Sunday, February 22, 2009

Death on a Popsicle Stick

Sorry for the lack of updates. This has been a very busy week. We had our New Beginnings (Young Women) on Wednesday. My niece and class president, Emma, did a great job planning it. There's something about a simple and short program that has impact. I think sometimes we get caught up in trying to do something that is grandiose with an in-depth spiritual meaning. What I found through my years planning camp and working with cub scouts (kind of two ends of the spectrum) is that it's about keeping things simple. One of the young women commented to their mother that they really enjoyed this meeting because it was short and she didn't become bored through it. I think that's a great compliment. Much kudos, again, to Emma for her foresight and great conducting of the meeting.

With that over, I moved on to helping Ellie who developed croup. (I heard that barking cough, sat up in bed and thought, "Oh no. Who has it?" Her doctor was surprised because kids her age typically don't get croup, but then again, nothing in our family is typical.) John stayed home sick on Friday while I ran back and forth to work, the doctor, the school, etc. By Friday night, I felt it hitting me and just thought, "I don't have time for this!" I quickly started on Nyquil and have been keeping up with Dayquil and Nyquil since. (And no, that picture is not of me. No cameras allowed right now.)

Yesterday was a full day with a stake meeting in the morning, mini-enrichment class immediately after, and then a break where I could lay in bed before a ward dinner that evening. I got up to help Ian prepare a fruit tray for his group Sweethearts dinner/dance date and made dinner for the family. I came home from the dinner/auction and took my cold/flu meds and hit the sack. Today is ward conference and with the rest of the presidency out of town, I need to go to "represent." I've taken my meds for the day, checked on how everyone is doing (half will be staying home today), and enjoyed a long HOT shower.

I've been reflecting on the time I took off while I had and recovered from my neck surgery. It's so interesting to me that I can be still and do nothing for something like that (heavy duty drugs probably influenced that) while with a swimming head, achy body, etc., I just kind of say, "Oh well. Got to keep going." How is it that I feel guilty about one and not the other? Maybe it's a matter of weighing the seriousness of them or just putting my trust in the Lord and saying, "You know I can't be down right now. Help me through." Maybe it's just being silly. I don't know, but I've found that when I'm doing what I should be, regardless of pain or illness, I'm bouyed up through as long as I need to be.

A special thanks to Diane Van Dyke who gave me some of the leftovers from the dinner. That means I don't have to worry about making dinner tonight and can just come home and crash!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

An Elect Lady

To quote Monty Python, "and now for something totally different." I very rarely share my opinion on things. Even as I type, read, and think about this, I get a little shaky. I am no scholar or speechwriter, so please lower any expectations you might have.

The November elections were intense and sometimes brought out the worst in people, as is typical. As I have immersed myself into study of the past and current state of our country, I have thought about the word "elect."

The verb, elect, is defined as "to select by vote for an office or for membership." The noun: one that is chosen or selected. George Washington was twice unanimously elected as the first president of our country, refusing an exorbitant salary and the titles wished upon him. He reluctantly accepted a second term, but refused a third. Washington was not a member of any political party and hoped that they would not be formed, fearing conflict and stagnation. He was known for his humility.

Lincoln invoked the principles of human equality using the Declaration of Independence as his Bible. He longed for true equality for everyone. In the Gettysburg address--a two minute speech--he recognizes the import of the document (four score and seven years from 1863 was 1776): "...our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.... It is...for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government--of the people, by the people, for the people--shall not perish from the earth."

Let me reiterate what he said: that government--of the people, by the people, for the people. I want to go on to the floor of the Congress and repeat that phrase. I think the fact that our elected leaders pushed through in less than 24 hours (someone had an award to receive in Italy and didn't want to miss that photo-op) a 1,000+ page document that will affect the lives of my great grandchildren is shameful. This so called stimulus bill that nets my family an additional $12 a pay is laughable. I am not in need of government assistance and am fearful of the long arm the government wants to reach into our lives. (Universal Health Care? No thanks!) It is full of backdoor spending that benefits the good ole' boys (and girls).

I am stunned by the fiscal irresponsibility and near God complex that is worn by those the people elected to represent us. Their lack of integrity and personal accountability is unacceptable. Were I to run my life and family in the same manner, my name would be Mudd. If I claimed that TurboTax was at fault for my inability to correctly pay my taxes, would the IRS give me a free pass, even supporting my appointment to a top position in the government? Not likely. I would be hunted down and forced to pay or be thrown in jail.

And now, a 180 degree turn. Last week as I was reading my scriptures, I had the following thought go through my head: "I hope that someday, after I'm gone, people will think of me as an elect lady." At that very moment, Maggie passed me a note that said, "What does it mean to be an elect lady?" It blew my mind! She, of course, was thinking about something else and we were reflecting upon the same phrase at the same moment, possibly for similar or different reasons. How does the word "elect" apply in this case?

For some background for any unfamiliar with the phrase, Emma Smith--the wife of Joseph Smith, Jr.--was referred to as "an elect lady" by Jesus Christ in section 25 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The footnote for "elect" is defined as "one chosen or set apart." The adjective form in the dictionary is defined as "selected by divine will for salvation." Isn't it interesting how the same word can bring such opposite feelings? Election season is contentious, annoying, and divisive. Being an elect individual brings with it a sacred responsibility. I have recently thought about doing extensive research on the history of our country and the constitution to prepare myself to enter the world of politics. And yet, in the eternal scheme, I'd rather be an elect lady of the Lord.

I guess I'll put my trust in God and not in the arm of man so I can be elected to the right position.

A Favorite of the Year

Each year our family looks forward to watching the skills competition of the NBA All-Star game. (We never actually watch the game--does anyone really?) One of my favorites is Dwight Howard for his showmanship, infectious smile and, well, he's easy on the eyes for sure.

Since we recorded it last night, we took advantage of the quiet evening to watch it together. Of course, the slam dunk competition is the best, and this year it didn't disappoint. Nate Robinson is another favorite and it was great to see the two of them in the finals. It's just good clean fun to see everyone cheering and laughing and shouting in disbelief. If you haven't watched it yet, I won't ruin the surprise for you--just know that it's Superman versus Kryptonite.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ellie Advances to the Next Round!

The winners of the Westmore Elementary 5th/6th grade science fair were announced on Monday. Ellie and her partner, Natalie, were one of the four projects selected from Mrs. Draper's class to go to the district level. If they advance from there, it would be on to BYU. The district fair is the first week of March, so I'll let you know how they do. Yippee for Ellie!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Family Home Evening

We took advantage of having a free Monday night to go see John's sister's (Kirsti Ringger) sculptures displayed in a local exhibit. I hope you like the pictures.


On Her High Horse

Detail: On Her High Horse

High and Mighty

Detail: High and Mighty

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Fabulous Dessert!

I spend much time wishing for a fabulous dessert. I'm sure my brain power would be better spent in other pursuits, but alas, I have not just a sweet tooth, but am truly a "sweet spirit," (a well-known term in the LDS culture as someone who may not be the, um, most beautiful of women) in the sense that I crave sugar/chocolate nearly 24 hours a day.

That being said, I was thinking tonight about something I saw in Bologna. There was a restaurant on the main street that advertised Nutella-filled crepes. Although I had seen Nutella before, I hadn't tasted it before. Griffin and I had a croissant with Nutella every morning for breakfast while in Bologna and I thought a crepe filled with it just couldn't be bad. Although I never had one (but I did have Nutella gelato, um, a lot), I thought to make one tonight.
I started with the basic crepe recipe, then slathered the inside with Nutella, and then, yes, I know, it's indulgent, I put some BYU Creamery Peanut Butter Cup ice cream in it, and then rolled it up. Oh my goodness gracious. The girls did the same but with Cookie Dough ice cream. I think I have found that quick and easy fabulous dessert I've been looking for. Made and eaten in ten minutes. I ate it too fast to get a picture, so the one at the top is just from the web.

Let me announce my starting weight: 138 (I can't believe I'm saying this). I'll let you know my weight next week. I expect it will have increased dramatically.

The Annual Daddy-Daughter Date

This year's theme was Disco! They enjoyed pizza, salad and ice cream, watched a group of dancers do the Hustle, and then participated in a 70s-based relay race (complete with running to the other end of the gym in a disco move). Enjoy the pictures!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Shaking Hands with a New Technology

I'm not quite ready to embrace it since I don't know much about it, but my kids helped me set up my own Facebook page. You see, I've been trying to find a friend of mine, Greg Hoffman, for several years now. We'd been in touch, and then, as is typical, I lost his info and couldn't find it anywhere. A few weeks ago, Maggie helped me search Facebook "just in case." Unfortunately, his name was common enough and I didn't know where he was currently living that I couldn't sort through the hundreds of profiles and question every person. So I made my own page today, and within 15 minutes, had found him! A few minutes later, Greg jumped online and then we were on the phone chatting away for a half hour or so.

This was an interesting experience. As Ian told me that I needed to put on a picture, I was faced with my high school fears. What picture would I choose? Did the picture make me look fat? Would people from high school look at it and know who I was, and if they did, would they say, "Wow, she hasn't changed at all!" or would it be, "Wow, she's really let herself go!" And since I'm new at this and wasn't sure what I was doing when I was setting my profile up, I was clicking on CB West fellow classmates left and right, not realizing that I was asking them to accept me as a friend. I expressed concern to Ian "what if they don't want me to be their friend?" and "Did I do anything back then that might make it so they would never want to hear from me again?" I haven't had this sort of anxiety for over 20 years when I was, um, oh yeah, in high school!

Date Night

When I bought John his Christmas present from Sport Clips (a punch card for six deluxe haircuts), they included four tickets to our local NBA D-League, the Flash. Tonight was the game, so John and I decided to take the two boys with us.
I don't know what I don't think things through beforehand, but it was loud. And we had Griffin. He doesn't like loud noises--or not getting the things they throw into the crowd.
There was a remote controlled blimp that would periodically fly around the stadium and drop gift certificates to a local restaurant or tickets to future games. He loved seeing the blimp and was always upset that it didn't come close enough to us.
He also wanted to see the mascot. At one point he was so agitated and saying, "I just need to go out where things make sense!" that we left to walk around for a while. (The picture is John trying to explain the rules of the game to him.) While we were gone, he, of course, came up into our section. And we missed him.
Anyway, the highlight for him was probably the halftime show where a group from Bobby Lawrence Karate came and performed a Star Wars-based production with light sabers and karate/dance moves. He liked that, but not much more.
We finally left at the start of the fourth quarter. I had made no secret that I wasn't happy with his behavior through the night and that when he got home he could go right to bed. He was distraught and sure that I hated him. I told him that I didn't hate him, but was just a little upset with him. John and I decided to go downstairs and the girls informed me that he wanted them to stay in the room with him because he was so sad. They consoled him with some stuffed animals. When we finished playing Rock Band for a bit, we came upstairs to this sight:
SpongeBob should ward away all those nightmares. Pleasant dreams, ya'll!

Ellie's Science Fair Project

Today was the day! We have purchased more gum in the past month than you could ever believe and today was the science fair for the fifth and sixth graders. Here is her project:

We find out Monday how she did and what her grade was.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Professional Development Day

Maybe twice a year, our school district closes the schools to students on Monday so they can hold a "Professional Development Day." John's office celebrates by someone typically bringing in a cake with "Happy Professional Development Day" on it. I took advantage of the opportunity to develop my children professionally by taking them to the Draper Temple Open House. We started in a neighboring chapel with a 12-minute video about temples and this one in particular. (Griffin videotaped the whole thing on his Flip camera. I'm sparing you the results because through most of it he would say, "Earthquake!" and shake the camera around.) From there, we boarded a really nice bus which took us up the mountain to the temple site. (I figured the bus rides would be Griffin's favorite part.)

We unloaded and walked through the tented path into the temple. We got to go through the dressing rooms, baptismal font area, the bride's room, ordinance rooms, celestial room, and ended in a sealing room. There, they kids got to see the never-ending mirrors--which were his favorite part. Bruce Lindsay (a local news anchor) and his wife bore their testimonies of the temple and being sealed as a family. I gathered the kids around and we talked about what it would be like someday when they would be sealed to their spouse.

We were directed out into another tented area and led to the meetinghouse next door where there were refreshments, lovely displays, and lots of people to answer questions people had. We boarded another bus back to the church parking lot and then took off back for Orem. Ellie and Maggie had each brought a friend (Natasha and Anna) so we finished our trip with a visit to Cold Stone.
It's a lovely temple, but really, are there any that aren't? The girls commented that they now had something to look forward to. (Me, too, when one of my girls get sealed so we can visit the Bride's Dressing Room!) Griffin wants to get back to the room with the mirrors and to go in that teeny, tiny swimming pool (that is the baptismal font).

I love the temple. It's such a beautiful place of peace and refuge. I've had dream after dream where I spend my days quietly playing organ music in the chapel. I think fondly back on the time when my parents would go to the temple and come home (the next day) with temple cookies! I can't wait for the time when I can go on an extremely regular basis--in the middle of the day--and find that peace.

Another World Shattering Dream

This one had me waking up just laughing, and laughing through Sunday. It's a wild ride!

I think a combination of the many TV shows I watch combined into this bizarre dream. John and I look forward to watching "The Soup" every Friday night. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Joel McHale and his crew show clips from realty and talk shows during the week. One of the trashiest shows on television is "Rock of Love" with Brett Michaels, lead singer of the 80's glam-band, Poison. It gathers together the skankiest group of women (think strippers, porn stars, pole dancers, etc.) to walk the face of the earth, all vying for Brett's affection. (I don't really know what the end prize is; remember, I honestly just see the clips on "The Soup.") There's also this new Joss Whedon show debuting on Fox this week called "The Dollhouse" where a select group of women have their personalities made to order and than erased after the client is through with them.
Here we go. My father (yes, you can start laughing now since he is a patriarch) thought that it would be perfect if he used the personality technology of "The Dollhouse" to give me the trashiest of trashy women personalities to win over Brett Michaels' love and win the grand prize (and I still don't know what that is). So I was transformed and became part of the new cast. When it was our "date night," I took the opportunity to give him a piece of my mind including the following:
  • Yes, I had a past where I was a pole dancer (and could dance with the best of them) and could do all sorts of other things, but I had risen above that and knew my potential as a daughter of God.
  • Didn't he understand what he was subjecting these women to? The quoting of The Family: A Proclamation to the World began where I made sure that he knew what my divine role on earth was, and his too!
  • How could he subject the world to this level of trashiness?
  • Etc., etc., etc.
My father, from his living room, was banging on the tv screen shouting, "What are you doing? You are ruining this for all of us? How can you say these things?" He ran down to the "studio," demanding a refund on my personality change and had to be restrained by security. I, however, turned around, and stomped off, leaving Mr. Michaels completely dumbfounded.
This was hilarious! It still makes me laugh just thinking about it. I can't wait for the next episode of "The Soup" to see what my dreams bring!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Sunday

A grand tradition in our family is gathering for food, football, and well, the commercials of Super Bowl Sunday. Ian mentioned to me early this afternoon that it just wouldn't be the same without Kim and the Clawsons to gather with. (He also said that New Years' Eve wasn't the same, either, and that these two occasions are his two favorite of the year because we spend time with family.)

So after church ended (at 4!) we rushed home (thank goodness for Tivo!) and John and the kids started helping with enough food to feed more than 6 of us! We set up a table downstairs so we could all watch together and no one (namely me!) would have to miss the game or commercials preparing food. We had:

7-layer dip
mango salsa
cheese and crackers
lil' smokies
artichoke dip
buffalo chicken dip
banana pudding with Nilla wafers

Did I mention there were only six of us and that at least one really doesn't eat much (although I'm sure the dogs would have been happy to chip in their appetites)? Needless to say, if anyone walks around this house hungry for the next few days, it would be their own fault as we have enough leftovers to feed an army.

It was a great game, keeping us captivated til the end. We enjoyed the game and the commercials, as well as the nourishment--especially after a long Fast Sunday. We just have one more Super Bowl to sit through without Kim's company, but know that she is in better hands than ours.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for bringing me up so well. I don't know that many husbands have wives that make such a big deal out of Super Bowl Sunday for their families. (And by the way, this was the first football game I'd seen in HD. You could see nearly every pore and bead of sweat. It was spectacular!)