Sunday, September 27, 2009

High School Football From a Mom's Perspective

Training, Day 1: "Okay, honey, I washed and pressed your practice uniform. Try not to get it too dirty, k? And don't get hurt!"

Training, Day 7: "The most essential thing I must accomplish today is to put together a carpool. These 5:30 a.m. practices are killing me!" Insert sarcastic comment from teenage son here about who these practices are really killing.

Training, Day 14: "You have to sell how many fundraising coupon cards? 15?! What, the $400 we already gave the school for the privilege of summer weight training and football camp isn't enough to get you guys through a season? Geez louise."

Training, Day 21: "A white t-shirt? You don't have any white t-shirts. I have given up trying to make your t-shirts white. Coach will just have to live with you showing up in a brown and green streaked formerly white t-shirt. You're lucky I still wash them at all."

1st game of the season: "Yeah, buddy, I'll be there. So will Dad, 2 sets of grandparents, 3 aunts, 2 uncles and one neighbor twice removed. By the way, you look so super cute in your uniform!" Inject a gagging noise from teenage son here.

2nd game of the season: "Umm, yeah, I'm coming. Is the coach thinking of letting you play this time? Well, can you ask him exactly when? If I come at halftime I get in free."

3rd game of the season: "Okay, well, I for one am glad you never get to play. I don't have the money for crutches and casts and things anyway."

4th game of the season: "No, he didn't get to play, but did I tell you he has straight A's?"

5th game of the season: Note to self - post ad on Craigslist to sell 2 stadium seats, 3 fundraising coupon cards, and 27 used-to-be-white t-shirts. I can't wait for track season.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Voluntary Simplicity?

Why does it feel so good to be cheap? Today I put a ham and bean soup in the crockpot to cook while we were at church. At lunchtime, as we sat around breathing the steam and eating our fill, I kept experiencing this strange sensation of fulfillment. I tried to pinpoint exactly what it was that was making feel such a glow. Having the whole family together at the dinner table? My semi-successful day at church with the children I work with? The fact that I actually planned a meal in advance? No - it turns out that the root of my feelings came from feeling really good about getting every last bit of meat off of that ham slab I bought last week. I realized I was mentally adding up the cost of the meal for my family of 6, and let me just say - 5 Dollar Dinner lady? Not so impressive anymore, are you?

I recently read an article about the exploits of a family that decided to stop shopping for a year. They vowed to only buy depletable resources such as groceries and gasoline, and forego absolutely all unnecessary purchases. They claim to have saved over $10,000 in one year. Sounds pretty good right? Well, here's how they saved that much money, and how you and I could too:

First, they opted NOT to buy a flat screen TV that year. So, if you were planning on doing that this year, just change your mind and watch your savings rack up!

Second, they stopped eating out at restaurants. That's going to be a little hard for me to do, because unless you count Sonic as a restaurant, I can't remember the last time I went to one. I think it was my company's Christmas party last December. Of course, the wife in the article didn't find it that hard to give up eating out, because her husband decided to start doing all of the cooking, and apparently he's pretty good. I'll say.

Finally, they quit buying clothes at The Gap and Macy's, saving a couple thousand that way. I guess I could stop dreaming about shopping at the Gap and see if that helps at all.

What helped this poor family survive the year? Well, mostly presents and gift cards from friends and family who couldn't bear to see their suffering.

Okay, that last bit may have sounded a little catty. I'm just saying, it's all well and good for a pair of dual-income doctor/lawyers to cut back a little, and then make a bunch of money by writing about it and going on Oprah. But what I'd really like to see is an article about someone who surmounts some actual problems. Let's read about the single mom with $15 in her pocket trying to buy a week's groceries for her family of five. Or how about a family that has to choose between picking up a prescription or paying the heating bill? How about all those people working three part-time jobs trying to get by when their unemployment runs out and they still haven't found a job to replace the one they lost? These people I could actually learn something from.

And I have a suggestion for them, too, like a filling dinner of ham and bean soup. Warms the tummy, warms the soul... (and can stretch for two meals if you double the amount of water you use).

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Should Be Sleeping

Instead of sleeping this week, I:

* Worked on my math skills by trying to figure out how much baking powder I should have in my food storage if I need 18 TBS + 5.75 tsp and I have 8 oz already on hand (please don't ask me what I came up with...I'm still waiting for the Homework Helpline to get back to me on that one)

* Made a list of all the things I do in a month, and since the list wasn't very long I pretended like it was a list of things I do in a day. Spent a few minutes feeling really good about myself for my accomplishments.

* Actively pursued a missing black sock on laundry day, since my boys only have one pair of Sunday socks each. Because my search was unsuccessful, TLC had to wear navy blue soccer socks to church instead. Unfortunately, his suit pants (black) are also about a 1/2 inch too short. And those thick socks made it pretty hard to cram those dress shoes on his feet. Note to self: go to Walmart before next Sunday and put the poor kid out of his misery.

* Laughed about the time my oldest son was four and my sister caught me stashing his outgrown underwear in my cedar chest to pass down to son #2. Hey, I washed them first! Sister says there are some things kids should not have to share.

* Fought a good fight with my hair, but lost anyway. Straight in the front, curly in the back - what did I do to deserve this?

* Helped D-Dawg with his homework. I didn't do it - I just typed it. Because I felt sorry for him. Because he'd been at football practice all afternoon and was tired and cranky and it was coming up on 11 p.m. Perhaps I will admit to making some slight editorial changes as I typed.

* Worked on training my kids to do their chores properly after I noticed TLC had mowed something resembling the face of a cat into our front lawn. I explained to him that front lawns are traditionally mowed in straight lines, with the grass being cut to uniform size throughout. He mumbled something about stifling his creativity and went back out to mow again.

* Got hubby ready for his first ever daddy-daughter campout. I learned that I should have packed more spare clothes for the girls, and he learned that when you take a little girl potty out in nature, it's best to just completely undress her bottom half, including shoes.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Letter to You From Heaven

Dear little one,

It seems that you are having a problem with perspective. You close each day, with its never ending list of things to do, realizing with disappointment in yourself that you don't think you spent even close to enough time loving your kids...that you made it to work and basketball practice and the grocery store and got the dishes done, but didn't spend one minute sitting on the couch snuggling and reading. And in your perceived inability to have enough of yourself to care for your few little ones, you wonder how I could care for you, amidst the many. Especially when you feel that you must be among the least - least valiant, least trustworthy, perhaps a huge disappointment so far. Your life, like your day, has not gone at all how you meant for it to go.

But that's only because the veil has clouded your eyes and you no longer have an eternal perspective of what "your life" really means. Your few years on the earth are not "your life". They are not even one day in your true life, your eternal life. But they are all you see, and so you weep. Would you like to know what I see?

I see a beautiful daughter of God, dressed in white, moving among the hosts of heaven, trying through the power of love to move the hearts of her rebellious brothers and sisters. You were so intent, even if you could just save one...I noticed you then, and I loved you for it.

I see you, still in your premortal existence, faithfully fulfilling your calling to prepare those who were leaving for their second estate. You always smiled and said, "Remember who you are!" Do you remember? Do you know, can you feel, can you accept who you are?

I see your earth-journey, and yes, I have seen your mistakes and wept with you over them. There are many who begin and end their lives with such weeping, but you are not one of them - your life is not over! Like the tide smooths out the dips and valleys made by careless feet in the sand, my Atonement has washed over your life and filled it all in - the gaping wounds, the dents, the small nicks. Now wash out the sand that remains in your eyes, and follow me, for you are mine. I have loved you from the beginning, and you are one of my masterful creations! Within you lies great compassion and desires to serve. Your spirit remembers, if your mind does not, the purposes you served for me before, and it longs once again to lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees. It is not too late! In fact, it is still very early, and you have a great work to perform, and I entrust that work to you, and I trust you still to do it.

Love your children, love your husband, speak words of kindness in all situations. Love is that great quality that allows you to be like me. Give it in great abundance and you will find the joy and the closeness to me and my spirit that you seek.

I love you. When you think that I am not there, it is only because, like Mary of old, you have mistaken me for something more common, like a gardener. At those times, listen for your name. I know it, like I knew Mary's, and I will speak it, and you will recognize my voice. I don't leave, I don't get distracted. I am always the stronger of the forces at work in your life, and I have protected you from many things that you are not even aware of. There is great rejoicing over you in heaven, for you are loved by many.

I will see you soon. Until then, let your soul be still and let your body be engaged in doing much good, and you will have a place with me in heaven.

your Elder brother, Jesus