A couple of hours ago I told my girls that I had an appointment and that their dad would pick them up from their Friday class.
I thought Rachel was going to pass out from surprise when she opened the door. It was awesome…
Now may I speak . . . to those buffeted by false insecurity, who, though laboring devotedly in the Kingdom, have recurring feelings of falling forever short. . . .
. . . This feeling of inadequacy is . . . normal. There is no way the Church can honestly describe where we must yet go and what we must yet do without creating a sense of immense distance. . . .. . . This is a gospel of grand expectations, but God’s grace is sufficient for each of us.
~~Thomas Merton: No Man is an Island
~~Jeffrey R. Holland
Don't try to dazzle everyone with how brilliant you are. Dazzle them with how brilliant the gospel is. Don't worry about the location of the lost tribes or the Three Nephites. Worry a little more about the location of your student, what's going on in his heart, what's going on in her soul, the hunger, sometimes near-desperate spiritual needs of our people. Teach them. And, above all, testify to them. love them. Bear your witness from the depths of your soul. It will be the most important thing you say to them in the entire hour, and it may save someone's spiritual life.
We come to expect God to accept our understanding of what his will ought to be and to help us fulfill that, instead of learning to see and accept his will in the real situations in which he places us daily. …The plain and simple truth is that his will is that he actually wills to send us each day, in the way of circumstances, places, people and problems. The trick is to learn to see that- not just in theory, or not just occasionally in a flash of insight granted by God’s grace, but every day. Each of us has no need to wonder about what God’s will must be for us; his will for us is clearly revealed in every situation of every day….The temptation is to overlook these things as God’s will. The temptation is to look beyond these things, precisely because they are so constant, so petty, so humdrum and routine, and to seek to discover instead some other and nobler “will of God” in the abstract that better fits our notion of what his will should be.[It is] the temptation faced by everyone who suddenly discovers that life is not what he expected it to be. The answer lies in understanding that it is these things- and these things alone, here and now, at this moment- that truly constitutes the will of God. The challenge lies in learning to accept this truth and act upon it, every moment of every day.
A couple of hours ago I told my girls that I had an appointment and that their dad would pick them up from their Friday class.
I thought Rachel was going to pass out from surprise when she opened the door. It was awesome…
Yesterday morning I finally found a phone number to call about my speeding ticket. I was hoping to figure out how to take care of it without having to drive 1+ hour each way. I finally spoke with someone who listened to my story, decreased the amount of the fine, and told me how to pay online. I was so happy just to have it done. And they never even asked for my drivers license number. I decided that I could wait until today to go and get my license. (A reprieve from fixing my hair!)
This morning I got up, got ready, and headed to the DMV about 9:45. When I got there I was THRILLED to see that there were hardly any cars in that part of the parking lot. Inside there was no line at the desk to take a number—I just walked right in and got one. Within 10-15 minutes they called my number and I went back to take the test.
I had taken a practice test online at least six times, and was really hoping that that combined with reading half of the driver’s manual was enough to pass the test. It had 35 questions and if I missed 8 I would fail. Halfway through I had missed four and I was feeling a little stressed. Then I got about 10 right in a row and relaxed a little…until I missed two more. I felt stressed again, knowing that I could only miss one more. Finally I got to the 34th question and got it right, which meant that even if I missed the 35th I would still passed. The computer told me I’d passed the test and I was done. Done!
I still had to wait around a little while longer, first for more paperwork and then to get my picture taken. It was then that the biggest miracle of the day happened—or my favorite miracle, anyway.
First of all there was no mirror to use anywhere before I got my picture taken, so I was worried that my hair was all crazy looking and I would never know about it. And I had to sit there to get my picture taken for so long—I think the guy must have counted backward from 5 or 6. My smile started to feel totally strained and I was sure that when he finally took it I blinked. But when he showed me my temporary card, this is what I saw:
The picture actually turned out good!
And then, to add to my already good day, I got to play a song for the 3rd grade choir that I was actually capable of playing, and after that some friends took me to Panera for a birthday lunch. And then I got to take a nap.
I wish I could bronze this day…just to be able to remember the feeling of a day where things all went well.
PS—in case you’re wondering why I’m not wearing my glasses in the picture (or maybe you’re not because you know that I never wear them around the house and so they’re often not in pictures) in Oregon no one wears glasses in their drivers license pictures. Isn’t that odd?
If you were wondering if you made White Chicken Chili and inadvertently subbed a can of chopped jalapenos instead of the green chilies you thought you were grabbing, would it make a difference?
A BIG difference.
A BIG SUPER SPICEY difference.
Note to self: next time, read the labels.
PS—Russ is a fan.
Have you ever had a day where the deck seems stacked against you from the moment you get out of bed? Welcome to my day today…
I realized last night as I was getting ready to go to bed that my #1 priority for the day had to be getting my Oregon driver’s license. I should have done it weeks ago, but it seems like every week (and sometimes every day) has had a different priority and I let the drivers license slide. But no more—I have to deal with the speeding ticket (that finally showed up in the mail about 4 weeks after I went through the speed trap while lost in Portland) tomorrow, and I figure that means I need an Oregon driver’s license so I don’t get arrested twice—once for speeding and once for living in Oregon for 6 months without getting a license. (You legally have 30 days to get a new license. I know, because I’ve been studying.) Anyway, I got back out of bed and came out here to take a bunch of practice tests online to improve my chances of passing the test this morning.
When I woke up this morning I realized that one thing I hadn’t factored into my decision to get to the DMV as early as possible was that in order to get a new drivers license I would need to get my picture taken, and this meant I couldn’t just roll out of bed and go. I got up, showered, took the time to fix my hair and makeup, and then just as I was getting ready to leave my visiting teacher dropped by to chat for a few minutes. It was fun talking to her because she’s getting ready to go to Hawaii for a week (and in my imagination I’m always getting ready to go to Hawaii for a week) but by the time she left I was no longer going to be early to the DMV.
As I got to the DMV (which shares a parking lot with the Dollar Tree and Winco) it occurred to me that in focusing all of my attention on trying to cram as much test information into my head as possible, I had quite forgotten to check and see if I needed to bring anything with me besides my money and my NC license. I hoped that the fact that the van was already registered in both of our names with the DMV would mean they had enough information.
Fifteen minutes later I was back out in the parking lot, after waiting in line to get a number, only to be told that I needed to have my passport or birth certificate, and a utility bill as proof of residency.
I drove back home, where the kids excitedly asked me if I’d passed the test already. Ha.
Fortunately I was able to find my passport quickly. The utility bill was a little more difficult, because we didn’t have one sitting around, but Russ finally logged me onto the natural gas company website so I could print one out from there. I grabbed a cheese stick and was back out the door as soon as possible.
This time I had to wait five minutes in the line to get a number, listening to some poor guy argue with the DMV worker about whether or not he should have to pay a fee again after a postal error. Neither was willing to back down, and eventually the worker went to look for his supervisor. When he came back I handed over my documents. He looked at the utility bill, looked at me, and asked, “Where’s Russell?”
Now I should explain that most of our credit cards are in my name. And in our last house, all of the utility bills were in my name as well, because I dealt with all of the changeovers. But here Russ has taken care of things like bills and utilities while I’ve focused on things like driving across the United States as many times as possible. So the utility bills are in his name.
I looked at the DMV guy and I said, “He’s at work.”
Whereupon he said, “This isn’t good enough. It has to have your name on it too.”
I was kind of upset, but figured after the previous customer that working at the DMV has to be a hard job and I didn’t want to make it too much harder. So I swallowed my disgruntlement, and turned and walked (past the 10 people who were now waiting in line to get a number behind me) out the door.
By this time it was 11:15, and I knew that I’d never get back home, find something with my name on it, and get back in time to do anything but stand in line before the DMV took a lunch break. So I went over to Winco and bought a few things that we needed, then went home.
When I got home I was already mentally & physically exhausted—both from my late night test-taking, and from my frustrating morning. I ate lunch and then went and took a nap for an hour, hoping that it would rejuvenate me enough to get through the rest of the day. (Which was looking pretty long at that point.)
I woke up at 2 and got to work finishing up Jason’s Christmas box which needed to be mailed by today. I’d decided to mix up a couple of cookie mixes to put in the box too, and that took a little while. Then I packed everything in, got it taped & addressed and finally took it to the post office. I had hoped that just after 3 wouldn’t be a crowded time at the post office, but my hope was in vain. Not only was the line long, but it was long and slow. By the time I got to the front of the line I was really missing my post office out in the country!
When I was done at the post office it was about fifteen minutes before four. I knew that something at the DMV had to be done before four in order to take the drivers test, but I wasn’t sure if you just had to get a number before four, or if your number had to be called before four. Josh had just texted me that he had an urgent need for index cards and I hadn’t been able to find them at home, so I needed to go to the Dollar Tree anyway. I figured I might as well go into the DMV and see if I was too late.
And yep, at 3:55 I was officially too late. So off I went to get the index cards.
After I left the Dollar Tree I remembered that I also needed to go by Goodwill to get some new black pants for my evening activity. It was at this point that the tender mercy of the day happened. I picked 5 pairs of pants off of the rack, and 4 of them fit. I kept the ones I liked best and went to the register where it became clear that the tender mercy moment was over. After the cashier rang up my pants I swiped my card. Nothing. She got ready to call for help and I told her no problem, I’d write a check. So I did. Which her system also wouldn’t accept. When she realized that her computer was having a problem, she handed me off to the next gal. Her system wouldn’t accept my check either. I eventually tore up the check and swiped my card and it finally worked…
By the time I got home it was 5:45, I’d prepared nothing for dinner, I was exhausted again, and my day was still not over. I chatted Russ and asked him to bring home pizza. Turns out he was presenting in a meeting, so everyone got to see my chat. Cool. Good thing I was so tired that all I said was “hey, are you there, I need you to bring home pizza” instead of starting with something like “hey, sexy man.”
About a week and a half ago the girls’ choir director at the elementary school sent out an emergency email to all of the choir parents.. Her 85 year old volunteer accompanist had hurt her back and was having surgery and was going to be out of commission for at least the Christmas season. Was there anyone who could fill in?
My girls are enjoying this choir experience so much. It’s exactly what I’d hoped for for them. And I do play the piano, a little. I sent her an email and explained that I was a medium pianist with significant performance anxiety, but that if she didn’t get any better offers (which I sincerely hoped she would) I was willing to give it a try. Of course she didn’t, and so after two horrid (on my part) rehearsals and almost no time to practice, tonight was our first performance. At the school board meeting at 7pm.
For the first time all day I sat down and relaxed for a while—read my email, played my games of words with friends, ate some string cheese, and then went and practiced the music for a while. I’ve ended up copying all of the songs and taping the pages together so that I don’t need to turn pages, which I am incapable of doing while playing the piano. Then I went and changed into black clothes and gathered up the girls and a neighbor to go.
When we got to the school district building and went into the room where the school board meets, I was confused. There was no piano. Then I noticed a keyboard in pieces on one table. Not good.
Eventually the child who’d supplied the keyboard came over and helped me set it up. As we assembled the stand he chattered (with his cute Indian accent) that this was his keyboard because of course when you start playing the piano you have a keyboard, but of course he has a grand piano now.
The stand was kind of rickety, and the keyboard just sat on top of it without hooking in in any way. I was a little worried every time I touched it that it was going to fall over in one direction or another.
And then there was the problem of the music holder. I had three and four pieces of paper taped together for each song, and that was never going to stay up so that I could see it on that tiny holder. I finally put a clip board on one side of it and put all of the pieces of music up at the same time so that the sheer bulk of papers would also provide some support.
The kids were very cute as they sang. The spastic accompanist survived. With lots of minor mishaps and one major mistake that involved getting completely lost after a first ending. I wanted to go around and tell each person in the audience that yes, I already know I’m a lousy pianist, but that I’m (for the most part) better than no pianist at all, which was the other option.
But I restrained myself.
When we were finally home at 8pm it felt like it really should be midnight.
Which means that now, 10:15, feels like 2 in the morning. That sounds about right.
So now I’m going to go put my poor tired self into bed, then tomorrow I’m going to get up early, and after I go to Curves I’m going to come home and fix my hair & put on makeup again, and then I’m going to go back to the DMV. With my passport and several different proofs of address.
Let’s just hope that after all of this I pass the test!!!
I am pleased to report that we did it. We survived our first big holiday celebration here in Oregon. And we had a fun day.
Twenty years ago Russ & I lived in Pocatello with our first child. Russ worked with a nice guy and we got together with his family from time to time.
Last December this same nice guy sent Russ’s resume to his boss at Intel, and you know the rest of that story.
Today for thanksgiving the nice guy and his family came to eat Thanksgiving dinner with us. In the intervening years we added a bunch of kids and they added a few more than that.
It was a fun meal—the kids got along well and everyone was happy to watch the ending of Harry Potter 1 as we were finishing the meal preparation and then watch Harry Potter 2 while we were waiting for the turkey to digest. Everyone was impressed by the selection of pies (I forgot to take a pie picture, darn it!) and I should not need to eat again until 2013.
So tonight, this is what I’m thankful for. That life goes on, even when it’s hard. That there can be good moments, even if they are different good moments. And that there’s still the phone, and skype, and email, and future travel plans to look forward to.
I went visiting teaching with my companion Sunday morning. Together we visited with two different women in our ward. Lots of fun and interesting conversation. But when I left the second house and drove back home I found myself restless and uncomfortable. After looking at the feeling for a few minutes I realized what my problem was.
Verbal Vomit. You know, (or you may not, if you’re lucky) the feeling where you have just been talking out of control, telling anything and everything that has been on your mind? One of my sisters and I have talked about this before—the feeling of watching yourself talk and wanting to stop but not being able to. The ability to carry on an interesting conversation is a gift, but when that gift spins out of control it’s not very comfortable.
And that is what happened to me Sunday morning.
As I thought about it later I realized that I probably knew why it happened. Last week was busy. I realized that I probably hadn’t talked on the phone all week. Usually I talk every week at least once with my sisters and my friend, but not last week. (Oregon’s hands free cell phone law is killing me—I can’t find my headset again!)
So now I know that those phone calls are even more important than I knew. They’re not just about my sanity and ability to feel connected to the people I love, they’re also to protect the people I’m around!
Interestingly enough, for over a year now I’ve thought about writing a blog post about telephone calls. (Instead I’ve blogged about job loss, house-fixing, moving, and learning to love a new place.) About 18 months ago the New York Times ran a piece called Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You. It broke my heart to read it. The article told that telephone use among adults is decreasing sharply, and the expectation is that texting will surpass phone use by adults within three years. (And since this was a year and a half ago, you’d better get your phone calls now while you can!) Here is an excerpt from the article
“I literally never use the phone,” Jonathan Adler, the interior designer, told me. (Alas, by phone, but it had to be.) “Sometimes I call my mother on the way to work because she’ll be happy to chitty chat. But I just can’t think of anyone else who’d want to talk to me.” Then again, he doesn’t want to be called, either. “I’ve learned not to press ‘ignore’ on my cellphone because then people know that you’re there.”
“I remember when I was growing up, the rule was, ‘Don’t call anyone after 10 p.m.,’ ” Mr. Adler said. “Now the rule is, ‘Don’t call anyone. Ever.’ ”
Phone calls are rude. Intrusive. Awkward. “Thank you for noticing something that millions of people have failed to notice since the invention of the telephone until just now,” Judith Martin, a k a Miss Manners, said by way of opening our phone conversation. “I’ve been hammering away at this for decades. The telephone has a very rude propensity to interrupt people.”
Am I the only one saddened by this??
I’ll be the first to admit that my phone usage has morphed over the years. As a young mother living in a new state, I had a long distance phone budget of $100/month, and it was never enough. (Can you believe that? And now that it costs nothing, no one wants to talk.) I was so lonely and depended on regular phone calls with my mom and sisters to keep me sane. I needed parenting advice and occasionally marriage advice and at that point the phone or a face-to-face conversation was the only way to get it. When we moved to North Carolina once again I was in a new place and lonely. But it wasn’t just that—the telephone was the way I connected with friends and the way I entertained myself as I went through the many mundane drudgeries of my day. After the triplets were born I would have gone crazy without the telephone. It was overwhelming for me to try to get out of the house very often, and I depended on conversations with friends to keep me sane. I will never be able to thank Mindy enough for all of the phone calls when chaos was breaking loose in the background and yet she was still willing to keep talking. (And for coming up to hang out so often.) I depended on all of those phone calls.
The telephone is a little more complicated for me now. First of all, I find myself in a different time zone from almost everyone in the world I’d like to talk to, which complicates things more than I expected it would. (Why don’t you want to chat during your dinner? Or at midnight???) Second, my life is filled with homeschooling pre-teens who need my attention a lot of the time, which makes it hard to talk on the phone. And last, my brain just isn’t as young as it used to be and any multi-tasking is difficult. I used to be the champ of “talking on the phone and almost anything else,” but now I’m only able to do things like make the bed. Which definitely cuts down on the time I have available to chat.
I’m also much more a fan of texting than I expected to be. It’s so convenient and so unobtrusive. I love texting to ask a quick question, to arrange a play date, to touch base easily. But for the most part, there’s a difference between a conversation and a text. Sure, let’s conduct as much of our business by text as much as possible. Let’s touch base via text, send funny thoughts or say I’m thinking of you. But relationships deserve something better—something more than the 160 characters allowed in a text.
I don’t have all of the answers, though I do have plenty of opinions. (In fact after having moved across the country I have even fewer answers than before.) But what I do know is, it’s obvious (for the protection of those around me, if nothing else) that I need to stay connected. And what’s more, I want to stay connected. So I’m going to disregard the NYT’s research, and stay with my personal slogan of “You call me, and I’ll call you.” And if we get stuck in an endless game of phone tag, we’d better keep trying. Cause I’d hate for Sunday to happen again…
Last night before we went to bed Russ looked outside and saw that Tiger’s food bin had been knocked over and moved to a different place on the deck. Lacking any other structure outside to use to shelter the food, and being too lazy to put it in the garage (there is no short way from the garage to the backyard) he put it on the trampoline, where it seemed to pass the night safely.
Tonight as I was working on a project in the living room and Russ was hanging out in the family room I heard him call,
There’s a skunk in the backyard!
Of course I came running, and so did Josh.
Sure enough, there was a skunk. After checking to see if there was food in Tiger’s bowl, it meandered the length of the deck and then hung out in the yard for a while.
There was a tense moment when it put it’s tail up in the air for a minute, but then it put it’s tail back down and continued examining the grass. I finally got brave enough to open the door a crack so that I could take a picture with the flash.
When knew there was all of this wildlife around us! We’re trying to figure out now what to do so that Tiger can hang out in the yard without being aggravated by critters. Josh found a website called (and I kid you not) thepeemart.com where we could buy coyote urine which would do the trick, however I think it would wash away too quickly.
Like zillions of people around the country, we listened with shock and dismay to the news this morning that Hostess was going out of business. How were we going to live without Twinkies? Would Santa be willing to come without HoHos??
Tonight after a rambunctious dinner (dinners are becoming increasingly crazy in our house as our younger kids approach adolescence, it seems) we decided to be spontaneous and get a movie. We sent Russ in one direction to get Spiderman from a Redbox and then the boys and I decided to go to Albertsons to get as many Hostess products as we could find. I was optimistic that we’d be able to get one of everything. Instead, this is what we saw:
Yep. We were late to the Hostess Party.
In the end, after visiting three stores and delaying our already late movie another hour & a half, this was our Hostess stash.
So now we’re eating Hostess and watching Peter Parker get ready to turn into Spiderman.
It’s a good life, even without Twinkies and HoHos!
Before I tell you about our wildlife adventure, I need to tell you about where we live. We are in a neighborhood. Not in a neighborhood like in North Carolina where everyone has at least a 1 acre lot. No—in a neighborhood where no one has even 1/5 of an acre, and where some people have less. Behind us there are houses on slightly bigger lots, and then it looks like a house on a big piece of property. (Meaning a house that was built a long time ago before the urban growth restrictions.) On the other side of our neighborhood there’s a big natural area that is heavily wooded, and on the other side of that there’s a wetland—but we’re pretty far away from those.
Last night the girls had gone up to bed and all of a sudden Rachel came running downstairs yelling
Raccoon! There’s a raccoon in the back yard!!
We quickly turned out the family room light and hurried to the french doors to look out, and sure enough, there was a raccoon scurrying towards the back fence and then underneath it. We didn’t think anything more of it.
Late last night when Russ & I were ready to go to bed (after dealing with stress by watching mindless television for far too long) we got Tiger and put her outside. Tiger seems to be slowing down in her old age, and now spends many of her daytime hours sleeping somewhere in the house. (We all say we want to be cats when we grow up!)
She still sleeps outside, though, but we haven’t gotten the garage unpacked enough that she can sleep in the garage. So her bed has been out on the deck, and a few feet away from that is an old kitty litter container that holds her food.
When I put Tiger outside I went to put a scoop of food in her dish, but I couldn’t find the bin in the dark. I had Russ turn on the porch light but the bin wasn’t there. I was so puzzled. Russ put on his shoes and turned on more lights and came out to look with me. No bin anywhere. He suggested that maybe the raccoon had carried the food bin off, but I was sure it hadn’t. First of all because the bin was a lot bigger than a raccoon, but also because it would have had to carry the bin over the fence—there wasn’t room to get it under the fence.
We decided that one of the kids must have moved the food.
This morning we asked each of them, but no one knew what had happened to the food. When Rachel got home from band she went out into the back yard to look, and a few minutes later came running in triumphantly. “I found it,” she said, “the raccoon was trying to take it under the fence!”
Sure enough, it was in the back corner of the yard, right where the raccoon had disappeared under the fence.
The raccoon must have been very frustrated that it wouldn’t fit underneath.
It looks like it’s been pushed and rolled in the mud quite a bit!
So all’s well that ends well, especially when we don’t have to keep feeding Tiger tuna because we can’t find her food. But I’m really thinking we need a plan B for the food.