Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas

So... last year I didn't even post about Christmas. I think the thought was too overwhelming... all the events, people, and pictures. So my solution? No pictures for now, I will post the highlights, and try not to leave anything or anyone out... but if I do... sorry!
This year for Christmas Eve/ Christmas morning we had Mike's entire family over.
This started with a transformation of my girls' bedrooms. I put down their bunk-beds, pushed them together, and put air-mattresses on top. I put sheets on the air-mattresses and called it good. I really wished we had at least one guest bedroom... but I'm not going to complain about having 'extra' bedrooms.. because I'm blessed to have the rooms we do for the kids.
So 'Mr. & Mrs. Sweetie' slept in the younger two's room, 'Mr. & Mrs. Red Bull' slept in the older girls' room, and 'Big's Momma' slept on the floor of the office. Big's Momma has a pretty serious boyfriend, so he came and went over the three days they were here.
We got together Christmas Eve night, and enjoyed some fabulous fondue... like The Melting Pot quality fondue. Who would have thought that pricey cheese and wine cooked in a pot could taste so divine?! They're onto something with that whole 'wine and cheese' thing!
We read Christmas stories and Luke 2. Mike's family has a tradition to read a certain Christmas story every year. It was a favorite of Mike's Mom. We also read the poem 'Christmas in Heaven' with made most of us cry... or at least tear up. Then Mike and his sis (Mrs. Red Bull) shared their feelings on the family getting together, and how close we have gotten over the past year.
Mike's parents passed away a few years ago, and we really drifted away from his siblings. It's funny how much parents hold a family together. Over the past year or two we grew much closer. Mr. Red Bull (our BIL) had a bad accident, and suffered a severe head injury. I think it took an event like that to make us realize how important Mike's family is to us.
I think that for a long time, we just didn't have a lot in common, and we felt very different. Sometimes we still feel a bit like the 'odd man out', but I think that our differences don't have to stand in the way of our relationships.
With that said...
We used to be closer to my side of the family... and over the past few years, we've drifted further and further away from them. I used to feel like my family was super close, and we were all so much alike. As the years pass, we become more and more different from each other. There have been some major events and hurtful things said that have put some major barriers between us. And as much as we try to pretend that they aren't there... it's that 'elephant in the room' type thing. I know that for me personally, I have had to put my guard up, and I have to walk on eggshells. It feels as if everyone is afraid of one anther's judgment... and nobody can accept help from each other, because that would be a sign of weakness. And none of us have weaknesses, because we are all perfect. And those dynamics don't make for very close relationships. We have to keep a certain distance to protect ourselves. Anyways... enough about all of that...
I couldn't help but think about how proud Mike's Mom would be to see all of us together like that. I can't image a better Christmas gift to her.
On Christmas Eve, all the kids slept together on the balcony. (This was a tradition from when I was little. My grandparents had a balcony and a huge Christmas tree. So we slept on the balcony overlooking the tree, hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa... after all, he was right under our noses!)
The kids woke up fairly late Christmas morning... like 8-ish. So we opened gifts and headed over the "Gee G-ma's" house for breakfast. This is a tradition of their family's... all the men make Christmas breakfast. So we saw some of Mike's extended family, and visited. Some of his family... namely one of his aunt's has really been awful towards us since Mike's Dad passed away. It's been super strange and awkward, so we had a good cue of when it was our time to go.
We headed over to see "G-Kit" but she would answer her phone... so we decided to try again the next day.
So we went to see Papa-Bear and Grandest-mah. Grandma Sha-la-la was there too... so that's was nice to squeeze her in. (in the mean time... Mike's family is just chillin' at our house... waiting for us to get home) So the girls opened aprons from Grandest-mah. Who, by the way, fits that perfect 'grandma' mold with homemade gifts every year, cookies all year round, and soft hugs and kind words every time you see her. I just love that lady! I hope to someday be just a smidgen of what she is.
It was strange to see my Mom alone on Christmas day. She dropped my sister off at her Dad's house, and went to my Grandparents house. But it never occured to me that in the not-so-distant-future she could be totally alone every other Christmas. That's terrible!
So back to the house. All the kids played with their toys... Mike and I spent the day opening those horrible boxes, trying to remove dolls and things tied to cardboard with those evil twisty ties. Argh! We were setting things up, I was trying to set up the Wii. (Yes, we finally joined the rest of the world and broke down into video game submission. There's a long story about that... but I'll have to save it for another post) After feeling like a complete loser, I got it set-up. My cute nephew thinks I'm an idiot... "Where am I supposed to plug the paddle in? There's only one port?"... "I need stickers or something so I can keep track of which paddle is #1, #2, etc."... needless to say he kept looking at me and saying "You can go get my Dad, he'll set it up in 5 minutes." No, no... I like to think I'm smarter that I look. I can set up a freakin' game!
Truthfully, I could have spent the entire day creating Wii characters. I would like to thank the creators of the Wii for pointing out the option to personalize my Mii in such detail. I mean, how would you know it was me if it weren't for my wide-set huge eyes, mole above my lip, and the extra 20 pounds on my frame. "Oh! Look... it's Mom!" Yup.
After an amazing Beef Wellington dinner and a crazy competitive game of 'spoons', everyone spent the night again.
The next day Mr. & Mrs. Red Bull went home fairly early, and Big's Momma followed shortly after. Then... drumroll please... I did something I had never done in my life. I sat down and played a video game for 8 hours straight! That's right, I went from never playing before, to becoming strangely addicted in a matter of minutes. Mr. & Mrs. Sweetie played Mario Bros. with Mike and I. All four of us playing at the same time. Trying not to die, while jumping on each others heads, waiting for each other, and our poor husbands dealing with our uncontrollable laughing and lack of 'Nintendo' knowledge.
It was so much fun, I would have never thought playing that game would be so fun. My stomach ached from laughing so hard!
They went home late that night, and we acknowledged our children once again. Actually it was perfect, they were so enthralled with their new toys, they didn't mind us leaving them to their playing all day.
It was a great Christmas! We've been nothing but lazy since. Pajamas all day long. Dinner for breakfast, and breakfast for dinner. Sweets and hot chocolate anytime day or night. And today... more snow. These are the things memories are made of!
I kind of look forward to a normal regimen next week, but I kinda don't! I'll miss having Mike home all day, and I'll have to count my points... get dressed, put on make-up... clean and cook. It was a great year, and I'm starting to think about New Years resolutions. But for today, I'll make cinnamon rolls with the girls and try to stay warm in my jammies and slippers. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eyes Half Shut

There are moments in my life when I get a good 'wake up call'. Oprah calls it an 'ah-hah moment' or 'light bulb moment'... however it's explained, it's the same.
I'm not sure how to express myself without sounding boastful or patronizing others. I can genuinely say that I have been extremely ignorant, and Christmas is always a time of year I realize just how ignorant I can be.
Now, more than any other time of year, people like to give. I can be pegged as that person who may not be the most giving, but when Christmas time rolls around I am much less selfish! I really do try to give, but honestly... it's not on my mind like it is at Christmas. Maybe it's the countless movies, programs, country songs, etc... reminding us of those in less fortunate circumstances than our own.
At Christmas, Mike and I try to give monetary gifts to people in need. We have always done it anonymously, and have tried to be discreet and generous. This year, we obviously know that with the economy in the toilet, people are in need more than ever. We were hoping to see if we could help someone nearby this year.
Last night, we became aware of a family who we could serve. I was taken back... and initially thought I heard wrong. It was someone I thought I was fairly close to, and had NO IDEA they were having tough times.
Later that same night, I came across a friends blog, to find her family was also in a tough spot. Again, NO IDEA.
I went to bed last night with many emotions... first, I have been walking around completely unaware of those around me. People I know are in need, and I have been oblivious. I'm not sure I could have changed any situations... but perhaps just understanding and being sensitive to certain things... little things. Second, I am not grateful enough for what I have been given. For things like food, clothes, and the ability to turn up the heat five degrees instead of putting on socks. I like to think I'm grateful for the extras... the spoils. But I'm not thankful for the basics.
And last (but not least) I need to be better at sharing what I have. I can't give everyone 'cold hard cash'... it would be great if that were possible, but I can't. I CAN however, invite people over for dinner, give people things I don't use or need, offer to drive places, have kids over to play and eat... so many things that seem irrelevant in my world.
Growing up, we had an opportunity to give to a family nearby. And while they only lived around the corner... I didn't know them. It was a 'sub for Santa' type thing, and it's the most specific childhood memory I have of Christmas. When I was older... like 13... we served Christmas diner at a homeless shelter in downtown LA. Again, a wonderful memory of true Christmas spirit.
Mike and I we both raised in families where we got to be the recipients of Church Welfare, and the generosity of others. Mike's family had a "Sub for Santa" year when Mike got a football, and it was all he wanted that year. The thoughtfulness of others is so important!
I know I'm still ignorant, and live in my own bubble... but my eyes have been opened a little more. I can say that I've learned, people around me need extra kindness and generosity.
I have always had a large general picture of "those in need" as it may encompass a group of strangers I don't know, or don't have faces for. And while I'll still try to keep others needs in mind... (people in other cities, states, and countries... strangers) this Christmas my heart has been turned to those close by.
I pray that my own children can understand the importance of kindness and charity. At a time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior... the ultimate gift given to us, I hope to better value the 'true love of Christ'. As the economy tanks, morals become corrupt, and we are facing confusing times... the things I can find comfort in are the blessings and promises I receive from my faith. I think that regardless of religion or belief... the belief in something greater than ourselves is incredibly powerful. Each of us have the ability to give, and ability to love. It doesn't matter if you call it compassionate service, 'Santa Claus', or karma... the gift of giving is in every human being. It just feels right, and it feels good!

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. -Winston Churchill

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It feels right for me to write

Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.

-William Shakespeare

(Warning: I've been really into quotes lately!)

There are many reason why I'm back, just as there are many reason why I stopped. I'm not going to attempt to explain all of them. But I will say this...

I write from my experiences and I write from my heart. I know I am not an expert. I write what I know and as I learn it. I say what I believe, even if it turns out what I have said is wrong. I truly feel that anybody who thinks less of me for writing what I think is reading for the wrong reasons.... and will find fault no matter what I do or say.

People blog for many different reasons, but the only frauds are people who try to misrepresent. I may 'put out there' things that are personal, even incriminating. But I can't pretend my life is something it's not. There are good days, and there are bad days. I can be terribly cynical, and I can be ready to conquer the world. (and sometimes within hours of each other) I'm not going to deny my failures or my shortcomings. After all... if it wasn't for them, I would never grow.

We all get things wrong. I make a lot of mistakes, probably more than most... and I make them daily. Yes, I write with confidence but that is because I write what's inside of me, or I write them as they are happening.

Of course there will always be people who attack me. That is their problem, not mine. My skin has hardened, and the sting has lessened. I think that as I write, it helps me release emotions, and I guess grow my own protection. I learned a lot about myself, and about some people around me.

As Sherian or Mrs. Smith... I can say that I don’t fear what other people will say or think, I will try to write honestly and courteously and I'll keep at it. There... there it is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fear of Failure

Fitting that everything should fall apart just hours after my last post... and fitting that I should leave that post up for as long as possible! hee, hee

Sure enough, life is back to the day-to-day survival mode. It was great while it lasted, and I will say that remembering that phase is bittersweet. Only because I think that there has got to be way to get on top of things again, and also because I don't see how it was possible in the first place.

My food storage/saving money blog sucks! I had great intentions, and it seemed promising... but I'm thinking that I'm really not qualified to keep it up. I'd rather read other blog's, written by people who put forth much more effort than I can. Oh well! Another project half-a, and moved to the back burner.

Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside. -Pres. Ucthdorf

This was the counsel given to us as women in regards to 'creating' things. I've never had much of an issue with that desire to create. If I had my way... I would create something everyday. The counsel I need is... to finish what I start to create!

So I'm off...
To start a 'to-do' list I know I cannot finish. To try and get myself presentable. To find a reason to put off the laundry. To snuggle on the couch with my Sassy Pants. (I told her I loved her this morning... she said "I know!" with a deep sigh "you told-ed me three times today... now four.") To try and stay within my points... everyday is a new day. Thank goodness!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Super Mom


This is the time of year I dread. It gets harder, not easier... and each year I think I am prepared, mentally, to handle it.
I told Mr. Smith that this year I'm going tanning once or twice this winter... maybe once a week. When I was younger, my doctor talked about that. Now, I bet the risks of skin cancer are not worth an attempt to 'brighten my day' but if I get desperate... you'll find me frying like a fish in one of those beds!
I've also gone 'gung-ho' on getting my house in order. Sounds silly, but I didn't realize how 'out-of-order' things were until I buckled down and got down to the nitty gritty. (Boy! "gung-ho", "buckle down", and "nitty gritty"... this outta be good.)
I have been criticized for sharing my struggles with depression. But I think that part of overcoming and dealing with my battles is being real. Call me crazy... oh wait people already do... but at least I'm true to myself.
A few weeks ago I was going through a tough time, I knew that I had to change some things in order to bring myself back up. That's when I busted out my 'list making skills' and made a plan. I figured that worst case... I was still depressed, but at least I'd be depressed sitting in a clean house!
I also realized that maybe I need to expect more from myself. Not be harder on myself, but live to higher expectations. I KNOW the things I can do, when I put my mind to it. I just need to be my own cheerleader! As much as I want the approval of others at times... I need to give myself that boost of approval.
So everyday I have been doing a list of chores. Deep cleaning, organizing, and realizing areas that need improvement, as well as awesome things I take for granted. Simplifying.
I told Mr. Smith last night... I can see how women have mental breakdowns, how they just snap! I've never been wound-tight. If anything... I'm always trying to wind myself up a little more. I tend to get down, and while my high's are scary... I sure get a lot done!
But those 'Super Mom's' who do it all... I can totally see hwo they could lose it! I've tried to be 100% in all areas. Cooking dinner every night... ready by 6pm. Cleaning like crazy... I've had every piece of clothing washed and put away every Monday for three weeks. Losing weight... I've recorded everything I put in my mouth. I've read with my kids each night and put them to bed early. FHE, food storage, clipping coupons, exercising, kids homework, volunteering at school, Christmas shopping, doing a few crafts, planning/hosting social events for friends and family... seriously!? And now I'm writing... blogging that is. I even baked bread last week, I can hardly believe it myself!
No I'm not being boastful... although I should. I have to record these three weeks because I can honestly say that I have NEVER kept up on my responsibilities like this... that's right, 11 years and NEVER have I done this well. Maybe a day or two... but his is a record for me. My schedule has been pretty empty, so I've had the time to get it all in. Next week we have dentist appts, VIP's and I'm going on a mini-vaca... so things will fall apart soon.
I told Mr. Smith that I can see how women eventually get overwhelmed and 'burn-out' doing ALL of that. Then I told him that I'm really looking forward to a 'girls weekend' next week. He kind of frowned and said "I thought you were going to say that you didn't want to leave us next weekend." HA! HA! No way dude! I gotta get out of here for a day or two. Then I'll come back rejuvenated, and ready to take it all on again!
I think it was the kick-in-the-pants I needed to get me out of my funk. I desperately needed it before the weather hit. Now I'm ready to go into hiding. Start reading again. And get nice and fat on hot chocolate!
So I have found a warm and safe place, gathered my nuts, and I'm ready to hunker down this winter. Hey... I've even grown extra fur... for warmth that is. In a week I could be sitting in a messy house and watching some trashy daytime show... but I'll have this moment to look back on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Basic Survival

For FHE this week I did the lesson :)
Everyone in my family knows that I'm a bit crazy about food storage. I'm not sure what gives me away... the fact that I save receipts on which I save more than I save (usually Albertson's) and mount them like a 1st place ribbon... or that if something is on sale I manage to fill my shopping cart with it.... or that I shop with a 10 page list in my hand, excitedly crossing things off and making notes. Not to mention that I talk about it non-stop!
No really, it has been great to skip shopping for a few weeks and know that grabbing some things in the basement will give me what I need for a great meal. Besides milk, eggs, and a couple loaves of bread... I stretched my grocery shopping longer than I may ever have.
Anyways... I wanted to get preachy for a moment. (I won't make a habit of it!)
We have had lessons on Survival and Food Storage quite a bit lately. So when I got into it, I could see their eyes and minds drifting. We discussed our 72 hour kits and why we have food in the basement.
After an overview on why we need these things... we talked about our Spiritual Survival. Things we NEED to survive. I went into what our spirit might need in an emergency... and how we can store things for our spirit, in case something terrible happens.
So what terrible things can happen that would threaten the survival of our spirit? How about being abused by someone you love. The unwarranted death of a loved one. Divorce. Or simply going through hard times. Anything negative in which it seems easy to blame the Lord, or ask why me?
Life isn't fair. I think that I personally have been blessed with many great things in my life, but I have also gone through so many things of which I have felt I "didn't deserve". There have been times when my soul has gone through serious deprivation.

"Blessed are
they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." -Matthew 5:6

When my body is deprived of food or water... there are obvious sights (and sounds) of issues. My stomach growls, I get weak or shaky, my pee is brown... you know... that good stuff. I will admit that there have been days, not many... obviously, when I have forgotten to eat. I'm doing my thing, and I all-of-a-sudden feel different. Then it dawns on me that I forgot to eat before I left the house.
I'm not good at reading the signs that my spirit is deprived. I forget to feed it. It kind of sneaks up on me. Too many times I have become weak without even realizing it. Then there have been times when I've really needed it, and I realize I'm not as well stocked as I thought I was.

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" -John 6:35

In our crazy world, big things are changing. People are in heated debates over so many different topics. There are extremes on both sides of every debate. I think there are less fence-sitters, and things are becoming more black-and-white. I think that people in glass houses are throwing stones, and I feel that the difference of accepting and tolerating are both lacking the basics of respecting each other.
I will admit that it scares me a bit to think of the world my children will live in. But amongst all the 'craziness' (and I've come across some real extremes lately) we have to remember the things we DO have control over. We personally can't control much of what will shape our future... but we can control how we handle what happens, and managing the resources we have.
Both spiritually and physically, we can build what we need to survive tough times. "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear" Regardless of what we believe, none of us want to fear what's ahead.
President Benson talked about our food storage being as essential to us, in our day... as building an ark was to Noah. Whoa...
I can testify that making physical preparedness a priority in my life, has helped me to not fear. I realize that crazy things can still happen, and I can still go through really tough times in my future. But God has eased my fears. As soon as I committed to preparedness as a priority in my life, he has made things happen. I think he was waiting for me, probably anxiously, to just cross that line and dive in. Food storage scared me, it felt overwhelming, and I didn't think that financially we could do it. With the Lord's help... I can testify that all things are possible.
The obstacles from becoming better prepared spiritually are different for me. Sadly, they aren't necessarily HARD, I just need to make it a higher priority. In comparison to food storage... It starts small. I feel like I've got a ways to get my full one-year supply, but I maybe have more of 3 month supply. I know that some people haven't started... but it starts small. You might be surprised at what you can gather for... say a 72-hour kit. Do you believe in God? (matches) Do you know you are a child of God? (poncho...99 cents) Do you pray? (flashlight... maybe you just need new batteries?)
All I'm saying is that spiritual preparedness is just as important as physical preparedness. The thought of starving my body sounds miserable, but the consequence of starving my spirit is eternally fatal. I think about my children's dependence on what I can give them... both physically and spiritually. They rely on me to provide for them. (But that's a whole other post in and of itself.)
As Miss MaGoo said "If you starve to death, you can just die and go to heaven.... But if you starve your spirit... you won't be able to go to the Celestial Kingdom." I thought she said it best. Love her awesome spirit.
Whew! Just some food for thought... ha, no pun intended.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wishes. Fishes. Cigars


Since becoming anonymous I have a hard time following friends and family's blogs. Private blogs are the hardest, because any invitation I got was accepted by my old account. So I have to log into my old account to look at their blogs... bummer. And I removed my blogroll from my old blog before I transferred them all over... suck. How can you ask everyone to email you and invitation... again? And I know there are people I have forgotten to add to my blogroll... crap.
I have toyed with the idea of being a little more public about being private. Things are not so scary around here anymore... or maybe I'm just oblivious to situations around me. (Which is A-OKAY for me!) People have commented that they wish I still blogged, or miss me. I don't know what to say. I'm not one to lie... but what's the point of anonymous if you're not anonymous?
Argh... what to do!
I had thought I had good reasons to change things up. I will admit that feeling anonymous does seem more secure. I feel a little more free in writing, but I realize that using my blog as my personal therapy still comes at a price.
I miss posting cute pics of my kidlets. But I still take hundreds and enjoy the real-life moments.
I have commented on a few blogs, but it's weird. Probably more for them than for me! I assume that people close to me know me... or I leave an anonymous comment assuming that's okay. But anonymous comments freak people out. And you know what they say about when you assume... ass... you.. me. And unfortunately I did make an ass out of myself once already.
Here's the thing... In a perfect world this would be my situation...
The people who I love would know who Mr. and Mrs. Smith were. The people involved in my life lessons and experiences may happen to read, but not know who Mrs. Smith is. The people who have problems with me would just not read my blog. And any strangers or blog stalkers could read and not care either way. (and I would never feel vulnerable or violated)
If wishes were fishes! (Mr. Smith adds... "I'd smoke a cigar"... whatever that means!) If wishes were fishes I would own an aquarium.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Living in the Milky Way



Life is like a box of chocolates... right?

I feel like I am constantly working on being less judgmental. Of others. Of myself.

I had pretty much made my mind up on what I thought of Miss MaGoo's teacher. Our first encounter wasn't the most positive experience... most likely for both of us.
Miss MaGoo shed some tears in the first few weeks of school. She was, well... quite intimidated and frankly scared of her teacher. This teacher is what I would call a 'barker'. In my opinion, that in-and-of-itself is not a bad thing. I think of myself as a 'barker'... meaning I tend to bark at my kids. I'm not a 'sweet talker' and I don't sugar-coat anything for anyone.
Miss MaGoo and I had some long talks about different forms of discipline, threats, and fear. Her 'ah-ha moment' was when she realized that going to the Principal's office wouldn't kill her... and then I said "Ya know what the absolute WORST thing they could do to you is?" Her eyes got real big and in a whisper-type voice she asked..."what?" I got close to her face and said "They will... CALL ME!" She giggled and smiled at me. Then she laughed "Well that's not scary!"... EXACTLY!
This teacher has been good for Miss MaGoo, and she needs to learn how to handle the different types of personalities of people she'll come across in life.

So when I went in for Parent/Teacher Conference, I thought I had this teacher nailed. She's very strict, blunt, and rules with fear. She's not the most tolerant or the most patient. When she started to compliment Miss MaGoo I was taken back a bit. Miss MaGoo is a sweetheart, no doubt about that! She is very kind and always thoughtful of others feelings. She's not in any way aggressive or brash. And while she cut our visit very short, she explained how disrespectful she thought it was to make people wait. She technically had 12 minutes with each parent, but said that she can't take more than 10. (5 with me... even though nobody was waiting)
I guess that I wasn't expecting this particular teacher to credit or notice the good in my daughter. Being as critical as she is, I had pegged her wrong.
My eyes were opened even wider when I spent the next day helping in the classroom.
While I sat in the back of the room renewing my fine motor skills (cutting and coloring) I listened to a rowdy and somewhat distracting bunch of kiddo's. Many thoughts ran through my head...

...how long it had been since I used scissors to cut out shapes... and how I was struggling

...how I had judged this teacher without knowing her day-to-day obstacles

She came back and visited with me few times. One of the times letting me know how much better she's been feeling lately. She has a blood disorder that makes her extremely irritable and gives her anger issues. "Uh... Okay." was all that came out of my mind, and mouth for the moment. (It was going to take me minute to process.) She said it just like that! She went on to inform me that on Labor Day weekend her husband told her she was too ornery and needed treatment. (which she does every 3 months or so) It made me laugh and my sarcastic comment was "That's always nice coming from your husband... even if it's true."
This woman shared only a small part of herself with me... but it was enough to teach me a good lesson.
We are not so different from one another.
My husband has to tell me when I'm headed downhill. Heaven knows it's not always received well, but I'm grateful he tells me.
Even knowing one or two of her struggles makes me realize that under her hard shell, she cares and loves... and really does her job well.
I don't know her personal battles, what she goes home to, what she has gone through in life, what she hopes and dreams about, or what she fears in life. I don't know what gave her a hard outer shell, but I know what gave me mine... and I don't think anyone wants to build up those walls. But I do know that she's a wife, a mother, a teacher, a woman, a daughter of God. After spending time her classroom, I know she loves what she does. I may not agree with everything she does, or how she does it... but who knows? Maybe she'll end up being one of my favorite teachers ever? One thing I do know...I'll always remember her as the teacher who taught me to give the benefit of the doubt.


Miss MaGoo is...well... goo. There's no shell around her softness. So as her and I encounter different teachers... some with nuts, some without. Some too sweet for my liking, some that annoy me and stick to my teeth. Dark chocolate, white chocolate... regardless. Under those hard shells is a soft nougat-type center. Remember the nougat.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Know a good Mechanic?

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
-Anais Nin

This time of year is always hard for me. Aside from the changing season is another underlying problem. I'm not even sure what it really is or where it came from. I know this post will get a little dark, but writing is a good outlet for me. Battling bipolar disorder is not an easy fight to win. It may be disturbing to people, but voices and demons like to live in my head... it's just the way my brain works. The only way to try and explain it is that my brain likes to run at a very high speed. When it's firing on all pistols, there's not room for the bad things. But when my mind slows down... things creep in. As if I somehow picked up unwanted passengers in my backseat. I just have to find a stopping place to drop them off.

Depression is a funny battle. I think that often times I look for a reason of why I might be depressed... and there just isn't one. My cycles aren't super manic anymore... but they go something like this...


First I find myself being less productive. I socially distance myself from people. I start to become more negative and cynical about life. I then find myself being bothered easier, little things drive me crazy... and I don't have the patience to deal with certain things... or certain people who require more maintenance. Internally I start a battle... but outwardly I'm just sluggish. Pretty soon realize that I'm extra tired, and I have a harder time getting out of bed in the morning.

So this is my 'rut'. The funny thing is that sometimes I can get myself out of it pretty quickly, and other times... I can't. Sometimes I can trace it back to an event or experience, and sometimes... I can't. Sometimes I can explain it all, and sometimes... I can't.

It's frustrating because I feel like I really don't have any reason to be depressed. There isn't anything going on in my life to get me down. My kids are doing well, my husband has a job, we can pay the bills, nobody is ill... life is good. I know people who have every right to be depressed, and yet they are positive and moving forward. It feels as if my 'pedal's to the metal' but I can't seem to get over 25 miles per hour.




















My level of functioning goes way down. I can only handle one or maybe two things at a time, instead of the normal ten or more things Mom's juggle at once. I've slowly been letting go of things. My housework... making dinner... working (only once a week)... blogging... and many more little things.

I used to get so bad I would let go of showering and eating. Then the car completely stops. Those days don't happen anymore! I can usually recognize the slowing and push myself to 'pick up the pace'! Like a Flintstones car... even if I'm push with my feet... I've got to keep moving! Thanks to modern technology, and fantastic doctors, my 'rut' doesn't get too scary. When things get darker, I'll look back and remember when life used to get really, really dark. Then I don't feel too bad.

But the issue remains... how do I get out?

There are many things I do to try and push myself. I'll exercise...or make myself a daily schedule to organize my life. I'll start a new project. Clean my house. Cook or bake something. Re-arrange all my furniture. Read the scriptures or Ensign articles. Spend too much money on new shoes or something in my house to look at. (Spending money is a type of drug... but that's a whole other issue!) I've tried all of these... and nothing has given me the 'jump start' I need.

























Ironically... I ran out of gas yesterday... literally, I ran out of gas in my car. I'm in charge of driving the carpool this week and I couldn't get the kids to school. Sadly, it made me think about being smarter about keeping my tank full. And mentally trying to keep my tank full.

Today is a good day. I love to see the sunshine and even if the air is cold... the sun is shining. I would love to say that today I will conquer the world and get a lot done. But I'll take it one hour at a time...

...try and stay off the couch and away from my warm cozy bed...
...drink some serious caffeine and remember my medications...
...keep my mind on the things I am grateful for...
...smile at my children...

...and I'll do better than I did yesterday.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eskimo kisses!


We had the opportunity to go to Alaska with my Papa-Bear and grandest-mah.
Smarty and Miss Magoo knew about the trip, but thought they were staying with a friend. Mr. Smith and I go on a trip every 10-12 months together, without the kiddos. We took a trip back in April, and so I thought the girls would be bothered. They never even thought it was possible that they might be going with us.
It wasn't until we were 10 miles from the next State that Smarty finally wanted an explanation. When we broke the news they were ecstatic! The looks on their faces were priceless! I was so excited for them to have these memories with us!

Papa-bear is diabetic, and his health is getting worse and worse. He doesn't do well traveling, so nobody, including himself, knew how the trip would go.
We drove to Seattle, WA. We stopped every 45 minutes for breaks. It took us two 10-12 hour days of driving. We started with a fabric car top carrier... argh! It flapped so loudly we were yelling to each other in the car. It wore our nerves down very quickly. The second day we got a hard case for the car. AMAZING! It was so quiet it felt strange.
Mr. Smith had to arrange the luggage and wheelchair in a very special way to fit us all. It was like a game of Tetris. Everything had to stack together just right... there was no room for error.

Interesting fact... you cannot pump your own gas in Oregon. It's illegal. I never knew that.

Seattle was beautiful! Very green and very busy. I LOVE busy cities, and this was one of my favorites. Our hotel in Seattle was amazing, with spectacular views of the ocean and the Space Needle.
We got on the ship... well there's more to it than that. We boarded the ship five minutes after the final boarding time! The luggage carrier caused parking issues, and we had a horrible taxi driver who was determined that we wouldn't make it.
After getting on the ship, I let it sink in that we almost didn't make it. That's how I am... I never panic in the moment... it's after the fact, then I let myself freak out!
Papa-bear and Grandest-mah had never been on a cruise. Since we have been on many (too many) we somehow became the official cruise 'customer service reps'. I felt bad not knowing the in's and out's... but this was a different trip. We had only been to tropical destinations. Mr. Smith and I have the Caribbean down to a science... Eastern, Western, Southern... all the erns! But Alaska? Canada? I struggle calling it a vacation if I'm not in my bathing suit everyday getting tan!
It was more beautiful than I could have imagined! It could not have been better! Apparently, there was rain before we came, and rain after we left... but every port was gorgeous.
We had free hot cocoa, and lived in our hoodies. They girls loved the 'kids club', and met friends from all over the US and elsewhere.
The food was excellent, the service fantastic, and the scenery was spectacular. We saw glaciers, went whale watching, and visited a native Saxman Tlinget village... Smarty and I even wore traditional clothing and participated in a ceremonial dance. We saw a logging show, and took a train ride through the Yukon Territory up White Summit Pass. We went on a carriage ride around Victoria, Canada.
But most important... Papa-bear and Grandest-mah had the time of their lives! Mr. Smith helped Papa-bear, and was able to push him everywhere in a wheelchair. The girls were so excited and thankful for everyday. We were able to make memories that will last throughout our lives, and become closer as a family.
My grandparents helped salvage what little 'normal' childhood I had. Any happy memories before the age of 18, are thanks to the summers and Christmas' I had in California. I feel so blessed to have shared this trip with them. I hate to think that someday I will lose them. Papa-bear is the closest thing I've had to a Dad in my life. Grandest-mah is the all-time example of what a Grandma should be. As I have gotten older, I appreciate what wonderful people they are, and the friendship I have with them. I am so glad we were able to make this dream happen for them. They never thought they would be able to go on this trip... Grandest-mah said that she "thought a trip like that had passed them by" But I guess that life is really what you make out of it. The places were great, the sights were beautiful, but the experience was unforgettable!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to homework, Back to books, Back to teacher's dirty looks...


So people think I'm crazy... but I don't look forward to my kids going back to school. Not at all!
I love having them home with me, I love sleeping in, watching cartoons together in my bed. I love the warm nights, the sun not going down until 9pm! I love the chaos, no schedules or set bedtimes. I just love the freedom.
Not to mention, as I start each school year... I lose another child. (sniff, sniff) My babies are getting older. The older one want to do their own hair. The younger one have to pick out their own clothes. Pretty soon I will have lost them. I want to freeze them, right now!
I don't have any diapers to change. They are all pretty self-sufficient, and the older ones look out for the younger ones. Nobody's old enough to have attitude yet, and they all just love being home and spending time as a family. These are the years I will miss.

1. Sassy pants started Preschool. I always hated that the youngest child in the family got so much. Well... now I understand it a bit better. We have her in a great school, we have never been able to afford this kind of Preschool for the other kids. I think the structure and environment will be really good for her personality. We will see?

2. Fruitcake went to Kindergarten this year. (sniff, sniff) None of my children have had a hard time... leaving the nest. They are all very outgoing and excited for new things. I am the one who is sad to see them go. I miss them... especially Fruitcake. She is the sunshine of my day! She is always happy, always smiling. I will miss "This is the best day of my life!" comments everyday. And the "You are the best Mom in the world!" statement. Now her teacher will enjoy those three hours of her.

3. Miss MaGoo has an interesting teacher this year.
At the Open House, when we met the teachers... I told them that the girls would be absent the week before Labor Day. Everyone's teacher was understanding and I made sure to let them know any assignments would be caught up. Miss MaGoo's teacher and I had the following conversation...

Me: I just wanted to let you know that Miss MaGoo will be absent on the following days

Teacher: What? She'll be gone?


Me: Yes, we have a family trip planned, so she won't be able to be here


(the trip was a surprise, and Miss Magoo didn't know she was coming, so I was trying to be discreet. Miss Magoo thought she would be staying with family friend's that week.)


Teacher: (nothing...silent)


Me: I can have her do work while she is gone...


Teacher: (interrupted) You know that's illegal, right?


Me: Illegal?


Teacher: Yes, if a child has that many absences, it is against the law


Me: (speechless
)

Teacher: You have to fill out a form


Me: No problem, can I get one?


Teacher: I don't have the form.


Me: Do you know where I can get one?


Teacher: I don't know.


Me: (She's not making this easy for me) In the office?


Teacher: Maybe


Awkward! It's like High School all over again... I'm getting all sweaty just thinking about getting in trouble. Only now I'm an adult... and I'm not lying... and I'm asking permission.

So I leave her room and head straight to the office. I ask for a "form to be able to take my daughter with me... she'll miss school for a week... I was told I had to fill it out... or else... I...I..."
The Assistant Principal smiles and looks at me. He said "Did she tell you that you had to fill out a form?" yes "And she said to come here and get it?" yes "You're fine! Just send a reminder to her before you go... and if she gives you any more problems, come talk to me."
Miss MaGoo and I are in for a fun year! And Miss Magoo is my most sensitive child. It will toughen her up!

4. Then there's Smarty. Smarty is... very smart. She is fantastic at managing herself, and she loves her teacher. That girl is happy. I worried so much about moving her out of the Spanish program... and she is 100% happier. She is excelling, and so much less stressed.

They are growing up... it's hard to think that other kids, and other adults are influencing them day-to-day. I get such a short time with them. I feel like a corny Mom... but I feel like Smarty just started school a couple years a ago.
I'm sad for me, but so excited for them! They love school, and love learning. I remember looking forward to school... new classes, new friends, new clothes. As a Mom, I do look forward to getting back to a scheduled routine. Besides spending the year driving back and forth... it will be good for me too! I have accepted the fact that this year will be a difficult schedule. Here's what I mean:
Get older kids off to school... (2 1/2 hours later) Sassy Pants to Preschool... (45 minutes later) Fruitcake to Kindergarten... (1 hour later) Sassy Pants comes home... (1 1/2 hours later) other three girls get home.
But it gets better...
On Monday's: Fruitcake goes to school 1/2 hour earlier... and older three get home 1 hour earlier. Wednesday I drive carpool to Preschool, and every-other week I drive carpool to Kindergarten.
Whew!
There's just enough space between everyone's schedule that I can't go anywhere or do anything! My best shot is in the mornings... but by the time I get everyone, including myself, ready... there's no time left.
Alright, alright... whah, whah, whah... enough complaining. I just have to get a good excuse for not getting anything done!
Here's to another glorious year of education! (If I don't get arrested!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Post Camp Report

Well... I must say that I hesitate writing much of my 'true' feelings on camp this year. (After learning some hard lessons last year) I suppose the purpose of changing around my blog and trying to be 'anonymous' has not quite given me the freedom I had hoped. Being a public outlet, I will word things carefully... and of course I'm trying to speak in general terms and writing more of my opinions and feelings of things.
Ha! That all sounds like there's something big to report... not really.

It was an amazing week! Our camp director is one of the best ladies ever... she is an awesome example of kindness, love, patience, caring, and spirituality! Just being around makes me a calmer person.
With that said... her and I could not be more different. I like to be quite organized... especially with paperwork and such. I love lists and folders and images. I get caught up in order, often forgetting to see the big picture, or just step back and take a deep breath.
Needless-to-say, our director is the spiritual glue that holds us together! It was incredible to see how everything fell into place and the Lord made up the difference for our inadequacies and imperfections.
Everyone really did their part, and tried their best to help contribute to an awesome week.
I think that the spirit of camp was the strongest I have felt in a long time... maybe ever! The girls all did so well, and the spirit was strong.
Sadly, the only moments of tension were with grown adults who really know better... and could have left their emotional baggage at home. That's probably harsh, but it's my opinion.
We had a particular incident with a Priesthood leader, who honestly scared the crap out of me! He was one of the most aggressive, rude, and verbally abusive men I have met. He was SO upset at some of the restrictions and rules enforced at camp. During the heat of the moment I expressed my feeling that he should leave camp immediately! Luckily, there were women who know him and his daughters, and knew the consequences it may have with them.
Having been victim to violence and abuse, my internal instinct was to get him the *beep* out of camp! He had brought a horrible spirit with him, had our Stake YW leaders in tears. He was yelling and saying horrible things to the sweet missionaries, expressing over and over how he didn't want to be there... it was a very shocking and an unexpected situation.
My beef was not only his attitude and disrespect... but he was supposed to be a Priesthood representative, to give blessings and administer. All I can say I would have killed over before I let that man lay one finger on me!
We also wrestled with some issues of prescription drug abuse, and of course the usual offending/hurt feelings drama. People stepping on others toes, and people trying to control situations they shouldn't have. I just don't have tolerance for things like that up at camp. I should have been more understanding, probably with the drug thing, but I get really bothered when time and energy is spent dealing with those things at camp. We are there to serve the girls, and we have plenty of hard work and sleepless nights, without having to pull any 'Jerry Springer' moments. Whew!
Again... I learned a lot! I had a healing moment with my Bishop and my own ward. (which I desperately needed) and I learned a lot about the Young Women. There were amazing camp leaders who are great examples to me. The girls are blessed to have such great women serving them.
The overnight hike was awesome! The spirit was so strong and the Priesthood brethren who came were inspirational to the girls.
On the hike, we had our morning devotional on 'Sexual Purity'. (yeah... not the most comfortable topic to discuss with 15 year-old's) The male leaders did a fantastic job being honest with the YW. There was a comment of "A guy will tell you ANYTHING you want to hear, if he thinks it will get him what he wants!" and "Men only need three things in life... food, sleep, and sex!" It was SO good for the girls to hear these things, especially coming from men whom they respected.
Then one girl asked "But what if he really DOES love you... he's not just saying it. How do you know?" To which a male leader answered... "If he really DOES love you... he won't want to do ANYTHING to hurt you or to make you unhappy. He will want what is best for you... like your Heavenly Father, and anyone else who loves you."
It was AWESOME!
We made a pledge to be 'Virtuous'. That was our focus this year, and it is the newest YW value. I can say that virtue is not the funnest theme... but I have no doubt that it's what the girls (and leaders) needed this year.
As a grown-up, married, mom... I didn't realize how much becoming a 'virtuous woman' could affect my own life. I completed reading the Book of Mormon before camp. (yes... I admit that the week before camp I was reading until 3 or 4 in the morning... but I finished!)
We live in a world where virtue is becoming harder and harder to find. Even as a adult, we are bombarded with ways we should look, feel, and act. We are told that we must compromise our virtue and values in order to be accepted socially, have interesting and fun-filled lives, and keep our husbands interested. We are not much different than the generations younger than us.
We watch movies and television shows where adult women say and do things that are not virtuous. Celebrities, models, actresses, and high society women are not good role models... for the young women... OR FOR US!
I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had to serve at camp. It really is my 'dream' calling in the church. I love the Young Women, and I am overwhelmed with how much our Heavenly Father loves them too.
While the stress, worry and drama is over... I have to admit I will kind of miss it. There are about 4 months until we start planning again. I will miss the girls, and I will miss the committee... and I can't believe I am admitting it... but I will miss the meetings too! (don't tell Mr. Smith that!)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Give me a "whoot, whoot"

That's right! The big day (or should I say week) is here!
This is my favorite time of year... NO! Not 'Back-to-school', that actually makes me cry!... it's time to escape the world! Spend an entire week surrounded by women, estrogen flowing freely. No cell phones, no television. Not even a 'blip' of what's happening in the world.
Camping is one of my absolute favorite pastimes. While the work is hard... intense...and often too dramatic... there's not a place I'd rather be!
This moment has been building inside me since January. Blood, sweat, and tears have gone into planning. (Okay... maybe not blood... and I'm not a fan of tears... but for sure SWEAT!) Long nights, lots of prayers, tons and tons of emails and phone calls. Visiting store, after store, after store, trying to find the right schtuff.
For me... it's also been countless hours on my computer. Developing love-hate relationships with images and fonts. Cussing at my printer and physically assaulting my keyboard on more than one occasion.
Neglecting my kids, my husband, and almost all my 'housewife responsibilities' in the past few days... it's CRUNCH TIME!
These are the moments I live for. When I am fed spiritually, and I feel the Lord's love guiding and inspiring me. I truly know that I am an instrument in his hands. There are so many things I could not accomplish if he did not want it. He has stepped in when I could not go any further. He has blessed my mind and my heart. In spite of all my MANY inadiquacies... he has not given up on me!
I've had my moments of doubt. Even yesterday I had to learn a hard lesson on 'boundries' with people. I have learned so much about myself, and ultimately I have become much closer to my Heavenly Father.
I have worried about friends, what people think, how I am percieved, and how I am treated. All-in-all I have learned that none of that matters. I have a job to do, and a calling to fullfil. I need to serve to the best of my capacity and if I make friends along the way?... great! If not?... that's okay!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Independence

Independent political party
Independence from foreign oil
Independence... fireworks!

I like to pride myself on being an independent person. I think it is one of the best qualities a person can have. But... have you ever met anyone who is TOO independent?
I have had to work on letting myself depend on other from time-to-time. I've had to learn to depend on my husband. I've had to see that asking for help is not a weakness.
There are two people in my life, who are on extreme ends of this spectrum. I try to learn from both of them, but both drive me crazy. So here's the story...

One of them expects to be taken care of by everyone. Like it's everyone's job to worship this person and give him/her anything he/she needs. This person has such a hard life... regardless if it's hard because of their own choices. Life is just too hard on this person. This person is selfish, and either hates me, or needs something from me... but never in between! This person has never taken care of, or supported his/herself. This person has no desire to take care of him/herself, and loves to play the role of helpless and stupid... as in airheaded.

In the other corner...
This person is the first to help others. He/she is so independent that it offends them when you try to help him/her. This person seems to be in a constant battle of who has it the 'most together'. The super woman/ super man who is out to prove perfection in all things. Heaven forbid they show a weakness, or admit they need help. And with a person like that, as sweet as they seem, you can't help but think... If it kills them to have you help them, what must they think of you when you need help?

I think that our experiences in life mold us, and give us qualities... good and bad. I know that my independence came from abandonment, and the feeling that nobody cared. I have to feel physically strong because I was physically abused... and I need to know I can defend myself. I hate to conform because I live in a place where everyone expects you to conform. Had I lived somewhere else, or grown up around different people... would I be someone else entirely?

So I can't help but think... one of these people thinks I'm a in-compassionate hard ass, and the other is in a competition of who needs the least help. How can people be so different? How can I have healthy relationships with both of them?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Everything's just peachy!


We had a lesson in church today about adversity. Actually... we had two lessons on adversity. Last week was also a lesson on adversity... hmmm, makes me a bit nervous, like we need to be getting ready for some serious trouble.
Anyway, our Sunday School lesson was intense. Not many people shared, and as comical as our teacher can be, it was quite a somber lesson. He, of course, talked a lot about the adversity the early saints went through and why the Lord gives trials.
So by the time our Relief Society lesson started, I had been festering a bit about my feelings.
As things were said, and experiences were shared, things were positive and everyone shared 'feel good' things about bringing each other food, blah, blah, blah.
So I raised my hand and made my 'Debbie Downer' comment. I just had heard enough fluffy stuff... people so "thankful" for their trials and what not. I was careful to say that I was "not discrediting the lesson, or things people have shared" but I know that there are things we are all going through. Big things, that we would never share in Relief Society. (Especially when we are all supposed to be happy and positive about everything we say and do) THOSE are the trails that we struggle with. That's adversity! The things we have a hard time getting through without being angry with the Lord, or feeling sorry for ourselves and having doubts and questioning our faith.
I said that maybe I'm not the only one who struggles just making it through the day sometimes, let alone thinking about serving others and seeing how we are growing from our experience.
I shared how I was SO angry with the Lord for a while, I didn't believe the church was true, or that God loved me. I can now look back and see all the things I learned from that difficult time, but I am NOT going to pretend that I went through all of that with an eternal perspective... singing songs of joy and happiness. It's easy to look back on something and see what I learned from it... it's not so easy to see those things while enduring pain.
I also shared a part of my Patriarchal Blessing, and how it tells me that I will go through trials, and enduring them will refine my soul. It says that I will have "the strength to be healed in times of illness, and courage to be comforted in times of sorrow"
For me, it is truly courage, that I need to have. In times of great sorrow and heartache... having the courage to be comforted is what I have a hard time remembering.
I know this is because the Lord knows how incredibly stubborn I am. How independent I am, not wanting to rely on or trust people. Especially if I am hurt or feel vulnerable.
The courage to be comforted for me means trusting in the Lord, and those around me. Having faith that the Lord does love me, and will never leave me.
(and by the end of my sch-peel... I shed some tears. I hate that!)

I got a phone call after church from the RS president. She wanted to thank me for my comment, to tell me that she understands that times can be difficult, and assure to me that the Lord loves me. I know I'm cynical, but it's funny to me. The Bishop called Mr. Smith into his office a couple weeks ago, and told him he was worried about me. So I know that the poor RS president has probably been told to take me on as a charity case. No doubt my comment made her worry even more.
Comments like that are not the 'Sunday School Answers' people want to hear. They don't make me look perfect, or help advance me in a race to become the next RS/YW/Primary President. I just can't sit there and pretend that a room full of women, including myself, have perfect lives. And even in our perfect lives, when there's a little bump in our road, we pretend that we handle things perfectly, with unwavering faith.
I'm not saying that those type of women don't exist, but it not the norm. How can we help each other if we have to uphold some 'wonder woman' status? I want to feel like I can bring a meal to someone whose going through a hard time, and offer more than just food... because I have actually struggled with hard times myslef! I know! SHOCKER!!
So I may now be seen as a greater charity case, I'm pretty sure we are ALL charity cases. Even if we deny it, and try and prove that we are just supposed to help others... because heaven-forbid we need help ourselves... we are all in need of genuine charity. I think that being honest with ourselves and others is the only way to truly build each other up. To live in a society where everyone's out to top each other, and prove perfection, we aren't doing anyone any favors. Especially when we serve, and complain about it. We have all done it and received it. An offer to help along with a complaint about having to do it. In my opinion, that's worse than no help at all. The last thing anyone wants it someone helping them who just turns around to talk bad about them, or gossip about why they seem to need more help than others.
We ALL have problems, some are better at hiding them, but we ALL have them. We ALL go through things that test our faith, and break us down to places we aren't sure we'll come back from. I'm not saying that Relief Society is a place to share personal trials, but being more realistic, less judgmental, offering genuine kindness, and accepting help... is a healthy goal. Although a lasagna from the 'Wonder Mom' is a nice gesture, a true feeling of sympathy or empathy will feed a soul.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tasty Nuggets almost lost!

So, recently I decided to abandon my Facebook account.
When I signed up, I knew so very little about the world of Facebook. As I got deeper and deeper into the dark world of my past, I wondered if it were possible to get those hours of my life back.
There were a handful of friends I was ecstatic about finding. There were also fun people I loved to say a quick "hello" to. I just wasn't impressed with knowing what people were doing every minute of their day. I'm not interested in when a person eats, sleeps, or poops.
Call me crazy, but I love reading things about someone... stories, experiences, and adventures. But just a sentence telling me that some who-ha "... has a rash" is not entertaining.
So I logged back on to the account today, to contact some people. Well, to my surprise... I found a contact had asked me to join a group of my High School class. There was a link to a blog which was set-up two years ago, to inform people of our 10-year reunion and have people RSVP.
This was a reunion I never heard about, until a friend of mine called to see if I would accompany her. She is a divorcee who has gone through some tough times. It was a smart move for her to come with me. She probably knew that showing up with me would save her any embarrassment or questions. (Since I was the reject who should be in rehab or locked up somewhere) Had she not called to invite me... I would have never known about it.
I can say that after attending... I'd have been okay having let that evening pass by without knowing. It was more than disappointing, and 10 years later... the banquet hall we gathered in might as well had been the lunchroom cafeteria. Same groups, same jokes, same feelings, same faces... just instead of boys trying to act cool... they were chunky, balding men trying to act cool.
So this blog, however, turned out to be an INCREDIBLE find. It was the best 'tasty nugget' I've read in quite a while.

(Tasty nugget: a quote, story, or experience worthy of sharing at the end of the day... in bed with your hubby. Something to laugh about... quite often about yourself! An example... "Did you know that _____ has 435 pictures of herself on Facebook?" or "Sassy Pants asked me if I knew what her favorite things were. When I said 'what?' she said 'your boobies!'")

This blog was intended to serve a meaningful purpose. It started out well, people RSVP-ing to attend a reunion. As I scrolled down through the comments, I started to become impressed with the adults of whom names I recognized. Then...
Classmates go from posting an RSVP, to adding things to try and prove they're funny. Trying to get attention... or to get a rise out of people. (funny, the same people who did that 10 years ago) Especially the group of guys who are still out to prove how cool they are... only now I think they are only trying to prove it to themselves!
So two guys (named Jake and Mike) joke that they are married and coming with each other. (wait... how old are we?) And then it started to get good...

Homo in Provo said...

Congratulations, Mike Smith and Jake Terry (or should I be calling you by your celebrity couple name JaMike? Or your San Francisco name, Mr. and Mr. Smith-Terry?) I am so proud of you guys for finally coming out of the closet. I have long suspected that both of you may be on my team, and now we have actual confirmation. "Not that there is anything wrong with that" - Jerry Seinfeld

...but seriously I am disappointed that there are still people in our society, from our generation that would discriminate people based on their own personal sexual orientation, that has been scientifically proven to be engrained into our DNA.

Sadly, it is because of this continued bigotry that I will not be planning to join you at the reunion with my life partner. Instead we are forced by the moral majority to live a closeted lifestyle in order to ensure that our adopted son is not subject to all of your hate. I sincerely hope that my son's generation is not as closed minded and hateful as my own.

sincerely,
J.

Anonymous said...

J.
I can't speak for all of us, but I know there are enough of us who would be happy to see again you and meet your wonderful partner. Please consider coming! And bring pictures of your son!

Joel said...

J. - Homo in Provo - dude, just come to the reunion.

Projecting hatred towards the people who are "discriminating" against you isn't the best way to overcome it. It will probably only make it worse.

And just to defend Mike and Jake... If you don't know, I will tell you. A family member of mine is gay, and Jake and Mike have always shown them love and friendship. The don't hate gay people. It was just a silly goof. No need to make a disertation on our closed minded society.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can’t believe what I’m reading here… Some of my former classmates are now coming out of the closet? I just found out about this reunion, and I’m actually going to be in town that weekend, but there is no way in hell I’m attending this. I’ve always thought Orem, Utah was one of the worst possible places to grow up as a gay male. For this reason, I isolated myself and didn’t really enjoy high school. Not that it does much good now, but it is some what comforting to know that I wasn’t the only gay student at MVHS who had to grow up in that homophobic environment.

Anonymous said...

Leviticus 20:18 "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

Anonymous said...

That's right! It's been 10 years, and the people of Orem still haven't changed much!

Anonymous said...

What's the big deal, people? Let's get real here. Some of us are gay, some of us are straight, does it matter? We all bleed the same. I am gay, i'm still attending the reunion ... and i'm not expecting to get stoned lol. So although i don't feel its anyone's right to ask one's sexual orientation -- or even CARE for that matter -- i want to break anonymity in the hope that other classmates who also happen to be gay won't feel the need to hide and not attend. Let's all feel welcome.

Joel Covington

At this point I was completely enthralled! This was better than ANY talk show or trashy book. Especially because I know these people... and they are coming out of the closet... in a High School Reunion blog!!! And it just kept getting better and better...
Homo in Provo said...

Sadly, as some of the comments above have illustrated many of our 1997 contemporaries have yet to advance beyond their pubescent stages. Already, we have been subjected to several jokes about how funny it would be if 2 of our male classmates got married. I am sorry, but I don't find anything funny about mocking my lifestyle and my personal choices.

Furthermore, Leviticus popped up and pretty much said I should kill myself. Now I know that not all of you feel this way. Many of you are probably homosexual like me, but you have chosen that your living a sin instead of facing the realty that your genetic code has made you the way you are and there is nothing you can do to fight those urges.

Unfortunately, through my life I have come to realize that probably 90% of Utah County feels the way Leviticus does, and wishes I would just off myself. And it is because of that overwhelming bigotry that I cannot agree with you Andrea that we all had a hard time with High School. For how difficult you thought your life was did you really have people who felt you were better off dead? There are very few of you that can truely empathize with me and can truely understand what I have been through, but now I am just rambling on...

...my overwhelming point is that it has been 10 F*&#ing years and yet I am sad to report that my contemporaries have not yet to matured to the point where I can exit the closet and live my life in a persecutionless society.

Regretfully,
J.

Anonymous said...

J.

I think you need to be careful in your own judgements. I live in Utah County and I could not care less about your sexual orientation.

I also think you need to lighten up about the whole issue of people joking about being gay on this blog. I had a roommate for about 6 months who was gay and he and his friends would joke all the time about straight people and being straight, I guess looking back I should have been offended by it but who wants to waste the energy, it was pretty funny anyway.

The majority of us would much rather see you come to the reunion so we can catch up than not see you come and if someone has a problem with you then they deserve a swift kick to the head.

In addition to all this rambling, I don't think people are going to sit in the corner think, "Oh my goodness, that guy is gay?!?" I'd imagine it's going to be, "Holy crap, look how fat he got" or "Wow, she really married beneath herself" or "Those are totally implants!"

So the moral of the story is COME TO THE FREAKING REUNION!!!!

jon preston said...

Don't you all think this is getting out of hand. And yes I may be a hypocrite by leaving this comment about it. But HOLY SH@# can we just stop!!!. J- I'm sure there are plenty of reasons not to come. But there are also plenty of good reason too come. So show up!!! it won't be the same without ya! I'm so glad that we are all adults and can talk about this in a rational manner. since the sarcasim it's coming on pretty thick!

Anonymous said...

Well, if not a bit emphatically, spoken Mr. Preston! I think it has gone far enough. What began as a rather tongue-in-cheek joke has spawned some ugly commentary here. I'd like to note that since Joel Covington admitted to being openly gay, not one person has written him and said unkind things to him! It wasn't even a blip on the radar. And isn't that great? He's still Joel and we all still want to see him. We feel the same way about you, J. Even if you don't feel like you can come, please stop criticizing us for what you feel the community has done to you. I would hope you'd note that you've had a great deal of support (sans the scriptural reference)from your old friends and classmates and let it rest. We'd love to have you come... what more can we say?

I am just honestly copying and pasting here! I wish I could take some credit, but I could not have scripted it better! I realize it shouldn't be so entertaining... but at this point I was ready to start flipping through the yearbook, because I was dying to know who all these 'anonymous' people could be! And as sad as it all is sounding, there are actually some very good points made, and intelligent and insightful words of wisdom... but anything positive about this whole situation is completely overshadowed with the fact that these posts are part of a 'class reunion invitation'! Bahhhh!

Anonymous said...

I didn't think it was legal for gays to adopt children. If it isn't I think it should be. I would hate to think of passing away and having my kids raised in that environment being taught that homosexuality is NOT a sin (and don't give me your B.S. scienticially proven argument).

J, I implore you for the welfare of your son, please let him be raised in a normal household so he won't have to be subjected to the same bigotry you were.

I love you as my brother and I am praying for you.

Anonymous said...

J, you need a real counselor not the reunion blog.

Anonymous said...

And I would implore that we return this site to its original purpose... an RSVP page for those who will be attending the reunion and those who are sending their regrets.

Anonymous said...

J, I agree with anonymous above have you tried counseling? I have a cousin who had your same problem and his parents sent him away to a camp to get counseling. That was about 5 years ago and he has now grown up and is married to a woman. If you want I can ask him or my aunt for the information. Just let me know?

-Caleb

Mike said...

Jake and I didn't mean anything derogatory. I have gay friends that I care about and my comment wasn't meant to offend anyone.

Sincerely,
The Pre-Pubescent Immature Closed-Minded Bigot
(Sometimes I go by Mike Smith)


P.S. I hope no one was offended by that Post-it note comment that I left too.

Megan said...

Wow- this is quite the blog! I'll be there.

And just as I thought all hope was lost...

Anonymous said...

Mike and Jake-

You disappoint me. About the only reason I was going to make the extra effort to trek out to Utah was to see the two of you arm-in-arm. Especially after seeing you in drag on myspace. Wow! To know envy is to see your shaved legs poking out of a saucy cocktail dress. You, my friend, CAN work it.

While my girlfriend of 6 years will tell you I am straight, who among us didn't question their sexuality watching the two of you squat thrusting in gym class. But I digress...

However you identify, I wish you the happiest of Pride Days from my hilltop hideaway in San Francisco. It is a damn beautiful thing to see so many people with so many bad haircuts flock here yearly to a Mecca of personal freedom and public hand holding.

One doesn't need to look at genetic evidence to find proof of homosexuality being natural. Look at dogs at the park, hamsters, SLC zoo, discovery channel, bonobos (closest genetic relative), yes even the newly beloved and mistaken-for-monogamous penguin. Or ask any medical doctor who wasn't too scared to actually look and ask--namely Alfred Kinsey. Or just pick up a history book for a change. Would anyone bother to be afraid of it if it wasn't so NATURALLY everywhere?!!

The APA has not considered homosexuality a mental problem since the 70s and anyone who treats a patient for homosexuality is quickly stripped of their license.

Leviticus was written by a bunch of old woman-hating Jewish Rabbis who were also fearful of pork and being near any woman who was menstruating. Are you really going to live your life by that? When was the last time you stoned your neighbor for walking over 40 paces on the Sabbath? Move to old Jerusalem with the Orthodox Jews or the Taleban in Afghanistan--you'll fit right in

And to "J." this hateful punk wrote "scienticially" Are you really going to let that kind of ignorance worry you? Not that you should move if you don't want to--but what is keeping you in Utah? Is it because you love Olive Garden and Krispy Kreme so much? Well we have those here, plus WAY better food. Mountains/skiing? yes! Forests? yes! Deserts? yes! Way more cool people per capita? h#*% yes! No offense to my classmates or to Utah. It's a gorgeous state to visit, especially the southern part. Is rent more expensive? yes. Is it worth it? yes. Are you paid more by employers to compensate? enough yes. Or pick some other coastal state.

But Heck and Gee whiz things have changed in Utah. Why there's a strong latino presence there now. They're changing everywhere. Which is why we have a fundamentalist resurgence now. They're fightin' scared. My classmates may have been judgemental but I didn't know any that believed the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood like Bush and Jerry Falwell. They did believe Jews floated to America in wooden submarines...but they've always been fiercely interested in science and history to justify their faith in Joseph's Tomb Raider epic. Again no offense, Mr. Smith could write and I called that divinely inspired.

Again I send my regrets. I'm amazed at how much I have changed and experienced in 10 years, and also how much I have not changed. It would have been fun to wander around like so many slow songs at a weekend dance, people-gazing and laughing to myself, at myself, and with all of you.

When I was 16 I wanted to play in Rancid. And some drummer I met and skateboarded with in Utah when I was 16 is now doing just that. I'm really glad that I changed, but it's cool to know that I could have done that or anything else with the right motivation.

Perhaps I'll have some big accomplishment in 10 years that will be worth coming out there to gloat about.

Thanks to everyone whose been posting here. I'd love to hear more from you.
Sorry for lurking, then posting such a long message.

Peace,
Nate Gallagher

Anonymous said...

I will be in Cali on vacation, so I won't be coming to the reunion. I didn't think I wanted to go, but now after reading these posts I kinda wish I were coming! I forgot about so many people! I was laughing out loud at work when I read some of this stuff! Hope you all have fun!

And with that post, the tasty nuggets ended. It was last post before the 'big night'! Oh how I wished I had read all this before the bless-ed event. I would have had a MUCH better time, I would have been SO entertained to see some of the people whose names are on the above comments, and even more entertained wondering who the anonymous comments came from. This was 2 years ago!
I think we deserve some award for that display of knowledge and maturity! I mean, who are these people? I can't help but wonder if submitted to Oprah, we might get some special 'America's most IDIOTIC graduating class' episode. Dr. Phil could help us sort out our issues with one another. And to think... so many people in my class married each other? No wonder I had a fighting chance... I dropped out of High School. You hear that you should 'stay in school', well in my case, staying in school would have only increased my therapy sessions.
Even if it was 2 years late, I'm so glad to have found this treasure. If I'm ever having a crappy day, I'll just pull this up and it will give me a good laugh.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Boobies

Every Mom has a story like this... this is mine...


(Inside a very public, very crowded dressing room. I'm really bothered with the fact that I have to buy something specific to wear to an event. It's hard enough to find something that fits well, let alone in a certain color, and by a certain date...argh! So I'm frustrated and in a rush, dragging Sassy Pants all around stores)

Sassy Pants: "Mom! I like your boobies!"
As I'm standing in front of her with my shirt off.
Me: "Thanks!" (in a whisper)

She then pinches her little nipples a couple times and says...
Sassy Pants: "Are these my boobies?"
Me: "Yep" (still whispering)

Sassy Pants: "Will my boobies grow big like yours?"
Me: "Yes... they will." (then I put my finger to my lips and 'shh' her)

A few seconds pass, she is still pinching herself
Sassy Pants: "How long?... 3 years?" (as she hold up two fingers)
I'm shaking my head 'no' back and forth

Sassy Pants: "... 5 years?" (as she holds up three fingers)
I keep shaking my head 'no' and I hold up both hands to show her all ten fingers
Sassy Pants: "10 years!... Argh!!! (as she stomps her foot and her hands fall down to her sides) That's along time!"

At this point I hear two ladies giggle. I thought the conversation was over...thankfully.

Then as I put my shirt on to leave, she says...
Sassy Pants: "Mom! I can't wait till my boobies get big like yours!"
Which gets us two more giggles and one loud belly laugh.

Love her.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bare Lake... lots of bare, but never bears.

Fruitcake...
"Mom! I love staying at the LaCondo!"
"Do you remember last year's La Condo?"
"LaCondo's in Bear Lake are the best ever!"

When we ask Sassy Pants to dance, she throws down some sweet moves. But when we tell her to "shake your body!"... well, she does some sort of weird thing. She hunches over, stiffens her back, and wags back and forth. She looks like Golum from Lord of the Rings.

I was taken back by the number of older women in bikini's around us this year. I don't know if there were more than usual, or maybe I just noticed more this year.
I can't get over the fact that some women seem so comfortable in their own skin. Very few of the bodies I saw actually looked good... or bikini good. It seems like the people who should be the most covered up are always the ones with the least amount of clothing on!
I admire and somewhat envy the ability to be that comfortable. I sat watching in awe... sat in my full one-piece suit, with board shorts and a tank top over the suit... still feeling like every cottage cheese bump was hanging out for the world to see. Then look to the left and right to see other people's cottage cheese flowing freely, and their enjoying themselves. Am I the only one who cares? Or do I just care too darn much?! I seem to think that everything below my neck and above my knees is dangerous to the human eyes! (except my boobs, besides not being where they should be, they're okay. But my cleavage comes with my upper arms... blah!)
I'd like to think that I can overcome my insecurities, that I can work-out to tighten things, I can loss weight, or maybe find that miracle suit (a literal miracle suit) There's a part of me that knows I will never be totally happy with my body. I have to say that I will try... just spending more time around carefree people without perfect bodies.

It was a great year at the Lake! It can never be without drama, but luckily the drama was before we left, and didn't come up with us this year.
We have tried to arrange a fair and somewhat equal system for this trip, and never fail... someone gets their undies in a bunch about it. My Mom gets the condo (LaCondo) and the water toys are provided by us and the *** . Meaning bringing them up and providing gas. As kids, we take turn providing meals, dividing them up over the week/weekend. It is a pretty sweet gig, yet year-after-year, someone wants to enjoy the vacation without contributing. I'm not sure why, but there is nothing more that bothers me more. Paying for food... is that too much to ask?

It's getting tougher to get together... I'm not sure if it's that we are getting to be such a large family, or people are just so different. It shocks me how different we are, and how different we are continuing to become.
Mr. Smith and I have a hard time vacationing with people, because we like our vacations to be as laid-back as possible. Feeling obligated to someelses timetable kills me! I can't do a schedule, because then we are stressed when we are trying to keep a schedule... and I might as well be stressed with my schedule at home. With that said, it is hard to be the ones everyone seems to be waiting on. I decided this year that the only way we can vacation in groups... is to not plan anything with anyone but ourselves. That way, if we are the last ones to get somewhere... who cares?! we weren't planning on being first! I need to have a vacation... meaning a vacation from stress, and pressure, and the feeling of competition. If I'm not forced to follow others timetables... then I'm not stressed trying to follow it. And ultimately disappointing everyone when we can't keep up. (and how on earth can you call THAT a vacation?)

Aside from that type of drama... there was something so different this year about our immediate family. Car rides were better, sleeping was better, meals went smother, time at the lake was stress-free. It dawned on me that this is our first summer without diapers or naps! WA-HOO! It was awesome! Now if we can just get on our own timetable, summer vacations will be perfect! I do enjoy this stage in life... this stage of our family.