Thursday, June 29, 2006

Washing Feet

After Philip was born, I did not handle life very well. As many of you know, he was not exactly planned. One does not usually think, "well now that our first child is four-months-old, it is probably time to have another." But God had a better plan in mind. A plan to put me through another ridiculously difficult pregnancy and follow it up with a big, bad case of the post-partums, all to teach me a little something about who is really in control.

For months after Philip's arrival, I cried...a lot. I ended most days knowing that I yelled more than I played or comforted. And ending a day with the knowledge that you yelled at a newborn and a 14-month-old does not leave a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart. I hated breast-feeding. I hated being touched-out. I hated holding my kids. I hated me a lot. I thought I was failing as a mother and a wife. And frankly, I was. I had so many balls in the air. And the whole world felt like it was crashing down on me. Finally, something snapped. I was raging at everything, and I finally raged at God that he gave me these kids, why couldn't he help take care of them! And you know that still small voice? The one that comes after the wind and shaking and fire? Well, it really, really does. And man, something so small and still can sure slap your face.

I realized the truth in what I had said. God GAVE me these kids. I may have made them (well, Luke helped some, but I say he got off easy in the long run), but God MADE them. And then, unbelievably, he entrusted them to me. He TRUSTED me. But with that came the burden of having to really trust Him. So I laid those kids down at the foot of the throne (not literally, as I have never been to Heaven) and I told Him, "Lord, I can't do this. But since you have decided I need to, I had better start doing a better job. I'm going to need a lot of help. I need a lot of patience, and I will need more perserverance. Since these beautiful creatures aren't really mine, I am going to need a lot of help to take care of them to Your standard. And I cannot do that alone."

And I swear, God said "Okay." And he sounded like James Earl Jones.

And that day, I discovered the amazing truth about Christianity. If you really start to practice it, there's this amazing return. That return is a simple promise...Life, and life more abundantly. And if God is Love and Christ is God and I am a little Christ, then my life had better be about Love. And if I love the Lord then I get love back in spades. Love to give out. Love to spread around. Abundant Love. Amazing. Awesome in the true sense of the word. I have now become a servant of Christ. A real one, I think. Because I feel like I get it. I feel like something clicked. I look at my kids and I think that God has given me wonderful gifts, and now I gotta start giving some back. Easy. Because if you are in it, really, really in it, you have abundance, and as with any excess we are commanded to give it back. Share it with those who need it. And I finally think I can.

So tonight we made a fort in the living room. Furniture pushed back, dining room chairs brought in, king-sized sheets spread over everything, and we crawled in and out and pulled the sheets down on ourselves and laughed. Fort Roeschley. We have hardwood floors, so everyone's knees and feet were dirty from crawling, and it's summer and you wear sandals and your feet get dirty. And after we collapsed Fort Roeschley the final time, I took Helen to dress her for bed. We went into the bathroom and sat one the edge of the tub. She was very still in my lap, tired from playing. Her little back resting against me. And I washed her feet. And she didn't laugh and squirm like she normally would. She just sat. And we breathed deep. This is servanthood. This is motherhood. This is life.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

They're Plotting Something...

So, the baby, or Philip if you prefer, was laying in my lap after finishing a light, mommy-provided snack. He looks at me and very clearly says, "Die."

I reply, "No, no! You don't want Mommy to die! Luke, did the baby just tell me to die?"

At this point, Helen jumps on the band wagon and starts dancing about chanting, "Die mama, die! Mama Die!" And laughing hysterically.

Now I am afraid, very afraid.

Monday, June 26, 2006

An Eventful Parade

Due to the wonderful outpouring of comments, I will tell my wonderful tale of the guy shooting himself in the leg, and of course, my getting hit by the car.

This past weekend was Flaming Gorge Days, a festival of sorts that takes place in Green River, Wyoming. Green River is only 11, 12 or 14 miles from Rock Springs (depending on which mileage sign you happen to be passing), so we loaded up the kids to go see the Flaming Gorge Days parade on Saturday morning. There was also a festival in one of the parks for kids with free slides and face painting...That sort of thing. Family Fun for all. Also on Saturday night there promised to be a rockin' concert by Tesla and Everclear. Wouldn't wanna miss that...

So to get the unnecessary details out of the way, the parade was fairly normal, Helen made off with enough candy to confuse parade with Halloween and I got a sunburn on the only four inches of skin I neglected to put sunscreen on...My neck. So all that aside, when I say the parade was fairly normal, that is with the exception of...

There was a float that was made up like the Old West. The front half was a saloon, the back half was a jail with a hangman's gallows. Right in front of where we had pulled up a section of roadside grass, the float stops to do a little skit. The gist of it was lost on me because some of the men (all of whom were dressed in period appropriate clothing) were shooting off old-timey rifles with blanks which made the baby cry. I will at this point acknowledge that "the baby" has a name, which is Philip. Anywho, I guess after shooting off their child upsetting weapons, they stopped to reload their blanks. AND THEN...

One poor guy shot himself in the leg with a blank.

Now for any of you who happened to see OBU's stage catch fire during the theatre department's production of Little Moon of Alban, you realize that blanks shoot off a wad of residue and smoke and other goodness. So, the poor sucker shoots himself in the leg, and the crowd went freakin' nuts. Guys were taking off their shirts to make tourniquets and people were giving up water bottles to cleanse the wound. Now also, try to picture if you can, the one woman in an old fashioned dress having a semi-panic attack stopping all the other floats and shouting "Stop the parade!! He's been shot!!" Now also picture no one really caring enough to stop the parade. All the other floats just keep on coming, throwing candy and driving a wide berth around the guy bleeding in the middle of the street.

So the ambulance arrives, after navigating around all the still moving parade traffic, and takes the guy away. Luckily enough, like three floats after the ambulance is the local fire department who takes the time to stop and wash the blood out of the street. Thanks boys. And at the end of all this, there was a lady trying to return the T-shirts and blankets people had offered the wounded. Some of them were...soiled, let's say. I don't know about you all, but if I had offered a shirt to be used on some guys gun shot would, and then a lady tried to hand it back, I think my response would be..."Really, no thanks. I have other shirts." So ends story one...

Now, let me start by clearing the air about something here. WE did not get hit by a car. My CAR did not get hit by a car. I got hit by a car. As we were exiting the very eventful parade before it was over (I told Luke we'd already seen the most exciting part, that of course being the part where a guy shoots himself in the leg), we passed a little make-shift parking lot. We were going down a narrow sidewalk, and Luke was pushing the stroller and I was walking behind. A big white truck was exiting said make-shift parking lot. He was looking left, waiting for traffic to clear, and I was on the right side, but still very much in front of his truck. Apparently traffic cleared, because he just WENT! And he clipped me on my right arm and hip. I yelled, not because it hurt, but because he HIT ME WITH HIS TRUCK! His wife calmly turns and kinda glances at me...And then they just drive away. Seriously. They. Just. Left. Just drove off. "Did you know you just hit a lady?" I imagine his wife asking. And he says, "Yeah, but I don't seem to mind."

So, after all that blood and getting hit by that truck, we decided to skip the park festivities and certainly we decided to skip Tesla and Everclear (who am I kidding we WERE NOT going to that concert of crap anyway) and just went home to take a nap. It was the most eventful parade ever. The End.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Questions Anyone?

Well, no one seems interested in my blog. Sad. Not even one comment. Well, I thought I would mix it up a little bit. See if I can intrigue anyone into commenting.

Today I saw a guy shoot himself in the leg.

Today I also got hit by a car.

Anyone interested?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

From time to time our family takes off on dorky, educational field trips. We visit sites from the Oregon Trail, recreated ferry crossings for wagon trains, wildlife preserves, places with fossils and museums, that sort of thing. The best part of living in Wyoming is you are always a car ride away from something interesting and/or beautiful, even if you are worlds away from anything else. I realize that I could never get hired to work for the Wyoming Bureau of Tourism because Luke and I think History and Science are fun, and I don't think most people seek out vacations where there are neat geological formations or an abandoned mine town.

We pull over to look at ANY roadside attraction. And sometimes they really pay off. So far, we have found the highest butte in Wyoming, which consequently has a secret ladder carved into one side by the Masons. They used to meet and do...Mason-y things up there. You know all that ritualistic, cult stuff that Masons do (BTW, my Dad's a Mason, so I just don't buy that it's a cult). Today we went to Sinks Canyon, a FANTASTICALLY beautiful state park where the Popo Agie River flows into an underground cave, travels about 3 miles underground and comes back up only a quarter of a mile away running at twice the flow with which it disappears. That basically means it picks up more water from somewhere under ground. We have found Wyoming's Hot Springs, Thermopolis, where you can take a nude swim in a private natural bath house. Kilpecker Sand Dunes is a desert in the middle of the mountains. There are four completely creepy deserted ghost towns within a half hour from our house. There are prehistoric rock formations that look like a big row of elephants, which Luke and I have dubbed Elephant Butt Rocks, a fitting name, I assure you. And these are just a few. We go out every Saturday, or now that it is summer and Luke isn't working, just once a week.

I know I can talk it up enough on here, and maybe there are some of you thinking these things sound interesting. But I really have to wonder...If you came to visit me, and I suggested we go look for Ghost Towns you might say yes. But would you agree if you knew that I would research the town first? If I brought along notes and while you were poking around looking at creepy artifacts, Luke and I were discussing when the last boom was, and what they were mining and who was president at the time, and how weird it is that people used to ride horses everywhere? Because that is what we do. I am so lame!!!! I can tell you ridiculous historical facts about Rock Springs that I admit, are of NO interest to anyone else. But living up here, you just can't help but embrace this incredible sense of history. The Bureau of Land Management has actually managed to keep Wyoming looking like it did 200 years ago. You can picture Wagon Trains and tepee villages. There are wild horses here!!! Herds of them! Free range cattle! Herds of antelope cross the highway while you are driving. It is very...Primitive.

Most people I know can't believe we live in a place without a Chipotle, a Gap...Well, without much of anything. But I am in love with this isolation. I love that my kids will grow up to be smart because we can take them to Yellowstone in under three hours to learn about volcanoes instead of just letting them read about them in school. When they study US history, we can take them to the Oregon Trail. We can show them where Joseph Smith and Brigham Young led a group of crazy people into the Salt Lake Valley. When they are in Chemistry learning about why things don't sink in Salt Water, we can take them to the Great Salt Lake. I love it. I love that my family is so close. I love our little excursions. I love when the kids fall asleep on the way home and Luke and I drive through the mountains chatting and feeling...Well, good.

Today I told Helen, "The Lord has been good to us today. He made this world so beautiful and gave us a chance just to live on it." If you ever want to come visit us, I can't guarantee excitement, and I can't guarantee that I won't tell you stories about scabs and labor strikes in the coal mines, but I can guarantee this. Here in Wyoming, you will be in God's country. It is good for the soul. God is so very, very good. And you just can't help but feel it, hear it and smell it here. I am so glad I get the chance to live on this earth.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

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Friday, June 16, 2006

What happens when your kids throw poop.

I haven't written a blog post in over a year. It feels strange. But I am just going to jump right in, as if no time at all has passed.

We are trying to potty train Helen. It is not working. It started with a timer, some panties and her potty in the kitchen floor. We would exchange diaper for panties, have a chat about staying dry and set the timer for 15 minutes. When the timer dings, we clap our hands excitedly and check for dry panties. If panties are dry, a single M&M is the reward. Then we sit on the potty for 2 minutes, and if we go, two M&Ms is the fantastic reward. It sounds like an unbeatable plan. Alas, it did not work.

The first three times, we did not even earn the first M&M because Helen chose this time to pee 4 times in 45 minutes. The next 15 minute interval, she stays dry. Hooray! An M&M is exchanged, goods for her services. She sits on the potty for two minutes. Oh, I should interject that "sits" is a bit of an overstatement. Bounces on while touching "herself" and then her face is far more accurate. She does not pee. We get off and I set the timer. At this point Helen walks over and just pees (a river, a lake, an ocean) all over the kitchen floor, stomps in it and walks away satisfied. I take this time to change her into a Pull-Up because, let's face it, I do the laundry.

So, it is decided she is not ready to train. We will back up. She goes into the bathroom with me now. We talk about all the wonderful people in the world who go in the potty. I show her that Mommy pee pees in the potty. And then it happens. Crimes against humanity. She looks at my pee, takes two LARGE steps backward, all the while looking at me as if I had killed puppies, and says, "Ewwwwww, Mama," in a very disappointed tone. When she poops, we empty the diaper into the toilet. "This is where poop goes," I say. To which she replies, "Ewwww, Mama." every time she says it, she looks at me with eyes narrowed and a voice that actually makes me feel bad about it. I look at her and say, "Yeah, well you go in your pants!" I justify to my 21-month-old why my pee in the toilet is not gross.

Fast forward to yesterday, and you get to the title of this post. Every parent knows that occasionally while changing a diaper, you get a free agent, a loner, A... rover if you will. A stray piece that unbeknownst to you escapes and rolls away. Generally you find these in the most disgusting ways, but this beats all.

It is ten o'clock on a normal Thursday morning. I sit in the floor changing squirmy Philip from PJ's to normal clothes and in comes Helen, hands hidden behind her back.
"What do you have?" I ask.
"NO!" she replies.
"What is it?"
And at this point she hurls something across the room and it breaks against the hardwoods and sends millions of pieces across the floor. I go to investigate.
"WHAT IS THAT?" I ask incredulously.
"It's poop," she replies and leaves the room.

Yes, it was indeed poop. A dried piece from God Knows Where now broken and flung across my floor. A great deal of time goes into the sweeping and swiffering of poop pieces from my lovely hardwood floors.

This action came from the very child who thinks poop in the potty is gross. However, it is apparently NOT gross to carry it around and then throw it.

We have, in fact, given up the silly notion of potty training until the ripe age of two.