Tiny Dancer, Large Chair

Posted on 5/31/2013 04:55:00 PM
It was picture day at dance class yesterday and afterward, The Caterpillar and I walked over to the adjacent antique mall because I promised her after the photo session, I'd take her over and we'd have a photo session of our own in her costume.  Particularly, I promised she could take a picture in the Big Chair that I spend most of my time trying to keep her from climbing on every time we walk past it. It's not that they don't allow climbing on the Big Chair; it's just that class starts at a fixed time each week and I'd like to get there sometime in this millennium willyoujustgetoffthechairalready.

I love each and every one of the photos I took that day, but I'm gonna narrow it down to two... no three... no four. Eh, just forget I said I would limit myself.

Looking at these last three photos, I alternatively want to watch Lily Tomlin clips and sing "Fat Guy in a Little Coat" from Tommy Boy, (one of the most underrated movies of the last century).  There'd just be a slight change in the lyrics.

My thoughts: 
I had to include this photo because it reminds me of one of those Humans of New York photos if the photographer (me) were more talented and owned better equipment.

So about a week ago, The Caterpillar started coming home talking excitedly about her upcoming "Red Carpet Event."  I had no idea what this meant.  So I asked her:

"What kind of event is it?"

"It's a Red Carpet Event."

"Yes, but what is the red carpet leading to?"


"Is there a movie?  Or a performance?"

"No. It's a Red Carpet Event!"

"Yes, but usually the red carpet at an event leads up to something at the event, right?  What will be there at the event?"


She stomped away like a teenager who's just had to explain Twitter to her aging grandmother.

At the Mother's Day program at school earlier in the month, her teacher took some time at the end to make an announcement about the Red Carpet Event. Oh goody, I thought, finally I'm gonna know what this Red Carpet Event is all about.  The Kindergarten teachers all talked excitedly about how we were to dress our children up for the Red Carpet and come back to school at a time when my kids are usually getting ready for bed.  They were to come dressed in all their finery - or perhaps dressed as what they want to be when their grow up - and "walk the red carpet."

"You can purchase press passes and you can take pictures of your children."

I finally had to ask, "Yes, but what's the event for?"

"Oh yes," she explained, "This is our annual fundraiser for next year's Kindergarten field trip. You see, each year, we do something to raise money for the upcoming Kindergarten classes so they can go on a really nice field trip in the upcoming year. It pays for the bus rental and some of the admission costs.  Your children's' field trip this year was funded by last year's fundraiser. Last year's fundraiser was a talent show.  This year we're doing a Red Carpet Event."

I muttered to some mom sitting next to me, "Right, but what's the Red Carpet for?"

"So they can dress up and walk down it. Then we can take pictures," the mom next to me said smiling broadly.  I'm pretty sure I detected her actively trying not to roll her eyes.

I seemed to be creating a problem where there was none for anyone else. So I finally shut up.  I figured there had to be more to the whole thing than just walking from one end of the room to the other on a red carpet and us paying for the privilege of watching it.  I'd probably figure it out eventually.

So the fateful night came and, still not really knowing why, but because we were told to, we dressed The Caterpillar up in her party dress, paid $15 in admission for us three spectators (you got a discount on admission price if you purchased your tickets the morning of rather than showing up at the door to buy tickets), and headed off to the school. I dropped off The Caterpillar with her class, we choose seats in the cafeteria and sat down to listen to the teenage D.J. who'd been hired and was trying desperately to work the crowd into a frenzy while we waited for the Kindergarteners to make their appearance and finally bring to light of day the whole structure of this Thing in my mind.

They finally filed in (twenty minutes late because some parents weren't there yet and they "didn't want them to miss anything") and all the Kindergarteners stood in a line.  Some of them mugged for the cameras. Ahem.

Then, one by one, they were each introduced by the Emcee,

and asked to speak their names into the microphone.

Then they strode down the red carpet to the end.  Some had clearly worked on their model's walk, some waved to the cameras, some blew kisses.

And that, my friends, was the entirety of the Red Carpet Event.

There was actually a tiny bit more to it where all the kids gathered at the end and sang a song, which was neither mic'ed nor audible, despite the fact that a sound system had been featured prominently in the previous portion of the evening.  I still don't know what song they sang; and when I asked The Caterpillar after to sing it to me again, she couldn't remember the words. I couldn't hear well nor see, due to the number of parents standing and attempting to video tape the whole thing on their iPads, thereby creating several small JumboTrons to look at, but all of which moved so frenetically to follow the action it made me dizzy to try and see on one of their screens. People trying to see the thing with their own, you know, eyes, couldn't see around the hands and heads and screens to actually view the performance. We finally gave up and sat down.  Email to Principal: I hereby propose that all iPad users at future school concerts be corralled in a single corner of the room so they can block each others' view and not mine. Thankyouverymuch.

Afterward, The Caterpillar came running up to me, ecstatic.  "This is the best day of my whole year!"

"Mine too, honey.  Mine too!"

My thoughts: 

A Serious Profession

Posted on 5/25/2013 09:27:00 AM
It has been The Caterpillar's purpose in life lately to learn to cook.  And I use that term loosely.

After the Ketchup Sandwich incident, things got a little better in the way of palatability, for The KingofHearts, at least.  Then at some point, I explained that despite what she sees me eat most of the time, adult humans' meals needed to follow the four food group model and usually include a variety of items on the plate.  So we got this.

Later, I had another discussion with her about how we often follow what are called "recipes" to make meals.  I shared with her that these recipes are often a collection of ingredients and spices which are combined to make things taste good together. 

So then came the night where she made dinner for the family and we were all sequestered to the living room, not allowed to see the magic happen except for the twenty-seven times she ran into the living room to exclaim, "You. Are. Gonna. LOVE. This. Recipe!" 

KoH: "Is it ready yet?"

Caterpillar: "No, I'm still cooking."


Finally, the moment of truth arrived and we were all ushered into the dining room.

Me: "Wow, this looks amazing! You made this all by yourself?"

Caterpillar: "Yes, and I made up the recipe too."

KoH: "What 'recipe'?" *shoveling a spoonful of cheese into his mouth* "Oh."

Caterpillar beams.

Me: "What did you do to the cheese?"

Caterpillar: "I put lemon juice on it."

Me: "Lemon juice?"

Caterpillar: "Uh huh. And pepper."

Me: "Where did you get that recipe?"

Caterpillar: "Out of my head." 

Each of our plates was customized to the individual.  For example, I had yogurt with mine. But The Caterpillar is sensitive to the fact that The Dormouse doesn't love yogurt these days.  So she got a pickle.
I should also note that she found the lunch meat in the back of the refrigerator and none of us even knew we had lunch meat in the house anymore.  That's how old and moldy it was.  We had to throw that part of dinner away. But the rest we ate. Gladly.

My thoughts: 

Popcorn Ball

Posted on 5/19/2013 06:32:00 AM
The last two weeks have been about as bi-polar as mother nature can get.  We've had ninety degree days and nights when there kids couldn't sleep because it was too hot in the house and then a couple of days later, I'll have to turn the heat in the house back on because it's freezing at night.  Still, it's been one of the prettiest Springs here in my memory so I'll take it.  Anything to put off the oppressive heat of summer.

My thoughts: 

Blood Stained Tulip

Posted on 5/16/2013 01:30:00 PM
We are just at the tail end of tulip season here so I feel I still can get away with posting this even though the tulips in my yard all look like sad, headless horsemen all lined up in a row, waiting for their inevitable demise. 

This isn't my favorite photo I've taken in the past month, but it does remind me that the last season of Dexter is coming up and soon I'll be spending many late nights glued to the computer with headphones over my ears so my kids don't wake up and try to watch with me.

Ah, nature.

My thoughts: 

Mother's Day Thoughts

Posted on 5/15/2013 04:41:00 PM

A week ago, one of the members of the Bishopric at church approached me and asked if I would be willing to speak in church that Sunday.  Maybe it was because I'd been in town less than nine hours after a trip.  Maybe it was because he admitted he asked about eight other people who had all said no and he was desperate. Either way, I was overcome with weakness and/or inability to invent a valid excuse and said sure.

Then about two seconds later, I smacked my forehead and said, "Oh wait, that's the Sunday of  MOTHERS' DAY, isn't it?"

"Yeah, is something wrong with that? Are you out of town that day?"

Heavy sigh.

"No, I guess not," I whined.

"Do you not want to talk on that day?"

Heavy sigh.

"No, I can do it.  It's okay."

"What's wrong?"

Heavy sigh. 

"I just kinda hate the holiday is all.  It's fine. I already said yes.  I'll do it."

"What's your problem with Mothers' Day?" he asked, concerned.

I decided not to get into it and copped out.  "Nothing really.  I just think it's a schmaltzy holiday," I said and made a barfing noise.

He laughed and said, "Well then, tell me about it in your talk."

It's a nice thing when people trust you.  I wouldn't have gotten that reaction from everyone after that kind of an exchange. 

I really did wrestle with it all week.  Mothers' Day at church tends to fall just short of deifying certain women and leaves all the rest out completely.  It's one of my issues with the holiday.  I tried to write something traditionally appropriate but in the end, well... I'm ME... and I cannot seem to say words that wouldn't normally come out of my mouth.  So after throwing away the beginnings of many a version of a Mothers' Day sermon, I ended up going with what I know best:  just treating the talk like my blog and speaking from the heart.  It may not have been what they wanted or expected, but at least it was me.  And if they didn't like it, well, then I might not have to speak in church ever again.  Everyone wins.

It was actually a little bit amazing how many women came up to me that day and thanked me, which almost always started out with, "I hate Mothers' Day tooooo!"  I had no idea I was in the majority on this one.  But then one woman approached me and asked me for a copy of the talk to share with her daughter.  She related an experience her daughter is going through, which made even me, cold-hearted harpy that I am, tear up a little. 

I promised a couple of people I would post this, so I am doing that now.  A warning if you don't like religious-y stuff, you might want to skip on by this post.  I hereby grant you permission.

Some inside information most people at church aren't privy to: whenever The KingofHearts or I have to speak in church, there is always a secret challenge issued from the other person to use a word in the talk that would be difficult to incorporate.  One time he was speaking and I challenged him to use "a pig in a poke" somewhere in his talk.  One time he challenged me to use the word "Frankenstein."  Yes, we are weird.  Yes, it makes speaking in church so much more interesting.  This time, my word was "hillbilly."  Monica gave me a challenge too, but I hereby cede and declare myself unworthy and instead challenge her to use the word she suggested for me in a PTA meeting about the school curriculum.

Mothers’ Day Talk

Happy Mothers’ Day!

I don’t know about you all, but I was awakened to breakfast in bed on a fish-shaped plate with juice in a Mason jar.  Because it wouldn’t be MY family if there wasn’t something weird about it… and because we are really just hillbillies at heart.

I have to confess to you that when I was asked to speak in church today, I said yes without really thinking.  Then a second later, I came to the sudden realization that it this Sunday was going to be the Sunday of Mothers’ Day and I almost retracted my “yes.” 

I have a difficult and complicated relationship with Mother's Day.  It’s a holiday that makes me uncomfortable at best.  My own mother had an irrational prejudice against Mother’s Day and I’m afraid she passed that right on down to me. (She passed a lot of irrational prejudices down to me, but this is the only one I’m going to confess to today.)  It's not that I think it's a bad thing to celebrate motherhood... maybe it's just that this is a day that tends to get over celebrated and all the “if you love her, you’ll buy her diamonds” commercials on television make me worry that the diamond industry is trying to control my thoughts.  Ultimately, my opinion is if you want to show your mother how much you love and appreciate her and you're only doing it once a year on a Hallmark holiday, you may have missed the point.

I happen to know I’m not alone.  Mothers’ Day is difficult for a lot of people.  Some of us might not fit into the traditional image of a mother.  Some of us have painful memories that are brought up today.  Some of us are just too tired from doing the laundry to even notice it’s Mothers’ Day.  I think that one of the reasons my own mother disliked Mothers’ Day was that she said that it somehow made her feel “less than.”  She often didn’t think she lived up to the task of parenthood.  She felt like the rest of the world was perfect and she was the only non-ideal out there.  Sometimes I feel like that too.

I guess another part of my uncomfortableness with the holiday - especially before I had children - is about not really internalizing that idea that we all are inherently mothers, no matter what our individual circumstances.  We all affect one another’s lives in so many ways and that is a part of what makes our femalehood wonderful.  Women can do so much in this day and age... I love that about the era in which I live.  My girls and I have so many choices.  But sometimes I forget that probably the most important choice I have ever made or will ever make is to af-fect and ef-fect the lives of other children, whether they’re mine or someone else's. As a therapist, I've gotten more experience than most, working to help children of others before I had children of my own. But nothing can prepare you for the depth and breadth of emotions and experiences you have when you realize a child depends on you as one of the sole examples of all that is good and right in the world. It's daunting.  I guess that why I tend to eschew the label.  I'd like for that to be someone else's responsibility.  It's not someone else’s responsibility.  But the good news is it's not just mine.

And, guess what Men, it doesn't just belong to one sex either.

We all matter in one another’s lives.  Like Clarence said in It’s a Wonderful Life,

“Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?”

I came across this essay by a woman named Amy Young last week and I think it expresses a lot of what I want to say today:

The Wide Spectrum of Mothering.
To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

We all fall into many of these categories, sometimes unwanted.  Like my mother, like me, we all have anxiety about our roles.  We feel pressure from family, friends, society….  We compare ourselves to others and come up short in our own estimation.  As we strive to improve ourselves each day, we sometimes become discouraged because we haven’t made it to perfection yet.  But what we need to remember is that our Heavenly Father loves us and He needs each of us to do the best we can in whichever of the places we might find ourselves.  He doesn’t expect perfection; all He expects of us is that we just keep trying.

In his 1997 general conference talk, “Because She Is a Mother,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said the following:

“If you will strive to love God and live the gospel yourselves; if you will plead for that guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit promised to the faithful; if you will go to the temple to both make and claim the promises of the most sacred covenants a woman or man can make in this world; if you will show others, including your children, the same caring, compassionate, forgiving heart you want heaven to show you; if you try your best to be the best person you can be, you will have done all that a human being can do and all that God expects you to do.”

Simply said, life doesn’t always go the way we want it to go – or think it will.  I have lived a lot of my life so far and still haven’t figured out the answers to all my questions.  But here’s what I do know in a nutshell:  if you do what you know you should, you will be blessed by our Heavenly Father.  It might not be now. It might not be in the way that you want.  But the blessings will come.  Elder Holland’s advice for when life is hard and you’re discouraged and tired and you don’t know if you can go one step further is this:

“Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones.”

In Doctrine and Covenants 82:3 we’re told:

“I, the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”

Two things in this scripture stand out to me.  1) He can’t bless us until we do what’s right.  But 2) the really amazing thing to me about this scripture is that the Lord wants to be bound to us.  It’s not something He’s trying to get out of.

More from Elder Holland:

“You can’t possibly do this alone, but you do have help.  The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you – He who resolutely goes after the lost sheep, sweeps thoroughly to find the lost coin, waits everlastingly for the return of the prodigal son.  Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however, feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.

“Rely on Him.  Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope. You are doing God’s work.  You are doing it wonderfully well.  He is blessing you and He will bless you, even – no, especially – when your days and your nights may be the most challenging.”

One of my very favorite examples in the scriptures of faith is also one of my favorite examples of motherhood. It’s found in the New Testament in Mark, chapter 7.

 25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:

 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

Jesus wasn’t there to teach the Greeks.  They weren’t a part of his short ministry on earth at that time.  So he said to her:

 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.

I don’t know about you, but to me, this seems harsh.  She could take this as an insult - to mean that he was basically calling her a dog.  I worry that if I’d been in her place, I’d have stomped off in a huff.

But does the Greek woman do that? No. Instead she says,

 28  Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.

I don’t even know what to say about that.  I can’t imagine having that much faith – to agree with him and then to go on and say, yeah, but even dogs get table scraps. This woman believed in the power of the Atonement in a way I can’t yet comprehend.  She shrugged it off - whatever offense she could have taken - and moved forward with the faith required to receive a blessing of that magnitude. 

 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.

 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

This mother is an incredible example to me.  Not because she did lots of laundry, not because she had an immaculate house or hand made plastic grapes to display on the coffee table.  But because with a faith and righteous desire like that, she could touch the lives of others to make anything happen.  If we all could have that kind of faith in the power and magnitude of Christ’s Atonement, imagine how different our lives would be.  Imagine how happy we could be right now if we just believed in our own goodness.

As I look out over this room, I see mothers trying to keep their children still.  I see women and men who mother grandchildren or children that are not their own biological children.  I see people who in the next hour will be giving lessons to my children in Primary.  I see others who will teach adults.  I see people helping out with other people’s children.  My own daughter is sitting with another family as I give this talk and is quite content to do so.  (She’s barely even noticed I’m speaking.I see people who are helping those who need assistance to get to church.  I see families who lean on each other to get through.  I see people who have seen friends through trials, tribulations, joys and sadnesses.  As I look out over you, I see you each touching each one another’s lives in a way no one else can.  I see the pure love of Christ; His charity incarnate.

So today, on Mother’s Day, what I would like to say to everyone, not just the mothers and not just the women either, is what Elder Holland said in 1997,

“In the name of the Lord, you are magnificent.  You are doing terrifically well.”

My thoughts: 

Where I've Been

Posted on 5/14/2013 02:20:00 PM
Hello poor, neglected blog.  I feel like I've been gone for a long time.  The reasons for this are many, but boil down to basically this: too much to do, too little to say about it.

I know most of this won't be interesting to most of you, but for posterity's sake, I feel I need to document the last couple of weeks, so here's what I've been doing:

Science Fairs:

Karate tournaments:
Spring concerts:

Ice skating tests:

Eating my way through the food truck scene in Austin, Texas:

Dance recital rehearsals:

School Mother's Day programs:

School Mother's Day concerts:

Where someone got a little bored mid-way through:

Street festivals:

And then there was that Mahler concert where someone let them wear their facepaint to the symphony:

All in all, it's been a good couple of weeks off, but man I'm tired.

My thoughts: 

Parents Who Act Silly Have Children Who Act Silly

Posted on 5/04/2013 06:30:00 AM In:
My children will never understand why this was so funny:

KoH: "You're acting silly."

Caterpillar: "Yes."

KoH: "How'd you get so silly?"

Caterpillar: "I don't know."

KoH: "Did you learn it in school?"

Caterpillar: "No." 

KoH: "Did you learn it from a friend?"

Caterpillar: "No."

KoH: "Well then, who taught you to be so silly?"

Caterpillar: "You, alright? I learned it by watching you!" *runs out of room*

If you don't understand either, you'll need to watch this.  Also, you are too young for us to be friends.

My thoughts: 


Posted on 5/03/2013 04:16:00 PM
I have been obsessed with cattails as long as I can remember.

Maybe because they didn't really grow where I grew up and when I saw one it was a unique occurrence, but more probably because you can pick one and then beat your sibling with it until all the fluff comes out of them and it looks like its snowing.

My thoughts: 

Upside Down Tulip

Posted on 5/01/2013 06:00:00 AM
In honor of May Day, may I present to you, my new favorite flower:


I was able to find the name of this one by google-ing the phrase "upside down tulip" and a wealth of [happily appropriate] images popped up.  Which is a good thing, because I cannot remember that word to save my life and in the past three days have, called it all of the following:
  • flotilla
  • fruit pie
  • flotsam
  • fruit fly
  • Friar Tuck
  • flutillitorium
  • Felini
  • flitillilliri
There's another thing I've almost called it as well, but I'm attempting for this to be a PG-rated blog. Unlike my brain.

My thoughts: 

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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