Friday, February 20, 2015

Keeping It Real

A friend and I (hello Marilyn) were recently discussing the whole . . . oh, I don't know . . . the whole business of sharing – both in the social media world and just in general among those we associate with. We were pondering over where to draw the line; where being open, and honest, and “keeping it real” becomes just . . . being a glass-half-empty, constant complainer.

It's a fine line. And neither of us knew exactly where one should draw it. There seems to be some obvious good in . . . giving others things to relate to, in opening up so others know they aren't alone in their strugglings; that they aren’t failing when they find life feeling overwhelming or hard. And, I suppose, letting our guard down and sharing our struggles allows people to strengthen and lift us when we need encouragement.

The tendency to showcase life as a bunch of picture-perfect, everything-running-smoothly moments seems . . . like a bit of a trick (though I have often argued for looking for, embracing, and capturing those moments of joy – the good and the “worth remembering”). And yet . . . moaning and broadcasting every difficulty and unfairness seems like . . . grasping a hold of Laman and Lemuel's perpetual “murmuring” and claiming it fully as your own.

In my own life, while I don’t mind carefully crafting a post about a struggle here and there, I am, I admit, . . . a bit overly attached to, if not actually feeling, then at least appearing in control and on top of things. Reading about it is one thing, but I shudder at the idea of anyone actually seeing me stressed and exhausted, out-of-patience and overwhelmed.

But, in truth, the past month or so has had me, off and on, hanging on by my fingernails a bit as I've tried to manage my home, children, and other obligations. For weeks and weeks (and weekends) Mike's work demanded impossibly long hours. We saw him little, if at all; and running our home without the comfort of knowing I had reinforcements coming was, at times, utterly exhausting. I lost patience, felt overwhelmed, disappointed myself, dropped the ball on numerous things with my children, and barely managed to pull together my outward “all is flowing seamlessly” appearance. (Heaven knows we must keep up appearances!) There were many moments like the other night: Anders sobbing hysterically over a pinched finger, Summer crying to be fed, Penny repeatedly demanding – in escalating tones of whininess – for me to please help her with something on the piano that absolutely could not wait, and Goldie holding our her new violin book asking if I could quiz her on something or other. All, of course, when bedtime should have long-since been well underway and dinner was still far far from anything like cleaned up.

Perhaps it’s important to let down my guard a bit and let others know that day-to-day living around here isn’t all Instagram pics and clever toddler remarks. And yet . . . shrug . . . I don’t know . . . it is also those things. The things I’m about to record – the cell shots and the moments (which were actually the only things I intended to record in this post) – were all there, interspersed among the difficult. They were real. And, to be honest, they more clearly represent the majority of the time (although one moment of numerous kids whining amidst sudden mess can quickly make the whole day feel disastrous). But what a loss if the “hard” made me blind to these perfect moments . . . to all their brightness and happiness and . . . goodness.

So . . . I guess I still haven’t come to any real conclusion at all over how and what to share. Still, there was so much to laugh and smile over and enjoy this month. I’m just going to go ahead and share.


First off:

The other day, Jesse was mentioning something or other that Summer didn’t know how to do. After detailing it, he added that, at this point, “she mostly just knows how to be awesome.”
Photo Feb 15, 12 09 31 PMPhoto Feb 16, 8 03 40 AMPhoto Feb 16, 8 03 41 AMPhoto Feb 16, 8 04 01 AM

I’ll be the first to admit that that’s true. She does, mostly, just know how . . . to be AWESOME.
Photo Feb 14, 1 12 43 PMPhoto Feb 14, 12 19 45 PMPhoto Feb 14, 1 13 02 PM
But, she sure would have liked if I would have swapped her bottle out for the sugar cookie I was eating on Valentine’s Day.

Also: rompers for life, why are the kids all making her cry?, she keeps shocking me by appearing in places where I did not leave her (a little army-crawl, pulling, and dragging all at play), and a few other cute Summer pics.
Photo Feb 18, 9 37 04 AMPhoto Feb 16, 9 03 54 AMPhoto Feb 18, 9 37 13 AMPhoto Feb 20, 10 05 33 AMPhoto Feb 20, 10 07 09 AMPhoto Feb 16, 3 22 03 PMPhoto Feb 20, 8 20 39 AM

Oh, and . . . that little mouth. And chin. Does anyone else find themselves kissing that soft little chubby spot right under their baby’s chin (maybe I should just call it a double chin)?
Photo Feb 20, 12 03 07 PMPhoto Feb 20, 12 03 08 PMPhoto Feb 20, 12 03 27 PM

Moving right along. Penny is quite into writing and “illustrating”. She constantly tells me she wants to be an author and illustrator. Her teacher, who, quite honestly, nearly swoons in adoration over Penny (“Never!” she tells me. “Never! In 20 years of teaching did I ever even imagine there could be a Penny!”), certainly encourages her. Still, for all her certainty, and all the encouragement . . . she is sometimes . . . at a loss.

Last night she sat, ponderingly, on the couch next to me (when she was supposed to be in bed). “I want to write a book,” she told me. “I just don’t know what to write it about. There are A LOT of good ideas out there. I just . . . don’t think of them.”

Yes. That’s a trouble for sure.
Photo Feb 20, 7 18 43 AMPhoto Feb 16, 8 06 55 AMPhoto Feb 20, 7 18 49 AM

Whether she writes a novel or not, she’ll always have one thing going for her: her eyes that go into nearly-shut slits when she smiles. I love that so much. And if all else comes to naught? Those eyes. They’re enough. (At least in my book.)

Jesse hasn’t loved reading quite like his older siblings have. It is usually a bit of an ordeal to get his daily reading in. (The only thing that encourages him to press on at all is the enticement of someday being able to read instruction manuals with ease.) I am always telling him that if he would just do his reading “happily” it would go much better. After a spell of smooth out-loud-reading earlier in the week, he commented, “I wasn’t reading too good before because I was spending the time mostly grumpin’” Hahah. Dear boy. I love him. Here he is watching a youtube video on how to fix a toilet flush valve – not because ours is broken, but, because . . . it’s fun. (Also pictured: Goldie very excited to have just started violin, and, posing quickly by the garage for me one morning before school.)
Photo Feb 17, 1 36 25 PMPhoto Feb 17, 6 44 52 PMPhoto Feb 13, 8 18 22 AM

A few more Anders’ questions:

“Is Darth Vader real?
“Is Summer real?”
“Is it fun to be bad?” (No! No! for the love of all things! Noooo!)
“Are our flamilies in our tummies?” (Uhhh? I guess . . . if you eat them.)
“Can Tess eat garbage?”
“When did we get born?”
“Do you and dad not go to bed?”
“What happens if you put your hands in your mouth?”
“What happens if Santa falls down a chimney?”

Here the little stinker is. (Along with some other miscellaneous pictures – including one of Mike strumming his mandolin late one night. He keeps forcing whatever kid he can grab to come sing Arkansas Traveller while he plays. I like it.)
Photo Feb 19, 11 19 34 AMPhoto Feb 18, 8 34 17 AMPhoto Feb 14, 9 04 21 PMPhoto Feb 14, 2 58 31 PM (1)Photo Feb 18, 8 39 25 AMPhoto Feb 18, 8 52 41 PM

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Cry For Extra Palm Padding. And Some Other Stuff.

I don’t necessarily fall every time I go running (grimace), but I do fall often enough to have pondered over why, from an evolutionary perspective, nature didn’t select for . . . much more plushly padded palms! Maybe our cave man ancestors were just . . . not as clumsy as I am? Or maybe they just . . . fell on their behinds a lot? (That would surely explain all of what’s going on back there.) Heh heh. I’m funny. . . .Though I really didn’t feel very funny when I tripped over that like five-measly-inch-high chain across my running path yesterday. I really thought – right up until I was falling (inadequately-padded palms spread and ready to take the brunt of the impact) – that I was . . . gracefully dashing over the chain. Sigh. 

Also, Abe thought he was pretty clever the other day when he saw me wearing this sweatshirt and said, “Don’t you know that ‘sad’ is actually the new ‘happy’?” (Note: I’m, off and on, a big fan of chocolate Twizzlers. I’ll be honest though. No matter how many you eat . . . it’s still like you haven’t eaten even one. They never satisfy.)
Photo Feb 03, 3 05 17 PM
Anders is super questiony lately. Some of his questions have some depth – “When will we die?” and “What happens when we die?” are favorites. He’s never content with my answers though. I’m tempted to start replying with things like, “Oh, that’s when you get lot’s of candy.” But most of his questions are much less weighty. He is deeply interested in who and what have . . . bums (shrug). Does our dog have a bum? Does spider-man have a bum? How about the Lego spider-man? Does he? Here are just a few (so so few) of the questions I remembered to jot down recently:

How do we have feet?
Are trains from heaven?
What’s wrong with my tummy?
What’s a buffalo?
Do penguins go potty every night?
Do we put soda in our nose? Do we??
Do alligators have hearts? (That one was a refreshing change from . . . bums.)
Photo Feb 08, 10 52 28 AMPhoto Feb 09, 10 42 59 AMPhoto Feb 10, 8 40 14 AMPhoto Feb 12, 10 11 40 AM
(Darn straight I drew that c3po and r2d2 “off the cuff”. Anders demanded it and was not put off by my “I don’t know how to.” Turns out I DID know how! Who knew? . . . Though Jesse, upon seeing them later, seemed rather unimpressed by c3po’s face. But I can’t just . . . be a master on the first go. Can I?)

The other day Jesse sighed contentedly as he surveyed the Saturday morning happenings of our home and said, “When I’m a dad, I’m gonna’ have a lot of kids – playin’ and cryin’ around.” Pretty accurate description of what we have created here. A bunch of kids playin’ and cryin’ around.
Photo Feb 08, 2 56 33 PMPhoto Feb 08, 10 53 31 AM

He also reported this after school yesterday:

“My teacher said if you run away from a bear it will chase you, but if you just walk away, it won’t. But . . . it seems like it would be pretty hard to just walk away from a bear.”

Yah, well, maybe so, but count yourself lucky, kid. At least you get to walk away. In my day we had to just drop down and play dead the minute we saw a bear. How’s that for hard?

Oh, and back to kids “cryin’” around. The other day I heard Anders yell angrily, “Nobody will be my friend in this WHOLE FLAMILY!” Which might have made me feel sad for him, but everyone was just sitting about, minding their own business, and looking plenty friendly. Plus, he said, “flamily”. There’s no room for pity when someone says that.

And, . . . little Summerkins. I put her to sleep with her pants on. Somehow, look: they’re just snuggled up to her little tummy. I adore her with her . . . feet . . . and legs . . . and sleepiness . . . and snuggled jammie bottoms.
Photo Feb 06, 12 47 30 PM

Speaking of feet. Sometimes she just suddenly re-discovers them. And it’s very much like, “Oh! Hello appendage. I’d forgotten I had you.”
Photo Feb 11, 8 41 56 AMPhoto Feb 11, 8 39 21 AM

She’s pretty cute. And look! Baby profile! (Every bit as grand as baby feet!)
Photo Feb 10, 4 13 26 PMPhoto Feb 07, 3 35 18 PM

Lastly, It’s best if Mike never knows what things I eat around here all day. (Well, I mean besides all the treats. He already knows about those.) I mean in the “real” food department. He doesn’t like . . . weird things . . . especially multiple weird things. But . . . the more strange things I can find to mix together? The happier I am. “Oh! There is leftover taco meat! And some sweet potatoes even? What’s this? Tomatoes? And beans? This is . . . such a lucky fridge trip!” And into the same bowl they all go and off to the microwave. Together. Today I think my lunch was maybe . . . a burrito? I don’t know. There was a lot of . . . stuff . . . and it was all in a tortilla shell with . . . salsa and ranch dressing. It made me unnaturally happy (and was far more fulfilling than chocolate Twizzlers – though I certainly wouldn’t have minded topping it off with some of those, had they been around).

The End.


Do you ever have times when life seems to have an ongoing theme? When, for months, maybe even years, you see and hear and “chance” upon things that add to and build on one another? Things you’d never really thought much about before?


I certainly have of late – and, actually, as I think back to how things and thoughts have built on one another – each making new ideas and possibilities more . . . I don’t know . . . more pure and clear – I see that it hasn’t been so much just “of late”. I feel like it’s been . . . ongoing in bits and pieces since Anders’ birth over three years ago. At least noticeably since then. (And no no, the theme isn’t bird houses. I just put them there because they were fun to look at. And they certainly are a theme around my yard lately! I think my kids have hung five around our house so far and there are several more crowding up my laundry-room shelf waiting for their owners to paint and hang them. I don’t know why. Why the bird houses?)


The theme has been one of . . . connection. Of the Lord’s hand. Of people having greater capabilities to know and love – and the Lord having greater capabilities in connecting those people – than I ever would have guessed before. In fact, I would have felt it was presumptuous to even suggest before.

It came in the form of a thin veil, and a sense of bustling, and excitement, and goodbyes on the morning Anders was born. It came after he was born -- in thoughts I would have, and things I would find myself uttering to his little baby self that were hardly part of my conscious mortal mind at all. Things like, “I told you not to worry. I told you it would work. I told you we’d be together again.” It came even earlier I suppose, on a run after Jesse’s birth when I knew, simply and clearly, that I wasn’t done with my family because I hadn’t yet fulfilled a promise to Summer. I hadn’t yet brought her here. It came in the midst of a horrible post-surgery foot infection when, as I sat pondering on a great-grandfather I never met (in this life) and knew little about, I felt a sudden, unmistakable, and shocking jolt of connection – of a closeness I never dreamt existed. A closeness that transcended mortality. A closeness I’d forgotten.

It’s come in a million ways since then. In ponderings and whisperings. In quotes and scriptures and feelings and sacred experiences. Less and less does it seem “presumptuous” to assume my very own Father in Heaven would place me among people I already knew and loved. More and more it seems like the very thing He would do. As I have considered on my relationship with Heavenly Father, as I have come to truly believe that it is possible – not only possible, but natural, and easy – for Him to be absolutely aware of every moment, every thought and every influence, every worry and joy in my life at the same time as He is aware of those things for everyone else (not only among those of us living, but those who have already lived here, and those who will yet come); it has occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, before I came here – before I inherited this fallen, mortal state – before I became so blind and limited in my capabilities – perhaps, as His eternal daughter, as someone who actually has the potential to become like Him -- I might possibly have had some small portion of that ability. Perhaps I was more capable of loving deeply, knowing intimately and caring greatly about a vast number of my spirit brothers and sisters than this mortal, restricted me can fathom.


I’m not suggesting fate. I’m suggesting greater connection and closeness and love among, well, all of us, but most especially among those God places in our lives . . . than we can yet comprehend.

I recently came across these Neal Maxwell quotes that so beautifully summed up parts of what my own soul and thoughts have been stretching towards.

“I am so grateful . . . for a part of mortality that we sometimes overlook: the intertwinings of our lives. I acknowledge the Lord’s hand in these intersections. Some here have heard me say that one of the reasons we love each other in the kingdom is that our friendships are not friendships of initiation at all but are, instead, friendships of resumption! . . .

“It should not surprise us, brothers and sisters, that Heavenly Father brings about these intersectings and intertwinings of our lives. . . .

“You and I may call these intersectings ‘coincidence.’ This word is understandable for mortals to use, but coincidence is not an appropriate word to describe the workings of an omniscient God. He does not do things by ‘coincidence’ but instead by ‘divine design.’”


My love for Heavenly Father has grown so much lately. It has grown mostly . . . because I have begun to know how well He knows me, and how much He actually loves me. I am so grateful to be here – in mortality – living this hard and wonderful life. How does the poet describe it? “Your one wild and precious life”? I love that I am here. I love that I am here with my brothers and sisters. I am recognizing them more and more as just that. And I am so grateful SO GRATEFUL for the “intertwinings” and “intersectings” in my life. I think one day I will be among those angels in heaven singing praises to my God – and it won’t only be for this chance to progress and the Atonement making it possible. It will be for a thousand unimaginable extras – His hand in my life, and Him surrounding me and connecting me with . . . my people!


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