Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Return of Christmas Spirit

'Tis the season to make music -- or at least, that's how it seems. Today, I played my first of 5 gigs this Christmas. I have the great privilege of playing the viola in several symphonies and other groups. And this afternoon, I participated in a performance of Handel's Messiah.

I'll be completely honest: I was not really looking forward to it. Most gigs pay, but today's didn't. That sounds really selfish, but I said I'd be honest. I had to play violin instead of viola. And I will play in three more performances of this oratorio over the next couple of weeks. I just plain didn't want to do it.

Stay with me here. I've been feeling a lack of Christmas spirit lately. No one has any money, so any talk about gifts carries an implied undercurrent of stress about how to finance said tokens of love and appreciation. And everyone has crappy things happening to them. So how are we supposed to feel good will toward men (in the non-gender-specific sense of the word) when men don't exactly seem to feel good will toward you?

Then, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine, Melissa over at Moments that Matter, posted an entry about music. Her post prompted me to think about the music I love -- because there is just so much -- and I finally got around to Christmas music. It's that time of year, right? I keep Michael McLean's Forgotten Carols in my car year round because it speaks for my heart. "He Was Here" is about the shepherd who slept through the part with the angels and missed the opportunity to adore the Christ child, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it because of this line:

"I know that as the world moves on through time
There will be more stories just like mine
About the souls who've chosen to believe
In something that they never got to see."

So. The Christmas spiritometer began to rise a little. I kept the CD handy, and started listening with my kids during afternoon clean-up time, when we (read: I) pick up toys and tidy the living room before I turn on a show to occupy them while I cook dinner.

One random day, just like all the other days, I started yelling at the kids to participate in cleaning up the mess they helped make. I was getting really frustrated because they were just not listening. At all. And just as I reached the pinnacle of angriness, I heard another of these carols in the background. It was Joseph's song, when he sings, "I was not his father, he was mine."

Deep breath. I stopped yelling and had this total paradigm-shifting moment. I had this vision of Joseph and Mary parenting a toddler Jesus. Did Mary have to stop him from touching a hot pot? Did Joseph have to reprimand him for being careless with tools? I expect they didn't, but it doesn't matter, because whatever their precious and perfect son did, they saw him with an eternal perspective. They saw him as a child of God.

I know that my little boys are not going to grow up to be anything that will even approach the greatness of our Savior. But they do have one essential characteristic in common with their elder brother: they, too, are children of God. I think if we really saw our children (or, really, anyone) for what they are, what they can become -- we would treat them differently. I bet Mary and Joseph didn't yell at their little ones. Or even at each other.

Yesterday, we drove up into the mountains where there are farms that grow Fraser Firs. We hiked around on the mountain in the cold and finally found our perfect Christmas tree. The nice workers cut it down for us with a chainsaw (always exciting for little boys) and baled it up (also exciting!) and we brought it home. Tonight, the boys "helped" us put on the lights. Add a little more Christmas spirit to the meter.

Jump back to today. I went. I played. And as I listened to the words of that most inspired of compositions, taken wholly from scriptural texts, set to what must be the most glorious music ever composed, I felt a resurgence of the spirit I had been lacking.

We celebrate because we have so many blessings -- even in the worst of circumstances, we have the greatest of blessings. We give gifts to one another in semblance of the greatest of all gifts ever given: a sacrifice beyond our comprehension that makes it possible for us to live in the presence of God forever.

Christmas Spirit is officially back.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Bra Revolution and other body issues

When we were growing up, MommyJ and I didn't get along very well. At all. I hated her because she was thin, and she hated me because I had boobs. Sadly, we missed out on a lot of years when we could have been better friends because we were so wrapped up in ourselves -- and when I look back, I can't see that anything was wrong with the way either one of us looked. (I only wish I could be as fat now as I thought I was back then!)

As I have gotten older and endured the changes that happen to a pregnant, breastfeeding, tired, overworked Mommy body, the aforementioned body parts have only continued to grow, so much so that immediately after I finished nursing MayDay, I seriously considered surgically reducing their size.

One day, on a whim, while my mother-in-law was keeping all three boys so I could run errands, I stopped at the lingerie shop in our little downtown area. I had heard they did bra fittings and I wondered what they could do for me. I walked in and said I had some bra issues. Oh, yes, she said, you do. Let's see what we can find.

She didn't even measure me! Just a look, a couple of pokes and prods, some manhandling I hand't been expecting, and voila! A bra that lifted, separated, and took some serious pressure off of my back and shoulders, plus it looked pretty all by itself and did wonders for how I actually looked with clothes on. I tried on many, and I am here to tell you that these babies are seriously engineered, steel reinforced wonders of the modern world.

I was absolutely sold. And then she told me what my size was . . . I nearly swallowed my tongue. It was so far from what I had been wearing -- it's not a wonder I'd been having issues! Who knew that bras with preteen band sizes came in cup sizes so far up the alphabet?

I spent $300.

And then I called my husband and told him the good news: I just saved him $5000 since I wouldn't need surgery anymore! He grumbled, until he saw the results, and he, too, was very . . . impressed. My mom said I looked like I'd lost 20 pounds. Who wouldn't be all for that?!?

Jump to this past week. We had some shopping to do for the boys, so we drove an hour to our local outlet mall. I needed a new pair of jeans, and I'm partial to The Gap, but it pains me to spend $70 for pants I can find for $40 at the outlet.

(Side Note: My brother once said that he thinks The Gap people snuck into his house in the middle of the night, measured his butt, and then made him a pair of pants. This is exactly how I feel about the Long & Leans. I don't know why I ever try on jeans any place else.)

I mentioned in passing that I needed to go to The Gap to see if they had any Long and Lean jeans on sale. This stopped CPod short.

"You wear Long and Lean jeans?"

Yes, I said, I do, and don't they look fabulous?

And please, could you mask your incredulity just a little?

Admittedly, his disbelief is merited: he is a long and lanky 6'5". This only serves to make me look even shorter and curvier than I really am, which is a voluptuous 5'4". And because he, of course, does not understand what I do: you buy the jeans that you aspire to be. That's why I don't buy Curvy and Straight jeans from The Gap -- it might be considered pornographic were I to put on jeans designed to enhance your curves.

Throw all of this into the wonderful stew that is my body image, and add this on top: I broke my treadmill. The repairman came this morning and replaced the warrantied parts, but still, it's not great for your self-esteem to know that you're responsible for splitting the running deck of your treadmill longways down the middle. I mean, am I really that GINORMOUS? Of course I'm not. I can always blame it on CPod.

I am fighting a battle against the insecure me, but I will persevere. Because I know that if I hadn't been running on that treadmill with regularity, I wouldn't be able to finish a 5K in under 26 minutes. (I know, really, I should weigh nothing!) Nor would I have a seriously healthy heart and really low cholesterol. I know that I will not be winded from playing with my children in the back yard. I know that if I have to run for my life, I have a good chance of outrunning whatever is chasing me. And I know that I am truly doing what is best for my body, even if the good health result doesn't have the bonus side effect of making me trim and slim. Ah, well. It's just not in the genes.

I am proud of this Gap Long and Lean size 10Ankle booty -- it's the only one I've got! And I love my 32G bras -- they work better than any I have ever tried before! And I will beat you, CPod, when we run our 5K in the spring -- mark my words!

Postscript: I know we come in all shapes in sizes, and there are probably those of you reading this who wish I would just shut my skinny self up. There are also those of you who see that I wear a size 10 and hope you are never that huge.

Please remember that how we see ourselves is an entirely different matter than how we see each other. You may think I look great the size I am, but feel terrible about yourself -- and if you asked me, you'd find that I think you look great, too. Or, you could be like me half the time -- I doll myself up for a night out with CPod and think I look really hott until I see myself in a mirror or photograph and get a hefty dose of reality. (MommyJ, I think gadonkadonkiness is hereditary!)

Lil' Maa-Maa's New Nickname

Before Lil' Maa-Maa was born, we were very undecided about what we would name him. He was a few days old before we finally settled on something, so until we had something official, we called him LP, as in Little Pooper. Though he's always been a pooper, he was only little for, like, 15 minutes, so that one only worked for a short time.

The big boys came up with Lil' Maa-Maa, and it stuck for a while. But now we're moving on.

Yesterday, the big boys bequeathed Lil' Maa-Maa with a new nickname that, I think, fits him pretty well. Lil' Maa-Maa, in the blogosphere, you will henceforth be known as MayDay.

(They were playing with airplanes when they came up with it . . . little geniuses!)

And also, this picture illustrates MayDay's idea of a good time . . . he gets all the cans out of the pantry and puts a refrigerator magnet on each one, then arranges them into circles and squares, or whatever he's thinking about at the time. Really, who needs toys?!?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Good Girl's Encounters with the Law, Part I

This post is inspired by, and thus dedicated to, my good friend Destinee. Her post from earlier today prompted me to make such a long comment that I decided to halt my hijack of her blog and make an entry of my own.

When I was seventeen, the summer before my senior year, I drove a bunch of friends up to The Nearest City of Any Size for The Ubiquitous Street Festival. I remember I wore this awesome handpainted wraparound skirt that I got at some boho shop in my music camp college town, and I really thought I looked the part of the cool artsy girl. (I'm still trying to nail that look!)

My best friend A. had on espadrilles (sandals with straw bottoms) and in the dark, I'll admit it was hard to tell if the puddles we walked through were composed of mostly water or mostly beer. I suspect probably mostly beer, because after driving the 40 minutes back to my friend's house, my little car smelled like Anheuser-Busch had set up shop in the back seat.

A.'s house was in a little part of town up on the mountain that has it's own police force of 3. I'm not exaggerating. They were -- still are -- notorious for issuing citations for the most minor of offenses, and for having a lot of time on their hands to just sit around and wait for somebody to screw up. Enter me.

I left A.'s house in the dark, and got a little lost on all those windy mountain roads. It was a bit disorienting -- so much so that I failed to come to a complete stop at one intersection. I had barely pulled out onto the cross street when I saw blue lights in my rear view mirror. This was not my first ticket, so I was familiar with the drill. I got out my license and put on my prettiest smile and waited for him to come to my window.

Which he did. Maybe I should have wound it down before he came to the window. Then, maybe, he wouldn't have been assaulted with the unmistakable stench of alcohol when I opened it. Maybe, he wouldn't have been so suspicious of the little brown bag of trash sitting neatly between the front seats.

And maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't have found it necessary to give me a breathalyzer test right out there in front of God and everyone driving past to see. Oh, yes. Alcohol has never passed my lips, but I have had to blow into the liquor stick. With cars driving by. Carrying people I knew. Oh, the horror. At least he didn't make me walk the line.

Just wait. It gets worse.

So a few days before this little ill-fated excursion, I cut my hair. Drastically. Try from mid-back all the way up to boy-short in one fell swoop. And who thinks to get a new drivers license whenever they change hairstyles? Not this chica.

Small Town Cop looked at that license, then looked at me, then looked at the license, then looked at me again. I swear, he was going to take me on down to the station and book me for identity theft until I finally saw the name on his badge.

Turns out, his brother lives two doors down from my parents and when I finally came up with enough details about his nephew, he decided I might be telling the truth. And when he was finally convinced I wasn't a drunk driver out for a joyride, he let me go home with a warning. Where I arrived 35 minutes late. And, thankfully, where I found two parents who totally believed my outlandish story.

And that's why I never go to The Ubiquitous Street Festival in The Nearest City of Any Size anymore!

I was going to post about my subsequent legal troubles, but I'll save those for another post, and just call this one part one. That's all.

Just call me Nebuchadnezzar . . .

Because I am in need of some dream interpretation.

This morning, the twins woke up at 6:40 AM. It was still dark, and after everyone peed (I am seriously proud of how potty-trained they are!), then had a drink of water, they went back to bed. My treadmill is broken (another post to come) so instead of going downstairs to run, I went back to sleep, and for the next 45 minutes, had the craziest dream I've had in a long while.

Here goes.

I am at the twins' preschool trying to volunteer. I am wearing my watch upside down, with the face towards my arm and the battery side up, and I keep checking the time, but, obviously, can't tell it. All of a sudden, Dr. Phil is there. We have a really strange conversation:

Dr. Phil: What's up?

Me: I think I'm going to volunteer to read to a class that doesn't have my children in it.

Dr. Phil: No mother who is serious about her job would dream of doing that.

Me: What? Not serious? It's because I'm serious that I want to go to a different class. My kids behave worse when I'm around and I don't want them to get distracted by my presence.

Dr. Phil: Are you gonna listen to me here? Because I don't have to talk to you and one day I'm gonna be that kid's father-in-law (points to G-Dog).

Me: I'm listening. (I totally seem to believe that somehow, in the future G-Dog will be related to Dr. Phil. Weird.)

Dr. Phil starts pulling out papers and giving me some serious parenting advice that is all kind of foggy now, especially when examined under the bright lights of lucidity. He gives me a prescription for some behavior-modifying wonderdrug and tells me to take it myself.

When I get home, I start the drug, which I have to drink through a straw. I take the first sip, and before I can take the second, my face has erupted in hives and the liquid dribbles down my face when I try to drink it.

And then I woke up. I was absolutely sure that my pillow would be saturated with a cup's worth of something, but it wasn't. And I actually felt my face for hives, and to be certain, examined myself carefully in the mirror. It was ABSOLUTELY vivid and real. And strange.

So, what's your take? Any great insights into my psyche? Because I got nothin'.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Three little pigs . . . or at least hams

My twins are becoming veritable stand-up comedians. Of course, they don't realize this. They just say what they're thinking, and usually, it's funny. Take last Sunday.

As CPod walked them down the hall after nursery last week, they spied the display of pass along cards in the foyer, and asked for "a picture of Jesus." He let them each choose one card, then ushered them along to the car.

I taught in Relief Society, so it took me a little longer to make it outside. By the time I got to the van, everyone was strapped in. I buckled my seat belt and made all the necessary adjustments, and then I noticed ConMan brandishing the pass along card from the back seat. "Look, Mommy! We're invited to Jesus!"

Cut to this week. In our nursery, they keep the top half of the dutch door open. As my dad walked past the door, he stuck his head in to check on the boys and say hello. G-Dog caught sight of him and said, "Hey, PopPop! We're getting ready to have snack time!" And then, with a conspiratorial, I-can-totally-hook-you-up grin, "Come back in a few minutes and I'll give you a pretzel!"

Oh, yes. Because nursery contraband is, I'm sure, on the top of PopPop's list of favorite snacks.

And we can't forget Lil' Maa-Maa, who has recently discovered the knock-knock joke. His repertoire consists of exactly one:

Lil'Maa-Maa: Not-Not

Mommy: Who's there? (Sometimes, Maa says this part himself: Hoo dere?)

Lil'Maa-Maa: JOOOOOKE!

I rest my case.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Farewell, dignity! It's been a fun ride!

TMI alert. I'm just saying.

I think I've finally hit bottom. Literally. And let's just say that where I ended up, I never care to see again. Let me explain.

I hate folding laundry. Actually, HATE is not quite strong enough of a word. How about detest, despise, revile, abhor, loathe -- it is absolutely my least favorite housekeeping chore. Folding big person laundry isn't so bad, because one load of CPod's laundry consists of two pair of jeans, a couple of t-shirts, and a bunch of dark socks, since he is ginormously tall. But the little kid laundry around here drives me bonkers. Oh, the little sockies! I swear, they multiply in the drier and not by cloning, since somehow, they still never match. Ever.

Last night, after procrastinating as long as possible, I sat down on the couch to watch Life (a trippy experience in and of itself . . . the main dude really resembles my husband a lot) and tackle a mountain of under-4 laundry about two weeks tall. (MommyJ thinks my children's wardrobes are much too extensive. If they were any smaller, I would have to do laundry with much greater frequency. See, MommyJ? There is method to my madness!)

So I'm folding along, grateful to have brain candy on TV so I don't have to think about what I'm doing. I am surrounded by little piles of footie pajamas, blue jeans, and t-shirts, and the ever important tiny undies. I am about half-way through the embarrassingly large mound of clothing when I pick up a pair of Lightning McQueen tightie whities and notice . . . a skid mark. And not like, oh, hey, a little brown stain left over after washing, maybe we should have some wiping technique remediation, skid mark. More like still dirty, and what are these doing in here with all of my clean, fresh, detergent-smelling clothes that I am in the midst of folding?!?!?

Take a deep breath. Because that's what I did . . . with every pair of tiny briefs. Yes, you heard me. I have literally hit bottom . . . about 20 times. About halfway through, I noticed CPod laughing quietly from his chair. I was so focused on sniffing out the dirty ones that I didn't even catch a glimpse of Dignity as she left my presence forever. She was long gone, probably hitched a ride with Destinee's Dignity on the way out of town after she sopped up spilled soup with her finger, and hot on the trail of MommyJ's Dignity who was, I'm sure, scarce by the time she ate all the Almond Joys from her kids' Halloween candy.

Sigh. I thought I might miss it, but I don't. A lack of dignity is somewhat liberating. Just think -- if I had even a shred of dignity left, this would be the post-that-might-have-been and your lives would be missing a certain je ne sais quoi. So glad I could be of service.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Lament of the Non-Superhero Crimefighters

CPod has Tuesday mornings off, sometimes. Let me rephrase. CPod almost always has no patients scheduled on Tuesday mornings. He does not, however, almost always have nothing else to do on Tuesday mornings. Week before last, he filled in for his sick father (who's profession is the same as CPod's). Last week, he chopped wood for my dad. This week, he chopped wood for a man in our ward who injured his neck trying to get it done himself. (I suspect he likes what chopping wood does for his biceps.)

Now, I'm not complaining. Really, I'm not. I love my husband dearly. He is remarkably selfless, as evidenced by his recent Tuesday activities. He is a giant among husbands (and not just because he's 6'5") and goes out of his way to make my job easier. His love and respect for me are apparent in his every action, and he is the only daddy I know who even approaches the greatness of my own father. He is really fantastic. I love having him home. I also (to a certain degree) love not having him home. And here is why.

He is Superman. Or Batman. Maybe it's more like Mr. Incredible. (All of these claims are backed up by his tale of outsplitting the pneumatic wood splitter this morning, totally impressing the missionaries who were there to help out. It's always nice to have tools, like a 16 pound splitting maul, that make you seem more powerful than you really are, right?)

And if he is Mr. Incredible, then I am the inept cops who can't seem to get anything done until he swoops in at the last minute to save the day.

Have you ever thought about what it must be like to be an ordinary cop in Metropolis? Just as you think (operative word: think) you're about to get things under control, this tall, good looking guy in a cape shows up, finishes your job and then takes all the credit: newspaper stories, adoring children, swooning women, and, to add insult to injury, abs of steel, because he just decided to cut soda from his diet and lost 27 pounds as a result. (I exaggerate. It's really more like 10 pounds.)

Today, while he was splitting wood, I stayed home with the the Munchkins. I fed them breakfast, and then spent a full hour (no exaggeration) crawling around our house on my hands and knees searching for Lil' Maa-Maa's missing monster truck. When I couldn't find it in the house, I went outside in my jammies, braless, with booger-woman frizzy hair for all the neighbors to see, and searched for it in our yard, all to no avail.

When I tried to get everyone dressed, all civilized behavior deteriorated into fits and tantrums on the floor for three entirely different reasons. And at the precise top of the bell curve of noise, CPod walked in the door, produced granola bars for all the little ones, and then sat down to watch cartoons with them. They piled on top of him happily and called me mean, and said that daddy was the best, and continued to sing his praises ad nauseum, until I finally went back to take a shower and let their demi-god father finish the dressing ritual. I used all the hot water.

Part of me sees him as my savior, too -- I mean, I like to think I would have gotten things under control if he hadn't shown up when he did, but the reality is, it probably would have gotten worse before it got better. And I am truly grateful that my children at least respond to one of us in a satisfactory manner. But I sure wish that, occasionally, it could be me!

Sigh. Maybe one day my children will also look at me agog, eyes wide at the wonder of my mere presence in their lives. (Please don't tell me any different -- it's kind of that thought that keeps me going!) Maybe not. Or maybe I just need to have a little girl who will appreciate really fantastic black suede wedges and hair products that work, and find value in things other than monster trucks. It's not hero worship, but, hey, I'll take what I can get.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll have to be satisfied with G-Dog who said this morning as I helped him get his shoes on, "Thank you for making me feel better, Mommy." I don't even remember what I did, but I know he gave me a big, unsolicited hug.

And Lil' Maa-Maa, who goes with me to the fabric store when the twins are in preschool, and lovingly runs his hands over beautiful prints and says, "Pretty, mommy." And stands behind me as I piece a quilt on the sewing machine, playing with my hair while he watches the creation of something extraordinary.

And ConMan, who, every time someone new comes to our house, takes them to my bridal portrait hanging in the dining room and says, "My mommy is a princess."

And CPod, who never fails to express his love and appreciation for my efforts on behalf of our family; who is the one who told ConMan I am a princess; who reads books I recommend just so we have something intellectual to talk about; who spends so much time thinking of other people and allowing me the time to have a brain outside of motherhood that he rarely has opportunity for his own pursuits.

I think it just might be enough.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Our bedtime routine with the kids is pretty set in stone: potty, bath (sometimes), jammies, teeth, stories, family prayer, family sandwich (big family hug and lovefest), tuck-in, dreams. They are easy to put to bed. In fact, Lil' Maa-Maa sticks his thumb in his mouth, grabs the blanket, and sighs as we lay him down, so happy to finally be by himself, no longer terrorized by big brothers.

Leave it to G-Dog to make the routine a little interesting. The other night, a no-bath night, we brought out the jammies and stripped the boys down to Scooby-Doo Underoos, and told the big boys to run and use the potty. ConMan went a running, and G-Dog followed -- or so I assumed. Suddenly, I heard, "Look, Mommy!" I turned my head to see the fullest moon I think I have ever seen in my whole life, punctuated by an impishly smiling face peeking out from in between little three year old knees.

Now, I have never told G-Dog that some people think it's funny to show their butt. I have never even mentioned that it's an option, or even has a name, but somehow, he came up with the gag all on his own.

What do you say? Do you laugh? I sure did. And now I've set myself up for countless future moonbeams from my delightful little devil.

In other news, ConMan stuck Yo-Gos up his nose on Sunday. Twice. "Mommy, Yo-Gos fit just right in noses."

Yes, ConMan, but is it really the best idea to put them there?

The best part? As I dexterously used the tweezers to pull a pink one, and then 10 minutes later, a purple one, from ConMan's little nostrils, he opened his mouth for me to just drop them in after extraction. I mean, really, can we waste treats as precious as Yo-Gos?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Declaration of Independence

Long post alert. Consider yourself warned.

Those who don't want to hear about politics on a blog, stop reading now. Or don't. It won't be what you expect.

I like to consider myself an independent thinker. I pride myself on my ability to think. I like to think -- in fact, thinking keeps me up most nights way past my bedtime. And lately, I've spent a lot of time thinking about politics and economics -- two things closely tied in this current climate of market instability. I discovered that I didn't know that much about economics, so I educated myself, and then I did some more thinking. (Something must occupy my mind when I'm folding all that laundry. My brain retreats from The Backyardigans in futile efforts of self-preservation. Into the thick of it! Into the thick of it!)

Here's where I landed: I'm taking this independent brain of mine right on down to the Board of Elections and changing my party affiliation. I am not a Democrat. I disagree with most of the basic planks of the Democratic party platform. But nor am I a Republican -- and it takes a lot for me to say this.

I do not look forward to the implementation of Barack Obama's healthcare reform initiatives, nor am I sure how our small but incorporated business will bear the new corporate tax structure. I disagree with Democratic stance on many social issues, but not as many as you might think. And I cringe every time a new (soon-to-be-dysfunctional) government agency is created to once again relieve people of their personal responsibility. I resent the fact that so many people are dependent on our government for basic needs, but I also know that there are people who legitimately need to take advantage of these services.

I do believe we should be good stewards of our environment, but I am only willing to take that so far. I mean, trees over babies? I still can't believe the party that espouses protection of the environment is also unwilling to protect unborn children.

I cringed to see John McCain's healthcare plan as well. I questioned his ability to bring this country out of the economic doldrums (isn't he the one who said he should have listened in his college Econ 101 class?), and worried about Sarah Palin's obvious lack of knowledge about things she should have already known, or, at the very least, researched before subjecting herself to nationally-televised interviews.

I take great issue with legislators who, when they leave office, either by their own choice or the action of voters, are so ill-prepared for the real world that the only way they can provide for themselves is as lobbyists. While public office is a time-consuming job that deserves to be compensated, I suspect there are too many in office of both parties who will prostitute themselves in any way it takes to maintain a seat.

So where does that leave me? I think it leaves me unaffiliated. Goodbye, Republican Party! No more straight party tickets for me. I will research the candidates -- every one of them -- and vote according to individual platforms. I will not assume that just because we belong to the same group, we are like-minded individuals. If I don't like the Republican candidate, it doesn't matter -- I'm an independent now! If I criticize the Democratic candidate, it's not because I'm biased -- I'm my own political machine, not swayed by party-line persuasions. There are many issues that baffle me -- poverty, corporate greed, illegal immigration, countless others. And so, from now on, my vote will have to be earned. Period. How about you?

Side note: CPod and I looked at a county-by-county election map of the whole country, a sort of red-county, blue-county map of the US. We've decided the parties should be renamed City Mouse and Country Mouse.

And here's what my Y-chromosomed family members look like when I ask them to show me their muscles:
Cowboy, rugby player, race car driver, ninja warrior. Love it. I was a gypsy, but you'll never see a picture, because I'm the only one that takes any!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

THIS is a GOOD day?!?

Today, there were 18 kids in the nursery at church. 18! It felt like Utah or something. At the beginning of Relief Society, they asked for volunteers to help out since they were understaffed, and since my offspring account for fully one-sixth of all kids in the nursery, I felt obligated to comply. So my friend Mary Kay and I gathered up our belongings and hoofed it on down to little kid land.

Now, my children are not known for being great examples of reverence . . . or anything else spiritually commendable, but at 3, 3, and 2, what can you expect? I don't know what I expected. I thought they might be at least as good as they are at home. Apparently that was a little too much to ask.

The twins are the oldest kids in there, so for snack time, they sat at the head of the table, kings perusing their subjects with pseudo-benevolence and the bipolar kindness/cruelty of preschoolers. They fought -- loudly -- over who got to say the blessing on the snack, even after their teacher said repeatedly that the one who was the most reverent would earn the privilege. (I guess fighting over praying privileges could maybe qualify as spiritually commendable, right?) G-Dog flipped out because they had to stand at the table to color instead of sitting in chairs. ConMan melted because I didn't finish coloring his picture the right way. G-Dog stole crayons from other kids, and berated them for coloring on the wrong side of the paper, and policed everyone who wasn't doing what he thought they should be doing, including me. Too bad introspection isn't on the 3-year-old to-do list -- he might have had a couple personal problems of his own to police!

I'm sure I didn't help matters -- I mean, I'm not the authority figure in nursery. Who am I to tell them not to dip pretzels in their neighbor's water, especially if the nursery leader doesn't care (or chooses not to battle over little things like that because of the sheer number of kids and the ease of cleaning up the inevitable spilled water)? Who do they listen to? I don't want to undermine her authority, nor do I want to hold them to a higher standard than the rest of the kids . . . I have a lot to learn before I can be the room mother of a kindergarten class!

Lil' Maa-Maa wasn't so bad, but I did have to change his stinky diaper. When we returned to the nursery after de-pooping, he jumped through the door, threw his arms up, and said, "Ta-da!" The twins think they're the kings of the room, but Lil' Maa-Maa's got comedic timing all over his brothers.

So, in a fit of frustration, I asked the nursery leader if my kids were this awful every Sunday. She smiled and said, "Actually, today's a good day." Ha-ha, that's a funny joke, I know, they're great kids, aren't they? Oh, wait . . . what's that? Ah . . . you're not kidding. Guess we've got some work ahead of us before these little monsters are ready for Primary, or maybe it's the other way around.

Does my tithing money go towards abstinence education? Because I'd totally be willing to volunteer my children for parental-readiness reality checks. I think these services could be valuable to other demographics as well. Grandchildren coming to visit? Let my kids show you how child-proof your home isn't. Can't afford to pay a demolition crew for your remodel? Just tell my kids you need them to make sure not to destroy anything, and they'll do it for free -- plus PB&J for lunch, of course.

Well, I guess you just keep trying. I wish I could pre-experience for my kids -- that I could just, for example, tell G-Dog that no one wants to play with a bully without him having to experience that rejection for himself as an impetus to change his behavior; that I could convince ConMan that if he doesn't stand up for himself, other kids will always push him around, and avoid the other kids actually pushing him around. But without that first-person perspective, they won't ever learn anything . . . and neither will I.

So what did I learn today? That I'm not ever going back to the nursery again. Ever. Or at least not so long as I have kids in there. I'm much too happy being blissfully ignorant of double-trouble shenanigans to voluntarily deprive myself of the adult conversation and spiritual uplift of Relief Society.

And that we have to just keep doing the things that we're doing -- family prayer, FHE, reading scriptures with our kids (all three verses) -- because, like Nephi, " . . . we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins (2 Nephi 25:26)." And maybe, if we're consistent, and truly humbled by the magnitude of the spiritual potential inherent in each one of our children, we will see a little glimmer of hope, baby steps of spiritual progress, imperceptible day by day, but still moving us all forward in pursuit of our eternal goal.