Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Letter

Dear Captain Crunch -

How are you? I've been thinking about you a lot lately.  I played softball last weekend, and I wore my "Golden Touch" shirt. I know, wrong sport, but I think it really helped my game.  I think about you starting your new school year, in a room full of new faces looking up at you, eyes bright and ready to learn.  I think of a tiny baby, growing bigger and bigger inside of you and how sometimes it makes you feel giddy with excitement, and sometimes it makes you feel really really uncomfortable.  I think about you planning your birthday next month, what? You haven't started making plans yet? I think about Ryan and wonder what he's been up to at work lately, and I wonder how Mocca is doing. I think about Nanners, and how lucky you are (and she is!) that you live so close to her.  I think about your dad and wonder how he's taking to retirement, and I wonder if you told him about my beef with the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra. What would he say to that, I'd like to know?

I think about what advice to give you, because you've asked me for advice twice now.  Oh, I have lain awake many nights thinking about it.  And every time I do, I feel very strongly: "Why does Stacy need my advice? She's going to be the best mother the world has ever seen, because, well, because Stacy has always been a mother.  It's just more official now."  And you know that's true.  What is a mother, other than someone who cares, protects, guides, supports, teaches, encourages, and reprimands someone who is in need of such?  Wasn't it you who taught me the importance of going to all of my classes? (A lesson which, admittedly, I may have only sort of learned.)  Wasn't it you who taught me about boys?  Wasn't it you who taught me that I really had to eat dinner every night, and not just sometimes?  Wasn't it you who taught me that too much Lifetime television is bad for my health?  So I guess my first piece of advice is: Remember that you can do this.  And you can do it well.

But, if you want some concrete advice, here you go.  I will spare you the: sleep whenever you can type advice because you'll be getting that from strangers in the grocery store.

1.) Like strangers in the grocery store, you will soon be (if you haven't already) inundated with advice: solicited and unsolicited.  You will get it from  your mother, from your doctor, from former college roommates (hi!), and possibly even from, say, Mike Cuzzone.  What I want you to remember is that you are the mother here, and this is your baby.  Take what you like from this advice, and discard the rest.  Do what feels right and comfortable to you, and your  baby will grow up healthy and happy.  I guarantee it.  (Although, I wouldn't permanently throw out all advice, just discard it to the back of your mind and then when you are desperate for new ideas, pull it out, dust it off, and consider giving it a try. You never know.)
2.) Each day does end, and so does each night.  No matter how long the baby has been crying, it will stop eventually.  No matter how many times they have thrown up on you they will get better eventually.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes for a minute, and remind yourself that someday you will get all the sleep you want again. Someday you will wear clothes that stay clean for longer than twenty minutes. Someday you can shower whenever and however long you want to.  On the flip side, remember that they will only be small enough that you can cuddle whenever you want for so long.  They will only have those drooly gurgly smiles for so long, so enjoy those while they last.
3.) Don't be afraid to ask for help.  Even if it is in the middle of the night, and you are exhausted, worn out, cranky,  Ryan mumbled something and then passed out again, and the baby won't stop crying and you don't know what to do and you don't want to call your mom because you were on the phone with her for three hours last night discussing a funky looking rash on the baby's bottom, well.  You have my phone number.  I'm at the point right now where I'm completely disoriented in the morning if I have gotten a full night's uninterrupted sleep. And I don't like to be confused and disoriented. So give me a call, we'll talk it through. Put  me on speakerphone, and I'll sing to the baby and you can rest your voice.  I know hours worth of songs. Literally.

In summary (there will be a pop quiz tomorrow) my advice to you is:
Remember that you will be a good mother.
Remember that this is your baby, and you know what is best.
Remember that it doesn't last - the good times or the bad.
Remember to call me.

Love you Stace.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fundamental Theorem

I remember in high school, sitting in my pre-calc class listening to Mr. Whatwashisname? try to teach us about the fundamental theorem of algebra. Something about the whole story seemed fishy to me, and I raised my hand and told him that I didn't believe it. Not that I didn't understand it, or anything (although, to be honest, I'm sure I didn't), but I just did not think it was true.  I didn't believe it could be true.  My poor teacher.  With my limited understanding of mathematics, even though I felt so advanced sitting in my pre-calc class, there was no way he could actually prove to me the fundamental theorem of algebra. He had to keep repeating the basic elements of it over and over, trying to force me to accept it on faith.  Because really, that's what we had to do. We had to take his word for it that it was true, and do our homework accordingly.  Finally, because I wanted to get a good grade in his class, I suspended my disbelief and did my work quietly with the rest of the class.

Since moving here to Lincoln we've met a lot of great people. Most of them are graduate students that go to our church studying animal science, law, marriage and family therapy, and in one case, mathematics.  I told him this story about my problem with the fundamental theorem of algebra. I thought he might laugh,  I thought he might think I was crazy, or even stupid.  He looked at me for a minute, and he then went on to tell me that actually, there was no way that my teacher could have proved to me the fundamental theorem of algebra, because it requires math knowledge that he himself didn't learn how to prove until his last semester in graduate school.

Sometimes I think it is funny that I had such a problem with the fundamental theorem of algebra, when I have no problem at all with other faith based ideas, such as religion and a belief in many things that I cannot see or even fully understand at times.  I think there are a lot of people in the world that are sitting in their proverbial front row seat, raising their hands, trying desperately to find the teacher that will explain to them in a way they can understand, about Jesus Christ, and prayer, and repentance.  The problem is, like me with the fundamental theorem of algebra, sometimes you just have to suspend your disbelief until you have enough "math" under your belt to understand the explanation.  My teacher could have explained to me what I wanted to know, but it would have been Greek to me at that point and I would have gone on no better than I had been.

There are many things in this world that we have to take on faith.  The platypus for example.  I have always wanted to see one, but I may never get to see one in this life.  Critics could argue that I should know they exist simply because so many other people have seen them.  That's true, but I still have to take their word for it, and that it isn't one giant hoax.

Let's talk about gravity.  No one has seen that.  We know it exists because of the effect it has on all of us and everything around us.  I know God exists because of the effect He has had on my life, and all the world around me.

Sometimes we have to take certain aspects of this life on faith. And sometimes, if we want to get a good grade, we have to suspend our disbelief.  Because to my surprise, even after all these years since my math class, the fundamental theorem of algebra has never let me down.  So give Christ a try, see what he can do for the "math" problems of your life.  It's your choice.  As for me, I choose to believe.  After all, God made the platypus.  And someday, he'll be like my friend the graduate student.  He'll take me aside, and tell me all about gravity and that it was ok I didn't understand it in this life.  I just didn't know enough yet.

And, maybe while He's explaining gravity to me, I can ask Him a few questions about the fundamental theorem of algebra too.  I look forward to that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Advice

Hanna says, when life gets to be too much just take a nap.  Things will work themselves out, you'll see.

I turned with the next spoonful of apple-strawberry-banana mash to be greeted thus.  How long does it take to scoop a spoonful of baby food? Long enough, apparently.

Hallie says when life is getting you down, try having a carrot.  I ate a whole baby carrot for the first time today, and look at me! I'm practically glowing.  You won't believe the changes one baby carrot can make to your day, so try a handful!


And that folks, is advice straight from my babies to you.  How you follow it is your call.  And thanks for all the advice about my upcoming "picnic". (Still not sure what the quotational picnic is.) I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

S.O.S. Crisis Emergency

Dear Friends, and Family, and people I know and people I don't know:

I need help.  Desperate help.  I have been invited to a luncheon.  A Wive's Club luncheon. At the house of a wife.  The wife of the University president.  The University where my husband works.  Those of you who see me on a regular basis, and those of you who might recall my "style" probably can now guess what my crisis is.


Oh, dear. You know I'm in trouble.  So, let's assess the situation. I did go to the store just this week and bought myself a pair of nice khakis, Dockers.  They are the only pants that I have right now that fit me really well, and I think that would be appropriate for a luncheon, right? I also, thanks to my fantastic sister who takes such good care of me have a few nice shirts. Devin told me it was nice to see me wearing something "feminine". Which means something that does not have the words "Nauvoo, IL" on them, or a giant tiger.

Ok, so I could probably find something in there to wear, that seems good, right? But then I came to shoes. I have my running shoes that I bought in, no exaggeration, 2002.  I mean, they still look real good... but I don't think they'll work. And I have a pair of silvery black flip flops.

I have a pair of black high heels, and a pair of brown high heels, and then all that's left is a pair of brown flats and black flats.

That's it. All the shoes I own in the entire world. What to do? What to do? Keep in mind that I am married to a man who would under no circumstances let me go out and buy a pair of shoes just for this luncheon. So think, ladies, think!  The invite says "Come and enjoy a "picnic" lunch, meet new friends..." What do you think it means that the word "picnic" is in "quotes"?  Maybe I shouldn't wear khaki pants.  Jeans?

Help me, I am begging you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Duck Duck Goose

As a little girl the preschool game of duck duck goose made me feel uncomfortable, and sort of nervous.  I sat in the circle, terrified that the hand would be on my head when I heard the word "goose", but also almost wishing that it would.  Because, then obviously, I would get to actually play.  The problem is that I am not fast.  So, instead of catching the person running around the circle, I would inevitably end up having to choose the next "goose".  This was the source of all my troubles.  I would eye each head warily as I placed my hand upon it.  Should I say goose now?  But that kid is next, and he hasn't been picked yet.  But then that other kid is after him and she might get her feelings hurt if I don't pick her.  Oh my, but after her is the new kid from down the street and I don't know him so maybe I should pick him to say "welcome to the group".  Or maybe he will think I'm strange and so I should just pick the girl after him.  And around and around the circle I'd go.  Terrified of making the wrong choice.  I've changed in a few ways, but in my core I am still exactly like that about a lot of things.

I've thought a lot about potential, like I said I would, and I have come up with a whole slew of reasons why I am afraid to be all I can be.  I have decided to list them in number form, because otherwise I will ramble on and on and none of you signed up to read this as if it were a book.

1. Pride. Remember pride?  My main question as I started this whole thought process was, "How do we develop talents, strive to reach our full potential and refrain from becoming prideful?"  So the thing is, I am far far galaxies away from my full potential, and I am chock full of pride.  Bursting with it.  I know I am each time I am selfish, or petty, or easily hurt.  So how do I keep myself from becoming more proud when I actually have accomplished things that are worthy of being proud of?  Do you see  how much I need your help?

2. Where to start?  Some people are blessed with extreme talents that once discovered cannot be denied.  Watch the Olympics folks, you'll see what I mean. Or people like my sister in law Rachel who can make beautiful things out of anything.  Or my sister in law Mindee who is writing her own cookbook because she's that fancy in the kitchen.  Or my sister Michelle who sings like an angel and spends every waking minute serving others.  (Please note: all of my sisters have many other talents, they are all delicious in the kitchen, and probably could form an angelic choir, but I have picked out what I notice most about each of them.  See, here I am still afraid that maybe one of them is insulted by my having chosen the wrong talent to display. Duck?  Goose?)  So, I am really grateful to have such wonderful people in my life (because please, don't even get me started on other family members and friends... Remember, we didn't want this to be a book.)  The only thing is, I am not really "good" at anything like that. I mean, I can get by. I can hold my own.  So in which direction do I pursue my potential? How can I be the best I can be if I don't have something concrete to work on?

3. This is all I've got.  I'm afraid that maybe this is as good as it is gonna get with me.  What if I am already maxed out, potential wise?  What if I try, like in the old saying, "to reach for the moon, at least you'll get the stars" or whatever, and my rocket sputters and dies and never makes it off the ground?  Because we all know I can't build a rocket.

I mean, let's say I think I'm good at playing the piano because when I was seven years old my deaf in one ear tone deaf in the other relative told me I had great talent and huge potential.  And I listened to her even though my piano teacher fired me and my younger siblings cried whenever I practiced and yet I carried on, doggedly, for weeks, months, years, before realizing that I would never advance beyond the Blue Book for Beginners?  (This is a fictional account meant to represent what might happen were I to decide I had a talent and tried to start developing it.)

4. Focus.  I have a hard time focusing.  We are supposed to do so many things with our time. We are to serve others, keep a clean house, be a missionary, be a good wife and mother, study the scriptures, magnify our callings, do our visiting teaching, attend the temple, develop our talents, and reach our potential.  Here is where I find myself going around and around ducking and goosing.  Ok, today I'm really going to do some service.  Goose!  So I might have to duck over keeping my house clean.  See what I mean?  Which of course leads me to instead of doing anything useful at all, sit around and worry that I am failing at everything.

Yeee-ikes! Oy vey!  What is wrong with this woman?!  Maybe I have too much time to think as I wait for my two year old to go in the potty so I can help her wipe, or as I'm nursing my seven month old.  Or as I'm weeding the garden, or sweeping the kitchen floor.  And that's when it hit me, dear friends.

Perhaps, for the people who have startlingly obvious talents like playing the oboe then that's where they should start.  With practicing the oboe.  And then like my friend Heather they should use that talent to make the world a better place one performance at a time, one heart touched at a time.  But perhaps, for people like me (for surely there are others out there like me?) we need to just keep sweeping, and weeding, and wiping, and bathing, and soothing, and kissing and magnifying and templing, and studying, and whatever else we do that is the best use of our time and maybe at the end of this long road we call life we'll realize that we are a whole new person, a fully potentialized person.

Goose.

**Although, I am still not done with this. I haven't quite figured out the whole pride thing just yet.  And I have a few more thoughts percolating. Someday I'll stop thinking I promise, and get back to just posting cute pictures.
Like this.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Autumn

I can feel it in the breeze.

I can smell it in the air.

And, I know I'm right because I can see it on the calender.

It's coming.

my garden, last week of July.


And I
can't
wait.

Monday, August 16, 2010

ABC and 123

Soon, all across the country newly purchased pencils, crayons, and notebooks will find themselves nestled snugly next to a perky lunch box holding a juice box and pb and j inside a crisp backpack, bouncing merrily against the back of excited first, second, third (etc) graders.  It isn't an actual national holiday, but sometimes I think back-to-school feels like one.  Excited eyes will look around the classroom, searching for old friends, picking out potential new ones, marking possible bullies and checking out which girl/guy is most likely to have a serious case of cooties.  There's at least one in every classroom.

They will take their seat and eventually look toward the blackboard, where the words "What I Did This Summer" will be scrawled, taking up the whole length.  Some will groan, five minutes into the school year and already tired of the work load.  Some will eagerly sharpen their brand new pencils to a precise point and gingerly begin writing:

This summer was hot.  We did a lot of yard work. We went swimming in the back yard.  Both sets of grandparents came to visit, as well as great grandma and great grandpa.  Aunt Mimi and Uncle Kenny came to visit, and so did mom's friend Al.  We went to get ice cream at the dairy store, which is in the same building as Daddy's office. I love that place.  We went to the temple and I spent a lot of time at the visitor's center.  At the end of the summer I got to go on a long trip to visit Jill Bean.  We also stopped in Peoria, where my sister was born and got to see some of mommy's friends. We visited with Aunt Mimi and had a really good time.  I love summer, but I think my mom is glad it won't be so hot soon.  I will attach pictures of my trip to Cincinnati.*

*This is totally what Hallie would have written for her assignment.  If her vocabulary were this good.  And if she were in school.

Summer is for hot sweaty walks.
 Summer is for drooling on everything, because being wet keeps you cool.
 Summer is for visiting Aunt Mimi and the Bean.

Summer is for swimming,

Summer is for Steak n' Shake.

Summer is for smiling.  For other people to smile.

And, since I am a teacher at heart, I will now grade my daughters paper.  That I wrote.  Weird. 

Writing: A+

Well, that was obvious.  And it doesn't seem hardly fair. So... I will grade the trip itself.

Visit to Mimi: A+
Getting to see friends in Peoria: A+
Going to Jeremy's wedding: A+
Getting to see family at wedding: A+
Getting to have dinner with the Colletts: A+
Getting to visit Nicole and see the twins and Nick: A+

Not getting to visit Dan's and Peter's families: F
Not getting to visit Stacy: F
Not getting to meet Callie: F
Long drive home made longer by terrible accident on 80: F (but I am praying for the people injured.)

Overall, I'll give it an A, but I wish it had been the perfect trip.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Roses Are Red

Well, I haven't been able to come up with anything to write about for a while.  I think it's because my creative writing juices  have been flowing in another direction lately.  Sample:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I've neglected this blog
for a day or two

Peonies are pink
Marigolds are yellow
I'll be back sometime
So be sure to say hello.

Yikes. So I'll spare you all that.  But uh, some people apparently couldn't tell what the picture was supposed to be that I posted last. Those are budding flowers.  That's why I said it's what potential looks like, because right now they don't look like much, but they have the potential to be beautiful flowers once they open up... I wanted to take pictures of them after they bloomed, but wouldn't you know I forgot where they were and couldn't find them again, and all the blooms looked really pummeled by the rain and wind, and were not exactly beautiful... but I'll keep an eye out and if I see a good one I'll take a picture so you can see what their potential would have been.

Speaking of potential, I haven't forgotten about all that, the thoughts are running around in my head making no real clear sense, so I won't be posting about that again until they settle down and form sentences and paragraphs.  Hmm...

And, when I am not writing wacky poetry and avoiding my blog I am taking pictures of my babies in the closet waiting to go swimming.  Now you are pretty much up to date.

Sunday, August 1, 2010