Inner Workings on this Christmas Eve.

I'm sitting outside the Barnard Memorial Methodist Church in Holdenville, OK. There is a Christmas Eve Candlelight service happiness inside. Magnolia was very tired and on the verge of a meltdown in the middle of What Child is This? She and I put on our coats and went out to the car. She fell asleep within minutes. I'm feeling especially grateful we brought our Volvo down instead of the Prius because the heater in this car is amazing. I'm a little sad to be missing communion and the candle lighting, but really, I don't mind much. I understand tired, and there's something nice about this quiet moment. The stars are lovely.

I've been feeling so sentimental about my girls. About my little Goo. And lately (it's been going in waves for the last year) I've had this deep down longing for another baby. I always imagine being the mother of another daughter. I even get weepy sometimes when I think about it - like right now. Most of the time it's hard to imagine having another child because I often feel like a single parent with Jake's work schedule. And while it's true, love grows for each baby you have, so does the worry. I can't imagine how another child would multiply the worry I try my best to keep at bay every single second of every single day. 

But tonight, with my lovely three-year-old sleeping behind me, I'm letting myself imagine what it would be like to carry another little love, deliver [her], feed her, stay up staring at her, watch her grow and discover new things. I'm thinking about Mary, and find myself longing for God to plant an angel babe in me (with Jake's help, of course, I can't imagine being the mother of God's only begotten daughter). If it just happens, I won't have to sit and wonder if I'm supposed to be the mother of three. Knowing when we were ready to start our family was so much easier than trying to decide if our family is complete. 

An Evening Run

I just got home from an amazing run. The moon was bright, and the sky was crystal clear. I saw so many stars that it didn't seem possible that I was in the middle of a city. I've never enjoyed 45 degree weather as much as I did tonight. It was perfect.

I registered for my first half marathon a couple of months ago. It's the Lost Dutchman Marathon in my hometown. The race is on February 16th, and I'm so excited about it.

Can I tell you the other part? Okay. On the same day I registered for my first half-marathon, I registered for my first marathon. My first marathon will be the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on April 27th.  I knew that I wanted to run the OKC Memorial Marathon, and I've always wanted to run some part of the Lost Dutchman Marathon, so I thought the timing of both races in relation to one another would be good for keeping me motivated.

I've been following a training plan that I really like, though in the second week, I met Runner's Knee for the first time in my life, and it is no joke. I've been trying to keep that in check while still getting a decent amount of miles in. So far so good, I've just had to adjust a few things for the time I took off. Runs like the one I had tonight are really great for building mental momentum. I missed my long run on Saturday. I was supposed to go 5 miles. I decided to make it up today, and I didn't map out a 5 mile course before I went, I just winged it. I even ventured out of our neighborhood and into Midtown, which I never do at night. Well, used to never. When I got home and plotted my course, I'd gone 5.16 miles. I try not to think about time, that's not why I'm running these two races, but I must admit that I was a little puffed up with pride when I realized my average pace was about 2 minutes faster than my training plan had prescribed. I found a really good rhythm and went with it. There's something deeply satisfying about my mind and body working together so well.

Tonight I loved running.

PS: I ran to Evangeline's debut album, Verbatim. Have you heard it yet? Here's a sample. I know she will accompany me on many runs in the future.

Broken Soles [sort of] and Clingy Kids

Today, two pairs of my shoes broke within twenty minutes of each other on my way to church. The first happened on a pair of ridiculously sentimental heels while I was trudging through the snow in my back yard. I'd just reached the fence when the ankle strap broke free from its stitching. They are unwearable without that strap. Why are they sentimental? I got a new outfit to wear to church the first time I came to Oklahoma to see Jake. Those shoes, along with a black pleated skirt and a black and white striped sweater made up the ensemble. These shoes are classics. Black with sweet details. When I was at Dillard's, ten-and-a-half years ago, it was between the pair I got and another pair. A woman saw me trying to decide (I had shoe from each pair on my feet), and said, "Always go with the ankle strap." I did.

After my shoe broke, I ran back in and grabbed some flats. These flats actually broke last week. I was at the park after school with my girls, and the sole just completely fell off. Um, weird. I super-duper glued it back on...because I'm like that, and today, I took about 20 steps before it came off again. Let it be known that I spent way too much tim on Cyber-Monday looking for new black flats. I found some I like, but I really hate spending money unless I absolutely have to (some might find replacing a sole-less shoe sort of a necessity), that's when the glue came in. If I would have known I'd have to re-glue the sole every 20 steps, I would have bit the bullet.

Okay, and the most heartbreaking part is that the heel of my beloved Seychelles came off several months ago. They've been looking at me all sad and mopey in my closet. It happened not long after my super gushy post about them. I was at Red, White, and BOOM! on one of my many trips with Magnolia to the bathroom, when all of the sudden there was an awful clicking against the asphalt. Somewhere at State Fair Park lies part of my shoe. May it rest in peace.

Having two pairs of regular players give out today has made visiting a shoe repair store one of my top priorities. I've really been missing my Seychelles. I think my love for them is what made me skip over all the Cyber-Monday deals. There are a lot of cute current Seychelles, but I just don't love any of them as much as mine. I think I'm going to let my black flats just die. The outsides still look nice, but the insides are shot. Maybe I'll try glue one more time...

In other news, while at church today, I relived a moment from Chicago. Let's go back to Chicago: It was July, and the choir was about to sing two songs, one I can't remember, and the other was Come, Come Ye Saints. I'd arranged for a friend to sit with Cora, and brand new Magnolia was attached to me in a baby carrier. I got up to go up, and Cora had a complete melt-down. Like a screaming freak-out. I wasn't going to leave her in that state, and especially not leave her with my friend [who looked frightened], to deal with. So after a few seconds of grabbing onto my skirt/falling down in the aisle, I scooped her up, and we went out to the foyer. She calmed down quickly, and I listened to Jake play the organ like a boss to Come, Come Ye Saints over the speaker. My sweet little Coco snuggled and relaxed after a bit, and when the choral numbers we returned to the chapel all peachy.

Now to today: My girls always sit or play while I'm rehearsing for choir. Today during rehearsal, they were playing with the children in-front of them. Side note: whenever I take M to the bathroom, which is always at least once during the service, Cora is content to just stay in our pew coloring. I arranged for the person sitting behind us to take care of them while I went up to sing. I thought it would be easy, they'd watch like they do when we practice. The person behind us would likely not even need to get up.

That was not what happened.

Cora was clinging to me with a look of horror, Magnolia was saying, "No!" I'm in the aisle dancing around trying to get my much-bigger-than-a-five-year-old five-year-old to let me go, all while trying to hand Magnolia off. The choir is up and ready to go, and I'm just about to sit back down when Cora's Sunday school teacher hops up and grabs Cora. I scoop Magnolia up and take her with me. As I picked her up, I said, "You're coming, but you have to be really quiet."

She smiled, and said, "Okay." I got up front, but not before my shoe fell off when I got to the top step. Not even the broken one, mind you. We sang. I enjoyed it. Magnolia kept her head buried in my shoulder most of the time, and I couldn't help but smile when I looked out and saw Cora sitting on the edge of her seat watching.

And just for the record: When Magnolia had to go potty about five minutes after the choir sang, I asked Cora the usual question: "Would you like to come with me or stay here?" To which she replied,

"Stay here."

I almost laughed, but told her she was coming with me, and explained on our journey down the hall, that it doesn't make sense for her to be afraid of me going up to sing in the same room as her, but not being afraid when I had to leave to take Magnolia to the bathroom. I think she got it.

Garage Guilt and Snow Days

Lately, mostly when there is a notable weather event, I've been feeling guilty that I have a garage. I felt that way for the first time the first time it was cold this fall [I know I just said "the first time the first time." Any recommendations on how to avoid that are welcome]. I stepped out of my garage into my backyard and into the brisk air, and I couldn't believe my hunk of metal that I drive everywhere had a roof over its hood when there were many human beings in my very own city (many in close proximity to my home) without that basic necessity.

It's been cold and winter stormy in Oklahoma today. I had to work really hard at getting my car back into my garage after I picked up Cora from school. If you'd like to know a quick way to warm up when the wind chills are in the teens, I'll tell you: shovel snow and chunk through ice. Our driveway is short and steep, and it leads to a one-car garage. There isn't much room for error - in this case, sliding one way or the other. And there was no way to avoid the tracks I'd made when leaving that had since turned into a layer of ice. Shoveling was easy. Chunking was tricky. It took about 20 minutes. Let it be known that this was the first time I have ever shoveled snow. Man, that one inch was for the record books. When I pulled the Prius in, I felt like I'd just won an epic battle.

But you can imagine how this intense determination to get my car into its shelter multiplied the guilt I felt about having a garage as a prize at the end of conquering an icy driveway.

It's supposed to snow more tonight. I think there's something really fun about waking up to a still new world after it's snowed all night, but there's also something a little sad about missing the show. I hope I wake up at least once so I can peek out the window for a minute or two. Or ten.

Cora's school is cancelled tomorrow. We're waiting to hear if OCU is closed too. OCU closed at 4 today, but it was opening night of It's a Wonderful Life tonight, so he went back for that. He actually just got home. I love snow days, even just snow mornings or afternoons because my whole little family gets to be together for a few hours, which rarely happens. If it takes a snow day for Jake to get part of a day off, I'll take it! I have every intention of baking lots of goods and watching Chronicles of Narnia tomorrow. All while in my super warm cozies and snuggled up to the cutest people in the world.

About Trees. Sort of.

The last time I was at Walmart, I made a vow I would never go there again. And then today when I was out looking for a certain kind of hand-held shower head (I want it to attach to the faucet in my bathtub, not the shower head, not the kitchen they exist?) because I think it will ensure my sanity over winter with a poodle who likes to lay in mud puddles, and after Target and Petsmart, I went to Walmart. And just so you know from the start, Walmart didn't have what I was looking for.

I hate Walmart from about mid-October through mid-February. Why? Because they stuff the store that already has the most stuff with way more stuff, sticking it in the aisles, making some nearly impossible to pass through. Aisles should be aisles! Clear and easy. Not a minefield of dog beds, Walmart Scentsy's, Art kits, rounds of winter coats, "all of your Thanksgiving needs," and anything else you can [and can't] imagine. Regular trips to Walmart don't fall into my pleasant category, but it's like they sit and think up ways to make a trip to Walmart downright torture: "Let's make our "artery" aisles one-way!" "Oh! Especially during the busiest time of the year!" Ding ding ding, we have a winner! 

I am tangent-ing. What I have to say is worse. Magnolia had to go potty, so we went to the family restroom. Okay, here's one thing for Walmart: the bathrooms at the back of the Belle Isle Walmart are award winners. They are pleasant surprises. It may just be massive amounts of air freshener being pumped into the air, but I never dread having to go when I'm there - but I'm trying not to be there, so this whole good bathrooms point may be obsolete...except for the real point of this paragraph - which I'm getting to. The toilet paper dispenser is full of not one, but two industrial sized toilet paper rolls. The remnant rolls are also on top of the dispenser. If someone were to run out of toilet paper in this bathroom, they would be seriously unlucky because of how well stocked it was this afternoon. 

Magnolia goes, and I go to grab her some tp, and that's when I see it: one of the rolls on top of the dispenser (really about 1/4 of a big roll) has a big ol' poopy finger print on it. Like on the side of it. Like they had their hand in the cardboard roll, and stopped the paper when they'd unrolled the proper amount with their poo thumb. I was in shock. And shock more than disbelief like when I walk into a stall and wonder how someone didn't notice they peed all over the seat. Better yet, when I walk into a stall, and I'm not sure how someone failed to see that part of their poop didn't actually make it into the bowl. And then there's the less obvious, sort of, skid marks that some fail to wipe off the back of the seat. I can't imagine that I'm alone in my habitual turnaround to make sure that everything, whatever it was, made it down okay after I flush. 

Back to the tainted roll. I get Magnolia taken care of (using a different roll - so happy to have had the option) and put her back in the cart. Then I knew I couldn't live with myself if I left the roll for someone else to discover, so I pick it up (far away from the poo print), and throw it away. This was followed by a very thorough hand washing, just in case. Cora had been watching me. When she asked me why I threw it away, I told her it was because of the poo. She looked at me for a second, then said, 

"Mom, I can't believe you just threw away a whole tree."

And I couldn't think of a single thing to respond with. 

The weather has been cold and sleety here since Friday. Our church was cancelled on Sunday, and so were all of the things Jake needed to be at work for on Sunday afternoon/evening. He did, however, have to go to his work church that morning. I spent most of the morning thinking it was a bad call that they didn't cancel, especially when I heard that only 8 people in their congregation made it. When Jake got home, he told me that a homeless man wandered into the church (it happens a lot at this church). He was very cold, very much inebriated, and looking for shelter from the weather. A woman in the congregation went and got him a big warm coat (his was thin and soaked). Then, she helped him put it on. She slid it on one arm, went around, and helped him on the other side. She touched him. She helped him do what he could not. They called for a ride to come take him to a shelter. When Jake finished telling me this story, he said, "Church not being cancelled was worth it, just for that one thing." I know he's exactly right. 

During lunch, I told him that one of our friends, Heather Price, had posted that she might break tradition and put the Christmas tree up since they were homebound for another day. (Heather has 6 kids. Coming up with indoor activities for three days straight for kids who range from 14-2 would have me "bending" traditions, too). We decided we'd also put our tree up before Thanksgiving because Jake wasn't going to have another day off like that until mid-December. It was so fun. We didn't have to "fit it in," it just happened. Our tree is glowing. Our nativity is on the mantel. We have random ornaments on the floor where Magnolia has decided to try them out as toys. I love it. I will love it even more when Jake gets home. (Only an hour left. 11:30PM. Gotta love tech.)


Magnolia has been sounding different. I spent a few days trying to figure out what it was, and then I got it when she was playing blocks on Saturday. She said she was building a tower. Tower was different. Her R's sound like R's instead  of W's or uh's. She has the R sound! YAY! Having the R sound makes her sound older. It's weird. And she says Cora differently. Instead of Coe-uh, she is now Cora. My little baby is getting bigger and I'm all kinds of happy and sad about it.

Did I tell you she now wears her age size, too? I bought her 24-month sun dresses at the beginning of summer. This fall, I bought her 2T leggings, nope, she just skipped right over 2T to 3T. Her legs grew. She's funny and sweet and a little hoarse right now. She's been having fun with her voice.

Jake was the répétiteur for Street Scene. He worked on it for seven weeks. Seven weeks of not getting home until 10:30. I felt my anxiety start to spiral a bit. I had an anxiety attack a little over a week ago. Oh how I hate those. My first one in a really long time. We saw Street Scene with his parents on Sunday afternoon. It was wonderful. The music is by Kurt Weill and the lyrics by Langston Hughes. Yes, that Langston Hughes

I'm admittedly not a huge opera fan, and I think this is especially true when it comes to operas written in English. I think it all sounds so much more romantic, or tragic, or whatever it may be when it's in a language I don't understand. It was not the case with Street Scene. I think it might be because it's really a blend of opera and musical theatre. There was even a tap number. It was still tragic. And lovely. And parts were so very tender. Anna Maurrant sings a song called Somehow I Never Could Believe. Part of the lyrics read:

I don't know - somehow something awful happens
in the kitchens where women wash their dishes
Days turn to months, months turn to years,
The greasy soap-suds drown our wishes. 

Langston Hughes captures bittersweet moments in the most vivid ways. Him and dreams...

Jake is already onto the next show. I can't wait for it! TheatreOCU is putting on the radio show play of It's a Wonderful Life. First, it is my favorite movie ever. Second, I love radio shows. A Prairie Home Companion? YES! The fact that my favorite movie will be presented in one of my favorite forms of entertainment is huge. But that's not all! Jake is a character in the play. He's been fitted for a costume and everything. I'm certain that it will be amazing, and if you're reading this, you should come. Here's a link to showtimes and tickets. Tickets are $12, and I'm sure you can just call or visit OCU's box office to avoid the $1.65 fee for ordering on-line.

Did you think that was it? Nope! Because when It's a Wonderful Life is over, Jake won't be working insane hours anymore. We've been having this discussion: there are insane hours (not just 5 days a week, mind you. 7. He works 7 days a week), and then there's just downright ridiculous. He's in the downright ridiculous work schedule category. All told, I believe it will be 11 weeks of this schedule when December 15th rolls around. Phew.

Amid the crazy schedule, our 92-year-old sewer line backed up last week. The smell of a backed-up sewer line is.... Is.... Hmmm.... Atrocious. I was happy when the plumber could come on the same day to clear the line and get things moving again. I'd love to write a whole post comparing a sewer line to bowels. Maybe you should look forward to it.

In other news: We sold our Outback on Saturday. Are you ready for a story? Okay. In May, about a week after we bought our Prius, we got a letter in the mail letting us know that our mortgage would be going up $350/month for a year because when we closed on our house, the taxes weren't calculated correctly, so there was a shortage in our escrow account. It was also news we weren't really thrilled about heading into the great desert of no paycheck known as summer. It wasn't something we were planning on, but we would make it. Since the bills from Cora's ear tubes started coming in, we started feeling an even tighter pinch. We used to put 1,000-1,500 in savings at the end of each month. Since getting paid at the end of September, we definitely do not have that much left over. The only extra expense we really anticipated was the increased tuition we'd be paying for Magnolia to start school, and Cora moving from half-day to full-day. We were planning on that. That was fine. The other extras were beginning to stress me out.

When we were looking for a second car, that's really what we were looking for, a second car. We ended up finding the Prius for a ridiculously good deal thanks to a hail sale, so we got it. But that meant that we had two practically new cars. And Jake has a 1 mile commute. 2 miles if he's going to his church job. Our life doesn't need two really great cars right now. Selling the Outback became a really obvious way to free up some money each month. Selling it was a big relief. (I love being able to pile money in my savings account, and I'm a little moody when I can't do that - especially because we rely on a hearty savings to get us through summer.)

I'd been looking for a real second car since I decided to sell the Outback. I found one that I thought would do just fine, but it was about 60 miles away. I went down and test drove it today. There was one minor hiccup that looks to be about a $30 fix, which the dealer is fixing. If all goes well, the dealer will be delivering it on Thursday. I think I might be a little jealous that Jake will be the main driver. Until then, he's walking. I don't know why I just realized he'll be walking home at 10:30 tonight. That makes me nervous. 

We've been downsizing in other ways too. We sold our television. I'd always worried what it might be like without one. It's a crutch for me. Sometimes I just need to make dinner. But really, it was just excess in our house. I was watching a video about a woman who moved her family into a micro-house. As she was giving the tour, she said most people who come talk about what she doesn't have, but as she opened up a cabinet displaying her full 8-piece china set, she said, "I like to focus on what I do have." I don't even remember if that's the exact quote, and I wish I could remember what minimalist blog I found the video on so I could share it, but that's what stuck with me.

I love how easy it was to get rid of the Outback. I loved that car, but I love the freedom of less worry. (I don't know that life is ever completely worry-free. Moments are. Maybe Days.) With the ease and lightness that comes with purging, there is something else that comes along: the ability to pass things up without feeling like I've giving up something or missing out. Constantly wanting more in terms of things is exhausting. Even useful things like a Garmin watch. I would love to not buy a single thing, besides food [okay, and flowers], for a year. (Minus kid stuff because one-year is far too long for little bodies that seem to be growing every day.)

There are days when I long for paper and pencil living. [Cora would call it paper and graphite living.] And I keep feeling more and more like that's what my life should look [feel] like. I think figuring out that I'm the one who is ultimately responsible for what my life looks [feels] like definitely involves a learning curve. There are times, like during the last week or so, when I really feel like I'm getting the hang of it.

PS: Somewhere near the beginning of this post, Cora came out of her room. [I'd already put them to bed.] She said she couldn't get comfortable because her covers were all messed up. [They were, she'd been reading at the foot of her bed.] She wanted me to cover her back up, but she was a little sad that I'd told her to go back to bed. I picked her up and held her for a minute. She said she was hungry. [I was a little hungry, too.] So we went out and had a little evening snack. [It was really like a second dinner.] We had such a fun conversation. I loved it. Those are my most favorite moments.

On My Mind: Contentment

I am content this evening. It's wonderful. I'm not worrying about anything. I'm happy and keep finding myself lost in thought. I'm at peace. It's a lovely and welcome state of being.

We went to parent-teacher conferences for the girls this afternoon. I love these conferences. Thirty minutes with each of the girls' teachers basically just gushing over them. Hearing all the wonderful things our girls are doing when we're not right there with them is wonderful. I'm amazed by them. Cora's language skills have exploded. She's reading and writing, and the world has become so wide open for her. I love that she can develop those skills in a very self-guided way at school.

There are five areas of work in Montessori (the last [culture] is really a sort of extension to the four main areas of work - mostly just an extension of language):

Practical Life
Culture (geography, botany, zoology music, art, physical activity, foreign languages)

Cora is at home in practical life and sensorial work, and she has been since she started her Montessori program at three. I love that her mind is on fire for language right now, but she is equally interested in working hard in math. Last year, on a day when I was observing, she spent about an hour on a math work. (I wish I could remember the name!) In Montessori, the steps to the work are just as important as the work itself. They have to get their mats and supplies (she had help getting the supplies because the cubes of 1000 are pretty heavy). She had to start with 1 and move all the way up to 9,000. I loved watching her work her way through. I can't imagine what she's doing in kindergarten. Here's what the work looks like:

(Can someone help me remember the name?)

When they're done, the teacher comes over and asks specific questions about certain numbers to make sure the child is grasping everything. And then when the assessment is over, the child must put away all of the supplies for the work just as orderly as she found them.

Her math skills keep on blossoming. I'm proud of the hard work she continues to put into math even though I know she'd rather be writing and illustrating stories. In kindergarten, they are in a different classroom with a different teacher everyday, but they return to their "home" circle for lunch, circle time, and combine with a nearby circle for chapter time before they return to their area of the day. Our conference is with her circle teacher, but each of the area teachers writes a report of what Cora is working on and what their goals are for her. It was rewarding to hear how she does with all of her teachers in all of the Montessori areas.

Magnolia is becoming so independent. Three-year-old work doesn't sound as complex  - though it is in every single way for the one doing it. Magnolia comes home talking about two people most of the time, but when we were talking with her teacher, we found out that she and a little girl, Zadie, are just about inseparable at school. She has NEVER mentioned her!

She loves play dough, easel painting, and water work. She's able to come into the classroom, pick a work and stay engaged with something during all of her time. She still doesn't always ask her teachers if she needs help with something. Her teacher told us of two experiences where Magnolia knew she should ask for help, but her stubborn streak [my term, not her teacher's] won.

One was at the play dough table. The lid was still on the play dough, and she couldn't get it off. Her teachers moved progressively closer to her as time went on. Her circle teacher, Ms. Jensen, ended up sitting on the floor right next to the table, and Magnolia would smile at her and motion to the jar the play dough was in. She'd work at it for a minute, then smile again. Eventually Zadie asked to join her, Magnolia accepted her request, and Zadie wondered why they were just sitting there. She [Zadie] looked over at Ms. Jensen and told her about the play dough, and Ms. Jensen told her that she was sure Magnolia would ask for help if she needed it. It took another minute before Magnolia got down and asked if Ms. Jensen would open the play dough.

The other instance was at the easel. There's a clip at the top of the easel to hold the paper. It's a real reach for Magnolia because she's so tiny. She worked for FORTY minutes trying to clip her paper onto the easel. Both teachers were pretty much hovering, letting her know they were available for help. She finally got was able to clip the paper by herself. Ms. Jensen told us she was not expecting that outcome, but she sees how her delay in asking for help is definitely leading to her independence. She hasn't had much trouble with that clip since she figured it out on her own. This is a good lesson for me.

Every time I leave our girls' school, I am so happy they are there. They are loved and cared for. Who they are is nurtured and respected, and that nurturing really helps to stretch them in safe ways that leads to amazing growth. I LOVE MONTESSORI! I love fabulous, caring educators.

More contentment...

This really comes from something I've not been content with: my home. It's all my fault too, I've been neglecting my minimalist desires and letting stuff get out of control. Surfaces have been covered (I hate visual clutter), it seems like dishes have constantly been in the sink. I don't even want to talk about the laundry. The last few months have been hard. I've basically been going at this whole parenting/homemaker thing [extra] alone. Jake doesn't get home until 10:30 most nights. And weekends don't really exist. A day off? HA!!![!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]

Let it be known that he does the dishes around the house, but he has been stretched so thin that he hasn't been able to. It would take more than one hand to count the number of times I have walked into the kitchen and wanted to cry at the pile of dishes in the sink from the day before. Sometimes I really want a dishwasher so I can hide my dirty dishes. I don't think I will complain about unloading a dishwasher ever again.

Sidenote: I once wrote a post on my blog about how I loved doing dishes by hand. Proof. I've decided this is only the case if I have a choice.

It's like even when he just does that one thing, it makes everything else so much easier. Because his crazy schedule started around the time the girls started school, I have had an overload of excess paper stuff all over from the things they bring home. I leave them out because I want Jake to see them, but then they just stay out because I forget about them. I'm jumping on the file box bandwagon for each girl. I think it will help out a lot. In addition to school starting and all of that extra paper, we have been getting SO MANY medical bills for Cora's ear tubes. We're up to about $4,000 now. I'm trying to not be overwhelmed by the number because the result of the number is priceless.

I have been on a mission to stick to my "less stuff" guns. I feel like I'm always on this mission, but I've realized that if I'm not always on this mission, then junk piles up fast.

Here's the real deal, when my home isn't in order, I'm not in order. I like being in order - when I'm not I feel stunted. And I really love my sweet little Dot. For real, my house has a name. We were made for each other. She teaches me really important things. Sometimes I'm slow...or really tired and just want to be lazy because mom's need breaks sometimes, and breaks for this mom have been pretty non-existent.

I think a big part of my evening of contentment was getting a little break today. On my way out the door, I asked our babysitter if she could stay a little longer than I'd originally asked her after the PT conferences. She could! I ran to the library and picked up a book, then went to lunch. I had a date with myself. Just me, yummy food, and a book. (I went to Saturn Grill - I was really trying to get to Kitchen 324, but the construction around there is crazy.) My reservoir was filled just enough to make me feel like I was on cloud nine. Shoot, if one hour alone doing exactly what I want to do is all it takes...I'm going to take it whenever I can.  

Rugs and Bulbs

I went to pick up some bulbs (flowers not lights) today at the nursery that I love. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I might like things to look like. I left with 4 bags of hyacinths and daffodils. (And some pansies, er, panolas.) 

When I got to the car, I realized I forgot potting mix. Eh. I decided to go to Lowe's. When I got to Lowe's, I went straight to the garden center, priced the potting mix, and then I don't remember what inspired my trip indoors, but that's where I saw them: all flowering bulbs were 75% off. I went a little crazy. A lot crazy. (Yes, I returned the first four bags of bulbs that I paid full price for.) I will be inventing places to plant bulbs in a few weeks. Here's to a marvelously showy spring at Dot Spot. 

This evening I ordered what will be the third rug for our living room. (YAY for Rugsusa sales!) The first was lovely, an ivory shag rug. When trying to settle on a rug for the girls' room, I knew that I really wanted an identical rug in there, so I just moved it. Being that we live in every square inch of our home, it wasn't the wisest decision for our living room anyway because it gets a lot of traffic. Our current rug is also lovely. It's a low pile, blue-ish/grey and ivory trellis pattern. I love it. 

But then we got a dog. And had a potty training toddler. It's looking a little dingy in places. And while I'm certainly going to work at getting the paw prints up, I know that it will be a constant battle. Our bedroom will be getting a new addition. I ordered a jute rug. Initially, when I went back and forth for months about what rug we should get for the living room, I was looking at jute and sisal. Jake really wanted something soft and cushy, so we got the shag (I love shag rugs). We were afraid we might not like walking on jute, but every review but one says they love the way the rug feels underfoot. I hope we're one of them. I feel like it will be a good compromise, and I can be okay with not having a lighter colored rug during this phase of my life. (I wouldn't call natural jute dark, but it has the workhorse qualities of a brown rug without having to be a brown rug. No offense to brown rug lovers - I have pistachio velvet chairs in my living room - to each his own.)

Since I'm thinking about it - a short to-do list for Dot:
-Quarter round in the kitchen
-storage and curtains in the laundry room
-new fence in backyard (!!!)
-planters for front walk
-DESTROY dallisgrass in front yard in a way that won't lead to soil erosion over winter
-clean and reorganize kitchen cabinets.

What we're eating this week

I posted a picture of my weekly menu and the grocery list that went along with it, and my down-the street-neighbor, Jenn, not so slyly hinted that she'd like to see a blog post about it as her family is now dairy-free and just about meat-free.

Here is that post.

First, one of my all-time favorite recipe websites is Post Punk Kitchen. I love it. It's fun, and I've never made anything I haven't loved. This week, tonight actually, we made Mushroom Hot Pot. It's amazing. It reminds me of fall, just as Isa said it would. Our add-ins were broiled tofu and rice noodles. I've made it before with several of the other add-ins as well. I enjoy making it my own. Click on the picture for the recipe:

Last night we had roasted vegetables and brown rice. One of these days I'll tell you how I cook my rice, but today is not that day. This meal is a staple in our house. My very favorite roasted veggies are cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. The possibilities are limitless!

The last one I'll share tonight is one I haven't tried yet. Up for a story? Okay.

I am still mourning the loss of Matthew Kenney - the restaurant. It was a raw/vegan restaurant in OKC with the most amazing food. It was my favorite. It just up and shut down after three years of feeding folks in OKC raw food. I loved the Warm Kale Salad, and have been looking to recreate that flavor. I did a google search and came across a blog post from a woman who was in Matthew Kenney's raw food chef class, and she happened to share a recipe for the Chipotle Kale Salad she learned to make there. The warm kale salad definitely had chipotle going on. I can't wait to try it.

Also on our menu for this week is jambalaya and pizza. The jambalaya comes from a cookbook by the Mischeff Sisters. My Aunt Vickie, who is Seventh-day Adventist, sent me two of their cookbooks. I enjoy them. The jambalaya is superb, and I'll post the recipe at a later date. Pizza's pizza, yo. I usually go for a thinner crust, but since this summer, I've been making the thickest, most pillow-y amazing crust that my cousin Alissa shared with me. It's like crazy thick. My girls LOVE it. I'll post that too sometime if anyone is interested.

And for anyone who thinks I always eat super healthy food, I'm about to keep it real and tell you that I'm going to go have some Nutter Butters. I love them more than oreos dipped in milk.

Day's End

Tonight I'm feeling especially grateful for how kind and loving and gentle and sweet my darling daughters are.

Some days are hard. Really hard. The kind of days where the best thing would be to just sit and have a good cry, but the tears can't make it past the walls of frustration. Those walls are slowly coming down. I wish the dam would just break, but a little spilling over the top is good enough right now. 

Today was a really good day until late afternoon (and that's including Magnolia's tantrum at the store [very mild to what you're likely thinking when you see "tantrum," but it was a tantrum nonetheless], cleaning "skid marks" off a rug [don't ask], folding and putting away laundry for two hours [my whole "break" while Magnolia was at school] and approximately 3 spills) when I was at the park with Cora and Magnolia. Cora was talking to an older boy (9-ish), and he told her, more than once that he couldn't understand a word she was saying. She didn't phased by it, but I was. The light-hearted way he was telling her was a sort of dismissal of her. It made my heart sad. He later ended up joining in a game of hide-and-go-seek that Cora had started. 

I didn't quite let go of the hurt I felt, and the frustration of knowing there isn't an instantaneous fix for her to always be easily understood just exploded after we got home and Magnolia had an accident right next to me while I was making dinner. It was one of those CAN'T ANYTHING BE EASY moments? "Can't I just make dinner (add any and every activity here) without having to swoop in and fix something?" I felt petty and silly for getting so worked up. I went into super survival mode. I just wanted to sit on the kitchen floor, in the puddle of urine even, and have my cry, but I couldn't. 

I worked really hard at giving myself a pep talk, trying to be rational with my thoughts when my emotions were anything but. It helped. And by some miraculous miracle, Jake was able to come home for a few minutes. We shared a quick dinner, he left. I loved on my girls and put them to bed. 

And now I'm mentally exhausted, but feeling a welcome release. Relief. And gratitude. No matter how the days go, not a single one has passed away without me feeling blessed, in some way, by the work of being a mother.

Dreams About Shoes and Potty Talk

Do you ever dream about shoes? I don't very often, but I have been lately. Just one pair. If I could have any pair of shoes in the whole wide world right now, it would be this one:

Frye - Jillian Chelsea.

The only thing my dream of these shoes hasn't revealed is if I prefer them in Whiskey or Dark Brown. I think they would go with everything all fall and winter. And I think I would love them for years and years and years.

In a dream world, or maybe an ideal one, [are those different?], I would own five pairs of shoes. I know I just freaked some people out. Dream world to many would equal fifty [plus] pairs of shoes. Here's what my shoe rack would hold: A pair for spring/summer, fall/winter, a random pair of flats that I could dress up or down [like my beloved Seychelles], a pair of heels (perhaps 2, maybe I just boosted it to six pairs of shoes, but I could get by with one pair of heels), and my running shoes.

I really like wearing things until I wear them out. I also really like buying things that last a long time, so I try to pick "classics" that I won't get bored with. I'm also really cheap. It's a weird thing. I'm one of the cheapest people I know with the most expensive taste. It's kind of ridiculous. Cheap people don't buy Frye Boots. But people who keep the same pair of shoes for over a decade (I have two pairs that fall into that category, and I'm not that old), shouldn't feel bad about it if they do. (I'm not going to, I'm still recovering from September.)

This has spread to my girls. I've decided that for spring and summer, I'm going to buy them a pair of Saltwater Sandals. That's all. (My favorite are the Sun-San Swimmers because I like the sole best). They're shoes they can wear everywhere. Outside, in the water, to church, no need for more than one pair of shoes for those two seasons. It will make my life (and theirs) way easier. It worked well this year. Until Alice ate one of Magnolia's sandals.

In other news:
Magnolia was accident free at school all week! I went with her to her classroom on Monday as part of a little plan I hatched with her teachers and the director of her school. She only goes to school on Tu, W, Th, so it was just me and her in her classroom. I had her show me some the work she does, but I really wanted to be there to explore the bathroom with her and help her feel more comfortable with that potty.

We were there for less than five minutes when she told me she had to go (I made sure she had a lot to drink for breakfast). We went in, and I had her show me how to do everything. She did it perfectly (minus not sitting back quite far enough). We went back out to the classroom, and I had her show me some more work. She was so excited to show me everything in this new environment (she LOVES school). When I felt like we'd been there long enough, I wanted her to show me the bathroom one more time before we left. When we got in, I asked her to show me how she goes potty at school. She went through all the steps, sat on the potty, and went again! I was so glad she went twice while I was there. She's still a little afraid of the potty, but I hope that's phasing out. She didn't go to the bathroom at all on Tu, W, but she used the potty today. We took her to Orange Leaf yesterday and Green Goodies today. I'm going to have to come up with something besides sweet treats and phase out the rewards too. She's very proud of herself.


Halloween Costumes and Magic Auto Repair

I was excited when I thought the girls had decided what they wanted to be for Halloween when we were in Orange Beach this summer. Magnolia was going to be Alice, our standard poodle, and Cora was going to be a kitty cat. Easy and themed, yes! It stuck for about a month....then it all changed.

Last year Cora was a "flying princess unicorn." I made her costume in the likes of Princess Celestia. She was white, and I made her a rainbow mane. What does she want to be this year? A white pony with rainbow "hair." So basically she wants to be what she was last year minus the horn and wings. I've got that.

Magnolia, however, has been consistently telling people what she would now like to be, and it's so funny and random. What is it, you ask?

A shower.

I think it will be pretty easy. I'm thinking a hoop with a shower curtain hanging from it. I'll put some sort of shoulder straps onto keep it in place, but I don't want it to hang too low - I want the hoop to be about level with her shoulders. I was worried about how she'd move her arms out to trick-or-treat, but I'll just make sure the opening to the shower curtain is in the front. And then I'm going to make some sort of headband with a shower head coming up and over. I think it's going to be awesome.

Last year, I had to work really hard on Cora's costume. Magnolia was an elephant, and I got that costume on sale at Carter's. Easy. This year, Cora is easy and Magnolia's will require the extra work. I hope they can keep on keepin' on in this fashion, unless they decide to both go they easy route (your know, like Alice and a kitty cat). I wouldn't mind that either. I seriously love making their costumes though.

In other news...

I went and switched cars with Jake at work yesterday. I wanted to get the Prius washed, plus I want to see how much money we can save in gas if I drive the Prius for the next few weeks. I drive way more than Jake, so it makes sense. I had a coupon for a carwash, took it there, and decided to call a local body shop to see if they could fix the under-thingy that protects against scrapes. I noticed it was coming detached the other day. They person told me to expect about an hour and for it to cost $85. Eh...

I took it around the block to Magic Auto Repair. This place really is magic. They have the best prices anywhere, and are super kind. One time, many moons ago, our car just completely lost it out of nowhere. We took it to MAR and it was the timing belt. I'd been on the phone with my dad who told me we'd be looking at $500-600 for the timing belt (and he'd been telling me to make sure htey look at everything else before the timing belt because that would set us back quite a bit). He charged us $200. Awesome. I wish there was a super amazing grant they could get to spruce up their shop. It's a father/son team. The dad mostly changes oil, the son takes care of things like timing belts. When we were there for our timing belt, it was pouring down rain for hours and hours. Jake and "the son" talked most of the time, and he is so smart. You wish you could pick him up and put him in a mechanical engineering program. The family is from Persia (they always just say Iran), and "the dad" was always so adamant the first time we were there, "I don't cheat people. I'm Muslim. It's not our way." They've proven that many times to us.

So, I took the Prius to Magic Auto Repair, asked "the son" if he could fix it, and he said yes, he would just need to raise it up a bit so he could see. I asked him how much it would cost and he waived his hand at me, and motioned me around. It took him about 5 minutes. When he was done, he removed the jack and waived goodbye. I got out with all the cash I had in my wallet. $9.15. I actually had a $10, too, but it wasn't mine, it was Magnolia's. I held it up to him, and he said, "No, it's okay."

I told him to please take it. He smiled and grabbed the $5. $5 and 5 minutes vs. an hour and $85. That's better than any groupon I've ever seen. Magic Auto Repair. 23rd and Mckinley. Don't you forget it.

Finally, it has a name.

We have dallisgrass. It has completely invaded our lawn. I spent a great deal of time thinking it was crabgrass, but I was wrong, and I discovered this yesterday. It turns out that dallisgrass is a major butt munch to get rid of, especially on the scale seen in our yard. The easiest way to get rid of it would be to kill the whole lawn - weeds, grass, everything - and start over. That would be a waste because I worked hard at getting what Bermuda we do have growing along. When we first moved into Dot, the lawn was made up almost entirely of weeds. The grass was all dead. 

So how do I get rid of it? By pulling it out. I bet there are at least a thousand individual dallisgrass plants. You see, they grow from seeds throughout their growing season, but they're also a perennial grass that grows through a root system. Our bermuda's season is almost up, but I'm hoping that I can get enough of the dallisgrass out that in the last 6 weeks or so before the Bermuda goes dormant, it can fill in the holes (there will be A LOT), and in the spring start back lush enough that the remaining dallisgrass won't stand a chance. 

Looking at our lawn makes it feel like a nearly impossible task, but I'm determined. I want a lawn I love. Seriously, it's so much better than it used to be, but I am so extra determined now that the enemy has a name. Dallisgrass, you are going down! 

If any of you love to do yard work, or if you've ever wanted to eradicate a form of evil from the world, you're more than welcome to help me with this mission. I promise you callused hands, an aching back, and dirt under your nails. But none of that will matter when you see the pile of dallisgrass you've taken out. I think pulling weeds might be one of the most gratifying things. 

Here it is:

Moment with Magnolia

There are a very few actual pictures that aren't in frames around our house, and most of them are of Cora from her picture timelines she makes at school for her birthday party there. [We have oodles and gobs of pictures on our phones, computers, and our ipad, and Magnolia is certainly represented.] Today Magnolia found two pictures from when Cora was a baby. It took her a while to grasp that Cora ever was a baby, so when she sees a baby picture of Cora now, she still always asks is it's her [M] first, but she doesn't get downright feisty trying to convince us that it really is her when we tell her it's Cora.

When she picked up the first picture she asked, "Is this me?"

"No, that's Cora." I replied.

M: Oh. Where am I?
Me: You weren't born yet.
M: But where was I?
Me: Heaven.
M. Oh. Where are you?
Me: I'm taking the picture.
M: Oh. Where's Papa?
Me: At work.

She was quiet for a few minutes, still looking through the drawer next to me, then she pulled out another picture of Baby Cora.

M: Is this me?
Me: No, that's Cora when she was a baby.
M: Where am I?
Me: Heaven

[A brief pause] - And then it happened...

M: But who "hold you me" in heaven?
[It took me a little second because I was caught off guard knowing she was imagining herself all alone]
Me: God.
M: [relieved] Oh. God hold you me in heaven.
Me: That's right.

I wanted to fall a part at what her little mind was thinking when she couldn't imagine who could have been holding her if she wasn't with her little family. And I got all gushy that she was completely content that if one of us wasn't holding her, God could.

And because children are such wonderful teachers (they are the best at keeping it real), I loved the sweet spirit that reaffirmed, "God can do that for us still."

Baby Magnolia:

My People Were Mormon Pioneers

-Carol Lynn Pearson

My people were Mormon pioneers.
Is the blood still good?
They stood in awe as truth
Flew by like a dove
And dropped a feather in the West.
Where truth flies you follow
If you are a pioneer.

I have searched the skies
And now and then
Another feather has fallen.
I have packed the handcart again
Packed it with the precious things
And thrown away the rest.

I will sing by the fires at night
Out there on uncharted ground
Where I am my own captain of tens
Where I blow the bugle
Bring myself to morning prayer
Map out the miles
And never know when or where
Or if at all I will finally say,
“This is the place,”

I face the plains
On a good day for walking.
The sun rises
And the mist clears.
I will be all right:
My people were Mormon Pioneers.

The Mormon Church's Part in the Religious Freedom Movement. [And how it reminds me of the whole Prop 8 thing.]

The Mormon Church recently launched a new campaign explaining religious freedom and the importance of defending it. I watched this video first (you should see a whiteboard drawing). And then hanging out in the sidebar on youtube was this video, just begging for me to watch it. I did, and I sort of wish I hadn't.

I automatically began wondering what was behind this gathering of resources to help clarify religious freedom. I read this article today, and it became much more clear.

After Prop8 happened...

Can I tell you a story? Okay.

I was so ecstatic when Obama was elected, but the feeling was quickly dampened after news of Prop 8 started rolling in. I suddenly felt like I'd been stabbed through the heart...or in the back... when I saw images of people protesting outside of the LA temple. The church had sent letters and leaders to congregations to encourage them to vote for Prop 8. I was blindsided. I remember talking to my mom about it (she lives in AZ, but there was a similar proposition on their ballot as well), and wondering why, of all the issues for the church to get involved with, this was the one. She quoted what had been told to her congregation, "It's not a political issue, it's a moral issue." I wondered why I hadn't seen a huge rally to end human trafficking or any other moral issue.

In the weeks leading up to Prop 8, I remembered getting forward emails (several from church members) warning against what would become of us if same-sex marriage was legalized. "Teachers would have to teach, as early as kindergarten, that gay marriage was okay as well as about families with parents of the same gender." This argument, of all the ones I heard, was the one that was most dumbfounding. I always wondered what would happen if the people using those arguments had a young child who made a friend in school who had two moms or two dads. Would the children not be allowed to be friends because they would have to explain that there are all kinds of families? And why we were all the sudden more concerned about what children were learning outside of the home when the most important things should be learned within. "The home is the first classroom."

Okay, back to "After Prop 8 happened"...

After Prop 8 happened, I started hearing about the millions of dollars that had poured into an organization called So much money from members of the LDS church, many not even living in California. I looked it up and was met with almost instant disappointment. Most of the talking points I'd heard in forward emails and from friends concerned for the future of marriage, had come directly from this organization whose sole purpose was to pass Prop 8.

Why disappointment? I couldn't believe that the church I belonged to and loved would align itself with an organization that made claims and perpetuated falsehoods based on majorly shoddy research and vile speculation. We were the bad guys. And we were the bad guys not because the church defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but because we felt we had to sink down to a level of fear tactics and ugly to get the point across (the sinking happened when teaming up with a poo-ey group).

Fast forward to the here and now and this new push to spread the word about religious freedom, and how I automatically started looking into where this was coming from. The article in Deseret News (that I linked above) made it all too easy. They quoted LDS apostles as well people from the Faith and Freedom Coalition and the Ethics and Public Policy Center about why there is a movement to protect religious freedom, and why so many churches were getting and should get involved. The FFC and EPPC are two organizations I would never personally "like" on facebook. The kicker is that the director of the American Religious Freedom program at the EPPC used to work for The Heritage Foundation - yet another organization I would pass on following.

Below, I've linked the organizations, as well as given a highlight of the information shown on the opening page of their websites.

Faith and Freedom Coalition - Restoring America's Greatness and Founding Principles
1. DEFEND Marriage! Marriage is defined as the union between one man and one woman.
2. Faith and Freedom Coalition Road to Majority 2013 Conference Recap
3. SUSPEND State Funding of Obamacare

Ethics and Public Policy Center [EPPC] - Defending American Ideals
"Washington D.C.'s premier institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy."

The Heritage Foundation -  Leadership for America
It's time to Defund Obamacare: The movement to Defund Obamacare has reached a critical moment.

If you know me, or if you've been reading my blog for any fair amount of time, you see why these organizations aren't up my alley. I can't help but feel disappointed all over again that my church, the one [out of all the churches I could belong to, not to mention none at all] I care about deeply decides to jump onboard with groups that are so unbelievably polar it makes my head spin.

Here is where I interject my personal opinion on all the religious freedom buzz: I get it.

Two of the major current issues that I know have caused people to feel threatened in the religious freedom department: Same-sex marriage and Contraception. More specifically: businesses being fined for declining services to same-sex couples, and businesses having to go to court to defend their right to not offer contraception under the new insurance laws. I GET IT!

Have we all heard of Sweet Cakes by Melissa? A bakery in Oregon refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple based on their "morals and beliefs." The couple filed a lawsuit with the state citing discrimination. After months of boycotts and hate mail, the owner and her husband decided to close their bakery and move the business back home. They should have been able to run their business as they chose. Sure people can let them know they don't agree with how they run their business, too. But this is the part I don't get. I'm sure there would have been many a baker who would have LOVED to have made a cake for this couple. I get that it hurts and that it's disappointing that people don't agree with the biggest, deepest love you have for someone else. I wish that wasn't the case, ever. [I'm not one of those people.]

But attacking someone who is standing their ground for what they believe, whether you agree or not, is basically causing a new "TEA Party" movement to rise up. But instead of taxes, religious freedom is the thing driving the momentum. Instead of TEA, this new thing could be PEA [persecuted enough already] or SEA [stifled enough already]. It will inevitably be [it already is] a very polar movement (and yes, my church is super bandwagoning with it) for something that shouldn't be polar at all.

I think there is magic in the legal system in the USA. I think marriage can (and should) be open to same-sex couples under the law, but this country has this super magical thing called the Constitution that has built in protection for religious groups, so if they don't want to perform a same-sex marriage, they don't have to, and no one should expect them to. There are many other churches and people who would be elated to share that kind of joy. If a pharmacist doesn't want to give the Morning After contraception, go to a pharmacist who doesn't have a moral objection to it. We've gotten too up in arms about things that shouldn't be this difficult. We're so selfish. We're so narrow-minded. We're so polar. I'm so over it. I don't want my church to be involved with organizations that make the divide greater.

A blurb about my faith: I feel like the Mormon church getting involved in this movement is an adolescent attempt at trying to fit in. (Did I mention they also created a facebook page called Support Religious Freedom? They did.) With the Prop 8 movement, I felt like I was in the middle of a church I didn't recognize ["where is my Mormonism?" And why are we trying to be all mainstream - we're not. That's what I like about us]. We were trying to fit in with some denominations who had regular Mormon bashing sessions. Were we trying to get them to like us?

I love the idea of churches coming together for the greater good, but the things we've been coming together on don't fall into that category to me, not the way we're promoting them anyway. [I think religious freedom and freedom of conscious definitely promote the greater good.] My church feels more and more like a corporation with a very aggressive PR team.

I'm tired of writing about it tonight. It makes me sad. Like deep down in my heart weepy. I don't know what the church is thinking about, or if at all, when it comes to members like me. I'd like to think there's room for me and the things I believe that differ from the main body (though there are plenty of Mormons just like me), but then instances like this happen: the church is part of a movement that exists because of its retaliation against things I stand up for. It feels like a sort of ultimatum: "You're with us, or you're against us." I came to the realization a few months ago, that it makes my heart hurt so much because I care so much about it [the church].

Rather than fancy "resources," I wish the main public image of our church had everything to do with who's in our name (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and what He taught. [Love, respect, kindness, compassion, empathy - a place we can find common ground.]

In a talk called The Love of God, Dieter Uchtdorf [a member of the presidency of the Mormon church] said:
Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing bond that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendships, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk.  
Mother Theresa said:
If you judge people, you have no time to love them. 
I think of this Gordon B. Hinckley [former president/prophet of the Mormon Church] quote when I think about the polarization that keeps us from loving people. I think the polarization is a big ol' blob of mediocrity:
Mediocrity will never do. You are capable of something better.
Because Gordon B. Hinckley had a lot of good things to say about being better, I'll leave you with two final quotes from him:
You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others...
Try a little harder to be a little better.


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