Who wants to write an essay on water conservation when they can write fiction?

So my mom’s aunt wanted me to enter a water conservation essay contest, and I’m like, why in the world would you write an essay like that for fun? I only do stuff like that because I’m required to.(No offense, but I think that’s crazy! Why would you write about water conservation when you can write fiction?) I mean I know some people love to write non-fiction and essays all day long, but I am not one of those people. Sorry, I know it doesn’t matter if you like non-fiction or fiction, but I really, really do like fiction/fantasy. Speaking of which, I am working on a book/story, which I haven’t figured out a title out for yet. If you have any suggestions(mom and dad excluded)or comments, please respond. Here is the first chapter:

I stared at the dark chestnut door in front of me. I started to lift my hand to the brass lion knocker, then dropped it, embarrassed. Blinking back tears, I turned around and sat down on the nondescript porch steps, burying my head  in my hands. I only remembered bits and pieces of last night, but they were enough to help me understand what had happened. They had tried to kill me. I sighed. This shouldn’t  surprise me. After all, my entire life was full of ill fortune and bad luck. First, my mom had three miscarriages after me. Then, after a poor harvest, our farm had burned down to the ground in a terrible fire that had also killed my father. When we moved to Gristone, we thought our troubles were over, until now. Me, mom, my six year-old sister Uniasus and my two year-old brother Cougar. Weird names, I know. Mine’s Phoenix. Mom said it was a family tradition to name our kids after animals. I had no idea what a uniasus was until my mom explained it was a unicorn and pegasus put together. Cool, right? My mom’s name was Falcon. More tears squeezed out of my eyes. I missed her so much! I hoped she hadn’t been hurt or killed by that mob last night. I could only hope that what ever had taken me to this place had also taken care of my mother, Uni, and Cou. It was a thin hope, I know. But I’m not doing them any good sitting on someone’s porch, I told myself. So, gathering up my courage, I got up, turned around, and marched to the door. Before I could think about what I was doing, like a robot I stiffly lifted the brass knocker and pounded it on the door three times. Nothing happened for a moment. I nervously chewed the inside of my cheek. Then I heard voices and nearing footsteps. Relief swept through me at the same time nervousness made my stomach feel like a rock. What was I going to say? Oh hello, me and my family just got forced out of Gristone by an angry mob and I lost consciousness and woke up in your meadow. So, will you take me in? Yeah, right. But I didn’t have any time to brood on that, for the door just creaked open, reveling a plump, black-haired woman in her forties. She took in my bedraggled hair and dirty dress, my weary atmosphere, my pink cheeks, and the emotions that swept across her face were shock and concern, not disgust like I had expected. ”Oh dear, dear! Oh no!Preston!” she called over her shoulder, like the world was ending. I narrowed my eyes. Did I look that bad? But right then a giant wave of vertigo, tiredness, and hunger swept over me. I stood, swaying on the spot. The women looked back in time to see me throw up what was left of the food in my stomach, than faint, falling on top of her. Ugh. Not again. What was it with me and fainting?

So I know I need to work on it some more, maybe add more details. It’s not the best, but if you could give me some suggestions it would help. Thanks!

More (or less) baby

This morning Molly (aged 18 months) opened the refrigerator, pulled out a Ziploc with a piece of leftover pizza in it, opened the bag and started eating. Possibly my other children did this (they learn young to fend for themselves), but I don’t remember quite such precocity. Either way, now that she has mastered cold-pizza-for-breakfast, she’s ready to sleep through History of Civilization.

Here she is helping herself to more of the lunch of champions last week:

I try to not take my kids’ development too personally, not to feel that accomplishments or milestones reached early are due to superior parenting OR to blame myself for set-backs like Lucy’s (hopefully overcome) kleptomania, but I admit I have always felt a little proud of how self-sufficient my kids are. But there’s a definite downside. An eighteen-month old’s self-sufficiency is not the same as a thirty-four-year old’s and the biggest difference is in the collateral damage. Sure, she can feed herself and get as much down her gullet as I can, but how is the floor going to look afterward?

Luckily for the kids, my laziness in the moment is greater than my cleaner’s regret in the long run. Though I did draw the line at Molly sitting in her high chair. She thought she was ready to graduate to sitting/kneeling/standing like her sisters and for a week or so I didn’t fight that battle. Then one day after mopping (we’re talking big chunks, I’m not a cleanliness martyr) the floor three times before naps, I apologized in advance at the dinner table and then we strapped her into her seat. She screamed for what seemed like an eternity and was probably only (only!) three-four minutes, eyes bulging, forehead splotching. Since then she hasn’t protested. The funny thing about that is I know moms who would look at me like I’m crazy: “You let her eat outside of the high chair?” and from others: “You forced her to sit in the high chair?”

I’ve been a mom for eleven years now, and . . . I don’t know what to tell you. Today she worked her way around the kid table after the cake and ice cream for her cousin’s birthday, scavenging off the plates half-ravaged by children impatient to get back to playing. She was so cute and stealthy (and had sat in her seat for the mashed potatoes) that I didn’t stop her until Callie realized it was her plate Molly was pilfering and protested, loudly. I guess that makes me an Anti-Helicopter-Free-Range Parent.


The new me

Okay people, I’m back on.  I’m shocked, right? Realizing that all of my former ‘posts’-if you can call them that- are from first or second grade, I decided to make a little update. Like, my name’s Avery, my favorite color’s green, I’m eleven- I know, right? I grow so fast. *sigh*- I’m in fifth grade,- as before, I grow so fast, right?- blah, blah, blah. Now, If anyone besides my parents are reading this, I want you to know that I AM NOT FIVE YEARS OLD! Thank you. So if you reply, which you probably won’t, do NOT say stuff like – ”Oh, baby, you’re growing up so fast! You must be a foot taller than last Christmas!” If you do, I will hunt you down and say something REALLY withering about your last post. It is so degrading. Okay, now that we got that pleasant understanding past us, you probably want to know how school’s going. *Roll eyes*. Well, my school year might have been a little more interesting than others *roll eyes*. As a few of you might know, at the beginning of the school year, my MOTHER – my loving, dear mother- sent me to an awful, awful place. Yes, the charter school. It was a terrible, tiny place – to me at least- with only TWENTY-FIVE kids in each class, with less than three classes in each grade. Most only had one class in each grade. We had to wear dreaded, uncomfortable UNIFORMS, and there was only one time to come and go from school. I had nightmares about it. Most of my valiant protests against this tyranny continued to end with me in tears and mom triumphant. But finally, *sigh of relief* I won over mom with much effort and tears. She called my old beloved Hidden Hollow elementary and I moved back one day later. I found out my teacher was Mr. Crandall- an amazing science whiz, Its hard to believe he is not related to Bill Nye the Science Guy. He even looks a little like him!- And that my next door neighbor and several other old friends were in my class. I fit in again right away. And now I have earned the honer -again- of one of the many class clowns. I love math, science, social studies,-AWESOME!- language arts, and, of course, reading.  Did you know that I have one hundred fifty kids in my fifth grade alone ? That’s more than three grades in the charter school put together. I don’t complain-much- because I love Hidden Hollow, my school since second grade. I recently found out that my great- grandparents, Janet and Lavar Butler (forgive me if I spelled that wrong) know a sixth grade teacher in my school, Mr. Jackson, from their time in England. I think. Anyway, school’s just peachy right now. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

So now, signing off, I hope you liked my first ‘real’ post. Bye for now!

Happy Day-You-Got-Cold-Feet, Honey!

By my calculations, today is the fourteenth anniversary of the day Tom got cold feet and called off our marriage. I don’t know what his problem was. We’d been dating for over a month and I had told him we should get married near the beginning of that time. Time enough, in other words, for him to get used to the idea, right?

Today he is adjusting to life with a wife and four daughters rather admirably. He still listens to my untestimony and fantasizes with me about how wonderful it would be to move to Australia (if they reimbursed for relocation and arranged visas and paid enough to cover our ridiculous monthly debt payments, but we still got several minutes of fun from the idea).

On Monday I got my hair cut and the neighbor lady who cuts it wanted to know what Tom has been doing to lose so much weight. I told her we’d both been doing it {insert obligatory “you look great too!”} but that Tom is much better at it than I am. (“It” is counting calories via MyFitnessPal on our iPhones.) Part of that is my hormones insisting a famine may be on the horizon and then how will we nurse the baby without a cushion of fat? And part of it is that Tom, once he sets his mind to something, is pretty unshakeable.

(See what I did there?)

This is Tom making his signature spinach shake. Real men with daughters wear pink blankets on a chilly morning. They also wear rainbow nose rings graciously.

(I had no idea that blanket was so ubiquitous.)

Tom is fair, Tom is kind. Tom is not puffed up. He seeketh not his own. Tom is so great, that if all the men in all the world were like him, I would have no practical problem with patriarchy. He is that good!

What brought on all this ooey-gooey biblicality, you ask? Well, I cannot find Lucy’s birth certificate to register her for kindergarten, and I WILL register her for kindergarten. But it costs $42 for a copy from Florida over the internet, as I lamented to Tom at dinner last night. He offered to look around the house and also the internet for a better solution. You go right ahead, honey, I said. (I said you were awesome, honey, not that you could find the mustard in plain sight to save your life, sweetheart.)

In my continued searching today, I looked through our wedding album. I knew we’d taken a picture on the same Manti Temple steps at our wedding, but I was surprised when this is the print I found. It’s not stamped with the photographer’s imprint, so it was taken by my mom or dad. I’m hoping it was my dad, because he took that other impromptu shot, and that would just be sweet.

June 13, 1998

January 13, 2012

Tender Mercies: Sacrament Edition


As Tara passed me the sacrament, her five-year-old son reached for two pieces of bread, fingered them a bit, and then dropped one back on the tray. I hesitated a second and then took the piece he’d dropped. Tara smiled over his head and whispered, “You’re such a good mom.”

I had just been thinking how I would phrase my objection to her expression of the Mormon Modesty Fetish (not appropriate sacrament pondering, but I had already confessed my utter lack of worthiness in my mind and then moved on).

Yesterday morning as Tara and her family and I got ready for the day, the boys and their father invited us to swim with them at the YMCA. But we had a hike in Superstition Springs planned, and I hadn’t brought my suit anyway.

Talk somehow turned to bikinis. I think Aaron joked that his wife could wear her (nonexistent) bikini while I borrowed a suit. Tara turned to her uninterested boys and prompted them to remember (in case we could ever forget) that Heavenly Father does not like bikinis and He is unhappy when girls wear stuff like that.

I love Tara. And I wanted to punch her in the face. (lovingly). My daughters and I have never sat around discussing how boys should dress or how we should feel about any article of clothing they might wear.

Yes, I realize that boys have an easier time of following prophetic pronouncements of modesty, and that we are obsessed as a culture over the female body, as public property most public. She’s too fat, she’s too thin, she wears leggings at BYU to tempt me, she’s a slut because she wants her health insurance to cover birth control hormones to treat her painful endometriosis.

I talked to Tara about it later that day. I do not want, I said, my vulnerable, sensitive, spiritually gorgeous daughters to ever run afoul of a self-righteous prig bent on blaming others for his own thoughts and actions. (I wasn’t quite that succinct or forceful, but I am now.)

And then we went to dinner where she empathized with my motherhood angst and the grocery store where we trash-talked each other about whose blood pressure is lower (I whipped her on diastolic, she creamed me on systolic), then back to her house where her wonderful husband had entertained the boys all day and put them to bed.

We watched the first episode of North and South and giggled with a couple of her ward friends, and went to bed.

Church is at eight and now we are here, among her three boys, her husband on the end of the row. I still hate the Mormon Modesty Fetish with its inherent sexism, but I love my friend Tara, and I love the sweetness of Mormon life.

*I’m visiting Tara for a few days, missing my baby (and the rest of them) exactly as much as I thought I would. Maybe now Callie will realize how much of a job I do at home, and possibly concede that I deserve sick days and the occasional, once-every-ten-years vacation.

“I amused ten children without the aid of Eaton’s catalogue”

Whenever I am feeling especially smothered by my children, imagining I would rather eat rancid potatoes than face the 5 o’clock witching hour, I can look back on the past month (or more) and realize that my children have been watching way too little TV.

As in, they’ve gotten their weekly Friday Night Movie Night movie and nothing else. No sanity-saving computer, no daily Little-Einsteins-so-Mommy-can-shower-alone. No ds or Xbox or wii or iPad time or whatever screen time the cool kids have now.

I could feel smug about that, but I’d rather have a couple hours of quiet. (And I’d rather have something to bribe/threaten them with other than “You can’t play pretend until your dishes are done!”)

*title source here.