Worn Out From Being Right All the Time

Bam.  The weekend's over.  (That was fast.)  I am reeling a bit from the jolt of Monday morning.

Here we are again.  Just me and the laundry and a week's worth of entropy to clean up.

David and I spent the better part of last week trying to be right.

Each of us finally conceded that we were wrong late Saturday night, and I do mean late.  But I had a lesson to teach on Sunday and I was desperate for the Spirit.  (I only repent under pressure.)  So I caved, abandoned my position, and kissed him back.  And thought if I could just kiss him everyday I would be willing to be wrong all the time.  (But don't tell him that.)

Sunday was a blur of shirts and ties and lessons and brunch and worship and peach cobbler, topped off with a court of honor.  (My favorite way to end any day.)  There was dessert and talking afterwards, but I was anxious to leave.  I kept pinching David's butt (our universal sign that we are ready to go) until I nearly accidentally pinched a member of our bishopric.  I looked at David then and said in no uncertain terms that it was time to go home.  We gathered in a circle for prayer at eight thirty and, thinking I couldn't stand one more minute of the day, I hustled the children to bed.  It was the end of a very long week, and I was happy to see it go.

I woke this morning worn out from myself.

Yesterday in my lesson about the Martin and Willie Handcart companies, I asked my Sunday school class if they had ever felt in need of rescue. 

The class was silent a long time.

And I thought how I feel in need of rescue about every day.

Rescue from myself.  Rescue from my own hard heart. 

Someone raised their hand and said that those handcart companies had kind of brought it on themselves, they were unprepared, they didn't heed the warnings, and then they were caught by an early winter.  And I thought how I must have taught the lesson all wrong because I didn't see it that way.

Because the truth is I never heed the warnings.  I am always unprepared.  I am always stranded by early snow and a very stiff neck.

And how grateful I am to have a Rescuer who will come to my aid even though it is always my fault.

Help me, is my constant prayer.

I am sure heaven tires of hearing it.

Help me get up.  Help me face that sink of Sunday dishes.  Help me forgive.  Help me repent.  Help me to live without regret.

Of course it's my fault.  Send help anyway.


That is what I meant to say.  That if you read my history, you will see that I am unwise and foolhardy and too stubborn almost all of the time.  That those I travel with are suffering because of it too.  But heaven sends relief and rescue wagons over and over again.  Most often, those wagons look like a sacrament cup. 

Rescue.  Repent.  Renew. 

I am trying again.  (Send help.)

Sights for Sore Eyes

Last week I wrote many posts in my head.

They were lovely.

And funny too.

But I got busy and so they stayed in my head.

Which is a shame.

Because did I mention they were funny?

Instead of posting, I made a quilt that was auctioned to raise money for ovarian cancer.  (Actually, my mom had to help me piece the top of it together as I ran out of time in the end.  I am thinking that at some point in my life, I should get it together enough to not have to be rescued by my mother.  I am also thinking that she is thinking the same thing.)

I put up jars of tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and raspberry jam for the winter (if it ever comes), with more to do today.

I've eaten about a hundred of these

and laid in bed dreaming about the tomatoes that made them irresistible.  One night I told David I couldn't sleep because I kept thinking about getting up and eating another one.  They were that good.

[Peaches later this week.  Can you stand the anticipation?  I'm already drooling.] 

David and I put on a ward activity, which included a variety show that put me in front of the computer for hours and hours editing video submissions and compiling them all into a movie.  My family made a music video to kick it off.  I have included it below for your viewing.

You're welcome.

And every night I was sure to ask David how it felt to be married to someone so capable and amazing.

And every night he said it was so wonderful he couldn't put it into words.

I said, "Try."

Because I love positive feedback.

Almost as much as I love tomatoes from Utah.

And now, our version of the Black Eyed Peas:

Through A Glass, Darkly

This morning Caleb said the prayer.  It was longer than usual. 

Over the weekend our prayer list grew.

And he was reminding heaven about each of our loved ones by name, one by one.

On Sunday we went to church fasting and praying with the rest of our congregation.  I walked into church behind a good friend and thought about the comfort of worshipping together as I watched her Sunday heels enter the building.  I thought about what it means to pray together when tragedy strikes.  Of asking for help when we feel helpless.  And the comfort of belonging.

This weekend we received the news that one friend had died unexpectedly, and another two had come very, very close. 

And suddenly, in a flash of awareness, I remembered that one breath separates this life and the next.  That ordinary life is a luxury.  That asking your husband to take the garbage out is a gift.  That being irritated that he's in a meeting and late for dinner is a grace.  That most of the time, I am living blind to the real situation:  that anything and everything can change in a moment.

I thought about that all day.  I went to church and prayed with my family.  And in between my messages for comfort and healing for our friends, I asked heaven to also help me remember that regular, ordinary life with its dishes and homework and socks left by the side of the bed are evidence of the kindness of heaven.  That being able to wake up next to David and then blearily make pancakes for six is the tenderest mercy of all.

I thought about that all day.

And then we went to bed and had a fight.

(Technically, it was really just me fighting because David never participates, despite all my goading.  He'd rather kiss than fight.  And sometimes that, in and of itself, makes me want to fight.  I don't need a good reason, see?)

He rubbed my foot while I railed.

He rubbed by back while I got it all out.

And then I fell asleep and after a while, David's snoring woke me.  I pushed his heavy arm from around my waist and I thought about the luxuries of my life.  Of fighting over nothing.  Of an arm thrown over me in the dark.  Of someone lying next to me, waking me with their snoring.  Of how dark the glass I am peering through must be.  And how between that and the blindness of my mind, I must be nearly always lost.

And for a long time after that, I thanked heaven for my blessings. 

Especially the ones I can't see.

Off Again

I packed my bags again last night. 

But this time, I kissed my darlings goodbye.

They are staying here and I am off to Girls' Camp.

Can I get a rousing chorus of "Mormon Boy" (he is my pride and joy!) as a send off?

[I asked Caleb.  He said they don't sing any songs about girls at Scout Camp.  I am shocked.]

The Wailing Wall

The priesthood power in my home doubled yesterday. 

I felt a bit like Hannah. 

Both happy and sad.  Both blessed and robbed.  Both humbled and entitled.  Amazed at the opportunity to mother such a son, and tenderly aware that he is not really mine.  Utterly grateful for even one moment with this boy, and equally devastated by the brevity of childhood.

David's voice broke when he blessed Caleb.  Overwhelmed, I think, by the same feelings. 

Yesterday in sacrament meeting, when they asked Caleb to stand and be sustained, one of my friends turned around in her bench and mouthed, "He's twelve?!" to me across the room.  I nodded and she winced.

My thoughts exactly.

Makes me wonder how Hannah made herself get up that morning, what she cooked for breakfast, and if she touched her boy all the way to the temple.  And how she had the faith to turn around and walk home, or if it was Samuel who turned around and walked away first. 

The latter I think.

At least, that is how it is happening in my life. 

I reread her account last night when my house was quiet, but my head was not.  It comforts me some, that Hannah was given to emotional displays.  After all, I have a similar tendency.

But in the end, she took her three bullocks and her ephah of flour and gave thanks.

And after the ribeye roast and the apple pie and the kisses goodnight, in the dark and the quiet, I did the same. 

Word of the Week: Sanguinely

sanguinely /adv./  cheerfully optimistically.  assuredly.  buoyantly.  confidently and enthusiastically. expectantly.  lively.  hopefully.  also with reddish or ruddy color, floridly.

sanguinely  /adv./  1.  I think perhaps I had a hard time with this word this week, because the word itself doesn't sound sanguine to me at all.  The middle syllable in particular sounds like you opened a box of something distasteful and reminds me of dissecting frogs in 7th grade.  And so the week did not go sanguinely, at least for me.  There were moments spent in the exact opposite way in fact.  But we woke to rain this morning, sanguinely pattering on the roof and skylights, dark clouds covering everything, and so I am sanguinely publishing this post and hoping for days and days of rain and turkey and games around our kitchen table.

sanguinely  /adv./  2.  Olivia was delighted at her viola lesson this week to be invited to play at the big Christmas recital.  Her teacher has been astounded at her progress and believes she's ready to perform.  Olivia, of course, sanguinely accepted the invitation, beamed all the way home, and has been madly practicing the can-can ever since.

sanguinely  /adv./  3.  Savannah had her second grade "Johnny Appleseed" play this last week.  She wanted to memorize her part and spent a good part of the week pacing the house reciting lines about John Chapman's life.  She narrated beautifully and did her own share of sanguinely beaming.  The highlight of the play, though, came when David cancelled a meeting and surprised her by showing up.  He said when he walked up he had never seen such a grin on her face.  I am including a video of her part for her grandparents whom, I'm sure, will sanguinely applaud me for doing so.  Please notice the scenery that I helped create.  David was duly impressed of course. 

sanguinely  /adv./  4. Caleb and I spent more hours than I care to think about working on his aerospace project this week.  He and his team are sanguinely predicting a big win at the competition next week, but I am nervously worrying about all the "black holes" in our research and plans.  But there is little we can do now.  We have built and rebuilt and typed and retyped and thought and rethought, plus glued and sawed, and drilled, and mod-podged, and watercolored, and scale drawinged, and made a gazillion trips to Home Depot.  All that's left is the bibliography (which is substantial) and securing the solar panels (which are sadly skewampus).  Truth be told, I would find an "honorable mention" downright miraculous.  I keep telling the boys that this is just a learning experience, but their enthusiasm will not be dampened.

This was the state of my feet on Monday night after a day of helping 11-year-old boys spray paint.  They came clean, but my garage floor will never be the same.

sanguinely  /adv./  5.  On Saturday we drove down to Tucson to visit Daniel (my cousin) and Carol (his wife) and their lovely girls.  We went to watch the BYU vs. Utah game (we don't have any kind of cable) on their large theatre screen and have dinner.  The girls disappeared shortly after our arrival, emerged for dinner, and shed a few tears at our leaving.  When I announced that it was time to go, they said, "What?!" with utter shock and consternation.  BYU lost horribly to their big rivals, but David took it okay.  In fact, when we left to drive down he rather un-sanguinely said, "I have a bad feeling about this." (Meaning the game, not the car ride.)  They live in near some gorgeous mountains covered in saguaros, and this gorgeous specimen is right in front of their house.

sanguinely  /adv./  6.  On Sunday night, David and I attended "Priesthood Preview" with Caleb who will turn 12 this year and receive the Aaronic priesthood.  This was, of course, one of those moments that kind of stops in your tracks and you wonder "What just happened here?"  In the middle of the meeting they asked the boys to stand together and sing "Called to Serve."  Caleb sanguinely belted out his part, regardless of the other quiet, tentative, 11-year-old voices around him.  When the other boys looked at the floor or blushed shamefully at each other, Caleb stood up tall, looked straight at us and sang out his testimony.  I was busting.  I love that he knows who he is.   

Breathing a Sigh of Relief

David is making us cinnamon rolls (from a tube) and a couple of cups of hot chocolate.

(He's a peach.)

And I am breathing a sigh of relief.

I just finished speaking at Stake Standards Night.  After weeks of thinking and praying, and days of nerves (even RIM was starting to sound crazy!), I am so happy to have it done.

I said, "Let's eat some pie.  We need to celebrate."

But there was no pie, so we're making do.

I love my husband.

He has put up with my fussing for days.  I've been restlessly rolling around our bed for the last couple of mornings, nudging him awake with my nervous energy.  And this morning at church I buried my head in his shoulder and bit him I was so nervous.  He didn't even flinch.  At any of it.

As for the reviews:

David said it was "so good."  And he's the only one I care about anyway.  I like to imagine him sitting out there in the congregation thinking how lucky he is, "Hmmm, cute and clever.  I totally scored."

Or something like that.

Actually, his grin at the end was really just that...a grin for the end...of this particular "crisis."  Bless him, a thousand times over.

Now just one more speaking assignment and a miniature space station to create and power, and I will be back to "normal." 

Ha.  RIM is heartily scoffing at that.

Word of the Week: Ascribe

ascribe /vt./  to credit or assign, as to a cause or source.  to attribute or think of as belonging, as a quality or characteristic.  accredit.  credit.  impute.  hang on.  pin on.

ascribe  /vt./  1.  The appearance of this post can only be ascribed to Rachel, who when I told her I was going to put the word-of-the-week on hold for the rest of the year, gasped out loud in horror.  Bless you, Rara.  This one is for you.

ascribe  /vt./  2.  The word "ascribed" has been pounding through my head, ever since we sang this line at church last week (and a little):  "To Him ascribed be, Honor and majesty, Thru all eternity, Worthy the Lamb!"  (I especially like the exclamation point, don't you?)  I like the way ascribe sounds, especially in the past tense, when you say it in three syllables...a.scrib.ed.  If my life were a musical, that's how I would say it all the time.

ascribe  /vt./  3.  My absence from all things blog can be ascribed mostly to the pace of my life and the length of my list these days.  To be honest, there is no actual list, just a wheel in my head that turns around and around saying, "What about this..."  "Don't forget this..." "You better start on..."  (This wheel sounds suspiciously like RIM, while CIM just thinks its a good idea to take Tuesday afternoon off and play Monopoly with my boys.  Ethan creamed us by the way.  He kept saying "Nope, that's too expensive," and only bought Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues, while I bought everything I landed on.  I ended up going bankrupt and selling most everything to him in the end.  It was a little too frighteningly close to my actual life.)

ascribe /vt./  4. It seems like most of the week was taken up by the election.  The first part spent in nervous anticipation and after Tuesday, taken up with a bit of consolation pie and what can only be described as quiet, resigned acceptance.  But by Thursday, we had all recovered for the most part and life went on.  I can only ascribe this to the magic of pie.

ascribe  /vt./  5.  On Wednesday afternoon I took Savannah to get a haircut (which was badly needed and long overdue, and finally accomplishing it can only be ascribed to her constant prodding.)  It turned out darling and she said, "When you put this on your blog, you need to put an exclamation point by the 'after.'"  Indeed.  When David saw it he said, "I'm not sure if it makes her look older or younger."  As for me, I feel like I got my little girl back.

ascribe /vt./  6.  We had a big aerospace work party on Friday afternoon and evening.  The other boys in Caleb's group rode the bus home with Caleb and we worked until eight o' clock, when one of the boys said, "I'm really tired."  And they were.  Exhausted.  The most exciting part of the night happened when I hooked up about 9 volts too much power to our little motor and blew up two batteries.  After we got over the little scare this mini-explosion caused, the boys all said that was about the coolest thing ever.  All the progress we made this week can only be ascribed to the brilliance of my mother (who I called for consultation on physical layout...she's a genius with graph paper) and my cousin, Daniel (who I called in for help on the motor dilemma), and the guy at home depot who flirted with me shamelessly when I consulted him about belts and tubing and free plywood.  And in the meantime, my quilt room has been turned into ground zero for the project.  For the record, I am much better with fabric than I am with copper wire.

ascribe  /vt./  7.  On Saturday, my cousin, Daniel, and his family came from Tucson for a short visit.  They brought their bikes and we took our first bike ride of the season.  It was glorious.

The weather was beautiful and we rode about 4 miles with a stop in the middle at the frozen yogurt shop.  The kids played and we had dinner and dessert before they headed for home, but not before my girls tried to talk them all into spending the night.  It was delightful to see them all again.  David was one of Daniel's roommates at BYU, and I still ascribe all the happiness of my life to that (not so) "random" housing assignment. 

ascribe  /vt./  8.  I taught the lesson in gospel doctrine on Sunday and finally felt good about it.  Of course there were a few small moments where CIM started talking, but I was able to course correct pretty quickly and recover.  I can only ascribe this success to the advice I got from my dad and my brother, Matt, a few weeks ago.  (More on this in my 52 blessing post.)

ascribe  /vt./  9.  David is over the oncology program at his hospital, and they hosted their first annual Mustang Car Show/Prostate Cancer Screening Event on Saturday morning at the hospital.  When David told me about this, I just grinned.  I know you're all sorry you missed it.  And while Caleb and I did not need our prostates screened we went with David to check out the car show and show our support.  There is no end (no pun intended) to the variety of projects David's job entails.  But the success of this event has to be completely ascribed to Patricia DeBruhl, who is just about the best hire David has ever made.  She is a wonder.  I'm going to have to add this to our list of minor holidays.

Word of the Week: Otiose

otiose /adj./  lazy or indolent.  of no use.   ineffective or futile.  idle.  laggard.  slothful.  pointless.  profitless.  worthless.  hollow.  superfluous.

otiose /adj./  1.  I'm making myself write this post.  David, for one, wishes I would have written it yesterday.  (I had a rough night, all too terribly aware of my otiose homemaking efforts in the face of stupid and constant entropy.)  So here goes.  First the word itself.  Talk about otiose.  The "t" right in the middle of this word serves as a case in point, as it is pronounced "oh-shee-ohs."  That "t" seems equally lazy, ineffective, pointless, and superfluous.

otiose /adj./  2.  Ethan had three days off school this week and we had such an enjoyable time together, it made me wonder (yet again) if pre-K isn't a completely otiose endeavor.  But then I went to his parent-teacher conference and they showed me how week by week his ability to write his name has improved.  I got a little teary at his progress and even a little proud, despite myself.

otiose /adj./  3.  Caleb had his first official boy scout camp-out this week and David was good enough to go with him.  The camporee was held next to part of the Mormon Battalion trail and as part of the camp they did a 6 or 7 mile hike along the trail (through the middle of the desert) with stops and challenges along the way.  They came back hot and sunburned.  (I packed Caleb an otiose sweatshirt and long pants, instead of sunscreen.  Sounds about right.) 


otiose /adj./  4.  Thursday this week was "National Boss's Day."  (Which is quite an otiose minor holiday when you really think about it.)  But they celebrated it at the hospital.  When David came home with a balloon and goodies, Olivia asked incredulously, "You're the boss?"  When David smiled and said he was, Olivia commented that she had no idea. 

otiose /adj./  5.  Caleb is still working on his aerospace project, and I spent about eight otiose hours this weekend helping him with it.  I think I am quite possibly the most otiose "parent coach" ever (ineffective and worthless, not idle or lazy), and am just trying to figure out what we can come up with in 6 more weeks that will be worth standing up in front of a half dozen NASA scientists for.  We are still in the "life-support" stage (do you know how much water and oxygen 100 people use in 2 years time!), though we did make some progress yesterday as a group on the social/cultural/political aspects of the project.  Meanwhile, I am spending my "free time" reading articles about humanure...which is exactly what you think it is.

otiose /adj./  6.  On Saturday morning, while David and Caleb were at the scout camporee, the other kids and I helped out on an Eagle scout project, painting fire hydrants.  The kids were hesitant, at first, to spend their "play day" out in the hot sun doing "scouts" (Olivia says the word with particular revulsion), but all their protestations became otiose once they saw they got to wield their very own paintbrushes.  We had a great time, and even managed to keep most of the bright yellow, enamel-based paint on the actual hydrants...though there are a few obvious bits in David's car.  (David had the camera so you will just have to imagine our sweaty, paint-spotted faces grinning at you from behind a fire hydrant right here.)

Word of the Week: Fealty

fealty  /n./  faithfulness or devotion to a person, a cause, obligations, or duties.  allegiance.  loyalty.  fidelity.  constancy. 

fealty  /n./  1.  I loved thinking about this word this week, and after a rough couple of disconcerting weeks, this word reaffirmed my fealty to spotlighting a word-of-the-week.  For the record, fidelity is one of my favorite words of all time, and so perhaps it was natural that this week I developed a little crush on his velvety cousin.

fealty  /n./  2.  In our family scripture study, we are steadily making our way through the Book of Mormon, with big plans to finish before the end of the year.  This week as we were reading in Mormon, deep in the winding up scenes of the Nephite nation, Olivia suddenly caught on to what was going to happen.  Though we have read this book many times before, this is apparently the first time the story has really made sense for her.  Questioning my fealty to her security and happiness, on Wednesday morning she interruped our reading, outraged, "Wait a minute!  This book is not going to have a happy ending, is it?  Why would you have us read a book that doesn't have a happy ending?"  I smiled despite myself.  I confess I had never really thought about it that way.

fealty  /n./  3.  David had a rough week at the hospital, and because I am his loyal wife, this made a for a few rough moments of my own.  This is the price of fealty.  Occassionally there are moments, especially smack dab in the middle of budget season, where sincere fealty is the only thing helping him get up and head back to the hospital, particularly on days when he only just left his office five short hours before.  I kind of like the idea that fealty has a price, but the actual paying it is much less romantic.

fealty  /n./  4.  At the General Relief Society Meeting, a week or so ago, Sister Allred spoke about the temple.  As I sat in that meeting, I realized how long it had been since I had been to the temple, and I firmly recommitted to go more regularly.  (And in a stunning realization I also figured out that, for the first time in my life, I could go while my kids were at school and not even worry about a babysitter!  What in the world?)  So on Wednesday morning I went.  The overpowering feeling I had as I entered the House of the Lord was welcome.  Not rebuke.  Not disappointment.  Just love and welcome and joy.  And as I sat in His holy house, I was astounded by His fealty.  Despite my inconsistency and my wandering, his love and devotion are constant.

fealty  /n./  5.  Caleb swims with fealty for over an hour, four days a week, no matter the season or temperature.  Last year he swam these practices all year without going to one swim meet.  I promised him this year we would try to make it to a few swim meets.  He had his first one on Saturday between conference sessions and swam the 50 Butterfly and the 50 Free and a couple of relays.  He improved his freestyle time by over 9 seconds.  And it was such nice weather (cloudy and not even 90 degrees) and such a joy to watch him swimming, I wondered why I had been so hesistant to do more of these.

fealty  /n./  6.  We thoroughly enjoyed General Conference this past weekend.  It was, in every way, exactly what I needed.  I am so grateful for a living prophet and apostles who serve the Lord with absolute fealty and do all they can to lead and guide me and my family.   I would like to have their words and faith every single week, but instead I have decided to really hearken (listen and obey) to this conference.  At the end of conference we went around and told one thing we were going to try to do better.  Olivia said, "I thought I just had to listen.  I didn't know I had to think too."  She finally said that she was going to try to say her prayers every night.  To this, Caleb replied, "I pray every night.  I can't sleep unless I pray."  I didn't know whether to be happy or heartbroken about this revelation.  The truth is my family and I are deep in the wilderness, really and truly, and I am so glad for the light of the prophets that show us the way in the dark.  The word is so sweet to me.