Today’s interview with Dixie Jo is a chance to meet another fun acquaintance through blogging. Her answers are some of the most enjoyable I’ve read so far and it’s easy to feel like we could be fast friends, especially if she would let me send my kids to her house when they need a fun mom. 🙂 Meet Dixie Jo:
“Oh, you must be from the South?” is the most common response that I get when I tell people my name is Dixie Jo. “No, I am from Utah.” Most commonly followed by, “Really!? I would have thought with a name like that you were for sure from the South.” I am sure that is why my dear parents named me Dixie Jo, just to throw people off. I have to admit, it does make for a good, although repetitive, conversation at get-to-know-you gatherings. From the South or not, I now live in South Texas. Which isn’t “The South” that people speak of, and Texas considers itself to be its own thing. Not South, not West, and not South West. We are Texas. My twelve-year-old tells the joke that if all the ice in Alaska melted that Texas would be the largest state. And that is how proud Texans are.
I am the “Mother of Men.” My dedicated husband and I have four boys. I use my spoonfuls of sugar to turn their perpetual energy and ever-increasing mass into refined young men that will someday in my most peaceful dreams be outstanding fathers and husbands. Their ages are Hallow-leg (12), Always-moving (10), Loudest (5), and Cute-and-terrible-terrific (2).
Other stats you may like to know although I am not sure why. (Read: I am an introvert and don’t like to talk about myself!) I am 36. Age has never bothered me. People keep insisting that it will, but so far, no. My sweetheart has been all mine for 17 years. Did you just do math in your head? Yes, I was a young and blushing 19-year-old when I got married. My favorite color is purple and it was my favorite color long before purple was the cool hip color that it is today. I collect penguins, nativities and kitchen gadgets. My hobbies include wasting time on the computer and internet, dirtying pots and pans (especially baking), sewing with a machine (not by hand) and my latest obsession is the iPad. (trendy geeky, I know, but true too!) And because I am married to a lawyer I sometimes think I am one to.
Born and raised in small dots on Utah’s map, (Heber, Vernal, American Fork) I never imagined I would raise my family in the 7th largest city in the country. I grew up with dirt roads and running through the irrigation water. My kids are growing up with concrete and water parks in the shadow of the Alamo. I was raised an only child and always knew I would have a big family. While pregnant with our third someone said to me, “Oh, I always wanted a big family like that!” Seriously, three is big to you? I was thinking six to eight. But “four is the new six” my Sweetheart tells me and it is the just-right-number for our family.
One of my best kept secrets that I like to surprise people with is that I am a Massage Therapist. I keep it a secret because I like to look at people’s faces during conversations and once people know I am a massage therapist they sit in front of me facing the same direction as me, “oh wait did you want a shoulder rub or are you avoiding eye contact?”
What part of motherhood would you subcontract out if you could? I am waiting not so patiently for someone to invent economical disposable clothing. I mean really, no one has thought of this? Now I fear in this Go-Green age that no one will invent them because it would be bad for the environment. I am not against going green, I do my part to reduce, reuse, recycle and help the earth. But when faced with mountains, literal mountains, of laundry, I have to ask myself why we as a society have not improved on this yet. Last week at the doctor’s office the nurse handed my five-year-old a pair of shorts to take his annual hip xrays. They were not quite the paper type thing I get at the OB/GYN, these had an elastic waistband and semi real fabric feel. I thought to myself, I need a case of these in various sizes! If only for those days when everything has somehow been sucked into that black hole of a hamper.
So laundry is the first thing that came to mind when asked what I would contract out. Truthfully though, I manage the laundry. As much as I don’t like it, I do. But the mopping of the kitchen floor has held my thoughts this summer. If someone would just magically come in a mop it once a week, that would be lollipops and gum drops kind of wonderful. The kitchen floor is one of those things I can and do ignore, put off and off, and off. And then I realize we don’t really have grey tile with black splotches. It has been a month (or more!) since I mopped and with four boys and one large dog – that isn’t a good thing. There are so many people and things asking rightfully for my time, the floor is literally bottom tier of importance to me.
Brag for a minute. Do it. What are a few things that you’re pretty good at? I am a (remind yourself not judge yourself to others) FUN Mom. I am that Mom that other Moms either love because I will do things with their kids that they never would, or they cringe because I am setting a bad example in their eyes of what Moms don’t do. Be it the Annual Friends Valentines party where I let all of my boys invite ALL of their friends (last year we had 68 people) over to decorate cookies. I bake all the cookies (hundreds of them), the guests bring frosting and sprinkles. The rules are only this – parents cannot “help.” If the kids want a smidgen of frosting and a pile of sprinkles – GREAT. If they want enough frosting for a dozen cookies on one cookie – GREAT! If they double dip and lick the knife, if they spill, if they want a plain cookie, the parents cannot interfere. Kids rule my house the Friday before Valentine’s Day every year. It is a super tradition that not only our family looks forward to, but our friends as well! The house is decked out in streamers and balloons and it is great fun!
Other fun Mom examples: I build dry ice bombs, have shaving cream fights, celebrate Peter Pan’s birthday with a cake whenever my kids declare it his special day, slurp jell-o with a straw, make slime as often as I make pancakes and own an electric shock hand-held game.
I am also a deeply loyal friend. I hope that “Friend” is right-up-there when people describe me. Mother, Disciple and Friend are high compliments to me. People are important to me. Relationships intrigue and inspire me.
What are you loving lately? What am I loving lately? Crepes, a felt tip purple pen and did I mention the iPad?I also love it when my 12 year sits RIGHT next to me and lays his head on my shoulder and neither of us say a word; or when my two-year-old asks to snuggle, especially when he brings a book with him; or the five-year-old falls asleep sitting on my lap after insisting he can’t sleep and isn’t tired; or my ten-year-old’s freckled face light up when he knows I am proud of him. I delight in my boys, but I truly delight in being their safety net in this stormy world.
Do you have a favorite scripture or quote? Why? Oh, did you ask an opened ended question! Quotes and Scriptures are one of “my things.” One of those things I am known for. Let me think, how do I narrow it down?
- John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (As a Mother, I rely on this promise. If I do my part, if I live as he would have me live, anything I ask is mine. I have tested this scripture and testify of its truthfulness.)
- No one knows what a boy is worth and the world must wait and see. For every man in an honored place is a boy that used to be. -Phillips Brooks (my boys are boys now, but they are on their way to being great men, fathers and husbands)
Tell us some of your best mom-tricks (things you’ve figured out that work well for you). My favorite Mom trick is to say yes sometimes. Simply silly, isn’t it? When I find I am at odds with one or more of my children, or if they are at each other’s necks, I try and step back and assess. Is saying yes to that request for a granola bar really going to ruin their dinner? Is saying yes when they ask if they can shake a can of soda until it explodes going to turn them into bandits? (of course I made them do it outside). The trick is to say yes before it is needed. It makes a world of difference in our family dynamics when I am not so controlling and give them room to be boys.
As for raising boys, whenever one of them is demonstrating one of those many traits that tend to drive most people nuts about little boys, adolescent boys, boys in general, I ask myself how this annoying trait in a 10-year-old translates to a characteristic that strong, righteous men might have. That uncontrollable need to go and do and be busy all the time (constant running with noise) in a young boy is overwhelming and tiring to those around him; but in an adult man is a trait of someone that doesn’t give up, doesn’t slow down, and doesn’t stop until the job is done. So instead of telling them to stop, I redirect them. I am not perfect, but I try and harness and guide the perpetual energy for good later.
What’s something you don’t usually want people to know about you, but that they need to know if they’re going to be your friend? For starters, I have lots of friends. (See #2) I am a loyal friend. I don’t take friendship lightly or lying down. Friendship is something I am passionate about. Next to motherhood, little brings me more joy than to be a friend and help them sail away or soar high in their life’s adventure. Friendship can be and should be uplifting and magical.
That said, one day my sweetheart, normally not a big talker, asked me, “how do you choose friends?” Perplexed by his out of the big blue Texas sky question I did the lawyerly thing and asked him a well thought out and lengthy question in return: “What?” He went on to explain that he had been thinking about my two bestest, dearest friends and had concluded they were nothing alike. I thought about it and honestly he was right. Outwardly they seem like very different people. But the answer was so obvious to me I was surprised that others didn’t see it. “They are honest.” Not just in the ‘I cannot tell a lie’ sort of way. They are honest in who they are, who they project to the world. Honest in the way that actions and words match up. Honest in who they have been in the past and who they are working to become. Honest in character. Honest in day-to-day friendship. If I am going to trust you with my heart, my worries, my joys, my sorrows, my dreams, I need to know I am safe, they are safe, and that you are going to help me get there. Not be one of those Mean Girls that tears me down along the way so that you can get there first.
Friends are great for venting. What’s been frustrating you lately? I am patriotic but I am not normally political. However, right now I have fears for our country. I worry we are too divided and that we are more concerned with being right, than with what is right. Sometimes we all need to step back and see the big picture because we are lost in the details. We will not accomplish anything divided. I don’t have the answer. But I pray that those with power will listen to God, eat some humble pie, and adapt and accept. Maybe they all need to go back to kindergarten. (Learn to share, to clean up messes and get along with others)
What parts of your testimony are you the most sure of? I call them my “I do not doubts.” Things, subjects, ideas that I “know.” Know like I know chocolate tastes good, the sun rises everyday (sometimes behind a cloud, but it is there) and that people young and old will clap their hands if you sing “If you’re Happy and you know it!”
I do not doubt:
- My divine nature. I know my Father in heaven loves me, knows me, is directing me. I was blessed with good parents and it is not difficult for me to imagine Heavenly Parents that love me deeply and profoundly, and that care about who I am, where I am at and where I am headed.
- My Savior. I know him not only the way I learn of him and his life from the scriptures, but I know him in the delicate and meaningful way that one learns of him, his life, his sacrifice, his gift and his sincere love from repentance, forgiveness, and utilizing the atonement.
- My husband’s love. This one may seem odd to include in testimony, but I do not doubt my husband love. With that I have testimony of marriage between a man and a woman as well as the powerful unit of family.
- Revelation. I do not doubt that revelation is available to us today. Revelation to a Prophet and other leaders that can see down the road and around the corner to direct me long before the world sees need for a change in course. As well as personal revelation as the Holy Ghost speaks to me. Sometimes quietly as I pray on my knees and sometimes loudly as to be heard over the regular chaos while I am fixing dinner.
If you were awarded an “honorary degree” in something, what should it be and why? You mean besides my honorary law degree that I have for supporting my sweetheart through law school? wink*wink
I chose: Family Studies, Marriage and Family Counseling. People fascinate me, relationships intrigue me and I love to help people connect the dots about themselves and others. I had this, lets say, HORRID, experience with someone once upon a time. It was dark, ugly and at times vengeful. But the two people involved, one of which was me, were (are) stunningly beautiful (in character), Christian people. I had no option to dismiss this person from my life and because I love “people” the way I did, I didn’t want to because that would have hurt other people that I deeply love. The only way out of that wretched place was through. With the Savior’s help I came to see and love this woman the way He does. I came to understand and make sense of the faults that made my skin crawl. (Gulp) I came to see my selfish part in the dark, ugly mess. She is now someone I cherish and hold dear, because she has seen me at my absolute worst, and still loves me. As well as, I allowed the Savior to heal and open my heart and fill it with His love for her. I have never looked at people as mere mortals again, and I am inspired to know and understand not only people, but relationships better.
Let’s say you’re dying in your sleep tonight. What would you eat for your last meal? I try to live (almost) everyday as if it were my last. That doesn’t mean that my days are full of extremes and extravagances. But when I kneel down at night I often wonder, if this was my last day with the kids, with my sweetheart – did I do it justice? What would their memories be? What was the last thing I said to them? Was I unkind today? Did I hug them? Do my loved ones know they are my greatest treasure and my life’s devotion? I had one of those humbling (more than once) experiences where I actually thought or heard the whisper, “Your Life Was Spared.” I don’t think I am living on borrowed time, but I think I am here for a purpose, and I plan to do my best.
But as for that last meal! I am a Foodie. I love good food. I love to prepare good food. I love to savor good food. I love to share good food. If I did have a last meal I would want it to be with people. People I love. I would want it to be warm and comforting. I would want it to be well prepared and planned out from first sip of the sparkling beverage to last scrape of the spoon on the dessert plate.
Sparkling water makes me feel like I am eating grown up food, so sparkling water for sure. I love summer garden tomatoes, so let’s have Brochette for an appetizer, or maybe an oozy, warm cheese fondue with bread and veggies for dipping. We would need a well dressed salad (pun intended) for such an occasion: The Wedge salad with the crispy bacon, red tomatoes and pretty purple onions on top of chilled, crisp iceberg lettuce and a gallon of blue cheese dressing. Because it is the last meal and I can have as many courses as I want, let’s have a soup course with French onion soup or creamy baked potato soup. (Seriously, are you hungry yet? I am!) Dinner would be a fabulous, aged and seared to perfection, Peppercorn Crusted Filet Mignon with apricot glaze, served with fresh green beans that have been pan-fried. (yes fried.) We would need a bit to rest and recover from all of that, I hope the company is good, so that we can talk comfortably. Lastly, dessert. My. Favorite. Part. Chocolate for sure, and most likely cake. I am a chocolate cake snob, so this cake is to die for. Literally, because it’s my last meal. I am dying in my sleep tonight. Death by chocolate cake. It was that good.
What’s something unexpected in your life, and how have you dealt with it? My sweetheart is adaptable. I. Am. Not. One of my many weaknesses made stronger because of his strengths.
Should I talk about:
- The $35 scooter vs. the Van issue that cost us $2,000.
- When a child is diagnosed with a silent disease that could affect his adult life by his/our actions now.
- Being told your newborn perfect baby with 10 toes and 10 fingers has a cleft palate.
- Or the lawnmowers third trip to the shop this summer for the same problem.
- Watching your toddlers face turn blotchy as you are trying to force feed him the cupcake you so lovingly prepared for his first birthday only to realize the blotches were not from being obstinate, but from an egg allergy. Doh!
- Or the teeny tiny magnet that an 18 month old knocked on a large sliding door window and “chink, crack, shatter” went the $1,000 window.
- Or serving as Relief Society President for three years as my husband adjusted to being an attorney, my youngest wasn’t even in nursery (and I had another baby while serving), and homeschooling my older children.
The truth is we all know trials come and if I have learned anything it is to laugh if possible and then to turn to God. There is something to learn or to gain in every situation. “What do you want me to learn from this?” Is almost always uttered when life surprises me!
If your life had a theme song, what would it be and why? Just last night I was watching a movie with my sweetheart and the five year old comes in and says he can’t sleep and isn’t tired (see #5) so he was on my lap trying not to go to sleep. He sat up during an intense part of the movie and said, “Why are they playing that scary music? It is creeping me out!” I have often thought life would be so much easier if it had theme music. If in the morning you are brushing your teeth and you either hear Snow White singing or the theme to Jaws. You would be so much more prepared, right?
My theme song. Golly. Of course there are several songs with my name in them. Trust me, people have sung them to me. In the grocery store and other random places. I am going to ask the kids what they think my theme song is.
“If there is one song that you think reminds you of Mom, what is it?”
12 year old – Alan Jackson, Remember When (this is actually my sweetheart’s and my song. Every time it comes on the radio if we are not together, we call each other); or Bryan Adams, Everything I do, I do for you (Awe, sweet kid!)
10 year old – Rascal Flatts, I Won’t Let Go. (My Sweetheart and I turn this up and tell the boys to listen carefully and pretend it is us singing to them.)
5 year old – I am a child of God (It is important to me that they know who they are so this is the song I sing most often to them!)
2 year old – Knees and Toes J (I am the Fun mom, but I think this is the only song he knows the name of!)
My Blog – humble TASKS
It all started with a quote. (See # 6)
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to perform humble tasks as though they were great and noble.” – Helen Keller
Even being an introvert, I still had daydreams of being popular, grand, important, needed, great, successful… and it seems that the world is always telling us, showing us, that we need more, better, faster, and for only $19.99 we can be! But I woke up one day and realized that this life – is my life. It includes mountains of laundry, piles of dirty dishes, gobs of dog hair when I just vacuumed, snot on faces and shirts, spilled milk, sand in the bath tub, muddy feet, missing shoes, forgotten backpacks, last-minute dashes out the door, running out of milk at the worst time, maddening noise levels at any given time, snarls about dinner, catching throw up with my hands, broken collar bones and so much more insane madness! However it also includes kisses and hugs, cheers, unconditional love, fits of contagious laughter, good pride, thoughtfulness, joy, selflessness, peace and comfort.
As you can tell from my interview, I take great pride in being a Mother, I have an end result in mind for my boys and for myself. I hope that we are always progressing. I desire to make our lives great and noble. Our simple mundane lives made up of the everyday chaos and ordinary moments are piecing together into something magnificent. It’s all the humble tasks adding up. I cannot think of anything better to spend my time on.
Sometimes I post about the food I feed my family, or sometimes I blog about laundry and dishes. Posts are about raising a family, keeping a home, remaining independent of it all, maintaining a relationship with my husband, friends, family, holidays, and traditions. Basically, it is whatever is on my mind at the time as I do what I do each day.
Come see me over at www.humbletasks.com and leave me comment. I blog about humble things. Humble tasks in my normal life. I bet you have a normal life too. Please come tell me all about it!
Thank you, Dixie Jo. I feel like I just sat down and had a great conversation with you. I wish it were over that “last meal” you described. Everyone, say hi to Dixie Jo in the comments or over at her blog. And, of course, have a great weekend.