Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book Review - Warning it's LONG! (Not the book - but my post about it)

I just want to share some thoughts about the book I just finished reading. It is called

      I cannot recall the last book that I read that touched me so much. I underlined and took notes all over it. After taking a step back and looking at it with some perspective, I think I decided that the reason that I really loved this book so much is that it felt like a validation to me. Like it was someone almost 'proving' in words that are more eloquent that I could ever put it, what I already know to be true.

        We are told that everyone is given different talents and different gifts in this life. I often wish that I had some of the more 'visible' gifts. I have never been particularly good at any sports (like my sister Jennie), or at piano or music (like my sisters Liz and Marilyn), or at sewing or crafting (like my sisters Nancy and Jane), or at teaching (like my sister Sue) or at computers (like my brother Tom) or at business and leadership (like my brother John) or be a natural beauty (like my sister Gayle) or be completely, unreservedly giving (like my sister Emily).

 I know that it is easy for all of us to compare ourselves to others, especially when we focus on the things that we maybe are not so 'blessed' with, but I have always felt inside of me that I was blessed with a 'gift' of sorts. I feel like I am blessed with the gift of believing. I really do. The gospel has always just plain made sense to me. And the more that I study and learn about it, the more it just 'fits'. It is hard to explain - but no matter what stuff people say against the Church or even against believing in Deity in general, that stuff doesn't penetrate my soul at all. I honestly have not really ever had to struggle with trying to believe in a God. I am not trying to sound cocky here, or that I have a stronger testimony than anyone else - not that at all - I am just trying to explain that for me, it has always been easy to believe. So when I was reading through this book - it was a sense of validation or maybe a soothing confirmation to my soul about the perfect sense that the gospel, and LIFE in general makes!

OK - enough of me trying to explain my feelings...on to the book review.

Here are a few of the things that spoke to me - all of them in italics are direct quotes from the authors (Terryl and Fiona Givens) unless otherwise noted, with my own thoughts in smaller font after the quote/quotes.

"Astrophysics may give a credible account of the origin of the stars, and Darwin might explain the development of the human eye, but neither can tell us why the night sky strikes us with soul-piercing quietude, or why our mind aches to understand what is so remote from bodily need."

I loved this section about our internal longings for something more - something we can't explain by science or 'proof'.

On infant baptism/salvation: French philosopher Pascal thought nothing could me "more contrary to the rules of our wretched justice than to damn eternally an infant, incapable of volition, for an offense...which was committed six thousand years before he was born".

True Story: One time on my mission there was a family that we were working with who had a friend who's baby had died. They were catholic, like so many were, and invited us to the wake.  The priest had been talking about how sad that she hadn't been baptized, but when we walked in the room, his story totally changed to one of 'Oh, but God will be merciful in the end to the innocence of this child, etc." I was thinking to myself...Wow - how confusing for your congregants to get such mixed messages.

"Belief in a God who is more rather than less generous and forgiving, who will extend the maximum mercy He can, and impose the minimum justice He must, is not a fanciful hope. It is a logical and reasonable inference."

"Though we may be in the infancy of moral development, as individuals and as a species, surely we are striving toward a perfect model that God already embodies. And while personal and collective progress may be shaky and uneven, some moral imperatives have only grown more sharply defined across time: we reject inhumanity, cruelty, caprice, and callousness. We prize kindness, we value tenderness, and we esteem compassion. Who can doubt the most transcendent instance of human love is a testament to a more perfect source, a love without limit?"

"A loving heart, like an exposed nerve, is by definition susceptible to pain."

I could not agree more with this statement.

"We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love." (Freud)

I mean, seriously - who knew that Freud actually made some GOOD points? lol

"God chooses to love us. And if love means responsibility, sacrifice, vulnerability, then God's decision to love us is the most stupendously sublime moment in the history of time. He chooses to love even at, necessarily at, the price of vulnerability."

 I have been intrigues lately with the idea of vulnerability. If you haven't already - go and watch this TED talk about it for some more enlightenment on the subject.

"God's pain is as infinite as His love. He weeps because He feels compassion."

It is good for me to remember this - God doesn't just HAVE compassion, He FEELS compassion.

"It is not their wickedness, but their 'misery', not their disobedience, but their 'suffering' that elicits the God of Heaven's tears."

"In the vision of Enoch, we find ourselves drawn to a God who prevents all the pain He can, assumes all the suffering He can, and weeps over the misery He can neither prevent nor assume."

This passage has brought me so much peace and understanding about life in general. My sweet hubby and I have had so many debates over the years about HOW involved God really is in our lives vs. how much he just lets stuff happen and then is there for us, etc. These paragraphs and pages about his mercy love and compassion really touched me, really spoke to me.

"For a being as god and pure as God to enter into this realm of darkness and depravity must be exquisitely painful on every level. His love impels Him to visit His people in their distress, and the temple is His shield and refuge from the full onslaught of worldly pain and evil."

"If vulnerability and pain are the price of love, then joy is it's reward."

Amen and Amen.

"God does not instigate pain or suffering, but He can weave it into His purposes. 'God's power rests not on totalizing omnipotence, but on His ability to alchemize suffering, tragedy, and loss into wisdom, understanding, and joy."

Again - the description in that statement is so perfect. Some people say "God doesn't let anything happen by chance" or "There are no coincidences", etc. Well - I have never truly bought that at all. I think some things do happen by chance, coincidence, genetics, timing, or just stupid luck...but it is AFTER the fact that he can help us weave that into something beautiful.  

On pre-existence: "There is an almost intolerable lack of sober reflection, foresight, and design behind most human conception. Life begins by chance, by accident, by violence or by carelessness. The young, the frivolous, the unworthy, and the thoughtless can engender a child. And yet the product engendered is one we recognize as something majestic, touched with divinity, and endowed with immortality. 'It certainly seems questionable to expect such a powerful effect from such inconsequential causes,' mused the great philosopher Immanuel Kant. There must be a true beginning rooted in a time and place of greater dignity and moment. How much more reasonable, it would seem, to posit an origin commensurate with our future, to place our soul's true birth, like it's potential destiny, in divine realms."

The whole concept of a pre-existence seems to be so foreign to some people. Whereas, it truly is the only thing that makes sense to me at all. I didn't even know anything about Immanuel Kant - except for the fact that he was a famous philosopher - but I love some of the excerpts from him that are in the book.

"Legitimate guilt is to the spirit what the sharp protest of a twisted ankle is to the foot: its purpose is to hurt enough to stop you from crippling yourself further. Its function is to prevent more pain. not expand it."

This section in the book about guilt also rang so true with me. I have heard arguments from people saying that we shouldn't feel guilt - that it is something that will not help us to grow, etc. But the description of how it is basically a warning sign to ourselves to prevent more pain ahead makes total sense to me. And makes me so grateful for repentance in my life.

"Our lives are more like a canvas on which we paint, than a script we need to learn - though the illusion of the latter appeals to us by its lower risk. It is easier to learn a part than to create a work of art."

I have seen this time and again in people's lives. Some people really just want things all mapped out for them. They just want to be told what to do, or to have an exact pattern to follow. The crazy thing to me is that we already do! We have been told what to do (live the commandments) and we have an exact pattern to follow (Jesus Christ). But it is in HOW we chose to live and to follow HIM that we are painting our our stories.

"Life is pain but it is not punishment, and it begins in a season of hope."

"The enormity of evil may still appall and confound us. God's failure to intervene may distress and alienate us. But the suspicion that we were party to the terms of our own predicament may give heart when no other solace is to be found."

"Our perennial longing for Home affirms a relationship rooted in the love of a child for a tender parent, not in the obsequiousness of a vassal toward his lord, or of a courtier toward his king, though He is both our Lord and King."

I have always believed that I was blessed to be born into the family that I was born into, but I hadn't thought about it exactly like that - of me being a party to the terms of my own mortal estate.

"The most tragic predicaments in which we find ourselves are those that require a choice between competing Goods, not Good and Evil."

This is so true. Sometimes it isn't the 'lesser of two evils' but rather 'the better of two goods'.

"Life's purpose is educative not punitive."

"The ancient philosopher Plato thought life was most likely a choice - even the circumstances of our birth and our lot in life. We have no way of knowing, of course, why some are born in health and affluence, while others enter broken bodies or broken homes, or emerge into a realm of war and hunger. So we cannot give definite meaning to our place in the world, or to our neighbor's. But Plato's reflections should give us pause and invite both humility and hope. Humility, because if we chose our lot in life, there is every reason to suspect merit, and not disfavor, is behind disadvantaged birth. A blighted life may have been the more courageous choice - at least it was for Plato. Though the first act of the play was obscure, its hidden details make any judgments in this second act so much foolish speculation. So how can we feel pride in our own blessedness, or condescension at another's misfortune? Plato's reflections should give us hope...that pain is not punishment, and that the path to virtue is fraught with opposition."

This really helped me to have more peace and calmness in my heart about the poor sick orphans in other countries who have a seemingly horrible existence. I have always felt a sense of pity for them, it just tugs on my heartstrings so badly. But my perspective has been changing to one of deep respect and admiration for them. 

"We might reasonably hypothesize that Christ saw His own incarnation as progression, rather than regression. Some early church fathers saw His incarnation as ennobling the body, rather than degrading the Divine. Gregory Nazianzen wrote of a day in Christ's mortal life, "Perhaps He goes to sleep, in order that He may bless sleep...; perhaps He is tired that He may hallow weariness also; perhaps He weeps that He may make tears blessed."

How beautiful is that? I love the description of WHY he came and suffered through mortality - not JUST to show us that He could do it - not JUST to gain a mortal body and quickly move on - but rather to actually FEEL our physical ailments so that he could indeed SUCCOR us in our need.

"The secret of happiness is this: let you interests be as wide as possible. The more things that a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has." (Bertrand Russell)

This passage also helps me feel better about my wandering mind and my plethora of interests in life - sometimes I think that maybe I am just flighty or something - but looking at this, I think that maybe it is one of the reasons for my happiness.

"The sheer exuberance children express as they engage the world, their reveling in the simple delights of childhood, their openness to their world, is the envy of every adult. Our task, it would seem, is to retain or recapture the innocence with which we began this life, while passing through the crucible we call mortality."

I think that there is a lot to be said in this passage. Sometimes the very thing that annoys me on a daily basis with my own toddlers is the same thing that I need to be better at myself!

"Our task is to school our appetites, not suppress them, to make them work in concert with a will that disciplines the spirit as much as the flesh. For desire has both spiritual and bodily expression, and our life is a journey to purify both."

I think that 'moderation' is a word that is oft used and seldom lived - at least in my own case. I need to frame that somewhere and work more diligently on finding that balance.

"As children we welcome presents and affection with the same ready heart and hand, but we tend to lose the knack as we grow older and more self-sufficient."

Why is that? Why it is so hard for us as adults to accept, receive, partake, etc.?

"Sympathy and sorrow, not anger and vengeance, are the emotions we must look to in order to plumb the nature of the divine response to sin. Sin is pain, and the intensity of His response to sin is commensurate with the intensity of that pain He knows sin will entail, and in which He has already chosen to share. For He is the God who weeps."


"The degree of guilt we experience is proportional to the deliberateness with which we cause hurt."

This passage has also helped me to in a sense 'let go' of some things in my life that I maybe chose to feel guilt over. I need to remind myself sometimes that I had no malicious intent at all and therefor it was not deliberate and therefor I need to forgive myself. This would be so helpful for all of us if we turned this outward as well and before choosing to take offense at something, thought of the other party in these terms as well....since we do not ever truly know their intent. Hmmmm.

Referring to Corrie Ten Boom in a concentration camp as she witnessed a prison guard mercilessly beating a female prisoner: "What can we do for these people?" Corrie whispered. "Show them that love is greater," Betsie replied. Betsie considered the actions of greatest moral gravity to be the ones we originate, not the ones we suffer.

"What is always at stake in any decision we make is what that choice turns us into. We may suffer the unfortunate consequences of other peoples' choices. People may honor or abuse us, harm or nourish us. But for the most part, it is our own choices that shape our identity."

I LOVED the book "The Hiding Place" -  (I think that is the one that she wrote.) I also love the idea of thinking of the actions that we originate not the ones we suffer. Soooo deep and soooo true.

"Genuine moral agency entails necessary consequences. Choice is always choice of something. Consequences are chosen at the time actions are freely committed. To choose to indulge a desire is to choose its fruit - bitter or sweet- assuming, and this is a crucial caveat - that 'men are instructed sufficiently' to understand what they are choosing."

It can be a tool of Satan's, imho, to get us to judge others for things that they say or do or maybe even things that we are assuming about them - but I need to remind myself often, even with my own children, that maybe they don't have enough instruction or understanding on a matter. It's like that LDS add that ran years ago where the mom yelled at the little boy for going to the corner and he didn't even know what a corner was. 

"How much more meaningful is a life designed for spiritual formation, rather than spiritual evaluation. All tests evaluate, and life is no exception. But the most meaningful and productive tests are those that assess with an eye to improvement, that measure in order to remedy, and that improve and prepare us for the next stage in an upward process of advancement. For these reasons, all talk of heaven that operates in terms of earning rather than becoming is misguided."

I don't know why but whenever anyone uses a phrase like 'constructive criticism' it always rubs me wrong - but I think that with God he doesn't 'criticize' at all - but only 'constructs' us up to be better!

"The atonement of Christ, His agony in Gethsemane and His death on the cross, is the only action by which the wounds of sin and hurt that rend the world can be repaired."

It is true. That is THE ONLY WAY to heal all wounds. My own wounds, my spouses wounds, my family's wounds, even the wounds of the whole world.  No more needs to be said on the matter. 

"Life may well give us, in a concentrated dose, the soul-stretching most necessary to our long-range spiritual development."

No matter how much 'soul-stretching' I feel like I have had in my 37 years of mortality - I am sure that there is much more for me to come. 

"For redemption to be permanently beyond reach, however, one would have to choose to put oneself beyond reach. If we fall short of salvation, it will be because our cumulative choices, our freely made decision to reject His rescue, have put us beyond His reach, not because His patience has expired."

This part of the book gave me so much happiness and hope. Because I so strongly desire to be permanently IN his reach, so knowing that his patience will NEVER expire gives much hope indeed.

"We live on an uneven playing field....Poor instruction, crushing environment, chemical imbalances, deafening white noise, all cloud and impair our judgment. Hardly ever, then, is a choice made with perfect, uncompromised freedom of will. That, we saw, is why repentance is possible in the first place. We repent when upon reflection with a stronger will, clearer insight, or deeper desire, we wish to choose differently."

Again - the beauty of the repentance process - looking at our decisions and asking ourselves if we really would choose differently if we had that deeper insight - and then following through with it, too.

"As a mighty God, He has the capacity to save us all. As a fond father, He has the desire to do so."

The comparison here of capacity versus desire is so powerful and tender to me. And runs on a deeper personal level to myself as well. I know that I have the capacity to serve and love others in my life - but on self-examination, do I truly have that desire?

"As long as it is God's nature and character we are striving to emulate, and not His power and glory, we are on safe ground."

We should not ever think of wanting to become like God to have power or glory - but rather to continue to bless others by copying his character.

the Lord says to Enoch, "thou and all thy city shall meet them there as we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other; And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion."  God, it would appear, is first and foremost a relational Being, and the heaven toward which we aspire consists of loving relationships that are eternal."

I love the story of the Prodigal son and his father seeing him and falling upon his neck. I can sometimes feel the tears and the pressure of that embrace. I often long for that. This passage is so beautiful - as a premonition of what we will all one day experience.

"We are, fundamentally and inescapably, relational beings. The most terrifying specter that haunts the modern psyche is not death or disease or nuclear annihilation. It is loneliness."

It is so true. Even people who claim that they are just not very 'social' or who say that they like to be alone - I just don't believe it. Not for one second. This part of the book talks about the power of loneliness and how that is used as punishment (solitary confinement). Fascinating stuff.

"However rapturous or imperfect, fulsome or shattered, our knowledge of love has been, we sense it is the very basis and purpose of our existence. It is a belonging that we crave because it is one we have always knows."

"We humans have a lamentable tendency to spend more time theorizing the reasons behind human suffering, than working to alleviate human suffering, and in imagining a heaven above, than creating a heaven in our homes and communities."

"Holiness is found in how we treat others, not in how we contemplate the cosmos."

This part is so true - it reminds me of the people who say "I don't need religion - I can find God in the mountains while I am fishing, etc." Or some who would preach and preach and preach, 'yet their hearts are far from me'. It truly does all boil down to how we treat each other.

"The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and will smile at the other's welcome, and say Sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was yourself." (Derek Wolcott)

"Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar His face is to us."

I love these quotes and ever since reading the book - I have looked at myself in the mirror a little differently. Honestly.

So - there is the world's longest book review - but PLEASE don't just stop here - if you have made it to the end of my crazy long post - then you can make it through the book. It is only 123 pages.

123 pages that have changed my life for the better.

Thank you, Terryl and Fiona Givens. Thank you very much.

If you are interested here is an interview on the authors.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

the Leftover Mom

Some days I want to create a title for myself. And some days, that title is

  "The Leftover Mom".

Example: When I take my 7 year old son to his music class and he has lost his music book (there is only ONE he plays from) yet AGAIN and I get 'that look' from the teacher yet AGAIN and I totally understand that look of frustration because I am feeling it with myself already.. Sometimes I just want to say "I'm sorry. It is just that he has a 'leftover mom'.

Example: When I go to get the kids out of their car seats at the store and I see that one little boy has on his pants backwards AND inside out and the other has 2 different shoes on, untied, with girl socks. And instead of sweet clean chubby soft cheeks that I had just washed before we left, all I see is chocolately dirty snotty faces... I want to just wear a t-shirt with big bold lettering across the front that says "Don't judge me... I'm a leftover mom".

Example: When I have to answer the door and it is nearly noon and I am in my pajamas with my hair all akimbo and no bra or make up on. I want to say, "Oh, hello. I'm a leftover mom. How can I help you?"

Example: When I am sitting in Church on sunday morning and I am so proud of myself because we are there a few minutes early and I didn't even forget my sharing time lesson posters - then I look over and see my 3 year old straddling the bench, shoes off, shirt untucked and hair all staticy crazy. So I say to myself, he's only 3 - it's ok. Then I look up during the sacrament and see my 12 year old with a huge boingy chuck of hair sticking up on the back of his head, and his pants are about 3 inches above his ankles. I just internally sigh and think to myself, "I'm just a leftover mom."

I mean - I used to have a TON of energy and drive and focus and I was FUN. Like - a LOT of fun. I used to take my oldest children to the park nearly daily and I would make fun treats all the time with them. My oldest children started in dance and sports at the stupid tender age of 3!! (THREE - what ever were we thinking?) I used to read books out loud to my kids every night. I used to help every child with every homework assignment. I used to attend every single school function, recital, performance, Primary talk, etc. that they had.

Then I had 3 kids. Then 4. get the picture.

A little bit of THAT mom faded away with each new child, with each passing day, with each passing year.

My gray hairs jumped from 18% of my total head coverage to nearly 55%.

My patience decreased along the way - I believe at last count I am down to the line just under "minimum fill level".

My waist line expanded, my wallet grew thin.

My scrapbooking and crafting and sewing hobbies sort of went from 'fun-exciting-can't-wait-to-do-this-every-night-when-kids-are-in-bed' to 'when-i-have-time-on-the-weekend' to 'once-a-year-when-on-a-retreat' to 'Viki-are-you-ever-going-to-get-rid-of-that-room-full-of-stuff-collecting-dust-on-it?"

My 'crank up the music and dance around the kitchen holding a baby without a care in the world' changed to 'please just go upstairs and watch cartoons for a minute (or 60) so I can clean the countertops for the 6th time today'.

My Halloween costumes went from 'planned in advance and hand-sewn' to '5 minutes before trick-or-treating-grab whatever is in that box that might fit you'.

In essence - I have become a shadow of what I used to be as a mother.

I am leftover. And sadly, that is what my kids get of me these days - just the leftover mother.

I have never been one who likes to heat up the leftovers - they are just never quite as tasty after sitting in the fridge all night - or several nights. But, my sweet hubby has always liked to eat the leftovers. He will even do it happily without re-warming them up. I do sort of admire him for this. And for his ability to really appreciate the leftovers.

There is something to be said here about the possibilities that a dish of leftovers hold. I have had some success with transforming some leftover noodles or sauces into some really wonderful casseroles before. And when my kids gobble it up and express gratitude for it - it gives me HOPE.

HOPE that I can still make something of my left-over self. HOPE that I can become better with each day - that I can 'spice up' my mothering, adding in a dash of wisdom, a teaspoon of experience, a cup of empathy in place of the missing energy and freshness.

After all, I am sort of 'living proof' that something halfway decent can come from a 'leftover' mother. I am number 10 of 11 children. I don't pretend to insinuate anything even remotely negative about my nearly perfect mother. I am just sayin' that I remember a time or two when my needs were not on the top of her plate - what with 10 other children, grandchildren, a husband that was not only traveling the world and gone all the time, but who quite frankly required her limitless assistance as a secretary, cook, etc.

What did I take away from my own 'leftover' mother? I learned from her example that her marriage and my father were her priorities. I learned that even though she was older and was tired, she always put us children and our needs and concerns ahead of personal comforts and even sleep.

I have seen evidenced in my own life the fruits that can come from a large family - the sibling camaraderie that is held between all 11 children, the endless amounts of love that overflows at every gathering, the inherent eternal prosperity that lies in posterity.

I have felt deep within my heart time and again as I was being raised by my own 'leftover mother' that my mother truly KNEW that she was a daughter of regal birth, that her place in mortality as a wife and mother were her sacred calling and duty.

I know that is where I need to be, to get to, to feel about my own roll as a mother to my seven children. I want to be able to one day look back on my days as a 'leftover mother' and know in my heart of hearts that I gave it my all. That I gave and gave and forgave till it hurt. That I shared and expressed and testified till my spark lit their own candles aflame. That I cherished and enveloped and loved my children until I truly had nothing left over at all.

But, until that day comes, one piece of understanding at a time, I hope that you will forgive me in advance for
the appearance of myself or my offspring
the screams that may inadvertently escape my lips with no forethought
the meetings that I will be late to
the practices I will forget
the children I will leave somewhere for too long cause I simply forgot
the meals I will burn or destroy with too much jalapeno
the teeth that will need cavities filled cause i didn't floss my kids well enough
the state of my home that on more days than not will merit the sign hanging near the front door
the car that is filled with crumbs or sticky lollipop sticks
the bedraggled and tired state of my eyes

After all, I am just a 'leftover mother!'

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Easter 2013

Easter Came a bit early this March (31st) which always feels a little bit weird. Anyhow.....

We decided to try and take the little boys to a 'real' egg hunt. Nothing too big like Tauphtaus Park or anything crazy - just something that wasn't our standby of throwing some plastic eggs in our own backyard! So - we went to the nursing home called Good Samaritan. Well - because we were running on Bailey standard time - we showed up about 45 seconds after it had started - and there were nearly no eggs left. It was insane! At least Lane was able to collect about 6 eggs or so and there was a really nice kid whose dad told her to give a few of her eggs to Miles, since he arrived late and didn't have any. That was the most heartwarming thing about that day. The other behaviors exhibited at the egg hunts by both the children and their parents were less than stellar.

So - after that epic fail - we decided to drive over to the egg hunt that was beginning at the Hope Lutheran Church. Well - as soon as we turned onto 12th street - we knew by the sheer number of cars that we were going to just keep on driving by and not even bother. There were about exactly 2.8 thousand kids all lined up like they were awaiting the battle cry to "charge" forward. I have been getting a little bit more sad over the years with the commercialism of traditional and spiritual holidays - but this year it was the worst - in my head anyhow. WOW!!

So - we decided that after all, it would be best just to go to our own back yard and also Tom's back yard (which used to be our back yard) and let the older kids hide a few plastic eggs for the younger kids to find. It was perfect. They really don't need anything more than that.

(*I keep trying to insert a video here of the kids, but it won't let me.....grrr*)

APRIL 1st, 2013 - "APRIL FOOL'S DAY!"

I used to love to play pranks on people when I was younger. (OK, so I still sorta like it.)

It appears that my boy Seth inherited that desire. He must have played about 9 or so different pranks on people in our home, and out of it as well.

Landen came down from his shower smelling really, um, PRETTY!! Apparently his hairspray had been switched out for Maelynn's perfume, and he didn't realize it.

Also, there was mustard inside of the toothpaste, vinegar with blue food coloring inside of the mouthwash, a penny secured up under the sink faucet. The kitchen sink sprayer was taped down and when someone turned on the water, half of the kitchen (including my cell phone) was drenched.

Then Maelynn and Seth decided to take a plate of  'cookies' over to the neighbors. Only problem is, they were actually doggie biscuits that were shaped like little gingerbread cookies. Turns out that three of their kids really ate them. YUCK! My kids are sooo mean. I don't think that the college-aged older sibling at their house could have been very amused by it. I may have to keep my head down for a few weeks in church. ;)

Aaaaaah - kids.

Monday, April 8, 2013

MARCH 2013 Recap

In keeping with my new "recap" tradition.... MARCH 2013

Things we DID:

A) Greg and I went on a trip to MEXICO

B) Maelynn got her Driver's License 

C) we had Parent Teacher Conferences


A) I know I mentioned a little bit about the trip - but let me expand some. I was looking forward to this getaway for quite some time.  There was a little bit of planning involved because we had to both renew our passports. That took some time (and a chunk of change too) and we also had to arrange babysitting. I feel so lucky about having the willing and generous in-laws that I do!
  So - we got on our way very early on Friday morning, March 8th. We flew out of Idaho Falls - so that was convenient. We had a stopover in Denver and then straight to Cabo. I have flown sooooo much in my earlier life (pre-marriage/kids) that it is still annoying to me every time that I fly now that they don't ever serve snacks. What's up, America? I want my Biscoff cookies - or at least a tiny bag of nasty peanuts. Come on!!
  When we got to Cabo, we got on a chartered bus with a bunch of Greg's other co-workers and were taken to the resort. This place was jaw-dropping amazing. I felt spoiled the instant we walked up the steps and saw the view out onto the beach.

We actually had to wait for an hour or so for our rooms to be ready since our flight got us there before the official 'check-in' time, so we wandered around and had some free drinks and just kept breathing in the fresh warm air!

Then we were able to check in and let me tell you what - this room was WAY COOL. It had a jetted tub, large screen TV, fridge/bar area, sitting area with a couch and table and chairs, and a private balcony too!

Then we went out to dinner the first night at a fancy French restaurant that was one of the options of fine dining at the resort. I think I had lamb and Greg had duck, but the french onion soup was my FAVORITE thing there! Mmmmmm - I'm seriously drooling just thinking about it!

The next day morning I decided it would be nice to get a little exercise - so I went down to the beach area to join the "Power Walk class". Well - as it turned out - I was the ONLY person who had that thought. So - it ended up just being me and the instructor. He was a young 20 something kid who was from Tijuana and was working there. He and I walked for about 3 miles on the sand - super fast - in our bare feet.  He was quite a nice kid and we had plenty of time to talk - but my poor feet were KILLING me the rest of the day. I am pretty sure that one should build up to that sort of abuse. Ugh!

After a lovely breakfast at the international buffet, we decided to be adventurous and took a public bus into town. We wanted to just see the 'real people and the real city' and not only be stuck on the resort with the rich tourists. We also wanted to be able to find an LDS meetinghouse so that we could go to church the next day.  We had a great time. We met some nice people. First there was this young kid who was working at a pharmacy where we bought some, um...OTC medicines ('nuff said). He was super helpful with getting us to the right bus stop and headed where we needed to go. Then there was a man who was the owner of a cool art gallery - he helped us find out where the Mormon church was located. Also, when we got off the bus to try and find the church, we wandered aimlessly with no luck for quite a while, until we ran into a random lady who was on her way home and said that she knew right where the Mormon church was and walked us all the way there!  We never felt like we were in any danger at all and the people were so friendly.

 We made our way back to the hotel and spent a few hours on the beach.

Then that night we had a dinner with all of the Rehab Authority employees. It was super fancy and it was neat for me to get to know a few people that Greg knows from work but I had never met.  That dinner was also held at one of the specialty restaurants they had on the resort - it was a seafood restaurant. Since I don't particularly enjoy fish (ok, NOT AT ALL) I just asked for seconds of the appetizer. It was a creamy potato soup and it was delish!

The next day we went back into town and we found our way right back to the church. It was such a cool experience for me. For one thing - the gospel in Spanish is so native to my heart - it was like my little 12 year old brain was back in church in Argentina again. I also thoroughly enjoyed meeting some of the members there and being able to attend Sunday School. It has been several years that I have been in Primary, so it was a treat for me.  Greg was getting quite overwhelmed with all of the Spanish and then with me trying to translate to him - it was just a bit too much. But, it was a neat day. I feel so happy to be part of a Church that is the same all over the world - where I can just show up with total strangers and yet feel right at home! I love being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!

We spent the rest of the day just relaxing and reading and EATING more delicious food of course.  Then on Monday morning we got up quite early and went to play a little basketball together - and by 'together', I just mean Greg and me! We played "PIG". And, of course Greg won! But, I won the 'Most Improved Player' award, so it's all good!

Then we got all packed up and we went to a store to find some Mexican treats to bring home to the kids, and some yummy Mexican Vanilla to bring home to my pantry! We were shuttled back to the airport and had an entire day of flying home. On the way back - we had to stop in LA and in Denver - so it sort of sucked that way. But, on a good note, I was able to finish nearly 2 books. One was a silly novel that I will likely never re-read called "Matilda Savitch".  The other book is one that I have probably already mentioned and that I ADORE and will likely re-read several more times. It is called "The God Who Weeps" and I am going to do an entire blog post all about it. Soon.

B) Maelynn has been driving for at least 6 months since taking her Driver's Ed course last summer. She is pretty good. I feel quite confident that she will be a responsible driver. She had told me that she would just go alone with the instructor and I would wait at the DMV for her to return, which I was totally fine with. Well, the tester showed up and was like, "So, are you coming along, Mom?" I told him that I didn't know that I could come because Maelynn had told me that I couldn't talk to her or she would fail. He said that was true - that if I said anything at all to her, it would be called 'driver interference' and she would fail, but that I was welcome to sit in the back and be quiet. So I went. I was all sitting there quietly, when as soon as she was out of the parking lot, the tester turned around and started asking me questions.  At first I was scared to answer for fear of interfering with Maelynn's test. But, turns out he was just a super friendly guy. So friendly that he proceeded to have a conversation with me for 99% of her test - only stopping to tell her "take a left at the next light" and other such commands every once in a while. It was actually pretty funny. He used to be a cop and I had just finished my concealed carry class - so we talked firearms for quite a while, even after Maelynn had finished the driving test and was parked in the DMV parking lot! Needless to say she passed without a single mistake and then got her license! I am super happy to have another driver around and she has already been helpful in taking Lane to his music class and Landen to his track practices so I could stay home with the babies. I feel blessed to have Maelynn as my daughter and I have a lot of confidence in her abilities and her helpful nature.

C) Every time we have parent teacher conferences, I feel a little bit 'guilty'. I know that it is going to sound weird, but I always hear the stories of how parents go to the meeting with the teacher and hear all of the stuff going on with their child and it gets worrisome, etc. Well - every single meeting I have ever had with any of my kids' teachers has always been positive. I mean, like, every time. I hear them say things like, "Your child is wonderful." "I wish that I had more children like yours". "You guys must be great parents, because all of your children that I have had are so great". Etc. Etc. I honestly feel guilty even just going to them. I feel like it really has NOTHING AT ALL to do with me or Greg - but we simply had a lot of DUMB LUCK when it comes to our kids being able to grasp new concepts and to learn well in the classroom.  I am not complaining, nor am I trying to brag at all (ok - maybe just a little, but it is MY blog after all) - but I am just explaining how I feel guilty because I feel like we really hit the jackpot when it comes to our children and their academic performance. I do realize that I have a child named Lane who challenges us (and every person who knows him will agree) - but even though he is not always a 'calm child' per se, or not always a 'polite child' per se, he is still quite an 'intelligent child'.
     I fully realize even as I am typing this - that there will likely come a day when all of my kids do NOT have perfect grades - and I may even look back on this paragraph and laugh about it! But for now, I am just plain old PROUD of my kids and their scholastic achievements. Some of them work really hard at it, some of them have it just come 'easy' for them, but all of them are able to keep up and get great scores on their tests and homework and I am proud of them for that. I know that I was not the ideal student, often choosing to socialize and procrastinate over studying and planning ahead. So, I feel like I am only living 'on borrowed time' with regards to the 'no issues with schoolwork' fortune I have been having. ;)

And - that pretty much sums up March 2013.