Friday, September 30, 2011

Live Deep

I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, 
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, 
To put to rout all that was not life 
and not when I had come to die 
Discover that I had not lived.
~Henry David Thoreau

I will not die an unlived life. 
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. 
I choose to inhabit my days, 
to allow my living to open me, 
to make me less afraid, more accessible, 
to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. 
I choose to risk my significance; 
to live so that which came to me as seed goes forth as blossom 
and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
~ Dawna Markova

The first quote I learned from Dead Poet's Society when I was a teenager. In college I cross-stitched it with a pretty border and hung it on my wall.
The second quote I just found this week.

This is my mindfulness.
This is my serenity.
To live deep, and not in fear.
To love freely.
To take what comes, and make it better.
To be a force for good.
To be the change I want to see in the world.
To go
To do
To be

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hello World

My posting here has slowed down. As I mentioned I am in grad school, but there is more to it than that.

Firstly, my classes, being web-based, do not have meeting times. This means that it is all reading and writing. My lifespan development class, for example, gives me 60-150 pages per week to read (and about 6 to write). Sometimes I think it would be easier to sit in a few hours of lectures, but honestly I am fascinated by this stuff and really enjoying what I am learning, time-consuming as it is.

Secondly, I care about how I do in the classes. I could slide through with minimums I suppose, but not only do I want to learn the material (that's the point after all!) but I have always had a good GPA and I'd like to continue to do good work. Having spent time as a teacher, I think it's a bit insulting to the teacher turn in poor work--especially if the teacher is any good. Thus it is that I am spending the time to try to do good work for these classes. The more critical of my teachers has given me extra credit twice in the last two weeks, along with this comment "You did an excellent job with this very challenging assignment. You infused information from psychological sources effectively and displayed a lot of high-level thinking." So I am feeling pretty good about that. (But since I'm writing for him, I'm not writing for you...unless you'd like to see what I've been writing?! I did a piece on the strengths and weaknesses of attachment theory last week.)

Finally, have I mentioned the babysitting? Naw, I didn't think so. This is my sixth week of babysitting a 2yr old (in addition to my own 4yo and nearly 2yo) 8-5 Mon-Fri. This is my second week of babysitting an additional 2yo and 4yo 9-5 Mon-Fri. Yes, that makes a total of two 4 year olds and three 2 year olds, full time. Plus, you know, all the standard mom stuff like making dinner and vacuuming and doing laundry and keeping the wood stove going and (occasionally) cleaning the toilet. (But not very often, because I truly hate cleaning toilets. You have no idea!)
I need to invest in a big box of crayons.
And in the meantime, I would love for you to leave grown up sorts of comments here for me. Because I spend much of the day talking to 2 year olds. ☺

Monday, September 26, 2011


I have always taken my kids for just one shot at a time. I feel that their bodies can better cope with the toxins that come along with a vaccination, and goodness knows it makes sense to me to only fight one disease at a time! (I realize that some vaccines are already combinations, and yes I do get those as they are...but I'm not going to get my kid shot up with a diptheria-tetanus-pertussis, a measles-mumps-rubella, AND a polio all on the same day!) I have had medical providers who were supportive of my choice, and providers who were not so much... But I smile and stand my ground and do it my way anyway. One per visit, no exceptions. I don't get any shots before 6 months old, and I get them when I get them--no fretting over following anyone elses schedule or being done by a certain age.

It has been my experience that with a toddler, they don't know what is coming. It hurts for a moment, they are upset and begin to cry, and by then it is over and so they recover and calm down again almost immediately.
 As they get to be 3 or 4 though, it gets harder.

I don't feel that it's honest to trick my kids (and can you think of an appropriate way to convince your child to drop his pants without telling him why?!) I avoid telling him until the last moment (because the anticipation is usually worse than the actual shot), but I do tell him. I explain that there will be a poke, it will be fast, then it will be over. I tell them why we do it--that the shot gives us a tiny bit of sickness, but that it's small enough that our body can fight it and make soldier cells to protect us from that sickness so that if it comes big we will be able to kill it (yes, I have boys, this is how we explain everything around here!).

Usually we go do something special afterward--an extra long day at the park, getting ice cream, etc. I tell him that it's ok to cry if he needs to (once Bear told me he didn't deserve ice cream because he had cried so he wasn't brave, so I made sure to nip that in the bud the next time). Often I take two or three kids together, and everybody gets a poke. In that case, I talk to the one who gets the most distressed (currently it's Bear), and I let him make some choices, such as whether he will be first or last, which arm, etc. It gives him control over something in a situation where he hasn't been given a choice, and I think that's important.

I have always taken them for just one shot per visit, but recently I had begun to wonder if the emotional distress of having so many separate visits might be harder on the kiddo than getting two shots at once. Bear gets really worked up, and will bawl for an hour (as I remember doing myself).
This last month, the whole family went in together. Hepatitis A is of concern out here in the bush, and so Hubby and I opted to get that along with the kids. Several of us also needed to get a tuberculosis screening, which is not a vaccination, but does involve a(nother) poke. When we walked into the room there was a tray with 8 needles on it, and Bear was very distressed, even after I explained that we were all getting shots and that they were not all for him.
Afterward, Bear told me that he didn't like getting pokes here, that it was better where we used to live. I thought he was going to say something about how he would only get pokes if we went back to the old place (which we both know isn't possible), but instead he just said "I liked it better there because we only got one poke instead of two." So it seems that--even for someone who gets really upset at each episode of poking--it's still better to do them one at a time, even if it means more total visits.

So we'll stick with the plan. One shot in a visit. No exceptions. The public health nurse can roll her eyes all she wants.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


This is the talk I gave in church today.

I’ve been asked to speak about discipleship.

As I pondered over what discipleship is, the story of Jesus and the rich young man kept coming back to me. He asked Jesus “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. …
“All these things have I kept from my youth up” (Matt. 19:16–17, 20). See, he was already being righteous.
And then came Jesus’ response: “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, … and come, … and follow me” (Mark 10:21).

So often we get caught up in the to do lists, the “righteousness checklists,” and we forget that true discipleship is NOT actually about whether you got 100% home or visiting teaching, or how many times you went to the temple last year, or even whether you went at all; but it IS about whether you “are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.” (Mosiah 18) In short, discipleship is about following Christ’s example of loving one another.

How do we learn how to follow Christ?

Teachers know that the one of the most effective ways to teach something is not to tell the students about it, but to model it—that is, to do the thing that they want to students to do. Jesus, the Master Teacher, did the same. He taught us what we should do by showing us how we should be. And what did Jesus do? He mourned with those that mourned, comforted those that stood in need of comfort, and in all times and in all things and in all places He stood for Love—because, as John tells us, God is Love (1 John 4:8).

The scriptures tell us not only what Christ did, but also what He said. Nephi said that “the words of Christ will tell you all things which ye should do.” (2Nephi 32:3) A primary song explains “If I had been a little child when Jesus lived on earth, I would have liked to walk with Him and listen to His words. But as I search the scriptures I can hear his words of peace, and if I listen with my heart I hear the Savior’s voice.” (If I Listen With My Heart) The Savior’s words are in the scriptures, and we can find them not only in the new testament, but also by looking for messages that are repeated by multiple prophets across the ages.

Another way to learn to follow Christ is through personal revelation. This is the way that I think is the most important, although it is not always the easiest to access, which is why we have the scriptures to fall back on. Church leaders and teachers, both ancient and modern, are good people trying to teach us good things, but ultimately they cannot know the ins and outs of our individual situations, so the best they can ever do is provide guidelines. When it comes down to specifics of exactly what to do and exactly how to live, we have to make those choices ourselves.

Elder Ronald E Poelman of the 70 spoke about this in his conference talk The Church and the Gospel (from which I now quote extensively):
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a divine and perfect plan. It is composed of eternal, unchanging principles and laws which are universally applicable to every individual regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The principles of the gospel never change.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a divine institution administered by the priesthood of God. The Church has authority to teach correctly the principles and doctrines of the gospel and to administer its essential ordinances.
The gospel is the substance of the divine plan for personal, individual salvation and exaltation. The Church is the delivery system that provides the means and resources to implement this plan in each individual's life.
Procedures, programs and policies are developed within the Church to help us realize gospel blessings according to our individual capacity and circumstances. Under divine direction, these policies, programs, and procedures do change from time to time as necessary to fulfill gospel purposes. Underlying every aspect of Church administration and activity are the revealed eternal principles [of the gospel] as contained in the scriptures.
As individually and collectively we increase our knowledge, acceptance, and application of gospel principles, we become less dependent on Church programs [to tell us what to do]. Our lives become gospel centered.
Sometimes traditions, customs, social practices and personal preferences of individual Church members may, through repeated or common usage be misconstrued as Church procedures or policies. Occasionally, such traditions, customs and practices may even be regarded by some as eternal gospel principles. Under such circumstances those who do not conform to these cultural standards may mistakenly be regarded as unorthodox or even unworthy. In fact, the eternal principles of the gospel and the divinely inspired Church do accommodate a broad spectrum of individual uniqueness and cultural diversity.
It is important therefore to know the difference between eternal gospel principles which are unchanging [and] universally applicable, and cultural norms which may vary with time and circumstance.
The source of this perspective is found in the scriptures…[as the gospel] is taught by various messengers at different times and places. In the scriptures we discover that varying institutional forms, procedures, regulations and ceremonies are utilized, all divinely designed to implement eternal principles. The practices and procedures change; the principles do not.
Through scripture study we may learn eternal principles and how to distinguish them from and relate them to institutional resources. As we liken the scriptures unto ourselves we can better utilize the institutional resources of the modern restored Church to learn, live and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Elder Poelman goes on to talk about Leviticus, which teaches such principles as revelation and caring for the poor, but also lays out policies such as that an employer must pay each of his workers at the end of every day (which obviously is something that has changed with time). Then he continues:
Every church member has not only the opportunity, right, and privilege to receive a personal witness regarding gospel principles and Church practices, but has the need and obligation to obtain such assurance by exercising his free agency, thereby fulfilling one purpose of his mortal probation.

It all comes back to personal revelation. We need personal revelation to assist us in separating gospel from tradition, and in receiving individualized direction for our lives. Doctrine & Covenants 58:27 repeats Elder Poelman’s conclusion, saying that “men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” The church is here to administer the gospel on the earth, but the core of the gospel—true discipleship—is something that must be found, understood, and lived individually; not by being caught up in checklists, but by seeking understanding and truth, heeding the spirit, and showing love.

Finally, when we know what we should be doing, we have to do it! In his talk The Pathway of Discipleship Neal A Maxwell said “The divine attributes of love, mercy, patience, meekness, purity, and others are attributes we have been directed to develop in each of us—and they cannot be developed in the abstract. These require the clinical experiences.” We cannot develop them unless we practice them. In another talk on discipleship, Neal A Maxwell also said that “the more we become like Jesus, the more we come to know Him." (Becoming a Disciple) And so it is cyclical: as we follow Jesus, we come to know Him, and as we come to know Him, we are better able to follow Him.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebrating Autumnal Equinox

Mabon is the second of the three harvest festivals. Lammas celebrates grains, berries, and other early foods. Samhain celebrates the meat harvest of hunting and slaughter time.

Mabon was not an authentic ancient festival either in name or date. The autumn equinox was not celebrated in Celtic countries, while all that is known about Anglo-Saxon customs of that time was that September was known as haleg-monath or 'holy month'. The name Mabon has only been applied to the neopagan festival of the autumn equinox very recently; the term was invented by Aidan Kelly in the 1970s as part of a religious studies project. Previously the festival was simply known as the 'Autumnal Equinox', and many neopagans still refer to it as such.
The name Mabon was chosen to impart a more authentic-sounding "Celtic" feel to the event, since all the other festivals either had names deriving from genuine tradition, or had had names grafted on to them. The use of the name Mabon is much more prevalent in America than Britain, where many neopagans are scornfully dismissive of it as a blatantly inauthentic practice. The Druids call this celebration, Mea'n Fo'mhair, and honor the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.
Various other names for this Lesser Wiccan Sabbat are The Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Alben Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia. The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans a period of time from the Sabbat to Oct. 15th, Winter's Night, which is the Norse New Year. [source link]

Also called Harvest Home, this holiday is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the Earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months.

This time of year also coincides with Michaelmas (Sep 29), which celebrates the Archangel Michael's victory over the Dragon (the devil). For more on that, visit Ayla's neat posts from last year: part one, part two, and the dragon hunt!

  • red, orange, rust, brown, maroon
  • apples, nuts, squash, gourds, pomegranates
  • pinecones
  • vines (grapes, ivy, etc)
  • corn stalks

  • Gratitude for the harvest
  • Gratitude for everything else
  • Balance (the balance between light and dark, also between life and death as plants are giving fruit at the same time they are dying. It is appropriate to recognize all forms of balance at this time.)
  • Harmony
  • Self-reliance 
  • Wisdom 
  • Old age (including the transition from "mother" to "crone/wisewoman," or from midlife into old age)(here is a great site about the crone archetype)

  • Sing songs of thanksgiving and harvest home (see below)
  • Pick apples
  • Dry apples to make little wrinkly 'faces' and then add corn husk bodies to make little harvest people
  • Write down things you are thankful for on little pieces of paper. Read each one aloud, and put it into the fire to let the smoke carry your gratitude heavenward.
  • Make cider, juice, or wine
  • Make applesauce
  • Gather seeds from dying plants to use for next year 
  • Gather nuts
  • Gather herbs and dry them
  • Make grapevine wreaths (or buy grapevine wreaths and decorate them)

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.
All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

(You can hear the hymn here.)

  • Have a lavish feast!
  • Apples
  • Apple cider (there is a recipe to make your own here)
  • Apple pie
  • Squash
  • Beans 
  • All vegetables that are in season, including root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and onions
  • Grapes & wine
  • Nuts and nut breads


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ain't Nobody Perfect

Recently a friend of mine watched my kids (all three of them) for a few hours while my husband and I were dealing with moving-related stuff. When we got back, she pulled me aside and apologized. She said she felt like she hadn’t been a great parent to them all (my kids and hers), as she had gotten frustrated and yelled at them a couple of times. She clarified that she had yelled at everybody, not picking on anyone in particular, but she still felt badly about it. I should back up and mention that we had been staying with them for several days, and all the kids had gotten each other riled up multiple times and everybody was getting on everybody elses nerves to some degree I think. In any case, I told her that I was on my last nerves too and that I certainly didn’t think any less of her as a person or as a parent for yelling at kids sometimes. She said that she has this perception of me as “an enigma of good parenting” and she was sure she wasn’t measuring up to how I would have handled things if I had been there.

If her concern had not been so serious, I might have laughed. Me? An enigma of good parenting? Oh boy.
So I’m here today to set the record straight.

I have a lot of ideas and beliefs about parenting, many of which I share here on my blog. These are things I genuinely believe in and genuinely try to do.

These are also things I fail at regularly.

I take the time to think about things, and try to come up with what I feel is the best way to raise and guide my children. But habits and frustrations and mental blanks at stressful moments all leave me doing things which are very much not within the realm of my ideals.

In other words, I yell at my kids plenty. Theoretically I speak with them calmly afterward, apologizing for yelling and trying to help them appreciate my frustration and work on a solution in a more peaceable manner… but honestly there are some times when I do that and other times when I feel entirely justified in yelling at a kid who knows better but is doing ______ for the umpteenth time anyway. I’m just human, just like we all are. Some things I’m good at, others I’m working on. But I’m not perfect at anything.

I told my friend I did not think less of her as a person or as a parent for having yelled at the kids. Based on what I’ve seen of her parenting, if she yelled at my kids then they probably earned it. And when we got home I took all the kids for a couple of hours and she got to go have some quiet time to herself browsing the bookstore for a while.
We all try. We all have epic fails at least part of the time. The point is not whether we fail, but whether we get up and try again.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thoughts on Modesty

I wonder how quickly our children could point out examples of immodesty *outside* of dress. I wonder how many of us wear very conservative clothes to church, but go home to our immodest homes. Or how many of us wear modest clothing to the grocery store, but then go and have very immodest conversations with our friends.

I think to define modesty strictly by how much skin we're showing or where our hemline is to really really miss an opportunity to assess where we are spiritually and what kind of humility we're expressing and make some changes.

~Chelsea Fife (Mormon Matters podcast on "modesty")

Monday, September 12, 2011

9-11 ~ Ten Years

The reason I don't worry about society is, nineteen people knocked down two buildings and killed thousands. Hundreds of people ran into those buildings to save them. I'll take those odds every ***** day.

                           -Jon Stewart

May we all be among the hundreds who run in to save.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Our House in Kotzebue

Part 1

(we have rearranged the living room a little since then, as you could see in my last post)

Part 2

Monday, September 5, 2011

Let it Snow!

1 small box of packing peanuts
2 little boys who asked
1 mommy who said yes
Snowstorm in the living room on labor day weekend

They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. So what if it filled up most of a vacuum bag. Vacuum bags are pretty cheap, and you're only a kid once.

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