Wednesday, December 29, 2010

two major holiday victories

Victory one: I made a kickass felt playhouse.  Do you know the kind I'm talking about?  It fits over the card table?  This is kind of a big deal when you are someone who doesn't make things, AND doesn't really have a huge desire to make things.  But I saw a pattern and got my heart set on making one, which was ambitious considering I've sewn two things in my life, a bag at age 12 as part of a 7th grade life skills class and a pillowcase at age 27 with my dear friend MCB (literally) holding my hand.  Yeah, so I had a bit of a learning curve on this one.  But thanks to Mama Gurrbonzo who came into town for a few days right in time to lend a much-needed helping hand, the playhouse happened, and it only involved staying up til 3 AM thrice.  May I be frank?  It basically rocks.  It has the same house number on it as our house has, and a harvest-able garden, and a flower pot with removable flowers, and a mailbox with awesome letters in it, and our kid likes it.  It makes me feel like even if I never make anything else, it will be because I don't want to and not because I can't.  Now I force people who come over to behold it and applaud us all. 

Victory two: We (successfully) had a bunch of people over on Christmas Day.  I love having people over, but most of the time it's a handful of people.  We live in a land where everyone clears out for the holidays, sometimes for weeks at a time.  Whenever I found out someone was sticking around for Christmas, I found myself saying, "Hey!  You should come over!"  So 20 people later, we had ourselves a houseful of friends and neighbors (okay, so 8 of them were kids, but doesn't 20 people sound more impressive?) and it involved ham, turkey, blahblahblah, a dessert assortment to be reckoned with, and speed scrabble into the wee hours, and I'm glad it happened.

(Annnnnd it was on Saturday.  And our two-year-old just found a cupcake from it behind her bed.  It's Wednesday.  Everyone act natural.)

Any holiday victories on your end?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

on my mind and therefore my blog

Hello, internet friends!
  • I appreciate the "Did you die?" concerns I've gotten from a few buddies over my recent lack of blogging. Two responses:  (a) Thanks for noticing my absence and  (b) Fret not!  I'm here and aliving and thriving, just busy chasing my kids around and being awesome, both things I specialize in and both things that have lately left little time and emotional energy for e-raging and e-yapping and so forth.  I often feel like my downtime is better suited to consumption than production at this stage, know what I mean?
  • I mention working with teen girls at church all the time, but let's face it, it's a big part of my life, and it's my blog, so don't fight it, just love it.  So the 2011 YW/YM Theme is the whole 13th article of faith, which I find fascinating (but that's another post).  Question: what does "we believe all things" even mean??  
  • I have seen this half a dozen times in the last few days so just need to check.  You know all the people in the world who write "Voila" as "Wah-lah!" or "Vwa-lah!" or "WaaaaLAA!"?  Are they doing it to be funny and ironic or are they serious?  I can't tell.
  • There are few things better in this world than a good book club.  Husband and I recently made an imaginary book club roster full of different people we've known throughout our marriage, and they are different ages and in different locations so it's unlikely to materialize until we figure out that Beam Me Up Scotty machine I dream of, but just imagining it delights me. 
  • I have a lot of awesome friends, e-friends and in real life friends and in town friends and out of town friends and family who are also friends and so forth, so my dear, dear friends of the past/present/future, know that I love you and don't feel left out when I say this but...
  • (SWEARWORD ALERT) I went to law school with a kickass group of girls and I miss them:  smart, witty, hilarious, interesting, diverse, just all-around fantastic.  SO many of them have been on my mind, as they rock awesome jobs or go to more school (yikes) or find love or are heartbroken or get married and/or reproduce and, wow, just what a cool, cool crowd.  It kind of bums me out that I got so much of their love and support through my own personal milestones during law school (e.g., marriage, pregnancy, baby) and now piles of them are doing those things and I don't get to reciprocate, you know, the oohing and ahhing and just general sympathy or excitement and merriment.  And I feel like I would appreciate their coolness even more at this point in my life! Sigh.
  • As you may know, I'm a tad scattered at times (though I prefer terms like "creative genius" or "free-thinker") so have been perusing a few organization books, several of which mention a LAUNDRY SCHEDULE.  What??  Is that a thing?  That people DO?  Seriously?
  • Recently, our 2-year-old pranced around for a few minutes, her hands cupped over her ears, and looked at me sneakily before whispering, "I'm pretending my hands are my earrings!"  What?  I love that kid.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

tray-sure it up!

So, like most human beings with a heart, I love Christmas.  I love Jesus, and family, and friends, and celebrating, and cuddling up in the cold, so it's a nice holiday.  But there are elements of this season that bring my consumerism/materialism guilt out in full, vomit-inducing force. Know what I mean?

While I have my hippie tendencies, I am fully capable of shopping my brains out, and I'm all too familiar with the term "retail therapy."  But every once in a while, the grossed-out-by-stuff phase hits me full force, and I start thinking how awful and downright disgusting it is that in a world where people don't have safe drinking water or enough to eat, and when there are kids in our own zip codes who don't have coats or roofs, that I in all my privilege and abundance, somehow feel entitled to purchase frivolous and completely unnecessary things.  Whether for myself or others, it's still stuff, and it feels gluttonous when many have so little.

And if I think about it too long I end up feeling weighed down and even bloated by possessions, wasteful indulgence, etc.  I've had a hard time articulating my thoughts on this but have just had a nagging, foggy sense of OBS syndrome (Overwhelmed By Stuff) as of late.  So I was delighted to find this article in the latest New Era (a church magazine for teens...."Why are you reading a teen magazine, gurrbonzo?", you ask?  Well, because I work with that age group at church, dear reader.  Not because I'm clinging to my fading youth...although perhaps I am...but at least that's free).

Anyway, the article is called Enough Stuff: Five Tips for Tackling Materialism, by David A. Edwards.  I recommend the whole thing as a perfectly-timed discussion, but may I share some excerpts?
We all need stuff—stuff to wear, stuff to eat, stuff for home, stuff for school. And, of course, beyond the necessities there’s also the stuff we want but don’t really need, as well as the stuff we dream about but could never afford. There’s big stuff and little stuff, girl stuff and guy stuff, stuff for work and stuff for play, stuff for now and stuff for later. It seems the world is filled with stuff. If we’re not careful, we can have a hard time seeing past all that stuff. Material possessions (both those we have and those we want) can obstruct our view of who we really are and what life is really about. ...
"Obstructing our view of who we really are and what life is really about" is what I meant but failed to express very clearly in my grumpy post from last month.  Stuff gets in our way and prevents us from seeing the world and ourselves.  He then gives five tips on overcoming materialism, all of which I found thought-provoking.
1.  Know who you are.  One of the most subtle and dangerous aspects of materialism is the false identity it can give us. When we think of ourselves in terms of our stuff—whether it’s our clothes, our toys, or our money—we paint a pale and shrunken picture of ourselves...But the Savior reminds us, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
2.  Know where you're going.  The scriptures give us several correctives to the “gimme, gimme” philosophy.  The prophet Alma taught, “Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you” (Alma 39:14). You’ve probably heard the saying “You can’t take it with you.” Well, it’s scriptural...So where should our focus be? The Savior has told us to look beyond the way station of this world toward our final destination. He said, “Seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:38). He also taught, “Thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better” (D&C 25:10).

3.  Be Grateful.  Modern prophets have taught that gratitude can transform our lives...And the Lord Himself has promised, “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).

4.  Think outside yourself.  ...Material things, along with the ways they are marketed, move our focus onto ourselves rather than others. In this way, materialism can cause us to quietly reject the Lord’s commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).  This focus on self and the stuff of this world is not part of living “after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). In fact, modern research seems to have verified that (1) you can’t buy happiness and (2) a focus on others can bring greater personal satisfaction.  As Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1917–2008) taught, “We are happiest when our lives are connected to others through unselfish love and service.”

5.  Be wise.  Again, we all need some stuff, and most stuff is neither good nor bad in and of itself...But over time the incessant drone of materialism can influence our attitudes and thoughts and cause us to forget the Lord and His commandments, as well as our true selves. So we must be on guard....  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”Matthew 6:19–21.
"The incessant drone of materialism" is exactly how I've been feeling about the whole thing.  It's deafening sometimes.  Is that article great or what?  Does the holiday season consumerism make you pukey sometimes, too?  What do you think of all this?  Have you figured out a way to balance it?  Agree or disagree?

Monday, November 08, 2010

I made a poor choice

WHOA.  Remind me not to watch The Hurt Locker and read Mockingjay in the same weekend.  I keep thinking everything is about to blow up.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

ich bin stumped

As usual, I have some rage to share, so brace yourself.  My friend Wendi calls these grumblings "coin-pursing it" like an old lady opening her coin purse and saying "Kids these days!"  But hey, it's my blog and I do what I want.

Know what inspires me?  A good book.  THE good book.  Kindness.  Humor.  A great example of selflessness and/or productivity.  My fam and kiddos.  New democracies.  A good visit full of controversy and interruption.  An awesome book...did I say that already?  I could go on all day.

Know what doesn't inspire me?  Random stuff you hang up on the wall.  And chairs.  And wallpaper.  And so on.  Is it pretty?  Yes.  Is it cool?  Sometimes.  But it's also just a thing, the only purpose of which is to sit there for people to behold it.  So I am puzzled and a little saddened when I bump into blog after blog and snicket after snicket saying stuff like "That pillow is so INSPIRING" or "your living room INSPIRES me" or "design INSPIRES me" or "that self-portrait of you sipping out of a straw at some restaurant is so INSPIRING" or "your bangs INSPIRE me" or "the new kid's line at this store is so INSPIRING."  Seriously?  Those are pieces of children's clothing, not Mother Theresa. 

I kind of get it, because of course, everyone likes to go out to eat, and to find a cool trinket once in a while.  But those are things you do now and then as a side dish to the main course of your actual life.  WE ARE GROWN UPS.  It seems like we should things to do, like BE grownups, and realize that a lamp is a lamp, not headline news and definitely not "inspiring."  IT IS A LAMP.  Maybe it's cool, and we can high-five you for finding a cool lamp, but it is not a show-stopper.  It is for lighting up the room.  No?  Our whole life can't (and shouldn't) be primping and getting dressed and decorating your house, right?  It's fun and everything, but those are things you do TO FACILITATE living the rest of your life, you know, being a decent friend/spouse/parent/sibling/neighbor, working at your job, doing all the unglamorous but productive or at least necessary stuff like wiping bums and tables and comforting people or making beds and whatever else, contributing to society, reading a book, doing some basic grown-up critical thinking, blahblahblah.  And I guess I can kind of see how a cool painting or something really arty is inspiring if it motivates you or sparks something in you, but that's actual art, or real design, not a trendy rug or whatever.  I am totally puzzled by all of the stuff I've seen lately about people being "inspired" by "design," which seems to be code for "I don't have real hobbies or interests so I shop."

Agree?  Disagree?  Am I missing something that would make all of this make sense to me? 

Grumble, grumble.

Addendum 11/5/10: I think creativity is cool, and I realize this tone is a little harsh.  I am pro-creativity.  I just think stuff is taking over the world and the internet and our thoughts and our hearts and our time, at the expense of more important and more substantive things.  And my rage is directed less toward actual designers and more toward those who spend a lot of time and energy on hypothetical redecorating or other stuff that bugs me.

Monday, November 01, 2010

crappy music confession booth

I'll go first.

I kind of love "Your Love is My Drug."

Your turn.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

also, I'd like some fruit snacks

  • There is nothing quite like a marathon stake youth activity (service project AND dinner AND games AND dance, plus an hour of travel time each way) to make you (a) glad you work with such sweet and delightful teen girls and (b) glad you are NO LONGER a teen girl.  Holy.  Cow.  The awkwardness.  The eyeliner.  THE BODY SPRAY.  
  • Is it really the last season of Friday Night Lights?  I may cry.  
  • What IS it about the gym and bad TV?  For reasons I'll never understand, gym TV is the best place to find random crap you'd never stumble into otherwise.  For example, Real Housewives.  So terrifying, so wonderful, so absurd, and so ubiquitous, because it doesn't matter what day or what time I go to the gym, they are there waiting.  IT'S LIKE THEY KNOW WHEN I AM GOING AND ARRANGE IT TO BE THERE.  So, that's why this article discussion Real Housewives and zombies made me laugh and laugh.
  • You know how you become stuff you used to hate, and don't even realize it?  Well.  Yeah.  I think it's weird how childless people complain about things people with kids do, then they themselves reproduce and WHAMMO it's a steady stream of all the stuff they used to hate, all the time.  Is there no self-awareness in this picture?  I get that things change.  And I love my kids and yap about them all the time.  Nonetheless, if you say, "Pregnant women are smug and can't shut up about it," and then the moment YOU get pregnant, you start giving DAILY fetus updates on facebook ("only 67 more days!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?"), it's weird.  Kind of like single people who hate PDA and gripe about how cheesy and smug married couples are, then, wham, they are suddenly blogging about 3-monthiversary scavenger hunts and nicknames.  What I'm saying here is that I find our total lack of self-awareness as humans fascinating and bizarre.  (I know I am not exempt from these phenomena.  That does not detract from the weirdness.) 
  • I am at a life stage in which it seems hard to make hangout friends that don't make you want to poke your eyes out.  Can I get an amen?  
  • My mom and step-dad came into town a few weeks ago and helped us re-tile our whole freaking bathroom.  Is that true love or what??  There is something really awesome about people who will fly in for a long weekend, tear a wall down, put it back up and cut a bunch of tile and watch your kids and go home exhausted.  It was a whirlwind but it was really awesome to (a) have them visit and (b) have our bathroom back in business (after a minor mishap many moons ago) and now...drumroll....last week brought a beautiful milestone to the gurrbonzo household: our bathroom is officially duct-tape free.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

slightly creepy, slightly awesome

If you have a pile of bar exam study stuff that you keep around because it's only printed on one side and therefore ideal for your two-year-old to color on, and later you cut some of those papers into shapes, and then another day she colors them, there is a decent chance that she'll color an adorable pink heart and hand it to a friend, and unbeknownst to you, it'll have the felony murder rule described on the back.

Just so you know.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I must speak out

No longer can I remain silent about so vexing an issue.

To: The World
From: Gurrbonzo

Isle = island.  Like, IN THE SEA.

Aisle = passageway like at the store or the theater or in an airplane.

I know, I know, I mix up things like that with the best of them but this one is KILLING ME.  Just a heads up, if you are writing it, YOU PROBABLY MEAN "AISLE."  

Thank you for your time.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

religious and random

Welp, General Conference is coming up and I've got some churchy stuff bopping around in this noggin.  A sampling:

    • "You're in your forties.  Are you telling me you personally have a shelf somewhere with five full sets of scriptures on it?  Are you crazy?"  My much-revered friend and mentor (of "If two of you think alike, one of you is unnecessary" fame) once told me that as an adult, he gets new scriptures every five years, and that was my reaction at the time. I admit I thought it was interesting, but kind of weird and excessive.  I would like to publicly e-retract my initial reaction because he is right on.  I just got a shiny new set for my birthday and I.  Am.  Thrilled.  I can't wait!  My new quad has a button!  Oh, how I've longed for a button.  Five years is about how long it takes before you need a fresh look with fresh eyes and a chance to take fresh notes, instead of having your old markings guide your thinking down the same old paths.  Even if they're great paths, you know?  You read differently when YOU'RE different!  My last set is well-worn and well-loved but you know what, a lot has changed since 2004/2005ish when I made most of those markings and notes (and by "a lot" I mean pretty much everything.  My life stage.  My mind.  My bum size.  My name.  I could go on...).  So I didn't realize how cool it would be until I got them today, and whoa.  I am really, really excited to take a brand new look, and will be adhering to the every-five-years plan from this moment forward. 

    • *ALERT: YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ ABOUT SCRIPTURAL BREASTFEEDING* Long before I had kids or a husband, I had a nice heart-to-heart about the Book of Mormon with a stranger, and the woman (who was probably in her twenties) said, "I knew my life had shifted when I started reading and identified more with Lehi than with Nephi.  I relate now as a parent instead of a child."  I laughed and couldn't imagine it ever happening to me.  That had never occurred to me before.  She also said that as a nursing mom, for the first time she appreciated the awesomeness of women living on raw meat in the wilderness but still being strong enough to make milk for their children.  Gross!  I thought that was super weird of her to have noticed and applied to herself.  Yeah, again, I've changed my tune and get it now. Hrmmm.  People say stuff I think is weird and then I realize they're right. Am I getting older or are they getting awesome?  Maybe both.  All of this is my way of saying I haven't read the New Testament or the Book of Mormon from my new vantage point in life and I'm looking forward to it.  Annnnd go git yourself some new scriptures too! 
    • I stumbled into this gem of an interview with Julie Beck and her two daughters.  Parts of it were definitely better than other parts, but the highlight for me was at the end where she says you can pretty much do anything that's asked of you.  Just make it happen.  I love that.  Here's an excerpt: 
    I often think of the pioneers...and what happened during that most difficult time?  The United States government came and said, "We need five hundred of your most able men," and off they went.  And what did the women say?  We're going to just sit here and cower and feel sorry for ourselves?  No! They said, "You go do your job.  We will meet you in the valley."  And they did.  That's the kind of feeling I have for the sisters of this church.  Whatever's required, they can do it.  They can round up their shoulders and do it, if it's asked of them...We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
    Amen and amen.  I love buck-up-and-just-make-it-happen messages.
    The Lord knows both what He will need you to do and what you will need to know. He is kind and He is all-knowing. So you can with confidence expect that He has prepared opportunities for you to learn in preparation for the service you will give. You will not recognize those opportunities perfectly, as I did not. But when you put the spiritual things first in your life, you will be blessed to feel directed toward certain learning, and you will be motivated to work harder. You will recognize later that your power to serve was increased, and you will be grateful.
    Also, there is a heading in the talk above that says "God will multiply the effectiveness of your time."  I think and hope that is true, because I've often felt like there is not enough of me to go around.  Anyway, the God-knows-what-we-need-to-do-and-what-we-need-to-know thing has been absolutely true in my experience, especially recently, and I am grateful for the opportunities I've been given that have prepared me for stuff. I bet in five years (when I have NEW new scriptures!) I'll be grateful for stuff now that was preparing me for then. 

      Thursday, September 23, 2010

      sappy but happy

      "I like reading.  And writing.  And talking.  I think I'll go to law school!" 

      That was the extent of my logic. I was young (21) and crazy (let's leave it at that).  Plus I was big into politics and politicians are all lawyers.  Deep analysis, I know.  I signed up for an LSAT class on a whim, right around the time I started dating a hilarious, pensive kid in my French class. I finished up my law school applications at a public library in the middle of nowhere New York, with my poor mission companion (now a Mary Kay lady) reading over my personal statement wondering how to get me to hurry so we could hit the laundromat and maybe have time to grab a sammich.

      Anyway, in those days, I thought I was such a big deal.  I had big, big plans that involved big, big schools (and big, big debt) and no husband and definitely no babies. Remember how I met this guy who talked me into the J. Reub?

      The first time I walked into the law school for a tour, I had been home from my mission for three days. I was incredibly awkward, naively earnest and cringe-tastically self-conscious in a way that only sister missionaries with an extra twenty pounds can be. By the first day of class that August, I was still awkward, earnest, and self-conscious, only now I was engaged to that handsome kid from French class.

      Early one Saturday morning when I was a 2L, my car wouldn't start.  I had about an hour to travel fifty miles and argue in front of a panel of judges about whether pre-arrest silence could be used as substantive evidence of guilt.  (Riveting, right?)  I'd been preparing for months. So even though my new husband was fast asleep and had a million places to be later that day, with thirty seconds notice, he drove me the fifty miles (in his PJs, no less) and I made it there with about thirty seconds to spare. And when it was over, my mom drove me the whole way home.  Ditching your plentiful Saturday plans at the drop of a hat to help your wife or daughter do her thing.  Is that true love or what? 

      Because of that Saturday, I ended up winning an award that made it sound like I had cancer.  (Spoiler alert: I don't.) 

      And one of the law school secretaries left me an awesome "Where are you????" voicemail as I was giving birth because my Wills and Estates final was starting.  Husband spent several long, will-send-him-straight-to-heaven hours trying to distract our hungry newborn in a study room as I sat on one of those inflatable donuts and made up the test 7 days later.

      Remember how on the first day of school as a 3L, at the last minute I had to bring my four-month-old baby to class?  And how I ended up staying at school with her for more than twelve hours as classes and meetings piled up, and my car broke down on the freeway on the way home and EVEN THE HAZARD LIGHTS WOULDN'T WORK?

      And how about when we decided to move to the Midwest on a whim a week after graduation and I had to take two bar exams?  And when my mom babysat her brains out so I could study for the first exam, and then sponsored my Beehive babysitting fund from 1200 miles away to allow me to study for the second?

      Anyway, it's been such a cool and varied experience and a significant number of my favorite people on earth are people I met in law school.  And, pretty much every milestone I've had as an adult has happened between point A of deciding to go to law school (meet hub, finish college, serve mission, adjust from mission, engagement, marriage, pregnancy, hub starts grad school, childbirth, first job, first move across the country, second baby) and point B of actually becoming a lawyer where we live (this week). 

      All of these tidbits were running through my head this week, because on Monday, my two-and-a-half-year-old tugged on my suitcoat as my dear husband distracted our eight-month-old with some blueberry puffs, and I was sworn in as a lawyer in our new state. The new lawyers being admitted were scattered throughout the small auditorium, sitting here and there in the crowd with their families. We all stood, repeating "I will" in unison after the Justice posed each question. 

      And I don't know quite how to describe it, but as our little girl wrapped her arms around my legs, our baby clapped excitedly and tugged on my necklace, and my happy but exhausted husband smiled at me, I wondered what the young-and-crazy "big deal" gurrbonzo would have thought of this picture. 

      And I think she'd like it.

      Sunday, September 19, 2010


      Oh, friends. Thanks for your patience as I yammer less and less predictably on me blog. I realize I haven't blogged in many moons. I also realize that this is perhaps the busiest time of my life so far, meaning, ever. Because of this lack of time, I have a serious blabbing backlog so brace yourselves for an avalanche of yappage when I get more than thirty seconds.

      In the meantime, may I share some recent bar exam news? In the words of my illustrious friend Ru:


      Friday, August 27, 2010

      whew part A

      I have so much to tell you!

      It's old news now, but I shall still share part A (the bar exam) in bullet points, bc that's how I roll, er, type. Parts B and C involve our trip west and then some local shenanigans so please stand by.

      The Bar Exam 2.0, or, If I Ever Want To Take Another Bar Exam, Please Kill Me.
      • The exam itself was tolerable. Could it have been worse? Yes. Could it have been better? Yes. Do I think I passed? Yes. But most people think they passed, and there are always people who don't, so, who knows? I hope I did, and I'll be sad and mad if I didn't, but I will survive, and I will let you know if it's good news, and if it's not, let's just all act natural.
      • Picture this: the exam site was 2 hours away...which is juuuuust long enough to be a big fat headache when you have a full day and a half of testing and a nursing baby. Soooo, yes, we took a family field trip and my dear, dear husband chased our girls around a large and unfamiliar city for two days. And if you imagine us all sleeping in a cozy hotel room that goes: wall/crib/bed/crib/wall, that's about right.
      • They forbid taking ANYTHING into the bar exam room except my plug, laptop, and ID. No wallet, no cell phone, no nothing. Luckily we've been practicing ESP so rather than getting stranded in an unfamiliar city making collect calls from a lice-ridden pay phone, I sent husband vibes when it was time to come get me and it worked.
      • I didn't study property. BOOYAH. Did you know that? Are you impressed with my bravery or shocked at my foolishness? They give you 15ish topics to know cold, and then a national testing group releases essay questions on 9 of those topics, and many states choose 6 of those. So there's lots you learn that you won't be tested on, and sometimes you just need to make those sorts of calls. During studying, I quickly realized it was going to take up three valuable days to learn property (a pretty specific, complicated, laden with terms-of-art topic) and the odds were pretty small I'd get an essay question on it. So, (vulgarity alert), I grew a pair, threw caution to the wind, said, "Nope," and just skipped it. Gutsy eh? Well, e-friends, I'm here to tell you, TO RISK IS TO LIVE, bc the gamble paid off and there was no property question! Is this 27 years of paying a full tithe? Perhaps. Bc that could have really been a dumb move. And if you are going to take the bar sometime soon, DO NOT FOLLOW MY EXAMPLE, because there WILL be property on the the multiple-choice portion, which I didn't have to take this year because I took it last year in another state. Got it? But still, phew.
      • Though I survived law school with nary a testing software problem, I spent a solid 15 minutes of the first 90 minute essay with a frozen screen and a busy proctor trying to fix it. I utilized my hypnobirthing breathing and remained relatively calm, but still, LAAAAAAME. Thank you, Hypno-Debbie (our initial hypnobirthing teacher from a few years ago).
      This is the first sentence of the world's most hilarious cheese-riffic hypnobirthing cd, so say it in your highest, creepiest dreamlike voice:

      "And now it's time to relax..."

      Tuesday, August 17, 2010

      pretty sure we all deserve a Slurpee.

      Have you ever had one of those days where you finish up a cross-country roadtrip with small kids by driving 1200 miles in one day, and you arrive home at 2 AM and your poor kids have the travel-shits and take turns accidentally emitting various bodily fluids onto every imaginable surface in your home, and your toddler refuses to nap and you consider it a victory that you manage to shower and right after you finally get dressed your kid burps up all over your only clean clothes, and your house looks terrifying and then you suddenly realize the sister missionaries are coming over for dinner and you have Mother Hubbard cupboards and your spouse will be home later than usual? And at the precise moment you realize you just used the last diaper in the house, your toddler accidentally headbutts your baby and both begin screeching cries of tortured fury?

      Yeah, I had one of those.

      How was yours?

      Friday, July 23, 2010

      pretty sure...

      ....that playing "Do I Have A Right?" counts as bar prep. Or something. So what if it's targeted to middle schoolers? Go play it! You're welcome.

      Monday, July 19, 2010

      bar none

      Hello friends and internet. May I ask you a favor? I took the Utah bar exam last year, and then we moved, and I am taking the bar exam of our new state in the great Midwest so I can hold myself out as a lawyer.

      (Timeout: "holding yourself out" is one of my favorite awkward phrases. It appears often in the law in subjects like common law marriage, e.g., "holding themselves out as husband and wife," or ethics, e.g., "holding yourself out as an expert," and its perhaps obvious meaning is a person purporting to be something. But "holding yourself out" just makes me picture me holding a smaller version of myself in the air a la Simba from the Lion King and shouting "Behold! I! Am! A lawyer!")

      Anyway, what I'm trying to get to is this: If I ever mention that I'm thinking about taking another bar exam, I want you to stage an intervention. And if the intervention doesn't go well, shoot me.


      Unrelated comment: being a parent is my favorite thing I've ever done. Our girls (a two-year-old and a six-month-old) had their first long, loud, deliberate giggle-back-and-forth exchange in the car the other day and it may have been the sweetest thing I've ever, ever heard. I sense much mischief in their future and I like it.

      Moving on. I have a horrible, horrible, cannot-think-or-sleep-as-my-head-is-pounding toothache. Pretty sure it's bc I haven't been to the dentist since we got married due to lack of dental insurance (whooooops). This is particularly unfortunate timing considering the whole enormous test next week phenomenon, so yes, a dentist is squeezing me in today because if I have to take the bar with the right side of my head pounding I will cry. And also fail. But I'm pretty sure it's bad news, because I can't think of anything good they will tell me about a throbbing tooth/jaw/eyeball/side of face ("Congratulations! It's throbbing due to GOLD NUGGETS! LOTS AND LOTS OF GOLD NUGGETS!") and I suspect it will cost a fortune.

      Let us pray. And floss.

      Wednesday, June 23, 2010

      Rage and Reflection, this fall on NBC

      • I went to high school at EFY ten years ago. Last week was my high reunion and I didn't go, because it took place 1,200 miles away from where I live. I know it's not "cool" to want to go to those things, but I admit I would've liked to have gone, because it would be fun to catch up with randoms, and also I have a pretty awesome life so wouldn't feel sheepish running into people who knew me in the late 90s. I bet it's more fun to catch up with randoms when your update is that you have a kickass life than it would be if your update was that you were a crackwhore or something. (No offense if you're a crackwhore.)
      • It will come as no surprise to most of you that I hate wooden blocks that spell random stuff. I know, you're probably thinking, "Whoa, hate is a strong word, gurrbonzo." I know. This is why I've used it. I just don't get them. I saw one a while ago that said "B-L-O-O-M." What? Who are you talking to? Am I supposed to bloom? Are you just reminding me that things, in general, bloom? Or "S-U-M-M-E-R." Okay. Yes, that is the current season. Why is that a decoration? I may as well put wood blocks on the piano that say "B-R-E-A-T-H-E" or "A-I-R" or "9-9-%-H-U-M-I-D-I-T-Y." I just don't get it. (It's okay if you have them. We can still be friends. I just want to know, WHYYYYYYYY?????????)
      • My toddler and my husband went on a daddy-daughter date tonight and it was freaking adorable enough to melt my cold heart.
      • Remember how I work with the teenage girls at church? Our stake young women's summer camp theme is "Daughters of a King" and they are doing a bunch of princessy stuff, and each congregation was supposed to choose a name associated with the theme. (For example, one group is "The Princess Brides.") What did my sharp and hilarious girls choose, with no prompting from me? CHESS QUEENS. Because "they're the most powerful piece on the board." Ahh! My heart swells just thinking about it.
      • Today I was looking at a couple of different community education classes and found the following gems. Yes, these are actual names of classes offered. HOW WILL I NARROW IT DOWN? "Making Friends With Yourself," "Developing Your Intuition," "Beginning Bridge--The Card Game," and my personal favorite, "Breaking Into Sitcom Writing."

      Wednesday, June 16, 2010


      Have you been worried about me and my $92 library fine? Well, worry no more! I walked into the library with a kid on each hip and was calm and nice and just asked what my options were, and EIGHT DOLLARS LATER, all is well and my fury has dissipated considerably. Thanks for your commiseration and guidance.

      Thanks to a generous relative or two, I've been able to line up a few of the local (hilarious) beehives to play with my kids a couple of mornings a week while I study for the bar. It's ideal because part of the day, I can actually focus, and yet I still get to spend a good chunk of the day hanging out with our kiddos who delight me. And since I'm just in another room, I don't hyperventilate wondering about if the house has burned down or if my baby's flipping out or what have you. Also, I've started talking aloud about law stuff while we play and I mentally review things, and it's leading my two-year-old to do awesome things, e.g., the following exchange which takes place daily:
      Me: So, will you tell me about [the exclusionary rule/free exercise clause/procedural due process/whatever], sweetie?

      Kid, very thoughtfully: Ummm...zinga, zinga, shrumpha shoobie, blerghy blargy, trickazoom...that's right?
      It's especially great because a) she can talk using real words so the nonsense is on purpose, and the "that's right?" at the end is heartbreakingly eager and b) the REAL answers I'm reviewing sound just as nonsensical so it's a sweet form of therapy.

      Anyway, the other day was the first day of this babysitting set-up and I feel like a new woman. THREE (almost)uninterrupted hours of study time felt like an absolute luxury and my stress level has decreased three zillion. Yes, I also have chunks of study time when my husband is home, but DAYTIME study time is a great bonus, and it feels so good to realize at 12:30 that the bulk of what was hanging over my head for the day is complete so I can enjoy the fam without one eye on the clock. So this leads me to ask:

      1. Did you ever babysit when you were younger? If so, what did they pay you?

      2. Where you live, what's the going rate for a 12- or 13-year-old babysitter? (I am asking out of curiosity. In our little town and neighborhood, according to the girls who babysit, they generally get $5ish an that more or less than other places?)

      Additionally, last night I had fried pickles. I'd say about 60/40 delicious and gross.

      Thursday, June 03, 2010

      Two items of business

      1. My mom normally resides about 1,200 miles away but she is visiting us! Not only does this delight me, it also makes me feel like I'm on vacation, and there is not a lot cuter than seeing your mom make your toddler laugh so hard she gut-giggles. To borrow the startling but strangely fitting enthusiasm of a girl in church who once told a story ending with the words "Yay God!", I would just like to say, "Yay moms."

      2. I have read all of Abraham Verghese's books in the last three weeks and it's kind of of making me want to become a doctor. But I also went through this stage with trucking and flower arranging so maybe it will pass.

      Wednesday, June 02, 2010

      uh oh

      I recently went through a serious audiobook stage, during which I borrowed "Teacher Man" by Frank McCourt from the local library. An autobiography read by the author (preferably with a thick accent to add some zest) is a treat bc it's like they're telling you their life story one-on-one. I enjoyed it during my to-ing and fro-ing but when the time came to return it...dun dun dun...I realized it was missing a cd. Just one. Out of eight. Gulp. I looked everywhere with no success, and figured I must have put it in another cd case that I had already returned to the library. So I did what any fabulous person would do in this situation: acted natural about it. I just took it back to the library. If they had the cd, then great, and if they didn't, they'd let me know.

      Oh, they've let me know. Go ahead and guess the replacement cost.

      No, really. Go ahead and guess. It is one cd, though I understand that they'd have to get an entire new audiobook, currently available on amazon for $32.

      Do you have your guess?

      Is it more or less than NINETY-TWO DOLLARS?


      So what's my move? Make a phone call during which I use my angry lawyer voice? Recycle two thousand plastic bottles and/or organize a Fight Gurrbonzo's Moronic Ways 5k to round up the $92 to just pay it and then mutter bitterly whenever I think of Mr. McCourt from this day forward? Order a new copy myself and then pretend the NEW disc 4 is the disc 4 that I lost? WHAT TO DO?

      Friday, May 21, 2010


      So I'm getting ready for a kids' church activity tomorrow, where I'm doing a little yapping about my mission. To help the wee ones understand that upstate New York is just as exotic as those other places people go on missions and eat cow testicles or chicken feet or duck fetus or what have you, I'm preparing mini-garbage plates for a little food sample.

      Annnnnnnd, nothing says "I'm awesome" like buying, oh, say, a couple dozen hot dogs. And a 5-pound bag of frozen tater tots. By yourself. At 10 o'clock. On a Friday night.

      Thursday, May 20, 2010

      perpetual first-date syndrome

      "BAAAA! I have a whole theory about that!"

      I say that about everything. I'm a developer of theories. One of my few strengths is people-watching and in my 27 years I've come up with entire theories about almost everything.

      The (quite obvious) procedure:
      (1) notice something (almost anything will do)
      (2) ponder it
      (3) explain it

      Just last night, I used this procedure to formulate a theory about why Lee is so much more endearing than Bowersox, even though they both have similar down-home vibes and backgrounds--I may be the only person alive still watching this show-- and it is that Lee seems in awe of the whole thing and Crystal seems just a little too chill. LADY! YOU ARE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION! BE EXCITED ABOUT IT. (I like them both. I just find Lee more endearing.) I have this dilemma where people who are too energetic overwhelm me, but at the same time, I want to punch people who are too mellow just to see if they'd hit back or get mad, just to see some life in them, you know? People who are too ho-hum about everything are more infuriating than people who are tiggers about life. Agree or disagree?

      So back to how I am constantly developing theories. I am stuck in phase 2 (pondering) of my normal theory developing procedure and would like, nay, love your feedback to help me get to phase 3 (explanation). Ready?

      What is with perpetual first-date syndrome? You know how on a first date you exchange pleasantries and are super polite and may even bust out some forced laughter bc you aren't sure if you're on the same wave-length? Welp, apply this to the friend-making process. This happens to me quite a bit, which I think is weird, bc let's face it, I am a pretty awesome friend. I bet you are, too, which is why I need your help analyzing this. I've dealt with multiple people lately where it seems like we should be good friends but we never get passed first-date-esque awkwardness no matter how often we interact.

      Let's use my go-to name for these situations by calling her Topenga. (This is not you, dear reader. This is an amalgamation of people.) Topenga and I have known each other for five years. We are both normal, funny, nice, relatively sharp, are in similar life stages, have mutual friends, blahblah. We seem like we should be good friends and perhaps we appear to be good friends bc we interact pretty regularly. But we still don't really know each other any better than we did five years ago. Instead, we've just spent five years exchanging recipes or compliments about earrings. This drives me nuts! Why aren't we moving on? Things stay super formal, super weird, and over time it gets super infuriating, especially bc I can't pinpoint why this happens. Come on, Topenga! We can have real conversations! We can't really be as bland as we're acting! I know there's more to you than your sensible shoes!

      Why does this happen? Does this happen to you? Analyze, please.

      Thursday, May 06, 2010

      feast or famine

      Isn't it strange how I vacillate between blogging frenzy and blogging coma? Thanks for acting natural with me. I just do what I want. Sometimes that means blogging and other times it means getting a nasty farmer tan while I jog around town with my kids. I've been up to the latter.

      Sidenote: I spent a lot of my adolescence not sure what "former" and "latter" meant. I recall scouring sentences with those terms for clues about which one meant the last thing said and which one meant the first thing said. Isn't that cute of me?

      Remember how I work with the teenage girls at church? Welp, we recently had an activity about self-defense where the RS pres's hub (who is also a cop) said ass thrice, hell twice, and damn about ten times, all to a group of adorably mild-mannered 13-year-old prudes who he then asked to hit him. Yeah, it rocked.

      One perk of living in the middle of the country is that, though our city is rarely a destination for people, it is on everyone's way somewhere else. This means that people can a) wave as they fly over OR b) stop at our house on a road trip. It's the season for the latter (that means the second're welcome) because people I know in the West are driving to spend the summer in the East. And we're on the way! My hub's fam was in town recently and we had a load of fun, my hilarious and delightful law school friend Dorothy and her mom stopped over last weekend and my hilarious friend Davis (also with her mom, oddly enough) are doing the same this weekend. I really enjoy these visits. I love when distinct periods of one's life mix in surprising ways. And I am at a point in my life where I cherish good loud talks with fun friends.

      Do you have friends whose essence can be summed up in one little story? I do. Dorothy pretty much eloped, as in, started the summer off engaged but by the time we started school again in the fall she was married to a different guy. That, my friends, is a sign of someone with a sense of adventure. Also, I once saw Davis accidentally put ketchup on a turkey sandwich because she is "used to putting ketchup and mustard on together." I adore both of those stories.

      On a semi-related note, I shall now share two secrets to successfully make having houseguests even better, whether they are friends or in-laws or both or neither.

      1. Lower your standards.
      2. Put your pride in your pocket.

      I'm not saying be gross. But I am saying relax and be realistic about what shape your home will be in. It is a fact of life that people LIVE here, some of whom are small children, so once everyone makes peace with that, suddenly having people over is really fun and you can just laugh and visit and bond instead of fuss.


      So we have a lot to cover (get it?), but first, just have to share this with you in case you haven't seen it. BAHAHA! Often The Onion is right on the money, and yes, there's an eerie resemblance to my earlier breastfeeding post...sigh.


      Advocacy Group: Mothers Have Right To Expose Milk-Engorged Breasts In Public

      Thursday, April 15, 2010

      here goes nothing

      Today, our oldest little lady turns two.


      And today is the day I face the challenge that billions of parents have faced through the ages...the day so many of us hope for and also dread...

      Today is the day I attempt to make a birthday cake that is supposed be recognizable as a particular item or character.

      Let us pray.

      Tuesday, April 06, 2010

      i can't e-shut up lately

      • For Easter celebrating, I bought myself a chocolate bunny at the dollar store but can't bring myself to eat it now that I've noticed it's "milk chocolate flavored." Flavored. It's not even milk chocolate. Flavored WHAT--wax?? Shudder. Oh, Dollar Store, simultaneously so disgusting and so handy.
      • Lesbian moms are friendlier than non-lesbian moms. Every time I go to the park or other public place where parents abound, I find this to be true. Why is this?
      • "Fan us on facebook" is an absurd and horrible phrase. How is this becoming common? Sounds like Cleopatra eating grapes while someone fans her with large leaves. BEING a fan of something is not the same as FANNING something. Normally I don't mind verbing nouns but this fanning business is a line I cannot cross and hope to maintain any linguistic integrity.
      • I distrust anyone with over 1,000 facebook friends. Something is fishy. If you have more than that, you're either fictional or you need to have a friend cleanse, because that is weird and overwhelming.
      • Speaking of things that make me suspicious...I also distrust people who mention their clothing size in conversation, people who compare stuff to Hitler, people who take a lot of pictures of themselves, and people who never eat dessert. How about you?? Anything that immediately makes you suspicious?
      • Conversely, I find myself immediately feeling more favorable toward those who don't mind dropping the occasional casual swearword, people who are nice to my children (even in passing, e.g., the stranger who smiles when my kid shouts "HI, BIKE!"), people who have uncomplicated hairdos, and people who appreciate a good fountain drink. How about you? Anything that immediately makes you feel good about someone?
      Thank you for your time.

      Monday, April 05, 2010

      The Becks: Are Julie and Glenn related? (just kidding)

      It's no secret that a few years ago, I began to love General RS President Julie Beck after she spoke at my law school. That love is through the roof! She really knocked it out of the park this weekend with her outstanding talk on personal revelation. I'm looking forward to when the written version comes out (Thursday, I think?) but until then, I invite you to just bask in a few of the most spectacular parts with me. Woopwoop!
      • Promised personal revelation comes when we ask for it, prepare for it, and go forward in faith trusting that it will be poured out upon us. I don't know if it was all the outlining in law school that did this to me, but I now think in bullet points and find myself putting everything I read/think/say/do into sections and subsections, so it really clicks for me when I get three-step instructions like this, e.g., to get personal revelation we need to (1) ask for it (2) prepare for it (3) go forward trusting it will come. Number three makes me feel like once I've done what I can,, I just need to forge ahead and bank on the fact that God will guide me, just like in the Book of Mormon when Nephi said "I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do." Know how they say you can't steer a parked car? Get this show on the road! After you do what's within your power to do (ask for personal revelation and prepare for it), it's time to move ahead, trusting that guidance will come. I've experienced that a hundred times but the get-off-your-butt-and-start-moving pep talk is always needed.
      • The ability to qualify for, receive and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. Whoa. Not only is that the most important skill, but it's one you don't need to rely on anyone else to develop. A lot of what we do in life is contingent on other people, on their ability to choose (or not choose), but the most important skill we can develop is between us and God. We don't need a middle man. Hallelujah.
      • This Eliza R. Snow quote she shared will be famous! Did you hear it and did it blow your mind like it did mine??
        "We want to be ladies in very deed, not according to the term of the word as the world judges, but fit companions of the Gods and holy ones. In an organized capacity, we can assist each other in not only doing good but in refining ourselves, and whether few or many come forward and help prosecute this great work, they will be those that will fill honorable positions in the kingdom of God. Women should be women and not babies that need petting and correction all the time. I know we like to be appreciated, but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters? We know that the Lord has laid high responsibility on us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has planted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized, and the greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling and qualifying for those responsibilities."
        My constant desire for appreciation was covered in a recent post, but these ideas are significant and basically telling us to (wo)man up. There's plenty of important work to do, God is counting on us, we aren't dummies, we have a lot to offer and improve on and we can do it so get moving.
      • Finally, I was delighted to hear Sister Beck quote my very favorite part of Preach My Gospel that I clung to in the tough times of my mission. "When we have done our very best, we may still experience disappointments, but we will not be disappointed in ourselves. We can feel certain the Lord is pleased when we feel the Spirit working through us." WOOPWOOP! Maybe that's the rubric I should be applying to measure the success of my days. (p.s. I'm totally having a successful day, more on that later...)
      Anyway, this conference was an especially great one in my book. Did you hear much of it? Are you growing to love Sister Beck more and more like I am? Isn't she impressive? Don't you love a good, substantive talk from a female church leader?? Doesn't she have a powerful speaking voice? Am I starting to sound more girl-crushy and/or fan-girl-esque than is appropriate??

      Sunday, April 04, 2010

      here i go

      I've been having an intense fling with the Express Shelf at the library lately, a shelf of new-ish high demand books where the checkout period is shorter, no renewals. Perusing this shelf has led me to read more pop-culture-ish books than I normally would, including the recent trashy political tell-alls The Politician (about the John Edwards scandal) and Game Change. Reading books about semi-current events makes me feel more culturally literate, and also provides me with feelings of moral superiority because I'm not a power-hungry lunatic. This just in: most politicians are delusional, obnoxious, and lawyers. Coincidence?

      The shelf has also led me to crack open the much-hailed book The Happiness Project, which is fascinating albeit a tad superficial. As you may know, author Gretchen Rubin spent a year trying to become happier in concrete ways, and every month tackled a specific goal, e.g., January's goal was to "boost energy" so she did things like exercise more, get more sleep, etc. (Note: a brief click tells me the blog is kind of lame, which is a bummer, bc I'm enjoying the book.) Anyway, she mentions she became happier when she stopped expecting a gold star for stuff. Just do it and enjoy it and ditch your need for someone else's appreciation. That's a big issue for me as a new-ish SAHM because I'm an attention whore (or as a classier friend says, "I require much love."). Basically, I need attention, and when you hang out with two (awesome) kids all day, it is fantastic in many ways but not so much dripping with accolades. So I spend a lot of time wondering if I am doing enough or if there's a rubric I can assess the day with or whatever. Obviously, you don't get a grade or a promotion or compliments from colleagues, and when you naturally need a lot of attention, it's kind of a let down (that is not a nursing reference). So you end up peppering your husband with statements that are acceptable from a six-year-old but bizarre for a grown woman, e.g., "Look! Look! I made dinner! Good job huh! Good job!? Do you like it? I swept. Did you see? I swept! Good job??" He will humor you, but still, yikes. Anyway, I'm not done with the book yet, but bits of it relate directly to my life in funny and thought-provoking ways. I've read about it here and there but if it weren't for the express shelf I would never have actually picked it up! It all comes back to that shelf, really. Will you read the book if you haven't already and then talk to me about it??

      Speaking of which, the author read about Ben Franklin's Junto, a group of of 12 friends that met weekly for like forty years to talk about important stuff, and she liked the idea, and got a few friends together to be part of a regular "strategy group." I want one of those. How great does that sound?? A healthy discussion/debate with sharp people is like caffeine to me. Same with lunch dates. Well, and actual caffeine.

      Tuesday, March 23, 2010

      i'm not becoming a lactivist, BUT...

      ...let's talk about breastfeeding.

      Sorry if that makes you squeamish. Want me to type it a few times to break the ice?? BREASTFEED BREASTFEED BREASTFEED. Now, moving on.

      To cover or not to cover? The library? Church? Restaurants? Someone else's house?

      One buddy told me that she abides by the sandwich rule: if you're somewhere where you would feel comfortable eating your lunch, you should feel comfortable breastfeeding.

      Our (awesome) local public library has a designated "nursing mothers' room" with a nice lamp and comfy rocking chair. Because the room is locked, you have to ask someone to open it for you and then tell them when you're done. I figured if they had a room for it that must be where it's normal to do it, so the other day, I asked the guy at the desk to let me in. When I was done, he said "You're welcome to use the room if you'd prefer, but you're also welcome to breastfeed anywhere you feel comfortable. It doesn't matter to us," and pointed at all the chairs in the public section. I looked around and felt dumb. It honestly hadn't occurred to me to just do it right there. Why did I lock myself away? I was kind of embarrassed that I'd asked to use the room at all and figured I should be brave enough to just go for it. Well, maybe not across from the matted-beard mutterer with all the garbage bags, but in the comfy chairs by the children's section? Why not? So, the next time, I did, and it was fine.

      The other day at a church youth activity, I fed my cute baby under one of those nursing covers that's like a little sheet you hang around your neck. Moments later, another woman fed her kid sans-cover, and I immediately felt sheepish that it hadn't occurred to me to just go for it. It's no secret what I'm doing, so what's the point of a cover? But, sometimes it's just easier to set up shop (and close up shop) behind some material. But do I send a signal of secrecy or shame when I use a cover? Am I just using a cover because I'm used to other people doing it, and when I go WITHOUT a cover, am I giving people around me permission to do the same??

      Lately I've been going sans-cover and it's liberating! Is that weird of me? Am I sending the LACTIVIST signal loud and clear? If I breastfeed without a cover, do people automatically think I homeschool, have a dozen chickens, and will nurse my kid through kindergarten? (No offense...) Addition: when I say "sans-cover" I'm still covered. My clothing usually covers everything except the baby and she covers almost everything else.

      Anyway, I don't have a huge complex about this, but I have no sense of what other people think is normal. I am amazed at the variety of views people have on this. Will you tell me what you think is normal? Moms, what's your personal preference on place and cover vs. no cover? Dads and non-parents, what are your thoughts? What about at church?

      Monday, March 22, 2010

      also i made and ate many cookies

      The other day I somehow forgot to put a diaper back on our 2-month-old. Of course, she promptly shat. Apparently, I'd buttoned up her onesie over a bare bum without even noticing. Good one, Gurrbonzo.

      One of the 12-year-old girls at church asked me if I'd "ever heard of this band called U2."

      Sometimes I think diet ginger ale is like moonshine because it's impossible to find.

      Did you hear we got a free piano? It's old and heavy and needs some TLC, but come on, it's a piano! You're talking to someone who used to practice the piano at church, and yes, once made a fake keyboard out of the backs of cereal boxes.

      I read the GQ interview with Rielle Hunter and the latest piece in The New Yorker on John Paul Stevens back-to-back. Helluva contrast.

      A friend told me I look like Animal when I play the (fake) drums, and I do!

      That's the latest around here. What's new with you, internets?

      Thursday, March 18, 2010

      most day-to-day concerns can be solved with a bit of sun and a swingset

      The first signs of spring feel so freaking good, it's reason enough to live somewhere with nasty winters.

      Yesterday was almost perfect. Blue skies and nearly 60 degrees, happy kids and a light breeze. I spent the afternoon in our yard with our goofy daughters (is there anything sweeter than toddler-jabber make-believe on a sunny day?) and when hub got home, we busted out the double stroller (I worried that our cute new baby was still a leeeeetle small and floppy for it, but she was reasonably happy, so hey) and walked 3ish miles to eat a delicious burrito and hit the library. Then we walked back home, exhausted and reeking of that special sweaty-spring smell we call "recess," as in, "Whew! We smell like recess!" We took a new route that introduced us to a bit more of our sweet little city's older, quirkier homes, and the kids were mostly happy and calm. It provided for great conversation with my husband, our toddler waved at just about everything along the way ("Hi, Dog! Hi, bike!") and basically, it was awesome and felt like a vacation.

      Pretty great, eh?

      Friday, March 12, 2010

      "let's make the most of this beautiful day..."

      The scene: fifteen minutes ago, at my house.

      I had just hauled one angry baby in a carseat into the house with one hand and finished dragging a singing toddler in with the other when I saw a really skinny, kind of crazy looking guy in his twenties walk up our driveway. He knocked on the door, and I opened it to see a dark beanie pulled down low over twitchy eyes; he had funky teeth but a big bright smile.

      We then had the following exchange:

      Me: Hi.

      Guy: Hi! I just moved in and wanted to introduce myself. I'm Jake*. (*not his real name)

      Me: Hi, Jake. I'm Gurrbonzo.

      (he sticks out his hand, so I shake it)

      (long, awkward silence while my kids scream and sing in the background)

      Me, over the crying and singing: Well, welcome to the neighborhood. My kids are a little worked up so I'd better go, but nice to meet you.

      Guy, like I didn't say anything, and like he was finally getting to the point of the conversation: What do you like to read?

      Me, a little surprised: Um, lots of stuff. What do YOU like to read?

      Guy: Magazines. Every kind of magazine. (big pause) Do you have any old ones I can have?

      Me, wondering what the crap is going on: You know, we just recycled a bunch, but we get Newsweek and The Atlantic, so you can have those next time if you want.

      (He crinkles his nose like I just offered him a diaper for dinner.)

      Guy: I don't like Newsweek.

      Me: Okay. What do you like?

      Guy: Everything but Newsweek.

      Me: Okay. Like what?

      Guy: Glamour. Do you have any Glamours?

      Me: Nope.

      Guy: Kay, bye.


      Tuesday, March 02, 2010

      oh boy

      Welp, here we go.

      It's potty training day.

      Will it be as miserable as legend has it? Or will it be a piece of shi..., I mean, cake?? Somewhere in between? DO YOU BELIEVE IN US??

      Now accepting moral e-support.

      Thursday, February 25, 2010

      that time I had a kid: 2010 edition

      Five years ago, I was sitting on a stranger's couch, surrounded by no less than 500 sci-fi paperbacks in dozens of stacks towering above my head, when I heard the back door open and close very carefully. "Who's that?" I asked.

      "Don't worry," she shrugged. "It's just the cat."

      Umm, WHAT? She had a cat that could open doors by itself.

      Because it had an opposable thumb. Ummmm.

      Just want to e-thank this opposable thumb cat lady, because later that winter she sewed me one of those microwaveable rice bags and it provided a needed blast of soothing distraction from barfy back labor when I gave birth to our newest little lady last month.


      Have you ever heard of a "fog-in"?

      Me neither.

      Apparently, they're common in the Midwest at wintertime and when they happen,
      no planes can land at our local airport.

      Which means if you're, say, my mother-in-law flying in to help out as we have our second child, your 5-hour journey by plane will morph into 16 hours and involve a 4-hour late-night bus ride from Chicago.

      It was four days after my due date. I suspect that subconsciously, I was holding on until hub's mom arrived. We had a few friends lined up to watch our toddler but I knew I wouldn't be able to fully relax and get "in the zone" if our cutie was at a buddy's house. I'd be preoccupied: How was she doing? Was she flipping out? Blahblahblah. Believe it or not, I'm not always such a Fretful Frances, but imminent birth-giving makes one worry. So I had joked with hub that I'd go into labor right when his mom arrived, and that we'd only spend three hours at the hospital.


      Kind of.

      Hub's mom got here a little before midnight and the contractions (whoops, I mean, in hypnobirthing lingo, "surges") started in earnest an hour or two later. And suddenly they were two minutes apart, and I started busting out moves I'd only seen in books (kneeling, swaying, etc.) to take the nasty pressure off my lower back. Around 4:30 AM, we checked into the hospital and I attempted to get in the zone using all the non-cuckoo stuff from hypnobirthing (which, once you ditch the crazy, leaves you with some plain old relaxation breathing and some "I can do it!" mantras). I was determined to move through my nasty back labor because last time it had me feeling paralyzed on the bed for hours, so when the abrupt and homely nurse brought out the birthing ball, it was so wonderful that for a moment, I felt bad for noting how abrupt and homely she was.

      And three-ish hours later, I puked, my water broke, I couldn't not push, and then my lady parts were ablaze and our kiddo was here!

      I could talk about what a miracle childbirth is and how much it blows my mind that we have a new member of our family, or how freaking cute the big sister is as she surrounds the baby with books and toys at every turn, and is always copying her head bobbles and little coos, or how my heart melts when I think that THIS IS MY FAMILY, but let's be honest, you could just read my feelings and FAQ from last go round, but
      you don't care about that, you care about what useful info I've gleaned.

      Things I learned:
      • If you want to give birth naturally, you can do it. Whatever you decide to do, don't let anyone make you feel guilty. If you bear children in North America in 2010, chances are you can do it however you want. Hurray for choices.
      • Apparently a bit of a pattern is emerging, as I'm two for two birthwise as far as 1) having daughters b) no medication except some Motrin after c) having nasty back labor d) going into labor at midnightish e) being due on a Thursday and giving birth the following Tuesday. Weird that those things were all the same, right?
      • Even if the natural route went well the first time and you decide to go for the same strategy, the second time might be more terrifying just because once things get started, you know exactly what's coming. Consequently, in the thick of things you might panic a few times. But people have been doing this for a long time, and you can do it, too, so just remind yourself to grow a pair...figuratively.
      • Giving birth might be the most empowering thing around.
      • If during labor, there's a clock on the wall stressing you out, just take it down. It's okay if it's attached so hangs there awkwardly with cords sticking out and everyone that comes in the room asks what the crap happened on that wall. Just do it. You're in charge.
      • Speaking of which, you're in charge. So do whatever you want! If you need to walk, walk. If you need a heated rice bag, use a heated rice bag. If you need a drink, ask for one. If you need a pep talk from your spouse, ask for one, and be as specific as necessary. When things get intense you might even whisper things like "Holy shit, honey. Holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit." And he will know that this means you need him to say something encouraging.
      In sum: people with mutant cats could give you gifts that save your butt years later, I jokingly predicted details that then came true with eerie accuracy, reproduction rocks, we love our new baby, do what you want.

      Sunday, February 14, 2010


      on Sunday mornings, I bust out some mission tunes, and I hate to brag, but if you're wondering if I do a dead-on Kenneth Cope impression, the answer is yes.

      Tuesday, February 09, 2010

      bc it's 10 degrees

      • I would cry if Tim Hortons ever banned me for life, not only because life without sour cream Timbits is not worth living, but also because my personal history with life-long bans is so sordid. Banned from delicious doughnuts and soup for your WHOLE LIFE just for complaining about coffee? WHAT'S NEXT!?!?
      • I keep deep-ugly-belly-laughing about this guy, a third-year law student who had an e-meltdown preserved for all the world to see when he had a little mix-up in the ole job search. Go read it. You'll thank me. The whole exchange is fantastic, but my favorite sentence: "I hereby require you to destroy [the attachments]." Umm, WHAT? Can you see him raising his powerful scepter and commanding the wind to stop? The sheer power of my words magically turns the mere utterance into enforceable code. I HEREBY REQUIRE YOU. Just like when Michael Scott declares bankruptcy by yelling "BANKRUPTCY!"
      • I mention (and think) this often, but bad tv brings so much joy, particularly in the middle of a quiet winter, and as much as it pains my feminist heart to admit it, I love The Bachelor. I feel like I catch an STD just LOOKING at awful Vienna, and of COURSE Gia's mom reads Jake's tarot cards, and Tenley's dance, OH, Tenley's dance...God bless America.
      • Sometimes I remember that my clever friend Kiersten has a big fat book deal and I get a little giddy because who doesn't want to a) see their friend LIVE THEIR DREAM and b) see a book at the store with their buddy's name on it? So, hurray.
      • In other news, having multiple kids is awesome. Watching the big sister kiss her little sister's head forty times a day is turning me into a pile of weepy mush, especially now that I can sit down without wincing and my iron count is back up above want-to-collapse levels. Also, I'll share some hippie birth details shortly to try to peer pressure you, I mean, for posterity.

      Anyway, I hereby require you to love me.

      public service announcement

      Turns out TWO kids is a lot more than ONE kid. Who knew?!

      Tuesday, February 02, 2010

      virtue: not just for virgins anymore

      That wasn't actually the title of our stake workshop, but wouldn't that have been awesome?

      Thanks for all of your comments. I found many of them helpful and thought-provoking (and some, cringe-worthy).

      A few things I should clarify: I led the same discussion twice, first with all the 12-year-old boys AND girls AND their parents, then with all the 13-year-old boys AND girls AND their parents. I think having a) those younger ages b) with both genders c) with parents d) in a pretty large group made for a pretty unique situation that I would have tackled differently if it had just been girls, or just boys, or no parents, or a smaller group.

      I'd been thinking a lot about what it's like to be 12 or 13, the 6th/7th/8th grade crowd, very sweet and very fresh-faced, many of whom are the only members in their grade and/or school. They aren't too cool for church yet and still get excited about participating (sometimes). So many of them were very sweet and truly "without guile." I figured the sex-is-great-that's-why-you-wait conversation was better suited for the older crowd and kept this discussion away from the nitty-gritty and more focused on what virtue means and why they should care.

      Anyway, I'm sure you would have done it differently (and likely done a better job), and feel free to skip it if you're not interested, and judge all you want, but I've gotten a few questions about what I ended up doing, so here's the gist of it for those who have asked and perhaps someone out there in internetland finds it helpful.
      • Think of a time you've felt really proud of yourself, a time you felt like you could do anything, just really confident and like you wanted to high-five the world. We listed them on the board, and in both groups, the participation was really endearing: "When I made the honor choir!" "When I tried out for 7th grade softball!" "Grades!" "Being in jazz band!" "When I gave a talk!" "When my first piano recital was over!" "When I help my brother with his math and we both figure out hard problems!" "When I finish reading a good, big book!" and so forth. I chimed in with a few, e.g., finishing law school, or giving birth two weeks ago. I then said that everything on the board and anything that is truly rewarding in life usually involves (1) preparation and (2) commitment and how this was also true for virtue. We went over the list and I asked them to keep that feeling in mind, and to remember what it's like to feel confident and empowered and like you can handle anything life throws at you, and how today we're going to talk about "the courage to be chaste and virtuous" which, in part, means learning how to be confident about choices we make and confident in God's presence.
      • Alma 38:12: "Bridle your passions, that ye may be filled with love." This worked out well bc in both groups there were kids that were really into horses who explained how a bridle works and how a horse doesn't know where to go without it, how a bridle doesn't suppress but just focuses the horse. We talked about where they want to go both short- and long-term and how self-control is the ticket and being your own boss and deciding what you will do (and won't do) is part of growing up.
      • Virtue is a prerequisite for feeling the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We talked about what "prerequisite" means (apparently, in junior high you have to take Global Studies before you can take American Studies, Geometry before Algebra, or whatever; it was really sweet how excited they were to think up examples of prerequisites) and how being virtuous allows God to help us and show us what to do.
      • Virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior. I asked them to explain what a pattern is (they mentioned repeating designs, or 2, 4, 6, 8, etc.) and it's basic but seemed to work okay in helping them understand that we do what we're used to doing, so right now is a great time to start a pattern of thought and behavior to last them for the decades to come.
      • Developing virtue is a process. This is the part I liked best. There is an awesome section on Virtue in Preach My Gospel (that I made into a really basic handout), from Chapter 6 about Christlike Attributes. At the end of the chapter, there is this "activity" where you're supposed to rate yourself on a scale of 1 - 5, 1 meaning never and 5 meaning always, as an opportunity for self-reflection. I found the section on "Virtue" really fascinating bc I usually think of it as code for virginity, but this brought a more positive, more nuanced discussion.
      I am clean and pure in heart. (Psalm 24:3–4)
      I have no desire to do evil but to do good. (Mosiah 5:2)

      I am dependable—I do what I say I will do. (Alma 53:20)

      I focus on righteous, uplifting thoughts and put unwholesome
      thoughts out of my mind. (D&C 121:45)
      I repent of my sins and strive to overcome my weaknesses. (D&C
      I feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life. (D&C 11:12–13)

      We read and discussed each scripture. I wasn't sure where this would go, but we ended up talking a lot about the first statement (how clean hands and a pure heart means clean on the outside AND the inside), the second statement (how when our hearts change, our desires change) and the fourth one ("put unwholesome thoughts out of my mind" means it's okay to HAVE unwholesome thoughts and the key is to not entertain them). It worked out well to just see what they responded to and run with it.
      • Repentance is real and WE CAN CHANGE. I mentioned this might make more sense to a lot of them later in life so invited them to put it in their back pocket until they needed it, but that if they ever feel like it's too late or things are too far gone or all hope is lost, that. is. a. lie. God cares way more about our direction than about our past and the miracle of the gospel is that we can change. You don't have to wait for anything. I told them about my friend who once, in a moment of clarity, threw a CD out the window of her car bc she knew she shouldn't listen to it. If it's holding you back, THROW IT OUT. On the way home from this activity, you can tell your parents, "I've been looking at stuff I shouldn't online, will you help me?" or you can tell your boyfriend or girlfriend, "You know what? I'm 12 or 13. That's too young to have a boyfriend or girlfriend." We don't have to be the same tonight as we were this afternoon.
      • A number of the youth made very, very sweet comments about what they want out of life and how they want to play certain sports in high school or go to a certain college or make the honor band next year and we talked about how good choices allow them to stay in the driver's seat and be in charge of what they do.
      • God gives us commandments because He wants us to be happy. Finally, at the end, I just told them that my life is not even close to perfect but that every good thing in my life--my husband, my mission, my education, my freaking awesome kids--everything good in my life is from God, and how happy those things make me, and how I want that for them and how God wants that for them.
      I was sort of dreading the assignment but I'm glad I got the chance to do it. I realized that virtue isn't just virginity and that every law of chastity discussion doesn't have to be about heavy petting. Bits of the lesson kind of flopped but for portions of it, I felt like they were really "with" me and I left feeling like we'd had this intense heart-to-heart.

      Friday, January 29, 2010


      So we have a lot to cover, what with giving birth and a new (lovely) addition to the fam and such, but before we get to that, I need your guidance on an unrelated matter. You guys are smart. Don't let me down.

      This weekend, as part of a "standards night" I'm doing this workshop for the stake youth (and their parents) on the courage to remain chaste and virtuous.

      I KNOW, RIGHT?

      Of course, I've prayerfully considered passing out already been chewed gum, or letting everyone handle a rose and when it's dirty, comparing it to one's virginity, or discussing weird old quotes that imply it's better to die than make out in a parked car, yada yada. Turns out that my 27 years of life have left me with about forty awesome ideas of what NOT to do, but significantly fewer ideas about what TO do. I think any object lesson is destined to be blatantly offensive, so that's out, but, any thoughts on what you would have found helpful or meaningful on the topic back in your day? Or what you wish people were telling YOUR 12-year-old at one of these?