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Thursday, January 29, 2015

SoulesMates, episode four

"He can probe at that area later on." Ashley I in the tent talking about her virginity.

"All I want to do is go on a date and dress like a princess." Ashley I

She sums it up best when she says, "I can't describe how frustrating I am!" Yeah, but we can. Because you are, sister.

Don't you worry, I heard Chris say "Jade and I's fairytale." Oh I heard it alright.

That muddy race in wedding dresses was COMPLETELY fixed for Jillian. Even her dress was the most conducive to racing. I mean, come on Bachelor CEO and Creative Directors: We see right through your Jillian-needs-a-one-on-one scenario!

Maybe Ashley S is the most sane of the group. Did you see her exit interview? The only thing I want to say to Chris is... nothing! Amazing.

What do you think? Who will be THE virgin that will make it to the Fantasy Suite that Chris Harrison has teased us with? 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bachelor SoulesMate, ep. 3

Will I ever write about anything other than the Bachelor? I sure hope so. But for now, please find my 2 AM Bachelor recap drivel sufficient:

"Make yourself pretty. Wash yourself. We're going to work on making this amazing adventure together." Jimmy Kimmel gets it! I wasn't sure Id like him around this sacred space, but by golly I think he gets it. Because:

The $1 amazing jar was genius. Did you know it was going to be that word? Amazingly, I did. The first thing they've done that has actually been amazing was adding this jar. Don't ever leave, jar!

Kaitlyn with her wine glass in the limo surprised at being at Costco was priceless. Welcome to the real world where we can buy anything we want at Costco including  "enough ketchup to fill a hot tub." Oh wait! No we can't, because of these pesky things called real budgets. It's actually a real dream date for me to go to Costco and buy loads of food and plastic chairs and those plastic balls. That's exactly why I've wanted to buy some of those. For making out. That was even too tacky for the Costco, kids.

With Jimmy Kimmel around you can really hear Chris's giggle. That would get old after a few months. Or days. It's like an animal. Not quite a dolphin, but something. What animal is that giggle? Kaitlyn is lying about not being jealous for the sweet, sweet love in the fantasy suite. Whatev. Threesome? Oy vey. "Get the ketchup!" Oh geez, keep Jimmy around! Except I don't want to hear Chris laughing that much. They're even using the Costco chairs and a ton of meat leftover. Camera crew is salivating. Until they see Jimmy eating it in the hot bacteria water I mean hot tub.

Now onto the hoedown showdown. I gotta say that is the least creative title for a bumpkin relay. Cmon Kimmel writers! All these girls open their mouth so desperately in laugh preparation when Jimmy talks. A-gape! Is shucking corn a euphemism? Seems like one. That's all I will say. 

"I started to feel nauseous" because your gagging the warm goat milk is making me feel nauseated. So, sure. Buttcheeks McGee killed that jump over the pig fence. Slow mo for the gold! 

Carly, "so I'm awkward and stuff but I'm a woman and you're a man so I've got to take advantage." You'd think that she is rarely around another man with a statement like that. That was so not smooth. 

Kiss count: 7
Repeat kiss: 2 for the night, but still 7 and a bad sign to bring in a wedding comment.
Kiss count: 8 (was the ButtCheeks McGee aka Jillian getting a kiss? What is THAT story?)

McKenzie wasn't "too bold" but just silly and (I'm gonna say it) immature. Weird that the 21yo is immature, but true. She needs to go spend time with her Kale (son, not salad).

The "amazing" ding is my favorite part of the whole dramatic season so far. As was crazy-eyes Sarah's reaction after hearing who got the rose. What was so shocking? I need to know!

Poor Whitney's voice. I don't doubt that a few months with a vocal coach would do wonders for her. It's not her "real" voice, you know?! Being genuine is apparently a "real genuine quality to have," so says Whitney. So let's crash a wedding, cuz YOLO. More like Yo-LOL. Eyeroll.

Wedding crashers... I think they realized the idea was more fun than doing it. That's at least how I felt watching it. It wasn't as fun for me. "Chris is such a great dancer!" as he does the drunkest dances known only to 14yo boys and drunk farmers, apparently. Did you see some adult holding a stuffed bunny on the dance floor? Does anyone else feel for the bride and groom? Does anyone believe it wasn't staged?

Kiss count: still 8? Did he kiss Whitney last week? I need to check my notes.

Pool party? yaaaaaay pffffft. Chris does the Bachelor-contract-binding cannonball into the pool. NOW the party can begin. 

Let me honestly say that suicide is a big deal and super sad, but... this is weird and kinda manipulative to tell this story at a pool party when you've kinda dated once. Am I wrong? Perhaps. But this feels like her big card to play. Chris can't let her go home after this. Even his hug on her bikini'd back feels awkward, despite the "heartwarming" music playing. I feel sad that this sad story was Juelia's chance to stick around. Anyone else uncomfortable?

Britt. A gorgeous waitress in Hollywood. Totally here only for love. not at all a springboard.

"Fuels the fire under my butt" hahaha gag. Jade needs a little time with Chris, so they test the bed out. In her 4 inch heels. Nude bikini top is really making America think they saw more to Jade. Don't get too excited.

Kiss count: 9

Jillian in the tub: hey y'all! Holding onto his leg when the other girls join. Has Jillian already been in the kiss count? Was that her before? Oh man this is messing me up, y'all!

Kiss count: 10?

Insecure kiss on the balcony with "virgin" Sarah. I was kinda hoping for a bit of an accident. Not like falling off, nothing too severe. But maybe an arm slip. Or a loose brick. Come on, you thought the same thing. Virgin suicide!

Jimmy, don't leave. I think Jimmy should be the Chris Harrison for the inevitable upcoming season of Chris Harrison being the Bachelor. 

Goodbye girls I barely know. It's like the Producers intentionally only let us get to know the girls who stick around longer. So weird, right? Who is the OTHER virgin? 

Goodbye Jimmy. You're all I never knew I always wanted on this incredible journey!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bachelor SoulesMate, episode 2

oh what a night.

If you didn't know that our Bachelor Chris was a country boy, you sure do after tonight's episode full of tractor races, paintballin' and hoes down. (Too far? Nah.)

It all begins where we left off last week, with poor, tall yoga Kimberly vying for another chance after being let go. They didn't get a chance to talk and she wasn't going to let this evening (wait, it's morning now) opportunity pass her by to meet her farmer husband. The girls inside are not amused as they sit on the hard floor. Kaitlyn muses:  “Remember two minutes ago when he said goodbye to you? Goodbye means see you later, like, see you never.” She wasn't tired at all.

"I mean, once it's done it's done!"

But Chris Harrison comes in to tell Bachelor Chris that this isn't a game, yo. "This is your life. There's no rule to that." He is SO wise. So BachChris keeps the yoga instructor and we get to see some tired ladies fake clap for the "Kim broad" coming back to the game
, er I mean journey to marriage.

Tara the previous-lush or "Sports Fishing Enthusiast" (country way to say unemployed?) was feeling pretty comfortable on the tractor. Tandra from Sandy (yeah, that name could have only been a Utah name) was super competitive, but Ashley I, the journalist with the probably totally super real lashes won! And what does she get? To sit on Chris's lap in the tractor for five minutes. Hooray! Instead of picking her for the 1-on-1 time, he picks PYT (and I mean the Y) McKenzie.

The other girls are all justifying why Chris chose McKenzie (the girl who was born when he was a teenager--probably when he got his ear pierced). She likes big noses because you know what they say about a guy with a big nose...? Their boogers look small by comparison. So sexy on a man! Oh and don't forget about Aliens! And she hopes he doesn't think she's a psycho for having a kid. She worked all the way up to having Kale (her son, not her lunch). So admirable... for the millions of people who have to work up to and after they have their kids. Chris mentions that her discussion raised a lot of red flags, but that didn't stop him from kissing her. 

Which leads me to the tally:

Girls kissed: 2 (at least 5, no 6, times)

Makeup artist Megan is smart. She says "he and I" instead of the normal Bachelor butchery of "him and I" AND she grabs Chris's hand constantly and keeps that touch going. I wouldn't recommend it in real life, but on this show touch is paramount from the get-go. If you want to "progress" on "this journey" that is. She has her sad and incredibly personal story of losing her father which obviously and awkwardly l
ead us to a rose and a makeout session.

Airplane count: 1
Helicopter count: 1
Girls kissed: 3
(most romantic for Chris... so far)

At the haunted outdoor zombie-shooting arena, many girls scream and one says,
"This is literally my worst fear!" Super specific fear, I would say. Literally? This? Wow, those producers are amazingly accurate. Instead of facing said literal fear, she starts pouring some har liquor in the limo before getting out.

After onion-pomegranate Ashley P proves that she shouldn't be wielding a gun and hopefully is doing massive drugs (which seems preferable to being outright crazy somehow), Chris finds some time to kiss super "funny" dance instructor. 

Girls kissed: 4

Ashely P. finds the truth, like BOOM! "
What's the truth, BOOM?" "Go find your own truth!" How did Ashley get past the producers and psychologists for real? "I want you to hide...!" You know I gotta stop writing down her lines because it is just too easy. 

Cocktail party has two more kisses! Ashley I. tries her darnedest to prove that virgins are for lovers by granting three belly-button ring wishes (that Chris had to rub--grody) and kissed him like the desperate Kardashian-lite gal that she is. And mysterious bartender Amber got a kiss. Drunk T wanted some sloppy lipstick makeout sesh, but was too sloshed to make her case with the big C.

Girls kissed: 6

End of episode two, Chris Soules has given his kisses away like a teenager gives pieces of gum from a large pack to everyone in class. Like Oprah giving cars. 
Like a Costco employee gives samples of frozen bagel bites on a Saturday. He is loose, y'all! 

What do you think? Is Chris an earring-wearing, old farmer playa? Is anyone else grossed out with his kissing 21yo McKenzie?


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bachelor SoulesMate

First Episode, or as I like to call it, the "I'll See You Inside" episode. 

I drank my Crystal Light with caffeine at 11:30 and finished the gigantic premiere of Chris Soules as Bachelor at 2:30 am at my dear friend Barbie's house. But you can call her Babs. I may still be punchy from the late caffeine. Not as punchy as the drunk cowgirl, but we will get to that one later.

We skimmed the first hour of Bachelor alumni, but can I just say Bless Erica's heart with her gold jumpsuit and perma phone in hand, keeping the tiara wearing alive. Good for her! And Kasey (is that her name? The girl that got engaged on Bachelor in Paradise to the weird balding stripper from Andi's season.) and her comment that they are "80/40 on the timing" for the wedding date because there is nothing more  confusing than adding by 10s to get to 100. I don't mean to brag, but I'm fairly certain my 5yo can tell you what plus 80 makes 100. But I don't want to brag. But he could. 

It didn't take long for Chris to learn all the trite Bachelor sayings. He even came up with a doozy, comparing his success in agriculture to his obvious not-yet success in partnership: "Farming is a lot like love." Why? Because it takes a lot of hoes? (BadumChhh!) he said the reason but I was shutting out all the lame love aspirations for this "adventure". Bless his heart.

Chris says he wants to "fall in love and bring IT back to Iowa" not her, but IT! Well now. And you know he really loved trying on all those clothes. Methinks the farmer doth protest too much. I won't comment on his disliking "needles in his @$$." (Again, I'm highly caffeinated at 2:52 am. I won't remember writing any of this in the morning. Bless my heart.)

My favorite comment during the first limos was one woman who said, "Chris is an amazing... (long pause) looking guy." Oh, so close to being a compliment about his personality. Sweet spirit.

Ok. Here were my thoughts I wrote down as the girls exited the limo:
  • 1st hug was huge with tears! She needs to explain what a "free hug" means?
  • Human tissue HEART was an attack of the meet-cute. More like an acute meat! Ha! I kill me! 
  • Cowgirl says "this is me, this is real." Well don't be shocked when you feel "out of place." At least Chris remembered her on her second limo entrance. She looks like she'll get drunk a lot.
  • More girls? Whaaat? Lock them out! Ha, the insecurities for being one hour earlier.
  • These jealous girls from the first 15 are crazy hilarious. But nobody is jealous of the pig from Scottsdale. Or the WWE diva (in training--which means what? Unemployed? In Greenland?)
  • Music changed for sexy Jade. The last one. Guarantee she is last three.
Best quote from the cocktail party: "It's like Christmas morning for you, but your presents are women." Or was it the onion girl who then thought an onion was growing from a TREE, which she thought was a pomegranate but I'm fairly certain was a grapefruit. That was super weird. Bless her heart.

First impression rose was switched, post kiss. And I don't know I was as onboard with that kiss as the Live audience was, but they're always a bit fanatical, so...!

" Ayand" I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot of conjunctions in two more syllables than they are accustomed to being pronounced. In high squeaky voices, no less. Bless their... vocal coaches.

The wide eyes and eye rolls, exhales during the rose ceremony were the. best. ever. As will be this season. Full of drunkards, apologies, tears, and long solo walks in barren snowy fields, apparently. 

You watching?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year Mistakes

The past three days have been littered with resolutions, hopes, and oftentimes the proclamations that "THIS YEAR IS GONNA BE GREAT!" "Major success in 2015!" "Watch out world, I am going to make this year AMAZING!"

I consider myself an optimistic person. Maybe through a form of pessimism I am supremely optimistic. I figure if you expect things NOT to be amazing, but work hard, stay true, and be kind, then you'll always find happiness. Maybe that is not the formula to take on the road and evangelize to all the self-help crowd who want to make a million dollars this month, but it works for me. And this is why all of these vapid over-promised sentiments have me going a bit crazy. Because sometimes LIFE SUCKS, but you still need to find a way to be happy and love. I didn't want a pulmonary embolism in 2014. I didn't want my son to break his femur in three places on the trampoline. I didn't want to miss both family vacations this year because of the former two. I didn't want the femur to cost so much of the money that I hoped to put in finishing up the repairs on our home. I wanted to finish more, do more, accomplish more. 

But guess what? I still feel it was a great year. My kids all turned important ages: 13, 10, 8, and 5. We got a dog. We apologized a dozen times for that dog biting our friends and strangers. We made new friends. We successfully introduced our eldest into middle school. I tried a few new ventures. Some are sticking around and some are mere ghosts of dreams. We had Mommy School with Rhett. Alan and I went for walks past midnight almost every night in the summer. We enjoyed the company of many friends and family in our home. We got cozy on the couch with all seven of us on many nights. We hiked hard trails and felt proud of our bodies and abilities. Al and I went to Mexico. Ashton was baptized. We adopted Edgar, our skeleton. We went on adventures and more estate sales than I can count. Rhett got stitches. Johnny was in a play. I learned a lot about my maternal grandfather through editing his memoirs.

I came across a Neil Gaiman entry about New Year Wishes, all of them beautiful and hopeful without the sticky triteness so often accompanying New Year goals. This one in particular stood out to me:
And for this year, my wish for each of us is small and very simple.
And it's this.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever. 

For 2015, I want to make big, fat mistakes. I don't expect this year to do anything for me; it's not going to be shiny and successful all on its own. And even if I work mega hard and push on every door, there will still be heartaches and headaches. 2015 won't let me down because I haven't put huge expectations before it. It's going to be a year with a number and one that I hope I can experience the length of it. I hope my entire family gets to experience it with me. I am not going to worry if it's good enough, but just that I get to have it and fill it and wonder at the whole of it. 

Happy 2015, friends!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sickness for Christmas

I have decided that next Christmas I am not going to plan A DANG THING before Thanksgiving. This year I had the Christmas cards laid out, one gift for each kid purchased, and my sisters' gifts all ready to make before Halloween. That's right, BEFORE Halloween. This was going to be the year I would have a chill Christmas. We would go ice skating downtown, see the trees at the festivals, do an old-fashioned Christmas by Candlelight, see lots of lights, watch lots of Christmas movies, make lots of Christmas treats, and I was going to crush my pushup goal I had set for the end of the year.

And then three weeks ago I had chest pain. Which was just disconcerting enough that I thought, "I don't want to be THAT mom who dies because she ignores chest pain. You know, the place where most of your VITAL organs are." So I drove myself to the ER one Sunday morning and after a stream of tests a clot in my lung was discovered--a pulmonary embolism. I decided that was one of the least horrible of the options they suggested could be the cause. And even now, after three weeks of discomfort and pain, 5 1/2 more months of blood thinners to go, and missing out on my family's big Thanksgiving brouhaha, I still think it was the best of the bad things to get. (Especially since I am one of the lucky people who did not die from having a PE--hooray!)

I was out of commission for a few weeks. Some days the pain was really frustrating and it was hard to breath just walking up my stairs. Lying in bed got old really fast and I wanted to go DO and to ACCOMPLISH and to TRY. Every time I pushed myself, I would pay for it the next day. The blood thinners messed with my appetite and fatigue. I just felt crummy. Add to that the stress and guilt I felt for being the only one of my siblings not traveling to Arizona for Thanksgiving and it has been =AWESOME!=

But I am feeling better. Unless you count the cold and fever I got a few days ago. Whatever. My body must have taken notice that I was close to enjoying Christmas and said, "Ok, now is our time to make her take notice. What else is she gonna do?" 

I have watched a lot of Christmas movies. Mark that one off the list! Do you know what I have noticed about most made-for-tv Christmas movies? They are horrible. I used to think they were horrible in a wonderful kind of way. Nope, I was wrong. They are just horrible. I could write one right now and it would probably be produced. That's the kind of writing required for these kinds of shows. All you need is a self-absorbed MAN/WOMAN who has forgotten what is really important in life. Then decide from one of the three choices on how they get that "Christmas spirit" back:
  1. They magically have the opportunity to live an alternate life. Is it a dream? It sure feels like it, for the first 30 minutes. Then an hour later--when they get their real life back--they realize how selfish they have been (like the opposite It's A Wonderful Life).
  2. Someone from their past comes back into town and makes them question who they have become. Could be a former nemesis or someone who tests their life's path. Hopefully there is a singing number to make it extra awkward.
  3. They meet Santa. They don't realize he is actually Santa until the end. We all know it the entire time and can't believe they don't see that it is the real Santa. Also, Santa helps them save (fill in the blank store/shelter/restaurant) from shutting down.

There is one I am halfway through right now as I was writing out my Christmas cards that has a town all up in arms about a Baldwin brother wanting to take the cost of a nativity out of the tax payers' funds. When someone DARES to say, "Happy Holidays" offense is deeply taken. This one is KILLING me, because for once I actually side with a Baldwin brother who is not Alec.

Last time I watched this many horrible Christmas movies was the December of 2009. That year I had also prepared early for a relaxing Christmas because I was about to have my fourth child. Then I got facial paralysis and months of all kinds of doctors and tests. It was the least relaxing Christmas of my life. 

So, yeah. Next year I am not doing a single thing for Christmas before the end of November. I want it to be stressful and anxious and completely consumed with Christmas.

And little time for made-for-tv Christmas shows. 


** Let it be written that I am feeling much better and plan on Christmas being a breeze and a blast this year. The only things I won't be able to do are ice skate and meet my pushup goal. So, not to shabby. I'm incredibly lucky and yes, I will say it, BLESSED!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

mas mass

Cathedral of the Madeleine from HERE
Saturday night, Maggie and I were at Anticipated Mass at the Catholic Church of the Madeleine. Maggie has a project in one of her classes where she is asked to visit important Utah places she has never previously experienced. We thought that a visit to the historic Catholic cathedral downtown was a great (and close... and free) option. 

We walked in on Anticipated Mass. The ushers were extremely friendly and showed us to some empty seats and handed us a sheet of announcements and upcoming worship hours for the Advent. The choir sang as the sacrament was being prepared, the smell of incense surrounded us, the murals and construction were sincerely magnificent, and the one kid throwing a fit was quickly brought to the back of the room by his father. It was a beautiful experience. 

When we walked outside, Maggie mentioned that she had felt uncomfortable. I asked her why and she said that she felt she didn't fit in and had no idea what was going on the whole time. I tried to explain that churches were a lot more similar than we think if we can get out of the "ours is the right one" mentality. Maybe she could even try to consider why others would feel that they didn't fit in at our church. She's almost thirteen, so you can imagine that her shoulders slumped a little and she placated me with a hollow, "Sure. I guess."

We then drove to the Road Home shelter to drop off the huge load of jackets, scarves, and hats she had collected to donate to the homeless. (A big thank you to all that donated is coming soon!) The gates to the donation area were surrounded by, well, homeless people. It was pretty dark and I'm not too proud to admit that it was a bit frightening. We honked and the gates magically opened. As we filled up the large donation cart, we both small talked a bit with the volunteer.

And then we were in our car. Minutes earlier, I had contemplated returning to donate at another time when it was lighter outside and there were less people milling about. Now we were done. It was quite an evening of new experiences with my eldest daughter. I felt inspired.

Not two hours later, I am reading an article by an alleged BYU AND Utah fan (ahem, don't believe it) who anonymously posted a hyperbolic message to forgo the "Holy War" rivalry (by, of course, kowtowing to BYU because you're Mormon and BYU is Mormon and stuff) while I was sitting in a Utah basketball game with my husband and oldest son. My thoughts and words from earlier to a daughter who should learn tolerance and acceptance were out the mental door. I rolled my eyes and gagged a little at the elitism of the author who epitomized the BYU self-importance that so many Ute fans abhor.

I tried to remember that a few hours earlier, I was in a beautiful church and hoping my daughter learned tolerance and beauty in religious difference. I firmly believe in my church's 11th Article of Faith: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

I feel like I am consistently fighting for the little Mormon guy--the people who don't fit in and look the Americana 1950s part, who don't have a collection of The Work and The Glory in their bookshelves, who aren't quilters/Republicans/network marketers and so on. Don't be offended if you are these things. I am some of these things. But not all Mormons need to be all the things. And I feel like the LDS community allows all other religions the same privilege to worship how, where or what they may... but not all men (including those WITHIN the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Saturday night as I huffed and puffed about the stereotype American Mormon, I had a little moment of self-reflection. Maybe, just maybe, my frustration with those I feel seem un-accepting should really be a reflection of my own unfavorable and unChristlike rejection of them. Perhaps I don't let others be what I might view as oppressive, but they might feel is righteous and good. I say things like, "I don't care if they want to appear a 1950s bourgeois archetype, but they shouldn't assume the entire worldwide church should be as well." (1 Corinthians 12:19-25) And even as I write it, I can see my lack of acceptance for those very people.

So, here is my public garment-rendering. I see how I am being less gracious towards those who want to be staunch, western, letter-of-the-law Mormons. If my hope is that those of us who are more spirit-of-the-law and questioning Mormons to be accepted for "worshiping almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience," then I should allow others to do so as well. Even if their version seems more severe or less sincere... because HOW do I know? I cannot judge the sincerity of anyone's beliefs and worship, just as I hope others do not judge mine. 

But as for being Mormon and a Utah fan, but liking BYU as well? Pisha! Real BYU fans are just as fired up about Utah being "bear"-throwing heathens as Utah fans are about Cougars being self-righteous egomaniacs. It's fun. It's a rivalry. And we are better than you. "Ours is the right one!"

Except, you know, tolerance, not judging, love and generally serving your fellowman. And stuff. 

Go Utes!


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Leggings Rule

The last few years as the weather gets cooler (even for you friends in Arizona and California--stop acting like you don't get cold), the leggings find their way back out of the bottom of the drawer and on to legs of women and girls everywhere.

As do the articles, blog posts, memes, and pictures telling everyone that "Leggings are not pants!"


Well, here is a little blog post that says, "Go Leggings! Or not! It's cool!"

Not because I like to show my bum to your tender teenage boys' eyes. In fact, I do most things to avoid teenage boys' eyes, because I remember how cruel those boys' mouths are. So, do me a favor and don't tell me what your boys DO or DO NOT like, get aroused by, prefer, think, hate. Teenage boys should have NO VOICE in what any woman of any age puts on her body. They will be aroused regardless of what anyone wears. I am two and a half years from having teenage boys for thirteen years (look how that works out). Hopefully I can shut down their vocalization of any sort of physical judgement of what and how girls and women dress. I am gearing up for that time in our lives. 

Teenage boys are nimrods. Not even exaggerating. 

My daughter told me how the boys at her junior high punched out the ceiling tiles in their locker room and then put said tiles in the drinking fountain to see if they disintegrated. Then they lit paper airplanes on fire and flew them around the locker room. And you think I care if these brains like or hate leggings? Yeah, no. 

In full disclosure, I wear leggings. I like the stretch, the waistband, the ease of wearing them to work out, put on a long sweater and boots and then pick up some milk at the store. I like the way they make my legs look slimmer and you can see that I have really strong legs--because I work out really hard and my body isn't one of those thin builds. So, hooray for seeing how strong I am. I like that I can wear them under the dresses that shrunk in the wash because I was an idiot who put a $10 cotton dress in the dryer that then shrunk too much to wear without leggings. 

I don't love flesh-colored leggings because those make me uncomfortable. Peach and tan leggings make one look naked. But if you love the peach leggings and like the double takes from people who think, "Oh no, is she? Nah, she's not. Wait, is she?" then WEAR THEM! Wear them with all the legging love you got in you.

I also don't love wearing leggings with tops that rest above my booty because I am acutely aware of showing too much of my good things. Of my own body. Which I don't want to do. Me. I choose this for me. And I admit that I suggest that my daughter cover her bottom as well when wearing leggings. But, if people want to show their round rump in a pair of leggings and it offends you, don't look. Don't make it your problem. 

There are a lot of fashion choices I do and don't make for myself. Don't worry about it. Make your own fashion choices. My daughter's middle school has no rule in the dress code about leggings, but it does say that the kids cannot wear biker shorts. Biker shorts! Ha! I am seriously considering wearing some of those under my jean cutoffs in the spring. White ones. Just for fun.

Then there are those lists of what you shouldn't wear if you are over 25 or 30 or 40 or whatever. One of them said if you are over 30, you should not wear fur, cheetah print, or hoop earrings. Who is making these lists? Most likely these are written by someone who has never walked into a Chico's or met an octogenarian--those women ONLY wear cheetah print and fur. Stop letting dumb random list makers tell you what you should or shouldn't wear.  

Do you like leggings? Go get 'em, sister (or brother, who am I to discriminate?)! Do you think cheetah print is the most amazing print ever made? RAWR! Do you love furry boots and hooped earrings and biker shorts? Do you like to wear them together? You sound amazing!

Do you like to tell people what is and what isn't pants? Boo. You sound sad. Get happy! Go light a paper plane on fire and see what happens.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Did you hear about John Smith's wives?

If you know me well at all, you know that I hate sensationalism, that I steer far away from biased news sources (the Blaze, Fox News, and MSNBC, I am looking at you), that precocious children in television commercials will ensure I NEVER purchase said item, that I find MLMs untrustworthy, and that I am completely cynical when it comes to apologists. 

In other words, I am super sunshine and easygoing.

A few weeks ago, I read the statement from the LDS church about Joseph Smith and his plural wives. If I can be completely transparent for a moment, I felt sick when reading it. I even cried a little later that day while in the car running errands. It wasn't NEWS to me; I was aware of the allegations and the history of the church. But, I am a writer. Not a great one, by any means, but a writer that understands word choice and the power of the written word to express a certain emotion or direction. Usually when I read, I try to read with awareness of syntax, mostly to learn, but also to scrutinize and form my own opinion without the burden of someone else's clouding the content before me. There were parts in this statement that made me shudder and probably caused some of the later tears. I won't point them out, because these are not the reason I am writing. 

Point is, I felt uneasy. And I spent the next week or two privately working through my unease and frustrations. Why was this so hard for me? What made me cry, exactly?

I've written before about my struggles as a MORMON (here, here, here and here), so it's not new that I have questions and concerns about the religion I vehemently support and believe. This last week I thought about a moment I had while living in France when I was 19 years old. I was studying at a school in a tiny city in Provence, living in a restored village from centuries ago and only speaking french with twelve other foreigners. Whenever I talk about those five months of my life, I feel like I am making up some fantastic story. Needless to say, I was the only Mormon girl there. I was mocked for not drinking wine (who goes to live in the south of France and doesn't try the world-renowned wine? I see their point), I was teased for traveling the hour (each way) with complete strangers to attend church the few times I was able, and on more than one occasion, I was asked really bizarre questions about the religion I had "known" for almost two decades. Why do we care so much about our ancestors? (Try explaining that one in a second language in which you know NO religious words.) How can we pretend we are so righteous when we "founded" Las Vegas? Why did John Smith marry a teenager and then never admit it? I just laughed and said that they didn't understand our religion at all if they didn't even know the prophet's name was Joseph and not John (or Jean si vous parlez fran├žais). 

Aren't 19 year olds adorable?

As I got older, I started to learn more about the church and its early years. I discovered more things about Joseph Smith, more things that I hadn't known as a child and young adult that some people had teased and guffawed over. Things I had denied and defended, with no prior knowledge. So, I felt a little hurt. A bit bamboozled as it were. I started to struggle with Joseph Smith as a man. I had a hard time singing Praise to the Man. Hey, I'm trying to be honest here. 

But I tried to keep learning and consider my own testimony. What is it that I believe? What do I feel is right and true? Do I believe in the Gospel? Do I believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God and lived on earth and died for all man? Do I believe in God, that He is our actual Father and that He cares about me? Do I believe the Book of Mormon?

Well, I am still a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints almost twenty years later, so I bet you know the gist of my answers. There are times when I learn something new that does not feel right in my heart and I have to ask myself the above questions again and then cling with my fingernails to those answers. Then I study and ponder and work through those things that make me cringe and cry and shake my head. Sometimes I figure out my place and thoughts, sometimes I have to let them go and revisit later. Never has it made more sense to leave the important things because of my worries and concerns. I feel I can empathize with those who have left, but I have not.

This latest head shaker lead me to read this quote off 's home page: 
“No one knows anything about Christ’s work simply by being born a member of the Church, and often he knows little about it after years of unmotivated exposure in meetings or classes. He must learn. And learning involves self-investment and effort. The gospel should be studied ‘as carefully as any science.’ The ‘literature of the Church’ must be ‘acquired and read.’ Our learning should be increased in our spare time ‘day by day.’ Then as we put the gospel truth to work in daily life, we will never find it wanting. We will be literate in the most important field of knowledge in the universe, knowledge for lack of which men and nations perish, in the light of which men and nations may be saved”
—Elder Marion D. Hanks, First Council of the Seventy

Well, shoot. You mean it takes work? You mean to tell me that I cannot just get upset about something and let it fester and rot at my soul until I just decide to ignore it altogether? SHOOT! Because, guess what? I tried understanding how they got a probe to land on a comet without it bursting into smithereens and I can't even begin to comprehend it. Physics what? No, it doesn't make sense to my brain. They're all lying jerks. Because I don't get it. I don't understand physics. 

Insert in my head something about line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little (here). If I try to understand and learn the smaller things and then KEEP ADDING to them with more knowledge and more study, maybe I would even understand physics. Is that how learning science works? Is that perhaps how learning about God and His desires for us works? Maybe is that how all things worth knowing work? By studying and adding to prior knowledge, perhaps?

But back to the topic at hand, what have I come to think about this latest "disclosure" about Joseph Smith and his many wives? I am okay with it. It wasn't a surprise to me, because I have tried in the last decade to increase my learning about him and the early church. I appreciate the church trying to make more readily accessible the things that many have claimed to be hidden or hushed. I have been frustrated at times in my life that I did not know more of these "black eyes" of church history. I wish I knew more when Estan asked me about my church when I was a 19 year-old in France. I wish I knew about the seer stones and the run for President, and Joseph's desire to open a bar. I wish I knew more about Emma Smith as the woman who struggled. 

But, I am learning it now. I am finding out things and taking time to process and consider them. Here is what I do know: 

I could completely be written as a jerk on paper. I know I am a good person, a fiercely loyal wife, a mother who loves her children, and not the dumbest person I know. I am also kinda lazy, I have hurt people in my past (and probably a few people currently that I am unaware of) because I can be brash and speak before I think, I have done things I am ashamed of, I roll my eyes too much, I forget names of people I've known for years, I forget important dates and arrangements, I am always late. If five different people were to write a synopsis of my life and who I am as a person, I would have some people who liked me and some people who think I am a total jerk. 

C'est la vie! (see, I do speak french-ish!)

So, maybe I give a whopping huge grain of salt to Joseph Smith. Maybe I try to understand that as a feminist mormon of the 2000s, I have no frame of reference for what it was like to live in the 1800s. Maybe marriage and polygamy and age were totally different then than they are now. No, not maybe. Most definitely. Maybe I take a hot second and give the writers of this recent church statement a break for their writing and word choice. And maybe I could let other people be upset about it and work through it the way that I have been able to.

I refuse, however, to read anything about it that is written by a precocious child on FoxNews who is also selling face cream that can change my life (and make me loads of money if I choose to sell it as well).  


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

kid movies

Rhett and I are watching Home Alone. This isn't the first time I have seen this movie as a parent, but I swear every time I see it, I think Kevin is more of a turd and his parents are freaking saints. As a child, the opening ten minutes made me see that Kevin was under-appreciated and ill-treated by his siblings, cousins, parents, and that mean Uncle Frank. Poor Kevin.

As an adult, I think that Kevin is a stinker. If my nephew were taping me while I was in the shower... uhhh, I'd be a bit uncomfortable and maybe upset. If I told my kid to pack because we were traveling to PARIS and he was sassily talking back to me, uhhh... booo, kid! Go pack your bags because somehow I was nice enough to invite you on a trip to Paris, France!

I'd say that I have watched Home Alone over twenty times in my life. I might have slept a bit during some of those twenty viewings, who knows. What I do know is that the older I get and the more times I have watched the classic holiday film, the more I feel like I can empathize with all of the characters. The scary neighbor? He's just a nice and lonely old man who made some bad decisions. Ok, that one was obvious even in 1990. Uncle Frank's wife? Is that me in the not-too-distant future? John Candy's musician? Love him, poor sad, kindhearted (although annoying) fellow. Old lady that wants the diamond earrings in exchange for her airplane ticket? I feel your pain, sister! And you're not as old as I remembered. 

The great thing about movies and time is that you can rewatch the same moments over and over again. You can use your own time and experience to change your reaction and understanding every time. 

God bless the movies. Am I right?

Then there is actual life. Womp womp.

No, I'm kidding. Kind of.

Now I am in a state of watching the movie of my children's childhood. Except it is showing ONE TIME ONLY and playing all season, every season. And it feels a lot like a remake of my own childhood. I have the time and experience to see similar scenes play out and understand what is really happening, or at least how it should be viewed. The parents, just as in Home Alone, are surprising saints (wink wink). The kids should be nicer, but in the end it is obvious that they love each other. 

Time has given me a nice hazy recollection of my own childhood. Recently it has played more like a feel-good movie. And then my daughter goes to junior high and the haze lifts. Oh yes, now I remember how hard friendships were, because I see my own daughter struggle with the same kind of friend uncertainties that I did. I see her be kind and full of energy... and then alone. Everyone assumes that the outgoing girl has a lot of friends, but she doesn't seem to have anyone to walk to school or home from school with. She feels like groups are forming and she is both a member of many and not included in any. It is a special kind of lonely, and I felt it. Oh boy, did I feel it. 

I see my teenage life being played in a new theater with new characters and a new lead--one I care about a whole lot. My oldest sister used to say that watching your kids grow up is harder than growing up yourself. I didn't think it was possible, but it DOES HURT! A lot. My daughter has a personality so similar to mine; it makes me proud and happy, but also really sad and guilty. Sometimes I wish she was the super popular girl with all of the boys and friends... for like ten seconds and then I am glad she isn't that girl. I told her recently that THAT kind of popular is really difficult to maintain and people can be really cruel to that roller coaster pretty. Other times I wish my daughter could be the super smart girl that had one friend 'til the end and a full-ride scholarship to college. But, she's not because I wasn't. Nope, she is the outgoing, kind of loud, thinks she's funny, nice, insecure, uncertain girl that nobody worries about and everyone thinks is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

And she worries that she is annoying, alone, overbearing, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not enough enough. 

And I am so happy she is mine, but my heart breaks because I know how she feels. I have time and experience to tell me that she will be okay, to tell her that she is great and that I understand. I have mothering eyes that see how incredible and beautiful she is, even though I KNOW she doesn't see it, because I never did. She is much kinder, funnier, sweeter, and prettier than I ever was. And way more creative. Holy moly, is that girl creative. When she cries, I want to cry, but I know that I can't. I have to be the somewhat director in this movie, but let her freestyle most of the time. It's her movie, after all. When she comes to me needing help with some lines or to understand a character, I am ready to give her my interpretation. But, it's not my movie. Dangit, it's not my movie. I wish I could take the hard lines for her. I wish I could put my experience in her brain so that she is more confident and more hopeful. She is going to see Kevin as the hero of the movie for a while longer. And maybe he is. 

This movie of my daughter's childhood is difficult because I can remember being the lead in a very similar movie. My son's childhood movies are, so far, totally different characters in completely different genres. Still hard to watch; still difficult to be a somewhat director with such little control. 

What I really wish I could direct in my children's lives movies is to see each character in it as someone who the Producer loves. Someone with a reason for being in the movie and someone with a backstory. Just as I kind of don't hate Uncle Frank as much now and I see that Fuller was just excited to drink a lot of Pepsi because it was the holidays and he didn't mean to wet the bed. I wish I could give time and experience to my kids to be a little kinder to all of the characters in their movie, but I guess I still need to work on that for my own filming in progress.

Except for Buzz--that kid has been and always will be a turd-nugget. Especially in Home Alone 2. Buzz bugs!

you know it's true


Friday, October 10, 2014

As much soul as you

I saw this picture a few weeks ago and it has been haunting my thoughts:

I mean, really. Doesn't that say so much? Fashionistas and a homeless person, completely oblivious of the other. I can't take my eyes off of it.

It kills me that I can relate so much more to the brightly dressed and seemingly self-concerned threesome. It's probably part of their job, for all we know. I don't want nor mean to condemn them. There is a crowd behind them that presumably will also walk right past this homeless man. And crowds and crowds after them. Just as there are countless other homeless people sitting on other steps throughout this city and thousands of other cities.

My daily concerns are not of where to rest my head, how to eat, or how to keep myself and my children warm. My daily concerns are usually centered around how I can better manage my finances and bills, how to keep my kids healthy and growing, what I can do to grow my business and talents, how to be more creative, healthier, kinder, etc. It is not and never has been how to keep my family from dying of starvation or cold. My concern is not and never has been about sacrificing my or my children's safety in order to eat. In fact, I am so ridiculously comfortable that when there are ants in my home, I call an exterminator and demand he come out and rectify the small infestation as soon as possible. Can you imagine how laughable that would seem to someone who is homeless? 

We live such cushy lives. We get down on ourselves for not being as thin, popular, well-dressed, creative as the Instagrammers we follow. Don't you ever want to shake your own body and say, "Snap out of it"?

I sure do.

One of my favorite books in the world is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I think of this quote often:

“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart!" 
I recently heard a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland where he hit the most recent strings of my heart when he said, "I openly acknowledge the unearned, undeserved, unending blessings in my life, both temporal and spiritual. Like you, I have had to worry about finances on occasion, but I have never been poor, nor do I even know how the poor feel."

I have considered myself "poor" on occasion and maybe even used that term to describe my situation, but I realize it was used in an unsympathetic exaggerative manner. I do not know how the poor feel, but I do know that for whatever reason, I have never been destitute. 

I also recently saw an article (see HERE) about a mother who claims that government benefits have made her obese and without more financial aid, she will not be able to lose weight or join a gym. I get that. I am actually sympathetic to the lower class and that government money programs DO favor junk food over healthy options. Heaven knows I spend more money when we are trying to eat healthy.

BUT... it is articles like this that fail to elicit sympathy and instead intensify opinions further into political dogma. Readers look at this woman with her intensely dyed hair, piercings and tattoos and respond with, "Don't spend the money on your hair and tatts, and get some walking shoes." or "Buy some lettuce!" (actual comments I read) And I admit that part of me agrees. 

Those who think government assistance is a "handout" increase their resolve after seeing public stunts like this. 

It remains, though, that there are many who don't have a cupboard and home like this mother where they can store their junk food... or any food, for that matter. There are hundreds in my own city, sleeping the day in a park or on the lawn of the downtown library, then heading back to the shelter for dinner and maybe the night. I don't know how or why they are there. All I know is that I am not.

And, believe me, I write this with tears running down my face. I do not know why I am not. I do not know what and how I am here in my comfortable home with four safe kids and a really great husband who has an income that affords us food whenever we want it and clean water coming out of multiple spouts whenever we turn a lever. 

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another," said Charles Dickens.

"No one has ever become poor by giving," said Anne Frank.

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself," said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I am no longer content to say that my only concern is to raise my children and then I can devote myself to humanitarian means. There is no then. Now is then. My children need it as much as I do. I cannot continue to see myself in the women in the above picture. 

It's time. Who's with me?