Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mowing Down Memory Lane

That makes it sound like I actually 'mowed down' Memory Lane as in it doesn't exist anymore but I didn't. I actually volunteered to help Alan mow our lawn tonight and it wasn't long until I was chuckling to myself as I reminisced about our years as a YardCare Family in Delta. The first thing I decided, however, is that I need to buy about a dozen of those little clay squirrels or chipmunks or gnomes and place them strategically around the yard. Nothing I enjoyed more than edging and mowing around those obnoxious little things!

Some of the moments that came to mind were:

  • Getting gently nudged (that's a debatable choice of words) with the wooden end of Ne____'s rake while raking up thatched grass and leaves.
  • Mowing that huge lawn in a torrential rainstorm and watching Joe dancing and singing while he was using the riding lawnmower.
  • Tromping down stinky grass in the pickup bed so we could fit more in and then trying to shovel it all out at the dump without falling in.
  • The big Hart's jug we kept beverage in and watching the kids' faces when they expected diet Coke but found Crystal Light Strawberry Kiwi instead.
  • Power raking in the Delta wind.
  • Plugging up the Snapper mower.
  • Sweating. Not glistening. Not perspiring. Sweating. And then having the grass clippings from the edger stick to the sweat.
  • Bennett's ice cream cones with sprinkles on them as a reward.
  • Some piece of equipment always seemed to break down and Alan would finish tinkering with it about the same time the rest of us finished mowing the lawn.
  • Lawns resembling jungles because the owners kept thinking they'd fix their lawnmower and a month later, admitted it wasn't going to happen. We usually underbid those jobs.
We knew it was time to sell the business when the girls got old enough they were embarrassed to be seen sweating. Well, I'm sure there's more memories that will come to mind. Feel free to add your memories, too. As much as I dreaded the hard work, I wouldn't trade those years of 'family togetherness' for anything. You get pretty close to your family when your sweaty bodies are smashed into the front of a truck in 95° weather.


    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Define Redneck


    Memorial Weekend campout was fun . . . and wet. I chose to see blue sky. Everyone ended up joining us at one point or another to eat or swing or fish or hike or ride bikes or start fires or just get dirty. (We'll stay away from the gopher incident). Nate took everyone on a GeoCache hunt which was a big hit! Trying to get out on the slimy road was probably the biggest nightmare for me and I made sure to leave some good ruts . . . really good ruts . . . for anyone who might follow. Our family is soon to be recognized as a weather alert station.

    "Are the Christensens going camping?"
    "Yes."
    "Okay, it will be raining (or snowing)."

    So far our family campout in June is the same time as the last spring snowfall. Memories, right? I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    Locking Doors

    For some reason my heart has been very tender lately. Events and words have touched me in ways I normally don't allow them to. Maybe it's the particular holiday coupled with the friends who have passed away recently. I think a lot of it has to do with trying to understand the things I'm learning - some of it from books and some of it just straight from life. A wonderful book I've added to the bag of books I carry around with me is "The Continous Atonement" by Brad Wilcox. The concepts he talks about have made the Atonement so much more understandable. When I begin to understand a deep concept, I always start to worry that it's been oversimplified and therefore has lost some of its sacredness. But this book hasn't made me feel that way.

    I have never read the parable of the Good Samaritan and known it to also be an analogy of Christ and His Atonement. Not only has Christ rescued us and patched up our wounds, but He has gone beyond that and paid extra so that we can become even better than we were before we became injured. That was a definite epiphelation! When I take what I read in that book and couple it with the books I'm reading on the Laws of Attraction and believing in yourself, it just seems to be creating a volcanic eruption inside of me and I'm not sure I understand it.

    I've always loved the story of the woman who knew if she could just touch Jesus' robe, she would be healed. I've related to that story differently throughout my life - sometimes I'm working my way through the crowd (the worldy temptations and trials) and actually getting quite close to Christ and other times I'm allowing myself to be crowded out, moving farther and farther away from the one person I know can help me heal myself. Maybe this is just one of those times when I'm being a little more aggressive with what's coming in between me and Christ.

    Rambled again. Just wanted to try and sort out my thoughts. I decided I've been given a huge mansion with the charge of securing it. This mansion is full of hallways and every hallway is lined with doors. Each one of those doors opens to a small room and in each of those rooms is a bag with a lock on it. If there's any mess in the room, I have to sort it out and stuff it in the bag and lock the bag. Then I put the bag in the far corner and shut and lock the door to that room. I have to do that with every room and then I can lock up the whole house. Maybe the more rooms I get locked up, the closer I'm getting to touching the corner of the hem of the robe of my Savior.

    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    If I Were in Charge . . .

    There are a few things in this world I question. Actually there are a lot but there are a few I seriously would change if I were given the chance and the authority. At least I think I would.
    • Start of the day: Why does the day start at midnight? Granted I'm usually still up but the majority of the world is still sleeping off yesterday. I think the day should go from dawn to dawn instead of midnight to midnight. Feasibly you could then work from dawn to dusk and then sleep from dusk to dawn. Makes sense to me.
    • Start of the week: Why do we start a week on a Monday? I've mentioned this quandry in previous blogs. I guess in some ways it's good because the rest of the week can usually only go up after a typical Monday, but, still, the week should start on a high note so the rest of the days can be more eagerly anticipated. I'm not sure I have a viable solution to this so maybe I just need to be more in charge of my Mondays and turn them into the kind of day I think they should be. Hmmm.
    • Start of the year: Why do we start the New Year with new beginnings and goals and lofty intentions in January, the dead of winter? My sister and I have had this conversation. It's cold and so you don't want to go out. It's the start of the flu season. Everything that once grew is pretty well hibernating for the winter. I think the New Year should be March 1st. I'd actually say April 1st but I'd hate to take away the one day where we celebrate total foolishness. Mother Nature is starting to stir and awaken come March and if the atmosphere is more electrofied, then we as human beings probably will be, too.
    • Seasons of the year: Why do we have to have four seasons? I think we should have Spring and Fall - sowing and reaping. None of this freezing naked trees or parched cracked earth. No colder than 68°F and no hotter than 75°F. I guess I should live at the Equator if that's the way I like things.
    I guess we see why I'll never have the authority to make significant changes in the world, huh? I'd be a walking dust devil leaving instant upheavel and chaos in my shadow. Some might even say I'm that already. Maybe I'll just keep these and all my other questions saved for a later time when I can get answers. Probably at that time, the answers to these questions won't even be important.

    Why Are You So Beautiful?

    "You can never stop being who you are," is what Mia is told in the Princess Diaries when she is struggling with being a 15-yr-old or a Princess. She thought she had to choose and be one or the other, but she always was a Princess. It's what's inside that counts. To all the Princesses in my life, please remember that and never stop being who you truly are!

    This also applies to all the handsome princes in my life!!!!

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Practice Makes . . . Something

    Practicing the piano tonight I had a hard time believing I was actually on the 5th grade level when I quit taking piano lessons in high school. Talk about your modern day parable of the buried talents! We didn't have a piano until we moved into our house in Delta so I guess I can blame those three years on a lack of access but then I'm sure I could have been creative. When we did get a piano, I was fortunate enough to get my grandma's upright player piano - the one I'd practiced on all those years. I had to practice for an hour everyday and my mother kept a timer on the top of the piano so I wouldn't waste so much time getting up and checking the clock. I don't know how many 30 minute long hours I practiced! I thought I was so sneaky, reaching up and moving the timer ahead. I don't really remember getting in trouble for the shortened hours so either she really didn't notice or I was playing so badly she was relieved to have the practice session end early.

    I love rearranging furniture and it was because of that love, I got the brilliant idea to move this piano into the basement of our Delta home. I was working nights at the grocery store at the time and came home one night to find my piano in the basement. Alan had called in the cavalry (Elder's Quorum) and about six of them had finagled that thing into the basement. I was told that if we ever moved, the piano went with the house because it wasn't coming back up the stairs. Well, about 15 years later we found ourselves packing up to move here. The first thing several of the ward members asked when they found out we were moving was, "How are you going to get that piano out". Some memory to last 15 years. And none of them volunteered to help, either. Luckily (at least we thought at the time) an acquaintance knew how to disassemble a piano and so with his help and a flat bed trailer, we brought the piano to our new home in pieces. I can't tell you how many pieces. As long as it was broken down like that, I figured I'd refinish it before putting it back together. I kept asking Alan, "You were watching him take it apart, right? You do remember how to put it back together, right?" We did finally get it back together but it never really played the same after that so, short story long, I got a newer piano when I was called to play the piano for Church. Recently we went back to Delta for the funeral of a friend. There were a lot of old neighbors and ward members there also. One of the members of the piano-to-basement moving crew is actually now the Bishop and was the first person we met as we walked through the doors of our old church house. The first thing he said after making the acknowledgments and remembering who we were was, "I still remember moving that piano down to your basement!" I was amazed. That piano will live in infamy!

    However, I wish I'd have kept up the talent better. I wish I would have kept practicing so I wouldn't have lost the comfort and familiarity I had when I sat down to play. I wish I'd have practiced my scales more. I have a couple of books that are nothing but scales. I should get them out. Maybe if I refreshed my scale skills (say that ten times fast!), I'd be better able to understand the ups and downs of this life! If I worked at it long enough, I could figure out the fingering so I didn't hit the wrong keys or falter and lose the rhythm. Some of the books had the fingering outlined but sometimes I just plain had to figure out what worked best for my fingers. I guess maybe there's more to playing this piano than just plunking out the tune. Maybe I should write an Opus to Life or something. There'd be lots of scales. Not as many sharps as flats (for some reason sharps are harder for me) and there'd be a lot of accidentals. I wonder if it's possible to have a rest in every measure? Probably not very ear-catching. I struggle with playing the keys soft so I imagine it would be pretty loud through most of the piece. The notes are a little hard to figure out when I get out of the main central area but it seems like not many musical compositions keep right within that two-octave comfort zone anyway. Thank goodness Beethoven set the way for unfinished masterpieces because I don't have a clue how I want my Opus to end. For now I probably just better keep practicing!

    Sunday, May 10, 2009

    QUICKLY CHANGING STAGES OF MOTHERHOOD

    Most of my thoughts today have been watching people in different stages of motherhood. They were asking the kids in Primary to name one of their mom's favorite things. One little girl quietly said, "Home". I was touched as I imagined what a mother has to do in order for her 7-year-old child to know she loves being home more than anything. The speaker in Sacrament Meeting talked again about the Mother of Jesus and how Jesus made sure she was taken care of. As I was writing in my journal about it, I thought about all Jesus had gone through that last day or two and he'd kept silent. I just got an image of Him looking down and seeing His Mother and feeling her love and knowing He could keep silent no longer. Kind of ironic two different speakers would touch on that same image.

    "Enjoy the blessings that come with each new stage" is what the plaque says on my wall. I'm not sure I did, though. I wish I'd have relished them more now that I see how quickly stages move. I can't do anything about the past, but I can sure relish the blessings I have now! I am certainly going to give it my best shot!

    I got a yellow rose bush and a pear tree for Mother's Day this year. No partridge. There's another pear tree on hold and coming. Something about having to keep the bees and the butterflies and whatever else little bugs pollinate fruit trees happy. They like to have choices, I guess, and flit from one tree to another. Evidently the trees like it, too, because more flowers turn into fruit if the little bees and butterflies and whatever else little bugs there are get to share. The rose bush is another story, however. It's called a "Rabble Rouser". It was hysterical reading the description because whoever wrote it was obviously trying for a job in the alliteration area of journalism. It reads: "...this baby's grown up and is ready to raise a ruckus in the landscape. Gangs of gleaming gold fully double flowers command attention against the glossy gloriously green leaves. Yet the finish color is just as eye-catching as the fresh color, making a perfect round mass of glowing gold and green through the growing season. A garden party animal!" I will definitely have to keep track of this feisty one!
    PLAYGROUNDS
    Subtle moves.
    Crib, playpen
    Swingset, playhouse
    Backyard, frontyard
    Around the block
    Across the street.
    Landmarks.
    Will you remember
    The way home?

    Saturday, May 9, 2009

    The Last Prom Dress

    It will be a cold day in the hot furnace when Fancy Nancy gets another prom dress! Oh, my goodness! Jodi Ann had her 7th birthday Thursday and we got to go over for cake and ice cream on Friday. She's loved the Fancy Nancy books for quite some time. One day while wandering a department store's toy isle looking for ideas for Jodi's birthday, what should be sitting on the shelf staring at me but a Fancy Nancy doll. It was immediately in the basket. "I can make doll clothes for her, too," I naively plan. I bought a couple of patterns, picked out material and began. I started with the pjs and levis and skirts. The prom dress was going to be the last to be done. I have to say, I was on a roll. Everything was going together slicker than I could have hoped. Finally I got to the dress. I can't even find the words to express my pain and agony and unpicking. But I finished it . . . just in time to put Fancy Nancy back in the box and wrap her up and head to the party. Actually, though, it may have been more complicated than I expected but it reminded of my doll days. I had a 'bride doll' that was my pride and joy and all my friends envied. As I remember, she was a lot like the American Girl dolls . . . maybe even Fancy Nancy . . . but Mom had made the most beautiful wedding dress for her. It wasn't just the dress, though, it was complete with a net petticoat and a satin one that fit over that; both of which made her dress fan out more. I wonder if Mom felt the same way I did today when she was done making that dress?

    The boys are having a sleepover tonight - Tyler, Layne and Carter. Tyler and Layne went with me to Jodi's party and then Carter joined them for the ride home. Since they know Grandma so well, they asked if we could please stop at a gas station for a treat and a drink. This was, of course, after I had gotten them all secured in the backseat. I dreaded the thoughts of having to keep track of all three of them in the store but I'm so easily manipulated when it comes these little people! All the way to the gas station, I rehearsed the rules. After unbuckling Layne, we went in and spent forever trying to decide. Tyler was getting "spicy, hot jerky because he'd taken his fart pill already" so he wouldn't be stinking up my house. I'm not sure what kind of pill he was talking about but he had Layne and Carter convinced they'd taken one too. We finally get everything picked out and ready to pay for and the two older boys decide they need to go to the bathroom. Fine. I need some tainted crushed ice anyway. Now we're standing in line to pay and Layne announces to everyone, "I need go poop. I need go poop." Good grief. Stuff is paid for now. Layne is taken care of. Once again they're all strapped in the truck. The cabin is secure. Their drinks are accessible and treats are opened. I climb in behind the wheel and just sit there. I'm exhausted! There is no way I ever would have had four kids if there would have been car seats and booster seats and seatbelt laws! Or if I would have had four kids, they would have been spaced about 10 years apart! I remember loading all four kids in the back of my orange VW Beetle and heading to Springville from Delta; thinking nothing of it. The kids played in the back from one end to the other. Wow, times have certainly changed!
    I failed to mention the new culinary delight Tyler created on the way home. Grampa had a partial can of mixed nuts he'd left in the truck. As for mixed, I'm not sure. Looked to me to just be peanuts but the boys wanted to eat them. Tyler immediately took some and folded a piece of jerky around them and called it his Peanut Sandwich. He swore it was delicious but I declined his invitation to sample one. Call me chicken.

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    Too Early, I know

    I've been thinking about motherhood for a few weeks now. I think it was a speaker in Sacrament Meeting who mentioned the mother of Jesus being at the foot of His cross. That impacted me. Everyone at some point or another had deserted Jesus, had denied Him, had ultimately betrayed Him. But not his Mother. She was there through it all. As a mother is. In the movie "Forgotten", you see how nothing, not even alien life forms and their lab tests, can erase the love a mother has for her children. Nothing can stop a Mother from doing whatever she has to do to reclaim her relationship with her children.

    I enjoyed bearing children. There is so much hope for the future in the weight of a newborn baby snuggled in your arms. Revelling in each new idea, concept, abilty and insight a child masters is an opportunity to watch a wooden creation become a human being and then strive to become an eternal being. When I came home from the hospital with my fourth child, I knew she was my last. It was a melancholy Mother's Day that year as I stood in church to get my soon-to-be-dead flower. I remember standing up thinking, this will be my last Mother's Day. Oh, how I did not yet understand the reach and eternal calling of a Mother!!

    Rather than bearing children now, I bear burdens and worries and concerns - all of which I have no control over but still feel vaguely, strangely responsible for. When I look at my children, I see all that they have become. I don't see the pile of moldable clay I saw when they were little. The clay has been molded and shaped and in many instances fired more than once. Surely this cannot be our ultimate destiny - to be carefully sculpted into a beautiful, priceless work of art; unique in every way, and then be fired in the kiln over and over until we are hard. The firing is to perfect us, but it is much easier to allow it to harden us, protecting and burying what small inner pocket of softness we can preserve.

    Maybe the challenge is not in surviving the firing but in staying moldable even though the inside of the oven is all too familiar. Not moldable as in constantly changing - chameleon-like; but moldable as in allowing touches from other people to leave a mark, adding dimension, depth and texture to this work of art of ours. Well, this blogspot is appropriately named, for I have just rambled.

    However, I hope the mothers of my grandchildren know how proud I am of them and the job they're doing. Each one of you is an awesome Mother! I hope all my children know how grateful I am for them allowing me to be their mother. I am so glad you survived!

    Monday, May 4, 2009

    52 and 10/12ths and still figuring things out. . .

    . . . or at least trying to. Almost a year ago, my sister got me reading a book by Carol Tuttle entitled "Remembering Wholeness". I was skeptical. And to tell you the truth, I had never really been introduced to the Law of Attraction until that book. I'm on my second time through it and have even found another author, Louise L. Hay, that writes about a lot of the same things but with a little bit different angle. Anyway, the more I read, and the more I practice what I'm reading, the more I'm finding answers and explanations and understanding. A lot of the stuff I'm learning and figuring out is still too delicate and personal to share. But a lot of what I'm learning excites me to the point I just want to tell everyone I care for about it. I tend to get a little overzealous rather easily so I'm trying to keep myself toned down and somewhat under control.

    I will share one thing, though. Anyone who knows me knows my self esteem has never been much above sea level. I'm a backseat, in the shadows, holding up the scenery kind of person. I had an experience at the dentist last year that has stayed with me all this time. It was one of those ah-ha moments, but a scary one for me. I'd just had a new crown put on and was coming down off the happy gas and straightening out after being all curled up (yes I hate the dentist), when the dentist shoved a mirror in my hand for me to look and see if I was satisfied with the crown. Hello! It was cemented on! Like I was going to say, "Oh, I'd love to sit in this chair for another couple of hours and I really think it looks a little crooked so would you please get out your pliers and rip it out and make me a new one???" Yeah, right. Even that thought was drowned out by how startled I was having the mirror shoved in my face. It was like I was seeing myself for the first time - not just my reflection, but myself. I spent the rest of that day - and many days since - trying to sort through and understand the feelings I had experienced.

    One of the basic exercises that Louise Hay tells you to do is to stand in front of a mirror, look yourself square in the eyes and repeat, "I love you. I really, really love you" ten times. You're supposed to do that several times a day. I know it sounds stupid, but that is so hard for me. Next to impossible, actually. But I'm trying it. And I'm noticing subtle changes. I think doing that along with various other positive affirmations is what is helping me to sort out my past and put it to rest and take back control of my life today. The only thing I have control over is what I am thinking right this very minute but I do have control over that.

    At first I thought all this affirmation talk and the Laws of Attraction sounded haughty and proud and 'entitling'. But the more I think I understand it, the more it parallels my religious beliefs and strengthens my faith in a loving Heavenly Father who knows me and loves me and wants me to love myself and succeed. Positive affirmations are founded on expressing gratitude first. I'm not sure why I decided to write this - maybe to cement it more in my mind. I am especially grateful to my sister for suggesting the first book because it's created lots of doors and windows waiting to be explored. And I think I'm in a position to do some exploring now.