Category Archives: live better

Game Changing Weekend Links – October Edition

Because good cinnamon rolls and a little bit of faith are game changers, right?

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  1. Oh my darlin’, these were a little too tasty. Meaning you can’t eat just one. This King Arthur recipe was a first for me…and it won’t be the last! (No, I did not add any avocados…not even to the frosting.)
  2. I only make cinnamon rolls twice a year for General Conference. Eat a cinnamon roll and¬†listen to a great sermon on what faith is and what is isn’t.
  3. Since we’re eating and watching. Have you seen Poldark? Oh, I swoon! (as does The Professor ūüôā ) If you’ve got Amazon Prime, start with Season 1!81z9ifzcdl-_sl1500_
  4. I LOVE K.M. Weiland! Her posts and podcast on how to write a book are terrific.
  5. Carpool Karaoke with James Cordon always makes me laugh. The First Lady.
  6. Love this weekly newsletter. Especially this one on ancient happiness rituals.

Happy Fall and Happy Weekend! It’s absolutely gorgeous in New Hampshire!

xoxo

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Signs of Fall

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!unnamed-10¬†We’ve enjoyed the last of the summer tomatoes. Our poor neglected garden gave us the most beautiful harvest. We love you, garden.unnamed-11¬†Running along country roads I often encounter wildlife. Here is Yurtle.unnamed-9¬†The turning of the leaves. How I love the color and the crunch.unnamed-8¬†The “Ugly” tomato variety is our favorite.unnamed-1¬†First apple pie of the year, courtesy of King Arthur Flour.unnamed-13¬†I love running/training in the Fall, but don’t love the shorter hours of daylight. Thankfully I have running buddies who keep me going. Our routine: 5 a.m. Monday hills and 5 a.m. Wednesday speed work. It’s so dark we start with¬†headlamps and we end with headlamps. Groovy!unnamed-16¬†Early morning runs keep the crazy away and give the most beautiful views of the day. unnamed-15¬†Fog, peace, and sunrises.unnamed-2¬†My middle school soccer team – I LOVE THEM! My girl is #5. Coaching my children has been of the most valuable and bonding experiences I have had with them. I highly recommend!unnamed¬†Icing with your siblings is also bonding!unnamed-5¬†Paige is following in her¬†family’s footsteps!unnamed-4¬†Changing topics…my A&P class has begun. We autopsied Dill Pickle, practiced our suture skills, and determined cause of death (the creativity was hilarious.)unnamed-12¬†Ah yes, the organization of running a home and the innumerable activities does not happen without much planning. Hence my messy desk and beet smoothies for endurance. YUM.unnamed-17¬†Fall has once again brought clogged drains. I’m sorry for the disgustingness but hopefully my real life makes your real life feel better. And anyway,¬†this¬†orange thingy drain snake ordered from Amazon is AWESOME! Instead of pouring really horrible and toxic chemicals down the drain we stick this snake thingy down and bring up all the hair. After wretching I’m quite satisfied with once-again clean drains.unnamed-14¬†Let’s get back to baking some¬†King Arthur Flour hot buttered soft pretzels!unnamed-18¬†Piano charts!unnamed-3¬†I’ve always wanted corn stalks on the porch. Yahoo!unnamed-19An attempt at a festive fall welcome, with bonus points of REALLY smelly soccer cleats perched at nose level, atop a cardboard box holding an American Standard toilet. ‘Cause we’re classy like that. Also: I need a wreath.

Well, we try. Therefore, we rock. Right?

Happy Fall, y’all!

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Waiting at the Kitchen Table

And…a new school year begins. As always, we are off and running. Are you running, too? Let’s take¬†slow breaths and think calm thoughts. This helps stave off the frazzled, panicky, snapping¬†mama¬†that is so fun to be around. Or is that just me?

Last year I remember thinking, “There is nothing more I can add to my plate. This pace is insane.” Well, there is more this year, including more emotion as my darling Cope is a senior. Oh dear,¬†I need to change the subject now…

So anyway, a new school year always reminds me to sloooow down.¬†Which is the definition of irony, isn’t it?

I have two mantras at the moment:

Remember: If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.

Remember: Once your direction is clear, you can give attention to pace.

Priorities became very obvious after this summer. In a crisis,¬†family comes to the forefront every time. Perhaps we needn’t wait for the crisis’ to prioritize.

I’m going to tell you about a very special mother who has taught me a lot about priorities: Ginny B.

Ginny B. has a very wonderful son named Benny B.

If you don’t know Benny B, I’m very sorry. For he’s a good boy to know.

He is one of those boys we point to and say, “Try to be like Benny B.”¬†He is kind and honest and funny and always has a big smile that lights up all the space around him. After high school Benny B. went on to study and play basketball at Brandeis University – and he is still a good boy!

Well, good boys don’t get grown¬†by accident now, do they? Just by knowing Benny B., you have to admire the family behind the scenes.

The Professor and I attended Benny B.’s¬†college graduation a few years ago. I had met his mother, Ginny B. before, but I was very struck of how obviously Benny B. loved her.

I felt  РEnvy? Longing? Wishing? When my children flew the nest, would we have  that kind of relationship?

“Benny B., you and your mom seem really close.”

“Oh,” Benny B. said. “She’s my best friend. I tell her everything.”

Say what?

I pounced. “How did you do that?” I asked Ginny B. “Tell me all of your secrets!”

“You know, Amy,” she said. “I just always made sure I was waiting at the kitchen table. No matter how old they were or how late it was, I just always tried to be there when they came home.”

I have a pang of guilt every time I think of Ginny B.¬†because¬†there are few things I like more than climbing into my bed…at like, 8. As my children grow older they are not tucked in at 7:30 every night. Darn it. Hmmm. Could the kitchen table be substituted for say…my bed?

I have decided this is a doable substitute.

I’m waiting, baby! (zzzz….)

Benny B. and the great Ginny: IMG_3712

I don’t know a lot about Ginny B. but I know¬†motherhood hasn’t been¬†all honey dew and butterflies. The family has made a lot of sacrifices for Ginny B. to be able to stay home. They make due¬†on one income. Their home is modest and well cared for. There are touches of Ginny everywhere, from the plethora of hostas lining the front walkway, to the homemade quilts hung over furniture. There’s nothing showy about their lifestyle; only comfortable and welcoming (including a lot of delicious homemade¬†food.)

I’m a mom who needs reminders like this. The pull of the world is strong, my young padawans. There are opportunities to be snatched, and of course we need jobs and money to live. But there’s a point where we don’t actually need to accumulate more stuff or more status or¬†more.

Ginny B. made the decision to be waiting when her children came home. Let the chips fall where they may. This is how the chips fell: Her children love their mother. They are best friends. They tell her everything. And I just love that.

IMG_3921Ginny B. even loves my children, too.

Now, I’m sure Ginny B. and Benny B. have had many “moments.”¬†Ginny isn’t, shall we say, a timid or docile flower. For goodness sake, her hair is red. She’s opinionated and fiery! But gosh darn it, she waits and she listens and the children talk.

IMG_4079Here is Benny B. and The Professor. They both have great hair. If you need hair product tips, just sit quietly and listen to their conversations. It’s both hilarious and enlightening.

Back to Ginny B. waiting at the kitchen table.

Remember the most important 9 minutes?

Now listen: this is not a post to cause you motherhood guilt!¬†For goodness sake, if you can’t always be home when the kids walk through the door, they’re not ruined. This story was just good for me to witness. It is good to see a boy with good hair turn out so well. It is really good to see Benny B. love his mother so much and to be reminded that mothers can’t be outsourced. Feel special, gosh darn it. You’re NEEDED.

Carole, a friend of mine, lost her mother many many years ago, and I haphazardly scribbled this down when she spoke – “I couldn’t wait to get off the bus and run to her, even in high school. Even when she was gone I found myself wanting to tell her things – and I can’t wait for the day when I can tell her all the things I want to tell her.”

The thing is, if we’re not around, they can’t tell us all the things.

My mother was a mom who waited for us (and she likes sleep even more than I do.) Growing up, she placed above the entrance to the kitchen: The Gathering Place. (Take heart: my mother hates to cook!)

But even when we are all grown, and my parents moved across the country, she insisted on¬†a home that was big enough for us all to come and¬†gather. And she still drives a minivan! (She says it’s for comfort, but I secretly think she likes to pick up stray¬†grandchildren…:) ) Even now that I’m a pretend grown-up I know she’s¬†waiting. #lucky.

Benny B. and my boy:DSC_0961Wait for them. And they’ll keep coming home.

Thank you, Ginny B.

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Summer Reads {including my current obsession with Lin-Manuel}

What¬†I love about summer? More reading time. One day I told Paige we were having a reading hour right in the middle of the morning. We laid on my bed for a whole hour and read. It was quite blissful and I vowed to make a daily habit. It wasn’t, but I encourage you to¬†lay aside tasks and chores and television for more words and books.

Paige finished the 7th Harry Potter book – a huge feat for a 9-year-old, but especially gratifying as this was my child who did not care much for reading; it was too hard!¬†But then she discovered Harry. She was in mourning for days with a beloved Harry book to read, but I pushed Laura Ingalls and she’s enamored with a whole other world once again.

I just love good books. Here are my summer reads: what I loved and what I didn’t.

  1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: Covers WWII in France and serves as a warning of how insidious Hitler’s type of evil can spread. Hard to read at times as it deals with the choices mothers and fathers are¬†forced to make during wartime. Really well written and definitely worth the read! And it will make you cry and pray for peace.

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2. The Book of Mormon: I read this often, almost everyday, and always learn new life insights. It’s changed my life. And it’s free ūüôā

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3. Food Matters by Mark Bittman: Terrific, easy, unprocessed food and recipes.

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4. God Wants a Powerful People by Sheri Dew: Another life-changing book. Empowering.

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5. The Self-Care Solution by Julie Burton: Julie reached out to me and asked if I would read and review her new book. It was terrific, a read mothers should read, study, and heed. I’ve got a copy to give away to the first person who asks! I’d love to send it your way. Congrats, Julie!

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6. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee: I resisted for months – who dares to complicate or cast a shadow on my favorite of books, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD? Alas, I opened the book and was quite delighted¬†with Scout, all grown up. There’s so much controversy over the discovery of this manuscript (Google it – fascinating!), but I’m most intrigued by the fact it was the first draft of what would become her great classic. It shows the great power of an editor!

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7. Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo: I just love that DiCamillo, whatever she writes!

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8. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman: I loved this.¬†The movie is coming out in September and Cope and I will be first in line! A great love story. How far would you go for the one you loved? Would you let your wife keep a baby that wasn’t really hers – even under serendipitous circumstances? What would you do if someone tried to take away your only child?¬†The writing is tremendous – and you will cry! My favorite type of book ūüôā

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9. Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty: My BFF librarian, Gail, ordered Moriarty’s new book and personally handed it over as soon as it came in. What a gal, right!? As always, Moriarty nails character. She always makes me laugh and think. I didn’t love the plot as much as her other books, but I still enjoyed the read.

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10. Hamilton, The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter: This book is¬†the score, with footnotes on how each original Broadway cast member was cast, and the long road of writing such a brilliant work of art. Hamilton, the Musical is now an¬†11-times Tony-award winning hip-hop musical on broadway. Don’t like musicals? Put that aside. This is unlike anything you’ve ever heard or listened to.

Have you ever wondered how a tiny band of scholars and mercenaries defeated the greatest superpower in the world? And then went on to write a Bill of Rights and Constitution, something never before seen or heard in the world?

Do you know anything about Alexander Hamilton? “Every other founding father’s story gets told. Every other founding father gets to grow old.” Lin-Manuel has put Hamilton’s extraordinary life to music in the form of a rap: “How does a rag tag volunteer army in need of a shower, somehow defeat a global superpower?”

I’m OBSESSED with the genius of it all. Back story: Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation reading ALEXANDER HAMILTON by Rob Chernow. He was struck by the brilliant, young, ambitious founding father and told his wife, “I think this could be a hip-hop musical.” She didn’t laugh. Instead: “That would be cool.” And so it began. Chernow’s book is on my list. The girls and I don’t drive anywhere without blasting and rapping Hamilton lyrics (to Nelson’s great embarrassment). There are a few expletives…beware. It will make you grateful for America, it will make you want to “rise up!”, and it will make you cry. It’s SO GOOD!

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Bestsellers¬†I read and didn’t like:

The Swans of 5th Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (was there even one redeeming character? Maybe one.), and Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.

What I didn’t like and didn’t bother finishing:

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

It’s been a whirlwind of a summer, but reading was a priority…and now we are plunging into the¬†fall. But wait, what did you read and love? Do tell!

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How to Stay in Touch After You All Leave Home

Last summer my mom said: “We need to stay in touch better. I’ve been feeling disconnected.”

Remember when you and your siblings all lived at home under the same roof? Remember how you knew¬†everything about each other? I never really thought there would come a day when I didn’t know all the details of my sibling’s lives.

IMG_7889_2I mean, we spent a lot of time together. Oink.

But it happened. We five siblings left for college, missionary service, and marriage.

Including my parents, we are now in four different states across the country.

The Professor’s family is¬†in five different states and not all in the same country!

We read each other’s blogs and Facebook updates, but it¬†isn’t quite the same as a nitty gritty written update about kitchen appliances and how potty training is really going.

And so, last summer, we began a family newsletter.

This happened around the same time I was listening to a Gretchen Rubin podcast. Apparently, her family has been doing this for years. And if Gretchen says it’s a good habit, it is!

We have two rules:

  1. It’s okay to be boring
  2. It’s okay to be short

We’ve been going strong for a year.

Every Sunday we write a little update of what happened during the week, and while no one is actually in charge of kicking off the weekly email, it always gets started by someone.

I tell you what, it’s been even more fantastic than I thought it would be.¬†Surprisingly, family updates are¬†never boring, and they’re rarely short. Once you start writing, you keep writing. And what’s boring to you (grocery shopping with twins), is fascinating to your siblings and parents.

There have been no downsides. On the contrary, we look forward to it every week. We know what’s going on with each other. We are as close as we’ve ever been. That is due, in large part, because we have made a conscious effort to stay in touch. We still text and call, but the weekly newsletter has been even more¬†bonding.

Letter writing art. And while we don’t use a quill and scroll (maybe we should?), I save all the emails in an email file entitled “Journal.” Personalities come through in a different way when writing. Funny stories are shared, and sad ones too. With two deaths in the family this year, it was actually painful to start writing again. But it was also the best shared therapy we could have had.

Sometimes¬†Brynne, my 12-year-old writes the newsletter. Here’s one of my favorites:

Makechnie Newsletter by Brynne

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†The Makechnie family had a great week. Cope was made student leader, Nelson is enjoying lacrosse, and Brynne and Paige both recited poems at their school for poetry night. Both of them did a great job and now have this coming week off from school. They are going to do many “fun” things, such as orthodontist appointments, cleaning, yard work, walking the dog, going through clothes, and taking out the garbage.¬†

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Up in NH we are enjoying the weather! Although some of the weather has been bad, most of it has been warm and sunny, and this week the weather is going to be lovely. Today J-A-Y came to church with the Makechnie family! We think he enjoyed it, but if he didn’t he was too polite to tell us that. Cope had other drama this week too. In Vocal Ensemble she fainted. Amy thinks she was just tired. It was quite dramatic, and Cope narrowly avoided throwing up on Jay’s shoes! That would have been terrible! Happy Passover!

Donations are what keep this newsletter running!!!

Ha. Brynne will give you the real dirt!

The day will come, when the darlings leave us.

It could be by boat:IMG_2400

Or a Ford truck:IMG_7009

Someday,¬†my fab four won’t live under the same roof or swim in the same ocean:IMG_2052So. We must stay in touch!

Write to one another. Every week. Because you can.¬†I can guarantee, you won’t regret it!

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We’ll Be Glad, For All the Love We Had

First, thank you for all of the emails, Facebook messages, Gofundme donations, texts, calls, and prayers this month. We have felt so loved and are so appreciative.

This month we unexpectedly lost my mother-in-law, Heather, and sister-in-law, Cassie. The loss of Cass was exceptionally hard because it was SO unexpected. She was young and healthy. And man, we had plans! She leaves behind a loving family, including her husband and my brother, Eric, and their little girl, Scout, age 3.

I feel like I’m just coming out of a fog. I realize from listening to the news that I’m not the only one suffering these days. Shootings in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, Dallas, another terrorist attack in Paris – this life is sometimes so¬†hard.

Questions of life and death swirl in my brain. Like, where is Heather? Where is Cassie?¬†What comes next? How can we¬†go on with two¬†empty chairs? It has left me feeling very vulnerable; stuff happens. There have¬†also been silver linings. Even as we feel broken, our family is tighter and stronger. We know we love each other. We know time is short. This is our one chance to make this life mean something – everything. I have felt peace and comfort as I pray – it’s there and it’s real.

The first law of thermodynamics popped into my head this morning: energy cannot be created or destroyed. It made me think about our physical body versus our spirit. There is comfort for even for the most scientifically minded.

I always go to two coping skills: writing and running. But this time it was hard to muster. I was just so tired.¬†Thankfully my husband and running buddies have pulled me outside to run. Writing? Would I ever blog again? I didn’t want to write. I just wanted to skip over Cassie’s death. It was too hard to capture. Too much. ¬†Avoidance and an abundance of ice-cream helped stave off the inner nagging (did you know Utah has the BEST¬†ice-cream? There is an overabundance of creamy deliciousness from a variety of vendors on every corner! It’s as common as their churches!)

If I was ever going to blog again, I knew I had to face the computer screen and say something. This is what happened. Write it down. 

So.

My brother, Patrick, started a gofundme page for our brother, Eric, and his daughter, Scout. Rather than write it out here, you can read the full story there. In 20 days, over $27,000 was raised for the funeral and medical expenses. We are so overwhelmed by your generosity. So grateful. Thank you, thank you.

Burying Cassie wasn’t exactly the yearly family reunion we were expecting or wanting, but it was pretty miraculous that we were already gathering when her accident occurred in Boise. It was incredible that I was able to be with my brother and sit in the hospital for days with him. It was terrible and sad and emotional. But it was also bonding, spiritual; we had moments that will forever connect us.

I will never forget watching¬†my brother lose the love of his life. I’ll never be so proud of him as I watched him pull himself together to make heartbreaking decisions and put a smile on his face for his little girl, Scout. The love was palpable.

IMG_6399Sweet Scout and Eric.

PqJE924QRhxluvUJH6AqGICmd8mcnBLnkl9NsT_33VA,LWZ90wXtYvxWYoqOIvLAFWmn2D0CillNxCWddhe7ILI,EQKsOLdoRwq3oLLroek3z-hB9lNdIfDLLJfk52vUN0MEric is an amazing father. Photography by Cassie. And Cass loved being a mother.

IMG_7176How blessed we were to have Cassie. Here is her beloved Idaho.

DSC_0130Cassie grew up in teeny tiny, Emmett Idaho. Because of her grace, beauty, kindness, she was jokingly teased as “the rose of Emmett.”

Everything she touched was better. She was kind, graceful, and elegant. In March, when we were on our “sister’s cruise,” Cass was reading Brene Brown’s, “The Gifts of Imperfection.” She said she was trying to let go of her need and angst for¬†perfection. Ironically, her¬†perfectionistic tendencies were great¬†strengths and part of what¬†I admired most about her.¬†I always wanted to be more like her, to be a little more classy, to not be so sloppy. I suppose I can still try ūüôā

Cassie was always helping me get better at design, creativity, and photography. She¬†designed this blog and put up with my endless tech questions about pull-down menus, subscribe and share buttons. I feel a bit adrift without her at the helm. She did countless mock-ups of book covers as we discussed book ideas and concepts. We talked at length about photography and editing. Cass¬†had recently launched her own photography business, Linen and Lace Photography.¬†Isn’t she incredible?

We shared an affinity for hair products and¬†woefully recounted how to best tame naturally curly hair. When I saw the bottles of shampoo and conditioner lined up on her bathtub I felt like laughing and bursting into tears. Obviously, she had mastered the tame: ūüôāIMG_6431

DSC_0102 IMG_7114 IMG_7128Grief is the price we pay for loving her so much.

DSC_1006This picture is so sweet. It also makes me laugh – Scout found those two paper clips and refused to take them off her fingers.

IMG_6392 Eric and Scout have some hard times ahead of them, but I have every faith in him as a father.

And I believe the words¬†he said in his eulogy for Cass: “Our hearts are broken as we say goodbye, but we are thankful we had Cassie for 35 incredible, adventurous, and beautiful years. We hold out hope that our journeys in life will sail us back to her.”¬†Amen.

Love you forever, Cass.

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What Are You Going to Do With All Those Kid Papers?

It is the bane of every¬†parent’s existence: ALL THOSE PIECES OF PAPER. What do you do with it all? Especially if you are trying to keep clutter to a minimum and have More of Less?

I’ve decided one must be ruthless to survive. A couple of years ago, I got serious. In our family, each child gets one color-coded file folder. This file lives in my yellow, spray-painted filing cabinet next to my desk on the main floor.

At the beginning of each school year, I write the name and¬†school year on the top of the file folder. Throughout the year, I save only the most meaningful pieces of paper. If it doesn’t fit in the file folder? Sorry, it has to go ūüôĀ¬†DSC_0077¬† What about all of that artwork? We hang art on the¬†wall for awhile, sometimes take a picture, and then wave good-bye (correction: I wave good-bye. Under no circumstances do you ask permission to throw something away!)

At the end of every school year, the yearly file gets plucked from the yellow filing cabinet and goes downstairs to live in a plastic, portable filing cabinet. Each child has one. The plan is that when our children leave the house, they can take their personal plastic filing cabinet with them:¬†unnamed-1What about important documents, medical records, and glasses RX you need to access every once in awhile? Who wants to go down to the basement and try to find it? What I’ve done, is use those same colored file folders (for instance, Cope is always yellow) and write the name and “Records” on the top. This file lives permanently in my yellow filing cabinet upstairs so I can access it easily.DSC_0083

DSC_0079This was one of those pieces of paper I wanted to keep: Nelson’s Adidas shoe design he drew in 8th grade. It went in Nelson’s blue “2014-15” file folder.

This system has simplified life SO much. I’m keeping a record, but it’s simple and automatic.¬†I used to turn all these papers into homemade photo books, but after baby #2 was born, I quickly discovered that paper and photos would literally turn into a full-time job. I just couldn’t keep up. The feeling that I wasn’t remembering my child’s life in a clear and organized fashion¬†hung over me like a storm cloud. This system? No stress.

Would it be nicer to have it all in nice, 3-ringed binders? Perhaps. But this is what I can do.

The kids also have a bin in the basement where I’ve saved a few items like baby blankets, a special toy, or Nelson’s cowboy boots he wore for three years. Some items are keepers; but remember: you must be ruthless to survive in a world that loves STUFF!

When the darlings leave home, they’ll take their one filing cabinet and one bin. That’s it!¬†Cope will probably also steal my shoes, but that’s another battle…

Speaking of organizing files, I have a lot of them.

All of my personal files live in my yellow filing cabinet. Here’s a look at my writing section:DSC_0087

I recently discovered the beauty of the label maker (how can this bring me such giddy joy? I don’t know but it does!!!)IMG_8793You’ll notice the color-coded children’s section up front.

That’s how I do. How do you do?

And happy weekend!

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I Swore I Wouldn’t Do It…Then I Did

"Seriously, mom. It's such a dinosaur."

“Seriously, mom. It’s such a dinosaur.”

“Our children will not have iPhones. I don’t care how uncool it is. They will absolutely not carry the internet in their pocket. Ever.”

I’m pretty¬†flexible. I’m an obliger (take the test!) It would be¬†my¬†great horror to be viewed as a megalomaniac.

Sometimes¬†I should care more, but I just don’t. Where to go to dinner?¬†I don’t really care¬†(as long as it’s not McDonald’s). The Professor wants to¬†choose the¬†color of the van interior? Have at it. You want some input¬†on a new living room rug design? Either one is fine. I just don’t care. It feels inconsequential. It doesn’t matter.¬†Yes, sometimes I should care more. For example, I’m prone to impatiently hacking¬†my hair off every few months (I really shouldn’t.)

But there are other Amy Absolutes:

Thou shalt not have a DVD player in the car. Because children should be bored occasionally, daydream, and look out the window. Maybe even talk to me.

Thou shalt not do all the chores. Because a working family is a happy family! And the mother is not the slave of the family.

Thou shalt not speak rudely to mom and dad. Because honoring thy mother and thy father is a worthy endeavor.

Thou shalt not use my toothbrush. Or I will never speak to you again. The Professor has had to ask for forgiveness on multiple occasions. 

Oh yes, these things do matter. Technology use is my hot-button. I can get more fired-up about technology rules than most political candidates. Kids and¬†iPhones. No. Why in the world would I put that device in my child’s pocket when there is a world to explore? When technology¬†addiction is rampant, when a child’s brain is so malleable and still forming?

No, we shall frolic and sing with our bonnets and aprons on at all times….

The hills are alive with the sound of music!

The hills are alive…

I’m¬†sad and terrified when¬†so many of our children do not know how to read a textbook and pull¬†out cohesive “take-aways.” When¬†The Classics are “boring.” When Google is so easy, that “hard” is avoided at all costs. When English courses have to cut out whole books, curriculum, and reading because our teens¬†just don’t have the brain power to sit still, absorb, and ponder Anna Karenina. I liked this post.

And yeah, I blame technology for some of¬†that. I read less because of my phone. It sits on my bedside table, putting me to sleep and waking me up. All the dings, alerts, and Twitter notifications that go off in our¬†pockets, pulling us away from absorbing, focusing, and being “all in.” I see¬†the effect¬†in my classroom every.single.day. I¬†fight that battle every.single.day.

Two years ago I wrote¬†about my gollum-like fascination after finally getting an iPhone. It’s been life-changing. I can actually find your house now with that nifty GPS! I keep an on-line calendar, use reminders, check Instagram, comment on Facebook and blogs, schedule appointments – I LOVE my phone. I¬†love¬†it. I love it too much. Which is why I wanted to keep it out of the hands of my darlings as long as possible.

“My friends make fun of me everyday,” The Boy tells me. After revealing he had to ask permission to use technology at home, his friend literally rolled on the floor laughing. Now, every time he sees The Boy using his iPad at school he says, “Nelson, did you¬†ask permission??!”¬†

Come on now, are technology rules SO WRONG?

Last month when I assigned a homework assignment, it involved downloading the Adobe Voice app. Every single student whipped out their smart phone. I realized maybe my high school kids were right…they were the oddballs. But aren’t oddballs adorable?

My oldest darling, Cope, is a junior in high school. She has a flip phone, which is “absolutely mortifying.” The Boy, a freshman, flat out refused. He would rather not have a phone than to be seen with something “so lame.” Which sounds terribly materialistic, but there are a few things in a boy’s life that really matter (girls, meat, shoes…and phones?)

Let us back track¬†to last week when The Professor said, “I think we should get you a new phone for Mother’s Day.” My contract was up, you see, and I’d been drooling over the new and improved camera feature. I didn’t object to The Professor’s wishes ūüôā

Yesterday, we giddily (read: me) visited a Verizon store (where the customer service is out of this world, awesome) and discovered that not only could I get a new phone, but we could upgrade to a better plan (text me! I now have unlimited texting!!!!) and¬†also transfer my daughter’s phone number to my older iPhone and pay LESS than what we were paying for her flip phone.

Ah, geez.

What’s a mom to do?

We took the deal.

Yep, I sold my child’s imagination for a few silver coins. The world is ending.

I had a moment. “Wait, wait, wait! I only want her to be able to take photos, text and call – THAT’S IT!” It turns out we can control the cellular data (for $5/month!) but if she has wi-fi? Well, it’s free reign.

I felt ashamedly resigned. I rationalized like this: she’s a good girl. she has a good imagination. she still loves to read. and sing. and yeah, she’s a bit addicted to youtube videos but mostly if they involve Lin-Manuel or cheesy BYU studio C outtakes. Also, I know that technology, used the right way, is AWESOME. We can change the world right from home!

At least, as far as I know. Maybe I don’t know. Maybe they’re all tech addicts at 3a.m. If you know of such behavior, you better tell me.

We held out for¬†almost 17 years. Maybe it was time¬†to extend the leash a little further. In a few short years, mom isn’t going to be around to set the parameters¬†(I weep.)

The best part was having our stellar Verizon gal, Kelly, transfer Cope’s old number and plan to my older iPhone, knowing her flip phone would suddenly stop working. She was going to freak out. When Cope came home from school I showed her my new phone, which she drooled over, as I casually asked, “I called you today – why didn’t you call me back?”

“Something is wrong with my phone.”

“You must have dropped it.”

“No, mom, I swear. I didn’t drop it!”

“How sad,” I said. She sighed.

At this point I very slowly took out my old iPhone. Before I could say anything she screamed. And started hopping up and down. It was rather wonderful.

After having yet another technology discussion (I like to be thorough ūüôā ) she reached out her hands, snatched the iPhone, and whispered,¬†“Precious.”

Heaven help us all.

Alas, it’s not all roses around here. The Boy has taken this injustice very personally. We obviously have favorite children.

“Mom,” he says, following me around. “You’ve got to let me have Snapchat now – you gave Cope an iPhone!”

That, my friends, is the latest battle. What say ye? Do tell.

 

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This is not a program; it is who we are {how to help refugees}

I think it’s so cool when people take their vacation and sick days to¬†travel to Greece and hand out water and food. I often wish I could helicopter in and distribute coats. I wish I could hold and feed babies.

I admit feeling helpless when I hear about the 60 million displaced refugees around the world.

And¬†it’s also easy for me to turn off the news, compartmentalize suffering, and head off to soccer practice.

This past weekend was General Conference, eight hours of talks by leaders of the our¬†church. Funny how much I LOVE it now (really, eight HOURS???.) Instead of getting in the car on Sunday to go to church we get to watch from home (both Saturday AND Sunday!) It’s this awesomely spiritual down day.

With the help of cinnamon rolls, notebooks, and new sharpies ūüôā¬†Cope saw these and said…”oh, I smell love.”unnamed-1

So we listened to talks by men and women who spend all the minutes of their day volunteering their time and energy to loving and serving others. Very inspiring.

The Relief Society is the women’s organization of the church and it is the largest women’s organization in the world. It’s purpose is just as it sounds: to provide relief to those in need. Once again there was a call to action – to help our brothers and sister refugees.

How to help? There was a new program announced called I Was a Stranger.

Citing information from the United Nations, Sister Burton (the Relief Society general president) said there are more than 60 million refugees worldwide and half of those are children.

The program doesn’t ask for us to fly to Greece or organize a huge relief¬†drive (though those are awesome endeavors). ‚ÄúThis is an opportunity to serve one-on-one, in families, and by organization to offer friendship, mentoring, and other Christlike service and is one of many ways sisters can serve.”

It reminded me of a friend who said to me, “You know, there are a lot of people who will fly across the world to help but won’t walk across the street to help their neighbor.”

I haven’t stopped thinking about that.¬†It’s pretty simple, really.¬†As we prayerfully seek guidance, I think we’ll be guided to just the right opportunity.

All the talks we heard were fantastic. You can watch HERE¬†if you’re interested or just curious about what we Mormons sit around watching ūüôā

But this talk by Patrick Kearon about refugees was especially great:

I’m thinking maybe I should¬†just keep making cinnamon rolls…that would make someone happy, right???

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