Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's 81st birthday! He is one amazing man, and I am so proud to be his daughter. He can do just about everything. He is a Super Scout, and although he only had one son amongst all those daughters, he taught us all to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. It was quite a revelation to me to find out that he only stands 5' 8", because in my mind, he is a giant. I love you, Dad. Happy birthday!

My Mom & Dad a few years ago, standing with Spicy Boy

These are two of my favorite pictures of him. The first is in a go-cart his dad made, and the second is when he was about three, sitting with his sister. Two of my boys look just like him, and I love it!

Love the duds!
My parents as newlyweds in 1952. They've been married for almost 58 years!
And finally, someone immortalized him in marble...Just kidding. This is a bust my brother found at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. It is an 18th century French aristocrat who bears an uncanny resemblance to my Dad. Love it!
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spicy Boy

Just when I thought I had a kid figured out, he goes and does something amazing. Today at church, my 8-year-old daughter was supposed to read a verse of scripture to the children's group (called Primary). She was all ready to go--she even picked it out herself. I got in the room just in time to see her stand up to the podium. All of a sudden, she burst into tears and could.not.go.on! (insert very dramatic crocodile tears here--more on this little redhead at a later date). I was watching from the back of the room, so I naturally stood up to go to the front and help her. Instead, I sat back down and watched a miracle unfold.

Her older brother--you know, the aforementioned 10-year-old, spicy one--immediately jumped out of his seat, shuffled past the kids in his row and came to his sister's rescue. He put a reassuring arm around her shoulders and whispered to her, trying to get her to compose herself and move on. It was just beautiful.

This is the same kid who, just a year or so ago, would cry and howl at the mere thought of standing up in front of a group of people and speaking. He is the same kid with an alphabet soup full of acronyms and medical problems that have contributed to very difficult behavior and lots of questions about "what is going on at home".

This, my friends, is why and how I know God loves us, knows us personally and speaks to us. Through the Holy Spirit, He whispers to our souls what is true, as well as what we should do, and it's up to us to act on those promptings. This son of mine is especially sensitive to the Spirit, which calms him and completely transforms him into a very different person. I understand just a smidge what it means when Alma asks if we have "received His image in [our] countenances." (Click to read the whole chapter. It is my very favorite passage of scripture.)

<-----------Over there is a quote by Dieter F. Uchdorf which my dear boy embodied so well today. He listened and answered his sister's need, out of pure love, because "the Lord answers our prayers, but it is usually through another person that He meets our needs." (Spencer W. Kimball)

I am reminded that God can make the same change for me--when I listen, of course, and when I allow Him to do so. I am convinced that He is there, waiting to help me, and waiting for me to help others, if I would just stop being so stubborn and pay attention. I know He knows me personally, and I know He loves me as my Heavenly Father, as He loves each and every person who ever has lived or will live on this earth.

Some days, like today, I have nothing snarky to write, and that's just fine by me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

While We're On the Subject

A few weeks ago, my husband had the privilege of driving a group of teenagers on a youth group outing in my minivan. Not much was mentioned about the particular group of kids, and I didn't think too much about it--until I sat in the front seat the next day.

Anyone remember that episode of Seinfeld with the B.O. car? Now you know what my face looked like.

Oh, these B.'s left the car, but their O. sure stayed! I didn't have to do too much detective work to figure out that it was my 13-year-old son and a few of his closest and stinkiest friends in that car. Add to it that my husband didn't realize that the rear air conditioner has a separate temperature gauge, so he was actually cooking them when they asked for more air. Nice.

Which brings me back to the subject of boys in general. I don't understand them, which could pose a problem, because I have a husband and four sons. You see, I grew up with five sisters and only one brother, who wisely kept his boy habits to himself. Having this husband and sons has opened up an entirely different world to me, and sometimes it smells pretty bad. Here is a partial list of what my boys have taught me:

Boys are delightfully wonderful and loving and need their moms, until the moment they don't. This moment varies, but is unilaterally present by the age of 10, and it is the precise moment when they start to stink. I am currently in possession of two such sons.

Changing underwear and/or socks is only necessary about once a week at the most, regardless of the number of showers taken.

30-second showers are perfectly acceptable.

Toothbrushes are completely unnecessary on sleepovers (but just bring one anyway to humor Mom).

Extra changes of clothes are also completely unnecessary on Boy Scout campouts.

Scout shirts are brown for a reason.

Fire is cool. Heh heh, heh heh.

Pajamas may consist of any pair of softish shorts or pants and the T-shirt worn during that day.

Kleenex is completely unnecessary, as boogers are self-adhesive on any surface. They also make lovely bedroom and bathroom wall art.

Grunting is a perfectly acceptable communication style.

Anything showing on a rectangular screen demands attention.

Bodily functions are always funny. Always.

Each and every school paper needs to be crumpled in at least one corner, if not completely obliterated. "Um, I need this paper signed, Mom. It was due yesterday."

Lots of things have the ability to disappear into thin air.

11 through 13-year-old boys are emotionally identical to 14-year-old girls.

If asked to practice piano/do dishes/sweep the floor, it is best to act as horrified as possible, conveying the absolute truth that life is unfair. When that fails, feign incompetence. Continue to use these methods, even when they don't work. Because they never do.

Do not enter a boys' room with a closed door without a gas mask.

Putting things up one's nose is quite fun, even when 10 years old. We recommend scotch tape and pomegranate seeds.

Any glove can be used to become Anakin Skywalker or Michael Jackson.

Any cloak/cape can transform a child into Harry Potter, bad Anakin or Darth Maul.

Every stick is a sword.

Rocks are meant to be thrown.

Girls smell gross--"like...GIRL!" Eww.

Arms are completely unnecessary for hugs.

Some body parts are more fascinating than others.

It is acceptable to fall asleep with both hands tucked into one's underwear.

After all of these lessons, I am still holding out hope that somewhere, deep inside, they will remember what I've taught them about basic hygiene and communication. My friend would always tell me that my current 10-year-old will make a great adult (I'll write more about him sometime. He's spicy). Judging from what my mother-in-law tells me about her oldest son who grew up to be my husband, it is unfair to judge a man by his teenage years. I'm holding out hope for my sons. After all, my husband smells pretty good now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I've been replaced

Let me start off by saying that when I was younger, I definitely did not have boys falling all over me. I was "the friend". Whatever it was that my friends had to attract all that attention in 1988, I certainly didn't have it. Looking back, I think it must have been the hair. I never had bangs high enough to catch the boys. Yep, that must have been the reason. I really did have to walk between two of my friends to school so their ratted-up and hairsprayed side ponytails wouldn't stick together. They looked like Barbies and had all kinds of boyfriends. How did I miss that crucial piece?

Anywho, since then, I have become much more attractive. I have had the experience of having boys fall all over me in adoration. They just happen to be little. At about age 4, they turn into sticky-sweet, lovey-doveys who can't get enough of me. "I loooooooove you, Mom! And you're pretty!" "I'm never going to love any other mom but you!" "When I grow up, I want to marry you." I've been attacked by my very own 4-year-old kissing monster, who used to kiss my arms incessantly. Yes, it was a little creepy.

Two of these boys have grown out of this drippy stage, and with the older one, I am lucky if I get more than the lean-in, armless hug. He grunts at me when I say, "I love you." I knew it was all over in first grade when after helping in the classroom, I bent over to kiss his forehead, and he said, "Not at school, Mom!" I suppose he loves me on the inside--you know, where it counts.

Now I have a kindergartener. He has a happy, sunshiny yellow personality, and he is very loving. He's into fo-hawks and Spongebob. I've been at the top of his list for a while now. Until Monday.

"Mom, Can I please have some of those pretty flowers from our yard?" I naturally assumed he meant to give them to me. I was wrong. "I want to take them to school," he declared.

I have been replaced.

Kindergarten teachers are the equivalent of Barbie doll friends to a 5-year-old boy. I cannot compete with Mrs. D any more than I could with Angie or Denise in high school. And if I ratted my ponytail, he would disdainfully tell me that I smelled like "girl", and it would be too sticky.

What's a mom to do? Make sure he has a little brother to replace him. That's what I did. I'm not ready to give up my very small it factor yet.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, everyone! I want to leave with you a beautiful message today that speaks to my heart on this holiday and every day. It is an excerpt from one of the most beautiful talks/sermons/speeches I have ever heard about the Savior. To read the full text, click here. To listen, click here

*I'm not sure why the full screen isn't showing. If you have trouble with it, just click on it, and you'll go to YouTube to see it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

If you give a mom a cookie

If you give a mom a cookie, it means the toddler is napping, and she'll want to sit down to eat it in peace.
When she tries to sit down, she'll see a dirty sock that has been left on the couch.
She won't see its match, so she'll look under the couch.
Looking under the couch will remind her that she really should vacuum.
She'll go get the vacuum from the closet and have to lift it up over the jackets that have been left on the floor.
Picking up the jackets, she'll see that her son forgot his homework again.
Setting the homework on the counter, she'll notice the never-ending pile of papers that seem to multiply like rabbits on the counter she cleaned yesterday.
She'll go through the pile of papers and set them on the other counter.
She'll find a bill she needs to pay.
She'll sit down at the computer to pay the bill and notice she has an email.
In her email she has a Facebook friend request.
Seeing the friend request will lure her toward the crack that is Facebook.
After an hour on Facebook, she will glance around her desk and wonder where the time went.
She will see the marbles and Lego bricks on the counter (which also multiply like rabbits) that really belong in the basement.
When she takes them to the basement, she'll notice that it, too, needs to be vacuumed.
She will make a conscious choice to avoid vacuuming the basement.
She'll walk past her card making desk and sit down--for just a minute.
After an hour of moving small pieces of cardstock and stamped images around, she'll give up.
She has lost her papercrafting mojo.
She decides that a cookie might just solve the problem.
She goes upstairs and remembers that she set down the cookie when she saw the dirty sock.
She will hear the toddler wake up from his nap.
Hearing him come downstairs will remind her that she'd better eat the cookie, or he'll take it.
Eating the cookie will remind her that she should sit down.
And chances are, if she sits down on the couch, she'll want a snuggling toddler to go with it.

My apologies and my thanks to Laura Numeroff, for her uncanny assessment of motherhood (or ADHD--whatever), cleverly disguised as stories of animals wanting to eat treats.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Brushes With Fame

Many moons ago, while attending Brigham Young University, I loved to read The Student Review. It was not technically a BYU newspaper, but it was a fantastic (if a little irreverent) satire on BYU/Utah/LDS life. There was a section that I found hilarious, called "Brushes With Fame", where people would list their connections to someone famous. I've always wanted to make my own list. And yes, I even have my own version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon! I would also submit that every Mormon has Six Degrees of Donny Osmond.

Let me explain some LDS (Mormon) lingo for you...A "ward" is the basic congregation in my church. It is geographically based, much like a high school would have boundaries, and there are usually around 300 people in attendance. Depending on the number of members in any given area, the ward boundaries can be large (several towns/cities/counties) or small (a few blocks--like in Utah). Where I live, it is roughly the same size as our high school boundary. This is why people can "move in" or "move out" of my ward. Make sense? Here we go:

*Edited to add: Please read my siblings comments at the bottom...they clarify my mistakes. :)

In 1984, I babysat for a family who went to see their friend, Peter Vidmar, win the gold medal in gymnastics in the LA Olympics. A few years later, Mr. Vidmar moved to my hometown in CA, into my ward, and taught my brother in the youth group.

I babysat for Brian Nash, who as a child, was on the TV show Please Don't Eat the Daisies.

For two years I lived in one of the towns where Footloose was filmed (Spanish Fork, Utah). It still looks pretty much the same. Those big "Roller Mills" are still in Lehi--another little Utah town. That's where Kevin Bacon did his rockin' dance/gymnastics/angry teenager routine.

See, I told you I had a Kevin Bacon link.

My sister babysat for Donny Osmond's kids (I was unavailable that day) when his family lived in CA in the '80's. He and his family were in my ward at the time.

And there's my Donny Osmond link.

Former NBA player, Adam Keefe, went to my high school and sat next to my brother in science.

One of my sisters won the "Big Deal" on Let's Make a Deal.

Another of my sisters went on Scrabble. She didn't win.

My younger sister went on Win Ben Stein's Money. (I knew I would miss something. I have 5 sisters.)

Louis Sachar signed my copy of Someday, Angeline when he visited my elementary school in about 1983, before he was famous. It's a really great book--I've always loved it.

My third grade teacher, Jenni Samuel, is married to Dave Kunst, who is in the Guiness Book of World Records for walking around the world. She drove the car in front of him across the entire Australian continent, at 3 mph. Now that's love!

Will Ferrell grew up in my hometown and went to the same high school as my oldest sister (about 12 or 13 years later, though).

I know Christmas Jars author, Jason Wright's brother, Jeff.

When my brother lived in LA, several famous people attended his ward--Gladys Knight and Larry King (his wife is LDS) attended a couple of times.

My friend from high school was roommates at Harvard with Gary David Goldberg's daughter. Remember "Sit, Ubu, sit. Good Dog-Woof!" at the end of Family Ties? Ubu was her dog.

My kindergarten friend, Eric Anderson, is a very talented actor on Broadway, and he has had appearances on several TV shows, including Law and Order.

My husband's best friend, Lance, finagled his way onto a movie crew to shoot a film with Justin Long and John Gries. Straight to video, I think...

The drama teacher at my high school was personal friends with John Stamos, who often came to visit.

I know someone who was on First Lady detail in the Secret Service for Laura Bush.

Gleaming the Cube was filmed at my high school. That Christian Slater--he's a dish! My friends all got to be extras, but alas, I was one year too young.

Lucas was filmed at my college friend's high school. RIP, Corey Haim.

My younger sister had her picture taken with Corey Haim. Maybe Corey Feldman, too? (Nope, it was Christian Slater. Sorry--those '80's babes have me all mixed up.)

My friend served Larry Hagman while waiting tables in Virginia. He tipped her very well.

My husband's college roommate is Senator Orrin Hatch's nephew.

My husband's business partner is married to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's daughter (who is also my friend and fellow mom of 6).

This same business partner goes on hunting trips with his father-in-law and former V.P. Dick Cheney. Don't worry. Mr. Cheney hasn't shot anyone we know.

Matt Salmon, former US Congressman from AZ, is in my ward.

So now I feel like I have as much authority to speak on celebrity as People Magazine, don't you? What are your brushes with fame?