Sunday, April 24, 2011

It Is All In the "Doing"

Feelings are a powerful thing: love, sadness, joy, anger.  As human beings, we feel. But it does not define us. Feelings are a natural consequence of the things that we do.  I love my children. It is a deep, eternal love.  Why? They can be very difficult, selfish, know, kid stuff.  But I love them so much. I would give everything for them.

I have these strong feelings for them because I love them.  I mean, because of all of the things I have done for them or will do for them. Love is an action verb. It is not a feeling we can just conjure up. It is a consequence of what I have done for them over many years.

When Raef and Zach were born, it was a c-section. They were both whisked away to the NICU because they couldn't breathe on their own.  It took many days before I could hold them and I didn't even get to look at them until the day after they were born.  They were like aliens. They looked like aliens, with all of this stuff stuck on them.  It was four days before I could even hold Raef for the first time.

Zach came home from the hospital first, two weeks later. I remember not having any kind of feelings for him.  At least it was not that deep maternal love I was supposed to feel for him.  I remember holding him late at night. It had been several late nights and I decided that I was going to love him. It did not come naturally, but I made a choice to do it.  And once I decided that I would love him, the feelings came later. It was a powerful experience.

Jesus Christ taught, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)  Love is something that we do. If we want to show Jesus that we love Him, if we want to have feelings of love for Him, we must do something. We must keep His commandments.  How can I have a deep, abiding love for the Savior if I profane His name, if I lie, and cheat, and live a selfish life? I will not receive that peace that surpasses all understanding, because I am not doing the things I need to do. I will not be able to nurture a love for Him that is there for me to take freely. 

In the same way, I cannot have feelings of love for my children if I never serve them, teach them, sacrifice for them. I love them so deeply because I have done these things for them. My heart would wax cold if I was not doing things for them always. The feelings of love are a natural consequence.

I love my husband because of all of the stuff we have been through. Love is the reward for endurance and patience and forgiveness and understanding. If I don't feel like I love him, then I know that I am not right with God. I need to repent. When I have hard feelings for him, it is because of my own transgressions. I must DO something about it. I must act like I love him, serve him, help him, listen to him.  Then the feelings naturally follow.  This was a hard thing to understand when we were first married. But we persevered.  Now it has become so natural that it is easier to adjust myself and my actions to stay in line with a loving relationship with him.  

Love is not a feeling that exists because it is.  Love is a consequence of hard work. It is the doing.

I have pondered this idea, especially today, since it is Easter Sunday.  I know that Jesus Christ loves me.  Why?  He loves me because He did something for me that I could not do for myself. He atoned for my sins. He took my burdens upon himself, freely.  Just as I serve my children and do things for them that they cannot do for themselves, because I love them, Jesus Christ did that for me.  Only it is so much more.

So as you continue on in this mortal journey, think about the things that you do.  Think about Jesus Christ and what He did.  As He gave His life so freely, I know that I can try harder to give and to do more freely.  

I love this quote by Howard W. Hunter, "...mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again."

Here are specific things we can do. As we do them, we will have stronger relationships with each other. But more importantly, we will have a strong relationship with God.  This is the doing. Then, we will be rewarded with an eternal, abiding, and pure love. 

Have a Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday at the Mall

We went to the playground at the mall today.  They had a lot of fun.

He was playing hide-n-go seek with the camera. It was tough to get some shots of him. He was being really cute.

Ah-hah! I gotcha!

Happy Harry.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Fountainhead and Homeschooling

The Goodwill in Reno has the most amazing assortment of used books.  I love it.  I was there last week and I saw a brand new, beautiful copy of "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. I have always heard of her, but had never read one of her books.

Last night I finished the book and it has really made me think. I appreciate books that challenge thinking and challenge who we are and the beliefs that we hold dear.

Have you read the book?  Since I am without a book club right now, I thought I would send my thoughts out there, for my own edification mostly.

I really liked the symbolism in the book. This is a book of symbolism, cleverly told in a story of a man who is an architect in the 1920's.  You must keep in mind that Rand is Russian-born and her family life was deeply affected by Lenin and the evils of communism.  She lived it.  I would have to say that this is her skillful and articulate way of exposing communism for what it really is, and evil empire. It is powerful and poignant. 

There is only one thing about this book that was offensive to me; the complete marginalization of God. Obviously Rand is an athiest. One clear message in the book is that if you believe in God then you are weak. I know that she is completely wrong in this aspect of the book. Belief is not a weakness.  But I am going to set that specious part of it aside and focus on the stuff that really spoke to me.

The pursuit of excellence for excellence sake is what we should seek in our lives. This is one of the main reasons why I have chosen to homeschool my children. I don't want them to be educated so that I can put a cheesy bumper sticker on the back of my car stating that my kid is an honor roll student somewhere.  I don't need them to go to school so that I can see them in a school play or riding a school bus or carrying a backpack.  I don't seek the prestige of the PTA or so that my kid can be in some gifted program. 

 I don't want them to go to school so that they can get an 'A', as if a certain grade is the end game in their lives. I don't want them to study so that they can get high marks on some test that provides federal funding  for the school district and props up bureaucrats and labor unions.

I want them to love learning, to pursue it, to crave it. I work to give them those tools so that they can pursue what they want. Grades are unimportant, and in this day and age,  with an academic culture of dishonesty and cheating, they really don't mean a darn thing anyway. They didn't mean anything when I was in school, except to prop one student up against another, to compare, to belittle, to classify.

Why does Howard Roark build buildings? Because he loves to create. Period. There is no other reason. 

Why do I do things? What is my motivation? I know I need to constantly reexamine the why in everything I do.  I want to do something because it is the right thing to do, because I have integrity.  I want to do something because it makes me happy, because it brings joy to me. I am a mother, but it does not define who I am as a person. My children's accomplishments are theirs. If I have a dream, it has to be for me and no one else.

The antagonist in the book is Ellsworth Toohey.  He has no achievements of his own.  He is a parasite who lives off of the accomplishments of others and sits back and criticizes anyone who achieves and excels at anything. I think we all have a little Toohey in each of us. He attempts to take power in the most despicable way possible.  Or he promotes mediocrity so that when we see greatness, we won't be able to recognize it because we are inundated with nonsense and drivel.  Isn't that how you would define celebrity these days?  Hmmm.... Paris Hilton, Kardashians, maybe?  What does a celebrity actually do or accomplish besides promote themselves and stuff they are selling?

Since schools teach children to read and write and take tests, but rarely teach them how to actually think, we are creating a society full of mediocrity and Toohey's who nurture it and are enslaved by it.  In a world where celebrity is more important than achievement, this book is more prevalent today than it has ever been.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Librarian In the Candy Store

It was a lovely day Thursday. We went with Kelli D. and her 4 kids and we did a little field trip to Virginia City, Nevada... a major tourist trap about 25 minutes from Reno.  This is where they found the Comstock Lode and apparently where Michael Landon worked with his brother Hoss (sp?) everyday on the hit TV show Bonanza.

It was a beautiful day.  We found a perfect parking spot and unloaded the masses.  Kelli has 4 kids, so we were quite the spectacle. Her kids were on spring break, just as my kids are on an eternal spring break. We hit the visitor's center first and ended up buying tickets to a mine tour.  It started in an hour, so we had some time to kill.  We decided to mosey down the boardwalk.  

After a few blocks, we pressed our runny noses up to the window of this amazing candy store. Barrels and barrels of candy overflowing, a cornucopia of sugary confection...the main attraction being the salt water taffy.  We bravely entered the store.  And there she was...the librarian in the candy store. I will affectionately call her Gertrude.  This is the face she greeted us with when we made our candy store debut.

I felt the warmth seethe out of her laser sharp, Tolkeinesquell-seeing eye as she scanned the little varmints who had just entered her candy kingdom.  I felt the warm embrace as I could almost hear her say, "Why the &%$@ did you bring those snot-nosed brats into this hallowed establishment? It is a candy store after all, not Wal-mart!"

The silence was deafening.

And so was Julia... and Harry... and Eli... but especially Julia.

She was helplessly stranded in her stroller with mounds and mounds of candy just within her reach. It was sheer torture. So she decided to torture everyone else and scream her blood-curdling scream. 

Harry also started to get whiny, and then bouncy, and then slightly frantic as the candy taunted him from every corner.

I was just busy throwing various taffy flavors into my bucket.

I just didn't realize that Raef was doing the same thing.

I found a few lollipops and shoved it into the babies mouths.  I headed for the check-out stand.  $4.79 /lb. was kind of expensive, but it was our splurge for the outing.

Gertrude, the librarian, weighed the candy. Then Raef came up with his bucket. I told him to put it back. But there were so many flavors, he didn't know where to put them. So I just threw them onto the scale.  It sent it up .08 more.  Gertrude had a heart attack. 

"How many pieces did you put on the scale?" 

"I don't know. 10, 12, 5. I can't remember, but it is was 1.15 and now it is 1.22."

I pointed at the scale readout and barely touched it and the thing fell down. She glared. I told her to charge me whatever she wanted. I didn't care. I was withering under her fatal fatalness. She ended up giving it to me for free. And then I saw the total...$17.75. 


It just wasn't adding up in my head.  Why did it cost so much? Some salt water taffy, a small $2 bag of sour patches, and a $3.50 bag of root beer candy. $17.75. I asked her what the prices were. She reminded me curtly that she gave me .08 free. Then she surprisingly, got very defensive. I just wanted an explanation of the price. 

Ooooohhhhhhh!  Salt water taffy is $4.79 for HALF a pound. Right! My bad.

Kelli checked out next.  Her total was over $21.  Probably because her daughter's lollipop thing cost $3.  We left and walked 50 feet from the store.  Then the cry...yep, once upon a time a little girl had a $3 lollipop and then she didn't. Dropped. Destroyed. Distraught. 

A little while later Kelli broke out a tootsie roll.  

And it went SNAP!

btw...Smith's has Salt Water Taffy on sale right now for $1.99 /lb in case you want some.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

That Bug is Going To Eat You!!!!!!!

I took the boys to their first violin lesson here in Reno. Their teacher's studio is downtown.  Since Rinar is out of town today, I took the entire circus to the lesson.  After I dropped Raef and Zach off, I headed out with the three little ones. Amazingly enough, his studio is one block from where we visited before, the downtown park on the Truckee River.  A visit to the river seemed like an obvious time-killer for us.  

There were a lot of people down there.  They were having some kind of wine walk or something like that. It was a motley crew with lots of very interesting people.

The kids were watching the river and the dogs and the babies and having fun.  We were standing on a very busy sidewalk. And then there it was...

A very interesting bug was strolling down the middle of the sidewalk. It was gray, low-profile, with long pincers. I thought it looked interesting.  I exclaimed, "Eli, look!! Look at the bug!"

Eli tuned right into it.  He got really excited. He bent down and followed it with his finger trying to touch it.  I thought to myself that I was sure that even if he touched it, it would be fine. It did not look like a scary bug.


No joke... a middle-aged, slightly schlozzled, frizzy-frosted blonde lady in a black tank-top screamed at the top of her lungs.  She was standing 2 feet from him.

Eli was stunned. He stood there. He didn't know what to say.  Then the frown slowly started to form and the tears welled up in his eyes.

What did I do?

I did nothing.  I held my tongue.  I wanted to go slap her upside her head or ream her a good one..  But alas, I did nothing. I quickly gathered up my children, did not say a word to her, and got away from her as fast as I could. Then I spent the next five minutes trying to console my 3 year-old son and explain to him that he did nothing wrong.

This got me thinking.  Is there some kind of endangered downtown Reno bug I don't know about. Is she some kind of expert?  She really thought he would kill the bug?  I mean, because I am sure that the bug was perfectly safe walking down the middle of a very busy sidewalk. 

{insert eyeroll here}

Are children not allowed to be children? Can't a boy just be a boy?  Aren't they supposed to play with bugs?

Maybe I will go back there and slap that lady upside the head. Either that, or I will send her my kids psychiatry bill.

You Talk Too Much

A few weeks ago I went to a church fundraiser dinner in St. George. My grandmother invited me.  They had long banquet tables and I was there with my kids by myself.  She saved us seats on one side of the table. Therefore, I sat across the table from another mother and her two girls.  She introduced herself as Jamie. We exchanged some small talk and then crickets.  So, I decided to try to get her to talk about something. I asked about her husband and she curtly told me that she was not married. Oops.  But I was not going to feel bad about that. I did not think it was an offensive question. I asked her about work.  Her reply was that she does odd jobs.  Crickets. This same trend repeated for several minutes. I tried everything I could think of to get her to break out of her monosyllabisms (I don't think that is a word, but maybe it should be). Nothing. Crickets. There had to be something interesting about this lady.  But after several gallant tries, I decided that there really was nothing interesting at all.

Or maybe it is me! Maybe I just talk too much. I know I am weird and I have always thought that I talk too much.  Like yesterday at the park. Here I am with three new women in Reno.  I am trying to get to know them and find something we can talk about. It is not that I want to do all the talking, but sometimes you have got to plunge in, right?  After being there for 3 hours and much to their chagrin, I am sure, I started talking about the book I just finished reading, "Roots" by Alex Haley. I went on and on about it and what I thought about it and how it affected me.  I must have talked for ten minutes straight about this or that aspect of the book. 

They all just stared at me.

I think I am reminding myself of my friend Melanie. The first week I met her it was the summertime in Las Vegas. It was miserable hot and she was miserably very pregnant.  I met her on Sunday and invited her to come to my house the next day. She didn't know anyone. She came every day that week.  And she talked and talked and talked.  After several days I thought to myself, "Wow, I thought I was a big talker!"  Then I realized that she probably doesn't really talk this much. She just needed to get it all out of her system.  We are still really close friends and her and I never seem to run out of things to talk about when we get together. That is pretty cool. 

I think I am having the same problem right now.  Here I am in a new city. I only know a couple of people and I have been cooped up with my kids for about a month.  My husband works a lot.  I have no one to talk to, and unfortunately for those three ladies, I had to get some of it out of my system.

And if I can't find anyone interesting to talk to, I can always go talk to the crickets. I am sure the crickets have more to say than Jamie.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Out and About

We completed a successful homeschooling week and were able to add a few fun things into the  mix. On Thursday I took all of the kids to the children's museum in Carson City. We went in the morning. It took about 20 minutes to drive there and it was very beautiful. It was a bit cold and a little snowy, but overall, it was not to bad.  The museum is very small but it was perfect.  It is an old civic auditorium, so the museum was all on one floor. The kids had loads of fun for several hours. Children are not sophisticated. They can enjoy life's simple pleasures.

The babies get very excited when we ask them if they want to take a bath after dinner. They race to the bathroom and stand expectantly at the tub, waiting to hit the water.  We have very little in corporate housing, so Rinar improvised with a bowl set. I guess it was a hit.

 Yesterday, we decided to go see the countryside. We have nothing else to do. The most logical place to go was Lake Tahoe. We just drove around for a bit and then stopped at a state park near South Lake Tahoe.  It was so beautiful and we look forward to enjoying it during the summer.

This is out in front of the common area at our corporate housing There is a playground just off to the right and the kids enjoy playing there quite often.

 Eli is really starting to take care of Julia and Harry. Here he is sharing his popsicle with both of them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Tongue Tale

Last night was eventful.

We waited for Rinar, to be able to eat dinner with him. But just when he was supposed to be home, he called to tell me two tires had blown out and he would have to get it towed to the tire shop.  We ate dinner and just carried on as always.

I decided to let the kids stay up so that they could see their Dad.  The three little ones were having a fun time climbing up onto the coffee table and then jumping on to the couch, which was about five inches away. Innocent fun, right?

My phone rang and it was the hospital in St. George calling to survey me for Harry's hospital visit last week when he split his ear open falling down. He had to get five stitches. I couldn't hear the lady very well, so I went into my bedroom. I was halfway through the questions when Eli walked in, crying, blood running out of his mouth.  I could tell it was different because the blood seemed darker and more intense.

I will never be a healthcare professional. I am terrible.

I pretty much panicked.  I didn't know what to do. Here I am, by myself in a new city. I have no friends or support system.  It is obvious that he needs to go to the hospital and my husband is not home.  I say a silent prayer and Raef calls Rinar. I then tell him I don't know what to do.  So, he tells me to take Eli to the ER and he will get someone from work to come over and be with the kids.

I race out of the house. I am shaking. I am barely holding it together. I am trying to stay calm. I have blood all over my shirt. Eli is holding a blue towel and putting it in his mouth to staunch the bleeding. He had bitten completely through his tongue.

Thank goodness for GPS.  I plugged it in and amazingly enough there is a hospital less than 1/2 mile away. I ran in and I plopped him on a chair.  I was pretty much frantic and the nurse tells me to pull it together.  Okay. Deep breaths. There are no other patinets in the ER, so they take him right back.  I think we waited 5 minutes and then the doctor came. 10 minutes later the IV nurse was there. I was really worried that Eli would get upset when they put the IV in him. I prayed some more. Amazingly enough, he didn't cry or move or anything. They put the IV in and wrapped it up.

After they left, then he started trying to dismantle all of the stuff stuck to his body.

The doctor and his team came back in shortly and started to operate, after they sedated him. I started to get a little woozy and nauseous.  Then Rinar walked in and I left. They put 3 stitches on top of his tongue, and one underneath.

When I got home, I told the kids what had happened and then they told me that they had said a few prayers for Eli.  I was so touched. My two nine year-old boys took it upon themselves to remember their brother and say a prayer for him. I know that because of their faith and all of the prayers said for Eli, it helped him to be calm during this entire process.

Such a blessing.

Now he is still sleeping soundly in his bed. 

Yes, it was a yucky situation and I don't want to see bad things happen to my children. However, I know that my Father in Heaven was there for us every step of the way as we went through this little trial. I am so blessed.

Now, I go to burn that coffee table!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Downtown Reno

First of is back in session. These two boys were ready to crack open those books again. And now since we have nothing going on around here, we are going to hit the books hard for the next few months.  Every morning when we start, I always ask them, "Are you ready to get smarter today?"

They are getting smarter every day!

After several hours of schoolwork, we decided to do a little bit of exploring. I took them downtown. Downtown Reno is pretty darn cool. It is soooo much different than downtown Las Vegas. You don't take your kids to downtown Las Vegas unless you have a specific reason to go.  But in Reno, the Truckee river cuts right through the center of town.  We hung out by the river for a little bit and they had fun throwing sticks and rocks into the river. We also watched kayakers practicing on the white water.

Eli made a sword out of a belt. It was pretty cute. He took it along while we walked around.  I guess when you are a boy, everything is a weapon, right?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pacific Coast Highway

Here is a view of the Oregon coast as we embarked on our little road trip from Gleneden Beach, Oregon to Reno.  We headed south down the Pacific Coast Highway and soaked in the views and many times got soaked in the process.

There we are...fresh and ready to go.  The car is clean and fully stocked.

We did the tourist trap thing along the way. The sign promised the BIGGEST sea lion cave in the world.  There they are in this sea cove. It was really loud, like a cocktail party and pretty stinky. I couldn't use the flash on my camera, but they are there.  It only cost us $48 to spend about 15 minutes to see this.  My kids were not really into this.

We stayed at the Best Western in Crescent City, California.

This is the "Big Tree" in the Redwood forest. Yep, it was pretty big. Now we had to go see if we could find any Ewoks.  Are they on the endangered species list?

Zach tried to find a four-leaf clover.

This is pretty much the exact opposite of Las Vegas.  It was so beautiful

Take a look...Eli actually wore a coat! I even found him some boots at the Goodwill in Lincoln, Oregon. He loves the boots.

Northern California is so beautiful. It is breathtaking.

The next day we stopped in Sacramento.  The old town is really cool. I would like to go there again when I have more time and am not so harried from being in a car forever. This is in the train museum. I thoroughly enjoyed it because I had read Stephen Ambrose's book, "Nothing Like It In the World".

But the kids LOVED the train tables. They played there for quite a while.

But all good things must come to an end. She was getting very tired.

Doesn't old Sacramento look cool. The Sacramento River is behind those buildings on the left.  I also noticed lots of thrift stores and an IKEA as we were leaving. Yep, I will be going back to Sacramento soon. It is less than 2 hours away. It would be a good day trip.

Donny and Marie Show

Well, this was very unexpected. After I dropped Rinar off in Reno and stayed there a couple of days to recuperate from our whirlwind road trip (blog entry will soon follow), I headed back to Las Vegas on Thursday, the 23rd.  I stayed at the Bishop's with my three little ones, and Raef and Zach spent one night at Jen M.'s house and the next night at Lindsay's house.

On Friday night, Lindsay talked me into going with the girls to see Donny and Marie. Apparently, a big group canceled at the last minute, and since we have several connections to the show through our ward, we got the hook up.  I went with Jen M., Cyntha B., Lindsay B., Keri P., and Jill S.  Look at my fine lady friends.

Jen drove and we all rode together. Keri was the navigator and Jen dubbed her the "lady of Las Vegas".  I thought the title was probably not one you would want to have for this town, but we all knew what she really meant.

The show was a lot of fun. We first were seated up high in the nose-bleed seats, but Keri and Jill got us moved up really close to the stage!  And surprisingly enough, we were the loudest table there. Hey, it wasn't me! It was Jen and Keri. They were the ring leaders, for real.

When we were waiting for the car, we realized that between the six of us, we have 25.5 children.  Cyntha has one on the way.  Can you believe that?  Just a few years ago it was like 5 kids and now, wow!

I think that half of our ward was there.  It was fun to see everyone and people were really surprised to see me.  

We went to Lindsay's house after the show and ate junk food and hung out.

The best part?  Rich and Elaine watched my kids and put them all to bed.  Woot! Woot!
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