Sunday, December 31, 2006

100 Things Christie

I read a 100 list by a Christie from Florida, and it inspired me. So here are 100 things from a Utah Christie:

1. I love Swedish fish -- could probably down a large box from Sam's Club without blinking.

2. I used to weigh over 200 lbs. (I'm now 36+ lbs. lighter.)

3. I enjoy connecting with people.

4. I can REALLY belch. (I can get to the letter "M" in the alphabet all in one huge burp.)

5. I find many things funny and laugh out loud often. Maybe too often.

6. I am a detail person.

7. I love getting praise.

8. I never sleep on my stomach.

9. I love taking walks in the great outdoors and like to live and breathe deeply.

10. I'm returning to skiing after a 13 year hiatus.

11. I like corny camp songs.

12. I love the mountains, I love the golden hills, I love the fountains, I love the daffodils. . . .

13. I'm a RED person. Love to wear it and have a red personality.

14. I can be obnoxious.

15. I want everyone to have what I have.

16. If you ask me a sincere question, I'll tell you the truth every time.

17. If you ask me a goofy question, who knows what I'll say.

18. I was an exchange student to Japan in high school.

19. I took Japanese language classes in college but didn't get far. I can, however, ask for chocolate in Japanese.

20. I know more Spanish than Japanese.

21. I am a deeply religious person.

22. I believe in Christ.

23. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
(a.k.a. Mormon or LDS)

24. I have many friends of other faiths.

25. I want to serve an LDS mission with my husband when we retire. (Does a mom ever get to retire?)

26. I've burned my tongue on a curling iron. I was checking to see if it was hot. It was.

27. I've eaten rattlesnake meat. (My dad heard that old West cowboys ate it, so we tried it too. Tasted like chicken.)

28. I have my bachelor's degree in English and a minor in business information systems.

29. I had my first child in college. I had 10 credits that quarter, 22 credits the next, and finished my last quarter with student teaching. Whew!

30. I graduated magna cum laude with a 3.92 GPA.

31. I had a 4.0 in high school and was valedictorian.

32. I went on to become an at-home mom.

33. I have three children: Bug (13), Loula Belle, or Lou (10), and Beans (8)

34. My husband can't burp on demand, but I still love him.

35. We were married in December of 1992 in the Logan LDS Temple. It snowed the night before, and although it was freezing for our outdoor photos, I never felt cold. Guess it was a newlywed high.

36. Our church teaches abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity afterward. If abstinence before marriage were practicied in today's world, miracles would happen.

37. I have P.C.O.S. -- a condition that often includes infertility.

38. I consider each one of my children to be a miracle child.

39. I've had four knee surgeries -- all on my left knee.

40. Hubby is worried that I'm going to start skiing again. (Only one of my knee surgeries was a result of skiing -- the first surgery.)

41. I've skiied Sun Valley, Idaho.

42. I have a season pass to our local ski resort -- Beaver Mountain.

43. Linda Burt makes me laugh.

44. I love people who make me laugh.

45. My kids are good at making me laugh.

46. I'm a lot like my mother -- that's a good thing.

47. My dad took me horse riding as a child and taught me the names of the trees, birds, plants and wildlife. I got my love of the mountains from him.

48. I had an ideal childhood.

49. We grew up in Hyrum, Utah. The house I remember most was on 10 acres of land. We had horses, a dog and a HUGE garden.

50. I have an older sister and two younger brothers.

51. My dad built all the houses that we lived in (except for when we lived with grandparents while he was building our next house.)

52. I designed the house that my own family lives in.

53. Seeing your ideas take shape in concrete, wood and brick is very rewarding -- I love my house!

54. We live on 1 1/2 acres and have a cat named Oreo.

55. I love animals. We used to have a dog, Zeke. But he started growling and nipping at my son's friends, so we gave him away.

56. I can't wait until we get another dog!

57. When my kids were little and got hot and sweaty playing outside, I thought their heads/hair smelled like warm puppy.

58. Our family always had a dog while I was growing up, and whenever one of our dogs died, I'd cry. I also cried when I had to give Zeke away.

59. Oreo is the first cat I've ever had. He's playful and people-friendly. I love him too.

60. We had nine chickens a couple years ago.

61. When two chicken developed medical issues, I was the one who chopped off their heads.

62. I don't enjoy harvesting chickens. My kids don't enjoy eating home-grown chickens.

63. I have a children's book idea that involves chickens. (No head-chopping, I promise.)

64. If we ever have chickens again, their coop will be called The Chick Inn.

65. I enjoy gardening and yardwork -- mowing the lawn and weeding.

66. Every year we enter produce or canning items in our county fair.

67. So far I've received blue ribbons.

68. Canning is much more fun with a good canning buddy. (Thanks Linda.)

69. I keep a canning/cooking/garden journal.

70. I keep MANY journals: a personal one, an on-line one (this one), a book journal fo all the books I've read, a spiritual experiences journal, a food journal (courtesy of weight watchers), and I've just started a relationship journal where I can record the things I learn that help me in my marriage and with my family and friends.

71. I enjoy making greeting cards from OLD yearbooks that I purchase at second-hand stores.

72. I decorated my kitchen in a bee theme.

73. A bee is a hard worker. That's my goal too.

74. I've created fancy bookmarkers that I call "Book Jewelry." They make great gifts. (I love giving.)

75. I create Hot Plaids from old flannel or plaid cotton shirts and pants. Denim too.

76. I feel alive when I create something I can make, label and share.

77. I don't enjoy watching sports on TV. (My husband and son do.)

78. I do like watching American Idol!

79. I'm not much of a singer, but I do sing in our church choir. I sing alto, but can sing tenor.

80. My musical tastes are eclectic. From classical to rock -- country to opera. Some current favorites: A-ha, Sting, Il Divo, The 5 Browns (classical piano), Queen's Greatest Hits, Bryan Adams.

81. My parents made be take piano lessons until I could sight-read all the songs in the hymnal.

82. I'm making my kids take piano lessons.

83. I also played the flute from 5th grade through 8th grade.

84. I love cocktail shrimp. Yum!

85. Submarine sandwiches are my favorite fast food.

86. It's been hard losing weight, but I'm determined to reach my goal weight and keep off the pounds. (A few pounds may have found me over the holidays.)

87. I have a nice nose. Big feet, but a nice nose.

88. After I lost 35 pounds, my cholesterol went up. Go figure.

89. My body was issues. (I'll save you from an organ recital.)

90. I've always been a good money manager.

91. I married a fiscally conservative man.

92. For the first 13 years of marriage I tried to be like him, but I'm realizing that I need the freedom to buy things with a little spontenaity.

93. We believe it's best to live debt-free -- with the exception of a home payment.

94. I've self-published a small booklet for newlyweds called, "Budget is not a four-letter word: But debt is."

95. From 1997 until 2000 I wrote a weekly column "From the Trenches" which I self-syndicated to newspapers in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, California and Florida. Some of my past columns are now being published in an ultra-orthodox Jewish magazine for women.

96. My columns also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Parent's Soul and Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrates Mothers. One will also run in Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Souls to be released in 2007.

97. I've submitted a column proposal to my local newspaper and hope to be a columnist once again.

98. I dream of having a collection of past columns published, or a children's book published, or anything publishable published.

99. I can REALLY whistle. (As in "Bridge over the River Quai")

100. This summer I hope to work with my family and sell produce/crafts under our Belly Acre Farm label at our local farmer's market.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Reasons to Travel

I'm writing today from St. George, Utah. It's about 400 miles South of where I live. We're staying with my mother-in-law and her husband for New Year's.

As we were driving here (a six hour trip), we listened to the first couple chapters of Patrick McMannus's audio book, A Fine and Pleasant Misery. As McMannus described his reasons for camping (to get home and brag about what a miserable time he'd had), I wondered about my own desire to travel. I have grandiose dreams of visiting Japan, Portugal, England, Denmark, maybe even India, but Hubby reminds me that I'm often grumpy when we travel. And I acknowledge that I get uptight when we're packing and uptight when I have to unpack upon getting home. I also get travel headaches and don't sleep well. So why do I want to travel?

For starters, I love to try to experience life from someone else's perspective. That's why I was an exchange student in high school. And my mother and I arrived on Japan as my destination in part because it was safe (that was her criteria), and also because it was so different from my rural U.S. upbringing.

I also think that until you've been outside of your comfort zone, your own familiar environs, you can't really appreciate what you've got. When I return from even a short trip, I'm grateful for my own bed, my own shower, my own quirky kitchen. Once you've been outside your own world, you realize that there really is no place like home.

I guess that's why I enjoy traveling with my children. They're so quick to point out the differences between our new locale and home. Beans, for instance, loves the rocks here in St. George. She loves the reds and tans -- the desertness of the place. Bug likes the plant life that grows here -- the cacti and palms. Loula Belle seems to soak it all in. Plus, she knows that Grandma always has plenty of treats and sweets!

I enjoy listening to my kids' observations. One said, "If all my friends were here and I could go to my same school, I'd like to live here." Another said, "I like our mountains at home. I'm not sure that I'd like living with all the hills here." They're putting themselves into this environment. I can't help but wonder what they'd think of a totally different country. Would they think differently about their freedoms and conveniences? Would they value their home just a bit more?

Guess we won't know until we venture out.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Stupid Stunt of the Week -- Daughters Cut My Hair

A week ago I pulled the stupid stunt of the week. I let my daughters cut my hair.

There is an explanation. See, I told myself that until I reached my next five pounds of weight loss, I couldn’t have my hair cut. And my weight loss has hit a plateau and remained there for the past three weeks. Plus, my hair was really starting to bug me. It was getting much too long for my taste and looked limp and straggly.

Last Monday morning I came up with a solution – I’ll just trim my own hair. Just take an inch off the back. But wait, I thought, cutting the back of your own hair is the hardest kind of hair cutting to do. I know, I’ll have Loula Belle trim it.

When I shared my plan with Loula, she lit up. Wow, I could see her thinking, my mom is actually going to let me cut her hair. Cool. As I gathered our hair cutting supplies, (I cut my husband’s hair, my son’s and occasionally trim the girls’s hair too) I started to get excited. "Hey," I said, "next time I play the ‘bean game’ I’ll be able to say, ‘I let my 10-year-old daughter cut my hair. I bet no one else could say that about themselves.’" That should’ve been a clue that what I was attempting was foolhardy.

I sat down with the cutting cape on, and Lou Belle began cutting. One snip. Two snips. That’s when Beans, my seven-year-old said, "Oooh. Those don’t match." Caught up in the moment, I just laughed and thought it funny. A few more snips, and Beans couldn’t stop giggling. I figured now would probably be a good time to look at myself in the hand-mirror.

Whoa! My hair was definitely shorter, but more than the inch I’d told Loula Belle to trim off the back. The hair on my right side was cut short to just below my earlobe. Yikes! I figured that since cutting my hair had brought Lou such joy, I ought to let Beans have a few whacks too.

Very cautiously, Beans took a couple tentative snips. Her method was much more conservative than Lou’s had been. After another snip or two, I asked her if I should just go "fix it" myself in my bathroom. She thought that sounded like a good idea.

So, there I am in my bathroom looking in the mirror. My hair is cut at all sorts of lengths at the bottom. There are even a few stray hairs that escaped the scissors entirely. Seeing that the shortest length was to just below my earlobe, I knew I was in for some serious "fixing."

Whack, whack here. . . snip, snip there . . . here a whack, there a snip . . . everywhere a snip, snip and I was done. (In my teenage years I was famous in my family for cutting my own hair short, and the old skills seemed to come back fairly easily.) I can’t say that the finish product looks great, but at least it looks passable. Think 1920s era bob. That’s pretty much what I’ve got now.

And in keeping with my weight loss goals, I’m going to give myself three weeks of dieting before I have it professionally trimmed. Or (you’ve guessed it) I’m actually giving it three weeks of growing out before I have to face my hair stylist and tell her that I actually let my ten-year-old daughter cut my hair. Ugh!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mood Lifter -- A Chuckle at My Expense

In relating this Monday’s visit by the fire dept. I failed to mention that it made my day. Literally.

Previously on Monday my washing machine had broken – right in the middle of a load of laundry. When I called the repair shop, their guy couldn’t come out until Wednesday. Meanwhile I only do laundry once a week – on Mondays. And it had to get done. We were all almost out of clean underwear and socks. And I was left to siphon all the dirty soapy water out of the machine. Yuck! (I ended up doing a load of laundry at my neighbor’s house, my friend’s house, and my mother’s house. So it got done, but not without a whole lot of run-around.)

Plus on top of having a broken washing machine, Monday was also a weigh in day at Weight Watchers. Knowing that my weight loss had stalled, I was grumpy all morning – even before weighing in and finding that, yes, I’d gained. Grrr.

Mondays are also when I play catch-up on all the housekeeping that has fallen behind. And it was a perfect example of me playing the Grumpy Cleaning Lady. I was snippy, cross, even short with my kids. Double grrr!

But when the first police cruiser pulled into our driveway, and I realized that we were going to have the whole fire department arrive at our house, my bad mood evaporated. I couldn’t stop grinning.

Later that evening my husband was talking with Bug, my son. He said, "I’m sure glad that Mom’s not in a bad mood anymore. That fire fiasco really helped."

"But what if it had made her madder?" asked Bug.

"Nah," said Hubby. "Your mother always cheers up whenever she gets attention."
Too true.

Be it blunders on the organ at church or having our hot dog roast mistaken for a house fire, I always enjoy having a good chuckle at my own expense!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Local Fire Dept. Comes to Our Hot Dog Roast

It’s not every day that the local fire department comes to your hot dog roast, but it happened to us tonight.

I called our city this morning to get a burn permit for the pile of garden refuse we planned to burn. After Hubby got home we hauled the cornstalks we’d been using as porch decorations out back and added them to the large pile of garden litter. Then while Hubby and Bug went to a band meeting at the school, the girls and I started the fire. (We waited until after work so that we could roast some hot dogs for dinner.)

Whooee! You should have seen the smoke. It billowed above the fire and drifted over the house. The fire had been burning for about half an hour when I heard sirens wailing. They seemed to be heading toward the highway to our west. I wondered if there had been an accident or if there were some sort of fire. I surveyed the horizon but couldn’t see any smoke except for what was coming from our fire.

Hubby and Bug returned from the band meeting, and by that time our fire was mostly embers and some smoke. Hubby came back to see how things were burning and rearranged a couple logs that we intended to roast the hot dogs over. The sirens were still wailing, but were still fairly close by. Hubby and I looked toward the intersection near our house and saw a local police cruiser with its lights on stop and turn back around the way it had come. "That’s funny," said Hubby, "for a minute there, I thought he was going to turn our way."

Well, in just a couple more minutes, the police cruiser was back again, and he did turn down our road. He drove past our driveway, turned around, and pulled up by our garage. I had Loula Belle run in and fetch Hubby to come out to talk with the officer.

Apparently someone had seen our smoke and called 9-1-1. I guess the smoke had drifted clear down to the highway and looked as if it was coming from a computer business along main street. That’s why the sirens headed that direction but then headed back. There was no fire on main street. The only fire was in our backyard!

Fortunately, we did have our burn permit number and weren’t in any serious trouble. At one point we had two large fire trucks, two smaller fire trucks, and two police vehicles in front of our house. I also saw another large engine and two smaller emergency vehicles head back toward the fire station without coming our way. All told, I’d guess that there were probably ten or so vehicles out looking for our fire.

As a side note, our bishop had been out in his pasture working with his horse when he saw smoke and flashing lights down our direction. He hopped in his pick up and came down to see what was going on. I guess Lou Belle and Bug talked with him and assured him that we were just have our family home evening activity – roasting hot dogs.

One thing is for sure -- tonight’s family home evening sure was exciting!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Extreme Makeover Home Edition Comes to my Community

We have a Sunday night routine that revolves around the television. Some Mormons try not to watch T.V. on Sunday, but we’re fans of America’s Funniest Home Videos. So every Sunday night at 6:00 P.M. we plop down in front of the television for some good laughs watching our fellow Americans make fools of themselves. (We also discuss how we could make fools of ourselves and appear on T.V. too.)

Anyway, last night after AFV, we happened to keep the T.V. on for Extreme Make-over Home Edition. I’m not sure why, but last night’s episode really touched me. I came away amazed at the amount of good that the television show does. They’d built a home for a family with a special needs son. My eyes teared up a number of times as I contemplated how the mother’s life would change for the better because of the generosity of those involved with the show. I even caught my husband looking a little teary-eyed.

Then this morning as I went to read the paper, there on the front page is a story telling how Extreme Make-over Home Edition is building a home for a family here in my community. Wow! I told my girls about it, and we discussed possibly getting involved with volunteering. I also went to my husband’s office at work and talked with him about contributing time and money to the project here.

What a perfect opportunity to involve our kids in something bigger than themselves. I’m looking forward to driving past the completed house and re-living how we felt serving and giving to the Pauni family. I’m hoping that it will help my kids learn that giving feels great!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What I've Weighed

There are many numbers it is unwise to share with others. Numbers that others could use to steal your identity and make your life miserable. These include your social security number, your birthdate, your address, even your credit card number. These are often referred to as personal identification numbers.

Today I’d like to share some of my own personal identification numbers. These numbers won’t allow anyone to steal my identity. They may even cause a few people to be grateful they can’t swap identities with me. No one else has the same numbers that I have, and yet sharing them won’t make my life miserable. Uncomfortable, maybe. But not miserable.

So here goes. This is a list of what I’ve weighed.

Birth: 6 lbs. 7 oz. Probably the last time someone calculated my weight in ounces.

5th grade: 85 lbs. Not sure why this number stuck in my mind, but there you have it.

7th grade: 120 lbs. Our gym teacher took our weight and height. I was 5' 5". Still am.

9th grade: 118 lbs. This was after my first knee surgery. Not a healthy look.

10th grade: 128 lbs. Looking back, I should have been happy at this weight. Instead I remember standing in front of the bedroom mirror and wishing my thighs didn’t touch when standing with my feet together. Gag!

11th grade: 148 lbs. Went to Japan for two months before school started and gained 20 lbs.

12th grade: 130 lbs. Lost the weight I’d gained in Japan.

College: 140 to 148 lbs. My weight fluctuated, but I exercised a lot and felt healthy.

Wedding Day: 148 lbs. Why does every woman remember what she weighed on her wedding day? (20 yrs. old)

1st child: 194 lbs. at pre-delivery. (21 yrs. old)

2 weeks later: 168 lbs. I remember being hopeful that the remaining pounds would melt away.

22 yrs. old 178 lbs. Can’t seem to lose weight. It keeps finding me.

2nd child: 204 lbs. pre-delivery. An all-time record, but I only gained 24 lbs. with her pregnancy.

25 yrs. old: 182 lbs. Exercise and diet won’t budge the weight.

3rd child: 172 lbs. Actually weigh less than before I became pregnant. Wow!

27 - 30 yrs. 180 to 185 lbs. My weight stabilizes. Won’t come off, but at least I’m not gaining.

Jan. 2003: 204 lbs. I spoke too soon. Gained twenty pounds in just over a month. This is what I weighed before delivering my second child, and I’m NOT pregnant! Body does crazy things – goes through peri-menopause at 31 yrs. old. Weight stays despite persistent efforts.

Highest: 208 lbs. Can’t say exactly when I weighed this, but I did. And it lasted for a couple months.

Feb. 2006: 204 lbs. Joined Weight Watchers. I guess I finally decided that spending money on weight loss efforts wouldn’t be a waste – that I was worth it.

Oct. 2006: 168 lbs.

I’ve lost 35 lbs. since joining Weight Watchers. I give most of the credit to the program, but also feel that I’ve finally got a handle on my health problems. My doctor and I realized that my endocrine system had multiple failures. Medication has helped tremendously.

So there you have it. A history of my weight. Not pretty. Not exciting (at least not until this year). I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that depression also affects my weight. When I’m low, I crave carbohydrates. Looking back I can see that prior to realizing I had depression, I was self-medicating with food as a way to try to feel better.

Even though I’ve slimmed down, I’m careful not to look at pictures of myself from years back in a critical or condemning way. I am the same person now that I was then. I’ve learned a few life lesson, but I’m not "better" per se. Just different. And frankly, different feels good!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Isaiah 40: 28-31

You know it’s going to be a tough day when you wake up nauseous and your head is throbbing. (And, no, I’m not pregnant.) That’s how my day began. I dropped my daughter off at her 7 A.M. piano lesson and began my weekly walk through that neighborhood. I thought the nausea would stop with exercise. It didn’t.

I returned home with Lou Belle and did the usual things. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Shower. Nag girls to put their brushes, elastics, hair stuff away. Make bed. Put on makeup. Take meds and vitamin. Kiss girls as they leave for school.

Today, however, I varied a little from the routine. I got to substitute for a reading aide at the local elementary school. Although my stomach was still churning, I knew it wasn’t contagious, so I toughed it out. Two hours later I felt a bit better, but was still green around the gills. After running a banking errand, I returned home for lunch.

Nothing sounded good. I decided to have some toast and begin reading this week’s Sunday school assignment: Isaiah chapters 40 through 49. I was struck by the tenderness with which Isaiah described the Savior in verse 11: "He shall feed this flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." I could imagine the Savior feeding hungry souls; gently leading lost sheep to living water.

But in light of my physical struggles lately, it was verses 28 through 31 that really moved me.

"Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?

"There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

"Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

As I read these verses, I thought of Christ as my teammate, my partner. He is someone who fainteth not. He doesn’t get weary – doesn’t get tired of supporting me. Who could be a better partner?

Plus, His wisdom and knowledge is so vast, it’s unsearchable. (I related it to google. When I enter a query and get 389,744 results, it floors me -- amazes me. But just imagine the results I’d get searching the Lord’s database! Endless answers. And they’d all be results that were meaningful.)

Finally, as I read about they who wait upon the Lord getting renewed strength, it happened. I felt better. My nausea was gone. Gone enough for me to eat an apple and a sandwich. And it lasted long enough for me to get some house work done too. (Vacuum lines never looked so nice.)

And while my reprieve from having the "icks" was temporary, I’m left with hope. Hope that the Lord will give me the strength to accomplish the needful things in my life. Hope that I can stay close to the Lord and enjoy the benefits of being a partner with him.

Maybe I won’t always feel physically well, but I’m hopeful He’ll grant me the spiritual strength to hang in there.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Bee in My Bonnet!

As I sit writing today, I’m coming off an adrenaline high. Two weeks ago I had similar feelings after taking on a German Shepherd. But Today I’m taking on my newspaper.

This morning at the breakfast table I was enjoying the comic strips as usual. To the right our paper often runs entertainment features. Today’s fare was beyond belief. "‘Shortbus’ among films that straddle line between porn, art," the headline reads. They had chosen to run an AP review of a number of films that straddle the line between pornography and art.

Just the first two paragraphs contained enough sexual content to make me blush. I just hope that my kids didn’t read it. In fact, I was pretty astounded that the editors decided to run such content right next to the comic strips – a section that children love to read.

So I placed a call to the paper. Charles McCullom, the managing editor, listened as I explained that our family loves reading the newspaper. We eat our breakfast and read the paper every morning. My kids (a 12-year-old son, and 10- and 7-year-old daughters) argue over who will get the comic section first. I expressed my disappointment at the content they ran right next to the comic strips.

Mr. McCullom was unapologetic. He acknowledged that the woman who chooses what content goes in that section had to edit the titles of the reviewed films due to their graphic nature. And yet he thought the article contained relevant information for his readers.

I acknowledged his right to publish what might appeal to his readership, I just asked him to consider where it was located. I pointed out that their Friday insert with art, theatrical productions, wine reviews, movie reviews and other entertainment options might have been a better fit. (My kids never even give that section a second glance.) He told me, "I cannot guarantee that you won’t ever be offended by what you read in our paper." That was as close as he came to offering consolation.

So I decided to console myself. If Mr. McCullom thought that as a single newspaper subscriber I had no pull, he was wrong. I dug my newspaper out of the recycle bin and jotted down the names and numbers of the businesses who ran ads in the paper today. I’ve spent the last hour calling the local businesses, telling them that I noticed their ad in the paper today and wanted to draw their attention to the content that was printed in today’s edition next to the comic strips.

The advertisers’ responses have been gratifying. Jeff Price, the manager of Lee’s Marketplace said he’d give them an earful. "Do you want me to have them call and apologize to you?" he asked. "No," I said, "I’d just like them to realize that they do have some responsibility to the community and their readers."

Bryce at U & I Furniture ran a large, colored double-page insert in today’s paper. He wondered what the paper had printed that had me so upset. I told him that I wasn’t comfortable reading it out loud to him. And I'm not. It really is that bad. He said that I’d piqued his curiosity and that he’d be sure to read today’s paper. I appreciated his candor and assured him that I was looking forward to buying new furniture from his store. Rich at Utah Carzz, Gene at Needham’s Jewelers, and Jeff at The Book Table also took my concerns seriously.

I’m hoping that my little tantrum makes a difference. I’m hoping that by having the newspaper’s advertisers talk to them, their editors will listen. I don’t want to cancel my subscription to our newspaper, but I do want to keep my children from being exposed to age-inappropriate material.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A New Appreciation for Working Mothers

Note: I wrote this on September 12, 2006 but was unable to post it then due to computer problems.

For a week and a half I found out what it’s like to work full time outside the home. And I must say that I have a whole new appreciation for working mothers. But the best part is my family has a whole new appreciation for me!

A couple weeks ago my friend Linda and I started working at our local university’s bookstore during the first week and a half of the new semester. They call it Rush. I call it insanity!

For the first three days I was on my feet from 8 A.M. until 5 P.M. except for a half hour lunch break. And in the first day I helped over 2,000 customers. By the end of the day I was bushed, beat, exhausted.

After the second day I was ready to call it quits, but I’d made a commitment. I decided to stick it out. Meanwhile, my girls were getting themselves off to school, and everyone in our family arrived home before I did. (Mind you, this has advantages. I figured that with my husband getting home first, that meant he was in charge of dinner. It worked about 50% of the time.)

After my second day of full time employment, we were sitting as a family around the dinner table. Bug, my 12-year-old, was complaining about my not being home for homework questions after school. Loula Belle, age 10, and Beans, age 7, both piped up that getting out the door on their own pretty much stunk. Curious as to how much they were really missing me, I asked, "But what if I got a job like this one? We could go to Disneyland again."

"No!" they all shouted in unison.

Wow. They like me more than Disneyland. I never would have guessed.

Now that Rush is over, I’ve been home full time for a week. Yes, I miss greeting and talking with customers. (It’s a little lonely to have an empty house to myself all day.) I miss having supervisors praise and compliment my work. (Alas, once I started resuming my usual jobs, my kids went back to not noticing what’s getting done.) I suppose I even miss getting a paycheck, but not enough to go back.

I am grateful, however, that I had a brief employment opportunity. I learned that my family really does appreciate what I do as a stay-at-home mom. I learned that working eight hours a day and then coming home to the ususal list of home jobs zapped all my energy. Sometimes I’d come home from work and just collapse on the couch for a snooze. Who knew working full time was so exhausting?

I also learned that I’m blessed. Blessed to have the freedom and flexibility to stay home. Blessed to have a husband who works his tail end off to provide for our family. Blessed, spoiled, and utterly thankful to have learned that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the employment equation.

Poop Washes Off

In the past week I’ve been down. I’ve felt achy, tired and anxious. I’ve chalked it up to either hormone ups and downs or having to deal with giving away our dog.

Feeling a bit down isn’t something totally new for me. You see, I have depression. I take medication for it and meet with mental health care professionals, but apparently taking those steps doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be symptom free everyday from now until eternity. Sigh.

Last night as my husband and I were talking before falling asleep, I thanked him for being my rock. His devotion is solid, steady, always there – kind of like bedrock.

I, on the other hand, am a bird. I enjoy the rush of air in my feathers as I soar to heights of self-discovery and dream of new vistas. Some days I spend my time pecking at bits on the ground – wrapped up in the drudgery of housework and being the mom. I also love to chirp – gab and giggle, flutter and fly.

After thanking my husband for being my rock yesterday, I said, “ Honey. I’m a bird, and I’m sorry that sometimes I poop on you.” Being the kind man he is, he chuckled and forgave me.

I’ve been thinking about it, and I imagine we all poop on others from time to time. I’ll admit that my kids sometimes do it to me. But poop washes off. Bird droppings wash off cars. Manure comes out of soiled overalls. And the excrement we fling on one another can be washed away too.

When someone forgives me for opening my mouth before engaging my brain, I’m grateful. And the next time I’m the recipient of someone’s filth, I’m a bit more understanding. The person who cuts me off in traffic doesn’t raise my blood pressure. My child who takes their day’s worth of frustrations out on me is allowed to decompress before I talk calmly with them.

Yes, poop washes off. Thank goodness.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Would You Take On a German Shepherd to Defend Your Dog?

Today while I was walking my dog Zeke, we were confronted by an aggressive German Shepherd. We were walking on the side of the road and approaching a house when a dog inside started to bark at the front door. Then the dog put its paws up on the front door, and the door wasn’t latched. Here came a big, barking German Shepherd. Yikes!

Zeke and I stopped and waited (only seconds) while the barking dog ran at us. The dogs started to sniff each other. An older woman in a house dress came out of the house and yelled, "Lady, get back here." She addressed her dog, but she stopped at the sidewalk and didn’t come any closer to try to retrieve it.

I noticed that Lady’s hackles were standing on end and wondered how much longer the sniffing would last until she bit my dog. Not long. She backed up a bit and growled and lunged. That’s when my mother bear instinct took over.

I yelled a guttural, "No!" And pulled Zeke behind me. "Back off Dog, or I’ll beat the crap out of you," I yelled.

Lady backed up to the sidewalk but continued barking- at us. She growled and moved toward us again, but I fended her off by swinging the end of the leash at her like I was going to hit her. I may have yelled too, but I’m not sure. I just know that I was not going to let her bite my dog.

Finally the owner grabbed Lady – mostly because Lady had moved onto the sidewalk – and Zeke and I continued walking down the street.

As we walked away, I found my heart racing. Guess it was from the adrenaline. After a few yards I finally realized what I’d done – I’d taken on a German Shepherd in defense of my dog. Whoa! What was I thinking?

When I got home (with no more confrontations), I told my husband about my escapade. "And to think I did that to defend our dog. Just imagine what I’d do to defend one of our kids!"

I hope I never have to find out.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stay-at-home Mom with No Kids At Home

Today is the first day of school for my kids. Bug headed off to 7th grade. Loula Belle walked with Neighbor Girl to their first day of 5th grade, and Beans and I rode bikes to the elementary school where she’ll be in Mrs. ReadHead's second grade class.

It’s always strange when school starts. Here I am a stay-at-home mom, and there are no kids around. What am I going to do with my time?

First of all, I’ve learned that with the kids in school, I don’t magically get more hours in a day. I still have the same amount of time as when they’re home, only they’re not here demanding my attention. So what is demanding my attention?

The kitchen floor. It’s dusty, sticky, ugly. Ditto the bathrooms – only they’re stinky instead of sticky. In fact, it is high time I did some serious deep cleaning. After a summer of my kids and their friends bringing the great outdoors indoors, my house needs a clean sweep.

I’m also planning on starting down the road to getting published. My manuscript, "I’m Not Your Slave – I’m Your Mother" is back from the editor. Now it’s up to me to incorporate the suggested changes and get it off to a prospective agent or publisher. Writing the perfect query letter that leaves ‘em begging to see the manuscript is my new quest. (I’m keeping my fingers crossed for minimal rejection. I hate rejection!)

Speaking of publishing, I just heard from the Chicken Soup for the Soul people. They’re coming out with a . . . Mothers and Daughter’s Soul II book and want to include "I Love You More." Yippee! Hopefully it will bring me a little more exposure and the extra money always comes in handy.

That’s it for today. I’m off to do a little research for the children’s book about chickens that I’m writing. Don’t look now, but Bernice, Velda, Pearl and Marjorie may be coming to a picture book near you soon!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Don't Mind Me, I'm Just the Fill-in Organist . . .

A funny thing happened in church Sunday. And it happened to me. Or, actually, I made it happen. You see, Sister Stoddart is out of town with her family for the next few weeks, and I’ve been asked to play the organ for sacrament meeting.

Now, playing the organ makes me more nervous than giving a talk would. In fact, I’d rather teach a gospel doctrine lesson every Sunday instead of play the organ in sacrament meeting. So you can imagine that I was a little nervous. And there we were singing the closing hymn – #44 "Beautiful Zion, Built Above". I got through with the first verse but didn’t notice the chorus on the next page. So I went back to the beginning for the second verse.

As I played the second verse I wondered why hardly anyone was singing. And, being uncomfortable on the organ, I thought maybe I wasn’t playing quite loudly enough. So I upped the volume just a little bit. No help. And that’s when I realized that I’d skipped the chorus. So I stopped playing, and said, "Sorry Dorothy, I missed the chorus." Dorothy Bills, our chorister, had everyone (me included) start on the 2nd verse again. Fortunately the song ended without any more problems.

It’s funny. I told Hubby that while playing the other hymns I’d make little mistakes and cringe, but after making a colossal blunder, I couldn’t help but smile. If I hadn’t been playing the organ, I’d probably have laughed right out loud. (Lisa said that Rosemarie did. She could hear her from where she was sitting. And when Lisa leaned over to ask Shirley, "What’s wrong?" Shirley replied, "Christie missed the entire chorus."

Giggle. Giggle. Trust me to turn the closing number into a comedy routine

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

How to get son to stop sleeping on his stomach . . .

I’m trying to help my son Bug stop sleeping on his stomach. I read somewhere that if you sewed pockets on the front of your night shirt and placed tennis balls in them, they’d keep you from sleeping . . . you guessed it . . . on your stomach. So today, I sewed pockets onto his night shirt.

I watched Bug pull the shirt over his head with the tennis balls already in the pockets. As the tennis balls reached chest level I just about died laughing. There was my twelve-year-old boy with tennis ball breasts. Of course he didn’t leave them there long, but it was just long enough to give his mom a good giggle’s worth.

Now we’ll just have to see if those tennis balls help him stop sleeping on his stomach.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Goodbye Grandma Glenna . . .

Saturday, July 8th at 8:20 A.M. my Grandma Glenna took her last breath. Her death was a welcome release from the last few weeks of suffering. She was 97 years old, and until 22 days ago had lived in her home on her own.

By the world's standards Grandma's life didn't amount to much. She dropped out of school after 8th grade due to a hearing problem and being needed on the family farm. She never learned to drive a car. Didn't have a career. She mostly stayed home caring for her children. She had seven. One died as an infant.

But mere facts, as ever, don’t tell the whole story. And as much as I’d like to capture the essence of who Grandma was, I’ll probably fail. Ninety-seven years of a life well-lived is hard to encapsulate in just a few paragraphs.

So instead, I’d like to tell you why I love Grandma. For starters, she’s an optimist. Whenever I’d visit Grandma, she’s invariably laugh in recounting her latest struggles with advancing age. Why even this spring she decided that you’re never too old to be a missionary and she began taking Books of Mormon to the neighbors on her block.

Grandma was an open book. Literally. She allowed my Uncle Mark to type up her journals and have copies made during her lifetime. She wasn’t shy about sharing the stories of her young adulthood, marriage, and early years of motherhood. And they weren’t easy. I was especially touched as she wrote of her experience of losing baby Joan (pronounced Joe-anne). Below are some excerpts from the journal of my grandmother.

November 1936
I am going to try keeping a diary. I have a desire to do this – for several reasons: to give vent to my feelings, hoping to improve myself and to leave a record.

My husband Clarence, myself, our two children (Jenay and Marilyn), his parents, and brother Rulon and wife arrived. Where? Lemhi, Idaho – 30 miles from Salmon – Salmon being around 300 miles from Logan. Clarence and his father drove the truck with the belongings of all. Rulon drove his sedan with all the women folk. When we arrived it was late and toward evening. There was no heat, as the stove or kitchen range had not been set up. And for that reason there was no warm meal waiting. We were cold; I worried about the children. Jenay was just 2 years old and Marily was 37 days old. We got through the night somehow. We practically lived in the kitchen–about a 9x12 room–as this was the only room that we could afford to heat

(Moved from Salmon, Idaho to Darby, Montana)

July 21, 1938
Tomorrow baby, Mark, will be 6 months old. How he has grown. He is so sweet and beginning to notice things.

I think we are certainly blessed this year with so many good rains, the neighbors here in Darby, (Montana) are saying it must be because of the Mormons coming here. Here’s hoping we can succeed in well doing.

January 10, 1939
Christmas has come and gone. We had fun playing Santa Claus to the children. Jenay got a doll and dishes and go-cart. Marilyn a doll, cradle and broom. Mark some tinker toys.

February 16, 1939
I feel miserable – bet I am pregnant.

September 10, 1939 – Sunday
Today I stayed home from church for the first time in months. Only five more weeks until the baby comes. I get tired so easily – my back and leg pains me awful some days. My fruit is all up. I can’t have more than 150 quarts. Fruit is so high, apples will have to do. We’ve had very few tomatoes and none to can. My garden froze just before corn and tomatoes came on. I put up 30 quarts of beans and about that many peas.

The men are about through harvesting. I’m about tired of cooking for men.
War has started in Europe.

November 19
The baby turned 3 weeks old yesterday. . . . She is a cute little thing, and favors Jenay. The nurse said she was the cutest baby in the hospital. We will name her Joan.

January 4, 1940
What a lot has happened since I last wrote last – one of the saddest events of my life. Our sweet baby died. Monday, December 11, 1939 I picked her up that morning thinking she was asleep. I tried to wake her before I realized she would wake no more in this life. The shock was awful. I yelled for Clarence who was outside a block or so. All my friends came soon after to console me.

The doctor said the glands of her throat were swollen. We took her to Lemhi that night and went on to Logan the next day. The funeral was in my sister Vera’s house. Many relatives came. She is now resting in the Logan Cemetery.
I’ve missed the baby so much since coming home. It’s hard to content myself. I have such a longing to see her again. I love my family and hope I may live worthy to have my baby in the next life and . . . that I may have more.

Had to give up the farm in Darby, Montana – over a year later

May 4, 1941
There are several things I would like to accomplish in this life besides rearing a good family. And that is to do research work and temple work for my dead ancestors; also for Clarence and I to go on a mission and that I might become a better piano player and singer. Can we do it? Yes, if we are determined.
(End of excerpts)

I can’t help but think that today Grandma will be having a happy reunion with her husband and infant daughter. Really, I think that Grandma accomplished every goal that she set. She was a humble and determined woman!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Why Colleen Wants to Get Her Roosters Drunk

This morning marked the first outing of W.H.O.A. -- Woman Having Outdoor Adventures. We hiked the Limber Pine Trail which is just over the summit of Logan Canyon.

Along the trail Colleen and I started exchanging chicken stories. She mentioned that they have four hens and four roosters, but that she was ready to get rid of three of the roosters. But in order to do that, she wanted to get them drunk first.

"Drunk?" I asked.

"Drunk!" she said.

Apparently Colleen has been reading about yard care at, and he advocated using beer on your lawn. And dishsoap. The dishsoap I could understand, but beer? On the lawn of a devout LDS family? I just couldn’t picture it.

Colleen helped me out. She continued to explain that she already had the beer at home.

Still a little flabbergasted, I asked, "And where do you keep the beer?"

"Oh, we have some in the garage, and some in a cupboard," she said. "But the really interesting part was shopping for it at the store. I took Preston, my fifteen-year-old son. Once we had the beer in our shopping cart every time we’d pass someone he’d say extra loudly, ‘Now what are we going to use the beer for again?’"

We had to stop hiking, we were all laughing so hard.

"And why was it you’re planning to get the roosters drunk before doing them in?" I wanted to know.

"I want tender chicken, so I figured if I got the roosters drunk first they’d be nice and relaxed. Maybe it will help the meat to be more tender."

Well, I never!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Eating Like Ethiopians . . .

Happy days are here again!

It's the first of the month, and that means I've got a whole month's budget to spend!

We way overspent in May and as a consequence, I thought it would be a good idea to put the brakes on our spending. So our family has been scrimping lately and eating our food storage -- even powdered milk -- as a lesson in money management. Bug has said that we've been eating "like Ethiopians." But as of today, it's over!


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Why I want to go to space . . .

A week ago I attended the state PTA convention in Provo. (I’m going to be on the district PTA council over family life and education in the secondary schools.) I didn’t expect much going into the experience, but I came away enthused.

Probably the best speaker I heard was former Senator Jake Garn. He spoke to the combined session that kick-started the conference. And he was great! He not only motivates, but does so with a down-to-earth approach. Plus he’s funny!

He spoke about his experiences as an astronaut aboard the Challenger space shuttle. Jake Garn told how he is still an avid runner with a resting heart rate around 48 beats per minute. He also explained how he conducted several medical tests upon himself while in space -- one being a heart rate monitor that he wore constantly. Anyway, he recalled how frustrating it was to wait hour upon hour as the shuttle launch was delayed. Finally when the final countdown began, when the engines began to rumble, when he realized that he was strapped down to over a million pounds of thrust and it was really happening, he looked down at his heart rate monitor and saw that his heart rate was 127 beats per minute. Which proves, he said, that you can be flat on your back doing absolutely nothing and still have an aerobic workout!

Jake Garn also went into detail about the beauties of space. He told of traveling at 17,500 miles per hour in orbit around the earth, so fast that in every 24 hour period the sun rose and set 16 times, each a breath-taking experience.

As much as I’d like to see and experience the wonders and beauty of space, I have another reason I’m yearning to leave the earth’s atmosphere – I want to experience weightlessness!

Just imagine weighing absolutely nothing! Someone could ask you what you weigh, and you’d reply, "Zero pounds." And everyone would weigh the same. There would be no niggling thoughts about losing that last five pounds or even the first five pounds. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty appealing to me!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Making the World a Better Place -- One Fridge at a Time

Some days I wonder if my life will have meaning after I'm gone. Will it have added up to something commendable, worthwhile, interesting at least?

And then on other days I clean my fridge and know that my efforts are not all for naught. The little things really do matter.

How, you ask, can cleaning the fridge give life greater meaning? Easy. I let it remind me that I have a life.

For starters, my fridge hasn’t been cleaned since we moved into our home in February of 2004. Sure, I did clean up the strawberry topping that leaked from the cake for Lou Bellle’s after-baptism lunch. And I have wiped up seepage from defrosting chicken, spilt milk, and stray catsup. I can’t say, however, that my fridge was clean, exactly.

As I emptied its contents onto the kitchen counter, I recalled the other tasks that had kept me occupied – that had kept me from cleaning the fridge sooner. Here is a partial list: planning a yard, consulting on sprinkler placement, being my girls’s soccer coach, preparing Sunday school lessons, doing laundry, playing basketball, shopping, cooking, working as a second grade reading aide, walking with friends, walking without friends, hiking in the mountains, vacationing at Disneyland, keeping a journal, visiting grandmas, riding my bike, even filling water balloons.

I’d say that my priorities are just about right. Cleaning the fridge isn’t more important than living.

Even the contents of my fridge tell a tale. For one thing, there’s not a lot in there. As my brother, Drew, once said, "Wow, your fridge is . . . er . . . bright!" The reason – we have a 12-year-old boy. He’s a bottomless pit! Keeping him fed has become more challenging of late. Here it is barely past the middle of the month, and I’ve already way overspent our food budget! I think we’ll be testing the contents of our year’s supply this month. Sigh.

And finally, isn’t the outside of a fridge more important than the inside anyway? School lunch menus, shopping lists, children’s artwork, photos of cousins, clipped comics, even a magnet listing the number for poison control. (Do you think my husband was trying to tell me something when he posted the magnet on the fridge?)

All in all, cleaning the fridge helped me see the bigger picture. Certainly is feels good to look inside the gleaming fridge, but contemplating what goes on outside the fridge feels even better. The little things I seem to spend so much time on really do matter. Life, my life, makes a difference.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Living on Belly Acre Farm . . .

Why do I call my blog "Belly Acre Farm?" Simple. Because we have just over an acre of land, and we’re raising children. And kids, like most everyone else, often bellyache. Hey, I even bellyache.

As of today Hubby has planted 18 fruit trees: 2 cherry, 2 pear, 2 apricot, 1 Italian prune, 1 nectarine, 2 peach, and 8 apple. Most were small bare root trees we planted last year, so it will still be a couple more years until we get much fruit.

In addition to our orchard, we also have a large pasture that will someday feature a young steer. Last year we had chickens. This year we have a dog, Zeke, who uses the old chicken coop for his house. We also have a neutered cat, Oreo.

Within a half block radius of us, we have three neighbors with chickens. And I’m sure that someday we’ll return to raising chickens. (As soon as the kids forget that part of the deal is eating them after they’ve laid eggs for two years.)

Oh, and the biggest thing that causes farm-related bellyaching around our "farm" is our huge garden! Hubby has planted three rows of raspberries. (Each row is approximately 65 feet long.) He also has plans for strawberries, corn, squash, pumpkins, peanuts, peas, tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Also, each of our children has a small part of the garden that they get to select seeds for, plant, weed and care for. The hope is that my the time our county fair rolls around they’ll have something to enter.

School will be out in about two weeks, and then the kids will have something new to bellyache about – "Mom, I’m bored!"

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I am me, you be you

In today’s entry I’m trying to capture a bit of what makes me me. For instance, there is something in my personality that is driven to share – to connect with others – to help others feel better about themselves.

So much of myself is my thoughts. They are who I am, what I am, and I enjoy, even need, to spend time sharing them with others. I thrive on feedback – on finding some topic that resonates with others.

In this blog and in my life my message is: Don’t try to be like me. Don’t try to be like anyone else either. Be yourself. Find out what you are about – what floats your boat. Part of that process includes spiritual introspection. The Lord sees you as you are and as you can become. Ask him to let you see a glimpse of yourself as He sees you. I feel the most fulfilled when I know that I’m about my Father’s business. And believe me, it’s not all drudgery.

For instance, I have a habit of striking up conversations with people in checkout lines. I may not share the Good News of the gospel, but I try to brighten their day, make them smile, or simply make them grateful that they aren’t looney.

Just today I was shopping with my friend Linda. We were at Sam’s Club, and I saw a woman working a demo for soap and some other personal hygiene item (couldn’t quite tell what it was.) I said to Linda, "That’s got to be challenging to demo soap. Do you walk up to a man and say, ‘Excuse me, but you really need this soap’? If it was me, I’d be tempted to use some in the shower at home and come to work the next day and say, ‘Ma’am, which armpit scent do you prefer? Tropical Mist or Spring Clean?" Or, I’d use the soap on one armpit, and nothing on the other. I could ask customers, "Notice how this armpit smells nice and clean, but this one, on the other hand . . ."

Linda laughed as I raised my arm to expose the pit. She was, however, surprised when I gave the same pitch to the young man behind the check register. Fortunately he had a good sense of humor.

That’s me – making people laugh in the checkout line. It’s part of the way that I spread joy. Or nuttiness, or whatever. But I think people appreciate a little levity every once in a while, and I’m happy to provide it.

I, like you, defy categorization. I am more than the sum of my parts. I love chickens. I yearn to return to Japan to visit my host family. I speak fluent pig-latin and even put it under "language" on a job application once. (I got the job.) I love my pickup truck. My musical tastes run the gambit from opera and classical to country and rock. I’ve probably strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel at least a couple of times.

You get the picture.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

To do! To do! To do!

I moved my Nordic Track ski machine out onto the back patio this morning. I must say that exercising outside certainly was refreshing!

We’re making progress towards having the basement finished. Hubby has been diligently working on pulling electrical wires. The brick mason came on Monday and extended the brick area for the wood burning stove. The plumbers have finished the rough plumbing. And I still need to get a hold of Jose Franco about bidding on the dry wall. To do, to do, to do!

I’ve completed chapter one of my manuscript that I’ll be submitting to Deseret Book. It’s a compilation of 40 or so of my best "From the Trenches" parenting columns. I have high hopes that they’ll like it and want to publish it.

In weight loss news, I’ve lost just over 20 lbs. in twelve weeks. I feel fantastic. I tried on a pair of jeans this morning that were way too baggy. I guess it’s time to sort through my clothes and give away the baggy stuff. (I’m hoping that if I give it away it will be extra motivation to maintain my weight loss.) I’m also feeling optimistic about losing the 30 additional pounds that remain.

Must get to work!

Monday, May 08, 2006

I'm Not Your Slave, I'm your Mother

From the Trenches
I'm Not Your Slave

During the course of the day I assume many different roles: Laurie Laundress, Clara Cook, Ella Entertainer, Betty Book-Reader, even Nellie Nag. On one particularly trying morning, I seemed to be Polly Put-it-away more than usual. After depositing my son's pajamas in his drawer one too many days in a row, I turned to him and said, "You need to put your own pajamas away. I'm not your slave!"

"What's a slave?" he asked. "A slave," I explained, "is someone who has to work but doesn't get paid for it." This simplistic answer seemed to satisfy his curiosity while summing up my own feelings.

The rest of the morning I worked like a slave--or at least I felt like one. I cleared off the breakfast table and grumbled. I loaded the dishwasher, wiped the counters, and swept the floor. Even while dressing my daughter and changing her diaper I remained mopey. I think the only thing I took pleasure in that morning was my shower. And that was interrupted half-way through by both kids pounding on the bathroom door. They were thirsty.

After putting my daughter down for her afternoon nap and quietly slipping out of her room, I turned around. There in the hall was my son, holding a handful of coins, pennies mostly, that he'd collected from his grandparents. "Here," he said, giving them to me. "Now you're not a slave."

I thought about it for a minute and decided he was right. For a total of 13 cents, he bought my freedom.

Reviewing the morning's activities, I realized that my feelings of self-pity had affected more than just my attitude. By considering myself a slave, I had unwittingly cast my children as the loathsome taskmasters. How much of my resentment for my work-load had been carried over to them? Not much, I hope.

So now that I'm emancipated, how do I go about my day? Reality is that I still have all of the same jobs to do. How do I keep from feeling like a slave?

For starters, I've begun think of myself as a volunteer. Together with my husband, I made a conscious decision to have a family. You could say that I volunteered to be a mother. On days when motherhood is a bit more than I bargained for, I find it helpful to remind myself that I chose this lifestyle.

Another way to feel liberated hinges upon service. Who has the time to ladle soup at the local soup kitchen? We all do. Only we have to stop thinking of the soup kitchen in strictly traditional terms. Why not think of it as our own homes? The very things that can make us feel like a slave--doing laundry, cleaning toilets, picking up toys--when viewed from another perspective, can be acts of service.

Of course now that I'm beginning to get the hang of home-based volunteerism, my son has other ideas for me. Just the other night as I was sorting the last pair of socks, he approached, more coins in hand. "Take these," he urged. Once I was holding them he said, "Now come with me. I need help picking up my room."