Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kiddo Moments

Just a few moments from the last couple of weeks...


This last Sunday as we neared the end of our church meetings I could see that Wolf was tired and hungry and ready to go. We just needed to get through the closing hymn, so I encouraged him to open the hymnal and read along (he still struggles a little with reading fast enough to sing along with most of them). So he was sitting there with the book, following along, and as we got to the end he snapped the book shut...only he snapped it in that millisecond of silence after everyone has stopped singing and before the closing prayer has begun... The *pop* of the book closing resounded through the entire chapel. Wolf looked at me with what I can only describe as a hamster face: huge eyes and a tiny mouth.
I managed to not giggle.


Bear is in that beloved toddler stage wherein he is fascinated with the goodies he finds in his nose. (We call them "snuggerts.") The other day his nose was quite runny and at one point I told him I was going to wipe it (for the umpteenth time), and he said "no mommy, don't wipe my nuggerts, I'm gonna eat them!" and he licked his upper lip for emphasis.
A few days before that I was awakened by him standing over the edge of my bed, peering into my face at close range. "Mommy," he explained, "you have a nuggert, I'm gonna get it for you," and without further ado he stuck his finger into my nose and started digging around. Of all the ways to be wakened up, this is definitely not in my top ten!


I'm trying to help prepare Bear for the changes ahead with the impending birth of Eagle. I talked to him about how there was a little brother growing in my tummy, and that in a little while the brother would come out.
Bear shook his head "he not come out."
"Well he has to come out sometime honey, he can't stay in there forever."
"Baby come out right now?"
So I explained that the baby has to stay in for a while longer so he can get bigger, but that after the snow comes, then that is when the little brother will come.
Bear pointed knowingly to my belly button and said "he wiww [will] come out dere."
"Nope, he will come out the birth canal." (Both older brothers will be present for the birth, so I didn't feel the need to explain further at this point.)

Both boys like to hug and kiss my tummy and try to feel the baby kick. At bedtime we sing three songs--one for each boy. They enjoy helping pick which song to sing for little brother. A few nights ago I was laying on the bed next to Bear giving him some bedtime cuddles and he started wiggling his fingers around on my belly. I asked what he was doing.
"I'm tickling the baby."
Oh, ok, so I started giggling and wiggling a little for him in response. He thought that was great, so he tickled with renewed vigor...the problem is that my belly actually is ticklish, so for all of his amateur technique, it started to legitimately tickle, and I don't tolerate tickles very well on an already sensitive belly.
Let's just say it got a little bit crazy, involved much giggling from all parties, and probably delayed bedtime a good deal more than it should have. ☺

Sunday, July 26, 2009

When did "Lay" start to mean "Lazy"?

This morning Bear was not feeling well, and Hubby and I concluded that he should not go to church. We talked for a few minutes about which of us would stay home with him and which of us would go to church with our older son. I had not been able to attend any sunday school classes last week because Bear was feeling clingy and I had ended up staying with him in the nursery, so I said I'd like to go. Hubby said ok he'd stay home, and then he hesitated and said "you know, I kinda don't mind staying home, because lately I've been bored in church a lot."
For the last two years in Pelican we had a much-shortened version of church due to calling-in by phone rather than being able to attend in person, and perhaps we are out of the habit of sitting and listening for the 3 hours of our typical church service...but all the same, I have to admit that Hubby makes a good point. Each of us has attended a few services with other faiths--services wherein the sermons are delivered by a professional preacher; someone who spends his whole week studying his topic and preparing his sermon. Those sermons tend to be very good: they are thought-provoking, interesting, and sometimes even entertaining. Our meetings, on the other hand, often feature speakers who begin their remarks with "last night as I was writing my talk..." and, as Hubby said, they are often boring. It's no wonder that the kids wiggle and the seniors fall asleep.
Now I realize that professional ministers probably have a certain amount of training in sermon delivery. I realize that we have a lay ministry and that the people who speak to us in our sacrament meetings and who teach our sunday school lessons do so as volunteers. I don't expect them to be entertaining or even particularly polished. BUT is it at all unreasonable to ask that they take time to study and prepare a good talk or lesson?

When I am asked to speak in sacrament meeting, I spend the whole week thinking about my topic. I pray for guidance. I often make notes for myself, or open a file on the computer and start typing up pieces of paragraphs as I organize my thoughts. I typically spend at least 2-3 days typing up the actual talk. I prefer to have a fully-written talk to work from, and while I may paraphrase a bit as I deliver it, if my nerves get to me I know I can just read it and I won't forget anything or word things in confusing ways.
When I taught the gospel doctrine sunday school class, I started preparing my lessons on the sunday before I would deliver them. I read the passages of scripture that we would be studying from, and marked ones that stood out to me. I read the entire lesson from the manual, and compared my impressions with the commentary in the book. As I read, I typically filled at least one full notebook page with notes about what things I wanted to bring up, how I wanted to address them, and what questions I wanted to pose to the class. I usually spent at least 2-3 hours preparing a lesson. I also would bring it up to God in prayer at least a few times in the week, asking Him to help me teach the things that my class members needed to hear that week.
A few times I have sung solos or duets in church as well. I prepare for those in much the same way--I make sure that I know my music, but I also spend some time praying about which music to choose, and asking the Lord to use me to touch those who need to feel His spirit.
I have almost always received comments and compliments about my talks, lessons, and musical numbers.
I do not tell these things to boast, or to suggest that I'm a superior singer, speaker or teacher when compared to others. I really don't think I am. I just think that my preparation (and my requests for God's spirit) pay off. Yes, I do/did this on top of being a mother/homemaker/student/full-time employee and so on. It's not a matter of devoting 40 hours a week to preparation...but I do think that if we aren't willing to put in a few hours then how lazy are we? It is rare to be asked to speak in sacrament meeting more than once every year or two--surely we can handle a few hours on a biannual basis. Even for those who teach weekly sunday school or primary lessons, surely we can give up an hour of television or game-playing in order to prepare a good lesson. We owe it to our classes I think--to respect them enough to bring them a good lesson that is not a waste of their time. A lesson that is not boring.
I think we'd all get a lot more out of church if we would.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

On Winning Battles

Parents often find themselves engaged in power struggles with their children. Child wants A, parent insists on B, they argue about it...inevitably there is disobedience, punishment, resentment, or all of the above.

Here is some food for thought:
If you are having a battle with your child, and someone 'wins' then doesn't that mean that someone also 'loses'?
AND, if you as the parent are making sure to win (ie, making your kid be good/do right), then doesn't that mean that your kid is losing?
Are you ok with teaching your child to be a loser all the time?

Just one more reason why I believe in seeking cooperation instead of compliance, in working with my kids rather than pushing them around, and why I try really really hard to teach with gentleness, adaptability, and respect: because no kid should feel like a loser--especially not at home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

23 Weeks


At this point you’ve pretty much adjusted to the fact you’ve got a moving little gymnast inside of you, but now they’re going to kick up the party a notch because they can hear and react to sounds from the outside world. Sounds from your alarm clock, a thunder roll, or that darned car honking at you across the intersection can actually jar their little ears enough to elicit a kick or violent bout of squirming. Of course this also means that their little ears are picking up the sounds of your voice and those near you. So go ahead, sing a lullaby to your little angel—if they start kicking, it’s likely they just want you to stop… or maybe it was a kick of approval? You decide. Your baby's tiny taste buds are still growing and their bones are continuing to ossify (harden), their tiny veins are visible through their translucent yet wrinkly skin. (Think of it this way: they’ve been swimming in the equivalent of a long hot bath for the past 23 weeks, so you can’t blame them for being a little prune-like.)

They aren't kidding when they refer to the kiddo as a little gymnast. I've been feeling little flutters and bumps for weeks, but since the last update I've started being able to see them (yep, from the outside...little bulges pushing out of my belly, or something moving along under the surface in an eerily alien-like way). Daddy and big brothers have been able to feel the little brother's movements now too, which is always a nice stage to reach.
As for myself, I feel wiped out all the time (which I think is only partly due to the pregnancy, and partly due to the July heat in Utah and partly due to the 6000' altitude here compared to the sea level that I'm used to). I am eagerly looking forward to returning to Alaska with the cooler, moister air and more hospitable altitude.
I've also started needing to pee every couple of hours. While other women have told me that they had this need from the mid- or even early parts of pregnancy, my experience with Bear was that I had pretty normal bladder needs until the last month or so. That is not the case with this child! Bear was head-up until 30-something weeks, whereas the ultrasound said that this baby is already head-down, so I wonder if that may be part of it (heads are large and heavy and having one on my bladder seems a logical reason for needing extra potty trips!) Regardless of the reason, I'm making a midnight potty trip (or two) nearly every night, and lots more than I'm accustomed to during the day.

(By the way, I'll write this in small print because it's not set in stone quite yet...but I think that little brother will be called Eagle...oh if only it were that easy to choose his legal name!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I know we CAN, but does that mean we SHOULD?

I have thought about this a number of times in the last couple of years, and am finally writing it out. Please note that while I give a couple of examples in here, I am not generally trying to pass judgment on the people involved, nor trying to suggest that they should have done something different from what they did. I'm just saying that these things give me pause and make me think.

I must begin by saying that I am grateful for many of the astounding advances which science has made in the last century or two. We have broken the sound barrier. We have been to the moon. We have split the atom and begun to unravel DNA. We have cloned sheep. We are able to save the lives of babies who insist on being born scarcely halfway through their gestation. We are often able to stop the pre-term labor that leads to such premature babies. We have machines which can help people breathe or keep their hearts beating when they are unable to do so on their own. We can bring people back from the brink of death.
And yet, in spite of all the things that we CAN do, sometimes I have to wonder, SHOULD we do all these things?

I think of my first two miscarriages, one which occured spontaneously, and the other of which was medically managed (with a D&C). Can medical intervention save lives? Of course--my first miscarriage necessitated a trip to the emergency room in fact, and I'm ever so thankful for the medications they used to stop my bleeding. But with the second miscarriage the intervention was not necessary, it was a choice... and based on the emotional differences between the two situations, when the third miscarriage was immenent I chose to let nature take its course. I suppose that is when I started thinking about what we can do verses what we should do.

I think one of the biggest cases of "but should we" is the atomic bomb. Yes, we can make it...but should we? And if we make it, should we use (or should we have used) it?
We can clone sheep, and dogs, and who knows what all else...but should we? Is it our place to play gods? Is it moral to create a being in this unnatural way? Or is it natural?

I'll admit that I have mixed feelings about the money that is spent on space exploration: I'm just not sure what the practical benefit is, and whether that benefit warrants the cost. My questioning increases with the cost in human life of each Challenger or Columbia.

What of the many people who have the request "do not recussitate" on their medical records? Sure, we can use electricity and oxygen to bring them back from the brink of death--sometimes even from the far side of that brink--but should we? It seems that many people think we should not.

I think about Terri Shiavo, the woman who was in a coma for 15 years before they finally decided to 'pull the plug' and remove her from life support. Her husband was ready to do it after 8 years when tests indicated that she had sufficient brain damage that she would probably never wake up, and would not likely be functional even if she did. Her parents fought his decision though, feeling that pulling the plug would constitute murder since Terri had never left a living will indicating her wishes on the subject. And so it became an ugly legal battle...and the machines kept beeping away for another 7 years while lawyers tried to decide whether pulling the plug was legal or moral or who knows what all else. In 2005 her feeding tube was removed and she died within a couple of days. So the question remains--at what point does it cease to be "life support" and become "keeping a dead person's vital signs going"? Obviously we could keep her alive (to whatever degree) for 15 years, but should we have done so?
(Incidentally, situations like this one are a good reminder of the need to have a living will, not just a will in the event of your death...but that's a different topic.)

My sister-in-law was nearing the end of her first trimester of pregnancy when she began to have signs of miscarriage. She went to the hospital, and they were able to stop the labor and save the baby. She spent quite a while on bedrest to prevent it from happening again. When she did deliver her son at 37 weeks, they discovered that he had Downs Syndrome. He's had heart and breathing problems, several surgeries, hospitalizations, a feeding tube, and so on. SIL explained to me one day "well, my body knew that something was wrong with him, and that's why it tried to miscarry." She is very afraid of having any other children because she feels that they would probably have Downs too. She spends hours every day attending to his special needs. He is a sweet, loving, and lovable child, but he definitely has changed their family.
Now I have been through several miscarriages--would I have stopped them if I could? Yes, probably...but sometimes I wonder how life might have been different for my SIL and her family if science had not been able to save her baby...

As I said, I'm not trying to pass judgment in these cases, nor do I know per se what I would choose if it were me in the situation. All I'm saying is that sometimes I can't help but wonder if we get a little too caught up in what we can do, and forget to ask whether we should.
I think it's a point worth pondering.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dear Mrs Hatfield...

...this is Mrs McCoy calling. I have said this already in private, but since I know that we have many mutual friends, and also that those friends are aware of the recent situation between us, I wanted to say it in public (in front of all them) too. I don't know if you will read this, but I wanted to say it anyway. I'm sorry for the misunderstandings. I'm sorry for the frustrations. I never wanted our business contract to damage our friendship and I'm sorry that it did.

It's an awkward thing, doing business with friends. Everybody has misunderstandings sometimes, but when money gets involved somehow it becomes more personal...harder to brush off or to forgive. I've carried out dozens of business transactions with friends and rarely had a problem, but perhaps it is inevitable that problems should arise now and then.
I've always tried to be honest and forthcoming, and while that usually serves me well I guess sometimes we make the mistake of assuming that something was understood when it wasn't...or we think we've discussed something but the other person didn't realize what we meant by it.
In my business dealings I've always tried to be fair--more than fair even (I'm notoriously self-deprecating), and I confess I take it a little personally when someone feels that I've been unfair to them. In these cases there is usually fault with both parties, and while I try to take responsibility (and apologize) for my part of it, I have to be fair to myself too and realize that sometimes it's not all me, and I can't fix everything, nor can I please all of the people all of the time.
It's unfortunate (in my opinion) that a business deal gone sour can turn the people sour too, but sometimes it does. It is hard to do business with friends, no question, because of the multi-faceted (and therefore complicated) nature that develops in the relationship. It can be hard to be roommates with a friend; it can be hard to go into business with a friend; it can be problematic to co-sign on a loan with a friend or family member... and while there are any number of reasons as to why, I think that it comes back to one main thing: friendships are built on feelings, intentions, and effort; business is built on facts, results, and cold hard cash. In some cases they work together harmoniously, and in some cases they do not. I'm sorry to have had to be part of one of the latter, but am thankful for my many experiences with the former.

(As a note to those parties who are the aforementioned mutual friends...I know you know more about the specific situation, but it's really between the Hs and us, so I don't want to talk about it. Therefore I won't be publishing any comments with any specifics about the people or situations involved. I just wanted to make a public apology and spend a few minutes musing over the topic in general.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Drive to Anchorage (or, why I'm glad to live in Alaska)

This happened a few weeks ago, but I have not found the time to blog it until now.

When we left Pelican we had to take a somewhat roundabout route to Anchorage.
First there is the ferry into Juneau. There is only one, and it only comes once (or sometimes twice) in a month, so you make your schedule work with it, since it won't work with you.
Then there is the ferry from Juneau to Haines...you see, Juneau may be the capital city of Alaska, but it has no roads connecting it to the outside world. While much larger than Pelican, it is just as literally cut off--mountains on one side, ocean on the other, and one little road from one end of town to the other. It's true, Pelican's road is a half mile and Juneau's road is about 30 miles...but it dead ends all the same. So from Juneau one has to catch another ferry to someplace that has a road--in this case, Haines. Unfortunately, that ferry route is only run a few days a week, and only on one day a week is it a car-carrying ferry. So we had to put our lives on hold for 5 days as we sat around in Juneau between ferries.
Once arriving in Haines it's only about 400 miles to Anchorage...if you're a bird. But if you want to drive on a road, there's a little obstacle. Actually, a really massive obstacle called the Wrangall-St Elias National Park and Preserve (there's a coordinating chunk of National Park on the Canadian side as well). So rather than being 400ish miles, the drive is nearly 800 miles.

So the ferry arrived in Haines around noon, and we started driving...cross the border into Canada (yes we are carrying a hunting rifle, no we are not carrying ammunition, yes we have the paperwork, yes we have passports, yes we have a marriage license in there too because my passport is in my maiden name, yes we have birth certificates for both the kids, yes we have a dog, yes we have her health certificate...*phew* got that whole process down to a science!) and then drive and drive and drive and drive...

We have developed a method for handling these long drives. It involves Hubby driving as late as he can (usually around 1 or 2 am) and then pulling over someplace to sleep...meanwhile I go to sleep earlier in the evening (as do the kids) and whenever I wake up (usually around 5 or 6 am, and usually with an urgent need for a potty) then I wake Hubby enough to trade me seats and I start driving. We are able to cover a lot of distance, the kids sleep through a lot of it, and we each get enough sleep to make it through the day as well.
Things started off well enough. Hubby drove until around 1 or 1:30 then pulled over. I woke up in the early dawn light and thought hey, it's probably around 5. So I woke Hubby, traded him seats, and as he settled in I started the car and saw the clock.
It was 3am.
I had forgotten just how light it stays in the north...we were several hundred miles north of Pelican, and yes, at 3am it was pretty darn light. As I pulled onto the road I promptly pulled back off to take a picture of the first thing I saw:
Yes, that's a photo (no special filters) taken at 3am somewhere just past the point where the road turns and starts heading southish again.

A half hour of driving revealed this vista:

Honestly, can anyone say that it's not worth being awake at 3 am to see something like that?
And how could I not love my home when it looks like this (note the new banner at the top here...). All you lower 48-ers, eat your hearts out. ☺

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Musings on Perfume

Long ago, before much of anyone bothered with things like bathing or changing their clothing, everybody stank a bit. It was just one of the facts of life. At some point the rich people began using strongly scented oils to cover up their own odor...wearing perfume developed into a status symbol (because of course the poor had neither the time nor money for such things).

In modern times we have running water, and (at least in most places) bathing is readily accessible. We can all be nice and clean and un-stinky all the time. In other words, the time for perfuming oneself is past!
And yet, instead of laying off, we have taken it to the next level. Now, along with the perfume, we have scented shampoos, soaps, deodorant, hair products, lotions...oh yes, and the perfume. Even our laundry detergent and fabric softener are scented (probably with two different scents) so even our clothing has its own smell. The average person walking past me on the street is a veritable battlefield of conflicting odors. Sure, each may smell nice on its own, but does anyone really think that they all smell good together? And does anyone bother to coordinate? (The only people I know who pay any real attention to this are the ones who are allergic to the perfumes, and stick to unscented everything...or the occasional anosmiac who sticks to unscented for practical reasons!)

The truth is that a lot of people ARE sensitive to perfumes (whether it's an actual allergy or just a sensitivity). It is the height of rudeness to wear perfume of any kind or in any amount if you will be in close quarters with other people (in a vehicle, in a theater, frankly even at church). I can't tell you how many times I have sat next to someone and then realized I needed to move on because if I stayed next to them I was going to get a headache. (I don't mean to be rude madam, but I must get away from your smell as I am about to be sick!)

I hate magazines that have perfume samples in them. One sample might not be too bad, but when there are 3 or 4 and they all mix up.... it gives me a terrible headache. I am not allergic to perfume, but good grief, do people really think that some of these smell good?! There are people paying to smell like this? Really?!
And as I said before, multiple synthetic scents all mixed up...it's just not a good thing.

Smells, even a multitude of smells, can be a wonderful thing (walking through a flower garden comes to mind, or the wafting odors of dinner being prepared...) but synthetic scents are a whole other ballgame. And it's a bad ballgame.

What happened to the idea that "smelling clean" meant that the person/clothing didn't smell like anything at all?! Really, those were the days!

Linked Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...