Friday, August 29, 2014

Gallbladder #3

Dear Gallbladder,

I'll probably never send this letter to you now that I've cut off all contact, but I need to write down my thoughts. We are still getting used to your absence. It is much more difficult than we anticipated. Stomach is melancholy, often times refusing food but at other times demanding food, only to return it. Liver is very confused. Without you there to regulate bile production, Liver is lost regarding how much to make. Erring on the side of too much upsets Stomach more than too little. Then there's Pancreas. It just couldn't handle the abuse. Pancreas is still angry but is also grieving more than the others. I think it may never operate at full capacity again.

It will get better eventually. Sometimes it's hard to think of that when we're curled up in bed. Tylenol, pepto bismol, and small bites from the b.r.a.t. diet keep us going. The moments I can actually fall asleep are a welcome relief from all the angst and drama. It won't last forever. Life will resume, though it will be a new normal. So I raise a glass of broth to better days ahead.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Gallbladder #2

Dear Gallbladder,

Why couldn't you just leave and be done with it? You left behind a couple of surprises, or "stones," that continue to aggravate Pancreas. Was that necessary? We all want to heal from your misdeeds; your little surprises make it difficult to move on. Well, you won't keep me down. I will get rid of your stones. There will be nothing left to remind me of you once and for all. This is the final good-bye.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Gallbladder #1

Dear Gallbladder,

We have lived in harmony for many years, but lately you've been causing problems. You began hurting me earlier this summer and blaming it on Stomach. All my friends thought Stomach gave me an ulcer. I believed you for over a month. But you didn't stop there. You aggravated Pancreas next. As we all know, when Pancreas gets angry, everyone gets hurt.

So I need to tell you that it's time to break up. I cannot continue a relationship with one who hurts me, lies to me, and turns others against me. I'm going to call in professional help to sever our connection. This will be permanent. I will not let you hurt me again.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

"The Moral Force of Women"

Last month Dominic and I were asked to give talks about General Conference in sacrament meeting. Usually I make an outline and talk from that. On a whim I wrote out my talk this time. I received quite a few complimentary comments, which I don't normally get, so I thought you might enjoy it, too.

I have chosen Elder Christofferson’s talk on The Moral Force of Women, because it has been on my mind a lot lately. Let me begin by giving you a little of my background. My father, who was born and raised in the church, did his graduate studies at Yeshiva University, a Jewish-run institution. While there he developed a better understanding of and love for Jews and their culture. (In fact 2 of my brothers, Aaron and Joshua, were named after my Dad’s favorite professor.)  Because Orthodox Jewish women stay at home, many Gentiles mistakenly believe they have no value. However, it is because they are so highly valued that they are entrusted to teach and care for the children, and protected from the harsh outside world. So I grew up in a home that also highly valued the role of a mother in raising children. My parents encouraged my sisters and me to seek higher education so that we could become the best mothers we could. Hearing this talk during the Saturday afternoon session resonated with everything I believe about the role of women as wives and mothers.

Elder Christofferson expresses gratitude for the influence of good women, warns us of dangerous trends, and pleads with us to cultivate our innate moral power.

He speaks of 3 specific women who had a positive influence on him. One mother in Mexico “was love personified” as she sacrificed earthly treasures in order to care for her home and family. Elder Christofferson even compared her to the Savior, “blessing others through service and sacrifice.” He then tells us about Anna Daines, who worked tirelessly in New Jersey “to overcome deeply rooted prejudice against Mormons and to make the community a better place for all parents to raise their children.” When Elder Christofferson was a teenager his family moved into Anna’s ward. She encouraged him to reach higher than he would have otherwise. And “once, because of a thoughtful and timely warning from her, I avoided a situation that would surely have led to regret,” he said. Next he talks about his own grandmother, who taught him to be a conscientious priesthood holder. She encouraged him to memorize the sacramental blessings on the bread and water. She taught him a reverence for sacred things. Although she “never learned how to drive a car, … she knew how to help boys become priesthood men.”

Elder Christofferson moves on to describe a mother’s influence in her home. It’s amazing, and I want to read the whole paragraph.
            “A mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship. By the power of her example and teaching, her sons learn to respect womanhood and to incorporate discipline and high moral standards in their own lives. Her daughters learn to cultivate their own virtue and to stand up for what is right, again and again, however unpopular. A mother’s love and high expectations lead her children to act responsibly without excuses, to be serious about education and personal development, and to make ongoing contributions to the well-being of all around them. Elder Neal A Maxwell once asked: ‘When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?’”
            Wow. That’s all I can say, just wow. I always thought that the saying, behind every great man is a great woman, referred to the great man’s wife. After reading that, I’m inclined to think it is actually talking about the man’s mother.

Our role in creating life is very sacred. We give physical bodies to God’s children. I don’t know anyone who has given birth who will say it was easy or fun, but it is worth it. Sometimes we even put our lives on the line. But childbirth is an “integral part … in God’s work and glory ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’” Once we realize that, I hope we will be righteous role models “of chastity before marriage and fidelity within marriage.” It is because we have a “civilizing influence in society, [and] have brought out the best in men.” That is almost exactly what my dad says about women. His example: look at the first Europeans in Idaho – hunters, trappers, and explorers. They were constantly moving around and had reputations of being a bit rough. Who settled here? Men with wives, who encouraged them to settle in one place and raise children. That’s when towns and cities grew.

Elder Christofferson doesn’t want to overpraise us, which he realizes makes us cringe. We know we’re not perfect, so when people tell us we are, I for one feel like I fall short, by a lot. So he switches from praising to warning.

One modern philosophy is devaluing marriage, motherhood and homemaking. Society says that homemaking “demeans women, and the relentless demands of raising children are a form of exploitation.” My family has first-hand experience with this. My older sister Emily was invited into the gifted and talented program in 3rd grade. For the next 3 years of elementary school, she was told over and over again that she was too smart to be a mom, that she was meant for better things, that motherhood was a waste of her talent. My mom, who earned her Bachelor’s degree and chose to leave her career to raise children, was insulted by this attitude. So when others of us were invited into the gifted and talented program, my mom refused to send us. I am happy to report that all my mother’s daughters are college educated and happily raising children now. Emily had a hard time giving up her lucrative career at first, but now she has no regrets. Let’s not forget about my brothers, who sought out righteous, moral women to marry. Their wives are also well-educated and staying home to raise their children. My brothers work very hard to provide for their families and support their wives in child-rearing.

Another dangerous attitude concerns sexual immorality. Like immodest clothing is debasing, not liberating. My youngest brother impressed me when he threw a Hawaiian themed birthday party his senior year of high school. Now, my brother is very out-going, has always been popular, and he isn’t shy about letting people know he is a Mormon and what he believes. So when 2 of his friends showed up at the party wearing grass skirts and bikini tops he said, “I thought they knew me better than that.” He then went to his room and grabbed 2 of his own Hawaiian shirts and gave them to his friends before they even stepped into the house. My brother is a full foot taller than me, so his shirts are big and baggy. And that’s what the girls wore the entire party. He valued his friends enough to keep them modest.

[And this is where I stopped because it was time to go to church. The rest was written while I was waiting for my turn to speak.]

Another problem is the cultural double-standard of sexuual promiscuity. Women were expected to be pure, while men were allowed, or even expected, to sow their wild oats. That double-standard is finally equalizing. Unfortunately in the wrong direction. Instead of women and men being chase, women are joining the men in promiscuity. It leads to father-less families and poverty. Women lose their moral influence, and it degrades all of society.

The final concern comes from those who want men and women to be equal in every way, erasing the differences between masculine and feminine. Women are being portrayed in the media as more aggressive, tough, and confrontational. I remember studying Shakespeare's MacBeth in high school. Lady MacBeth wants to help her husband attain power, so she murders a man who stands in the way. Before she commits this heinous act, she throws off her fenininity. I remember my teacher telling us that in Shakespeare's time, it was unthinkable that a woman could do anything so awful unless she denies her natural state. Let us remember what former Young Women General President Nadauld taught: there are enough women who are tough, coarse, rude, vain, and popular. Let us be the ones who are tender, kind, refined, virtuous, and pure. 

Elder Christofferson's final plea is that we protect and cultivate... [and this is when Dominic finished talking and I had to speak. When I reached this part of my talk, I fumbled a bit and finally concluded with my testimony. If you hate cliffhangers, go to Christofferson's talk to read the exciting conclusion here.]

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Life of Mr. Fishy

Elisa often seems lost in her own little world. Dominic has mentioned that she has the attention span of a fish. Last Christmas he had the fun idea of giving Lisy a fish. We gave her a blue beta, which she named Mr. Fishy. She loved it immediately. When she first saw the net, she asked, "Can I use that to take him out?!" She took it in stride when the anwser was no. She tried to pet him several times until we put a stop to it. Over the last 5 months she has spent a lot of time just watching him. She took her job of feeding him very seriously. At first she fed him everything: bread, chocolate chips, cereal, cat food, etc. Once she remembered that he could only eat fish food, she was diligent about it (and the bowl stayed cleaner longer. Of course I was the only one to clean out the bowl.) Sometimes her younger sisters still tried to feed Mr. Fishy something taboo.

Last week I discovered Mr. Fishy floating at the top of his bowl. Lisy was very sad. We gathered in the bathroom to flush him down the toilet. When Dominic came home, we held a memorial service in the garden. The kids made a small ring of stones and placed little bouquets of garden flowers. We said a prayer. Then the children, starting with Lisy, all told their favorite stories about Mr. Fishy. Who new a fish could generate so many happy memories?

Yesterday we took her to the pet store to get a new fish. She liked the betas just fine, but she loved the goldfish. "It's a fish that's shiny like gold!" $4 for a beta or 4/$1 for a goldfish? That's a no-brainer. Now Lisy has a goldfish, Mr. Fishy II.

Mr. Fishy II likes to hide behind the statue.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"all about my MOM"

Happy Mother's Day!

Today in Primary all the children filled out a form about their moms. Except for Makayla who is still in Nursery, I received 4 questionnaires that cracked me up. They are so funny that I have to share them with you. Just remember, they answered in all seriousness.

1. My mom is ___ years old.
2. My mom weighs ____ pounds.
3. My mom's favorite color is ____.
4. My mom's favorite food is _____.
5. My mom always says "_____."
6. My mom cooks the best ______.
7. My mom's job is ______.
8. My mom laughs when _______.
9. If my mom had time, she would love to _______.
10. My mom & I like to _______.
11. My mom really loves _________.
12. I LOVE my mom because ____________.

1. 35 years old
2. 250 pounds
3. red
4. eggs with cheese
5. "When the food comes, eat."
6. cookies
7. being a stay at home mom
8. we do funny things
9. read
10. do garden work
11. gardening
12. she is awesome

1. 34 years old
2. ?
3. red
4. ?
5. ?
6. food
7. taking care of the family
8. ?
9. ?
10. ?
11. my family
12. ? ("You don't know what you love about me?" I asked. "Well, there are just so many things," he answered. Good save, kiddo.)

1.77 years old
2. 100 pounds
3. red
4. pizza
5. "Keep yourself modest."
6. popcorn
7. she takes care of me
8. Dad's funny
9. eat
10. do homework (actually, helping her with homework drives me bonkers!)
11. me (she apparently thinks very highly of herself)
12. she takes good care of me

1. 27 years old
2. 40 pounds
3. pink
4. eggs
5. "I love you."
6. biscuits
7. folding laundry
8. it's funny
9. make pancakes
10. fold my laundry
11. making me food (I think she was hungry)
12. gives me my baby dolls

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Handprints on the Wall

I had a moment of motivation, and I cleaned the walls and window in the room we call our den. As I sat on the floor scrubbing dirty handprints off the wall, I thought wistfully, "My youngest is now 2. Just a few more years until I won't have to deal with this anymore."

Then I remembered my teenage years when my mom complained about handprints on the ceiling (we held contests to see who could jump the highest). And I had an epiphany: I will always have to deal with handprints; just the heighth will change. Oh well.

Image borrowed from