Sunday, December 31, 2006

Resolution Absolution

Happy New Year! It's so clichéd for people to remark that time flies more quickly the older you get. But, man, it's true. Last New Year's Day was on Sunday, and I recall a conversation I had that day like it was yesterday. Or at least only a month or two ago.

My friend Leslie and I were getting music ready for Sacrament Meeting. That is one of the several responsibilities we share in our little branch. As she played prelude music, we wished each other a happy coming year. Leslie confessed that she didn't really make New Year's resolutions in January. September, or the beginning of the new school year, was when she was more likely to feel a beginning and set goals for herself.

Although I am quite sure there was a time I did not, I do not recall ever NOT making New Year resolutions. And last year I sheepishly told my dear friend that I had only one goal. To loose weight. I had looked it up online and was going to the local Weight Watchers meeting on Tuesday.

As I explained to Leslie, each previous year my goals consisted of such things as: Be more organized; Read my scriptures daily; Keep a cleaner house; Have more patience; Exhibit greater faith; Be a more consistent Visiting Teacher; Don't yell so much; Exercise 5 days a week . . . I always had around 3 to 5 goals, written down, ready to better myself. I never went more than 3 weeks working on these changes. So in 2006, I figured, if I couldn't be a better, more organized person at least I could be cute.

That was a hard goal. It took a level of discipline and control that is not generally part of my character. But I met it. By mid-September I had lost 30 pounds. Pleased with my looks, certainly. But even more than that, pleased that for the first time in my LIFE I made a New Year's resolution and kept it. It still seems like a miracle. Like someone else must have stepped in and done it for me. For I may be a lot of things, but I am not resolute.

Well, thinking of resolutions today, I figure making that goal last year should get me off the hook for a while. I made that goal at 32. So can I forget about goals until I'm 48? Until I'm 64? Do I only get a year or two off? I'm not sure. But let me tell you--excepting the ongoing goal I now have of maintaining this weight--I'm not writing down a thing for 2007.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


When I think back on my growing-up years, my Christmas memories are filled with tradition. The night after we decorated our tree, my mom would let my brother and I get our sleeping bags and fall asleep under the lit tree, which looked very magical in a darkened room looking up through the branches. We made Swedish Tea Rings to bring to friends. We always had an advent calendar until the year we got one with chocolate in it. Having had the chocolate once, well. . .you can't go back to a dorky picture or saying, can you? From then on we burned an advent candle nightly and each had a small peppermint patty that were kept in a little red tin with a green lid.

When I was littler, my Christmas Eve was spent at my mom's and we would sit by candle and tree and lamp light. My mom had year round hurricane lamps hanging in several places in the living room and we always used lots of candles in our yule-tide decorations. We'd have Christmas music playing and my mom would read some of the Christmas story-books that we owned. Nothing felt more appropriate to me on that holiest of nights--the candles created such a soft glow it was in my mind as close as I'd ever get to a midnight mass.

As we got older, the holiday routine changed. We spent Christmas Eve with my Dad and came home Christmas Day. Those Christmas Eves were the best. Make-Your-Own-Sandwiches was the dinner menu, and then we'd decorate the tree to the sounds of Johnny Mathis crooning Winter Wonderland. I'd often have brought my flute, and would play, and we'd also sing carols accompanied by my dad on guitar. Christmas morning was merry and bright with stockings filled with oranges, chocolate and toothbrushes.

The first year we were married, I was frustrated with the lack of any traditions practiced. #1 was 2 months old and Larry seemed uninterested in doing anything special for someone who couldn't focus on anything more than a few feet away. He was probably right, and I am not sure whether I was anxious to start traditions for my daughter or prolong my own childhood another season or two.

13 years later we are steeped in what I hope the kids will fondly remember as a traditional season. We sing carols with Larry on the guitar. We have special Family Home Evening lessons on the Savior. We decorate the house, and bake, and read, and listen to music. We prepare gifts for teachers and friends and gather goodies from our baking for our neighbors. Even wrapping gifts feels special to me when we all do it together. I am not sure which of the things we do will stick out in the kids' memories, which things they will try to bring into their own families when they are grown. It's funny how the insignificant or small things are at times the ones with the most meaning. For me, I am always sure that my children's stockings each contain, if little else, a toothbrush.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Turkey Eating

I grew up with Thnksgivings at home with my mom, my brother, often two missionaries, and sometimes a person or two with no other place to go. It was small, but meaningful, and certainly very yummy. My mom made little traditions to make us stop and think about the meanng of the day. Two days after Thanksgiving, we'd feast again with my Dad and my stepmom. This generally included salmon loaf, apple pie, and Grandma's banana-pineapple Jell-o salad. At least one year, Amy made a delicious pumpkin ice cream pie, that I think was a recipe from her mom.

As great as that all may sound, I used to long to be part of a bigger crowd. My dad's family all met together every year in San Diego, and I thought that must be the way to have a holiday. Four, six, seven people--that was not quite in the category of "celebration" to me.

The first time that I experienced one of these San Diego affairs was when I was a sophomore in college. I came down from Utah with a cousin and her family and stayed with my uncle. That was a fun trip, but the fun had more to do with the time I spent with two female cousins and just being away from school. The actual dinner was interesting. These events more closly resemble a ward pot luck than a Thanksgiving dinner. It's in a chapel--boys are shooting hoops in the cultural hall, girls are watching them from the stage and little kids are running amok. Parents and grandparents are in the kitchen warming up and putting the finishing touches on what has been prepared at home. A buffet table set up in the hall leads to giant round tables in what I am guessing is the Relief Society room, decorated in theme. The food is much better than your regular pot luck, I will grant, but for me the dinner is just overwhelming and uncomfortable.

My first Thanksgiving after getting married, we already had one kid and had moved about two miles from my in-laws. That first one was rough. Men watched football, and women did food and clean-up. I had a six-week old baby, and was pretty miserable. Those family events got a little bettter, then a little worse. As more people joined the family by marriage or birth, my mother-in-law felt the need for more organization. There was a time when there were games and crafts for the kids and crafts for the women all scheduled and set up like some mass homemaking meeting/activity day. She's never organized anything for the men--they always have football. This has let up a bit, but there is usually some craft involved still--I hear this year we're doing little glass snowmen. But the only way to avoid going to Larry's family dinner is to decide to go to the San Diego one instead. We've done it a few years, but honestly, now that I have recipes for both Uncle Tim's mashed potatoes and Grandma's orange rolls, I have little need for that kind of Thanksgiving.

My dream is to do the big day up here. Just us, maybe some friends. I could make MY stuffing and MY yams and MY pumpkin pie--maybe even the ice cream pie. The mountain scenery would remind me that I am thankful for where I live, and sitting at a table with my kids would reinforce how grateful I am for my family. My house would smell good, my kitchen would be warm. My slippers would be just down the hall and my sofa would be waiting only for me to finish my turkey. It would indeed be small--six, eight, maybe twelve people. And that would now be my definitave celebration.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Flipping the Coin

Well, it happened again tonight. I think it stuck out to me because it's been a while. The kids and I were leaving Del Taco after a quick dinner on a busy night when a man leaving right behind us said, "Wow, lucky you finally got your boy!" And you know, he said it in such a friendly, laughing way as if he were really happy for me, that I mustered every ounce of restraint I own to not only not be snotty, but to be kind and laughing in my response.

Usually, up here, I am more likely to get the "are those all yours" types of comments. I hate those too. I'm not sure which I hate more, but I think it's the boy comment. I am baffled as to why people think that I must have been "trying" for a boy. Do people really do that in America? I mean honestly, who past the age of 11 really thinks they are going to get one boy and one girl and one dog and have the perfect little family? My dad could tell me exactly who. Among other studies, he has looked into people's perceptions of the probability of getting certain configurations of genders of kids. And people tend to forget that every go is another flip, another 50-50 shot, regardless of previous births. So maybe some people do keep trying for that one they're missing. Me, I try for a kid.

My cousin tries for a kid too. She's successfully gotten five. She may even want more. The five happen to be boys. Imagine the comments SHE gets. She told me once that she and her husband have discussed how if they do get a girl at this point, they must have at least one more child past that, just so people won't make the silly assumptions they do with me. I guess I could have had another, and avoided some headaches. The problem was that when I got my boy, I wasn't trying for a kid at all. I was faithfully trying for NO kid. But let's face it, unless one of you is sterilized, it could happen. It did. And now we are sterilized. No more flips. But do I owe this information to nosy strangers? Clearly not.

Don't get me wrong. I am so glad I have my boy. I feel that God gave me that gift in spite of my selfish attitude. Boys are so different and so fun, and that seems especially so after three very girly girls.

I just wish people would mind their own business. I try to mind mine. I try to an extreme. I even worry that I come off as unfriendly sometimes because of it. Tell me any information you want me to know but I'll be darned if I'm going to ask, because your coin flipping is of no concern to me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Price of Democracy

I volunteererd at the school Book Fair this morning. This meant that I had to get up eary, shower, make lunches, and get the girls and myself out of the house about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Larry, who generally takes the girls, instead went to vote and take #4 to preschool.

My mom picked up #4 as she does most Tuesdays while I have accupuntcture. When I'm done I go to her store, get the boy, hang out, and then we pick up the girls. Today when I got to my mom's store, #4 was wearing a construction paper Indian headdress bearing his name hyphenated with "fast-runner" and a sticker on his shirt letting all of town know that he had voted.

As it happened, this was the time I had appointed to go vote myself, and upon hearing the change in plan, #4 whined, "But I don't want to go vote, it takes too wong!" Assuming they'd hit bad lines, I reassured him, "Oh, but Daddy doesn't know the fun line games that I know. We're going to play fun line games." Not entirely convinced, that promise at least took care of the whining. My next move was to rack my brain on what fun game we could possibly play waiting in line for the next available machine, all during the three minutes it takes to drive from my mom's store to the polls. Luckily it hit me. "Honey, Daddy voted at about 8:15. Lots of people vote then. It's 1:45 now--I bet there won't even be a line."

Feeling pretty confident that the mystery fun-line-game wouldn't be needed, I still felt great relief to see an open machine on my precinct's side of the room. Checked in, card inserted into the machine, the whining started up again. "This takes too wooong. I don't want to vote."

"Buddy, it's not going to take long at all."

"I want to go hooome."

As I touched each candidate I nervously checked my peripheral vision for signs of annoyed fellow voters and tried to quiet my bored son. Finally, everything voted for, I just now had to check the printout as it rolled under the viewing window to make sure everything had been recorded correctly. "See, buddy almost done. We'll go get the sisters in just a minute."

"Weawwy? Almost done? That was fast."

"See I told you there wouldn't be a line."

"We didn't have a wine, Daddy didn't know how to do the machine. But then he did."

I'll have to ask Larry what happened with his machine, because I'm pretty sure he knows how to touch a circle by his candidate's name on a screen. Good thing we don't live in a precinct with punch card ballot machines. As we all know from the 2000 elections, those are remarkably tricky and I'm just not sure #4 could have waited that long for his parents' voices to be heard. But hey, at least he now has TWO stickers on his shirt.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My Vain Little Secret

It may not be a big deal to some--but to me, November 1st brings a small amount of relief. I mean, #2's birthday is JUST around the corner, not to mention Thanksgiving, #4's birthday and Christmas. But at least Halloween is over.

Do I hate Halloween? Of course not. But every year it's a major stress. And the worst part is that the stress is entirely self-inflicted. I could avoid it all. But I don't. Because I am vain. And because I procrastinate.

When I was little, store bought costumes were very plastic-y and not very cute. Fabric and patterns were also much cheaper than they are now. As a result, every year my seamstress-mother made our costumes and they were fabulous. My brother and I won contests. We still have many of these in our family's possession. So when I grew up I figured a costume was just somehow not valid unless it was hand-made. And for several years, homemade costumes were all my girls had. I would look at kids with store-bought costumes, some of them very nice, some exquisite, and I would think, "yes, but your mother didn't MAKE it."

Along the way now there have been costumes that I purchased for the kids. And each time two things happen. I feel like an inadequate mother, and I find myself trying to apologize or explain why my child would be wearing one.

It is barely short of hellish to sew four costumes. I go crazy. I stay up too late many nights in a row. My back goes out. I get angry at myself (and other family members silly enough to come near me). I heatedly vow that "Next year I am buying them ALL, and I could buy them all at DISNEYLAND for what it costs me to make them!"

Enter vanity. All of that frustration seems to melt away on Halloween night. "Why yes, I did make the costumes." "Why thank you, I was really happy with how they turned out myself." "Yes, my mother taught me to sew." "I does take a long time, but I think it's worth it." I look around at my four beautiful kids with their four beautiful, handmade costumes, and I feel that again, I have arrived. I am mother, hear me sew. And by the next fall, much like childbirth, the pains of pinning and cutting and sewing and gathering and surging have all faded into something not so bad, certainly something worth the outcome. So early September we choose costumes, and buy patterns and fabrics, and are all ready to go.

Enter procrastination. I have a hard time getting anything done without a deadline fast approaching. This should have been easier to avoid this year--I only had one pioneer costume to make, only one costume that I would not feel the need to apologize for. But I factored this in to my timetable and was finishing the pinafore about 30 minutes before leaving for our first Halloween party of the season.

I honestly cannot say which I'd prefer: a sane pre-Halloween October, or bragging rights on the 31st. If I really think about it though, my record must show my preference. Next fall I'll have to go up to the attic, pull out the costume trunk, and make a tally. My money is on vanity.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I've been collecting some little verbal gems from my #4 for a few months. Here they are, in no special order.


• Boys are cool 'cause they wear awesome shirts.

• If you don't have a butt, you can't poop. That's why everybody gots to have a butt.

• Why does he (Rush Limbaugh) have a heavy voice?

• Real things are bigger than pretend things.

• Two boys are better than one boy. We're all the boys we've got! (said to dad about fixing things)

• Please means RIGHT NOW!

• Orange trees means we're down the mountain.

• If I was born on Christmas, Christmas would be December 23rd.

• Um, superheros don't really "pick up." (spoken to his un-hip mother while wearing Superman jammies, with a "duh" tone in his voice)

• Welcome back to summer. It's been a long commercial.

• When you're hurt, you need to be alone, unless you're at the hospital.

• Lilly Rock (a peak on our mountain) is heavy.

• If you're an old man and you have a stick, when you get married you have to put the stick back where you found it. If you remember, you can.

This last one was out of the blue. No idea! Maybe a commentary on how #4 loves collecting rocks and sticks, and though Dad--an old married man--thinks they're cool, he doesn't seem to have any of his own. It's so interesting to think about how the world appears to a kid. Things we say must sometimes sound very odd. Words often have different meanings, and adults sure are hard to figure out. I still have a hard time with some of them.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Good Wife

I received an email from a good friend. It was supposedly an article from Good Housekeeping Magazine from 1955 entitled "The Good Wife's Guide." While of questionable origin, it is interesting to reflect on. It was comprised of 18 bullet points, the main gist of each one being how to treat your man to keep him happy. We've come a long way since 1955. Some of those changes have been good, but in my opinion, not all.

GOOD CHANGES I almost have to laugh reading bullet #18, "A good wife always knows her place." Are we pack animals? I come in right after Larry? I could make some semi-nasty comments on "position," but I'll refrain here. My grandma used to say that the man is the head of the household, but his wife is the neck, and the neck turns the head. It's by no means an original, but leads me to believe that even in 1955, women had different ideas about their place.

Bullet #17: "Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him." Hello? I guess I'd be raving mad at this one also were I not busting a seam from laughter. When Larry was going back and forth with the grad school question, he always wanted my opinion. I never felt it was my place to give one because I was not the one having to attend school and do the work, and it was determining his profession, not mine. From Larry's point of view, although he is the one working, he's doing it on behalf of us as a couple and a family, and therefore didn't feel right about making that major a decision with out my input and mutual agreement. We have indeed come a long way.

UNFORTUNATE CHANGES If this were slightly altered, the same article could be called "The Good Spouse," and the information would be invaluable. I suppose it could be argued that it is precisely because if the one-sidedness of the suggestions that the article is shameful. I could see that point. I think as a society however, many of us try to drop the expectation on wives rather than extend it to husbands.

The end of bullet #6 reads, "After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction." Someone (not, I believe, my friend) had incredulously underlined this statement. But it is true. And unless you have married a total jerk, catering to his needs with be rewarded by his catering to yours. That, my friends, is the basis of a good marriage. If I do all I can to take good care of Larry and he does all he can to take good care of me, both of our needs are then met in a very unselfish, giving way.

Bullet #3 reads, "Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him, His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it." Guess what, my day needs a lift, too. If I am fun and interesting, Larry will be, too. I've heard it said that people who are bored are people who are boring. There is a lot of truth to that. I married my best friend for, among other reasons, companionship. If I am a lousy companion, what was the point?

Bullet #12: "Your goal: try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit." Wow. That should be the goal for the benefit of us all! Easy to manage? Uh--no. But a good goal none the less.

Bullet #8: "Be happy to see him." Do I even need to say "duh?"

I am sad that our world becomes increasingly unconcerned with manners and respect, with kindness and selflessness. I think of an extreme case of a miserable person I know who feels that he is never shown enough love. But it's because he doesn't know how to show love himself. He only looks at what he thinks he's not getting, never at what he's not giving. It's a pitiful situation. Many of us, I'm sure all of us at times, could do wonders to increase our happiness by looking outside of ourselves and giving more. The Savior said that those who lose themselves for his sake would find themselves. I think that general sentiment applies to Christians and non-Christians alike. There is great satisfaction to be had in being a good wife, husband, mother, father, friend, child, citizen of the world.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Studio

I love art. I am relatively artistic. I have some talent. However, I lack discipline and focus. So I think it highly unlikely that I'll ever elevate myself to the category of "artist," a title I covet. And now that I live in a community brimming with true professional artists, my dream seems less attainable than ever. I would quickly be identified as a fraud.

When we moved to the mountains, I was fortunate enough to have a room assigned just to my junk and me. In our previous home, my "sewing room" was housed in half of our gargantuan master closet. Better than nothing, but it often spilled out into the master bath, much to the chagrin of my better half. In this home we have a whole extra bedroom, and since Larry has the office/recording studio downstairs, my sewing machine and fabrics, crafting and art supplies have been housed there for two years in varying stages of semi-organization and chaos.

With the bigger room, I inherited storage possession of our family photo albums and other memorabilia. This also became a waiting station--a place to put trash before I was really ready to part with it, give-away items on their way to the Help Center, and storage items which had as of yet no assigned location. There were empty boxes, half-finished projects, mending, Halloween costumes, plastic hangers, fabric scraps, pattern pieces, manzanita branches, wrapping paper, raffia, Christmas cards, school work, and as of last November, a beautiful sewing machine in a cabinet that had belonged to my great-grandmother sitting hidden by junk in the corner. "It's somewhere in the sewing room," became a common response in our home to the infamous "Where's the ______?" question.

Four events spurred me on to a cleaning and decorating spree. First, we visited my brother- and sister-in-law in Idaho. Not only is Kim more minimalist than I in her beautiful decorating, but she has been on an organizational binge herself lately. Their closets were gorgeous and I was inspired. Second, we came home and Larry went to work on his studio-office. It's not perfect, but it's looking pretty darn good and I was envious. Third, I made some note cards to sell in my mom's Holiday Shoppe here in town, and then I had vision. Because of the lack of any clear surface area at the moment in my sewing room, I'd made the art for the cards on my kitchen counter. At that moment my sewing room changed form in my mind, it was now an art studio.

Finally, Larry allocated a certain dollar amount to "home improvements," put me in charge, and I had funds. Larry requested only that I use some of the money to get window treatments for the solarium. This is important because during the winter the sun beats in and is fading our furniture. The most cost effective way to do this is for me to make custom roman shades, virtually impossible to accomplish without an accessible sewing space. So along with an order of 17 yards of home dec fabric for the shades, shelves and baskets and a table were purchased. Periwinkle paint I'd acquired over a year ago for this purpose was rolled onto the walls. Several trips were made to the dump. Et voila: functional studio, complete with two sewing machines and a serger.

Whenever I redo a room, even a bathroom, I want to spend all of my time there. This is no exception. I am ready to tackle all of my unfinished projects and start on new ones. It's exciting. Like Paul McCartney's girl and her driver, I have a studio, and that's a start.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Love Lucy!

One of our neighbors has a license plate frame that reads, "A True Lucy Fan is Driving." This has taken on new meaning for me this past week. I get a smile on my face every time I pass that car on my morning walk with our newly acquired Golden Retriever, Lucy. Truly, I am a fan.

Lucy lived next door to Larry's parents up until August 1st, when she became a mountain dog. She's about 8 months old, so she still acts a little like a puppy, although she looks more like an adult. Lucy, however, is one of the calmer puppies I've met, at least now that she is getting used to lots of attention. She loves people, and every visitor to our home is a new friend. She is smart and eager to please, a great combination for behavior training.

Anyone who's owned a dog knows what an ego booster one can be. Lucy loves me. She loves the whole family, but it's been clear from day one that I am her main care giver, and I therefore instantly earned a special place in her heart. She follows me everywhere, lays on the floor beside me while I work, and gives me lots of kisses and paws and snuggles.

The kids all love Lucy, at least now that #1 and #4 are no longer afraid of her! Larry loves Lucy and will even comment unsolicited about what a good dog she really is. And I love Lucy, too.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Happy 24th!

Pioneer Day has always been a favorite of mine. This year I am feeling a little sad because we chose not to attend our stake Pioneer Day celebration. That decision was largely mine. I am tired of traveling, and hot as it has been up here, it is even hotter down in the valley.

For my non-LDS readers, Pioneer Day commemorates the day in 1847 when Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley. Utah has a State holiday filled with parades and fairs and all sorts of events that I've never been to. Local church units tend to have their own celebrations as well and the ones I grew up with in the small Amherst Ward beat any big stake production I have been to out here.

I used to dress up in my Holly Hobbie bonnet and apron. We would gather in the church parking lot and eat pioneer food and have watermelon seed spitting contests and parades, complete with "ox"-drawn "covered wagons." We sang pioneer songs accompanied with an acoustic guitar and listened to Sister Tripp tell stories of her pioneer ancestors. Maybe it was because I was young, but these events always seemed authentic.

Celebrations in Southern California that I have been to feel more like county fairs. They are somehow less personal and a tad more modern. Still, they are a lot of fun to attend together, and my kids know nothing else. Every year I think that next July I'll make myself a pioneer dress and bonnet. Similarly, after each Halloween I vow that I'll make myself an Elizabeth Bennett costume for next. I tend to let myself down frequently.

This year I at least filled my Sabbath with a bit of celebrating at church. We had a newly-returned missionary speak in Sacrament meeting, but since I pick the hymns, we sang "Come, Come, Ye Saints" and "They, the Builders of the Nation."

Luckily, this was also my month to do Sharing Time with the kids. You can do a lot more with a Primary of 6 than of 75. So I brought "provisions" in a large basket and we set up "camp" on a quilt under a tree in front of the chapel. We ate dried apples and apricots and homemade Pioneer Hardtack, sometimes known as sea biscuits, which seems to me to be the grandfather of the Wheat Thin cracker. I told two Mary Fielding Smith Stories, illustrating how Heavenly Father heard and answered the prayers of the pioneers. Abbey had the talk, so I helped her tell the story of the Crickets and the Seagulls, which has also long been a favorite of mine. We sang "Whenever I Think about Pioneers."

It is always amazing to me to reflect on all of the sacrifice and tribulations that the early Saints endured voluntarily. I am thankful for men and women who "met the test" in a way that I am not convinced I could have done. I face adversity much better in a climate controlled environment. Because of their faithfulness and fortitude I can live the gospel in relative comfort. I certainly have many trials of my own, but my own desire to press on is strengthened by those who have pressed on before me. We are united through the generations by common faith and hope--by a common goal of salvation. Through their stories and examples they tell us all to take courage and face the world with a strong heart.

"Whenever I think about pioneers,
I think of brave women and men.
I like to remember that children came, too;
I would like to have been a child then.

"I would like to have sung with all the pioneers,
With their voices loud and strong.
'Hosanna, Hosanna, we've found our new home,'
Joy and thankfulness filling their song."

"Whenever I Think about Pioneers"
words by Della Dalby Provost
CS, p. 222

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Back Home

Aren't vacations fun? I've always loved vacation. Traveling to different places, smelling different smells, seeing different landscapes. When I was little and living in Massachusetts, I just loved going to San Diego. There's nothing like getting off of the plane to palm trees and balmy sea air. My grandma's house smelled fresher to me, somehow, than anywhere else in the world. I miss that smell, and can never quite find its match anywhere else in the city.

We traveled up to Idaho this past week. We took the Suburban loaded with an atlas, duffel bags, DVD player, games, snacks, water, apple juice, coloring books and an iPod. We had dinner with friends in St. George, bought tee-shirts at BYU in Provo, and toured the Conference Center and Temple Square in Salt Lake. We saw the new Joseph Smith movie in the Legacy Theatre. We attended Sacrament Meeting with the Prophet and President Faust, and although we never saw them and didn't even realize it was their ward until after the fact, we stood and waited for them to exit the building before leaving the chapel.

We continued on to a small suburb of Boise where we stayed with Larry's brother Eric, his wife Kim and their 5 kids. The 13 of us then went up to McCall, in the nearby mountains, for a couple of days. The kids had a blast, and we grown-ups had a pretty good time ourselves. Back in Boise, #4 went shooting for the first time with Larry, Eric and Eric's #3. The girl cousins stayed home and made Buckeye Balls. Finally we stopped in Carson City on our way, but otherwise drove straight home.

On our trip we saw license plates from every state but West Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island, and North and South Carolina, from 2 Canadian Provinces and the Federal Government. We passed by 11 LDS Temples, only unable to see 1 from the freeway and stopped at the St George and Salt Lake Temples. We saw 3 State Capitols. All this, and more, we did in just 8 days. Whew!

But now we're home. Laundry is almost done, and only Larry's bag is left unpacked. I'll likely tackle that while he's at work tomorrow. I've gotten groceries to last us until I do a big trip on Tuesday.

I often return home from a trip to a new place wishing I could move there. It's not that I hate where I live, but the grass is always greener where there are no responsibilities or routines. I'd love to be able to move to Idaho. That's not really an option, with the business. And it's nice to be here. We returned to heat and fires, but we also returned to the lady at the Post Office who overheard me ask for my mail and came over to see how the trip went. We came home to my mom and our hamster and my brother. We came home to a branch that drives me a little crazy, but is full of people I have come to love. We came home to messages from friends, a birthday party invitation for #3, and a plea to coach another team for AYSO. This hill provides a full, if not so green, life.

Yes, I always love a vacation. But it's always nice to be back home.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Scent of a Campsite

Some of my memories from childhood seem to have a taste or smell associated with them that is entirely unrelated to anything I ate or sniffed at the time. There was a Golden Book I had that I can still "taste," that taste having to do with the texture of the illustrations and the mood it created in me. It would be impossible to define the flavor, but it's there in my mind very clearly.

One such set of memories involves Laurel Lake. This spring my dad showed me some pictures he'd taken there and I seemed to smell something besides trees and campfire smoke and water and sand. Every summer from the time I was about 8 years old I went camping there with my Dad for around two nights. We even had a favorite site that we managed to get most years. When we first started this tradition it was by design a very primitive experience. We slept in a small two-man tent and carefully selected perfect logs to serve as camp chairs. The sites came with a picnic table and fire pit.

As years passed (and perhaps as his body aged) my dad decided that the optimal circumstances for communing with nature were more luxurious. Comfy folding chairs started making appearances as well as pads for the sleeping bags, and toward the end we'd gotten a nice roomy dome tent that I could stand upright in and probably could have slept 4. This tent was particularly nice one year when it rained. Dad and I spent the day playing gin rummy inside, which took on a strangely sunny effect from the light colors of the fabrics. Dad always brought nice quality meats to fry and one year we found blueberries on a hike that we picked and put in our pancakes the next morning.

My dad also took my brother camping--separately though. Mostly I'd go first and help set up camp. But I think there were years that Dan had his turn and then I'd take down camp with my dad. These trips always involved finding fire wood, hiking around, and many walks and talks. We would go to the lake, as I remember, only in the evenings as part of a walk. (Many Saturdays during each summer were spent at the lake, swimming, and sunning, and trying to keep sand out of our tuna sandwiches.) I love walking and talking with my dad and have since I was very little. And I think this was my favorite part about these trips--a lot of time for talking.

One year though, in high school, I was NOT up for camping. I spent a bit of time as a teenager coming up with reasons to be angry at my dad. I can't recall if that was the reason I didn't want to go or if it was truly the camping itself. I didn't have the guts to say no, so I acted grumpy in protest. I also can't remember if I had helped to set up camp that year, but I think I had. We'd only been there a couple of hours when my dad turned to me and asked if I'd rather go shopping. I couldn't believe he was serious--but he was. We packed the car back up and went home. I think we did shop a little at the mall, but mostly we just spent the time together at his house. Even at the time I realized what a considerate and loving gesture this was and felt very thankful. Looking back, it means even more. It seems like the next year we didn't even try camping--we did something more urban for fun instead.

College makes you a little nostalgic sometimes, and coming home my freshman year we did the camping trip again. I knew it was probably going to be my last and I think it was the best because of that. There was nothing exciting or out of the ordinary. Just a lot of talking.

That kind of time with my dad just doesn't happen now. Not really because we don't go camping together anymore, but because we're rarely alone anymore for more than a few minutes here and there. I'd not change that--I want my kids to get to know their grandpa as well as possible--but sometime it would be nice to have a day for walks and talks. Living in the mountains, I've got a perfect setting for that. But maybe my dad would prefer I take him to the mall.

Friday, June 02, 2006

"Oh what do you do in the summertime. . ."

". . . when all the world is green? Do you march in parades, or drink lemonades, or count all the starts in the sky? Is that what you do? So do I."
CS, p. 245

Confession: I am more excited for summer break than my kids. As I type, they are finishing up their 10th to the last day of school. With 18 days to go, I made one of those paper chains that the kids often bring home in December to count down to Christmas. But instead of red and green construction paper, I used pink and yellow and orange, with red numbers. I enlisted the help of #2 and #3. #1 was not interested. I cut and they stapled and labeled numbers. It was quite fun, and this afternoon the chain will be half as long!

Second confession: I will be sadder for school to start back up at the end of August than my kids--even #2. The other three will likely be excited to get back! The last two weeks of summer break I will be trying my hardest to ignore the dreadful growing pit in my stomach and instead fully enjoy what's left of my vacation. I will try to balance doing lots of fun things with doing nothing at all, which is also fun.

Why do I love school breaks? Part of it is entirely about me. I tend to resist structure and routine. I prefer events and projects. I'm sure structure is good for me. But so is wheat bread, and most of the time I'd clearly rather have a donut. (Um, not that I do, but that would be my preference.) Summer is right up my alley. I get to have the chocolate glazed Krispy Kreme in my whole-grain filled life.

The other part of my love of summer is my kids. I love to have them home. I love to have that time to interact and learn together. We can have more moments like yesterday. #3 brought home some sunflower and corn seedlings that she'd grown at school. We planted them after lunch, which was fun in and of itself. Then I noticed a ladybug in the pine tree above our head. It's ladybug season and they are everywhere. I pointed it out to the kids then saw another. I counted 5. Then I counted 10. And suddenly they began to pop out all over. Little red bugs on green needles--hundreds of them, all the way up the tree. It felt like we'd entered a fairy land.

Maybe they'd been in the pines before, but I'd never noticed them. They are small and easy to miss. And yesterday, we saw magic in our front yard. So much of life is like that. So much of raising kids is like that. When I'm in a hurry and life is busy, I miss more of the magic and fun and beauty that is always there. But when there is time, when I'm relaxed, I see it. And my kids and I together have the opportunity to see it in the world around us.

This summer we will swim and hike. We will tie dye and knit and make ribbon barrettes. We'll play monster trucks and we'll read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We'll see sights along the road and we'll make ice cream on the back deck. And I'll try not to worry about what's getting done and what's not.

My little ladybugs will fly away before I know it. I want to enjoy them as much as I can.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Officially Over the Hill

Late last year the camera that I got as a High School graduation gift finally died. Instead of opening the battery compartment, I opened the film compartment and then the camera thought it was out of film, which sent it into a mechanical panic. I got the film out, but it will no longer accept new film, and makes lots of atrocious noises at me when I try.

So right now "our" camera is in reality #1's camera. It's a not-too-expensive digital number which is perfect for her and her photography penchant. It does the job, and she has no problem letting us use it whenever we want or need. On Saturday, Larry was looking for agreement from me on how convenient it's been to have use of it. First off, I'm not totally sold on digital. I guess I'm not used to it, or maybe I just need a better camera, but I did just fine with film, thanks. But that is really a whole other topic. The big complaint that I submitted to Larry (for I MUST have a complaint!) is that the camera doesn't zoom, and so to get a good close up picture, I need to be right on top of the subject. Besides this being a little uncomfortable and sometimes impossible, it throws off the center of the photo significantly, the lens being below the view finder.

As I was saying this, nine year old #2 picked up the camera and within seconds was showing me how to zoom. I'm quite sure she had not tried it before. I laughed an incredulous, slightly embarrassed laugh. Larry reassured me that it was just a sign of being old (a very reassuring fact, indeed). He said that when he was a kid he could easily and intuitively set up any electronics that his parents brought into the house, and knew exactly how to work every aspect of it. Now, at 35, he has to read the manuals. Technology, he claims, is only instinctive for a relatively short segment of life for most of the population. And this, coming from my computer nerd husband.

I suppose I am in good company, at least. I must admit, though, that I was never very good at figuring out technology. I did have an easier time learning it when I was younger. Currently I am proud of the fact that I can usually remember with out being shown how to turn off the auto flash on #1's camera. It's helpful that there is a little lightening bolt by the button and I only occasionally don't notice it. However I AM going to have to have #2 train me on the zoom feature again.

Friday, May 12, 2006

My Walker

You often hear stories about little kids who are surprised to see a school teacher out in public for the first time. Their whole idea of how life works is suddenly shattered. They'd only thought of teacher as being at school, teaching--not living an actual real life in the outside world that didn't include them. I had a similar experience today at the dump.

There is a little elderly man who we see walking up and down our street almost daily. Sometimes we see him several times daily. He has a dwarf-ish, squat face. He has a grey beard and shoulder length hair that hangs out of a tan ball cap in fair weather and a stocking cap when it's cold. He uses a hiking stick that almost comes to his shoulder. It's not purchased, I imagine he found it years ago when he first started this routine. We have seen him out walking at various times of day, and heading in either direction in many different locations on our 1.5 mile street. Though I'm not sure where he lives, I'd guess it's here. This is a nice street to hike--many people from the surrounding neighborhood use the route--but I've never seen this man on anywhere else.

We wave to him, and sometimes he'll wave back at Larry. At me he gives what I hope is a blank stare that only looks like a scowl because of his squat features. Whether I'm in a hurry and going 30 miles per hour, or taking it easy at under 20, he is startled the minute he is aware that a vehicle is approaching and jumps off the street onto either a curb or roadside dirt. He generally doesn't continue walking until our car has passed.

Today I saw him at the dump. He had his hat, but no walking stick, and without it, it took me several seconds to decide it was really him. He was putting recyclables into the bin, taking them out of a white Subaru wagon, which I must assume he can drive, along with an elderly lady with long grey hair, which I must assume is his wife. As I approached the bin with my bag of papers and cans, the woman made eye-contact and said hello. After that, her husband followed suit. I smiled and muttered hi. I have no idea if I was familiar to him out from behind my steering wheel. It was a surreal moment, if ever I've had one.

I realized that in my mind this man had become something a little non-human, like a small animal or a cartoon character. I'd come to think of him as having no other life than walking up and down my street, starting at passing cars. I thought of him as lonely, having no family or friends--or at least none who cares. I also imagined that he couldn't speak, and had no other capabilities or interests or responsibilities. He was just "the walker."

I feel a little silly. I'm certainly old enough to know that people have lives outside of our experiences with them. I also feel a little sad. I'd taken a small amount of possession of him, as if he were MY walker, mine to see and enjoy along with the lilacs and manzanita, along with the blue skies and snow-covered peaks. I fear when I see him next I'll be aware of his real life, aware that he is no more mine, perhaps a little less mine, than those lovely lilacs and beautiful skies.

But maybe if he knew, if he knew how much I love to see him walking, maybe he wouldn't mind the attachment. And maybe he'd consent to be, even just a little bit, mine.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Jagger on Gratitude

A mauve formica dinette with four velvety mauve chairs has become for me the symbol of all that I hate about my house. Paired with two green padded folding chairs, this constitutes our dining table. It was a much appreciated hand-me-down when we were newlyweds. Twelve plus years and four kids later, I no longer appreciate it, except for the fact that it is a flat surface on which to eat. There have been times when we have considered getting a new table and chairs, but something else always seemed more urgent. For example: "We have a place to eat, but we don't have a piano." Or: "We have a place to eat, but we don't have beds for the girls;" or ". . . living room furniture;" or ". . . a drum set."

The last house we lived in was a new construction. We bought it in the "stick" stage, and watched it develop into a beautiful home. New carpet, new appliances, bull-nosed corners, non-popcorn ceilings, new bathroom fixtures. Enormous master closet, Corian kitchen countertops, birch cabinetry, walk-in pantry. We had the interior professionally painted and custom wood blinds and plantation shutters installed before we moved in. We landscaped our back yard within a couple of months. Within two years I'd added my personal touches to about every room and the outcome was beautiful. I LOVED that house.

Then we decided it was time for a move. I don't regret that decision. We love it up here. Great school, great preschool, great community, great people, great Branch. The kids are thriving. It's beautiful. It's not crowded. It is where our family needs to be.

We now have a beautiful mountain home. Great views, great pool, great layout, great square footage, great wood ceilings. Most people visit for the first time and adore it. Most people from up here consider the home to be quite new, being built in the early 80's and added on to in the early 90's.

But often I just can't get past all of the flaws and the work that needs to be done. No baseboards, ugly old kitchen with drawer bottoms falling out, old dishwasher, brass fixtures and knobs, thrashed carpets, broken pool vacuum, broken spa heater, very weathered exterior wood, carpenter ants, outdated light fixtures and fans, breaking window blinds, broken fence gate, leaking windows, concrete work needs to be fixed, more fire abatement needed. Plus, #4 needs a big-boy bed, we need a computer desk, outdoor furniture, food storage freezer, better storage for my sewing and craft materials, roman shades for the solarium, and a bigger bike for #1. Neither list is entirely comprehensive. It's overwhelming and depressing.

Much as I love the Stones, "profound" is not generally how I would chose to describe them. There is one song, however, which will sometimes come to mind and truly change my outlook. I hope it's not sacrilegious to say that it effects me nearly as much as some scriptures that I hold dear. A prophet Mick is not, but for me these lyrics hit the mark: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime you might find you get what you need."

We do have a roof over our heads, food on our table, books on our shelves, and clothes in our closets. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ and the priesthood in our home. We have a husband and father who takes very seriously his roll as provider, and who is persistent and intelligent and honest enough to be successful. We have two working vehicles which can get us around these mountain roads, even when snow-covered. We have breathtaking nature all around us. We have family near-by. We have good friends who love us and help us out more than they even realize. We don't all have great health, but we function reasonably well most of the time and we are all 6 alive this morning.

I don't always get what I want. But I always have not only what I need, but more than I need. I am blessed. I need more often to be very thankful for all of those blessings.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

One Weird Fish

This has been a stressful week. Larry had strep and did not go into work once. I took him to the doctor on Wednesday (that's about 2 1/2 hours just driving!) which pushed my day in the kindergarten room to Thursday. Junior Garden Club has started back up. And I've had two "put-me-to-bed" headaches, which I rarely get these days. So it is one of those weeks that I feel like nothing has gotten done, but I've been constantly busy. I hate it when that happens.

Which brings me to the subject of this post. I haven't had energy to think of anything shockingly profound or even mildly amusing to write about. But I did get "tagged." This would basically be a survey in the email circles. I am supposed to write six "weird" things about myself. Hopefully this sort of thing will not become a blogging trend. If it does I will most likely, in the future, opt out. But between the week I've had and the fact that this friend is not only my freshman roommate but the mother of one of my two namesakes, looks like I'm "it."

Weird thing #1. I cannot answer questions with one word very easily. You know those "personality test" things. I can't take them. They always want you to pick one choice. I prefer to answer with at least one paragraph of explanation. Not that an inability to effectively take these sort of tests is a major hindrance in life, but it is a great intro into this exercise. I mean, what exactly IS weird? What may be just a personality quirk? Maybe something seems weird to me, but if many others share that trait, is it still weird? For instance. I love a good hummus but HATE garbanzo beans. That sounds a little weird--until you think of all the people who hate tomatoes and love ketchup or vice versa. It becomes clear that there is a great difference between a whole food and one that's mushed up and seasoned. Plus my cousin has the same taste with the garbanzos and the hummus. I guess both of us could be weird though . . .

#2. I have a great fear of uncovered windows when it's dark outside. It can be dark or light in the room, no difference. The windows NEED to be covered. Or I might have an anxiety attack.

#3. Lots of people have texture issues, but I've not heard anyone else with this one. I can't deal with fingerprints against fingerprints (or footprints, for that matter). So only rub my feet if I have on socks. I also need to put lotion on with the palm of one hand against the back of the other, then I switch. I love that Bath & Bodyworks hand soap because there are little grains in there, so I can wash my hands like a normal person without freaking out. I can hold hands with my kids or Larry, because that doesn't rub. But I can't imagine ever getting a manicure or pedicure. Blech!

#4. I think my forearms are fat. They aren't. They never have been. But I can't get over thinking that they are.

#5. I'd rather be talking off the cuff in front of hundreds of strangers than one on one with someone I sort of know. Clearly, good friends are a different story. But even my extended family who I haven't interacted with that much are much scarier to me than a crowd. A microphone is a great barrier. It's kind of like this blog. No interaction needed. No need to think of interesting questions to ask. No fear of negative response. If you don't like what I have to say, you can politely ignore me. No hurt feelings. Everyone's fine. Yeah, I really like this blog thing! Maybe even better than a mike.

#6. Larry says this is weird, but I don't know. I am highly annoyable. HIGHLY. Maybe it doesn't seem weird to me because I come by it honestly. Comes from my dad's side of the family, and I was trained from a young age. There are seemingly infinite things, sounds, and people that annoy me greatly. I really can't go into much detail here, or else all of you may start worrying that you will annoy me. In fact, there is a high probability not only that you will, but that you already have. I promise to try to keep that information to myself. And please know that I am FULLY aware that it's not you, it's me.

There you go. I don't really have anyone to tag. Not many friends yet with blogs, and I doubt the Monce Family would be interested. But if you REALLY want to see weird. . .you can check out my friend Jenny's list at

***Two notes: One--you'll have to cut & paste the url, my browser doesn't support the text formatting buttons that uses. Sorry. The second is just plain funny. The spell checker on this site doesn't recognize "blog." Wants to replace it with "bloc." What a kick!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Easter 2006

At Larry's parents' house
Saturday, April 15

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hooked on "Idol"

I saw an article in the "Your Life" section of the paper today promoting TV Turn-off Week. April 24-30, families are being encouraged to keep the tube dark, and find renewed interest in family and couple togetherness, nature, fitness, reading, etc. I think this is a super idea. Unplugging for even one week I'm sure can open eyes and minds to what we are missing out on with TV and what we wouldn't miss at all without it. I sometimes pine for the fortitude (and agreement of my spouse) to disconnect the satellite once and for all.

I wish I could say that these are the thoughts that immediately came to mind on reading the article. Instead I thought, "But what about 'American Idol'?"

Um, we're fans. All six of us. It's a little embarrassing. . . for me, anyway. I tend to be anti-reality-TV. Overall, I think it's dumb. It's not reality. It's contrived. No one really gets stuck on some desert island and needs to make alliances in order to NOT go home and have the chance to win money. Honestly, I think "Gilligan's Island" was as realistic a situation. (My apologies to anyone who watches "Survivor," having never seen it, I may have the premise wrong. I may even have the title wrong--but I think that's the one.)

Nevertheless this is the third season that we've faithfully watched or taped and then watched "Idol." I think the show is well produced. It has a long season, so there is a different focus on each stage of the competition, keeping interest through variety. Everyone loves the try-outs--watching people make fools of themselves. Why is it that we all seem to find great humor in others' sufferings? I get frustrated with people who are obviously not there to try out, but to be ridiculous enough to make it on TV, thus earning 15 SECONDS of fame. I feel a combination of bewilderment and sympathetic embarrassment for those who clearly think they are fantastic but, in reality, are tone-deaf and horrifically musically challenged. There is a girl I think of every season, not a contestant--someone I actually knew, who thought her voice was much better than it was. I imagine her trying out, singing out her soul, and being told on a national broadcast that she had one of THE worst voices Simon Cowell had ever heard, and he's heard the worst. I believe she'd not handle the news well.

The final 24 is where you can begin to vote for your favorites, and so that's where my girls get especially excited and start to take the contest personally. Larry calls in two votes for each of them until the count is down to 12, and then they get one vote. Each week the girls make hand written lists of the contestants. #2 makes smiley faces that look somewhat like each singer with an emotion that rates their performance. #3s votes are a study in primacy and recency. #1 is more likely to develop a favorite and vote for that person regardless of how they sing on any given night.

Myself, after the try-outs I have a hard time keeping interest until they are down to the final 12. I can never remember names until about the final 10 or 8. Currently, they are down to 6 for this season, so I even know the last names. I always say that if it weren't for the girls, Larry and I wouldn't watch at all. I wish that I knew that to be true. Deep down, I'm afraid it's not. Much like Jerry Seinfeld's interest in "Melrose Place," I fear can talk about Paula's uselessness and Randy's weekly claims on ties to the famous with the most loyal "Idol" viewer. I know who's "bringin' it" and who was "just ah-right for me, dawg." I almost cried last season when Constantine got voted off. This season I swear I'll stop watching if Chris gets kicked off before Kellie.

Ironically, I found solace in the same section of the same paper, when I turned the page and read a quote by filmmaker Paul Weitz of "American Pie" fame. He got the idea for his new film, "American Dreamz" from his own obsessions which he realized he shares with much of the country. "I would start my day reading the papers and feeling anxious about terrorism and worrying about whether the administration had an exit strategy from Iraq; then by evening, I was watching TV and worrying about whether Constantine was going to get kicked off 'American Idol.' I thought there was something strange about this picture." Starring Dennis Quaid and, my favorite, Hugh Grant, and being rated PG-13, this will definitely be a must-rent! Maybe it will help me feel better about my "Idol" habit. But only if Kellie gets voted off next.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Welcome to the Hermitage

Larry and I are not good neighbors. Don't get me wrong--we're not obnoxious, loud, or messy. I don't think that anyone minds us living next door or across the street. But we are not very good neighbors all the same. We're not mean or rude, but neither do we go out of our way to be very friendly. We often don't even know names of people living around us. We're not the big-barbecue types or even the hang-out-in-the-front-yard-and-chat-with-passersby types. We rarely give any useful or meaningful service simply because we aren't aware of our neighbors' needs.

There are several reasons for this. Maybe they are really excuses, but I'm calling them reasons. Larry's health ranks high on the list. He rarely has energy for the people we know already, or our own family for that matter, let alone energy to go meet more.

Another reason is all of the volunteer work that I do in relation to the kids. This gets me meeting people in other places, but not in my neighborhood. I'm often gone more than home. The time spent at home is therefore precious: full of getting homework and chores and cooking and cleaning done--or at least worked-on. Soccer season, which for our family is August-November, is the worst. Moving to a remote area hasn't helped with that, either. A 50 minute round-trip to the grocery store doesn't help at-home time.

Things were a little better in the previous town we lived in. There were very nice people and lots of children on our street, which was great, but my kids attended a school out of our boundaries within the same District. So there again, we were largely playing and volunteering with people elsewhere.

Our current neighborhood has been interesting. Ours are the only kids on our end of the 1-1/2 mile long street that we live on. Everyone else is retired or nearly retired. I met one neighbor when we first moved in, an electrician who came to switch our drier to work with the propane hook-up. They live two houses down, he and his wife. I saw him again once when he came to fix my dishwasher about a year later. Now their house is on the market. (Any friends or family interested in being our neighbors, let me know. I promise we'll be great neighbors if we KNOW you.)

Our next door neighbor we "met" when last 4th of July she drunkenly called my children all sorts of profanities from her back porch because she thought they were playing too loudly in our pool. We met her truely this fall when her live-in guy knocked down a rather large oak tree in our front yard with a run-away Ford Explorer and another fantastic round of explatives. She apologized for our last encounter, we chatted for a few minutes, and now rather than hate her with every fiber of my being, I just feel tremendous pitty for her. I haven't seen her since.

But that's it, that's all we have met in almost two years here. I will readily admit that we have not yet ventured out to introduce ourselves. I did have cookie plates all made up to go around this Christmas, but Larry got sick, and I can't bring myself to do that sort of thing without him along. The cookies got thrown out after a couple of weeks sitting on our window sill. Anyway, I always thought that introductions were the main repsonsibility of those already living in a place. Maybe I need to get my head out of Jane Austen novels and Andy Griffith Show re-runs long enough to check if that is still the case.

Ultimately, however, none of this means very much. Ultimately, the fact is that I married a hermit. He had even disclosed that information pre-nuptually, but I didn't believe him. He was always incredibly outgoing with my apartment and in other situations that I saw him in. When he wants to, he can still be very social. He just doesn't want to be very often. And I have found that it is much easier to become a hermit onesself than to socialize someone else.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Measuring Success

I guess I need to start by noting that in January I started with Weight Watchers. Between the last three kids there was an extra total of about 25 lbs to drop. And #4 being 4 years old, I finally decided that this was it.

It's gone pretty well. It is a great program for me, making me accountable for doing what I know I should in the dietary department. But it is hard not to be a slave to the scale and not only celebrate every pound lost but mourn every tenth of a pound gained. Occasionally I find other sucesses that this journey brings.

This week Larry and I went to Disneyland for a late 12th anniversary trip. There were showers in the morning, keeping crowds away. The longest line we waited in was 20 minutes, and most were 5-15. Amazing. We went on every ride we wanted, shopped, and left the park at about 5:30 or 6pm and spent time in Downtown Disney--the shopping/restaurant district just outside the park.

Well, I decided a couple of weeks ago that I was not going to journal or even estimate points on this little trip. I was going to eat what I wanted and maybe just watch my portions. I did order salads and veggies instead of soups and potatoes, and I ordered water instead of soda. Amazingly though, I didn't have to make an effort to watch my portions. I filled up at EVERY meal after eating about half (not including the salads and veggies). Now, I am embarrassed to admit that I could in the past be very piggy and eat almost any amount of food put in front of me if I loved the taste. I would be stuffed, and while that is never comfortable I would think it was worth it. These two days though, I really had no big desire to keep eating after I was on the full side of satisfied.

It may seem a little silly, but this seems like a big deal to me. I've been afraid that after I loose all of my weight it would be insanely difficult for me to keep up these new eating habits. And while I'm sure that I can pretty easily slip back into the old ones if I don't watch it, I see where my tastes and desires are actually beginning to more naturally reflect what I am trying to do with the WW program.

And boy, if I can change myself in this way, maybe I can make other changes that seem to constantly weigh on me, more important ones involving my character and my attitudes. There I would find true sucess.