Invigorating?

PrayerDraw1[image credit: Jenny Stevning]

Nick Galieti, who interviewed me about my book a while back (you can listen to that here), wrote me this morning to let me know that he had written an article about it in the Deseret News.

That was a fun surprise.

There were also a couple other surprises.

The title of the article was “LDS author Stephanie Dibb Sorensen invigorates motherhood with practical doctrine”. I love that he used the words motherhood and doctrine together because that’s really what I hope makes the book different. I tried hard to steer away from fluff and to just show through scripture and personal experiences how our daily mothering is really the doctrine of Jesus Christ in action. The word “invigorates” made me laugh a little because, although it’s a great word and it felt like a compliment, the idea that I “invigorate motherhood” just humors me. I spent several hours this week doing yard work. This made me feel old and sore. Ever since I got home from church today, I’ve been fantasizing about taking a nap. I fantasize about naps on most days. So I don’t consider myself a very invigorating specimen of motherhood, but I’m so glad Nick thinks I am. :)

The other surprise from the article was the discovery that I apparently speak out loud in very long run-on sentences. I should really learn to punctuate a little bit when I speak. I am a fast talker, especially when I’m nervous, but now I know that I also craft paragraph-sized sentences effortlessly.

Warning: subject change….

I’ve been blogging for a long time, and one thing I’ve learned is how thoughtful and smart my readers are. There are many times that your comments have encouraged me or helped to me to gain insight into circumstances and principles. Some of you may have read a recent post I wrote called “An open letter to two real moms.” Among lots of other run-on sentences, I whined a little about book signings and I shared a few lessons I learned from general conference, including this one:

President Packer testified of the power of mothers’ prayers. Sure that means prayers for our children, but I also think it means prayers when we need help being a parent. God will honor those prayers.

Well, this morning I got a comment on that post that is still in my moderation queue, and I’ve been thinking about it most of the day. I have a variety of ideas, but I’m not sure I know how to answer her. I decided that I’m going to open it up to you to help answer her question.

Where is the help, I need it now! I have been poring out prayers to heaven. They say we have this power as a mother to get help from heaven. Well, where is it. I need it, and have been asking for it for years.

I will allow her to remain anonymous and I will email her and let her know that many wise mothers will be sharing some thoughts with her. Be kind to her and answer as if she were your own daughter, because I think she could use a little “invigorating.” Just share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks, friends.

My four-year-old hates me, and other parenting tidbits.

She does.  She just told me in a very elevated voice.  She also told me that I’m the worst mom she’s ever had (she has a point) and that she’s not talking to me for the rest of the day (thankyouverymuch).  So that’s that.

About 2 weeks ago I was kind of dreading the end of summer because I think I’ll miss the lazy schedule.  However, in an unexpected case of divine intervention, God turned my children in to little demons this week to restore my hope in and love for the back-to-school season.  He always watches out for me like that. No, really, he does.

Speaking of back to school, this year I will have 3 children in three different schools, none of which will have a bus.  Shoot me now.  Either that, or send me a personal assistant.  Natalie’s just in preschool, but it’s still another pick-up and drop-off to juggle.  Jocelyn wrote a great post asking her readers for advice on sending her oldest to kindergarten.  I thought to myself, Hey, I should do that.  I have smart readers.  And I need back-to-school advice.

So help me out.  Besides from the obvious step of trying to work out some kind of life-saving carpool schedule, what other advice do you have for me as I enter the new world of juggling 3 children, 3 schools, 3 schedules, 3 calendars, 3 sets of homework, 3 lunches, etc. (not to mention extracurriculars which I still have not registered for out of deep fear)?  Even just typing that all out made me feel like I need chocolate.

Oh, and as long as I’m throwing out my troubles for you to fix, does anyone have any suggestions (other than the obvious ones like solitary confinement and waterboarding*) for sass and backtalking?  I swear we’ve had at least a dozen family home evening lessons on this topic, but from where I’m standing (refer back to paragraph #1), I don’t see much progress.  Besides not getting the kind of respect I deserve/demand, it worries me that the quick contrary responses I’ve been getting might trickle over into other relationships with teachers or other adults.  The idea of raising children that are not the epitome of proper respect makes me feel quite unsettled.

So come on you geniuses, make it all better.  :)

p.s.  If you are ever looking for a fun show for your elementary-aged boys (probably girls, too), mine have been LOVING watching this on Netflix.  I have to admit it’s laugh-out-loud funny.  One disclaimer: in episode #8, the sheep got a glimpse of the farmer’s claymation rear end and were scarred for life.  Even though I probably would not have let them watch that episode if I knew what was coming, boy did my boys laugh hard, and they lay awake in their beds last night laughing about it long after bedtime.

(*For the newer subscribers who are not yet familiar with my blog voice, I am kidding.  I would not under any circumstances use waterboarding, unless it were a matter of family security or I didn’t get enough sleep the night before.  Happy to clarify.)

Creative discipline, and seeking wisdom

I accomplished more items on a to-do list today than have ever been accomplished in Stephanie history.  The natural consequence of this is poor parenting.  “Quiet!  I’m on the phone.” “Stop touching each other and go do something quiet.”  “I am in a bad mood right now, so you’d better shape up.”  These are all hypothetical examples, of course.

Matt and I have dinner plans with my sister and her husband tonight so I made the kids their own dinner.  I then left them for no-more-than-four-minutes so I could go phone in my dinner order.  When I returned, I found that they had entered deadly territory:  the food fight.  The floor was covered with peas and pasta and broken pieces of biscuits.  I thought bad words in my head.  I sent the main perpetrator (who should remain unnamed but I’m mad at him:  Grant) to his room and then went and got Matt out of the garage.  “I need you to come inside before I hurt one of your children.”  This is when Matt had a stroke of parenting genius.  First he took all their plates away.

“Your dinner is now on the floor.  Eat every single piece of it, or you’re dead.”

I love my husband.

Moving is stressful.  Really stressful.  And sometimes it turns us into mean people.  I’m hoping to be nice again in about 3 weeks.

We planted a garden in our back yard and I planted zucchini for the first time.  Is this normal? (That’s my full-sized adult hand.)

Our new house has no appliances.  This is a list of the items I will have to buy next week:

  • range/oven
  • dishwasher
  • fridge
  • washer/dryer
  • microwave (hood w/fan)
  • oh, and a king-sized mattress (which I realize is not technically an appliance)

Do you own any of the above items that you LOVE (like so much that you would return your children before you’d return said appliance)?  I really want to hear your suggestions of things to consider. I have the option of gas or electric for both the range/oven and the dryer–  Any thoughts on that?  Just pretend like you’re the editor of Consumer Reports and tell me what to look for and what to avoid.  Brand names and model numbers are appreciated.

I apologize in advance if I do the same thing I did with your places-to-live suggestions (moved somewhere different) and totally ignore you.  I don’t know why I do that.  Trust me, it’s involuntary.

I was going to write more, but I can’t keep my mind off of the Chris’ Outrageous Chocolate Cake I just ordered from The Cheesecake Factory.

CHRIS’ OUTRAGEOUS CHOCOLATE CAKE ™
A Cheesecake Factory Original – Layers of Moist Chocolate Cake, Chewy Brownie,
Toasted Coconut-Pecan Frosting and Creamy Chocolate Chip Coconut Cheesecake

Oh sweet mercy.

Dear “Not Feeling It”…

I posted yesterday about the email I got asking for advice.  Thanks to you readers who already left comments with your ideas and suggestions. I knew you were wise.  Feel free to add more to the discussion, since I’m sure there will still be some holes left to fill after my answer.  Here’s the original question:

Stephanie,

I feel like something is missing in my life.  I’m taking care of the kids, exercising, reading — I don’t know what it is, but I just feel pretty empty.  I’m kind of going through the motions, but I don’t have a sense of direction.  So it makes me wonder if moms like you feel fulfilled.

Do you?  Do you feel complete/ whole?  It probably sounds dumb.  I don’t know that I necessarily need something else in my life, but that I need to figure out how to find the substance in the life I already have.  Do you have any perspective on this?

Thanks,

“Not Feeling It”

Dear “Not Feeling It,”

(Warning:  I tend to go overboard on this advice thing.  Get a comfortable seat.  It may take a while.)  :)

Fulfillment is an elusive thing. Women are multi-faceted creatures, and while we can usually multi-task quite well, it’s kind of impossible to nourish every side of ourselves at once.  This is especially true for mothers because we have so many demands on our time and attention, and often those demands don’t line up very closely with our own “wish lists.”  I’m beginning to learn that “fulfillment” is fool’s gold.  Magazines, talk-show hosts, self-help authors, and other mothers at the playground tell us we should seek fulfillment and that our lives are incomplete without it.  However, I think that if we spend too much time looking for it, we’ll find ourselves none the richer, and in fact, even when we go to great lengths to fill all our personal “needs,” we still come up empty because the focus of that kind of treasure hunt is simply too self-centered.  Perhaps this is a little controversial, because while women are meant to be nurturers, we obviously must nourish ourselves enough to function properly.  Elder Ballard said, “Water cannot be drawn from an empty well,” and we serve best when we have reservoirs of energy, talent, and Spirit. I’m learning to work less toward fulfillment and more toward contentment.  Contentment, by definition, implies a certain sense of satisfaction and happiness on a very simple level.  It is independent of circumstance.  After briefly mentioning that the Phillipians had failed to take care of him, the apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Happiness, joy, and deep satisfaction all make appearances on the stage of motherhood. They do. Some days and weeks are better than others. My own experience has taught me that Continue reading

The post where I finally get to be Dear Abby but I’m not nearly as good as I thought I’d be

There’s something you should know about me.  I give too much advice.  I love to give advice.  Some might think it’s arrogant, but it really stems from a deep desire to help people.  (And maybe a teeny, tiny feeling that I might possibly have a morsel of wisdom to share.)  When people start telling me about a concern or a struggle, my brain automatically makes a list of my favorite talks, quotes, scriptures, life experiences, etc. that seem to be a perfect fit, and those things totally bulldoze their way from my brain to my mouth. I swear it’s a little involuntary.  So if my siblings are reading, please know my unsolicited advice-giving compulsion comes out of LOVE (and maybe a little chemical imbalance in my brain).

Given this gift/defect I have, I’ve always kind of fantasized about being a Dear Abby type person, kind of like the bearded guru who sits on a mountain and answers people’s deepest questions (but more like an unshowered housewife who sits on an office chair with chocolate chips and Pringles while her kids watch Super Why and makes up answers for people who somehow thought she might have a modicum of insight.)  What can I say?  I dream big.  Well, Continue reading

Calling all Mouseketeers!

Matt graduated from law school this month (YES! YES! YES!) and we’re going to celebrate.

We’re going to Disney World!

Other than my own visit as a teenager, we’ve never been.  I’m so excited, and a tiny bit overwhelmed by how to navigate the big wonderful world of Disney.  I need help from you experienced Mom travelers.

Stats:

  • We are staying off-site in a condo that has a kitchen, 1.5 miles from Disney World.
  • We will have a rental car/van.
  • We will be in Orlando for 6 full days (including one Sunday)
  • Three children:  ages 7, 5, and 3.
  • We have a behavior plan currently in place where kids can earn “Disney dollars” they can use to purchase snacks or trinkets at the park.  Good behavior earns dollars, bad behavior loses them.  Pretty simple.

Questions: (answer any or all of them.  I’m “all ears.”  Get it?)

  1. How should we divide up 5 days between the 4 parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios)?  Please consider my kids’ ages and recommend what they’ll like the most/least.
  2. I don’t think we can afford to eat at Disney restaurants and such.  How realistic is it to eat off site or bring a lunch?  Could we “run home” and eat or is that really a 2-hour round trip?  Suggestions?
  3. I know about the “Fast Passes” you can use to come back later and not wait so long in line.  How does the “Ride Sharing” (thing where you and your husband can take turns going with/without children) work?
  4. Any great insider tips?
  5. What about must-see attractions, events, sites to see within the parks?
  6. Natalie is 3 and never uses a stroller any more.  Should I take one anyway?
  7. Anything I should pack that I probably haven’t thought of?
  8. Should I pay the upgrade for the park-hopper passes or is any one park going to easily occupy the full day?
  9. Anything you thought your kids would love and they didn’t?  I don’t want to waste my time.  I know for a fact they won’t like things like walking tours (for example, the Animation studios tour).
  10. I can’t think of another question, but name anything random you want me to take a picture of while we’re there and I’ll do my best.

p.s.  Don’t forget to join us in the Winter Poetry contest.  Entries due by Tuesday night.

Dear Wise Readers,

Just pretend that you’re Dear Abby (except with the kind of morals that you don’t tell people that they should be proud of the life they’ve chosen for themselves even though it’s riddled with sin and selfishness), and hit me with your best advice.  These are real questions, some dumber than others, that would greatly benefit from your insights.  Pick and choose, or if you’re infinitely smarter than I am, go ahead and answer them all.  (I made up little pseudonyms to sign off each question because maybe that will make you forget that there’s ONE person out there with all these issues.)

woman_floor_laptop

  1. Will my laundry situation improve or get worse if I buy more towels and sheets?  We seem to always be running out.  —MAYBE MORE IS BETTER
  2. I’ve been asked to give a talk in church on a big ol’ topic that could take hours to discuss, but I’ve been given 13 minutes.  How do you narrow it down without feeling like you’ve left out some really important stuff?  —CAN’T SHUT UP
  3. When I walk from room to room in my house and see huge projects that need to be done in each one, I get a little panicky and shut down.  I know you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time, but how can I get my brain to just think about the one bite instead of the whole blasted elephant?  —I THINK I’M GOING BACK TO BED NOW
  4. Another laundry question.  I have serious doubts about whether or not the clothes that come through the laundry are dirty or not.  I wonder if many of them have even been worn or if maybe they just fell off a hanger.  Is there any way to minimize this problem without being a 24-hour monitor that has to question and sniff each item of laundry as it is placed in the dirty-clothes pile?  —HAMPER GOALIE
  5. Does anyone have good ideas for cold-weather after-school snacks?  I keep trying to think of a warm snack, but everything I think of is cookies or desserts.  Any ideas for healthy, cozy after-school snacks I can use during the Winter months?— BECAUSE A BAGEL IS GETTING OLD
  6. I have a lot of dried beans in food storage and I really need to learn how to use them this year.  I love soups and stuff, but I never remember to use my beans in time.  They’re supposed to soak overnight, right?  How can I work them into my regular meal schedule?  —OVERWHELMED BY BUCKETS OF BEANS
  7. This one’s a little heavy, but how does one apply the Atonement to all the “little stuff”? It’s easier to identify the application when there are big issues, major sins, or heavy burdens.  I wish I understood better how to hand over all my small struggles (the recurring shortcomings or undeveloped attributes) and tap into the Savior’s ability to “fix” it.  Any thoughts?  —TRYING TO GET IT RIGHT