Sunday, March 11, 2012

More 25 cent stories

all written by my daughter Jenna

The sun was shining and Shilo was exploring.  We wanted to go on a picnic.  We had everything we needed but we couldn’t find Shilo. But Shilo was at the pond.  But they didn’t see him.  He was chasing the duck and swimming. He had a great time and had lots of fun.  Shilo came back and we had the picnic.  The end

The Magic Chocolate Box
Once there was a chocolate box. But it wasn’t any chocolate box.  It was a magic box.  Each time a person took a chocolate one appeared in its place.  And always fresh. 
It was a heart shaped box.  Kids fight over it a lot.  [There was] Milk chocolate. There was semi-sweet and major mint and lots of others.  There were always 20 chocolates. 
A wise wizard carved the box and gave it away to a kind family [with] two kids and [and the] one to take care of them.  Their father had died when they were three.  The wizard disappeared before they could thank him.  The end.
The end is not. The wizard had come back to give even more chocolates.  This time 50.  The kids were stuffed.

The wind was shaking. Uniqua was hurrying back home to do her chores when something distracted her.  It was a rock.  It is pretty.  She took it home.  What kind of rock is this? A geode.  She put it in her rock collection.  She had a rock collection since she was three.  It is really fun.  She had wish rocks, rubies, crystals and now a geode.  She loved rocks.

The Sunflower Seed

Once upon a time there was a farmer named Jake. [He] sold his cow for some beans.  And the beans turned into a sunflower.
You may not know this, but sunflowers are alive which means the sunflower seeds are alive. So they can talk...
The farmer didn’t know that and the sunflower talked to him.  [Jake] was scared.  He said, “How do you talk?”
And the flower said: “Same way you do.”
“Oh, I did not know that.”
“Well, it’s true”
They became friends and talked about life and stuff like that.  They became friends.
The sunflower’s seed was named Sunny.
The End.

Actually the last one she had written without dialogue until I suggested it.  I still think it could be longer.

Child’s Play
Jenna also came up with the following “made-up” chant:
Friends rule
Enemies drool
Friends go to Mars to get Candy bars
Enemies go to Jupiter to get stupider.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Congratulations to all of those who made it passed junior high

Being a youth (Jr. High age) is such an awkward part of our lives.   Everything is taken literally and there is so much tragedy and devastation.  Too young to be adults but yet too old to be considered children – or treated as such.  Often being told to “act your age” when it’s so obvious that people that age have never been that age before and have no knowledge of how to act.

          As adults we can literally look back upon all those "painful" memories and realize that what we thought was so important really isn't.  I think if a person can make it through junior high, he or she has put behind the most awful part of their social lives behind them, and can move on to become actual human beings.

Recently I read the juvenile fiction The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger - written from the students' point of view. I laughed so hard – not just at the words, but at the illustrations.  But you really do have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. 

I tried to read it to Jenna, but there’s too much of it that she has yet to go through and just doesn’t understand my laughter at this time – and may not get it when she is that awkward stage of her life.  I hope that I can help her overcome her struggles so that hopefully she can deal with the “pain” a lot better than I did.  But then she has always been a lot more mature academically.  Perhaps with my encouragement she will be socially, too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Most Awesome Principal Ever

When I was a youth, the only children that knew the principal were the ones who misbehaved during class.  And the only parents who knew the principal were the parents of the children who acted up.  I never knew my principal.  I knew his name.  I knew what he looked like.  But because the only children, who actually knew him personally, were the “bad” children, I had taught myself to be afraid of my principal. 

Growing up, the principals were always male.  A female principal was unheard of.  As I have checked out schools in ours and surrounding  districts,  I am finding that it is rare to have a male principal – at least over the elementary schools.

Two of the female principals I’ve encountered seem to have sticks up their butts, artificial smiles, and dagger themed tones to their voices.  Not pleasant.  But the principal at Jenna’s present school is so so different from any principal I have ever encountered in my life.

Actually the principal of my elementary school may have been a loving man and didn’t fit the horrifying profile at all – but my thoughts were so much different from being a child than it is today.  It’s too bad that I never understood him or saw him as a person and could only see the terminator that the “bad” children saw.

One thing that I really do like at Jenna’s school is the atmosphere.  I don’t notice tension among the teachers or constant ruthlessness among the children or fear.  I’m not saying it doesn’t exist.  As with other schools, Vantana has had its share of bullying and discipline.  But it’s not just the “bad” children who get to know the principal. 

Mrs. Randolf makes it a point to get to know each and every student in her school.  But not just the students, but every parent as well.  What a challenge!  And yet she really does seem to be able to place over thousands of names to the faces.  And she is such a pleasant woman!

Every Monday at lunch hour “good” and honored students are given the privilege to have lunch with her in the library.  They call this event “bug lunch” though I don’t know why.  How great it is for students to look forward for getting to eat lunch with the principal!  They see her as a human being – someone they can joke with, but can also turn to for serious matters.  I admire that!

So thank you, Mrs. Randolf.  Thank you for all that you do for our children and for the teachers and for the PTO.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Origami Geese

          Jenna has always wanted to learn origami.  One day (between kindergarten and preschool) she told me that her friend Dean might be able to help her.

          “Really?  Dean knows how to do origami”
          “Well, maybe not him.  But his parents might know”

          “Why do you think that?”

          “Because they speak Spanish.  Isn’t origami Spanish?”

          “No.  Origami comes from the Japanese culture.”

          “Oh, then maybe I could get Tony to help me when he comes home.”  (Tony was severing a mission in Brazil at the time)

          “I don’t know if Tony knows how to do Origami.  Your sisters do.  But who knows if we will ever see them again.”

          “I thought Tony was speaking Japanese.”

          “Oh, no.  It isn’t ‘Japanese’.  It’s called ‘Portuguese’ ”
          “Oh, I knew it was a ‘geese’ ”

          So the last time we went to the library I checked out a book on 101 origami projects – figuring I should be able to figure out at least a couple of them. I have come to the conclusion that I am very origami illiterate.  Perhaps one day Jenna can learn it for real. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is There a Doctor in the House?

As a child I thought that going to our doctor was an okay deal.  Dr. Spring kept a treasure chest full of toys for his patients to choose from after their visits.  I don’t remember being afraid or not wanting to go to the doctors.
 Going to the doctor’s also meant going downtown.  As a kid I thought downtown outings were way cool.  And so was riding on the freeway (my perspective has changed A LOT) I would much rather go to the doctor any day than to go to the dentist (even as an adult)

Jenna is a lot like me in so many ways – but not when it comes to doctor/dentist preference.  Jenna LOVES to go to the dentist (seriously) and squirms at the very mention of the doctor. 
I like Jenna’s doctor.  I think she’s nice.  But Jenna’s big hang up is with getting shots.  She used to be so brave when she was a baby. I don’t know why she is so squeamish about shots but has no problem with having tools in her mouth.

Before Jenna was even born, I was advised to seek out a pediatrician.  There were three in the same complex as my obstetrician.  Two of them had names that I couldn’t even pronounce.  Not that that should be a deciding factor – I just thought it would be nice if I could actually pronounce the name of Jenna’s doctor.  But only one of the three doctors were taking patients – the one with the four syllable name – that I still have troubles pronouncing.  I make appointments with Dr. Jill (first name) as I don’t have a problem with her first name.

Ironically it was the Dr. Morgan (the one whose name I could pronounce) who was the one who showed up after Jenna was born – to order instructions and “boss me around” – which didn’t go over greatly with me.  I decided that I was happy that she wasn’t taking new patients and hoped I would like Jenna’s doctor better.

I did.  She saw us the next day.  She was actually so different from the first.  But when Jenna was two we had to go back to Dr. Morgan because Dr. Jill had gone out of town.  Dr. Morgan was much more civil.  Nice in fact.  Much different from the doctor I had met in the hospital who was barking orders at me as though I was an imbecile.

It is always the assistants who give the shots.  Jenna cried though she tried to be brave.  When Dr. Morgan returned, Jenna smiled at her through her tears and Dr. Morgan smiled back and said she was glad to see that Jenna wasn’t mad at her. And I was glad to see that Dr. Morgan was smiling too and wasn’t the drill sergeant she had come across as at the hospital.

We start out life with doctors who are much older than us – sometimes the very age or even older than our parents.  As we get older, our doctors retire forcing us to find doctors who are often much younger than ourselves.  Like a father time and baby New Year thing. 
It’s no longer mom who takes her children to the doctor.  Her children are taking her now.  I understand that is a post all by itself.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hitler helped me (and Jenna)

I had given her the nickname Hitler because of the way she was barking – trying to keep children in line.  Okay.  I understand a little bit – from personal experience I do know that not ALL children listen.  And sometimes it is necessary to bark to be heard.  But when she barked at me, I was offended.

          I was wearing the visitor name tag – only she hadn’t seen it as it was beneath my coat.  Perhaps she was just having an off day – or maybe I was.  But she didn’t make a good first impression (and maybe neither did I)  Still it was wretched of me to use a same wicked nickname on her that I do for Roland’s ex.  NO ONE deserves that!

          I have repented of my ways.  I no longer refer to her as Hitler.  I think her name is Sarah – or perhaps Sarah is the tot she pushes in the stroller.  Though the Tot was not with her that particular day.  Too cold.

          Now that she has seen me on a weekly basis, she no longer barks.  She is friendly and says “hello” and I say “Hi” back to her.  Sometimes she is so cheerful with her greeting it almost seems as though we’re best friends.  She doesn’t come to the PTO meetings and I’m pretty certain that we do not live in the same city – I’ll have to generate a thoughtful conversation next time I am making copies when school has already started

On Dec 5, I wrote the following:

          This morning I put my dog in the car – along with Jenna and another classmate I pick up.  Just before Jenna made her tearful exit she asked where her backpack was.  I had had my hands full with my own belongings as we left the house – not to mention the dog and his blanket.  I hadn’t even noticed Jenna’s backpack still on the floor next to the Christmas tree.

          “So I dropped the two kids off, turned around to come home, ran inside to claim Jenna’s backpack and returned to the school parking behind the field (as I knew the front would be crazy) but still had the dog in the car and needed to let him out.
          “Now normally I don’t walk onto school grounds with an animal – but I had to walk to the front in order to get Jenna’s backpack into the school.  So we walked to the front and there was Sarah (without the stroller) greeting me with a smile and asking why the dog didn’t have a coat on. 

          “I held up Jenna’s backpack and said she had forgotten it.  Sarah offered to take it to her and asked for the name of the teacher.  I am very appreciative and hopefully have been humbled a bit realizing that calling her Hitler (though only in my mind) had been so inappropriate.

Thank you Sarah.  If you happen to be reading this and have figured out our identities – I’m sorry about the nickname.  I have taken it back.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Going to the Dentist

My dentist was a good man.  I have always known that.  But the very idea of his profession made me cringe.  He would do his very best to keep gentle.  But no matter how he tried, it was always a painful experience for me.  The word “dentist” to me means “torture of the mouth”

There were two dentists at that particular location.  Mom had picked the location due to convenience of short distance – she could walk there really.  The two dentists were father and son who shared the same receptionist.  When my mom said she was there to see Dr. Rigdon, the receptionist asked which one.

Now here’s a unique way for selecting your dentist – both had uncommon first names – neither of which mom cared for – but chose the name she liked better of the two.  He actually turned out to be the better pick of the two – but not because he had a better name.  He was the son who used the latest in modern equipment, while the father seemed to have the original tools that one may find in the old west.  Scary.

Dr. Rigdon had told me that I was one of his juiciest patients.  I think I must have been his juiciest female.  My dad held the record of being the top patient with the wettest mouth.  Perhaps that’s more than you, the reader, care to know.  Oh, well.

He was good at trying to ease the pain.  There was the laughing gas that would make me forget that my mouth probably hurt.  He also provided his patients with headphones – the ones who preferred listening to music or just to drown out the sound of the drill or pick or whatever.

As an adult I remember having burned the roof of my mouth one night before seeing Dr. Rigdon – and so my mouth was extra sensitive.  To his credit, he really did have a lot of compassion.  He really worked as gently as he could.  Tears streamed from my eyes and he would wipe them for me.

The hardest part was when I left the dentist chair and passed the waiting area to the parking lot.  A little boy looked up to see my tear stained face.  What a frightening thought that must have been, to see an adult leaving the dentist office in tears.  What kind of torture would be in store for him?  I cried about having cried.

Dr. Rigdon’s not fully retired. I understand he stops by the office once a week now – though it’s been years since I have personally gone to him.  During my married life there have been a huge number of dentists.  Usually based upon whoever would take whatever insurance we happened to have at the time.

My boys were weird.  They would ask me to make dentist appointments for them.  I always had to be in excruciating pain before I would even suggest a thing.  But my boys were concerned with hygiene.  They WANTED to go to the dentist.  Weirdoes.
And then there’s Jenna.  She absolutely LOVES going to the dentist.  It hasn’t even mattered which one.  She has loved them all!

Her first dentist was a pediatric dentist.  Of course he had the most inviting waiting room ever.  The play area for the children was designed like a pirate ship.  She was big into steering wheels and would position herself at the hub.  Oh, she was the cutest thing!

She had only four teeth the first time we went to him.  She laid on the baby dentist chair and assisted him with looking into her mouth.  We saw him only one other time before our insurance changed and forced us to find somebody else.

A family dentist for all of us.  I was told he would look at children, but there was a concern with Jenna’s age.  Apparently he had never had a patient quite so young. But as it turned out, everybody in the office loved Jenna just as much as she loved going to the dentist. 

His office was not quite as exciting as the pirate ship.  There was a “skills” toy in front and a list of videos to request to watch while waiting and being worked on.  Jenna would assist and follow the aides around.  It seriously got to the point where the aide would physically have to walk out of the door that led to the parking lot just to get Jenna to follow.  But she was a joy.  She really had become a favorite patient.

Jenna’s first dentist now accepts a variety of insurances.  It’s still a weird location for me as it is awkward making a left hand turn on a busy road quite near the intersection.  Our family dentist seems so far away right now – though I had planned on returning, we never did.  I sought a dentist closer to where we currently live.
We do pass a dentist office on the way to her school.  Jenna had her first appointment with him.  His waiting room is set up with chairs.  There are no toys or set ups or videos – nothing inviting for a child.  And yet she still thrives on going.  This one tells us that Jenna has perfect teeth.  And she does.  She hadn’t with the other two.  We thought her permanent teeth would come in crooked as her baby teeth seemed to be.  But they are straight.  There are no cavities.  They are perfect.  And we both like our new dentist.

Well, I have actually not been to him myself.  Our insurance (as it turns out) is not that great.  Perhaps when the economy is over its downfall and we are more financially stable, I can return to the dentist and have him explore my mouth.

I am so grateful that Jenna likes going to the dentist and that she doesn’t view it as a traumatic experience as I did (and still do) and that I have never had to drag her there.  In fact, she is usually the one to insist I make an appointment.  Sometimes I’ve had to tell her, “NO”  Can you even imagine?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

He Doesn’t Eat Onions, He’s a Mormon

          I once had a Sunday School teacher who related the following:

          He and his buddy had gone to Hawaii one summer to earn some money picking pineapples.  The two were assigned to two different groups.  Rex was the only LDS member of his group. 
Because his fellow pineapple pickers had never met anyone else from the Mormon Church, they looked at Rex to represent all members.

Rex just happened to hate onions.  There was nothing religious about it.  It was a personal preference.  He just didn’t like the way they tasted or smelled.  Many in his group believed that it was a religious thing as they had nothing else (or no one) to compare it to.
One day the two groups got together for lunch.  Some fast food place that served hamburgers.  Rex ordered his food with the added instructions, “No onions”
Rex’s buddy than placed his order.  Sensing that the two of them were together, the cashier asked, “Do you want that with onions or without?”

Before his buddy had an opportunity to answer, someone from Rex’s pineapple picking group said (I believe in a loud voice) “He’ll have them without.  He’s a Mormon”
Up until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to Rex that the members of his group had been watching him.  He was their example.  He represented the entire Church – which of course isn’t right. 

None of us is perfect.  None of us by ourselves can represent our entire religion, race, heritage, etc.  And yet so often our words are taken at more than face value.  We are an example whether we like it or not.

LDS members are encouraged to pray about the things they learn and are taught.  They’re encouraged to pray about lessons that they teach or talks that they give.  When leaders (including the prophet) are sustained, it is still up to each individual member to pray about it – to receive his or her own confirmation.  To understand the things of God and not just take the lesson or the teaching or the sustaining upon face value. 

Missionaries teach non-members and encourage them to pray that they may receive their own personal revelation as well. We each need to know and understand for ourselves.  We need to pray to Him who knows all to receive our own personal revelations. And yet many fail this simple task.  We take things upon face value due to a person’s calling or position or because of our own blind faith and idleness. 

The press picks up on words spouted from the mouths of any “Mormon” who make it to the media – be it a member of a sports team who happens to be LDS or one who uses the title bishop or stake president or perhaps is running for political office or maybe a professor who teaches at BYU.  Some individuals are more recognized than others.  But like Rex, some of us never make it to the press or receive prestige recognition, but are still being watched nonetheless. 

Do we vote according to our own personal revelation?  Or do we listen to and value the opinions of many imperfect members and take it as “gospel doctrine”?  No one of us represents the Church and yet sometimes we are the only example that some people even know of. How do our words or lifestyles influence them?  How do our words or lifestyles influence those we serve with or go to Chrich with?  Does what we say represent gospel truth or do we come across as opinionated and insincere?

And yes, there are many blind followers.  But there are those who are willing to admit their faults and desire to improve.  There are those who strive to become the best they can be – not because they want to represent the Church or have control or abuse their positions – but so they can be true disciples of Christ and let others see that they are striving to live up to his name.

If all of us (members or not) would take the time to offer sincere prayers so that we may have our own understanding – that the messages we hear are the truth and not misrepresented pieces of truth  (or our own misunderstandings of it) – that we may know for ourselves who we are and what path we need to follow for ourselves.  That we may understand God’s heart and not get caught up in theories or misunderstanding of imperfect members.  Because even though it seems there are so many who are close, none of us is perfect.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What makes for real Chocolate

Earlier in this school year I went to Mrs. Cavanaugh’s with the 2nd graders.  It was great.  Here are 5 things I learned:

1.    Seven days without chocolate makes one weak

2.    The chocolates started out – not as a business but rather a fund raiser in North Dakota – for the LDS Church

3.    Wheat is for men (D&C 89) Chocolate is for women (M&M 27:3)

4.    It was confirmed to me that I have been right all along.  Chocolate REQUIRES cacoa – therefore (all you blind believers) White chocolate really ISN’T

5.    Jenna seemed a little bummed that their class had missed out on a Harmon’s (grocery store) taste testing – but I quite enjoyed the samples that were given out at Mrs. Cavanaugh’s

And here are two things that Jenna learned:

1.    Chocolate that has sugar comes in brown paper candy cups; sugarless chocolates come in white

2.    She loves Lucy (Lucille Ball played Lucy McGillicuty Ricardo in “I Love Lucy” which Jaime learned is really funny)

I LOVE Dr. Seuss

Theodor Geisel starting penning his name “Seuss” in Dartmouth College humor magazine, the Jack-O-Lantern.  Seuss was the maiden name of his mother and had been given to him as his middle name (I did the same thing with my Jenna – used my maiden name for her middle)

          He did advertisements for Sinclair Oil, political cartoons and army training movies before Viking Press offered him a contract to illustrate a collection of children's sayings called Boners. Although the book was not a commercial success, the illustrations received great reviews, providing Ted with his first "big break" into children's literature. Ted credited his mother with both his ability and desire to create the rhymes for which he became so well known.

          There are some people who are not aware of the political statements that Dr. Seuss has made in his books.  Accepting differences (the Sneetches) building bombs that are better (The Butter Battle) and Hitler’s desires to rule (Yertle the Turtle) among many. And some he wrote as a challenge (Green Eggs and Ham contains only 50 words)  I Love Dr. Seuss!

          All week Jenna has been looking forward to today – as the school will be celebrating our beloved authors’ 108th birthday.  She’s been toting over a pound worth of books in her backpack since Tuesday. She says she could bring only “Dr. Seuss” books.  But there is at least one by Theo Lesieg.  I told her if anyone asked she could explain that it is the same author – it was the name he used when the illustrations were not his own.  Lesieg is his German name spelled backwards.

          She’s taken her English version of “Horton Hears a Who” to compare to her teacher’s Spanish version to see how well she can follow it.  I think that is awesome!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wild Hair

          I have been blessed with thick hair.  It hasn’t always been thick – in fact it started out quite fine.  But instead of ever getting long, it grew thick.  And though one might not guess just how thick it really is – my hairdresser knows.

          I usually pull it back with pins, barrettes and/or scunchies – just to keep it off my neck.  Some days I will work hard on it, other days I will just brush it back.  Last week I felt like I had hippy hair – no matter what I did to it, my hair just seemed to get bigger.

          If I somehow forget to put my hair up and I walk into a mall (which is NEVER intentional) I am a walking target for all hair demonstrators who coax me to have a seat while they demonstrate to me how fast and wonderful their flat iron or hair straightener or wave accessories can be. 

          I must say I do get a kick out of seeing the cocky demonstrator become frazzled when it’s discovered that the tremendous amount of hair they thought they could tame seems to take growth in their hands – and the demonstration ALWAYS takes much longer than what was said. 

The demonstrator, realizing that it is taking longer to do my hair than said amount, becomes even more flustered. It’s actually nice to sit down when my feet hurt and then I don’t mind the amount of time it takes.  But sometimes I am in a hurry and recent being targeted or singled out because of the way my hair looks.

Recently I just had my hair cut and thinned.  So grateful that I did as it was majorly windy yesterday.  The extra pound of hair could have cause welts as the wind continued to slap it against my face. LOL

This morning it was so nice just to use one clip and not a three ring circus of hair accessories.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Maybe I’m Allergic to the Alka-Seltzer

          When I was little, I used to spin around until I got dizzy and then spin some more.  Especially when I had pleats on.  My skirt or dress would twirl with me.  I thought that was major cool.

          I don’t know how old I was when I lost my balance or perhaps I had just spun into the end table.  Either way, I was bleeding from a gash just above my right eye.  I had to have stitches.  As a result I have a small indentation just above my right eye.  Sort of like a dimple.  Small though.  Not actually noticed by many.

          I have had some people notice that my right eye does look smaller than my left.  Not a noticeable difference to most people – but those who study my face harder have wondered about it.

          In December I had a sinus infection which pained my left eye.  In January it was my right eye – but only for a day. With January’s eye infection, there were been few people who didn’t noticed  the difference in eye size as my right eye appeared to have swollen almost all the way shut.  It was weird. I had considered making an appointment with the doctor again on the following day (for it was a Sunday that my eyelids revealed only a slit of my eye) but by Monday morning it was gone.

          By coincidence I had also taken Alka-Seltzer plus cold medicine all three times.  I used to think it was the absolutely best cold medicine for me personally.  But now I wonder if they changed the formula.  Or perhaps it’s counter-reacting to something else I had that day (like chocolate? maybe) or if it’s the very dry air in our house.  Or if it’s the water itself.

          The pain behind the eye is not the worst part.  The worst part is being so disoriented that I’m not quite aware of what is going on around me.  So disoriented that I forget to drink water and become dehydrated.  In December I was just such a neglectful mother towards Jenna – who was home from school for the holidays.

          Today it is my left eye.  The closure of the lid makes it appear almost even with my right eye.  They haven’t looked near the same size as one another in over forty years.

          I am grateful for modern medicine.  For medical science and research.  And for those who take the time to learn it and pass it on.