Sunday, September 1, 2013

Nephi's Journal

Perhaps the original, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," this is my commentary on Nephi and the Golden Plates, and is meant for my sister to laugh - so much so, that milk might come shooting out her nostrils....

This year we are reading The Book of Mormon again. My daughter is in the Personal Progress Program, and, if she does everything she can, it will have her reading the Book of Mormon 3 more times in the next 5 years.  In a "small but frequent" effort to help her out, our family is reading one chapter of the Book of Mormon, in the morning, M-F, 52 weeks of the year.  It takes about a year, at that pace, to finish it.
   As we were starting this round, the phrase, "“I do make the record on plates which I have made with mine own hands," led me to ask myself some interesting questions about something that we all know about, but don't often consider.  Like, how and where do you make a golden journal?
  The second of six children myself, and raising four little munchkins of my own, it occurs to me that this would have been both difficult and annoying to everyone else in the family to create a diary, “six inches wide by eight inches long.” 5 —Joseph Smith Jr.  Some of the physical descriptions say, "“Of the thickness of plates of tin.”  “When piled one above the other, they were altogether about four inches thick,” and  “weighing altogether, from forty to sixty lbs.”  —Martin Harris We learn that, “a large portion of the leaves were so securely bound together that it was impossible to separate them.” 16 —David Whitmer,  
  So, going conservatively - a 40 lb journal.  And though it is not known EXACTLY what the metals were made of, we know that it was hard enough to be written on both sides, looked like gold, and that there were quite a few pages.  In PAPER, the Book of Mormon, of similar size, takes up about 642 pages, so 321 back-to-front pages.  Then there was the sealed portion, so multiply those 321 pages by 2/3 more and you get about 963 pages - give or take some pages.  Assuming - for the sake of argument - that they could fit two English pages on one Hebrew/Reformed Egyptian page, that still leaves us with 481 golden pages.  And you gotta ask yourself, WHEN would you have time to make that, and WHERE did Nephi get the materials? And whose idea was this anyway?  We can only imagine. So lets imagine it...

Imagined Scenario 1 : God and Jesus; The Workout of the Gods

God - So, Jesus, I was thinking about our little problem-o; Laman and Lemuel are pretty strong. They're older, and Nephi isn't in quite the shape we need him to be for *ta daaaaah!* SHIP building! I love the way that sounds, SHIP Building!  Anyway, we really need to drag Laman and Lemuel  along.  If we just send the righteous people off, we're gonna have another Enoch on our hands.  We need a foil so that people can see the  bad example, and how to handle my instructions better. Half of them won't realize that they are more Laman than Nephi...

Jesus -  Yeaaaah.  I think we should devise a personal-trainer type thing, where Nephi gets a daily workout.  We will have to work on his upper body, get him seriously cut,  and then have him get some real glute strength.  I say we "forget" to tell him stuff so that he has to keep going back to Jerusalem and pick stuff up.  About 5 times before the big hike should do it. Ideas?

God - How about we have him go to "forge school" and make a heavy journal for him to tote around? Say 40-60 lbs? 

Scenario 2:  Where is Nephi?

Knowing that Lehi lived in Jerusalem back in 600 + BC, we know that families are huge, and helping out around the house.  If we imagine that Lehi had a forge (which would also explain the steel bow), then when did Nephi have time to make all these pages?  Probably during family daylight working  hours. In order to get the metal from it's natural state (he said he went hunting for ore...) into a page state, there would have had to have been quite the elaborate set up.  You need something to super-heat the metal, some sort of form to pour it into to ensure consistent pages, and then something to drill the holes through the thin tin-like pages without ripping it. Who has time for that? I imagine that it went a little like this:

Laman - Hey Mom, where's Nephi - its time for picking up goat poop.
Sariah - Um, he's out in the forge.
Laman - Doing WHAT? What the FREAK!  First it was his hippy hiking with a wheelbarrow, and now he's out there diddly farting around again using up all the firewood!  ALL because DAD lets him do it!!
Sariah - He's... uh, making a journal.  Its a father/son thing.  You know how they are. Making records, compiling records, records, records, records!  They've been really going through the camping gear too. I don't know what is UP with those two lately... I just hope it's a phase.
Laman - THAT IS SO DUMB!  Why does dad love him more than me! And I hate camping - I am NOT going anywhere with them; I don't care WHAT dad says.  I'd rather, like, tie myself to a post than have to go camping with my family.  Seriously mom - he's been getting out of goat poop duty for a MONTH! What the heck!  How many pages does he freaking need! "My name is Nephi and I'm a total LAME-O" - end of story!  I'll even write it for him! "I am a total nerd-dork who is wasting all my life making a freaking journal so I can get out of goat poop duty..."  It's not like anyone is ever gonna read that stuff. What a dweeb.  Seriously.
Sariah - I know... I know... but you got to go to J.E.W.  Jerusalem for a semester, and he didn't.  Can you hand me my favorite golden pot - the big heavy one with the lid and handles?
Laman - Sure. Where is it?
Sariah - What do you mean, "where is it?" It's where it always..... NEPHIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!
Scenario 3: NO, It's YOUR turn!
One of my favorite explanations about the plates is from Orson Pratt’s description of rings “through which a rod might easily be passed, serving as a greater convenience for carrying them.”  Those plates would have been a significant weight and now we gotta tote these suckers around.  It is like an early version of the TOTAL GYM.  You put a stick through some weights, and then do a bunch of repetitions.  But who would have had the responsibility?
Nephi's wife: Honey, if I have to tote one more kid around, I swear, I'm just gonna lose it!  I was up with the baby all night, and your dad says we gotta head even FARTHER into I-don't-know-where again.  I"m really starting to think this was a bad idea.
Nephi: Um.  I can take munchkin off your hands, if you want to take my plates?
Nephi's wife: YOUR FREAKING JOURNAL!  Are you SERIOUS!  Your brother is still pissed about you using his best camel blanket to rub that black crap all over the letters - not to MENTION the fact that he read what you wrote about his "murmuring"!  I think if you even "mention" your journal again everyone except your dad is gonna toss you over a cliff,  toss that stupid journal on top of you, and then TAP DANCE ON YOUR GRAVE!!!  I told you to leave it, but NoooOOOOooOOO!  Had to play the, "Lord told me to do it" card! I HATE THAT CARD!   I told you I didn't want to hear one more thing about your stupid two ton journal.  Here.  I"ll strap the baby to your front.  Now you're equally balanced...
The scriptures can seem really stiff at times, but I think that when we look behind the details and think, "Wait a minute..." we can see a bigger part of the picture. Two of my favorites from my sisters:

"My favorite story is how King Lamoni marveled for an hour at Ammon.  Like, what did everyone else do while he was marveling? 'So... should we order out for pizza or something?'" - Reagan

Lovin' me some scripture study....

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Gathering Hair Balls and Other Gardening Witchcraft

One of the things that I have been dabbling in is gardening.  I mean, the people who do it go outside, pick fresh stuff - FOR FREE - and eat it right off the vine, or plant, or whatever.  Its supposed to taste so much better than the grocery store stuff.  I took a class from a lawyer-turned-gardener, which was fascinating.  If there's something I know about lawyers, is that a good one always does his "Due Diligence."
He researches his project extremely well, and then builds an excellent case for winning.  Kinda hard to argue about gardening with a guy holding a 75 lb watermelon he grew...  So I attended his classes, took copious notes, and walked out with an "A"... for attendance. What I didn't know, was that gardening is as close to witchcraft as you get in the US of A.  And, like Harry Potter, it is a world with regular lookin' individuals that operate in a totally different sphere, doing totally weird stuff.

We just moved into this sphere a month ago.  And since we moved into a house with a huge strip of front yard that is 1.5 acres long, with a garden set up, it seemed natural that we would fall into gardening.  After all - we have the space!  The previous owner left us a legacy of some plants already growing, and spigots properly placed along the borders of an area ready for a garden the size of most people's yards.

My neighbor, Mr. Paul Gourdin who owns the surrounding 7 acres, boards horses, and has lived long enough to have grandchildren, completed two missions (Argentina AND the local Cannery), and has his own ginormous garden plot, all under his belt.  After meeting, he asked if I was going to do a garden.  I replied with a timid, "Uh... yeah."

"Last frost is past, so, its time.  What are you gonna put in?"

 As my mind scrambled to come up with plants - that are garden plants - that would feasibly be planted at this time of year, in this state, I went into a mini-panic as my City Girl side started to show.  There was this long silence while that little hamster was spinning in my brain. Artichokes? NO - that's California, coastal.  Celery? No!  No one eats celery around here.  Plants!  What am I planting!!??  Oh my gosh - he's staring at me!

"Corn?" He offered.

"Yeah!  Yeah - corn! Annnnd, sooooome SQUASH!" Which was a dumb thing to say -since I have a total of ONE recipe for squash.

"Tomatoes?" He countered.

"Oh yeash. Of course tomatoes.  Yah.  And maybe some peppers."

"Hot or bell?" How else can I say this, except that his retort was so fast I had to think what a BELL pepper was versus a HOT pepper.  My hamster was wearing out...

"Uhmmmm.  Both?" Who doesn't need a habanero plant in their yard?!  Tons of uses.  TONS...

"Zucchini?" came the next rapid fire vegetable,

"Ah - sure!" I said before my brain kicked in.

OH MY GOSH NO!  What was I thinking?! That is another plant that I only associate with "bread," and only then when someone ELSE hands it to me! The zucchini bread, not just the zucchini... I have no idea what to do with that.  Except substitute it with the one squash recipe that I have....

He nodded a "knowing" nod and offered to put the "discs" on the tractor, plow in some horse manure, and have it ready by Monday.  He said he would text me a list of plant categories to get at the IFA.  Because I knew, of course, that you have to plant different varieties of plants.  If you open a single brand of seeds and spread them around they will all mature at the same time. And then all need to be harvested at the same time. DUH... I knew that.  Sort of. It was written down in some of my notes. Somewhere.

The IFA is the American farmer's equivalent to "The Leaky Cauldron."  Everyone is going about their business in an utterly strange environment, while the muggles mostly stand and stare.  At stuff.  Sphagnum Peat Moss, Sevin Bug Poison, Bp, rows and rows of plants, flowers, gourds, seeds, pots and dirt.  The conversations are just as bizarre. As I entered, I passed by two men in a heated discussion,

"I think it's HIGH TIME they Mayor opened hunting season so we can massacre all those bastards - going in and munching my apples and peaches! They ate my tomatoes and took nips out of my pumpkins - RUINED them last year.  Just ruined them!"

"Yah - but it'll have to be with the hunting cross-bow from high ground, so they don't bleed out.  No one wants a deer bleeding out in their front lawn."

My jaw hit the ground. Hunting with cross-bows? I thought all gardeners were overall-wearing, red bandanna and straw-hat totin hippies!  Huggin' trees and lovin' Mother Earth and all, - not mass murderers.  As they glanced my way, I suddenly became fascinated with a poster with an acorn squash on it.  I avoided eye contact and looked instead at my list for plants. First up - tomatoes. So I decided to find the tomatoes.  I saw two women having a discussion about the merits of rhizomes and whether the liquid root simulator was worth it, or just rolling the seeds in the dry powder was better.  Undecided, they discussed the merits of inoculating seeds and which went on first, the nitrogen fixing bacteria, or the rhizome powder.  I think they were speaking English, or Granglish.  Gardener-English.  Since they seemed to know what they were doing, I approached and asked if they knew where the tomatoes were.

"Right over there..." Which was said in a tone similar to that used as if I had asked where the sun was.

I picked up the plants and realized why people were walking around with carts. Plants in pots of dirt are heavy!  I started working my way through my list, until I came to the pumpkins.  The nearest "plant" savvy person near to me was suddenly asking for a seed vibrator. I didn't even want to know, so I just kept walking until I saw someone in short-shorts and a tank top who looked like they were evaluating plants instead of just trying to guess what they were.

"Do you know where they put the pumpkins?  These vegetables aren't in alphabetical order..." I said, trying to sound as though all the OTHER garden centers were laid out reasonably.

"Uh huh, yaaah.  They're not.  Pumpkins are over on that table..."

I went over there, and I got the feeling that people thought I was a lonely pampered woman buying up a garden just trying to keep a brawny lawn-and-garden boy busy for the summer.  There was one solitary pumpkin plant on a big spot of empty table. As I looked around it, I searched for the others, as though the plants might be covered in some invisibility cloak, or hiding under the table.  Nope. So I assume that its like waiting for french fries, and its best to wait for the next batch to arrive and ensure getting a nice, strong-lookin' plant instead of the runt of the litter. I went back to the short-shorts lady,

"This is all I found, and my list says I need four. Do they have more in the back?"

Giving me a quick look up and down, and keeping an eye on me as she hollered around to one of the boys if there were any more flats in the back.  He hollered back,

"Nah - that's the last of 'em!"  Meaning the last of what was planted at the right time, that would sprout when it needed to, to be ready for Halloween.


So I took the one sad punkin' and the rest of my order and checked out trying to avoid the stares of the dedicated gardeners and deer murderers. I made a mental note: garden centers are HOT!  Do not show up in white capris, kitten heels, and a sweater top.

One o'clock Monday finally arrived, and I was out in the tilled garden with my seeds and potted plants. Planting is actually not a complicated thing.  Draw a line down the middle of the row with a stick. Lay the seeds the appropriate distance apart.  Cover them up and water.  What my neighbor knew, and I clearly did not, is that this process takes enough time to necessitate also wearing a hat.  I burned my lily white skin into a Farmer's tan with the first 45 minutes of planting. Paul had his straw cowboy hat that looked nice and shady as we leaned over the furrows.  It got worse for me as the afternoon wore on.  And its not a "tan." What I got is red skin that is also speckled throughout with even darker red bumpy angry skin that will not get you noticed on the beach.  More like, it will have people toss you money for your deformity.

Within a short time of the garden going in, I also experienced my first suicide. Even after careful planting, watering, and fertilizing, one of my cucumbers went in the ground, got watered, and decided that it hated it so much outside of the nursery that it dried up in it's $1.47 Miracle-Gro well-watered peat-moss pot.  And it refused to live any more. Looking at that plant with the "care for tab" still brightly attached, all I feel is a mix of pity and anger,

"Look you stupid plant!  All the other plants decided that they could hack it!  I watered you just as much as them! What is your DEAL?  COME ON! You are basically in the same spot that you were on Saturday! With more air! And fewer mass-murderers! And more room to grow! What do I have to do to make you happy, huh!?"

It didn't care.  It wilted, then shriveled into nothingness, all within 36 hours.  If you had a microscope, you could not find it out there. Which, after discovering nothing but the tab, had me muttering about the intelligence of plants and realizing that my old self never used to do that... Imperius curse?

So now, at this point in the gardening process, I have some plants on suicide watch.  I make regular sweeps around the garden to see if they've done anything stupid.  I've got a habanero plant that is refusing to put his leaves up and just looks depressed all the time.  "Buck up there lil' pepper - you got water today!  Just as much as the other peppers and they aren't giving me this grief! You really need to pull it together now! I AM WATCHING YOU!"   Which feels weird to be giving a pep talk to a depressed plant.

As does my recent conversation with Gourdin, about two weeks into all this.  I went over to Gourdin's to ask about thinning, and whether I'd pruned correctly for both raspberry plants (of course I had - I'd been reading my gardening notes!). His eyes got a little wider, which is about as much expression as I've ever seen.

"Both?  Which two are you talkin' about?"

I waved in the direction of the raspberry patch that was lookin nice and tidy after hours and hours of pulling out a veritable Serengeti of old neglected canes and long grass that was growing happily there and choking the life out of the other raspberries, and then waved over to the other side of the garden where there was now a nicely trimmed raspberry plant where a messy raspberry hydra had once been. I had it nice and trimmed with canes carefully re-woven throughout its trellis - just like the book said.

Without moving his head an iota, he looked at the raspberry plant trellis, looked at me, and said,
"That's a grape."
"It is?" I stammered.
"Uh huh.  That's a grape plant.  It'll go all over.  Keep it watered."

First dead plants, now wrong plants.

"Oh!  I didn't know.  I sure hope you're supposed to trim 'em!  Cuz I went all 'French Revolution' on them yesterday and decapitated all sorts of stuff!" which I thought was terribly witty.

No reply.

So... I ventured again. "Also, some deer took a bite out of my tomato plant.  Any ideas?"

"Get a hair bag." he said flatly.

"A... a hair bag?" I leaned in as if I was struggling with my hearing aid.
My little brain hamster was running furiously now.  What in THE royal hell was a hair bag?

"They hate the smell of human hair.  So you get your hair trimmed, have 'em sweep it up in a bag, and then stuff wads of hair into ladies nylons. Hang it right by the plant.  That should help deter them for about a summer. If you don't want to add any more hair, just spray it next year with deer repellant.  Or you can buy a bush like this one. (He pointed to a munched up bush.)  It kills deer.  I had to put a cage around it this year after the deer ate the darned thing down to the nub!"

I can not tell you which is weirder.  That he told me that, or that I actually went and did as he suggested.  And the salon is apparently in on the deal because they were like,
"Oh yah - totally, here ya go!"
I half expect them to start recommending eye of newt and wolfs-bane for future problems!  But I did it.  Hung five bags of hair in knee-highs all around the tomatoes and the pumpkin patch - looking over my shoulder.  As I was tying them up I got a little worried that anyone I knew would stop by and ask what I was doing.

"I'm just out here... hangin' some of my hair.  In these nylons.  To, ya know, keep the deer away... until the cross-bow hunt..."

It seems like so much hoo doo nonsense, but since everyone is in on it, I guess its worth a try. I wonder if I can use the hair from my drain. But then I imagine the deer saying,
"Oh my GOSH!  It's Coconut scented hair!  Margarita's everyone!!" and then having all my plants be gone. I don't know.  I have no idea how much my hair really stinks.

But this I do know; gardens are not free.  It is not effortless or for the faint of heart. And between weather, animals and bugs trying to take it out, I now empathize when I hear the conversation about someone leaving lots of deer poop on the Mayor's front porch.  And whether we will live to reap anything out of it is yet to be seen.  For all I know, I have just planted a delicious deer/bug buffet. I figure that I will worry about what to do with 250 lbs of tomatoes later.

Meanwhile, my poor pioneer ancestors are turning in their graves. "What is she DOING!?  THOSE ARE GRAPES!"  But I do have such respect for the farmers out there who do this as their job.  They may have to send stuff out to grocery stores green and whatnot, but the fact that we have access to such awesome food in all its variety is amazing to me.  And I'm gonna try and at least give it a shot. Not like the deer massacre shot, just "trying it" kind of shot. Hoo Doo and all. "Garden! Wingardium Leviosa!"

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I hate moving.  Yet I am getting super good at it.  We are on day 12 in our new place, and we finally have everything that was initially moved IN to the garage is now out of the garage.  It's not quite perfect, but let's face it; moving is like a typical college semester.  At the outset, you start out doing everything perfectly. Perfect materials and a totally unrealistic idea of exactly how long it's going to take. Then the assignments start to overlap, you throw in a few, "Awww, that would be so fun!" activities and suddenly you find yourself living in sweatpants and greasy hair while you start living off of Doritos and (name of your favorite caffeinated beverage here). Moving is like that.

I have learned a few tips and tricks about moving in all my years of experience.  And please, feel free to add your own ideas here.

1. Move the art.  It is the first thing that can come down off the walls, and is best transported in your own fair vehicle. Bubble wrap and boxes at high end prices will still leave you with a very lovely cracked frame, statue, favorite porcelain statue.  Move the art, and get it into a safe place.

2. Avoid cardboard boxes.  Boxes are expensive, and are only good for ONE thing; the ride from one place to the next. It is the "insult to injury" of moving.  Having to buy boxes that you have been trying for YEARS to get out of the house is mind-bending.  Especially once you see the prices.  Then once you have boxed up all of your crap, you must UNbox it, and, as if that weren't enough, you must now deal with the boxes. Yes, it helps movers to make a TON of money off of you, and it makes everything nice and tidy, but if you are moving locally - skip the boxes and start getting creative with garbage bags.  THOSE, you will reuse!

However, if you MUST use boxes, then arrive at your new place and immediately find a way to get them OUT of y our new place.  Don't place boxes in some random area with the idea that you will "deal with these later." No, just dump them out in the approximate room where they go, and then hustle the boxes outside with a "Free to a Good Home!" sign.  You will pick up the stuff on the floor, you will never develop a desire to unpack a box. EVER.

The upside, is that you get very realistic about your stuff when you see it all on the floor.  If - with all of your worldly possessions scattered about, you find that you can't deal with all of the stuff on the floor- it is usually a good time to hold a garage sale, or just keep an active "to donate" pile going.  Once it fills a garbage bag, trot it off to the Salvation Army/Deseret Industries/Goodwill.  DO NOT GO THROUGH IT.  Throwing away twice is just masochistic..

3. Move the kitchen first.  I made a city-to-city move within my own state, so while the kids were at school, I started hauling over the kitchen between drop-offs and pick-ups.  Most family activity thrives around the kitchen.  And it is the absolute hydra of breakables, perishables, and necessitous spoons, cutting boards and pots. If you can set up your kitchen then above all else, at least you will not starve, and you can deal with almost anything else that comes your way during your transition. Paper plates and plastic ware will save you when you are between addy's.

4.   Live a container lifestyle.  Halloween stuff - in a container with a lid.  Christmas stuff - container.
 Kitchen pasta - pasta bucket. This has been SUCH an incredible blessing to me.  It is HIDEOUS to plan and plot buying and setting them up in the moment, but ohhhh what a dream to move a basement that was already sorted and ... contained. And.... if you have the means.... I highly recommend getting a label maker.  Those little suckers are worth their weight in gold.  It is the key to freeing yourself from being the keeper of all the family "where is it?" information.

5. Be flexible. Each place I have lived in has its good and bad attributes.  I have substituted having a garbage disposal for an incredible front yard for my kids to play on.  And a garden.  Any place can be your Eden if you have the right attitude.  Tell your kids that this is home, and that you will be going on an adventure to find those best friends that you just haven't met yet!  Moving is like opening a new treasure chest.  You look around you, and you have no idea what gems surround you.  Be open to new people and new experiences.  On one of my previous moves, I was on bed rest and this totally skinny lady in running shoes came over to watch my daughter for me. Looking her up and down, well,  I KNEW that we probably didn't have much in common.  She probably ate tofu and planned marathons for fun.  How wrong I was.  She loves chocolate, she wears running shoes for comfort, and is one of the dearest people on earth that I know.  Allow yourself to believe that things will turn out well.  And more times than not.  It will. Just like your best college semester.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How to Clean the Fridge When you don't Want to

There are certain jobs connected with living that are secondary jobs.  If they are not done, your world does not fall down.  Things like... mowing the lawn, organizing your craft section and one of the most glaring of secondary jobs, cleaning out the fridge.  I hate doing it.  The doing is gross, sticky, pickle-mixed-with-chocolate-sauce and chicken-blood gross.  Unfortunately for me, I do NOT have anyone else in my home that has an OCD-need to keep a pristine, well oiled, defrosted and spiffied-up refrigerator   So.  The only one to notice that it is gross enough to require attention is... me.  If you are like me, you may need a little encouragement to attack this disgusting task.  I hereby offer up my solutions for attacking this unsavory secondary job.

#1 - The first step in attacking this truly disgusting task is to KNOW that you need to do it. That means that you *need* to first take an afternoon off, go over to the cupcake store and really soul search on what your "disgusting" level is.  Exactly HOW bad does it have to get before you just can't stand it anymore? At what point are you moved to action, - and does that level of mold perhaps need adjusting?

#2 - After you have found, and met, your disgusting level quota, and KNOW that you need to do it, grab your phone.  I did this very successfully today.  I dialed up my darling friend Mish (when I say that name, you should automatically think to yourself, "Oh I LOVE her!").  As I sat there staring down my gross fridge, we started talking about THE grossest fridge we have ever had to clean - in great detail.  I pull up my bra strap, and wedge my phone in there so that I am "hands free." As you continue this very vivid description of former filth, it should encourage you to grab the 409 and a cleaning rag.  Ya know, the rag that is actually a small towel.

#3 - After your have a good discussion of disgusting fridges rolling, your 409, and a towelrag, just start taking stuff out and putting it on the counter.  Don't look at it.  Just put it on the counter.  Unless it is leaking.  Put that in the sink.  As the conversation moves to gross people you can't believe live in such squalor  just take out one shelf at a time, scrub it good, and leave it out to dry. When it gets to the bins, scrub inside and out, then turn them like a cake you are decorating while spraying down each side.  Turn the bin, not the sprayer so that you are always spraying IN to the sink, not on the counter, or the floor.

#4 - With your towelrag, and an empty fridge, start to spray the insides of the fridge, and then wipe and start to work your way down.  When you hit the bin area, just spray like you're putting out a fire.  Scoop up all of the fridge crumbs, dried milk and unspeakable dross into the rag until there is nothing left but clean plastic. If you describe this part in detail to your friend, she will start to clean her fridge as well.

#5 - Then, it's time to just enjoy yourself as you start to restock.  Toss the moldy yogurt(s), group all 4 bags of bread that were breeding in the back shelves, and you may discover that you now have 5 bags of carrots that you keep buying because you can never remember if you have them while grocery shopping.  You just always remember that you need them and were gonna use for a roast/snack a couple of weeks ago.  As you start to put everything back into happy groups, (how did I get 6 blocks of cream cheese and 7 sticks of butter?) you may discuss new recipes to put the carrots in, or, just as a random suggestion, talk about those self-righteous cleaning nuts who clean their fridge every week.  I plead the 5th, and admit to nothing here.  However, if those topics don't suit you, you can move on to other important topics like food storage, and whether or not you need a solar generator.

But the simple fact will remain - you have just cleaned the fridge.  And as you swing the door open and a choir of angels sing, you can smile each time you gaze into your sparking fridge.  And should someone need to borrow some butter, you will now know whether or not you actually have some, and encourage them to go fish for it themselves.  This is so much better than having that shifty-eyed look of a car thief when someone asks to get something out of your semi-disgusting fridge.

And always, always, thank your friend for their help. Spread the love, and celebrate your success by reminding your husband that its time to mow the lawn.....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Empty Pages

In a rush to a symposium where I would need to take notes, I grabbed the nearest notebook I could find.  A few days later, I went to review my notes.  As I flipped from the pages to figure out which way was front and back, a page caught my eye.  At the top was a page labeled, "Ultimate Secrets of my Life."  As I scanned the page, I realized that it was blank.

This notebook is my daughter's.  I found her drawings up near the front.  And as I looked at that page, I began to wonder about her.  What ARE the "ultimate secrets" of her life?  The very fact that there is that title makes me believe that there are secrets.  But the fact that it is blank reminds me of myself.  And of you.  There is, in the dungeons of my heart, thoughts and experiences that have been locked away that will most likely not see the light of day.  They are mine.  They have shaped who I am, how I see the world, and the statistics of my life.  Some are interesting, many are not, but they are the essence of who I am when no one else is looking.

Will you ever find them here?  Maybe.  Everyone has a bit of transparency to their life.  Scars, habits, accents, and even genetics tell you something about each person you meet.  There are the standard stories we tell each other, "About the time that....".  But there are those that we don't tell as well. The questions of whether or not we feel valued.  The hopes and aspirations we have that some may not understand. We keep them guarded in our own little tower with vigilant guards set to protect them.  I will give you an example:

 When I was young, I wanted to be a world champion ice-skater. I didn't know then, as I know now, that I did not have the ideal physique for ice skating.  But oh how I loved the movement, the costumes, and the amazing spins, jumps and choreography that I saw on the tv.  To dance, jump, and spin with abandon and show physically what the music makes you feel internally. To fly and move in a way that can only be accomplished with very little friction. Which is also why I seriously enjoy watching Spider Man when he is flying between buildings. Mostly it was the costumes though.  The twirly skirts that catch the air.

I never did turn out to be a world class skater. Of the few times that I did go ice skating it was NOT what I had imagined in my mind.  The bird-flapping arms trying to stay balanced with feet that never seemed comfortable on top of a blade.  And I never got the costume either. Ice rinks are cold anyway.  But it did teach me to listen to the heart of my each of my children. Know their desires and let them try to follow their heart.  I didn't succeed where I wanted to, but I did became a wicked air-hockey player.  With a competitive edge so fierce that the puck often flies off the table.

Not much of a secret, huh? But even if you have known me for years, you would most likely not know either of those things about me. Like the way I just found out that the man I've been married to for over 14 years played the trumpet in his youth.  And those don't even come close to being any of my "ultimate" life secrets.  Those might strike fear, pity, or shock in your own heart.  But even if you were curious, you would not find them, or  know them.  I have not written them down anywhere, for anyone.  Nor will I.  Those are ultimately in an impenetrable part of me that even I rarely visit.  But it reminds me that there is an interior life to every person.  I don't think that there is enough time to know each other as well as we might like.

I reached up to pin down the slivers I had caught from Heaven.
They were hammered down between my heart and mind
To remind me of what I was and what I was meant to do.
Somewhere in the night I forgot where they were
Fear caught a hold of me and ravaged my soul
Cold fingers, lost eyes, and uncertain heart collapsed me
Til I found the first sliver I had hammered
And traced the it back to where it first fell.

Yep.  Now I gotta go move like Jagger and get some cleaning done.  I will be dancing where you can't see me, and singing where you are most likely glad you can't hear me.  And I suspect, that many of you are doing the same. There are so many empty pages to fill.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mothering. Eternity's Japanese Game Show

My sister, Reagan, made a post the other day asking, "What does God sound like?" and one of her friends mistakenly posted, "I think God sounds Asian" instead of "I think God sounds like Aslan (of C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe" fame)".  We all fell apart giggling about what an Asian God would say to His children, "Why you no repent?"

Asian God.  How silly.  And today, as I wandered around my home, I was of two minds; the devilish - "Holy Crap - this mess is insane!" and the angelic - "I chose to be a mom, ... and its not like this is hard.  Its vacuuming, picking up, rinsing out pots and pans etc."  As I numbly went about doing "the pickup" of unloading the dishwasher, switching over the unending load, shifting piles of paper "to go through" so that I could wipe off the counter.  I got distracted by a separate mess, and have not yet wiped down the counter, but hey, the kids got fed.  And I just had to think, "Is this really worth it? I mean.  Yah.  I "get" to do this, in the sense that there are people out there who can not have children.  I"m sure they would cry with joy at the possibility of... picking up after a kid." And then my sarcastic side slipped in, "Yes.  But you are not picking up after A kid, you are picking up after FOUR kids. Four kids who can undo a room such record time, its almost Genus Book of World Records - worthy."

Asian God.  Aslan God.  You know - I believe in God.  And of all the things I had to learn on my turn on earth, is this really it?  Patience?  Cuz that seems to be the only thing that is stretching around here except my butt.  And then I had the thought of a Hunger Games Arena.  The part where there's a group looking down into the arena at the controls, giving urgent messages about how things are unfolding in my micro controlled environment:

 "They have been home 1.2 minutes.  Deploy the toddler to find the new plaster teeth mold and destroy it. Let the 4-yr old see the new box of Lucky Charms.  With proper hand placement, explode the entire bag like cereal confetti in the front "guest" area..."

and me... with what is left of my wits, left alone to try and defend against it.

Heaven forbid that I have tidy kids!!!  And I gotta say, I am not really winning this game.  They undo faster than I can redo.  For example; Sam's ride came to the door yesterday.  Two little girls were sent to retrieve him, and after I opened the door, one little girl said to the next, "Wow - its really messy in there."  What did she see? Oh, the broken chair that hubby has been "going to fix" for almost 2 years now.  Freshly torn out curtains from my son's room. Gross carpet, (because the spot bot just ain't cuttin' in anymore), a very dead aloe plant that "I don't know" keeps stabbing with a fork, my microfiber couch that has been peed on a number of times, and the remnants of yesterday's cereal escapade. There's more, but I just can't list it all here.  All it would take to put right is a team of professionals and two hours to get it back into shape.

However.  I don't HAVE a team.  The team of professionals is me.  And the timer for cleaning really only starts when kids are not being their creative selves or NOT in the house; a narrow window between 12:45 and 3:20 which is naptime + schooltime - Tues-Fri.  There is an INSANE number of things to do in a ridiculously short amount of time.  And then... I got it.  Suddenly the idea of an Asian God didn't seem so odd.   Mothering. Eternity's Japanese Game Show.  Hear me out.

If you start off on the premise that you are going to be asked to do absolutely ridiculous stuff, in an insane environment, with a benevolent set of onlookers "Ohhh'ing and Awww'ing" with noisemakers at each level, well you have it about right. In my imagination, there are a bunch of bored, but perfectly happy angels, who have nothing but holy things to do.  I think I help them feel a lot better about things on THAT side of the mortal veil.  I suspect that they have many tapes that they can rewind of my kids driving me bonkers for their heavenly free hours -

 "I love this part where she is working on her daughter's project and she's just about to see what that boys have been up to! OOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHH!  Peanut butter on the Jesus picture!  Classic!"

I have a HOST of friends that feel better about their lot after hearing about mine.  Its great to be in the stands, "Oh, that's too bad - oh gee, I bet you'll laugh about it later!"  They don't want to enter the arena.  They just want to watch the show.  Like old people who tell you to enjoy it - but never offer to babysit...

Today's obstacle course, "Make sure daughter leaves with map of "Treasure Island" with attached book report notes.  Your printer does not work, and you have only seconds to send it to the print shop, to have it picked up, and glued on, before school.  You must keep the laundry rolling through, decide what to do with the now-dried-out angel food cake that you found, and clean up the crumbs. You must scrub all the pots and pans and run the dishwasher TWICE because the children broke the interior of the door and the spigot doesn't work half the time.  There are clothes, both dirty and clean, that need to be sorted and refolded/tossed in that huge laundry pile because you went to a "How to train your children to handle Money" symposium last night, and they didn't get their clothes put away. Dinner will require that you start thawing the meat NOW or your entire dinner/evening will be messed up.  You still have 6 banker boxes to fill with items for the "Build a Knight" Blue and Gold banquet that you are putting on for the Cub Scouts on Tuesday. You must mark that your daughter attended "World Thinking Day" in order to pass off her PA pin, and make arrangements with your spouse to get some things cleaned on Saturday since you will be loading up Girl Scout cookies. Your son's dental appointment is in 10 minutes and the place is 15 minutes away."

I'm sure this will be hilarious.  Some day.  To someone else.  But that last statement is true, and its a snowy day, and I put my toddler down for a nap that I now need to snatch him up from. Ready.  Set. GO!

Good luck to you, fellow mothers.  I get it.  It is such a crazy ride, and once on it, you can't really opt out. There is an Asian God, and he needs good ratings.  I'm sure it will be high humor to someone.  May you be strong to fight your daily battles.  And may the odds be ever in your favor!! Next question, "Why you no repent?!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Startling Confession

I know.  It has been forever since I wrote.  And there is very good reason for it.  I am usually cleaning up the mess that I am now ignoring in order to vent my frustrations about take-home reading plans.  Has anyone else read these "books" that are really just laminated pamphlets?  In the words of Gru, "This is literature?  A two-year old could have written this!"
I hate "Take Home" books.  There it is.  I said it.  Well. Wrote it.  I wrote it out loud that I despise the take-home system that involves a tiny paper "book" that they want to charge me $7.50 for when they put it in the care of a 4-8 year-old little boy.  HOW STUPID IS THAT!  I swear, its gotta be how they fund Area 51 or something.  Along with $500 hammers the government uses. But in the hustle and bustle of "Where is your coat?  And your other shoe?  Did you go potty yet this morning?  Let's get that peanut butter out of your hair...", I despise hunting down that stupid plastic bag! Every now and again I also see where they have sent the SAME book and circled the crumpled paper that is lacking my VIP initials.

I hate that bag.  It is not for the benefit of my children, it is a torture device to parents.  It is YOUR homework.  I can open the bag, read the book with my child, sign off on it and tell them to put it back in their backpack.  And I will find it tossed in the back of the car, or under a seat where NO ONE would ever find it who wasn't looking for a dead body!  I believe there to be a group of individuals that come together and hold meetings about how they can lower the classroom size by forcing more kids into home school.  Their dialogue goes something like this,

"But what can we do to utterly send them over the edge?  We've been trying to get them with the cookie dough sales - but mandatorily sending home a packet that must be returned or they will forfeit $20 is just not enough.  The mom's yank those from the backpack, and they return unopened 4 weeks later.  UN OPENED."

"Yah Bob, I think we need to have something that doesn't look that packaged. We need to make them open it up, something small.  Something fragile.  And just do it over and over and over.  Like a whole Alphabet's worth of tiny annoying things.  But I love the back and forth.  I am seeing some progress on the seriously stressed out mom front. We're looking at projections of 6-10 kids per class next year..."

Do I believe in reading? YES.  Do I think that my 4 year old now understands what a "Qq" is by reading about a Queen, a Quail, and a Quilt that were Quirky?  No.  No I don't.  I think my kid will learn what a Q is because he wants to read the instructions to his RC helicopter.  Or Calvin and Hobbs.  It has got to be a conundrum for the Elementary school folk how these poor depraved kids don't seem to have an "active" reading exchange program, yet can still reprogram an unattended computer to display random poop smears.

And where is the book they last sent home?  Well, tell 'em Gru... "[Explaining why the girls can't find their book "Three Little Kittens"] That book was accidentally destroyed maliciously...