Alice Wannabe

24 05 2011

I’ve been making a dress for, well, months. I’ve had to unpick all sorts of seams and redo entire sections. It was okay, though, because I really wanted it to turn out.

I finally finished the hem on Saturday, so I wore it to church on Sunday. I looked at myself in the mirror as I was getting ready. “Hmm. A little waitressy,” I thought.

Rainbow came in and said, “Is that your dress? It looks good.” She paused, cocking her head to one side while she considered. “It makes you look like a cooker.”

I turned back to the mirror and saw this:

Not that I don’t like Alice–I love Alice. I just don’t necessarily want to look like her.

I soldiered on, however. I was wearing the dress, so help me.

Let me show you what $10 in materials and 40 hours in labor can buy:


I was kind of hoping when I looked at this picture (taken with the camera on the piano) that I would seem less Alice-y. Fat chance.

My hair is cooler than Alice’s. I guess that’s some consolation.

The Perfect Test

22 05 2011

I am good at taking tests.

That isn’t bragging, it’s a statement of fact.

By the time I was in sixth grade, I had figured out how tests were written and how they connected with the material taught in class. I knew what things to study (and what things to skip over) to get high marks on almost any test.

The only exception I remember was my junior year in college. I had a business ethics course with a professor who lectured the entire two hours of every class. I took notes on what he was saying according to my past history of test-taking. He also wrote our text, which was less of a textbook and more of a collection of essays he compiled.

We had two tests that semester, a mid-term and a final. When I opened my mid-term and looked over the questions, I almost started laughing. But not because anything was funny.

It was like the test was written in a foreign language. I had no clue.

And, seeing how I was a junior in college at this point, it was not only frightening but completely surprising. I had this test stuff figured out. Who did my professor think he was, changing “the rules” like that?

In hindsight I can see he wanted to truly test our knowledge. It wasn’t fact regurgitation, it was principle application. At the time, though, it stressed me out. What if I lose my scholarship over this?

That mid-term changed a lot of things for me: how I took notes in that class; how I studied the notes; how I listened.

The final, though less surprising, was no less frightening.

I realized I was not the test-taking machine I thought I was.

In Alma 34:32 it says, “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.”

We hear often that this life is a test. I only recently started looking at that a little deeper. If this “preparatory state” (Alma 12:26) was indeed designed by God–and I believe it was–and if God is indeed a perfect being–and I believe He is–then doesn’t it follow that God has designed the perfect test?

There have been times in my not-so-distant past when I wanted someone else’s test. It wasn’t until coming across these scriptures in a quiet time that I realized something: God designed my test for me. He knows what it will take to turn me into what I want to become.

(And I doubt a regurgitation of facts will be on the final.)

I don’t always agree with Him and His methods. Lots of times I don’t like it.

I find myself asking, “Why?” and “Isn’t there any other way for me to learn this particular lesson? To rub off this rough spot?” or even, “Does it have to hurt this much?”

That’s when I remember it’s a test. As new trials come, I find myself changing my study methods: what I focus on; how I take notes; how I listen.

I’ve learned God is always right. I have to trust Him and realize, especially on those days when I want to ‘trade’, that someone else’s test won’t get me where I want to go.

Mothers’ Day Spoilage

19 05 2011

(I’m sticking with the “better late than never” adage. It should probably be considered my life’s motto.)

I thought about calling this post “Mothers’ Day Booty,” but I changed my mind since I don’t allow my kids to use that word. It’s one thing when we’re talking about pirate’s booty (or Pirate’s Booty), but when my six-year-old daughter starts talking about “shaking her booty,” well, I draw the line.

However, beyond the semantics, I must say I was incredibly spoiled by my kids on Mothers’ Day. In fact, I’d probably go so far as to say it was one of my favorite Mothers’ Days ever, but that might be colored by the fact that I wasn’t around my kids for most of April.

Everyone piled into my bed and showered me with the presents they’d made.

Zack made me breakfast . . . and even remembered the red plate.

Colby drew a picture of me (wearing orange! Also wrapped in orange! I’m trying to figure out if he knew my favorite color; it’s possible he’s more observant than I realize). On the back he filled in these blanks (with the help of his teacher):

My mother’s name is mama.

My mother is number years old.

My mother’s favorite food is pizza.

My mother likes to computer.

So sweet.

Rainbow, who had been DYING all week to tell me about her gift, finally got to give it to me.

She has the same first grade teacher that Eden had, so now I have two little readers. And Rainbow gets to be bigger than Eden for once. Rainbow also drew and colored a picture for me that’s “as big as her desk.”


Eden had the same excitement as Rainbow all week about the gifts she was giving me. Every day she’d ask, “Why don’t you just open one of your presents?” She bought me a pink glass teddy bear with a red crystal heart at the student store; she made me some Jones Family hand soap in Activity Days; she colored five coupons for hugs, kisses, chores, and babysitting; and she made me some pipe cleaner sculptures.

Mothers’ Day goodness carried over into church. The kids did a fantastic job singing “Mother, I Love You” in Sacrament Meeting. Two of my former Young Women spoke–one was leaving on a mission and one was returning. The youth served us dessert at the end of church, and I got roses and pictures from my kids after Primary.

A friend invited us over for dinner after church, and then we went to an open house after that. All in all, it was a great day spent with people I love–and I didn’t have to cook!

I am so blessed.

Seriously, who could get a picture like this and not think they are blessed beyond measure?

I get a little choked up every time I look at it. (Drawing by Eden.)

Where has all the mojo gone?

16 05 2011

I wrote that title, thinking of a song those words fit into (name that tune!), when I realized I didn’t even know what the word “mojo” meant. I thought it meant “desire” or “ability” or “get-up-and-go.” Being the word nerd I am, I turned to the ever-trusty (A nice feature is the long list of rhyming words after the definition. You know, in case you’re writing song lyrics or really bad poetry. [By the way, “mojo” rhymes with “bateau.”])

What it actually means is “magic.” Well, it means “a magical spell, hex, or charm; broadly : a magical power”. 

My question now is this–do I consider my writing/blogging a magical power?

[Several hours later . . . ]

Zack broke his foot last Saturday. He jumped off the back of a pickup truck bumper and landed wrong.

We’ve spent all day today bouncing from one doctor’s office to another, getting x-rays and entertaining Colby while we sit in waiting rooms.

We haven’t had a break in awhile; I kind of forgot (or supressed) how tiring and energy-sucking it can be. My computer is also trying to die, but I’m not letting it. So . . . I guess I’ll get back to you later.

P.S. Wouldn’t a bone-fixing super power be more useful?

Honoring Mothers

8 05 2011


For some reason one of my strongest Mothers’ Day memories involves my brother. He was on his mission to Denmark and had been asked to speak on Mothers’ Day. After his talk, one of the members approached him and said, “That was a wonderful talk. You should send a copy of it to your mother.”
My brother said, “I could, but she doesn’t know Danish.”
I’ve also had to speak on Mothers’ Day. I was pregnant with my first child at the time and cried even more readily than normal. My parents were visiting my married student ward, so they were in the congregation. I finished my talk (I’m pretty sure I cried throughout) by saying, “My mother wasn’t perfect.” At this point, someone in the congregation gasped. I still remember that gasp–it stands out in bold relief in my brain, like the time one of the deacons fainted while passing the sacrament. I found it funny (and still do) that someone was surprised. How many of us, as mothers, think we’re perfect? How many of our children think we’re perfect? I’d put both of those numbers at zero.
It wasn’t for several years after that incident that I started hearing how some women hate Mothers’ Day. What? I thought. How can you hate Mothers’ Day?
There’s the breakfast in bed, the homemade cards, the candy or potted pansy at church–what’s not to love?
Probing more into the issue, I realized many women don’t like Mothers’ Day because the entire Sacrament Meeting is generally dedicated to praising paragons. It’s like reading Proverbs 31, but with a real person instead of the oft-lauded “virtuous woman” behind the words. She scrapbooks, she sews, she sings, she dances, she never raises her voice, she reads, she bakes bread, she blogs, she organizes, she runs the PTA, she plants a garden, she takes her family camping, she repairs the car, she pilots airplanes, she trades on the stock market. Her children have clean, freshly pressed clothes for each activity they do, which generally includes private music lessons, sports, and visiting the elderly at the nursing home. This is all while she keeps a perfectly clean house and puts in a minimum of 17 compassionate service hours per week.
All the talks from all the Mothers’ Days blend together to create the LDS AmalgaMom, she who does all this and more . . . with a smile on her face!
Psst. I have a little secret, though. I’m sure there are women out there who do those things. But I’m equally sure it isn’t all the same woman, and it isn’t all done at the same time.
For Mothers’ Day this year, cut yourself some slack. Enjoy doing the things that you do, and don’t worry about what anyone else does. Honor the mothers in your life by calling them and telling them you love them. Be grateful for what they were able to do and how they shaped you as a human being. And plant that pansy!
My mother wasn’t perfect. [Insert gasp here.] But she was the perfect mom for me, and for that I will always be grateful.

Passing Through the Membrane

6 05 2011

Since going to–and coming back from–Rexburg, I’ve had much more sympathy for people who work away from their families.

I didn’t miss my kids as much as I thought I would. I tried to, of course, as any good mother would. But the fact of the matter is, while I was gone I had long hours of not thinking about them. At all. Around 8 o’clock each night I would think, Oh! I’d better call the kids before bed.

It was like the thing that normally consumes most of my days (motherhood) was simply on pause while I took a little time off. Consciously I knew things were going on–without me–but their importance (which, in the moment, was often very great indeed) was diminished into a three-minute conversation at the end of the day. I was living a different life. But I still wanted to be a part of my other one.

Two lives. One here. One there.

So all the time I was in Rexburg, I didn’t miss my kids much. As soon as I said good-bye to my parents and got in the car with my brother and sister-in-law and their little one to drive to Boise, though, it was as though the polarity of my inner magnet had switched.


I could feel it drawing me through the membrane, pulling me through some viscous something-or-other from life in Idaho back to life in Washington. I was going home. Home to my kids.

The pull of that magnet seemed to rip open my heart and all the hugs and kisses and tears and laughter I had missed in the weeks I’d been away–all that missing I thought I’d feel and spread out over twelve days–were suddenly felt all at once. I loved and hated that drive to Boise.

I loved that every mile drew me closer, ever closer.

I hated that there are parts of that drive that feel so interminable. (Curse you, road construction! Curse you, highway pile-ups!) If I’d had any hair, I’d have likely pulled it out.

Our reunion the next day was sweet. Colby, after our initial hugs and tickles, would get involved in something he was doing and forget I was there. Then, when I talked or laughed especially loudly, he would look up and smile, occasionally closing one eye and bringing one index finger up to his face to point at me and say, “Mama.”

I’ve been home just over a week now. I feel like I’m finally starting to get my feet back under myself–I did the laundry, took out the trash, made a menu, and went grocery shopping. (Still need to clean out the fridge and organize the pantry. But it’ll keep until next week.) And although I love Being Here, I wish so much that I could also Be There.

My mother is doing well. Her radiation and chemotherapy are moving forward according to schedule, and she’s being taken care of by people who love her. I don’t know that I would be able to do anything that isn’t already being done, but simply Being There would be enough for me.

It’s unfortunate we don’t always get what we want. At least in the moment we want it. Maybe, though, that helps us appreciate it more when we do get it.

Sending you lots of love and hugs, Mom! Wish we were all There on the other side of that crazy membrane.

Photo Dive

4 05 2011

I’ve been working on a post, but it’s not come together entirely yet. I was looking for an image and found these of Colby. He was around 21 months old here.

Cute, much?

After he got the hang of it, Colby could cook with that walker.

This photo dive brought to you by Colby, his walker, and the cul-de-sac. Thank you for watching.