circle. Easy. Until you lay out 100 miles of fabric that moves out of place if you just think about touching it, and then try to figure out exactly what is meant by "five big circles". How big? How do you get them round? How big a hole in the middle? Note: if you make the hole too big, the skirt will only fit a woman who is 3 feet tall and 300 pounds. I know this from experience.

We've had other obstacles - Harold and Ethyl Toffelmeyer (the pianola girl) are both coming down with colds and speak in whispers. Marion had a family emergency and couldn't be there last night. Not to mention that we perform tomorrow and we still haven't used mics or lighting or finished all the costumes. Oh, or made the backdrops. That's where I'm heading right now with my paint brush - as soon as I make a dozen bow ties.

What on earth was I thinking when I went to that audition?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wearing black

I've been in mourning all week. Not because of my son...the newspapers tell me there have been no deaths reported from the hurricane, so I'm assuming that includes him. And not even because of Aunt Bertha. It's because last week I was called into my bishop's office and released from my calling with the young women. Just like that. It came as quite a shock. Almost four years of a job that requires almost daily attention, and poof, I'm done.

That's how it works in our church, by the way. They don't pass around sign-up sheets for jobs. The higher-ups make decisions, with inspiration, about who should do what, and then they ask you to do it. You do have the option of saying no, and I'm frankly surprised at how many use that option. But there is no option for declining a release. Once you're done, you're done. Believe me, I considered it. "No Bishop, I'm gonna stay. I love those girls too much." Thought about it. But that would be unprecedented. And I'm not an unprecedented kind of person. Wouldn't have worked anyway. I'd be the uninvited guest at the picnic.

So I cried the rest of the day, and have moped around this week. Sure, I still have the musical keeping me busy, and I've got a wedding reception in my backyard the week after it ends (family friend, not one of mine, thank goodness), but I still feel like I have too much time on my hands. I'm sure within a few months or even days my schedule will be packed again, but in the meantime, I'll be the one wearing black.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Everybody stay calm! There's no need for panic...

I need to make it clear that I am not the type of person that worries needlessly. I am not at all like those silly women that sit around worrying when their husband is late getting home from a trip to the point that by the time said husband arrives she is in hysterics--not only has she planned his entire funeral but has moved on to figuring out how to provide for the family without him. I would never do that.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So, with that in mind, let me say that if I were that type of woman, I would be a wreck right now. But I'm not. Because I'm sure everything's fine. Just because that son with the birthday, the one in Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula, is in the eye of a category 5 hurricane. But like I say, I'm sure he's fine. I actually wasn't worried much at all yesterday. It was his p-day (preparation day) and we got a letter telling us that he was evacuating the area as soon as he was done with the letter. He didn't sound like he was in any rush - wrote a nice detailed letter about all his experiences of the week. "How nice," I thought, "the church takes such good care of their boys." And they do, they really do. I'm told that statistically 19-to-20 year-old boys are much safer on a mission than at home riding their motorcycles and jumping off cliffs and all those other things they're inclined to do.

But then last night I started reading details about the storm, and didn't like what I read. So here's the deal: he was in Escarcega, which is on the southwest part of the Yucatan peninsula, and was evacuating to Merida, which is on the Northwest part of the peninsula. The eye of the storm hit on the eastern part of the peninsula, right in between those two points, and traveled northeast, directly THROUGH the area he was traveling yesterday! So in other words, when he went merrily on his way yesterday, he was heading INTO the eye of the storm. My husband keeps pointing out that Merida didn't get hit much, and that's where he is now. I have to clarify that that is where he was heading. There's a difference.

And boy is it a good thing I'm not a worrier. Because if I were I'd probably be huddled up with a box of chocolates, watching the news like a maniac. And that would be silly...just ask my husband.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Son!

I just found out my son in Mexico gets to read this blog, and that he actually spent time reading it today - but by now it's too late to wish him a happy birthday here - I actually thought about it yesterday, but decided against it, since I didn't think he was allowed to use the Internet beyond emails.

And if he ever gets to come back, it'll be after his birthday has passed. Which wouldn't be so bad, except that the package I so carefully put together several months ago never made it to him.

Which wouldn't be so bad except that he just found out he's going to stay in the same difficult area he's been in for months - they usually stay in an area for six weeks and he'll be there now for six months.

Which wouldn't be so bad except the companion he's had for those six months did get transferred, so he'll be spending his birthday with a new companion he will have only known for one day.

So you see why I'm sad that I didn't say Happy Birthday here, for him to read on the day before his birthday. A birthday that will be spent with no present or family or even friends. But in his words "it's all good." It's mostly just hard for the Mama, who is used to picking out video games and I-pods for birthdays; and instead had to settle for a package of neckties and twinkies and a CD of his family singing Happy Birthday. A package that didn't even arrive.

Oh well. It's all good. Happy Birthday son!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Aunt Bertha's Dead

Ah, life is good, even if she is dead. And since I don't actually know Aunt Bertha, or doubt if the one in question ever actually existed, I suppose that doesn't even count. For those of you who have been following my exciting new stage career, the latest news is that I have yet another line! That's three! I'm almost the star! And the new line is..."Your Aunt Bertha's dead!"

It's a rather good line actually, because I move to the front of the stage with another woman during one of the songs, and the other woman complains that she spent time in the hospital and no one came to see her - she then ticks off a list of people who didn't come to see her, and when she gets to Aunt Bertha, I say...yes, you guessed it..."You're Aunt Bertha's dead", to which she replies, "Well, she wouldn't have come anyway."

Which reminds me of a quote from a lady who really did die this past week, a friend of mine from water aerobics. She was 79, but you'd never guess it. She was known for her belly dancing, tarzan yells, and cliff diving. And for her great attitude. She used to tell her nine kids, who she raised as a single mom: "No one's responsible for your happiness but yourself."

Even if Aunt Bertha wouldn't have come.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Can you hear that?

Shhhh! have to sit very still to hear it. But if you do it's almost deafening. It's the sound of children all over the world reading. Isn't it amazing? They're not watching television, or hanging at the mall. They have their noses in a book the size and weight of a bowling ball.

The latest wave of mass reading started at about midnight last Friday, when the last installment of Harry Potter was released. Some managed to complete it by Saturday morning. Others are anxiously tapping their fingers and watching their siblings read, waiting for their turn. Most are huddled on couches, in corners, sprawled on their beds; engrossed in the imagination of J.K. Rowling. My 8-year-old is currently reading book one. My mother just called and asked to borrow book two, both caught up in the excitement and trying to catch up.

It was all any of the kids could talk about at church on Sunday:

"Who's finished it?" "Don't tell us anything!" "My sister's reading ours. She's taking forever."

Whether you love her or hate her, or think her work is of the devil (yes, there are some that think that), you can't deny that she's brought the excitement of reading to a new generation. And it's spreading. Last night I got a phone call from one of the girls in my neighborhood asking if she can borrow Twilight, a novel by LDS writer Stephanie Meyers that all the teen girls around here love. Unfortunately it's loaned out already, has been ever since my daughters and I finished it. In fact, I got a new copy from one of the people who borrowed it, the copy I'd loaned her got so hammered. So I gave the girl the names of some others that have it (including the neighbor that ended up buying her own). I suspect she's tired of watching her sister reading their only Harry copy. Whatever. They're reading, and I'm grateful to those brilliant women who have helped it happen.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A solo!

As predicted, the musical I'm in has taken over my life. Three rehearsals in as many days. It won't always be that hectic, she's putting together Act 1, and since I'm A LEAD I have to at all the LEAD rehearsals. The definition of a LEAD (it's such an impressive word I feel it has to be in caps) is anyone with a speaking part. And I conveniently have one speaking part. It goes like this, "And this is Mrs. Squires, and Mrs. Hix, and of course you met Eulalie Mckecknie Shin, the mayor's wife. Isn't it exciting Eulalie?" I typed that by heart, thank you very much. And the director told me I did a good job last night. She said the emotion was just right. Thank you, thank you, hold your applause please.

But here's the really exciting news: I have a solo! Yes, I will actually be singing, on stage, by myself. My part goes like this: "Or dishes."

Yep, that's it. "Or dishes".

It's in the Wells Fargo song, when the towns folk are reminiscing past packages, and speculating on what they might be receiving. I'm pretty sure the part was hand-selected for me, because every adult in attendance got one, and there weren't any one-word parts. Two words - can't mess that up too bad. Although I did the first time - I yelled instead of sang. The second time wasn't much better. It wasn't quite a holler, but still didn't have any lilt that would qualify it as singing. I can sing it at home by myself. "Or dishes." Yep, sounds fine - has a lilt and everything. But at the rehearsal, the pressure is so intense - everybody's bouncing and bopping and singing, really fast, and all of a sudden a lady says "it might be curtains" and I've got to remember to stop bouncing, stand tall, and belt out "OR DISHES."

Phew, I have totally new appreciation for actors.

I'll keep practising, "Or dishes..." plus I just ordered the DVD "Or dishes..." so I can figure out how to get it like I did my line last night, with just the right emotion. "Or dishes..."

Isn't it exciting Eulalie?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Gilligan Lives On

I wrote a little song for our girl's camp to the tune of Gilligan's Island. It was about the girls using amazing certification skills they learned at camp to save their leaders from drowning. When I told the girls about the song, their reaction was, "Gilligan what?"

"You know? Gilligan's Island. The show."

Blank stares.

I asked how many of them had seen Gilligan's Island, and about two hands went up! Out of fifty teenage girls! Two hands! When I asked how many had HEARD of it, I got about three more. What is with that? We're talking an American classic! So one of the first things I did when I got home was head to the library where I checked out DVDs from both seasons. My daughters may not be able to find Argentina on a map, but they have to know more about American history than that!

After watching the first episode, I asked my 15-year-old daughter Natalie what she thought. She shrugged and said it was ok, not laugh-out-loud funny, but sort-of funny. Hmmph. It takes a lot to entertain kids these days.

Within minutes there was a scene where Gilligan and the Skipper are trying get into their hammocks. The Skipper started at the bottom, and Gilligan climbed over him to get to the type, subsequently falling on top of him. Natalie chuckled. Gilligan tried again, flipping the hammock upset down. Natalie laughed. Outloud. By the end of the scene, the Skipper is on the top, slowly slipping closer and closer to poor Gilligan, who is about to be smashed flat. Natalie was literally falling off the couch laughing.

Ironically, that very same day we got that picture from my son. He is spending two years in Mexico, and just like Gilligan he sleeps in a hammock. My kids laughed at me when we learned about the hammocks, because I questioned whether he'd still want to go. They thought that was ridiculous, and I guess it was, because he didn't bat an eye when we told him. But if you told me I'd have to sleep in a hammock for two years, I'd say no flat out. No way. Nada.

But he claims to love them. Says he's bringing a couple home with him. This is what he had to say about the picture: "Thats one tiny room in our house and we dont usually sleep like that. Its actually a really big house, we just put the hammocks like that for one night. It was a horrible night."

I'm picturing all three of the boys on top closing in on the poor guy on the bottom. Now that would have been fall-off-the couch funny.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Girls, girls, girls...

So the month of June has gone by in a giant, confusing, achy and slightly embarassing blur. I work with the teenage girls in my ward (aka church group), about fifty of them. Fifty. Wow. That's alot. Sometimes we divide up into groups - I'm over the 14 and 15 year olds, in which case we have about 18, which is still a lot when you're trying to do something like bake bread or weed a flower garden.There's no such thing as a small activity any more. And in the past three weeks we've gone to camp (where the fifty joined about 200 others), a pageant, and a youth conference (where we had a bunch of very "spirited" boys thrown into the mix).

Oh my gosh, I am sooo tired. I'm weaning myself back from two naps a day between activities to just one. I kept wondering why older ladies like myself were chosen to go on these wild and very physical activities with such energetic young things. By the end of the youth conference I figured it out. It actually dawned on me while watching my friend Marsha - roughly my age - showing off the very classy "swim" move on the dance floor, surrounded by a bunch of amused teens. It goes back to that freedom of the fourties I wrote about earlier - the younger ladies are still worrying about looking good. Those of us in our fourties who are still (barely) able to keep up, don't mind making a fool of ourselves while we're doing it (note: change 'don't mind' to 'are willing'.)

For example, while fixing a plate of food at camp, I pushed the main course to the side to make room for salad, and dumped half my food on the table. I looked around, no one was watching, so I quickly cleaned up after myself. But then I heard my dear daughter's voice, "I saw that Mom." She was right behind me, grinning.

"Shoot," I said, "I thought I got away with that one."

"No," she assured me, "I see all the dorky things you do. Like when you tripped over that rock over there."

I didn't even remember the rock. But I believed her. I'd been tripping and stumbling over things all week. Dorky was kind of my theme. And while I couldn't remember the rock, I knew there was something else she didn't know about...I just couldn't remember what it was. Until I sat down to dinner and one of the girls, with a big grin, mentioned the kayak. That was it! She didn't even know about the kayak. Almost my shining dork moment:

Earlier that day we'd gone kayaking - we the leaders waited on the shore while the girls took their turns. Near the end we, the more mature leaders, left the young leaders to sunbathe and look dignified. Three of us found kayaks and rowed out toward the buoys. But it didn't take long before the other two were way ahead of me. I was rowing for all I was worth, and they looked like they were at a picnic. My friend Marsha has bad hips, and had been worried about them. My hips were killing me. So I called out, "How are your hips?"


"Fine? They're fine?" I rowed harder. But I couldn't catch up. I was getting downright peeved, and vowed to head to the gym as soon as I got home. Then I heard this little voice behind me, one of the girls: "Suzanne! Suzanne! You're in your kayak backwards!"

Yep. That's right. My feet were resting against the backrest, and my hips were crammed into the little foot area.

But that wasn't my finest moment. No, that would be the tire swing. It was suspended over a platform that allowed you to push out over a nice little babbling brook, and was pretty much in constant use. After mucho assurance that it is just impossible to fall - after all it had been tried hundreds of times, I decided to give it a shot. There were several methods, the most popular being putting one foot in the middle of the tire, then swinging the other over as you push out. But I had no shoes that could get wet, and just could not get my bare foot to rest in the center of the tire. So I went for the second method of just jumping and putting both legs around at the same time.

Yeah right.

I went boom. Feet first into the water.

But it doesn't end there. No I just couldn't stop there. I had seen another little- used method where the girl just sat in the center of the tire and pushed off. I could do that. Yep, should've tried that from the start. So I climbed back up onto the platform and put the tire over my head. But as it got to my lower back the rope went taught, and one of the girls told me that the rope is just too short to make it all the way down, and I just have to jump into it as I push off.

And that's where I should have gotten out. But I'm sure you've figured out I didn't. I pushed off, and tried to sit. Except there was no room for my rear. I pushed and pushed on the stupid tire, but it wouldn't budge. When I realized my rear end was just too big for the tire I started laughing, and lost complete control. I flailed. Into the water and out again and back again and out again. It was a mess.

Somewhere near the end of the week I decided to just give up on any notions of dignity and revel in my dorkdom. Which explains how one of the boys at the youth conference ended up with a picture on his cell phone of me wearing a purple bra on my head.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pauline's Perils

Okay, so this should be called the Perils of Whitney's Rear Bumper, but that's not nearly as phonetic. This particular saga started about two weeks ago, when my sixteen-year-old daughter and I visited the eye doctor. She is near-sighted, and pretty-darned close to being legally blind. When the visit ended we realized that we had a problem - I had met her there, so we had two cars, and her eyes were dialated so she could neither see well, nor put in her contacts. And the whole reason for the visit was that her eyeglasses weren't a strong enough prescription. We consulted with the doctor, who thought she should be ok to drive, as long as she was careful.

So off we went - in the rain - with me following my almost-blind teenage driver in her beloved little Dogde (prounounced dog-day, and I must digress for a minute - after purchasing the car we realized it must have had some type of body work done by a non-english speaker, since the name on the back reads Dogde. My son thought it was lame, but he left the country before changing it, and my daughters think it's distinctive, so it has stayed.)

Anyway, this part of the story is where I have to admit to having some less-than-amazing observational skills, because as we traveled along a busy road, in the rain, I noticed a car next to mine at a stoplight that had some incredible body damage. That's all I noticed, no accident, just the damage. I wondered to myself how on earth a car could be driving around with that kind of damage. I also had lost track of the little white Dogde, and as the light changed I was looking around frantically for the car. I also noticed the smashed-up vehicle giving me a kind of strange look, and realized that he was trying to pass me so he could get in the outside pull over...behind a little white Dodge.

That's when my cell phone rang, and my frantic daughter's voice said "Mom! Turn around!"

"That was you? What happened?"

"Just turn around!"

Ok, so now I have to admit to less-than-amazing deductive reasoning skills. But I have to point out that a) I didn't witness any accident, b) my daughter's car LOOKED fine and c) I was stressing about her eye sight. So here is the VERY obvious conclusion that I jumped to as I did a u-turn: My beautiful young daughter decided she couldn't see well enough to drive, so she pulled to the side of the road, and the perverse teenage boy with the wild look in his eyes suddenly decided to pull up behind her so that he could do unthinkable things to her.

I know, absolutely rational.

I pulled my car in front of hers, ran alongside the busy road to her window (I did mention it was raining, right?), and asked what was wrong. She gave me her classic 'duh' look, and told me to look at the car. Well, the car looked just fine. And I was still in my classic 'don't you mess with my baby' frame of mind, so I went to the young man's window and asked what was up. Here I'm not so sure what I was expecting, maybe "I just saw that she pulled over and she looked really cute so I thought I'd help (wink, wink) but then you came and so I decided to just sit here." Yeah, that's about what I was expecting. But instead he said, "I just couldn't stop." His car was literally folded in half, and I can only be an idiot for so long, so I took another look at the Dogde, and sure enough, there was a crack on the rear bumper. Just a crack.

This was a first accident for both teens, so it was convenient that one of them brought their mother along (though I'm sure you're wondering at this point how much good that really was.) I called 9-1-1, moved my van over so that it wasn't blocking traffic (I may have left that part out of the story earlier), got my son out of my van and waited in the Dogde for the police to show. As we waited, I pulled out the registration and insurance papers from the glove compartment, and she pointed out that she couldn't read them, nor would she be able to fill out forms. We decided we probably shouldn't tell the police officer this. The accident clearly wasn't her fault, she was just sitting at the light, and the other driver admitted guilt. But getting in an accident while nearly blind just can't be a good thing. Even if a doctor gave permission.

So when the officer came, and asked me if I had been in the vehicle, I had yet another irrational worry. If I say we met for a doctor's visit, he of course will want to know what kind of visit, and if we say it was an eye doctor, he will of course then assume that one of us shouldn't have been driving, and will ask if by any chance the driver in this accident was operating a vehicle with impaired vision. I literally felt my eyes go shifty as I explained that we were just both heading home, at the same time, because we, uh, met, uh, somewhere.

I guess I can be an idiot for so long.

That should have been the end of the story, she didn't get charged with anything and insurance did cover the repair. But there's more. We scheduled an appointment with a repair shop for the next Thursday. And on Wednesday, her last day of school, she was sitting in the school parking lot talking to a friend. The car wasn't even running. And another teenage driver plowed into her rear bumper. Really.

That girl got off easy, since she'll only have to pay for a light that was cracked, not the bumper that got more than a crack that time. But I'm thinking maybe we ought to wait another week or so before replacing the bumper, just in case.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bait and Switch

We recently learned that my eight-year-old son has a gift for music. About three months ago I signed him up for guitar lessons. At least that's what I thought I was doing. I told his instructor I was also interested in voice, since he has a sweet little singing voice. He assured me I'd come to the right place. It turns out the teacher is a retired professional musician with big vision. Brandon has quickly become one of his top students. He plays in a band, and in just those three months has a repretoire of about 20 songs, and is playing the lead in some of them. Plus he sang a solo at his baptism last month that made strangers cry.

So when I saw that our city's arts council was holding auditions for The Music Man, I thought of Ronny Howard as Winthrup, and immediately asked Brandon if he'd like to try out, even though the auditions were that very night. He was thrilled with the idea. We had been practicing Elvis's Hounddog, which he can perform in either a normal voice or his Elvis voice (guaranteed to put you in hysterics) so off we went to auditions.

When we walked in the room, the lady in charge said, "if he's going to be in, you'll have to do it with him." She was a very friendly lady, in a jovial mood, and I thought she was just trying to drum up adults for the cast, so I laughed and said something to the effect of 'yeah, right.' Brandon proceeded to sing. She loved it, or at least was humored by it (he used his Elvis voice). Told him he was in, wrote on his application, then told me to go fill one out. And she was serious. When I hesitated she explained that last year they had children jumping off the stage and causing all kinds of problems because their parents weren't around, so that's their new policy.

I have been in musicals before, but not since high school. And if you know me, or have read my blog, you know it's been a few years since high school. I can't say I've gotten out of the habit of embarrassing myself since then. But I usually do it on accident.

I looked at my son, who was so excited he could bust, and only had one choice. I filled out the form and slipped it in the door, hoping it would get lost in the shuffle.

Later that night my 15-year-old daughter struggled with the question of whether she should try out. She has played in musicals, and loved the experience, but hates singing solos. The lady had encouraged me to bring her, since they were short on teens, and said she'd just have to sing 'Happy Birthday', so she could make sure she could carry a tune. Finally convinced, we returned and she literally sang half of Happy Birthday, and was told she was in.

Then the lady turned to me and asked if she had told me before that I made call-backs. I told her I hadn't even sung for her, and she said it didn't matter, all the women made callbacks. I was so honored.

And a couple of days later little Brandon and I went to call-backs. He read an absolutely amazing scene as Winthrup. I did a lame reading as a pick-a-little lady, with weak and wobbly singing. (If you don't remember, they are the women that sing the cute gossip song, then later do an absolutely 1) Hilarious or 2) Humuliating -- depending on if you're the performer or the audience -- dance involving Grecian Urns.)

She decided Brandon was too young to play a lead. She doesn't know what she's missing. But apparently I'm not too young to play a pick-a-little lady. (Hold your applause, I think all the women made it.) I was given the schedule last night, and it looks like I'll be spending almost my entire August and half my September learning how to embarrass myself - I have about ten times more practices than my son, who I'm supposed to be chaperoning.

If you're familiar with The Music Man, you'll know that this is all kind of appropriate. I feel like one of the townspeople, especially the barbershop quartet, who allow themselves to be distracted with music every time they try to bring up reality. Too bad the director is a woman. She'd make a perfect Harold Hill.

Monday, May 14, 2007

How to torture a mother

I have just learned that there is a way to torture mothers even beyond the usual Mother's Day traditions of reminding them of all the amazing things that other mothers do.

I have a nineteen-year-old son who is currently serving a two-year mission for the LDS Church in Mexico. Missionaries are allowed to write home every week, although his letters always manage to ignore questions like "Are you getting enough to eat?" "Are you taking your medicine?" "Are you using bug spray?" Once he missed a couple of weeks of letters, and when we did finally get one, we learned that he had contracted dengue fever from mosquitoes. Yes, he really is on the other side of the world. They are only allowed to have phone calls a handful of times, namely Christmas and Mother's Day.

Last Christmas morning we got up early and called the number he had sent by email. We were given 45 minutes, and since other missionaries are waiting for calls, we had to get off when the time was up. But he'd only been gone a couple of weeks, so I didn't fully appreciate that call. This call though, Mother's Day, I'd been looking forward to for a long time.

I thought the instructions would come by email again, so was shocked to hear the words "Daniel called," when I got home from the gym last week. "Daniel called?" My stomach took a dive. "And I wasn't here?" My daughter told me not to worry, "We only talked for about ten minutes." I was sick. Ten whole minutes!

I spent the remainder of the week stewing over the missed call and anxious for the next one. Saturday night I put the calling card instructions, the paper with the number on it, and the phone, on the kitchen table. I checked to make sure all the numbers made sense (authorization code, country code, city code, etc.) He had told us to call at 7:30 Mexico time, 6:30 our time. So I was up at six (on Mother's Day, thank you very much.) By 6:20 I was at the table yelling to the rest of the family. At 6:29 we started dialing.

At first it went like this: punch in numbers--recorded voice tells us something--punch in more numbers--recorded voice tells us something--punch in more numbers--silence for about an entire minute--recorded voice tells us the number is invalid. Start over again.

Then, after about ten minutes, a voice said, 'Hola'. This call went like this:

Is Elder Reese there?
Elder Reese?

Eventually the poor guy hung up.

We spent ten more minutes punching in another series of unsuccessful numbers until we finally reached the same guy, and had the same sorry conversation. Meanwhile, my precious 45 minutes were ticking away. We called the 800 number on the calling card, and the lady assured us we were doing it right.

Before calling our Mexican friend again, we decided to ask our Spanish-speaking neighbor to come over. His dad answered the phone, and when I opened my mouth to speak I bawled instead. My husband took the phone and explained the situation. They came running over in their pajamas.

At 7:00, half an hour late, tears flowing freely, we reached the man for the third time. Our neighbor asked for Elder Reese in Spanish, then held the phone out and said, "He's coming."

Like he couldn't tell we wanted him in our last two conversations? But never mind...

My son's voice finally came on, "Hello?"
"Daniel, is that you?"
"What happened? Where were you?"
"You're supposed to call tonight."
"Yeah, 7:30 PM."
"Oh. Tonight. Really?"
"So you can't talk now?"
"No, gotta go."
"Oh......OK.....Bye.....I love you..."
"Love you Mom."

Here, just rip a fingernail off. It'll be less painful.

Then finally, a full twelve hours later, we learned that we had been calling the church house, and it was the branch president who had been trying to explain that Elder Reese wasn't there. He just happened to arrive at 8:00 for his church meetings, in time to answer our third call.

But the real call was worth the wait. The most fascinating part was that he was giving his typical mono-syllabic answers to all our questions, until we asked him to tell us something in Spanish. He talked for ten minutes! We finally stopped him, we got the idea. Then we asked him to summarize what he had just said, and he couldn't. He said he didn't know the English words.

I'm still trying to figure that one out, but I'm thinking I may need to take a crash Spanish-speaking course so that I can talk to my son when he gets back.

In the meantime, my heart goes out to all mothers and families with loved ones that are far away, be it on missions or the military. May your loved one be safe and your phone calls go through.

Friday, May 11, 2007

You have to remember, Mom...

Mother's Day is a great time for remembering mom. If all goes well. But t can also be a great time for mom to get a reality check. Like the time I went to a church meeting on Mother's Day and the speaker said in a glowing report that in his ten years of marriage he'd never once seen his house messy. I don't know what else he said, I was just stuck on that sentence. In the same decade that my husband and I had been together, I think he saw it clean maybe once or twice.

So another decade has passed since the perfect-wife assault and I've given up on the whole feel-guilty-about-my-housekeeping-skills thing. Boring people keep clean houses. My friend recently said that and I love it. As a matter of fact, I've been going along thinking I might just be pretty successful at this whole mothering job, until last week. I was driving my usually-sweet fifteen-year-old home from school, and she asked me what I want for mother's day. That is sweet, isn't it?

But before I go on with the story, I have to backtrack a bit. For my first twenty years of mothering, I used the standard, "I don't need anything" line for mother's day. But since I have mothers too, I am sympathetic to how utterly unhelpful that is. My mother and mother-in-law are both getting flowers, by the way, which I think is totally fine. But I have raised very practical children who hate to spend their hard-earned and meager supply of money on anything frivolous. So last year, when posed the question, I pointed out that many supplies in my kitchen could stand to be replaced - my measuring cups have the amounts worn off, the spatulas are ragged, wooden spoons are stained with red jello, etc. So on mother's day I got a nice collection of measuring devices and tools that I have enjoyed all year. This year I was out in my yard doing some work and realized that I could use some tools out there. In fact, as I worked, I could think of a whole list of things that would come in handy.

Which brings me to my daughter's question of what I wanted for mother's day. My answer was, "All kinds of things." I should point out that I was smiling and using a teasing voice. Please tell me you can hear the teasing in my voice? Because my daughter's reply was, "You always want tons of stuff." Shall I say that again? "You always want tons of stuff." That's right. That's what she said. When I pressed her for what she was talking about, she referred to the measuring cups, spoons, and spatulas from last year. We're not exactly talking diamonds! I wanted to say that. But I didn't. I was just stunned.

Then she said my favorite quote of the week. "You have to remember Mom, you only have five kids." Yes. That is really, truly, what she said. I only have five kids. I'm thinking that about a week after she's given birth to her second child will be the perfect moment to give her a copy of this blog. Only five kids.

My vindication came last weekend when all the children were gathered, and they asked me what I wanted for mother's day. They were properly mortified when I repeated the conversation with their sister. They sent her out of the room in order to extract the gardening hint out of me.

I don't know what I'll end up getting, although I have a pretty good idea about the little package my second-grader brought home from school today. And that's all I really want - a little reminder that I matter. After all, I only have five kids.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Freedom of the Fourties (reader's favorite)

There are a lot of the things that are the absolute pits about getting old. Bunions. Wrinkles. Achy muscles. Bunions. Flab. Did I mention bunions? I could go on. And I often do. But while working out recently, I started thinking about one of the benefits. Namely, being smart enough to know when it's ok to choose function over form.

Teenagers are clueless on this concept. They'll do things like scoff at the suggestion of an umbrella as they head to school in a rainstorm. I want to ask if they really think looking like a drowned rat at school all day will be cool. But I don't push it. I did the same thing.

But not anymore. Now I do whatever is best for me. Sometimes that means trying to look my best. But sometimes, well, other things are more important.

Like my latest workout routine. About three months ago I had bunion surgery. (I don't think there's a sentence in the world that could make someone sound older than that.) After two months the doctor gave me permission to put on a tennis shoe and exercise. That was great news, since the pounds have been piling on since the surgery. Problem is, every time I tried to do it, my foot swelled up like a marshmellow in a microwave. I tried ellipticals, stationary bikes, rowing machines; they all had the same result. Even water aerobics did it. Swimming would have worked, except I hate getting my face in the water (irritates my sinuses). Besides, I don't want to have to wash my hair every single day.

Then I touched on the perfect solution. Water running! An online calorie calendar (which couldn't be wrong), says that it burns 600 calories an hour. As much as an eliptical machine!

So, here's how it goes: If I get there first thing in the morning, the pool is filled with a bunch of
people training for a triatholon. These are lean, lythe youngsters wearing speedos. I'm wearing a suit with little skirt that is intended to hide my (ahum) generous curves. As these swimmers are slipping on caps, I put the equivalent of an inner-tube around my waist (to keep me bouyant so my hair doesn't get wet.)

They snap on goggles, and I get to the best part--my wings. These are hard plastic devices that fit with velcro onto the wrists and ankles, to add resistance (My mother has shrunk about a foot in her lifetime, and I'm only starting at 5'4", so my bones really need the resistance.) These wings have two large triangles that stick out about six inches on either side, and here's the most exciting part, they are bright red and yellow. When I get them strapped on, I suddenly become WONDER GRANNY! With an innertube! And a skirt! Oh yes, it is a beautiful sight.

Once properly attired, I get myself into the pool (not nearly as gracefully as my triatholon counterparts), and I break into a run. Sort of. If you've ever seen the Six Million Dollar Man, that is just what it looks like. If you haven't seen the show, the premise is that this guy can run really, really fast. But I suspect when they speeded the tape up to demonstrate this it had an undesired comic effect. So instead, they slowed it down...really...slow...whenever......he.........r.u...n....s. To compensate, they play this boinging music that is supposed to trick the viewer into thinking he's actually going really fast. So in my mind I play that music while I'm Right alongside the others who are streaming sleekly through the water.

There are trainers at the pool, who walk along the side giving tips to the swimmers, checking their watches, and jotting notes in notebooks. They steal glances at me, politely looking away when I notice. The swimmers themselves are very polite as well. When they get to the end of a lane and stop to rest, they watch me like they would an elephant seal that has joined their ranks.

When I was in my twenties, I would have skipped exercise all together (I didn't really need it anyway). When I was in my thirties, I would have put up with swollen feet. I admit that I haven't yet reached the point that I don't feel a tab bit embarrassed when I do things like this, but I suspect I'll even lose that by the time I hit my fifties. For now, I just hold my head high when I climb out of that pool and waddle with my wings between my ankles on to the restroom. Because it's what's best for me.

I suspect there's a swimmer's blog out there about a strange lady who runs in slow motion in the pool while dressed in a superhero costume. If you come across it, will you send me the link?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Why Chocolate Daydreams?

That's a good question. Maybe I ought to go think about it before posting. But I guess since I'm in charge, (ah, power is getting to me already) I'll just go ahead and ramble. I started out wanting to use the term 'musings', a great, general term for anything and everything I'm thinking or doing. Since that term was probably spoken for back in the depression, I searched for a light-hearted term that meant the same thing - and there you go: my chocolate daydreams.

Chocolate because, well, if you're female I don't think I need to explain. But also because I'm in the time in my life when I thought I'd be working, rather than sitting around 'eating bon bons'. And here I am, doing neither one. I guess I am working - I build houses on speculation - but it hardly feels like a job since I do it on my own time and I don't get a regular paycheck. My occupation is journalist. My life is mother. Both have paid about equally well. I did plan to go back to work, as I said, when all the children were in school, which they are. But I'm fortunate to be able to stay home and do random things like type in this blog.

Which leads me to the other part of the name: Daydream. That's pretty much what I'm always doing. I tell stories. There are these little people running around in my brain all the time, and I have to let them out or they'll give me a labotomy. Really. So I write. I actually like to write more than read. Which I know is wierd. I almost like it more than eating chocolate. Only almost though. So I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to stay home and let my creative juices flow. The other option would be ugly.

I have a lot more to say on the topic of staying home, when I have time. But that is my main point. There isn't the time I always daydreamed there would be. Somehow, despite sending all my kids off in the morning, I am still constantly on the run! Every night I look around my messy home and wonder what I did with my day.

The truth is I do plenty, it's just that the returns aren't immediate. I do sometimes see them in my married, brilliant, and self-sufficient daughter, and my equally brilliant and self-sufficient college-age son. Often I don't see them at all, like this morning when I asked my 2nd grader what day I am supposed to go to his school for his Principal Pride Award, and he broke into tears and said 'yesterday'. He missed the bus. I spouted about a hundred apologies on the drive to school. Hopefully some day he'll forgive me, or at least get past it enough to not need therapy.

Anyway, that's my life, some triumphs, several failures, a little chocolate, and always lots to do.