Monday, April 2, 2018

Dear World,


It's been so many years since I started this blog. My babies were babies. I had no bigs. Now I only have two littles and neither one of them is particularly little. The rest are all big-ified. SO this is going to be a Christmas letter sort of post. What's happened to my family in the last few years? Well, let me tell you.




Elaine has become Noel. Two summers ago, Noel informed me that they were gender fluid. (As it turns out, I knew next to nothing about transgender people. I've learned a lot.) Noel graduated from Berkeley last summer with a degree in psychology. They are just as funny, sweet, and kind as ever, but I see them far less than I used to because of the grown-up life thing.








Jacob just married a sweet, smart, feisty woman. They are wonderful together. He graduated from the University of California, Davis last summer, having studied physics and computer science. He and his wife are currently living with us. They are building a yurt in the backyard, so they can save up and buy property in Oregon and live off the land in their glorious, hand-made yurt.








Natalie also married this year. Her husband is a smart, charming, feisty man. She spent last year becoming an EMT. Then she decided that taking old, dying people to the hospital to die or back to their convalescence hospital to die was really depressing. So she quit and because a nanny which pays better and has more hours and suits her personality better. She is, after all, practically perfect in every way.











 





Lincoln graduated from high school. He's been going to the local junior college. He's at home, but is itching to move out in the worst possible way. A young lady from the Fresno area has his heart and the majority of his time lately.














Violet is sixteen and in high school. She's happy, sad, angry, kind, loving, a whole ball of strong emotions. She sings, all of the time. It's like having a Disney princess in the house. Her heart currently belongs to a sweet boy on the other side of town.











Caroline is manga/anime crazed. My Little Pony is a thing of the past. She now draws and draws and draws. She spends the majority of her time trying to avoid doing math. She's the only one who is still homeschooled. This picture is from our recent red party at Red Robin with all gals in the family. 






Sam is still a security guard. He got his ten year pin and a photocopied certificate of appreciation recently. He's still trumpeting his trumpet and calling us all together for scriptures and prayer. He still gives the best hugs.





I'm still me. Wonderful. Grouchy. Giving. Selfish. You know—human. 

I've spent much of the last few years pondering what it means to have spent the majority of my life giving birth and parenting with an eye toward having a large Mormon family who loved God and went on missions, got married in the temple, and raised their own Mormon families, only to realize that none of the children want to follow my plan for themexistential angst with a religious focus. I'm nowhere near done pondering, nowhere near able to summarize my feelings. 

I've been chiseling away at my hoards. Book hoard. Curriculum hoard. Art supply hoard. Puzzle hoard. Picture hoard. Paper hoard. Inherited hoard. Tough going, but making progress.

I've been visiting as many people that I love as I can. I've got a whole Facebook album dedicated to pictures of me with people I love. It's nowhere near complete. I've been very blessed with loving friends and family.

I've been learning to deal with my decreased ability to work hard, based on my rheumatoid arthritis. It's been soul-stretching, also annoying, but I'm certain it will all turn out to be an inspirational story in the end. 

Been dealing with Swiss cheese brain. I forget this. I forget that. I use their when I mean they're. I call apples oranges. I can't finish sentences sometimes. I can't filter out background noise. I start nearly all of my sentences for a whole paragraph with the word "I." It's brain fog from the RA or from the RA meds, or it could be dementia. Not sure. I'll let you know in a decade or so. (Or in the case of dementia, a family member can.)

I turned fifty and SUPER need reading glasses now. I thought I'd lost the joy in reading and then one day I put on a pair of glasses and wouldn't you know, being able to SEE really increases the pleasure of reading. 

I lost my mind doing two weddings during the holiday season. Then, in the midst of my insanity, I decided to start driving for Lyft and Uber. I've been doing that for about a month and a half now, and OH, THE STORIES! I must write the stories. Later.

Anyhow, that's what's been going on, minus most of the details. If you are actual IRL friends with me, none of this is new, but if you have merely been a blog-stalker, I thought I'd catch you up. Hope your life has been going well. 

Most sincerely,
Jami

Monday, July 24, 2017

In Which Mom is Wrong


Dear Kids,
My whole life long I have run my car until the gas tank was nearly empty. I have almost never run out of gas. I know my car's gas tank capacity better than the folks who designed the thing. I ran out of gas once in 1988 and once in 1997. Both happened because I had no money to refill the tank and was pushing my luck.

No one has ever been able to convince me that it saves time to fill up at a quarter of a tank or three quarters or whatever crazy time they refill. I don't buy the sludgy bottom of your gas tank is bad for your engine argument either. The other day a friend of mine was teasing his wife about it and I defended her, because seriously, it saves so much time to only refill when it's empty. Then someone mentioned that gas pumps are in the fuel tank and that they are designed to be cooled by the gasoline in the tank. If one runs a car on a near empty tank, the fuel pump is too hot regularly. In short, the habit wears out your fuel pump faster.

"HOGWASH!" said I. Then I began to research a bit and guess what. It's true. I was wrong.  Okay, I'll say it louder. I was . . . um . . . wrong.

Since I have taught my empty gas tank falsehood far and wide, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I must now repudiate my former sentiments. Even though it takes longer and the sludge in the tank thing is silly, you really should refill your gas tank before it gets below a quarter of a tank so your fuel pump doesn't receive undue wear and tear.

I know that keeping the tank full, like getting regular oil changes and doing recommended maintenance, is a financially stable person's privilege. (Trust me, I know.) But still, if you can, it's a good idea. You know, when you get a car.

Love,
Mom

Thursday, November 3, 2016

J's Day

I am thankful for many other things and people today, but Jacob always wins on November 3rd. I'm going to spend the day with him instead of writing about him, but I thought I'd check in with a quick note of thanks to God for my son. I'm pretty sure I've gushed about him previously if you want to search.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Returning to Gratitude

I had a plan last year for November. I was going to write a series of posts about people who had affected my life and for whom I was grateful. It was going swimmingly. Then the leak about the church policy about couples in a same sex relationship and their children hit, and I was . . . what's the word . . . hysterical, maybe, with a dash of devastated. I couldn't focus on my thankfulness for people in my past or present. I could only mourn.

One of the first things I did was call my two oldest children who had left the church to ask them how they were. I asked them if they were going to send in their official resignations (kind of a self-excommunication from the church). I don't remember what J said, but I remember what E said. That it was hard to be attached even in name to an organization that does such hurtful things, but that whenever something like this happens I am so upset that she doesn't want to do anything to make my pain worse. Then she sent me a care package with tissue and treats to comfort me. She sent ME a care package.

I kept going to church (because I love God and I truly believe this is his church) but I've felt fragile there. I like primary and the family history center best. I sub in with the children whenever I can, and go to the family history center then Relief Society whenever I can't. I've been trying to mend my relationship with God, because as it turns out, I am kind of mad at him. There have been several other personal hits to my happy church going, and I'm just mad/sad. I need to get over it.

I'd thought discipleship would be more predictable than it turns out to be. You do A, then B, then C, and as a result D happens. But here's how it really works. You do A with someone else and you bring someone else and their free choice into it. They are totally with you on doing B together. Then you go from being two people with free choice to being eight people with free choice. At first the extra people are little and malleable, so you and your partner take them to do C with the two of you. D is going to follow, right? Not so much.

I got married in the temple to a guy who wanted to raise a family in the gospel. We got busy and made six other humans. We taught them the gospel. Then their free agency kicked in. It turns out that you can't make all the "right" decisions and thereby force all of your family to make the same decisions. Who knew? They get to chose all on their own, just like I did. Just like their father did.

But here's the other thing. My kids are still wonderful. J is just as clever and funny as ever. E is just as kind and observant. N is still a delightful flibbertigibbet who may actually be the smartest person in the room. V still loves with all her heart. L still has his quiet mischievous ways. C is still a cuddle bug. I adore them. I've invested a lot of time and life energy into them, and I honestly think there is nothing they could do that would cause me to no longer love them. If they did something heinous, the annihilation of the human race, for instance, I'd be heart-broken, but broken hearts keep on loving.

I've spent the year in grief of varying degrees. and each time I began to emerge something new hit. I'm beginning to emerge again. I need to focus on the bright and beautiful in my life, and so I am once again going to work on my thankful posts. There is plenty to be thankful for, and I am going to strive to focus on those things.

Today's thankful: I am thankful for the resiliency of my spirit, for God's patience with me and for his gentle healing.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

World Suicide Prevention Day


First off, I must say that I am still not in the mood to talk with the world. (Notice the abandoned blog look I've been rocking since November.)

Second off, congratulations! You made it another year. Another hard year. I did too. At some point, I might feel up to discussing it or talking about something silly, but mostly I just want to say thank you all for staying on planet Earth with me. Thank you.

Have a link to inspirational suicide prevention twitter thingies.

Have some phone numbers.



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

THE Policy

I'm not going to try to go into all the ins and outs of my thoughts and feelings on the new policy that states that children with parents who have ever been in a cohabitating same-sex relationship cannot receive the same blessings and ordinances as children whose parents are not LGBT+. I'm not even going describe the policy. I am just going to say one thing. It is wrong to deny innocent children ordinances required for salvation and to place stumbling blocks before them.

God will fix this. I don't know how or when, but he will. And the meantime I'm just going to say my one thing: it is wrong.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mrs. Riggs

A lot of the people I am grateful for in my past are teachers, but librarians also have a huge permanent spot in my heart. I’m pretty sure that my patronus is a librarian. (Unfortunately, I am a Hufflepuff and never did manage to get the patronus charm down well, so I can only assume.)

For the most part I’ve forgotten almost all of my librarians’ names. Not Mrs. Riggs though. She was my grade school librarian and she was ridiculously kind to me. She knew all the good books, film strips, and records and never batted an eye when I managed to talk my teacher into letting me out of class (which I hated) to go watch my Greek gods and goddesses film strip again.

Her little haven of books was my favorite place in the school. Loved it more than the playground. Certainly more than the classroom. I loved Mrs. Riggs more than any student in the school and more than all but one teacher. She had two things I value above all others, kindness and a really great collection of books.

 I was so disappointed by the junior high school library. It was run by managers who were always in the back, telling the student volunteers what to do. If my high school had an adult librarian, I never saw any evidence of it. I failed to be impressed by school libraries again until I was in college. For some reason, the University of California, Davis’ library, where my mother worked for a time, seemed rather commonplace to me, but BYU’s Harrold B Lee library filled me with awe.

Years later I was in my elementary school library and picked up a book that had fallen out of popularity—Twenty and Ten, I think. It still had my name written on the card a half a dozen times. I was just flooded with lovely library memories. And when the Yvil sister became a substitute teacher for a while about a decade ago, she ran into Mrs. Riggs who remembered her. Twenty years after the fact.

She also sort of remembered me. “There was another one of you. She talked. A lot.” Oh, yes, indeed, I did. How could I resist? A kind adult with rooms full of books that she couldn't wait to share with me. You betcha I talked with her. A lot. Bless her lovely soul!


This could be an actual picture of a patronus for bibliophiles.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Two Elaines

This the first of my posts Giving Thanks for People in my Past.

Thought I'd hit both Elaines in a single post. First things first: I have never known an Elaine who wasn't a beautiful person. It's one of the reasons my oldest is named Elaine. The other two reasons are:

1. My aunt Elaine.

My mother's older sister Elaine was a small fiery creature. I've heard hilarious stories about her temper. But that's not what I remember about her. I remember her kindness and her love of Jesus.

My mom was a very young mother, seventeen when I was born, and she received a lot of help from family while she finished high school and then as she was working. Elaine was my second mom when I was small and I adored her.

One of my earliest memories is of waking up with the stomach flu while I was at her house. I remember her calm patience. I remember her gently washing the vomit out of my hair and reassuring me again and again that it was going to be okay and that she wasn't mad about the mess I'd made. I remember her making me feel like the most gifted person in the world when I got my cousin to burp. I remember her not laughing her tail off when I sprayed Lysol in my eye wondering what it would feel like. I remember hours and hours of fun with her and her babies.

She worked with the kids at my church too. I remember her singing with me about Jesus. I have a very distinct memory of a call and response song asking why I loved Jesus (because he first loved me). I knew he first loved me because she told me he did. That is no small gift.

When I was five, she died from liver disease, the same liver disease that had plagued her the entire time she was doing all those wonderful things with me. I've never stopped missing her. I'm certain that, had she lived, I would have had a more complicated relationship with her, as my conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints flipped out the rest of my Southern Baptist family. Perhaps I wouldn't have found her fiery temper so amusing if it was aimed at me, but as it was, I just had a loving aunt who was there for me whenever I needed her. 

2. An Elaine I hardly knew who gave me one of the most generous gifts I've ever known. 

This Elaine was someone who knew me when I first joined the church. She and her husband decided that I ought to go to BYU and so they paid for my tuition for both years I attended. (One of those years was after a significant stock market crash which hit them hard and they still helped me.) All that they asked is that I pay it forward when I got a chance. After my mission, I transferred to a local college. Since my family had moved out of my hometown, I wasn't in the same ward anymore. I lost touch with her. But I didn't forget. And I'm still working on that pay it forward thing.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Giving Thanks for People in my Past

This November I've decided that I am going to write a series of posts thanking people from my past, many of whom have moved out of my life now, but who have touched me, served me, changed me in beautiful ways. Some have died. Some were never close enough to keep in touch. Some were far too close and needed distance to move on with their lives. Some just drifted off. I just want to share in a reasonably lasting way some of the people who have blessed me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Original 160 Scriptures Mastery Verses with Links


Update: Now with links and columns! I may cry with joy (or fury, if the formatting doesn't work out). You have no idea how hard that was for me.  The links take you to the chapter and then you scroll down until you get to the highlighted verse. If I got a link wrong, let me know and I'll fix it.

Having just spent an inordinate amount of time seeking out the list from which I memorized scriptures back in the stone ages, I am going to put it here, so I can easily find it. Feel free to correct me in the comments if any of them are wrong. Many thanks to the anonymous person who went digging in her in-laws' crawlspace for the information. And thanks to my friend "JoAnnaBeth" for sending me hunting.









Update, 8 October 2015: My friend Julia G. pointed out this handy dandy chart. I found it fascinating, so I'm sharing it with you. I'm fairly sure the verses in the left column are the replacements for the list above and the ones on the right are their replacements. Nothing so constant as change.