Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Drywall . . . done!

Yesterday, as the light faded, I loaded up all of the crew (Chip, Violet, Anderman, Daisy, Bear, and HJ) amidst great grumbling and sparking spats, and drove out to see my completed drywall.  The moon had risen and the sun fully set with the last of daylight sinking deep into the western mountains when we pulled up.  I grabbed my beloved headlamp, left the kids listening to one of my favorite books of all time (do go see it--I <3 me some Walter R. Brooks!), and tromped over the pitted, crusty snow and sogging ground (it's amazing how much sun heat a white house-wrapped wall can reflect onto dark & frozen earth, which shortly isn't so frozen anymore), and let myself in for the first time with my brand-spanking-new key.

The headlamp isn't all that great on illuminating really large areas, as the very center of the light is decidedly blue, with a warmer halo around it, but I was able to see that the drywall guys did a really great job.  Just what I wanted . . . a moderately light coat of mud, skimmed on with very little variation; just enough to make you think of plaster walls and old houses.  It's a little more texture than I would have done, myself, but I believe I like it better this way.  (I think I would have erred on the side of too little variation, and it wouldn't have looked this good.  Thanks, Chad & crew!)

The moon hung low over our forest to the east, with a companion planet shining close by.  Not sure who it was (Mars? Jupiter?), as Venus still glittered in the west.  Despite my best efforts, the camera card remained full, and I didn't free any card space while there, in case I had deleted photos from my hard drive instead of the camera card, after transferring the photos to the hard drive.  No worries--nothing was lost that we'd already taken (including ALL of the shots of the plumbing/electrical rough-in; important stuff!), and I'll never forget the moon above the trees.  Maybe I'll paint or draw it some day.  So lovely.

So, that's a lot of words, and not much to see . . . but I've had a hard time today staying away from da' interwebz, looking for lighting and how to best hang a knotty pine tongue & groove ceiling, and if the Home Despots happen to have pendant lighting kits and schoolhouse-style shades . . . you get the idea.

Let me see if I can scrounge a pretty moon photo for you . . . nope.  But this one is nearly as good.  Bring on the season (despite my utter unpreparedness)!


(Well, maybe not quite nearly.  Just squint a little, and you can kinda sorta feel the magic of a glowing tree in a cozy, dimly lit room. ;o)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Drywall, drywall, on the wall . . .

So, last week we went out to see what progress had been made on the drywall.  I hadn't been out since before the awesome insulation had been installed.  We went with a local place that uses a soy-based batt, and I'm tremendously pleased.  Not only are the batts a pretty, swirly-creamy-brown . . .


. . . but they are obviously far more dense than fiberglass.  They stuffed the ceilings completely full.  And my favorite part . . . they don't stink!!! Hooray!!!





It's amazing how well the house holds the heat out into it when the drywall guys are there, even though the garage door still needs trim (there's a gap between the door & wall all around, sigh), and it took days to get something to occupy the holes in the entry door.



So, for family & friends who have wondered, here are the latest project shots.

Warning: Several metric tonnes of photos follow . . . 

Looking in from the "front" door.


From the front door into the garage, through the shop:


A slice of Vern's little office:


Up the stairs we go . . . don't they have mahvelous natural light? I <3 those windows. :o)


The view out  the window at the top of the stairs, visible in the previous photo.


Here they are, my stair-lighting lovelies.


I as yet haven't the faintest how I'll clean the one further along (yes, it's 10+ feet above the steps below), but I'll have all winter to puzzle that out.  Right now I'm just hoping the sill lies far enough out of scaffolding range that it has mostly escaped the liberal mud slinging of the drywall crew.  Oy.


Here we have the cute little bath.  That transom brings in light directly from the stairwell.  I'm wishing I'd been bold, and put in a glass block panel in the wall there next to the shower to bring in more light.  As it is, we'll most likely need supplemental light most of the time.  We'll see what happens when I get white subway tile on the walls and glossy paint up above it to bounce the light around more than raw drywall rock and subfloor . . .


Ahhh . . . my lovely living room. :o)  Imagine built-ins flanking the windows (drawers below, bookcases above), with a window seat running between under both windows.


And in these, my friends, in these unassuming-looking truss voids, lie most of our hopes foe sanity in this addle-headed endeavor: the truss cabinets.  Heavily insulated and uber-reinforced below, bedding, folding chairs and stools, floor pillows, and the kids' lockers will all live here.


We just need to divine a way to face & fromt them.  So far I've come up with simply trimming out the fronts for doors and somehow building huge pull-out-pantry-style thingies-on-wheels.  (Yes, that's a technical term. ;o)  Even though I'm aware how giddy this sounds, the solid plywood floors in those trusses makes my heart go pitter-patter.  Or, more to the point, they keep my heart from going pitter-patter, as I no longer worry about small children falling through to the garage below.  {Intense sigh of relief}




And now we advance to the kitchen . . . while this photo looks dark, don't let my camera's inability to handle chiaroscuro fool you.  Those two southern windows fill the room with glorious winter sunshine.


Ahhh, here's a better shot.  The corner you're looking into will be the "hot" corner.  You can see the black hole (lol) that's the exhaust fan for the induction hob, and there are two dedicated circuits for a countertop oven and the hob.  The peninsula will extend from the corner to the right to help divide the living & kitchen spaces, provide lots of workroom for meal prep (and possibly eating . . . still trying to figure out how to manage that) and lots of homeschooling and crafting.  I'm also excited to run a shelf along above the windows for things like pitchers, bowls, platters, etc.  Functional sculpture. :o)



Ahhhh . . . one of the hazards of construction.  Thankfully only the inside pane sustained damage, and the construction company will be covering the repair.


A view of the kitchen & bath from in front of the cracked window.  The success of the southern windows shows much more clearly in this view.  You can see through the door into the (master) bedroom, as well, and the little closet where the water heater will go (white pipes curling into the room, anyone?).


This nook will cradle the woodstove (will post more info on a stove when I've got some), with slate underneath and about four feet up the walls.  (We'll put up 1/4" durock first, to support the weight of the slate.)  I just need to go cherry pick through the slate at a local yard to get the colors I'm looking for.



And now, we venture into the bedroom.  I hesitate to call it the master bedroom, as no other bedrooms exist to compete therewith.  We'll see how the nomenclature develops.  This wall will also have flanking built-ins and a wide & deep window seat (with drawers underneath, of course).  Every square inch of this space will pull its weight, work hard, earn its keep, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  In this shot you can also see the only little spots where foam insulation lives . . . in the last space between trusses, where additional bracing holds the eaves on, making the depth available for insulation about, oh, 3".  Batts just wouldn't cut it. ;o)


Truss cabinets in the bedroom (with view through door into kitchen).  Finger included for scale. lol


The wall where the bed will go.  We're still trying to figure out how to put lamps on the wall.  The decision lies tabled until the actual bed is in place.  (We've yet to build it.)


And that concludes our drywall tour. :o)  I'll leave you with a few shots of my walk back to the van (which we parked a ways back on the road, as the snow down the middle of the road hadn't melted enough to not scrape the undercarriage alarmingly.  The meadow . . .


More meadow, and gorgeous winter sky . . .


The observatory site . . . (the ponds will someday be foundation posts) . . .


Looking back at our cozy little place . . .


And one last time before I trudged through the ditch and up to the road to the van.


Thanks for stopping by . . . hopefully I'll have more interesting things to post soon . . .

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Alive


I feel so good, freshly returned from a lovely afternoon of contemplative shopping, tummy nicely filled with a simple dinner Vern made while I was out.  The kids haven't gone too wild (yet), pajamas donned (mostly), with teeth brushing and family scripture study straight ahead.


Today's foray produced groceries, some wonderful conversation with fellow fiber guild members at a local yarn shop, a precious quarter of an hour blissfully lost in the used classics section at the corner book store, and a general feeling of making solid progress in sinking roots into this community I love.  Hopefully I can blog more about it in the near future . . . there's so much I love here, and whether or not to openly blog about it has lain at stage left for a while now, coming and going, not fully settled.


Working across main at first street headed towards the van, snuggly familiarity settled itself in my chest; finding footing across the packed snow, breathing in crisp early winter, streetlights just beginning to come into their own.  I love the turn of the seasons, my expectations of each gradually fulfilled.  I guess that's what you call home . . . this gratification of memory renewed, the familiar and known replaying themselves in comforting sequence, but each time with the spark of life breathed in by those around me.

The children near fever pitch . . . and I must go . . .





Sunday, November 13, 2011

Space to Breathe



Some days, you get a little space to breathe . . . drawing deep breaths before compulsion to plunge back into the fraying fabric of life resurges. My tea water just "dinged" for the sixth time today; still haven't managed to make a single cup with it.  Today's sandwich began and ended with craziness, but held lovely thick slabs of breathing space between.

We had a quiet day at home, the half of us. I stayed home with HJ today, to let him finish getting over his fever (one more day of good naps did it, while missing today would have set him back days). MissE stayed home with me, as she had a slight allergic reaction to something over the weekend, and I wanted to keep an eye on her. And finally, Bear stayed home with us; Vern is in our bishopric, and my Bear doesn't govern himself well with only siblings to hold the reins, no matter how much he wanted to go to nursery.  I think the Larabar he brings for his snack each week played a big part in that. ;o)

So, Vern left for early leadership meetings as usual, two hours later I loaded everyone up and dropped off MrC, Anderman, and Lil'MissL a little before Sacrament Meeting started, and brought the remainder home.  We gave HJ a snack (his appetite began to come back yesterday), I did a few things with MissE that she held near and dear to her heart, and HJ and Bear both got their naps in good time today.  (Let's try to overlook the little issue of me waking Bear early due to a mental lapse which included not shutting his door and then going and doing dishes, k?)

Taking care of the children today, with only half of the usual crowd, felt like a vacation.  A sweet, peaceful, restorative vacation.  Granted, two of the dependents napped a good portion of the time we had at home, so it felt as though I had even fewer around.  Being the Sabbath, I also stayed completely away from the internet, didn't get lost in (or overwhelmed by) housework undone, or a blogroll unread, and just did what we needed for today.  Refreshing.

I feel as though I have a new perspective; one which allows me to perceive my world clearly, instead of in a blur.  So much of the time, I feel just like this shot of MrC . . . 


and looking on the bright side simply looms too large.  (We were able to joke our way out of that small catastrophe . . . never fear.  We had him laughing into his lap after a minute.)

But today . . . today was lingering in a sweet meadow, far above meltdowns and sticky fingers and missed garbage trucks.



I hope I can keep my eye on this afternoon's little valley . . . remember how I felt today, how I really can find the space, the peace, the time; only do what really needs to be done; pushing back the pressing of multitudinous minutiae so it flows around and past.



While in Utah a month ago, we hiked around a little lake called Mirror, up in the Uintas.  A long, brisk walk it was, with all kinds of weather as we made our way around.  Most of the way, it was just me and my Bear.




He thrived on the conversation and adventure, while I reveled in the miracle, the monumental creature, trotting along beside me.

At one point along the trail, his shoe needed emptying.  We stopped and he saw to it silently, picking a low trailside ledge for sitting, carefully working the velcro tab, removing his shoe to liberate the gravel inside.  Waiting for him, I suddenly found myself very still.  Turning and looking up with a deep breath, I tuned into the massive, living, sentient presence of the mountain.  Rising up and washing over me, I breathed it in: the damp earth, shifting evergreens, the crisp early fall air and the earth's breath off the lake.  But standing and breathing wasn't enough . . . it was all I could do to keep from laying out full length to look up into the sky and feel the rejoicing earth solid beneath me.

Day by day since, successfully distracted, I've rushed and worried and blustered and run too far too fast.  But today, there was space.



I will remember.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Greater Good

Another excellent film: The Greater Good.  I'll let the website and this review speak for me.  They'll have it free to watch on Vimeo until midnight tonight.  Hopefully you'll get to see it . . . otherwise the DVD is for sale for $10 . . . which tells me that the producers are more interested in raising awareness, engendering thought and sparking conversation, than they are making money on this.  Good on 'em.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

THIS is why. This.

People ask me why I bother.  Why I work so hard to feed my family differently, care for them differently, raise them differently.

This is why.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


A gem from Betty Duffy's blog.

Original transcription excerpt from NPR's Morning Edition last Monday:

NEARY: So, what is the solution? Certainly it's not just go back to have large families, is it?

LONGMAN: Right. Well, we find in much of the developing world people who say they wish they could have children but they can't find a way because it's seen as too expensive. So in some ways this is almost a human rights problem. In other places, you know, we still, to be clear, are looking at very rapid population growth that creates pressures of its own. But what's new is that most of the remaining population growth, for the globe as a whole, is coming from people who've already been born. So obviously that's a great challenge. And if you're a developing country that is not yet rich and now you're growing old before you get rich, this is a particular challenge.


My translation:

NEARY: So, what do we say about declining birth rates and global economies? Heaven forbid we should sound so simplistic and politically incorrect as to say that it's a matter of going back to having large families!


LONGMAN: Right. So let's talk about how there are still people in the world who can't have children, as if it will contribute to the interview, and about immigration, since that has something to do with population, and throw in a few buzzwords like "challenge" and "human rights".  Oh, and don't forget that there are countries whose medical establishment isn't up to par with the First World, so they must be neglecting their elderly, since they're not able to extend their lives with scores of prescriptions and machines and assisted living facilities.

Yeah.  Longman's clearly got the answer to declining birth rates . . . big families couldn't be the answer. ;o)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why my generation can learn

This article sheds some new light on my dad's flat denial to my assertions that attaching a document to an email is easy (and why my mom hasn't had any trouble with the same):

Old Recipes Are Not The Best

The author, an experienced metalworker with a mind I respect, had a number of things to say that I think I really needed to hear.  The closing quote, by pediatrician Wilbur Pan, M.D., Ph.D., really made me sit up and think:

I can put some numbers on the hazards of lead exposure. It’s not so much for the worker, but for children that they may come into contact with the lead particles that are carried out from the workplace.

In my day job I’m a pediatrician, and so lead toxicity is something I’m very familiar with. At lead levels of 10 micrograms/dL, a 5 year old will start losing IQ points. Doing the calculations for a typical 5 year old’s weight and figuring out the blood volume, that’s only 144 micrograms, or 5 millionths of an ounce of lead that kid has to swallow before his IQ starts to take a hit. Each 5 millionths of an ounce of lead will knock off about 5 IQ points.

This is an additive effect: every additional 5 millionths of an ounce of lead will knock off an additional 5 IQ points. So saying that you’re not going to worry about the additional small level of lead that you may be exposed to doesn’t make sense. It would have to be an incredibly small amount of lead to come in under that 144 microgram level. And again, this is an additive effect. Even if you only brought home 50 micrograms of lead dust on your clothes from a session at the gun range, after three trips, you’ve hit that 144 microgram level.

Other things associated with lead exposure: hyperactivity, failure to graduate high school, reading disability, delinquency, and hearing deficits. After 360 micrograms of lead ingestion in that 5 year old kid, anemia starts to kick in.

The usual exposure source for lead for kids is lead paint. But as the old housing stock either gets torn down for new construction, or increased awareness of lead paint has kicked in and more people are painting over or decontaminating their old houses, it seems that these days if kids are going to pick up lead, it’s from contaminated dirt. That would include dirt contaminated with lead particles carried away from the workplace, or a gun range.

I grew up doing some shooting, but not as much as my brothers & dad.  Leaded gasoline was phased out when I was a small child, and lead paint hasn't ever really been part of my environment.  But knowing this, now, I am going to be uber-careful when coming back from target practice, and will be sure to keep shooting jackets, et al, well-cleaned.

The dangers of lead may be mostly specters from generations past, but that doesn't mean that we should allow understanding of its toxicity fade as well.  Keep your children safe!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Which school was that again?

"The bargain (take kids out of work so we can teach them to become better factory workers) has set us on a race to the bottom. Some argue we ought to become the cheaper, easier country for sourcing cheap, compliant workers who do what they're told. We will lose that race whether we win it or not. The bottom is not a good place to be, even if you're capable of getting there."   -- Seth Godin

Which then begs the question: if traditional schooling is all about creating factory workers, then why, oh why on this good green earth, do so many of us homeschoolers do our darndest to replicate that system at home?

Go read his post.   It'll take about 90 seconds.  He's not a homeschool guy . . . just one of top business minds of our time.  And if you have a few more minutes on your hands, go watch Professor Ken Robinson's talk on education.  It'll change the way you see children.  Forever.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tri Your Best, anyone?

This is one of the coolest things I've read about in a long time.  I think my town needs one . . . like, next year.  And I'm going to be in it.  (If not organize it!)  A "sprint" triathlon, short enough for nearly anyone to compete, yet long enough to need to train and really put in some effort.  If 75-year-old Mrs. Huxford can do it, then by golly, so can I. ;o)

Now, to hunt down the Monmouth Stake activities chair who organized that thing . . . I think I need some pointers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Imagine the rubber band ball possibilities . . .

I just stumbled on a company with a seriously cool product: pallet-sized rubber bands.  As one who once worked in a shipping department for a library services company, and who regularly earned the dizzies and mild motion sickness from scurrying around and around and around pallets holding a shrink wrap roller, I think these mondo rubber bands are Da Bomb. ;o)  Not only do they cut down on employee sick time, but if you've ever had to throw away a pallet-load-worth of shrinkwrap, you know just how much plastic they'll keep out of the landfill.

Now, to just get Ikea to use them, eh?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another free trial: VocabularySpellingCity.

I've been contacted by Time4Learning with another free trial offer.  The requisite canned disclosure follows.  This spelling system has an annual fee comparable to one month's fee with the full T4L program, usable for up to five children, so I might actually be able to afford to use it.  Stay tuned for an actual review in a while. :o)


Disclosure: 
 
I've been given a premium membership to VocabularySpellingCity.com for a candid, personal, online review. 
 
VocabularySpellingCity.com helps students study word lists using 25 different learning activities such as Crossword Puzzle,HangMan, and Handwriting Worksheets.  Parents can create their own spelling lists, find published lists already available on the site, or use any of dozens of  free teaching resources such as sound-alike words, and contractions.  Be sure to come back in three weeks to read about my experience.

There might be more free memberships available for bloggers.  If you're interested, find out how you can review VocabularySpellingCity.com.
 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lest you misunderstand

Here is an excellent exposition on our perspective on "natural affections"; a.k.a. human intimacy, by Parley P. Pratt, one of the early leaders of my church.

"Man [and woman], know thyself, -study thine own nature, -learn thy powers of body, -thy capacity of mind. Learn thine origin, thy purpose and thy destiny. Study the true source of thine every happiness, and the happiness of all beings with which thou art associated. Learn to act in unison with thy true character, nature and attributes; and thus improve and cultivate the resources within and around thee. This will render you truly happy, and be an acceptable service to your God. And being faithful over a few things, you may hope to be made ruler over many things. 

Some persons have supposed that our natural affections were the results of a fallen and corrupt nature, and that they are "carnal, sensual, and devilish," and therefore ought to be resisted, subdued, or overcome and so many evils which prevent our perfection, or progress in the spiritual life. In short, that they should be greatly subdued in this world, and in the world to come entirely done away. And even our intelligence also.

So far from this being the case, our natural affections are planted in us by the Spirit of God, for a wise purpose; and they are the very mainsprings of life and happiness- they are the cement of all virtuous and heavenly society-they are the essence of charity, or love; and therefore never fail, but endure forever...

What then is sinful? I answer, our unnatural passions and affections, or in other words the abuse, the perversion, the unlawful indulgence of that which is otherwise good. Sodom was not destroyed for their natural affections, but for the want of it. They had perverted all their affections, and had to give place to that which was unnatural, and contrary to nature. Thus they had lost those holy and pure principles of virtue and love which was calculated to preserve and exalt.

Know then, O man, (and woman) that aided and directed by the light of heaven the sources of thy happiness are within and around thee. Instead of seeking unto God for a mysterious change to be wrought, or for your affections and attributes to be taken away and subdued, seek unto him for aid and wisdom to govern, direct and cultivate them in a manner which will tend to your happiness and exaltation, both in this world and in that which is to come. Yeah, pray to him that every affection, attribute, power and energy of your body and mind may be cultivated, increased, enlarged, perfected and exercised for his glory and for the glory and happiness of yourself, and of all those whose good fortune it may be to be associated with you."

Amen!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tell me if this doesn't strike you as funny . . .

So I'm looking around at Amazon at vacuums, and as I'm examining the "more views" of one in particular, to try to see how it's put together, I see this gem:




Who on earth vacuums like that???
(From here.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Experimenting with Obedience

Sounds funny, doesn’t it? We regularly speak of people experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and talk of children experimenting with disobedience or lying to soften the harsh edges of actually doing them. But why don’t we talk about experimenting with obedience?

Folks brush away trying something good when they’re not sure what to do . . . which, logically speaking, is foolish. When you look at the lives of truly happy people---people whose eyes shine with light and love and the joy of life---their lives all conform to principles of honesty, generosity, hard work, integrity and love. It sounds so strange to say, “Nah, I’ve heard goodness just ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ll stick with the stuff proven to wreck lives instead of taking a chance on the stuff that makes them.”

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Le Chore Chart, Incarnation One

So, we've struggled with chores/jobs/children helping around the house for, ummm . . . . . forever.  Finally, I made it a matter of prayer, and some interesting things began to happen.  First, I realized I had been trying to do too much, too fast, with chores.  I couldn't keep up with it, and it was a huge hassle to get the kids to do what they were asked to do every day.

So, I sat down and thought about the household tasks that seemed to swallow my whole day.

Uber easy, that one.

KITCHEN STUFF!

The days that I have done the meal prep, table stuff, cleanup and floors, I've left the kitchen only for bathroom breaks and bedtime.  (Okay, maybe I had a couple of short blogging breaks, but honestly, I felt  imprisoned.)

So, I came up with a list of five jobs.  Which matched up perfectly with the five children we have who are old enough to help meaningfully.  Witness:


Here's how I made the lovely and astonishingly effective chart above:

  1. Grab some 1" x 4" craft magnets from the craft stash.
  2. Choose ten scrapbook papers I liked looking at.
  3. Remove the backing from the adhesive side of the magnets, and place them on the back of the scrapbook paper.
  4. Cut along the edges of the magnet that weren't along an edge of the paper.
  5. Write children's names on half of the magnets (I let them choose their favorite papers for their names . . . in the future, I'm just going to do it my way, since this is decor in my house, and I have to look at it all the time. ;o)
  6. Write the five household jobs on the other scrapbook paper-covered magnets.
  7. Embellish as the whim moves you.
  8. Stick them on a magnet-friendly surface.
  9. Rotate jobs as you see fit.
Here, the "chart" is on top of an as-yet-unused magnet sheet on the fridge.  It helped to set the chart apart from the clutter other things on the fridge.  (The fridge has since been cleared, cleaned & shined . . . the clear simplicity of an empty fridge front is a lovely thing.)  I've since moved it to a magnetic plaque on the wall.  I'll post a pic sometime . . . but if I stop to do it now, this post isn't gonna happen. lol  Suffice it to say my magnet plaque says "Family" in large lettering, with "Live * Laugh * Love" in smaller lettering over the top of it.  {Cue Monte Python's French Soldier voice} It's verrry nice-uh.

Here's why I think these chores seem to be working:

Some tasks are done more than once a day, but they're short, so it's not a big deal.  Rinsing & loading dishes, and sweeping & spot mopping happen after every meal, as does clearing the table.  For now, the Bear's permanent job is clearing & wiping the table, with help.  The other four jobs drop down one slot each day, with Lil'MissL's job going up to Mr C's slot.  This week has been art camp, which has thrown a wrench in the rhythm of things around here, but the kids have still been pretty happy to do what's next to their name.  Ah, the magic of the written word . . . . especially when it records tasks!

I'm about to add to this some; there are a couple of jobs that each child is supposed to do each day no matter what (make their beds, brush their teeth, that kind of thing), and I'm thinking those are going to go on different magnets below the rotating chart, with cute pictures so even the less-stellar readers can check their progress for the day.  Or, maybe I'll use that magnet sheet to make an actual spreadsheet-style chart so the kids can put fun magnets in their row of the chart as they finish each task.  Hmmmmm . . . 

Hope this helps!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What’s Infinity, Anyway?


A memory from childhood, as I talked with an older girl I knew when we were at a swim meet together, standing in front of a vending machine with change from her mom for us to share a drink:
Her: “Let’s guess numbers to see who gets to choose the soda.”
Me: “Okay.”
Her: “You can go first.”
Me: Okay . . . mmmm . . . “500”
Her: “Infinity.”
It took her a minute or two to convince me that infinity was bigger than any number I could think of, and therefore she won the right to pick the soda.  And so I entered into the knowledge of the infinite. ;o)
I’ve had cause to think about the nature of the infinite, as “Infinite Atonement” comes up regularly in Sunday School and spiritual discussion.  I’ve heard lovely, wonderful sisters in the Relief Society weep as they speak of all of the pain in our loving Savior’s Atonement that they, personally, have been responsible for . . . feeling a great deal of shame and responsibility for increasing the burden He had to bear.  Once quite a while back, when someone I loved dearly shared that same feeling during a lesson she gave in Relief Society, the unsettled, not-quite-right feeling I had always had when I heard something like that distilled into a clear concept with a nudge from the Spirit.
Raising my hand, and wanting more than anything to help ease her heartache, I began speaking, not really sure which words would come out.  It was something like this:
“Rhonda,” I began, “the atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite.  It covers everything, everywhere, for everyone.  We don’t, and can’t, understand infinity . . . it’s so far beyond what our limited minds can grasp.  But when you divide infinity, you’re still have infinity.  When you add or subtract any number to infinity, infinity remains.  I don’t believe it’s possible to divide up the atonement into slices, like a pie, saying ‘This is my piece, and this is yours; I’m responsible for this bit, and here’s yours.’  Infinite and complete, nothing we do will add to or take away from what He suffered so willingly for us.  The atonement covers all of us, but was performed for each and every one of us as if we were the only one for which it was done.  Jesus would have willingly suffered exactly the same if you, or I, were the only one who needed it.”


What a wondrous, glorious, loving truth to know . . . that not only does the Atonement of Jesus Christ confer power upon the Savior of the world to forgive sins and judge mankind, but best of all it stands, both infinite and complete, above our actions, unchanged and unchangable.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Doing It All

There are very few women who actually "do it all".   And they're like my stake president's wife, who are blessed with an unending fountain of energy somewhere inside of them.  I've heard some of her journal entries (read aloud by her husband, lol, he's so proud of her) . . . and she honestly gets done in one day what takes me a week.  I love her dearly . . . she's such a great example of cheerful, enthusiastic obedience, someone who keeps her covenants with joy and rejoicing.

I've struggled so much with exactly the kinds of things that so many of us do. Here are the guiding principles of my life . . . the things that keep me sane when life feels like El Capitan and the Leaning Tower of Piza married, and their first child took up residence next door.

+   
   
Can you relate?

Yeah.  Thought so.

First:

We compare our WORST to others' BEST.


We see other moms at play dates, church, the grocery store, the park, meetings, lunches, when we're invited to Sunday dinner, etc.  These are social venues . . . not accurate reflections of what their homes look like at any given moment.  I remember the first time I saw a woman from church for the first time on a weekday . . . no makeup, hair not hanging in lovely red shiningness, curled to perfection at the end of each tress.  She was still beautiful in her cleaning clothes and ponytail; but I'll always remember the (obvious) realization I had: Sunday Best is just that . . . not everyone looks like that all week. lol  Ditto for "social best".

Second:

If it's hard to find time for the basics of your stewardship (meals, naptimes, basic cleaning, etc), then it's time to sit down and seriously re-prioritize.

Work WILL expand to fill all available time . . . so set limits, especially on computer stuff. A timer works best for me. (One that KEEPS going off. lol)  Household chores pretty obviously reach the point of being "done" or stay in "not done" . . . but the computer is infinitely deep, and there's always another email, another tweet, another blog post to make, another purchase or topic to research.  I LOVE having unlimited access to information (I'm a complete geek, I know), but I have to constantly remind myself that I MUST remember to keep computer time to strict bounds, and LIVE the rest of my time.

I'm reading an awesome book that is helping me to take back my life: Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living. Tsh handles home management in a truly focused and powerful way . . . beginning with clearly defining the purpose of your own life and the life of your family, and progressing from there. She defines simple living as living holistically with your life's purpose. You know, doing only things that further your journey towards your goal.  (Downtime is vital, and is still downtime, but it's important to be intentional even there.)  I was drawn to Tsh's book because a chaotic headless-chicken dance is NOT what my life is supposed to look like. You? ;o)

One of my favorite quotes:

We were all put here to do something . . . not everything.

Third:

Cleanup stays manageable when there's not much to make a mess with. 

To stay sane, here's what I do:

All eating happens at the table. Period. I still find food stashed here and there, but the kids KNOW they're being naughty if they eat anywhere else, so it cuts down on the food messes drastically. I also did nearly all of the solid food feeding of little ones until they were old enough to manage a spoon with reasonable success on their own. They got to eat non-messy stuff alone, like cheerios, etc.  Mess making was disciplined like other misbehavior*.  You have to be present during the meal, which sometimes feels like a sacrifice, but I've noticed that when I've tried to have my children eat on their own, it quickly turns into an anything-goes animal house at the table . . . no matter their age.  When I feel too pressured to sit at the table and eat with my children, I'm letting the world/others' expectations/my own overachieving get the best of me.

(*Discipline: Honest, educative consequences for undesirable behavior.  Discipline is not anger, yelling, or tricking a child into doing something you want.)

Available toys are kept to a minimum. Keep things stored and rotate them (you can do this with containers in a child's closet; we use the garage, as we're woefully short on closets in this house).  Right now we have the Legos, My Little Ponies, a few Chevron & matchbox cars, and a small box of infant toys out -- and that's with six children around. Cleanup is less than 15 minutes, even if I have to do it alone.

My favorite toy-picking-up principle is from a friend. She told me she realized that if her son was old enough to put shaped toys into a toy sorter, "he's definitely old enough to put toys in a big box". Too true, eh? ;o)

Fourth:

I need to take care of my own needs, first.

For a lot of my marriage and motherhood, I assumed that the sacrifices required of mothers included the things that most people in generations past just considered taking good care of themselves.  I felt selfish taking care of my physical, emotional, and spiritual health . . . but now I understand that not only shortchanges me, but my entire family.


Sleep is The Big Rock. That means I go to sleep before 10pm . . . even if Vern would rather stay up. ;o) He's on board with this, though, and supports me like the good man he is.

If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  I get to shower every morning, read my scriptures (usually a Conference talk in the am, the Book of Mormon or Bible in the evening, often with Vern), and have personal and companionship prayer before braving the day outside my bedroom door. (Exercise will fit in there eventually, but it's an afternoon/naptime thing now.)

Honestly, if I'm not going to bed when I should, nothing (and I mean NUH-THING) else works.  I'm just not up to it.  When I sleep when and as much as my body needs, I'm suddenly myself again.  Magic, I tell you.  Sheer magic.

Lastly:


Lest you think I'm also one of those "get it all done" moms, let me assure you:

  • my desk is a disaster (albeit a small one, as I'm using a children's play table right now, lol); 
  • the kitchen is trying to mutiny;
  • there's laundry lurking everywhere and in some places launching an overt attack; 
  • the bathroom sinks need scrubbing (and boy howdy, do they ever; soap scum, vile is thy name); 
  • dust bunnies hide under every baseboard heater and piece of furniture in the house; 
  • every time I pick the baby up off of the floor, he's got a hairball in one hand that has liberated itself from Lil'MissL's under-brushed head; 
  • I'm not going to talk about the yard;
  • or ill-begotten garden beds; 
  • or my bedroom . . . the mattress still on the floor after 18 months, one nightstand still has the old drawer pulls, and Vern's newly-moved office looks raw and awkward. 'Nough said.

"Doing it all" means doing everything that's truly important to you . . . and no more. It's crazy hard work, and you can do it. It takes focus (which our society runs a little short on, hmmm?), consciously eliminating everything that sucks the life out of us by eroding our time. It has many names: Intentional Living, Simple Living, living the Seven Habits, etc. But it works. I'm seeing that for myself . . . and I've only just started.

So hang in there . . . go read some of Tsh's book preview, and see what you can do to live in accordance to the actual reason you feel you're here.  It's a breath of clean evening air after a long, muggy day . . . and the best treat you can give yourself as a homemaker.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So Close . . .

So Vern and I were talking, last week, in our room, when we hear MissE calling out "HJ's crawling!  Mom, come look . . . HJ's crawling!!!"

So, we come down the hallway and into the bonus room, to see him actually making real efforts . . . the look of amazement on his face more from his movements than from the toy enticing him forward.

And, thanks to modern technology, you too can see it!  (Aren't you glad, Mom? ;o)



More crawling videos to come.  He's much more mobile now, and shredding some unidentified magazine as we speak . . . gotta run!

Audio is "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree" by InsideOut, from their Primary Colors album.  The kids love that disc. ;o)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Grades Kill Learning

Yep.  They really do . . . in school-aged children.  Man.  And here it has been thought a good thing for more than a century . . .

Friday, August 5, 2011

Let's not be small.

Recently, a room in a Pottery Barn catalog imitated Janell's son Max's bedroom, (from Isabella & Max Rooms); a design she created and executed herself.  Reactions ranged all over the map in the comments (is anyone surprised? lol), from super-positive back-patting to flaming denunciations of Pottery Barn's ethics.  Here's my take.

The concept of ownership of ideas and design and songs and written works is, imho, a source of conflict, grasping greed, and negativity.  Granted, it's supposed to protect from those things, too . . . copyright began as a one-man shop's protection against big publishing houses who could reprint his work willy-nilly and claim it as their own.  That's a great reason, right?  Right.

But.

It has gone far, far beyond its original intent.  We're all inspired by something, by someone . . . an amazing interior designer (whose name I have long since forgotten) wrote something I'll never forget:

"You're only as good as what you've seen."

Now, some may quibble with that . . . others will agree wholeheartedly.  But it does point up the fact that humans benefit tremendously from one another.  I say, if someone gets an idea from me that allows them to support their family, run with it.  The world is big enough, and the market wide enough, that there is plenty of room for the both of us.  Even if it's a mega-corp.  I'd rather compete in the realm of customer service, product quality, and innovation than feed at a wholly-owned trough of monopoly and stagnation.

It always saddens me to see people react vitriolically to these kinds of things . . . that does nothing to make the world a better place.  I call it high flattery that PB knocked-off Max's room.  And it has done nobody any harm in the process (well, unless they had a fit over it, I guess ;o).  On the contrary, it has brought a ton of traffic to Janell's blog . . . which is what all bloggers want, right?

Publicity is publicity is publicity . . . even negative stuff loses its sting after a while, and most people only remember the name, not the negative.

And as for "design theft" (a name summoned up multiple times in the comments) . . . Heaven Save Us.  Can you IMAGINE the bullying that would happen to small-timers (hello, bloggers) if big companies started claiming design theft when one of us blogged about how we made a cool PB-inspired mirror, or built a piece of furniture that looked like theirs?  (Hello Ana-White.com, which helps support their family, filled with free plans to build knock-off furniture!)  Design theft laws would probably begin like copyright did, where copying was only illegal if you did it for profit . . . but we all know where copyright law has gone ("You may not breathe on my cd/mp4 file without permission").

Congrats, Janell, for the huge pat on the back from PB. :o)  And let's keep design free, so we can all build on one another's work, and be free to craft at home as we will!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lately Overheard

Lil'MissL:

Mom, I was just hanging upside down over the edge of the couch, and I was a professional at what I was doing, and my head was hanging upside down . . . 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Living Life

(Before I go set out a hearty snack for the four olders and Vern when they get back from the lake, I had to get this posted.)

I dreamed of swimming not too long ago . . . the feeling of buoyancy and free movement in water clung to me for days. Today, we all went down to the community beach and had a lovely time.  The older children are slowly learning their way around in the water, gaining confidence as they splash and jump and paddle around.  Vern took all of the smaller ones out in the kayak, (excepting the baby--my rule is you have to fit into the smallest lifejacket, and he's not even sitting up solidly yet ;o), and MrC took a spin in it on his own.  I held the baby, and hung out with the Bear at the shoreline.  He's still deeply afraid of the water (he had a dunking when he was a little past one year), but we made great progress today.  He sat with me at the edge in the sand and let the water lap his feet & legs, and even held it together admirably (even laughing some) when I held him close against my chest and slowly edged out rib-deep into the lake.

When the Bear was done in the water, and HJ still content to hang out in Vern's arms, I took off towards a buoy, not far from the end of a nearby dock.  It wasn't far, about 35 yards, and I made it fairly easily, sidestroking as I went.  The wake from powercraft spiced it up a bit, dipping and lifting me (mostly) with the short swells.  The spice came when I didn't rise, and went through the swell, instead. lol

I hung out on the buoy for a few minutes, feeling my heart work, and seeing the houses from the lake side for once.  (Those that I admired from the back as I walked along the neighborhood roads were even more beautiful from the water.)  I struck back for shore, and felt again the light swell from wake and wind, this time sweeping me forward lightly as I swam with it.  The children, intrigued with the idea of their mother striking out into open water, toyed with the idea of accompanying me in their lifejackets for another trip.  In the end, MrC was the only one who followed me out the second time.  Even dressed as I was (baggy woven cotton capris and a cotton/spandex exercise shirt), I beat him handily.  (Knowing how to swim well, even out of condition as I most thoroughly am, makes a huge difference. lol)  On the way back, though, he pretended to not compete until he could touch and half-run, half-swim in to shore.  lol  I called it a day, remembering full well how easy it is to overtire when swimming, and to get myself into trouble when out of shape.  Even as it is, with swimming just a scant 140 yards today, my triceps still feel jello-y and all of my upper body already complains when I stretch and move.  (Oh, how sore I will be tomorrow!)  Back in my days of swim team (don't freak out--yes, I did once swim on a team, and even medalled in back stroke), I would easily swim five hundred yards or more five times a week.

I took the Bear and HJ back home, leaving Vern and the four olders to play a little longer, driving while seated on the silvery plastic of the van's window shade.  I had made no provisions for coming home wet, as I hadn't planned on it in the least.  I'm glad the window shade was there to be sat upon . . . I poured about a third of a cup of water out onto the driveway after arriving home. ;o)

And now I'm sitting here, feeling the all-over, thorough fatigue of swimming, and the amazing, soft, gentle sensation of having been completely in the water.  I had forgotten how good it felt to swim.  And even more, the deep satisfaction of living out some of who I really am for my children to see.  I've been so encumbered with childbearing, breastfeeding, and housekeeping that they really don't know much about me before all of that.  For that matter, neither does Vern. lol  He looked so thrilled as I came back from my first lap . . . a grin split his face that he couldn't have wiped off if he tried.

You know, it's hard to beat living life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

For my own future reference . . .

I will not allow myself to be convinced that I should do something that my gut tells me not to do.  Even if that something is undeniably good for me.  Everything has a time and a place, and often even the best things will not fit into a day.

The consequences are simply beyond what I am willing to bear.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hunting, anyone?

If so, be sure to bring this little beauty . . . otherwise the deer might catch sight of your camp!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lately Overheard: Astronomy Lessons

Vern, an avid amateur astronomer*, pointed out Antares to the Bear tonight, as he put him to bed.  (Yes, the kids got to bed pretty late tonight.)  Their conversation went like this:

Vern: "That's Antares, Bear.  It's a star, a special kind of star called a red supergiant."

The Bear (very excitedly, in his lilting, earnest, overly-precise 3-year-old's voice):

"I want to get one of those!  I really need one of those!"


Hey Birrd . . . see any family resemblance?

*Astronomer . . . not astrologer.  ;o)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sorry, didn't quite catch that name . . .


"Say whaaa . . . .???" you think.  Yep.  It's a mouthful, but an important one.  Let's break it down a little . . . my favorite way to conquer new and complex information.  It makes it manageable, and memorable.

The Church 
of Jesus Christ 
of Latter-day Saints

From the top: 

The Church

Mostly simply, this denotes a body of believers; in this case, the "The" makes it a specific church, as defined by the words that follow.

of Jesus Christ

We believe in, follow the teachings of, and worship Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ prophesied of old, the Redeemer of all mankind, Son of the living Father, exemplar, teacher, brother, Savior; wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.  He is the First and the Last, and in His name we are called.

of Latter-day Saints

This is usually where the "Say whaaa . . . ?" kicks in.  It's simply to differentiate our church, today, from the organized followers of Christ when He walked the earth.  Organized after the same manner as the church Christ himself organized when he first ministered to men in the flesh, we have a living prophet, who holds authority directly from God, and has stewardship over the whole earth to teach, exhort, love, and serve.  He is assisted by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the quorums of the Seventy, and numerous others.  You can read more in-depth here.

So, what does it mean to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

A lot.  

Living prophets, who hold the actual Priesthood of Aaron and Melchizedek as well as Priesthood keys (or permissions/authorities) specific to their callings as prophets, seers, and revelators.  A lay (volunteer) ministry, who are not paid for their time, and who do not request positions, but respond to calls, or invitations, to serve in various capacities during their lifetime in the church.  A patriarchal order, largely administrated by men who hold the same Priesthoods.  Ordinances, such as baptism, marriage that binds for eternity--not only until death separates, and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.  Missionaries (I'm sure you've seen them, even if you didn't know who they were).  Temples. Tithing. Fasting.

More to come on all of those, a little at a time.

Why haven't you said much about it before?

Our church has a long history of brutal persecution . . . which I won't go into here.  You can read all about it in Church History.  Modern prejudice, still robust and blind, lives on--and it can be really hard to open your mouth about things you hold sacred when you know there's a decent chance of being slapped down. Hard.

But.

I've been thinking about that.

Early Christians did not deny their faith as they walked to the lions.  Early Latter-day Saints walked hundreds of miles, lost many close family members, gave up fortunes, left their motherland, endured incredible hardship, all in the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  A slap-down shouldn't scare me that much. Right?

Maybe.

I'm still human.  I still crave love and want others to respect that I value something different than they do, even if they cannot respect what I hold dear.

But it doesn't matter.  Slap down or no, I'm going to do my best to set my fear aside.  Courage is the mastery of fear--not the absence of it.  And so, I'm going to try to start blogging more about my beliefs.  Sharing my thoughts, and doing my best to help dispel the cloud of misconception and blind prejudice that still surrounds the word "Mormon".  I've been challenged to do just that, and so do just that I will.

Please, if you have questions about my church, feel free to ask them.  Of course, it's important to me to keep things respectful . . . learning and conflict don't coexist . . . one always suffers as the other flourishes.  I want so much to help others understand, so if and when they run into prejudice or misconception, they can simply say: "They're not like that.  I know."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Can you stand it?


This much cuteness, in one bundle, is hard to handle. :o)

This one's for you, mom . . . love you!
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