In which I break my own cardinal rule of blogging

When I started blogging a few years ago, I vowed to never use my blog as a platform to gripe about my marriage or my husband, until today.

Matt has a man cold.

Man Cold

[image credit]

If you are unfamiliar with the man-cold phenomenon, watch this (hilarious!) video, and I think you will find that it is familiar.

This condition arouses none of my natural sympathies. I am a very bad person.

(Okay, I admit that I do feel a tiny bit bad for him, but that’s only because he’s supposed to take 18 deacons winter camping tonight in the mountains. But I would feel bad about that regardless of his “condition.”)

Oh, p.s., today’s the last day to let me know if you want tickets to girls night out.

Nonsense.

This is just stuff I’m thinking about. Please excuse the ridiculous racoonish graphic.

  1. I’m fascinated by this storm. The power and danger of Mother Nature is so intriguing, but I’m so concerned for the human element and fearful of what if may bring out in human nature.
  2. Last night, I loaded up my family in the car to go to a family reunion/dinner. We drove for an hour, and when we got there, I realized it is actually next week. As you can imagine, my family was thrilled, and claimed to be dying of hunger the whole way home.
  3. Do you have a very favorite best-of-all-time crock pot recipe? I want to start dinner already, and I’m feeling uninspired.
  4. The self-control part of my brain keeps telling me to go exercise, like walk (or if I’m feeling super crazy, maybe even jog a little), but it keeps being overcome by an urge to go eat cookie dough out of my fridge.  We’ll see who wins.
  5. I got to teach gospel doctrine class yesterday about 3 Nephi 17-19. I’m so in love with those chapters now that I can’t stop thinking about them.
  6. I have a dream that someday, in the morning before school, my children will eat breakfast without emptying the entire contents of the pantry onto my kitchen table, will not surprise me on their way out the door with some homework assignment they forgot to tell me about, and will actually be ready on time. I used to be a morning person before I had children.
  7. Can someone tell me why I can never bring myself to put away my own clean laundry? Anyone?

That is all. I’m sure your Monday is now complete. Carry on.

Checklist for Clarity

It’s been a rough morning. Want to see the list? Of course you do.

  • I have a headache.
  • The pile of laundry I need to fold covers a space on my living room floor approximately the size of a Volkswagen.
  • In a moment of profound weakness, I gave in and let my children adopt a kitten that our neighbor found. I actually like her a lot more than I thought I would, but I took her in for initial shots and exam yesterday, and let’s just say I was not prepared for that kind of investment. This morning I got the notice-of-overdraft email from my bank.
  • We had our family picture taken last night, and my children were suddenly possessed by demons. Keep in mind that I do not have any more toddlers or even preschoolers, and yet… YET… I found myself asking them to stop flopping around on the floor and ignoring every bit of instruction offered by the photographer. Here is a photo I snapped with my camera phone during the studio process.
  • We are headed out of town (which is a great thing), but the process of getting everything ready is stressing me out.
  • I keep remembering last-minute tasks that I should have finished before we go.  (When?? will I get them done?)

So while all this stuff was swirling around in my head, I had to stop myself and change the list. I had to look for and recognize the reality that’s happening alongside my stress list.

  • Natalie is putting up Halloween decorations and singing Christmas songs. ?? Whatever, she’s festive.
  • Clark is curled up on the couch reading a book.
  • I still have some leftover caramel sauce that I made for a Relief Society activity.
  • Grant has been helping me switch over the laundry loads.
  • Some parts of the house are mostly clean.
  • We all kind of like each other, and everyone is pretty much content (if you ignore my own personal bad attitude).
  • Our home is warm and cozy, and we’re all enjoying decent health.
  • In less than 48 hours, I will be taking that cruise I WON over the summer. [You do not need to tell me to shut up already; I am at this very moment in a process of self-correction.]

Anyway, that was my clarity checklist. My stress (and probably my headache) is the result of looking at my life in an unbalanced way.  President Uchtdorf JUST said last weekend (I’m a slow learner):

Brothers and sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.

So as I hung the picture on the wall today, it struck me as funny how we always look at family pictures and make all these assumptions about how lovely and put-together that family is. We can’t see the behind the scenes meltdown at the photo studio, nor can we see the laundry piles and headaches at home.  But despite all that, I look at it on the wall today and think, “You know what? It really IS a beautiful family.” Because even though I know every single detail of the back-story, I can still see it for what it truly is– the whole package, the gory and the glory all wrapped up in one.  My day will still be busy, and I’m bound to handle things more stressed-out than I’d like to, but I feel my eyes just a little more open to things as they really are … and there’s plenty there that’s better than fine.

I’m thinking of changing my blog name to “Temples and Vomit”

It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?  And it seems like a natural progression from “Diapers and Divinity” because it more accurately reflects where my life is today.  Or yesterday, if I’m going to be really specific.

Yesterday, my family went to the Brigham City temple open house. I love temples because they are peaceful and lovely and the only building I know of where the whole entire thing is an emergency exit. When life feels a little frightening or overwhelming, it’s a safe place for my soul. That’s why I wanted to take my children. Don’t tell anybody official, but we went through the open house twice in a row. Grant wanted to go again because “I like the way it feels.”  Me, too, buddy. Me too.

After we left, we stopped for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, trying to turn the whole event into a special Family Home Evening. In retrospect, when Grant said he didn’t feel very well, I shouldn’t have told him to eat his dinner anyway. I found this little journal entry he wrote on the couch this morning. I’ll let him tell you our tale of woe in his own words:

And you know? Such is life. One minute things are glorious and celestial, and another minute you’re spending an hour in a gas station parking lot trying to figure out how to get the smell of horchata and bean burritos out of your brand new car’s upholstery without vomiting yourself. If we’re honest with ourselves, it seems some days are more vomit than temple, or more diapers than divinity, but today I’m trying to look at it like it’s a penny jar. Every time we see a glimpse of heaven in our children or our blessings or ourselves, it’s like dropping a coin in a jar that we’re saving up for something special. I guess what we end up purchasing with it is a “vacation” if you want to look ahead as far as heaven, but I think we’re earning our wings with each penny. We’re investing in who we know we can be. And like a temple under construction, despite the garbage in the world (or day) around us, we can somehow find and be a safe place for the people we love most.

Countdown to Family Proclamation Celebration: 6 days

If a blog die, shall it live again?

Hi.

Um, remember me?

Of course a dead blog can live again!  It totally can. Right? I checked Google Reader, and some people are actually still subscribed here. It might be an accident, but still…. (Does anyone even use Google Reader anymore?) Plus, whether they actually mean to be or not, there’s still a handful of people that subscribe by email, so hello there long-lost inboxes.

Wow. So where do I start?  I have so much to tell you. Really. Let’s transition carefully back into blogging, shall we? I think I’ll start with a bunch of mini blog posts just so we can all get used to each other again.

Mini-post #1:  Guess What?

Remember how I only occasionally popped in during the summer to beg you to vote for me in that video contest?  Well, I don’t know how to tell you this without a formal plan to compensate you for your goodness, but I won!!!  I’m not even kidding– I won a cruise. Matt and I are going in October and I’m very excited about that. It took a little bit of manipulative creative negotiating to convince Clark that even though it was his story that won the trip, it would still be better for Matt and I to take the trip together.  I’m sure that with the passage of time and maybe a small amount of therapy, he will find it in his heart to not feel completely ripped off. And I will find it in my heart to sit on a ship deck and read books and drink virgin daiquiris.

Mini-post #2: No, Really, Guess What?!?

This part is almost too exciting to say. I’m truly afraid that by embracing it, I may somehow curse it. The reason I took a blog sabbatical in the first place is because I, honest to goodness, felt down in my soul that I needed to write a book. I had never before in my life imagined myself authoring a book, but I felt (select the word that you’re most comfortable with here–>) prompted/compelled/pushed/inspired/obligated to write a book about my testimony concerning motherhood. I have spent a good part of the last decade of my life studying motherhood in a gospel context, and I felt the pieces coming together little by little in ways that gave me new insight and purpose. Motherhood was still hard–it’s always been kind of hard–but I felt like I was starting to get it.  And then I felt like I should write it all down. So I did. And (here’s the exciting part) I recently got word that it’s going to be published. As in, printed by someone else in an actual book that will appear in LDS bookstores next Spring. I’m not the type of person that writes things like *squeeee!* or “yippee! yippee!,” but if I were, I would write that here right now. Other than the fact that I feel a tiny bit terrified, plus an equally tiny bit inadequate, I love the thought and hope that maybe, just maybe, my book might help some mom out there (especially a mom of young children) “get it.” And by “get it,” I really mean get herself–see herself and what she’s doing as she really is and how much it really counts. So, yes, yay for that.

Mini-post #3: In Which a Mom and Her Kids All Grow Up a Little.

Something unbelievably amazing has happened. Perhaps even more amazing than a cruise or a book deal. (I realize that this would be the easy place for anyone who’s having a bad day to hit the delete button real quick before my life gets any luckier, but please don’t. I promise I’m not bragging. And I think this next piece of news just might be some kind of balm for your weary soul. Maybe.) When I started this blog, all three of my children were in some stage of diapers. It is with no small amount of shock that I announce to you that last week, they all started school. All of them. From morning until early afternoon.  Look!  Look at this picture and tell me that they are not the cutest people you’ve ever seen. Just try.

Anyway, I’ve blogged a lot over the years about the stages of motherhood, and how sometimes times and seasons must be endured-slash-appreciated for what they really are. When my oldest went to kindergarten, I felt like I had entered Stage 2 parenting. There were glimpses of my children’s growing independence, and I found random bursts, no matter how brief, of “down” time, where I could choose to read a book, or nap, or hang up my clothes, or nap. Now, my friends, I think I have entered Stage 3. Yes, they are older, and make bigger messes, and more noise, and have developed some snarky habits, but trust me when I say: It is glorious. Do you know what I did yesterday? I did a workout video in my family room and then I cleaned my bathroom. I cleaned it for three and a half hours, and it is a masterpiece. I have not cleaned an entire room from start-to-finish in years. After that, I went to the library by myself and picked out books in peace. Then I went to 3 stores in a row and quickly returned some items, stopped at one more store, and picked up a few groceries. I came home and made chocolate chip cookies. When I got home, my house was just as clean as it was when I left in the morning. It stayed clean; do you get what I’m saying? When my kids got home, I hugged them and gave them cookies and helped them with their homework. I still got annoyed sometimes, but I felt ready to be there for them. I. am. loving. it. I am not trying to rub any of this in your face if you still have small children at home and you feel entirely drained. Nor am I trying to knock anyone who feels terribly sad when their children go to school. Not at all.  All I’m saying is that toddler and preschool mothering were quite challenging for me, and now I feel like I’m hitting my stride. I’m not foolish; bigger kids will mean bigger challenges, but if you are wondering if there’s any light at the end of the diaper tunnel, I’m here to tell you:  Good gravy, there is!  I can hardly believe it myself. Stage 3 just feels like it fits so nicely right now. Carry on, good moms everywhere, the stage that fits you best will come in good time.

Mini-post #4: More to Come.

I’ve got fun summer stuff to tell you. I’ve got some giveaways of things I’ve been saving up for you. The September celebration of The Family: A Proclamation to the World is coming up, and that will be epic. Basically, I’m excited to be back. This party ain’t over yet. Please say hi. I missed you.