Wednesday, December 24, 2008

the things I must do

I know what I must do I know who I am I the persen that I must be.

by Mashuga

Some Christmas Posts Worth Reading

This is Getting Ridiculous...

So, I really can't believe that I've been absent for nearly AAAAALLLLLLL of December. No finishing up with political commentary. No poetry. As you can imagine, I have had other things to do.

So, here I am, wishing you all a Merry Christmas. I hope that you have loved ones near. I hope that you feel the joy and peace that come from celebrating the true reason for this season. I hope you are well and healthy.

I'd say that I'll be back next week with my yearly wrap up and book review, but with my current track-record I'm not going to make any promises. We'll just see.

Love and hugs to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Wow's In the Book by Kaitybean

So, for this postdated poetry Tuesday, I'm going to post a poem my Kaitybean wrote for her school's reflections contest. She won first place! Yay, Kaitybean!


The Wow's In The Book
by Kaitybean

When you take a good look in a book,
marvelous wonders behold!
A stroll with the cat, the bear, or the crook,
there’s no end to chance, when you’re in a book!

You can soar through the sky, to the moon,
romp where the elephants roam!
You’re swinging with monkeys, and soon,
you’ll have a big show with baboons!

Just open right up and look inside,
you’ll never want to go back!
Through many adventures you travel wide
on phrases of fun -- a wonderous ride!

Your choices are never ending:
fantasy, nonfiction, or mysteries!
Through your mind questions are racing!
Your “wow’s” are only beginning!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Is now grounded from the computer.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More Coming, Promise

I promise to finish up my little string of essays on marriage and rights.

Thank you so much to those who have responded both with encouragement and to prod my thinking along toward more clarity.

I am busy with four children and a husband who is working about 14 hours a day.

But the real reason that I'm taking a while on this (and the reason I am only now talking about this issue) is that the cognitive dissonance is about enough to make my head explode.

But I'm working on it.

Be back soon with more to say.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Important Principle Regarding Government in Our Lives

I plan to write more as the week goes on about marriage, proposition 8 and rights.

Tonight, I wanted to say just one thing that I've been thinking about and see what you think about it.

It is this:

If you consider your own freedom dear to you, you must regard the freedom of others as equally dear and work to protect it as you would protect your own.

Let me state that another way.

We are all interconnected. When we allow the government to restrict and define certain parts of life for others, we are opening the door for them to restrict our rights in the same ways and in the same areas.

For instance, the supreme court case of Griswold vs. Connecticut established that a Connecticut law regarding the use of contraceptives was unconstitutional and any enforcement of it would require a violation of a couple's right to privacy.

I have talked with many people who believe that the government should be in the business of regulating sex -- when, how, with whom, whether or not contraception is used.

In circumstances like this we often fail to follow our thoughts through to their natural or possible conclusions.

If I, for instance, believe that no person should ever be allowed to have extramarital sex I might want the government to make a law forbidding it. (Or enforce similar laws already on the books.) But, if I consent to let our government have power in this aspect of other people's lives I open myself up to their involvement in my own life. The door has already been opened. What keeps them, when the winds of belief change, from deciding it is okay to regulate my sex life. What if someone else believes it is wrong for people to have more than two children and decides there should be a law prohibiting couples with two children from having unprotected intercourse?

It is the same principle. I do not want the government in my bedroom. Therefore, it seems prudent for me to work to keep it out of other people's bedrooms.

If you consider your own freedom dear to you, you must regard the freedom of others as equally dear and work to protect it as you would protect your own.

Even if they would not make the same choices with their freedoms that you would make with yours.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Girl In the Doorway by Dorianne Laux

If I could write a poem that describes perfectly how I feel about Kaitybean right now, this would be it. She's not exactly at this stage yet, but oh I feel it starting.
Girl In the Doorway

She is twelve now, the door to her room
closed, telephone cord trailing the hallway
in tight curls. I stand at the dryer, listening
through the thin wall between us, her voice
rising and falling as she describes her new life.
Static flies in brief blue stars from her socks,
her hairbrush in the morning. Her silver braces
shine inside the velvet case of her mouth.
Her grades rise and fall, her friends call
or they don't, her dog chews her new shoes
to a canvas pulp. Some days she opens her door
and musk rises from the long crease in her bed,
fills the dim hall. She grabs a denim coat
and drags the floor. Dust swirls in gold eddies
behind her. She walks through the house, a goddess,
each window pulsing with summer. Outside,
the boys wait for her teeth to straighten.
They have a vibrant patience.
When she steps onto the front porch, sun shimmies
through the tips of her hair, the V of her legs,
fans out like wings under her arms
as she raises them and waves. Goodbye, Goodbye.
Then she turns to go, folds up
all that light in her arms like a blanket
and takes it with her.

Monday, November 10, 2008

You Can't Fight Hate Crimes With Hate Crimes

"A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin." Source:

Nearly a decade ago I wrote a paper for my English 2010 class arguing vehemently, adamant that hate crimes legislation must be expanded to include sexual orientation. Our country was standing in the wake of the Matthew Shepard incident, an atrocity that left me breathless, tearful and angry.

The names of the handful of gay friends I had at the time kept running through my head. Alan, Brock, Kyle, Danny...* I was helpless to protect them from the hate and evil that many in the world desired to inflict on them. I had no extraordinary influence on government. But I did what I could. I researched carefully, I framed my arguments with every ounce of ethos, pathos and logos I could muster. The giant A written in red marker on the front of that paper meant a little more to me than others I'd gotten. I, as insignificant as I was, could make a compelling argument for this change. Surely someone, somewhere who was smarter than I and had greater influence and power could make a strong enough argument to make it happen.

I thank heaven that now those two words "sexual orientation" take up their proper space in the FBI's definition of hate crimes. No person should be subject to another's hate and unkindness simply because of who they are. And when that hate and bias is what motivates a criminal activity, that crime should exact a greater degree of punishment. Why? Because, like terrorism, when a person is targeted because of an aspect of who they are, every person who identifies with that characteristic feels targeted as well. Matthew Shepard's death sent ripples of fear through the entire gay community just as the attacks on New York City and the Pentagon left much of America feeling shaky and frightened. Hate crimes can have a much more far-reaching impact than regular crimes.

Now I am a white, heterosexual Mormon and Utahn standing in the wake of Proposition 8 and the furor surrounding it. I am, perhaps, a pretty unpopular specimen of human at the moment.

There have now been protests near my holiest places. Though I find this distasteful and misdirected, I recognize and respect it as a legitimate and legal exercise of free speech. Gratefully, I have heard no reports of violence or criminal activity surrounding these events.

As Mormons have worked along with other religious groups and other Californians for the passage of Proposition 8, they have been subjected to vandalism, verbal abuse, threatened with physical harm. I worry that because the LDS church is the most misunderstood, most visible and most highly organized of the groups who took part in the push for Prop 8, they are those who will continue to be at most risk for continued threats and harm. Hate crimes perpetrated out of bias against their religion may have the added consequence of making all Mormons feel threatened and insecure.

Still, I feel the same way as one woman in California. She posted a yellow sign proclaiming her support of Proposition 8. This led someone to park a car at her curb with "Bigots live here." painted on the windows. She said something to the effect of "Now we're getting a taste of where they live."

And it's true. Gays have been living with hate crimes, misunderstanding and malignment for years. They have been threatened, harmed, discriminated against because of who they are and how they choose to live. And I can imagine that the passage of Proposition 8 felt like more of the same, only with the weight of legal legitimacy and exact numbers quantifying it. I can't even begin to imagine how painful that must be for them.

And regardless of the legitimately positive intentions of many involved in the push for Proposition 8, there is no denying that the campaign's success was partly tied to fear and misunderstanding. There were certainly many compassionate individuals who cast their ballot in favor of Proposition 8 because they truly believed it was a necessary measure to protect traditional, heterosexual families and their religious rights. Sadly, I am quite certain that there were just as many who voted the same way out of fear, hatred and misunderstanding. It would be naive and insulting for me to believe otherwise.

So, why shouldn't the gay community attack back -- boycott Utah, target Mormons because their church leadership was part of this, do to us what has been done to them for so long?

The first reason? Because it's wrong to hurt another human being.

The second reason? Because it may be ineffective and misguided, perhaps even counterproductive.

If we continue to harm one another because of our differences, we continue to polarize ourselves into opposite camps that may never be able to find a workable solution. And the one thing I believe most strongly about this whole situation is that there has got to be a win-win solution.

If we are ever going to find it we need for all of us, even those who disagree with us, to be able to see clearly.

And you know what they say about an eye for an eye.

Keep reading this week as I explore the ideas of rights, separation of church and state and what I believe might be a recipe for true equality.

And please comment and check back on the comments. I'd love for this blog to become a safe space for discussion this week.

*Names changed.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Little Bit Sad

We have two very large windows at the front of our house. In front of these windows are several trees.

So, during the summer when the trees are covered with leaves we have a great deal of privacy. I wander around my kitchen in my underwear without worrying that my across-the-street neighbors will see.

Fall temperatures have now reached the point that almost all of the leaves fell off yesterday. Almost all at once.

Darn it!

Now I'm either going to have to get dressed in the morning or buy some curtains.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Current Music Video Obsession

So, Jack's Mannequin has been a long-standing obsession for me. Something about Andrew McMahon's voice and piano and lyrics just speak to me, hit me somewhere deep. It's been that way ever since his Something Corporate days. (I wonder, BTW, if they'll ever really put out another album.)

Here's a music video from his latest album "The Glass Passenger." The song is "The Resolution".


Some Children's Poetry


There, I've said it.

Now on to poetry Tuesday.

Last week a purchased a delightful book: "The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry." I have been enjoying it thoroughly and may even start reading some of it to my kids now. :)

So, on this cold, windy election morning. I thought I'd post a couple of light, fun children's poems. Enjoy!
by Christina G. Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you;
But when the leaves hang trembling
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I;
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

by Judith Viorst

If I were in charge of the world
I'd cancel oatmeal,
Monday mornings,
Allergy shots, and also
Sara Steinberg.

If I were in charge of the world
There'd be brighter night lights,
Healthier hamsters, and
Basketball baskets forty eight inches lower.

If I were in charge of the world
You wouldn't have lonely.
You wouldn't have clean.
You wouldn't have bedtimes.
Or "Don't punch your sister."
You wouldn't even have sisters.

If I were in charge of the world
A chocolate sundae with whipped cream and nuts
would be a vegetable
All 007 movies would be G.
And a person who sometimes forgot to brush,
And sometimes forgot to flush,
Would still be allowed to be
In charge of the world.

Monday, November 03, 2008

As a Live Coal

"But all the wickedness in the world which man may do or think is no more to the mercy of God than a live coal dropped in the sea." -- William Langland
I've thought to write several posts today. One about body image that I really want to get to. One appropriate to election day that touts my feelings about federalism and the poor way we choose presidential candidates in our country and my misgivings about our two-party system.

But what's really been rolling around my head are thoughts of mercy, of salvation, of faith in a living God and in His son, Jesus Christ. I feel like this election cycle (aside from being WAY too long) has differed from many other elections I've witnessed in one way.

With everything that is difficult in our lives right now, it seems that so many people in our country are searching for a savior. Someone to lift them out of the toil and drudgery and uncertainty that come in a time of recession and war and urgent need. Whether it be a new congressman or a new president, it seems that people are in a frenzied search for someone to make everything better. To make it all right again.

But no matter who wins in the elections tomorrow, there will still be terrorists and foreign despots who threaten the freedoms we hold dear. Because we are not perfect in our compassion or wisdom, there will be those who are hungry, cold, poor, sick, despairing.

Simply put, because we are imperfect beings this world will continue to be riddled with imperfection.

Obama won't change that. McCain's putting of our country first won't nullify that truth. Nader won't invent a way out of it. A Baldwinian restoration of the constitution won't bring the solution. McKinney's careful plans won't pull us out, nor will Barr's restitution of personal freedoms.

But at the same time I face this immutable truth -- the fact that our continuing human imperfections make this world imperfect -- I am stilled and sure in the knowledge that all is as it should be. All will be well and it is this journeying and facing imperfection together that will teach us and shape us until we are all perfect beings.

Some might call me naive or foolish or superstitious. That is ok.

Because as this storm swirls and picks up momentum, I am standing steady and firm. I know who I am. I know why I am here. I know where I am going and how to get there.

I stand firmly with my Savior, Jesus Christ and know that no trouble in this world will ever touch me, really. Never permanently.

For all the imperfection in the world, all the sorrows and failings are to Him as nothing.

A live coal in the sea.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Double Feature -- Uncle Walt and William Carlos Williams

Since I missed poetry Tuesday last week, I'm posting two poems today. No particular theme or rhyme or reason to them. Just a couple of quick ones from two of my favorite poets: Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams. Enjoy!
I Hear America Singing

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on
the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon
intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl
sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day -- at night the party of young fellows, robust,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

This is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two sites I think you should visit

First, go here to see what Consumer Reports has to say about Maternity care in the U.S. You might be surprised at what you find.

Second, if you're looking for a side by side comparison of presidential candidates, including third party candidates, wikipedia has a great page.

That's all. Go see. Then come back and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Autumn Poems

Those of you who know me well or have been around here a while probably know that I have a thing for autumn. This is, hands down, my favorite time of year.

So poetry Tuesday today is a collection of fall and autumn poems.

The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop away from you
like the leaves of Autumn.

-John Muir, Fall Poem

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

-John Keats, To Autumn

No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
as I have seen in one autumnal face

-John Donne

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Maternity-care failings can be remedied with cost-saving fix

My favorite line from the whole article: "If a doula could be put in an IV drip, everyone would get it."Amen.

read more | digg story

And the Answers Are...

Valerie got the closest to getting all of the answers right. Not surprising, since she's like my children's second mother and knows them almost as well as I do.

A. These two children have a goal to win a lego contest, earn fabulous prizes and live in the lap of luxury for the rest of their childhood.

Answer: Scud and Kaitybean
Each month my three oldest children get a free lego magazine and there is always some kind of contest going on. One was to make a movie with legos and win $2500. Another is to create some kind of batman creation out of legos -- the grand prize winner gets an xbox360 and the batman lego game. So, these two are forever making lego creations in the hopes of winning something WAY COOL.

B. This child has undertaken a campaign to single-handedly make the IKEA people rich.
Answer: This would be Coco.
In the last week or two he has broken three bowls, three plates and a bedside lamp -- all from IKEA. So, now I will be replacing them. And buying more plastic dishes for my accident prone toddler.

C. This child wants to be an American Idol, an olympic gymnast and an inventor.
Answer: Mashuga.
Of course. Who else could it be. And I think he actually has the energy to reach any or all of these goals.

D. This child wants to invent a small ball that will make a planet explode in less than an hour.
Answer: Scud
Scud has found his calling in life. He wants to be an engineer and design and build stuff. Considering his dim view of engineers, I wonder what my Dad would think of this. I am mostly disturbed by Scud's desire to make WMAs. But, apparently he doesn't want to hurt anyone. He just wants to explode a planet and then run back to earth. Maybe he'll create better means of interplanetary travel, too. Who knows?

E. Last, but not least, this child is determined to break the records for world's longest and loudest burp.
Answer: This would be my darling Kaitybean.
Yes, with all of these boys, my delicate daughter is the one who is constantly practicing her near record-breaking belches. You'd be surprised. This cute girl can burp like a MAN!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Eight Loaves by Karen Keith Gibson

This Poetry Tuesday I am thinking about my mother-in-law. She has been visiting from Germany for the last two weeks and I have thoroughly enjoyed having her around. We have had our ups and downs as many mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law do. But, I am so grateful for the good woman she is, for the nurturing and love and work she put into her seven delicious children. They are some of the best people I know. And now, having been a mother for a number of years, I am understanding a little bit of the huge task it is to raise good children. I am endlessly grateful for her.
We were talking at our women's retreat about how she used to make bread and feed it to her children after school as they came home. She said they went through at least two loaves each day.
I immediately thought of a poem written by one of my friends and favorite poets, Karen Keith Gibson. This comes from a book called "
Bread and Milk and Music: Three Sisters' Voices" which was written by Karen and her two sisters, Helen Keith Beaman and Mary Keith Boyack. It is an absolutely sublime book. If you'd like to buy a copy, let me know and I can get one for you.
Eight Loaves

I imagine I can smell it when I reach
the vacant lot, float on the aroma
down the path, past Strong's,
through the back door, into the kitchen.
Mother cuts the coveted heel,
spreads it Grandma Knighton style:
scrape off more than you put on.
Then, ceremoniously, she places
the prize in my hands.

No one can duplicate the bread.
I know why. One morning as the ritual began,
I meticulously took notes,
watched every move, counted the stirs,
clicked a mental picture to pattern.
she added leftover mush,
mixed it with the other ingredients
as though it belonged.

She kneaded like a champion boxer
taking on his punching bag
with perfect rhythm, well-trained arms.
Baking was the clincher:
coal stove, blackened pans.

I miss the bread.
I miss the constancy of it,
its goodness, its healing power.

How could she have known as she
went about her mundane chore
what it would mean to us,
her eight loaves of delicious children,
stirred, kneaded and baked, who
live the legacy of Mama's bread.

Karen Keith Gibson
from Bread and Milk and Music: Three Sisters' Voices

Friday, October 03, 2008


Big gold star to the first person who can match the following goals to the corresponding children:

A. These two children have a goal to win a lego contest, earn fabulous prizes and live in the lap of luxury for the rest of their childhood.

B. This child has undertaken a campaign to single-handedly make the IKEA people rich.

C. This child wants to be an American Idol, an olympic gymnast and an inventor.

D. This child wants to invent a small ball that will make a planet explode in less than an hour.

E. Last, but not least, this child is determined to break the records for world's longest and loudest burp.

We're reaching for the stars, here, people.

As soon as your answers are in, I will reveal the mystery children and the stories behind their awesome goals.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

2nd Annual Women's Retreat

Self Portrait

Otherwise titled: I am related to some of the coolest women in the whole world.

So, last year I came up with the crazy idea to start an annual women's retreat on the last weekend of September. We would have a potluck dinner, do some bonding stuff, talk, eat chocolate, talk more, do yoga, eat more chocolate, sleep a little, get out and do something fun and then attend the LDS General Relief Society Broadcast together.

My wonderful sister, sisters-in-law and my mother were all willing to humor me and go along with my zany ideas. Even when some of my planned activities meant some stretching outside of comfort zones. It was a blast.

This year was even better. We did yoga under the stars; we talked and laughed; we drew with chalk pastels; we did pedicures; we did a service project; went out to eat and then attended the RS broadcast where we were spiritually filled and nourished.

Just like last year, my marvelous SIL Trishelle hosted and was the ultimate hostess.

Paper Waiting For Our Chalky Creativity

My Picture of "Who I Am In This Moment"

JDub's mother was even here from Germany, which made it extra special.

And the best part, I think, was kidnapping Alisa our soon-to-be sister-in-law in the middle of the night for a moonlight induction ceremony. There were crazy crowns, there was face painting, there was laughter and frolicking and scarf dancing and singing. It was a splendid time.

See for yourself.

Getting Ready For the Kidnapping

My Beautiful Emily and I

Lovely Co-Conspirators: Em, Trish and Heather

Kidnapping With a Smile

Waiting, Waiting For Who Knows What (She was actually worried!)

And the Painting, Oh the Painting

See How Happy She Is To Be One Of Us?!?

Gorgeous: Jamie and Trishelle

Sisters Forevah


...and Frolicking


...and More Craziness

I adore these women. We have been there for each other through the good, the bad and the ugly. They have taught me and trusted me with their children and nurtured mine. They love me just as I am, crazy and all. They make me feel like a little girl again. I don't know how much more blessed I can be. How many people are fortunate enough to not only be born into a family with the most wonderful mother and sister ever, but to also gain such amazing sisters through marriage?

We are already making plans for next year's retreat. It will be September 25 and 26. Trishelle may host again or we may rent a house in SL. Either way, I promise it will be fun and well worth your time. Put it on your calendar and let me know if you'd like an invite. This is an open invitation to all our friends and family.

I don't think we'll wake you up at 3am and paint your face, but I can't make any promises.

Oh, and for a more thorough (and very entertaining) run-down of events and more pictures, see Trish's post: My Glorious Sisters and our Second Annual Girl's Retreat...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to Two Wonderful Brothers

Today I celebrate two of the most wonderful men in the world: My younger brother, Jared and JDub's youngest brother, Aaron. It makes it nice to have them both on the same day.

First, Jared, since he's oldest and I loved him first.

I remember Jared being one of the most darling little boys. He was so much fun and I loved having him around. See what I mean? See how cute he is?

He has always been one of my favorite friends. From counseling him on what to do about the crush he had on a cute little girl in kindergarten, to hours spent doing his hair and dressing him up, to staying up all night talking about a kazillion things, I have loved and been so grateful for the 25 years I've gotten to spend with my brother.

He is tender-hearted, loving and incredibly loyal. He is smart and funny and playful. He has a boyish grin that could melt anyone's heart and, though he is not perfect, he is a much, much better person than he believes he is. He is brave and strong and persistent and just so, so good. I have often wished that I could give him just a glance at himself through my eyes so that he could see the amazing person I see in him.

He's a great uncle to my children, too.

I love you Jared and am so glad I get to have you as my brother. I wouldn't trade you for anyone in the world.

Then, there's Aaron who was obliging enough to be born on Jared's birthday a few years later to cut down on the number of birthdates I'd have to remember. :)

Aaron came into my life as Jeffrey's little brother, a typical ten-year-old boy. I was convinced at the time that I didn't like ten-year-old boys. But I sure love Aaron and it was well worth sticking with him through that ten-year-old stage. (For the record, Aaron, I liked you then, too. The you who showed up when the annoying parts of ten-year-old-boyness fell away. And the rest of the time I knew it wasn't your fault. Everyone has to be ten some time.)

Right from the beginning, Aaron has been a phenomenal uncle. He loved Kaitybean right from the beginning and even used to save all of the soft parts from his popcorn kernels for her.

Aaron has grown to be an astonishingly valiant (and handsome and fun) young man. He is a great example to me of integrity and faith. He is currently serving an LDS mission in Minnesota and I love reading his weekly letters to our family. They lift me up and make me so proud to call him my brother.

Happy birthday, Aaron, my friend! Enjoy the last month of your mission and your trip to Israel (so jealous!). You've got at least four nieces and nephews who are chomping at the bit to hug you when you come back our way.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scud's Baptism Day

Scud was baptized on August 30th. He has been so excited for this day and talked of little else for the month before it. I am so proud of him for the wonderful choices he is making and the amazing young man he is. He was just as handsome as could be that day and I couldn't stop hugging him. Handsome and happy and healthy and good. I couldn't help feeling like a lucky mama.

He asked his Grandpa (my dad) to baptize him and JDub confirmed him. It was a good day.

Here is a smattering of pictures from that day. It was a joy to have all of our friends and family there to support Scud and celebrate him.

I feel terrible, though, that our best friends J&J missed it because I forgot to tell them what time it was. Sorry guys! You were very, very missed.

This one of Scud and I was actually taken the next day when I realized I hadn't gotten a picture with my handsome guy.

And for a bonus, here's a cute picture of Coco with his "squirt gun." JDub read an excellent tip about giving kids squirt bottles to play with instead of squirt guns. They are sturdy, easy to use, carry more water and pretty cheap. Some of the best advice we ever took. We got three big bottles for a dollar each and the kids have toroughly enjoyed them all summer.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Very First Day of School

So, this is very late. The first day of kindergarten for Mashuga was actually in August. But, I had to share these cute pictures.

He likes his teachers and his classmates and keeps telling me that he's bored because he knows all of the answers already. (No surprise there.) I talked to his teacher and she will be splitting up reading groups soon and giving him some good individualized attention. So, I am optimistic. We shall see how it goes.

Mashuga was very excited for his first day of school and just the cutest kindergartner.

He and Scud (who is homeschooling) had to be silly for a picture.

Coco didn't especially like having his morning nap interrupted to get Mashuga from school.

I feel guilty that I didn't get any pictures of Kaitybean on her first day of school.

We went to the gardens at Thanksgiving Point that afternoon, which was wonderful. What a glorious place!

Kaitybean made friends with the petunias.

We all got our picture taken on a giant caterpillar.

Coco and Daddy played together.

And took time to smell the roses.

Scud sat on a bear.

Mashuga walked a maze with me.

And we enjoyed the general splendor.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Music Education


I've watched David Archuleta's music video for his song "Crush" about ten times in the last 24 hours.

It's a catchy song, he has an AMAZING voice and I have a serious Mommy-crush on David. (By mommy crush, I mean I *do* want to kiss him, but not the same way all the teeny-boppers do. I want to kiss his cute forehead and pinch his cheeks and give him a hug and feed him. I hope my teenage boys are that adorable.)

But, music around our house has gotten weak lately. We listen to a lot of David Archuleta and Blake Lewis (Scud's favorite) and Kelly Clarkson. It's all good, but I'm feeling a bit anemic.

So, I've undertaken a course of music education for my family. I want my children to know (and want to remind myself) that there are generations worth of REALLY good music to draw from. So, we're listening to everything from Mozart and Puccinni, Bach and Handel to Bob Marley, Don Williams, James Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane and the Beatles. Oh and a bit of Bobby McFerrin and REM and Edith Piaf and Olatunji sprinkled in. (If you'd like a sample of our current listenings, go waaaaaaaay down to the bottom and turn on the music player.)

So, how about you? What are your favorite "classics" throughout the ages? Any genres, any time period is game. What music do you think I should absolutely be exposing my children to?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Sound of Trees by Robert Frost

One of my favorite poems. The trees are stirring in the breeze today and, oh, it makes me restless.

The Sound of Trees

I wonder about the trees.

Why do we wish to bear

Forever the noise of these

More than another noise

So close to our dwelling place?

We suffer them by the day

Till we lose all measure of pace,

And fixity in our joys,

And acquire a listening air.

They are that that talks of going

But never gets away;

And that talks no less for knowing,

As it grows wiser and older,

That now it means to stay.

My feet tug at the floor

And my head sways to my shoulder

Sometimes when I watch trees sway,

From the window or the door.

I shall set forth for somewhere,

I shall make the reckless choice

Some day when they are in voice

And tossing so as to scare

The white clouds over them on.

I shall have less to say,

But I shall be gone.

Robert Frost

Sunday, September 07, 2008

And Thoreau Must Be Credited For One More Blog Entry

Emily, so glad to know you are also a Thoreau fan. Anyone else out there? What are your favorite quotes?

Oh, and just as a sidenote, I got to meet the amazing Emily in person last week at my friend, Edge's, birthday party. It's such fun when I get to make my pretend-internet friends into my real friends. And she is even nicer in person than online. *Waving* Hi, Emily!

So, I have been reading a lot of poetry lately -- Ted Kooser, William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wordsworth, Dickinson...

And I came across this little poem by Thoreau that I had never read:

My life has been the poem I would have writ,
But I could not both live and utter it.

Just perfect, isn't it? I have written bits and pieces in a similar vein -- lines about wanting to live my life with the candor, care and caprice with which a poet chooses each word, lines reminding myself that I will have no poetry to write if I do not choose to truly LIVE my life right now.

But, poetry is a bit of a disease for me. Or a tick. Writing a poem or two each week is almost involuntary. I just can't help myself.

This blog, however, is an entirely different matter. Sometimes I feel like writing here, sometimes I just think I ought to shut it down for good and stop pretending to be a blogger. As for posts about my life and the goings-on of our family (though I know this is what many of you come here to read) I often feel to write a la Thoreau:

My life has been the blog I would have writ,
But I could not both live and publish it.

These days it seems I only come here when I have something to say or something strikes my fancy. I hope you will forgive my lack of cute kid pictures and newsiness. I'll get to it eventually.

Until then, I'm busy trying to live my poems and blog posts and to write poems that will hopefully be good and poems that are just silly and probably will never go anywhere -- like this snippet I wrote at 2am last week in the middle of a VERY long poem that turned out to be positively dreadful when I read it the next morning.

But I think this part's a keeper at least for the fact that it makes me chuckle:

I could believe entirely
each theory of evolution --

That man descends from ape
cannot cram its way inside my head
though I have witnessed many modern men
who seem intent on proving the claim
by making it clear that the transition
isn’t universally complete.

I hope you are all well. By the way, I have been considering sort of merging this and my (now defunct and even more neglected) poetry blog. Would any of you be interested in having a "Poetry Tuesday" or something like that where I post a poem I am liking each week?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


"Men have become the tools of their tools."
Henry David Thoreau

Dear Mr. Thoreau,

How do you manage to always get to the heart of the matter and to be SO right SO often?

Trust me, you have no idea how right you are on this one. You didn't even live to see the computer age.

Thanks for the reminder. I'm fighting the good fight, trying to let my computer be a tool for me rather than the other way around.

Your Computer Addicted Friend Who is Desperately Seeking Walden-Like Peace,

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Matters of Faith

For those who do not know, and I sincerely hope that most of you do, I am a "Mormon" or a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I am generally quite hesitant to share those things that are most sacred to me and closest to my heart. So I don't write here often about my spiritual feelings or experiences. Because of this, I often feel like my readers here miss some of the best of me. And sometimes I feel like I can't really share what's really making me happy at the moment.

I also don't want to fall into the trap of writing with the assumption that everyone who reads this shares the same vocabulary and beliefs that I do.

But I've decided that, because there are times I just want to sing for joy at the things that have touched me spiritually or the experiences I've had regarding my religion and my faith, I'm simply going to do that. And trust myself to share what is good to share and keep for myself the things that are best kept just for me.

I sincerely, deeply love to hear about others' religions and beliefs, no matter what they are. There is so much good in the world, so many good people who teach me so much through their yearning to be better, to make the world a better place and to find answers.

And, guess what? It has finally occurred to me that I am deserving of the same kind of love and respect and open-hearted listening that I am happy to give to others. Who would have guessed it? :)

So, I am venturing into the unknown territory of sharing more about my inner life than I have before. I hope the things that lift me will lift you, too. And for those of you who don't share my religion, please know that you are always, always welcome to ask me questions about anything I say that you don't understand -- any questions big or small.

And to begin with, I want to share with you a video that I came across today that touched me deeply. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dearest Scud

It is early in the morning of your 8th birthday. Everyone is still sleeping, so I am taking some special time just for you. It seems like you have always been sandwiched somewhere in the middle of our family, so I often feel like there's precious little special time just for you.

You are such a joy in my life, sweetheart. I hope you know that. (And I hope you don't mind me calling you sweetheart. I'm losing track as you get older of all the words I'm not allowed to say because they embarrass you.)

I remember vividly the day you were born and in the same breath always thank you for not coming the day before when I drove up to Cedar Breaks by myself because I was angry at Dad. As I slept that morning, I kept waking up and feeling uncomfortable. After a while, I realized that I was waking up about every ten minutes, so I started timing contractions. Sure enough, you were on your way! After several hours of labor, some worry over you showing signs of distress during pushing and our midwife needing to turn your head before you could come out, you were born. You were crying and upset just after you were born, but when Dad put his hand on your chest and talked to you, you were instantly quiet.

You were such a beautiful baby and looked so very much like your Grandma's side of the family. We were so happy to have you.

I won't lie to you, though. You were the farthest thing from being an easy baby. You were just so sensitive and needed me so much.

You wanted to nurse almost constantly, which showed in the way you gained about a pound a week for the first couple months of your life.

Like clockwork, you cried every night from 9pm to 1am for your first three months. Nothing seemed to help. If I held you and loved you patiently through that time, you'd finally slip into sleep. But only if I stayed sitting or standing up. If I tried to lay you down or take you to bed with me, the crying would start all over again. I tell you, it was not an easy time for me.

But I'll tell you something else, too. You are worth every last step I paced through our tiny apartment, every sleepless night.

Still you need me so much, still you test every ounce of my faith and ability as a mother. Of all of my children, you are the one who always leaves me wondering if I'll ever be enough for you, if I'll ever get it quite right as your mother. But this, too, is a great blessing. You bring me to my knees, you help me remember every day just whose child you really are and I turn to Him for answers and help you grow into the wonderful man I know you'll be.

I see him already. He is smart and kind and sensitive. He is funny and playful, tender and generous. He has an deep inner sense of justice and integrity. He is fiercely loyal and loving to his friends and family.

Do you know why I can see that man? Because I see you and you are already such an amazing person. You are good to the very core, sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, eager to do what's right and to please your parents. You are responsible and reliable. You wake up at 6am to get all of your jobs done for the day without even being asked. You love those who are important to you and stick by them, no matter what. You are just so good.

It seems like you have grown by leaps and bounds over the past year.
In so many ways, I feel like I can no longer call you my little boy.

Your body is getting bigger, stronger. I hold you and it seems like there is just not enough of me to wrap around you. Your body is hard, surprisingly muscular and sinewy. I still see glimpses of my soft, little cuddle-boy in you, but they are getting more and more rare these days.

You have grown so much emotionally, spiritually, too. I could not be more pleased with your deep testimony of Jesus Christ, your commitment to doing your best and trying to keep the commandments. You have prepared for baptism thoughtfully and you are ready. I see such faith in your eyes, such commitment in your actions. I have no doubt that you will be ready to be a worthy priesthood holder in four short years. Already you amaze me with your tender heart, your desire to serve those around you.

You are especially tender and good to those who are older. This summer, we took Grandma Great on our trip to the family reunion. I felt my eyes brim with tears each time I saw you holding her hand, helping her get up, guiding her over rough ground -- every time without ever being asked. You just sensed her needs and did what you could to make her more comfortable.

And this is the essence of you that I treasure so much. You are goofy, quirky, fun. You build amazing lego creations, you're a math whiz and a good reader, you are endearingly vulnerable. But I treasure most your goodness, your genuine, Christ-like nature. Your deep desire for everything and everyone in the world to be just right, happy and well.

Today my wish for you is that you will continue to give and love and serve and do your best and that the world and those around you will respond in kind.

I love you my oldest son, love you more than my life, more than words could ever say. And though I feel I fail you on a regular basis, I hope you never doubt the constance and the strength of my love for you.

I'm cheering you on and unspeakably grateful to have you in my life and in our family.


PS I know you'd be embarrassed by words like darling, lovable, cute, cuddly and beautiful. But, you're just going to have to live with me saying them. Because you are and always have been. Darling. Lovable. Cute. Cuddly. Beautiful beyond words.

PPS Once again, words fail me for the way your sweet spirit winds its way in and through and around our family and makes us and each of us happier and better. Thank you for the gift of you.