Sunday, August 22, 2010

church videos

I don't know if its a well known fact, but it is an established fact within my mind that I am not entirely comfortable with media as missionary work.  Its something inside me that is insecure.  I know all the advantages, but I am not secure enough inside to stand up should somebody make fun of me, attempt to engage me in arguments that can't be won, insult me, or otherwise do anything other than click "like".  And yet, on occasion, I do share, and yet have I been persecuted.  But still, I have a gnawing discomfort about it.

So when facebook started showing me side-bar ad's for videos titled "and I'm a Mormon" I really kind of thought to myself, what? Now we're going to attempt to validate ourselves by pointing out famous people who are also Mormon? I thought to myself, aren't we confident enough in our faith that we don't need to go name dropping?  And then some names started popping up that weren't familiar to me. I questioned myself, wondering if I'd really created such a vacuum in my home by turning off cable that I wouldn't recognize these names?  I refused to click.

It turns out I had it all wrong.  Its not about name dropping.  Its about encouraging members of the church to be their talents, their passions, their strengths, and then also being a Mormon. Here's what I found:

Just the right ad popped up.  I don't know what was different about it, maybe because the woman featured didn't "look like a Mormon" (ie: she wasn't wearing multiple layers of jewelry on top of multiple layers of t-shirts topped off with multiple layers of teased hair topped with a giant blossoms posing as cherry on top of that frilly yet modest sundae of fashion...not that the look isn't kinda cute, I actually like it, but you all know exactly the look I'm describing, because 2/3 of your RS showed up to church today dressed like that). Maybe it was because it said she was an artist.  I don't know why I clicked. But I did.

Of course I can't find the video a second time to save my life, or I'd post it here for you to see.  But watching this video, this woman, this artist, she answered for me a deeply smoldering question I hadn't even fully formulated yet.  My question was "why don't I feel like 'one of them'?" The answer is "because that's not what Heavenly Father created you to be.  Earlier in the week I had come to a realization that my social circle at church did not need to be the definition of me.  I have found so much confidence, self acceptance, social acceptance, and happiness outside of my church community lately, that I've really begun to think deeply on what role church plays in my life. I had realized that I didn't need to be struggling to become socially engaged with women I don't fully understand in order to be a "good Mormon".

What does that mean?  I think it means I can take a load off!

Not too long ago I was a week away from never going back to church.  I felt miserable there.  And not for any good reason.  I couldn't put my finger on my unhappiness.  I felt like I was surrounded by unhappiness, by women trying to be something homogeneous and safe and as wholesome as vitamin D milk, who didn't really want to be that.  I felt like I was surrounded by misery, boredom, and women trying to be someone else's idea of what they should be.  I was having conflict because I found something I loved that was exciting, physical, enlightening, energetic, healthy and didn't involve in anyway chocolate, bread dough, whole wheat, or crafting scissors, and I suddenly had no idea how to relate with this group of women on a level other than the gospel.

And then this video clip.

What did she say? I'm not 100% sure, but what I heard was "that image of what I was supposed to be was something I made up! Heavenly father wants me to be me!"

And I got to thinking.  Where in the scriptures does it say put your passions to rest, do not seek to discover your talents, be like everybody else and get along? NO! This is NOT what we're taught! And yet, many women of the church are receiving this message loud and clear.  What are we doing to each other and ourselves that we receive this message, even though this is not the message sent? WHY do we hear this message?  Is it the "anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report" thing? Is it the advice to temper our tongues? What is it?! Why do we feel the need to be homogeneous to the degree of sacrificing our talents, opportunities to strengthen our understanding of the world around us, to go outside our bubble and seek other worthy knowledge?  Where did we get the idea that a "good Mormon" defines herself by the perfection of her scrapbook, the freshness of her ground wheat, and the perfect balance between modest and hottest in her wardrobe?  Where did we get the notion that a "good Mormon" is a church mouse?

Well, I went back to church, because I know what I know.  I KNOW God the Father and His Son and the Holy Ghost are three individual beings.  I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is a book of scripture, written by prophets of old.  I am certain that other books containing holy writings will be found across the globe.  I cannot walk away from my church and expect to have this knowledge sustained elsewhere.  I decided to keep going because I don't know enough yet, and I want to be in the service of my Father in Heaven while I'm learning.  I don't have the personal discipline to learn it on my own with nobody guiding me, teaching me, or giving me the opportunity to teach. And now I know that I can go, I can serve, I can do my best and my best is good enough for my Father in Heaven.

And I think maybe that's a tiny portion of where we've gone wrong.  As women, we've forgotten that our best is always good enough for Him.  Sure, sister Jones might think our best is lame...and chances are good if she does think our best is lame, its because it makes her feel inadequate in some way, but so what? Love Sister Jones anyways, help her find out what HER best is, greet her with a friendly smile, and keep walking till you see the next sister that doesn't know why she's there.  Find your passion, chances are good your talents and passions are not what everyone else's are, and that's a GOOD thing! Imagine what a boring world we would live in if all of us really were the Stepford Wives we seem to be trying to create within our social network of church.

I am so glad I watched that video and received the message that Heavenly Father doesn't want me to be just exactly like each one of my RS sisters.  That he wants me to explore my own strengths and talents and then be able to say "and...I'm a Mormon".  That's different, isn't it?  and I feel comfortable again.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hello Again

Recently it was brought to my attention that it had been well over 3 months since my last post.  To tell the truth, I was surprised that it had been that short a time! The last three months have been a whirl-wind of activity.  We have learned and grown so much as a family and as individuals.

Looking back on these last many weeks, I can truly see Heavenly Father's hand in our lives and feel so blessed for the opportunities He has brought our way.  The blessings have been so abundant, that for the first time in memorable history, we (me) have been able to recognize the blessings in things that would normally have ruined the day, week, or month in the past.

The lack of blogging has come directly from our nearly full time involvement in planning and preparing for a statewide martial arts tournament.  Having only ever been to one tournament prior, I guess we (JP and I) were not mentally confined to the "traditional" ideas about how to throw a tournament, and we got crazy with an idea, and then the idea became a question, and then the answer to the question became "YES" and  I will admit at times I felt thrown into a roll I was not prepared to fill.  But when push came to shove, being urged to move forward and take the lead was the best thing to happen to me, JP, or our marriage, in a very long time.

What did we learn?  We learned that people like to help, and they want to say "YES".  The economy has not put a damper on excitement about new opportunities, unique ideas, or the entrepreneurial spirit.  We learned that small businesses can be incredibly generous, enthusiastic, and kind.  Corporations have a lot of red-tape, and can be difficult to navigate, but can sometimes still come through with surprising levels of generosity.

We learned that there are some amazing things happening in our community.  Downtown Mesa was once a thriving neighborhood and business center, but has been plagued by lack of quality housing to bring services into the downtown area.  The neighborhoods circling the downtown center have had their own challenges, and many businesses have not kept up with the neighborhood's needs, leaving empty real-estate and business' associated with a different quality of life than most would prefer.  But that's all slated to change as Mesa's leadership plans to renovate, rejuvenate, and re-invigorate the downtown area.  And that being a group who seeks to improve the landscape of lives through hard work and discipline, you become a really good fit for groups who seek to change the landscape of lives by literally changing the landscape.

We learned that sometimes you have to make somebody actually tell you "NO".  And that until they've said "no", either they're just putting off disappointing you, or they intend to say "YES" but they need more information before they can confirm their desire to help.

We learned to partner together, to know which one of us has the right attitude, personality, or motivation to get something done.  We've learned that we can trust each other to accomplish the goals we've set, but also that communication, clarification, and consistency are key to accomplishment.  We've discovered that just because Lisa knows what she's talking about, doesn't mean JP has picked up on the same vision and vice-versa.  We've learned to say to the other "This is what I understand you to mean,_______________ is that correct?" (and have discovered at least 50% of the time, one of us has completely misunderstood the other!)

We've learned that we can't make other people share our vision.  We've learned that sometimes safety measures appear to be barriers to success.  We've learned that there is a balance to be met between safety and success.

We've learned that we need not just one checklist, but many.  We have a plan to create a "control binder" of sorts for tournament planning.  That binder is the reason I'm awake right now as thoughts began to flood my brain after I turned the lights out to sleep tonight.

We've learned that sometimes people will make you responsible for their success...and that we cannot shoulder that responsibility.

We've learned that some people will over-invest, others will under-invest, and both will be disappointed in the results.

We've learned that it might be interesting in the future to relay more demographically specific information to help those prone to over investing understand what an appropriate investment might be for a group like ours.

We've learned that when it comes to small businesses, the owner's personality has far more influence on our purchasing decisions than the product.

But we've also learned that Heavenly Father wants to bless us.  That He will bless us, and He will bless our efforts when we are engaged in something unselfish which suits His purposes.  We've learned that He will use anybody willing to do His work, and not just members of any specific church.  We've learned that our peers like us, that hard work is more respected than talent, and that its O.K. to not be 100% the winner 100% of the time, and that joy can be found in the success of others.

We've learned that a dead-battery at the end of a long and exhausting day (week) doesn't have to be a gut-wrenching stress inducing problem, but that we can ask for a jump and be grateful we can make the necessary purchase the next day.  We can be grateful we weren't stuck in a rainstorm, at the side of the road, or in the middle of a bad money month.

Mostly, I think, we've learned to be grateful.  Not just for the success of the tournament, or the blessings of friendship we enjoy, but for each other, our health, and the unique opportunity we found ourselves with this summer.

And speaking of being grateful:
Big thanks go to POOL together, Arizona's first collaborative market (seriously you guys, the day will come that you won't visit the greater Phoenix area without visiting POOL together. Its going to be that cool)
All of the POOL merchants, especially those who made generous sponsorships, and or donations to our silent auction.
Grand Master Han's Martial Arts of Arizona, but also of Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, and California, plus other's I can't remember off the top of my head.
Vic Villont for putting in the good word for us at Pepsi Co/Quaker, and Liberty Lumber.
But most especially for all of our friends who let us do what we thought needed to be done without worrying about rank, or experience.  There were a number of times we were not sure if/how we should proceed, we worried that we might step on toes, or be seen to think we were more than we were just because we were having some success with the task at hand.  As it turned out, we were the only one's worried about being too successful.  Which leads me to my final thought: Being fearful of success is a CROCK! and I've been living in that crock a long, long time.  I'm glad the crock has been broken and that lump of stinky cheese has been set free.  Some things just don't get better with age, and fear of success is one of them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An instance where being somewhat of a packrat has its merits

I have fought long and hard to rid myself of my pack-rat-like tendencies.  Once upon a time I was that kid (who are we kidding, I was that adult too) who could not rid myself of anything I deemed to have any semblance of sentimental value.  It meant I kept things like those cheap glass vases that flowers are purchased in, out of fashion jeans I hoped to fit in one day, and holey-pillow cases that had embroidery on them done by my great-grandmother. (I actually still have a couple of those, I can't throw them away, but I haven't figured out just the right way to reuse them yet.)  I have worked SO hard at improving this aspect of my personality in fact, that I've taken a few items to Goodwill that in retrospect I really wish I hadn't...but I did, so I'm proud of myself. 

However, it seems that this tendency has sneaked into an unexpected avenue.  My FREEZER!

In an effort to be better prepared for home-cooked meals during the week I started doing freezer meals.  You know, those simple, ready to heat and eat, inexpensive, healthy items you can find all over the internet? (my favorite source is Chef Tess because I know I can rely on family friendly flavors and budget friendly ingredients).

Well, as I sat down to make my monthly grocery order (we buy groceries from The Treasure Box, a discount food vendor which goes along way towards creating wiggle room in our family budget) I recalled that my freezer seemed kind of full to me, so I figured I better go inventory it before making a new order.

Yikes! I'm like a squirrel in an oak forest 2 weeks before a deep freeze! After inventorying the freezer I not only realized that I didn't need to buy anything other than fresh fruit and veggies, milk, and cheese for the next two weeks, but that I actually had 23 (yes, 3 WEEKS + worth) pre-prepared meals ready to go for my family.

Needless to say I didn't order any food boxes this month.  But I did sit down immediately and write two weeks worth of dinner menus.  No excuses, we're eating at home this month, and I won't even cause my supply of freezer meals to dwindle into non-existence because I've mixed it up between freshly prepared meals and freezer meals based on the activity schedule.  

The best part is we'll only spend about 20% of our usual grocery budget on groceries for the house this month, which means that when we take our trip at the end of the month we can feel free (both financially and health wise) to just go and enjoy ourselves and eat whatever meals out we need to eat.  

If you're finding yourself too overwhelmed with your family's busy schedule, may I highly recommend spending a little extra time over the next couple of weeks to increase your supply of dinners on hand?  The easiest way to quickly and almost effortlessly get started is to make double quantities of your family's favorite meals over the next couple of weeks.  Serve one portion, freeze the other for a later use.  Good luck! You won't believe how guilt-free you feel when you sit down after an extremely busy day with a home-cooked meal on the table instead of McDonald's wrappers.  And guess what?  If it hasn't been that busy of a day but you could really use some free-time to go swim with the kids, or take a nap, this is a great way to make that time available.

Monday, April 5, 2010

When Guam tips over...

When Guam tips over...
maybe I'll like lima beans.
perhaps I'll be able to buy beach front property, possibly even in AZ.
and we'll all be able to trust the government. Or, really, I guess not, since it will be their fault that Guam tipped over, even though they claimed to not anticipate that happening.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My Netflix top 10 suggestions

Here is a recent Netflix Top 10 Suggestions list for me.

Future Weapons, Season 2
I Carly, Season 1
An American Tale
Call of the Wild
Discovery Channel "Stealth Technology"
Carrier (a military documentary)
Maxed Out (another documentary, this time about debt and the disappearing middle class)
Everest, Beyond the Limit, season 1

What does this tell you about who's actually doing the netflix watching around here?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


During a dinner at my inlaws with a couple of missionaries last week a funny story came to mind about an old college room-mate.  In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best story to tell a 21 year old getting ready to head home in 4 days, but then again, at least now he's prepared!

I went to BYU for one whopping whole semester.  I didn't love it there.  I had a hard time finding my niche.  My room-mates were actually mostly great, except for the one that I actually shared a room with, she wasn't always very nice, and as it turns out, very sane.  But it took me a while to figure out that she wasn't just PMSing as she'd always blame her unkind moments on, but that she was a total and complete whack job.

What finally clued me in?

The following little adventure.

It all started with a calendar countdown.  You know the kind where a specific date is circled heavily in brightly colored ink and each preceding day is carefully marked off with an X through the box. I'm assuming she had started the countdown about 22 months before I met her.  The calendar was hanging in our room from the day she moved in.  Each night she would mark the calendar, every week she would write a letter, every day she would check the mail.  She was a girl in love! And she was waiting for her man on a mission.  

She told me all about him, how funny and cute he was, how she just couldn't wait for him to get home and start planning their wedding.  She had bridal magazines with pages torn out of the cutest dresses, she knew exactly which ring she wanted, where to get it and how much he'd have to save to purchase it for her.  She had already picked the colors for her bridesmaids, and flower arrangements.  She had decided which part of town she wanted to live in, how many babies they'd have and what he'd do for a living! She had everything down except for the actual proposal which she fully expected upon his exit of the airplane he would arrive home in.

The day drew near and she began to plan a road-trip home to Denver.  It was a several hours long drive, and not really dangerous, but being young and not an experienced driver, she didn't want to make the trip alone.  I had never been to Denver before, so I said "heck yeah! I'm in!" We packed the car, filled up the tank and set out on the road to Denver.  I drove her car most of the way while she freaked out about it being illegal to travel in the left lane...I still have no idea she was talking about!  But she was definitely too nervous to drive, she was about to be proposed too after all by the man of her dreams!

We arrived in Denver about 1:00am, let ourselves in to her mother's house, got some sleep and prepared ourselves for the big day.  The next morning we woke late and ate pancakes made by her mom and then began to prepare for our big excursion to the airport.  She had signs, flowers, balloons, and a belated Valentine bear complete with cheesy red-satin heart to give her love.  We were on the countdown and it was down to hours.  

I began to realize that something wasn't quite right when she started frantically trying to figure out who to contact to find out what time his flight arrived.  I kind of figured he would have sent her that information if he was intending on proposing at the airport!  (of course she said she wasn't supposed to know that he was going to do this, it was supposed to be a surprise.)  She made phone call after phone call after phone call.  Nobody seemed to really have the information she was looking for, or maybe they just weren't volunteering it, I'm not sure.  Finally after I don't even know how many phone calls, she was able to get one person to talk to her.  That person told her that she had missed his arrival by plane and that he was now home with his family. I honestly have no idea what else that person said to her, but I have sneaking suspicion that they at least intimated that she should leave him alone, but no, this was her missionary and they were getting married! Somehow she knew his address, I'm not exactly sure how, maybe a friend of a friend, or something.  Keep in mind here that I had only just begun to get suspicious, I didn't KNOW anything wasn't the way she said it was, I had just begun to realize that things weren't really adding up.  But away we went, off to the young man's home to pay a visit and witness the most romantic thing that ever happened...a "fresh from the mission, haven't even been released yet" marriage proposal. (That the girl had to hunt down the returned proposed groom for by way of dozens of phone calls.)

I'll never forget pulling up to the curb as she practically leaped from passenger side, the car just barely put into park.  Her arms were full with all her gifts, her palms were sweaty (we laughed about the cheap white Valentine Bear fur sticking to her hands), her blonde curly hair poofy and bangs perfectly formed into the much coveted and often copied "Claw" hairdo of the late 80's/early 90's.  I'm pretty sure her jeans came all the way up to her ribcage, and that was totally cool.

She stood at the door, rang the bell and was greeted by someone I couldn't see.  ( I had been asked to stay in the car since this was such a private moment between her and her expected fiancé.)  She entered the home, was gone about 10 minutes, and then came bursting out in a mad dash covered in black mascara streaking down her face, sobbing like a girl who just found out her fiancé was a lying, cheating, scum-maggot.

It took a while, but she finally calmed down enough to tell me what happened inside the house.
The returned missionary was there, just as handsome as she remembered.  Only he didn't remember her.
He had apparently opened one of her very first letters and as a new missionary thought it was great to get a letter and wrote her back, but apparently at some point had begun throwing away her letters without opening them. (I'm guessing she said something that weirded him out, you think?) She was madder than a hornet and was ranting and raving and cussing him out and acting quite decidedly as though he were one of the devil's minions and that his mission had done him no good at all.  

At some point I asked her "how long did you guys date?"  She said "we didn't really date, we just kind of had a connection, but we never went on an actual date." I'm sure I asked her several other questions, but what I remember most about the whole story was the bombshell confession she laid on me only 2 hours into our trip back to Provo. SHE HAD ONLY EVER DANCED ONE SINGLE DANCE WITH THE GUY AT A YOUTH DANCE THREE YEARS EARLIER! THERE WAS NEVER ANY RELATIONSHIP!

So what's the moral of this story?  If you're a young man on a mission and getting strange letters from girls you don't know...fully expect her to show up at your house when you get home looking for a ring! AND when you're away at college, if you go on a road-trip with a room-mate you didn't really like in the first place, expect it to get weird.  There's a reason you didn't like her.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Would be watching the documentary by the same name and not realizing that you were indeed being mocked.
What started out as a fun explanation as to why humans purposefully choose to do stupid things, like be highly entertained by movies such as Jackass, and sit in front of the boob-tube for hours at the end of a long workday made an ugly turn.  Suddenly I found myself being accused of purposefully choosing to be stupid by questioning the reality of global warming. (There is at least as much scientific evidence against it as there is for it, how is it stupid to question the findings on either side?) and even further more being presented with the idea (stated as fact of course) that choosing to believe in a religion, ANY religion, is the very definition of stupid.

Offended yet?  Me too.  Only apparently being offended by any of the above is absolute proof that I am a moron.

Oh well.  I'd rather fool myself into believing that there is hope for the world, that humanity is intrinsically good, and that there is a plan for my life than be fooled into thinking the only hope for the future is that stupid people will die.  I truly wonder, what would the makers of this 'documentary' even do with themselves if all the stupid people did die?  They'd have nothing to sit on their soap-boxes about.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

on my mind

Earthquakes, beach front property, tsunamis.

Lost Dutchmen, gold mines, mini-horses, parades. (Gabe was SO excited to participate and ride his school's float down the parade route, Lily was SO excited about the miniature horses.  She re-named one "Black Shadow")

Birthdays, ponies, sea-ponies, and parks.

Baby showers, adoption, love and compassion. (so nice to see friends from the old neighborhood and to meet the new little guy.)

Music, pianos

Summer! Swimming, sunshine

Gray hair. (I really want to color my hair, but as I mentioned above, summer, swimming, and sunshine are on my mind, because really, they're just around the corner.  None of those things are very easy on colored hair, and I'm not going to stay inside to protect my colored hair.)

Freezer meals, fast food

sleep, nightmares, sheep

polar bear livers. (thanks Joel, I guess that story made an impression on me since I keep catching it crossing my mind at random.)

Cable TV, Netflix, Fringe season 1

Oranges, Grapefruits, Marmalade. (hooray for Arizona citrus.  SO delicious!)

black belt (I'm like 4 belt promotions away, which is still more than a year away, but its kind of within sight.)

beaded bracelet watches (didn't figure I'd love mine so much, such a silly little indulgence.)

Then there's the best $15 I may ever have spent.  The Hamilton Beach single serving smoothie maker.  The container you mix it in is the container you drink from.  With fresh berries starting to come in season, I've been buying in bulk, freezing, and making such yummie smoothies and shakes for the family.  AND...I'm getting breakfast every morning, because its so quick and easy.

I participated in my first consumer research panel discussion the other day.  Trident wanted some ideas on how mom's view gum.  It was really fun and I got paid $75 to be opinionated.  Not bad, eh?

Our "Total Money Makeover" is still rolling along nicely.  Or is that "snowballing" along nicely?  Either way, what a difference.  Funny how the extra work that hasn't been around is suddenly popping up right when we needed a little motivation.

Weight Loss.  Its good for your marriage! Feeling fat and depressed, its bad for your marriage.

JP accidentally threw me over his shoulder the other day.  He really, truly did. And it really, truly wasn't on purpose.  It was actually kind of funny. (after I recovered from the shock of hitting the floor and falling stupidly on my arm.) We were at karate practicing a self-defense technique.  Suffice it to say, if a guy the size of JP attacks me, I'm screwed.  Either that or I'll have to fight VERY dirty.

Home buying.  I'm starting to feel the pull to find "our" house.  I don't know where it is, but I do know its got a great-room layout and a pantry the size of a laundry room.  The pull's gonna have to wait a little while longer though.

Lacrosse.  Annie's started training for the season and I can't wait to see a game.  Its so neat to see her so enthused about a sport.

Em.  I'm missing my hamster.

Why do all kids movies sound the same?

Why do I like some shows that follow a set formula? (House, Kitchen Nightmares) but can't stand others?

Ironing.  Its what I need to get off this computer to go do.  That and some dinner fixing activities.

Marketing.  Need to spend some time on that tonight for our Martial Arts classes.

Love notes.  Got one the other night left on my pillow.  :)

Kid compliments.  Being called "My special mommy" and "cutie pie" make my day.

Lunch Boxes.  Save lots of money, but bring a certain amount of "stink" with them far too often.

Weekend.  Why am I thinking about what I need to do next week on Saturday afternoon?  Can't I just enjoy the weekend?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Brains are gross.

I recently instituted the "If you've got a critique of dinner, then you may submit it in writing" rule, and tonight was the first time it was put to the test.

I grilled rib-eye steaks for Valentine's day dinner.  They tend to have some fat on them.  This is what Goob had to say about dinner:

I don't like fat.
Becas its gross.
It's like a brane.
It is olso lik goo.
But its for your brane.
And it looks werd.

Apparently his portion of steak had more fat on it than he would have preferred.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

When Lessons from Above Hit You Over the Head with a Frying Pan

Recently I got a new calling at church.  It was one of those "are you sure you've got the right person?" moments when they told me what they wanted me to do.  To which they replied, "Oh yeah, you're the one."

They wanted me to be the Visiting Teaching Coordinator.  The what?!?!?!  I'm going to be totally and completely honest here, Visiting Teaching has not previously been a part of my life. At least not in a regular way. My mom had an extremely bad experience with visiting teaching during my formative years and I think I was (am) a little bit afraid of it.  Couple that with having been raised to never invite myself to somebody else's home, but to always wait for the invitation, and getting called "hester the pester" every time I asked for something more than once, Visiting Teaching just hasn't been something I can really wrap my head around.

I've also never really had visiting teachers who ever came to see me.  I'd be willing to bet that in the 20 years I've been an adult, I've had fewer than 20 visiting teaching appointments kept by women assigned to me.  Its not a complaint, I'm sure if I "needed" it, I would have had them, but it wasn't something I really felt was missing from my life either.  But I do think that because there was not the example of regular visits too me, that I didn't/don't quite fully comprehend the importance that it may carry for other people.  I know intellectually that the program is important, but its not something I've felt in my heart, or experienced in my life on either the giving or the receiving end.

So, they call me to be the visiting teaching coordinator and I'm a little flabbergasted, and a little nervous, and ALOT confused by all the reports and various versions of the lists, and it feels like a little much.  But I know (again, intellectually, not fully with my heart) that there is a reason for all this and am willing (even if without the best attitude) to do what I'm asked because its not really anything I can't do.

But I'm still feeling a little unwilling, or uncharitable, or un-something.

Then, the other day Marsha, the owner of the Martial Arts School calls me to check on how a friend of mine who has been ill has been.  During our conversation she says:  Its so important that our students know we care about them and we notice when they're gone, and that we have genuine concern about them and their families.  It was easy for me to keep up with everybody when we first got out here but now that we've got about 300 students, I just need people who are willing to help check on them and see how they're doing and let me know if there's something I need to do to help them.

well FINE!  Seriously?  Do I have to get hit over the head with a cast iron skillet to get the lesson here?  I get it.  The military is using companies of women only to make headway in Afghanistan because they understand that the relationships women form are more likely to produce the kind of free-flow of information necessary to understand what's really happening in the communities they are struggling to get a foothold in.  Now Marsha's talking about how with about 300 people she has to have help to know what her students need.  I think I'm getting the message.  Maybe even LOUD AND CLEAR.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Clearly you never had a 3 year old of your own.
I read this article last night and just can't stop thinking about this.  How on earth did this doctor get immunity from prosecution?  Will she keep her license?  Is she going to continue endangering children with high doses of ADULT medications based on their parent's reports that they are behaving like ungodly brats? Or in other words, they're acting like THREE YEAR OLDS!

You find me a three-going-on-four year old that doesn't seem hyperactive and or bi-polar and I submit to you that you have found a three-going-on-four year old who is either developmentally delayed, sick, or an absolutely perfect angel who will rain hell-fire and damnation on her parents when she goes through puberty in order to make them pay for the perfect toddler years.

Three-going on-four year olds are emotional! They are famous for being happy one part of the day and distraught the next.  Is it even possible to diagnose this kind of illness in a toddler?  This is an age where they are confused about the world around them, trying desperately to control their lives and separate their identity from their parent's.  I'm no psychiatrist but I know how three-going-on-four year old's behave, and its not pretty.  I'd be willing to bet that if I described any one of my children's or niece's or nephew's behavior at this age to a psychiatrist without telling them the age of the child (the article seems clear that the doctor knew this was a very young child, but relied solely on the parent's description of behavior) that they too would diagnose the kid with bi-polar disorder.  4 year olds have good days and bad days, and frankly, the bad days are really bad days.

Maybe I'm out of line even sharing my opinion on this given that I have no experience in the field, but something tells me this doctor behaved recklessly and should not be treating pediatric patients.  Its horrifying to think that a child died because of a selfish mother who found a way to work the system and get disability payments while simultaneously exempting herself from even having to try to parent or teach her children to control themselves, and that she was enabled by a licensed mental health practitioner.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cavemom tips for finding the perfect house

We've been renting the past two years here in AZ and we've learned a thing or two about what Cave People want in a house.  For starters; we basically want a cave.


I think not.

We live in Arizona.  The summer heat hits 112 regularly.  A dark, mostly windowless cave would probably suit us quite well, especially given Mr. Cave Hair's penchant for daytime sleeping.

In addition, a cave provides sound barriers that a home located adjacent to a main thoroughfare, not far from a freeway on-ramp and a convenience store could really benefit from.  You ask what on earth does a main thoroughfare, a freeway on-ramp, and a convenience store have in common with requiring sound barriers?  Think police (yes, I am aware that I'm making a generalization about police everywhere my stating that my home's proximity to a convenience store is related to the number of police that go screaming past my house at 2:00am...and I don't care, its a well-informed generalization.)----sirens/speeding/flashing red and blue lights.  These things have a tendency to wake sleeping bears, or hairs, or whatever.  A couple of times a week I find myself contemplating such things as the  intricate melodies of Robert "Tin Tin" Duffy's "Kiss Me With Your Mouth" and wondering why he felt it necessary to explain that it is your MOUTH he wants to be kissed with, as opposed to some other body part? All due to speeding cars and flashing lights and screaming sirens.  Sure, they're gone in no time flat, but the wakened Cave Mom is none too quick to return to what was probably a fitful sleep to start with.

Finally, a cave generally has sufficient sub-caves which theoretically would provide sufficient space for entertaining, sleeping, meal preparation, and food storage.  While the average house could potentially offer each of these things, the Cavehair's have yet to find just the perfect combination in what would be deemed the "affordable" range.

Of course a cave wouldn't be perfect, there are dirt floors to contend with, and those pesky stalactites hanging from the ceiling...I'm sure Mr. Cavehair would love those just as much as he loved the last chandelier we had. (and by chandelier, I mean the cheap-o brass'n'glass octagonal hanging light that was found in the dining area of the last home we lived in.)  Plumbing could be an issue, as could keeping creatures like woolly mammoth's out of the living room.  There's also that whole "living on a cliff" thing that I was never really that fond of.

Well, the good news is, we've still got a year and a half in the current abode, its not even time to be looking again yet, but one thing is for sure...THANK HEAVENS WE ONLY RENTED THIS PLACE! (Which has also come with as many positive attributes as negative, primarily the ability for the kids and I to go about our business every day without waking the sleeping Cave Bear.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Apparently I AM getting Old

As if not understanding the current context for the word "Dank" isn't enough, I now have 2 gals I welcomed to beehives engaged to be married, and a lady I used to babysit for (when her kids were like...toddlers and babies) is now a grandmother.

Pretty soon I'm going to be referring to Doctors and Lawyers as "young kids".


Saturday, January 30, 2010

The boy who cried wolf, or something akin to that

Recently Gabriel has suffered the consequences of being reliably disrespectful or naughty.  Twice now, he has not been believed when he was not responsible for a negative situation, and has been "found guilty" before full evidence could be reviewed.  It makes me sad, but on the other hand, I'm glad that he's learning this now, and not 10 years from now.  Perhaps there is hope that he will discover that he must BE trustworthy in order to be trusted.

Two weeks ago as we played at a park, a crying child was escorted to her parent by another child, and the other child explained to the parent that "the boy in the red shirt pushed her and stepped on her because she wouldn't get out of the way."  The crying child was small, 4ish.  Gabe was wearing a red shirt...he's nearly 7.  I really didn't want to believe that he at nearly 7 he would have the lack of self-control and audacity to push and step on a smaller child over whether that child would move or not.  It surprised me to think that he would even be interested in playing near a child that young.  Nonetheless, at that point, he was the only child in the area that I was aware of that was wearing a red shirt.  I yanked him out of the playground, sat him down next to me and began reading him the riot act, as he angrily tried to correct my understanding of the situation (for which he was then told -angrily- do NOT talk back to me!)  Then I looked over my shoulder to find a 4ish aged boy in a RED shirt pushing and kicking his way through the playground equipment.  I felt so bad for not believing my son.  But based on past behavior, it was not out of the realm of possibility that he would have done such a thing, and I jumped to what seemed a logical conclusion.  Of course I apologized profusely to my son, and all became well again.

But this week, something else has happened, and its just so disappointing, and frustrating.

As I was folding laundry yesterday afternoon, I realized that a shirt in Gabe's laundry did not belong to him.  It was a school uniform shirt, but it was from a store we don't usually shop at, and it was in a size much larger than we have yet purchased for him.  Normally, the only way he would come home from school in a different shirt than he left in would be if he had made a trip to the nurse's office for one reason or another, or had spilled something like paint all over himself.

I decided to assume he'd been to the nurse's office and asked him "how'd you end up in the nurse's office last week?"  He grunted and said "I don't wanna talk about it."
"Why, what happened?"
"I already told enough people."
"What did you already tell enough people"
"How I ended up in the nurses office"
"Will you please tell me?"
"Fine...three girls kicked me and punched me and through wood chips at me so I had to get a clean shirt."
"Why would three girls do that to you?"
"I don't KNOW!~ They just kept yelling YOU SUCK"
"Were you playing something else first?"
"I already talked about it!"
"You're not in trouble right now, I'm just trying to understand how three girls were kicking and punching and throwing wood chips at you."
"That's all I know."
Well.....daddy was more successful at getting information about the event and as it turns out, a game of tag turned nasty and Gabe ended up in the nurses office asking for an ice pack for his eye, his nose (which he did come home with a skinned nose on Wednesday) and his knee, and then got a clean shirt.
No note or phone call came home this week about any of this, (and we KNOW he had been at the nurse's office because that's the only place to get a clean shirt, which means at least ONE adult knew about this, and Gabe claims that at least 4 adults were told) and we were completely unaware of the situation until I did the laundry and found the shirt not belonging to him. What I find frustrating is that Gabe claims that when he told the adults he told, they all asked the girls what happened, the girls lied about it and then walked away with no consequence.  And realistically, it is once again, not out of the realm of possibility that Gabe would have been playing something obnoxious and have stirred up his own trouble and tried to blame it on somebody else.  But the fact that (according to him) the episode was brushed off and the girls who clearly injured him (his nose was skinned, it clearly bled) suffered no consequence, because Gabe's reputation is such that the adult's didn't believe his side of the story, is SO FRUSTRATING!

We know Gabe is not perfect, but his behavior has improved so greatly at school this year that I really had believed he had started to build up some trust.  We believe his side of the story (to the extent to which he told us everything...and we are certain he omitted as much as possible.)  His behavior at home on Wednesday points towards something having happened at school that day.  It had actually crossed my mind Wednesday afternoon to ask whether he had been bullied that day, because he was so unusually sullen and deflated.  But I didn't ask.  And I regret that.

I guess the point is that it makes me sad that my son who is working very hard both at home and at school to prove to those around him that he can and does make good decisions, is still so damaged by his past decisions that its an instant reaction by adults to discount his side of the story.  But like I said earlier, I hope that since he is young this will be corrected soon, and that he will be given a chance as he grows older to show himself FIRST to be trustworthy.  Because he truly is becoming trustworthy.  But I'll admit, it feels like a gigantic leap of faith to extend to him the trust which he was worked so hard to earn.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I thought we were Friends?

Do you ever get so involved with a story that you begin to feel a fondness not at all unlike friendship with the characters?  It happened for me the first time as a child, probably while reading either The Secret Garden, or Little Women, I hated that spoiled rotten Colin but sneaking him out to the garden and telling him to get up and walk sure sounded great, and I really wanted to be Jo's friend so I could convince her she was foolish to ignore Laurie.  It's happened a few times since as I've grown older I've attached myself and inserted myself into various stories.  I admit it.  I think its one of the wonderful things about reading, its a harmless escape into an alternate universe.  Its imaginary.  Its ok.  

But something unique has happened recently, and I'm afraid its really quite foolish. Cave Man and  I have been enjoying the show "Long Way Down" (Via Netflix) and I'm afraid I've allowed myself to "make friends" with Ewan McGregor and his good buddy Charley Boorman as they've ridden motorcycles from Scotland to the tip of Africa. Its really quite silly, but I'm laughing at their silly antics like its all an inside joke between the four of us.  When Ewan's wife showed up in Malawi, I was so excited for him! And so bummed for poor Charley who never really loved the idea to start with, but was an awfully good sport when it all came down to it.  Its the most ridiculous thing ever.  Really, EVER.

I've never been the girl to develop a celebrity crush, or to really think much of fame or famous people.  Maybe I'm just too practical.  What's the point, right?  But I will admit, I feel as though I'm on a first name basis with these guys and their crew, and it wouldn't surprise me a bit if they showed up at a family picnic.  In fact, I think I would be a bit crushed if any one of them walked past me and didn't recognize me as their long lost friend from their trip to Africa. 

Silly, isn't it?  I guess even a Cave Mom can surprise herself once in a while.  But I think they'd like me, because I  I would have karate chopped Dai in the neck when he found his "lost" passport...all in good fun of course ;)

Go ahead, laugh at me, because I'm cracking myself up with this one, but if they showed up on my doorstep asking for a spot of bet I'd make them some.  And then I'd ask if they brought a slide show with them, just for old times sake, you know?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Boom Boom Pow

If we're facebook friends, you know that during Christmas Break we had some excitement in the neighborhood. On more than one occasion, we believed to have heard multiple shots of gunfire.  The worst of the events was one night when 8 shots were discharged and they sounded like they were directly behind our home.  The fire department located directly behind our home told Sheriff's deputies that the shots sounded like they were fired on their front porch.  Sounded about right to us.  We looked out (that's a no-no by the way, you're not supposed to look out when you hear gun-fire, you're supposed to call 911 and stay out of windows`-which begs the question, how will you give 911 ANY information AT ALL if you didn't see anything?) didn't see anything, didn't like what we heard, but decided to go back to bed.  But I couldn't really get back to sleep.
As I tossed and turned, I realized I was seeing flashing lights coming in through the bedroom window and looked out to see a Deputy scanning the back wall and area adjacent to the street.  I thought "oh, nice!  apparently it really WAS from right behind us!"  he looked around for a little bit and went on his merry way.  15-20 mins later (4:15 in the morning) our door is being banged on! Its Sheriff's Deputies.  Apparently one neighbor thought the gunfire had come FROM our home.  I guess its a good thing CaveMan hadn't cut himself shaving or anything, because I'm pretty sure the only reason they didn't ask to come in was because he didn't have blood on him.
Anyways, that was all nerve-racking enough, but then on three other occasions, we believed we heard random gunfire.  I was beginning to feel very unsafe, and you can see by the time of this post, I'm not sleeping too well these days.
We are 99.9% certain we now have the mystery of random gunfire solved.
As it turns out, there's a drunk dude with a drunk girlfriend who live just across the street from the Fire Department.  They apparently have a penchant for fireworks.
This afternoon we thought we heard gunfire again, looked out again (I know, I know!) and low and behold, there were these two brainiacs setting off fireworks in their backyard! (Fireworks are not only annoying at 3:00am, they are also illegal in the State of Arizona).
This would explain why the Deputies never found any shell casings when we (Cave People and Fire Fighters) all KNEW the "gunfire" was directly behind our home (the drunk dude lives directly across the street from the Fire House, which in turn is directly across the street from our house.)
Even though setting off fireworks is one of those things we would normally not call the cops about, we did today.  I don't think they'll be setting fireworks off anymore, that is assuming they were sober enough to remember that they've received a ticket for doing so.
Knowing now that the "gunfire" was most likely just fireworks, I feel a little silly for getting so aggravated.  I feel like I should be able to tell the difference between  gunfire and fireworks.  But even Cave Man who had been on a firing range this week thought it was gunfire this afternoon, so I guess I'll forgive myself.  But I do feel better now, and safer.  Now if I can only successfully retrain my body to go to sleep sometime before 12:00am!  Because lets face it, no matter how late I stayed up, it never stopped anybody from doing anything that made me jump at my own shadow! (which happened on two occasions during Christmas Break as well.)
Next step is to laugh at it.  Probably tomorrow.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

okay, we'll take a stab at it

First of all, yes, I know, I need to change my background.  I'm busy.  I will do it.  But not right now.
Its been a whirlwind of a week! A very happy whirlwind, but a whirlwind nonetheless.

Occasionally life presents you with opportunity you never even knew you wanted.  Sometimes you try something new and it goes well, so you keep up with it a bit because you like it, but you don't really expect much out of it other than your own enjoyment.  Then an opportunity shows itself, and you really start to wonder, "how did I get here?" (Anybody else singing a Talking Head's song now?)

I am currently experiencing one of those moments in life when I ask myself "how did I get here?"
And the answer goes something like this:
I walked into the neighborhood public school to enroll Gabriel in Kindergarten, something didn't sit right with me.  I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew he was not going to attend that school.  We went to my inlaw's home, a postcard was on their kitchen counter for a charter school.  I looked at it, thought it might be worth checking into.  We visited the school and decided it would be a better option than the public school, and enrolled him.  The second week of school Gabe brought home a flyer for a TaeKwonDo class after school.  We decided to enroll him.  He liked it well enough.  We began taking him to the evening classes occasionally, and then to a fight-class.  JP and I watched the classes through the window.  I really wanted to be inside learning what Gabe was learning.  We hated the gym we had joined.  It was glitzy, shiny, unfriendly.  It wasn't us.  We wanted to quit, but didn't want to sit on our butts with no exercise options.  We did the math and figured out we could quit the gym and join karate.  I took a class and LOVED it.  Then JP decided he wanted to join too.  A new school year begins, 20+ new kids enroll in the afterschool class, the instructor's need help, I've quit my job in the meantime and there is no reason why I cannot help once a week after school.  A semester passes and I'm asked if I would consider taking on teaching another class at another location.
Now JP and I are opening a part time taekwondo school this coming Tuesday.  With that we begin an internship that leads to instructor certifications which are desirable for future opportunities.

So although the path is quite clear to me now, if you would have told me a year ago that I would be opening a Taekwondo school I would have laughed at you! But I feel totally at home with this.  It actually feels like the natural progression.  I guess its just the opportunity I never knew I was looking for.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cavemom confessions-Bad Parenting

A few years back, in an effort to improve the tone of our home and encourage better behavior from our son Mr. Cavehair and I decided to try the reward system.  The punishment system wasn't working with a 3 year old cave-child who was wild as a hyena, and we were exhausted.  We quickly discovered that offering a reward for good behavior instead of punishment for bad behavior turned out a generally more desirable outcome. has backfired on us.  BIG TIME.

Almost 4 years later we have discovered that we have created a child who cares to do nothing positive unless it involves a reward of some sort.  He bargains, he negotiates.  He actually has said "If I take my shower in only 8 minutes will you take me to Target to get a Lego Star Wars set?" (The answer is clearly NO, and he's never been rewarded quite THAT ridiculously, but still he's tried.) We created a child who wants to know what's in it for him before he decides whether he'll cooperate or not.

That was brought to a swift halt the week of Christmas.  After 6 weeks of horrible, no good, very bad days leading up to Christmas, we could take no more.  It was time for clear consequences.  The first one came in the form of a letter from Santa explaining why Santa could not bring the requested Nintendo DSi.  Santa brought the remote control helicopter, because cave-boy's behavior had been excellent at school, but Santa did NOT bring the DSi because cave-boy's behavior at home had been bad enough to nearly put him on the naughty list.  Santa called for a drastic improvement in the behavior at home towards cave-boy's mother and father should cave-boy expect something like a DSi in the future.  Then Mom and Dad stepped in with a new way of saying what was expected and what the outcome would be.  Whereas once we would have said something like "if you eat your dinner, clear your place, and get your shower quickly, you can earn 30  mins of wii" we are now saying "After dinner, the family is playing wii, however, if you do not eat your dinner, clear your place, or take your shower quickly, you will not play with the rest of the family."
Nothing about what we ultimately do is changing, but Caveboy's response is changing.
So far so good.  We're almost 3 weeks into it and we're seeing improvement.  But what I don't know is how much of the improved behavior is that Christmas is no longer on the visible horizon and so all the angst about it is gone for now.  I guess only time and perserverance will tell, but I sure hope its working the way we think it is because I do not want to be the one responsible for raising a man who will not do anything for anybody unless there's something in it for him.  That's no way to live.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Butt Labels-The Joke's on You

Nothing screams "I wanted something, ANYTHING, with this brand's label on it SO bad, but all I could afford was this lousy sweatsuit" more than sweat-pants with butt labels.  Plus, it also screams I DESPERATELY want you to know that I am wearing this label.  Because, lets face it, a cute pair of shades sports only a tiny little graphic someplace that most people will miss, and if they don't see my label, they won't know what awesome taste I have! So it makes sense that stamping a label across your butt is the best way to ensure that all around are made aware of your exquisite taste in label purchasing.

But picture this:

A woman with a tiny, but extremely saggy butt goes walking by.  The butt is adorned in full-coverage fashion with the word "Juicy".  You say to your teenage daughter (fascetiously) "why do you wish you had 'Juicy' stamped across your butt so bad?" to which she replies "my SAGGY butt?  Its 'Juicy' alright! Ripe and prime for pickin!'" (underwear wedgie)  Your other teenager overhears only part of what has been being said and says "are you guys talking about farts?"

Well, the atmosphere erupted in uproarious laughter when it was decided that the term "Juicy" was some kind of announcement as to the condition of the last gaseous expulsion from the very behind it adorned.

Go ahead, throw those sweats in the trash now, even if you just got them for Christmas, because really, the next time you wear them in public, the joke's on you!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bring it on!

Here it is, our new decade! I remember thinking 2010 sounded SOOOOO far away. Well, I would say 2020 sounds far too off in the future to even consider, but I realized just the other day that I will still have two teenagers in the house come 2020, so it can't be that far away! (Nor could it make me THAT old!)

I'm not one who gets too excited about New Year's Resolutions, but I have to admit, I've had quite a bit on my mind the past few days, and it all seems kind of resolution-y, so I guess I'm making resolutions this year.  My thoughts have turned to the efficiency of my home, the way I parent, the activities we're involved in, etc.
My schedule has totally and completely changed with the new semester, new year, new decade, etc.  Looking at those changes I see some opportunity to improve the way I do some things and consolidate a few things.  I'm looking forward to Monday's now being my free day instead of my crazy day, but I still don't know how I'm going to deal with 8:00am church schedule and a husband who doesn't get home from work until after 6:00am on Sunday mornings.  I'll go ahead and say it, I've seriously considered not going.  I do NOT want to go alone with the kids every week.  But I also know that not going in no way solves my problem.  I'll still be alone with the kids, just not at church.

Our Christmas this year was a totally different kind of Christmas than we've celebrated in the past.  We had about 8 days of Christmas (no I'm not confused about which holiday we celebrate, just happened to have that much Christmas this year.) spending every day with family members from one side or the other.  Gifts were fewer and smaller, but time with family was increased abundantly.  My favorite part of Christmas this year was the 4 days in the mountains of California, blanketed in snow, fire place burning, fun games, good food, wonderful time spent with loved ones.  We were so grateful to be able to accept the invitation and join my family.  The worst part of Christmas vacation was also in the mountains where JP was sicker than a dog for all but the very first day.  He got in a good romp in the snow and then proceeded to the basement where he stayed for the next 2 and a half days.  I felt so bad because we were having so much fun and he was just sitting in the basement with a blanket and a TV.  Of course, since we don't have cable at home any more, it was probably a nice relaxing treat and being sick gave him an acceptable reason to hibernate with the cable.  The funniest part of Christmas was when my mom said the funniest/most accidentally inappropriate thing a mother in law has ever said to her son in law.  I may blog about it at Valentine's day. We'll see.  I *think* I have permission to write it down, but it was a doozy, so I want to be sure. (mom, do I?)
We also had a good time at the annual family Christmas bowling party here in AZ, and enjoying a casual dinner and impromptu (grand)children's production of the Nativity, and visiting the Christmas lights at the Mesa temple.  I love the life size nativity they have on the grounds, it seems so authentic to me.

So now we're looking forward to the new year and whatever it has in store for us.  Already some things we thought were in store appear not to be, but other opportunities may make themselves known.  I'm actually kind of loving the "unknown" that the new year brings with it.  Last year's unknowns were largely positive, so we feel hopeful that this year's will be as well.

Now, up with my butt, off the computer to do something a little more productive.