Sunday, May 31, 2009

Katie's Preschool Graduation

All my kids have attended Head Start Preschool, and this year Katie graduated. I absolutely adore her teacher, Lonah Masinde, who was also Brooke's teacher. She doesn't bat an eye at political correctness, and is not afraid to do what she believes is best. She was a great teacher for ALL the children, despite butting heads with some of the know, the ones whose kids are disciplinary problems.

Teacher Martha, Teacher Lonah, Katie & Teacher Wendy
Katie & her friend Evee
Katie getting her diploma
Katie reading to all the parents.
Lauren, Katie, Robert & Evee
The class

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Truman G. Madsen

Just got the news that Truman Madsen passed away today after a battle with cancer. Brother Madsen was probably the Church's foremost scholar on Joseph Smith, and while I have listened to and loved his famous "Joseph Smith Tapes," I was more impressed with him for who he was, rather than what he knew.

I was lucky enough to be in the BYU 5th Stake in the mid-90's when he was called to serve as our Stake President. Up until then, I admittedly barely recognized his name, but after hearing him speak for the first time (and every time after that), I truly felt something stir in my soul. We had a ward conference at Aspen Grove where he conducted a Sacrement Meeting unlike any other I had ever or have since experienced. He actually gave a talk on the Savior DURING the sacrament, and the palm-sized chunks of bread & glass of water passed by the priesthood to the congregation gave ample time to really savor the tokens and ponder the meaning of the sacrament and its relationship to our Savior.

I had the priviledge of being interviewed by him to get my first recommend as I prepared to receive my endowment before I was to serve on my mission. (No, you're not missing anything--I didn't end up going, but that's a different story for another day.) The short amount of time I spent with him was priceless and sacred, and I'm so grateful for the influence he had on me and my life at that somewhat precarious time.

President Madsen will truly be missed!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

So I'm An Offender

So, once again, out of my mouth comes controversy. I don't know if it's my overworked hormones that cause me to be so sensitive about it, but I find myself again in this uncomfortable place of inadvertently offending others, that I'd rather not be in.

I taught a Gospel Doctrine lesson again today on the plan of salvation & as we were discussing the premortal existence, I was trying to make a point about how where we are in this life is directly correlated to and a combination of:
1. Our preparation BEFORE we came here, AND
2. What we needed to learn or accomplish WHILE we were here on the earth.

I began by giving this quote (not in the manual, mind you) by Bruce R. McConkie in order to begin a discussion about our previous preparation:

"Is it inappropriate to ask: Why are there different races of men? Why is there a white, a yellow, and a black race? In the days of Israel's first bondage, why did the Lord send some spirits in the lineage of enslaved Jacob and others to their Egyptian overlords? Why were some spirits sent to earth among the Amalekites, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians, while others at the same moments found birth in the house of Israel? Why was Antipas sent as the son of a debauched and evil Herod, while John the Baptist came into the home of a priestly Zacharias and a saintly Elisabeth?"

This is where I stopped and asked the class what they thought about coming to earth under differring circumstances. I had NO IDEA that what was about to come out of the mouth of Brother Cisney would bring the discussion train to a screeching halt. He looks straight into my eyes and accusingly says, "You've just offended everyone here in this room of a different race by reading that quote."

I'm flabbergasted. I'm stunned. I'm at a loss for words, and frankly, I'm totally knocked off my feet by his comment. The sheer audacity of him to accuse me of being at the very least, a thoughtless racist in the middle of Sunday School, and among brothers and sisters whom I am called to TEACH was just about all I could take. The Spirit had clearly left the room at that point, and I fumbled for the words to articulate my position, and how I was merely trying to bring up the point that the decisions we made premortally had and have an impact on our mortality. The remainder of the quote, which we never even got to, is as follows:

"All of these things operate by law; they are the outgrowth of long years of personal preparation in preexistence on the part of each individual; they come to pass according to the laws that the Lord has ordained. This second estate is a continuation of our first estate; we are born here with the talents and capacities acquired there. Abraham was one of the noble and great spirits in the premortal life. He was chosen for his mortal ministry and position before he was born, and as with the father of the faithful so with all of the spirits destined to be born as his seed." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 512)

Do I think that because you were born to a poor black family in the Ozarks that you were somehow less prepared or worthy than someone born to affluent white parents in Beverly Hills? Not necessarily. The reason it's not a flat-out "NO" is that we have no way of knowing what individual preparation took place in the premortal existence, nor what needs to be learned or accomplished by any one person here in mortality. In my opinion, if you believe that this quote is offensive, then you must ASSUME that McConkie is saying that being born poor or not white or not Mormon is a punishment, reserved for those who weren't prepared enough in the preexistence. I don't think he's saying that at all.

My dear friend, Lonah, was born under less than desirable circumstances in Kenya, Africa. Despite a rough childhood and MANY trials in her life, she now has a Master's Degree in Education, and has consequently helped her cousin's family immigrate to the US in the hopes of bettering their lives. She is the epitome of a Christian woman and is always praising the Lord for everything that happens in her life, because she knows from whence all blessings come. In contrast, another friend of mine was born to well-off parents here in the US. She was taught the gospel all her life, but decided not to follow those teachings. The Lord has no place in her life and it's clear by both her language and actions. Who then, was more worthy or prepared premortally? WE DON'T KNOW! The whole point of even bringing this up was to illustrate that mortality is a continuation, and not a beginning, else why would we believe in the principle of foreordination?

I'm SO thankful that there were others in the class who seemed to understand the point I was trying to make, and the ensuing discussion was enlightening in that regard. I don't think the Spirit ever fully returned, and now I feel as though I must seek out various ward members who may have been offended in the process. As for Brother Cisney, that's a deep wound to heal for me, as this was not the first time he's said something to undermine me during a class I was teaching. This truly felt like a personal attack from him, and I'm still trying to digest it.

Lessons learned:
1. Don't quote McConkie anymore. ;)
2. Don't call on Brother Cisney.

I'm really interested in what you all think of the quote, since I never even hesitated to use it before "the incident."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More on Mommydom

This is a LONG and somewhat boring post, but one I had to write for posterity. Should you choose not to actually read it, I just ask you to skip to the bottom and follow the link to a great post I found that
EVERY mom should read.

So, anyone who's ever been pregnant knows that during this "miraculous" time, some things just get pushed aside and even downright neglected--including other children and the discipline of them. No more has this been evident to me than at this time and during this pregnancy. Tonight Mike was away working a viewing, so I was left to my own devices with the kiddos.

Even under normal circumstances (the unpregnant-, fully medicated-type), this is not a fun task for me. By dinnertime, I've lost all patience and it becomes a minute-by-minute endurance test until that magical 8:00 hour.

However, my three-year-old decided that tonight was the night to see just how much she could get away with, resulting in a magical 7:00 hour bedtime for her. What did she do, you ask? After flinging mud at everyone in the backyard, I told her that she was no longer allowed to play outside. She threw a fit, which I expected, then defiantly went right back out the door. I laboriously pulled myself up off the couch and onto wobbly legs, due to some lovely reccurring sciatica, and entered the backyard to physically bring the child into the house. Fortunately for her, she's quick in both body and mind, so she climbed up the slide where she knew I couldn't reach her, mocking me with the glint in her eye and smirk on her face. Knowing she had the upper-hand, I threatened to put her straight to bed if I had to climb the slide to get her, and she reluctantly (and surprisingly) came down. I then carried her into the house, lucky my legs didn't give out on me as she kicked and screamed the whole way in. Did I mention Mike was working a VIEWING next door???

Anyway, I brought her into the house and once again told her that she was done playing outside and had to stay in for the rest of the night. She gets it now, right? She now knows that Mom will actually wobble outside to pick her up and take her back in if she does it again, right? That is, of course, if Mom SEES thing I know the older girls are telling me that Bridget is out throwing mud again. How? I was sitting right here by the door! How did she manage to slip by without me noticing? The little turkey pretended to be going downstairs, when in fact, she went out the back door and into the backyard through the gate that Mike continues to leave unlocked for his own convenience! (But that's another story.) Once again, I waddled outside, somehow managed to wrangle her out of the LittleTykes play cube thingy, and brought her back into the house. This time, I FOLLOWED her downstairs, all the while threatening an early bedtime if it happened again.

After taking up my reserved place back on the couch for all of a minute & a half, I was once again met with the sound of Bridget playing in the backyard. Ahhh....the straw that broke the camel's back. With all the grace of a newborn giraffe, I put it into 2nd gear and "ran" outside to gather her once again. This time I marched her to the bathroom, threw her pajamas at her, and then marched her down to her bedroom. On the way she asked, "Where you taking me, Mommy?" to which I replied, "To bed!" "No, Mommy, please no!" she cried, as I slammed her door shut, then held the doorknob so she couldn't open the door.

I was beginning to feel so victorious! I can outlast her. She'll fall asleep eventually. That'll teach her to disobey...yet again. As the pounding on the door finally stopped, I heard a quiet little voice retreating to her bed say through her sobs, "It's okay, Bridget, don't cry. Be happy!"

Oh, crap. Have I really turned into that mom who sings "Happy Family" every night with her children and husband, but secretly despises most of what she does as a parent? I thankfully happened upon this article as I wallowed in my terrible mothering moment. Not that I thought she didn't need to go to bed, but I realized that her disobedience can be correlated to my inconsistancy in discipline lately, so I'm just as responsible as she is.

Does that mean I get to go to bed early too?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Katie turns 5!

As of tomorrow, I'll have a 7, 6, 5 & 3 year old. That either makes me terribly stupid or quite ingenious.

At first, having Katie was SO SO SO difficult for me. Maggie hadn't turned 3 yet, nor was she potty trained, so for all intents and purposes I had 3 babies. Nights were essentially a nightmare, as Maggie had night terrors that would wake us up to blood-curdling screams, Brooke was still waking up at least once (probably due to all the screaming going on), and I was up feeding Katie every couple of hours. I honestly don't know how I survived that first year of Katie's life, nor do I know how Mike could've survived me, as sleep deprived as I was. (For those of you who know me, sleep is an essential part of my sanity!)

Thankfully, Maggie grew out of the night terrors as well as the diapers, and Brooke and Katie finally started sleeping through the night so I could too. As arduous as that time had been for me, I truly think it was worth it because now my girls are the best of friends. In contrast to the difficulties that emerged from having to meet the various needs of a newborn, 18 month old and almost 3 year old, their needs now are nearly congruent. They like the same toys, movies, foods (for the most part), and they even have some of the same friends. Heck, Brooke and Katie are even the same size, so they share clothes without fighting over them yet, which is seriously great!

So, I'm going to categorize myself as ingenious for having my girls so close together, even though at first, it seemed very, very stupid. I can only hope that their friendship will last through what will most certainly be a tumultuous teenagership, and develop into the same kind of relationship I now have with my sisters.

As for Katie, who turns 5 tomorrow, I'm so grateful she's a part of our family. Her laugh is absolutely infectious, and her dimple just draws you in to her. She loves to help me do ANYTHING, especially when it comes to cooking or baking. In fact, when she was three, she was obsessed with Rachael Ray and would choose to watch her cooking show over cartoons! She tells the silliest jokes (if you can call them that), and loves to "speak" Spanish. I can't bear to correct her when she calls her eyelashes "ashleyes" because it's just too cute, just like she is. I look forward to watching her continue to grow, and hopefully I won't mess her up too badly along the way! I love you, Katiekins!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Single Parenting...Not for the tired and pregnant!

One down, eternity to go. At least that's how it feels. Today was our first attempt at a fatherless Sacrament Meeting (although Mike was on the stand), and I must say, it was all I had imagined it to be. Despite my best efforts to contain our children in our usual corner spot on the back row, Bridget kept climbing under our bench, exchanging crayons with an unknown accomplice under the divider curtain. Twice she nearly got free from the confines of our seating (which thankfully we avoided due to my stealthy maneuvering--yeah, I'm sure you can picture it), and for most of the meeting, she insisted on being my stylist "quietly" psh, psh, pshing her pretend hairspray and running her fingers through my already done coif. Unfortunately for my hair, it was the only thing that kept her from drawing the attention of the entire congregation to our little corner of the chapel.

Then, as if one child pushing my buttons wasn't enough, I had to continually "shush" Brooke and Katie, giving them a Mom crusty, as they loudly discussed which colors to use on the My Little Pony coloring book, which tended to result in an argument when one of them used the "wrong color pink" on Pinkie Pie.

And don't think Maggie wasn't in on the conspiracy to watch Mom lose it midway through the hour. She threw her own little tantrum when I made her put her pencils, crayons & papers away after witnessing a near-double stabbing of Katie and Brooke with her pencil. She even resorted to crawling under the bench like a two-year-old, and in the process completely messed up her hair that I spent precious time working on this morning. Fine. Go to Primary with crazy hair and a wrinkled dress. Let them think I don't care, because quite frankly at this point, I don't.

I kept thinking that if I can just endure a couple of more weeks, I won't be trying to do acrobatics while sporting a contraction that I SWEAR lasted the entire meeting. Of course, then I'll just be doing those same acrobatics with a child attached to my boob. Either way, I can't express the relief I felt after the final Amen was said, and Mike showed up like a knight in shining armor to take the children away. Didn't matter where, just away.

Next week my strategy will be to not try to listen to the speakers. Then I won't be disappointed when I can't even remember who got up to speak...

Monday, May 11, 2009

To Move or Not to Move

Mike and I have been debating for a while whether or not it was time to leave the mortuary. We've been living here for 8 years now, and it has truly been a great blessing. Being here has allowed us both to finish school, and to start our business without the additional financial stress of rent or a mortgage. Our home has been big enough to fit us all (so far...), and we have an abundant amount of space for our garden. I'll admit that the phone ringing in the middle of the night to take Mike away on calls has not been fun, especially when he gets more than one in a night, but the benefits have generally outweighed the disadvantages.

We started getting some subtle hints a few months ago that made us begin to think that maybe we ought to look at other options. Comments made, such as, "The mortuary is no longer going to hire couples with children." "How long have you been living there?" "Are you sure there's enough room in that little house for all of you?" "We need you to get rid of your cat (the one we got last summer to deal with the mice situation around here) because it may sneak into the mortuary and eat the nose and ears off of the deceased." (I'm SO NOT KIDDING about the cat comment, but I'm not going to get into it for now.)

Anyway, because our business was only started up last year, and because work has been fairly slow since Thanksgiving, we knew that a mortgage was not an option yet, but I went out looking for rentals in the area of the girls' charter school. I found a couple of decent options for us for the short-term, but began to get really frustrated that I wasn't feeling one way or the other whether or not we should in fact, move. Mike was having the same frustrations, even after praying and fasting. It seemed odd to both of us that the Lord wouldn't offer direction in what seemed like a MAJOR life decision.

The following Sunday, Mike was in the hallway between classes and the Stake President approached him, asking if he could talk with him for a minute. They went in a room and Pres. Saviano began to give him a pre-interview interview. He told him that he was not there to give him a calling, but that there were some stake callings that needed to be filled and he was just talking with people in the different wards to get a feel for who might fit well into those positions. The next Sunday, Pres. Saviano was again visiting our ward and asked Mike if he could visit with the both of us that week. We were pretty sure that the call was coming for Mike to be the Stake Athletic Director, or possibly in the Stake YM Presidency. When we got to the interview and he asked to speak with each of us individually, we knew it was definitely something different... When Pres. Saviano asked Mike to accept the call from the Lord to serve on the Stake High Council, we were both a little stunned and completely humbled. The Lord certainly answers prayers in strange ways.

Who knew that the answer to our question of whether or not to move would come in the form of a calling? We sure didn't see it coming. I think we can stick it out here at the mortuary for a couple of more years while Mike serves in this new capacity. Maybe by then we'll be ready for that mortgage.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Things I will and will NOT miss...

I was thinking about a song by Trace Adkins yesterday entitled, You're Gonna Miss This. It's about not taking for granted the experiences you're having now in the hopes of things being better in the future, especially when it comes to your children.

I've been told so often I can't begin to count the number of times, (usually amidst my complaining) that I should love every minute of being a mother because "they just grow up too fast." Well, as much as I would like to think that's absolutely true, I've discovered that there are some things that I absolutely WILL NOT miss (this list is obviously not all inclusive):

1. Climbing into a crumb-filled bed where someone has decided it's the only "safe" place to consume their pirated loot without anyone finding out.

2. Discovering that the slimy mess I feel squishing through my toes is actually banana that someone has dropped and LEFT on the floor for me to smush into the rug, and consequently add to my list of things I have to clean up. (I know, I should be grateful it's just a banana.)

3. Struggling to bend over my protruding belly for the fifteenth time to pick up a pair of dirty socks left on the floor, only to hear (in the whiniest voice possible), "Mom! I can't find my socks!" approximately 30 seconds later.

4. Having my newly potty-trained 3-year-old decide that stopping to come inside to use the toilet is just too inconvenient, and that continuing to play in soiled pants is perfecty acceptable, and is actually not too uncomfortable.

5. Trying to convince said 3-year-old that the sacrament is not a MEAL and that she can only take ONE piece of bread--preferrably the first one she touches...

6. Everything about being pregnant.

7. Repeating myself.

8. Changing up the back, out the legs, in the hair, on the floor, on my pants, blowout diapers.

9. Being told one night that I'm the greatest cook in the world and the next night being asked why I can't cook like The Burger King.

10. WHINING--need I say more?

Just to make sure this is a fair and balanced post, I'm perfectly aware that there are things I will deeply miss, and some that I already do. Again, a list that is NOT all inclusive:

1. Words. Tortiyaya=tortilla; ashleyes=eyelashes; pizzzpa=pizza; lasterday=yesterday; menember=remember.

2. Little arms wrapping around my neck to give me a hug for no apparent reason.

3. After putting make up on and getting my hair done for church (usually the only day it happens...), having the girls look at me with wide eyes, saying, "Mom! What happened to you? You look beautiful!"

4. Listening to them sing "I Want to Be Kind" to each other after they get in trouble for fighting, then watching them hug and run off playing together as if nothing had happened.

5. Hearing them include in their prayers a plea that the cat won't get eaten by anything while she stays outside for the night.

6. Their first time reading a book by themselves.

7. Their knock-knock jokes that make no sense, but that they laugh hysterically at themselves for coming up with.

8. Holding a sad or discouraged child in my arms, knowing that soon I won't be their first choice for consolation.

9. Having the girls fight over who gets to kneel by me for family prayer, or sit next to me during sacrament meeting, or be on my team for playing games...ok, they'll always fight to be on my team--everyone does.

10. Hearing, "Good Night, I love you!" every night.

All-in-all, I love being a mom. I'm completely aware that I don't even understand most of what I will miss about having my little ones around me. I try to think about that when I'm trying to avoid stepping on them as they "help" in the kitchen, or when they defiantly tell me "no" for the 112th time that day.

I have three things to say to my mom in light of my experiences in mommydom so far:

1. I'm sorry!
2. I appreciate you!
3. I love you!

I think that about covers it....

Sunday, May 3, 2009


First of all, thanks for your baby name ideas! Little Max Steven Lowe (at least, this is his name for now...poor Ben had his birth certificate changed 2 or 3 times before they finally left well enough alone!) was born on Thursday, April 30, weighing 7 lbs. 12 oz. and was 21" long. Given his dad's urinary habits, it was no surprise to us that he peed all over the place before the umbilical cord could be cut. (Anyone who knows Tyler knows that his metabolism is so high that he's in the bathroom at least every 2 hours with a full bladder!) Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough with the camera to catch him in action! Everyone's doing well and are back in the comfort of their home. I can't help but feel WAY overdue now even with 6 weeks to go, because it seemed as though Meredith and I were pregnant together the whole time. I tried to talk Dr. Boheen into just delivering me since we were both aready there, but she wasn't buying it. Thanks for the extra month & 1/2, Mer.

I also just wanted to post something funny that happened at church today. A sister was sharing her testimony and mentioned how much she loves the principles of the gospel. A very confused Katie looked up and me and said, "But Mom, we don't HAVE Principals at our church!" Guess we'll be having a little Family Home Evening on what "principles" are!