Parenting Changes Things

I wrote this post Monday morning and it refused to publish, so here it is too-day.  Hoo-ray.


How’ve you been? I fell off the face of the earth for a few days.
Short excuse: I got sick.
Long excuse: I went out of town for a baby shower and had the time of my life eating and eating and eating and then I went OUT to eat with family and then I woke up at 4 am the next day feeling like death and I remained plastered to my mother in law’s futon until we got home and once I got home and got some rest I was fine but I had to get outta the house ASAP to pick up Red Cross donations and drop them off with Audree… and then I HAD to stay at Jewel’s house and visit and then I HAD to clean my house and then I HAD to have Julianne over to watch a movie which we didn’t make it all the way through because Netflix quit working properly.

And now. Here I am.

Anyway, I’ve got a few things to write about, but right now I’ll only go so far as to tell you about our drive to my in law’s house.
**side note: my in laws are all amazing. I struck in law GOLD on all accounts.**

Because we were driving to a baby shower, I remarked to my husband that having a child just changes everything.
“You dress differently -you have to! First of all, you don’t fit into the clothes you used to fit into because, even if you do happen to lose ALL of the weight, your bone structure changes. And then you have to wear really practical clothes because you learn really quick that your baby will barf on whatever you’re wearing whether it’s silk or cotton.”
And then we got into the deeper part of the conversation.
“And isn’t it amazing how just having a child changes your perception of mortality? Not to mention how it makes you feel about true love… You have all of these ideas about what kind of parent you’re going to be, and then the child is placed in your arms and you realize it’s not up to you at all.  The best part is how easy it is to let go of any preconceived notions and become a completely loyal and willing servant.”

And then we reveled in the silence of our thoughts.

…until the girl puked everywhere.

Yeah. Parenting.
In other parenting ponderings, how did pioneers parent without TV sets?


I’ve always been young.  I’ve never known any different. What’s more, I’ve always been the youngest of my friends.  I got married young, pregnant young, pregnant again young… and everyone would tell me when they saw my ring or my protruding belly, “you’re so young.”  They’d tell me they wished they were young again.

And I vocally admitted that I didn’t mind aging.  I sort of took to it, actually, because it seemed no matter what I was still young.  Birthday after birthday passed, and I didn’t “age” age.  I just had to write a new number on forms and stuff.

But something’s flipped inside of me.  Something’s gone haywire with my logic.  Part of it has declared “MUTINY” on the rest of it and there’s this bloody battle raging in my head.  I know I’m young.  The nice part of my brain tells me that (it’s trying to keep up moral, all that).  But part of me FEELS old.   I mean… physically.  My lower back hurts all the time.  My knees hurt.  I’m gradually going blind(er).  And I move like an older person.  I don’t run.  I don’t sprint.  I’m not agile and I can’t roll around with my kids like young people do.

As I watched a few of the youth from our church scale sand dunes like it was nothing, I felt that my body is older than my age.  So I went walking today.  Is my back screaming?  Well, yeah.  But I’ll get it a massage later and it’ll get over it.  I’ve got to win back my health -my youth…

Most importantly, I need to help the Good Guys in my head win.  Don’t feed me any line like “age has nothing to do with birthdays or years or what-have-yous.”  I know that bit.  Where I’ve got my hang-up is that my body thinks it’s much older than 25.

Which, let’s face it, is still young.

I should enjoying it and literally running with it.  I should be feeling the energy of youth tearing through my body, but all that’s tearing through my body now is the pointed pang of fatigue.  It’s wrong!  It’s wrong!  How did I let this happen?!

Today I’ll eat better than I did yesterday.  How’s that?  And every day I’ll fight a little harder and gain a little more ground.  It’s bound to turn out all right in the end if I work hard enough.

And here’s a taste of youth -directly from the sand dunes to you:

Summertime, As it Should Be

Rinse off:

Dry off:

Cool off with shaved ice:
And again and again and again!


It’s so easy to go about your daily life and forget you used to not be able to reach the bathroom sink or tie your own shoes. It reminds me in a small way of Ms. Trunchbull, “They’re all mistakes, children! Filthy, nasty things. Glad I never was one.”

Yet there are moments -swift, fleeting moments -when your body is ripped through by the sensation of childhood. You feel alive, energized… and roughly 8 years old. Strictly speaking, you’re positively trampled by nostalgia. It’s invigorating, really. And even when the sensation is gone, it leaves you feeling changed.

This has happened to me many, many times -usually when I’m reading one of my journals from grade school days. But last Saturday it happened again, and the feeling was about 1,000 times sharper than normal. For the first time ever, I longed to be little again, if only to tap into my little unworried, imaginative brain.

It all happened here:
The school playground.

I took my kids and my little cousin there to play. My sister met us there with a few kids she was babysitting, and we all just ran around until we were tired and wanted Mr. G’s ice cream more than the slides.
And as I watched my kids running rampant on the exact same equipment I used to run rampant on, I was struck. It seemed to overtake me, and I could almost ALMOST see my best friend hanging from the monkey bars, skipping two as she went (I was so impressed). I could see us with our skinny, long legs hanging from the bridges and our hair standing on end after we came out of the tube slide. I remember my friends huddling close to me and holding me while I cried during recess one day because I had spent months preparing to go to the Junior High All-State Band Festival… only to be told the day I was supposed to leave that I wouldn’t be going on account of unforseen, unavoidable circumstances.
I remember playing Follow the Leader.
I remember being told on Halloween that my princess dress was all wrong -princesses never wear brown dresses, apparently. I went home feeling rather dejected only to have my level of excitement brought back full-force by my expert of a mother.
I thought of the library inside the school -it was my favorite place in the entire building. I used to get lost in the books there, and I couldn’t get enough. The library fed my imagination a constant diet of adventure. I jumped time zones, countries, races, spaces! It was more gratifying than the tire swing (which has been taken down, probably for the best).

I stood rooted to the playground dirt while my inner-child pulled herself from the depths of my soul and slapped me across the face.
Then I walked away the better for it.
(The monkey bars my friend would skip two on. SOMETIMES even three. So cool, I know.)
(Seth building houses in the dirt. I didn’t want to tell him they looked exactly like wigwams.)

When I start to forget that I used to be a child -and I will, we all do -I’ll always have my kids around to remind me. I’ll always have their big, trusting eyes staring into my soul wondering if I approve of them… if they’re doing things right. And I’ll always have their smiling faces.
See that? His face is like a tonic for the soul. One look at this picture, and all seems right with the world. All you need is a little time with a swing (and Aunt JuJu, naturally).

Country Girls

I LOVE my girls. They are all amazing in their own way, and I can’t even begin to express to you what it feels like to be surrounded by so many genuinely GOOD youth. All of the youth 14 and up from our stake (and 4 other surrounding stakes) got invited to a Dance Festival. My Beehives are all 12 and 13, so they weren’t able to go. They mentioned a few times how they wanted to go and have fun like the other kids, so I promised them we’d do something on our own. And it would be AMAZING.
But I had NO IDEA what it would be. I didn’t tell them that, though.
The Country Girl Party came together nicely, and all the girls seemed to really enjoy it. I’m no good with fancy decorations, so I just went with hay bales and a little burlap.
I didn’t put the pump up for the party. It was there when we moved in. It’s exclusively for decoration, and I’m glad we were able to center the party around it.
I tried putting the girls’ aprons on a hay bale, but the wind picked up and kept blowing them all over the place. My daughter could stand it, and she tried to do everything in her power to KEEP the aprons down.
This, by the way, is my favorite picture from the party. She was wearing my shoes and a pirate costume. And SITTING on those blasted aprons.
I finally grabbed some nails and NAILED those bad boys to a tree.
(she thought I was taking a picture of her, so she made one of her crazy faces she likes to make.)
I set their brownies on a hay bale next to a bowl full of lentils.
I poked their forks into the lentils.

I lined up IBC Rootbeer behind their lunches:
Their lunch consisted of PB&J (not fancy, I know. But I was worried about serving them anything with mayo and having them go home with food poisoning of some kind), an apple, chocolate covered strawberries, a brownie, and a Rootbeer.
The full set up, minus the few bales off to the side where the girls sat:
We started with an opening prayer and then I told the girls what we’d be doing (making butter, freezer jam, and bread) and told them to pick an apron off the tree. My neighbor down the road graciously volunteered a TON of fresh cream from their milk cow so we could make butter. I filled mason jars 1/3 of the way full of cream and added a little salt. Then I let the girls shake the jars until a lump formed in the middle.
Here are some of them shaking their butter:
After a lump formed (took about 30ish minutes), I drained the liquid off. The liquid is buttermilk and if you don’t get it all off the butter, the butter will turn sour really fast. After draining the buttermilk off, I added some water to the jar with the lump of soft butter and let them shake some more. Then we rinsed the water off and viola!
I gotta tell you: that butter ROCKED. It was SO good! After the girls finished their brownie that I baked in their jar, I washed their jar out, filled it with the butter they made and let them take it home to share with their families. After the butter was done, we pulled out a bunch of strawberries and made freezer jam.
They all helped cut the strawberries up and then they took turns mashing the berries.
They couldn’t believe how easy the jam was to make, and it tasted delicious. Photobucket
After the jam-making, we went back outside to eat lunch.
The girls had a great time chatting and relaxing.
At one point, I lost sight of my little guy only to find him in his element:
My son LOVES girls. My girls are his favorites.
He also loves apples and Rootbeer.
And his boots.
After lunch we went back inside and made bread as fast as we could. We had to hurry because most of the girls had a softball game they had to be at. Because we had to hurry so fast and my hands were caked in bread dough, I didn’t get any more pictures! I didn’t realize it until after the girls left. I baked the bread after they left and delivered it to the men in charge of the sacrament bread.
The next day at church, everyone got a little taste of the Beehives’ bread as the sacrament was passed. They were absolutely THRILLED and so proud of themselves. And they should be! I joked to one of the mothers that came to help that watching the girls standing around my table in aprons, kneading bread was like watching my very own personal sweat shop at work.
They did great and the bread tasted OH so GOOD! I had some bread baked before hand so they could eat a few slices before going home, and it was so cute to watch them slather their bread with their butter and jam.

Did I mention I love my girls?! I’ve never loved a calling as much as I love this one.
(I have picture-by-picture instructions on how I make FREEZER JAM. In the past I’ve done a picture-by-picture post on making bread, but I’ve lost it. I’ll dig it up and post it soon.)

Later that evening, I took the kids to the school playground and my little she-pirate hung from the monkey bars:
I loved it.
I woke up early Sunday morning and went outside long enough to snap a picture of the sun. It appears to be almost red in color because of the smoke from the fire by Alpine.

Go Team

My brother, sister, and I share an unabashed love for classic literature.  We agree on most things -politics, religion, what to eat on Christmas morning (orange rolls!), but something we agree most on is Dickens.

Charlie Dickens, the great writer!

Steve, as a matter of tradition, reads “A Christmas Carol” every year at Christmas time.  When I was newly pregnant with my son and sicker than sick, I gobbled up “Nicholas Nickleby” instead of regular food on account of my son apparently hating the idea of his mother eating.  Did I mention the book was a gift from my sister?  It was.  My sister and I have spent countless precious hours watching film versions of classic literature.  The latest and greatest we’re all excited about?

Jane Eyre Poster
Easily one of the greatest books in all of creation. My goal is to one day stick a little of Jane Eyre in a church talk.

Anyway, when I heard about this movie, I started thinking about going to see it and wearing appropriate shirts. Given my love of classic lit, I’ve never been tempted to crack the cover of “Twilight.” When someone is used to plots that move at a snail’s pace, something like a vampire love story just doesn’t tempt me. I’m not curious to read it, but I have gone so far as to rent the first movie.
I won’t get into that right now.
But I will say this: I felt a little left out. Women the world-wide were making shirts and going to the movies together! So I decided since Jane Eyre was coming to the big screen, now was as good a chance as any to get in some girl-bonding, shirt wearing time.
The nearest theater that played Jane Eyre is over an hour away. To get a group of girls together to go see it was just impossible. Between paying for gas, food, AND sitters for our kids? Forget it!
I was sad, too. I had a pretty kick arse shirt idea.
I had given up entirely on the idea until my brother sent me a facebook message telling me Jane Eyre was in the dollar theater near him and that he was going to make one of the shirts I had in mind.
A few hours later, I got this text:
And all was right with the world again.
Steve, you’re the best.

Procrastination Station

I often wonder about something.  Is skilled procrastination a gift?  I can practically hear every teacher and professor I’ve ever had screaming, “NO!” in heated unison, but I’m going with this anyway.  I’m really good at it.  I don’t mean that I’m really good at wasting time until I absolutely HAVE to do something… I mean I’m great at putting stuff together last minute.  In truth: I have taken time to plan and do a thorough job with things (like church lessons) and sometimes (most times) they go so much better when I do the majority of the planning the morning-of or the night before.

It’s a kind of art for me… last minuting.  Again, I can almost hear all of my teachers collectively pulling their hair out.  What an awful sound.  They must be glad to be rid of me and my absolutely hair-pulling ways.

This is what I’m driving at: I’m throwing a party tomorrow for my Beehive girls.  There’s a dance festival for the youth a few towns over, and the Beehives aren’t old enough to go.  They were feeling a little left out, and most of them would have TORE UP those dances, so after talking with them I decided to have a party with them while the youth were gone dancing.

I immediately thought to do a Spa Party (what could be more natural with girls?) but then remembered that one girl absolutely refuses to take her shoes off on account of odor insecurities.  So I threw that out the window.  And then I remembered an article I had seen on Country Living’s Website about having a Prairie Girl Party.  They did a great job.  Before I go on, I must say: I can not plan and carry out parties.  I have a huge (we’re talking Berlin Wall Sized) mental block when it comes to party planning.  I just don’t GET how to do it.  Even though Country Living’s Farm Chicks laid out the plans step-by-step, I was still extremely hesitant.  I have my reasons.
#1) I don’t own a single pair of boots. Not that that’s very important, but it SEEMS like it.

#2) I can’t set a table beautifully if my life depended on it.

#3) Lots of details and planning (and spending $ on said details) stresses me out more than anything I know. Except maybe impending labor when I’m pregnant. Which I’m not.

#4) I’m not, like, all trendy. I type that in all earnest.

My poor Beehives. They’re getting a variation on the The Prairie Girl Party. We’re going to meet at my house (instead of a field -despite the abundance of fields around… it’s June. it’s Arizona. it’s HOT). And I’m calling it A Country Girl Party instead.
We’re going to sit on hay bales (you don’t get more country than having your rear end “massaged” by hay, truuuust me) in my front yard and plant flowers in pots, label the flowers with steel stamped spoons… something like


While we’re doing that, we’re going to take turns shaking cream in a jar to make butter. Then we’re going to eat a lunch (I’m going to put their lunches in their terra-cotta pots) of sandwiches, an apple, chocolate dipped strawberries, and brownies in a tiny mason jar.

And IBC Rootbeer -the kind in bottles. I’m not awesome enough to brew my own tea to put in vintage glass bottles and recork. Because
#1) how do you go about brewing that much tea?
#2) where would I find that many vintage bottles?
#3) who sells corks that fit vintage bottles?

Anyway, after lunch we’re coming inside to learn how to make freezer strawberry jam and homemade bread. When they do this, it passes off one of their Personal Progress goals.
I made them these:
To wear while they make bread. I stayed up until 2 AM last night finishing them (then I slept in until 8:30 and had a disturbingly vivid dream that I was a Ghostbuster). Why do I do this to myself? Why didn’t I have them done last week -or TWO weeks ago when I bought the fabric? Heaven only knows.
Today, I’m cleaning the house, baking the brownies, making some bread ahead of time, dipping strawberries in chocolate, printing out instructions for everything I have planned so I don’t get it wrong with seven 12 year old girls underfoot… It’s going to be a busy day tomorrow. I’m nervous about messing up a party that could have been SO much better if someone else had been in charge. I’m also nervous about making sure everything is prepped and ready.
But since I’m doing it last minute, I should be fine. That’s how it goes down around here. You can send sympathy notes to my husband if you like.

The Fix

When I was growing up, my family had satellite television.  I used to love the rare moments when I was home alone and could watch whatever I wanted, and that was most always Turner Classic Movies.  I would get giddy watching the opening sequences of old movies, and I’d stay riveted to the screen until the movies would end.  I’m rather an addict to stories.  It’s bordering on obsessive and sad.

For example, while shopping at a thrift store with my little sister last week, I pulled a very old jacket from the rack and said, “Don’t you ever wonder how many of these clothes come from the closets of people who have died?”

“NO!” She said and laughed.  And that surprised me.  I thought everyone thought of those kinds of things.  I used to spend a lot of time wondering about the day I would eventually die.  My train of thought was something like, ‘Every year I pass the day I’m going to die and I don’t even know it.  Someday I’m going to have a funeral announcement and the date of my death will be written on the front right under my picture.  I’ve passed that date over and over… written it on checks.  But I have no idea what it is…’

And then I happened to read a poem by W.S. Merwin and felt better.  I’m not the only one who thinks about these kinds of things.  Is that a good thing?  I don’t know, but it makes me feel better anyway.

I force myself to put down celebrity gossip magazines (because!  they’re nonsense!) only to find myself coming home to google things like “Gary Cooper affair with Grace Kelly.”  Have you ever seen a picture of Gary Cooper?

Grace Kelly has all the luck.
Not that I’d care to have an affair with him OR be his cheated-on wife, for that matter.
But I sure do like to look at him.

I couldn’t care less for Angelina Jolie, honestly.  But I care a great deal for Grace Kelly.  What’s the difference between the two?  Um, one has big lips and the other married a Prince who refused to let her act anymore on account of her having affairs with nearly every leading man she acted with.  Smart Prince.

I can read about these things for hours, really.  I can read about people -about their lives and problems and situations… forever!  I love it!  I have to pry myself out of books and away from movies because I just get to wrapped up in the stories.  I’m constantly regaling my husband with stories of all kinds, and he bears it well.  He’s a regular soldier.

He is!  I mean, I’ve told you all this before.  I’ve told you about how I love stories.  I’ve told you about how I love my husband.  This is all old cud that’s been chewed before.  Isn’t it?  Not so today, chum! Not so! …on account of my husband’s confession not five days ago that he’s … “sick of old movies.”

After he told me that, I fell out of his arms and onto the floor (granted, we were only lying side by side on the couch, but still.  The effect sounds dramatic).

“What?!” I cried, and pretended to dig the imaginary dagger deeper into my heart. He laughed at me, but he usually does. Mostly because I’m prone to irrationalities.
He had no defense, and I pretended not to know him for an hour. At least.

Yesterday, I was at my sewing machine between the hours of 2 pm and 8 pm. I set up Lappy and streamed movies while I stitched and ironed. It’s jolly fun for me, you know… combining movie watching with productivity. It’s downright gratifying. Whilst streaming, I came upon a movie that FIXES everything. Absolutely everything.
It was a book first though. We’ve got to give credit there.
It’s called “Piccadilly Jim.” The latest movie version was made in 2006, and that’s the version I watched last night. It’s available on Netflix instant streaming.

Piccadilly Jim (2004) (photo credit

It’s set in the 1930’s but this movie version has modernized it, making it just the right FIX for my marriage. The humor is just right. The characters are strong. The music is fantastic (singing “Tainted Love” like it was written in 1924? Yes please!).
Here’s a peak at possibly the worst scene in the movie, but it gives you a taste of the song:

Tonight, my husband and I can watch something (besides Bones) that we both agree on. We don’t fight over movies, mind you. But it’s always nice to watch something we can both love.
One of our friends posted this quote on facebook this morning:
The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life. ~ Jessica Hische
Incidentally, her name is also Alicia. Voonderful.
After reading that quote, I made a solemn vow to take a class on writing screenplays. If I can’t find one that suits my budget, then google will have to do. And Google has never failed me.

See? Gary Cooper at my fingertips.

Besties W/out Testies

Years ago, I gave a special birthday card to my best friend.  I couldn’t afford to go out and buy a birthday card, not to mention the fact that I wasn’t near old enough to drive.  I wanted to make it special anyway.  REALLY special.  I knew it would never be as good as store bought, so I tried thinking of ways to make up for it.  In the end, I decided the best thing to do would be to write a poem.  An Alicia Original.

It was a humdinger.  I don’t remember what it said, but I remember her pulling it out years afterward and we both got a huge laugh out of it.  It was scrawled out in 8 year-old handwriting and went so far as to rhyme words like “to” and “you.”


Today marks that time of year again.  Her birthday, I mean.  I don’t have a great card to send her (she never fails to find the funniest cards for me.  I still have them).  And as I mulled over what to give her, I decided to renew my gift of writing.  Now don’t get excited, I’m not going to write a poem.

The thing is: beginning with that first hen-scratch poem, Tia has always been there to read whatever I had to write.  In sixth grade, I wrote my first story about a pioneer girl named Alice who, in a fit of anxiety over the prospect of crossing the plains, knit 7 sweaters in one night.  Tia read it.  I enjoyed writing the story so much that I immediately set to writing another one set in the Civil-War era about a girl named Emma who was madly in love with a soldier named Matt.  I never finished it.  The story went along very well up until the scenes where they had to kiss and stuff.  The story came to an abrupt halt.  Turns out I didn’t know a thing about love, let alone how to write about kissing.  But Tia read it anyway.

Tia reads my blog, you know.  She gets my inside jokes and movie quotes.  She contributed her irresistible bread stick recipe to my cooking blog.  And she even went the extra mile and read my stories blog where I would take time now and then to write stories both short and long.  Mostly long.


When I switched my blog over to wordpress, a story I’d been writing sort of got lost in the mix.  Tia, champion that she is, had been reading it.  I kept meaning to import the story, but I never did.  I resolved this week to FINALLY do it.  And so -this morning -I did.

I feel like an 8 year old handing my best friend a scrawly poem all over again.  It isn’t much.  It isn’t store bought.  But it’s the thought that counts, right?  Starting today, Delia’s Story continues.  Today’s entry isn’t all that great on account of my taking most of the morning to import the rest of the story.

Honestly, I had NO idea I write so much.  Someone whack me before it gets worse.

(Delia’s story is a different kind of story.  I’m writing it in blog form, if that makes any sense.  “Delia” has taken over my stories blog, so to speak.  It’s loads of fun to write a story like this.  The entire imported part of the story is posted in one LONG post that I didn’t bother to separate, but it isn’t hard to figure out.  First you have to read the LONG post, then today’s post if you’re interested in reading.  I’ll be adding to it as the days go by, so if you’re looking for something more to read with all that spare time you have [that was a little joke], click on over to Delia’s Story).

Happy Birthday, Tia.  I’m wearing your polyester brown pants RIGHT NOW.  And next time you come to town, I motion that you, me, Steve, Lindsay, Jay, and who ever else wants come over to watch Dennis the Menace. We can watch it at my house so long as you don’t touch my DVD player “because you don’t know which button to push.”
(“I bet I do… It’s THIS ONE!”)
**Stupid facebook won’t let me steal any of her pictures, but trust me when I say this: she’s rearry pretty and rearry funny and totes smart. Totes.**