Another installment of “Dear Wise Readers”

Dear wise readers,
This is a post where I temporarily stop pretending that I have all the answers to all the questions in the universe, and I direct some of the more important ones to you, because even General Conference didn’t answer all of my questions (and I was so sure one of the apostles might have tips on muffin pans).  Let’s start there, shall we?

  1. I hate my muffin pans.  The “no-stick” stuff isn’t, and the pans get rusted where it scrapes off, and they’re impossible to clean and keep clean.  Does anyone have a recommendation for muffin pans that they love?  I would prefer for them to be dishwasher safe, but maybe there’s no such thing.
  2. I’m having a little bit of a blog identity crisis.  My entire blog (including the title) is built on the premise that I’ve been changing diapers every day since 2003, and now that’s . . . well, it’s not true anymore.  (Knock on wood.)  All of my children are now potty trained, and only the youngest wears pull-ups at nighttime.  This new development makes me want to sing the Hallelujah chorus to strangers on the street, but as far as blogging goes, it kind of makes me feel like a fraud.  I’ve thought about changing the name of the blog, but that doesn’t seem right because the whole point is the juxtaposition of our daily, menial tasks with our greater, divine mission of motherhood.  What do you think?  (Anyone who suggests that I should fix this problem by having another baby is hereby banned from my blog.  Banned! You hear me?)
  3. Right now I’m feeling a deep love-hate relationship with Cadbury.  That’s not really a question, but I needed to get it off my hips chest.
  4. Do you feel as much joy as I do that Spring is actually in the air?  There’s something so exhilarating about sunshine and warmth after a long cold winter.  (This excitement is counterbalanced by a lovely reminder that soon my body will have to wear a swimsuit.  Probably in public.  Refer to #3.)
  5. All joking aside, I’m anticipating that I will soon experience something I like to call “post-Conference depression.”  It’s the point where a few weeks after General Conference, you realize that you are still the same, lazy person you were before you got all pumped up and energized by the talks.  Anyone who reads my blog knows I love General Conference.  I love it.  I feel like it’s half pep rally/half spiritual boot camp— a veritable showering of truth, encouragement, reproach, exhortation, and Spirit.  I feel brought down and lifted high at the same time.  My heart and my mind have a continual dialogue at Conference, and where they come together in harmony, they leave goals and hopes and iron-clad intentions.  And then a few weeks later, I feel much like the man who asked President Uctdorf for some advice:

I wrote back to him and lovingly suggested a few specific things he could do that would align his life more closely with the teachings of the restored gospel. To my surprise, I heard back from him only a week later. The essence of his letter was this: “I tried what you suggested. It didn’t work. What else have you got?”

Wisely, he entitled this particular section of his talk “The Path of Patience,” and he then explained:

“Brothers and sisters, we have to stay with it. We don’t acquire eternal life in a sprint—this is a race of endurance. We have to apply and reapply the divine gospel principles. Day after day we need to make them part of our normal life.

So that’s my question:  How do you do that?  How do you take the long list of great things you want to do and actually PUT them in your daily life?  I recognize the reality that Sis. Beck alluded to in this Saturday’s talk: (paraphrased) “There is not time to do all the things your heart desires to do,” and her counsel to seek the direction of the Spirit to identify your priorities (SUCH great advice!), but even then, I need some tips to transition me from the “decided” stage to the “doing” stage.  Come on wise readers, lay it on me.

p.s.  I’m back from Spring Break now, and hope to drop in on more of your blogs soon, where I’ve been obviously (or serendipitously) absent.  🙂

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27 thoughts on “Another installment of “Dear Wise Readers”

  1. I’m afraid I can’t help you with #1 – I too am on a quest for nonstick muffin pans. #2 – I totally think you should keep the title; it still very much defines MY life, which is one reason I keep reading your blog!

    As for General Conference, I take notes during the talks – not necessarily about what the speaker is saying, but what the Spirit is telling me. So I end up with a few sheets of notebook paper with quotes and ideas that strike me (you know, the ones that give you goosebumps because they’re “aimed” at you.)

    But I also have stars by notes like: “Hold a FHE on such-and-such,” or “print out this scripture and put it up in the children’s bedroom” – ideas that I know came from the Spirit just to me. Things that are small enough I can do them in as little as an hour. Those are the things I try to do in the next 6 months. (And as I read the talks through your book club, I receive more little impressions, and I star those too…)

    I am continually amazed at the good the Lord is able to bring about in my life when I follow even the tiniest, simplest directions. It has brought about miracles. I think “by small and simple things” must have been written for mothers.

    • I like your distinction about small things. It made me think that I need to break down some of those goals into pieces that I *can* do in increments of “as little as an hour.” And yes, I know exactly what you mean about receiving counsel that you know is aimed right at you and your family.

  2. #1- Dollar store muffin pans. When you don’t feel like scrubbing them anymore, don’t- just throw them out! Haha. Seriously, I do have a love/hate relationship with them. I love making everything bite sized but they’re a pain to clean.

    And I know what you mean about General Conference. I purposefully don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t want that guilt in my life. But living the Gospel shouldn’t be brushed off so easily. Maybe the guilt means something, but not to be debilitated by it I try to remember that tomorrow is a new day and I can continue to improve regardless of what I did the day before (good or bad).

    Oh, and also keep the name. Even if you’re not physically changing diapers anymore, it’s conceptual and it works.

  3. As to question #1, The D.I. is a great place to get them, and as too the “Nonstick” part of the question, I think it is just an advertising ploy to get us to buy them, so I spray them with the nonstick cooking oil…

    I keep my Conference Ensign handy so, when I am feeling that post conference blue, I can read a talk and find how that message applies to the trials that I am currently facing and how can I do the things better in my life, that I am being faced with.

    As for the Blog name, Keep it… It works.

  4. Umm I always use cupcake liners. Seems to work for me, my muffin pans seem to be fine. But maybe I don’t use them as much as you do.

    If I were you I’d want to get the diapers part out of my blog title since I wouldn’t be dealing with diapers anymore. But it does work and I’m not creative enough to come up with anything better.

    And I don’t really have any suggestions about DOING things. I definitely need help in that department. I try to focus on the basics and that seems hard enough. Making sure that we have FHE, and family prayer and scriptures and that we learn Primary songs as a family. And I have learned a lot from my husband about teaching spiritual things at random times because the teaching moment presents itself. I have learned to make Gospel topics part of my everyday conversation with my kids (very similar to your blog- although much more primary-stlye). Anyway, I don’t know if that helps, but there you go.

  5. No help with the cooking pans. One has to actually “cook” in order to contribute to the dialogue.

    As for your blog title, I suggest you change it — if you feel like you’re ready to define this activity in a more representative way. What about “Daily Doses of Divinity”, “The Emerging Divine”, even “Small and Simple Things”. You don’t have to keep the “diaper” theme if that isn’t where you are any more.

    And I think everyone experiences what you’re talking about regarding conference. Heck, I get this way every week! My suggestion may seem mundane, but I would start with a goal or a partial goal that you are already on your way to achieving. For me it might be switching to caffeine free diet coke; later on I’ll move away from it completely.

    But start with something achievable, something partially accomplished already. It will help move those “old goals” along to the ‘finished’ pile, and serve as the warm up toward the next level of goal setting. This is especially sensible when we reflect on how many of our goals are intermingled, and kind of rely on finishing chapter one of this goal before we can work on chapter three of that one, which then lets us begin the prologue to yet another…and so on and so forth.

    And sometimes we get a ‘vision’ of where we are meant to be long before we actually arrive. It was more than eight years between Lehi’s being told of a promised land and his actually arriving there. It’s all right to say, “This is a worthwhile thing to pursue, and it may well take me a lifetime to get there.”

  6. Umm, let’s see…Dishes and Divinity…those aren’t going anywhere for a LOOONG time. Teenagers, Pimples, and Divinity…not very catchy. No, Diapers and Divinity works. Change it if you like but I don’t think it’s needed. There are plenty of other people out there still changing diapers and someday you will be a grandma. 🙂 (Congrats bytheway on becoming a diaperless mother!!!)

    I am so glad I am not the only one who frets over muffin pans! We love muffins and I would rather not have rust in them. I have also used the liners but that’s a pain as well. I was so excited when my husband bought me a silicone one but there was always a funny taste to the muffins cooked in it (and you have to place it on a cookie tray or it will flop all over the place). A few months ago I bought a Wilton muffin pan from Walmart for under $10. So far it has been great but I’m not sure what I’ll think of it in a year.

    As for our post-Conference depression, I think you’re already working on it! Hello, picking apart a talk each week and writing about it is pretty amazing. I agree that it is good to first concern yourself with those easily definable goals you feel impressed to do. Buy a box or binder for family history and put paper in it (Elder Nelson). Have a family home evening on the miracles of Jesus Christ (Elder Foster? Elder Anderson? Someone said to teach our children more about the Savior). Make a family banner (ok, that was from the Feb or March Ensign), etc.

    Then we can work on those goals that are harder to define like living worthy of the Spirit while we are getting our kids ready to leave the house. (Ha!) We can make those goals more concrete by breaking them apart into steps and then (and this is the clincher for me) writing them down. We can have an “It Ain’t Easy Being Perfect” notebook (see I’m just not very good with titles) and track the things we need to pray for each day like having the Spirit or to not be critical of others. For me, it helps to write things down so I can be reminded often. If I have a list of my SPECIFIC spiritual goals I tend to see better results. Then you have to pull out that paper each day and use it. So the trick is to put it in a special place (maybe under your bed) where it won’t get buried in the kitchen counter mayhem.

    In the end, even when we do our best, we all fall short of perfection so we get to listen to Conference again in a few months. I think our progress is often so gradual that it’s hard to see but it is there if we keep plugging away. Thanks for making that process more enjoyable with this blog. Whatever your title, just keep it up!

  7. I don’t think I had a single Cadbury egg all season. And this makes me sad.

    And I hope it stays spring here, not this crappy winter/spring Utah loves to trick us with.

  8. I have a silicone muffin pan… I like it, but you have to really get used to using them. Generally, I just use muffin liners, and wash my pans by hand. Annoying, but the only way I know to keep them from rusting. I’ve just come to the same conclusion with my cheese grater. Only wash my hand, dry immediately… only way to combat the rust.

    I made it through the entire easter season without eating one thing from cadbury. Amazing, I know. It wasn’t really intentional, it just sort of happened. I did, however, consume forty five reese’s peanut butter eggs. Or some such number.

    So, I’m a general conference girl too… as in, at the end of February, I start to get really excited because I know conference is coming. I just try and remember how it made me feel… to sit there, bask in the wisdom and truthfulness of it all, and then I pray to have that feeling back when I need a boost of encouragement or inspiration. I love to ask my Heavenly Father to allow me to feel of his love… it’s incredible validation when I feel like I’m just doing horribly at so many things.

    Blog title… I can see how it would be overwhelming to change it, and it does a great job of capturing the idea behind your blog, but if it’s gonna bug you to not change it, I’m sure there’s a title out there equally as awesome. Denae’s suggestions are good, and I’m sure there are more where those came from and from other readers as well… just not me, at the moment. Cause my brain is full of sludge.

  9. I have a love/hate relationship, but with WalMart freshly baked french bread.

    As for your final question, I too struggle with how to get all that I want to done. I think to myself, “I’ve done it before, why is so hard now? Have I become idle? Do I not care as much as I once did?” I know there is a time and season for all things, and the “essentials” need to be prioritized. But how? There is an Ensign article entitled Balanced. Amazing article! It answered alot of my questions, yet I still struggle, for reasons outside of my control. That is what is so frustrating! I pray for the patiencence to endure, I wait. I’ve been waiting. Yet through it all, small things are being answered slowly. Sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks I know that it is through “enduring” that we learn how to do those things we want so much to accomplish. How else would we truly know what the Savior went through? Our trials, our struggles teach us virtues. Virtues that need be learned. Virtues that can only learned through these moments and how do we learn to apply them? In D&C4:6 there is a list of virtues we need to learn. As we go through life, wanting to fit everything on a daily basis we need to ask the Lord and then it is thorugh the virtue of patience, enduring, and so on that we realize we are already doing all we truly “need” to do. I loved Sister Becks and Elder Echdorft’s talks. They also spoke to me.

    Through “small and simple things great things shall come to pass.” Don’t be hard on yourself. Learn the power behind balance. The Lord will guide you. He answers prayers.

  10. Do you use cooking spray (like Pam) on your muffin tins? That stuff is difficult to remove once cooked on. Use shortening as a greaser, maybe? It’s messy but it won’t stain. Or use liners. Or just switch to eating cookies.

    Could the post-conference depression be you being too hard on yourself, expecting perfection in a few short weeks? (Smiley) (Don’t hit me) No solution from me. I’m just trying to keep up with you as you are now.

  11. I only want to say that it’s too bad those Cadbury eggs DON’T go to your chest. (well, not yours, but mine, I mean, rather than my hips).

    I have no advice, but I love your thoughts.

  12. Are you sure you’re not ready to have another baby??? (Just kidding! Satan made me say it!)

    You may not be changing literal diapers, but you do change an awful amount of metaphorical diapers. Meaning that life is full of unpleasant things that must be done–whether it is changing diapers, cleaning dishes, or learning to love unseemly people.

    I really did love conference this year. I am even more excited for the conference issue Ensign!! I will have blog fodder for months on end!

  13. 1-I have silicone pans that just go in the dishwasher. I love them, although, the muffins are really soggy if you don’t take them out right after you cook them.

    2-I think Diapers and Divinity does describe the “mission” of your blog, but change it if it bugs you. I can’t think of a replacement title, though–Drudgery and Divinity, Daily Grind and Divinity–I don’t know. I kind of like the alliteration of diapers and divinity(hence the terrors in tiaras) Anyway…

    4-I love Spring. I dislike winter with every fiber of my being.

    5-I already feel that little slump before I get the printed Ensign. There were some great talks, and I tend to forget that I don’t have to make all of the changes I felt prompted to make all at once. Baby steps. That’s my advice. Baby steps.

  14. #1. If you don’t want rust on your metal, this can only be guaranteed by hand-washing. Same with if you don’t want your knives to dull (or rust, ha ha). But there’s also the silicone ones like said above – I’ve heard good things, so long as you get used to them. But the muffin pans are never non-stick unless you grease them. I prefer the butter and flour treatment, but spraying a lot of oil on the bottom and sides works ok. The butter/flour washes off easier, though.

    #2. Dishes and Divinity?

    #4. I get you there. Thank goodness I have pregnancy for an excuse this year. If I didn’t, I’m afraid I’d have to start running again like last spring. Stupid running. Stupid fall and it’s hip-sticking treats.

  15. I agree that you don’t really need to change the title of the blog even though you aren’t changing diapers anymore. But I would also understand if you wanted to change it anyway.

    How about dishes and divinity? Dishes are another menial task that never ends. I guess it’s not too creative though. Hmmm…I’ll keep thinking.

  16. Okay, I don’t have any real wisdom for you here, but I wanted to chip in my two cents….DON’T change the name of you blog! It’s so catchy and cute. It IS the essence of your blog.

    And I think that the dishwasher is your problem with the nonstick pans….dishwashers are notorious for ruining those. I know if I break down and wash them right away by hand they hold up great…if not, I’m in trouble.

  17. Muffin tins I can help you with — Have you tried the flexible Silpat (silicon) liners from France? I use the ones for cookie sheets religiously. And the muffin ones work better than anything else I’ve tried. And because they’re flexible, you just push the muffins out from the bottom rather than trying to release them with a knife.

    I, too, am having a blog identity crisis (thinking of starting an entirely new one) so I can’t help you there. Although I’d say right after the diaper stage comes the carpool stage. One of my favorite books is My Monastery is a Minivan.

    Conference Blues is another story — but I think I’m finally making progress. I have a Conference Journal where I thoughtfully and prayerfully record a set of questions weighing on my mind and heart before conference begins. Then I listen for answers from every talk. Those answers come, and I never fail to feel like each speaker is talking directly to me. But about a year ago I realized that my questions were essentially still the same every six months. In other words (hugely depressing thought) maybe I wasn’t making any progress. So the next conference my question was, “How do I get out of this rut and start making progress?” That led to some inspiring answers which I also promptly forgot after a week or so. Then I found this great book by Wendy Watson Nelson called “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life”. And this conference I asked different questions. I HOPE that’s an indication of progress!

    And to keep that progress rolling forward, I’m now in the process of going through my conference notes (AKA my answers) and categorizing them, putting all the counsel to parents about teaching children together, finding how many speakers mentioned the need for quiet time and grouping their thoughts, etc.
    I’m using part of my personal scripture study time to study these and remember. I HOPE it works!

    (Clearly I need to write a post about this. Sorry for the novelette.)

  18. To #2 – I say leave it! Diapers are the epitome of motherhood, even if you’re past that stage. And the alliteration is great. 🙂

    To #5 – After Conference, I make a list of talks that were exactly what I needed to hear. That’s my first goal – to really study those talks specifically. (This year it was the 11 talks about parenting!) Then I go from there – pick one of their main themes and apply it. I actually put an alarm on my cell phone to remind me. Like “Focus on their hearts” or “Happier kids, not better”… Things like that.

  19. Diapers are the ultimate symbol for motherhood’s less-than-glamorous side. I think the fact that you are a mother entitles you too put those bazillion diapers on your resume forever. It’s such a great concept: diapers and divinity.

    Conference was actually a little tough on me this time around. I just kept feeling worse and worse about myself. President Uchtdorf, though, never fails to inspire. I need to keep up with the talks like you do.

  20. I love the name of the blog…the name is what attracted me to it immediately.

    I understand the conference blahs too. Sometimes it feels overwhelming all the great stuff there is to do to whip everyone “spiritually” into shape. Lots of plans that often fall flat…oh well I will just keep on trying. Good Luck!!

  21. I use the bakers cooking spray with flour on my muffin tins and it seems to work alright. I hand wash, too.

    Isn’t the general conference book club supposed to help with the depression by reminding us every week about the things we learned? (That is what it does for me … when I remember to do it). I found myself making a lot of lists of things I needed to do during conference. Instead of focusing on taking notes to capture their talks, I took notes on specific promptings of things I needed to be doing/comfort I needed to hear.

    As for the diapers part, you have 4 kids, right? If you want to keep your blog accurate try getting a trampoline and jumping on it or try to sneeze a lot. Someone in the house will need diapers, just not one of the kids ;o)

  22. Your last question is an interesting one. It makes me think of a question of my own: what if I just picked ONE attribute I wanted to work on, one that could be broken down into actionable steps, and I worked on that? And not for a week or a month or a year. What if I worked on it for years and years, like ten? Worked on it consciously. For example, what if I centered all my self-improvement efforts on developing more patience? If I looked back in ten years, what ways will my life have improved in ways I didn’t expect? What other attributes will I have developed along the way?

    I think I might feel less overwhelmed if I picked one thing and worked on that for a long time instead of expecting myself to be suddenly better at a Christ-like attribute after a month’s time. Maybe I need to focus on mastery but defining what I need to improve most about myself and then working on it for a long, long time.

    I dunno. Just thinking out loud. (And I’m not proofreading. Sorry!)

  23. Another thought — A wise woman I visit teach says it’s her goal to just be five percent better. She talked about her challenge taking care of her handicapped brother, and how frustrated she’d get with him sometimes. She said if she tried to be 100% better it was impossible, and she’d just become more frustrated and discouraged. But 5 percent better was doable. And think…20 days (or weeks or years) of 5 percent better equals 100 percent!

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