Saturday, August 29, 2009

I thought I was a good parent. . . until we got a dog.

So I thought I was a good parent . . . until a few minutes ago. Ironically, I even got up early this morning and started a blog post about some parenting advice I had to offer which I thought was pretty good. I mean it wasn’t my best advice. You can read that here. It was my second best but, still pretty good, I thought.

Then my friend Lisa sent me an email and totally blew away my parenting illusions.

I am a bad, bad parent!! Or at least when it comes to “parenting” dogs.

Yesterday was my first day home alone with Lacy, our fairly newly acquired, furry, four legged, first ever pet in our married household. Although up until now I have had a child home to care for her needs, I thought I was up to the task. After all I grew up with dogs, and anyway, how hard could this be? Right?

But it was a miserable day. And I didn’t get a thing done because I was always having to play with, chase, clean up after, or walk the dog.

I called my husband for moral support and he just laughed, and laughed, and laughed—loudly.

So I called my daughter, a proud owner herself of two dogs. She also laughed and then told me I had to learn to be “Alpha Dog”. Huh?? I have never even heard that term before, let alone know how I am supposed to do that.

So, I emailed my good friend Lisa—also an owner of pets, and she wrote me back this morning. She didn’t laugh. She was mostly incredulous that I had allowed the dog to control my day like that. (Sorry, Lisa, but until your email I didn’t know I had a choice!)

She quoted back to me my email, " She kept snapping at my feet and arms, so I would take her outside and run her around--in the terrible heat--and then bring her back and a few minutes later, do it all over again." Lisa added---“Basically what you did was teach her if she snaps at you, you are going to take her outside to play. So of course she snapped again, she knew you would take her out.”

Apparently I was rewarding bad behavior.

Lisa went on to quote, "And when I tried to eat my lunch she went crazy for my food, so I had to lock myself in the office to eat," She then asked why I was the one on lock down and not Lacy. Good question.

It was at that moment I realized I was just like those indulgent parents I roll my eyes about. You know, the ones who think they have to give in to their children’s every whim out of fear their child will either throw a tantrum and make everyone miserable, or be ostracized by their friends because they don’t have the latest and best version of every form of technology.

I was being an indulgent parent.

So, thanks for the wakeup call, Lisa. And now I am off to learn how to be “Alpha Dog”.

Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Talk About Ego Deflating!!

I am still in Utah and mostly having a good time. It was a lot of fun to see my parents and siblings who live here. It was fun to take Kathryn to BYU on Monday and run into so many people from home who were dropping of their children as well. It was fun to spend time with Kristen (my other BYU daughter) as I have been missing her, and it was fun today to bottle meat with my sister Becky.

But it was NOT fun shopping with her. The lady at the check out counter thought I was Becky's mother. Becky is only five years younger than I am.

That totally ruined my day.

Becky told her I was a sister, not her mother. The evil lady tried to undo the damage but everything she said only made it worse. I thanked her for putting me in what I was sure was total depression. But then I returned to my parent's house and told my woeful tale to my real mother. That is when I learned my depression could actually deepen. I thought my mother would offer sympathy or even better, tell me how the lady must have very bad eyes, or something somewhat comforting like that.

But instead my mother--yes my very own mother--said, "You know they have some very good makeup out there these days that helps you to look younger. "


So I called my husband and told him. He told me how beautiful I am, and how young I look to him.

I love that man!!

But I am still thinking that perhaps a face lift would be a nice Christmas gift. :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another child flies the coop!

I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. Life has been a bit crazy now that school has started, and I am finding myself in the middle of a few challenges that are making being cheerful a little more difficult. One of which is my fourth child is packing up her room today and leaving for BYU in the morning. I am taking her, (driving) with a little detour through Las Vegas for our nephew’s wedding. We will get to Utah on Saturday afternoon and I will stay until late Wednesday night so I can get her settled, visit with my parents, have some fun with my sister for her birthday and see Kristen (child #3 who left to go back to BYU a few weeks ago).

And then I will fly home (leaving the car there for Kristen) probably crying all the way. But I am not the only one crying. Poor Michelle. She will be the only child left at home and isn’t all that excited about having her parent’s undivided attention for three years.

Wes is having a very hard time as well. He keeps telling me how much he is going to miss her.

Yes, we know this is a good thing. A whole world of possibilities and wonderful life experiences are in front of her. But we sure are going to miss this sweet face.

And this one. . .
And this one . . .

And even this one . . .

But maybe not this one. . . :-)

But worst of all, with Kathryn gone . . . from 6:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. I will be the sole care giver for the dog. Ugh!
Good Luck Kat!! We love you!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hawaiian Toilets and Tags

My very good friend since high school, Jaye Lynn, took this picture on her trip to Maui and I couldn't resist stealing it.
Seriously, is drinking water from the toilet a common concern in Hawaii????

And another good friend, Donise, tagged me with
The ABC's of Me
so here goes!
A- Age: 42 . . . and holding (and have been for a few years)
B- Bed size: king, of course
C- Chore you hate: Laundry!!!
D- Dad's name: Milton
E- Essential start of your day: scriptures, prayers, checking emails
F- Favorite color: purple
G- Gold or Silver: Gold
H- Height: 5' 8"
I- Instruments you play: Piano--but rather poorly
J- Job title: Mom
K- Kids: 5
L- Living arrangements: with my increasingly diminishing family
M- Mom's name: Valoy
N- Nicknames: Duffy (named myself when 2 years old)
O- Overnight stay in a hospital other than your birth: birth of 5 children and 2 night stay after abdominal surgery
P- Pet Peeve: Waiting for people
Q- Quote from a movie: " These mashed potatoes are so creamy"
R- Right or left handed: left
S- Siblings: 4 sisters, 3 brothers
T- Time you wake up: 4:40 a.m.
U- Underwear: of course!
V- Vegetable you dislike: brussel sprouts
W- Ways you drink your coffee: I don't, but I love hot chocolate
X-rays you've had: teeth and about 8 broken bones
Y- Yummy food you make: cinnamon rolls
Z- Zoo favorites: monkeys
Now I pass this on to anyone who wants to participate--but let me know so I can be sure and visit your blog.
Lastly, about our dog . . . hmmm, much more work than I anticipated. I am sure the dogs we had growing up didn't require this much supervision (or else my mother just did all the work so I didn't notice).
But . . . one of the reasons we took the dog is because our son, Ryan, and his sweet wife, Kali, had three dogs which we were told was one too many. So we took Lacy, leaving them two.
Well, guess what!! Ryan went out and got another dog, so they are back up to three! I think that is a good reason to let your kids have pets while they are young. When they become adults, they don't have to compensate for what they didn't have!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Midnight Sun--Pictures Near the Arctic

With seminary starting yesterday I am too bogged to blog :-( But I did want to share these very cool (in my opinion) pictures of the sun I took on our recent cruise to Scandinavia. I was fascinated by the sun and stayed up late many nights to take the pictures. I never did get a picture between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. though (I did have to sleep sometime) so I am not sure what it looked like then. I do know that by 4 it was already light.
These pictures were not taken on the same day, however, I did put them in order of the time of night I took them. All pictures were taken from our boat.
11:00 p.m.

12:00 a.m.
I loved this picture!! I have never before been able to see solar activity with my naked eye.
12:15 a.m.
I thought this pictures was amazing. The stripes in front of the sun are thin layers of clouds.

1:00 a.m.

2:00 a.m.
I thought it was so fun to be outside at two in the morning and see light still in the sky.

And here is a quote for the day . . .

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C.S. Lewis

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Discontent . . . It is all in the comparison

I picked my daughter up from her friend’s house. I had been to the house before, but I had never gone beyond the front door. This time, however, the mother was in the kitchen and called for me to come back to where she was.

Big mistake.

I walked in to the most wonderful, beautiful, spacious party holding kitchen/family room/dining room, combo I had ever seen. I was awestruck and instantly turned green from my hair roots to my toes nails. It has been a long time since I have coveted anything material. We have been blessed with a lot, and frankly, I don’t have a lot of material wants anyway, so I have been very happy with my life, . . . but in a short moment that changed.

Perhaps the envy arrow would not have struck so forcefully, had I not been in the process of planning a large party to be held at my house and wondering where I would sit everyone for the meal. I wanted all the guests to be in the same room, but to do so would require the removal of much of my furniture and we would still be cramped. So when I stood in a room that was “party perfect” I was deeply jealous.

When I returned to my own house, I noticed for the first time how cramped it was, how my kitchen was not very functional, how less ornate my decorations were . . .

It was interesting to me that just a half hour before, I had loved my house and now I was unhappy with everything in it. And the only difference was I had something to compare it to. I was reminded of a book I read several years back called “Sister Carrie”. Carrie was born in poverty and died in wealth, but was never happy. Although she worked hard in her life and accomplished much, the moment she achieved a level of accomplishment, she would see that someone had more than she did, and she would be discontent once again. She proved true the saying “You can never have enough of the things that don’t satisfy.” So here I was, being Carrie.

It struck me how my discontent was solely the result of comparison. I was happy until I saw there was something much better out there. And since there will always be something better, I have decided the cure to being discontent is simply to be grateful.

I love a comment Dawn at “Momza’s House” once wrote on my blog. It said, “A heart filled with gratitude leaves little room for want.” How true that is. And truthfully, being unhappy over a lack of party space does seem a bit (a lot) shallow—especially when I have been blessed with so much. And so I am filling my heart with gratitude—gratitude for my family, fairly decent good health, and the greatest gift—the gospel, which gives purpose and peace to my life and teaches me that those things that are really important—my husband and children—can be with me forever.

And that is what brings the most . . . joy to my journey.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

If you have a child who will be in seminary . . .

Seminary starts next week for us and that means no more sleeping in! We are on the early morning program and start at 5:50 a.m. (a full five minutes later than last year!). But whether you have early morning or released time, a very important part of seminary is . . .

scripture mastery!

Each year seminary students are required to "master" twenty five scriptures from the book of scripture they are studying that year. This year we are studying the Book of Mormon.

If you or your child want some extra help in learning these scriptures, here are a couple websites with good information.

The best is the church's own seminary and institute website at If you go to there, click on "seminary" on the left side of the page. (You do not need a password to enter that part of the site) That will take you into the seminary website and you can choose where you want to go from there.

Or you can go directly to the Book of Mormon Resources by clicking here. This will give you the list of scriptures, the seminary video songs, book marks, time lines and pictures as well as other resources.

You can also go directly to the scripture mastery page by clicking here. On this page, you will find games that can help you learn about the scriptures and help in memorizing them. You can even do a timed virtual scripture chase! (The instructions aren't very clear, but it is easy to figure out if you play around with it for a few minutes.)

And for a fun, non-official church site with the scriptures put to music go here. In the middle of this page you will see the different Book of Mormon references for the scripture mastery scriptures listed. Click on one of the scriptures for a song to help you memorize the verses. These songs are performed by the group "Son's of Ammon" and are free. Some are a little corny, but my class loved the ones we learned from the New Testament last year, so I anticipate my new class will enjoy these as well. And besides, who doesn't learn better when it they sing a song?!

Have Fun!! And I hope you all have a great year!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Can A House Be Cursed??

I am beginning to wonder if someone put a curse on our house while we were out of town!

In the last two weeks our well pump broke, our swimming pool pump broke, a pop up in the pool needed to be replaced, our air conditioning unit went out last week, and this week the other unit stopped working but it was due to a problem with the electrical wiring in the plug outlet, our sprinklers stopped working in one area of our yard and three of our fruit trees appear nearly dead, the handle fell off the guest bathroom toilet, and the downstairs door to the garage wouldn't open due to a problem with the knob.

But that is not all . . . two different vacuums broke today while being used!

My poor, dear husband. Every evening he comes home to another set of problems. What a blessing he is so good with tools!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Meet the Newest Member of our Family!

Well, we never really thought it would happen. I mean for 27 years Wes has insisted our house be a pet free zone. We never really understood why he was so opposed to furry creatures, probably some childhood trauma related to several of their dogs dying, but all conversations about pets always ended with him saying, "You know how I feel about this. I am not going to discuss it." He even insisted it was part of a prenuptial agreement that I have never actually seen and definitely never signed, but in addition to the no pet policy includes the right to lounge on the couch all of New Year's Day watching football games.

So when my son found a stray abandoned in the desert and said he was giving it to us, we didn't really expect Wes to agree. Ryan and Kali already had two dogs and their house couldn't hold a third so they were eager to find a home for their new puppy. (Ryan had previously rescued another dog he gave to his in laws so they weren't an option.) Yet, every time Ryan would mention bringing the dog to our home, Wes would emphatically say no.

Yet, here we are, the proud owners of a black dog named Lacy. We don't know what kind of a dog she is, but she is now ours--or more specifically, Michelle's--since Michelle has been given the responsibility to care for her.

Michelle is my fifth and last child and in a couple weeks will be our only child at home. For the next three years she gets her parent's undivided attention. (And she is so very much looking forward to it. :-) Apparently this, and the fact that Ryan just dropped Lacy off at the house and left while both Wes and I were gone, has led to her now being part of our family. Wes was not particularly happy about it, but after a small lecture on how he was not going to be the care giver, he has been very sweet and kind. And in fact he, Michelle, and Lacy can be seen walking together in the neighborhood early each morning.

And Michelle is getting a bit of an education. She has already learned that caring for a dog is much more work than she anticipated. Not only does she get to walk, feed and bathe the dog and get up in the night to take her out for a potty break, but Lacy seems to have some abandonment issues, and so Michelle is now never alone in the house. Every where she goes, Lacy goes with her. But school starts on Monday, which means Michelle will be gone and Lacy will be my companion. And then I get to walk her, feed her and take her out side to pee.

Lucky me!! :-)
And . . Woe Is We!
We got home from piano lessons yesterday and were hit with a blast of heat as we walked through the back door. Apparently at some point in our absence, our air conditioning unit stopped working. The downstairs unit was out last week and now it appears to be the top unit's turn. Unfortunately, our kitchen and bedroom are upstairs. It was 114 degrees outside, and probably close to 100 inside (our thermostat only measures to 90). I found chocolate bars we brought back from our trip melted in the cupboard.
So, I will be calling yet another repairman this morning. And until he arrives either hibernating in the basement or finding somewhere air conditioned to go. Life is filled with unexpected little surprises!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Dreaded Day Is Here

The dreaded day has arrived. I knew it would happen and I know it is best, but it seems to have come much faster than I wished. Kristen leaves today to go back to BYU. She has to return to her job on Monday which is why she is leaving nearly a month before school starts.

And she is going to be very much missed.

For the past few months she has been my personal assistant. She has put together the majority of my supplies for seminary, cleaned out the office and organized all my files. She helped with parties and cooked dinner a couple times a week and kept me company. So of course I will miss her help, but I will also miss her optimistic attitude toward life, her wacky humor and her boundless energy. Her father will miss her very much as well, as she has been his jogging/walking companion at 5:15 a.m. all summer.

Kristen is a senior at BYU and wants to be a teacher. She will be a very good one. She has an incredible talent for teaching and loves kids. She can also resolve issues in creative ways.

One example occurred at church a few months ago. As we were leaving, Kristen noticed a young man around 12 in the foyer bullying some of the other boys in the ward. As she walked by she said to the bully, “Hey, you really shouldn’t have been blowing kisses at me during church.” He looked up shocked and vehemently denied it.” She told him he shouldn’t do something wrong and then lie about it. And then she left. As she walked out the door she heard the other boys teasing him about his crush. In less than a minute he had gone from being the bully to being on the defensive. And we all got a good laugh out of it.
Kristen actually makes me laugh a lot. She once cleaned out my refrigerator and then posted a sign on the refrigerator door that said "This is no longer a penicillin culture friendly environment" And signed it "State Health Department". Another time she was putting away the laundry and came across several socks without mates. She put them all in a basket with a sign on the front that said, "Socks still in mating season."
I am also going to miss her piano playing. She is the one daughter of the three youngest who will play for her own (and my) enjoyment.

But now it is time for her to once again leave us. We wish her the very best in her final year at BYU.
Kristen--We know you will be great! But we also can’t wait until Christmas, when you will be back home with us!