How CAN I?

29 06 2009

I love all my children, but there is a special, Colby-shaped spot in my heart for my joyful, non-verbal 2-year-old.

And his red hair.

I don’t know what it is about the hair, but it just puts his cuteness over the top. Maybe because it was so unexpected: none of the other kids had red hair, why would #4 surprise us like that?

But we were definitely pleasantly surprised, and have enjoyed comments from old ladies in the grocery store ever since.

Last week, Colby was mis-identified as a girl for the first time.

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See those curls?

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Okay, so maybe it’s time. But . . . the curls! How can I?

Well, this morning I was feeling strangely motivated and I decided to go for it.

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Mini-mullet, anyone?

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I can’t decide if he looks older or younger.

Last haircut, I did a better job of leaving a few curls behind. Still, he won’t be mistaken as a child of the female variety anytime soon.

And, seriously, the cuteness is still over the top.

 

 

Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the book give away. Two days left!





How much is “enough”?

25 06 2009

Back when I was in high school, the yearbook theme for my sophomore year was “Enough? Never!” (Not to make anyone on the yearbook committee feel bad, but . . . seriously? Like there is really anyone out there who can’t get enough of high school.)

It became a sort of inside joke for Stan and me way back when. We’d be doing something, and one of us would say, “Enough?” And the other one would answer, “Never!” Fiercely.

The concept of “enough” has been on my mind the past few months. Let me explain.

In April, when my life seemed to be spiralling out of my control, I had to face some deep, not-very-pleasant truths about myself. Mainly, I have adequacy issues.

I’ve actually known this for some time, but it wasn’t until I really started facing them head on that I discovered how deep and pervasive those issues are.

Ironically enough, it was only after truly staring them in the face that I could let go of them.

As a Mormon woman, I have been taught from the cradle to desire perfection. “Be ye therefore perfect”, right? All through my formative years, I taught myself to do the very best I could. Every “A” on my report card, every paycheck or raise indicated to me that I was on the right track. “I’m headed for perfection, and I have the marks to prove it!” This need for outward validation shaped me.

Enter: motherhood. Exit: outside validation.

Thrust into the day-to-day rigors of caring for babies, I often found joy in them and in all that they were doing. What I didn’t find joy in anymore was myself.  Nothing I did seemed good enough.

This feeling of inadequacy would ebb and flow through months and years, some being better than others.

Believing the gospel is true and believing all the doctrines also pertain to me personally has been a challenge. Though that doesn’t make a lot of sense, it has been a huge hurdle to overcome. I was in the presidency of the Young Women in my ward, and I had a testimony that each of those girls was special and loved by their Heavenly Father. Even so, I had a hard time believing it about myself. Every time I saw the love of God manifest in someone else’s life, my testimony was strengthened even while I wasn’t sure it could happen to me.
 
I felt beaten down by my own expectations of who I was supposed to be. I feared being honest with myself and looking at the details of my life because I knew they would be lacking. I got to the point where I was surrounded by darkness, completely alone. Music has always been an important part of me, and I often sang to lift my spirits. At this point, I couldn’t even do that. Anytime I opened my mouth to sing, all I could do was cry. After a failed attempt to sing my son’s bedtime song, I knew something had to change. My heart, in all its anguish, cried out to my Heavenly Father. I asked, over and over, why am I not enough?
 
The answer came slowly, like water coming out of a hose for the first time in the spring. It trickled in the beginning. I felt the word, “Peace.” It was a little reminder, saying, “Calm down.” I clung to that word, to the sound the letters made together: Peace. I thought of the scripture, the one that says “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be dismayed.”
 
I pondered that. My heart was definitely troubled. There were other circumstances in my life that had thrown me into chaos, and I felt like I couldn’t even take a deep breath. The constant inner voices, continually jeering and stabbing that my house wasn’t clean enough and my food wasn’t good enough and my face wasn’t pretty enough and my children weren’t well-behaved enough, reached such a clamor I knew I had to find that peace before I wasn’t able to take care of my family.
 
I had struggled with adequacy and depression for years, off and on, but it wasn’t until this other thing entered my life and began to consume all my energy that I knew I couldn’t pretend anymore. I needed to find that peace, to reconcile myself to my weaknesses, and allow the Savior to fill in my empty spaces.  

Would it work? Would it really happen? Could I attain that divine peace?

It wasn’t the work of a single moment or one prayer saying, “Fill me, please.” But that is how it started. One prayer, like one brick in a wall. Joined with other prayers and lots of study, I realized somthing.

I am enough.

When I am yoked to the Savior I am always enough. I believe it was Robert Millet in his book Saved by Grace that said (and I’m paraphrasing) any negative number plus infinity is still infinity. So Wendy + Jesus Christ will always = infinity.

I also found this great quote by Sheri Dew: “Clearly, Satan wants us to see ourselves as the world sees us, not as the Lord sees us, because the world’s mirror, like a circus mirror in which a five-foot, ten-inch woman appears two feet tall, distorts and minimizes us. Satan tells us we’re not good enough. Not smart enough. Not thin enough. Not cute enough. Not clever enough. Not anything enough. And that is a big, fat, devilish lie. He wants us to believe that there is no status or significance in being a mother. That is a lie–and an evil lie. He wants us to believe that the influence of women is inherently inferior. And that is a lie.” (No Doubt About It, 46).

I had been looking at–and believing–the world’s mirror. Satan’s lies.

It has been a difficult road. It’s easy to slip back into unhealthy thought patterns, especially if those patterns have been prevalent for years. I’ve never fully bought in to the idea of positive self-talk, but I must admit it has helped me so much in recent months.

Whenever I start glancing back at the world’s mirror, I remind myself: I am enough.

At first it was hard to do. I didn’t really believe it. (I have almost an entire page in my journal filled with “I am enough”s. Trying to convince myself.) But that trickle of water from a hose in springtime has turned into the gush of a creek outside its banks from spring runoff. I have never felt so good about myself.

Enough? Yes, thanks. I am.





Book Give Away: WINGS

24 06 2009

Wings

In my heart of hearts, there’s no such thing as too many books.

In my house of houses, however, I am seriously trying to cut down on the amount of possessions stuffed therein.

To aid in this, I am giving away an almost-new (only read once!) copy of the recent NYT #1 Bestseller Wings by Aprilynne Pike.

Here is the jacket blurb:

“Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful–too beautiful for words.

“Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

“In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will change forever.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Leave a comment and it can be yours! I’ll draw a winner July 1st.





The Dress (but not the lipstick)

20 06 2009

As per your request, here is a picture of the dress:

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You never said it couldn’t be a lousy self-portrait in the patio door, after all.

(Be kind and pretend you don’t see the weeds in the background.)





What am I wearing?

15 06 2009

red

We had a “Pamper Yourself” Enrichment night last month, where we were treated to foot massages (thank you, Julie!), manicures, and facials. The lady who taught the facial class is a successful Mary Kay rep. She had all sorts of make-up she was giving away, due to colors being discontinued, packaging redesign, and the like.

I helped myself (perhaps too generously, according to Amie) to a couple of lipsticks, a couple of eyeshadows, and an oval of blush. One shade of lipstick, Red Salsa, I took as kind of a joke.

I’m not exactly a Red Salsa kind of gal.

I put it on that night and instantly realized that red lipstick is a hard thing to pull off. (Unless, of course, you are participating in musical theatre. Then the red lipstick is essential.) One sweet lady even told me the red lips really made my eyes pop. (Is that good or bad?)

I took the lipstick home, knowing Red Salsa and I would team up on Halloween, whenever the urge to re-enact Seven Brides for Seven Brothers occurred, and other similar occasions.

Not a month later, I was shopping (without children, glory be!) and found a great dress.

Really.

Some of you might share my feelings in this–I love dresses, but I have a hard time finding something that is both modest and flattering.

This dress was both.

In the fitting room, I extended both arms above my head (essential in the life of a chorister), turned around, and bent over. I smiled (please tell me you smile when  you try on clothes or I will feel like an idiot) and rested my hand on one hip. Turned the shoulder slightly.

Oh, yes, I thought. I am buying this dress. Cocked my head to one side. A chunky red necklace would look great with this.

I pulled my hair back from my face and held it there with one hand.

And lipstick.

This dress, if there ever was one, could pull off Red Salsa.

My smile grew wider. It would work.

I dressed carefully Sunday morning, adding Red Salsa the very last minute before walking out the door.

I felt very swish at church. My whole being was infused with that particular joie de vivre that one experiences when one is looking particularly well.

We sang! We danced! It was practically musical theatre.

How fitting.

In a small break, I went to the ladies’ room.

I looked in the mirror.

It really was a great dress.

Still . . . something was a bit off. I stepped closer to the mirror.

Ah ha!

I didn’t quite make it after all.

It was in the end I discovered that, though I was wearing the dress, I wasn’t as fortunate with the lipstick.

That Red Salsa lipstick was wearing me.

Perhaps I’ll try my old tube of Cherries in the Snow next time . . .





A Reasonable Facsimile

11 06 2009

My mom is a great baker.

She doesn’t do a lot of fancy stuff (unless you count cream wafers), but everything she makes is wonderful. Bread, rolls (plain, orange, and cinnamon), pies, and cookies. Yum. The first time I tasted a Mrs. Fields’ cookie I thought, “Huh. What’s all the fuss? Mom’s cookies are better than this.”

When my cousins were going to college, they would come up to our house and bring their friends. A few of them were amazed that, whenever they’d come, my parents would ply food on them as if they were starving. (You remember college. Ramen noodles and all things microwavable. Maybe they were starving.) One of my cousin’s friends dubbed the big yellow Tupperware canister “The Magic Cookie Jar”, because it seemed to be perpetually filled with cookies, much like Elijah’s unfailing cruse of oil.

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They don’t sell Magic Cookie Jars anymore. Believe me, I’ve tried–attending Tupperware parties I’d much rather not be at in the off chance they have brought them back. No luck. They can, however, sometimes be found at Goodwill. (This story demonstrates why, being distracted, the big one in the back there somehow got bought despite having a huge crack in the bottom. No magic without the airtight seal–remember that! I keep it for looks.) I quickly found that simply owning the container did not make magic. Nor did having the airtight seal (am I contradicting myself here?). It’s two part magic: the seal has to be good, but the cookie needs to be good in the first place. The Jar is not so magical that you can put crummy cookies in it and have them come out Mrs. Fields’-worthy.

Much to my dismay, I was never able to master The Cookie. The one that was, for all intents and purposes, locally famous: Chocolate Chip. I remember one time at a bake sale, a former neighbor saw me with The Magic Cookie Jar (before it was named such) and asked, “Those your mother’s cookies, Wendy?” At my assent, he bought the entire thing. The whole container! Another time, my mom made some cookies to help feed the friends when a neighbor left on his mission. One of his friends (who should have been a stranger) asked his mother, “Are these Sister Archibald’s cookies?”

I dabbled with various other chocolate chip cookie recipes through the years, never using my mom’s because I could never make them like she did. It’s all in the flour, people, and I never could tell when the consistency was just right. (My brother and his wife can, though. They’ve actually fooled people at potlucks.) Anyway, between my own expectations and Zack’s dislike of chocolate chips (sometimes I wonder if he’s completely human, because that definitely smacks of robotic-ness to me) I’ve shied away from The Cookie, sticking to the humbler, less fussy types like gingersnaps and snickerdoodles.

Still, when Mom’s a thousand miles away and a hankering for The Cookie comes, sometimes the only thing I can do is answer its call.

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Not sure, but the consistency is pretty close . . .

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They appear to be baking correctly . . .

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There’s only one way to check. [Bite, chew, swallow.] Not too bad. I can just blame the slight sandiness (Hi, Sandi!) on the gluten-free flour, right?

Right.

When Zack asked me the next day if I’d put a few extra cookies in his lunch, I said, “I only have two left without chocolate chips.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “Some of my friends like chocolate chips.”

Huh.

He’s giving them to his friends. They’ll probably never be as good as Mom’s (is anything ever that good?), but I guess they’re good enough.





Yes, She’s THAT Good

10 06 2009

DSC_0146The other day, as I was reading cjane archives, Rainbow sat next to me and said, “What are you doing, Mom?” She looked over my shoulder and saw cjane’s angelic header. “Oh. That girl. She’s just freakin’ me out.”

I laughed. Seriously, I’m pretty sure cjane herself would have laughed.

Anyway, yesterday I was complimenting Rainbow on her Wii skills (which I should call skillz because that is what they are), and said, “You’re really good at everything, Rainbow.”

“Well, not everything,” she said. “I’m not very good at limbo.”