Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Niece

My niece is married.  I thought my wedding day was amazing, but it didn't hold a candle to this.  Watching someone you have held and worried over and prayed about and laughed with and loved be united to a good and gentle man trumps any experience I could have expected.

This is what it is all about: Families going on and on and on and on . . . 

Four generations, together in that place.

A day of creation.

"Us," she said.

"Eternity," he said.

A perfect sentence, I thought.

A woman.

Congratulations, Rodney and Ariel.  You will always think today was wonderful . . .

but, it gets better.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


This was not my flight attendant. Just another sad one.
After a short stay with my family, my daughter and I flew home on Christmas Eve. We had a series of long delays and plane swaps. On the last leg of our journey, we sat on the tarmac for a long time. We were sitting on the front row of a really little airplane--right in front of the flight attendant. She couldn't unbuckle because she had already leaned over to the cockpit and said, "Cabin is secure" so we were stuck staring at each other. Rather than sit and stare at each other, we began to visit. She was from LA. We were no where near LA. She is single so she couldn't just move Christmas, as a lot of people who work on the holiday often do, because she celebrated with her sister's family. This was the first year that her niece was old enough to understand Santa and was so excited for his visit. Joanna was supposed to have Christmas off so she had been anticipating the festivities. Instead, she would be stuck in a hotel, all alone, in a strange city for Christmas Eve.

I have five children (the fun of Christmas). We had plenty of food. I was supposed to invite our flight attendant for Christmas, but I chickened out. My husband doesn't like surprises, so I didn't feel like I could spring that big of a surprise on him. I should have asked him right when I got off the airplane and then waited for her to finish working. There would have been plenty of time and, when I asked him on the way home, he said it would have been fine with him.

I am completely tortured. I ignored a generous thought; when I could have been the Good Samaritan and shared my children's Christmas joy, I was a wimp. Maybe she would have declined, but I didn't even give her the chance. I hope if I'm ever given the chance again, I will respond better. I have utterly disappointed myself.

Once again, I am thankful for repentance.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Rental Car

I needed a rental car recently and I was really excited about it. My van, after all, was built in 1996 and has suffered through more than its fair share of vomit, rock collections, soggy Cheeze-its, ground-in mud, spilled 7-Up, and half-sucked lollipops that have melted to become a permanent part of the carpet. The blinker doesn't work, the rear-window wiper doesn't work, there is a click that refuses to depart, the power steering freezes up involuntarily, the Check Engine light comes on each time we use the air conditioner, there is a diaper (unused--what kind of people do you think we are?) stuck in one of the back windows to keep it from rattling and the heating vents in the back do not heat. You know, it's old and I don't know how to fix cars. So the chance to drive a new car with less than about 5% of the miles that my car has was a pretty exciting thing in my world.

I picked up that car and it was sporty and sleek. There were no bicycle handle bar scratches running down the length of it, the doors closed with a satisfying thwump, and the back seats flipped up and down with the ease and grace of Fred Astaire on a dance floor. Lovely.

I started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot. No clicks, ticks or bumps.

I turned on the blinker and it began this rhythmic tick-tick-tick without the assistance of my left hand. I had forgotten how convenient that was!

I fiddled with the satellite radio, dinked with the phone controls on the steering wheel (no, I don't have a cell phone so I just had a conversation with the lady who kept saying, "Pardon?" and "Cancelled" and other intriguing single word responses), and basked in the warmth of the vents that blew hot air without throwing a fit.

But then? Then, tragedy struck.

Then, it was just a car.

The seats weren't as comfortable as my old van. The steering wheel had a kind of strange shape that made my hands tired. I listened to NPR on the satellite radio . . . which I can find on the FM dial. It got all dirty on the slushy winter roads. I still had to scrape the windows and I didn't like the gas cap.

Final assessment: I will keep my comfy old van in which I don't worry much if something spills or a newly training-wheel-free child slams into in lieu of breaks. As long as I have access to a good mechanic, I am happy to blink that light.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Sleeping With a Corpse

I am a really cold person.  During the winter, I am cold most of the time.  My negative temperature usually reaches its zenith about bedtime.  Loving both nightgowns and flannel, I put on my warmest grandma flannel nightgown and fluffy socks.  I always turn on my heated mattress pad at least an hour before I go crawl in between my flannel sheets.  Did you catch all of the heat sources there?  When it's time for bed, I move quickly to remove the day's clothes and put on my pajamas.  If I move too slowly, I will freeze like one of the White Witch's statues.  I try not to touch my husband, I really do, but I'm soo cooold!  I lay as close to him as possible without actually touching him.  I have become quite proficient at carefully hold my body within one centimeter of his--close enough to catch the aura of his body heat without giving him seizures from the sudden cold.  Sometimes, if he is still awake when I come to bed, he will wrap himself around me and I am in heaven.  He sleeps hot and I sleep cold and that's how I know we were meant for each other.  Sometimes an errant hand will find his body in its involuntary attempt to survive without a reliable blood source.  Every time, my husband is shocked out of sleeps and jolts away from me.  "What is wrong with you?" he pleads.  "If you have to touch me, Do Not touch bare skin!  You're going to give me frostbite!"  I apologize and scooch my hand back a couple of millimeters to avoid touching him, but can still benefit from his radiant heat.

Last night, he asked, "Do you think if I licked your hand, my tongue would stick?"


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Advent: 18-24

It is the final week before Christmas.  This month has flown by and I have been glad for our nightly advent; it brings us back together before our Father.  We have missed a few days here and there, but I try to either combine the next night or give a quick synopsis.  I don't know if anyone is still using any of these ideas, but just in case, here are the last few nights' devotionals.

December 18th
What did the shepherds do after the angels left?

Luke 2:15-17 

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 
16And they came with ahaste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

Song:  Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful

December 19th
How did the Wise Men know of Christ's birth?

Matt 2:2
2Saying, aWhere is he that is born bKing of the Jews? for we have seen his cstar in the east, and are come to dworship him.
Song:  It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

December 20th
There was a new star.

Helaman 14:5 (prophecy)
5And behold, there shall a new astar arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.
3 Nephi 1:21 (fulfillment)
21And it came to pass also that a new astar did appear, according to the word.
Song:  Stars Were Gleaming

December 21st
Who were the Wise Men?  Are we watching for the signs of Christ's return like the Magi?

Bible Dictionary Wise Men of the East
 Matthew 2:1–12 states that wise men (how many is not recorded), guided by a new star, came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus sometime after his birth. Who these men were we are not told, but it is certain they were not ordinary men. That they were privileged to search out the Son of God and give him gifts, and that they were spiritually sensitive and knowledgeable, suggests that they were actually prophets on a divine errand. The customary identification of them as astrologers is a gross misrepresentation. They evidently were holy men from a land east of Palestine. 
Bible Dictionary Magi
Called “wise men” (Matt. 2:1). Their identification is not made known in the scriptures, but it is certain that they were righteous men sent on an errand to witness the presence of the Son of God on the earth. Their spiritual capacity is evident: They were able to see the star when others could not; they knew its meaning, and brought gifts to the young child; and they were warned of God in a dream to return to their home by a safe route. Their knowledge was precise and accurate. It seems likely that they were representatives of a branch of the Lord’s people somewhere from east of Palestine, who had come, led by the Spirit, to behold the Son of God, and who returned to their people to bear witness that the King Immanuel had indeed been born in the flesh. We are not told how many wise men there were, but tradition usually speaks of three, because of the three gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. If they were serving in the capacity of witnesses, there would of necessity have been two or three.
Song:  With Wondering Awe

December 22nd
What is gold, frankincense and myrrh?  What gift would you bring?

Bible Dictionary Frankincense
The fragrant resinous exudation of various species of Boswellia; it was imported into Judaea from Arabia (Isa. 60:6Jer. 6:20). It was an ingredient in the holy incense for sacrificial purposes (Ex. 30:34) and was highly valued as a perfume (Matt. 2:11).
Bible Dictionary Myrrh
Used in the preparation of the holy ointment (Ex. 30:23); in the purification of women (Esth. 2:12); as a perfume (Ps. 45:8Song. 1345); and for embalming (John 19:39). It was obtained from various thorny shrubs of the dry districts of Arabia and eastern Africa. In Gen. 37:2543:11, myrrh is the gum of the rock rose.
Song:  The First Noel

December 23rd
How does the following statement relate to the baby Jesus?  How does it relate to you?

ET Sullivan wrote:

When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way.  He doesn't stir up his earthquakes or send for his thunderbolts.  Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother.  And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind.  And then God waits.  The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts.  The greatest forces in the world are babies.  (In Charles L Wallis, ed., The Treasure Chest (1965), 53) 
Song:  Silent Night

December 24th
We love our Savior, Jesus Christ.  (Share testimonies, if inspiried.  Reflect on the month's discussions.)

2 Nephi 31:20-21
20Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life.
21And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the away; and there is bnone other way nor cname given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the ddoctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of theeFather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is fone God, without end. Amen.
Song:  I Stand All Amazed

Friday, December 17, 2010

To My Blog Stalkers

To all of you who so often include the phrase Blog Stalker in your comments:

This is a public blog.  While I spend a lot of time talking about my family, it is not a typical online scrapbook kind of blog.  I spend some time reviewing books, but this is not a literary review blog, nor is it a design blog or a cooking blog.  All of those things are a part of any mother's job description and, as the MotherShip, I blog about my job.

In the same breath, however, it is not a publicized journal.  I do not tell you everything that happens and you do not get a blow-by-blow account of the day's events.  You know a lot about me, but you don't know (at least from this source) my children's names or my location and I try not to reveal other information that could compromise my security.  (Yes, I know that if someone was really intent to find out that information about me, they certainly could; I want to make it a little harder, at the very least.)

There are pictures of my children for the grandparents and the aunts, but this blog was not intended to be just a watch them grow montage.  Even though we are far apart, if I relied on a blog to keep us connected, I would certainly be failing my children.  They would get nothing out of such a one-sided conversation.

I write a blog because I am interested in a conversation.  Because we home school and I do not work outside of the home, I have limited adult interaction.  I discovered that the blog was a way for me to connect with like-minded people the world over.  I put my thoughts, discoveries, and frustrations, as well as the funny or trying moments out on the web all in an attempt to see that I am not alone and to show others in the same boat that they are not alone.  We gain strength from each other and, even though I don't know you in real life, your comments strengthen me and help me grow.  If I have given you courage to try sewing without a pattern or making bread, well, that is a big bonus.

I am nearing 500 posts, over these two and a half years, and have come to understand myself better.  My semi-regular writing has helped me work out thoughts, struggle through problems and organize my mind.  If those ramblings help someone through a similar situation or even if it just gives someone something to smile about that day, I have achieved one of my blogging goals.

There is one other reason I blog:  to set an example.  My chosen method of home education is heavily influenced by the mentor.    If I want my children to read, I have to read.  If I want them to learn geography, I have to learn it.  If I want them to write, they have to see me writing.  This isn't exactly pen-on-paper writing, but I am still making use of grammar, am trying to improve the clarity of my written communications and have drastically improved my spelling (a bane to me my entire school career).

So, please don't excuse yourself for visiting my blog.  I want you here.  If you didn't come and didn't read and didn't comment, blogging would lose most of its appeal.

Welcome!  These are the Messages from the MotherShip.  Out of an ordinary life comes extraordinary moments.  Let's talk.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Last night was Book Club.  I have told you before how much I love these dear women.  It was a lively discussion as we had drastically opposing opinions about our book which was A Room With a View.

Yes, just like The Finer Things Club.

We pride ourselves in the fact that we discuss the books and refrain from making "book club" a time for bashing husbands.  At one point, Tami said, "This passage is a perfect example of personification."

Amy broke in with, "Personifica what??"  What kind of a book club am I in?!"   Awesome.  Yes, that kind.

We laughed and thought, we fought over books in our annual book exchange and we ate a delicious blackberry treat.  There was discouragement and encouragement.  There was full-on, good natured mocking (no, I have never been skinny dipping and don't intend to) and a feeling complete love.

A few days ago, in my mega-list of odd things I wrote while trying to keep my mind off my performing child, I mentioned that I didn't have the funds to stamp the Christmas cards this year.  Toward the end of the night, Amy handed me an envelope with an off-handed, "This is from the book club."  Inside were several books of stamps.  Can you believe that?  I am so blessed.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Plumbing Problems?

If, say, your shower worked fine until today and then suddenly won't work. . .

If, for example, you try to push that little metal knob down on the faucet and it won't shut off the shower . . .

If, for instance, you pull and push and beat and wiggle the thing and it still won't go down . . .

you might just check for a small Christmas ornament that may have been been pushed up inside by someone whose fingers are much shorter than yours, but are still able to reach much farther back than you.

Not that I would know anything about that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

To Keep My Mind Off Him

My son is about to perform in the Nutcracker matinée.  We were able to go to opening night last night, but since this is a professional production and not just a recital, the tickets cost actual money.  When you combine the celebration root beer floats, the babysitter, and tickets, well, it's a once-a-year treat.  I had to just drop him off at the theater!  I can't check to make sure his costume is on right, I can't straighten the part in his hair, I can't give him last minute reminders and I certainly can't just stand in the back and bawl all over myself.  It's about to start, so to keep my mind off of my boy, I'm going to write some random things to you.  Thanks for understanding.

  1. Remember that scene in As Good as it Gets when the Helen Hunt character reads the thank you letter to the Jack Nicholson character?  He had done something thoughtful and it was life-changing for her and her son.  She wrote this rambling, multi-page letter thanking him.  He refused to read it so she read it to him.  There was a lot of snot and tears.  I want to write the same kind of letter to my son's ballet teachers, but I'm pretty sure it would freak them out (and they wouldn't let me be in control of their website anymore).
  2. I bought some wrapping paper without looking at it too carefully.  It says Xmas all over it.  I know the X comes from the Greek word for Christ (Χριστός), but it looks like there is an X over the Christ part of Christmas.  I found myself strategically placing the bows and tags on the wrapped gifts.  Is that weird?
  3. Now that I know we will be selling the house this spring, I want to get going on the packing and final touches, but I can't until after Christmas.  I do not do well with waiting.
  4. Not that I have any time for #3 because I am up to my neck in Christmas.  I have Christmas treats to compile, visiting teaching to fulfill, costumes to figure for my kids in the church nativity, gifts to buy/make/wrap, an advent to continue . . . .
  5. I'm feeling bad about not sending Christmas cards this year.  I love to do it.  I love to write the letter, to think of my friends as I address the envelopes, and to pick a card.  I love to receive Christmas cards, too.  Stamps are just too expensive for us to pull off this year.
  6. My niece is getting married on December 28th.  She is going to the temple on the 23rd.  For those of you who aren't a member of my church, going to the temple for the first time is a really big deal.  I just couldn't miss it.  My husband, however, has to work through most of Christmas break.  The only way we could work it so I could be there for Ariel and with my family for Christmas is two trips.  Yes, up and back, then up and back.  It is going to be a lot of travel.
  7. Because of the crazy Christmas schedule, I have to have Christmas ready by the 20th.  That's all the food, gifts, activities and travel supplies.  It makes for a short prep period, but I'm hopeful that by having it all done, it will be a nice holiday.
  8. My husband and three of his classmates had to come up with a business plan for a pharmacy.  They presented their proposal yesterday and, based on votes from their class, they won.  They will now go on to compete regionally.  It is super exciting and, I don't mean to brag, but it was Justin's idea.  Okay, I do mean to brag on him a bit.  I'm so happy he's mine.  
  9. Why must I love shoes?  Why couldn't I have loved dishtowels from the thrift store or thumb tacks or some other thing that you can pick up for ten cents?
  10. On a normal day, every room in my house is cleaned at least once.  They are never all clean at the same time.  I am pretty terrified of having to have my house ready to view at a moment's notice.  Plus, the housing market is in the toilet right now, so I'll probably have to have it clean for, like, months!  It may be enough to put me in an asylum. 
  11. There is this Christmas song called God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies.  It starts so great, with great guitar, bass, and fun harmonies.  Then Sarah McLaughlin starts singing and I have to turn it off.  She RUINS the song.  She is the whiniest singer ever recorded. 
  12. My Fancy Nancy daughter wants long, wavy hair more than anything.  Her hair is thin and brittle.  My other daughter, who claims to be more "boyish," has that beautiful thick hair.  One more example of how life is unfair.
  13. Would it be bad to just eat all of the sugar cookie dough and never see them through to rolling, cutting, baking and frosting them?  I had a roommate in college who would make cookie dough and give us bowls of it to eat.  I loved her.  Her name was Joy.  Do you think my neighbors would mind terribly if I gave them a bowl of cookie dough instead of some glorious treat platter?
  14. When I told my dad we were moving home, he yahooed.  He isn't a yahooer.  It was the best.
  15. My paperwhites are blooming.  I wanted to show you, but they are in front of a mirror.  A mirror reflects everything it sees so you would have seen my table with lunch dishes still waiting to be cleared, the floor filled with pine needles, random toys and rice and me (and I don't match the vignette I want to show you).  Instead you get the always clean ceiling.

Well, I suppose the kid is nearly done with his part in the ballet.  This distraction worked.  Thanks.  (:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent: 11-17

December 11th
What is a manger?  Why did Mary lay the baby in a manger?

Luke 2:7
7And she brought forth her afirstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the binns.
Song:  Away in a Manger

December 12th
What is the meaning of "Bethlehem?"  What is one name of Christ?

Bible Dictionary Bethlehem
Bethlehem. House of bread.
John 6:35
35And Jesus said unto them, I am the abread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never bthirst.
Song:  O Little Town of Bethlehem

December 13th
What is the meaning of the name "Jesus?"  Why would he be given that name?

Bible Dictionary Jesus
Jesus. The Greek form of the name Joshua or Jeshua, God is help or Savior.
2 Nephi 25:19
19For according to the words of the prophets, the aMessiah cometh in bsix hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the cangel of God, his dname shall be Jesus Christ, theeSon of God.
December 14th
Who did the angel tell of the birth of Jesus?

Luke 2:8

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Song:  Angels We Have Heard on High

December 15th
Why was it symbolic that Christ's birth was announced to the Shepherds?

John 10:11, 14-16

11I am the good ashepherd: the good bshepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
14I am the good ashepherd, and bknow my csheep, and am known of mine.

15As the Father knoweth me, even so aknow I the Father: and I lay down my blife for the sheep.
16And aother bsheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be cone fold, and one shepherd.
Song:  Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd
December 16th
Who are the "other sheep?"  (John 10:16)

3 Nephi 15:21,24

21And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said:aOther sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one bshepherd.
24But behold, ye have both heard amy voice, and seen me; and ye are my sheep, and ye are numbered among those whom the Father hath bgiven me.

December 17th
The scene on the hill.

Luke 2:9-14 


9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the aglory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring youagood tidings of great bjoy, which shall be to all people.
11For unto you is aborn this day in the city of David a bSaviour, which is Christ the cLord.
12And this shall be a asign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14aGlory to God in the highest, and on earth bpeace, good will toward men.

Song:  Far, Far Way on Judea's Plains