Friday, May 15, 2015

There are two kinds of people in the world...

There are two kinds of people in the world:
  • Those who like to try something different every time to make sure that they're not missing out on the best thing,
  • and those who like their favorite thing so much that they'd just as soon experience it every time.
There are two kinds of people in the world:
  • Those who like to stay in regular contact with their favorite people
  • and those who don't need to stay in contact and can pick up at anytime as if there's been no time apart.
There are two kinds of people in the world:
  • People who like to go to bed early and wake up early,
  • and people who do not.
There are two kinds of people in the world:
  • Those who were born organized
  • and those who's brains struggle to figure out how to organize anything.

I was frustrated with a friend one time for not doing something the way it should be done.  (Translation: the way I wanted it.)  Then much to my surprise I found myself talking to another friend, one that I respected very much, and listening to this second friend telling me a story that showed me that she was just like the first friend that I was so upset with.

It kind of turned my brain inside out.  

It's interesting, though, as I listen to people and hear opinions and feelings that are vastly different from my own.  Really?  You like getting up at 5AM???  Seriously?  Everything in your life is organized???  (And will you come to my house?!?)  But don't you want to....????


My aunt collects kaleidoscopes--a collection that provides delight to her grown-up nieces and nephews. (And more than a little trepidation when their young kids want to look too!) 

Every time I visit I spend time looking through any number of small holes at the shifting shapes that filled my vision.  One time I had the thought that people are just like kaleidoscopes.  They all start out with the same basics pieces, but there is at least a slight shift of difference between each one--and sometimes much more than a slight shift.  So regardless of starting with the same pieces, every image is different.  

I also think that people are like sound boards.  

Everyone has the same "sliders," but each person's sliders on every trait or characteristic are adjusted differently from every other person.

Why am I writing about this?  I don't really know.  Partly because it's just been fascinating to me to see that rational intelligent adults can actually really & truly feel differently than I do.  Partly because the concept of kaleidoscopes-are-like-people has fascinated me for a long time.  But mostly to remind myself that just because I like it one way, just because I am one way, doesn't mean that other people are always going to be like me, feel like me, function like me.  And that would be very helpful to remember.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My funny boy

For quite a while I've been holding on to 2 screen shots from my cell phone because the conversation that "happened" on it needed to be saved.  Forever.

Sometime in the last few months we were sitting around the table and I was also texting Josh who was in Rexburg at BYUI.  He was talking about some ideas for summer.

I told Russ and the kids that Josh was asking about hitchhiking and Jared asked to see the phone.  He had it for the next several minutes.  When I got it back this is what I saw.

I laughed out loud that Jared had sent that reply to Josh's question!  Josh thought it was a big strange too...

By this time we were all laughing...

I love Jared's great sense of humor!  (And the fact that he's really rockin' the bedhead lately!)

Thursday, May 7, 2015

In all the world around me...
(& celebrating a parental success)

When I was outside last night I had to pause and look at the sky.  It was my favorite time of night, when the sky above is darkening to indigo but still fading towards the twilight glow on the horizon.  For the last few months Venus has twinkled brilliantly in the late evening sky and I have needed to point it out to anyone who has been with me so that they, too, could appreciate it's beauty.

I feel like that about so much that is in nature--I see the tree shapes, the flower colors, the sunsets, the waterfalls, the hummingbirds, and I am awed by the beauty in this world that God has created for us.  I want my kids to see it too--to appreciate the beauty, and to know that it is a gift from God.  So I do things like pulling into the parking lot of Multnomah Falls every single time we drive by so that we can look for 30 seconds.  I point out the interesting clouds and I fill our yard with beautiful flowers.  A lot of times all I get is the dreaded teenaged eye roll.

But do you know what?  I think it's working.

The other night I was out for a walk with a friend while Russ & the kids were on a temple trip.  When I got back home to my phone there was a text from Jenna, "Mom, look at the sky!  It's beautiful!!"  Later Rachel showed me a picture that she had taken of the sky right then, and some pictures of beautiful clouds from earlier in the day.  Yesterday she made a comment that it was such an interesting sky day.

 I feel these things about our world so strongly that I want my kids to feel it too.  I want them to see this world, to delight in it, and to know what it means.  What a joy to see it happening!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What they get instead

This morning I asked Rachel how things had gone in social studies yesterday after her week's wisdom tooth absence.  She looked at me and said "Mom, I told you yesterday!  Don't you remember?"

And the truth is that no, I don't.

These days that happens often enough that it's not a surprise to anyone.  Is it worse since my concussion?  Or just worse now that I'm 48?  I'm not sure.  But I know that if two people are talking to me at the same time, I get nothing.  And if someone tells me something while I'm not paying attention, I remember nothing.  It's embarrassing.

I worry that these kids, my wonderful youngest children, will get the wrong idea about what this means.  I worry that they'll think it means that I'm not really listening, that I don't care enough, that I don't love them enough.

I was fretting about this a little while ago and then I remembered again--this is the mother than I am now.  Plain and simple, no way around it.  I try to focus so that I can hear & remember, but sometimes I miss.  I try not to forget.  I try to make sure that people take turns talking, but you know how that goes.  These are my limitations.

It is true that my older kids got a young, energetic mother with a brain that worked better.  That mother was focused and intense.  But while those were good things, they weren't all good.  That mother was still trying to figure things out.  That mother was frequently overwhelmed and always tired. That mother was young in so many ways--idealistic, quick to frustration or anger, struggling to know which expectations were unrealistic and which were ok.

The mother I am now is different than that.  Despite the attention and memory issues, in many ways I think these kids are getting the best of me.  I am a gentler mother now, aware that many things that once upset me just don't matter.  I'm a more emotionally healthy mother and a better rested mother and both of those translate into more love and less anger.  My focus may not be great but my attention is less divided than it once was.  Without little kids around I'm much more able to enjoy the stage these kids are in and to facilitate their activities.

Do I wish I had yesterday's mental energy and intensity combined with today's understanding and calmness?  Sure.  But life doesn't work that way, does it.  So today I'm going to be grateful for the mother I was then, for what she learned, and that I am able to be the mother I am today.  And then I'm going to try not to get distracted when someone is talking to me.

[Russ adds that I'm still tired.]

Monday, May 4, 2015

Celebrating the Return

Like you, I have read many times the story of the prodigal son.  Have talked about it in Sunday School, have thought of myself in each of the roles.  Until last week I thought I understood it all.

But then...

Last week I sat in the temple and watched him, the previously prodigal.  Watched him watch her as they knelt together at the altar, watched the light in his eyes that had been gone for so long.  Watched his mother watch them both.

I could never have imagined the surge of joy I would feel to see him there-- I, not even his mother. It burned in my heart and spilled onto my cheeks.  And in that moment I understood what I had not before.  Yes, the father loved the older son who was always with him.  To that son would go all that the father had.  But oh, how the father needed to celebrate the return of the prodigal.  Because the father had hoped and prayed and watched and waited for his return.  The father had worried and doubted and then prayed and watched some more.

And when it finally did happen, when the son came back--well, it was unimaginable.  The combination of relief and happiness created a joy rarely felt before.

Let us eat and be merry indeed.  For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost, and is found.  Rejoice!

Friday, April 24, 2015

And Thus it Ever Was

On one of our trips to Utah last year we left really early in the morning.  My plan to keep myself awake was also my plan to expose my kids to an amazing book I'd read called Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  As we rolled out of the driveway I popped it into the cd player and immediately the groans started.

"Mom, I don't WANT to listen to your book."

"Mom, I was going to watch a movie."

"Mom, I just want to listen to my music."


Well, I told them, you don't have to listen all day.  You only have to listen until we get to Pendleton, and then you can watch/listen to whatever you want.

Four hours later as we rolled through Pendleton I popped the cd out of the player and grabbed my Dick Francis book on cd.  But then I heard from the back,


"Mom, what are you doing?!?"

"Mom, put it back in!!!"

And so I did, and we listened to Wonder until it was done and we all (even Jared) were sniffling.  And I was happy as we talked about all of the things that were hard about this book and all of the things that were beautiful about this book.


This afternoon Russ picked the girls up from school early (while I was napping) and then brought them home to me so that we (not including Russ) could start our drive to Utah.  It's going to be a quick trip for a wedding on Saturday and the girls's wisdom teeth out on Monday.*

Once again I had my nefarious book on cd plan.  This time I'd planned that we'd listen to Shannon Hale's "Book of a Thousand Days," which I loved when it came out.

As we rolled out of the driveway I popped it into the cd player and immediately the groans started.

"Mom, I don't WANT to listen to your book."

"Mom, I was going to watch a movie."

"Mom, I just want to listen to my music."


Well, I told them, you don't have to listen all day.  You only have to listen for a little while and then you can do your own thing.  I reminded them that they've both been reading Shannon Hale's newest book this week and that they've really loved it, and they grudgingly agreed to listen.

Sometime later the phone rang--Russ giving me suggestions on how to avoid the worst of the Portland traffic which had gotten bad earlier than expected.  As soon as I hung up the phone the girls were after me, insistent that I turn the book right back on.  And so it went through the evening--every time I turned it off, they wanted it immediately back on.

Of course I loved that.

We finished disc 5 (of 6) as we pulled into our friends' neighborhood in Nampa where we were going to spend the night.  One story crisis had just resolved but a bigger one remained.  One of the girls insisted that we NEEDED to FINISH RIGHT NOW!!  I laughed and said that we would finish when we resumed our drive in the morning.


I don't know why it is that kids always assume that whatever their parents have planned is probably going to be dumb or lame.  I'm sure I was the same way.  I am glad that I've managed to expose my kids to some wonderful things, in spite of their resistance...

*We are being medical tourists this weekend, though I must say that when I first read about medical tourism I assumed it would include exotic travel destinations and not just a trip to Utah.  But in Oregon it would cost $3000 out of pocket to get the girls' wisdom teeth out, and in Utah it will only cost $600.  I have no idea why it's so different, but we can pay for gas and food to get there, get to go to my nephew's wedding, and pay to get the wisdom teeth out all for less than 1/3 of the Oregon cost.  Wish us luck!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


euphemism: a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt...

My mom died almost 20 years ago.  When I tell people about this part of my life I tell it exactly like that.  My mom died when I was 31.  My mom died ____ years ago.

I'd hear other people talking about their loved ones passing away, or passing, or some other comforting euphemism and I'd think--I just can't say that.  To me a euphemism would soften what happened, perhaps making the listener more comfortable with my story but robbing me of the truth.  My mom didn't "pass."  Or "pass away."  It may have been God's plan for her, but it felt like she was torn from our family, ripped away in the prime of her life.  She was taken from us before most of us were adults and before any of us were ready to live without her.  She *died.*


Can you imagine my surprise when I started telling people last fall that Russ's mom had died, and found that every time I opened my mouth I couldn't actually get the word "died" out?  I'd resolve that that was what I was going to say, that I was going to use language in the same way I had for my own mother, but I never could do it.

And one day I figured it out.  

If there is a passing away, it surely is what Marie did.  After living with leukemia for more than a decade and being more and more of an invalid, she had a stroke and then, for the next few weeks, slowly passed out of life.  She really did pass away.  There was grief for the loss of a mother and companion, but none of the trauma that my family had experienced two decades ago.  I stopped trying to make myself use the word *die* to describe what had happened, and told people that my mother-in-law had passed away in as gentle and peaceful a way as possible.


I have long known that words are powerful but still it surprised me to realize again that some synonyms are actually not, after all, interchangeable.

[PS--I still have never said to anyone that my mom passed away.]