Thursday, 31 December 2009


I feel compelled to write once more before the year ends and since I can't think of any particular topic, I thought I'd share some conversations the kids and I have had this year:

We had company over for dinner tonight and the kids decided to wrestle over the package Mrs. Crimbles Coconut Macaroons that we had gotten for Christmas. I know you'll be shocked and surprised when I tell you a glass of Crystal Lite got tipped over. A nearly FULL glass of RED Crystal Lite. In front of the company. I had only seen it happen out of the corner of my eye and from my observation, it look like Logan had caused this dining disaster. I went over with a paper towel, which upon arriving found it to be completely inadequate for the job. I asked Hannah if Logan had tipped over the glass and she said (in front of company), "No. I did. I'd like to say that Logan did it, but it was me."

Yesterday morning, I fixed the kids some eggs for breakfast. After having crammed a shovel like portion into his mouth, Logan sneezed. Twice. I could see it was going to happen and I wanted to say, "Cover your mouth!" but I knew it would have been too late. I wanted to cover his mouth with my hand, but self preservation paralyzed me. Luckily, I had JUST washed the table cloth so the eggs had a hygenic place to land after they were propelled at 100+mph from Logan's mouth. Of COURSE I was annoyed! I scolded Logan for not covering his mouth when he sneezed. Ever the peacemaker, Logan wanted to make good our relationship and offered this olive branch: "Mommy, I no pick my nose." I thanked him for reminding me what a great kid he actually is.

Last anecdote is from the archives, but it really is so astute a portrait of me, that I have to share it for posterity. Hannah was just little, probably around two years old. She would do stuff that was naughty and she knew better but she was two, so she HAD to do it. You know, normal stuff, like putting her teddy in the dish water or throwing random things from the balcony. I would tell her, "Hannah! That makes me so angry! You're making me crazy!" After one particular 2-year-old thing she did, I became cross with her which upset her and made her cry, "Mommy angry! Crazy!" Which immediately made me laugh at the razor sharp analysis of her demented mother.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

A Christmas Story

I realize that all my previous posts have attempted humor, yet I'm going to take a moment to share a less frivolous story from my childhood--a time when I discovered the meaning of Christmas. I wrote this story last year when I was asked to speak in church, so I'll share an excerpt from that with you:

The “Christmas Spirit” is an elusive thing. It is entwined in traditions and baking, decorating the house and wrapping gifts. While living in England, we embraced the novelty of having our children involved in Christmas Nativities at school. Another facet of Christmas was developed when I lived in Mexico where Navidad meant Posadas. Bright, colorful paper lanterns, piñatas, music, friends and plenty of wonderful food welcomed the coming of the Christ child. It was in Mexico that I had my first real Christmas experience. It’s one more layer of what Christmas means to me.

When I was 12 years old, our family moved to Mexico. My three sisters and I had to learn the language by listening, practicing and making mistakes that brought laughter to those with whom we were trying to converse. The first year, I couldn’t speak one word, however, by the second year, I could understand most everything, and by the third year, I could chat away with anyone.

During that third year, our last one in Mexico, my family came to know Elisa’s family. It was quite common in the late ‘70s to hire help and Elisa was a lady who lived nearby and would come by everyday to cook, clean, do laundry—whatever my mother needed. Elisa had a large family and her young husband would find employment as a construction worker, an abañil, the humblest and least paid vocations of the time. One day I visited Elisa’s home, located in a vacant lot very near our large, two story, five bedroom home. I had never seen anything like it. The entire house couldn’t have been bigger than 15’ x 15’. It had dirt floors and the walls and roof were corrugated tin. The family bed was in one corner while the wood burning stove was in another. I noticed some out-of-date advertisement posters from my father’s work used to insulate the interior from those thin metal walls. Despite the difficult conditions, her home was immaculate. The dirt floor was tamped down hard and swept clean, the bed was made, and their one dilapidated dresser held the entire families' clothes; there was no clutter anywhere.

In December of that year, my mother came to us and explained that Elisa’s husband had been out of work for quite some time. Her family was managing because of Elisa’s income as our housekeeper, however, there would be no presents that year from El Niño Dios, the Baby Jesus. Mom asked us if we would be willing to allocate some of our Christmas budget on buying gifts for Elisa’s family. We said we would, but selfishly, I suggested we shop at the discount store. Mom took us shopping and we picked out gifts for each of Elisa’s 6 or 7 children. I picked out a large plastic dump truck and to my eternal shame, I will always remember saying to my mother, “This is good enough for Pedro.” During our shopping spree, my mother also picked out something for Elisa and another small gift for her husband, an act I very much begrudged; after all, Christmas is for children, not adults and buying two more gifts for them was taking away from money that could be spent on me.

We took all our purchases home and wrapped them with bright paper, colorful bows and curly ribbon, carefully putting a tag on each so everyone would get their rightful gift. Mom explained we couldn’t very well ALL go to Elisa’s little home with the presents, so on Christmas Eve, she put the gifts in an ENORMOUS bag and then put some of my father’s shirts on top to hide the vividly covered packages. She drove to Elisa’s home and took the large bag inside, telling Elisa that she needed these things washed before Christmas. At first, Elisa didn’t realize that my mom was simply trying to sneak something past the children who were curiously peeping at their mamá's employer. She just respectfully murmured, “ Sí Señora.” Never once did she complain that it was late afternoon Christmas Eve, or point out that she didn’t have a washing machine and it would take hours to wash everything in that bag by hand. To clue her in, Mom moved away the shirts, allowing Elisa a glimpse at the gifts inside. Confusion gave way to gratitude and then to tears as Elisa cried, “I will have it done for Christmas Señora!” Mom left her there with the "laundry" and later that evening when all the children slept, dropped off a bicycle that my little sister had outgrown for one of Elisa’s daughters.

When my mother returned and shared the story with us, my heart was stricken with remorse. I wanted to go back immediately and buy nicer presents. I wanted to spend all my Christmas money so that Elisa’s children could have a stunning Christmas. Of course, it was everlastingly too late. That is when I learned what Christmas really means--sharing with others, blessing those around us without thought for oneself, losing ourselves in the service of others.

Each year since then, I relive that Christmas. When I begin the yearly foray into innumerable boxes of tinsel and holly, Pedro’s plastic truck reminds me to make sure that spirit of giving from the heart is part of our Christmas traditions.

David O. McKay declared: “True happiness comes only by making others happy—In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service."

Please know that I am wishing the true spirit of the season to bless your lives. Merry Christmas, dearest ones.

Monday, 14 December 2009


We've used AFN (American Forces Network) or just local TV for all but the last year and a half of our lives. No TiVo, no DVR, no satelite--none of that big city stuff for our family; just "on" and "off".

HOWEVER, now that we are in Ah-mer-EE-ka, we are so luvin our Dish TV with DVR. We record things and pause the program if we need to visit the loo, then we get to FF through the commercials or RW if we missed a critical moment on iCarly. It's been a life altering experience.

So, on our way to school today, we were listening to the radio station that has been playing Christmas music 24/7 since Thanksgiving. When I turned it on, there was an EPIC tune playing that Hannah really liked. She asked me if I could RW it so we could start it at the beginning. I explained we were listening to the radio, not a CD, therefore I couldn't rewind. This was a concept that took a little time to grasp. She quizzed me on the veracity of my statement. I tried to explain that the radio station played music whether we listened or not. Tragically, I likened it to the TV, where shows continue to play even when we turn it off. Fatal comparison. I was grilled as to WHY on the TV we have command of the FF and RW and yet not on the radio. I had no answer. I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm lying...