Sunday, April 29, 2007

Patience Report #5: Soccer Game Blow-up

Did you wonder if I’d given up on my personal patience plan? I must say that the idea is often tempting. Especially when I’m coaching my daughter’s soccer team. Take yesterday for example. We played a game in Logan at 2 o’clock. It started out fine, but between the sun beating down and the coach of the other team, I guess you could say that I got a little overheated.

Mr. Coach’s two older kids had refereed the previous game at the field, and a couple of the referees for our game were their friends. No problem. The problem was that the referee on the side of the field where they were and where I sat was a new ref. This was only the second game he’d reffed, and Mr. Coach and his children seemed to constantly question his calls and even went to far as to tell him what to call.

Now, I know that many fans at sporting events like to tell officials how to call the game, but in this case, the poor ref caved-in to their tactics. Mr. Coach asked if the ref was going to call off-sides on an indirect kick. The young referee looked baffled and after Mr. Coach told him that you can’t call off-sides from an indirect kick, the referee said he wouldn’t call off-sides. Mr. Coach then yells at all his girls to head toward the goal – even though the kick is from mid-field.

I couldn’t stand by and let Mr. Coach misinform our ref, so I said, “You’re kidding, right? Stop coaching the ref and just coach your girls. And don’t play dumb. Of course he’s going to call off-sides.”

If that were all I’d said to the other coach I wouldn’t be writing this patience report. No, as he continued to coach the ref, I asked him again to please stop coaching the ref. My tone of voice wasn’t nice. I was disgusted. In fact, you could say that he brought out the mother bear in me. Here are my girls running their guts out in the hot sun, really playing with heart, and the other team’s coach is getting the ref to make calls totally in his favor that aren’t even correct. I felt it was unfair to my players.

What really sent me over the edge was when one of Mr. Coach’s players kicked a ball off our goal post and it rolled in front of the goal line. (My own daughter was the goalie. That might have had something to do with my reaction.) Mr. Coach and his off-duty referee kids immediately began yelling at the ref that it should have been a goal. I became flabbergasted when play stopped and it looked like the refs might actually reconsider their original call of “no goal.” I was livid. “Just
SHUT UP!” I yelled. “It’s not your call. Quit telling the refs what to do.”

While I directed my comments to Mr. Coach, both his kids and the parents of his players responded to my anger. Let me just say that it was a very hostile environment. I tried to explain my frustration at having calls changed because the coach was telling the ref what to do, but no one from the other team seemed to care. They just looked at me like I was going postal.

I heard one woman say, “You’ve really got a temper problem, but at least you don’t take it out on your girls.”


I left the game feeling awful. To some extent I was uncomfortable with the reaction my comments had stirred, but mostly I was disappointed in myself for having lost my cool. Really, if I had been coaching from the other side of the field, would I have said those things? Did what I say change the outcome of the game? And what kind of an example was I setting for the eleven- and twelve-year-old girls that I coach? Let me just say that I went home riding a roller coaster of emotions.

Once home, the big item on my to-do list was prepare my gospel doctrine Sunday school lesson. Great. Nothing like losing your temper to set the right tone for teaching a lesson about the life of the Savior. I gave myself a little time, took a shower, called a friend, and eventually sat down to organize a teaching outline for Sunday’s lesson. The words of the scriptures began to soften my heart, began to even out my emotions. I read in John 8:12, “. . . I am the light of the world: he
that followeth me shall not walk in darkness . . .” and my outlook brightened.

Fast forward to this morning. I’m getting ready for church. Thinking about the lesson that I’ll give. Still bothered by my actions from the soccer game. Remembering my plan to practice patience this year and conceding another failed attempt. I acknowledge that I have yet another wrong to repent of.

There was a part of me that wanted to be right. Wanted vindication. Did I really feel sorry for my outburst? Was I truly repentant? I decided that I was, and as I thought about taking the sacrament in a little over an hour I realized that repentance involves more than just feeling sorry. I also needed to make restitution. The thought came that I ought to call Mr. Coach and apologize.

I can’t say that once I hit upon the idea of calling to apologize that I felt better. If anything, I felt worse. It reminded me of the time from my childhood that I’d taken candy bars out of the neighbors freezer and then had to go and confess my deed and pay them back for the candy bar. Standing on their front porch made my stomach churn, and reaching out to push the doorbell scared me to death. When their mom answered the door I thought I’d die of embarrassment. But somehow I got my confession out and paid my quarter.

This morning was no different from when I was four years old. My stomach felt unsettled as I searched through the papers of my soccer folder to find Mr. Coach’s number. I dialed it and wondered if he’d even be home, almost hoped that he wouldn’t be. He was, and when I had him on the line I felt dumb and a bit nervous.

I came straight to the point. “Hi, this is the coach from the team you played yesterday. I just wanted to call and apologize for my behavior. I’m really sorry.”

The man was very nice. He even tried to make me feel better by saying that competition can bring out the worst in anyone. I assured him that when we met again I’d do better. He said that he would too.

The experience was so positive that I used it to end my Sunday school lesson. We’d just spent class talking about Christ being the light of the world. We’d read where he’d said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . . . Verily, verily I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. . . . If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:32, 34, 36)

I can honestly say that after making that phone call this morning, I felt lighter. It was as if a weight had been removed. I no longer was plagued with dark thoughts of doubt about whether I’d been in the right. I wasn’t weighed down by regret. I felt free!

I’m grateful for the process of repentance and the miracle of Christ’s atonement. Because of it I can use Saturday’s loss of patience as a learning experience. I can remember how I felt before repenting and contrast that to the light and freedom I felt afterwards. I’m sure I’ll still struggle with patience, but through Christ I can repent and eventually overcome my weakness.

Stay tuned. It may take a while.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Annie Investigates -- The Cow Who Thought She was a Dog

Welcome to the first installment of Annie Investigates – a series of entries by my puppy Annie. As a puppy, she is curious about everything. To help focus her investigative instinct, I’ve given her the assignment to look into strange stories and tell us whether they are true or not.

Annie’s first assignment -- verify whether or not a cow from Manti, Utah really thought she was a dog.

Annie’s Report

Rumors, like gossip, spread like wildfire. By the time I heard the story about the cow who thought she was a dog, it came through my boss, who heard it from her husband, who heard it from his neighbor who claims that the said cow belonged to his aunt and uncle. As Manti, Utah is a bit far for a puppy to roam, I decided to start with the neighbor. See what he could recall about his aunt and uncle’s strange cow.

I found Mr. C to be very cooperative during my interview. Turns out that he actually met the cow in question. Later in the cow’s life Mr. C’s family purchased her and converted her from a dog-cow to a milk-cow. But that’s the end of this story. Using Mr. C as my eye witness, let’s start at the beginning.

Dan and Susan ran a small farm in Manti, Utah. Their milk cow gave birth to a female Holstein calf which they named Taffy. Because their farm was small and isolated, Taffy was given more freedom then most calves. In fact, Dan and Susan’s German Shepherd, Sadie, adopted Taffy as her own offspring. Details are sketchy, but it would seem that Taffy the cow imprinted on Sadie the dog, and thus began her life’s adventure.

For starters, Sadie the dog slept on the front porch. Naturally, Taffy did as Sadie did and took up occupancy on the front porch. A small calf sleeping on the front porch with the dog is no big deal, but a full grown Holstein sleeping on the front porch with the dog is, well . . . a really BIG deal! Using the front door soon became a hassle, but Dan and Susan’s family slept soundly at night knowing they were protected by one German Shepherd and one very large Holstein.

Mowing the lawn soon became all but impossible. No one, it seems, wanted to pick up the dog doodle and cow pies before mowing, and mowing over them was strictly out of the question!

Mr. C says that the most disturbing habit Taffy picked up from Sadie was chasing cars. As Mr. C told me about this, his eyes gleamed with mischief. “Well,” he said, “my aunt and uncle lived a ways out of town. Some people who drove past were probably lost, and you can imagine their surprise to look in their rearview mirror and see not only a large German Shepherd, but an even larger black and white cow chasing after them too. That’s when they really hit the gas!”

Apparently Taffy’s lifestyle as a dog became a bit much for her family. They eventually decided that she needed to revert back to her genetics and spend her days as a milk cow. Knowing her attachment to Sadie, however, they thought it best to sell her and separate her from her adopted mother. (You can cry a little if it will help you feel better.)

In the end, Mr. C’s family bought Taffy. Unlike their other cows, Taffy had to be kept in very secure confines. It seems she’d picked up the dog habit of swimming, so fences that stopped at the edge of a pond couldn’t keep her in. And like a dog, she sometimes tried to go under the bottom strand on barbed wire fences. Only the very best enclosures would do.

I know this tale seems hard to believe, but I’m calling it like I see it. Everything hangs on Mr. C’s testimony, and as a dog I consider myself a pretty good judge of character. I say he’s telling the truth.

There really was a cow from Manti, Utah who thought she was a dog. Case Closed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wheel Barrow Polo and Marriage Enrichment

Need some ideas on how to add a little fun to your marriage? Take a page out of Ron and Nancy’s book and gather your friends for an evening of familiar games given a crazy twist.

Ron and Nancy are our neighbors to the back. A week ago my husband and I received an invitation from them to a date night for couples. All we knew was that we needed to bring a wheel barrow and two large garbage bags. I wondered if we were getting roped into some sort of yard clean up activity. What else could we use garbage bags and a wheel barrow for?

On Friday evening, we found out. Ten couples attended and were divided into two teams. It turns out that the garbage bags were for us to wear . . . while our blind-folded spouse fed us spaghetti, salad, garlic toast and our beverage. Keep in mind that it was a race. The men fed the women first, and although we needed to use a fork, some men simply used it to push the food from the plate into their wive’s mouths. Hubby and I took a more genteel approach but managed to finish in good time. We did great until it came time for him to help me drink my cup of water. I think more went down my shirt than down my throat.

After the women had successfully fed the men their dinner, we went outdoors to use the wheel barrows. . . not for work, but for an exciting game of wheel barrow polo.

Each woman selected a whacking stick (a plastic stick with a large foam hitting area covered with a sock) and then climbed into a wheel barrow. Her husband’s job was to cart her to where the foam ball was so she could hit it into her team’s goal.

I wish that I were more technologically gifted so that I could down-load the video from our match and post it on my blog. But, alas, I’m not. You’ll just have to use your imagination. Imagine ten men pushing ten wheel barrows with a woman wielding a stick at the helm of each. Some women, like me, were seated on their rears with their legs hanging over the front of the wheel barrow. Others knelt down. I liked to swing my stick from side to side during breaks in play while trying to make light saber sound effects. Susan, on the other hand, enjoyed holding her stick straight out as if she were a knight on a charging steed.

Joe and Lisa seemed to be the fastest couple. Someone would whack the ball up-field, and off Joe would go, pushing Lisa into excellent batting position. A couple time the wheel barrows collided. Jennifer has a bruise on her upper arm from where it smacked into an opponent’s wheel barrow while she was trying to whack the ball. Turning sharply was another problem. John tipped Cristyl over. Ditto Matt and DeeAnn. The only couple immune from tipping problems was Brian and Jennifer. They were equipped with the only 2-wheeled barrow on the field.

After 20 minutes of play, most of the men started slowing down a bit. And with good reason. Running up and down the field while toting your wife in a wheel barrow is hard work! Katherine was the first woman to switch positions with her husband. (Quinn had gotten her attention by lying spread-eagle on the grass and moaning.) Soon most of the other women followed her example and began toting their husbands around the field. This, of course, slowed the game down even more, and after only five minutes or so, most of the men had resumed the carrying responsibilities.

After over 30 minutes of playing time, the game ended in a tie. (Bruce may have been a bit disappointed as he tried anything and everything to win.)

Next we played three-legged California kick ball. Not only did we have to coordinate our running, but each couple had to use the legs that were bound together to kick the ball. Kevin and Susan played as if they’d been practicing being a three-legged couple for months. Joe and Lisa, on the other hand, provided the comic relief for the evening. After kicking the ball together, he went one way and she went the other. The most spectacular move of the night went to Ron and Raquel. While they were cruising in to score, they somehow got out of sync and fell head over
tea kettle. Jennifer said it looked like a rolling ball of arms and legs. Fortunately, only their pride was hurt, and they were able to get up and complete their run before the other team could hit them with the ball.

I can’t remember the final score for the night, but that’s okay. The main thing is that we all had fun. We laughed and laughed, took a few tumbles, maybe even got a few bruises, but everyone enjoyed an evening with their sweetheart that they won’t soon forget!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Silk "Tie-dyed" Eggs

1. Purchase colorful ties at second hand store, or raid your husband’s closet for reject ties.

2. Cut ties into pieces to wrap around raw eggs.

3. Use larger pieces of cloth to tightly hold tie pieces against the eggs. Secure outside cloth with twisty tie.

4. Put eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1/4 c. vinegar. Bring eggs to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Remove pan from heat and run cold water into the pan until the water is cool. Drain eggs.

6. Remove cloth and behold . . . tie-dyed eggs!

Note: Once the eggs are dry, oil them for an extra fancy look.

Natural, Onion-dyed Eggs

The following instructions create beautifully dyed eggs. They aren’t brightly colored, but are a warm, amber color.

1. Boil dried onion skins (as many as possible) in 4 - 6 cups of water. Simmer for a couple hours and then let cool. (This step may be done days in advance. The longer the onions soak in the water, the darker your eggs will be.)

2. Use raw eggs. Be sure that they have no oil or residue on them, as it could hinder the coloring process. For fun patterns on eggs, press flowers, baby breath, ferns, etc. against egg and use pieces of nylon stocking to keep the greenery pressed tight against the egg. Tie tightly with a twisty tie.

3. Place wrapped eggs in a large saucepan. Pour in cool onion skin water to cover the eggs. (If there’s not enough onion skin water, add cold water until eggs are covered.) Add 1/4 c. vinegar.

3. Bring eggs in water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and cover, simmering for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add ice cubes to stop cooking. Let sit for 10 - 15 minutes.

4. Remove eggs from pan. Cut off nylon and remove greenery. Let eggs dry on a paper towel for 5 minutes. (Don’t rub to dry as color may rub off too.) Once they’re dry, oil the colored eggs. (I like to use a sandwich bag as a glove and pour the oil onto the bag. Then I simply rub the eggs.)

5. Result . . . Beautiful Natually Dyed Eggs!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Pharmacy Patron of the Month

I just got back from the pharmacy. I was there yesterday as well, and during yesterday’s visit I referred to myself as their patron of the month. Well, as I walked in today, they remembered and asked, “How is our patron of the month?”

I just laughed. The folks there know me by name – without looking at the computer, written prescription or my check. In fact, on Monday when I went in to pick up the re-fills I’d called in earlier, the attendant had recognized my car and had them ready for me. I go there so much they even know my car. How embarrassing.

Those of you who read this blog already know I’m nuts, but you’re not the only ones. The pharmacy employees are on to me too. For years they’ve filled my prescriptions and been privy to almost as much information as my primary care physician. I think they may know more about me than my bishop does.

Anyway, today I felt especially chatty. I was talking with the pharmacist and bemoaning the fact that my husband never gets sick and hates to take pills even for a headache. I’ve finally gotten to the point that I’ve told him, “if you haven’t taken something for your headache, you can’t complain about it.” I went on to vent about my current pharmaceutical dependency just not seeming fair.

The pharmacist said, “Well, you sure seem perky today. Are you sure you really need these pills?” (They were anti-depressants.) I assured him that unfortunately my depression is chemically based, otherwise I’d happily give up the pills. He also got the shortened version of my “if you need medication, take it” talk. I briefly explained my pet peeve of people with depression trying to do anything about it except taking medication. “You know why I take medication?” I asked him. “For my family. I’m a whole lot easier to live with when I’m on medication.” Just for
kicks I finished up with, “And besides, if I have to take medication, everyone should have to.”

The pharmacist laughed, took a phone call and another employee finished helping me with my purchase. As I was walking out I thanked them. As an afterthought I added, “And my family thanks you.”

Really, when you think about it, being able to take the medicines I do is a blessing. If I’d have lived 100 years ago with my current health challenges, not only would I likely develop diabetes, but I’d be spending my best years as a thin-haired, ornery, uptight, overweight, nagging housewife. I may not have even been able to have children. Poor Hubby. And poor me.

As it is, my family only has to put up the with nagging and occasional monthly emotional outbursts. Do they realize how lucky they are?