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.

Snippets

Today’s post is a random mish-mash of thoughts and announcements and such.

Most importantly, we found out on Saturday that Matt passed the Bar exam.  I can’t begin to express what a hallelujah moment that was for us.  I was dreading gearing up for single parenting again if he didn’t pass, and I did. not. want to.   I mean, it’s been a looong road.  Here’s what our boys looked like when we started the law school journey.

Then, once we’d moved, started school, and Matt was in his first semester of law school taking finals, Natalie was born.

And now, we’re finally done.  Look how our family has grown up (and grown old) since then.  Can’t believe how the days and weeks can be so long, but the months and years just fly past.

Anyway, congrats to Matt and hooray for me.  🙂

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Natalie’s been taking medications for a long time.  Prescriptions are part of our daily routine.  She hates medicine, and every day it’s a bit of a battle.  She actually has a sinus infection this week, so there are even more prescriptions.  She cries and doesn’t want to take her medicine because she’s too cold or feels yucky, and I try to tell her that’s why she needs the medicine.  It will help her fever and help her feel better.  She still hates it.  Today I pulled the medicines out of the cupboard and I saw her sneak from the room out of the corner of my eye.  I called her again and again.  No answer.  Finally I found her in the office hiding behind the couch.  I thought how funny it is that she tries to hide from what’s going to help her get better.  That made me think of this quote from general conference and realize that we’re all as silly as Natalie in some ways.

“Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle. But growth cannot come by taking the easy way. . . .  We must be careful that we don’t resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature.”  –Elder Paul V. Johnson

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I can’t really explain this, but lately I’ve had an increased sensitivity to the elderly.  Maybe it’s because Matt’s grandma stayed with us for a little over a month while her husband was in the hospital.  I don’t know, but I’ve just noticed them more around me, and my heart has been drawn out to them.  I imagine that they have great wisdom from life’s experiences and probably many family members and happy memories.  But I wonder how much they struggle with loneliness or sickness, mourn the loss of spouse or loved ones, as well as the loss of their own strength, health and maybe independence.  Yesterday as I left the pharmacy, I saw a man who used to be my Stake president 18 years ago at BYU.  He set me apart for my mission.  One time he called me up out of the audience to bear my testimony at Stake Conference.  He also taught a mission prep class that I attended.  I greeted him, introduced myself and said hello, but as I got back into my van, I had a surge of those memories and I felt a wave of emotion and gratitude.  I wished I’d told him he was an important part of a really developmental stage of my life and my testimony.  I saw him as an 80 year old man now, much thinner and more frail, carrying away a prescription that was probably for him or maybe his ailing wife, and I thought, “maybe he doesn’t know what a great life he has lived and shared.”  I went home and looked him up on whitepages.com and found an address for him.  So I wrote him a letter, and it felt so great, and I hope it will somehow give him a little bit of joy.  Anyway, I’m not telling that story because I want you to think that I did some great thing; I just had a strong feeling and the thought that I should share it, so I did.  But maybe you know someone older whose day could be brightened by a note, a phone call or a visit.  Your kids can help too.  I don’t really know my point, but it’s just been on my mind lately.

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I have a cousin who suffers from chronic migraines.  Matt asked about her the other night at the dinner table, so then my children were curious about her.  We explained that she’s had a really bad headache for literally years.  Grant was shocked and cried out, “Why?!!  Are her kids really annoying?”  I thought that was so funny.  I told her about it and we had a good laugh.  She assured me that if that were the real problem, they would have been gone long ago.  🙂  It also reveals a lot about what Grant understands about their behavior and my well-being.  Smart little whipper-snapper.

Parental Preference

Natalie is a daddy’s girl. One night while I was tucking her into bed, she told me, “I like daddy better than you.” “Why?” I asked. She responded matter-of-factly, “Because daddy smells like truck, and I like the smell of truck.”

Alrighty then.

The other day (after reading one of those horrible news stories) I breached the subject of child molesters while she and I were driving in the car together. Basically, it was a 3-year-old-level discussion about appropriateness and safety, etc. When I told her that she could always come talk to me and daddy about anything, she rolled her eyes and looked up at the ceiling.

“Is this embarrassing to talk about?” She shook her head no. “Is it silly?” She sighed and said, “No, but I’m going to talk about it to daddy instead because I like him better than you.”

Oh, right. I reassured her she could talk to either one of us about anything and if she wanted to talk to her daddy about it, that was fine.

This weekend I’m taking a little girlfriend-type getaway. I’m going to meet up with a few bloggy friends and do important stuff like talk and eat food. I’m really looking forward to it. Every time I mention it to Natalie, she gets all pouty and doesn’t want me to go.

This morning, I reminded her I’m leaving soon and she made the most disapproving face she could. I said, “You’ll be fine. You like daddy better anyway, remember?” She softened a little and said, “But you’re the best cooker in the whole world.”

Take that, Matt. You may smell like truck, but I can make a mean chocolate chip cookie.

‘Twas the night before motherhood

Today I dug through a trunk full of memories looking for a few specific things I’d promised to lend out.  You can’t look through a memory box without taking a journey far and deep.  I saw an autograph book from the 7th grade, photos of my grandparents in their twilight years, quotes saved from college Sunday school lessons, and a recipe box I made in Young Women.  Wrinkled in the corner, I found a folded piece of paper that had my handwriting on the outside:  A poem for Matt.  love, Stephanie

I figured it might be some cheesy love poem which I have no memory of ever writing.  I used to write quite a bit of poetry growing up.  After I served my mission and fell in love with the Spanish language, I wrote a lot of Spanish poetry.  I was pretty darn good at it, too, for a gringa— I even had several of them published in literary journals.  But I’ve written very little poetry since then, in any language.  So I was curious what had inspired me to write Matt a poem.  I opened the wrinkled paper.  It was dated Jan 7, 2003:  Four years since we met and just a few days before the birth of our first child.

Future’s Eve

Here we sit in the twilight of all our yesterdays,
still warm from the brightest rays, and full of memories.
The evening dews of destiny begin to fall,
beautiful and mysterious.
The tomorrows will be different days;
I am curious, but not afraid.
Thank you for harboring me in your friendship
and bearing me in your love.
In a magical way, that love defines our past
and will now somehow redefine our future.
We will be more than two, and yet, more at one.
The morning sun begins to break slowly through the unguessed dawn,
and the beams, like Spirit, fall gently upon us.
We go enhanced to the next day.

When Matt left for work this morning, I was having a moment of self-pity because Grant had almost missed the bus and Natalie was mid-meltdown.  “This will be my day,” I sighed as I looked at the small, weeping preschooler flopping and thrashing on the stairs.  He made some comment about how my life was so horrible and tortured, but he didn’t mean it and that’s not what I meant either, so I got annoyed.  I don’t think it’s an accident that I read this line today about how I had once anticipated parenthood to be:  “We will be more than two, and yet, more at one.”  Oh, how we need each other, but how easy it is to be selfish!

Children can draw a couple together in deeper ways than they ever thought possible.  I remember the days that Grant spent in the Pediatric ICU after unexplained seizures, and how Matt and I clung to each other and needed each others’ support so much.  And yet, when we are not careful, we can let their whims come between us, like a morning where a temper tantrum makes me pathetically dread the day rather than share a a goodbye hug with my husband and remind him how much I love him and still need him.

Every morning in parenthood is an “unguessed dawn;” We never know what it will bring, but we need each other and we definitely need the Lord.  When we let our selfish wish-lists go, and turn to the Lord to help us fill our unmet needs rather than demanding that someone else read our minds, heal our wounds, and solve our problems, I think the Spirit can work wonders.  And then, both individually and as partners, “We go enhanced to the next day.”

Triple Scoop

Three delectable bite-sized posts.  Well, kind of bite-sized.  If you have a big appetite.

1. I may be solely responsible for the superbacteria phenomenon.

Many of you think I am organized.  After all, I have all those charts and schedules and semi-compulsive planning habits.  I don’t know how to break this softly, but they are an illusion.  A mirage.  I have and do all those things BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A BRAIN.  I’m forgetful, scatterbrained, often unfocused and usually off-schedule.

SO. I am entirely incapable of following the instructions on the prescription bottles.  When the paperwork says, “Administer this antibiotic twice a day for ten days and MAKE SURE YOU FINISH THE WHOLE TEN DAYS or you shall be thrown into a pit of lions who have communicable diseases,”  it might as well say, “Every time you give this medicine, make sure you catch two electric eels and harvest their organs.”  It’s THAT hard.  I forget at least one dose a day.  Then after about 4 or 5 days, when the kid is better, I forget they’re even supposed to take it.  Then I remember a couple days later and give them one or two doses that should hold them over until I remember again.  (Just last week, I took all but 5 Amoxicillan pills for my own strep throat.  Then I forgot to pack them for my Disney trip. So about 10 days later when I could feel a sinus infection coming on, I started retaking my last five pills.  Now they’re gone.)  I KNOW.  I totally agree there’s something wrong with me, and that is why I’m apologizing for making the world unresponsive to antibiotics by using them incorrectly.  (As a side note to calm any rage you might be feeling –especially if you have a medical background– I looked up some multi-alarm timers online yesterday that old people use to help them remember to take their pills.  Yes, it’s come to that.)

2. What did you call me?

I have never been a terms-of-endearment girl.  Even as a wide-eyed single adult, I hated hearing couples calling each other “sweetie” and “honey” and don’t even get me started on names like “peaches” or things that end in “-poo”.  Seriously?  I’ve softened up over the years and use some of these with my children, especially the -poo ones if I really want to get their eyes rolling.  But Matt has always been Matt.  And I’ve always been Steph.  And I’m TOTALLY fine with that.  However, lately –and I don’t know if this has to do with his new light-hearted look on life since he graduated from law school– he’s started calling me “Momma,” or “Mama,” but really does the spelling matter?  Um, what?  Since most of my readers are women, I don’t really need to get into why this might be an unwanted nickname.  So, I gently broke him the news the other night when he said something like, “Hey, Momma, you wanna bring up my cell phone charger when you come upstairs?”

I tried to make him understand that his little pet name made me feel like this:

or 

So he wants to know what he should call me.  I guess Steph is getting old.  I told him I’d blog about it and ask my wise readers.  If you suggest anything with -poo in it, you’re henceforth banned from my blog.

3. P90X and the family effect

After 3 1/2 years of work by day and law school by night, Matt put on a few pounds.  Now he’s determined to get them off and bought that P90X system, which is an intense 90-day workout plan accompanied by nutritional advice.  So in an effort to be supportive, I went and bought all the ridiculous groceries on his list (soy sausage patties?  Really?) and we’re all trying to eat more healthy.  One night we had chicken breast with honey chile sauce and mixed vegetables.  Last night was island pork tenderloin with baked asparagus.  Well, I think the whole program will have quite a transformation in our family since our children won’t eat ANY of it.  I think P90X should use this picture on their next before-and-after ad.  What do you think?

Before: 

After:

Credit where credit’s due (and a giveaway)

My readers are so cool.

A while back, I wrote a post that included a short video clip with me and Grant in it.  Some of my readers said nice things about me, even going so far as to say I was pretty.  Well, yesterday I received a comment on that post by “Fefe” who wrote the following:

“very good but its the most boringest video i have ever seen in my whole life. and i don’t think you are pritty at all your ugly.”

Fefe, your point is well taken, and you may be right; however, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I can’t help but mention that I’m grateful I’m literate, and that I hold the key to the delete button on my blog.

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My husband Matt is one of the greatest guys ever and I truly love him.  (Go read our love story if you don’t believe it.)  He even reads my blog and still loves me.  I’d like to thank him for making our family Christmas card photo shoot so smooth and seamless the other day.  I am a lucky woman.

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Rebecca Irvine (formerly known as “Scripture Mom”) is one sharp woman, and I’ve loved getting to know her a little through blogging.  She wrote a family scripture study guide called Adventures with the Word of God, which I really liked– so many great cut-and-paste ideas for enhancing family scripture time.  Now, her second book has been released and I think you should check it out, especially if you’re interested in having a collection of ready-made materials for Family Home Evening. “Family Home Evening Adventures can help your family learn to love and enjoy the scriptures together. Each monthly theme uses fun seasonal ideas to promote an appreciation of scripture study, teach basic gospel principles, and provide wholesome family activities.”  It provides one complete lesson for each month and a guide of resources for the rest of the month.  If your children are small like mine, and you need shorter lessons, I think her lessons could be broken up into segments and then used for several weeks throughout the month.  Nice.

I really love this quote by James E. Faust about the urgency of taking time for family home evening and gospel study in our homes:

“I wonder if having casual and infrequent family home evening will be enough in the future to fortify our children with sufficient moral strength. In the future, infrequent family scripture study may be inadequate to arm our children with the virtue necessary to withstand the moral decay of the environment in which they will live. Where in the world will the children learn chastity, integrity, honesty, and basic human decency if not at home? These values will, of course, be reinforced at church, but parental teaching is more constant.”

Well, the lovely Rebecca is offering a giveaway of a copy of her book.  Hooray!  Just mention in the comments if you would like to be entered in the giveaway, and a winner will be selected at random on Sunday evening.

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Almost done here; I just wanted to point you to a couple links.

Shelf Reliance makes food storage products.  I’ve never bought any of their food items, but I do own one of their big can-rotation shelf systems, which I really like.  They are a tiny bit pricey, but I noticed on their blog that starting next week, they’re having a huge giveaway every day and actually giving away some of the shelving systems and some other great stuff.  This week, they’re offering half-off specials.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here.

My laurel advisor, Marci, has been such a sweet supporter of my blog. Speaking of food storage, I remember her as the woman who had canned M&Ms because she didn’t want to go without real necessities in a crisis.  Anyway, she emailed me this link that I thought was a great idea for Thanksgiving time.  Xerox is offering free cards/postcards to be sent to troops overseas.  All you have to do is go here: Let’s Say Thanks.  You just select a card, write a note on it from your family, and then Xerox will print them out and send them to a random soldier at no cost.  Easy, and for a wonderful cause.

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Finally, Kim, another beloved reader (who always makes great comments on the GCBC posts) invited me to participate in a meme/award.  It’s 35 questions about me that I have to answer with only one word.  I can’t imagine that anyone can handle reading anything more about me, but if you’re looking for an excuse to procrastinate your household chores just a little bit longer, you can read my answers here.  Thanks, Kim!