Monday, April 27, 2009

And This, Dear Reader, Is Why I Do Not Garden

Three days ago, this wilted, weeping tomato plant was the picture of health sitting next to his robust brothers on a bright red display wagon in between the eggs/OJ and frozen dinner aisles of Costco. He caught my eye as I wheeled past him. Nearly full grown. Little tiny yellow tomato babies already growing on the vine. Potted. Caged. All I would have to do to get red mouthwatering perfect tomatoes of my own this summer is to set this out on my deck and wait patiently with my pepper grinder. (To put pepper on the tomatoes. Before I eat them.)

The maddening thing is I have NO IDEA what I did wrong. Darron said it's that I bought it. Obviously. He likes to make little jokes about my black thumb. Point out my dying houseplants, my drooping and browning chinese palm, the mutant yellow fungus that took over bromeliad and scared the bejeebers out of me when I discovered it, my orchids that have fallen off and never come back, so that I just have pots with green stems curving to the right artistically placed throughout the house. Ha ha ha! We like to have our fun.

But seriously??? What did I do? I know NOTHING about plants. And the vast mysterious world of gardening is like the mind of a teenage girl to a teenage boy. Utterly unfathomable and too overwhelming to try. Was it too hot? Too much sun? Too cold? Was there a frost? I don't know? And would it matter if there was one? Is it because I didn't water it? In my defense, it has rained the past two days, for all you snickerers out there. But maybe that wasn't enough? Or too much? Is it lonely? Does it need a mate? Does it need fertilizer? Is it in shock? Was I supposed to plant it and it only looked like it was meant to stay in the pot? Should I have put ladybugs on it? They sell them in bags at Home Depot, I've seen them. I just didn't know what they were for. Tomato plants?

Darron thinks I should take it back to Costco for a refund. Sometimes I think he doesn't know me at all. Take it back? And what would I say? I'd like to return this tomato plant. Can I ask the reason, ma'am? It died. I don't want a dead tomato plant. Was it dead when you bought it? I can't imagine it was, although it may have been feeling poorly. So YOU killed it? I honestly don't know, if I did, I didn't mean to. You didn't mean to? So you deliberately [here they would diagnose the cause of death, which would be apparent to every other person in the warehouse except me] underwatered/ overexposed/ withheld love/ attention/ Mozart and you are telling me that you "didn't mean to" kill it? I'm sorry ma'am but I just find that hard to believe.

And then they would confiscate my card and take my umbrella and flip it inside out. Which I've heard is very insulting in the UK. Yeah, I probably won't be taking it back. But I won't be throwing it out either. I live in perpetual hope that my seemingly dead plants will one day come out of their hibernation and live again. Because they might not be really dead, just faking until they can get away from me. I can totally see them doing that. They're probably all in cahoots, laughing at me when I turn my back. And I know who the ringleader is... that smarmy date palm I got at Walmart. He came from Walmart, for heaven's sake, I know the blighted, yellowing leaves are just an act. (Seriously, what causes yellow, splotchy leaves? Anyone?)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Wish...

I just read a post on a friend's blog and I won't be able to sleep until I get this out.

Fifteen years ago, a friend in high school saved my virtue. We were not great or close friends, mostly we knew each other because we were both LDS and had friends in common. We had a class together our junior year, a history class. The teacher was known to push the boundaries a little, which made him extremely popular and me extremely nervous.

One day we were watching a film in class regarding the French Indian War, I believe. Is there such a war? Regardless, we were all watching and two characters in the movie began ahem enjoying each other, which quickly led to some partial nudity. I sunk down into my chair and started to freak out a little. What should I do? I couldn't leave, what would people think? I would be too mortified, my biggest goal in high school was to not stand out. But I couldn't stay, how could I live with myself, knowing I had been such a coward? Everyone knew I was Mormon (including my teacher) and I didn't want to reflect poorly on what I professed to believe. I was stuck and torn and fearful.

All of a sudden, Becky Phillips turned around from her seat ahead of me in the next row. She looked at me and raised her eyebrows. Are we going? her eyebrows said. We simultaneously stood up, and relief and gratitude swept over me as she stepped over to the teacher's desk and told him we would be going to the library. He gave her a hall pass and we left.

We didn't say much to each other, other than "omigosh I can't believe he is showing that in school" kind of stuff. It wasn't a turning point for our relationship, we remained just sorta friends, but it was a turning point for me. At a time when I didn't have the courage I needed, God sent me a friend who did. I saw the power of moral integrity in action.

I wish I was more like Becky Phillips, who has changed her name to Rebecca Wisor and runs a kick-butt blog over at http://olderandwisor.blogspot.com/. Check her out if you feel like being inspired. She has a full and complicated life, but she keeps it real and she keeps me laughing. And her creativity will blow. your. mind.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Discovery of Ether and Other Important Findings

Yesterday was my own birthday. Hooray! I actually love my birthday, but I'm getting over it, slowly but surely. You know how it goes. It can't be about me all of the time. Sigh. I actually had thought I would post some old pictures of me. Of all my Citizen of the Month plaques from Woodrow Elementary, my 5th grade (and 6th!) Spelling Bee Runner-up trophies, my Participation ribbon from 4th grade track and field day (the ONLY sports award I shall ever receive). I recently took pictures of them all so I could throw them out, because... come on now. But as fate or laziness would have it, posting them was waaaay too much work. It would involve a storage unit, a scanner, and finding cords and such. Does that spell birthday fun to you? Even typing the words is bo-ring, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I have won many many awards.

So instead you get a speech. No, not my 5th place in the district informative speech from 6th grade on the discovery of ether (Topic: What historical event would you most liked to have participated in? Thanks for the suggestion, Dad. And for telling me what ether was.) Not my campaign speech for Student Body Secretary in 5th grade (it involves changing hats back and forth and really must be seen to be fully appreciated. Thanks again, Dad.) Not the speech I wrote as Catherine of Aragon in 10th grade drama class (no awards here, just some heavy-hitting, over-the-top acting and the only other speech I remember giving. No parental influence either. Which explains a lot.) No no, I have something far more special planned. It's entitled,

Why I Am Grateful to Be Me

(in the grade 6 informative style)


by Heather Miller

I have not always been grateful to be me. As a child I wanted to have long straight blond hair like Tracy. I wanted to live in a neighborhood that had sidewalks like Cosette. I wanted to be outgoing and popular like Erica. As a teenager, I certainly was not grateful to be me. I wanted to be independent, be artsy and attractive, be able to talk to boys and have them like me. As a (very) young adult I didn't know what I wanted to be like, just that I wasn't happy with where or who I was.

The problem with ingratitude is that it blinds your eyes to anyone in the world but yourself. It is addictive and consuming. It pulls your vision down and inward. It promotes selfishness and pride with ferocity. In concentrating on what you feel you lack, you can't spare a thought for the abundance of blessings that surround you, if only you would glance up and take notice.

So thankfully, I got past age 25 and decided to look up from what I had been doing. Whoa. Here's the awakening, the realization, the epiphany. Or rather, a whole bunch of little ones, as I am still getting them. And here's what I saw:

I was raised in a family that loved me and taught me the things I need to know to be happy. I had friends who were good and strong and positive influences throughout my formative and angst-ridden years. I know who God is and how to talk to Him. I have always had enough to eat. I was given piano lessons as a child, which has brought me untold satisfaction and relaxation over the years. I have excellent health. I married a good man. My mother thinks I am wonderful. I have discovered the joy of reading and have the eyesight to do it. I don't live in fear of death or danger or violence toward me or my family. I have a roof and it does not leak. I understand the joy of musicals. I was blessed to bear children and if that weren't enough, to bear them with ease. There is a fence around my backyard. I have been given service callings in my church that have stretched me and forced me to grow. I lived for 31 years without experiencing allergies and it was a fantastic run. My Heavenly Father loves me.

I could go on, but these speeches are timed.

I am thankful we get humbled. I am thankful we get small insistent taps on the shoulder, or get our feet swept out from underneath us. I am thankful to know I have a long way to go and for the urgency I feel to get there. If I had one birthday wish, it would be for all the world to stop being stupid. And I truly mean that. Stop being ungrateful and whiny and start seeing blessings. Stop thinking you have it hard and help someone who actually does. Get out of the tunnel that forces your vision down and see how endless the sky is.

And if that doesn't get your juices flowing, you should see what I can do with ether. Stay tuned, and allow me to add gratitude for anesthesia during surgery to my list.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recommended Reading

Okay, some of you know my sister Susie, some of you may not. Here's what you need to know about her:
a) She lives a manic, complicated life. Partly by circumstance, partly because she is manic and complicated. One that would cripple most of us out there like a swift crack to the kneecap with a crowbar. Not her. She thrives.
b) She is the complete opposite of me, not completely unrelated and bringing me to
c) She is huh-larious.

So if you want to read a highly recommended blog, take this link over to
http://susiedemke.blogspot.com/

And BTW, it is her birthday today. Happy birthday Poozie.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Before and After

You all remember my old kitchen table?


Nice, but a little Parisian cafe. Terribly heavy and easy to whack a shin on (on which to whack a shin?). It was given to us by friends a few years ago, but I was never perfectly happy with it. So...

My dream table and chairs:


Expandable Parsons Table with Scoop Back Chairs from West Elm. Lovely....


But on my budget, at my newfound favorite store, and with a little assembling help from the house elves, I got this...


Fairly close, yes? The ugly mismatched booster seats add a je ne sais quois, I think.

S.P.E.W.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Tommy!




My baby turns two today. So get out the hankies, this is a celebration!!!
As soon as my third child was relinquished from the womb, my womb cried out for another occupant. Too creepy? Right. Darron buckled under the wheedling after a solid 12-month campaign (wuss) and we were back in the baby way. Huzzah!

A wonderful pregnancy. I'm one of "those". I love to be pregnant. The sick is not too awful for me and only lasts the first trimester. I have varicose veins in a very personal way (hope you don't get my drift) which causes fairly intense discomfort, but only when standing. I feel truly beautiful and fulfilled when I am pregnant. I think pregnancy is glorious and awe-inspiring and miraculous. But apparently that sounds obnoxious to some, so I tone it down when I'm talking to others, but I do love it. So it was wonderful. There. I said it.

As Darron "missed" the last one (story to follow in July), I made sure he stayed within an arm's grasp for the entire third trimester. Things went without a hitch until I broke a tooth and had to get an emergency root canal. It gave me a chance to practice my pain management techniques. I had decided to give Hypnobirthing a try this go 'round. Did a home study course called "Hypnobabies". It was kind of rushed, I did it on my own, not wanting to have a coach. I didn't want to have to rely on someone else JUST in case they weren't there. I'm telling you, I was not over the last time I got ditched out. I mean I know where I'LL be when my water breaks, but my husband, sister, doula, who knows really? So I'm saying it was a half-hearted attempt, not wanting to discredit the Hypnobabies technique when you see how it doesn't "hold up under pressure" later on when we get down to business.

My due date arrived. I took my kids to their dentist appointments after school (only made because I was pretty sure I'd be at home with a baby and Darron'd be doing it). I'd had lots of contractions the past few days stemming from lying on my back for hours in the dentist chair myself. So it was no big deal that they came on again that evening as I was fixing dinner. Darron was in Provo (25 minutes from our house) teaching a seminar, so I didn't want to bother him with false labor. I got the kids in bed, in between sets, then laid down myself, trying to get them to subside. They didn't, but came harder and faster. I called Darron, who asked if I could wait just an hour or so. I politely told him I couldn't and that I was leaving the house in 20 minutes and if he missed another of his children being born I would list my OB/Gyn as the father on the birth certificate and decline circumcision. Politely. 20 minutes later, I left. With Darron in the driver's seat.

We arrived just as my Hypnobabies CD began to wear off. I had wanted this delivery to be peaceful and enjoyable, which is why I had opted for self hypnosis to manage the pain. But the thing about hypnosis is you have to like, learn how to do it, and if you don't, you can't. Whatever. So Darron helped me to decide to take an epidural and just relax and enjoy the show. I did and I did. Yeah, I actually had them pull out the big mirror and I could see it and participate and it was so quiet and miraculous, no screaming or praying it would just be over soon. It was calm, quiet, 2:00 am, no one in the world but Darron, me, and our midwife, welcoming this little angel to earth. Well, sturdy angel. He was a respectable 9 lbs, 5 oz. Fuzzy hair, kissable red lips, hobbit feet, business as usual around here. Practically perfect in every way. He really was. As you may or may not know, with the fourth child, no one comes to see you at the hospital. They are either tending all your other children or you forgot to tell them you had a baby, so after an insanely boring 1 1/2 days, we both were sent home.


The sleepness nights caught me off guard. Always do. But for some reason I had a harder time letting this one "cry it out". And believe me, I'm ALL for crying it out. Could have had to do with the fact that his nursery was connected to our room, no door or anything. So no sleep, but a spectacularly sweet baby. His brown baby fuzz morphed into silky blond cherubic curls. His gray-blue eyes deepened to true blue. His eyelashes grew and grew. In the history of gorgeous babies... well, he's definitely in there somewhere.


He's liked motorized vehicles from the start. It's in our family's blood. Unless you are me, Ava, or Halle. But in the boys, it runs fast and deep for sure. His favorite activity is driving Daddy's truck ("dry Da-ee chuck") but my minivan'll do in a pinch. He's a fourth child (read precociously demanding and fluent in mimicry). He has to stand up for himself, so I can't blame him. He doesn't get "babied" by the others as much one might expect. He is learning to speak quite quickly and one of my greatest enjoyments is hearing him express his desires and opinions. From a very limited word base. Babies are fascinating creatures. He is adorable and squishable, so it is a shame he is not cuddly by nature, but we are working on that. I've been using techniques from "The Dog Whisperer" to get him to like my playing with his hair. I am a strong and assertive pack leader.


He refuses to call Hinckley "Hinckley". Instead, he opts for "Halle". So with two Halles around the house, sometimes frustration mounts, sometimes confusion reigns, but it's too amusing and too impossible to fix it. His favorite sibling is Ava, which leads me to worry about him being attracted to cruel women when he gets older. He loves when Daddy comes home. He loves to shout. He loves to drink milk. He loves to sing "I Know You" from Sleeping Beauty at the top of his lungs. He loves medicine, but hates the doctor. He's a bashful, loud, huggable, demanding, family kind of guy. Our little baby, our little brother, our little Tommy. Thomas Michael, named for another modern day prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and my dad. May be our "caboose", maybe not, but he will always be my baby. Now I don't know about you, but I've got something in my eye. Later.

Happy Birthday to our littlest gift from heaven.
































Wednesday, April 1, 2009

If You Need Me, I'll Be Gone

I love a list. There's something about taking things from a chaotic and increasingly undependable brain and safely committing them to paper, freeing up the space for more important things, like remembering that today was Silly Sock Day at school (whoops!), my children need lunch (after 2:30 I think it's called lunner), and my prescription runs out today (doh! Yesterday.)

Seriously, the brain is useless these days. Thoughts flitter through all day, but if I don't catch them and staple them down somewhere highly visible, they are gone gone gone.

Gone like the moon when the sun comes up,
Gone like the dew from a buttercup,
Gone like a woman treated wrong.
If you need me I'll be gone.

The great Dolly Parton may not have had a mother's addled brain in mind when she sang these words, but they reflect my state with poetic accuracy. I don't know if it's the hormonal toll of birthing 4 kids, the normal aging process, or the hectic pace at which I run (that's just a little joke between me and ...the chair I'm sitting on). I don't feel like I have a whole lot on my plate. I have kids, yes, but compared to others, I don't have many other commitments. School, home management, church responsibilities. That's about it. So what gives? If it weren't for my lists and calendar, I would be 99% ineffective. I won't tell you what I'm running at now, suffice it to say it is better than that. My lists. Yes, I have dozens of them, but they are virtually all variations on 2 themes. I present them here in list format, for organizational purposes. Ok, for reacreational purposes, too. Mostly recreational. I LOVE a list!

Theme 1: Shopping Lists

-Costco (2 types)
*Next Trip
*Can Wait Awhile, Until I Have Money That Is Not Spoken For
-Albertsons (grocery store)
*General Grocery Needs
-Maceys (grocery store)
*Stuff I Saw in the Ad That is on a Really Great Sale, But Will Probably Never Get Because the Store is Across Town
-Smith's (grocery store)
*See Above
-Walmart
*Things That Can Be Purchased NOWHERE Else Because I Hate Going Into This Store Because Everyone Is Really Rude There
-Target
*Special Things That I'm Really Excited to Get Because That Means I Get to Go Into Target (angels singing)
-Running List
*Things I Realize I Forgot on My Last Trip and Stuff I Run Out Of During the Week And Will Be Forgotten Unless Committed to Paper IMMEDIATELY
-Things I Would Like to Buy For the House and Where I Plan on Getting Them and How Much They Cost (ex: Petrie Sofa, Crate and Barrel, $1500. Countless versions of this list exist, depending on how realistic I am feeling)

Theme 2: To Do Lists

-To Do Today (errands, activities, cleaning, etc.)
-To Do This Week (more of same, broader scope, more ambitious)
-To Do at Some Point, Possibly, At Least I Thought I Would When I Made This List
-Projects To Do Around the House (ie paint Hinckley's room, sew cushions for the built-in bench downstairs, repaint kitchen cabinets, generally ongoing and never really accomplished. If I did ever get to the accomplishing stage, each item would require complete sublisting of tools, materials, budget, stores to visit, and a timeline)
-Daily Schedule in Anything From 15-Minute to 1-Hour Increments (only composed during periods of extreme list-mania, as even I realize it will never be followed and can only bring misery to me and those I love)
-New Hobbies To Start (general categories include something in the complete nutritional overhaul arena, parenting and/or wifery, and could be either highly useful or merely an expensive mistake depending on a number of things. Example- tailoring my own clothes. What? It could be great.)

So there is my life. All mapped out and ready to go. Do you think there might be a relationship between how hard you try to hold onto something and how quickly it slips away? A woman wronged? Buttercup dew? Brain function? If I weren't so busy, I'd take a 15 minute increment and ponder that. As it is, I'm scheduled out until halfway through Sunday, but I'll put it on my Things To Contemplate When I Have Some Free Time list and get to the bottom of it.