Friday, February 4, 2011


Raena is really starting to talk a lot. Sure, no one but me can understand her, but I'm here to assure you she's hilarious. For example, last night Joe and I turned off the TV but not the dish, and we had been watching Fox. When we turned the TV on to watch cartoons this morning, the rainbow bars and tone were on because Fox hadn't started their broadcasting day yet. It took me a minute to find the satellite remote, and in the interim Rae was staring at the TV. Finally she looked at me and said, "This show sucks." Am I the worst mom ever because I taught her "sucks?" Nah, I wrapped that up the first time she dropped something and said the *s* word. Precious.

Rae is generally good natured too. Her teachers at school call her "Giggles" because she just happily goes from activity to activity, giggling all the way. She's often that nice at home, but not so much that her dad is willing to change her nickname from "Pill."

She sings along to music quite a bit too. In the mornings when we're home, I play music in the kitchen and we all dance while I clean. This morning she gave a stirring performance of "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. She has moves.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Rural Mom

I love Rants From Mommyland. These ladies smell what I am cooking. They have posted some things about the Domestic Enemies of Suburban Moms, and a winter edition. Today they had a guest post about the Domestic Enemies of the Urban Mom. I laughed, and commiserated, but those problems don’t really belong to me anymore. So, I have written:

Domestic Enemies of the Rural Mom

I was raised in cities. Not ginormous cities like Louise described, but probably a good distance away from the burbs, as measured by instances of graffiti. So when as a teenager I moved to a small town I had never heard of in Idaho, a state that had a smaller population than the metropolis I most recently called home, I was justifiably shell shocked. Culture shocked. Just…shocked. But, once the weirdness settled into me I fell in love—with both the area and a farm boy, who I married and now I’ll die here. I love it. There are so many things that make our life wonderful and rare. However, we rural moms have a whole other set of domestic enemies that most people just don’t deal with or understand.

Grocery Shopping (or, stocking up for the zombie apocalypse)

Do you know how far I would have to drive if I wanted a T-Box? 70 miles--one hour, five minutes. Wal-Mart is a mercifully close 25 miles or half an hour-ish drive away. There is a grocery store in my own town, 8 miles away, but here’s the catch for rural groceries: they cost a lot more. Like $1.88 milk at Wal-Mart is $2.66 at the local store. This means that unless I want to spend half our money at the grocery store for a meager amount of food and toilet paper (I don’t even want to talk about diapers), I have to drive distances to get groceries. With children, this is less a shopping trip and more an expedition to the Himalayas; with a strong possibility at least one of your children is going to be handed over to a Sherpa to keep. To be adequately prepared for the expedition, I need at least 40 diapers, except for when I had two kids in diapers and then I needed roughly 9 billion. Then there are snacks, spare clothes, list, coupons (the Cap’n would be so impressed), blankets, sanitizer, toys…I pack more crap to go to Wal-Mart than my ancestors packed to cross the Atlantic. I don’t want to be driving 5o miles every other day just for milk or apples, so when I go, I get everything I will need for at least two weeks. At the end, my cart looks like I’m competing on “Supermarket Sweep.” My children, who started out looking like well cared-for, clean, pleasant tiny people look like…well…everybody else’s children at Wal-Mart, especially if this Wal-Mart is in West Virginia (I know, I’ve been there). I leave my home looking clean and put-together—I get back to it looking like a cult escapee.

Fuel (or, why I cry myself to sleep at night)

Fuel prices these days are a challenge for everyone. I can’t believe I’m a young person and I sound like a crabby old man; “When I was your age, gas cost less than a dollar, and you could get 5 nuggets on the dollar menu!” And that was only…well fine it was 15 years ago, but still. It seems excessive. Anyway, as I have already illustrated I have to drive to get anywhere. Drive a lot. I also do not live on a paved road, and have a long driveway that is also not paved but is frequented by tractors and cows. Plus, out here even a little bit of snow can be a disaster, because if the wind blows, there is nothing to stop that little bit of snow from drifting right up against the back of my car. These challenges mean only one thing: if I don’t have 4-wheel drive, I’m stranded like a Donner for a good part of winter (which is roughly October to June) except I have satellite T.V. Distance+SUV=giant fuel budget. The kind that makes you wonder if you are personally going to get a tongue lashing from Al Gore (which really isn’t that scary, it’s just that people tend to follow him around with cameras, and what if they show up right when I’m getting home from Wal-Mart?).

Pests (Wild America, except with more rodents)

I fully sympathize with Louise here, except I have more critters. There are a lot of critters in rural America, largely because most of them have never been informed that this area has now been zoned for people, and even if they had, they don’t think much of The Man. We grow grain here. Grain is basically mouse food. Mice live in the fields, in the irrigation pipes, in old logs, abandoned cars, barns, equipment—everywhere. And as soon as it gets cold they are drawn to the warmth of MY HOUSE! It doesn’t help that I have cattle, and so surround my house with corn and straw and sweet molasses. My farm is basically a mouse Hilton. It is a constant, disgusting battle to keep these critters out. I am personally keeping the good people who make Bar Bait in business.

In addition to the rats and mice that infest the city, I also enjoy: feral cats, coyotes, skunks, beavers, mountain lions, huge owls, bald eagles (pretty, but taloned) and that’s just the wild animals. I also live with about 1000 calves. So in addition to the fear that my children will pet the wrong kitty and either get sprayed by disgusting bio-terror or rabies, I fear that the cows will get out and stampede my kids while they play in the sandbox. Do you have that, New York City? Plus, where there are cows, there are flies. Lots and lots and lots of flies. I love my cows, I love our life, but if I could kill every last one of the flies with just my mind, I would be more beloved around here than Larry the Cableguy.

There is so much that is awesome about out life—if I need something out of my car I can go get it in my underwear and no one will know, even if it’s at noon. We have so much room, and so much air, and feel connected to the land. My kids will learn to work hard and they’ll know where food comes from, building appreciation for the work that goes into making the safest food supply in the world. And by safe, I mean to eat, not to play with.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

...And that's why they used to use grape juice in the sacrament

I really want my kids to understand that Easter is not about a bunny or candy or pretty clothes. So, all this week we're doing little crafts and activities that teach about Easter, the Atonement, and the Sacrament. Today we made placemats with the Easter story on them, like so (I put these images in contact paper to make them water/dinner proof). The idea is that we can talk about the story while we eat for the rest of the week. Jacob had a lesson on Easter in Primary already, so he's not entirely ignorant of the purpose of the holiday. He pointed out the frame with Jesus hanging on the cross, and told me, "That's Jesus. The bad men gave him a crown of thorns and put him on that cross so he would die." He paused and wrapped it up with, "The sign over him says 'King of the Juice.' Mom, why would they say He was 'King of the Juice?' What kind of juice?"

How do you explain ethnicity to a six-year-old? Also, huge points for me for not laughing right out loud.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth...or at the very least the Telestial Kingdom.

In Relief Society on Sunday, I sat with a bestie and sang the hymn, "Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth." One reason she is a bestie is that when we saw the title of the hymn, we looked at each other and snorted. We were united in our cynicism lightly seasoned with scorn.

Now, I know its generally a bad idea to scoff at the hymns of Zion, but really--mothers of young children should not sing this song anytime during the three-hour block. At a weekly meeting where our children are not present, or maybe the yearly women's conference, sure. It's hard to sing "brightly" that home can be a heaven on earth when you are planning what you are going to do to your children to punish them when you get there. By the time we got to "Parents teach and lead the way, Children honor and obey," we were both practically vibrating with suppressed laughter. I have at least two family nights a month on obedience--that's how good my kids are at it. I swear, if I have to teach one more lesson on obedience, I may just give in and go get some President Packer glasses and complete the transformation.

Because I was busy being a cynic, I missed that the last verse actually chronicles my daily life. "Praying daily in our home we'll feel His love divine." I do pray daily. A lot of that is because if I don't pray daily and often I will snap and someone is going to have to call protective services. "Searching scriptures faithfully we'll nourish heart and mind." My mind needs a lot of nourishment. When your only companions are tiny people with limited conversational skills, sometimes you begin to feel that your brain has melted and is pouring out your ear. Time spent in the scriptures reminds me that I am a woman of purpose, destiny even. Plus, it stimulates my brain and helps me feel my steel trap isn't getting rusty. "Singing hymns of faith...." I sing hymns all the time. I listen to hymns all the time, especially between the hours of 3 and 5 pm. This is the time of day I am most likely to come unglued. Hymns keep me together.

Can home be a heaven on earth? Of course it can. I'm pretty sure mine was close to heaven the other night when we all played "Simon Says" and "Duck, Duck, GOOSE!" the other day in the living room. Kory thought "Simon Says" was a little impersonal so he says, "Kory says..." Jake laughed the whole time. Raena was in heaven. Nobody got mad. Nobody got impatient. Maybe that's the key: Prayer, Scriptures, Hymns, "Simon Says."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today, I like snowboarding

I love the scenes in "The Singles Ward" where the cute little preemie played by Kirby Heyborne is relating his favorite Mormon Myths--who is, who isn't a member, did Elvis take the discussions, Steve Martin's CTR ring, all that dumb stuff. Now, some celebrities really are LDS, though it seems to be a good Mormon, and an entertainer, you pretty much have to be a convert (Aaron Eckhart v Rick Schroeder, Kathryn Heigl v Gladys Knight). If you google "mormon" you'll get lots of hits, most of which make me want to throw things. Antis, ex-mos, polygamists,'s disheartening to say the least. But not today. Today if you google "mormon" you'll find Torah Bright. Torah won the Olympic gold medal in women's snowboarding last night. She's not LDS the way Eliza Dushku and Amy Adams are LDS--she's LDS the way you are. In this interview with an Australian media outlet, she does a fantastic job sharing her love of her sport and truths about her faith. Today, I'm proud to have someone in the spotlight who represents us well.
Torah, Torah, Torah, indeed!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Um, service hurts sometimes

As promised, here is the full story of my daily act of service: volunteering in Jake's kindergarten class.

I had arranged a babysitter for this morning a week ago--or so I thought. After a morning full of phone calls (no less than 4 plus a text message) and never getting in contact with my friend, I took my chances and just showed up at her house.

No one there.

So, I started going through my address book, looking for someone to take my littles at the last minute. I got lucky, and Brittany changed her plans for me (THANK YOU BOWENS!) I hurried over to their house, dropped my kids off and ran out the door. As I was running, I remembered a valuable lesson--in the winter, its best to assume there is ice under the snow. I remembered this as I was momentarily airborne, suspended in dread and disbelief in the air outside the Bowen home. When I hit the ground with my back, and followed that up with a resounding WHACK on the back of my head, all I could think of came out my mouth, "auauaghghh (groan) I'm thirty!" I picked myself off, and hobbled to my car to continue on my breathless journey to the elementary school.

At the school, I realized that my whole backside was wet. I hadn't noticed before cause of the pain. Oh well, too late now. I proceeded to help with the class, sitting on the floor for an hour. Not smart. My hips are not all they should be, and they hurt a lot by the end of the hour.

Service is good, and seeing how happy Jake was to see me in his class made it all worth it--but my elbow hurts, and my hips hurt and I have a severely sprained dignity. Thankfully, all my service endeavors for tomorrow are indoors. I'll probably burn myself instead.

Month of service, week one

A good friend committed to doing a month of service in January, and when she wrote her last post on her project, she challenged her readers to do the same in February. Well, I love a challenge, so I have taken on this project for myself!

Monday: A friend in the ward is battling cancer right now, and I didn't see her in church on Sunday. I gave her a call to check on her and see if she was feeling alright or needed any help. We had a good chat. She amazes me with her attitude and her faith.

Tuesday: I had planned to watch a friend's kids today, but that fell through. Instead, I took a look at how long my kids watch tv every day, and decided that I was missing oppurtunities to spend time with them. Jake will be in First Grade next year, which means he'll get on the bus at seven and come home at four. I'll be with him only four of his waking hours! My boy is starting to slip away from me, and I'll feel awful if I waste the time I have with him. So, we colored, and played with clay, and made cookies.

Wednesday: I play with a group of ladies known as "Little Monkey Mamas." We hadn't had an activity in months, and I figured everyone else was a stir crazy as me, so I planned and carried out an acitivity. It was a huge success, and we had a lot of fun!

Thursday: Yesterday was lame. I had intended to count my girls' night out with a couple of friends for my service, but I don't know if that counts. I guess it does, if offering your love and support and friendship while eating high-calorie food counts as service. I hope it does.

Friday: Today I'm going to help with a party in Jake's class. I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday: Big cooking day! One of my girls on my VT beat is having a baby on Monday (at the latest!) so I'm making some meatballs and chili to freeze and take over to her so she can use them at her pleasure!

I like helping others. I really want to live a life that matters. Serving others is the best way I can think of to do that!