Thursday, August 20

Two Poems on a Theme

1. At the Window

Light-bedazzled little girl
perched before the window sill
mimicking the ritual.

Helping hands as time stands still,
in spite
of how quickly she'll be gone ~
and there will be many more windows
to look out upon.

Frozen so, in the white light:
That little girl
(forever mine),
growing up
at the window.

2. Windows

Brilliant white light
streaming in ~
The world outside,
the world

We are all reaching
standing still,
some may backwards tread.

But I am one
who prefers to reach
and believe in

* Inspired by a friend's daughter: Hazel, age 4 ~ cheerfully helping her mommy clean house

Saturday, August 1

Final Answer

"Be Prepared" is the Scout motto. They have a systematic way to do just that - lots of camping, knot-tying, outdoor survival skills, responsible citizenship and practical leadership training that really is the ticket for boys to be prepared for almost anything.

I have pondered what a parenting motto should be. How about, "Forget About It", "Ignore It", or "Be Perpetually Surprised" ~ ?

Tonight, two of the five progeny posed a question over pork and funeral potatoes that I was not prepared for. It wasn't the 'where are babies from?' question. I was prepared for that! All the kids roll their eyes and tell their friends how their crazy mom drew them pictures and used correct terminology to answer that one. The brand new 20 year old said, "Mom, which is your favorite?"

I said, "horses." After the spasmodic laughter and the high-fives died down, she rephrased the question: "No, I mean which kid is your favorite?"

"Oh," I said, embarrassed. "Well, I honestly don't have a 'favorite'..."

This was unsatisfactory to both girls, who obviously seemed to know something I didn't.

"I think most parents really do have a favorite, but just say that they don't to spare hurt feelings," observed the highly confident 20 year old. The 15 year old stopped texting just long enough to raise her face and say, "Yeah."

"No," I continued, "really, I love all of you for your own selves, for who you are." This totally set them off. In unison they cried, "you like Robin the best!" Then, gaining steam, they looked at each other and fired away again. "And Leiland! Robin and Leiland!" There was fire in their eyes.

"Look," I said in a measured way, emphasizing my superior maturity and life-experience with lowered vocal tone and a meaningful pause; they were listening. "Are you trying to tell me how I feel? Because if you are, why did you bother asking?" They agreed maybe they had not perfected mind-reading just yet.

"O.K.," I began, feeling very philosophical, "It's like me asking you, who do you love more - Jack, or Bitsy?" (The two grandchildren, who are the stars and the moon of our world)!

"JACK." They both said again, in unison.
I was shocked. This wasn't working out so well. Quickly they explained the only reason they like fantastic 3 year old Jack more than adorable 8 month old MaKenna is because Jack can talk and do things with them.

"Y'know," big sister said matter-of-factly, "it's always easier to relate to kids when you don't have to carry them around anymore." Hmm. Interesting. I hadn't thought about this myself. "When MaKenna is older, we will like her a lot more, too." Now that we had the relationship thing established, I finally answered their very serious question.

"I absolutely do not have a favorite. I love Bi for how she can tell a story with all the character's voices and even the sound effects, like when Spongebob's eyelids close - 'doink!' (Yes, they agreed, she's really super at that), I love James for when he tells me about a book he's read, or a story he's written, or an idea he has - I love to listen to his brain! I love Leiland for his musical creativity - well, all of you are creative, but I also enjoy how he seems to be careful about my feelings. I used to stand in the kitchen and listen to you (Asia) play the piano, when you didn't know I was listening, and I love how you come up with such deep thoughts sometimes, like you're 30 instead of 20. I don't know where you get the sudden insight. And Rachel- wow! Who wouldn't want to hear her sing full blast to the radio? You make my day."

"That's right," she said, happy to be noticed for an awesome talent. Silence at the table. I assumed this was an invitation to explore more about how much I enjoy my children.

"I always thought all of you were so fun to be with," I began. "Like when we went on walks. I never had a kid whining, 'oh, my feet hurt, why do we have to do this? When can we go home?' If I saw something curious, I'd point it out to you, and everyone would appreciate it and we would talk about it as we went along..." I noticed I didn't seem to have the same rapt attention as a moment previous. They were looking at me again with suspicion.

"Robin, right?"

"No favorites!" I said. "And another thing. I really love their spouses. It's great to be at this time in life, when your children marry, and it's like you have more children to love and admire for who they are..."

"Ug." said the older sister. "Whatever you do, please don't start crying again."

Oh. I guess we had the "in-law" discussion before.

"So, mom, whose laugh do you like the best?" Aw! This was easy. No explanations necessary. I was prepared.

"That would be Robin and you (Asia), hands-down." Having pleased the rabble with this
response, I realized I had a weird visual in my head of Regis Philbin on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" asking, "Is that your final answer?"

Yes, yes it is.

Sunday, July 19

Dogs Can't Hear Those Notes

More in a Series of Helpful Observations

1. Bite not thine own fingernails should ye desire a different result for thy off-spring. (Oopsie.)

2. Remove ammunition from The Thrower, yea, in haste shall ye thwart his lust for mayhem. Heed not silly childhood behavior 'experts' who exhaust themselves with much advice about how to carefully explain to the child there are different kinds of throwing. The child is not stupid. He likes to throw.

3. Bite The Biter an eye for an eye. But ~ bite not the biter if it is not thine own child.

4. Employ the new babysitter with confidence. However, see that ye dismiss not thy eldest daughter's report when thou return. Thou mayest learn how one babysitter forthwith turned into "two", and they both spent much time on the phone, and used the F word to the children, and so forth. (thanks, Bi!)

5. Indulge not The Backwards-hurler into space; of such is sure calamity.

Rather seize the human cannon in mid-air, and squeeze it close. Let not go until the child responds to thy request for calm. Then apply something interesting to do immediately, distracting the child. Should it rise up and begin flinging itself again, intercept exactly the same as before. Now give warning that yonder bed await it should there be a repeat of the behavior. Do not relent. Never surrender.

6. Pretend marvelous surprise should ye hear children express in public what others piously assume is forbidden in thy home, perchance thy performance save thee.

7. Be wise, and know there are circumstances wherein the young child's natural discernment is absolutely correct:

a. Should thy little 6 year old son observe the school bus driver is mean and exerciseth much unrighteous dominion, and he say to her, "Thou Big Fat Meatball", be not angry with him, but investigate the matter. Behold, ye shall find many reliable witnesses who doth validate the driver is cruel and derelict in her duty to very young children. Protest ye the write-up given thy little son, for his assessment was indeed accurate every whit.

b. Likewise, be ye diligent when young, second-year school teacher giveth thy same little son naught but red marks all over every single paper. Yea, he doth return from class utterly demoralized. Ye shall privately remind the teacher this child has skipped Kindergarten, and has not the full school year of penmanship practice as do the other children in his 1st grade class. Ask her to mark her own records, but mark not his paper so extreme, as it doth defeat him greatly. When the pretty, fashionable young teacher receive thy words with much anger and crazy left-field emotion, ignore her. Watch only for thy son's papers returning home less marked with red, and his smiling countenance. (good boy, James!)

8. Be ye in the habit of saying often, "I'm so glad I saw that!" For verily, there are many little things in a day that do amuse and surprise, yea, enough that ye may all be filled with merriment if even for a small moment. Thy children will be quick to share with thee, and laugh much. Yea, they will be funny.

Likewise, start ye now a list posted in the house wherein all may write funny things observed or heard. Not only be ye sharing humor, but ye shall encourage awareness of legitimate language.

For example: from beautiful "Singing Bee" show hostess last week: "Well sang!" or from a Fox News reporter on the Gaza border: "...the two sides collashed!" or from a hostess on "Ramsey's Kitchen": "Mike likes to presentate his food."

Especially entertaining (or frightening) are comments ye shall find sadly posted for the world to see on blogs/news stories of all types: "I am in aw of your ignorance..." by 'Staricka'.


Tuesday, July 14

Poignant REVENGE

What goes around, comes around.

We dearly love our two boys become men. They are both Eagle Scouts. They are married to beautiful, wonderful young ladies. They are both now fathers of the most amazing, sheer-genius little boy, and the most darling, adorable little girl, respectively. They own their own fully stocked tool chests, they each have a nice barbecue grill, and are lucky enough to have some very nice furniture pieces to make their homes a welcoming haven for their growing little families.

Their wives have decorated carefully. They have beautifully framed family portraits in attractive wall displays. These two cherished daughters-in-law are, I believe, quite unaware of a dark portent that looms ominously over their domestic tranquility.

So far, they have been spared. Spared from a justified threat their husband's father issued many years ago ~ when he promised to visit his boys at their homes some day after they were married and do the following:

1. Show up at 3 AM without a house key and tap on their bedroom window.
2. Help himself to their fridge and drink milk straight from the carton.
3. Use the 'facility' without benefit of a closed door. Wave cheerfully if discovered.
4. Sneak plates and bowls of fossilized, half-eaten food under their bed, under their dresser, and in the folds of clothing in the hamper.
5. Ask for money.
6. Ask to borrow the car.
7. Bring it back late and the gas tank empty.
8. Exhibit liberality in a variety of natural functions, in public.
9. Put his feet up on the furniture, jump on the furniture, and jump some more.
10. Leave smelly shoes and socks and skateboards just inside the front door, or the back door, or both.
11. Call from somewhere else and ask them to bring him something he "forgot".
12. Take the last can of coke and leave the empty box in the fridge.
13. Have a hysterical fit or start a fight as soon as they are speaking to someone on the phone.
14. Announce at about 9 PM that a poster board is needed and a term project is due tomorrow morning.
15. Call from somewhere else - very late - and explain about the ticket over the phone.
16. Show up for a visit and disappear somewhere in the house; be found dead asleep.
17. Arrive at an important event where they must introduce him, wearing something really super wrinkly.
18. Leave something unlocked or open all night.
19. Come for a family birthday party without a gift, turn on the t.v. or begin a video game, and stare at it for hours until their wives start to say, "Can't you get your dad out of here?!"
20. (Fill in the blank - please!)

Saturday, July 11

The Profundity of Motherhood III

1. Be ye not vexed with accidental spills ~ join the club. Messes validate thy motherhood.

2. Gird up thy loins, and hark ye; for verily, it is written: at some time all of thy children will destroy something of value to you.
Take ye especial care ye leave not the hack saw within reach of thy little boy. See that ye apologize to thy son all the days of his life for thy anger at the moment ye discovered his handiwork upon the face of thy brand new furniture, yea, upon no less than 5 pieces of furniture. Acknowledge liberally ye would happily deny all the furniture in the world for the chance to relive that one moment again with thy little son, when ye ought to have embraced him, and thanked him for "helping" you, because indeed he observed you using the saw and thought to do him likewise. Yea, ye will feel bitter remorse for frightening all the children with your great and terrible rage, yea, a day when ye lost control and failed thy calling. (I love you James - sorry Bi - thanks for crawling back in through your bedroom window to get baby
something to play with)

3. Celebrate the ordinary as if it were not; seek opportunity to have fun with that which is fundamental - and blessed be thy house and the happiness thereof.

4. If ye be not Organized, honor those that are - perchance they might visit thee and teach thee how to be so. Once having obtained, teach thy children how to organize, that their days may be free from needless searching but never finding, and their hearts devoid of anxiety.

5. Dismiss not the book thy child recommends to thee. But read the book, and thy life will be greatly rewarded. Thy children shall observe how ye do value their estimation in so much that ye do willingly read their 3rd grade book or their Junior in high school book. Ye may consider, 'Ah, I am monitoring what my child is learning,' however, in this ye do err. Ye should endeavor to read the book for no other reason than thy child hath requested it of thee. For in this wise, ye do share and share alike in the unabashed Joy of Discovery. In truth, these 'discoveries' will also be thy favorites, and will be anchors of little events which bonded you together.

6. Fret not when ye perceive thy child is frightened of a new experience that ye know is beneficial to them. Be patient, stay afar off. Take care to observe how other children in the same activity are responding. Be ye reasoning as an unbiased observer, and slow to assume it is too troubling for them to conquer.

7. If ye propose a family picnic, and the fruit of thy womb object with obnoxious noise and grotesque facial expression, carry on. Busy thy children in preparation, do ye not labour alone. Once ye are arrived at the park, and thy table is spread, they who once lamented will see fit to rejoice. Apply this principle to other experiences thy family may initially protest. Heed not the party-pooper, for they shall have their reward.

8. Seek not every whim and fancy of new baby accessory or popular toy. While much is cute, shockingly color-coordinated and seemingly desirable, behold, ye are sorely deceived. Surely it is wisdom ye do without much unnecessary purchasing of cumbersome products which do not reward thee for more than a few weeks, or products which are obviously ridiculous! If ye must obtain, be not disdainful of thrift shop fare. Or, if ye may borrow of another, so much the better.

9. Covet not the giant, SUV-like stroller. This behemoth is difficult to maneuver in a crowd, requireth the strength of Atlas to heft, and verily defeats the very purpose of being mobile with the young child! Seek ye instead a humble umbrella stroller, one with shade above, and storage below. Behold, it is exceedingly light and easy to wield. Yea, it doth accompany thee in the blink of an eye. It doth hold all thy necessities, and ye need not more than this. Honest.

10. Exhaust not thyself in yelling at thy second son to stop leaping like a monkey off furniture immediately after dinner every cursed night ~ save thy breath and leave him to his folly. It shall come to pass that one day he leap not far enough and break a toe. Behold, his passion for playing "lava" hath been completely healed and ye are free from his manic, frenetic episodes. (love you, Leiland!)

11. Beware the Ant Farm birthday present. It's brightly colored plastic pieces and silky white
sand are lovely, and the 2 week wait for live ants to be shipped from Hurricane, Utah, doth fill all with delicious anticipation. Hark ye; whilst the directions seem simple enough, and thy son followeth them with exactness, behold - all will go horribly wrong in a matter of seconds. Yea, the ants doth awake from their sleep with much energy, in so much that they fail to enter the container as promised, but do gush out and run quickly across the dining room table. "Fear not!" you say, believing the ants will stop at the table's edge, and ye can hope to retrieve them with cups and paper. Sadly, in this ye do err. The ants heed not the edge of the table, and do plummet to the extra long shag carpet below. With truly fierce screaming and hopping about, ye do fetch the vacuum, and such is the slaughter of more than half the colony. (sorry, Leiland)

12. Think not that thy children will suffer if they receive not their own bedroom, fully decorated and generously appointed with glorious things. Consider Rachel, how she had nought but a pack n'play for her bed in her brother's closet. Yea, she did lie down each night and gaze up at her brother's shirts hanging above her. In the morning, she did press her face against the mesh sides of her pen, and wait for the boys to arise. If they fetch her not, she did reach up and play happily with the hems of the shirts. Later, when she mastered escaping from the pen, she would wait patiently inches from Robin's or Asia's faces in the other room until such time as they did awake much afrighted.

13. Be ye welcoming to pets. There is an irreplaceable companionship between child and animal. If ye be adverse to noise or mess or anything that to thee justifies denying a pet, REPENT. Even a goldfish may teach thy child many valuable lessons in love and life. Complain not should they forget to feed the pet or do other duties assigned, but encourage them to empathize. Feed not the child until they feed their pet. Hide not the inevitable encounter with death fearing it too painful for the child; but send the children to find a box suitable for the deceased, to decorate it, and prepare it with care. Say ye appropriate thoughts at the grave site, and pray ye and sing together. For verily, in the Resurrection ye shall again see all that once lived with thee and shared thy house with thee, and thy joy will be great.

14. Be not dismayed if the children slog in the irrigation; no matter how terrible the deep mud thereof, or the mud thickly oozing through hair, into ears and slathered upon clothing and flinging mightily through the air. Just see that ye prepare a way they might hose themselves off before entering the house.

15. Embrace the making of Chore Lists. Yea, prepare ye several different methods. Write upon popsicle sticks, or colored index cards, or print out from thy computer. Offer fun options, like "Choose ye the chore music", or "Ye are in charge of the snack during a break that all may share and be refreshed". If ye have exceedingly tedious chores, such as the matching of socks from yon giant sock basket, render the task less odious by declaring, "Match ye as many socks as possible in 6 minutes. Set ye the timer." Consider the littler children who cannot accomplish what older children can; give ye only 3 or 4 sticks to choose for them. Tell the older children they must take 6 or more sticks. If they be working from a list, have them mark off each task as they go. Draw or paste ye funny pictures of what needs doing instead of writing it. Construct the chore directions in rhyme, or in a rhyme they must find words to complete. It is no crime to exact performance from thy offspring. Ignore protests. Yea, even do ye ignore their rolling eyes many years hence. Eventually, it shall come to pass one fine day that thy children suddenly realize they know how to do things, yea, and there is a reason WHY.

16. Welcome young chefs into thy kitchen. Listen not to the many mothers who protect the kitchen as if it were a polished sanctuary unto themselves, and deny the child inclusion therein. Behold, they are foolish. They have no experience tasting excellent brownies made by a child. They can have no reward in pancakes or cupcakes or cookies or spaghetti or burritos or even shish-kabobs prepared by very young children. They have not the fun of trying to fish out the errant egg shell from batter, or watching the egg slide down the cupboard in an attempted escape!
Be not jealous should a child display talent beyond thine own; rather, rejoice with them in their accomplishment! For behold, it is a skill ye righteously desire they obtain. Even so shall ye assign them turns planning a menu, shopping and cooking meals during the Summer. If there be a massive mess to clean up; thrust ye all into the fray - making scrubbing a festive toil set to popular music.

Saturday, July 4

The Profundity of Motherhood II

1. Suffer not the pouter. Require the pouty face to be washed-off, yea, even with pure water, and the pouter removed to their room until such time as a cheerful countenance may emerge.

2. Tolerate not the clinger, the noodle-spine, the child that clasps fiercely to thy person. Such will be grossly impaired in maturity and self-confidence. Beware lest ye feel to emotionally say, 'Behold how my child doth need me!' for verily, this is a great lie. Be ye therefore not deceived. Rather, defend thy child's right to maturity by quitting them the behavior forthwith. Speak unemotionally. Direct them to a new activity, yea, with firmness and a pleasant expression.

3. Baby-talk not. Implore not. Explain not excessively anything. Simply do ye. Know ye not that a 3 year old is not biologically capable of rational thought?

4. Apologize freely to thy children if ye do error in judgement, or if ye mistake in displaying sinful anger against them. Beware pride, lest ye destroy trust.

5. Resolve early to deny children all requests for drinks of water and potty visits during Church. Ply them not with abundant foodstuffs, making worship a picnic. Take ye crawling babies not out to the foyer, lest all the children see that worship time is frolic time. Be ye assured that little children can learn to sit quietly; ask ye rather, 'Do I have resolve?'

6. Praise the helper, the obedient, the creative, the patient, the careful, the thoughtful, the cheerful, the story-teller, the funny-bone, of such is the Kingdom of Joy.

7. Tolerate not one whit the unworthy interrupter, the back-talker, the mom-hitter; verily, of such later is an exceedingly sullen, ungrateful teen with a driver's license.

8. Be ye not intimidated to quiet the chatterer, as it is not healthy for such to prattle thoughtlessly. Teach ye instead the intrinsic value of communication, what it is - and what it is not.

9. If ye be awake with the baby who seemeth uncomforted, think not ~ 'I suffer!' Rather, proclaim lustily to thyself, 'I be up and doing!' thereby devoting thyself to the baby until such a time as it sleepeth at last. Wherefore ye are then happily surprised, and rewarded with returning to thy repose.

10. Study ye development charts for age appropriate behaviors, lest ye be traumatized by giving too many choices to young children assuming this is progressive. Yea, ye do mistake. Offer ye only 2 options, yea, ye shall indeed encourage self-confidence.

11. Resist the flattering, seductive whisper of yon video and computer games. Indeed, ye shall ignore labels on such that hollowly claim "educational". For behold, it ever has been since the world was, that nothing replaceth pencil or scissors in hand; yea, there is naught from a video game which may be displayed on the fridge or mailed to Grandma.

12. Choose ye instead crosswords, word-searches, mazes, follow the dot activities and picture
stories from free internet downloads. Be not afrighted of markers, paints, glue, beads, mosaics with seeds, macaroni necklaces, clay and all manner of creative medium. Thankfully, even very little children do quickly master rules and guides for use of the same. Likewise, they do also learn to respect the common crayola, taking care to break it not. (Avoid ye the incompetent glue stick; for it doth not deliver, yea, it hath not any lasting stick. Revile also against the dollar store tray of cake watercolors - for they do mock the young artist, being made in China, and are utterly incapable of transmitting color).
Prepare ye a place of order wherein the children may have access to common drawing utensils and papers of every description. And it shall come to pass; thy reward will be great, yea, even nigh unto rejoicing with the Angels because thy children do entertain themselves with great industry, small-muscle coordination, originality and cognitive skill! Yea, they do blossom.

13. Think not that discipline stifles the child, nay, it frees the spirit to understand proper limits. Be bold and consistent, yet mild in voice. Bow not to demands, but teach ye respect for you and the sacred family rules. Consider ye this quest equal to thy desire to keep them physically safe; ye would not allow a ride without yon car seat! Neither shall ye allow undisciplined character development, yea, which thing is far more dangerous.

14. The Play Pen: Heed not modern mother-speak about the criminality of said device, they know not what they do. Be not adverse to the Holy Play Pen, for behold, in truth it is thy Salvation and thy Rock ~ wherein a child temporarily is safe and happy while with toxic chemicals thou scrubbest the bathroom, or while thou weed the garden or labour over hot stove. Behold, see also how thou mayest go potty without an audience! Sayeth I more ~ ?

15. Always assume the child is Capable. Trust ye that children are Smart. Verily, verily, I say unto you: exceedingly more damage is done when ability is decided for the child, rather than offering him the opportunity to let his Light So Shine. Coddle not, nor shall ye play the constant protector; lest unwisely ye stifle and kill the genius within.

16. Remember, O Remember, mother's role is to nurture the emergence of a functioning, creative adult. Wherefore, ye have no need for the perpetual child. Alas ~ of such we have enough, and Wo unto us! Wo unto society for the misguided mother who mistaketh childish dependence as proof of love for her; she doth cheat herself and her child of the productive future they deserve.
Serve the young child as ye ought, but piously refrain from creating the "velcro" child. For the same is not cute nor shy clutching behind thy skirts, avoiding normal social behaviors and demanding constant contact with thy person. Behold, the child is thwarted, and ought to be firmly encouraged to accept a calm separation from thee. Ye need not linger, for ye do not sooth the child by doing so, rather, ye do expertly confirm that separation from you is greatly lamentable. Ye do cultivate fear and insecurity by your much soothing. Neither shall ye sneak thyself away, lest ye teach the child betrayal. Rather, say ye lovingly, "I go now, but I will return." If the child cry - this is no calamity. No child ever died from crying. Go ye in peace.

Tuesday, June 30

The Profundity of Motherhood ~ I

1. Beware the uncanny penetration through a hard-soled shoe of yonder hedge-hog cactus spine by thy neighbor's door, yea, it shall utterly destroy a little boy's Halloween jubilee, yea, even in that very moment he beginneth his happy quest as Superman for sweet rewards. (Sorry, James)

2. See ye with relief that no smaller sibling shall choke to death in a house wherein resides 2 City of Phoenix Life Guards. (Gracias Bi & James)

3. No simultaneous act of grooming or personal hygiene is impossible in a house with 7 people and 1 bathroom ~ unless the door be locked.

4. Rush not head-long to the school defending thy first-born from the wicked accusation she hath be-deviled her classmates with the "Bloody Mary" game. For as soon as thy defense is mounted, yea, thy voice is high-pitched and the honor of thy darling upheld, the teacher doth wordlessly direct thee to thy child's desk, wherein is found the "Bloody Mary" hand-written notes of terror. (sorry, Mrs. Leon)

5. Watch ye diligently that thy littlest daughter give not the pet baby dove to her elder brother for safe-keeping; for behold, he doth sleep much all the day long, yea, even as the dead doth he sleep. For behold, when thy little daughter returneth, she inquireth of him sweetly, "Brother, where is the baby dove I lent thee?" And his countenance doth alter from one of stupor, yea, even quickly it changeth to one of fear and trembling...wherein ye shall find the baby dove flattened beneath his body upon the bed. (oops, Leiland)

6. Harden not your heart to the child who on winding road trips seeketh fresh air. Yea, instead ye shall be solicitous, and shall halt immediately and usher him away from the vehicle perchance your journey be salvaged. Learn ye also to always pack gallon zip-lock bags, and festoon the back seat with a picnic blanket for every excursion. O, be wise.

7. Think not that the household must hover in abject silence if the baby doth sleep. Nay, but be ye about much noise and activity lest ye create a child that cannot abide the rhythm of life. Electric guitar, yea even strains of Ozzy Osbourne shall indeed be as a lullaby to children of well-rounded experience.

8. Never punish the child who is exhausted. For behold, experience showeth thee that yon tantrum is righteously a cry for the sweet release of slumber. See that ye oblige.

9. Fret not whether sugar or chocolate or occasional soda drinks do poison the child; all in moderation is ordained for thy good. Do provide wholesome meals, and submit not to the picky-eater, for of such is the Kingdom of Complaint.

10. Fear not the screamer, nor the wailer, nor the eruption of screeching accompanied by much flailing of limbs and flying saliva. One possessed requireth an audience, and will cease when ye refrain from homage. Subject the same to frequent stroller walks or other physical activities which do render the beast sufficiently quieted and fatigued.

11. Read ye liberally from classic books - not with labour and weariness, but with joy and passion. Assail the ear often with melodious language and prose, lest thy children become doltish and lack artistic vision or their tongues be confounded. Fine ye the offender of careless grammar, like, whatever.

12. Shy not from what is vile, odiferant, grotesquely liquified or otherwise objectionable. Whatever the ailment, 'tis but for a small moment. Endure it well, for 'twil surely happen again and in quick succession, yea, even until all within the house are afflicted. Yet the destroyer shall not prevail; ye shall survive.

13. Step ye not into the fray as thy child's referee should conflict arise betwixt playmates, but refrain as long as possible, perchance resolution occurs naturally. But wholly refrain from confronting the mother of thy adolescent or teen daughter's princess-associate; this is a different ball game - go ye not there. Rather, wait. Give thine own daughter somber counsel. And wait ye more. All will be aright.

14. Sing and dance oft. Laugh generously at original snowman and knock-knock jokes. When coinage is scarce and family fun appeareth frustrated, turn off the lights and behold, lay ye on the bed with a flashlight, and begin a spaceship story ye pass from one to to the next, yea, even so that all do add unto it.

15. When accomplishing Saturday family chores, play ye rousing music to rally the troops. Offer sufficient incentive, saying, 'yonder cool reward await thee if all be finished forthwith'; leap into the action thyself, lest the momentum be sacrificed. Curse ye if the reward be money - O ye of little faith and little imagination! Defile not that which God intended for children to learn as their moral contribution to the family.

16. Haste ye to stop thy 2 boys from tormenting a large wasp with a plastic yellow bat whilst their little sister lay within inches innocently watching without fear. For behold, this is not wisdom. Ye ought to be smarter than they all. (sorry Asia)

Sunday, June 28

A Case for Informed Participation

I am still reeling from an enthusiastic tangent that developed in a church class today. In an effort to demonstrate how individuals “protect their happiness”, the majority position clearly was to avoid watching or reading the news. Period. And cheerfully so. While I can appreciate this might be a worthwhile tactic for a traumatized person to pursue temporarily, this kind of separatism is not helpful toward our goal as Latter-day Saints.

We have a spiritual duty to our fellow citizens to be informed, participating Christians who are intelligently aware of the issues of the day and do our part to contribute solutions wherever possible. To follow a course of avoidance to the realities in which we live is a misguided self-indulgence.

None of those expressing personal comfort in avoiding unpleasant news would withhold their charity or service; I know them to be quick and generous respondents when help is needed. But the attitude of waiting for someone else to alert them to the need, is what stunned me!

We of all people should be expert at identifying our place in the world and presenting our religion as a valid extension of who we are. Our good influence cannot expand to others if we are unconscious to their plight. Nor can we truly foster gratitude if we have no comparison to the contrary. Finally, we fail to protect our families if we cannot identify the ever evolving and subtle face of danger.

Our church leaders have repeatedly and powerfully challenged us to 'come out of obscurity' and step to the forefront of community service. We do not limit our concern to local needs, but are deeply devoted to world-relief. The far-reaching success and efficiency of the LDS humanitarian efforts (accomplished without one penny of government money) are unparalleled. The missionary programs (proselytizing and health missions) serve millions of communities across the globe. Our anti-malaria, family hygiene education and fresh water projects in desperate places partly inspired my daughter Robin to go to Mozambique and volunteer in AIDS orphanages. More specifically her desire to wholly invest herself came from a keen attention to the news of the day. She is a journalist. Awareness of the need is imperative in attempting to heal it.

Current events are superb teaching tools for parents to teach children action in gospel principles. When I was teaching Seminary, the students brought in news clippings all semester to add to our "Signs of the Times" board and class discussion. Their world literally mushroomed beyond pop fashions and school romance as they explored first-hand how prophecy and scripture spoke to them personally in 1993. Some of the prayers they uttered for people they did not know suffering elsewhere were humbling. Their resolve to stand up for their beliefs gained confidence as their ability to recognize challenges for what they were increased. The scriptures stopped being fancy words old guys wrote a long time ago.

Many of our family prayers at night have been in response to something presented in a news cast. I remember when the Russian submarine sank and her crew was in peril. Asia was only a little girl, but she prayed faithfully for their rescue every day. When the tragedy finally concluded in the worst possible outcome, she cried with a broken heart. Then she did something that makes me so grateful I could witness little miracles; she wrote the Russian people a letter. It was beautifully written. She told them she was hoping for their comfort in this time of great sadness. She carefully drew little flowers on the borders with colored pencils. We sent it in care of a newspaper which had featured the emotional saga.

I have never heard a General Conference address recommend our withdrawal from society so we could feel 'safe' or 'happy'. Rather, thanks to trail-blazing of media expert President Gordon B. Hinckley, the Church is seriously committed to the best of what modern media offers in an effort to communicate with the world as never before. The Gospel teaches us that peace is achieved through righteous living and doing. Living is not avoidance. "We live in a harsh world, and we need to be aware of what is happening around us and how it may affect us. Knowing about these issues and problems is the first step in preventing, mitigating, and finding solutions." - Phil for Humanity, a guide for improving the world, society and yourself

While we speak of home and hearth and preserving our families in the midst of a world in turmoil, there is much that disquiets, much that infringes upon our peace. Yet we know faith conquers fear. We unwittingly deny ourselves and our families profound benefits of applicable knowledge and inspiration how to more effectively interact with our world if we bury our heads in the sand and invite someone else to act the part - our part. It is not reasonable to dismiss the world by saying it is 'depressing' or 'scary'. We do not present ourselves nor our credo well if we are unversed on the issues of the day. We ought to be "up and doing" instead, strengthening our ability to accomplish good by joining with our neighbors, stepping forward confidently into this most awesome of times.

Saturday, May 23


Carbon blades, whirling in thunderous noise, descended with tornado-like force on the hapless inhabitants. Sentries, still in body-armor, instantly rallied from the garrison to oppose the invasion. However, there was so little warning, and the vehement power of the enemy so over-whelming, their diligence to duty was lost as the onslaught sent their fragile bodies flinging helplessly out into open space in an instant.

Throughout the ante-chambers, confusion reigned. Colonists scrambled in red-alert mode to the crisis, each to a preassigned station of emergency response. Nurses tending to young, corpsmen relaying messages, hordes of alerted individuals seemingly moving in all directions. The appalling noise of the invasion above roared fiercely through every hallway and battered the senses mercilessly.

Then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, the hellish foe retreated. There was an eerie and profound nothingness in its place; a cool breeze, the grass still moist from rain, a gentle sun bathing the now calm morning. There was after all, no aggressor to confront. Nothing at all. No intruder at the doors, no apparent motive whatsoever for the momentary frenzy of awful terror and death. The attack was by all accounts, unexplainable. Then, even before preliminary damage assessments could be conducted, and while scouts were valiantly exploring the perimeter, the shadow of roaring, whirling destruction returned.

This time it crushed them with a terrible, wholly consuming force. Multiple passageways totally collapsed, burying countless victims beneath a sudden and pulverizing blow. Whatever it was ~ it was so massive, so utterly gigantic, its indistinguishable form filled the sky literally from horizon to horizon. Only the horrified scouting party had this particular vantage since they had ventured far enough from the compound to avoid a direct blow. A number of them were thrown violently by the whirlwind, but they escaped the deadliest impact their fellow citizens unfortunately experienced at ground zero. This was a tragedy of epic proportions.

Such is a day in the life of a large, new ant hill in the backyard I encountered while mowing the lawn. Ruthlessly, I sprinkled the last of a boric acid powder generously on top of the now seething mound of very aggressive, exceedingly nasty black biting ants. The fine, white cloud of powder sweetly settling on the ground reminded me of sifted powdered sugar delicately lacing the surface of a warm spice cake. It was easy. I quite enjoyed it.

Friday, May 22


There are welcome surprises in life. The grandly unexpected, in which normal time stops because the surprise is so basic and wonderful, and that which is hugely inconvenient to most, but might actually be appreciated by a few.

There are things that naturally evoke an instant recognition of what is truly worthwhile.

Waiting patiently for our turn, or using our time creatively while waiting ~ is not surprisingly what makes us human.

For the simple sake of fun, we can go to extremes to achieve it.

It may also require some explanation... and is often more fun in company of the like-minded.

Being alone has its advantages. There is power in the quiet opportunity for mental reflection, or preparation.

There are few surprises in being the same. We do not thrive in sameness, it is not a natural state of being; sadly, we are usually compelled into it by forces which desire us to be less than human.

There is no growth in the debilitating labor of repetition,
but only in being allowed the freedom to blossom.

There is much of serenity in traditional relationships, and predictable corruption in conflict.

But passion is also part of the human experience.

We struggle with the morbid attraction of viewing suffering and the agony of being helpless to relieve it.

We are very small next to the natural backdrop, and we are too easily dissatisfied with what is natural and eternally beautiful.

We place an inordinate value on the amusement of pop culture and its meaninglessness, or the comfort (and the luxury) of its silliness.

Thankfully, we still admire the kind gesture, a helpful friend, a little unexpected formality, a safe place.

So much of life is needlessly like waiting in the wings; waiting for something better, for something to change, for something to happen...

The biggest surprise of all is that we are still learning who we are and what we are actually capable of.

And this was quite unexpected.

Thursday, May 14

Crime Scene

OBAMA'S proposal of nationalized health care in America is like yellow police tape swathing a crime scene. While preserving the crisis area, it excludes people gathering at the perimeter.

In the context of medical needs, the crowd pressing up against the issue is much more committed than simple curiosity; they are waiting for services which are unavailable because the state says so.

The idealism of creating equality in health care access is inherently opposed to the happy result proponents claim. An overwhelming success-buster really does come down to numbers:

Not even a carbon tax would pay for Obama's vast expanded welfare state. Nor will Midwest Democrats stand for a tax that would devastate their already crumbling region.
What is obviously required is entitlement reform, meaning Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. That's where the real money is -- trillions saved that could not only fund hugely expensive health and education programs but also restore budgetary balance. Except that Obama has offered no real entitlement reform. His universal health care proposal would increase costs by perhaps $1 trillion. Medicare/Medicaid reform is supposed to decrease costs." (1)

Talk of 'community supported medicine' (2) likewise appears unsustainable. Americans don't like red tape. They really don't like being told what they can and can't do. And they will not tolerate waiting - for anything. However, on an issue as monumental as a radical transformation in American health care, the public response so far is hardly a hiccup.

Learning by example evidently is no longer reasonable and prudent. The European and Canadian standard of care stinks. They are loud about their frustration with interminably long waiting lists for unremarkable diagnostics like MRI's and elective procedures like hip replacements. There is no negotiation. The state has been allowed to dictate 'cost-effective' protocol for assessing what treatment options will be tolerated and which will be denied. You might be too young, or too old or too sick to warrant treatment. A green light for care is hardly timely; thousands of patients wait years for procedures which could certainly alter quality of life. Many have actually lost their lives in the process. The lucky and the privileged come to America and get it done right.

Closer to home, examples of government-run health systems gone bust are common place. Sadly, the indigent patient base they were intended to serve is also the most exploited by the bureaucratic failure which loses their files, hires miserably unqualified staff, treats patients with contaminated instruments and sub-standard equipment - or worse, doesn't treat them at all. One public hospital ironically was established in Watts after the race riots in 1965 to show good faith serving this vulnerable community's needs. Four decades and hundreds of millions of dollars later, the hospital had earned the gruesome nick-name of "Killer-King" for tragically accurate reasons. (3)

Ours is not a perfect system. The insurance and pharmaceutical giants are too powerful, and a disgustingly litigious society values lawyers for their ability to secure lavish settlements for spilled McDonald's coffee. Affordable health benefits are almost non-existent. Hospital emergency rooms have been choked into disease-spreading bottle-necks as they become primary care for illegals and the uninsured. Surgeons and OB-GYN's are retiring early or abandoning medicine because of prohibitive malpractice insurance. More patients who finally make an appointment with their doctor see a nurse practitioner instead. Skyrocketing costs are impossible to justify. I used to dream of becoming the Joan of Arc for health care change.

I remember an insulting new posting inside each exam room at our family doctor's clinic about 10 years ago (one of the rare times we had insurance!) that read: "Due to rising costs, please limit your concerns to one issue only during today's 15 minute appointment. For additional health issues, please schedule another appointment." This ~ after waiting for over 2 hours in his Disneyland-crowded reception room.

Or another incident, where I arrived with all 5 children for my appointment. They were violently sick with the same thing. I had been up literally all night. The receptionist crisply said, "You'll have to make additional appointments for each of the other children. I have one opening tomorrow..." Miss Organization was informed I was not leaving, and the doctor would see all of my sick children today. The doctor and his defensive staff were shocked by my appeal for collective diagnosis of all five kids, and corresponding antibiotic prescriptions for the same. Acknowledging current failures evident in the status-quo, I am nevertheless a witness for what our health care system does right.

Five years ago I ran into the paramedics who signed-off my little girl to the hospital. The handwritten report recorded their estimation her right leg would be amputated. "She'll be fine," they said smiling, "there was very little blood loss." None of us knew at that very moment she was suddenly losing half her blood volume in a matter of minutes. 14 year old Asia had sustained a catastrophic degloving injury,

(Behind knee; skin on shin still present, but dying - almost total loss a few days later. All muscle structure intact; a major surprise to the surgeons.)
a broken ankle (tendons bowed and laid-out), and multiple 3rd degree burns after a stolen truck in a police chase hit the bus stop where she was sitting. The 75 +mph impact did not rip-off skin and fat, but had evaporated it. The head of the trauma unit shut-down the emergency room after receiving Asia. He told us later he did not want to compromise the team of specialists he was summoning to emergency surgery.

Before I could see her, I had to sign an array of papers for state insurance since we were uninsured. For three days we did not know if her leg could be salvaged. She was so critical they could not do a CAT-scan until the 3rd day. She had 5 major surgeries in a little less than 2 weeks. Over the next 3 1/2 years she would have 9 more surgeries and a continually open wound. She lost 750 square centimeters of skin and fat. This, and the donor site on her thigh for numerous skin-grafts meant a ghastly wound from the top of her foot to her panty-line for the first year at least. Her leg was so involved, that the home-care nurse who came to teach me how to dress the wound looked at it and said, "I've been an RN for 15 years, and a home-care nurse for 16. I have never seen anything like this. I need to call my supervisor."

If this had happened in my mother's day, it would have been fatal. If it had happened to me, I would have lost my leg. But something miraculous was developed and ready for the public and Asia around 1995. It is called "Integra". It is the most ideal substance for substitution as human fat. It is made out of shark or bovine collagen and synthetic material. This matrix product encourages blood vessels to quickly integrate into it until it essentially becomes part of the body.

It is the reason Asia's leg has been spared from immobilizing scar tissue behind her knee, and why a more natural contour has been achieved. Integra is the miracle darling of burn units and reconstruction medicine. It has an unbelievable 90% success rate. If it doesn't 'take' the first time, a second application usually succeeds. Integra is also obscenely expensive.

Once we were given 2 little portions of it about 3 x 2" each in a specimen jar to take home and keep in the fridge until Asia's next surgery (thanks to the gross ineptitude of state insurance which automatically assumes a patient should be healed after 18 months and kicked Asia out of the wound specialist's clinic and into a generalized children's rehabilitation program which failed to stock anything a plastic surgeon would need). The doctor joked with us that our little jar was now worth about $3,500.

Had we been in the U.K., the use of Integra likely would have been denied. Had we been in a nationalized health care system, a bone-deep staph infection she suffered might have progressed to the point of no return since treatments are rationed. Fentanyl is an expensive, heavy-hitting pain-killer enormously more powerful than morphine. It was in Asia's I.V. and also in a lollipop form with warnings on the wrapper that contact with just the wrapper might be fatal to pets and small children. This was the drug of choice preparing Asia for her first dressing change in the hospital. It didn't seem to touch the pain. Two of the 5 nurses struggling to dress her leg were in tears. Too many times to count, Asia needed critical care that could not wait. She needed materials on the cutting-edge, and specialists who literally were premium in their field. Under nationalized standards, amputation likely would have been deemed "cost-effective". A million dollar little girl is hardly fair to the needs of the larger community.

I am ever thankful ~ despite the onerous dysfunction of Arizona's AHCCCS (public health care) "Mercy Care" and all its accompanying over-paid moronic case-workers who were positively stunning in their stupidity, a ridiculous re-qualifying schedule, an insulting exclusive contract with a corrupt medical supply company which made ordering bulk gauze a WWF event, (to name only a few) ~ I am deeply thankful we had the benefit and miracle of American medical technology and standard of care. I am grateful we had surgeons and nurses who were motivated
and competitive.

I believe there is a better way to reform American health care, reduce costs and preserve the sacred trust between doctor and patient, and to keep research in medical advancements - including generic pharmaceuticals - alive and well. Anything that interferes with this is a crime.

By the way; the U.K. allots a degloving the same compensation as for an amputation.

* See CPR for alternative health care proposals, and for testimony from those who suffer in nationalized environments.

1. Charles Krauthammer, "The Road to Health Care Rationing" 25 April 2009
2. Jennifer Hathaway, "Single Payer or CSM?" OpEdNews
3. John R. Graham, "Martin Luther King Jr. - Harbor Hospital Shows the Cost of Government Monopoly Health Care" 18 March 2009