Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Distract and Conquer

Growing up, my parents were masters of the technique they call "distract and conquer" for taking care of young kids. You parents out there know the routine - you take advantage of kids' short attention span by distracting them with something else appealing. One situation this played out remarkably well in was how they handled my dad's fairly frequent business trips. My mom shaped it as a time when we could "do all those things we couldn't do when daddy is home." Because there were pretty much no restrictions on what we could do in the first place, and because it is my family, after all, most of this focused on food. We'd eat pancakes for dinner (my dad isn't a breakfast for dinner kind of guy), which we loved. My poor dad would eat canned tuna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on his trips so we could use his per diem to order pizza while he was out (thanks dad!). And my dad would always come home with these fantastic chocolate chip donuts from Giant Supermarket, and we'd enjoy them together. I learned to think of dad's business trips as a time we gorged on delicious and wildly unhealthy foods we weren't allowed to eat the rest of the time, and just played. Of course we would have liked to have him around, but hey, when you're five, dinosaur-shaped pancakes are pretty darn cool, so we didn't mope around.

So do you think this technique will work when Rob goes to DC next month? The days he's gone, I'm really busy, so I don't need to fill my time - although if something cancels, a Spiderman marathon might be in order :). But I think I am going to have to follow my parents' lead and make delicious and wildly unhealthy food an upside of his absence. Last time Rob left for a trip, I ate nothing but ramen because I felt too lazy to cook for myself (and I was moping). But this time, I think I'm going to bulk up on ingredients to make those dinners that I love, but I never make because Rob thinks they are so fatty, we might as well be eating ice cream for dinner (hmm...there's another idea!). :) And if it all comes down to it, maybe I'll have to try dinosaur shaped pancakes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Celebrating President Hinckley


I thought I would be devastated when President Hinckley passed away, but surprisingly, I've been overcome with feelings of peace, and of gratitude for the man he was and the service he gave. So I just wanted to take a few paragraphs and talk about what his service has meant to me personally.

President Hinckley has been the prophet as long as I've really been aware of what a prophet was. I remember going to college and not even understanding that the four sessions of general conference were different (I thought they just played the same thing at four different times to accommodate everyone's schedule - I know, clueless). I remember sitting down in the basement of my community-living style college dorm to truly watch general conference for the first time, and being blown away by the warmth and wisdom of the men and women that lead our church, and especially President Gordon B. Hinckley. I eagerly watched the remaining sessions of conference, and have looked forward to it ever since.

I remember my sophomore year of college, President Hinckley came to campus to set apart the new President of BYU. I had a class right before the start of the meeting, and I knew the seats in the auditorium would be full by the time class got out, so I talked my professor into canceling class that morning so we could be in the same room as the prophet. I remember the joy and the spirit I felt as the congregation spontaneously broke into singing "We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet," and when he waved in the direction of my part of the audience. I had no doubt of the love he has for the saints, and his role as the Lord's servant.

I have loved listening to him speak to the members. He truly had a gift for encouraging people to be better. He demanded a lot of the members of the church, but he never made me feel discouraged or incapable of doing the things he requested. Listening to him made me want to be better, and made me feel empowered to do hard things.

I loved listening to him talk about the importance and power of the women in the church. I've struggled many times over the years with the way local priesthood leaders have treated the women in their congregations, but I have never doubted the love the Lord has for me as a woman when I hear President Hinckley speak, and I have always wanted to achieve the vision he has had for the women in the church.

It has been incredible watching him reach out to the world, and reach out to the members. It is amazing to me the respect he commands from the individuals he interacts with, whether it is an interview on a major news station, or leaders of communities or nations.

I am so grateful for his constant and enthusiastic service over the years. The changes he has instituted have been remarkable. Of course I will miss him, but I am just so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from this wonderful servant of the Lord.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why I love Beehives...

**Translation: Beehives = the 12-13 year old girls I volunteer with**

Last night, we worked on a skit they are doing to introduce the theme of our big annual activity: "Stand steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works." The girls had a lot of really good, funny ideas, and it will be a great skit. However, I really wonder where on earth some of the ideas came from. The idea that takes the cake:

They want to teach "Bom the smoking dog" not to smoke by teaching it about the word of wisdom. I kid you not. Oh, and I should mention that Bom is a smoking, talking dog. Originally, they were going to be teaching a girl that is walking her dog about the scriptures, and then they decided the dog would want to learn too, and then they decided it should be a smoking dog that they help to make good decisions, and then the girl kind of faded into the background. They're pretty attached to this idea - I haven't been able to steer them from it yet (we'll see how this turns out).

Hooray for Beehives - I love their enthusiasm, their willingness to be silly, and how comfortable they are being themselves.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wahoo!

It took two grueling years, but I had a breakthrough today. Today, I finally ordered my wedding pictures! Yes, that's embarrassing. In my defense, I was waiting on family members to let us know what they wanted. But hey, I'm taking my victories where I can get them!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Picturing Motherhood

I’m going to start this post by stating that this is NOT an announcement – I am very much not pregnant right now.

Growing up, my professional ambition consisted of being a mother. I remember playing MASH with my friends in elementary school, and being at a loss for what to put for the second and third options for the “career” category. However, I never wanted to play with baby dolls. My poor mother saved her Cabbage Patch Dolls to share with her daughters (and I was her only girl), and I could care less about them.

As I hit my teenage years, through various forms of personal revelation in my life, I understood that being a stay-at-home mom would not always be doable for me, and that there would be times in my life when my family would depend on the income I could bring in. I braced myself to this truth, and put on a tough face about my need to study hard and my ability to find fulfillment in the work force. But deep down, I didn’t buy it. Even at that young age, I knew that my true fulfillment would be in the home (and I should note this was always personal for me – I recognized that different women would need different things to find fulfillment). When I pictured myself in an adult capacity, I pictured myself teaching my 3 year old to read basic words, talking to my 8 year old about the importance of baptism, attending my 7th grader’s band concerts, and listening to my teenagers as they talked about colleges, majors, and the opposite sex. Interestingly enough, I never pictured myself holding a baby.

As a married woman, I’m very excited to start my family. I have a strong belief in the value of mothers, and I can’t wait to have the opportunities to teach my children about love, service, education, the world, etc. I want to be there as they discover their interests, develop their unique personalities, and grow into the women and men they will become.

But honestly, I still can’t picture myself with a baby. I’ve never been the type to coo over newborns, or get excited about tiny baby shoes. Babies don’t fit naturally into my arms – I always feel awkward. I don’t know how to make my friends’ babies stop crying, and I’m not good at amusing them. I just don’t possess the affection towards and common sense about babies that most females I know do.

Sometimes I wonder if I can handle it. I’ve legitimately wondered if I should adopt 3 year olds and go from there. I worry about being able to bond with a baby. I worry about not being able to retain anything I’ve ever learned about caring for babies – I swear I have a mental block about it. But I firmly believe in the value of motherhood, and I am working to develop my faith that if this is a work my Heavenly Father wants me to do, He’ll equip me with at least adequate skills to keep a baby alive and relatively neurosis-free until they are old enough for me to interact with them in a way that I possess talents for.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New level of domestic prowess attained!

For the first time in my life, I have cooked with dried beans. Bless those little lentils - so healthy, no soaking required, and a speedy cook time. :) Maybe someday when I'm not working and have several hours to soak beans, I can graduate to dried chickpeas.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Back to Omaha

:) So I'm doing penance for my lack of postings over recent weeks by including pictures of my trip to Omaha with my new digital camera! This first one is just a snapshot in the downtown that I really like. My family humored me and went to my favorite place in the downtown (the Gene Leahy mall, which is kind of an urban park) to see the Christmas lights, despite it being abysmally cold. So cold we were able to walk and jump around on the stream that runs through it because it had frozen solid. I love this area of the old market. It was fun to be there because I have so many memories there.



A big part of our trip was helping my parents remodel their basement (it had flooded a few months back, and had major damage). I'm including some before and after pictures for fun.


It felt like we were moving, as we had to box everything up and move it to other areas on the house so they could lay down the carpet. Rob and my dad did most of the work, as my dust allergies didn't fare so well down there. Didn't they do great?

And finally, we made a true deep-dish Chicago-style pizza (part of Rob and I's Christmas traditions), which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Doesn't my dad look happy?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Confession

I'm horrified to admit this, but I am addicted to Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Series. Horrified. High school vampire drama really isn't my thing. I was an English major, for goodness sake. Not saying that classics are the only thing worth reading (on the contrary, I think many of them are overrated), but I know how to appreciate good literature. The constant descriptions of the protagonist's vampire boyfriend's wavy hair and impeccable muscles make me want to gag. Her metaphors are awful. But I can't put the stupid books down.

I like to think part of it is my fascination with Mormon culture. I didn't grow up around it, and while it originally freaked me out, I've moved to a place where I have a scholarly interest in it. This book oozes it, despite the fact the word Mormon never even comes up. The decisions about eternal relationships. The concept of having to undergo a transformation to be with someone. Feeling pressured to get married a young age. The concept of setting boundaries to stay in control of your actions. Preoccupation with chastity. Missionary-esque situations of a girl starting to fall for another guy while the first has gone away. It fascinates me to see how these concepts play themselves out in a universally-accessible way.

Another thing that interests me is the way she takes classics and makes them relevant in a new context. Romeo & Juliet and Wuthering Heights play major roles in these books. While they aren't retellings of these stories by any stretch of the imagination, the kind of take the essence of these plays and apply them to a context that is accessible to teenagers. I think that is admirable.

:) However, all of that doesn't explain why I frequent Stephanie Meyer's website, hoping for new tidbits about the characters or plot (yes, I am turning into a twelve year old). I'm forced to acknowledge that when you ignore the flaws in her writing, she has created fascinating characters whose interact with each other in fascinating ways. And she creates a world for her characters that is different and interesting, but still completely accessible. She explores interesting issues through her character's relationships without making any of them a metaphor or stereotype, which is a difficult task to accomplish. I recommend them.