Home Bound (Week I)
30 Apr 2006 11:12 pm
By The Wiz
Guest post from Wendee - this is the first in a series of four posts.
Well, this is a story I wrote about my mother who grew up in Utah in the 1920s and 30s and was the only kid from a divorced family in the county. She was scorned by everyone for that. She had a sad life. But she raised me in the church and I think about her every day. This story neither honors nor dishonors her, just
tells it like I remember, almost five years ago.
(former very active member of the mormon church, now living in a liberal Jewish household and feeling a little lost now and again.)
My Mother’s Home
My mother is dying and I’ve moved to her house to care for her. This is the house of my childhood, the house I think about when I say I’m “going home.” Now, in the middle of my life, I’ve been away more years than I’ve lived here. But this is the only house my mother has lived in for any length of time. Her childhood was spent moving between parents, step-parents, grandparents and others. She’s frequently pointed out that my vagabond adulthood closely resembles her childhood. Its a sad irony she often says, that I’m unable to give my children the same stable childhood she gave me.
This is the house I dream about when my dreams carry me to childhood. Here, there are secret doors and extra rooms and places left to explore. In reality I know every inch of this house. The wall which was once covered with green and white panoramic wallpaper depicting an English farmhouse surrounded by weeping willows. Spots and stains made by cats and dogs that were summarily put to sleep. The place in the floor where the hamster hid underneath a bookcase and spent four months chewing through carpeting, padding and hardwood flooring until he died, from old age, my mother told me.
My mother lies dying in this house. Her once taut, muscular body, graceful from younger years of dancing and later years of gardening and swimming, is now gray, her skin sags from her bones and deep purple bruises, the bruises old people get when they come too close to unforgiving objects, mottle her arms and thighs. Her body betrays attempts at even the simplest tasks; showering, eating, sleeping. All have become nearly insurmountable challenges.
Every day her friends visit, arriving at the front door with forced smiles and eyes that betray shock at my mother’s rapid deterioration. There are friends from her retirement years with names that belie their ages; Ethel, Iris, Betty, Opal. There are church people who’ve forgotten her until duty requires them to remember. And there are neighborhoods from my childhood, friends who bring with them their children and our shared memories.
The first week passes quickly. My mother’s in the non-acceptance phase of her illness and I’m needed only at night, when she might fall on her way to the bathroom. She refuses to use a bedpan, although I’ve told her I can bring it if she feels too dizzy or too weak to get out of bed. Instead, every morning, I hear her moan as she pulls herself upright. Then I hear footsteps on the wood floors, uneven and slow at first, but by the time she reaches the hallway, she accelerates and stumbles into the bathroom. The same routine every morning: she sits on the toilet and brushes her hair. “Oh God, am I still alive?”
More difficult for her to accept has been the daily hospice care that’s intruded into her social life. The first day, the Hospice nurse and I walk through the house, looking for areas of possible falls, bumps or other injuries.
“You don’t want to trip over one of these rugs,” the nurse says as she and I begin rolling up oriental area rugs, exposing gleaming hardwood floors.
“Are you worried about my breaking a hip?”
I start to laugh and joke about her recent fall down Mt. St. Helens, the fall which lead to the doctor’s visit where we discovered the pain in her side was not from the fall but from liver cancer. My mother’s not joking, her face is serious, concerned, “Leave them until after my Canasta game,” and the nurse and I unroll the rugs.
Halfway through the first week I move from my childhood bedroom to the couch in the den. I’m afraid to sleep in the bedroom. Afraid to miss a call for help or a moan of pain in the middle of the night. But mostly, I’m just afraid.
To keep myself awake, I channel surf old reruns of Gilligan’s Island and the Brady Bunch. One night my mother stumbles down the hall, and I get up to see if she’s okay.
“Are you sleeping on the couch now?” She slurs. I wonder if its pain, restlessness or fear that’s awakened her.
Mid week my mother’s hosting a Canasta game. I try to convince her to cancel but she’s adamant, “This game has been scheduled for six months, what would my friends think if I canceled at the last minutes?”
The night before, I prepare lunch: chicken garden casserole topped with thin layers of butter drenched phyllo crust, green salad, chocolate mousse. My mother’s favorite recipes cooked under my mother’s careful scrutiny.
“How come you never cooked this good for me and daddy?” I tease.
She doesn’t answer for several minutes and I think its the morphine that causes her hesitation. Then she says, “Because neither of you appreciated anything I did for you, ever.” I’ve heard this phrase for much of my life. Heard how inconsiderate I am of her feelings, how like my father I am; thoughtless, irresponsible. She once told me “You know its time to die when your children grow-up.” Then with a bark of a laugh she added, “I guess I’m going to live forever.” Now I want to ask, “Since you are dying, does this mean I’m grown up?”
After I finish in the kitchen, we move to the den and I settle her in front of the TV. I give her her meds. Morphine and Oxycontin for pain, Colace to prevent constipation, Ativan and Valium to ease the edginess the pain pills cause, Diovan for high blood pressure brought on by the pain. The bottles have multiplied, delivered by the hospice pharmacy almost nightly.
“Let’s look at photos,” she says after swallowing the last half dozen capsules.
I dig through closets and drawers, all places where she’s stored family photos for as long as I remember but instead of my colorful childhood pictures, I find black and whites of people I’ve never seen before. Wedding photos. My mother, dressed in a white suit and high heels, posing in front of a small chapel on the arm of someone who’s not my father.
The photos confuse me, scare me and I try to talk to my mother, to establish an identity. But she’s gone into a morphine induced trance. She’s holding a pencil and tracing the Celtic Knot design printed on a small wooden coaster. As she traces, she talks to someone. I wonder if she’s talking to my father, or her sister, both long gone. The hospice book says this is normal; its part of the dying process.
I finally find my photos in the garage, stacked next to a rusting, corroded water heater. They’ve melted together, colors running, edges crisp-brittle, a dull patina of rat droppings crusting the surface. Most everything in the garage has been damaged by rats. I find a nest of curly blonde doll hair inside the living room of my Barbie doll house. The bellows of a child-sized accordion have been nibbled into a fragile lace skeleton. This is very sad.
I call my husband, Scott, who’s not sympathetic. He’s been left at home with my angry teenage daughter.
“She told you to take the things you wanted to keep,”
“We don’t have room for them.” I answer. I want to add because your crap takes up the whole house and the garage and the closets and everything and my stuff doesn’t matter. But stuff doesn’t matter right now and I’ve promised myself not to nag.
I feel tears of self-pity welling in my eyes, but I hate crying over the phone so I continue to list the items that’ve been ruined; piano music, childhood toys, a box of Halloween costumes. My husband listens for a while and finally asks, “Has anyone come to help you, besides the nurse?”
“No,” I say.
“You need to get out of the house,”
I agree and decide to call Ethel to ask if she can sit for a few hours.
By Tracy M
This post is directly tied to the backstory, found here.
So today I find myself standing at a familiar crossroads. It’s so soon. Too soon. I thought I was prepared, and that my decision was easy and clear, but things are a little more tender now that I am staring at the two parting paths. My toes wiggle in the familiar dust, and I pause to wipe away the tears as they softly slide down my cheeks.
Abigail is three days old, as of about two hours ago. I had created a fragile, tiny little hope that things might be different this time. It’s not for lack of trying on her part- she has been much more cooperative and willing to work with me than her older brothers were- which is why I think I allowed that small kernel of hope to stir. She has nursed so well for the last three days- strong suck, good mouth position, opens wide, stays on for substantial lengths of time- all good omens that maybe this time it would work.
My milk came in last night- and I was so excited that she would get some good food- and so was she. She was eager and latched right on, tasting the pre-milk and going with gusto for the real stuff. She tried. And tried. My breasts were full, and I could feel the let down. After an hour, she still had not managed to get more than a tiny bit, she was frustrated, I was feeling desperate all of the sudden, and she was starving now. And so I there I am, exactly where I was with both of my sons. Lots of milk- tons of milk. No delivery system.
All night she and I tried making this work. The best I could do was to hand-express and allow it to drip in her mouth- which did not make for a happy baby or a happy mama. By this morning, I am totally engorged and getting worse. Just looking at her makes me ache, and let down more milk that only can drip out. When a baby willingly nurses for an hour, and only gets less than an ounce, what do you do? The way my body is, my babies cannot depress the milk sinuses to express it themselves- the only option I have is to pump.
What I wouldn’t give for a nipple. It sounds ridiculous, but it really is that simple- I’d give my left arm for a nipple that worked- but bartering body parts isn’t really practical. Who wants my left arm?
So, at my crossroads, I look on down the paths. It is tempting to take the same trail I took before- there are lots of good reasons to do so- but the idea of pumping for months on end makes me fear for the kind of mother I would be to my other children. Because I have done it, twice, I know what it means. And I simply cannot. Do. It. Again.
A few hours ago, after talking to yet another Lactation Nurse, I put on a really tight bra, and put some ice packs on my swollen, tender, aching breasts. Then, I went in the kitchen, and made Abigail a bottle of formula, angrily swiping at the tears that just would not stop. She took it eagerly- she was so hungry, poor little thing. And now she lies sleeping in my lap, and I type this and continue to swipe at the incessant tears.
In the grand scheme of things, I know this isn’t the end of the world. I know she will be fine, and I will be too, once the hormones and pain calm down. But when I reach for that bottle, I mourn just a little bit for my inability to feed my baby. I ache in my heart, and I ache in my body.
The reason I am sharing this, is I hope that other mothers will look with more kindness and less judgment when they see me pull out a bottle. From the previous children, who drank my milk from a bottle, I feel the weight of it- every time. I hear the comments, and sometimes I want to wear a sign around my neck, explaining myself. But it’s too personal. Too painful. If you ever see a mother in public bottle feeding her tiny infant, please refrain from unkind thoughts or comments- she might be a lot of things, but then again, she might be me.
By Heather O.
My neighbors. They’ve got issues. I tried to find the links in the archives to previous posts about them, but I was unsuccessful. Just know this–they’ve got issues.
One of the neighbor kids came over to play the other day, and I heard the two boys playing happily for some time. Then, suddenly, I heard it. The ominous silence that sends alarm bells off in every mother’s head. I went downstairs to check on them, and the door to the back was wide open. I had taken the childlock off the door while we have been showing the house, and the two little monkeys had escaped. I put my shoes on and headed outside, looking for them.
It took me a surprisingly long time to find them. They were not in their usual outside spots, and I even started to get a little nervous when I didn’t find them in the first 2 minutes of my search. I started shouting their names, and I finally heard a little high pitched answer, which was a relief. I found them playing near an area of the neighborhood where J is expressively forbidden to play. It’s an area around a rotting fence and a small stream that has a lot of mud and guck and stuff, and if a child slipped under or around the fence, an adult would be hard pressed to follow. Beyond the fence lies open woods, complete with ponds deep enough for a small child to drown in. Not a place you would want to lose your kid.
So J, knowing that he is caught, came running up to me saying, “I’m sorry mom, but he went in the river!” Again, a forbidden spot because that stream runs past the rusty fence into one of those ponds. J’s friend emerged from the bushes wet and muddy. Clearly, he had been in the water.
“What were you guys doing back there?”
“Nothing”, his friend answered.
“Well, J says you were in the river, and your shoes and pants and wet and muddy. Did you go in the river?”
Now, I didn’t know if that area is forbidden to this kid or not. (I found out later that it is indeed off limits to him, too.) I actually wasn’t probing to attack, I just wanted to know what happened, why they were playing where J knew they shouldn’t be. Was there a frog, a rusty truck, an abandoned skateboard, a deer skeleton (yes, those have been found from time to time–boys really dig ‘em!), what? I just wanted to know what happened.
This kid yells at me, “NO!” and takes off running in the opposite direction, which is, I might point out, also the opposite direction of the house and towards the open woods. And I was responsible for him.
“Hey, c’mon back”, I called, but he kept running. I called again, he screamed “No!” again, and continued his sprint.
Luckily, I can run faster than a 4 year old, and I caught up with him quickly. I stopped him by his shoulders, and crouched down next to him.
“Don’t run away from me like that”, I said, and I tried to use a voice as gentle as possible. If it had been my son, however, I would have been much more stern. “I just want to know what happened over there.”
Predictably, he wriggled and squirmed (what kid likes to be caught?), and refused to look at me or talk to me. Eventually he even tried to hit me, and I finally let him go once he said, “I’m going home!” He took off again, this time towards his house, and I checked in to make sure he got there. He was upset, but came over later. In the evening, however, his mother caught him at the river again (I was no longer in charge then), and you can bet he wished it had been me!
But my question is, when you are in charge of somebody else’s child, and they deliberately disobey, disrespect, destroy, whatever, how far can you go in disciplining them? I’m not talking about serious discipline or anything, but I felt constrained in dealing with this child’s disobedient and potentially dangerous behavior because he wasn’t mine. I would have handled J much differently, but you can’t treat other people’s kids the way you treat your own, can you?
At the same time, though, this child needed to understand that when he is in my care, running away is not an option, especially not towards an area he is not allowed to go. But I just wasn’t sure how to convey this message in a way that would not be totally offensive to the other mom, had she heard it, or damaging to the relationship between him and my son.
Then again, in light of all of that, maybe some damage to the relationship might not be so bad after all!
By The Wiz
My husband knows very well how to tell if I’m in a bad mood, or if I’ve had a bad day. The TV is on, and Colin Firth is on the screen. He is the definitive Mr. Darcy, and nothing Keira Knightley does or says will ever change that.
Pride and Prejudiceis my #1 go to comfort movie. Colin Firth is my secret boyfriend, although he doesn’t know it. It’s OK that he’s married. I am too. If we’re being completely honest, I guess Mr. Darcy is my real secret boyfriend, and it’s totally OK with me that he is, in all reality, a fictional character.
I don’t buy movies very often, because it has been my experience that they just sit on my shelf and don’t get watched, and when I see them, I feel guilty for wasting my money, since I don’t really watch Miss Congeniality all that often. But some movies are absolutely worth owning - they lift my mood, raise my spirits, or just make me smile, no matter how many times I’ve seen them before. So here we go - my list of movies I have found comforting enough to own. In no particular order, they are.
The Court Jester “The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pessel. The chalice from the palace has the brue that is true.” I don’t care how many times I see that scene, it cracks me up. And the song he sings for the king - “When I was a lad, I was lonely and sad…” It’s just Danny Kaye at his comedic best, and Danny Kaye is a comedic genius, which brings me to my next pick…..
White Christmas. This has Danny Kaye again, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, snow, Christmas, dancing, gorgeous music, and really, what more could you want? “Sisters, sisters…”
The Princess Bride “As you wish….Hello, my name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Admit it, you all know this scene. You all know every scene.
The King and I I have a thing for bald men. I think Yul Brynner is right up there next to Patrick Stewart as sexiest man ever. And while I’m not a huge fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein, I really like this one. “Hello, young lovers, wherever you are…..” “Shall we dance? (1,2,3 AND)…” So fun, so familiar, so soothing.
Sense and Sensibility Yes, I like Jane Austen movies. Yes, I am female. I love this movie. I love everything about it. I only wish Colin Firth was in it.
So there you go. Movies I go to when I want to shut my door, ignore my family, and just escape. Movies worth buying. I would do a list of books, but seriously, that would take WAAAYYY too long, and be way too boring. So there you go. My comfort movies, and if you see Colin Firth, tell him to put on his Darcy attitude and send him my way.
By Heather O.
*Dishes in the sink have sex while I’m not looking, and have mad powers of procreation. Same goes for dirty laundry. And why is it that I’m constantly doing laundry, and yet have NOTHING TO WEAR?
*Dryers eat men’s socks. I can always find the match to my cute girlie socks, but can never match my husband’s black ones, or my son’s white ones. And I’ve only bought about a zillion pairs of each.
*Grime fairies come in the night and slime the bathroom I cleaned yesterday. Same goes for dirt trolls and the freshly vacuumed carpet.
*My bed has super suction powers and will suck up anything that is left 2 inches next to it and hoarde it underneath.
*Cold sores will lay dormant until they know (oh yes, they know, they know!) you have a really important work interview, a picture that needs to be taken, or a hot date. Same goes for zits. The ugly white ones.
*Children who sleep through the night every other night will suddenly become massive insomniacs the one night Mom really needs some sleep. And Dad is out of town.
*There is always traffic on the way to the DC temple. Even at 5am. All those drivers in your way? Minions of Satan. They especially like it if you roll down your window and scream that at them as you drive by. That really helps you get the Spirit.
*Children understand that the quiet time while taking the Sacrament is the perfect time to yell, “I’m BORED!”
*A mother who is taking care of a newborn enters a completely different time zone called “Baby Time”. Singing 12 songs, reading 14 books, providing massive neurological stimulation with black and white pictures and serious play time that teaches “object permanence” fill about 2 and a half minutes. Only 1437 and half more minutes to go!
*It always rains on the White House Easter Egg Roll.
STOP THE PRESSES!
25 Apr 2006 06:05 pm
By Heather O.
Maybe is here! Hooray, hooray, hooray! Update:The link should take you to Mo Mommy’s blog, where there are a few more details. Congrats to Tracy!
Gardens and Stuff
25 Apr 2006 01:08 am
By The Wiz
My husband and I, well, technically, our whole family, is trying something new. It’s called square foot gardening. Apparently it’s the easiest thing in the world, and once the set-up is done, there’s no weeding or anything, and then you can have fresh vegetables (or whatever you want) for the rest of your life.
So today I walked into a nursery for maybe the second time in my life, ever. I have never felt so incompetent as when I walked through those doors. I have never gardened in my life. I can recognize weeds from flowers, but not with anything resembling 100% (or possibly even 50%) accuracy. I actually had to go to two nurseries, since the first was was too exotic to stock things like ‘carrot seeds’ so I headed to another place. I found the vegetable plants, found some seeds, and today we stuck them in the ground. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. The whole thing is exciting and scary at the same time, because, here’s the thing: I HATE, like really, truly, HATE feeling incompetent.
That feeling, you know, like everybody knows more than you do, and you just have to pretend that you know what you’re talking about, and hoping the cashier at the nursery doesn’t wonder at the stange selection you just picked out, because, seriously, who buys those particular plants at this particular time of year, and forgets this tool or that pesticide? Do you know that feeling? Shopping for plants gives me that feeling.
Shopping for food used to give me that feeling. When I was first married, I headed to the store looking for chicken stock, and came home with chicken gravy, because I had no clue what chicken stock was. (It’s not the same thing.) And now, while I am not the chef my Dh is (thank heavens for his cooking abilities), I did make my own beef jerky, (very proud of that one) and I am completely confident that given enough time, I can handle most any recipe.
I had that feeling when I first was a mom, too. Look at everyone else - they know how to do it. They know what to shop for, they know how to get their babies to stop crying, they know how to change a diaper in 5 seconds flat. Well, now I can do that. I can even change a diaper one handed, while talking on the phone.
So I know I can do this, too. But that initial feeling of incompetence is almost enough to make me not want to try. After all, those who don’t try never look foolish. That feeling has kept me from trying so far. But this year is my year. I’m getting lots of help, but I’m reclaiming my yard. Sometimes I feel like my vegetables belong in the movie the Princess Bride: “They’ll never survive.” But I just perk myself up with “Nonsense. You’re just saying that because [nothing I’ve grown] ever has.”
Only is lonely?
22 Apr 2006 09:01 pm
By Heather O.
I’m reading Somerset Maugham’s _Of Human Bondage_ for my book group this month. It’s a very well written book, and my first introduction to an author I was supposed to meet during AP English in high school. I didn’t. I was too lazy. Same goes for Toni Morrison and James Joyce. I passed the test by talking at great lengths about Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors”, which I had just performed in for our spring play.
It’s an interesting book, with some powerful language and intense emotional images. It chronicles the life of a young boy who is orphaned at the age of 9. Maugham makes several references to this child’s loneliness, which comes not only of having lost both parents, but from being an only child. He goes so far as to suggest that this child is extremely socially ill-prepared for school when he arrives shortly after his mother’s death, largely because he has held company with only himself for so long. As you can imagine, his social skills do not improve immediately upon meeting other boys. C’mon, does any great novel have a protagonist who is the quarterback of the football team and popular with all the girls? You can imagine what this boy’s life was like at an English all boy’s school. Misery makes great writing.
But fictious characterization and miserable heroes aside, I get nervous when I read stuff like that about only children. There’s a good chance my son will be an only child. We’ll do what we can to change that, but a sibling in his life is far from guaranteed. Is he going to suffer in similar ways?
Interestingly enough, J’s best friends both happen to be only children, and their mothers have made it very clear they are done. These children are happy, excited, basically well adjusted kids.
But I wonder–are they lonely?
I grew up with a houseful of people and close relationships with extended family. One of my best friends is my first cousin once removed, and our children play magnificently together. I mean, how many people can say that they know their 1st cousin once removed? I am close with not one, not two, but THREE of those kind of relations. Yeah, I know, pretty crazy.
J is not going to grow up with the same experience. And I think as far as social skills and all of that goes, he will be just fine. But how do you beat the solitude of being an only child?
I don’t know many Mormon families who face this. Actually, I can only think of one, and the mom said it was surprisingly difficult to raise an only child in the Mormon community. So I’m wondering, how do you do it? Are there ways to make sure an only child isn’t lonely? Any onlies out there who can shed light on this?
I guess there are lots of advantages to being an only child. You never have to wear hand me downs, and your older sister will never beat you up for stealing her bra.
Not that I ever did that. I’m just, um, you know, speaking hypothetically.
By The Wiz
Tracy’s blog has a post entitled “Have you had that baby yet?” with a single word. Nope. And while I know we are all hoping she has the baby soon, it reminded me of all the things people say when a woman is in her final weeks, and exhausted in every way. Some of them are not so kind. I know it’s different here in cyberspace, where we don’t actually see each other, so asking is the only way to know. But in the non-cyber world, seeing a very pregnant woman and asking why she hasn’t had it yet is one of the more frustrating experiences we have in life. Here are some questions I’ve actually been asked, and answers that I wish I had given.
Q: Haven’t you had that baby yet?
A: Well, I did, actually, but I liked the labor and delivery so much that they put her back in so I can do it again in a few weeks.
Q: What are you still doing here? (a favorite at work)
A: I just come to work so I can hear the sultry sounds of your voice.
Q: I hope you have a route mapped out to the hospital. You could go at any time.
A: Ah, yes, labor is so similar to a volcano. Just call me “Vesuvius.”
Q: You look just like I did when I gave birth. You should go to the doctor right now!
A: And tell her what? I look like a woman I know, and since I obey her every order, I’m here to demand that I give birth.
Q: Any minute now…..
A: I didn’t realize pregnancy was measure in minutes. How depressing.
What I didn’t realize is that this was all just foreshadowing of things to come. “That baby needs a coat.” “Where are her shoes?” “You know, she really should have teeth by now. Have you taken her to the dentist to see what’s wrong?”
All I did in reality was just kind of nod, shrug, or fake laugh. But in my head, I was insulting people left and right. Just so you know. My personal favorite is the daily phone calls from prospective grandparents. “Had the baby yet?” See, these are people I actually would inform while I was in labor, or en route to the hospital. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Where God is…
20 Apr 2006 07:51 am
By Heather O.
We have been having lots of discussions about bad words at our house. As Js vocabularly increases, and his interaction with other kids increases, he naturally comes across some words we don’t like to say in our house. So every now and then, he checks with me about a word.
This morning, while I was still in bed, J climbs in and sits on my stomach.
J: Mom, is awesome a bad word?
Me: (oof!) No, awesome is a great word. You can use it as much as you want.
J: Oh! I didn’t know that. But did you know that when you use bad words, that’s not a good way to love God.
Me: How did you know that?
J: I just did. You always tell me that God loves everybody, that God loves me. But God is really in your heart. (He then points to his heart with both hands)
Me: (close to tears at the beauty of a 4 year old’s theology) Where did you learn that?
J: I just knowed it. (Hands move to the stomach) And Jesus is in your body, right here. Jesus makes us healthy. Jesus is good for our bodies.
Me: Um, really?
J: Yes! (bouncing slightly up and down) Mom, am I hurting your tummy? Do you need to toot?
Me: Yes, you are. You are making me toot! (Sorry, maybe TMI, but it was in the morning, and he was sort of bouncing on my bowels.)
J: Eww, yuck! (covers his nose with his hands. Then he stops, starts sniffing) Mom, I can’t smell your toots. Can I sniff where you tooted?
So there you go. From awesome to God’s love to flatulence. The progression of thought in a 4 year old boy.
Some days I just love being a mom.
19 Apr 2006 12:03 pm
By The Wiz
The Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped by with a message of happiness for me. I listened, and agreed with them that following the bible probably would bring me happiness. Then they shared a scripture from Matthew telling me the secret to happiness was developing a spiritual outlook on life, and attending to our spiritual needs. No argument there. I took a Watchtower, and an Awake magazine, declined their offer to have them come back in a week to discuss it, and they left. The whole experience was very polite and friendly in nature.
Here’s the thing, though: When I started looking at their magazine, it gave me a list of ‘ingredients’ in the ‘recipe’ for happiness. Nothing really new or alarming - be forgiving, avoid the love of money, being thankful, and at the top of the list was the scripture from Matthew, telling me to develop a spiritual outlook on life. I looked at it for a second, and thought - “that says Matthew 5. Matthew 5 is the sermon on the mount. I don’t remember that scripture from the sermon on the mount.”
Knowing that my scriptural knowledge is not always the strongest, I looked it up. Indeed, they referenced Matthew 5:3, which in my book, is part of the sermon on the mount. Christ is giving the beattitudes (sp?), and while His words are definitely the best way to find happiness, it clearly was not the same scripture they shared with me.
Do the JW’s use a different version of the Bible? I then tried to search for the words ’spiritual’ and ‘happiness’ and they don’t even show up in Matthew at all, in our standard works. Does anyone know about this?
17 Apr 2006 09:17 pm
By Heather O.
It’s that time of year again. The Monday after Easter. Time for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
You might recall last year’s adventure. In a word, it sucked.
So this year, we had high hopes. Really high. I mean, the weather here has been gorgeous for days at a time. Ok, so the Cherry Blossom festival was done in a downpour, but c’mon, this year Easter is in April. It has to be a beautiful day. And the White House south lawn will be gorgeous on a beautiful day, right?
It rained. Again. And again, we are not talking about just some drizzle, although it did start out that way. It wasn’t the hurricane last year was, but by the time we actually got to the White House, we were already pretty wet. We got in this time though, which was a plus. We sort of herded Jacob from venue to venue, and in about 15 minutes he started saying things like, “I’m cold. Let’s go home.” Or “I’m really cold, and my legs don’t work. Let’s go home.” We even made it down to a little area that had a very cool looking slide, and I said, “Hey, do you want to go on the slide?” at which point Jacob started to cry and said, “Can’t we just go home?”
You know when the 4 year old doesn’t want to slide, things are pretty bad.
So we trekked on out of there, back to the Metro. Again, the streets, etc were closed off, so we had to hoof it. But, as already mentioned, Jacob’s legs didn’t work, and after about a block, he melted into a little puddle and just sat there, crying.
Have you ever walked 5 blocks with a wet, 40 pound toddler on your back in the pouring rain while trying to hold onto an umbrella and a goody bag? I don’t recommend it. If Tracy M. were doing it, she surely would have given birth on the spot! (Want to come to D.C., Tracy ?)
I have to say, though, I did feel some grim satisfaction at finally having procured a goody bag from the Easter Egg Roll, having persued the elusive bag the year before with little success. We even have some photos commerating the event, although none from my camera, because it slipped from my hands and practically shattered on the wet concrete about 35 seconds before we entered the White House gates. I swear, that Easter Egg Roll is cursed.
So, afterwards we did what we did last year–warmed up with some hot chocolate and some treats. While we were in the coffee shop with our drinks, Jacob opened that precious goody bag and squealed with delight at the contents: A book, a coloring book, some crayons, and a wooden egg.
Yep, just some paper and crayons, and of course that little wooden egg. I know, I wanted to scream “That’s IT?!? This is it after all we’ve been through? I’m expecting a friggin’ golden egg here!”
Well, no such luck. Jacob spent the next 15 minutes happily coloring away while my parents and I thawed out. I think he liked the crayons more than the actual event. Go figure.
As we trudged home to my parent’s house, my mom blew into her hands to keep the circulation going, and she said, “Y’know, just once, I’d like to go to that thing when it’s not cold. Every year it’s just cold!”
The weather here now? Calm, breezy, clear skies with good visibility. Temperatures this afternoon reached mid 70’s. Sure to be a beautiful week, followed by a gorgeous weekend. Of course. It rained exactly during the hours of the Easter Egg Roll. Naturally.
I’m just wondering which president ticked off the weather Gods so much that they have cursed the Easter Egg roll. My money’s on Clinton.
By Heather O.
I stumbled across Trivial Mom’s blog, “Nothing Hard About It”, the other night (don’t know why it took me so long to find it!), and the post about the sonogram made me laugh out loud. Happy reading.
Am I a Stalker?
17 Apr 2006 01:12 pm
By The Wiz
Every now and then, I get the urge to Google people. Old boyfriends, for one. I try to find out everything I can, and the DH comes over and asks what I am doing, and I show him, and then we Google his old girlfriends, and then he gets bored, and then I call my sister and tell her what I’ve learned, and then we waste enormous amounts of time googling every guy we’ve ever dated or thought about dated, old friends from high school and beyond, just to see what’s up. Is this normal behavior, or am I just a stalker at heart?
BTW, it’s easier to Google men. Their names don’t change. I never thought that the name change in marriage would help protect you when it came to internet privacy, but apparently it does.
The thing is, I’m not searching for these people because I have any interest in actually spending large amounts of time with them. There is no way I am pining for old boyfriends, and there is a reason I’ve lost touch with most of these people. No really malicious reasons, just our lives have taken different paths over the years. No, what I want, really, is just an “update sheet” of sorts - just a little paragraph showing if they have kids, what they’re doing with themselves nowadays, where (generally, not specifics) they are living. Is this weird?
Does anyone else do this, or do I need to seek professional help for my stalkerish tendencies?
16 Apr 2006 02:06 pm
By The Wiz
Did you know that if you go shopping at 7:00 p.m. the night before Easter, every grocery store, every big-box store, anyplace you go really, will have absolutely NO plastic eggs left? The same goes for egg coloring stuff.
Thank goodness we had bought some egg dye earlier, and I thought I had plastic eggs from last year, but when I went to go get them and fill them, they were gone. I guess it’s sort of symbolic of Easter, in a faintly sacriligeous way. I was seeking something that wasn’t there.
So I headed out to get plastic eggs and more dye, because my kids LOVE coloring eggs, so we color way more than we ever eat, and discovered the hell that is the procrastinator’s life. The Easter aisle in the grocery store looked like everyone needed supplies for an upcoming hurricane or something - I mean, just BLANK, with some peanut butter eggs strewn about. It was just so sad. It looked like elephants had trampled through it. There were a lot of people just staring at it, as if staring would make the bunnies, eggs, and candy materialize.
The box store (OK, it was Wal-Mart) didn’t even HAVE an Easter diaplay anymore, everything was gone, so in place of bunnies and candy, they had coolers and hoses. It was like it was Monday already. I started to panic - what if we had no plastic eggs at Easter? What kind of “bad-Mommy” points would I get for that? Plus, I had chocolate in the house, but no jelly beans! I am not a fan of jelly beans per se, but they are an Easter staple! What would we do without them?
Well, guess what? The chocolate was more than sufficient, searching for real eggs is just as much fun as searching for plastic eggs, and the lack of jelly beans doesn’t seem to be scarring anybody for life. Of course, you never know…..
Also, on a fun note, I watched my daughter give a talk in Primary today. She talked about the resurrection, and told everyone that that’s why we celebrate Easter. While she was talking, I saw a boy in her class turn to their Primary teacher.
“Is that true?”
She shared some precious knowledge on this happy, holy day.
Burnt Toast Martyr
15 Apr 2006 10:11 am
By Heather O.
If any of you are a member of FlyLady, then you got this testimonial. Normally I don’t read the testimonials, but for some reason, I read this one. It’s pretty powerful, so I’m posting it here. It is reprinted with permission by FlyLady.net, member (FlyBaby). I don’t know who the woman is who wrote it, but I would like to thank her. She makes an excellent point about what we do for others but refuse to do for ourselves. Enjoy!
This goes right along with saving the best things for company and not
using them for ourselves. As I read the testimonial from the lady
whose mother passed on un-used wedding gifts, I started thinking about
When I was growing up, my mom always insisted on eating the burned
toast. It didn’t matter how many pieces she fixed, she always had to
have the worst ones (slightly burned, mangled, toasted heel when we
were out of bread, etc). And not only did she insist on eating the
burnt toast, she always did so with a self-satisfied smug look on her
face… kind of a “look at me, I’m so saintly for martyring myself
this way” look. She always said it was the mom’s job and not to feel
sorry for her. I was eating breakfast with my dad and DH the other
week and we (my dad and I) were both remembering her burnt toast
attitude and how it made us both feel. Let me tell you those were not
the best memories of my mom for either of us. I ended up feeling
guilty for not wanting to eat the burned toast (or sometimes
envious… I wanted to be a saintly martyr too!)
I’m proud to tell you Marla, in my house burned toast is FOR THE
BIRDS. Literally! If I burn it, I crumble it and and put it on the
back porch for the birds and make more toast. I love myself too much
to eat that burnt toast, and I love my DH and two DS too much to pass
on those confusing feelings or make them look at my martyr face in the
I shared my attitude with my Dad, and he said he was surprised that
the birds would eat burnt toast and worried for a moment about if it
there was a point beyond which toast should be fed to birds
(charred?). We both ended up laughing at the idea that my dear mother
would eat food that she probably wouldn’t have considered good enough
to feed to the wild birds in her yard. LOL!
I started to wonder just how many other instances of “burnt toast”
there were in my mothers life, much less my own. How many times do I
give the best to my family and settle for far less for myself just
because that’s what my mom did? Ouch! In five minutes, I realized
** I take my children to the doctor when they are ill and keep their
immunizations up to date. But I won’t even take a day off when I am
sick because my mom taught me that is what moms do… we don’t have
time to be sick. (don’t even ask if I’m up to date on immunizations,
I know I am not)
** I insist that my husband get his cholesterol checked twice a year
and adjust our diet to help him keep healthy and off of cholesterol
meds. But I won’t do the same for me because that is what moms do…
it would be selfish to focus on my own needs.
** I buy my husband his favorite pens to use for writing at the house.
But I “make do” with whatever I find in the junk drawer because that
is what moms do… we don’t need anything special.
** I plan our menus to accommodate my DH’s favorite foods and DS’s
picky toddler preferences. But I don’t buy any of my healthy
favorites because (say it with me) that is what moms do… we don’t
need special treats.
** I make sure DH and DS get to the barber regularly to make sure they
look clean cut. But I go 6 months between haircuts for myself
because… that is what moms do…. we can’t be self centered and
** I buy my DH new athletic socks at his request. But I keep them for
myself (even though they are too big) since they have fewer holes than
the ones in my drawer because… that’s is what moms do…
Ouch. I never realized just how much mom was teaching me in the
mornings as she scraped her burned toast. I think I love myself
enough to quit doing that. I want my own children to learn a
different lesson. I want my DS’s to grow up and expect their wives to
love themselves… because THAT is what moms should do!
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14 Apr 2006 10:36 am
By Heather O.
We found a house (and there was much rejoicing!). It’s not perfect, but I think it will work very well for us. It’s on a cul-de-sac, it has a fenced yard, and a golden retriever lives next door. What more could you want?
There are some problems, however, which can basically be summed up in one word: wallpaper.
This is the master bathroom. Seriously, who thought that wallpaper was a good idea? We also have some stripes in the kitchen, which are pretty bad.
This the other bathroom. I know, it almost hurts to look at it. So, what I really need to know is, does anybody have some good ideas how to get this crap off of my walls? I don’t have the first clue how to do it, short of sticking a steamer on it, and peeling it off when it’s wet. I used to help my friend earn money from his parents by doing that. His parents would mark off certain sections of the room, and put a price on it. Smaller sections were worth a quarter, bigger ones a dollar, the really heinous ones were worth $5.00or more (I didn’t say his parents were generous!). Anyway, any tricks?
By Heather O.
This is by far the coolest service project that I’ve ever seen come out of a Relief Society. Forget food for the hungry, let’s knit some sweaters for marine life! (Ok, I know, the marine biology obsession IS getting s little disturbing. No more trips to the aquarium for me, right?)
Kathy’s Dolphin Ride
13 Apr 2006 08:12 pm
By Heather O.
I guess I just have dolphins on the mind, but when Exponent II highlighted this post at Queen Kathy’s blog, I couldn’t resist reading the whole thing. Ok, it’s not actually about dolphins, but it is a good post. Happy reading, and a shout out to Exponent’s Deborah for helping us find Queen Kathy. Always happy to add another good blog to the side bar. (*NOTE: After posting this,I went back to her blog, and spent way too much time reading it. She’s an enormously compelling writer, and I recommend reading her stuff. Only if you have a ton of time, though, because her stuff just sucks you right in! I mean that in a good way, of course. ) Tigersue, she’s not on your LDS women blog–any way you can add her? I also can’t comment on your blog–some funky comment feature has been enabled, and things have to be approved by you. What’s up?
13 Apr 2006 01:06 pm
By The Wiz
My kids are all healthy, the end of the school year is in sight, and the weather is STUNNING today, so anyone living around here who’s blogging instead of outside must have a medical condition keeping them indoors. Or a job. Either one.
Me, I have Toddler-Man and an unfenced yard, so watching him outside becomes quite the chore. Later today I have a playdate at the park, so he’ll get to enjoy the day, but for now, I’m pretending that it’s not nice enough to be outside, and hopefully he won’t look outside right as his sisters ride by on their bikes.
I am also ignoring the ton of yard work that needs to be done, simply because I can’t go any further without a trip to Home Depot to purchase various tools, weed killer, etc. I’m actually excited about working on my yard, and I would be at Home Depot right now racking up the credit card debt instead of here listening to Diego encourage my child to make friends with an anaconda, but my husband has declared that it’s time to buy a new lawn mower (he’s right) and I am woefully unqualified to pick out that type of equipment, since he’s the one doing the mowing (in our house, that’s a “boy job”) so we’ll just have to go shopping this weekend. Then we get to go postal on all the elms sprouting in our yard, and use a truck to pull out shrubberies (don’t tell “Roger, the shrubber”). hee hee. Such power.
(Please don’t lecture me on killing the elms. They would make our yard a forest if they were allowed to. I had no idea these suckers were so prolific. I will be killing elms as long as I live in this house, and nothing anybody can say about it will change that.)
Rambling, rambling, what’s the point? No point, really. Just a happy mom day, preparing for Easter, enjoying the weather, and contemplating this weekend where I get to eat my husband’s yummy funeral potatoes and watch my kids search gleefully for eggs filled with candy, and try to convince them that somehow this is all about Christ.
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