Saturday, March 29, 2014

Canyon Exploration

So last night I got the wild idea that we needed to pack up and go for a hike this morning. We headed up into Millcreek Canyon, where I'd been only once before in my almost-six-and-a-half years of living here. We grabbed the boys, the dog, and some water and took off.

In the future, we are not telling Garrett when we're going to go exploring because he bounced off the walls as though it was Christmas and Disneyland all rolled into one. He's a regular Huckleberry Finn, that kid.

Whenever I drive into any of our nearby canyons, I'm reminded that, while I'll always be a California girl at heart, my backyard here in Utah is pretty magnificent.

I love that even my younger son is getting totally into exploring nature. He's also very in to trying to take "selfies" with my cell phone.

We walked. We climbed. We chased the dog around. We explored. I got cold feet because I have the circulation of an 85-year-old.

We asked Garrett to take a picture of just the two of us. A helpful passerby offered to do it and then yelled, "Get on in there," to our son. Matthew was 200 yards away and so he's missing from our family-shot-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-couple shot. Also, it looks like Troy is growing a tail. The secret's out. He's actually a small woodland creature. A racoon, perhaps?

When the very kind lady left, we took this one.

We had a great time, just hanging out together. This year has been crAzy unpredictable and we're enjoying every moment that we have together. There's just no telling what might happen to shake the entire course of a life. So we might as well make the very most of what we're given.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Poor Nathan

I just hadn't laughed so hard in awhile, is the thing.

That's why I posted it on facebook, twitter and instagram. That's why I texted it to his teacher who replied, "Hahahaha that made my night!!! Thank you!!" That's why I'm posting it here, ensuring that my son will be on a couch someday blaming me for every blooming thing that's gone wrong in his life.

"Once, my mom told the entire universe that I meant to write pennies but, instead, wrote penis."

And I'll respond with, "Yes. I did it. I fully confess. How could I keep that kind of information to myself when I knew it could bring such joy to the rest of the world?"

The therapist will agree with me. I'm almost sure of it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


I was looking through my blog archives and watching old videos of my boys the other day. Man, I sure used to write more than I do now. Of course, back then, my babies were taking naps and I was spending that time blogging and cleaning. Now my house is a mess and I have a hard time finding a moment to blog.

I'm still here. Just raising a first grader and a preschooler and working on occasion and teaching Bible study, and being a pastor's wife. 

I do Instagram. I tweet--sometimes. I go on Facebook. Heck, I even send a lot of emails. But the blog is sad. Poor, sad little blog.

I subbed on Monday. A third grader called me Grandma on accident. That was weird. Then another one guessed that I was only 20 years old. That made me feel all warm and tingly inside. But then someone else said he thought I was probably 70.

That's never good.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Always. Always I have loved classic novels involving a woman having a major identity crisis, walking out on her marriage, and, more often than not, killing herself in the end. Although, I suppose it could be argued that she wasn't having an identity crisis at all. Perhaps she was finally peeling off the layered mask and presenting herself as she'd always been. I devoured every word written by Tolstoy about Anna Karenina--an almost miraculous feat considering my general lack of enthusiasm for the Russian authors. I couldn't get enough of Madame Bovary by Flaubert. I considered Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie to be a real gem. None of them, however, meant as much to me as Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening.

I can't explain my affection or my attraction to these characters. I've always been a strong believer in a biblical worldview, the sanctity of marriage, and, well, not killing myself. It's not as though, as an impressionable, young college student, I found the actions of these characters to be a defining factor in my belief system. Rather, nearly everything I stood for stood in opposition to their behavior.

Still, to this very day, isolated moments from The Awakening occupy corners of my mind. They send chills up my spine. There is no explaining it because I hate Edna Pontellier. I always have. Even at a childless nineteen, I couldn't understand her reckless behavior. It furrowed my brow and made me angry--the way she just abandoned her children. Leaving her husband, my brain could wrap around that, even when my own worldview couldn't. But to abandon her children, to just keep swimming away until there was no hope of ever making it back, this makes me hate her.

But I love her, too.

I love her for acknowledging her own skin, dreams, feelings. Bold. Unpredictable. I suppose I envy her transparency. I do not share her values nor do I aspire to. But I do long to be real, open, and passionate. Seen. 

"She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world." -Kate Chopin The Awakening

I don't want to be fictitious. I no longer want to be bound by expectations unless they are placed upon me by the One who knows me without garments. I want to serve that very One with total abandonment and freedom. There will come a day when I will stand before Him in glory and more than anything I know--in the deepest recesses of my very being--that I want His words to be, "Well done MY good and faithful servant." 

I've always been open. But I've never been very good at transparency. I'm only just learning the chasm between the two. Perhaps that is what I've envied in these characters for so long. They find out who they are. And then they don't apologize.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Nineteen Marines

So we're driving along.

Garrett: Were there nineteen ____________ marines?
Me: (Thinking that it really sounds like he just asked me if there were nineteen pissed off marines but knowing that my son doesn't say stuff like that) Nineteen what, Buddy?
Garrett: Nineteen marines.
Troy: What did you say before?
Garrett: What do you mean?
Troy: Nineteen what kind of marines?
Garrett: (hesitating) Um. I don't remember.
Me: You said nineteen some kind of marines. What did you say?
Garrett: Oh. Nineteen pissed off marines. (He says completely nonchalant.)
Me: Where did you hear that?
Garrett: It was on a show.
Me: Okay. Usually we don't say that.
Garrett: Oh.
Me: There are really naughty words and then there are kind of naughty words and that's a kind of naughty word and you shouldn't say it.
Garrett: Okay. (Pause) What does it mean?
Troy & Me: (At the same time) Really mad.
Garrett: were there nineteen really mad marines?
Troy: Well, I don't know. If the show said there were, there probably were.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Phonemes and Carnivores

My kid is a funny one. He cracks me up with all the hysterical things he says. Just the other day I was telling him that he needed to pay good attention during his phonics lesson.

"It's not phonics!" he reprimanded. It's actually a huge spiral bound book full of all sorts of rhyming words and syllable work. It's called Phonemic Awareness. "It's PHONEMES!" he proceeded to holler.

"I stand corrected," I said. "Pay attention when you're learning about PHONEMES."

"The book is actually called Phony Book Awareness," he replied.

It's not the first time he's called it that. Back at the beginning of the year he told me all about Phony Book Awareness. I'd just forgotten about it until he said it again.

I forwarded my mom this email that his teacher sent me last week...

I have to tell you the funniest thing Garrett said yesterday. It was during the math lesson and I was introducing the students to the big words: organize, category, represent. I used an example of a grocery store to illustrate to students what category means. I said something like "you wouldn't go looking for a pepper in the cereal aisle." and "Where would you go to look for sugar?" etc etc. Then I said "Where would I go to look for meat?" and Garrett says "the carnivore aisle?" HA I laughed out loud. "Yes, actually." So funny, especially since he was sincere with his answer.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Troy is super excited that tomorrow he gets to preach an entire sermon on hats. He's also thrilled that this particular section of scripture, largely dedicated to hats, happens to be one of the most difficult passages to interpret. He's been preaching through Corinthians, verse by verse, and tomorrow we land on head coverings.

I happen to be teaching a Bible study on the book of Judges and one of the things that the author, Sandra Glahn, wrote in her commentary says:'s my point: We have to be careful, very careful, about reading our own cultural practices and values into the biblical text and our understanding of what was happening at the time it was written. Otherwise, out interpretations and applications may be way off.

I love that quote. It's such a concise explanation. Not only do we have to be careful about reading our own cultural values into the biblical text, we have to study and know what was going on in particular parts of the world at specific times. In short, we have to know our Bible and we have to study it in relationship to the history of Israel and the early church. We have to know whether the books we're studying were written under the old covenant or the new. We have to know whether we're studying a book of prophecy, a book of history, a book of law, a gospel, etc. We have to use tools--like Bible studies and concordances--to understand the original Hebrew or Greek meanings of the words we're reading. In short, we cannot just walk into church on Sunday morning, listen to a sermon for 45 minutes, and walk out thinking we all need to start covering our heads OR that we absolutely don't need to cover our heads.

Not every pastor knows what he's talking about. Case in point. Two weeks ago, my husband said--from the pulpit--that Paul Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress. Of course he meant JOHN BUNYAN and of course this has no bearing on his knowledge of the Bible but we must be responsible believers. We can't assume our pastor won't make a mistake--whether unknowingly or, God forbid, knowingly. We must check our pastor's words against Scripture and, in order to do that, we must know the Word.

I've got A WHOLE LOT to learn about the Bible. I could study it my entire life and not be able to comprehend it in its entirety. But, in order to be growing in my faith, I must continue to gain knowledge. For example, if I took 1 Corinthians 11 at its face value, I'd be pretty confused. But I know from studying the history of the church in Corinth, that this issue was related to the culture of the Corinthians and was causing a great disruption in the church.

For a woman to have a shaved head was a disgrace (and, in Jewish thinking, a sign of mourning, Deuteronomy 22:12). Her hair was her "glory". In the Corinthian culture, women normally wore a head covering as a symbol of their submission to their husbands. Paul affirms the rightness of following that cultural mandate--to dispense with the head covering on women would send the entirely wrong signal to the culture at large. In fact, Paul says that, if a Christian woman refuses her head covering, she might as well share her hair off, too. A woman who refused to wear a covering in that culture was basically saying, "I refuse to submit to God's order." Therefore, the apostle Paul is teaching the Corinthians that hair length or the wearing of a "covering" by the woman was an outward indication of a heart attitude of submission to God and to His established authority.

Tomorrow my husband will talk about hats. Or scarves. Or burqas. Or what have you. Because he's preaching through Corinthians. And I'm reminded, as he prepares, that I have to read every word of the Word responsibly.

Otherwise my only option is to go shopping for a trendy head covering.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's Just My Face

This is straight up confessional time right now. Like, IF I was Catholic and IF it had been ten days since my last confession, I would be heading to my priest RIGHT NOW. As it stands I am not Catholic and I don't need a priest to intercede for me. But that's neither here nor there because I am using this very blog as the place to share my deepest, darkest secrets. Here goes.


"Self," you might be saying to your...self, "What is she even talking about?"


There is some dialogue in the movie Juno (which I am not personally endorsing because of all the unwed es ee ex and all the potty language but which you will totally relate to if you've ever gone through infertility or adoption or, I imagine, teen pregnancy) in which Juno--full to the brim with the rage of pregnancy hormones--says, "Your little girlfriend gave me the stink eye in art class yesterday." Bleeker, the father of Juno's baby, replies, "Katrina's not my girlfriend, alright? And I doubt she gave you the stink eye, that's just the way her face looks. You know? That's just her face."

I'm just going to settle it once and for all. Right here. Right now. If you happen to know me outside of the internet world, IT'S JUST MY FACE.

For better or worse, I am a really focused person. I zone in on what needs to be accomplished. If there is a task at hand, and I'm thinking about it, my face looks like someone who is trying to divide 21,310 by 8 without scratch paper or a calculator. If I'm preoccupied with a certain subject, like trying to locate one of my children, or looking for a specific person or solving world hunger, the center of my head, between my eyebrows, wrinkles into deep grooves. I've been told that I look angry, terrifying, unapproachable, and mean. I've been told that I give people dirty looks.


If I could change my face, believe me. I WOULD. There is no telling how many friends this has cost me over the years.

This is how I feel. Almost all the time. (Except my hair rarely looks that good.)

I feel like, "Hey...I'm friendly and outgoing. Strangers are just friends I haven't met yet. Friends are just people who haven't turned into best friends yet. Best friends are just people I haven't yet invited to be a sister wife."

Apparently, however, this is what I actually look like.

Apparently, instead of conveying that I am on the verge of asking you to join my family, I instead convey, "DO NOT TALK TO ME AT ALL BECAUSE I HATE YOU AND I DO NOT WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND AND ALSO I CAN'T FIND MY BODY, I HAVE RAZOR SHARP TEETH AND MY ARMS ARE JUST AN EXTENSION OF MY OWN BRAIN MATTER."

I've lost a lot of sleep over the fact that I actually look like Kraang. I'm not trying to look like Kraang. I mean, who, in her earthly right mind, would be actively trying to look like Kraang.

I spent this past weekend listening to my amazing husband talking at a Living on Purpose Seminar about personality types and strengths. I was reminded that as a CI personality my biggest fears are criticism and rejection. So, when people tell me that I had a mean look on my face (WHEN IT'S JUST MY FACE!) I take it really personally. Because it isn't something I'm trying to do on purpose. I'm concentrating. Or thinking. I'm in the zone. And, apparently, my zone looks a lot like an episode from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

So here is my deep, dark secret. I don't want to be seen as intense or intimidating or unapproachable. I don't want people to not like me. In fact, if I find out that someone is even hovering around the line of not liking me, I will lose years off my life worrying about it. When I know that someone, decidedly, does NOT like me, like AT ALL, my world is effectively ruined.

Over the course of time, I have had a handful of people say, "I don't think you like me." Or other variations of that phrase. But my personality is such that I do not dislike very many people. Even when I do not particularly take to a person, I still know that the person in question is a beloved child of God and I search for areas in which we can find common ground. So, when people say that they don't think I like them--and especially if they mention my face--it makes me overwhelmingly sad. What could I have done differently? How can I change? What can I do to fix this perception? WHY DID MY FACE BETRAY ME AGAIN? Because, y'all, I don't think I have purposely thrown a dirty look since middle school.

If you've ever thought that I don't like you (unless of course you intentionally hurt my child, wrongly criticized my husband, spent two years lying to me resulting in the total annihilation of our engagement, or turned your blow dryer on in your dorm room every morning during your freshman year of college while your roommate was sleeping even though there was a perfectly good bathroom down the hall) I just want to tell you that you're wrong.

You're wrong.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Leader of the Week

Yesterday, The Rock Star woke up with crusty crud all over his face. He was sniffing and sneezing and moaning and groaning about not feeling well. This does not bode well for his future wife. He was warm from being wrapped up in his blankets all night but, still, when I took his temperature, it registered normal.

"I'M SO SICK! I CAN'T POSSIBLY GO TO SCHOOL. I THINK I ACTUALLY MIGHT BE DYING. I ACHE ALL OVER AND MY LEGS HAVE STOPPED WORKING." I promise that I am only slightly exaggerating his reaction to a little bit of snot. (Dear Garrett's future wife, I'm sorry.)

"TAKE MY FEVER AGAIN. YOU DIDN'T PUT THE THERMOMETER IN FAR ENOUGH." Because he calls his temperature his fever. "ALSO, I AM TELLING YOU THAT I AM SICK. SO YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON A SILLY TOOL. I KNOW BETTER THAN THAT THING." Oh yes. He really said that last part. No hyperbole there.

So, since he was a healthy 98.3 and his throat was not red and his eyes were not pink and gunky and he was not bleeding or vomiting, I gave him some ibuprofen (because he's convinced that it is a miracle drug) and sent him on his way. I knew he didn't feel well. He had a runny nose and there were circles under his eyes. But we're trying to teach him the fine art of powering through. It's what we do.

Not long after I got home, I received an email from his teacher. She keeps the parents updated once a week and this appeared in the email...

"Garrett is chosen as Leader of the Week for 1st grade! He is an example of Habit #2 Begin with the End in Mind. He is an important part of our classroom. He contributes with his focus and active listening skills. He is excited about learning. We're lucky to have such a leader in our class.

Leader of the Week is kind of like student of the month. Each week, one first grader is picked (out of all the first grade classes). So, throughout the course of the year, his teacher will have the opportunity to choose approximately five of her students for this award. Garrett got to get a new book from the office and take a picture with the leaders selected from all the other grades. Sometime soon he gets to have McDonald's with the principal. His name was announced over the intercom to all the classes.

When he came out at the end of the day, he was grinning from ear to ear. "Congratulations, Buddy!" I shouted. His smile dropped.

"She already told you?" (Epic Mom fail. Always wait and see if they want to give you the good news first. I tried to regroup by acting insanely excited and building him WAY up. He got over it rather quickly.)

"So, Garrett, aren't you glad I made you go to school today?"


This conclusively proves that mama knows best and will henceforth be used as evidence in the continuing argument that she is almost always right.

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Sister Wives

So here's the thing about Utah. Before moving here I never would have joked about having a sister wife. I mean it. If someone said something about polygamy, I would have wrinkled up my face, made some sort of comment about women's liberation and then started quoting scripture. But here, in Utah, jokes about polygamy abound. As such, the term "sister wife" has made it's way into my vernacular.

Let me start off by stating that I, in no way, mean to offend any of my LDS friends with this topic. I know that you've moved way past polygamy and I know my Mormon friends are not sharing their husbands with any other women. To my knowledge, I don't even know anyone who is FLDS or an independent polygamist nor do I have any polygamist friends. Although, when we lived in Riverton, I did hypothesize that our neighbors were practicing polygamists because their garage had a separate living quarter off of one side, the wife/wives closed the garage door before getting out of the vehicle, and we never saw her/them despite seeing the husband and children quite often.

Still, the topic of sister wives comes up. I'm sure it's made more prevalent by the issue of Warren Jeffs as well as shows like Big Love, Sister Wives and whatever the one with Brady Williams and his five wives is called.  I have to admit that at one point, I sat down to watch one episode of Sister Wives and ended up being sucked in for hours. It was like watching footage of a train wreck. If, like, the people on the train somehow thought that what was happening was good and right and not at all damaging.


Since moving to Utah, I've thought about asking approximately eight different women, give or take, if they would become my sister wife. It's important to state that none of my sister wives would actually have any sort of perks or benefits. Really, I use the term lightly and, in my definition, it just means maid. Or unpaid employee. Not a slave because she would be free to leave if she wanted to. Each of these women would serve a very important role.

I've wanted my friend, Christy, as a sister wife because my boys love her equally as much as they love me. She "gets" to be the wife that serves as the nanny. I've wanted my friend, Christina, to join our family for the express purpose of giving me hugs when I need them and fulfilling the role of spiritual adviser when my husband isn't around. I'm also actively looking for a masseuse to join as the fourth member of this wife club. (Carol? Please?) We will all share the duties of cooking, cleaning and shopping. I promise to take good care of these women by providing a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. In return, they will perform their services for me. Babysitting, massaging, advising.

So, assuming that none of them see anything wrong with this idea where they basically become my unpaid employees, I've got my sitter, my spiritual adviser, and my masseuse. Am I missing anything?

Friday, March 7, 2014


I came across this verse last night. Food for thought. Something to ponder.

Psalm 82:2 "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?"

How often do we show a favorable bias to the morally corrupt? How often do we defend?

I've seen the musical Wicked several times. It's incredible. I love it. It originally starred my girl, Idina. But there's a line in the show (repeated several times) that says, "No one mourns the wicked."

I believe the opposite is true. I believe the wicked are very, very deeply mourned. But, nevertheless, the Psalm urges us on to action.

Psalm 82:3b-4 "Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of wicked."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Birthday Fun

I don't know anything about modeling. Nothing at all. But if I did, I might get this child an agent because, when he smiles, he could sell ice to Eskimos, saltwater to pirates, dirt to the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years. (I just typed dessert instead of desert. That certainly would have been a different story.) 

On Friday we celebrated his fifth birthday and that is flat impossible because he's really just a baby still, bouncing in his Johnny Jumpy. He begged and pleaded for what he referred to as a Ben 10 watch. When I tried to google it, and came up empty, we were finally able to figure out that it is called an Ultimate Ultramatrix. Or something. He was a hap-pay, hap-pay, hap-pay boy.

He immediately wanted it on. We figured out how to make the sounds and showed him. "Okay, now show me how it works," he said. We showed him again. He was getting more excited by the second. "Show me how it works though," he repeated.

"We are. You turn this dial..." his daddy said.

"No," he said with urgency. "How does it turn things into aliens."

Back at Christmastime, I read a tweet where the only thing someone's daughter wanted for Christmas was for Santa to make one of her toys come to life. This was kind of like that. Like, if I could have conjured up an alien right at that moment, I would have. My tiny five-year-old wanted his beloved Ben 10 watch for the express purpose of making aliens. We explained that, sadly, no.

And he was very upset.

He got over it though and then fell in love with his Ultramatrix. He sleeps with it. He takes it everywhere. Including to his party--although we made him leave it in the car.

Chuck E. Cheese.

Just. Wow. The noise. The chaos. The concern on the faces of several of the children because of the slightly creepy robotic band. The joy of being five and getting the party you've been dying to have.

To save a few bucks, I opted to not have Chuck E. supply the cake. Instead, we did this. Everyone seemed fine with it. Of all these exciting cupcakes, my two boys selected the white ones with plain blue sprinkles. So, in other words, the plainest of them all. 

It had been over two decades since I'd stepped foot inside a Chuck E. Cheese. Is it just me or does the mouse, himself, remain slightly terrifying regardless of how old one is? Like, close your mouth already. No one's mouth just hangs perpetually open.

The birthday boy got to go inside of a ticket blaster. When he got in, before the tickets started to blow, he did a dance with more rhythm than the rest of his family has in their whole bodies put together.

When the tickets blasted, he stood there for half of his allotted time, just waving his hands around. Eventually, he got the hang of it and started shoving tickets down his shirt--as we'd instructed him to do. Because we're awesome parents like that. When the door opened, tickets fell out. Garrett asked if he could gather them. "Go for it," I said. Because I was pretty much going to have give him to the restaurant to pay off the birthday party debt anyway. It was either pay the bill or hand over my firstborn and, at that point, I hadn't quite decided which way we were going to go.

Then I remembered that I love him way too much--shaggy hair and all--to let him become of ward of Mr. Cheese. So we went ahead and brought him home with us. But not until after he ate his pizza.

I think the party was pretty much all Matthew ever dreamed it would be. He's worth it. 

Every year we take pictures of him in his daddy's button down shirt. And, I mean, look at this child. Take a good long look. He is exquisite. I don't know why I am so blessed to have him call me Mommy. Do you see what I mean? He could sell coconuts to Hawaiians. Swine to Hebrews--okay, maybe not that one.

A fun birthday was had by all. But still, there's no way that he's halfway to ten. I assure you that he's still my itty bitty munchkin.

Swoon. And also, bestill my heart.