Monday, August 5, 2013

My Latest Journey

"If  our future journeys are to be little different from flashes of light, with no interim landscape and no interim thought, I think we will have lost the whole good of journeying and will have succumbed to a mere preoccupation with getting there. I believe journeys have value in themselves, and are not just a device for saving time--which never gets saved in the end anyway."
-E. B. White, 1960


Yellowstone was our latest journey, and Oh! What a lovely journey it was! It was a large and merry gathering of people: Dad and Andrea and Jesse, Todd and Christine, Sue and Mel and the Gang, Caleb, Corbin, Tera and the Dicklings, and us (Brittney and Porter made it up for a few days as well, but were gone before the bulk of us got up there). We took Mr. White's words to heart, and we attempted to see every nook and cranny of the park! What a spectacular concentration of Nature's marvels! All in one gorgeous spot! How convenient for the nature-lover and the adventurer. We made the most of it, that's for certain.

What We Saw:
-Old Faithful (made it just minutes before it erupted)
-Steamboat Geyser (which, we later found out, erupted for the first time in eight years just hours after we saw it!)
-Mammoth Hot Springs
-Artist Paint Pots
-Norris Geyser Basin
-Bison, bison and more bison
-Dragon's Mouth Spring (the highlight of the trip for my Coco, who was thoroughly convinced that he could wake that snoring dragon up and get it to poke its head out of that steaming cave...which goal, in turn, filled me with more pride than I can express)
-The Upper and Lower Falls (A few of us took Uncle Tom's Trail, which was a ridiculous 500 foot hike down...and down was okay; but back up? Holy smokes! But so worth the view)
-Boiling River Hot Springs (Ahh, the most relaxing stop of the whole journey--I could have stayed for hours)
-Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
-Mud Volcano
-West Thumb Geyser Basin
-Kepler Cascades
-Fountain Paint Pots
-Midway Geyser Basin

What We Did:
-Had campfires about half of the nights, cooking delicious dutch oven meals, etc
-Arrived into camp at 10:30 the other half of the nights, and the chickens--of their own accord--skipped dinner and climbed right into their sleeping bags and slept
-Dealt with two sick kiddos; but neither sickness lasted for long, thankfully, blessedly!
-Said lots of prayers during the continuous intermittent rainstorms that visited our campground; and marveled at the power of prayer when our tent stayed 100% dry and cozy-warm, even after a particularly strong deluge of hail!
-Enjoyed each other thoroughly while all the cousins enjoyed their own communal madness
-Waited for hours while bison decided to take full advantage of the right-of-way across the roads (and it wasn't bad at all, really, because the kids enjoyed every minute of bison-watching they got)
-Hiked and carried chickens in backpacks and on shoulders and hips
-Listened to Coren and Nathan run out to the woods and back into camp every few minutes, ticking off the list of wildlife they had seen....which got ever more exotic: elk, wolves, bears, even a few lions in there!
-Listened to our own private concert performance of an original piece written, composed and performed by Caelan and Genevieve especially for the occasion (we even got honorable mention in the lyrics)
-Looked and marveled and wondered and discussed and enjoyed and admired the endless natural beauties and wonders around us, and basked in that big-yet-small feeling you get when surrounded by earth's vast greatness
-Looked and marveled and talked and wondered and discussed and laughed and enjoyed and admired the endless natural beauties and wonders in the magnificent people around us, and basked in that large-yet-intimate feeling you get when surrounded by your family's vast greatness

It was a journey to be remembered. How happy I am that my chickens thrilled in it to the very end. And truly, I was impressed by their joyful contentment, even after a week of sleep-deprivation. They loved it to their very bones! How happy I am that we all made the effort.... I have heard people say that camping is too much work for them. And, well, it is quite a lot of work. There is serious planning beforehand; endless packing, unpacking, and repacking; food preparation; rushing through bedtime routines to dive down beneath layers of warmth in the freezing cold of mountain nights; conversely, the never-wanting-to-leave-the-tent-in-the-morning-but-needing-to-pee-so-bad-it-hurts experience; the dirt and more dirt that is everywhere; and the kiddos traveling all the way to and from the campground hidden behind and beneath piles and stacks of duffel bags, tents and equipment, etc, with absolutely no leg room to speak of. Camping is certainly not convenient, not in any sense of the word. But oh, I wouldn't trade it for all the stylish travel in the world! I will be forever grateful for parents that instilled in me a love for camping, with all its inconveniences. And I will forever be camping with my kids, with a bright hope that it will become a burning love within them as well, and that they will in turn pass it on to my future grandkids. I do not know where one comes to love and respect nature so deeply and intimately as while camping. I do not know of any place where I have built more fond memories of family adventures than on our countless camping trips together growing up. I do not know of any other journey that fills a child with wild abandon and deep wonder as the camping experience--where he wakes up and steps outside into forest; where he shares his breakfast with grazing deer; where he runs, wild as a banshee with his comrades, through dirt and wildflowers, and is never interrupted by cars or paved roads; where he takes pride in cooking his own meal over a fire, without Mom's help; where he looks up and sees a universe of stars and begins to ask himself where it all starts and where it all ends; where he sits in stillness and feels connected to the ground beneath his feet and the breeze in his hair and feels deep instincts that are daily hidden by screens and noises and electric lights and gadgets. There is something about camping that makes me feel grounded, and I will keep coming back to feel that again and again.... and hopefully always surrounded by the people I love best. Because the journey is that much deeper when fueled with an abundance of love.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Good News...??

Let me begin by saying it was easily one of my top ten…. And unlike many unlucky women I’ve talked to, it doesn’t take much at all for me. So when I say top ten, well, that’s saying something. Hence the predicament I now find myself in. This is what comes of an insatiable appetite and an indefatigable lover and reliance on past body patterns and that no, it would never happen the one time; it never has before.

And so I am here, in a world of my own making, and yet a far cry from graceful resignation or acceptance. Not yet. I’m too busy being angry and terrified.

The anger is easier to manage because I can find the direct source every time I look in the mirror. And that’s the thing: I’m not seeking the world’s sympathy; I’m not hunting down a scapegoat. I am sleeping in the proverbial bed of my own making, I admit that completely. It’s still not a comfortable bed to be sleeping in. But at least the anger I can channel. I can keep it directed at the person responsible and not allow myself to lash out at hubby and children for this blessing I’ve brought upon myself.

The fear—this all-encompassing, overpowering, daily-paralyzing fear—that has come along as a permanent part of the deal…well, that gets trickier. I sit and begin to really, really think about what this means, and perhaps I am weak, but all scenarios terrify: There is Coren, who’ll be six months older, but let’s face it, will still be the same child, maddening in all the ways he’s been maddening since 18 months. He is mellowing, but slowly; and he will not be there (wherever the elusive “there” is) by January. Risa, who thankfully and gloriously just potty-trained in the easiest possible scenario ever. So there’s that. But she’s coming into three, which is a long way from independence and maturity, obviously. And then Haakon. Haakon, who will be 18 months. Who will be in diapers. Who will still be dependent. Who is a mama’s boy and does not do well with other babies in Mom’s lap. Who will still be a baby himself. All five years and under. Oh, and none of them in school. Did I mention that? Coren’s a late bloomer, so he’ll be home—all day—with all the rest of the gang.

And then I imagine other scenarios, real ones from my past. Recent ones, like how three almost threw me, and I had to call my sister and have her talk me out of leaving the kids. Truly, honestly, talk me out of leaving my children. Not the fantasy kind of thought; a real one, with five days of planning behind it. And a mom, who had her four kids five years and under, who climbed in bed and didn’t climb out for a few months. And when her husband tried every form of pep talk he could think of, she answered him deadpan, “I understand. I just don’t care.” My mom! The angel mother of the world! So here I am in the liminal space between human-and-demon-kind-of-mother, and I don’t stand a chance.

Except that is not the terrifying thought. The terrifying thought is that my children don’t stand a chance. I am the guardian of the hearth—I understand this about mothers. I believe it deeply and wholly! And yet more often than not, my kids have a grumpy guardian—an angry, frustrated, scolding old troll at the hearth. I have worked on this for….well, three years now. I never get any better. I don’t know how to get any better. I read books and articles. I try new methods and approaches. I pray and plead. At the end of the week/month/year, I am still the frowning, failing thing I was previously. This is what truly haunts me. Constantly. Naggingly.

I have well-meaning friends and loved ones who keep trying to remind me of the positives: “Just think about how wonderful it will be when they are all in school together.” “It’s only hard for the first few years.” “You’ll miss this later.” “Every mom thinks she’s failing.” “But just think how you’ll get it all done now, and you can move past the pregnant phase that much faster.” “How neat for them to be so close; they’ll all be good buddies.” Sadly, ungratefully, I want to tell these wonderful people (because they are wonderful people) to shut up. I want to tell them that this nebulous future looks all well and good…. That doesn’t stop the here and now—these next few years when they are all young together—from being any less hard and tedious and frustrating. It doesn’t stop me from fretting and grumping and wanting to run away now, this idea that someday it all gets easier. And that someday actually gets more frightening to me, if I mess them all up before they ever get there!

So here I lay, in this bed of my own making, fretting and sweating and trying to wrap my head around the very near future. Yes, I put myself here. Yes, I will love this child fiercely when it makes its appearance. I will admit how I could never imagine my life—our family—without him or her. And I will still be overwhelmed by fear and anger and inadequacy. There is a distinction; and the overpowering love for the little creature will not negate the overpowering emotions I will be swimming in for the unforeseeable future.

Now, one more disclaimer: I understand what this must sound like to you, my dear family and friends who struggle having the children you so desperately want. I cannot imagine the hardship that is for you; and I genuinely wish I could grant you all the ease of conception and birth that you so deserve. Honestly! I say that without malice or conspiracy. I wish I could give you a houseful of children! And I promise that I will never presume to understand how you feel, over there on your side. And I will never say that you should take advantage of this time without kids and enjoy it; or that you’re lucky, because it gets a lot crazier on this side; or any of the other insensitive comments that people sometimes make. I promise to never pass judgment on you; and I hope you can return the favor. This side has its own set of hardships, and I’m sure we can agree on this one truth—that at times our own individual predicaments are too much to bear. 

So please, for now, no sympathetic comments or pep talks or words of encouragement. I will pull myself together, more or less, in the next six months. But for now, I do not want to hear how much I'm going to end up loving this scenario in the long run. Or how it will all be all right. Or how we'll all make it somehow. Or how this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Or really, just anything. Because lucky as I may or may not be over here, I’m still finding it hard to breathe in and out right now.

How did this happen again? Oh yeah, top ten. Well, some say the world will end in fire…. I should have been a nun.

(Sorry my posts have been rather heated and emotional lately…Now you know why. I’ll get back to my usual nonsensical posts…um, sometime. It may be sometime after January.) L

Friday, June 28, 2013

It's kind-of amazing how your entire world falls into place for just a moment when your nearly-three year old daughter taps your cheek mid-reading to tell you, "Mom, you're beautiful!"

Friday, May 31, 2013

To My Kids Someday:

I want to say something to you. I want to say it in as non-confrontational a way as I can, but I do feel strongly about it. So regardless of how I'd like it to sound, this may come out more Jeffrey R. Holland than Richard G. Scott....

My little children--my chickens, my fairy children--you must know something about me, with utter and complete finality: I believe we have a prophet. Here. On the earth today. And I believe--absolutely believe!--that he is the mouthpiece of the Lord.

So I begin to get nervous... then agitated... then a little hot-tempered.... then back to nervous... when I see members of the church begin to follow the tricky trends I see outside in the world in regards to how knowledge is got.

Here, let me expound. I am a smart person. The truth is that I am probably smarter than most people I know (oh boy, sorry to everyone I just pissed off with that comment. There goes my whole readership...of six!). My IQ is really high. I'm logical. I figure things out quickly and easily. I thirst for knowledge about everything. Everything! I want to know how, why, what for, where from, which way, etc, etc, etc. I do not like not knowing. I am my father's daughter. I am smart and I want to know. I have to know! So I seek truth everywhere. I seek it in books and literature, in textbooks and classes, on internet sources and in discussions. I ask questions. I study. I research. I learn. I talk to people. I change my opinions. I correct myself. Sometimes I correct others (heh heh). I want to know, and I want to understand, both. I am book smart, and I am world smart--not world-experienced, necessarily, but world-smart. I can see situations fairly clearly. I can deduce things logically. I can remove myself from emotion and see the big picture. I can empathize and argue. I can disagree and concede. I can explain motivations and situations rather accurately. I can be unmoved if need be.

But there are some things that I know I will never know or understand. not in this lifetime. Not yet. And I have learned to be okay with the not-knowing. I have learned that I will not--I cannot--know everything right now, and I am secure. And this, my chickens, is what I want to teach you.

We are to seek knowledge--"by learning and by faith"--and yes, it means what it says: both avenues are crucial! Seek your knowledge in books. Find out your whys and wherefores and howcomes in the vast library of sources so advantageously available to us in this age of information. Study all about how the world works, how the earth moves, science and math, language and history. Discover how people interact, what the brain/body is capable of, why/how people fall in love, how cultures shape us (personally and globally), why some stories end happy and others don't, and where your place is in this wide world. "Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: And with all thy getting, get understanding." So yes, with all your important, beautiful world-learned knowledge, get understanding. Seek wisdom from the source as well. Learn from scriptures and prophets and prayer and the Holy Ghost. Do not let the world convince you that this deep, spiritual wisdom is any less important or verifiable or valid than scientific facts and equations. Do not let the world persuade you that believing in a higher truth somehow sells your own brainpower short; that in following a higher knowledge you follow blindly. Do not let the world undermine your faith--a gift we carry into the world, that we are not meant to lose as the world intrudes on our childlike wonder. Do not believe the world when it declares that faith is ignorance or deception or naivete or some form of buck-passing.

They are wrong! Absolutely wrong! Faith is a living, growing, breathing thing. It is foundations and climbs. It is seeking answers and making choices and recognizing human limitations. It is marrying truth with action. It is a vital tool in our becoming. And, by its very definition, it grants limitations: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." "I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith."

This is faith: The combination of knowledge and limitation. The testimony and the questions. The understanding and the security that, quite simply, we do not understand everything. And that's okay. That's normal. That's real.

The world has largely forgotten this. In this age of intolerance and political correctness and blogging (and yes, the three are connected), people all too often discount their faith. They nitpick, they attack, they get offended, they criticize, they belittle.... and all of it masked beneath "a quest for knowledge." Do not allow yourself to jump on a bandwagon full of negative knowledge-hunters and spiritual bridge-burners. Do not let groups of angry or offended or insecure people cloud your understanding of the foundations of the gospel with their dissatisfaction with the fuzz on the caterpillars....on the leaves....on the twigs...on the branches... of the tree that is gospel knowledge. You either believe in the gospel or you don't. You either believe it was restored or you don't. You either believe we have a prophet or you don't. You either believe that he speaks for God, or you don't. The rest is distraction, white noise.

So quest for knowledge. Take your journeys to the ends of the earth for wisdom both earthly and spiritual... which truly are not so far apart. And with all thy getting, get understanding. Understand that you are human and that there is a Divine. Understand that some things don't make sense. That following a prophet's words even if you don't completely understand is faith, not ignorance. Not mindlessness. It is faith. Get the understanding that you will understand in time. And get the understanding that the world in its frantic-ness to challenge and disprove all that it cannot understand is not wisdom. It is arrogance. It is insecurity. It is fear. My beautiful, divine, curious, wonder-filled children, do not live afraid of untapped knowledge. Seek all that you can; and lean upon your foundation of faith for that which you cannot. Recognize the difference between what is real and what is the white noise. Be secure in your answers. And know that I know where I stand. Always. Forever. I will always want to know more. Always! And I will always stand behind the prophet of God. Always! That is where I have found security in my thirty years of trials of faith. That is my foundation. That is where my faith and wisdom connect. That is where I am unbroken.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I have been doing some research....

Pixie (Wikipedia): "In traditional regional lore, they are generally benign, mischievous, short of stature and attractively childlike; they are fond of dancing and gather outdoors in huge numbers to dance, or sometimes wrestle, through the night... Pixies are said to reward consideration and punish neglect on the part of larger humans. By their presence they bring blessings to those who are fond of them.... They are also prone to...violent mood swings and temper tantrums.... Wildly rambunctious tricksters...."

Oh bless me, I'm running a halfway house for the fae! Somebody get me a rowan branch!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Few Things

1. I changed my hair. I have come to accept--maybe I should say my hubby has come to accept--that I still have some wandering teenager in me. It comes out in my hair and jelly bracelets. I have decided that I'm okay with that. And maybe I'm that dorky 30 year-old trying to stay young and hip, but then I guess that's that. Someday someone will work up the courage to tell me so; until then, I'll go on in my delusions.

2. I am addicted to cuties these days. Seriously, how much is too much to spend on tiny oranges in a week? We're eating them like candy over here!

3. These kids are cute....and driving me a little bonkers. Coren has spent more time than I care to admit in time out in the last couple of days, only because he is of the opinion that it is uber-fun to make his sister scream every ten minutes or so. I got sick of scolding, so I just stuck him on the couch in an indefinite time-out last night. And again this morning. Yep, good parenting skills, I know. I rock. Risa is at this stage of constantly demanding--literally constantly!--anything and everything, over and over! Drinks, snacks, blankets, dolls, dishes, more drinks. Aaah! Really, how are there not more moms out there snapping and going nuts?? I'm blaming this all on the end of a looong, cooold winter and the coming of spring right around the corner. We're cabin-fevered and antsy and fed up, I think, so I'll give my chickens that and, oh, I don't know, throw them a tea party or something (report to come on my next blog).

4. Eating healthy is hard when it's day after day! I know, shocker, but it really is! Even after I'm seeing results, I still have to convince myself daily that no, I don't need that cookie or that slice of cake or that second helping of pasta. Oy! But I feel better, so the health peeps are right again. Go health peeps!

5. Also, have I told you much about my son's condition. His hands are always, always going! Yep, it's Alien Hand Syndrome, and it's pretty severe. Poor child never stops--really quite exhausting to watch him all day.... Okay, and hilarious. He's really rather hilarious, that one. Very much a demonstrative and animated baby!

(Well, I had a video uploaded, but it's not working, so that's that. I'll try again when my techno-hubby is home.)

6. And I can see my lawn for the first time in months. The grass is dead, but it's there! The first tulip buds are breaking through the ground. Ooh, will we actually have spring again? I'm holding my breath!

Friday, March 8, 2013

My New Project

Well, I've begun a new project... Or rather, I should say that I've jumped onto the chariot of a project already in motion by a lovely and dear friend of mine. We've started a writing blog.

Yes, a writing blog. A blog dedicated to all like-minded amateur writers who feel like they need a good kick in the pants to take their writing from its present plateau to the next level. So we have prompts, and we post our creations. We give constructive advice, and we discuss the methods of writers we admire....

Or, at least, this is what we'll be doing when all the cogs and gears start turning smoothly. The blog was only just created this month, and so is still on its new legs, so to speak. If any of you, my vast audience of five or so, are interested, ALL ARE WELCOME! Truly! We ultimately want this to be a creative space for multiple and varied voices, so we can learn from each other and expand our own little voices together. If you are interested, let me know! Post a comment here, or email or Facebook me. Whatever! It's very low-key and supportive, and we don't want anyone to feel stressed by it, so come be part of a no-pressure writing team! And everyone's goals are different as well--some want to write novels, and others just want to be better bloggers. So there's a place for you, I guarantee it!

Anyway, here's my first post for the blog. The prompt--it being our first--was kind-of a get-to-know-you prompt, about why we write and how we started. So here's my little spiel. Peace!