Thank you, my battle friends.

pip logo

I was a little overwhelmed by all the feedback I got about PIP (my Protecting Innocence Project). Your willingness to stand up for this issue was exhilarating.  I just wanted to let you know that now that I have an army to work with, I am trying to organize my big to-do list into several little projects that I can divide up among you.  If you specifically stated in your comment that you wanted to help out with PIP, watch for an email from me within the next week or so with a specific request.  There are no obligations here.  If it doesn’t seem a good fit for you, feel free to hand it back and we’ll find another task.  Thanks again, blog friends.  You’ve done me proud.  It feels good to be counted among good people with good hearts and marching feet to match.

“I truly believe that one virtuous young woman or young man, led by the Spirit, can change the world, but in order to do so, we must return to virtue. . . . I testify that we will be enabled and strengthened not only to do hard things but to do all things. Now is the time for each of us to arise and unfurl a banner to the world calling for a return to virtue.”Elaine S. Dalton

(Image credit)

Advertisements

Some people have an evil twin. I have a stupid twin.

Photo 6Photo 7

(Even I am frightened by that second picture, but I must be more lazy than proud because I don’t want to delete it and upload another one.  The shame serves me right.)

I didn’t know I had a stupid twin until I became a mother.  Then my brains fell out.  This phenomenon began with my very first pregnancy, like the time I decided to go on a walk around the neighborhood and realized as I sat on the step outside my door lacing up my shoes that I forgot my pants.  And that’s not even the worst of DIPS (Dumbness Induced by Pregnancy Syndrome), but I’ll save those great stories for a day when I don’t have any good blog fodder.  Lucky for you, I’ve been stupid enough lately that I’m in no shortage of current fodder.  Anyway, my brains fell out almost 7 years ago.  After 3 births, the remaining brain residue functions as well as it can but is subject to shriveling, exploding, turning to mush and other unfortunate and value-diminishing episodes— also ongoing symptoms of  motherhood.

So my stupid twin does dumb stuff.  I mean really dumb stuff.  And I just shake my head at her and wonder how we could possibly be related.  This past weekend my family went camping.  We love to camp, but it is so much work (unless your name is not “Mom” because then it’s mostly just about playing and getting fed).  Well, despite my hours of planning and stressing about the upcoming “vacation,” I managed to forget pillows, my children’s pajamas, a can opener, a jacket for myself (even though the trip included a tour of a cave that averages 48 degrees), and –sweet mercy– DVDs for the trip down and back.  By the way, I am not pregnant; just wanted to clear that up.  Simply dumb with no pregnancy to blame.  We managed to muddle through all my oversights and things were fine.  We even had lots of fun.  We collected all our dirty laundry, dirty dishes, and anything else the raccoons didn’t drag off and headed for home.

The “natural man” in me wants to dump off everything in my entry way and then not look at it again for a few weeks, but I was all industrious and put things right away, and started the dishwasher and started the laundry and even made a hot dinner.  I was too tired to even shower, but after three days, does it really even matter any more?  So I slept like a log (yes, a dirty log), then got up this morning and began the real-life routine.  This brought me face-to-face again with my stupid twin.

Photo 7valtab

The tab/sticker on my license plate says my registration expires in June 2009.  Well, I never got any renewal stuff in the mail, so I emailed the DMV about it, and they kindly explained to me that I never paid my registration last year so would I please tell them what tabs I stuck on my license plate.  After several moments of dumbfounded confusion, things became clear and I realized that after we sold our other car last year, the renewal stuff must have come in the mail and I didn’t pay attention, so I just stuck it on my van.  But it wasn’t for my van.  So I registered a car I no longer owned and failed to register the one I did own.  In their polite email way, they told me I need to go to the DMV and take care of my little problem.

So this morning, I got ready to go to the DMV and loaded all the kids in the car.  Then I realized I’d probably need my drivers license and spent a few minutes looking for it.  By a few, I mean about twenty.  My kids were sweating in the car and begging for snacks and water.  I looked in my camping luggage and in all the other places it might be.  I made my regular daily call to Matt asking if he knows where I left something.  No luck.  I started thinking maybe it was stolen from our car or trailer on the trip because I’m pretty sure I took it.  I got online to check my account and make sure that there were not suspicious purchases.  When I saw that the last purchase was made at Wendy’s on Friday afternoon, a lightbulb went off.  Actually it was more like a loud annoying alarm with a painful mallet.  In about 20 seconds, the following “vision” went through my mind:

  • Stopped at Wendy’s on way to State Park.
  • Trailer too big for drive-thru.  I went inside while Matt waited with kids in van.
  • Carried my wallet.
  • Made large purchase for five people and received my to-go order in a large bag, a small bag and a drink tray.
  • Needed both hands to carry bags; put wallet in large Wendy’s bag.
  • Returned to car.  Bombarded by hungry, needy people and played waitress for 25 minutes.
  • Went on carelessly with my life.
  • Arrived at State Park.  Matt removed trash from car and left it in the dumpster at the Ranger Station.

The vision ended with a blur of my credit cards, insurance cards, season passes, library cards and much much more swirling in a vortex of dumpster filth and an image of raccoons currently on a spending spree at PetSmart or Trader Joes.

credit-cardsPhoto 7racoons

So I spent most of this morning making phone calls and hearing helpful customer service agents say things like “I’ve heard a lot of good stories, but never this one before.”  As if people don’t throw away their wallets in State Park dumpsters in fast food bags all the time.  Yeah, right.  Then I loaded the kids up in the van again, this time without snacks and water, and went to the DMV.  I knew this would be my stupid twin’s moment of glory:  back-paying my missed registration while explaining that I also threw away my drivers license.  I took a number, sat down with my children, and entertained them with pamphlets about fishing and getting a motorcycle license.  Finally my number was called.  I proudly marched up to the counter and started my conversation:

“First of all, I am an idiot….”

I wish I had an evil twin.  I would totally make her beat the living daylights out of my stupid twin.

General Conference Book Club Week 16: President Eyring

01_07_eyrinWell, it finally happened.  My General Conference Book “Club” has now dwindled down to me writing a Sunday post and, ahem, then writing the only comment on it.  (This is the part where you say stuff like, “Oh, I’m so sorry, Stephanie.  Your GCBC was the best idea that anyone ever had!  The only reason I’m not participating right now is because my DVR is so full of good stuff, I prefer reading romance novels while I lay by the pool, Let’s face it, General Conference is so 16 weeks ago I have swine flu in my eyes and reading is really difficult right now.”)  So, I think your best bet back into full health and a fullness of joy is to join the GCBC fun again.

>>This week’s talk is “Adversity” by the amazing President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency.  Click here to read the talk.<<

This is one of my favorite lines from his talk:

“My purpose today is to assure you that our Heavenly Father and the Savior live and that They love all humanity. The very opportunity for us to face adversity and affliction is part of the evidence of Their infinite love. . . . It is clear that for us to have that gift [eternal life] and to be given that trust [endless posterity], we must be transformed through making righteous choices where that is hard to do.”

Anyway, even if you don’t decide to comment on the talk here (clearing throat and raising eyebrows), you should really read it.  It’s a great message.  I would love to hear your thoughts though.  Have a great week.

(First time to GCBC?  Click here to get the scoop.)

FIVE things I love about Clark.

Clark celebrated his fifth birthday this week.

This WAS Clark:

P8230002

PC090010

P1020001

P1110016

PICT0067

PICT0047

PICT0240

PICT0134

And here he is NOW in all his five-year-old glory:

DSCF0014

DSCF0021

DSCF0022

I think he’s adorable.  Here are the five things I most love about my little guy:

  1. Mischievous smile.  He has the cutest grin, with little gapped, square teeth all lining up in a glorious expression of innocent happiness.  He always looks like he might be up to trouble, and he probably is.  The best way I can explain Clark’s toddlerhood is Curious George. Curious George's Faces2cmp
  2. His joy.  We’ve always joked that Clark is bi-polar, because when he’s mad, boy is he mad (see crying in banner photo above), but when he’s happy, he’s delightful.  He has a giggling, bouncing enthusiasm that is contagious.
  3. His positive attitude.  I will always remember the day that was one of my most trying as a mother.  Clark began and ended the day with misbehavior, and stayed busy in between.  I swear he spent half of it in time out, and I was seriously ready to revoke my own motherhood license.  Late in the day, he was reading a book on a chair in the living room while I was doing dishes in the kitchen.  I heard him sigh deeply and say, “What a great day.”  I learned much in that moment about why we’re supposed to become “as a little child.”
  4. His generosity.  He will always share.  This week, he got two Webkinz in the mail as a present from my parents.  He opened them up and danced around and cheered for a minute.  He handed one to Grant and said, “Here Grant.  You can have this one.”  This is typical of Clark.
  5. His gratitude.  He voices sincere appreciation for even the simplest things.  “Thanks, Mom for letting us eat our snack on the deck!”  If you look closely at that train birthday cake, (who am I kidding? You don’t even have to look closely) it is an amateur job by all counts.  He asked for a train; I did my best.  When Matt came home from work, Clark said, “Dad! Dad! Come see my cake.  It’s A-MAZ-ING!”  Heh.

Can I add that as I type this, I can hear Clark in the bathroom doing his business and singing out loud, “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord…”?  Priceless.  Happy Birthday, Clark.  I love you.

Diagnostics.

kidneyEarly this morning I took Natalie to the Children’s Hospital for a kindney ultrasound.  She was pretty nervous because of all the invasive testing she had done a couple weeks ago when they were diagnosing her UTI.  I assured her that nothing would go in her nose or throat or poke her fingers.  She settled down and did a great job.  Everything was normal.

It was pretty fascinating watching the ultrasound.  Did you know your kidneys are all the way up under your rib cage toward the back?  I seriously always pictured them much further down in the “loins” region.  Anyway, I thought it was such a cool concept that we can take a close look inside ourselves, and and an expert can tell us if all is well or if there’s something that’s cause for concern.  (btw, This graphic is just pulled from an Orlando Clinic I found on Google Images.)

Anyway, I thought to myself on the way home that personal prayer is kind of like our own spiritual diagnostics.  We can look carefully inside ourselves and take inventory of what’s going well and what’s not and then take it all before our Heavenly Father and let him diagnose us, counsel us, and ultimately heal us.  The concept is actually quite cool, even more miraculous than the fact we can see our own guts on a computer screen.  I thought how much I probably put my spiritual health in jeopardy by failing to do daily diagnostics with the Lord.  It made me want to be better at it … again.  (Do you think I’ll really get it someday?)  When I do remember to say my “formal” personal prayers (not the frequent God conversations I have in my heart throughout the day), it’s very robotic and not nearly as penitent as it should be.  At the end of each day, if I took the time to think about it, there are probably many blips or irregularities on my spiritual ultrasound.  I need to discuss those with my Heavenly Father every day and clean that stuff up.  I bet that would make each morning a whole new birth, in a sense.  A fresh, clean start.  Literally.

And isn’t it interesting that something so scientific and medical could give me insight so spiritual and personal?

Here’s my sweet Natalie hugging the teddy bear they gave her after her little procedure.  If I can get my spirit half as bright as hers, I’ll be in good shape, I tell ya.

DSCF0025

Post script: I have to say I was genuinely surprised by the “controversy” that popped up in yesterday’s comment thread.  Let’s not argue about if one way of fighting pornography is better than another way; we’re all on the SAME TEAM for heaven’s sake.  The purpose of the post was simply to say:  I have a new project I feel inspired to do.  Would anyone like to help me out? Thank you to all of you who make efforts inside and outside of your homes to protect your children from what President Hinckley accurately called a “pernicious evil.”  To those of you who offered up some help,  I will contact you soon with some direction.  (And thank you so much.)   I’d be happy to add on any other team members along the way.  I firmly believe that if we can all do some part, in our own best way, to fight pornography or any form of inappropriate media, we will make a difference.

I need your help with a war. Honestly.

I don’t know if you ever get an idea in your head that will not go away.  I have learned that this is one of the ways that God talks to me:  repetitive, unceasing thoughts to act.  Let me break it down for you.

What?:  Ever since I watched the Super Bowl (what was that? like 7 months ago?), I have wanted to do something to influence what kind of programming is acceptable for children.  My rage was ignited by Victoria’s Secret ads (soft porn!) and a 3-D half-time ad that included some kind of bed-crawling vixen.  I was infuriated that it was a daytime program with many obviously young and adolescent viewers, especially boys.  Since then I have been constantly aware of (and annoyed by) the onslaught of inappropriate advertisements and programming that are too easily accessible to— and even targeted at— children.

Why?:  If you remember from my post about Sister Julie Beck’s recent Women’s Conference talk, she challenged us women to “Fight!” against pornography.  When we do nothing more than shake our heads at it, we can’t change anything.  Together, though, I think we can make a difference.

How?:  So my idea that was born back in January and has been fueled by promptings and reminders over the past several months is a website that would give moms all the tools they need to file formal complaints when children are exposed to inappropriate media– A place where they can point and click and submit their complaints as well as find templates of letters they can use and customize to voice their concerns.  I have called it the “Protecting Innocence Project” and it is currently being hosted (in all it’s super-rough-draft glory) here.

You?:  It occurred to me that my friends and readers could be a great resource to me in getting this whole thing up and running.  Here are some things I need:

  1. Addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses from all the major networks that could be used to file a formal complaint about programming and advertising.  (This is harder to find than it should be.)
  2. Someone who is knowledgeable enough to help me create “complaint” forms that moms could fill out online, and then they would be automatically sent to the target emails (networks, FCC, etc.)
  3. A collection of other sites, resources, and programs that are related to the fight against pornography and inappropriate media.  I’d like to create a reference list that helps people find this stuff more easily.
  4. Once the site is up and running, I’d love for people to help publicize it among friends, blogs, communities, even newspapers and local news where feasible.  Please don’t send anyone there yet because it’s just bare-bones minimum so far.
  5. Things like buttons and banners would be helpful (the online version, I mean).  I don’t really know how to create stuff like that other than turning an existing graphic into a hot link.

Anyway, this is just a plea to those of you who frequent this blog and find yourself sympathetic to this cause.  If you think you could help out with any of the aforementioned needs, let me know in the comments what you’re interested in/willing to help out with.  I’ll get back to you with a specific assignment (something as simple as researching out contact information for NBC).

Care to join me in this battle ladies?  I think we can do ourselves and our children proud.

us-army-female-soldiers

Recent lessons in self-awareness

So you may have noticed I wasn’t a stellar blogger last week, but boy howdy, was I busy. Try to imagine that your friend who is a medical doctor asks you to “substitute” for him at work the day he’s supposed to perform surgery. That’s what it’s like when you get called as a counselor in the Stake YW presidency one month before Girls Camp (and the new president will be out of town for the month). So last week I spent two and a half days at Girl’s Camp and I learned a few more things about myself.

wall_tents_porches

  • Girls obsess about boys as much as I obsess about sleep.  (Oh, the part I learned about myself is that I’m annoyed by that… the boy part, definitely not the sleep part.)
  • When I went to Girls Camp as a youth, we loved singing all kinds of silly songs over and over again wherever we went.  This trend is apparently still in force, but now as an old and incredibly wise adult, I realize that many of those songs are really kind of inappropriate.  Heck, some of them are even anthems of boy-mongering.  Again, annoyed.  (Are you noticing a trend?)  My friend Shantel and I tried to come up with some counter-culture camp songs ourselves like “Boys are stupid until you’re twenty.  (and while marching…) Stand for Truth and Righteousness!”  Not a big hit.  Can’t imagine why.
  • I had to teach a fireside at camp and even though I thought I had prepared with many weeks of pondering, when I sat down to put my notes together a mere hour or so before the presentation, I had some severe writer’s block.  Just a little testimonial:  Prayer works.
  • When girls go to Girls Camp and decide to sleep as little as possible, they get to go home and recover.  When women go to Girls Camp and are victims of as little sleep as possible, they get to go home and immediately pick up their regular duties on overtime.  The trend continues:  Annoying.
  • I thought the girls might be annoying.  I was wrong.  I loved them, and I looked forward to spending more time with them.
  • Glitter lip gloss does not look good on grown women.

Today I had to return the large speaker system podium that we borrowed for camp to the church building.  When I arrived and got out of the car, I realized I needed to go to the bathroom.  I bent over and heaved up the podium to carry it in the building, and –um– apparently something about that bending, lifting and heaving stretched the limits of my bladder control.  I went home a little damper than I arrived, which is simply God’s way of reminding me that I’m not nearly as young or cool as I think I am.

So, learned any fun lessons about yourself lately?