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.