Saturday, September 29, 2012

Phoning Home

Sometimes when you think you're doing just fine on your own, you realize that you're not on your own, and you weren't just fine. This week, I had a bad week. It started out great.

On the weekend, our son called a couple of times to let us know:

 1) He'd gotten his first set of orders because he was almost finished with sonar school. He is going to Guam to serve on a fast attack submarine for three years. I was very excited for him; he was very excited, too.
2) Then, on Sunday night he called to say he'd proposed to his girlfriend and they were thinking of marrying before he leaves in six weeks. (The new plan is for the wedding to be next summer.)


That was a lot to process in just two days. I was thinking "Guam!!" That's really far away. And he'll be under the ocean a lot. This is my baby boy we're talking about here. Well, okay, he's  not a baby anymore. He's nearly 30 and over six feet tall. And this submarine gig is what he's been working toward for over a year now. (That's a bad thing about motherhood: you're still the mother, but you have to just let them go.) So, I'm excited for him to jump into this career that he's chosen. Also, I really, really like the girl he's marrying. She's just right for him. So all this is great stuff. But somehow, my weird body took all the excitement and turned it into stress.

I woke up Monday morning with a vicious knot in a muscle right where my left shoulder meets my neck. It felt as though a knife were sticking in it. I stretched and twisted and rubbed and pulled. But nothing I could do would relieve this pinch. I take a daily long-release anti-inflammatory, so I couldn't take more. I tried Tylenol, and it helped a little. The next morning it was worse, and each day it felt terrible as soon as I got out of bed and went downhill from there. Sigh.

By Thursday, I was pretty miserable. I had a dreadful day, with the nadir being my first afternoon class for whom the lesson didn't click. Not only did they not get it, but they were apparently all afflicted by Squirrel Brain (which is a condition that happens to nine year olds when they don't want to work, so they act like squirrels: chattering and messing around and leaving the teacher feeling NUTS!) By the time I got home Thursday, I was exhausted from pain and aggravation. Friday loomed ominously before me. I laid on the couch with a heat pack on my shoulder/neck knot.

Friday was scheduled to be Science Lab Day. Every three weeks, I do a lab activity. I always do the labs because I love to do them, and the reading and math teachers have far too many standards in their subjects to spend even one day doing Science. Plus, I can always have them write about our experience later, and it's good to have participated in the event so I can prompt them. But, how was I going to do Science Lab Day when my shoulder hurt so much and I was, as a result, short tempered and cranky? It wouldn't work.

Friday morning, I got up, dressed and knelt to pray. I apologized for being so stubborn and arrogant that I had given up praying for several weeks. I apologized for being so unhappy and upset that I didn't want to pray and feel better. There are some things that are very upsetting to me the last few years. I begged God to let me have a good day at school. I pleaded that I could be calm, pleasant, and let the students enjoy this day. They were all anticipating it so much. I asked that my pain could be minimized so that I could keep a good attitude.

The rest of the day, I felt no pain there. I didn't even realize it until I sat down at the end of the day, in complete exhaustion. We'd had a terrific day. We accomplished a lot of science (the properties of water and observing the differences in density in hot and cold water.) It was an action packed day. I'd been on my feet all day, I'd run around the room monitoring and supervising three different classes doing these investigations and --- not once --- did I even remember I'd had a pinched muscle that had been in a perpetual cramp all week.

As I sat there reading my e-mails after the students all left, I felt a little twinge in my shoulder. It was starting to come back. I got home and was ready for the couch and the hot pack. (Yes, I'm seeing the doctor next week.)

So this evening, I sat and listened to the Relief Society broadcast, and heard Sister Reeves talk about "casting your burden upon the Lord." I sang "I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine, to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine. " I realized that my Father in Heaven might get a cramp in His neck sometimes because His daughter is always trying to go it on her own. And she doesn't need to. He's there. He's reaching out. He waiting by the phone. All I have to do is reach back. All I have to do is ask.

I needed to have a good Friday. It's terrible that I almost didn't pray for help. But, I've been so rebellious and proud that I felt embarrassed. I've been out of touch and not phoning home. Yet, when I did ask for something --and it was mostly for the students--I got an answer to that prayer that was instantaneous. It wasn't subtle at all. I had no pain all day. When school ended, it came creeping back. It's back now...but I needed it gone on Friday. I asked for help and I got it. I feel like I was Daniel in the lion's den. Angels came and held the Pain Lion's mouth shut all day. Wow.

Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Phantom of the Ceiling Fan

Our ceiling fan is haunted. The one in the living room, I mean.

It, like every fan in every room of our house, is one of those with the lights and fan combo, so you can have the fan alone, the lights alone, or both lights and fan on at the same time. We usually have the fan rotating, because it circulates the air-conditioning. And, on those rare weeks in the winter, we use it to keep the heated air moving through the room. During the several months when we don't need cooled air or heated air, but can just enjoy the pleasantness of the fresh outdoors, we also keep the ceiling fans on then to draw in that lovely natural air.

However, the one in the living room seems to have a problem. About half of our fans use a remote control, so that you can set the status and the speed of the blades. Something, or someone, is using the remote in that room to mess with me. And it isn't CoolGuy, who sometimes finds it amusing to manipulate the T.V. remote sound, causing me wonder what is going wrong with my hearing.

Ever since we moved in here, at random times, the living room lights would just turn on. The first time it happened, I was home alone. I walked into the living room from the bedroom to find that the lights attached to the fan were blazing away. It freaked me out. I was supposed to be the only person in my house. Who had turned on those lights? Then, a day or two later, as I sat watching television, they turned themselves on again. And there was DEFINITELY no one else in the house. And no one manipulating the remote. Hmmm....I changed the batteries, thinking that might be the problem.

Apparently that is not the cause. For the seven years we've lived here, those dopey lights will occasionally just turn on. Lately the fan has become involved. Sometimes, it will speed up, or slow down, or shut off altogether. We'll be sitting there watching a show, and---like the heavens have opened---light will suddenly bath me from above. Or, the fan will kick into overdrive--whirring as fast as it can. Bizarro.

Recently, CoolGuy tells me that the lights came on as the garage door opened, which I had caused by using the clicker in the truck. I'd just arrived home from work, and I walked into the house and he pointed out that maybe there was a correlation there. We're just not sure, because it certainly doesn't happen every time someone opens the garage door with the remote in a vehicle. And we know our neighbor's remote doesn't open it, because they don't have a garage door remote control opener.

Who knows what's causing it?  CoolGuy's engineer impulses urge him to figure it out. But...we may need to engage the assistance of Someone Else. Maybe the Phantom knows!!

Monday, September 17, 2012


Okay, there is a really big pimple growing on my chin, just below my lip. It's taking its time, too. A big red dot that is finally developing a pointy part...

However, I no longer have anything like Clearasil or Oxy 10 or anything like that in my medicine cupboard. I mean, why would I??

Instead, I have herbal compounds to help calm down hot flashes. I have wrinkle cream to help smooth out my turkey neck skin. I have arthritis anti-inflammatory cream. I have digestive aides.

But---zit cream?? That is so last decade in this house. So, I'll just have to wait it out. But, come on...isn't there supposed to be time when you don't have to deal with skin blemishes? Can't teenager-hood be over with, finally? Sheesh...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Celebrate Her

I'm sure there are several reasons to celebrate on September 15. The chief reason for me is my daughter. It's her birthday! Here are a few of the great photos taken by her dad as the years went by. I'm just including a few, because there are hundreds and hundreds...we enjoy them quite often.
San Diego 1981
Santa Barbara 1992

Provo 2004

Morocco 2005

Orem 2011
Port Hueneme/Malibu 2012
She bakes championship pies. She does triathlons. She loves cats. She is a nurse...very soon: a nurse practioner. She is the greatest auntie in the world. She is a loyal sister, daughter and friend.

Have a happy day!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Life---Going On

This week and a half has sped by so fast, that I was startled that it had been so long since I wrote a post. Lots of things have occurred, most of them mundane and ordinary. Some were rather stimulating. Let me just post a few paragraphs that, if I were a faithful Facebooker, I'd have posted as a status.

**On Tuesday it started raining about 1:30 in the afternoon, and it lasted for nearly an hour. It was one of those gully washers that the desert is famous for, when the heavens open and it just dumps water down. It almost doesn't even qualify as "rain" so much as a deluge. We went outside when school ended (grateful that the sky was clearing) and out on the street we could see that our crosswalk was one of the few spots that wasn't submerged. There was an enormous brown flood from wall to wall just south of our school's entrance. Really---wall to wall---from one side of the street to the other side. Our principal went out there to help our students find a way around it, and to keep a little order. As we helped children and their parents to leave the school safely, we saw a helicopter hoving nearby. It was notable because it wasn't the usual sight-seeing helicopters on their way back from the Grand Canyon, nor something from the air force base. It wasn't a news copter, nor the police. It turned out to be a rescue helicopter that was about a mile from our school, scooping a few people from their flooded cars along a street that had been completely inundated by the overflowing flood control channel into which vast amounts of water was still cascading from the storm drains. It was crazy! I got back into the office, and there were 12 children waiting there whose parents couldn't get to the school because of the flooding near their homes. Even today, three days later, there are swathes of gravel and dried mud all along the streets on this east side of Las Vegas from that flash flood-inducing rainstorm from Tuesday.

** I was so tired last night, that I simply went to bed at 9:30 and fell so fast asleep that when I awoke at 12:30 for bathroom visit, I felt that I'd slept for ten hours! It's true: the hours you sleep before midnight are more restful than those after midnight. I went back to bed and got six more hours. I had a GREAT day today, after all that sleep. I should try for that every night, huh? (oops...11:00 P.M. already.)

**For some reason this week, we got into a conversation at school in one class that ended with me noting that Mr. CoolGuy has a pair of cowboy boots for church, another pair for every day, a pair of sandals and a pair of hiking boots. (I forgot about his Uggs...) Anyway, there was a boy who was astounded--maybe scandalized--that CoolGuy has cowboy boots for church. He just couldn't believe it. I pointed out that we are from Wyoming, and in Wyoming lots of men wear cowboy boots to church. In fact, there are probably lots of men in Nevada who wear cowboy boots to church. When you grow up on a horse in the "Cowboy State," what else would you wear to church? The things that fascinate fourth graders...

**Is it November 6th yet? Nevada is a "swing state" so we are awash with political ads and candidate visits. It's astonishing. Luckily, I have TiVo, so I can fast forward through the commercials. And there is an amazing selection of them. So, we'll be really glad to have this election finished. For other reasons, too, as well.

**Did  you know that cats exist just to use up all the excess bandwidth of the internet?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of our family's founding: my parents were married 66 years ago today.(And I thank my oldest sister for her reminder e-mail this morning. I'd written the date on my white board and was thinking about them.) They were sealed in the Salt Lake City temple, and then lived in Salt Lake City for a several months where my mother worked as a secretary and my dad was a laborer. They moved back to their Wyoming childhood home to help my mother's dad who had injured his hand in a saw accident. My father had grown up on a farm, and was a hard worker, so he was an excellent choice to help with the spring planting and summer haying.

I've told this story before, and last year, I talked about their very different upbringing, even though they lived in the same rural community. However, I keep discovering what I learned from my parents as the years go by.

1) You should always speak kindly of one another to the rest of the world. I didn't ever hear my mother indulge in the "husband bashing" that is popular in today's world. Maybe it just wasn't done in her generation, but she certainly never talked down about my dad in my hearing. And he certainly was her Number One fan.

2) Help each other as much as you can. When I was a teen, I realized my mom picked out my dad's clothes every day, laying them on the bed for him, as he cleaned up from the morning chores. He'd dress in that outfit and go drive the school bus, then change back into his chore clothes when he came home. I thought it was just a manifestation of her bossiness. As a teen, I was hyper-sensitive to bossiness in a mother. But as an adult woman, I came to understand that he'd never had a "wardrobe" as a poor orphan, and he appreciated her helping him to dress appropriately. It allowed him to feel comfortable in his job and know that he looked professional. He did draw the line at pink dress shirts, however, when that fad came and went in the 70's.

3) Teach your children how to work, by working alongside them. I am eternally grateful to have learned how to work hard. I have succeeded in my life, over and over, by simply knowing that I can finish a difficult job by just persisting and not giving up. Neither of my parents gave up. They both supported each other in the endless tasks that parenting and farming presented. They had children living in their home for over 36 years. It's astonishing.

4) Keep the romance alive. As my mom she stood at the stove cooking a meal and he was passing by to wash up for that food, my dad would give her a little pat on the fanny,  or a hug and a kiss. She'd protest in a laughing voice, which clearly meant that she'd enjoyed it, but...not in front of the kids...They really liked each other. My mom fixed her hair daily and put on lipstick. She always dressed nicely and had some really cool Sunday clothes. He was very proud to be seen by her side. It was hard on both of them when his long illness turned her into his nurse. But it was a labor of love.

5) Help everyone else whenever possible. My parents fed a lot of people over the course of their lives. And I'm not just talking about the eight kids they produced. Many Sundays, an old bachelor guy was picked up by my dad and brought home after church to eat our mid-day feast. Daddy would also hire a mentally challenged man to help him with different laboring jobs during the week in the winter. His pay included a hearty meal, along with the few dollars he earned. We had an endless parade of relatives who dropped by in the summer for a meal. We had a little boy live with us one summer, the son of my dad's cousin. His family was having some type of trouble, so we just had an extra brother for a few months. Car trouble on the highway? Come to our house. New baby? My mother would bring food to you. Hay mower broken? My dad will share his. I realize that this was a community trait, but my parents never held back when the need arose to give service to others.

So, in honor of this date, I hope that you can think of your parents fondly, and think of ways that they set an example for you. And if that isn't easy, or even possible, then start today to build those good traits into your life, so that one day, your offspring can make a list about you.