Crazy Me

2015 Year in Review

This morning I was reading Bill Gates’ list of Top Good News from 2015. I highly admire his habit of yearly review on a global level. What a wonderful way to practice optimism! I decided in the middle of Gates’ list that I must implement this practice in my own life. I found this cool science video.

Here is an additional great compilation of many random acts  of kidness that occured this year. I sit and cry my eyes out every time I watch something like this. I’m such a sucker for humanity!!!

I would like to compile my own list. It’s been a good year.

Here is my list of the Top Ten 2015 Gold family triumphs.

  1. The family has been extremely supportive as I started back to school by babysitting Max, and the man has actually been making dinners sometimes. Woo-hoo. I might have to stay in school forever. Even better than the dinners is the fact that LG is a great paper editor. Thank you to the University of TN School of Law.
  2. We actually took two vacations that required a little planning. We went to Northern CA for spring break and Vernal UT over the summer. This is a really big deal for us fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants people.
  3. We made the temple a greater priority. We’ve done a lot of family history research, attended an open house, went to a temple out-of-state, and tried to attend every week taking our girls with us every other time. Being in the house of God more often has really increased the peace we feel in our lives.
  4. We implemented monthly (okay bi-monthly) interviews with our kids to help them work on their emotional well-being, and have all benefitted from working on and being accountable to one another on common goals.
  5. The kids are always progressing: Abigail started driving, dating, and earning her own paycheck. Yay for first jobs! Even though she got a 27 on her ACT as a sophomore she thinks hair school sounds way more exciting than college. Sophia picked up the viola and is so excited to finally be old enough to volunteer at the local library. She and Bella have been enjoying their creative writing class at school. They have very different writing styles, but are both talented. Bella started volleyball, middle school, and volunteering at an elementary school. Caroline and Bella started and stopped dance deciding they didn’t like it all that much. Caroline started Chinese. She wasn’t very happy with her indoor soccer experience this year. Her coach was a former pro-player from South America and she only got to touch the ball maybe a total of 5 times in two months because all the hispanic kids were ballhogs. Ha ha. Lucky we have outdoor again in the spring. She also wants to start tumbling. Everyone is getting great grades, and they all like to mess around on the ukelele.
  6. Max gets a line of his own. He has blessed our family so much giving us a joint interest and a unified undertaking. In 2015, he learned how to sit up, crawl, walk, and tackle: breaking my rib when snatching my legs out from under me in the shower. He can say mama, dada, bye (pronounce Buhye like a southerner), thank-you, what’s that?, I…..love…..you, uh-oh,nuh-uh while shaking his head no, Bella, eee-uh (for Sophia), doggie, woof-woof, and Jesus. He always makes monkey sounds when he gets his diaper changed because there is a monkey on the front of each Luvs diaper. Everything else he wants to communicate just comes out in screams. (We’re working on it.) He loves gogurt, goldfish, and applesauce, balls, throwing everything, conducting music, his pacifier, dragging blankies everywhere, dinosaurs, dancing, dogs, playing matching games on the ipad, and saying “woooh” at anything exciting or new, especially the snow. When I just asked Bella what Max loves to eat she answered, “Uh, everything.” Yes, this boy is a chunkers. The cutest chunkers ever. Over the summer the pediatrician had his blood drawn because he thought he may have thyroid issues  because he was so fat. He was normal, and has since leveled out just a tad – like 100th percentile instead of 110.
  7. We’re still married. I know that sounds negative, but it is a big accomplishment. We’ve been learning a lot with the same marriage counselor for three years.  However, it seems like we still have a long ways to go. Yet, we’ve found that there is nothing more satistfying than learning and growing together, even if we wish we didn’t have the need for it.
  8. We finally got an outdoor grill after Abigail claimed it for us when her bestie’s family was getting rid of it. We also got a new washer, dryer, and kitchen mixer. The mixer was a gift, and I couldn’t help but cry when I received it. It is a Bosch that I have coveted for a long time, and would have never been able to afford. What a blessing it was after my KitchenAid died. I cook so much for this family that I probably use my mixer 4 out of 7 days of the week. LG is still waiting for the TV fairy to show up and replace his 55″ plasma, but it looks like he might be waiting a long time. LG’s 2.5 year-old dream TV mysteriously quit working until we later found Max hitting it with a remote in the very spot where it initially blacked out. Did I mention that it doesn’t seem worth investing in anything nice when you have 5 kids?
  9. Three of my girls went to girls camp this year. It was a large source of sadness for me that I’ve never been invited to go along or serve in Young Women’s.  I am sure I won’t be this year either (which will be Abigail’s last), but after a lot of prayer and pondering I decided that I wasn’t just being discriminated against by more righteous Utahns, but I could trust in God and let it go. Trusting God is a reoccuring life-lesson for me. If He would just give me what I want!!! Nonetheless, it’s not my will, but His. So besides camping with my family, I joined a wilderness writing class and went camping with a bunch of X-Mormons and homosexuals. Maybe that is what God wanted for me all along? It still would have been more fun to be with my daughters, but I will forever cherish my new school friends. I’m  not gonna lie though, when my daughters told me that they thought camp would be more fun with me there it made it all okay.
  10. Abigail told LG and I that we need to be more affectionate. We’ve been having all kinds of fun with that!

family christmas 2015

And after working all week on my list of 2015 this morning I watched  this video that is all about not looking back, and I’m wondered if compiling this list of 2015 is actually a bad thing. Dang Bill Gates, you  steered me wrong!! lol Oh well, here is to an even better 2016!

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Lessons from the trail: that dude on the bike

Fotor_144077863385631I’m walking down the trail yesterday with my baby in a stroller and my dog darting about.  My trail is asphalt, but there is a great surrounding riparian area where my dog loves to explore. She chases birds, sniffs for treasures, drinks from puddles. I imagine her trail-time is much like mine: she feels free and at ease with her instincts.

So, at one point this cyclist comes roaring around a curve, and almost runs over my dog. Not really slowing down, the cyclist shouted at me over his shoulder: “Please keep your dog on a leash so she won’t run in front of the bikers.”

What he had no way of knowing is that like the guy suggested and the law commands, I used to keep my dog on the leash.  However, I found that the outstretched leash was a big problem for the cyclists. They would have to come to a complete stop behind oblivious me in my headphones, my wide stroller, the leash of death off to my left, and my dog trying to sniff the other side of the trail.

So, over a period of about three years I’ve learned to just let the dog run, and hope for the best. Whenever there is another dog approaching I quickly apply the leash.  Lately though I’ve been searching for the right solution as there are a lot more cyclists during the earlier time that I’ve been using the trail. Sometimes Olive has obliviously jet out in front of them and I realize that’s a problem.

For the rest of my walk, I was considering this cyclist. I started out angry with the overpowering thought of, “how dare he?” “What makes him think he’s the king of the trail?” I silently deliberated on how aggressive he would have been had my dog been on a leash and he didn’t just have to slow down but stop altogether. I thought about all who share the trail and wondered if in ignorance I hadn’t been being considerate enough. Eventually my heart softened and I allowed the idea that perhaps I was the arrogant one and he was right to reprimand me.

Fast forward 6 hours to my daughter’s high-school soccer game.  The opposing school’s soccer field is less than ideally situated. The sun blares down on it and on one whole sideline there is nowhere for spectators to sit at all.  The school always posts signage telling the opposing team to sit west of the 50 in hot and sunny and the home team to sit east of the 50 where it is partially shaded. However above the sideline up a small hill is an adjacent park almost totally shaded by towering trees. Having hauled four of my children, a picnic dinner, and five camping chairs from the distant parking lot, and worrying over the baby getting too much sun exposure, we situated ourselves in the shade of the park. We expected to be there for two whole games (about four hours) as my daughter is rostered on Varsity but usually only plays on JV. Technically we were over the line in the opposing side’s territory, but we were so far back I hardly thought it mattered.

Fast forward to fifteen minutes into the second half of the varsity game. My friend Jen had showed up just after I did and was sitting next to me with her kids. West of her about 5 feet was an elderly gentleman in his chair. At some point, a gentlemen stood talking to friends directly in front of the elderly man at a coupling of chairs closer to the field at the top of the hill. The elderly man kindly raised his voice, “Down in front, sir.”  The dude turned around and glared at the man and then turned back to the game. The elderly man did not relent. Again, “Down in front, sir.” At this point the man turned around and with the angriest face and beaming eyes said, “I’m having a conversation.” The old man: “I’m trying to watch the game.” The ball-capped late-40 angry dude:  “Well, why can’t you stand?” The old dude:  “Because I am sitting.”  The ball cap man was ticked off and seemed to think that the old guy was being completely unreasonable. He failed to see the “share the trail” mentality.

In defense of the old man, twice I said loud enough for the man to hear, “It’s just soccer etiquette, sir.”  It didn’t take long for him to turn on me. He walked in my direction and screamed, “Why do you think you have anything to say to me?” If you know me, you know I rarely back down. I said, “Because you were just really rude to this man, and I was defending him in the soccer etiquette.” Boy, did that make him even more mad. He still kept coming at me physically and vocally. “You want to talk about soccer etiquette, do you? What team are you from?” I honestly answered the name splattered across my t-shirt. He said, “You aren’t even supposed to be sitting here.” I silently realized four things: 1- This guy liked to deflect his bad behavior on to others 2- he was probably the one who always posted the less-than-inviting signs, 3- he was in a foul mood because our team was spanking his, and 4- there was a reason his team played so physically and aggressive.

Unsettled that my husband wasn’t there to gently lay his magic hand of mouth-control on my forearm, I quickly mulled over my options. One of which was him baling me out of jail at a later time. Lucky for my husband, I had small children to tend to and didn’t completely trust myself, so I knew I needed to stop him from coming at me. Loudly I declared, “Listen sir, I am crazy. Certifiably crazy. Papers and medication and everything. You really don’t want to mess with me. I am probably the last person here you want to pick a fight with.” He instantly retreated from me as if I would whip out a gun at any second and subsequently was finally out of the view of the old man. My friend Jen busted a gut. I busted a gut. The old man looked satisfied. Although with a lot less confidence, the mean guy was still mouthing off from a distance, I shut him out by suggesting that maybe he should get some medication too. We never heard any more from him.

Jen said, “What kind of man treats an old man and two mothers like that?” I answer her here, “the kind that thinks he doesn’t have to share the trail.”

The old guy turned to us and said, I’m actually here to watch his team, but I wasn’t about to say it.”

A Writer’s World

I had to write an emergence myth for my Wilderness Writing class. I’ve struggled with it all semester. My professor is all about the process of writing, so he doesn’t just take our assignments, grade them, and hand them back. He gives feedback, workshops, and hopes for his students to grow and evolve. As a black/white enthusiast this has been beyond difficult for me. The class is finished in two weeks and I have not even a hint at my earned grade. I’ve had to work on multiple projects at once. I’ve hit a lot of walls. I’ve vacillated between utter despair and overpowering revelation. This was the perfect class to initiate me back to school. I’m glad I stuck with it.

Here is my Emergence Myth, A Writer’s World. This emerged after five weeks of inner turmoil. I’m proud of it. It is the most personally powerful piece I have ever written. I hope it will be followed by many more that are nothing like it.

Her name was Nobody. All she wanted was to be a Somebody. Somebodies were better. Somebodies were happier. Somebodies were successful. So, she signed up for Somebody school. She left her stifling dreary brown Nobody world without looking back and happily entered the newest Somebody classroom with glass walls. Holding a pen and paper in her hand, surrounded by Somebodies and other people learning to be Somebodies, she felt happier. She thought only of Somebody ways. She tried to learn their words. She studied their beliefs. She liked the Somebodies. And they liked her. But when she went to sleep at night staring at the books in her lap, she felt like she was living a lie. She didn’t know how to write Somebody stories, even though that is all she ever wanted to do. So she read all of the great Somebody myths. She pondered Somebody tradition and she tried harder to copy the Somebodies. But everything felt like it was wrong.

Nobody was persistent and brave. She would not give up without a fight. She stopped talking as much and started to listen. She found better tools and used them to build new ideas. After a lot of hard work she surprised herself when she started questioning the ways of Somebodies. She couldn’t believe that along the journey she was somehow convinced that Somebodies weren’t always right. What happened to that Nobody girl that worshipped all the Somebodies? She had changed her own mind. Somebodies didn’t do it. She did it. She realized that Nobodies could be good and happy and successful too. In fact, the only difference between Nobodies and Somebodies was their names. She didn’t need to be a Somebody any more. She could be a Nobody. That was perfectly acceptable. She felt liberated.

She started to think about going back to Nobody world until she had a rude awakening. The only reason she believed Nobodies were good now was because Somebodies had taught her so. Now what? She was still a Nobody, but was also a Somebody. Where would she fit in? The answer wasn’t with the Somebodies. Desperate, she allowed herself to look through the glass walls back out to Nobody world. Mountains had emerged. The skies were every color of the rainbow with clouds of all shapes and sizes. The vegetation was magnificently varied. The animals seemed to holler at her to tell their story. Nobodies never saw those things. She was no longer a Nobody.

She decide she had to stay at Somebody school, even if she didn’t want to give up her Nobody parts. She didn’t know what she would become. Maybe she should just be a writer? Maybe she could tell Somebody stories and Nobody stories? Maybe the best stories would be about Somebody and Nobody together? She looked at her paper, her new world was in it. It was totally blank, but she was not scared. She started to fill it, one letter at a time. She made Nobody words. She made Somebody sentences. She changed them all around and rearranged voraciously. Over and over and over again. She deleted some and added some others. The paper took the form of a glass building surrounded by a bounteous earth. Sometimes there was a Somebody inside, sometimes a Nobody outside, but neither would ever be confined again. Her new world was in the paper and it would be whatever she imagined.

Who knew her homework would by my payday?

imageHours upon hours I’ve spent hovering over my children making sure they were getting their homework done. I never dreamed this duty of mine would eventually pay off in a big old payday of personal validation.

But it did.

Before Christmas break Abigail wrote her 49 page autobiography for her 10th grade Honors history class. She did a bang up job.

We won’t mention how her dad had to take her to work at 4:30 a.m. to print it the morning it was due. Two hours later he then took an emergency trip to FedEx Office to get it bound. – dang ADHD! I was the lucky one in bed recovering from surgery. When LG got home with the finished work in hand, I was actually awake enough to read it over before Abigail took it to school to turn it in.

Reading my little girl’s grown-up account of her life was one of the most beautiful moments. The thing was jam-packed full of many of her most cherished memories. Without intending to include me, I was personally interwoven into every page. Yes, I was there for most of it. I saw her playing in the yard in TN all the time. I put away the toys all over the driveway when they just HAD to play Boxcar Children for the 55th time. I was the one who introduced her to “The Boxcar Children” in the first place! Yes, I was. (What a super proud book-loving mom moment to read that her favorite game to play as a kid was boxcar children!) I know her favorite food is lasagna and her favorite movie is “She’s the Man.” I didn’t know that her friend Courtney gifting her a stuffed sheep when she was four-years-old had meant so much to her but I am so glad that she shared about it. And, yes, I take as much pride as she does that the staff of her elementary school referred to her as Harvard Girl…even at five, she was her own little Elle Woods in the making….beautiful and smart. And, she, by some miracle of heaven belonged to little old me then and still does today.

Her teacher enjoyed the part about The Boxcar Children game too.

image

As shown above, her teacher, like me, also enjoyed the part of the paper Abigail wrote about me. Although I am positive she couldn’t have appreciated it as much as I did.

I am not trying to brag here. In fact, when I asked Abigail about why my part was just so sweet, she said, “Oh mom, that was so easy to write. I just wrote everything I felt about you and twisted any negative to positive. That’s why you sound so cool.” Ha ha.  I didn’t care. I had bawled my eyes out at every single word. It meant everything to me to know that my daughter “gets” me. She knows me intimately. And, most of all, she still loves me, no matter what.

Like Julie Andrews sings in Sound of Music, I felt, “I must have done something good.” When reading Abigail’s words, every single crappy parenting moment dissolved. The one time I found Sophia with poop smeared everywhere in her crib, on her body, in her mouth….gone. The time I force-fed Abigail oatmeal when she was 2. A distant memory. All the nights I cried myself to sleep wondering how I could ever face another day, only to still be crying when everyone woke up….totally worth every second that seemed like an eternity at the time. All the instances where my kids have told me what I suck at and how I need to improve…they didn’t matter. I was loved, gosh dangit. I mattered to my daughter.

I know you are all dying to read it now. It won’t mean to you what it means to me, but here it is for all eternity. I will try to remember to come back here from time to time. Maybe the next time one of my spawn hollers that they hate me.

“My mother is a very eccentric person. She has a wonderful colorful personality. She is a crazy, fun, human being with little to no tact. That is only the beginning of my mother. She grew up with six brothers and sisters who are all just as crazy and loud as her. I love my mom so much and don’t know what I would do without her. She works so hard in my family to keep our house clean and orderly. She is probably the coolest person ever. She is always cracking jokes and gets along with my friends so well. I know I can talk to her about anything and I can count on her to understand me. She has a giving heart and wants to give to everyone around her. She does so much for me and I don’t even ask her to. My favorite thing I do with my mom is when she knows I’m having a hard time, she sends me a card and a little treat. Like once I was stressed and we had just gotten in a fight about something. The next morning, she dropped off a card and a Kneaders breakfast and said we would go shopping later that day. My mom is such an inspiration to me. She always goes after what she wants and doesn’t let anyone tell her she can’t which can be difficult sometimes, but I love her just the same.”

Now, tell me I’m not the luckiest mom in the whole wide world!!

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Taking Care

You know how in passing we say “take care.”
Yeah, you’ve said it.
You’ve heard it.
Do you mean it when you say it?
Do you really hope others will take care of themselves?
Do you really do it?
When someone tells you to take care,
do you really take care of yourself?

As a codependent I used to think it was my job
to take care of everyone and everything.
I was always sticking my nose in other peoples’ business.
Yes, peoples is plural.
I tried to control others.
I would serve them to make them love me
or to change them
or just to be in control.
I had no idea I was doing it
but I was.
Then I gained awareness
and I’ve tried really hard to change me ways.

So now I try not to excessively worry about other people,
(it’s still a work in progress)
and I also try a lot harder to worry
about the only thing that was in
my control all along: me, myself and I.

Several years ago I made a very conscious decision
that I was going to take care of me.
That little decision has made me a much happier person.
Not only did it free me from the things that weighed me down and were out of my control,
but it changed my focus completely.
I am always asking myself what I need now.
I don’t rely on everyone else to make me happy,
I just try to have a healthy self dialogue to honestly assess my needs
and then I go out and get what I need.

I never used to do that
and then I would be all resentful that nobody was taking care of me.
Half the time I didn’t know what I needed
and half the time I did, but I would wait for someone else
to magically show up and give it to me.
In this case there is no such thing as magic.

Of course I was too afraid to look inward
and realize that the blame lied with me,
and not on the others who couldn’t work magic
and so I walked around with a chip
on my shoulder all of the time.
I was mad all of the time.
Nobody cared about me.
Boo hoo hoo.

Now I can graciously accept it when others love me
because I no longer have the excessive need to be loved
and I don’t expect people to work magic
like in the past.
I appreciate their love and want it,
but I don’t have an excessive need for it.
I have the one thing that I really need most:
I love myself.
I take care of myself.

Two days ago
I found this little gem below
on the ground next to
our pile of backpacks.
One of my daughters
had been writing about me at school.

It made my century.
One – someone else notices that I can take care of myself.
Two – that person is one of the people I want to be a good example for most.
Three – She knows it is safe to say that I have flaws because we all do.
Four – She didn’t dwell on the flaws. Thank goodness.

It is the only way to really live: taking care.
If we can’t take care of ourselves
nobody else will.
Or they might try really hard
but it will never really penetrate because
the inner you will be in turmoil.
Trust  me on this.
Take care now, ya’ hear.
While running after writing this post
I heard this song by MJ
and thought my next step is to
find the right balance
of caring for myself and others
for the right reasons.

I wish Michael Jackson would have taken care of himself.

2013 goals or Going for the Gold

I’ve been trying to finalize my 2013 goals.
Even though I gave myself a C last year,
I am an absolute believer in the adage
“goals that are not written down are just wishes.”
While at Ikea on our date Saturday
LG and I came up with a winning idea
on how to motivate our family
towards betterment.
Money is a pure motivator
for all of us,
so we are going to reward ourselves
with GOLD.
We decided on family Olympics
for 2013.
Or as LG says,
“We’re having family hunger games.”
Everyone will get to put their names
in a pot in a once a week drawing
for 5 gold coins.
We will all earn chances in the pot
by accomplishing
our 5 personal and 5 family goals daily.
(That’s up to 70 shots a week)
Unlike hunger games,
we want our names in the pot.
The more we accomplish our goals,
the better chance we have to win a gold coin (or 5).
Our theme is
“Go for the Gold.”
Get it.
We’re the Gold’s.
We’re so funny.
I am super excited about
the 5 rings of improvement.
LG and I narrowed our desires for our kids into
5 categories:
spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, and financial.
(See the above photo)
Here are the goals
we came up with as a family
in each category.

Some of these goals are going to be easier than others.
Reading should be a cinch.
Believe it or not
I think sharing feelings
might be harder (especially for some)
 than daily scripture study.
The kids are already up in arms
about the soda
but I love that they will still have the choice.
If they drink soda,
they lose a shot at a dollar.
If it were up to us
we’d take it away all together
but this way we make the point
without taking away their agency.
I am super excited about
seeing how this family challenge
will pan out.
I hope to win a few bucks along the way
and I think this may
have the “fun” factor
to keep us motivated all year.
Anyhow,
I am sure you have all been dying
to see what my goals are for
2013.
With no further ado,
by category
we go.
Financial
1.Save a $1 a day toward family vacation.
2.Stay under budget.
Emotional
1.Journal/study/meditate daily before doing anything else.
2.No phone in bed.
3.Give a meaningful inspired service weekly.

Physical
1.Use myfitnesspal every day until I weigh under 160 pounds.
2 Keep running 3x/week.
3.Run 2 half marathons (unless I get pregnant)
4. Add in a fourth workout every week. Something other than running.

Spiritual
1.Pray every day.
2.Temple once a month (take Abigail with 4x)
3.Organize family genealogy.

Mental
1.Learn a new word every day. 
(I discovered a cool app for this)
2.Go back to school,
even if it’s just one class.
3.Write every day
(blog/outline of novel)
4.Read 100 books
(adding in 1 junior non-fiction

Marital
1.Bond every night.
(Communicate regularly)
2.Go to bed and wake up together.
It’s lofty, I know,
but if I only get a C,
I will still have accomplished twice
as much as if I had never written anything down.
My OCD side really loves fresh starts.
Just think, we have one every day.

When Tragedy Strikes

I feel. I feel deep. It is part of who I am. I have no way around it. I am a sensitive person. I am pretty sure I get it from my mom. I cry at the drop of a hat. I really should be an actress. So, when tragedy strikes, it kind of knocks me out for a bit. It really knocks me out. I have to give myself cognitive therapy so that I don’t succumb to the warmth of the sheets in my bed. I have to distract myself. I even lie to myself if necessary. Most of all I have to get some answers.

I think because I feel, I have chosen God consistently throughout my life. I need somewhere to go when nothing makes sense and let’s face it, there is a lot that doesn’t make sense.
Like other people though, I usually vacillate in my own incompetence for a bit before I turn to God. I am trying to change that, but I guess I can take comfort in the fact that at least I get to God at some point. A lot of people don’t have the same luxury.
So after the CT shooting last Friday, these were my reactions, put out there for everyone and their dog to see. Oh the evil of social media. It really shows one’s true colors.

This should not still be happening. Give me your best solutions for the safety of our children. Serious. I am writing Congress. I am so heartbroken.


I refuse to read more than one news report about the shooting. 
I suggest you all do the same.

Use your energy to make the world a better place.

We have the highest obligation to protect the children. The American citizens demand that every school has two armed trained military personnel on guard every day. Repost if you agree.

Pondering again on the words of Mormon leader Dallin H Oaks spoken to the world that would listen just two months ago:

Although I do not speak in terms of politics or public policy, like other Church leaders, I cannot speak for the welfare of children without implications for the choices being made by citizens, public officials, and workers in private organizations. We are all under the Savior’s 

command to love and care for each other and especially for the weak and defenseless.

Children are highly vulnerable. They have little or no power to protect or provide for themselves and little influence on so much that is vital to their well-being. Children need others to speak for them, and they need decision makers who put their well-being ahead of selfish adult interests.

I know one amazing 12-year-old angel with open arms and the most tender heart who is probably cuddling up with some kindergartners tonight and that brings good tears to my eyes. Love you Braxton Wills!

How about we train gun sniffing dogs to guard every school? I seriously can’t stop obsessing for an answer. I grieve by taking action.

Trying to press forward by going out to a movie but it’s hard to move forward when so many fellow Americans are in mourning. God bless.

It just occurred to me that God had even more reason to be in public schools on Friday. I am sure He held each of those victims in the palm of His hand and hugged them as He told them they would never again have to feel pain.

See how I vacillate? I ended off with this:

Love. Peace. Joy. This world is overcome and the next will have no heartache.

And this: Must read! So touching.


twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled wit

h such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“this is heaven.” declared a small boy. “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
“may this country be delivered from the hands of fools”
“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“come now my children, let me show you around.”
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and i heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”

Written by Cameo Smith, Mt. Wolf, PA

The only place for peace is God. I don’t know why it takes me so long to figure that out every time tragedy strikes. I am stubborn. Hard-headed. Prideful. A natural woman. Eventually I’ll get there without vacillation, but at least I am aware of my tendency, and that is the first step towards fixing it.
So, as I hold onto God as tight as I can today. I write this.
I am proud to say that my kids went off to school today just like any other day. I am not mother of the year, far from it, but I made a choice a long time ago to limit the media into my home. We don’t have any TV but Netflix and it makes all the difference. They know something tragic happened and we have prayed for CT, but my babies went off to school today feeling safe. And that is all a mother can do. If by chance some awful thing ever does happen to them, all I want them to have is a feeling of safety and security and love up to the very moment of the unspeakable.

I thank others who have helped me make sense of it all.
Two links were particularily helpful. 
This one gives a plea for the mentally ill.
And my hubby sent me here where he was able to convince me that the answer is not about gun control
or even about guarding our schools. 
The answer my friends is the same answer for all other woes in our life:
Trust in God.
Evil has always been around. Awful things happen every day. We are no worse off today then yesterday. In fact, we are better off because we don’t live in a war-torn country. We as Americans freak out when tragedy strikes, but tragedy strikes much more frequently in other parts of the world.
So what can I do?
I can trust in God.
How can I trust in God?
I can continue to pray with my family.
We can read our scriptures and let God’s word work in our lives.
We can limit the crooked media’s influence in our homes.
We can show compassion to others.
We can stop having stigmas towards the mentally ill.
We can reach out to our neighbors who may be struggling.
We can love more deeply.
We can quit fighting over politics.
And that is what I resolve to do.
And because I have a new resolve, 
I can be grateful to God for the reminder, 
even if it’s in the form of an awful tragedy.

Half-way

The great news is
I ran a half marathon
on Thanksgiving.
Almost one year to the
day that I started
my journey towards a 5k
I way surpassed it.
I rock.
I don’t rock enough
to do a marathon.
I more than likely never will.
13.1 was plenty for me.
Now for the 
2012
goal reconciliation.
I am using the sandwiching
technique here.
You know
good.
bad.
good.

FAMILY

1. Read scrips every day. 
(probably received a D grade here)

2. Do good every day. 
(we are pretty good at doing good but still need work)

3. Be quiet. 
(royally failed)


PERSONAL

1. Run four 5k’s. (keep running 3x wk) 
(YES I rocked this one. I did 5 official 5k’s and ended off with the half
and ran 3 times per week over 90%, only missing when sick or on vacation)

2. Read 54 books. 
(At this point I have 40 books, 20 of which are children’s which I just added to make me not look so pathetic. In my defense, I take Caroline to the library weekly and usually read at least 20 books to her every week. 
My i-phone has ruined my good reading habits. Dang words with friends.)

3. Weigh 180 or under. 
(190 – Lost 40 pounds this year. 
Quit counting calories sometime this summer. 
Big mistake.
Need to get back to it.)

4. Attend temple monthly. 
(I think I only missed one month but I went twice another month)

5. Plan a family camping experience. 
(Oh yeah, we went to Coral Pink Sand Dunes when it was cold enough to snow last Spring. 
Talk about a camping experience no one will forget.
We also experienced Arches this summer 
when it was windy enough to blow us off the Delicate Arch.
Nothing like the elements to teach
your kids about the outdoors.
I rocked in this area.)

7. Dailies. (scripture study, prayer, service) 
(sucked it up –
but I did make progress in the fact
that I have decided that I am not going to do these things out of guilt anymore
but I am praying for a pure desire to want them in my life –
well, when I pray.
In my defense, I have been dealing with some major stuff this year
my nephew’s death, a hard miscarriage,
and the trials brought on by some very loved addicts in my life)

8. Be still and quiet. 
(Did really well with this just need to be better about including God in this time)

9. Go back to college. 
(I plan to apply to BYU for Spring, probably won’t get in, 
but hopefully I will be going to BYU or UVU starting this summer)

10. Stay under budget. 
(I still am not perfect here but I have really made a ton of progress. 
Although LG would tell you otherwise.
Once again in defense,
when I have gone over budget
it really hasn’t been in a 
retail therapy way but
in the everything is too expensive
and we have 4 kids way.)

11. Go to bed & wake up w LG. 
(I did super impressive all the way up to summer which ruined me. 
Starting again in Fall I have gotten up every morning 
to make my kids a good breakfast. T
hat is a huge improvement for me. 
Running has given me more energy, 
combated my depression 
and has somehow magically lessened my need for sleep)

12. Show love and compassion. 
(Still need to work on this every day. 
I am just naturally judgmental. 
I am constantly reprimanding myself.)

13. Bond with the girls. 
(I’ve spent a lot more quality time with them 
and have made it a point to support their dreams.
I’ve personally sacrificed for their extra-curriculars.
And a trip to Disneyland doesn’t hurt me here.)

Overall,
I would give myself
a C grade
but an A for effort.
I consistently checked in
with myself on my goals all year.
I am enjoying having this
accountability to the blog.
Always
half-way
to
perfection.

And that my friends

is
a
glass
half
full.

Freedom Week

To start this post I want to share a photo
that I took with my own two hands.
I am so proud of it.
I caught it when coming out of the grocery store.
I didn’t have a tri-pod,
but apparently I got the camera still enough
to do justice to that gorgeous moon.
I have this amazing ability at getting myself roped into things.
That’s a nice way of saying I often forget to say no.
This year, my big project has been
Freedom Week.
It’s be a beast.
Just enough to remind me to say no
for another year or so.
What a gorgeous view, eh?
Freedom Week
is a yearly week-long celebration
at the girls’ school
that focuses on the freedoms we enjoy
as Americans.
I was originally told that all I had to do
was plan a few dress up days
and line up a speaker for an assembly.
If that is all I had to do
I wonder why it occupied about
80 hours of my time over the past
two months.
Anything for freedom.
Or my kids.
Or because I can’t say no.
I did rope in a few people to help.
My ward’s (Mormon way of saying congregation)
young women
did a great job with the big banner
and small posters for each classroom door.
Aren’t they cute.
I was sad I didn’t get a photo of them all.
They cranked out 16 of these
in about 30 minutes
and no one uses glue and glitter
like young women.
The greatest sacrifice for me
was waking up at 6 a.m.
to hang up the flags outside.
It was dark
and I hate mornings.
I let Abigail drive around the
empty parking lot
as a reward for waking up early.
She was pretty stoked.
Each student got their own personal
American flag
as they arrived to the assembly this morning.
Aren’t they just the cutest?
We lined the halls with red white and blue.
And messages of freedom.
I’d like to think that this is what
I looked like
all morning.
This is me teaching the kids about IwaJima
while introducing Mr. Mason a WWII vet.
But I am sure it was much more like this.
 Props to the school orchestra and choir.
They did amazing.
Two of my perfect children
are singing
about voting
and loving America.
Can you spot them?
The Mayor of Orem
brought along some of his heroes:
A local police officer,
and some firefighters.
You should have seen the faces of the kids
when this guy walked in the room
in full firefighting garb.
It was awesome.
My personal favorite part of the day
was introducing a true
American hero.
He is in the middle of this photo
in the Marine Corps shirt.
His name is
Fred William Mason
and he faught at IwaJima.
What an honor it was to
give the kids a piece of history
and to see them give
Mr. Mason
the standing ovation
he deserves.
(See the bottom of the post
for his story)

Perhaps my greatest gratitude should go to this man.
He is always my technical support and go-to guy.
As you can see by the photograph,
he was perfect
at entertaining Caroline.

We’ve already over-established what a handful she can be, right?

Here’s the slideshow I made.
I had no idea what I was doing,
so give me grace people.
It was a great way to spend my 39th birthday.
And the day before it. And the two days after it.

We also did a few other things:

  • school-wide speech writing contest (the winners gave their speeches today at the assembly and got $20 giftcards to Wal-Mart)
  • The Cub Scouts officiated at the flag ceremony
  • A student soloist did the Star Spangled Banner
  • A mock presidential election (Governor Romney won with 74% of the votes)
  • Letters from the kids for Vets at the VA Hospital
  • We were supposed to do a donation drive but student council never got it together
  • Each student received a white star to write about what they appreciate most in their freedom. They will each tape them on their classroom door banners. (picture above)
  • Oh and we have dress up days all week.

Monday – stars and stripes
Tuesday – red white and blue
Wednesday – Dress like your favorite American hero or wear a uniform
Thursday – Denim day (jeans were invented in the US)
Friday – School spirit colors – which happen to be blue and white.

* Oh and an added not for future reference. I asked Bella what she liked best about the assembly and with all attitude she immediately responded with, “I hated it when you cried mom, you embarrassed me in front of all my friends.” Maybe someday she will see that differently and be proud of a mom who is so grateful.

Fred Mason’s introduction

It’s my great pleasure to introduce you to one of our great American heroes. He’s a friend and neighbor to us all.  He lives right off 1600 North in Orem. His name is Fred William Mason and I am proud to know him.
Mr. Mason was a corporel in the Marine Corps during WWII. He faught at Iwa Jima.  There is a famous photograph that won the Pulitzer Prize of soldiers raising the American Flag at Mount Serabachi on Feb 23, 1945. Mr. Mason know the soldiers in the photo personally.
IwoJima was a volcanic island and no civilians lived there. Its name means Sulphur Island. It was a very important military spot in the Japanese Territory and it was a critical victory for American strategy. If we hadn’t won at IwoJima we probably wouldn’t have been able to drop the Atomic Bombs and the war may not have ended so fast.
The Battle of IwaJima happened from Feb 19 – March 26 1945. Only 216 of the 21,844 Japanese survived and of the 70,000 Americans who faught 6,821 were killed and 19,217 wounded. Many of those soldiers were friends of Mr. Mason. He served in the 5th Marine Division of the 28th Regiment.
Mr. Mason is 86 years old.
He was born in 1926 in Lexington, KY.
He was the fifth child of 9 kids in his family.
His four brothers also served in the military.
Two also served in WWII
Richard fought in the army at Okinowa.
Earl was also in the army and was taken as a Prisoner of War at the March of Batan in the Phillipines.
Glen and Ernie enlisted after the war into the Navy and never had to fight like their older brothers.
He worked on farms from age 8. Sold veggies at the market.
He wasn’t able to attend school but a few years as he was expected to help provide for his family.
Around age 12, his family got indoor plumbing.
At age 14, he started taking the bus and going to church to every Sunday with his sister.
He grew up during The Great Depression. When I asked him what his favorite food was, he said he was always hungry and would eat anything he could get his hands on. He particularly like his momma’s biscuits and gravy, and was always really happy when he would get a little bit of ham in his beans.
He was drafted in 1944 at age 18.
Went from Lexington to Louisville to join the Navy, but there was a Marine recruiter who snagged him and 4 others in line up to fill his quota for the day.
Went to Camp Pendelton in California for Basic Training.
When he was done he boarded a ship and was told 4 days into it that they were on their way to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese.
After the Battle of IwaJima, Mr. Mason reboarded the ship and remembers many soldiers celebrating. He however just wanted to brush his teeth (they had been in the trenches for over a month) and went to the Red Cross to ask for a toothbrush but was told they didn’t have enough to give him one.
Mr Mason was shipped back to Hawaii, where he served 8 months of occupational duty and was discharged in 1946.
After the war he went back to Lexington where he worked at a Wholesale Food Distrubutor. He delivered food to Colonel Sanders of KFC and says he looked exactly like his pictures. In fact, he can’t remember him every changing from before the war.
Mr. Mason is a hero to me for another reason then his honorable military service, after the war, he taught himself to read. Remember he didn’t have much school growing up.
In 1950 he met Mrs. Mason and they had their first child, a girl named Debi, who is also our neighbor.
Mr. and Mrs. Mason then moved to Indiana so that Mr. Mason could work at a Defense Plant building helicopters. The had two more children. Both boys who still lived in Indiana.
Mr and Mrs Mason moved to Utah 14 years ago.
They have been married for 62 years.
Mr. Mason continues to make a difference for his country by working a Heritage School in Provo. He has worked there mentoring troubled youth for the past 6 years.
Mr. Mason is truly a remarkable person. Tom Brokaw once called his generation the Greatest Generation. I believe they were a great generation and I believe Mr. Mason was one of the greatest.
Please join me and give Mr. Mason and all his friends who fought for our freedom the round of applause they deserve.

Embracing mom-hood

I’m learning to embrace my mom-hood.
It’s kind of like man-hood, but with boobs.
And a whole lot of other stuff.
I have recently learned something about myself.
Something that has never dawned on me before.
I’m insecure in my parenting.
I don’t know why,
I really am a pretty darn good mom.
I can only remember one time with my kids got in trouble in school.
Abigail was in kindergarten and she got written up for writing on her desk. In pencil.
What can I say? She was my first.
My kids are well-rounded.
They are kind for the most part.
Why should I be insecure?
I am now going to resist listing their good traits.
Because I am trying to learn to NOT need to do that.
It’s not healthy.
My kids are MY KIDS.
What else do they need to prove to me?
Nothing.
They don’t need to be a certain way for me to love them.
And they certainly shouldn’t need to be a certain way for me to love me.
So in honor of embracing my impeerfections as a parent,
and in honor of the vulnerability 
that I’ve been learning about in Brene Brown’s book.
Here is the kind of mom I am NOT.
1- I am not an overly anal car-seat parent.
I don’t believe in making my kids ride in a car while suffocating.
(After posting this photo on facebook it was brought to my attention
that the straps should be tighter and the harness higher.)
Whatever.
I also usually don’t remember to remind my kids 
to put on their seat-belts til we are at least 
out of the driveway and usually we are down the street a ways.
2- I hope to have one more baby to test this next mom item out,
but I don’t believe I will ever be one of those wrapper moms.
Kind of like rapper mom, 
but with a big long blanket that goes around your whole body.
And inside the blanket is a baby,
wrapped to your body.
Clinging to you for their very life,
like a car-seat will kill their brain cells.
Hmm, maybe I am a car-seat mom after all.
I am a total believer in the baby carrier.
Always have been, and I believe I always will be.
I also secretly hope that my hubby would never
be a wrapper-dad.
I just don’t find it sexy at all.
Unless we are in the African jungle,
and it would be the only way to keep the baby safe.
You know straddling his chest,
while he takes his machete to fight off the warthog,
that might be sexy.
3-My three year old goes to bed with a 
sippy cup of chocolate milk every night.
It is just a little bit of chocolate
and we only added the chocolate because my mom
ruined the perfectly good white milk on her last visit.
I have no intention of changing this tooth decaying habit
until  my dentist tells me I have to.
It’s hard enough to get the kid to bed,
and at least we can bribe her with the cup.
And let’s face it,
I’m soooo over it by 10 pm
when we finally get her to bed.
4-I put my three year old to bed at 10 pm.
If any of you would like to come over and wrestle her to sleep earlier
or keep her from her 4:00 nap every day,
more power to you.
5- In the summer my kids and I stay up til midnight
and we all usually sleep in until at least 10 am.
I always laugh at the parents who say they would love
for their kids to sleep in,
but, “THEY JUST WON’T,
I’ve tried keeping them up.”
Yeah, well, you have to keep them up for longer than one night.
Keep them up late for a week,
and I promise they will sleep in.
I think some parents take pride in their
early to bed, early to rise schedule.
I might be one of them if I could ever do it.
6- I really really love Little Ceasar’s Pizza
and Taco Tuesdays at Del Taco.
I wish my hubby would let us eat out every night.
I don’t really enjoy cooking
unless I am in the mood to bake.
I’m a good cook,
it’s jut not my thing.
7-I only change my kids sheets as needed.
Sometimes we can go a couple of months,
especially when they sleep on top of their comforters.
A few dead skin cells
obviously doesn’t kill them.
8- I only scrub my showers on a bi-monthly basis.
Get over it.
9-I make my kids fold their own clothes
and let their drawers be messy
if that’s how they roll.
10- I yell at my kids,
but try to minimize that to
only once a day,
and even then I save the
really angry tone
for the big time
(like when they run in the street
and almost get hit by a car)
and then I hug them real tight
because I am so relieved that they didn’t get themselves killed.
All while secretly knowing
it wouldn’t have been themselves
to get themselves killed,
but my crappy parenting.
And there you have my worst fear.
I am totally anxious about my kids
growing up.
I don’t want them to be living proof
that I was the crappiest mom in the world.
Oh but Alice,
the only thing a parent needs
to be a good parent is love.
Well, if I could just convince myself of that
then I might be ready for what awaits me.
Please God, don’t let them go to jail
or get in a car accident
while not wearing their seat-belt.
The six cavities I can handle,

and the emotional immaturity,
and the inability to organize,
and the one who calls home from school once a week
because she needs more love,
and the whole nail polish kit
left outside for a week
with most of the caps off,
(they were outside because
they’ve been banned from inside)
the couches with marker stains,
the occasional B on a report card,
the one who is just like her dad,
and the other one who is just like her mom,
and the one who just never shuts up,
ever.
I can handle all of that,
and probably a lot more than I realize,
but my prayer
is that you don’t let any physical harm
come to them because of my
inabilities and weaknesses
and the fact that I didn’t want them
strapped to my chest
because I was just happy
for them to do their own thing.
So that I could do mine.
Please make sure your 
guardian angels make up the difference.
Because really,
that’s all a mom can do.
Admit it.
Get over it.
And leave it in the hands of God.
Now, the way this works is you tell me something
about your parenting that makes you vulnerable
and then we leave our kids at home
with their dad while bonding over Olive Garden breadsticks.
You can tell me that you are really good at all of the above,
only if you are willing to dish out a list of 10 of your own
where you suck.
Because perfectionism is a myth,
and the sooner we all embrace that,
the happier we will be.