Friday, January 27, 2012


I could have been my grandmother.  Or even my great-grandmother.  I could have been walking home from trading fresh milk for fresh eggs at a friend's house on a winter's evening a hundred years ago.

It was cold.  I was walking fast and the breeze froze my nose and stung the tips of my ears.  I was anxious to get home, to be surrounded by warm air, cozy lighting and happy, glowing faces.  Outside it was bitter cold, so I walked on quickly.

I could hear dogs barking here and there throughout the neighborhood.  I knew they would bark again as I passed their homes.  I always try to be ready, to keep myself from jumping, startled by the unexpected outburst from the other side of a fence.

A scent wafts past me.  It overwhelms me.  I breathe it in more deeply, further freezing my nose.  It smells like home and family and holidays.  It is warmth and comfort and safety.  It is the smell of wood and coal burning furnaces coming from the houses I walk past.

Two boys are having a snowball fight.  They are running and laughing with rosy cheeks and steaming breath.

The snow crunches under my feet.  It sparkles beneath me, around me.  Surrounded by ice, the smell from the homes fills me with warmth.

When I reach my own home I realize I have been ignoring the cars parked in driveways and the satellite dishes on the sides of the houses.  It was just me, just now.  2012, not 1912.  Just keeping a resolution, not trading a basket of dairy products. But I loved being transported.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Drug Free for 7 Months

We aren't big drug users around here.  We have taken something when we get very uncomfortable, but not all that often.  Still, when I think back on all the times we've been very uncomfortable in the last 7 months and all the times we would have taken a pill or downed some syrup or used ointment or spray it adds up to quite a lot of times.

There are SIX of us in this house and we haven't taken (or bought) any prescription OR over-the-counter medication in the last seven months (apart from Advil for my stubborn headaches).  This is true even though we've had (skip the list if it's TMI)

athlete's foot
back pain
bug bites
colds (runny nose, coughing, sore throat)
digestive issues (every type)
flu (fevers, aches, cold symptoms)
infections (toe)
toothaches/root canal

And now, at the risk of sounding like a new age freak, I just have to say that I love, love, love essential oils, which, you may have guessed, we started using 7 months ago.  In that time we haven't taken the kids to the doctor except once (when Evie had an ingrown toenail that worried me.  We held on to the prescription for antibiotics that the doctor wrote out, used oils with antibiotic properties and didn't have to fill the prescription after all.)  There is always something on hand that is completely safe and natural that we can try before taking anyone to the doctor.  And we just haven't had to.

Can you tell that this makes me happy?  Hugely, hugely happy?  We'll use medicine and doctors any time we need to, but I am starting to understand the neighbors of a friend (who I thought were a bit OTT a few months ago) who quit their health insurance policy (except for emergencies or something) because they used essential oils.

I'm glad we have a doctor and access to modern medicine, and I'm even more glad that we pretty much haven't had to use them, or deal with side effects and wait in discomfort to take the next dose, etc.

I haven't mentioned this on my blog, even though it's so important to me (now, though I was quite a skeptic before we tried them).  But now that I have, I will probably share some of the surprises as they come.  I still am regularly shocked when the oils work on a new ailment and I might just post anecdotes at the end of blog posts, like in italics so you can skip them if you don't care.  :)

Do you use oils or know anyone who does?  Do you think it makes me a freak?  Did you know they can be used in place of medicine? (I didn't)  Do you have an ailment that medicine doesn't seem to help that oils might help?  Essential oils are so powerful, especially therapeutic grade oils (we use DoTerra's top quality oils.)  I'm very grateful for them.
In case it's not clear, I'd be delighted to talk to anyone about oils who wants to!  It never gets old. Just drop me a line.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Wrinkle From Time

My sister Anne and I were often mistaken for twins when we were kids.  Because of this, and the fact that everyone in her apartment complex at BYU knew I was her sister the second they laid eyes on me when I visited from Ricks, we started a tradition of staring into the mirror, cheek to cheek and comparing our faces. Seriously, every time we have been shocked at how alarmingly different we look.  Every feature is so different, we are baffled at how anyone could think we look similar.

We are only 13 months apart.  Anne used to love to laugh through the entire month in which she was actually TWO years older than me.  I was such a baby that month!  Ha!

But now the laugh's on her!  That extra year and a month has rewarded her with the beloved prize time allows us all: wrinkles.  Wrinkles before her baby sister started showing them.  Who's laughing now, huh Anne!?!  Hahahahahahahaha!

Just kidding.

I hope I didn't have to say that.  I would never laugh at the misfortunes of a sibling.  Well, that's not true.  At all.   But whatever.  The point is, in this case I did not and will not laugh at my sister.  The only reason I even noticed her wrinkles at all was because of the fact that she brought it up about three times a day.  We had a number of conversations like these:

Anne:  Look at these wrinkles on my forehead!!!  And the one on the bridge of my nose!!  Can you believe those!?!
Me:  Yes.  Yes I can.
Anne:  But you don't have any wrinkles!
Me:  Yes I do (smiling and pointing under my eyes).  See?
Anne:  Those don't count.
Me:  Well how does it happen that you're the one who gets to determine which wrinkles count and which don't?
Anne:  You use different moisturizers on your face for day and night?
Me:   Uuuuum, yes.
Anne:  (Rolls eyes.)
Anne:  (suspiciously) Why are you rubbing your eyes like that?
Me:  That's how I rub my eyes, Anne.
Anne:  See!!  You're totally trying to avoid wrinkles!!
Anne:  I'm thinking of getting Botox.

Our sister Su is 4 years older than me (that's 3 years older than Anne, if you do the math.).  I'm not sure about her wrinkles.  Does she have any?  I think she does.  I don't really remember.  I try not to memorize people's wrinkles.  And we didn't have many wrinkle-centered conversations in the days I spent with her.

I think wrinkles are fine.  They're neat.  And mostly they're inevitable.  So who cares?  It's just your face.  And they're only skin deep.  Accept them and move along.

I've been realizing that I think I will have wrinkles above my upper lip. Does this delight me?  Not really but we age how we age.  I'm not going to try to smile less frequently to minimize those wrinkles.  (Or, actually, now that I've thought of it, I might.  I'll just claim I stopped being happy and nobody will be the wiser.  It will be my own little wrinkle-avoiding secret. Except never mind because Greg and the kids are way too funny for me to pretend to be sad through their jokes.  Forget that idea, self.)

So to Anne I say:  A lot can happen in 13 months.  By the time I'm the age Anne is now I may be far more wrinkled, even by her own standard, than she is now.  The next time I visit California and we look at our faces side by side in the mirror we may decide to go in for Botox together*.
*Not really.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

For Those Days When You Wish You Were Renting

I know there are times when every home owner wishes they were renting.  This post is for those people.  The next time you find yourself replacing the air conditioning/water heater/driveway/whatever, think back to this post and remember: this will never happen to you.  And be grateful.

Here is what our new door looks like (in "bad" (good for me) weather/lighting).

Note the doormat, which does not say "DOMOWA"
You can also see the large "3" placed too high.  And crooked.  But we didn't expect much more of the guys who put the door in.  What really surprised us was the handle.

Now, I'm not saying that it's ugly (saying being the operative word, because that happens to be exactly what I'm thinking).  I'm only saying that I wonder who picked out this handle.  That's all I'm saying.

It's metal.  It's aaaaa....n interesting design.  And it's huge.  To put it in perspective let's compare it to a hand that uses it regularly.

Now, this hand, while certainly having proportionally larger proximal interphalangeal joints* than many other hands, is no smaller, in a general way, than regular-people hands.

It is a large and mysterious handle.  And if you own your home, you are unlikely for THAT to be the first thing that greets your friends and neighbors.  I mean, it wouldn't be if you didn't like it.  And that's why you should be happy you own your home.  THE reason. (Well, that and the option to hang your own house number properly.)

*Yes, I looked that joint thing up.  But see how smart I'm getting!?!  For those of you not in a position to smarten up at such an amazing rate as myself, you may refer to the joints as PIP joints.  The website I found it on says so.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Priests, Brownies, Doormats and Hellos

The priest came for his yearly visit to our house on Saturday.  Every year at Epiphany a priest goes house to house to sprinkle holy water and ask a blessing on the home, update church membership records, visit briefly and receive a little white envelope. A different priest comes every year, and this one was great.  In the past I would say that all of the priests were nice, some were very nice, and some civil-nice.  We've had a priest who repeatedly took the Lord's name in vain (but was quite merry and friendly) and one who interrupted Greg almost every single time he tried to say anything.  Greg's parents had one, one year, who asked if they minded if he smoked in their living room.  I think that was a few good years ago, though.  More recently we were at my in-laws for the visit when a priest asked his mother when she was finally going to give up smoking.  The priest who came this year had been to Salt Lake City and seen the world and was very open and asked a lot of questions.  It was very nice, but the conversation was kind of one-sided, with us doing the most talking (answering questions) before he had to go.  (note: we skip the holy water and the white envelope)
Tonight, brownies after FHE will end our Week Without Sugar, which was actually a week without candy, chocolate and sweet baked treats.  I still allowed a little jam and the occasional yogurt and sweetened dried fruit like craisins.  It was very, very good, but it was also very hard for me.  I mean, I did it, and I was okay, but I often felt worn out (despite eating lots of good fruits and vegetables) and ate more than I should have because I always felt I needed something.  Yes, I am clearly addicted to sugar (shocker) and this was a very good experiment.  We are limiting sugar in our diets from now on (notably, taking the sugar out of breakfast most days) and I'm actually really excited.
We went to get a new doormat and found two options.  One had two rows of large, earth-toned circles.  The other had "DOMOWA" written across it in enormous type.  This was a puzzlement for all of us.  I kept thinking and thinking and then I realized, "OH!!"  Domowa means "home", but only the adjective.  Dom means (and rhymes with) home.  Domowa means "home" as in "praca domowa" (homework) or "wojna domowa" (home war, translation: family feud).  You read it on the mat and think "Home what?"  I think this is another example of google translate fail.  We bought the colored circles, but I"m thinking about going back for the other one, as it would be a great conversation piece.  Plus it's silly.
On one of my walks (I'm doing great with my resolutions!  Still!) I went past a home a few blocks away that has a lovely garden, now barren, which I peek in at thought the fence with my kids in the summer.  I've seen the older couple that lives there a few times but don't know them.  The man was outside on the sidewalk as I walked past, and instead of the half smile I usual throw at people, I actual vocalized a "dzien dobry" (good day).  I used the inflection that is kind of "all business" that mere acquaintances use (thinking this was already too much), where the first two syllables are pronounced low and the last one is pronounced in a higher tone.  He responded, going up on the MIDDLE syllable, which is how you say it when you are really happy to see someone.  For some reason this totally made my day.  I was expecting maybe a nod of the head, if anything.  I have clearly been living in Poland too long.  Or long enough?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Solving Yet Again

Am I the only one who's noticed that the joke's on us?  That the the term "resolution" comes from the root word "resolve", and that the word resolve* means RE-SOLVE, or in other words, to SOLVE AGAIN (don't check your dictionary, just take my word for it, please).  So at the beginning of a new year we all make lists of how to solve the same problems over again.  Because we failed last year.  Obviously.  New Years Try Again, Losers (and fail again, too!) might be a more fitting term.

But whatever.

I've been inspired by so many of my friends who've made lists and really enjoyed reading them, so I will post my own to look back on next year, before I type them up again at the beginning of next January.  So here is my list of problems to try solving again:

I'm getting tired of being dumbish.  I've always wanted to know more stuff, but always been too lazy to learn it (I just want to know it, please).  This year
I will:
* study scriptures NOT for a few minutes before I fall asleep, but in the morning when I'm not half asleep.  This might be easier because we've already started being ready for school early and spending that last ten minutes or so before Greg takes the kids to school sitting together in a quiet living room, each doing our personal scripture study.  I LOVE this.
* Do more than a quick scan of Wikipedia when I want to know about something.  I do that far too often.  I  will research subjects that interest me in more detail.  I will also learn more about things that other people know/think they know so I can be better informed.
* Read fewer status updates/comments and more non-social-type writings.
* Learn how to do things.  On the computer/phone, playing basic hymns on the piano and maybe the ukulele if Evie ever gets off long enough for me to learn.  Etc.

I always think it's so funny when people tell me that the wished they baked more.
I will:
Bake dessert no more than twice, and a sweet breakfast (muffins/scones) only once, per week.  I've made this resolution before and only lasted for a few weeks.  I will do better.

I don't sit down very much, but I also spend very little time making my heart pump rapidly.
I will:
Get out on my own or with Greg and walk fast at least 15 minutes a day (preferably 30+) after the kids get home and we've chatted over their lunch.  I am exempt on days when the blizzard is so fierce that a person cannot move in any direction.  Or when there is a flood, fire, tornado or hurricane.  Or earthquake.

I've been getting better at this, but ohmygosh I have a long way to go.
I will:
Teach Aaron the alphabet/reading basics, whether he wants to learn or not.
Talk to Aaron and Spence more about things as we go along.
Start more discussions with Ev and Dave.  Have more gospel-centered conversations.

for Pete's sake.
I will:
On facebook.  Even when people say dumb or offensive things.
And in real life.  I'll stop myself when I feel a room going quiet and realize that I'm expressing my opinion about something as if it is the Holy Truth.  (although I still call some of those things holy truth.  Like how Poles should not pee in plain sight on the side of the road. :)
On my blog, however, I will write whatever I want.

I will:
Stop acting like everything matters so much.
Smile more.
Forgive more easily.
Let other people decide things more often.
Never lose my temper.

Well, that oughtta do it!  Wish me luck!!
*and to those who are saying, "doesn't resolution come from resolute?" I say, "Don't sass me."

Monday, January 2, 2012

I Hope I Don't Die

Oh my, it's been a wonderful week or two.  Everything this week of the year should be.  I hope yours was too!

And now it's time to put away the things of last year, and last week.  Like the 5 pies, dozens of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, mint brownies, toffee, fudge, shortbread cookies (not my idea), meringues and so on.

In an attempt to be a tiny little fraction as cool as the Ken Craig family (read him if you don't.  You must.) I am taking my own family off of sugar to start off the year.  His family goes off for the entire month of January and I'm taking mine off for the entire first week.  Minus the first two days because there are still treats in the house and we need dessert after FHE.  But THEN.  Then, I tell you, we're off sugar for the first time in EVER.  For seven days.

I am not sure if I will survive so I am writing this post as a kind of farewell, just in case.  I'm also considering posting something every day so I have something to live for.  Muuuuust wriiiiiiiite pooooooost.  Like that.  Because I doubt that things like feeding children so they don't starve and making sure no catastrophe hits here at home will be enough motivation for me with no sugar to push me along.