Thursday, December 22, 2011

Book Review: Kids Are Worth It

Well this is more of an overview and what I learned than a straight-up review, but that's my version of a book review. I would highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with kids, or their own behavior with kids.

I began reading this book out of desperation: desperate fear that I'd become all my parents' unadmirableness. We all have those fears, right? Anyway, I'd decided I didn't have any business having kids until I feel a bit more stable with my reactions towards them when they are angry/uncooperative/mean. I'm fine all the rest of the time. In fact, I love kids! I love playing dress-ups and barbies and cars and building things and exploring things with them... But I really struggle with the stormy side of kids. I either ignore the issue, freeze up and watch helplessly, or explode. There has got to be better way, right?

Here are some tips from "Kids Are Worth It."
The framework of her book categorizes all people into 4 groups:
-Jellyfish 1&2
Brickwall is the classic controlling parent: you do what I say when I say it or else. Jellyfish parents let anything slide and do the apologizing for the child--fix all their problems. Backbone parents are the ideal. When there is a problem, brickwall parents force and control, whether it be physical force or emotional manipulation. Jellyfish 1 parents come from a brickwall background and have vowed to never control, so they do the opposite. But when a crisis comes up and they must do something, the only 'tools' they know to use are force and controlling. They are unpredictable.
I believe I fall somewhat into the Jellyfish category. I tend to let things go- I thought I was picking my battles-- but then there is always some point where it gets to be too much (the kid doesn't know where that point is for me though) and something must be done.

Discipline and Punishment
She made a distinction between punishment and discipline. Punishment is just mean and doesn't accomplish much. Discipline helps them help themselves. The 4 steps to Discipline are:
1. Show what is wrong
2. Give them ownership of the problem
3. Help them find ways to solve it
4. Leave dignity in tact
Discipline should be Reasonable, Simple, Valuable and Practical.
Example: Mom's been decorating a cake for grandma's b-day party. Daughter wants to show her friend and in the process dumps the cake on the floor. Mom takes a deep breath, maybe leaves the room for a moment, then says "you have a problem. I know you can handle this." Helps daughter pick up the cake and leaves while daughter re-frosts the cake.
Tip: Discipline doesn't have to be painful.

Alternatives to No:
Yes, later.
Give me a minute.
Convince me (that I want to let you do that)

Give children choices. Let them decide if:
It is not life-threatening
it is not morally-threatening
it is not unhealthy
Example: haircuts. Some people may think a mohawk is morally-threatening, but for the rest of us, let the child decide what they want. Give them the signal that they can be themselves and be accepted by you.

Admit to mistakes.
If you do it, the kids will too.
This has been incredibly difficult for me in my life. Perhaps 1. because I rarely if never saw adults do it and 2. when I did admit my mistakes as a kid it was never a productive thing. Always painful and usually got punished. It has been SO hard/embarrassing beyond livability/simply impossible for me to admit mistakes, out loud. But I'm getting better. And the more I do it the more I realize it really isn't that bad, and it's always better afterwards. Ignoring problems is not the way to go. I have a great example in my in-laws and especially my husband. This world where people admit their mistakes, solve the problem and then move on is a foreign one to me, but I'm loving living in it.

"Bad Temper"
"Those of us who grew up with destructive tools may never be able to rid ourselves totally of them, but we can make sure we don't use them on our kids. Reward: our kids will probably not find those tools in their own toolboxes. I don't believe it is an issue of genetics, but one of learning."
I would consider my parenting career a HUGE success if my children come out of it without a temper-reflex.

Dealing with Confrontation
1. Let your body language match your words (it will help you cool off and then be able to discuss the issue. This is a new idea for me. I've always figured suppression-not showing the anger- is the best way. But it is also true that you can say you're angry, with body language to support it, without emotionally damaging others.)
2. Label your feelings. (I'm angry, or I'm hurt, or I'm worried)
3. State your belief(I believe we should each pick up our OWN clothes). 
4. State what they have done, but avoid derogatory/accusatory phrases. (this past week you have left your clothes on the floor in the bathroom every day, NOT 'you always leave your clothes on the floor'. Avoid ALWAYS at all costs. Never say never turns into never say always.
5. State what you want from them. 
6. Be open to their perspective.
7. Negotiate an agreement.

It is OK to:
1. Take a break
2. Refuse to take abuse ("it hurts me when you...)
3. Insist on fair treatment

1. Don't Minilecture-stating what they already know. ('You look cold,' instead of 'If you had put your coat on, you wouldn't be cold.')
2. Don't ask bad questions:
Questions with no right answer. (Why did you draw all over the wall?)
Questions with no options.  (Will you please be quiet?!? Will you please take out the trash?)
Questions that punish. (Can't you do anything right?)
Questions that are wishy-washy.
Don't ask bad questions, instead, replace them with a statement.
3. Don't give empty threats
4. Ultimatums
5. Putdowns, ridicule, sarcasim
6. Be careful! (this makes them not tell you when something went wrong, because they think you'll blame them for not being careful, when really, accidents are not usually a case of being not careful. [Except in my case as an extremely talented clutz, I really can prevent lots of problems just by slowing down and being more careful).
7. 'Think for yourself but listen to me.' (If you are trying to teach them to think for themselves but always tell them what to do... they can only really do one or the other.)

Accept realities and solve Problems.
"A problem well stated is a problem half solved." -Charles F. Kettering
I believe we too often dwell on unproductive things: the fact that there is a problem /wishing it hadn't happened/who's at fault. None of those things will fix the problem. And once there is a problem, there's no going back, only forward. Quit plaguing yourself worrying about blame and move forward to solve the problem. Accept realities and Solve the Problem.

Tantruming Kids:
Rub their back, stroke their hair. Talk calmly and label their feelings: "you're angry. I understand you're angry because you want so-and-so..."
-Acknowledge Feelings and Label them
There is HUGE power in this concept. People very often just want their feelings acknowledged, and that helps them move on.

Tattling vs. Telling
Teach the difference between tattling and telling. Tattling gets them in trouble. Telling gets them out of trouble. They weren't supposed to climb the tree. Telling is when they are falling out and screaming for help- you tell to help get them OUT of trouble, not to get them punished. There is also great power in this once they become teenagers.

Encouragement and Praise
Encouragement and Praise are different. Praise is manipulative. Constructive criticism or praise focuses on the deed, not the child. When a child comes home with something good or bad (think report card), don't get all excited or disappointed, ASK them to tell you about it. Then confirm their feelings or encourage.
'He who has the heart to help has the right to criticize.' -Lincoln
Don't read a mark of character into a deed well done or poorly done.
There is no 'good or bad boy'. The good or bad is the deed. Separate them.
I believe people are innately good.

My current conundrum:
In Primary I work with a couple of kids. One in particular can't sit still, a problem in Singing-time. They lie on the chairs, on my lap, sit on their feet on the chairs, play with my hair, try to start a tickle fight, share stories rather than sing or listen... And we sit in the very front row.
Lately I've taken to removing myself and the child from the situation. Sometimes I try to sit them up (physically position them. but that becomes a game they always win). One time I took the child out for an extensive period, but then the rest of my class was left to be crazy with no teacher. Last time I took the child and sat in the back. Eventually the rest of my class joined me (why were they wandering around? But once they came to the back they wanted to stay there with me.) But they weren't any better in the back of the room, I just felt better because now weren't distracting everyone. A parent came in for their child's scripture reading and sat in the back with us. She is a special-needs mother and teacher. She acted a bit disgusted by my class' behavior. Some tips would have been much more welcome than the disgust.
One week I talked to them about respect. I don't want them playing with my hair in singing time because it makes me look silly in front of everyone. I don't want them standing up in singingtime because then others can't see. I don't want them lying on the chairs in singing time because this isn't sleep time. Here\s the catch though, sometimes I let them lay on my lap because then they hold still for an extended period of time, and stay calm. Sometimes I braid their hair while they are lying on my lap to keep them still for longer. That backfired. "I don't want braids in my hair today, but I can braid yours for you!"

Anyone have some insight for me? Ideas?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December Delights

Singing in Choirs
My spouse and I were asked to join a small choir singing a French Christmas carol, and it was fun to spend the hours practicing together as a couple and with the choir. We performed at a Stake Christmas Concert, and we all wore red scarves to make it a bit more 'frenchy'. :) I also sang in a double quartet, which was a pleasure. All of the memebers were excellent musicians, which made it so much fun. I love feeling like a bit of a band-nerd again and 'getting' the corny music jokes and lingo.

One evening my honey came home from work and said he had a surprise for me, fishing something out of his pocket.  Tickets... I looked closer... SYMPHONY tickets! He was going to take me to the Symphony! Ohh I was so excited about that! (That seemed like something only rich people do). (Maybe it is, we got them for free). It wasn't until a few days later that he told me the tickets were for Handel's Messiah. Oh man it just kept getting better! Handel's Messiah at the Symphony. I was in heaven.
When we arrived it was fun to people-watch and see how everyone treated it. It used to be that going to the Symphony was a very formal occasion, and some people still dressed up in formal attire, which was lovely to see. But there were a few jeans and turtlenecks, and much in between...
It took a little while to really get into the music for me, but by intermission I was floating on clouds- my soul singing along with them.  It was beautiful. I missed there being a brass section, though, as it was only a wind-orchestra (plus one trumpet for the trumpet piece). When the trumpet began playing, I knew what had been missing for me during that first half. No brass! I guess I really am a brass-instrument kind of girl. I love the feeling of brass music. Thanks honey for taking me to the Symphony!

Work Party
Our first work-Christmas-party together was quite the do. It was a formal; cocktails and dancing. I went formal-dress hunting a few weeks earlier, and was able to score a beautiful red-sparkly mermaid style dress, with a white and gold-trimmed bolero to go with. Guess where I found this amazing outfit?? The local thrift store. I love finding amazing things like that at thrift stores.

The work party was a lot of fun. I had already met a few of my spouse's co-workers at the summer BBQ, so it was fun to catch up and get to know them better. The dinner was wonderful, and the dessert table exciting (They had a Bouche-de-Noel!). We chatted with those at our table and then there was dancing!! We rocked the floor with some crazy cha-cha and lots of swing. It is so fun that both of us enjoy dancing.

We had friends over for fondue one evening, and we went all out on this dinner party. Bubbly 'champagne' in the Christmas goblets we've been using all month, shrimp and cocktail sauce, and lots of delicious veggies and meat for the fondue, which lasted about 2 hours. We played board games and generally enjoyed the evening.

Eggnog Party and others...
One of my love's friends has an Eggnog Party every year at Christmas time, and we were in town to go this year. This was my first occasion trying homemade eggnog. Not bad, though I can't say it is my favorite beverage. It's a fun tradition anyhow! We also went to another friend's Christmas party that was a big get together of soup, snacks, family, and my honey's old friends. I met some neat people with some really amazing stories (Escaping a massacred African village with 5 village children, the only survivors; meeting their love online and moving to New Zealand...). And the lovely hostess took our picture before we headed to the work Christmas party. Thanks!

Korean Chinese Dinner
The tutoring company I work for had a Christmas dinner too. The man running the company is Korean, and basically all the students are Korean, and basically all the tutors are...something else. We ate at a Chinese restaurant, which was delicious of course! Lets see if I can remember the ethnicities of the other tutors who attended: Guyanan, Philippino , White, White, Chinese, Franco-Albertan. It was an interesting group, most of us had traveled to various parts of the world and were sub-experts on various subjects such as subways in Asian countries, North Korea, Japan's non-immigration policies and honesty culture, Europe vs Asia, and getting ripped off in a foreign country (especially if you look like a native). It was a really enjoyable dinner conversation! Sometimes I have a hard time connecting to people, but this was a breeze. It helped to remind me that there isn't something wrong with me (I've been struggling to find/make friends, lol), I just need to find people with similar interests.

December is Awesome!  It is super crazy, but that's because everyone is in a good mood and wants to spend time together. I think it is fantastic, and I reminded myself over and over again this month that it isn't stressful busy, it is enjoyable busy. Enjoy December madness. And besides everything goes more or less back to normal once January hits. (except for the looming tax-job...)

I hope everyone enjoys their own versions of December Delights, and feel the joy of the season in spite of the business. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Conjuring Memories

LDS church-house
Sunday 18 Dec 2011
Sacrament Meeting

Hymn #169 As Now We Take The Sacrament

As now our minds review the past, we know we must repent...
She opened the door of our bedroom and stood in the doorway...It was a Saturday night and we were in our bunkbeds, getting ready for bed, talking. 
She was angry, but blown out. She was agitated, but not at us. 
"This isn't the best time to do this, but it's better than not," she said, still with agitation in her voice. "I'm sorry. Ok?!" 
"Ok," we replied. She paused for a moment, then left.
I've often pondered those words "this isn't the best time." I've decided any time is a good time to say sorry and be forgiven.

...Forgiveness is a gift from thee, we seek with pure intent...
As my spirit lingered in that memory and I heard the words of this song all around me, a delightful presence of peace distilled upon my heart, in my soul.
She was trying. Thinking back now it is strange to me that the "I'm sorry" had no hugs or calmness to go with it; rather it was abrubt and almost chaff. But she was trying. And, I think, succeeding. And we forgave her. This was a beautiful and meaningful memory for me, coupled by the peaceful feeling of forgiveness and quiet encouragement concerning her. "Don't give up," was whispered to my soul. "Don't rewrite your memory with only the problems being the actors." And though it didn't concern this memory, I realized that our forgiveness of others is sometimes a gift granted by Heavenly Father. Some things we just can't move beyond on our own.

...As now we praise thy name with song the blessings of this day
Will linger in our thankful hearts, and silently we pray
For courage to accept thy will
     continue to forgive, encourage, believe in and love Her
We love thee Lord our hearts are full,
We'll walk thy chosen way.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as my gratitude to God was sent to heaven on the melody of the hymn.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My 'Purpose' in Life

The last few months have been a very real inner search for me, as I have tried to define my purpose, my mission in my new life. Always before I had a goal, a game plan, a course to follow, something to work towards the completion of. Now schooling and internships are over and my search has been for something new to replace that.

Is it work?
More schooling?
Something else?

But it is pretty hard to define your purpose/mission for the next 50 years-- life is always changing!

I eventually came to the realization that I was looking too far, totally missing my mark. The big things I have always dreamed of having, I now have! Right in front of me everyday! The most important part of which is my dear husband. He is my dream come true. Living with, being married to, taking care of and loving this man is a dream come true. I guess I needed to realize that life doesn't always have to be a chase, sometimes it is best spent enjoying and bettering what you already have.

I read a book yesterday titled "Man's Search for Meaning," by Viktor E. Frankl, a German doctor who lived through the concentration camps of WWII. Some of his philosophies reinforced my conclusion, and helped me gain a more insightful outlook on my purpose in this life.

In the context of finding meaning in life, he says this:

"The Latin word finis has two meanings: the end or the finish, and a goal to reach. A man who could not see the end of his "provisional existence" was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life. He ceased living for the future... The unemployed worker, for example, is in a similar position. His existence has become provisional and in a certain sense he cannot live for the future or aim a a goal." p70

"I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, "homeostasis," i.e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task...the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him." p105

1. Having goals and striving to achieve them give life purpose.

"The true meaning of life is discovered in the world, rather than within man, as though it were a closed system. giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love... that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire... The salvation of man is through love and in love." p37.  I love that he came to this conclusion, because it is the same conclusion I have come to on my own.

2. Having a beloved, and actively loving that person, gives a life ultimate purpose and meaning.

This last principle is an important one to me, it helped me gain a much clearer perspective on the goals and missions we strive to accomplish in life, and that there is not one overarching goal I need to know RIGHT NOW for the rest of my life (other than loving my beloved).

3. "Thus far we have shown that the meaning of life always changes, but that it never ceases to be." p.111

One other thing Frankl brought out in his conclusions is something I have had as a life goal since my teenage years: To live with no regrets. He puts it a but more poetically, speaking of an old man who has lived his life 'meaningfully': "Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person: or the possibilities that a young person has, the future which is in store for him? 'No, thank you,' he will think. 'Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and love loved, but of suffering bravely suffered.' Having been, is the surest kind of being." p121

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I am.

I wrote this just after returning from a mission and having my lifestyle and values questioned, along with having a couple of boys on the mind... It was a somewhat turbulent time and I wanted to make a few things clear:

I am not mediocre. I am great.

I am not common. I am extraordinary.

I am not a common prize to be won. My worth goes far beyond the treasures of the earth.

I do not lead a normal or common life. I lead a tireless, hardworking, always-go-the-extra-mile kind of life.

I do not intend to be plaintiff, leisurely, lazy or lax. I intend to be diligent, disciplined, dedicated and devoted.

I do not settle for the average or the norm. I reach up, go beyond, I create a higher plane.

I am not a bystander, an on-looker, waiting to be given a place. I am a key player in the game, a runner in the race, I will stand up to create, fight for and defend my place.

I am not attached to this world. I am attached to the world beyond.

I am striving with all my might not to be superficial, frivolous or in need of the world’s affirmation. I will live within my means, save as much as possible, and look to God in all things.

I do not need luxury, expensive gifts or finery. I do need love, kindness, friendship and a listening ear.

I am not perfect, I do have frailties. At times I need encouragement to go on, to be patient and kind.

I do not intend to sit and putter through life. I dream big. I fulfill my dreams. And I want someone to dream big with me, to live our dreams together.

I recognize that the course I have chosen is not easy; I do not expect others to stay the same course. 

I do expect there to be one. And he will be as dedicated to the cause, as diligent in the journey, as determined to finish and as devoted to his covenants and our God. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Identifying Identity

I think I have struggled with the concept of identity and roles since I was a kid and they were just so confusing that I ignored them completely.

For example, as a kid I saw the world in a hierarchy. There were kids, and there were adults. There was a hierarchy within both, and the two together created a hierarchy. In the kid section (the underlings or peasants), the hierarchy was made up (as I saw it) by younger to older, and bullys and populars on top.

The adult section (or the overlords), was made up of a complex range of powers, all of which had control over me so I mostly tried to ignore them when I could,  and pacify when they noticed me. (There are a few exception to that rule. I had a sunday-school teacher when I was 8 that adored me and I adored her. She was more like a friend.)  There was a hierarchy of age within the adult section: older people were to be respected, they taught me that at church. But in practice I noticed that moms and dads didn't like being told what to do by their moms and dads, and teachers and people at the grocery store grumbled too. Complex and confusing.  There was tension in the adult world. I could feel it. I didn't want to have anything to do with it. I was very content to steer clear.  I did a very good job of training myself to live in a (mentally created)world that totally ignored it all. I tried not to think about it. Whenever they had those "What do you want to be when you grow up" days at school, I'd go in regular clothes and say "I want to be a kid!" Adults were at a 0% fascination level for me.

Well here we are years later and after the highschool and university bubbles, I am now full-fledgedly an adult; living, breathing, talking adultness. The hierarchy that I created in my mind is still back there somewhere, and still shapes, to an extent, the way I see social interactions.  And because of that I have been noticing myself in awe-like admiration as I recognize people breaking through all those lines, all around me, all the time.

In my congregation's womens society I just sit back and watch it happen. It is beautiful. Older women learn from younger women. None of them (yet) have claimed to 'know it all'. They share knowledge with each other and learn from each other, they don't judge each other on age. What a revolutionary idea for me. Not to be judged by age. I was judged that way for the first 20 years of my life. (or felt like it anyway).

"What does all of this have to do with IDENTITY," you ask? Everything. For me as a child, because I turned my back on the adult world I thereby created my identity as 'not adult.' Now as an adult I've been searching deeply for my purpose, which ties most intimately to my identity, I felt. The belief that has been shaping my search is that 'who you are is what you do, say, and think.'  And the question seemed to be: "what does being me really mean?"

I could figure out the unchanging basics, like Katniss in the third hunger games: I am Marzipan. I am a daughter of God. I have a dad and mom, brothers and sisters. I am married to the love of my life.  But then things start getting fuzzy... where I live changes, the jobs I have change, the people in my life change. Perhaps I also compute identity with stability. And on that thought, I had a revolutionary realization this morning.  My neighbor and friend told mentioned that the person we'll be in 50 years is totally different: our knowledge, experiences, things we do, passions we have, may all be different. We'll be a different person.  (!!??!!?!?!) Then what are we supposed to base identity on, I wondered? Perhaps I just worry too much about it and it really doesn't matter. The important things: child of God, my family, my husband: are the stability in my identity, and the rest can just keep changing, growing, developing and morphing into new and beautiful things!  

I realized that the hierarchy which protected me as a child was messing with my mind as an adult.  So now my real question is: does everyone have such transitions? And how can we help the youth today? I especially feel sorry for those kids who spend ten years wishing they were an adult and arrive at adulthood only to realize that the definition of 'adult' is a very loose one at best, and probably not as glamorous as hoped for. We're just people, after all.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Music burstin out my eyes... sort of.

We over-schedule our kids.

  Ok, so what of those things that they are over-scheduled with will they keep doing after high-school?

Sitting in a display of “hidden” talents with the sisters in my congregation tonight, I had a sad realization. People have told me that high school is a bubble, but I realized a whole new side of it tonight. The sports, the music, drama-teams, 4-H, clubs... these are incredible opportunities for people to have and be a part of. But after high school is over, unless you make money from whatever that talent was, it isn’t very likely you’ll keep it up! (I think it took me so long to realize this because I have been in a university bubble).

There is a time and place for everything, sure. But does that mean after high school/university all your life will consist of is work/family? That is a pretty dreary life to look forward to… Sadly, though, it seems to be too normal.  As I talk with mothers and I ask them what else they do besides work/stay-at-home-parent, and what else do they do to add balance in their life or provide meaning, more than one woman has responded with “That’s the million dollar question,” with a regretful/reproachful laugh. 

There were women at this forum who sang beautifully, played instruments, recited poetry, etc, albeit a bit rustily. Some talents you can easily incorporate into family life: sewing, baking, genealogy, painting, quilting, and knitting. But what of the soccer teams, gymnastics and dance classes, bands, private music lessons, language clubs, team sports? (Don’t tell me to just be a soccer-mom. That doesn’t fix MY need to play the sport.)

I vividly remember as a teenager wishing for kid toys that were built to adult-scale. How come the kiddies get all this fun stuff, but not older people? Didn’t seem fair.

I am a swimmer. Was in high school, kept it up after, and I still consider myself as such. It is easy enough to find a pool open for lap swim in the mornings. Ok, I can keep that up. But what about music?

I have been involved in the creation of music since I began taking piano lesson at age 8. I didn’t love it then. That came later. By the time I had a full ride scholarship to University on my musical abilities and my good grades, I was becoming aware of the ties that bind my soul to the need for the creation of music.  Playing music alone is only for practical purposes- to master skills (the exception to that rule is piano). The real beauty of playing an instrument comes when you combine multiple instruments. This creates an explosion of harmony and depth that carries you away on crashing waves and then gentle breezes. There is an indescribable emotion that catapults my heart into a musical universe of bliss, where emotions are felt so acutely, described so clearly and intensely, in a language that transcends words, that you feel them all as though they were your own. They do, in fact, become your own through such an experience.  It wasn’t until I had a semester break from bands and orchestras that I realized the desire, and need, within me to be a part of it. As the saying goes, depravity is the greatest motivator. Every time I return my horn, it doesn’t take very many months before I’ll be in some audience where a piece of orchestrated divinity is played that entirely wraps me up, fills me up, and bursts out my eyes in tears of bliss that remind me… I am tied from the very innermost part of my being to the need for, and love of, creating and appreciating music.

But I don’t own a horn. It isn’t my job, and it isn’t my child, lol.  As an adult trying to look into the future, I squint into the bleak unknown and am decidedly sure that what I see doesn’t fit me into playing a horn. Well I guess I need to change the precedent, then. Perhaps I can’t continue all of the hyper-scheduling I could have enjoyed as a kid and wanted to enjoy in university: the gymnastics and ballet and musical theatre and singing lessons and tai chi and …. you get the picture.  Who knows, all those things might have a place in the future. But I am sure that I don’t want to “live my life through my kids” aka put them in musical theatre because I wish I could be in it. 

I think parents can still be involved in ‘extra-curricular activities’, (our curriculum now being our work and kids? Lol). Obviously there must be balance, and the point is absolutely not to make mothers feel even more overwhelmed, but from the discussions I’ve had so far I think that mothers do very well to have an ‘other’ in their lives, and that that ‘other’ can be of great worth and value to them personally. 

Will my ‘other’ be playing the horn? I’m not sure yet, but tonight was another one of those ‘I’m lacking music and music just reduced me to tears’ moments, which was, interestingly, a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

What are the ‘others’ that keep your lives in balance? I hope you have one and didn’t leave them all behind in highschool! (But don’t worry if you did, it’s never too late to start up again, as I continue to realize). J

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On the Job Hunt

I am a hairstylist by trade. So I move to Canada, get it in my head to work as a hairstylist here, and go about trying to find a job. This job hunt turned out VERY different from the one my civil-engineer spouse experienced. It took about 3 days. His took about 5 months. Well they are different trades, for sure, but I just thought the whole thing interesting enough to warrant a blog-post.

I typed up my resume for Hairstyling, printed out a dozen copies, and set aside an afternoon to scour the neighborhood salons, handing out my resume everywhere they might be hiring.

I am a bit of a special case, however. Because I was awarded my license in the USA, I have a bit of a process before I can get it in Canada, including being an apprentice for a year. Well usually when people hear 'apprentice' they think: cheap labor. I had no desire to settle for being cheap labor, but I also didn't know what good pay is, so I sort of just hoped people would give me a good deal. chuckle.

After handing out the resumes, calls began coming in the next day. By the end of that day I had two or three interviews scheduled.

Thursday, 4:30pm. Mall salon.
I met the couple who run the salon and sat down for an interview with them. Well I absolutely loved them. Italian couple, very fun; upbeat about the salon and how busy it is. They offered me $10/hour or 47% commission, committed me to not discuss wages with any of the other stylists (which made me wonder if they were ripping me off or the other stylists [and minimum wage is 9.50 in Canada, so this wasn't a great offer), and offered for me to start work on Saturday. A plus: there was a francophone lady and two Chinese-speaking ladies working there, all of which I had conversations with in their respective language and was feeling like this would be a match made in heaven of a job. The downsides: Mall hours are horrible. Every other Sunday at least, and they are open EVERY holiday.

Friday, noon, another mall salon-- phone interview.
The manager is from Figi this time (cool!), and she was all business. "You'd work maybe one Sunday a month, two nights a week besides your regular days, and pay is good. $12/hour or 50% commission, but everybody makes commission b/c our shop is so busy." And she'd work with all my requests for vacation time. Also open Mall hours, meaning all holidays. yuk.

Friday, 5pm, private salon.
The manager is from I don't know where, my best guess is the Middle East somewhere. He had somewhat broken English and was a man of few words. I was a bit worn out from the pressures of wanting to work lots of hours but not Sundays, and earlier that day I had listened to a devotional which was all about getting a job that works for you: allowing you to serve the Lord. Ok, ok, I get it, I won't take a job that makes me work on Sundays. sigh.

This salon was only offering me part time, but I wasn't too worried about that. The main thing is that they're not open on Sundays, right? Well he offered me $12/hour or 55% commission, and said that I probably wouldn't make commission right away, needing to build up my clientele. Well, ok. I said I'd take the job and he said, vaguely, that he'd call me sometime Monday... not many details out of that man, or any formalities or paperwork. (?)  I felt a bit odd about the situation during the interview, like perhaps there was something creepy about this guy, but it was the first place offering me no Sundays and the pay was as good as or higher than elsewhere, so, that's what the heavens were trying to tell me to do, right??

Earlier- Private Salon:
I first went to a salon offering booth rent. $60/day - per day you work there. Everyone that works there has their own clientele, so it works great for them. He offered to cut me a bit of a break on the booth rent for the first 8 months or so, while I built up my clientele, but we both acknowledged that it'd be a pretty difficult stretch.  Darn it! If I just had a great clientele already that'd be ideal! but I don't.

So two or three days after having NO leads and handing out my resumes, I had a job.
Two or three days after that I'm still wondering if it is the right choice.
I go to work for the first time today, so we'll see how it goes!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Babywise

On Becoming Babywise

By Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D.

On Parenting

Great Marriages produce great parents.  A healthy husband-wife relationship is essential to the emotional health of children in the home. When there is harmony in the marriage, there is an infused stability within the family. Healthy, loving marriages create a sense of certainty for children. To improve the quality of the parent-child relationship, parents first must continue to evaluate the quality of their relationship with each other. Would it stand alone without the baby? Too often when a child enters a family, parents leave their first love: each other. The spotlight shifts to illuminate the children, and marriage gits lost in space. (Child-centered parenting. Setting up to fail) (quotes from pages 20-21).

To excel in parenting, protect your marriage.

On Feeding

Demand-feed or clock-feeding or parent-directed feeding (mixture of need/scheduling). I had no idea there were so many theories about feeding a baby!  The Babywise suggestion is to get on a routine with a cycle that looks like this:  Feeding/Waketime/Naptime.

-The parent helps the baby establish a stabilized hunger-pattern by keeping them on a routine. Their prescribed feeding times are: every 2 ½ to 3 hours. Make sure the baby gets FULL. = no snack feedings

On Sleeptime

Lack of healthy sleep can lead to attention disorders. “Infants, toddlers who suffer from the lack of healthy naps and continuous nightime sleep may experience chonic fatigue. Fatigue is a primary cause of fussiness, daytime irritability, crankiness, discontentment, colic-like symptom, poor focussing skills and poor eating habits.” (P.54)

-Babywise cautions against Negative Sleep Props: nursing a baby to sleep, Rocking to sleep, Sleeping with baby.

Sleeping Patterns:

Newborns: six to eight naps in a day. 2 ½ hr cycle: feed(1/2 hr) waketime (30min-1hr) sleep (1-1 ½  hr).
2 Months: this is when baby begins sleeping 7-8 hours at night. Daytime naps should be 1 ½ hours long. Move to a 3 ½ to 4 hour cycle. (Note: it’s not unusual for two-or three-month old babies to awaken at around 5am and talk to themselves for up to an hour. Afterward, they usually go back to sleep for another hour or so. If you start to respond each time you hear a noise from the cradle, then 5am will become your baby’s waketime—and yours, too.) (P. 132)
3-5 months: 4-6 feedings during the day, three daytime naps between 1 ½ to 2 hours, longer waketime in between. Nighttime sleep will average 10-12 hours.
6-16 Months: your baby will drop his late-afternoon/early evening nap at around 6 months of age, leaving two naptimes—one in the morning and one in the afternoon, 1 ½ to 2 hours in length.
16 months and older: the morning nap is dropped. Your baby should be sleeping 10-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during one afternoon nap.

On Crying

“All babies cry…newborns routinely cry a total of one to four hours a day…” -American Academy of Pediatrics
-Listen for the type of cry, learn to recognize different crys, and assess the need.
-A Fussy baby can be caused by your milk: too much dairy or spicy foods in your diet.
-Don’t condition your baby to expect immediate gratification. (As that will cause problems when the child gets older, or when more children come into the family).


Abnormal Cry times: During feedings; immediately after feedings; when baby awakes early out of a sound nap.
Normal Cry times: just before feeding; when baby is put down for a nap; during the late afternoon/early evening period.

I'd love to hear the mothers' thoughts out there about if this works/ what has worked for you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Big Girls' Club"

Last week I discovered the world of the "Big Girls' Club". The complementary counterpart of the"Mens Club" - that mysterious place where only men are allowed and I imagine socializing, relaxing, having a smoke and talking about politics are the main functions. Or for the younger not-so-buisnessmen guys, going to the gym might fill that role - socializing, exercising, feeling macho.

Well the Big Girls' Club has a female twist. I walk into an exercise dance class I'd been recommended to, and as we began warming up I began cluing in. It was while we were all lying on the floor doing reps of ab crunches...

...that I looked around me and the realization dawned on me that here, in fact, was a Big Girls' Club. We socialize, but mostly the point is to keep our bodies beautifully fit while looking and behaving beautifully feminine. --I guess I didn't expect to find that at a workout dance class. Silly me.

We arrive in chic workout clothes with beautiful hair and carry ourselves like beautiful dancers. We stretch, we run to warm up--aka beautiful stylized leaps across the floor-- critiquing our beautiful technique in the mirrors. We do ab workouts, but no way is there any grunting or moaning or making noise to get through all the reps, as I have so often been a part of in other workout groups. *chuckles* Oh no, here we are silent in our beauty, doing reps to the beat of the music playing. One looking in on us might think we were relaxing, for all the beauty and silence we displayed. But upon closer inspection I noticed the signs of actual exercise. As we lay on the floor stretching-- pulling our legs towards us, I could point out the girls who were working the hardest- their legs were shaking, almost seizure-like as they defied gravity and muscle tension and willed those legs to stretch even farther.

It was so bizarre.

All those beautifully manicured girls, lying in our beautifulness, shaking from physical exertion while never a peep was made. Well I take that back, at one point I grunted into my last sit-up, but immediately felt the awkwardness of the beautiful silence I had broken, lol. Welcome, my dear, to the "Big Girls' Club".

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dentists ARE scary

Remember all those childrens' books you read as a kid helping you understand that going to the Dentist isn't scary?

Classic Example:

Well they were wrong and going to the Dentist IS SCARY! Well, walking in is ok... it's what happens and the walking out part that is really the kicker. I think kids have every reason in the world to be scared of the Dentist.

I went to the Dentist today, they told me I needed a filling. So I go in knowing I'm there for a filling, assuming they know I'm there for a filling, but nothing was said except "Have a seat," and "Open wide for me." Out of the corner of my eye I see this enormous needle coming at me, no warning, no pep talk before hand to make sure I'm calm and ready, no explanations. Just "open wide" and incoming needle! Yikes! Well I mentally gave myself the much needed pep talk to "relax, take a breath, un-tense your muscles..." Luckily they had to wait a few minutes for the numbing to take effect so I asked a few questions about the procedure. Don't think they would have said another word if I hadn't gotten them talking... eventually the left side of my mouth became numb and they began drilling... (here's where I close my eyes and try to morph myself out of this dental chair until the procedure is over).

So in general my body (my head, mostly) endured some intense pressure (I'm serious here, he was pushing really hard into my jaw/skull!), along with intense localized trauma to the mouth, gums, inner cheek, and teeth. It is not a normal occurance to send 4-inch long needles into the gums, for instance, or to be drilled into like bolts into a steel building.

When they were done the dentist told me to swish and then left. The dental-hygienist motioned toward the sink for me to swish, and said that I could get up. Maybe what she meant was that I was allowed to get up, but the actual ability part... She made it sound so normal, no problem, so I stood up like no big deal and immediately was hit with a wave of dizziness, my legs went limp and my vision blurred just a bit. I leaned on the counter to steady myself, and my legs began shaking. I tried to swish whatever was in the little cup but it mostly poured out of the left side of my mouth that I now realized was also hanging limp. What a sight I must have been! Nobody else seemed phased though. I continued to shake and thought about mentioning that I was going into shock, but the dental-hygienist didn't seem to notice anything was wrong and was walking away, after having mentioned that I could leave. I slowly made my way down the hall to the front desk and looked in the bathroom mirror to see my limp-hanging face. All the sudden I had infinite compassion for stroke-survivors who have lost control of one side of their face, whose mouth and eye leak and who have that half-frown, half normal mouth. I about freaked out, but at least that part was to be expected.

At the front desk I don't remember much. My mind was pretty fuzzy, focusing mostly on remaining standing on my shaking legs. I do remember wondering if anyone else goes into shock from getting fillings and how I should be treating the symptoms. The only thing that came to mind was from Lifeguarding: lie down and wrap the victim in a blanket.

I focused my fuzzy thoughts, more just instincts now, on getting to the car. (I realized later that I had NO idea what the paper said that I signed my name on... they could have billed me a million dollars for all I knew.) Once in the car I tried to calm down, take deep breaths to calm my shaking legs and clear my fuzzy brain. I called my husband to try to explain the indecency I had just gone through and the shock I was suffering from it, but, getting a filling is a normal thing to do, right? What's all the fuss about?

He was kind, and I tried to laugh it off, but driving home I began leaking all the tension, stress and physical trauma out my eyes. The downpour didn't let up for quite a while and my legs are still shaking slightly as I type this, just after getting home. Physical and emotional exhaustion are setting in and bed sounds like the safest and most divine place in the world.

Who says going to the Dentist isn't scarey?!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Article of Faith: 5

We believe that a man must be popular and good at speaking, and have a large following of people, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.


Why did Joseph Smith need to specify that a man must be called of God?

For many other churches, leadership and authority is a controversial issue that divides congregations and splits churches. In 1984 a local minister said:

‘Authority’ is a vital subject for churches today, and one that has become controversial among Bible believers. A proper understanding and practice of authority is absolutely vital for the Lord's testimony. Many churches have been torn apart over this issue.[i]

It has been a long time since there has been any man called of God by prophecy to be a leader. Corruption began within the Early Christian church, and eventually led to an apostasy when all the apostles, and the authority they held, were no longer on the earth.

The problem of authority did not die with the apostles, however. Issues with authority were rampant all through the Middle Ages. After the death of the apostles the churches of different cities floundered, and many subgroups evolved, because they lost contact as one large church. Divisions and political tensions eventually led to the creation of the Catholic Church, then its split into the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches, then the reformation and creation of Protestant churches. The root of the word protestant is “protest”, which is what the people were doing as they saw the corruption in leadership. Because of the corruption they saw, people did not believe their leaders were called of God, and the result was that they broke away to create a more “pure” religion. This led to the wars of religion all across Europe as neighbor persecuted neighbor and city persecuted city for differing religious beliefs. This was a time of great confusion, and a fulfillment of the prophecy by the prophet Amos in the Old Testament:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.[ii]

The people will run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

All of Europe struggled with the wars of religion, seeing many of their people die. The way England dealt with it was by creating a state religion. This state religion was enforced upon all citizens and actively persecuted other religions. Having only one religion makes sense from a political view, and, coming out of the wars of religion the century before, the last thing the crown wanted to be involved in were more religious disputes. So they created one church for everyone, and allowed no exceptions. This stopped neighbors from attacking neighbors over religious differences, but it also spawned religious complacency. It was almost as though since people didn’t have to defend their religion any more, they didn’t have to care about their religion any more. Thus began religious reformations anew, a ‘calling to repentance’, calling people to be passionate about their belief in God, and to break away from the Government-run religion. By doing this, they were challenging the political powers which were controlling religion, and the governing authority thereof. Because England directly affected anything that happened in the American colonies, the religious revolution became hugely popular there, and it is called the 2nd Great Awakening.

Before the Second Great Awakening, ministers often gained the mantle of authority as a result of their education and the elite status that ordination within a mainstream denomination afforded them. During the revivals of the 2nd Great Awakening, however, the preachers who became most influential and popular were those who appealed directly to the people in plain language anyone could understand. Often these preachers were not highly educated.[iii]

Thus the “Article of their Faith”: A man must be popular and good at speaking, and have a large following of people, to preach the Gospel.

As a result of the 2nd Great Awakening, religion became very diversified, and a general lack of respect for authority abounded. People attended a church if they liked the preacher or his doctrine. If they did not, they found another church, or started their own. There was no sense of the idea of finding a church that had the ‘proper authority’. That idea had all but died.

Joseph Smith’s account of the Great Awakening:

Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.

During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; …but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.

In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?[iv]

One day as Joseph Smith was reading the bible he read a scripture in James which instructed him to pray and ask God his question. After pondering that advice for a time, he found a place in the woods to be alone and try. As he did so, a miraculous thing happened, the heavens were opened and God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to him. Joseph Smith says:

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

“My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, …for…“they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”[v]

Now, we as Latter Day Saints believe that the church of Jesus Christ must have leaders who have been called and ordained by Christ, to direct the church, or in other words: We believe that a man must be called of God, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. Joseph Smith was reaffirming that belief in this article of faith, that not just anyone can preach religion or run a church, but that that man must be called of God, not only by revelation (which anyone might claim,) but also by the laying on of hands of one who has the authority to do so. At the time of Joseph Smith’s first vision, there was no man on the earth who held that authority. This is yet another reason why that vision was so crucial to religion. With the words from Heavenly Father: this is my Beloved Son, hear him; all authoritative questions were put to an end. Christ is the ultimate authority. Any Christian will agree with that. At the end of the day, if Christ says one thing and men another, Christ is the authoritative voice. The main problem with that is, that most Christians haven’t heard Christ speak. In fact, in the time of Joseph Smith many didn’t believe Christ ever would speak again. After Joseph Smith had the vision, he shared it with one of the preachers:

I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.[vi]

But we believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever[vii], and that he will reach out to his children here on earth, and speak to them through a prophet[viii] as he has done in all past dispensations of the world. That is what he did with Adam, Enoch, Noah, Melchezidek, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Job, Isaiah, Jeramiah, and Daniel. When Christ lived upon the earth he set up his church by calling and ordaining apostles and prophets, and then continued to direct his church through revelation to those leaders after his death and resurrection. In the 1800’s Christ again reached out to the people of the earth and called and ordained a prophet, and it is through a prophet that he continues to guide his church today. Christ is the head of this church, he is the ultimate authority, and no man has any real authority except he has received it from Christ, either directly or through a line of worthy men beginning with Christ.

A testimony of our prophets, “The Living Christ” reaffirms these truths:

“As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. 'All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made' (John 1:3). ”He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised 'dispensation of the fulness of times'

”We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

Of Him the Prophet Joseph Smith declared: 'And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—'built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone' (Ephesians 2:20).

“We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles, that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”[ix]

“We honour Him, we worship Him, we love Him as our Redeemer, the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New Testament.”[x] The leader of Christianity and the living head of our Church today. The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not the church of Joseph Smith, it is not the church of Mormon, it is not the church of Thomas S. Monson. It IS the church of Jesus Christ.

I have a testimony that he lives. Christ is the ultimate authority. He is at the head of this church and the great work that we do in all the world, to aid in disasters, to spread love and brotherhood, to save lives, and most importantly to save souls. As a missionary I felt poignantly the reality of the Living Christ. Without that testimony I could not have been an effective missionary, for I would not have believed in the message I was sharing. But I Do believe that Jesus Christ has called a prophet by revelation, and that it was through the prophet and apostles that revelation was received to call me as a missionary. One day in my personal studies as a missionary I was reading in the Book of Mormon, and came across a passage where Mormon gives a statement that sort of justifies everything he was doing. He gave so much time and effort to the Lord, being a prophet-historian, reading through centuries of records, making compilations that was a long, slow process, leading his people in wars he knew they could not win, preaching the doctrines of Christ to an uninterested crowd, and raising his son to be a righteous, moral man in a world of utter moral depravity. His justification for all of this is:

“Behold, I am a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have Everlasting Life.”[xi]

This statement gave meaning to everything he did, and I felt strongly that it was the same for me. I know that Christ leads this church, that he and our Heavenly Father are intimately aware of our lives, our needs, our hopes and our dreams, and I know that they communicate with the children of men. Personally, for our personal needs, and through the prophet, for the needs of the church. I have a testimony of the importance of priesthood authority, that we are called by prophecy, to labor in our little corner of the world and in building the kingdom of God. And even through all the pitfalls, potholes, scrapes, and wounds, Life is a glorious and beautiful thing. It is made so by love, and by knowing about the Plan of Salvation, and the Atonement of Christ, our living Lord.

[i] Ray, Rudy. Spring, 1984. “Authority and Ministry in the Local Church.” Searching Together Magazine.

[ii] Amos 8:11-12

[iv](Pearl of Great Price | Joseph Smith—History 1:5–10‎)‎

[v] (Pearl of Great Price | Joseph Smith—History 1:18–19‎)‎

[vi] (Pearl of Great Price | Joseph Smith—History 1:21‎)‎

[vii] Hebrews 13:8

[viii] Amos 3:7

[ix] (Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2-3)

[x] President Gordan B. Hinckley. December 2002. “A testimony of the Son of God.” Ensign.

[xi] 3 Ne 5:13