Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen

I have an overdue library book that I am purposely not returning.  I know, this basically makes me a very literate thief, but I'm not planning on keeping it forever.  I don't know how long I'm planning on keeping it - I'm winging it, sort of.  

Actually, this book is paralyzing me.  It's called "The Lost City of Z," but that fact is irrelevant.  The main fact is that I was on a waiting list for a month before I got it, and had finished half of it when the due date rolled around.  It wasn't so compelling that I could cram it down in a day or two, but it wasn't so boring that I didn't care to finish it.  And because there's a waiting list for the book, I couldn't renew it.

So I didn't return it, but for some reason, I couldn't finish reading it, either.  I felt guilty reading contraband material, which some poor soul in Provo somewhere is desperate to get their hands on, and here I am hogging it.  But I wasn't done with it, and if I got back in line I would have forgotten everything I had read by the time I got it again, and it's not worth rereading.  To make matters worse, the book has since been released on, but I don't want to waste a credit on half a book.

The book has been sitting on the floor of the minivan's passenger seat, waiting for me to return it for two weeks.  Keeping the book makes me feel incredibly guilty.  I can't bring myself to return it and call the whole endeavor lost, though - now there's actual money involved, too.  The only solution is to read the book, and quickly; but frankly, I'm only moderately interested in it anymore.

Thus concludes another episode in the continuing saga of  Emily, The Middle Class American With Too Much Time On Her Hands And Not Enough To Worry About.  I'll probably read the book, then return it and consider the fine my penance.  Or maybe I'll just return it.  Or not.  I don't know; it's a quandry.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Boredom Watch 2009

Today is the last day of school, although I use the term "day" loosely, as school today was from 8:00-9:30.  In 20 minutes, the boys will be released for the summer, ready to pounce on all of the plans we've made.  And it's going to be a busy summer this year; we've got twice-weekly swim lessons, trumpet lessons for Brad, piano lessons for Noah, 3 Boy Scout campouts, 1 Cub Scout daycamp, trips to the brand-new Lindon pool, visits from family, and of course a week-long vacation at Walt Disney World in Florida.  

With all of this stuff to do, they can't possibly be bored, right?  Right??  If you believe that, well, you obviously don't know my family that well.  We are on Boredom Watch 2009 - the clock is ticking and we are counting down to the first "I'm bored" of the season.  I know in some families this concept would be foreign, what with all their happily-spending-time-together, playing-board-games-and-singing-songs, who-needs-a-tv-when-we-have-each-other moments.  Maybe some families have children that know how to entertain themselves, but I don't.  Weird, because you'd think with all the neglecting of them that I do, they would have figured it out by now.  

Sometimes I wish we lived on a farm, the romantic kind of farm in my mind where the boys help Pa with the chores without complaining, and Darcey and I spend our time keeping house.  We'd make huge meals from scratch, all organic and free-range and whatnot, and because we had to thresh the wheat and churn the butter, the homemade bread would be the best thing you ever tasted.  It's the sacrifice that gives it it's flavor.  The boys would come home all tuckered out, but they'd still have time to meet up with their friends to play kick the can, or hit a hoop with a stick.  Or maybe they'd be too tired from all that hard work to do much more than talk about that cute girl down at the five-and-dime and make plans for repairing the fence on the back forty.  But that's just a pipe dream from a woman who would be personally unwilling to give up her laptop, ipod, washer and dryer, etc etc etc.  Yes, that lifestyle would be the true survival of the fittest, and we'd prove ourselves to be lazy, fat, sloth-like couch dwellers ready to be picked off.

Anyhow, for the kids who have every conceivable entertainment at their disposal, summer can be a really boring time, apparently.  Noah came home just now at 9:45 - the clock is ticking.  Let's see how long he can last before announcing his boredom.  This is Boredom Watch 2009.  Stay tuned for further updates.

12:00 - No boredom reports yet.  We've beat last year's boredom threshold.

1:45 - WE GOT ONE!!!  Noah just flopped on the couch and exclaimed "I'm so bored!"  4 hours into summer vacation.

4:20 - Noah came home from his friend's house because "it was boring."  It is not too much fun to watch someone play the Wii.  He did get a popsicle, though.  Brad and Zack, so far, are reporting zero boredom.

9:04 - Brad, who has been at his friend's house from 11 am until 15 minutes ago, just reported that he and Evan spent all day in Evan's tree because "we were bored."  The cause of the boredom was watching his friends play video games.  I feel a small victory in this, because two of my kids were bored in conjunction with video games, and in Brad's case the boredom was cured when they climbed Evan's tree.  Noah played baseball.  Hopefully the kids, when they look back on their childhood summers, will remember baseball and climbing trees and not boredom.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rookie Mistake

If I could be fired from parenting, this might not have done it, but it sure was worthy of a note in my permanent record.  The next time my parenting license is up for renewal, they might want to consider revoking it. 

I came home after a quick trip to the kids' school at 12:30 and found Darcey asleep on the couch.  Ryan had found her there when the dvd she was watching froze and she hadn't made a peep of complaint.  This is noteworthy for two reasons:  a) She's been skipping her naps lately, and b) She has never, ever, not once, not a single solitary time in her life that I can remember (but this is the fourth kid so take it with a grain of salt), never fallen asleep on the couch.  My kids do not sleep well outside of their assigned sleeping area.  I can count on one hand the number of times that Darcey has fallen asleep in her carseat, and it wouldn't include any long road trips, either, because she powers right through those.  

So I find my little girl asleep, snuggled in the love sac, looking so comfy.  First, of course, I took her picture.

Then, against Ryan's opinion and my better judgment, I carried her up to her crib.  I KNOW!!  HOW STUPID CAN I BE??  I had all sorts of logical reasons for it:  what if the phone rings, or someone slams the door, or a kid comes home mid-tantrum and I can't shush him fast enough?  All the logic in the world doesn't compete against the one hard-and-fast rule of parenting:  Never wake up a sleeping baby.  Ever.  Unless the house is on fire, anything else can wait until after the baby wakes up.  Geez, even Britney Spears knows this!  It is so basic, it's not even Parenting 101 - it's Pre-Parenting, it's Parenting For Dummies.  

It was okay at first - she tensed as I picked her up, but then relaxed against me.  Her arms were out to her sides and hung strait out.  I reveled in the utter surrender in her body, because she's never been the cuddly type and hasn't fallen asleep in my arms since she was tiny.  I got up to her room and she woke up a little as I laid her in her crib and put her blankie back on her.  Then, disaster struck - her stupid Snoopy bobblehead doll fell out of the blanket and through the slats of her crib and bounced onto the floor.  Her eyes shot open and she said, "Uh-oh!"  Yeah, uh-oh is right, and a heck of a lot nicer than the things I wanted to say.  I crawled under the crib, shoved aside the portacrib that is stored there, found Snoopy and handed it to her.  I told her to suck her thumb and I left as quickly as I could, cursing my stupid stupidity the whole time.

Fortunately, after only a minute of crying and ten or so minutes of playing, she quieted back down and I think she's asleep.  Disaster averted, but just barely.  It could so easily have gone the other direction.  You would think after 11, almost 12, years of motherhood would have this basic rule so ingrained that I wouldn't have even had to think about this.  Some kind of parenting muscle memory should have kicked in and stopped me.  But I guess this is one of those lessons that has to be relearned occasionally, to stay fresh and on top of my game.  At least that's what I'm going to tell the Parent License Review Board when my case comes up.  Hey, if Britney can keep her kids, I should be able to also, right?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Work-At-Home Dad

Ryan started working from home again this fall and, for the most part, we both love it.  But at the same time, we both see the downsides, too.  I know, we are conflicted people.  In case you're contemplating the same move, here are the pros and cons of working from home.

Pro:  It's cheaper.  We are saving roughly $500 a month by not having to pay for an office, including not just the rent but also the required liability insurance, internet connection, and cell phone minutes.

Con:  Money abhors a vacuum.  If there is extra money floating around, expenses instantly pop up.  In our case, we took on a car payment that pretty much negates any extra savings we could have done.  I'd rather have a second car and no office, but I'd really rather have a second car, no office, AND $500 in savings.  

Pro:  Ryan is here when the kids come home from school.  He gets to see them all the time, not just in the evenings.  He's part of their everyday experience.  Ryan's top priority has always been the family, which I appreciate to no end, and working from home is kind of putting his money where his mouth is.  There are so, so many days when I wish I had a job just so I could get a break from the kids that it's even more impressive that, given the chance to escape, he still chose to be home.  I guess I choose to be home, too, but I think for him it's going the extra mile.

Con:  Ryan is here when the kids come home from school.  He has to see them all the time, not just in the evenings.  He's part of their everyday experience.  This means that he's here for the homework battles, the random tantrum throwing, the whining and crying, the massive hordes of children stampeding through the house.  This has its own pro and con:  it's great that Ryan knows exactly what I go through every day, and can empathize, but I don't get a fresh relief parent at 6 p.m. who is excited to see his kids for the first time that day.  Ryan's as worn out by dinner time as I am some days, and that's tough.   

Pro:  Freedom.  Ryan's schedule is quite flexible lately (which was not the case the first time he worked from home) and so he is able to play a lot more.  And as a result, I get to play more, too.  We've taken the boys to movies right after school and he'll take a day off and do something fun with the family when the kids are home.  

Con:  Lack of structure.  This is a minor con, since we're still enjoying the freedom.  But to enjoy the freedom, there has to be some measure of restraint, and our pendulum swings back and forth on this one.  

Pro:  Ryan's available to help.  I absolutely adore being able to get errands done, groceries bought, occasional free time to myself smack in the middle of the day while Darcey's napping.  He helps ferry kids to and from baseball practice.  I don't take the kids with me when I visit teach, or volunteer at the school.  My life is so much easier this time around, and this is the biggest pro for me.

Con:  Ryan's available to judge.  Back in the old days, I would have a 5:00 deadline for having the house and myself be semi-presentable, because that's when he would come home from work.  No matter that at 4:30 I hadn't yet showered, the floor was littered with smashed animal cookies and the kitchen looked like a troop of angry elves stormed through and ripped everything from my cupboards.  By 5:00, I would have gotten dressed, swept the cookie crumbs, and shoved the kitchen detritus into garbage bags to hide in the garage until I could actually clean.  Nowadays, Ryan's likely to walk upstairs for a surprise inspection at any random moment.  Any time I don't know what Darcey's doing, that's when Ryan's most likely to need a drink of water, and I can see from his face as he walks up the stairs that whatever Darcey's been doing, it wasn't good.  Or clean.  This happens roughly 4 or 5 times a day.  Strangely, he never needs to pop upstairs when I'm juggling 4 kids' needs while cooking dinner, or when I'm cleaning up after some disaster he didn't witness.  No, he seems to never catch me doing good, he only seems to catch me neglecting the kids while I do something pointless.  So even though he's home all day and can theoretically understand what I'm going through, I think he still has a skewed sense of my reality.

Pro:  No annoying co-workers.  None that he could fire, anyways.  

Con:  No social interaction with anyone outside of the family.  Ryan's not the most social creature, so this isn't as painful as it is for others, I'm sure.  But the isolation is painful enough that he actively looks for reasons to leave the house and interact with others.  I say this as a con, but really, it's probably spawned another pro:  He's going out of his way to do things with friends, instead of having his only interaction be with coworkers.  He's playing tennis with a friend every week.  He's getting involved with a local Star Wars fan group.  He's being forced to seek social interaction, instead of accepting whatever falls in his lap.  

All in all, having Ryan work from home has been the right choice for us.  I have realized that where Ryan works can be as much about lifestyle choice as it is about convenience or commute time.   And the overarching pro to the whole situation is that Ryan's happy.  That makes up for all sorts of cons.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mother of Four Kids

I read a book called "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan this week, and she is my new favorite person.  I wish I could have her on speed-dial for whenever I have completely failed to live up to the ridiculously high expectations that society and I heap upon myself.  Here's the quote that made me fall in love:

"The way I see it, if you have four kids, you don't really have to do anything else, ever.  Three kids is a handful, but one that many people manage to hold.  If you're a mother of four, you definitely don't have to have a career or volunteer for the school fundraiser or even bring an appetizer to the dinner party.  In fact, people give you a lot of credit for wearing both earrings and knowing how to spell "chaos" and "anti-depressant."  Four kids gives you a pass for every forgotten birthday, overlooked appointment, and missing form.  Plus, you can be late for everything the rest of your life and never return phone calls.  Who's gonna blame you?"

The people that have five kids, that's who.  Can you imagine how the church, school system, and local economy would collapse if everyone with four or more kids in Utah quit doing anything at all?  Good thing I'm friends with a lot of mothers of just three kids, so they can pick up my slack.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Unclear On The Concept

Sometimes my children do not understand what truly is and is not the role of a mother, and I have to take it upon myself to clarify.  Here are some actual sentences that I have said:

I am not a garbage can.  
I am not a water fountain.  
I am not a jungle gym.  
I am not your personal assistant.  
I am not a Kleenex.  
I am not your social secretary.  
I am not an ATM.  
I am not a math teacher.
I am not a laundromat.
I am not your personal chef.

Maybe someday they'll get it, but I'm not keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Media Blackout

Last night was the season finale of my very favorite show, The Amazing Race.  I won't be able to watch it until tonight, though, since Ryan and I watch it together and he has this pesky thing called "work" that occasionally takes up some of his day.  As such, I have entered a state called Media Blackout.  Let me explain.

I believe there is a special place in h-e-double-hockey-sticks for people who spoil endings, whether intentionally or not.  It's going to be extra toasty for them, and they will spend eternity being told the ending just when the movie/book/tv show is getting good.  Every joke they start will have some butthead interrupt and say, "Yeah, yeah I've heard that one - "Your grandma's stuck on the roof!"  Every movie they start watching will have some jerk walk by and say, "What's that, "Sixth Sense"?  Have you figured out that the guy is dead yet?"  

Needless to say, I hate, hate, HATE having the ending of anything ruined.  I've spent all this time and effort getting to the end of a movie/book/tv show and to have someone spoil it is literally anti-climactic.  A total let-down.  The worst is when a hugely popular book is released - a Harry Potter or a Twilight book - and I have to avoid the public in general until I've finished it.  I have a physical reaction to hearing someone talk about a book I haven't finished yet - my stomach clenches, I try to think other things really loudly so as to drown them out, I convince myself that whatever things slipped through my mental filter were actually taken out of context, and so they didn't just spoil anything.  The worst was when the 5th or 6th Harry Potter came out, and it was my kids (who hadn't read them and didn't grasp the import of the knowledge they held) were told by their friends about the death at the end, and my kids told my mom before she had read it.  My mom is a real grown-up, though, and shook it off, but I would have been seething.  I still AM seething, and they didn't ruin it for me!  It's the principle of ruination, the fact that book-spoiling-people exist, that raises my hackles.

So to prevent me from accidentally having to hate someone, when a tv show is ending I voluntarily go into a Media Blackout.  I watch no tv, I leave the newspaper on the driveway, I above all avoid the internet like the spoiling plague that it is.  The internet just LOVES to ruin things.  It's one more sign that the Internet is a tool for good as well as evil, as this is clearly evil.  When I answer the phone to someone who watches the same show, I'm likely to answer like this, "Hi, I haven't watched "The Amazing Race" yet, so don't tell me who won."  I'm not trying to be rude, I'm really just protecting YOU, that's all.

For a time I thought the newspaper would be safe to read during my Media Blackouts, but sadly, no.  If a Utahn participated in the show, it's likely to be on the front page of the paper the next morning, as I found out the year a man from Pleasant Grove won Survivor.  I still watched the finale, seething as is my way, but there's so little tension when you know the outcome.  

Even when people don't come right out and say who won, the hints they drop, trying to be obscure to those who haven't watched it yet still can ruin it.  I had a Facebook friend who ruined the finale of Top Chef by saying that the winner was a relief.  Which makes perfect sense if you knew that the competition was down to one nice guy and one European jerk.  No one roots for a jerk.  

Ryan, of course, thinks I'm ridiculous.  Why do I take this so seriously?  After all, it's just a tv show!  Well, I know that it's slightly over-the-top to avoid all media for 24 hours just to avoid news of a tv show whose participants I will have forgotten by the end of the week.  But if there was some real suspense around something more worthy of my emotional investment, say the Nobel prize announcements, you can be sure I'd watch it.  Sadly, the Nobel people are grown-ups - they don't get all worked up over things, they don't realize that their ratings would shoot up if they had all the potential Nobel winners living in a house full of cameras, discussing their economic theories or how they would stave off the AIDS epidemic in Africa while in a hot tub.  And then you've got Al Gore in the confessional complaining about how Desmond Tutu is really such a wanna-be.  Of course, most of the house would be physicists and economists and other boring/ugly people, so the producers would have to come up with a twist to make sure there are lots of attractive women in bikinis, you know, for the hot tub.  Wait, I've got it!!  We make it a combination Nobel and Miss Universe Competition!  Or add a Nobel category for Beauty.  It would be an uber-"Beauty and the Geek," with competitors from around the world and a demographic that would span from teens all the way to old geezers.  If they could get Simon Cowell to judge and Barack Obama to host, I think every person in the entire world might watch that show.  

What a brilliant show idea!  Someone should get Nigel Lythgoe on the phone right now and get him to produce it.  I can't do it myself until the Media Blackout has been lifted, and by then someone might have stolen my fantastic tv show idea.  Maybe they could make a new category for me, Nobel Prize for Inventing a Media Blackout Worthy TV Show.  Of course someone would be bound to ruin the ending of a show that popular.  And then I would have to hate them, which I'm trying so hard to avoid.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can't win.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This Mother's Day

Mother's Day generally fills me with vast amounts of insecurity, inadequacy, and general rage, but this year I vowed to make it different.  I've been complaining way too much lately, and I need to start finding the humor in things again.  So here's what Mother's Day looks like in my house this year.

6:15 a.m.- My bladder woke me up, as is the routine of late.  It's a horribly inconvenient time, so I've vowed to drink more water at bedtime, so I can be woken up while there's still time to go back to bed.  Today, though, I could not fall back asleep.

7:15 - Heard Zack wake up, so I went downstairs, hoping my presence alone would be a deterrent to Zack and Noah fighting.  Successful, for now.

7:30 - Zack gives me my Mother's Day present - a card with a handprint and a pack of gum wrapped in paper to look like a purse.  It's really a Mother's Day present from his uber-crafty preschool teacher, but it's the thought that counts.

7:33 - Zack takes the gum back.  He decides that since he made it, it was his.  I tried to explain that he gave it as a gift and now it's mine, but I feel petty.  I capitulate and wish him a happy Mother's Day, and he corrects me:  "No, it's Kid's Day." Isn't it always.

8:00 - Noah throws his weekly Sunday morning tantrum over taking a shower, which he does willingly every other day of the week.  I hate to admit that I'm a little scared of the tantrums, so when he declares that he's not taking a shower (with the kind of vehemence reserved for evil  dictators) I let it go.  This is classic Bad Parenting.  But I really hate listening to the screaming, rage-filled tirades over something so mundane as personal hygiene, and is it wrong to hope that my day can be tirade-free?

9:00-12:00 - Church.  The sacrament talks were guilt-free, which is a treat on Mother's Day in particular, when the trotting out of every saintly mother as our exemplars makes me feel so inadequate that I can barely put it into words.  I know even the saintly mothers must have been imperfect, had their bad days, but you don't hear about it as much as the rest of it.  Heck, even Mary lost Jesus in Jerusalem and had to go back and find him, am I so much worse?  (Of course, she found her wayward son teaching in the temple, and I'd find my kid in a 7-11.)

Zack made a lot of friends in Primary because he snuck his/my pack of Mother's Day gum into church.  Apparently they made up a Gum Club that is going to meet tomorrow, and Zack is going to provide the gum.  Frankly, this gum has made him much happier than it could ever have made me, so I wish him well.  I also wish he'd keep his gum in his mouth, because he is making a mess of it on the seat belt.

12:00-2:00 -  Typical Sunday afternoon, by which I mean:  tantrums, lunch, crying, cleaning up, reading the paper(s), watching VeggieTales, etc.  

2:00-5:00 - A magical thing happens - Darcey goes down for a nap, and all of the boys find something to do on their own.  Brad is making a comic book, Noah is reading in the craft room, and Zack is popping the arms off of Lego guys, most of which actually belong to him.  The house is peaceful and I realize this is my big opportunity - I Take A Nap.  This never, ever happens.  Okay, it happens like 4 times a year, but inevitably someone calls or the kids start fighting and there is nothing worse than almost taking a nap.  So I do it.  I take a 2-hour nap, smack in the middle of a Sunday afternoon.  I loved the Barnes & Noble giftcard Ryan gave me, but THIS is a Mother's Day gift like no other.

5:00-6:00 - I wake up to the smell of dinner cooking - it's frozen pizza, but hey, I didn't have to cook so no complaints here.  The kids liked it, too, and for dessert I made chocolate fondue with strawberries, pretzels, and marshmallows to dip.  Super yum.

7:00 - Everyone starts to lose it again after dinner, and several of us are feeling slightly sick from so much chocolate.  The cure for a family tired of all the togetherness?  A 30-minute car ride!  Especially one where people have to share things and pass stuff to each other and listen to the same music and basically interact like human beings.  I am waiting for a minivan to be invented where each seat is its own isolated pod, with its own music and temperature controls and no one can possibly kick the pod in front of him or accidentally drop something into the next pod's space, causing that child to have to retrieve it.  I picture the tubes like they have at the drive-thru banks, and we can send snacks and messages and to them, and they can send their trash back to me (because that's what moms do, even in the future.)  Pods, now, that's a great idea.  

7:30-8:00 - We visit Ryan's grandparents in Alpine.  His grandpa is 91 and pretty miserable.  He has some kind of bowel issue which he is not at all reticent to discuss, and he has a lousy short term memory, so if he decides to talk about his bowels he will do it over and over and over in the course of our visit.  He loves seeing Darcey, though - watching her bounce around their little house makes him just light up.  Ryan's grandma has some dementia problems, but was completely lucid today, which is good.  Grandma, Ryan, Zack, Noah, and Darcey take a walk around the neighborhood, and I listen to Grandpa talk.  Brad watches Extreme Makeover Home Edition with the sound muted and the closed captioning on, because this is Grandpa's favorite show and he can't hear.  Zack likes Grandma the best because every single time we come she offers the kids ice cream.  

8:45 - We're home late and get the younger two off to bed, then we straighten the house and read scriptures with the older two.  We've started using a study guide called "Scripture Study for Latter-Day Saint Families" and it is amazing what a difference it makes!  It asks questions, gives quotes and other insight so that while we read we can stop and make sure the kids are getting what they are reading.  Highly recommended.

9:30 - I was supposed to put the kids to bed at 9:15 but I forgot.  Again.  So I hustle them downstairs and we pray together and then have a group hug.  I do this so I can get Brad and Noah touching, then I wiggle out of it but physically keep them hugging, and voila!  Instant brotherly bonding!  Granted, they aren't too pleased about hugging their brother even unintentionally but I tell them this was proof that we love each other and that this hug was the best Mother's Day present ever.  I recognize that forced hugs aren't the same as genuine hugs, but I like being slightly goofy at bedtime.  I'm hoping that if the last thing they see from me is me being Fun Mom instead of Angry Mom or Grouchy Mom or Nagging Mom, then they'll forget the alter egos and only remember Fun Mom.  It's worth a shot.

10:00 - Ryan's clipping my coupons and I'm typing my blog.  He asked me if I had a good Mother's Day and I think I did.  If you took the presents out of it and just called this a Sunday, it was a pretty good Sunday too.  

Friday, May 8, 2009

Throwing In The Towel?

Breaking a good habit doesn't get nearly the fanfare that starting a new habit does.  There's no declarations of how today, this very day, is the beginning of a new way of life, and that from now on things are going to be different.  There's no marking on the calendar every day since you quit your good habit, there's no celebrating the 1-month anniversary of your lapse.  No, when you stop doing something good, you ignore it, you don't tell anyone, you wrap it in shame and hide it, preferably underneath several pounds of fat caused by Twizzlers and mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I've stopped going to the gym.

I got sick a couple of months ago with a really horrible cold and was out for a couple of weeks.  Then naturally my kids got sick, so I couldn't take them to the day care, and before I knew it a month had passed.  Since then I have done everything I can think of to get myself to the gym again - putting it on a to-do list, making day care appointments, planning to go with Ryan or meeting a friend there - and somehow it has gotten all too easy to cancel, back out, or scratch it off the list without doing it.  I kept telling myself that I'm going to the gym, that I'm still a regular there, that I'm just getting back into the swing of things but fundamentally I'm still the same person that was going 4-5 times a week back in February.  

But let's be honest.  I'm going once a week.  And that's just because I have an appointment with my personal trainer, who sees through my excuses. I thought getting a trainer would be a great motivation; after all, here's a professional whose job it is to whip me into shape.  How could I fail when not only did I make a commitment to someone, but also threw large sums of money at the problem?  

I can still fail because I'm with my trainer for 30 minutes a week, and I'm with myself for the other 10,050 minutes.  She's not there to physically stop me from putting the junk food in my shopping cart, then into my mouth.  She's not there to force me to make uber-healthy foods for dinner, to stick to a 1500-calorie daily limit, to make me feel better when I'm craving something I shouldn't have.  I'm alone in that department, and frankly, I do a pretty lousy job at self-personal-training.  

At my appointment on Wednesday (my token gym appearance for the week) my trainer took measurements.  We're nearing the end of our 6-month contract, so she wanted to check and see how I'm doing.  I knew exactly what the results would be, and I was right:  5 1/2 months of personal training, going to the gym almost daily for 4 months of that, and I hadn't lost a single pound.  My body fat percentage was exactly the same.  She was very gentle about it, didn't try to make me feel guilty, but it didn't really matter.  I knew what my expectations were when I started, and I knew how badly I was meeting them.  Instead of being motivational, a personal trainer was just one more person I disappointed.

So now any potential scrap of desire to get back to the gym is gone.  I feel defeated.  I feel like the effort I made for months and months made absolutely no difference, so why bother?  Why give up two hours out of every morning, hours when Zack was at preschool and I only had one child at home, why put those hours into an activity that shows no return on my investment?  Why not just sit on the couch and read a book, or hang out with a friend, or run nearly-child-free errands, or take a shower before lunch?  On top of it all, I feel like a hypocrite.  I just convinced two women in my ward of the joys of sacrificing your morning to the elliptical machine, and they're already asking why they don't see me there.  And I've got my husband, who seems to be a never-ending fountain of determination, which leaves me feeling like something is capital-W Wrong with me for not being able to do this one simple thing.  

The weight of my disappointment in myself is so heavy that no amount of strength training is lifting it.  The only thing that keeps me going, that leaves the question mark in the title of this blog, is the fact that I am not a quitter.  Generally.  I kept skiing this season after my montrously bad first experience, and by the end of the season I was actually enjoying it.  But is this the future I have to look forward to?  Endless battles with myself over 20 pounds?  Spending 1/12 of every day walking in place in a room full of sweaty people, watching morning talk shows?  Why can't I just live with the 20 pounds and be happy?

I don't know.  Maybe I'm just having a bad day/week/month.  All I know is I'm out of energy for another self-pep-talk.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Retraction

It looks like I need to backpedal in my vehemence against this Business Communications class I'm scheduled to start tomorrow.  A couple of weeks ago I went to the bookstore and was told that the teacher hadn't picked the book for our class yet, but it was most likely the $150 volume that several other classes used.  Which led to my once-a-semester rant about high college textbook prices.  My opinion still stands - $150 for a textbook teaching anything other than how to spin straw into gold is overpriced.  But guess who won't be paying for that book?  Me, that's who.

The online class doesn't have a book in the bookstore because the teacher put everything online.  For free.  I'm having a hard time believing it's true because it makes entirely too much sense.

Where's this teacher's sense of entitlement?  If she's gathered her own materials, why didn't she at least have the copy center at the school bind it and slap a price tag on it?  Where's her school spirit?  Doesn't she know that every used book we buy at ridiculously high prices is money in the school's pocket?  Where's her complete obliviousness to the state of student finances?  Why didn't she milk us for all we're worth (or all our parents are worth, in some cases)?  

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I am absolutely going to ask her when the class starts.  I've taken 63 credits so far, which is 21 classes, and I've always, always had to buy a book.  This is awesome.

I recognize that I'm a little extreme in my emotions towards this subject, but if you'd allow me to carry on for one more minute.  Here's an article I read yesterday about Amazon's Kindle hooking up with textbook publishers.  They'd create a larger-screened version of the Kindle to better simulate the charts and graphics in a text (and, clearly, to charge more for it, because everyone needs a chance to milk the cash cow).  But the line I loved was this:  "But digitizing academic books could also hurt the thriving market for used textbooks on college campuses."

There's only a "thriving market" for textbooks because we have no other options!  It's like saying that we shouldn't download MP3's because it would hurt the thriving market for used CDs.  Oh yeah it's going to hurt the "thriving market" of used books, and it ought to.  It should SLAY the used book market!  If a product can be made, sold, and delivered cheaper, faster, or better, then that is the product consumers will flock to.  It's the reason people pick Toyotas over Chryslers, and the reason that $150 textbooks ought to go the way of the Pontiac.  (The car, not the Native Americans.)  If even one tax dollar goes to propping up the "damaged textbook industry" I swear to you I will go completely ballistic.

Okay, this is starting to sound more like Rant #2 than a retraction of previously stated information.  I tend to get a little one-note sometimes, and I'm sorry for that.  The very nice thing is that I won't have to relive this rant every time I pull my $150 book out of my backpack and see the page my kids ripped, or drew on, or spilled melted Slurpee on, thus dropping the resale value of the information on those pages to roughly $25.  No, I can actually rejoice at the cost of this class's textbook, and the one teacher I've had so far that has figured this out.  Viva la revolucion!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Women's Conference 2009, Day 2

Here's Day 2 of Women's Conference.  It was, as always, fantastic.  Today's highlight was Brad Wilcox's talk at the very end of the day about grace.  

The classes I took today:
Nourishing and Protecting the Family - general morning session by Julie B. Beck
Preventing Emotional Homelessness by Creating a Christ-Centered Home
Charity and Covenant: The Binding Force of a Marriage by Max and Lynne Pinegar
Then Will I Make Weak Things Become Strong by Vicki Matsumori and Brad Wilcox

I've decided if I could do one day of Women's Conference once a month, I might stay spiritually buoyed enough to actually do all these things I'm learning!  I'm going to reread my notes and make an (admittedly unrealistic) To-Do list of all the practical things I should put in place in my life.  And then maybe work on one or two.  After all, I don't want to be made all perfect before Education Week!


Nourishing and Protecting the Family
Julie B. Beck

3 responsibilities of Relief Society:
Increase faith and personal righteousness
Strengthen families, homes
Seek out needs

The job of every mother is to produce a superior daughter.

Our responsibility to family is not just to our children - it is all hands on deck. Even childless people are responsible to strengthen families.

Proclamation on the family - reiteration of values and beliefs that have been held since the beginning of restoration. We have a theology of the family - the plan of salvation, the plan of happiness.

3 pillars of theology of the family:
Creation - where family unit was formed, male and female. Each given specific responsibilities.
Fall - the means for the family to grow, not just in numbers but it quality and experience, to increase faith and righteousness.
Atonement - ties families together forever, gives us opportunity for eternal growth and perfection.

Each person is a son or daughter of god. We accepted a plan that we would come to earth and gain a body and live in a family setting with parents. We knew about the family before we were born.

Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of god and the family is central to the creators plan. Both Adam and Eve had leadership roles in their families; they were married for time and all eternity. Marriage is an order of the priesthood, necessary to receive the blessings of eternal life.

Eve's act was a glorious necessity. She should not be condemned; she and her daughters should not be condemned. We celebrate her wisdom; she had a leadership role, to choose to bring children into the world.

Why marriage is important:
Natures of males and females compliment each other, need each other to progress.
Both men and women are essential to bring children into the world.

Plan of happiness is the path to a happy family. Nothing is more important to the church and civilization than the family.

D&C 2 - only words of his 17 year old vision that is included in d&c - promises of children turn to their fathers, the priesthood that seals a man and a woman together and prepares them for the blessings of eternal life - if it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted. This leads us to the temple; Joseph Smith had this doctrine from the very beginning.

Ephesians 6 - wrestle against rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness in high places.

We see decline everywhere, decline in importance of the family, divorce out of wedlock increased, 1/4 of pregnancies worldwide are aborted, children are less valued, family is less valued. The family is about us, but a doctrine of the world is about I and me.

Alma - nehor started doctrine of me, we should get paid for what we do etc. Alma 30 - Korihor is called an anti-Christ because he said there would be no Christ. Asked why do you yoke yourself to such a foolish thing, because no man can know of the coming of Christ? These things that are prophecies are foolish traditions of your fathers, because you can't know of things you cannot see. Hope of atonement leads to deranged mind. You get ahead according to your genius, your strength - this is the gospel that is being preached in the world, leading hearts away from God. I should be able to do what I want, why should I tie myself down to family? These teachings are not original, they've been taught by Satan through the ages.

We should never forget that anti-Christ teachings and principles are anti-family, and anti-family teachings and principles are also anti-Christ.

Pres Kimball talk in 1980 - would like to define family out of existence. Some people would like to
When things go wrong in the family, things go wrong in society. Only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to protect and preserve our families.

We do that by keeping our focus on the blessings of eternal life. The lord said his glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. We are involved in God's work every day, and it changes the way we live, dress, talk, and behave. We have the challenge of a prophet to live deeply, be intentional about everything we do. Our life is not happenstance.

What are our goals? What kind of things would we have to teach them to reach those goals? Temple marriage, missions, education, work,

Teaching things (manners, etc) is a process, not an event.

Part of our responsibility is to bear children. The order to multiply and replenish the earth has not been rescinded. It is selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when you are able to do so. Our role is creation. Creating is our blessing now and in the eternities.

D&c 68 - teach your children, prepare them to make temple covenants. That's the goal of young women's, to get them ready for the temple.

We are called to fight against pornography. We cannot sit and act like victims. This is the action of a determined adversary. Teach our children everywhere, at home and mealtimes, fhe. Limit activities so we have opportunities to teach. Talk and teach and ask questions while driving in the car. Fhe is so important - devote best efforts to teaching children. Home is basis of righteous life; no other organization can replace it. We are told to set aside Monday night for families. Not enough to just teach on Sunday - why wouldn't we want Monday in addition to Sunday to teach and strengthen our children for the challenges to come.

No love in all the world can equal the love of a true mother. Life, strength, encouragement, that begat more love. When temptations beset you, remember the love of your mother, how she would sacrifice her life for you. Keep love as the barrier to temptation. Love one another; you can't do it any other way. You can coax them, or induce them, but you can't drive them. You can't force your children into heaven. You can force them into hell. But you can only help your kids through love unfeigned. Our homes should be based on love. We have a sacred duty to love, our children and our husbands. Emma smith was told to be a comfort to her husband. We should have a climate of faith, hope, and charity in our home. Cooking for your husband is a sign of love, wanting to nurture and creates a climate of faith, hope, and charity. We have to work for it and strive for it.

We will need the spirit of the lord now more than every before. We need to work to hear and obey the voice of the spirit. We are preparing for the blessings of eternal life. These same principles apply to any interaction with the rising generation. This is a faith-based work and we have to call upon our faith of Jesus Christ, faith in who we are and where we came from, to qualify for these blessings.

Moses 5 - Adam and Eve were reviewing the blessings of eternal life - verse 10, joy in life, see god. Were it nor for our mortal experience we would never have had children (not all of her children were perfect children, but she was not sorry) they would never have known good and evil, been given redemption, and eternal life. They blessed god and taught their children.

These are the truths of the restored gospel - we are sons and daughters of Heavenly Father. In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare.

No one owes us anything - wee owe everything to the Lord. The women of the church will be seen as the lights of the world. People will recognize the truths they were taught before the world was.

"Preventing Emotional Homelessness by Creating a Christ-Centered Home"

Marilyn Bailey

Emotional Homelessness (June 2005 ensign) Since when did home signify merely shelter? Home is belonging, demanding sacrifice and devotion, promising acceptance. Homelessness offers no place to turn when you are sad, troubled, etc.

Foundation of the family has to be love. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love the lord, and the second was to love thy neighbor as thyself. Heavenly Father and Jesus love us, whether we are good or bad or somewhere in between. He has provided the guidance we need to progress and reach his potential, through the scriptures.

Give children the love of the scriptures through our example. When her family had early morning study as a family consistently, they did not fight with one another.

Scriptures tell us god's love for us, and by counting our blessings, and by the still, small voice.

How do we show our love for him? John 14:21 - keep his commandments, he will manifest his love to us.

Show our love for our children, not just tell them.

Try to keep commandments so the spirit will be with us. It will lead us to opportunities to help our children. Be where your children need you the most, at the time when they need us. The spirit will tell us where and when that is.

Teach by example. We are all teachers, even though we don't want to be. We can't choose not to be a role model. How we act has an effect on those around us. Some children can learn to be good from a bad example, but don't count on it. We cannot hope to influence others in lives of virtue if we don't live lives of virtue. We can only lift others if we live on higher ground.

Good listeners make ears, minds, and hearts available to children.

Our children need to know the Lord listens to us, will help us endure rather than take our problems away.

Let children know that it's okay to make mistakes. Doing something wrong is better than not doing anything at all out of fear. Seeing us repent is better than 100 fhe's about repentance.

Find strength to be of good cheer, not to give in to anger and resentfulness. Don't live in angry silence or resentful disgust when confronted with a bad situation - face it with good cheer.

Teach accountability and consequences. Let children have their agency. It's hard to let kids do something wrong. D&c 121 - persuasion, long0suffering, love unfeigned. Give children chance to make choices and live the consequences.

Make dinner together time. Better grades, less addiction, less, depression, better eating habits. 1/3 of American children eat dinner with their families regularly. If dinner isn't positive, it can be bad.

1. Turn off TV and phones.
2. Have set time to eat.
3. Prepare dinner together. Benefits are not as good if mom does it all. (YAY!!)
4. Have specific job for each person, to feel needed
5. Have each person be present
6. Choose activities carefully
7. Eat at home even if its take out
8. One parent is sufficient
9. Start young
10. Be consistent

God is a better source to go to than us to solve their problems. We won't always be there, but He will. D&c 82:10

We get discouraged. Negative thoughts come from Satan; he wants us to fail so he can have more company. He wants us to feel emotionally homeless. We don't have to follow his promptings, and our children need to know that.

Home is a haven against the storms of life. Living the gospel can prevent emotional homelessness. Help our children know and understand this. Serving others is the essence of the gospel and will bring us joy.

Denise Demers

Alma 32:37-40 - make the seed our children - nourish our children, don't be barren or we won't be able to partake of the fruit.

How do we nourish our children, protect them, and provide for them? How do we create a place that is not barren? Just like a garden needs well-prepared soil, we need to prepare our family's soil.

To prepare a garden, you dig down really deep, lay down a layer of newspaper/cardboard to keep the weeds out. Then add the best soil.

What can we do to block out Satan? Follow the prophet. The prophets have been saying the same things forever. We know what we need to do.
D&c 138 - whether by god or the voice of his servants, it is the same.

3 Nephi 19:9 - prayed for the Holy Ghost to be given to them, what they most desired. They spoke what Jesus spoke, nothing varying.

We don't have a manual that tells us how to deal with our kids and the things they do, their crises. The scriptures lead to current revelation on topics that the reader needs at that time. We should read scriptures constantly so we can get access to what HF wants us to do today. This is why we do daily scripture study. This is the missing manual. We read, and we receive the answers for things we need help with. They are written out specifically, they come by inspiration. If we can feel the spirit each time we read, we can get god's answers for our problems.

Wee make a difference in everything we do - just by getting out of bed in the morning, we will make a difference.

Learn to feel, recognize, and act. 1 Nephi 4:6 - led by the spirit.

You can read every book on a subject, even speak to a therapist, but the most effective answer might come through prayer.

"Charity and Covenant: The Binding Force of a Marriage"

Lynne J. Pinegar
Covenant - an agreement with god and man, whose terms are set by god, he will sustain, sanctify, and exalt us if we agree to obey his commandments. Our marriage covenant strengthens us against the world. We have enlisted the very god of heaven and earth to help us in our marriage. His promises are sure.

If we dedicated our lives to our marriage, we would live his commandments with exactness, we'd put our relationship with our husband over every human relationship. Mortal misunderstandings can make mischief in marriage. If each partner reduces his personal demands and maximize our selfless service.

Do we undermine our marriage by telling people about spouse's shortcomings? Respect each other enough to treat each other with civility.

Satan gives us negative responses to say to our spouse, to damage our relationship. When adversary suggests an evil, unkind, out of control way, in stead choose to respond with charity and love.

What we are not willing to place on the altar of our marriage will undoubtedly come back to trip us up. Practice selfless sacrifice.

A marriage can be successful so long as selfishness doesn’t enter in. Adversity can cement relationships that prosperity can destroy. We are married to give happiness, not to get it.

We need to look at our children as treasures. The lord trusts us to prepare them so they will want to return to live with him. Teach them self-discipline, love and service, education of gospel and

Who is the most important person in the family? None, it's the family. We make decisions that are best for the family.

1984 Reese ensign article. Make something beautiful and peaceful in life. Happy wife makes a real difference. A wife can create happiness or unhappiness for those in her sphere of influence. What better gift than a loving joyful relationship in the family, encouragement is given rather than disparagement. Children need to see our cheerful example. Be pleasant and loving even when frustrated - that's how to show how difficulty is handled and soothes your heart. At every point we can choose what attitude to have, we have no excuse for our attitude.

Max J. Pinegar

Your path to happiness is mostly dependant on who is your traveling companion.

Moroni 7 - what charity is and is not. Suffereth long, is kind, envieth not, is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth, believeth, hopeth, endureth all things. Charity never faileth, is pure love of Christ.

Real charity is not something you give away - it’s something you acquire and make a part of yourself. When charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again.

Most charity comes from kindness, not judging, giving each other benefit of the doubt, remaining quiet. Accepting someone's differences, shortcomings, having patience with someone who ahs let us down. Resisting impulse to become offended. Being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. (Marvin j Ashton)

Greatest examples of charity - infinite atoning sacrifice. Abraham and Isaac, Joseph sold into Egypt, fed his family during famine. Restoration of the gospel - charity through millions of church members who accept callings, serve in the church.

Where do you and I fit in? Has the virtue of cherty been implanted in our hearts? Where do you rate yourself on a scale of one to ten? Where would you rate your spouse, your children? Where would they rate you? When you discuss something serious, what is the tone of your voice? Are you trying to manipulate? D you talk in a demeaning way?

Joseph smith in liberty jail said:
The spirit has a near impossible task to get through to a heart that is full of hate, anger, self-pity, but has instant access to a heart that is kind, loving.

One of the hard things we might have to do is love those who are hard to love.

Lynne J Pinegar

Adversity is a part of our lives. This life is designed to challenge and test us; it is imperative that we pass the test to inherit all we've been promised. Mosiah 3:19The opportunity to face adversity is evidence of Heavenly Father’s infinite love.

With the lord's help and the support of each other we can get through any problem. We let them know they can always come to us with their problems. We teach them how to go to the Lord for inspiration and guidance. When faced with adversity we must personally discover how we will deal with it, no one can do it for us. We turn to the lord until we find him. He hears our pleas. A prayer for strength is always answered. Do whatever we must to find the lord, open ourselves to feel the spirit. Pray, repent, study the scriptures, attend the temple, seek priesthood blessings. We receive from the lord what we cannot do for ourselves.

Blessings are not reserved for just those who are most righteous or serve in highly visible callings.

You can have revelatory experiences in the most miserable situations. Man's extremity is god's opportunity. Be believing, don't curse god for our situation, but turn the place we are in into a temple, a place of peace and love from God. The lord never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face, nor will he as long as one person remains to be aided. We feel alone, but that distress is of our own making - always there are those angels around us, seen and unseen. We don't have to be perfect or close to perfect to receive his spirit, just trying to be better than we were before.

At the end of our lives, we will be more grateful for the hard times than we will for the easy times. That is when we felt the need for his sacrifice, that we honored him, grew closer to him, that we passed the test we were given.

Max Pinegar

One of the principle stumbling blocks to our receiving personal revelation especially in our family relationships, - at those times that we need personal revelation more than in any other circumstance. One of the principle stumbling blocks is contention. The spirit of contention. His only suggestions to eliminate the terrible cancer of contention: Matthew 26:20-22 - Jesus with disciples at feast of Passover - says one of you shall betray me. They asked, Lord, is it I? Each of us should ask ourselves that question, especially in disputes with husband and wife, or with children. We should go in prayer and ask Heavenly Father - Lord, is it I? Most of the time, both spouses will receive the answer that yes, you are the one. Ask Heavenly Father if he would please let me know what some of my weaknesses were. Ether 12:24 - if men come unto me, I will show their weakness that they may be humble, and my grace is sufficient, if they are humble and have faith, I will make weak things become strong unto them.

Teach our children who they really are. In "true to the faith" Pg 249 - each is a spirit son or daughter and as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.

"Then Will I Make Weak Things Become Strong"

Vicki Matsumori

We do not need to be perfect to attend the temple; we only need to be worthy. We can be strengthened in the Lord.

Jesus became a natural man, received a body and became subject to tendencies to anger, jealousy, greed, etc. Joseph Smith, Nephi, Moroni all complained about their weaknesses. Ether 12:27

What is my weakness? We think our failings are all too obvious, but we need to go to the Lord and ask what our weaknesses are. It is a vital part of coming unto Christ. Is our twisted ankle due to clumsiness, or our love of cute shoes? Or do we wear the cute shoes out of pride?

Why have I been given my specific weakness? We don't think it's fair that we deal with a short temper or whatever, but those weaknesses are ours for a purpose. We are given weakness to be made humble, and specific weaknesses for specific people. (Why were we given 8 children? Because the lord knew we could handle 7 just fine.)

Paul's thorn in the flesh is a reminder to stay humble. Israelites fought Midianites with 300 specially chosen, with only 300 it was clear that the victory came from the lord's help, and not because of their own ability. We might be tempted to take credit for our successes. We might say that's just the way I am. One's parents may have failed, our background maybe frustrating but as sons of god we have power to change our lives. We can overcome and master ourselves.

Ralph Waldo Emerson - that which we continue to do becomes easier, not because the nature of the things has changed but our capacity has increased.

The world's solutions are not sufficient - only coming to Christ can we truly change. His grace is sufficient for us to change. He gives us enabling power, and that can change us. The savior wants to save us from our inadequacies than just our sins. We have less choice in our inadequacies than we do over our sins.

Paul - I can do all things through Christ who strengthened me. Never had thorn removed, but was strengthened.

Commandments give so we can be made humble

How can I turn my weakness into a strength\?

We need to develop faith in Jesus Christ. It takes time, and is difficult to see progress. God forces us up to a higher level putting him into situations where we have to be braver or stronger than ever before, and that’s why our trials and weaknesses continue even when we've been trying really hard. We can't see the tremendous thing god wishes to make with us.

God didn't send us to earth to start a race, he sent us here to finish the race. We don't have to win, to come in first, to be the best, the prettiest, the most righteous, we were sent to learn humility, to rely on the lord. If we finish our race in the strength of the lord, we will be made strong in the place god has prepared for us.

Brad Wilcox

Author of the Continuous Atonement

2 Nephi 25:23 - by grace we are saved after all we can do. Most quoted, less understood scripture in the church, and can be discouraging if we don't understand.

After all we can do - does it mean that Jesus will come put the finishing touches on our best effort? No. We can receive manifestations of grace without doing anything. Grace is a constant energy source that takes us all the way through. Grace doesn’t just come after; we may receive grace before during and after what we do. After is more about separateness, not temporal setting. Regardless of what we can do.

All we can do - can we do all? We might be able to have a day of busyness but we can't keep that pace, and get discouraged that we can't do all we can do all the time. We want to do our best for the lord; we think the lord will not be satisfied with anything less than our best, less than our all. Any effort is acceptable to god, even if he and I both know it's not my best or my all all the time. Any offering is acceptable because god is more concerned with the offerer than the offering. One of Satan’s strategies is to tell us if we are not perfect we are failing. God is pleased with every effort we make to better ourselves, no matter how faltering.

We can do - what can we do without god? We are dependent on god for every breath we take. We are like a jockey bragging about winning a race, but forgetting we were riding a horse. There is one set of footprints in our sand, and it's always his.

Grace is given constantly to give us power to climb the mountain. He's not the goal at the top, which we achieve through our works; he is there with us every step. We still have to do the works, but we do it with his grace.

After all, what can we do?

Do - we have our checklist that we have to have to keep us conscience free. We are not human doings, we are human beings. Doing is just a means to being and being is a means to becoming. Keeping that focus makes us more patient and willing to work on that checklist.

Teach me all that I must do, instead of know, because it's not enough to know if we don't do. Maybe one day we can sing all that I must be, more like our heavenly parents and savior Jesus Christ.

We - after all we can do, but not we as in you and me, but as in Jesus and me together. Dc 123:17 - cheerfully do all things that lie in our power - Jesus is speaking, he is part of "us". Emmanuel is one of his titles, meaning "god with us". That companionship is where salvation is found. Not Jesus supplementing our works, or our works supplementing his grace. We don't stack his grace and our works to reach a height requirement - it's about growth. It’s about a relationship that is greater than the sum of the parts. We are two hearts not two parts, two hearts working together.

Who makes up the difference between where I am now and my best efforts? How much does god do and how much do we do? Jesus doesn't make up the difference, he makes all the difference. We aren't trying to fill a gap - Jesus has done that. He made payment in full. Justice has no claim on us, Jesus now can make his arrangements, and he helps us use what he’s given us to turn this weak thing into a strong thing. He wants to turn this weak woman into a heavenly mother, a goddess.

A mother can pay for lessons, and because she paid that debt, the mother can require some things. Practice. Practice didn't pay anything back, didn't pay towards the debt. You require the child to practice because you want the child to grow to reach a higher plane. Jesus asks faith repentance baptism and enduring to the end with the help of the Holy Ghost. We can take advantage oft his so we can not only return to god, but become like god.

We are not trying to repay our debt, but because repentance initiates a process that leads us on a path. We suffer for our sins, not for punishment or repayment, but for change.

He wants to transform us into a strong person that won't fall again. It takes time but he will be there however long it takes.

The lesson by Carol Lynn Pearson

“"The Lesson": 

Yes, my fretting, 

Frowning child, 

I could cross

The room to you

More easily. 

But I’ve already

Learned to walk, 

So I make you

Come to me. 

Let go now—


You see? 

Oh, remember

This simple lesson, 


And when

In later years

You cry out

With tight fists
And tears—

“Oh, help me, 


Just listen

And you’ll hear

A silent voice: 

I would, child, 

I would. 

But it’s you,
Not I, 

Who needs to try