Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Kissing (Part 1)

Being Valentine's Day and all, I thought it appropriate to write about kissing.

Have I already written about this??


I was boy crazy from my earliest memories.  I remember every boy I've ever loved (liked), starting in kindergarten:

Justin Bigger
mexican kid from school (i don't remember his name.)
Mark Wilkins
Steven Perkowski
Jess Warren
Patrick Hutchison
Joseph Terry
Kenny Sorensen
John Hardy
and of course, Brian Lacouture
.....just to name a few.


Interestingly, though, I never really had a thing for kissing boys.  Kissing,  (or rather, the IDEA of kissing) terrified me.  It always seemed like to everyone else, it was such a normal, natural thing.  But to me?  Totally awkward and terrifying.  Maybe I should have watched more kissing movies.

The fact is, I was never in a position to kiss a boy until I was 16 and had my first boyfriend.  And I was absolutely terrified to kiss him.  Anytime we got into one of those kissy situations where our faces were close together, I would always just get nervous and dodgy.   And Sarah had somehow figured out that part of what terrified me about kissing was having to tell my mom about it.  I knew she would ask me, and I couldn't lie to her.

One night,  Joseph and I were talking on the phone and the conversation kinda led to when in the heck we were going to kiss.  I don't know what kind of excuses I was coming up with or what I was saying.  All I remember is Sarah barging into the room (she must have been listening in on our conversation) and saying, "Ann, you just need Mom to give you permission to kiss Josepsh!"

To which I replied, "No, I don't!"

And she said "Yes, you do!" And then started hollering for my mom.  When my mom got to my bedroom, Sarah blurted out, "Mom, Ann needs you to give her permission to kiss Joseph!"

And my mom repeated, "Ann, do you need permission to kiss Joseph?"

And I replied, "Yes!"  Turns out I did need that permission.  I just needed to know it was ok with my mom  for me to be kissing boys.  :)

A couple days later when Joseph kissed me for the first time--and it was probably the most awkward peck ever, my fault--the first thing my mom asked me when I went inside was, "Did he kiss you?" and then,  "Did you like it?"  What kind of mom asks that question?  An awesome one.  That's what kind.

But ANYWAY... after going through a couple months dating Joseph and then Justin and still being totally terrified of kissing (how do you do it? Do we stare into each other's eyes first?  Do I wait for him to touch my face first or do I meet him half way?   Do I turn my head left or right?  What if we bonk noses??  What if he opens his mouth?  What if he uses his tongue?????)  I decided that one way or another I was going to have to get over that fear, and learn how to handle the whole thing.    I mean, I did plan on having kids someday....

So one day, I happened upon an article in The Reader's Digest that would change my (kissing) life.  It outlined a study that had been done with shooting free throws.  In the study, there were three groups--one control group and two experimental groups.  The object of the study was to determine which randomized group would make the most baskets while shooting free throws  at the end of the experimental period.  The procedure was as follows:  Over a given period of time, one group of people would physically practice free throws for a specified amount of time every day.  The second group would visually practice free throws for that same amount of time--in other words, they would be guided in visualizing everything about shooting free throws: where you would stand, where you were looking when you released the ball, how the ball looked flying through the air, how the ball would hit the backboard, etc.  And the control group didn't do anything.  At the end of the experimental period, all the groups had to shoot free throws and the number of baskets were recorded.   The conclusion of the study was that the group that did the visualizing was able to make the most baskets.  So interesting, right?

Well, I decided that if the whole visualizing thing worked with free throws, then surely it would also work with kissing.   So I started setting aside time to visualize kissing.  No joke.    I would imagine being in the kissy situation (you know the kind--with the look and stuff) and then I would imagine which way I would turn my face, how we would come together.  How our lips would make contact, etc.

After I had been going through these exercises for a while, Brian asked me to be his girlfriend, and I knew my visualizing would be put to the test.    He told me later that Justin had made the comment to him, "I hope you're not planning to get any action with Ann.  You're going to be disappointed!"  Oh brother.

But anyway,  I couldn't stand the thought of waiting for, and then being in, that horrible kissy situation, so I just decided that armed with the visualization skills I had acquired, I was just going to take matters into my own hands and plant one on him before there was any time for things to be awkward.    And man, that's gotta be one of the finer decisions of my life.  It worked like a champ.
Turns out, Meghan and Justin were watching the whole thing go down from across the street in Meghan's house.    Ha!  I shocked the socks off them!  (Remember that, Meg??)

So anyway....



Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Christmas Magic

Well, I managed to run into a little Christmas magic just in the nick of time.  This shouldn't surprise me.  After all, it seems like every year, right before Christmas--like on the 22nd or 23rd--I finally find the magic I've been looking for.  This year, it happened like this:

Ever since like 2014 (when we almost skipped Christmas because we were so bad) we have done a Christmas service project on Christmas day.  And it has been truly wonderful--seriously.   This year, on the Saturday before Christmas (the 23rd?)  Brian texted a bunch of people and invited them to join us at the Stone's house for some service.   Brian led a crew of men helping Mark tear the remaining old shingles off the house and begin work on the new trim and siding, and another large group of us worked in the yard.  There were so many wonderful people there who answered the call text and came ready and eager to work.   The kids all worked happily alongside their friends and it was just so wonderful.

While we were working, Nancy texted to ask if anyone wanted to come to her house for lunch.  When we were finished, Liz Hughes and Chad Clement and I decided to take her up on her offer, so we (and all of our kids) headed over there, left our dirty boots at the door and went in to enjoy lunch together. Nancy's house is so fun anyway, but with all of us piled in there with her family, it was especially...magical.   She whipped us up a lunch of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and dip, and ice-cream and we all sat around eating and visiting.

After we left, the kids and I headed home (Brian was still working at the Stone's.)  I cleaned up a bit and made some Italian sausage vegetable soup and sugar cookies.  The kids helped me with the cookies and worked on art projects in the office.

Later on, the kids and I piled into the car and headed out to Londi's house for a Christmas open-house.  Have you ever been to Londi's house?  It is an awesome a-frame cabin in the forest that smells like Christmas all year long.  So perfect.

When we got home, we had an informal open house of our own.  The Wondras, Mitchells, Jensens, and Hughes all stopped in to have some soup and cookies and hang out for a while.

Anyway, like I said, the day was magical.  I was surrounded by people I love--all having fun--and celebrating Christmas.

Perhaps one of the biggest contributors to that day being so special, though, was the fact that Brian was happy.    Unfortunately, these days, Brian doesn't seem happy very often.  But that day, he seemed happy.   He was doing his thing--working and serving--and he seemed happy.  He wasn't with us at Nancy's or Londi's houses, and I wasn't with him for most of the day, but he was in the back ground, happy, and that made all the difference.  It was an answer to my prayers--the best of my Christmas gifts.

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On Christmas day, after we opened gifts and Brian and I had a nap, our family headed back over to the Stone's to finish up by spreading bark in the yard and then we headed over to the park to play.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

December 4, 2017

Dear Family and Friends, 

I’m sitting at my computer with Christmas music playing softly as I write.  My Christmas playlist has been playing all evening.  It was playing just now as I had a screaming match with Danin and then dragged her to her room, literally.   I’m 39 years old now, but still not mature enough to use more discipline than a child…. :(

I was out of control.  I immediately felt regret and disappointment and went to the freezer for some peppermint ice cream to self-medicate, and then I came into the office to clean.  (Man this office is a mess.)  As I was cleaning up the Christmas books scattered across the floor, I opened one called “O Christmas Three” and read the words of Leo Tolstoy, “Where love is, there God is also.”    So true, Leo.  So true.  Sigh….

Last year I described how every year, I go wondering through December looking for Christmas, as they say.  And man, I tell ya—it can be hard to find.  I’m always searching for the magic that is Christmas—and trying my best to create it—but man, it can be hard.   I feel like I’ve spent the last year thinking about it and have finally come to some conclusions.   The magic of Christmas, for me, comes when there is love…and peace..in my home and in my family.  As I’ve thought about it, all of the magical moments of my life can be characterized by the presence of love and peace—moments when everyone is laughing and smiling and having fun.  They are moments of forgiveness and tolerance—when relationships are strong and steady and we are all enjoying being together.  You know? So you add to one of those moments a spattering of chiming bells, sparkling lights, and holiday fragrances, and you’ve got yourself some Christmas magic—a simple recipe, but still so difficult to cook up sometimes.  

So anyway…

Other than our daily failures (but continued efforts!) to create and preserve peace in our home, we continue to be blessed with the normal struggles of a normal family: learning to put on CLEAN underwear after a shower; learning to  PUT ON underwear in the first place (insert eye-rolling emoji here); learning not to tease; learning not to react to teasing; learning to keep our mouths shut—you know, all the basics.  We’ve got kids who are playing sports, wearing mascara (say wha??), singing, dancing and reading books.  We’ve got kids who are healthy and fun.  We’ve got all we could really want.

I really am so grateful for all I have.  I’m especially grateful for the opportunity I continue to have to be loved and to feel intense love.    It’s an incredible blessing to love someone so much you feel like your heart really could beat right out of your chest.  I love that line from Les Mis that says “to love another person is to see the face of God.”  Victor Hugo and Leo Tolstoy, man…smart guys..


Merry Christmas, everyone.  May we all find it this year.

Love, 
Ann


Monday, November 6, 2017

What I Pray

Way back when my wedding day was approaching, I began to be a little concerned by the fact that I wasn't all that excited to have sex.  To me, hugging and kissing and cuddling and all that stuff was plenty fun, and I didn't really care to do any more than that.  Just the prospect of sleeping in a bed with Brian was exciting enough for me.  Weird?  Well anyway, as our wedding day grew nearer, I started panicking a little that I wouldn't be ready to have sex--that I wouldn't want it and thus I would ruin the whole thing.  You know?  And I figured it was mostly God's fault since it was he who had invented sex and sex drive in the first place.  So anyway, I felt totally comfortable adding "and pleeeeaaaassseee help me to want to have sex" to my prayers every day.  I prayed that everyday for like the last week or so of my engagement.  And you know what?  It worked.  On my wedding day, I was ready to go.  :)

Why am I thinking about this?  Because this is the first November of my entire life where I have not been super excited to start decorating/planning/shopping for Christmas.  I love Christmas more than anyone I know.  For real.  I am crazy about it.   But this year?  I'm not feeling it.   Breaking out all my Christmas bins seems overwhelming, I haven't decided if I want to throw my Favorite Things Party (and it's normally the only day of the year I am fun!), and last weekend I spent two whole days shopping with some of my girlfriends and I didn't buy one single Christmas item.  Not one.  I think something bad is happening to me.

It's really devastating for me.  So I'm going to pray about it.  I'm going to start asking Heavenly Father to help me want Christmas...  You might be thinking that it would be better for me to forgo all that materialistic stuff anyway, because that's not what Christmas is all about; and I get that.  But it's just that for me-- its that same excitement and energy that makes me decorate and shop that makes me serve and seek the true Christmas spirit as well.  You know what I mean?  It's all the same thing for me.

I'm wondering if the reason I'm not particularly excited for the Christmas season is that I am lacking love in general.  I have let my heart turn a bit cold, if you will.  I haven't exercised my love enough, and now it is weak and bearing little fruit.  

So I will try and draw nearer to the Lord, I will ask to be filled with His love--and I will hope that by doing so, I will start to get excited for Christmas.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Zero Population

The other day, I was thinking about weddings.   Specifically, I was thinking about how I would style a reception if I were getting married tomorrow.    Because I love to design and decorate my home, people are always surprised that I don't necessarily have an interest in or a knack for decorating for events.  But anyway, I was thinking about what I would really, really want for my wedding/reception if I were just about to be married, and you know what I decided?  I decided that just like when I DID get married, I wouldn't really have a lot of strong opinions.  I would want there to be good food, and I would want to look beautiful.  I would just LOVE to have a special event where I felt beautiful.  You know?  There are very few times in my life when I have felt beautiful and I know that being beautiful isn't important anyway, but I would still like the chance to feel that way.  I've been trying to remember if I felt beautiful on my wedding day.  I can't remember, but probably not.  I remember that I had a huge unhideable (made-up word?) zit on my chin--as I always do for special occasions--and I wasn't having a particularly good hair day.  I think I felt comfortable that Brian loved me and was happy with the way I looked, so that was enough.

When you read books or watch movies and there is a beautiful girl and a plain girl, which girl do you identify with?  I ALWAYS identify with the plain girl, of course.  
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Over the last month or so, I have been watching Poldark and loving it--until last night.  Last night, I watched the episode where Ross is unfaithful to Demelza, and now the whole love story is basically ruined for me.  I was DEVASTATED.  Why does this always have to happen?  For whatever reason, experiencing affairs in books/movies, etc.  affects me in real life.  It's like I went to bed with less hope.  You know?  I think I've mentioned this before, but it's like with each affair I read about/watch/find out about, I feel my chances of experiencing an affair in my own life are that much greater.  It's like the statistician in me just thinks about the laws of probability and i just get all worked up.  Anyway....hopefully the love story that has been ruined for me for now, will become a love story that teaches me about forgiveness and redemption and a deeper, truer love that results.  Can that really happen?  I hope so.


The other day, I was outside doing yard work and watching Skip do tricks on his skateboard.  One of our neighbors (who has heretofore been somewhat standoffish and not particularly friendly) was outside pullings weeds, so I had the thought to visit with her.  I said hello and asked her how she was doing.  She nodded toward the weeds she was pulling and expressed frustration with the HOA for not following through with their responsibilities to keep our easements and common areas maintained.  She mentioned the sand that had gotten blown around by our building our house and by the building that is going on currently.  Dang.  She is one of those neighbors.  Sighhhh...  Regardless, I was determined to be friendly--to kill her with kindness, or at least wound her with it.  :)  I offered to help her pull weeds and went inside to quickly grab my gloves.  When I returned and started pulling weeds,  I attempted to start a friendly conversation with her by asking if she and her husband have any kids.
"Oh, no, " she replied.  "We are part of that "zero population" generation.   My husband and I are both scientists."
She continued to express her feelings about the Earth's eminent demise and her determination not to contribute to the world's overpopulation, which is to blame.   I commented that while I respect her opinion, I do not agree with it.  She said that she feels bad for people like me who have kids who will experience the earth's...destruction?  demise?....  I can't remember the words she used.  I mostly listened but did comment that not all scientists feel the same as her with regards to not having kids.  She responded that those scientists need to check their facts.   She said that numbers don't lie.

I felt so disappointed and defeated.  We sure do see things through different lenses.  With my heart in my chest, we finished weeding and I commented about what a good job she and her husband do with their yard.  She returned the compliment.

I will keep trying.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Sportsman's Prayer

Have you heard this poem before?  As Brian and I and the kids were driving back to Florence from Vegas after a week there for Spring Break, we were listening to General Conference.  I fell asleep several times, but caught some of the words to this poem and loved them.  I immediately grabbed my phone and sent myself a text with the words I could remember, so that I could reference them later.   Today was my day to teach in Relief Society, and as I was preparing,  I searched for the talk that contained this poem.  Interestingly,  after a million searches on LDS.org and Google,  I could not find it.  I went talk by talk looking for the words of this poem that I had jotted down, but did not find them.  Weird, huh?  So weird.  Maybe the rest of the talk was awful so they wiped away the record of it?  Maybe I was dreaming when I heard the words?  Maybe I needed to hear these words, so they were sent by an angel though Brian's phone (on which we were listening to Conference) straight to only me?  I'm not sure.  What I know is that I did hear these words that day, and I did find the full poem online--so it does exist.   I just don't know how nobody else seems to remember having heard it and I can't find any record of it having been quoted at conference.  Anyway, I love it:

Prayer of a Sportsman

Dear Lord, in the battle that goes on through life
I ask but a field that is fair,
A chance that is equal with all in the strife,
A courage to strive and to dare;
And if I should win, let it be by the code
With my faith and my honor held high;
And if I should lose, let me stand by the road,
And cheer as the winners go by.
And Lord, may my shouts be ungrudging and clear,
A tribute that comes from the heart,
And let me not cherish a snarl or a sneer
Or play any sniveling part;
Let me say, "There they ride, on whom laurel's bestowed
Since they played the game better than I."
Let me stand with a smile by the side of the road,
And cheer as the winners go by.
So grant me to conquer, if conquer I can,
By proving my worth in the fray,
But teach me to lose like a regular man,
And not like a craven, I pray;
Let me take off my hat to the warriors who strode
To victory splendid and high,
Yea, teach me to stand by the side of the road
And cheer as the winners go by.



-Berton Braley

Maybe it's the fact that I love sports and just attended Camp's final track meet for the season; maybe it's having watched my kids play soccer for the last 6 weeks' worth of Saturdays.  Maybe it's just that I love me a good show of sportsmanship.  Maybe it's because I struggle with jealousy and being happy for the successes and fortune of others.  Whatever it is, I'm definitely a sucker for a good sentimental poem and I loved this one.  I'm going to always try to cheer as the winners go by.

Lately I've been making my way through Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling again, and it's hit me how incredibly important the records recorded in journals are to our understanding of history.  

I can't imagine that my blog will be of any import to history in general, but it will certainly be important as a record of my history, right?  And maybe someday it will be important for someone to understand my history.  I don't know.  

For my birthday, Jayne Edman gave me a binder in which to record my spiritual experiences and insights.  So thoughtful, right?  It has made me regret not having recorded so many of these things before and created a desire in me to be better about it from now on.    And doing this is important to me because I want to remember the times the Lord has whispered things to me through his Spirit.   At this point, I feel like it is so difficult to know what is true.  All I really have to lean on is what I feel God has communicated to me.  My truths.  You know?   I want my kids to know what I feel the Lord has tried to teach me.  Here is some of that:

God loves me.  He gives me a million chances and he never gives up on me. 

If I want Brian to be my biggest fan, all I have to do is be his biggest fan.

A lot of weakness and strength can exist in the same person.  A lot of strength and weakness exist within me. 

Not only am I free to love and appreciate the strengths and good qualities of others despite whatever their weaknesses are, but that is God's commandment to me. 

I need to learn to shut. my. mouth.  

I am selfish and I need to learn to think of others before myself. 

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Recently,  I had been praying that Heavenly Father would help me to recognize ways to show Brian my love in a way he would recognize and feel.  I had also been praying that the Spirit would speak to me LOUDLY so that I could hear it.  (Why does the Spirit always have to whisper??)  The other night, Brian was upstairs working on finishing the bathroom up there.  Several times, I had the impression to go ask him if he needed my help.  I did not want to help him.  I was tired and anxious to go to bed.  I felt like it was reasonable for any person to want to go to bed at 9 o'clock at night instead of working on a bathroom.  Even so, I kept having the feeling that I should offer my help.  I didn't.    The next morning, Brian and I got into an argument on the phone and during our conversation, Brian yelled, "Of all the time I have spent working upstairs, you have only helped me ONE time!"  I realized then that the impression I had received the night before had indeed come from the Spirit.  Sure it was reasonable for me to have wanted to go to bed.  Sure it was true that Brian had never asked for my help.  Sure it was true that Brian had rarely offered to help with all the work I had had to do.  Nevertheless, I had asked Heavenly Father to show me ways to show Brian my love and he had answered me.  I just didn't want to hear the answer.  



Monday, January 30, 2017

Skip's Night

It used to be that every night, all four of my kids would call to me after having gotten in bed, "Mom, will you come lay with me?"  (Yeah, it should be lie with me, but who cares?) And this became a real problem because lying with all four of them for a period of time every night meant that I got no time to myself, which I desperately needed and wanted at the end of each day.  So at some point, I came up with a solution that was probably inspired by a tradition Sarah has with her kids.  I assigned each kid one night of the week.  Now, on his/her night, each kid gets to have me lie with them and do whatever it is they want to do while we lie together in bed.

At the beginning, Danin always wanted me to sing to her.  During my time with her on "her nights"  I sang to and taught her that old country song called Johnny's Daddy (Is that what it's called?)  She loved it and learned it quickly.  Then she and I started watching videos from Les Mis (the movie and the play) on YouTube and she started learning the songs from watching them so many times.  That was how I introduced her to Les Mis.  Usually, now, she just likes to read to me or have me read to her.

Most of the time on her night, Janey reads to me, too.  She's a great reader, that girl.  And now, she has me rub her back with her little purple back-rubbing tool while she reads.  It's fun to get little snippets of the books she's reading.

Camp ALWAYS takes advantage of his night by asking me to rub his back.  He knows I cannot say no when it is his night.  And he is picky.  He tells me exactly where to put my hands and where and how to push and apply pressure.  He looooovvvveeess to have his back rubbed, popped and stood on. Sometimes I wonder if something did happen to his back that day when he fell out of our second story 12th street window.  Hmm.  And he talks, too.  He's a talker like me and I love it.  During our time together on his nights, I have often asked him if he likes a girl yet and if he has any more hair in his armpits.  :)

And Skip.  My baby.  On his nights, we snuggle up close and give each other butterfly kisses.  I read to him a lot.  Many times I ask him if he wants me to sing to him and he usually says no.  He asks a lot of questions about what things mean and what is real.  (Isn't it interesting how kids always go through a phase of trying to figure out what is "real"?)  Tonight he asked me why Jesus is in Heaven and how he died and why the guys killed him.  He told me that he never hears God talk and I told him that Heavenly Father and Jesus speak to us through the Holy Ghost.  I told him that when I yell at the kids and am mean, Heavenly Father tells the Holy Ghost to whisper to me, Stop yelling.  He asked what the Holy Ghost is and I told him the Holy Ghost is a spirit--a person without a body.   Tonight I also reminded Skip that on Saturday he will get to go to Noah's birthday party.  I asked him if he plays with Noah at school and he said he does.  I then reminded him that every time I have previously asked him who he plays with at school, he has told me, nobody.  He laughed and told me he likes to tell lies.