Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends

Say what you will about how weird Mormons are (and I won’t deny, you may have some fair points), but when it comes to women, you may not know we are kind of geniuses. Back in the day when we were still nailing down everything we were trying to accomplish and learn and be, Joseph Smith called a bunch of the women together and said, in effect, “We’re not done until you people are all thrown together in a totally rockin’ sisterhood where you help each other and actually get stuff done—cause even God knows we fellas aren’t about to know what to do when someone dies or has a baby or is dangerously close to losing it.” I know I am taking a whole lot of creative license here, but I think both God and Joseph get me, so it’s cool. This organizing of the sisters shows me God knows the girls He made—we need each other. Badly. I really think one of the reasons blogs and specifically “Mommy Blogs” are so big these days is because they’ve created this whole anonymous world where we can admit to our failings and feel like we’re not the only one falling short no matter how hard we try. I need that. I think we all do.

As helpful as the Interwebs can be for making us feel like we have friends, it’s even more important to actually be a friend. I was just reading a post over at RFML about the day Kate was both The Enforcer and an Angel of Mercy to a poor mom at Target, and it reminded me of a similar experience I had at Walgreens years ago. Kory was still very small, and Jake couldn’t have been 4 yet. Kory had a tendency to hate stores, because he has always had allergies and the air in stores is sort of drying and uncomfortable. Jake is my almost-certainly-ADD boy, and he was all tapped out of being good. So we’re at the checkout line and Kory is screaming, and Jake is demanding a GIANT brownie which I am of course not going to give him and I don’t have enough hands and Kory is still young enough that I am severely sleep deprived and hormonal and I have to put Jake in the cart to keep him away from the damn brownie and now he’s going to kill himself falling out of the cart to get it and JUST TAKE MY MONEY SO I CAN GO HOME! It is my sincere hope that no commas shows the depth of my freak out. There is a very real possibility I will beat my preschooler when I get him back to the car. And then a little old lady steps out of line, pats Jake on the shoulder, gives him a sticker and tells him to be nice and he quiets down. She then puts her arm around my waist and says, “I am so proud of you.” People look at you weird if you cry at Walgreens, but I couldn't help it. I needed to know that my best was good enough. This kind, anonymous stranger gave me that, and it was such a gift.

What would happen if, instead of giving the judge-y look to people whose kids are freaking out at Walmart, we smiled and let them know we’ve been there? What if you took a moment to encourage the mom out with lots of little kids and a newborn? What if you sacrificed your time at church to hold someone else’s baby or play in the hall with their toddler so they could actually attend a meeting? What if you saw a mom doing something you admired and you actually told her, whether you knew her or not? Sure, some people may not lack personal boundaries as profoundly as I do, but I know a little kindness goes a long way. Give in to your instinct and help another mom make it through today. We need each other. Be a pal. Be a mom. Be a sister.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summertime, and the sun just came out.

I finished spring semester in early May. My only school kid was done the Friday before Memorial Day. I had a summer schedule all written up for us. It looks like this:

5 am

Mom wakes up and runs


Mom reads her scriptures


Kids wake up, breakfast, clean up, chores


Scripture time and school skills


Work and play outside




Lunch, storytime


Kids nap and rest while Mom writes





Kids play while Mom starts dinner





Night-time tidy, bath, jammies, bedtime stuff


Kids go to bed

You can guess, based on the laws of probability, your personal knowledge of my habits, or the fact that I have yet to post a blog just how many times we have followed the schedule. I have not gotten up the run even one time. Go me. In my defense, evidently the phrase was changed from “global warming” to “global climate change” for a reason—it’s frickin’ freezing here! Remember my Idaho Cold Weather Advisory? You may recall that Level One gets only a “Brr” as it is still 25-30°, and “only bad in November?” I’m going to have to amend that to, “also infuriating in June.” True, it has been warmer than that in the mornings, but not much. Let’s see how motivated you feel to crawl out of bed in the dark when it’s only 35° outside and you know it’s June and it should be at least ten degrees warmer than that! Realize as well that I am not a natural athlete and it’s a recipe for disaster.

As for the rest, well, we did do school work for a while, but haven’t at all this week. I’ll start again on Monday. There has been no arts or crafts because I just recently figured out how to have a marginally clean house like all the regular people and I can’t bear to have it all messed up. Outside play is not going well, because it seems my area has decided to take its assignation to the “Pacific Northwest” seriously and start raining incessantly. We average 1.5 inches of rain in May. This year we’ve had 2.54 inches, and June has been worse, I’m sure. We are all rapidly developing Vitamin D deficiencies. So, once it stops raining maybe we’ll do arts and crafts outside.

The kids are doing really well with chores, as am I. We have the kind of house that when my very tidy sister-in-law called on Sunday to say she was in town and dropping by in twenty minutes, I did not freak out. I am 32 and I am finally a reasonably responsible adult. Go me!

This post serves a few important functions:

1. 1. Now you all know what I’m trying to accomplish, and can maybe hold me a little accountable.

2. 2.I get to complain about the *&#$@*(&&^% weather.

3. 3.I DID write today. HA!

I promise to try harder to write and be, you know, the writer I hope to be someday. Because that’s what writers do. They write (duh).

How are your summer plans going?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It's Frickin' Freezing Out Here!

Cold is a problem. Probably not on the same level of the national debt or my continuing inability to keep my house straight longer than 12 hours, but a problem nonetheless. Really, cold in general is not awful—I like it when I find it in my ice cream, and I appreciate the work cold does to be sure I don’t drink the lumpy milk. Excessive cold is just obnoxious.

It has been about zero degrees here for the last couple of mornings. Yesterday’s high was a balmy 17º. A lot of unpleasant things happen to my body when it is that cold. For your enjoyment and comparison I present the following:

Idaho Cold Weather Advisory

Level One: Brr


Only bad in November. By January, heat wave.

Expect to see breath, cheeks a little chappy.

Level Two: Whoo!


Jack Frost is officially nipping, but a heavy jacket will suffice

Cold nose, cold ears, cold fingers.

Level Three: Shiver


Get some gloves and thicker socks

Cold penetrates jeans, toes begin to tingle.

Level Four: Chatter


Make sure you wear a real coat. Start whining.

Interior of nose is decidedly slushy. Ears go dead.

Level Five: Ache


Don’t leave if you don’t have to. Make kids wear snow pant to school. Consider long underwear.

Chest tightens, arms go involuntarily crossed. Head is bowed.

Level Six: Frozen Silence

Anything below zero (because once it’s below zero, who cares) -5º

Lose feeling in face. Cease respiration.

Can’t breathe through nose, snot frozen. Can’t breathe through mouth, hurts teeth. Whole body seizes up.

I had never experienced cold that makes your nose hairs freeze until I moved to Idaho. It took a couple of years, but once I was acclimated, I rejoiced with all the rest when it was 38 ºin February. 38 º! I wore a cardigan to school! My college roommates and I went to the Oregon coast for Spring Break in March one year, and we were the only ones on the beach, and we were wearing no shoes and only long-sleeve tees—it was 48 º! Last year my husband and I went to Seattle and laughed at all the people clutching their coffees and wearing hats and gloves and big galoshes and coats because it was 40 º. It was 9º at home. My point is I have a different feeling for cold. That’s why my chart begins at 30º, which is officially below freezing—it gets really cold here, and it stays cold. Last year we didn’t hit 70 ºuntil mid-June. Of course, 30 days later it was 95º, but still.

I am currently experiencing varying stages of “Shiver” to “Frozen Silence.” This is especially fun at 7 a.m. on the bus stop with my oldest. When we are officially at “Frozen Silence,” he buries his face in my chest to protect his nose (the only skin that shows) and I slowly lose my will to live. It’s not so bad later. Today we got all the way up to “Whoo!” Of course, I can’t enjoy it because I have lost feeling in the tops of my ears, but someday, in June, they’ll come back. I will then commence moaning about how hot it is.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Birthday BOYS!

My oldest turned seven last week. Since his birthday falls so quickly after Christmas, the begging and greed that accompany that holiday tend to flow over into what he seems to think ought to be some childhood bacchanalia of Legos and cake and whatever else is currently being advertised on Nickelodeon (how I hate you, mail-order advertisements). But, the Birthday Gods, who I imagine to be generally mischievous cake addicts that convey themselves primarily via balloons, seemed to smile down on me. All he wanted for his birthday was to take a friend to see Tron: Legacy.

He picked a friend and I got permission from his mother, and we made plans to see the movie the following Saturday. Remember how I have to drive ridiculous distances to get some awesome stuff, like anything at Target or apparel any classier than Sears? Well, it turns out our local theater isn’t high-tech enough to play a 3-D movie. Didn’t know that when I made the plan. Because I am SO on top of it (man, I wish there was a sarcasm font) I didn’t know this until 11:30 the night before the party. Frick. So there I was Saturday morning trying to convince my kid that Megamind or Narnia are viable substitutes for Tron. It turns out they are not. I therefore found myself spending my Saturday afternoon driving 70 miles to take two seven-year-olds to see a two hour movie.

I had never had two boys of this age in my car before. They helped me realize how long an hour can be. They passed the time via the following enriching activities:

Burping Contests

Oh yes. There was more than one. It turns out there are several events in the Burping Olympics.

The first event is the “Name Spelling” event. As the name might suggest, this event involves seeing who can spell their name out while burping. The contestants were evenly matched, both shooting for 5 letters.

“Alphabet” is a similar event. I actually knew this one—I did have three brothers. It’s a classic game, seeing who can get all the way through all 26 letters. This is a difficult event, not for beginners. It takes a lot of practice to achieve mastery—these two are almost ready to go pro.

In the “Freestyle” event, competitors go for duration, tone, quality and odor. Stinky is better. Loud is awesome. Loud, stinky, and deep are a trifecta. A really good trifecta is celebrated with the traditional maniacal laughter and farting noises.


The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 drew the entire nation’s attention, arguing the logic of popular sovereignty vs the end of the expansion of slavery. The 7th Birthday Debates of 2011intersted no one beyond the two debaters and argued who is the best super-hero: Spiderman vs Ironman.

Birthday Boy: Ironman can fly!

Cohort: Spiderman can swing on webs!

Birthday Boy: Ironman looks cooler!

Cohort: Spiderman is red AND blue!

It was at least as entertaining as the last presidential debate. (NOTE: the entire viewership of the last presidential debate was Obama’s grandma, McCain’s kids, and Al Roker. That’s how riveting that was.)

Honestly, these are the only two I can report. I may have tuned them out from mile 20 to mile 70. Don’t judge me.

I thought that I would be saving money on this birthday because I didn’t have to buy gifts. Do you know how much it costs to drive 140 miles, buy three 3D movie tickets, popcorn, soda and treats? Elventy jillion dollars. However, it must be said that both boys were very grateful for and awed by the awesomeness of their own popcorn and soda. They politely sat in their seats, put on their 3D glasses and waited for the magic to begin.

I had already seen Tron, so I knew about all the amazing graphics and motorcycle races and gladiator events. I marveled in appreciative silence. A seven-year-old is incapable of appreciative silence. Each explosion, each trick, each cheer from the film’s imaginary crowd illicited a loud cheer from both boys, punctuated by loud cries of “That was AWESOME,” “WHOA,” and “This is the BEST MOVIE EVER!” Between shushing them, I grinned a little bit. I don’t really care if someone was irritated, or if they were a little bit rowdy. Seeing how amazed they both were, listening to their gleeful delight, made 60 minutes worth of boy worth it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sitting at the Cool Kid's Table

Kate and Lydia over at Rants From Mommyland are pretty much the capital of cool. So you can imagine how totally jazzed I am that they are featuring my Rural Mom post on their blog today! Check out my post! Check out their awesome stuff! Let me know if you find some sort of alert system for imminent Gore approach!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Love, Beatings and Beheadings.

Valentine’s Day has meant many things to me over the years: forced affection from classmates, candy, embarrassment because we couldn't afford cool Valentine cards, shame that no boy wanted to be my valentine, a really good reason to buy a kickin’ dress, loneliness because the man I was going to marry was on the wrong side of the planet, and most recently panic that I won’t get a sitter. I have to wonder if this is the sort of thing the real Saint Valentine would want to be associated with what used to be his feast day. So, I looked him up and found Catholic.org. It seems St Valentine was a man of varied interests, as he is the patron saint of the following:

  • · engaged couples
  • · bee keepers
  • · epilepsy
  • · fainting
  • · greetings
  • · happy marriages
  • · love
  • · lovers
  • · plague
  • · travelers
  • · young people

It can be clearly seen how most of these fit nicely with our traditional assignations to February 14. What marriage isn’t happier with a little epilepsy and fainting? Young people are easily equated to the plague. You rarely see engaged couples without bee keepers (Bee mine!).

Valentine himself could be one of any number of possibly real people. He could have been a priest who assisted martyrs, and by assistance they mean “married,” (Because nothing is of greater assistance than getting a spouse) which was illegal. He was beaten with clubs and beheaded—how come you never see that on a Valentine? Whoever he was, scholars agree he was definitely beheaded. Maybe that’s why we have cherry cordials (too much?).

The celebration of the day has its origin in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, when a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and she would be his sexual partner for the year. Now we have booty calls and drunk dialing. Pope Gelasius I was clearly not on board with the tradition, because he changed the lottery to picking a saint to emulate for the year. I bet all the boys hoped to get St Augustine—he renounced the faith and had a mistress for many years before seeing the light. Now, if the film “Valentine’s Day” is to be believed, a young man can send flowers to both his wife and his girlfriend and be in the spirit of both traditions. This is just being inclusive.

Valentine’s came with all its frilly commercialism to the US in the 1840’s. By 1930 it was the second biggest retail spending day of the year. It should be noted that Hallmark started making Valentines in 1915. Coincidence? I doubt it.

As my life changes, my Valentine preparations become more and more complicated. Here is my actual Valentine to-do list:

  • v Buy Valentines for 3 kid’s classroom’s.
  • v Eat chocolate to assuage guilt that I didn’t make Valentines like I did last year.
  • v Plan to make cookies for class party.
  • v Run out of time and buy cookies.
  • v Eat chocolate to assuage guilt that I didn’t make cookies.
  • v Stand over first-grader’s shoulder for two hours Feb 13 continuously nagging him to address Valentines.
  • v Eat chocolate to relieve stress of nagging..
  • v Find babysitter
  • v Fail to find babysitter and count on MIL—again.
  • v Eat chocolate to relieve babysitter stress.
  • v Buy better gut cincher so extra flab from all that chocolate doesn’t show in awesome new Valentine dress.
  • v Develop intestinal problems from excessive chocolate and gut-cinching so my husband doesn’t get the only thing he wants for Valentines.
  • v Eat chocolate to assuage guilt over husband’s holiday disappointment.

Now that I think about it, I may prefer St. Valentine’s celebration—feel free to beat me with clubs and take off my head. At least I’ll weigh less on February 15.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Rural Mom

I love Rants From Mommyland. These ladies smell what I am cooking. They have posted some things about theDomestic Enemies of Suburban Moms, and a winter edition. Today they had a guest post about the Domestic Enemies of the Urban Mom. I laughed, and commiserated, but those problems don’t really belong to me anymore. So, I have written:

Domestic Enemies of the Rural Mom

I was raised in cities. Not ginormous cities like Louise described, but probably a good distance away from the burbs, as measured by instances of graffiti. So when as a teenager I moved to a small town I had never heard of in Idaho, a state that had a smaller population than the metropolis I most recently called home, I was justifiably shell shocked. Culture shocked. Just…shocked. But, once the weirdness settled into me I fell in love—with both the area and a farm boy, who I married and now I’ll die here. I love it. There are so many things that make our life wonderful and rare. However, we rural moms have a whole other set of domestic enemies that most people just don’t deal with or understand.

Grocery Shopping (or, stocking up for the zombie apocalypse)

Do you know how far I would have to drive if I wanted a T-Box? 70 miles--one hour, five minutes. Wal-Mart is a mercifully close 25 miles or half an hour-ish drive away. There is a grocery store in my own town, 8 miles away, but here’s the catch for rural groceries: they cost a lot more. Like $1.88 milk at Wal-Mart is $2.66 at the local store. This means that unless I want to spend half our money at the grocery store for a meager amount of food and toilet paper (I don’t even want to talk about diapers), I have to drive distances to get groceries. With children, this is less a shopping trip and more an expedition to the Himalayas; with a strong possibility at least one of your children is going to be handed over to a Sherpa to keep. To be adequately prepared for the expedition, I need at least 40 diapers, except for when I had two kids in diapers and then I needed roughly 9 billion. Then there are snacks, spare clothes, list, coupons (the Cap’n would be so impressed), blankets, sanitizer, toys…I pack more crap to go to Wal-Mart than my ancestors packed to cross the Atlantic. I don’t want to be driving 5o miles every other day just for milk or apples, so when I go, I get everything I will need for at least two weeks. At the end, my cart looks like I’m competing on “Supermarket Sweep.” My children, who started out looking like well cared-for, clean, pleasant tiny people look like…well…everybody else’s children at Wal-Mart, especially if this Wal-Mart is in West Virginia (I know, I’ve been there). I leave my home looking clean and put-together—I get back to it looking like a cult escapee.

Fuel (or, why I cry myself to sleep at night)

Fuel prices these days are a challenge for everyone. I can’t believe I’m a young person and I sound like a crabby old man; “When I was your age, gas cost less than a dollar, and you could get 5 nuggets on the dollar menu!” And that was only…well fine it was 15 years ago, but still. It seems excessive. Anyway, as I have already illustrated I have to drive to get anywhere. Drive a lot. I also do not live on a paved road, and have a long driveway that is also not paved but is frequented by tractors and cows. Plus, out here even a little bit of snow can be a disaster, because if the wind blows, there is nothing to stop that little bit of snow from drifting right up against the back of my car. These challenges mean only one thing: if I don’t have 4-wheel drive, I’m stranded like a Donner for a good part of winter (which is roughly October to June) except I have satellite T.V. Distance+SUV=giant fuel budget. The kind that makes you wonder if you are personally going to get a tongue lashing from Al Gore (which really isn’t that scary, it’s just that people tend to follow him around with cameras, and what if they show up right when I’m getting home from Wal-Mart?).

Pests (Wild America, except with more rodents)

I fully sympathize with Louise here, except I have more critters. There are a lot of critters in rural America, largely because most of them have never been informed that this area has now been zoned for people, and even if they had, they don’t think much of The Man. We grow grain here. Grain is basically mouse food. Mice live in the fields, in the irrigation pipes, in old logs, abandoned cars, barns, equipment—everywhere. And as soon as it gets cold they are drawn to the warmth of MY HOUSE! It doesn’t help that I have cattle, and so surround my house with corn and straw and sweet molasses. My farm is basically a mouse Hilton. It is a constant, disgusting battle to keep these critters out. I am personally keeping the good people who make Bar Bait in business.

In addition to the rats and mice that infest the city, I also enjoy: feral cats, coyotes, skunks, beavers, mountain lions, huge owls, bald eagles (pretty, but taloned) and that’s just the wild animals. I also live with about 1000 calves. So in addition to the fear that my children will pet the wrong kitty and either get sprayed by disgusting bio-terror or rabies, I fear that the cows will get out and stampede my kids while they play in the sandbox. Do you have that, New York City? Plus, where there are cows, there are flies. Lots and lots and lots of flies. I love my cows, I love our life, but if I could kill every last one of the flies with just my mind, I would be more beloved around here than Larry the Cableguy.

There is so much that is awesome about out life—if I need something out of my car I can go get it in my underwear and no one will know, even if it’s at noon. We have so much room, and so much air, and feel connected to the land. My kids will learn to work hard and they’ll know where food comes from, building appreciation for the work that goes into making the safest food supply in the world. And by safe, I mean to eat, not to play with.