Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Perfect Day

It's one of those questions that often pops up on those cheesy "getting to know you" sheets passed out at church functions: "What would be your perfect day?" I will admit, my brain's automatic first response to this question is usually to conjure up a scene involving plentiful sunshine, miles of open water, and some type of umbrella drink (non-alcoholic, of course- still Mormon; not gonna' change). I have actually had a few of these days in my life, but the memories of them have become increasingly blurred over time. Perhaps it's because, after my mind's initial "perfect day" fantasy, I start to reflect more deeply on what I consider perfect days in my life. The umbrella drink days are rarely among them. Usually memories of perfect days play back in glimpses. I have a photographer friend ( hi Kate- I love you) who describes them as "still frames". You know, those times in your life when for a few moments, everything is so perfect that time seems to stand still........Rarely can I remember an entire day, just those moments of clarity and perfection that mingle together in my mind and make the not so perfect days easier to get through. If I could choose entire days to be able to conjure up from memory in the future, today would be one of them. There was nothing at all remarkable about today. No sunshine to speak of, no ocean, and certainly no umbrella drinks. It turns out the formula for a perfect day actually consists of plentiful clouds, boxed mac and cheese and a stack of books from the local library. Morgan is out of school this week for Spring break, and the weather has given no indication of winter clearing out for good. It was not a good day for playing outside. So, we headed to the tiny North Bingham County library, which is within (summer day) walking distance from our house, and returned home with two shoulder-breakingly heavy bags of books. The kids wanted mac and cheese for lunch.........not exactly freshly caught seafood at an exotic tropical loft.........but for me, mac and cheese is one of those comfort foods that takes me back to my childhood. So, after a nostalgiac lunch, it was time to curl up with that mountain of books. I have discovered recently that one of the only things better than reading to your children is having them read to you. Morgan is in first grade, and at only 6 years old is reading at a third grade level (o.k.- so I had to brag a little). She is at that age where reading is just beginning to open up a whole new world of possibilities in her little developing brain. She read to me and Hyrum for the first half hour, and then I read the books Hyrum had selected, which were mostly about things like dinosaurs and volcanoes. Well, by this point in the blog, you are probably looking at the time, wondering how long this chic can drone on about processed food and pteranodons. But I am coming to a (perhaps overly sentimental for some) point, I promise. And here it is: I'm sure we all have preconcieved notions of what a perfect day would be, or at least what we've been programmed by Coors Light commercials to think it should be. But take a moment and think back...........What were the really perfect days in your life? Hopefully they involve loved ones, smiles and laughter, good food, and probably not an umbrella drink in sight. With Mother's Day fast approaching, I must take a moment to say that I am grateful for a mother who taught me about perfect days. And from my own childhood, I have no fonder memories than those days of coming home to mac and cheese on the stove, a stack of unread books, and a mother waiting there to discover them with me. Thanks mom!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bedbugs and Botulism

A few months ago I had some bad karma revolving around the letter B. Enough time has passed that I am starting to slowly reestablish my relationship with the infamous letter, and I care for bon bons and bubble baths far too much to completely swear off all things beginning with said letter. It's a work in progress. The falling out began with bed bugs. We have all heard news story after skin-crawling news story about the nasty pests popping up across the country. The old adage "don't let the bed bugs bite" suddenly doesn't seem so sweet. Now it's just creepy. Well, on the Saturday of the infamous B's, I was afraid we had some new guests in our bed. It started with a bite ( which also begins with......) on my leg, and a few red spots on my daughter's skin. It ended with a thorough purging of our entire rooms, in which beds were torn apart down to bare boards. No crevice or crack was left unsearched; the dust bunnies under the bed were examined and vacuumed. Short of burning the sheets, I did everything humanly possible to hunt down the little critters. Thankfully nothing turned up. Bye bye bed bugs........enter botulism. O.K., so it didn't really turn out to be botulism either, but our second B fiasco began with a Bountiful Basket and some bad broccoli. Bountiful baskets is a co-op that works with local growers to provide fresh produce to consumers at a very reasonable price. We had purchased several before and had never encountered any problems. We picked up our basket that morning, and everything looked great, except for the browning broccoli. I should have thrown it away right then, but living on a tight budget for years has ingrained in me a habit of never wasting food if it can be used. So, I decided it would be alright if we used it that night. I cut out all of the brown spots and cooked the broccoli. The first bite I took was very bitter, and well, just bad. Unfortunately, by this point, my little Hyrum had already eaten several pieces. Within two hours, the gut-retching began. I literally thought he might throw up an intestine at some point in time. If any of you know my little boy, you know that he is already small enough. There's not much to him to lose. The vomiting continued all night, about every 15 minutes. I wanted to take him to the E.R. Dirk said I was overreacting. He had had food poisoning before, from, hem hem........a bad burger, and assured me this was normal and would pass. So, I tried to calm down, and consulted one of my childcare books, which is where I found the symptoms for botulism. The rest of the night was spent talking to Hyrum every few minutes to make sure he was coherent, and sleeping a little. By morning, he was mostly in the clear. The battle of the B's had come to an end.
Harriet Beecher Stowe said that mothers are instinctive philosophers. I think we have to be. The moment the first tiny cry escapes your baby's lips, your perspective shifts. From then on, everything that happens, from bed bug epidemics to bio-terrorism causes you to ask the question, "How will this affect my child?" And the terrifying thing is, that most of these things will affect them how they are going to affect them no matter what you try to do about them. There is no possible way to protect our children from everything. As the years pass, I know there will be more B's to face, from broken hearts to bullies. But as much as I would like to some days, I know I can't keep my kids in a bubble. And therein lies the constant challenge of parenting: Finding the balance between protecting your children from things that could cause them pain, and letting them experience the world. And hopefully, if we can achieve that balance, our children will grow up firm in the belief that even amidst all of the bad B's, that people are, for the most part, benevolent, and that this life truly is beautiful.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why I decided to start a blog

I am not 100% sure why I decided to create a blog. I don't even fully understand the word "blog". What exactly does it mean? It could be some sort of monster from a Dr. Suess book...... I'm not really sure. And I am not completely sure that I am o.k. with being referred to as a "blogger". That just sounds like a British swear word. My husband, Dirk, likes to describe us as "Mormish". We are Mormons by religion and apparently Amish by lifestyle, when compared with the majority of our acquaintances. I guess it has been a little Gilligan's Island here for the last few years, although we actually do have phone, lights, and a few small luxuries. But, we just connected our internet service about a week ago on our dinosaur (it's 6 years old) of a computer. And I have never owned a cell phone until about a year ago, when my family basically forced me to get an emergency go-phone. Technology and I have never had an intimate relationship, and infact, I have been known to completely destroy a technological device by merely looking at it.... I'm like a new brand of super hero......"Mormish Girl", cleansing the world of relentless technological advances one computer at a time. However, I have never met a pen I didn't like. I have expressed my thoughts and feelings in writing since I can remember. So, when I started thinking of a blog as more of an online journal than a brag book about the number of times my 3-year old pooped in the toilet, the idea started to catch on, and then started to nag me. Since most of the world communicates digitally these days, I suppose a "blog" ( still can't quite bring myself to use the word without quotations), could be a way for my family and friends to get to know a little bit more about me and how I see the world. More than likely, it will usually be more of an incoherent rant (similar to what I am doing now), but I still feel it is a better way to keep in touch than by posting on Facebook to the entire digitally connected world that I just watched the O'Reilly Factor in my smurf pajamas while eating a bowl of Captain Crunch. I will now give you the disclaimer that there will probably not be many pictures posted.......once again, this is not a family photo album. I'm a writer, or maybe a ranter (it's really the same thing). So, this is me......if you'd like to come along for the ride, you are welcome. And maybe, on days when I am buried in a pile of laundry with sounds of Elmo's latest discovery reverberating in my ears, this "blog" will help me feel a little more connected to the rest of the world. Looks like Mormish Girl may be learning to connect on a new level........more to come........