Thursday, February 27, 2014

why skunks and good friends go together (to me)

A few weeks after Macie passed away, a wonderful friend asked me if I wanted to start walking in the mornings with her. I said yes, with a little bit of hesitation. I had to put it off another couple of weeks because I was still in a lot of pain. (My recovery that time was horrible.) I don't like being cold (and this was right around Christmas time), I don't like exercising (in the moment; I like it generally), and I don't like to wake up before 6 a.m. Anyway, I didn't have the benefit of nursing to lose a few pounds so I knew it was up to me to get the baby weight off and I agreed. And I really really liked this friend. Cindy.

We walked almost every single weekday morning until March 31. I know that date because that was when we moved into our new (old) house (for the second time). Anyway, we walked and walked and walked, for about 45 minutes to an hour. It was dark and it was cold. Once I slipped on some ice and landed hard on my backside. I talked a LOT. She knew I needed a friend to talk to at that point, more than ever. She was a more seasoned mother than me, her husband was the Bishop, she was busy, yet she made time for me in a meaningful way that benefitted me in so many ways.

On two separate occasions while we were walking, skunks crossed our path. Maybe it was the same skunk, I don't know, but both times we were shaken enough to practically jump out of our skin. I had no idea how common skunks were around here (well maybe...I sure smell them a lot) but they clearly enjoy being out when it is dark and quiet.

Cindy told me a few months later that skunks reminded her of me, and I have realized the last few years that I feel the same way about her. :) Or, I feel the same way about skunks. I really admire this family; Spencer became a counselor to her husband (Bishop) and then they moved away a couple years ago. Now their oldest daughter is my Beehive advisor so I have the privilege of hearing her teach some of the most enthusiastic, random, hilarious girls ever.

Around New Years we all got the stomach flu. When I say "we all" I don't mean Spencer and Emma - they never get sick. Anyway, when my kids vomit all over their pillows I immediately throw their pillows away. THAT is not worth trying to salvage. I was outside throwing Tanner's pillow in the garbage, which was out on the street for garbage day, when a skunk ran right past me. After I composed myself I was glad I could find some humor in the moment and think of my friend.

Two mornings ago I woke up at 5:30 to the STINK of skunk. I was sure one was in my house. Come to find out, the entire neighborhood woke up with the same smell in their homes. I never found out what happened or where it was but I was visiting teaching with a friend that day and as we drove in my car we talked about it. Funny how skunks seem to be a common thing with me and my friends.

I will always love Cindy for being so clued in to what I needed those few dark winter months, for helping me be accountable to getting up and exercising, and for giving me something - someone - wonderful to think about whenever I smell that skunk smell.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I've talked before about how I sorta have one foot in the "big kid" thing and one foot in the "little kid" thing. I have a 5 year gap between sets of kids, and some people tell me that was brilliant planning. I think that would be good planning, but obviously for us it wasn't intentional.

Last week Spencer's sister Melissa, her husband Steve, and their 6 kids came to see us. We were all SO excited - they are now back in the West so seeing them won't be as impossible as it was before. There are more kids in their family but the age ranges are sorta similar. It was SO FUN for my kids to actually be with cousins, something that is much too infrequent for us.

One of the little girls, Claire, turned 5 while they were here. She is adorable and has the funniest little personality. I really enjoyed her. She constantly called me Aunt Cheri and asked me to paint her nails ("party nails"). As I sat painting her nails I kept thinking about how I should have a 5 year old myself. Macie would be 3 months older than Claire. When Macie died I had 5 sisters in law who were also pregnant, all due within 5 or 6 months after me. On the day Melissa had Claire, I remember her texting to tell us the news, then saying that I was on her mind and she was thinking about Macie. I was so touched by that and as a result, to this day, feel a little extra bond with Claire.

We went to the Jelly Belly Factory for her birthday. She got TOMS shoes and cute jeans and nail polish. She is very motherly and was all over Sadie (as well as her own baby sister). I don't get to be in that stage with Macie, but I am so happy I got to share a little slice of that with my niece. It was a fun glimpse of the stage I am missing out on myself. Luckily I will get that again in a few years with Sadie.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

on modesty

I have been serving in Young Women in my ward for 5 1/2 years. Before that I served in YW for 2 1/2 years in another ward. Modesty is always a hot topic. I have even been sat down by some women/friends and told that we as leaders need to work harder with the girls on modesty. I used to agree. I used to think the strictest adherence to modesty was the end-all be-all. 

Dressing modestly isn't always easy. I think it's a fun challenge to find cute clothes that cover all the right places, but I know that as a teen it is a real struggle. I remember it even being hard for me to find appropriate clothing 15 years ago.

I have learned two important things during my time working with the young women: 1) If our girls are at church and at activities, that is what is most important. We want them there. Sometimes they struggle and they can't make it. Sometimes they don't want to come. We want them to come! And we are going to do everything we can to make them feel welcome. There are times their clothing might be completely inappropriate and we need to talk to them privately, but in general we are happy to see them, no matter what they are wearing. Obviously if we are taking them to the temple that is different, and we emphasize the importance and significance of what we wear when we go there. 2) If girls' parents aren't going to police what they wear, it certainly is not our place to be that authority. We don't want them to be embarrassed. Sometimes we have girls who are new in the church and don't really know what to wear; we are happy to help them, especially if they ask us for help or guidance. But if our girls' parents brought them to church and didn't say anything we often won't choose to fight that battle. Maybe parents are choosing their battles as well.  It all goes back to point #1. (And I am writing this as a YW leader, not as a parent. Let's see what I think in a few years.)

I gave a lesson several months ago on standards. One we talked about was dress. I asked the girls why it is important to dress modestly and got several responses, all of them correect. I even found myself telling them to dress modestly for the boys around them, but I bristled as I said it, and it has bothered me ever since. Of course they should dress modestly to show respect for Heavenly Father and themselves. That is the overarching reason. One side effect might be how it affects the boys, but that is not the fault or responsibility of the girls. I don't think it is appropriate to teach them that they should be living their whole lives wondering what boys are thinking of their physical appearance.

I read this quote today and was so grateful to see it in writing! And I love that it came from an Apostle, Elder Holland:

“I have heard all my life that it is the young woman who has to assume the responsibility for controlling the limits of intimacy in courtship because a young man cannot. What an unacceptable response to such a serious issue! What kind of man is he, what priesthood or power or strength or self-control does this man have that lets him develop in society, grow to the age of mature accountability, perhaps even pursue a university education and prepare to affect the future of colleagues and kingdoms and the course of the world, but yet does not have the mental capacity or the moral will to say, ‘I will not do that thing?’ No, this sorry drugstore psychology would have us say, ‘He just can’t help himself. His glands have complete control over his life–his mind, his will, his entire future.’… I refuse to buy some young man’s feigned innocence who wants to sin and call it psychology.'”

Here is the entire article that got this post (floating around in my head for 4 months) verbalized finally.

I have always been a stickler for modesty, and I still am. It is important to show that respect for our bodies. I guess my reasoning has just evolved a little bit. And I have forever changed how I will teach that principle to my favorite young friends. The bigger, complete picture is what they will consider when they are choosing what to put on their bodies.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

a decade

This adorable TEN year old (no way am I old enough) had quite a birthday surprise.

It all started with us marching the kids home on Sunday after sacrament meeting, trying to act mad (or even just stern, or even just serious...but mostly trying not to laugh...). We sat them down and then told them to pack a bag because we were going to Grandma's house for Emma's birthday (the next day). As they screamed and jumped they also breathed a collective sigh of relief. And I did too; that surprise was now out in the open - phew. Emma told me when we were in the car that she had thought we were going to tell them I was pregnant. HA! Still laughing about that one.

We got to Grandma and Papa's right before dinner, and my mom had made the cutest jewelry box cake for Emma. We told her she could open ONE present that night, and I handed her the one she could open.
Yay, no more secret surprises to keep biting my tongue about! Having it be a surprise was actually really fun - the kids LOVED it and it made the celebration way better.

We have learned how to do Disneyland. And by that, I mean not having to pay those outrageous prices. Or not having to pay at all. But, I see how they can charge so much - Disneyland does it right. It has the details down to a perfect science.
We failed at our grand Cars Land plans on Monday morning but made up for it that night as well as on Tuesday morning.

Matt and Mary met us there and it was SO FUN to run around both parks with them. It was the best to be all together but was also helpful to split up a few times to maximize ride times.

Emma got a Birthday button so everyone wished her happy birthday. She declared it the best birthday ever, but I think I hear that every year.
My parents kept Sadie on Monday. That was huge; amazing how she is 15 months old and can drive me completely crazy but I still can't handle being away from her for even one day. On Tuesday when she was with us she was a nightmare... (this is on Tom Sawyer island, right before a duck bit her finger)
We got to ride Radiator Springs Racers THREE times, and once at night. Tip: If you go, you MUST ride it at night. We also learned some other secrets that helped us out (aside from fast passes); we never waited in those horrendous lines. All the other ride lines were under 15 minutes. Off season is the best! (And seriously, two days was PLENTY.)

I wish I could fairly make this a birthday tradition; the beginning of February is a great time to go! It was a fun, crazy 48 hours if I do say so myself! (But let's not talk about the traffic getting out of LA - this picture says it all):
Fun! I can't wait to go when Sadie will enjoy it.

So glad Emma was born - we all adore her.