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?