Thursday, November 29, 2007


It's amazing how the scriptures take on new meaning when you're dieting and your pants are still too tight. I took heart at the following passage from Deuteronomy a few days ago, and while it was promised as a curse upon the Israelites if they failed to keep their covenants, it sounded pretty darn good to me:

"...thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee." --Deuteronomy 28:31

Bring it on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Once Upon a Time...

You may have tangible wealth untold:
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a mother who read to me.
--from "The Reading Mother" by Strickland Gillilan

Reading to my children is one of my favorite things to do as a parent. My mother gave her nine children this gift, and it has been so valuable in my life both as a child and as a parent. Over the years we've read hundreds of stories together, and read-aloud has always been a part of our homeschooling day, even as the children have entered junior high. We've had many great experiences, interesting conversation, a few disagreements, but always a connection with each other.

I bring this up because today we finished a charming little book called The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, the author of Because of Winn-Dixie. This sweet story was the winner of the Newbury Medal in 2004. If you're a veteran read-aloud mom (or dad) you must read this story to your children. If you've never tried to read a book aloud before, this is the perfect one to start with. It is quite clever, touching, and meaningful, and all of my children from 2nd grade through 8th grade couldn't get enough of it.

Despereaux is a tiny mouse, much smaller than a mouse should be, and his head is in the clouds...or rather in the books, reading them instead of eating them as proper mice should do. He breaks all the cardinal mouse rules, and this puts him in the company of the Princess Pea, with whom he falls in love. But a mouse cannot penetrate the human world without punishment, so Despereaux is thrown in the dungeon where his adventures with an old jailer, several conniving rats, and a homely little serving girl who longs to be a princess begin. Everyone is connected in some way, and the author's simple narrative voice, that never condescends, is so delightful. We loved it. I pass the recommendation along to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Finish the Sentence Meme

In this meme, that I snagged from Kathleen, all you do is finish each sentence.

I've come to realize that my ex is:
Not as perfect for me as I'd always thought.

I am listening to:
My kids eating breakfast downstairs. And rollerskating in the kitchen. Can't get mad at them for that one....they learned it from me!

I talk:
Many times when I shouldn't, and often for too long. But not deeply enough.

I love:
Books. Kitchen stores. Homeschooling. The color red. Clean, high thread-count sheets, sparkling bathrooms, the smell of vanilla and coconut, a really good haircut, when my jeans are loose, reading to my kids, snuggling with a baby fresh from the tub, to buy things for other people.

I lost:
I never (never say 'never'...hardly ever) lose anything. Except maybe hope sometimes, and my mind. But I'll find that too.

I hate it when:
I have to dust, fold laundry, or clean bathrooms. When I don't have harmony in my marriage, or when I bounce a check.

Love is:
My goal in life. To give it, to have it, to feel it.

Marriage is:
A mystery to me.

Somewhere there is:
Enough for all of us.

I'll always be:
The oldest child in the family, and all that that entails. There's no breaking free from that stereotype, and how it's shaped my personality.

I have a [little] crush on:
hmmmmm......I'm drawing a blank.

The last time I cried was:
A few nights ago.

My cell phone is:
Ruined, thanks to my slobbering baby.

When I wake up in the morning:
I try to always be cheerful when I greet my children.

Before I go to sleep at night:
I like to watch a few episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond".

Right now I am thinking about:
How to best help Dylan with his writing assignment, when we should schedule our early Christmas with the kids before they leave, how to squeeze in a nap today, and where else I can canvas for a few more piano students.

Babies are:
Not little for long enough.

I get on myspace:
Never. I am not a fan.

Today I:
Went to the grocery store early in the morning to get enchilada sauce and black beans so that I can make dinner for my friend who is on bedrest for pregnancy complications.

Tonight I will:
Teach piano lessons and then watch a Christmas movie with the kids while Adam works.

Tomorrow I will:
Do everything I have to do today over again. (Doesn't it feel like that sometimes?)

I really want to:
Write my book(s).

The person who is most likely to repost this:
I hope it's Hannah.

Eight is Great!

My little Aiden turned eight years old yesterday. Ah, how I remember his birth. It was my first homebirth, and I was very excited for the experience. Adam and I had taken our classes, purchased our homebirth kit, and were well prepared. It was a Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that year, and I had a short visit with my midwife that afternoon. She felt confident it would be that day.

Contractions began in the late afternoon, and in a flurry of anticipation, I went to the grocery store to get "labor food", stopping to breathe during contractions in the chip aisle, I recall. We ran some errands for Adam's work, and stopped at the video store to get something to watch during the early stages of labor.

Adam, being the workaholic he can sometimes be, decided we could make use of waiting time to stain the back deck he had just built. So we did. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was that I was bent over applying stain and feeling my body prepare to give birth. To say nothing of the fumes. But it got finished. (I remember I painted the trim of our house the day before Lyndsay was born, too...hmmmm....)

Contractions stopped for a few hours, so I bathed the kids and put them to bed, cleaned the kitchen, and threw in some laundry. We sat down to watch "Notting Hill", and thirty minutes into the movie, labor started up again, in full force. We called the midwife, we called Adam's mom who would attend the birth, and we got to work breathing. The baby came just two and a half hours later, in our candlelit bedroom, with our two other children sleeping across the hallway. It was so exhilarating. We named him Aiden Tanner.

Little Aiden was a comfort to me immediately, and he became a source of great strength to me, as he was only 15 months old when his dad and I separated. Taking care of him often kept me from curling up to die. He was my little buddy. When the other two kids attended school for a year in UT, he became my companion in work and fun, tagging along at Mary Kay appointments, and sometimes lunch dates. Now there is scarcely a trace of that sweet baby and little guy. He is a boy, through and through. Tough and tender. Rowdy and affectionate.

Now he is a cub scout, and will be baptized in a month, two very big goals that he's been looking forward to. Now he is a green belt in Tae Kwon Do, is learning cursive, and loves to help me in the kitchen. He is anxious to change diapers, is an incredible organizer, and has the most forgiving soul of any of my children. He will share the very last thing, or the very most cherished thing he owns, and he has an infectious giggle. I sometimes am filled with sadness that he has lived with divorce, having no memory of the love between his parents that gave him life. His reality, of having two families, two homes, is one I cannot really relate too, but I do hope he is made the stronger for his trials.

Eight whole years I've loved this boy. Sweet Aiden. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wickedly Good Time!

Through a piano student's parent, I was able to procure and work off seven tickets to see the amazing hit musical Wicked. This was our Christmas gift to the kids this year. I got to see Wicked three years ago on Broadway with my two favorite girlfriends, Luisa and Amber. I have been addicted to the soundtrack ever since, and since the play began in Los Angeles I have been dying to get the family there. It was really our first big family treat, and the kids had a blast.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, we no longer have a second car, or a car big enough for our entire family to fit in, so it was stressful trying to find a way to get us to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, but Adam's sister came through at the very last second with a willingness to come watch Conor and let us take her car. We had a "Girls' Car" and a "Boys' Car"; I'm not sure which was in worse shape mechanically, but with prayer and some side street maneuvers to avoid steep hills we were able to make it safely, and enjoy some hearty laughter at the adventure and ridiculousness of the whole ordeal. Thank goodness for laughter!
Nobody fidgeted (we left Conor at home with a sitter) and nobody asked, "Is it almost over?" What a thrill to see it again, and to see it through their eyes. And now my dreams of belting those clever lyrics to sold-out crowds has been renewed, and I'm dreaming wicked green!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

In All Things, Give Thanks

Truly, one of the hardest commandments. This has not been a year full of abundance in my life, and I have not spent most of my time feeling grateful, to be quite honest. I have, instead, felt more loneliness, despair, confusion, worthlessness, anxiety, and disappointment than almost any other time in my life. This year has been hard, plain and simple.

The other day when I was out for my walk, pushing Conor in the stroller up Wentworth Avenue, I struggled for the last three blocks, as the street becomes increasingly uphill. I had set a goal of reaching Mt. Gleason Street, but many times I heard whispers as my legs burned and my heart pumped: "Just cut down one of these side streets and head back home. At least you got out here today. It's not going to make that big of a difference." But I trudged on, utterly ticked off and sweating. I just want to be in shape again! I don't want to have to do all this stupid walking up these stupid hills, pushing this heavy baby. The last hundred feet or so is very steep as it makes a final climb before leveling out. Something in me kept taking one more step. I braced myself behind that stroller, with arms straight out and leaning over into the pushing, I finished the climb. The thought occurred to me that though the entire walk up Wentworth is difficult, it's the last several yards that are the hardest and the steepest, and always the ones I'm most proud to have walked. And then, I get to turn around, and walk effortlessly (for a while, anyway) downhill.

Life is especially hard right now. Steep and challenging, and the voice whispers almost daily to just quit. Take a side street and get off the course. In the meantime, I tell myself that I set out to do this, darn it, and I just keep taking another step.

Our family was together this year for Thanksgiving. Four of my husband's siblings came as well, and everyone had a lovely day. I worked my tail off and the food was incredible, but I didn't feel as full of gratitude as I felt full of dressing and pumpkin pie. I faked it just fine, but to those who know me best (apparently no one in this house), the fact that I used "very nice" disposable plates and cups would have been a dead giveaway that something was off.

I must feel gratitude before I go to bed. I need to feel gratitude before I go to bed.

So this year, I'm grateful that my legs work in the trudging, that I haven't yet listened to the voice and taken a side street detour, and that I have enough faith to believe that the downhill must be coming up soon.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Last night I dreamt of the Taliban. The fear was not as petrifying as it was a piteous surrender. This is what life means to be a woman. And there is still beauty among the shards and rubble of life, and there is depth and resiliency in the secret longings within the folds of a woman's heart. And there is redemption.

I finished Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns today, with barely anything else accomplished this week. I read it in three days, because while I could not put it down, I also could not miss a single, beautiful word. I am having a hard time even speaking, because I'm afraid that anything I utter will tear my heart further from the experience and thrust me back into my own real life. This is a book that has changed me. Mariam and Laila feel like sisters to me. I love them. I understand them, even worlds away. We are the same. I will weep with them for days to come. Khaled Hosseini knows the heart of a woman, somehow, mystically. And he painted a painful, yet breathtaking portrait of a war-torn and brutal Afghanistan. It's not just land, it's people.
I am not a book critic, but trust me, if you haven't, you must read A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Entrepreneurial Spirit at its Finest

I came downstairs the other day to find a booth set up in our livingroom, behind which sat two of our boys. The other boy was in charge of PR, and he was wandering about the house pasting up signs directing us to the livingroom booth. I asked what was going on, and was given a "business card". I see they are marketing each boy's best talent (I guess), and it reminds me a lot of a sign I saw on the side of the road when we first moved to rural Show Low, Arizona: "Backhoe and Croissants". Might as well please everybody, right?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Truth...and told

Well, obviously I am not a good liar. I suppose this could be a good thing, but it makes me feel so boring! I've definitely got to work on my lying skills. Most of you were right, darn it.

1. True. I did go to a dork's prom with him as a favor for my dad. I did not want to, and I made it clear the entire evening. I was horridly rude to him, and just wanted the night to be over with, which it was, early. Poor guy. I think about him from time to time and feel so ashamed that I was a person of such little character in those days. I even tried to find him on the internet to apologize, but so far have been unsuccessful. The details of that night are too shameful, so I'll leave them in the dark.

2. Lie. I went to a Halloween party once where a seance and a game of Ouiji board were being played, but I had been taught to leave, and so I did. My friend Lisa Dovi and I both called our parents, and we were picked up early.

3. True. This was a highlight of my life since Richard Paul Evans is one of my very favorite authors. I dated his brother for a while, and got to know Rick on a somewhat personal level. I did beat him at the karaoke, and I owe him for giving me such a fun memory.

4. True. But don't act like it's never happened to you, alright? I was a long way from home and it was snowing HARD! Even sphincter muscles don't work as well in the freezing cold!

Great job, everybody!