Only in Utah

Blue boobs.

Stuff was heavy on my heart last night. Two things in-particular.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook about two subjects that are extremely annoying to me: breastfeeding in public and BYU. Ha ha. My Mormon friends who know how many babies are born to college students at BYU might find this ironic combination hysterical. I sure do.

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Now, as you all know from my last post, for some reason, I am extremely emotional this week.  My overabundance of emotion may explain the guilt I was feeling over these two totally random facebook posts. It wasn’t necessarily the posts that made me feel guilty but two of the responses I received.

One of my young friends was really hurt by my “throw a blanket over it” philosophy. It wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time I disagree with a nursing mom on the ease of covering up while breastfeeding, but the love I feel for this mom who will not back down about my “modesty and politeness-to-others over comfort of baby” stance had my heart bleeding. It just didn’t feel worth the argument to me anymore.

Also, a family member had posted a reply to the BYU post, but then deleted it. She had reprimanded me for not being kind (as I had posted something early about kindness being a large tenet of my faith.)  I responded with a comment that stated that I believed that saying I was not a fan of BYU wasn’t unkind…..but as I lay there last night, I was questioning my extreme dislike of BYU. Those of you who really know me, know how deep my hatred goes. Was it unkind? Was I unkind? Isn’t it really all those jerky BYU people that need to come down off their high horses? Doesn’t everyone know that?

I fell asleep with tears rolling down my cheeks and both of these interactions (among a few other things) weighing heavy on my heart. I was an emotional wreck last night and LG’s arm around me was the only thing that calmed me down until my sleeping meds. kicked in. As heavy as the subjects were nagging at my conscience, I am totally shocked I didn’t dream all night of a blue boob-out at the Wilkinson Center, a BYU football game with a stadium full of crying hungry babies covered by blankets, or perhaps Cosmo the Cougar stripping down to nothing to reveal his true identity as a woman with a latched on baby cat.

I then woke up first thing this morning to this video…

This video is so beautiful. The subject of not bullying is important to me. After 12 hours of guilt, yet still not wanting to change, I couldn’t help but feel like a bully with my overheated opinions on BYU and breastfeeding. I wondered if my intolerances (no matter how petty) had really caused someone pain.

This lecture by Dieter F. Uchtdorf continues to effect my life profoundly. It is probably very poignant to me because no matter how kind I profess to be, it exposes some of my biggest weaknesses. I pretty much fail at this 5 question test every time I take it.

  1. Do you harbor a grudge against someone else?
  2. Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?
  3. Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?
  4. Do you secretly envy another?
  5. Do you wish to cause harm to someone?

O.k. maybe I get a 20% because I can honestly say I don’t really want to cause harm to anyone. Except for the guard on our favorite basketball team. He reminds me of some guys I know personally who are trash talking and arrogant typical hot-headed jerky Mormon basketball players. (The kind that act all nice and righteous in real life but let it all go to pot when on the court. – I admittedly have an open wound because of guys like this.) I totally told my husband on the way out of the game last night that even though he is on “our team” I would love to see him get what is coming to him. I am certain he would run off with his tail between his legs (kind of like he did last night) as his type are prone to do. Dang-it, I’m back to a 0%.

As I pondered further I realized that BYU and breastfeeding would be in the honest answers I would give to several of these 5 probing inquiries. I realized that both subjects are really just surface scapegoats for the bigger causes that are super important to me: being kind and cognizant of those around us.

And then I realized I was a hypocrite. How can I expect others (BYU grads and breast-feeders in-particular) to be kind, humble, and polite to those around them when I am not willing to budge and give them the same benefit-of-the-doubt that I belittle them for not having?

peace with self peace had enough

So, this post is a long way of saying I’ve had a change of heart.

Go Cougars. Breastfeed away.

I offer you my sincerest apologies for being awful and (albeit still with a great amount of hesitance) I promise to try and not just give you the benefit of the doubt but to sincerely LOVE you wherever you are on your journey – even when you are extremely arrogant and especially when you are bare-chested.

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Home on the Range

My third grade teacher died at 91-years-old a few months back. His name was Mr. Panman, a WWII Nazi camp survivor from Holland, and one of the best teachers I ever had. I’ll never forget the emotions I felt the day he told us about running from the Nazis and tearing to shreds his back by crawling under a barbed wired fence. I cried in class while I heard his living history. I loved him so much. He always played the piano in class and he often sang us the song Home on the Range.  The class quickly learned the lyrics and always sang along while thoroughly enjoying the musical break to our daily studies. Oh the good old days. I swear if I am ever a teacher, I would employ this simple form of educational entertainment.

Oh give me  home, where the buffalo roam,
where the deer and the antelope play.
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day.
Home, home on the range.

I’m sure Mr. Panman is roaming free on a very vast range that includes a piano. Love you Mr. Panman. I can’t go to a place with buffalo and not think of Mr. Panman.

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On Saturday, while at Antelope Island, I had to break the law and get out of the car to take the photo above (of the buffalo – and the family, actually) The law-abiding family was in the rental van freaking out. I just laughed while I shot away. I was pretty sure I could outrun the buffalo just 20 feet away. The kids were begging LG to make me get back in the car saying I was going to get arrested. He assured them, “I’m staying in here with you, so one adult doesn’t get arrested.” Bella put two and two together really quick. (We were in the rental van that only I am allowed/insured to drive.) “But Dad, if mom gets arrested, who is going to drive us home?”

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On the way home we met up with Amy and Tyler and went to our favorite family restaurant. It was such an enjoyable dining experience with the cozy atmosphere, big fire, good food, and kids all getting along.

We love you Cracker Barrel. Our waiter, Kyler, was the best waiter I’ve ever had in my entire life.
I just got off the phone with the store manager to let him know to keep that kid around. I wish I would have got his photo. I guess we’ll just have to go back.

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Have a great Monday wherever you roam the range.

Feel free to sing along with your munchkins. Mr. Panman would very much approve.

Our family rocks!!

We decided to make the most of our Saturday after a really high-stress week. We took a short road trip in the rental van. We’re still in negotiations with the insurance company.

We went up to Antelope Island and out to dinner at the close-by Cracker Barrel. We haven’t been to a Cracker Barrel since it was right down the street in TN. It was so fun to see the girls get all sentimental in the shop. (photos to come)

After a short stop at IKEA (2 hours is short) we cranked up the toons for the remaining hour long drive.

I busted out the camera because I wanted to capture the moment. My joy was full. (Glad I didn’t crash trying to multi-task – save your lectures)

Our family rocks just like they do on one of our favorite movies: Bandslam. If you haven’t seen it, you can’t possibly be complete.

Lessons from the trail: family bikeride

Man, I can’t wait for spring.
The following pictures have a funny story
that you would never guess just by looking at them.
One summer day, the year before last, a mother got really greedy
and decided that her family could ride their bikes
farther then ever before.
She wanted to make it from home to the nearby waterfalls.
It was only 16.5 miles round-trip.
bridal veil
Every family member, but her, complained the whole way.
The mom didn’t understand, she was having the time of her life.
Even the oldest daughter who was used to running all the time seemed to hate every minute.
At mile 6.5, (1.7 shy of their destiny) the mom cut her losses
and finally told everyone they could turn back.
The mother was so disappointed. The father was almost dead.
The kids vowed to never ride again.
But, to this day, all but the mom
are still all heard to brag of that long family ride
a few summers back.
(The mom is still waiting for the family conquer expedition.)
They still ride together as a family often
but never ever more then ten miles at a time.
The mom now sticks to the long distances by herself.
The moral of the story:
Sixteen miles for one person might be a piece of cake,
but just because you are that person
it doesn’t mean that you can automatically
expect your family to be as capable.
The other thing that we learned:
Together time is the best time to make memories,
even if everyone is in physical pain.
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Fellowship

I just put this little diddy
together
as I am going
visiting teaching
today.
I made it in Microsoft Word
but couldn’t get it
the same in Paint,
but I guess
it’s close enough
for you to the get the picture.
I am now off on my run
and I will be pondering
this month’s
visiting teaching message
about
The quote above
by
Elder Ballard
is the part
I liked the most.
Fellow-shipping
is tricky
when you live in
the state of Utah
and I am ashamed to
say that I have
kind of given up
on making friends.
I am going to try harder.
I also loved the quote by
President Hinckley
 “we must make an increasingly substantial effort to assist them as they find their way. Every one of them needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing with ‘the good word of God’.

Back in the days
when I was the
President
of the
Relief Society
this was the theme
of our work.
We wanted
all the sisters in our ward
to have
1- a friend,
2- a responsibility,
and
3 – nourishment with the
good word of God.
I miss the days
when I got to serve
alongside
other women in
the Relief Society.
Those are some
of my most
cherished
friendships
and I find
that I don’t make
as many friends
when I am stuck
in a church calling that
is fully autonomous.

Almost Monochromatic

It’s been snowing for
what seems like months.
Today is the second blue sky in
about four weeks.
True story.
Every other day has just been
white everywhere you look.
How my soul loves
the beauty
of a the blue sky
among the
black and white earth.

Winter white.
Everywhere
the eye can see.
The earth
seems
black
under
blanket
after blanket
of
snow.
Dead.
Yet
piercingly
beautiful.
The white
touches the white
part of my soul.
And the black
touches the black.
The complexity
of my emotions
seems to find
a balance
among the
monochromatic
landscape.
The only
colors
that surround
are
black,white, and brown.
And then the clouds lift
and
blue shines through.
Like a breath
of fresh air.
Or water
to the thirsty
Sahara traveler
who reached
her oasis.
There is blue
in my soul too.
And red,
and yellow.
The colors release
to find the sky
and remind me
of my beauty
amidst
the wintery white.

New Year

In Utah,
we’ve had some record colds
for the past week.
I’ve loved all the snow.
I don’t think Olive has though.
Check out her water
frozen over.

We’ve all been enjoying our
Christmas gifts.
Caroline is up to her same antics.
But like her shirt says,
she is the best present ever
so it’s o.k. that
she’s spoiled rotten.
Right?
Notice that Santa
did bring the girl
all she wanted.
Make-up and nail polish.
Sophia finally got a fijit (she’s wanted it for 2 years
and Santa found it on sale at Target for $15.)
Caroline with her make-up case.
 She has carried it around the house with all her treasures.
Bella with her FurReal Pets.
Abigail with her combat boots. Katniss style.
My favorite gift you ask?
It is a 50/50 toss up between
my pizelle maker
that I asked for on pinterest
and
the diamond earrings
that LG
picked out
all by myself.
But my favorite of all was this purse.
I’ve been looking for the perfect purse for 3 years.
LG and I spotted this at TJMaxx a week after Christmas
but it was $100 so I put it back.
LG went back to the store
on his own accord and
surprised me with it for no reason at all
on New Year’s Eve.
He said it is my
“the party is over” purse.
That means I’ll have it to enjoy
when I go back to living on a
non-Christmas bonus budget.
It makes me so happy every time I see it.

I love this photo from Christmas.
Abigail thought that Bella’s present was awesome.
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is
taking the girls to the Dollar Tree and letting them shop.
It always proves to be entertaining.
I justify the expense by only letting them shop
for a select few and by
not doing stockings.

Oh yeah, this post was supposed to be about New Year.
Well, we had a great New Year.
We got to be reunited with our good friends
The Varnon Family
from Knoxville TN.
They were bringing Jordan out
for his first semester of college
and stayed with us a few days.
That’s Jordan.
The kid figured out that he can dominate
at Just Dance4 by only moving his arm.

Yeah, our family room is not made for 13 people,
but cozy is how we prefer to do things around here.
I suck at dancing.
But man I’m looking fit,
even with that layered looking
hanging all out.
Isn’t Caroline the cutest?
She’s a great dancer.
So are all these girls.

Of course we took the obligatory outoftowners
sightseeing trip to
Temple Square.
Here are two of my favorite photos.
I wish I had more time to play with  my camera.

Here are the Varnon’s
in front of the historical
Salt Lake Temple.
And here they are
in the Conference Center.

We stopped in at the church’s
Historical Museum.
They have a pretty great kids’ wing.
LG was pretty sick that day.
What a trooper.

I’m always amazed at how
some of my favorite pictures
are the spontaneous ones.
I sure love these kids.
Oh yeah,
we have rung in the New Year
 with the Varnon’s
every year but 2011 for about 10 years.
We missed our other
partners in crime
The Ryan family.
I am pretty certain
this year was the best.
The photo says it all.

We did some other fun stuff
while the Varnon’s were here.
We went up to see
Bridal Veil Falls.
We saw a funny movie.
(Highly recommend Here Comes the Boom).
We went to BYU.
We checked out Deseret Industries.
And last but certainly not least,
we went sledding.

If you made it this far in the post,
you are our true friends
and you are invited
to come and crash at our house
past the 3 day
fish and family stink
rule
any time.
Happy New Year y’all.
We love you Varnon family.
Hope you still love us
after spending that much time at our house.

My Brother’s Take on Mormon Feminism

There has been a lot of talk lately
about a movement of
anti-Mormons
who have penetrated the active church-body
by inviting the women to wear pants to church this Sunday.
I’m privvy to these things because I live in Utah.
It was on the front page of the paper.
LG read part of the article to me
when he was home for lunch
the other day.
We discussed the stupidity of it.
Women have always been able to
wear pants to church.
Why would any woman
want to be a Bishop?
We laughed.
Then LG made my day.
“Alice you look so sexy in a skirt.”
So I posted this on facebook.
Feminist Mormons are planning a “wear slacks to church day” 
to celebrate the similarities between women and men. 
I’d rather celebrates our differences. 
Besides my husband thinks I look hot in a skirt. 
If that means I’m objectified, so be it.

It got a discussion going.
Perhaps my favorite part of the discussion
was my ultra-conservative, gun-slinging, Limbaugh-loving,
football-coaching, huge-dog owning, Idaho-dwelling
brother saying this:
(for my non-Mormon friends –
this first question is what is asked of 
the members to determine
worthiness to attend the temple)
(YM is short of Young Men
YW is short for Young Women)

Yes, feminist crazed ladies,
the men of the church
are not anti-women.
In fact,
they are 
what my brother calls
equal diffrencialists.
I am proud to say
that I now
have a great term to describe
what I am too:
an
equal diffrentialist.
And so is 
She touches on some deep
Mormon doctrine here
and I loved her article.
I’m so grateful for the women of the church
who magnify their callings
and bless the lives of my daughters.
Here are some recent photos
that Sister Seale
e-mailed
of Sophia and her buddies
at their 
female only
activity days
held
every other week.
I love how these photos
showcase what we teach
Godly girls.
Choose the right.

Be modest.

Be tough.
Be beautiful.

It’s crazy to me
that scorned
women can
find these things
wrong.

I don’t want my daughters
to be anything
but
equal diffrentialists.

And trust me,
no woman
should ever want to
be in Cub Scouts instead.
I know,
I’ve been a Scout leader
three different times
in my
“mom only to daughters”
lifetime.

SnowFall

I have been feeling super run down this week. 
I am sure it is because of all the 
stress involved with Freedom Week.
No matter why the what is the same:
sit, regroup, and store up some energy.
And so I have.
And it’s in these resting times
that I so enjoy my camera.
It helps me slow down and capture
the miracles around me.
They are happening all the time.
Today they came in the form of snow.
The second snowfall of the year.
And its still Fall.
Thus the title of SnowFall.

backyard

leftover halloween pumpkins

the street
Capturing snow with a camera is not easy.
Just in case you wondered.

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.