Friday, October 28, 2016


When Adam was a missionary, he got the nickname Karhu.  It means bear in Finnish.  I think it probably was a result of his size and maybe his bear paw-esque hands.

Perhaps it's because he's from the Northwest and likes to swim in rivers and eat salmon.

(Although Adam doesn't stand in rivers while he eats salmon.  He usually eats salmon after it's been cooked....)

Whatever the reason, that was his nickname.

I have no such nickname, but I have been known to be a little bit (or a lot) of a mama bear at times.  It hasn't always gone well.  Sometimes I'm...let's just say...hasty.

Mama bear has been on the prowl lately.  Emma, who has never had a day's trouble with a teacher in the history of ever, has been struggling a bit with a teacher.  I wasn't privy to it all along because Emma is a private/independent person and I'm a somewhat neglectful mother, especially when it comes to Emma and school.  She's got it covered and I let her.

I marched into the school the other day though, to speak with this teacher.  We had a frustrating but, I hoped, ultimately helpful discussion.

Then yesterday morning, I saw that things were not better.  And I got mad.

I wrote an email, guns blazing.  Now, I've learned from sad experience that these things always go better when I run them by Adam first.  He is calmer and wiser and, OK...more stable.

He was getting ready for work and I sat on the edge of the tub, with my laptop balanced on my legs, while he brushed his teeth at the sink.  "Will you help me with my tone in this email?" I asked.

I read it to him and he said, "That sounds aggressive."

"Well I feel aggressive," I shot back.

"OK," he said, "but you want results."

And he's right.  (Which is why I asked him.)  In these kinds of conflict who is right doesn't matter.  My righteous indignation and desire for justice needed to take a backseat to what outcome I desired.

It reminded me of one of my dad's favorite sayings, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

So, using Adam's suggestions, I corrected my tone.  I sent a better email with words more measured. 

And guess what?  I got back a very kind and supportive email from the teacher.  I think things will improve!  Adam's way, of reacting calmly and thoughtfully, isn't just about getting what you want.  It's also about thinking about the other person and where they are coming from and how your actions will impact them if you demand vindication.  What can I say?  I married above myself.

Here's my takeaway.  Sometimes Mama Bear needs to be less of this:

And more of this:

I'm glad I have my own Karhu to learn from.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Feeling your pain

I've come to realize there is a silver lining to pain.   Empathy.  It feels good to be able to understand, really understand.  It kicks sympathy up a notch.  It feels even better to be on the receiving end of empathy.  It feels good when someone gets it.

When I told my mom I was asked to be YW president, she said, "Oh, Thelma."

Because she'd been there.  She knew it was a Big Job.

When Braeden was born, I felt terrible that I hadn't been more help to Marianne when Clarissa was born.  I felt like I should have been over at her house every day, washing her dishes or something.  I hadn't been, because I didn't know.  I didn't understand how hard new motherhood hits.

When Adam's dad passed away, I remember thinking this is what this feels like?!?  I knew lots of people who had had family members die.  I'd always felt sympathy for them, but now I knew better how it felt.


Yesterday Adam's sweet cousin Pam took Branson to the MTC.  Branson is her handsome and quality son.  He's heading to the Virginia Chesapeake mission to hopefully be companions with Braeden.  (Both moms have their fingers crossed.)

Pam texted me yesterday after the harrowing MTC drop off.  She said, "I'm sorry I didn't do more to support you during this time."  She meant when I took Braeden.  She always knew it would be hard, now she knows what it feels like to leave your heart on a cold hard sidewalk in Provo.  (OK, maybe I'm exaggerating.  Or am I?)

Anyway, Pam and I are in a club now.  We're in the mother of missionary club.  Our hearts melt a little every time we see a missionary (which isn't that often in Utah county).  We're part of the group that text each other pictures when we do run across a missionary.

Because we get it.

Adam told Branson to make sure he had his mom's cell phone number memorized so people could text her pictures.

Mamas need pictures.

So life can be rough sometimes, but isn't it nice that we have each other?  Isn't it sublime when someone gets it?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Not my email

I wish I could include all the political email that's been bandied back and forth between my family members.  Ha!  I'm kidding (kind of).  I love my family, even the ones who think I'm going to hell in a hand basket because of my misguided political views.  (You know who you are.)

Those are my email.  

The following...are not.

In case I was wondering how to fill my time I could learn the antidote to overeating by asking Tami:

My real question to ask Tami is, "Who did you think you were sending this information to?"

In case I'm interested in learning how to manage my money, I could watch a webinar from Mentor Financial Group:

Noticing the date, I think I missed my chance for financial freedom....

This email was very sweet and I wish I could send the love and concern on to Thelma:

But, like Carolyn, I don't know Thelma Yates' email address....

This one isn't even addressed to a Thelma.  It's for Harry.  More political stuff.  

I didn't take the official survey.  I also don't live in South Carolina.

Here I got confirmation for a lottery order.

If Mrs. Thelma Newham wins the lottery, I hope they'll also send me the money.

(Then I'll regret not participating in that webinar on finances....)

I think there is a cultural gulf that I'm not crossing with this one.  I don't entirely get it.

Finally, here's another tragic one for you.  I get a lot of these.  Thelmas, unaware of the fact that they don't know their email address, set up appointments at the Genius Bar to help them with things (like not knowing their email address) but they don't get the confirmation for the appointments.

Because I do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Parenting when they're almost grown

I don't know if it's just my kids, but in my limited sample, being a senior in high school seems to cause brain damage.

First Braeden and now Emma: at once completely capable, responsible, pleasant, aggravating, stressed and irresponsible.  It seems to be a year punctuated by unexplained tardies at school adding up and procrastination and working hard and being helpful and declining money when I offer it to them.  "No, I got this.  I don't need money."

I can only compare it to toddlers at a park.  They run away gleefully, independent and adventurous and then hurry back to their mother's side.

Autonomy can be an exhilarating but ultimately scary thing.

When Emma isn't freaking out about all the things (college applications, too much work to do, friend drama, school and social obligations) she is being perfectly enjoyable.  With our menfolk camping last weekend we went to dinner together and took a walk together and just checked in with each other several times throughout the days while we worked separately.  She and I are highly compatible.  We are two introverts, doing our thing, talking occasionally but with a look we can see when the other one needs space.

Yesterday Braeden had someone text me and ask if I would send him an absentee ballot.  He included a picture:

It's a look of silent pleading.  "Please, Mom.  I need to vote."

And of course the answer is yes, I'll figure it out.  I want that cute boy to vote too.  He also asked me to research candidates for him and tell him who I was voting for and why.  (Why is the important thing for Braeden.)  He may or may not follow my advice.  I know that.

So I sat down to research.  I already had opinions on some of the candidates but had to do some reading as I went down the ballot.  When it came to the school board candidates, I asked Emma's opinion.  And she had a strong one.  She went to a debate between the two candidates last week.  She helped as part of her AP government class.

I listened to her explain to me why one candidate was superior to the other.

I have always known I have a smart girl but I sort of marveled that she was dispensing her wisdom to me because she's more knowledgeable and experienced in this area.

Times they are a changing.

Sometimes I celebrate their independence.  I lean on them to take care of things.  I expect and value their autonomy.  Then, like the toddler at the playground, I want to run back together.  I want to take care of everything.  I want to fix the fixable and banish the unfixable.  I want to gather them in my lap and rock them to sleep.

That is particularly problematic with Braeden since he's man-sized and lives in Virginia.


Monday, October 24, 2016


Last Wednesday night I watched the Face to Face with Studio C.  It was a broadcast geared toward youth but I loved it for me too.  I laughed and cried.  (That pretty much sums up my life in one sentence.)

There's one part in particular that I keep thinking about.  One of the cast members, Whitney, has a five month old son.  She said that after he was born, someone pointed out to her how much she loved him even though he didn't do anything to deserve it.  He just was hers.  So she loved him.

Then it was pointed out to her that that is the same way Heavenly Father feels about us.  We are His.  So He loves us.  We don't do anything to deserve that love.  It's because we belong to Him.

It staggers my mind (and was part of the reason why I cried).

Last week in his email, Braeden sent this scripture that I also can't stop thinking about:

My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.
Abraham 2:8
God knows everything.

He is all powerful.

And He loves us.

So when it feels like things aren't going my way, remembering those three things soothes my soul a little.  It encourages me to be patient.  I'm sputtering along in this anxious and flawed state, but I'm His.

So He loves me.

And I'll be OK.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fall Break

Two years ago, we went to Disneyland during Fall Break.  It seemed like such a perfect idea.

Except everyone in Utah also went to Disneyland.

This year, unbeknownst to me (I think I need to follow Utah on Facebook or something) everyone in Utah didn't go to Disneyland.

They went to the Mt. Timpanogos temple.  I took a vanload of kids there yesterday and I have never seen the place so busy.

We were there three hours.

After I dropped everyone back off except Mark, I was going to pick up a prescription for my increasingly stupid eye.

I got a speeding ticket.

It seemed like rotten luck but I also deserved it.

Afterward, I was driving the speed limit like a good girl and I thought, "Are you kidding meThis is how slow I was supposed to be going all this time?"

I don't know if I can keep that up.

Mark went on a scout campout.

He refused to take a coat, so he's probably really cold but he won't die and hopefully he'll learn his lesson.

(Like me and my speeding ticket.)

Last night Vanessa stayed over because her mom is out of town.  That is the second time Mark has been at scout camp and Vanessa has stayed over.

Emma said we need to keep the ginger component balanced around here.

Today, after work, Adam is joining the scouts, Emma is keeping her nose to the grindstone with homework and college applications.

And I'm not going to get another speeding ticket.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Simultaneously, each one of my family members is struggling.  Nothing too serious; we're pretty blessed and we all know it.  Just irritating things in the form of physical, mental or emotional health.  Or sometimes all of the above.

Also, I am giving a little talk at our upcoming Young Women in Excellence about pearls and faith.  The idea is that pearls are formed a tiny layer at a time, just like our faith.

Pearls have been on my mind.

They're pretty.  And interesting.  It's sort of amazing to me how they form:
Natural Pearls form when an irritant - usually a parasite and not the proverbial grain of sand - works its way into an oyster, mussel, or clam. As a defense mechanism, a fluid is used to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating, called 'nacre', is deposited until a lustrous pearl is formed.

So we have these irritants (for example, my left eye which has been plaguing me for weeks).

I can't make a pearl out of it (since I'm, you know, not an oyster, mussel, or clam).

What can I do?

How can I turn my irritant into something beautiful and valuable?

I love reading the words of Bruce Hafen.  He wrote:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28, 30) He spoke these comforting words in the context of asking his followers to develop a love pure enough to extinguish hatred, lust, and anger. His yoke is easy—but he asks for all our hearts.
His words do not describe an event, but a process. He does not request the answer to a yes-or-no question, but an essay, written in the winding trail of our experience.
When I was in high school, I had a teacher who gave all sorts of quizzes and tests.  They were all matching and multiple choice and so easy.  So much easier than an essay, especially "an essay, written in the winding trail of our experience."

We're given this seemingly constant barrage of things, hard things.  We keep having to level up.  The other night I told Emma she was leveling up.  She said, "But I'm failing." (She's not, she sometimes expects perfection.)

But I think that feeling that we're failing is sort of par for the course.  Things get hard and we think we can't handle it.  Then we turn to the Lord.  We ask for Him to share the burden, we yoke ourselves to Him.

How does that help my eye?

I don't know.

I think I can work on becoming more empathetic.  I can learn to take care of myself but in the words of my dad, also learn not to take myself too seriously.

My eye hurts.  So what?  I can still serve others.  I can still do good in the world.  I can still seek to be better.  I can love more.

Maybe love = pearls for us humans who aren't, you know, oysters, mussels or clams.


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