Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Salem Hills High School FEASTE

Friday, May 20, 2016

Happy Mother's Day You Stupid Teenager

This kid....

 I've never thought of myself as a jealous person. I don't begrudge or  wish ill will on anyone because they have more stuff than I do. I  wanted a husband for a long time but I was sincerely happy for all my  siblings when they beat me to the alter. I've wanted my own children  since I was 12, but I don't plot the kidnapping of some baby in  Walmart. Our friends have some amazing babies right now and I stalk  them all on Facebook but that's a close as I go. 

 I'm about to get a brand new niece named Ruby  and I can hardly wait!!! I'm truly happy for  everyone that has been able to add kid stuff to  their home and more chairs around the dinner  table. Our dinner table is the drop off for bags,  keys, mail...We never eat at the table because  there is a pervading feeling that people are  missing. Still, I don't covet as you would think of  traditional coveting I guess. Babies are the  flowers of the human race. I just love their smell,  their little round soft faces and maybe it's because I'm a teacher, I love being able to see their learning curve minute by minute as they process and decode everything, moment to moment. I just love that.


That being said, it doesn't take away my bitterness. Bitterness is a pool in my heart that I sometimes swim around in. Yes - I have considered drowning myself in it a few times, but I have a prescription that just reaches out and rescues me from those moments. Generally speaking I wish everyone on earth a full and happy family. There is nothing more important to the fabric of society than the family.  



Mother's Day however, is one of the days I suit up for the pool. It is, without a doubt, my least favorite holiday. I focus on my own mother, who is a saint, and the good teachers and neighbors that helped raise me. But my bitterness only lasts a few weeks, from the first FTD floral ad on TV to the last. 

Today is the Thursday before Mother's Day 2016 and during my prep period I drove up to our new property and there was a giant back hoe digging the hole for our new home. WHAT A GREAT DAY!!! We've waited since January 30th for this day. I dropped big tears of giddy joy.

As I was walking back in the school building one of my students was coming toward me arm in arm with a friend, I presume, and holding her stomach. As she approached I could see that she had been crying. This is not new for this particular student so I found myself saying "oh no, what now?" as she came toward me.

Student:   Jan, can I talk to you in private?
Jan:          Sure.
Student:   I...um...really screwed up. I was stupid and I...well...I had sex...(the most awkward pause                     ever in my life. I don't know why she is giving me this much information. I'm sure I looked                   dumbfounded and uncomfortable.)
Jan:          Okaaaaay...
Student:   And now I am paying for the consequences (she literally looks down at her stomach) 
                (I cock my head to one side and raise an eyebrow - still confused at why she is telling me                     this.)
Student:   I'm pregnant.  (She said it as if I didn't know what she was talking about.)
Jan:          I get it.
Student:   So that's why I wasn't in class today and that's why I don't have my book report done.
Jan:          How did getting pregnant prevent you from doing your book report exactly?
Student:   (Looks down the hall...she didn't think I would call her on that I guess) I've been having                        some  wicked cramps...I just can't be in school. It makes it really hard to concentrate. My                    counselor will be contacting you to excuse me from my work.
Jan:          I'll let them excuse your absence, but you still need to hand in your missed work.
Student:   (she starts to tear up) Okay, whatever.

Then she turned around and walked off with her friend (who was also crying because that's how girls are), head bowed and hand still on her stomach. I just stood there.

When you are a drama teacher, you find yourself listening through tears to boys that want to come out, but feel like they will be ostracized by their families. This is my world and I'm comfortable in it. But this pregnancy business is a whole new thing for me.

My thoughts came in starts and stops but not immediately. I stood there for a full minute before I processed anything at all, then slowly I put one leg into the pool of bitterness, and then another and finally waded down in up to my chin...the pain was acute and sharp like I had had the wind knocked out of me. I stood there, in the empty hall. I felt a flaming wave of jealously come over me. I felt a wicked anger rising from my belly to my throat and down my arms. I made fists. I wanted to hit something. I wanted to crawl in a hole. I wanted to melt into nothingness.

Finally, coherent thoughts came...

"...Wish I could have stayed home from school every time I felt crappy in a pregnancy."

"...Can I have it?"

"Happy Mother's Day you stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid....lucky teenager. Damn you and your spanking new ovaries."

And then finally...

"Maybe you'll get lucky and have a miscarriage..." 

And that response surprised me because I would never wish a miscarriage on anyone. Even a stupid teenager. But I was heating up like furnace inside. Which also surprised me. I just couldn't blow it off like I do most things teenagers tell me....just kidding...not kidding. It played so vividly in my mind for several hours after it happened like I'd gotten up from a bad nightmare that wouldn't dissipate.

And just like that my day went from HERO to ZERO. The remaining 10 minutes of my prep I spent logging on to my blog and getting it out of my system and onto this magical digital paper. I can't swim in the pool of bitterness for long or I end up eating my way out of it. Blogging is easier on the arteries. I immediately started craving a bread bowl from Kneaders like a typical crack head.

I spent the day reeling from my conversation with the pregnant teenager. I realize that I have at last figured out my kryptonite where jealousy is concerned. Pregnant teenagers. Anyone else in the world can be pregnant and I look at them with fond admiration and I know how exciting a time it is and what sacrifices are being made to bring that child into the world. I am in awe of the entire process.

But apparently...

pregnant teenagers...

... make my blood boil.

I just want to clarify - this isn't their fault. This is my fault. I just didn't know how it would destroy me. In 25 years of teaching I have never had a student tell me that they were pregnant. Gay, addicted to drugs, homeless...but never pregnant. I think it's because I teach kids that do a lot of extracurricular activities and honestly they don't have much time to tempt biology by "screwing up" (if you will).

According to the Department of Adolescent Health, there were 249,786 babies born in 2014 to teenagers. That is 24.2 births for every 1000 adolescents. This is good news actually because in 1991 - there were 61.8 for every thousand. Still, the teen birth rate is one of the highest of all the developed nations - much higher in fact than Canada, Great Britain, France or Japan. It makes me wonder if those countries just perform more abortions. Don't get me started about abortion.

Luckily for me, my pregnant student transferred to a school that will help her graduate. That's good for her and me. I told her friend that if [my student] decides not to keep it that I would gladly take it off her hands, but she said "Yeah, I heard she's going to sell it," which sounds bad but in teenager language probably means put it up for adoption. At least I hope that's what it means.

Ahhhh...it's been a few years now since I've been pregnant myself and my heart has mended itself pretty well. I didn't know there was still that one little oozing wound. This experience lifted me right off my feet and plopped me on my butt with a hard thump. I hope that I can come to terms with that in the future. Maybe the added pressure of Mother's Day made it worse because in the moment I wanted to break things but today I'm rational and I wish my student and her baby a happy life.

If karma has its way, and it usually does, that baby will show up at auditions in 15 years and knock my socks off and I'll come directly to this blog and eat these digital words in front of the world. That would be my luck - see you in 15.




Monday, April 25, 2016

Just Keep Swimming

This story is re-published from part of a blog I wrote four years ago. It seems to go right along with the "Amber" series. I found it this morning and as I read - it seemed to be exactly what I needed to hear today. Maybe somebody out there needs it too. 

Traditional Japanese Koinobori flying carp kites

Right after graduation from SUU I took a job teaching high school in Japan to pay off my student loans. I didn't speak Japanese, but I had served an LDS mission to Thailand and I was no longer afraid of anything. 

I was assigned to teach in a town called Mori-machi, in Shizuoka-ken. Mori was two train stops from civilization. It was dense with trees and had a small population of 10,000. I was so very alone and the solitude of it all, living by myself, not speaking the language, not having even one friend nearby, or a cell phone...!...magnified my singularity to the point where I was miserable and feeling abandoned by God in my true desire to be married and raising children by then.

Japanese school teachers all have the same big office. My desk, however, faced a big wall of windows with a beautiful view of a pine forest banked in bamboo.

I only taught three hours a day. I was four hours round-trip from another American, from anyone that I could really talk to. (My phone bill in December was $780) So, I spent a good deal of time contemplating the seasons as they changed before me through the windows. I watched the bamboo foreground evolve from bright green to deep golden yellow. I watched it bend with the wind until I thought it would snap in two, but it never did. I watched a house being built, and then a neighborhood was erected around the first house. New children played below the window where I sat and new mothers hung their laundry out every day in the country breeze. You'd have thought I was in Kansas, 1957. Except for the bamboo.

The Japanese are very good at taking care of their elderly. They almost always live as one big extended family. I watched new grandparents shuffle around in the streets, smile, bow to each other politely. The whole subdivision was created in about 3 months, tops.

The summer was hot and humid in Mori. I wished for my dad's big backyard and a hose. It was a relief when the winds started to blow,  but also a happy surprise when families with new baby boys raised a string of giant wind socks, shaped like fish, called "koinoburi" in celebration of the birth. I had also seen extravagant doll displays in the homes of families that were blessed with a baby girl that year. Apparently we aren't the only country with a gender stereotype issue. 

This year  in Japan was especially fun for the new neighborhood and their two new baby boys. On the first really windy day, I watched two sets of grandparents unfold these giant wind socks, some of them 20 feet long, and attach them to a rope which was diagonally strung from a peg in the ground up to the top of a telephone pole.

Almost immediately all of the giant swimming fish inflated with wind and took off. Black, gold, red, bright blue, green and purple... The intricate Oriental designs, the brilliant colors, gold and silver scales...amazing! It was a spectacular sight. I'm pretty sure the two families were having a contest to see who could get more fish on that line. 

After about a week of watching these schools of fish swim around, get tangled in each other, smack each other down, lay dormant without wind, I noticed that one of the smaller ones, added at the bottom,  was very plain. It was a narrow, black, gray and white fish without decoration, Probably the only reason I even noticed it was because it was always "swimming." It had a bigger mouth than the other more ornate ones. It's design was shorter, more streamline, allowing it to swallow up the tiniest bit of wind and take off. But the fancy long heavy ones lay limping in the same small wind as if they were fighting for breath in the bottom of a Coleman cooler. Only the biggest gusts of wind would set them sailing.

I built up quite an empathy for the little gray sock. It had a plain wrapper, like me. It did more with less and constantly proved that more isn't necessarily more.  I marveled at it's optimistic attitude as if to say "Hey! I might be plain, short and stout but if this was a race, I would be winning!" But the bigger fish always waited for more wind to motivate them, handicapped by their decorations and spectacle. They would whip into each other and tie themselves in knots until the little old ladies in the neighborhood would come out with their long bamboo poles and untangle them.

The little gray sock never got tangled or tied. It just swam all the time, and it would instantly change directions with the wind just like the bamboo behind it. It was cooperative, dedicated to its task, creative and optimistic.

I felt pretty sure that a higher power was trying to teach me something about the little gray wind sock. I've always felt bad that my physical self wasn't more ornate, more eye-catching. No amount of gold or silver embellishments will give me a waist or...a neck. ;-) It isn't easy to get the attention of (a man or) if you will only show your legs from the skinny part of your calf down. To add insult to injury, my eye surgeries, though saving my sight, have made me allergic to eye makeup, so I rarely use it and it really affects how I feel about myself. 

So I've worked hard to find and display other talents. To catch people off guard by entertaining them using wit and storytelling. I've learned the art of "magnetizing the details" as my mom would say. It distracts people from my plain gray wrapper. I preempt their perception of me with a portrait of someone that gets things done and can be counted on to bring creativity and optimism to the table when resources are slim (and I never have been)... 

...I am "always swimming." 

Blogging is great because...you can't see me. I'm safe behind the invisible interweb. For all you know, except that some of you do know me, I could be Quasimodo sitting here typing away. I could have some crazy physical defect like gills or a mermaid tail. 

I don't have gills. But I do have a really big mouth. And I'm not afraid to use it, especially in this blog. I have used it to advocate for myself, for drama teachers, for my students and, on occasion, when I feel a great responsibility to stand up for the Mormons, I have tried to have a modern sensibility and be the voice of reason. Blogging has become a sanctuary for me. I'm very grateful to all who read, but it doesn't matter if you do. I will keep swimming.

To anyone that ever sees themselves as a little gray fish in a big pond, keep swimming. Open your mouth and go where the wind points you. For me, it has provided "blessing beyond my comprehension to receive."


Joshua 1:9 - Be strong of of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou [swimmeth] goest." 


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ladies in Waiting: Giving Up Amber, Part 3

I stole the text from a meme I loved on Facebook. It fits. 
 You may wonder why I am writing this thing about fat in the Ladies in Waiting section of my blog. Well, I will make that point today. It wasn't until after I got my mental "house in order" that I was ready to be loved. It wasn't until I gave up Amber that I had the courage to shed my insecurities about my body. My body didn't change but my mind sure did.
  
When Andy’s weight reached 630 pounds I was tying his shoes for him. It was heart breaking and it scared me to death. I started praying every single day that I would find a way to help him. But I needed to remove the mote in my own eye first before I could help him. I finally got the guts to do the new-fangled HCG diet and lost 60 pounds so Andy decided to do it too.

Let me digress a little here…

On HCG you can only eat 500 calories a day. You are given a magic potion each morning or a shot, and it cuts your hunger down. It didn’t work for Andy. The second time through the regiment, I was fantasizing about caramel sticky buns. There must be a one shot limit on this diet because the second time I did it I was licking salt off French fries and throwing away the fries. I couldn’t move. Walking up the stairs to our bedroom was like climbing Everest. I wanted to cry just at the thought that I had to get up and walk somewhere. I could not function. But because I wanted Andy to be successful I hung in there as long as I could. He was also suffering but desperate. One day about 2 weeks into this magic snake oil, we had come home from school and plopped ourselves down in our chairs and DIED. I was praying to know what to do. The Word of Wisdom, the Mormon churches health code came to my mind: “all things in moderation.” Was this not a severe violation of moderation only in the guise of trying to get healthy? I started to cry, I could not stop. I was exhausted! It was an ugly cry! But even the crying was using up calories! I told Andy that I had been dreaming about a caramel sticky bun that I would pass every time we would go and weigh ourselves (we had to weigh at the GNC in the mall because our scale was too small).  I let it all hang out! I told him that I had licked the salt off a bunch of French fries…that I had taken a salt shaker to work, that I chewed up an apple and S.P.I.T. I.T. B.A.C.K. O.U.T…I came clean. We both cried. I told him that I felt crash dieting like this was definitely against the Word of Wisdom. We drove immediately to the closest caramel sticky bun. I guess we should have driven to the nearest salad bar but I thought the sticky bun might get me to stop crying.

It did.

It seems like in the media, when someone loses a lot of weight - they always ask "What made you finally decide to do it?" And they always have a specific moment when they hit rock bottom and they got the BIG motivation to start and finish a diet. There have been lots of those days.

It was the day we could not ride on several of the rides in Disneyland that truly broke my heart.
The day that we broke the car seat
The day that I got put on blood pressure mediation...and then high cholesterol meds.
The day that I had to start tying Andy shoes for him.
The day that we no longer fit in a restaurant booth.
The day that I had a stroke.
The day our primary class said "you almost don't fit through the door!"
The day that we lost Noah.
The day we were told that Andy was "too specific" to be cast as Thenardier at Tuacahn.
It was the day...
The day...

Each time one of those things happened, we would be on fire to start something new. The list of diets that we both have tried is like looking at a list of people that have bullied you on the playground.

·       We’ve eaten all meat and cheese (and been constipated for months)
·       We’ve taken all traces of fat out of our diet
·       We’ve eaten 500, 900, 1200 and 1500 calories a day – (not all on the same day…usually)
·       We’ve paid large sums of money for pre-packaged food (you know you can eat two or three    of those at a time and still not feel full…interesting ;-0)
·       We’ve taken Phen-Phen (that was a good one – dang the people that abused it and got it          taken off the market)
·       We’ve been to weight doctors that gave us B-12 shots and made us listen to mind-altering    tapes
·       We’ve tried Anorexia and Bulimia but it hurt my throat too much…when I was a kid I was    so jealous of the girls that made that work.
·       We’ve made spinach shakes with flax and other “sure fire snake oils” that just create a tempest in your belly all day and make you wonder “do I need to go to the bathroom right now or can I wait until... *~*!#@! Nope! Can’t wait! AH...too late.
·       We’ve gotten up at five in the morning to bask in the sunrise and run with the dogs – who let’s face it – have three inch legs and get distracted by interesting looking rocks, other dogs, butterflies…and have to “mark” their territory every 15 feet.  
·       We’ve drunk our pay-checks in weight loss shakes of ever kind only to eventually throw them up or run out of money
·       We ordered funky video systems, amazing blenders (we have three) and most recently we ordered a video that promises you will literally “dance your butt off.”
·       We’ve counted points, calories, steps (that’s what we’re currently doing), ounces, carbs, glasses…you name it, we have a half empty notebook full of all kinds of tracking systems (emphasis on the half empty).

Then there is a list of magic pills that promise you model-like bodies in 21, 45 or 90 days but in the end the consequences are a long as the possible side-effects for Viagra and include:

·       Heart racing uncontrollably
·       Heart failure
·       Leaking heart
·       Leaking bum (you that have been there know what I’m talking about)
·       Stroke
·       Birth defects in your children (this one will haunt you for years to come)
·       Constipation for months
·       Pooping in your sleep in the middle of the night
·       Vomiting
·       Crazy dreams
·       Insomnia
·       Inability to focus
·       Inability to move
·       Scary bright green pee that glows in the dark
·       Bikes, exercise equipment (or as we like to call it at our house “the towel rack”)
·       And the list goes on and on…

The stuff from which you cannot turn back:

Pre- Bypass
Three years ago Andy underwent gastric bypass surgery which is one of the hardest ways to lose weight but it is very effective. He was miserable for months, just like any diet, but once he stabilized he had lost 300 pounds and is no longer on any medications for anything. It changed our lives. It saved his life. I will forever be grateful to the incredible team at the University of Utah who took such good care of him, and never judged him and worked their whole skinny lives to learn how to help us save his.
1 year post-bypass

Gastric Bypass isn’t the answer for everyone. It’s expensive for some of us that don’t have fancy insurance ($25,000) and it changes what you can and can’t eat for the rest of your life. But for Andy, it was exactly right. I have seen my husband go from sitting in a chair to running a 5K every day. If gastric bypass is something you are thinking about, we are proponents of this life-saving surgery. I suspect, after we get into our new house (we are building a house right now) that I will also do the surgery at some point and we will both need additional surgeries to remove skin...it's a never ending battle.

Things we haven’t tried:

·       LIPOSUCTION. I watched a documentary on that once and I just don’t think I want to be skinny in one area of my body and fat everywhere else. I recently was told by one of my students that she babysits for a lady that has “Sonobello” appointments every week which are like Lipo I guess but with a laser. I wonder how much that costs? I’d also like to try the “cool-sculpting” which is an FDA approved procedure where they freeze your fat by dropping the temperature of the skin down to where the fat cells die. You then eliminate those cells in “natural ways.” What does that look like? Why can’t I just fill a tub with ice and do it myself all at once? There’s a thought. Can I eat caramel popcorn during the procedure?


The problem is, even with surgery, the diet is NEVER "finished." Skinny or fat, we will always be working on our health because after we reach the ripe old age of whatever we are not growing a body anymore, we are losing it. The only way to keep yourself from going crazy over it is to know what makes you feel like you are progressing. I truly feel that as long as I am working on something, I am okay in my head. I’m writing like weight is the only thing Jandy thinks about – HA! I wish that was our only problem. But the much bigger journey in our house is whether or not we are actually moving forward…in life, in love, in spirit. Sadly, how we feel about the shell that houses our spirit often casts a shadow over all of those things.

Let us not forget to wear out the journey doing other things and helping each other through it…I want to talk about that next…but I gotta go teach a class.











Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ladies in Waiting: GIVING UP AMBER; Part 2



FORWARD 8 YEARS…STILL FAT.


When I was in Thailand in 1988, we missionaries shared a film strip projector. There were very few televisions and VCR's in the homes of the people we taught. Occasionally we would get to teach a family past the initial Joseph Smith filmstrip so we could talk about our relationship to God. I loved to show the filmstrip of Johnny Lingo. Most of you know what I'm talking about. But for those that don't - here's the 50 cent version in a nutshell:

In the story, Johnny Lingo is a well-like Polynesian trader. He comes to an island to bargain for a wife. Mahana is the girl he loves but everyone on the island considers her withdrawn and ugly. Her own father calls her "Mahana, you ugly!" (Which is what we used to call each other when we were kids.) As the bargaining begins the women of the island brag about how many cows they "sold for" and they are sure that Mahana's father probably ought to give Johnny Lingo cows just to get rid of her. But when Johnny comes the next day he brings eight cows! Unheard of! He gets his wife and they go off on their honeymoon. When they return, Mahana is beautiful, confident and happy. Johnny only had to prove to her that she had incredible worth and it had nothing to do with what other people thought and everything about what she thought of herself. In the end is was Johnny Lingo that got the bargain.

Makes me cry every time.

Isn't there a little Mahana attitude in everyone? For so many years of my life I wondered, when I was asked out on a date, WHY this guy asked me out. I knew for sure that there was something wrong with him - and that was my marker. I gave them no credibility in their choice, because not even I would choose to go out with me. No matter how hard I worked, or how much education I got, I wasn't taken seriously because I didn't take myself seriously. I never let my eight-cow self out from under Amber...who wasn't real. I considered myself a no-cow wife.

Having recently written the blog about my mission and seeing all those pictures of the 22 year-old self, I can see the fake over-achiever in those pictures. Since it was, at the time, a stereotype that sister missionaries were only serving because they weren't/couldn't get married, I wanted to be taken seriously. I studied like a fiend; I made goals and lists. We took referrals that were all the way out in Laos. I never told anybody about those....since Laos was, well...Communist and not in our prescribed proselyting area. But we were working, and in Thailand at the time it was just us little girls and 50 million Buddhists. It was hard to stay busy teaching in Thailand. Just as I imagine it's hard to be a proselyting Jehovah's Witness in Provo, Utah. I wanted everyone to see the worker bee beyond the fat. In every picture I can see the slight distortion in my face as I "suck in," lift my double chins into one and open my puffy eyes. I look the same in every picture - like Amber is trying to grab my face from behind and pull herself to the surface.

Mistakenly, I have created this linear argument all my life: "WHEN I GET SKINNY...(all good things will happen...) WHEN I CAN GAIN CONTROL OVER BREAD...OR SUGAR...I WILL BE SKINNY AND SKINNY EQUALS BEAUTY EQUALS OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOVE WHICH EQUALS HAPPINESS.

Humpf!

I want to be able to kick my carb addiction. It's bad. Easily as bad as any hard drug or alcohol. My favorite thing is any bread with a crusty outside and a chewy inside and there must be butter. Not margarine. S.a.l.t.e.d. b.u.t.t.e.r. I have been known to buy a loaf of bread, sit in my car and pull it apart while sucking on a stick of butter crying over loneliness. Kneaders, why ya gotta be so good? Why ya gotta give out that free bread sample? Why ya gotta have real butter on ice free for the taking?

I blame Kneaders.

T.O.R.T.U.R.E.

Depression makes you punish or reward yourself for everything! And since we have no children, it's very easy to say "We made it through first term! Let's go to Outback tonight!" Or "you passed your Praxis test! Let's go to Brick Oven tonight!" "We worked 15 hours yesterday, we deserve The Pasta Factory..." "It's my birthday," "It's so and so's birthday!, It's the ward party!, it's Christmas, It's the Fourth of July, "It's Thursday, we're almost to Friday - let's go eat...


Then's there's the: We don't live next to a (Wich-Wich, Texas Roadhouse, Brick Oven, Lehi Bakery...etc.) so we'd better take the opportunity while we're in town. What kind of sick rationalization is that?

I have tried giving up carbs as often as my friends try to quit smoking. But you have to eat to keep yourself alive so the temptation is always there. Right now I can tell you that there is a See's Candy caramel sucker in my purse that I am saving for the next movie night. I think about it often. The sucker... not the movie. I think about carbs more than I think about retirement. That's saying a lot.

SO in an effort to gain self-confidence again, Andy and I completely cut out flour and sugar for nearly 4 months this summer! I felt so great! I lost about 25 pounds, my joints didn't ache, I even slept better just to name a few of the benefits.

Then Oscar season arrived.

In the fall when all the great movies come out, I am in a movie theatre at least once a week and the temptation...the smell that meets you in the parking lot... the racks of Raisinettes, Jordan Almonds a warm hot pretzel with cheese... you see the problem.

I blame Larry H. Miller...I blame loneliness...I blame unfulfilled dreams...I blame miscarriages...I blame the Petroff boys...I blame my old boyfriends....ya seeing a trend here?

So here it is post Oscar season - in fact, TONIGHT the Oscars are on television. I'm kicking off a new resolve to give up sugar and flour again...after tonight.

I used to say to myself that it surprised me how much I weighed because I took such care not to eat. I never ate breakfast because I didn’t have time and why make breakfast for only one person? I ate a fast food lunch…every day. Then 12 hours would pass between lunch and dinner which always happened at midnight on the way home from school. To keep myself awake I drank Diet Coke. I considered getting a pic line and a backpack for Diet Coke. I drank maybe a gallon a day. Or more. I justified it because I felt the Diet Coke was keeping my migraines at bay. Ha! I credit my addiction to caffeine as the impetus for a lifetime of migraines. I kicked the caffeine out of my life and I have to admit, I have fewer migraines and they are easier to manage...still, when Andy gets a Diet Coke, after years of being without it - I always have to smell it. A good whiff over the popping ice and bubbles still sends me to heaven and back.

I digress.

I was so hurt after that failed engagement that I thought I would die. I had laid so much of my own happiness at the feet of a man that I crumbled into little pieces and it took me ten years to reassemble myself.


And I did it with food. The feeling of eating a grilled cheese sandwich felt exactly like the post make-out, sleepy, warm, wrap-its-arms-around-you-last-kiss...LOVE!

Food created happy times. Food created a diversion. I decided that I could create my own family using my friends to fill those roles. I tried to create a family around a dinner table by buying food for, and inviting, an army. I wanted to prove that I could provide…for everyone…and we would sit around and eat and talk, laugh and dream and plan the next play. I still do that. Food is interesting, fun and comforting. It gives us a reason to come together. So since I needed a fake family, I would just invite people over and feed them. I became everyone's favorite "aunt," "sister," "the grandmas they never had", but no one's wife. Amber pulled on her fat suit again and animated it with fake smiles and all those tools I had learned in acting school.

So to pick up where Part 1 left off...I was engaged and I was on Phen-phen...but I feared that I wasn’t getting skinny enough. I was desperately trying to hold onto him because… because I loved him and he asked me to marry him and no one else had. I was so happy to be getting married. I was so baby hungry and that goal eclipsed sanity. I feared he’d find out that I was really Jan. And at the time, Amber was lookin’ pretty good. She was fit and her eyes were as blue as the sky in June in his reflection. But then he found someone younger and I threw the ring in his face, and the weight came back on. I called that weight “anger weight,” food the consolation prize.

Then one of those boys that was hanging around decided to try out for a play I was directing and I cast him in the lead and we carpooled to rehearsal all summer. This precious time in the car, and after rehearsal at Denny's or wherever, solidified our respect, our mutual empathy for each other and an enduring trust. Because we were able to look past each other's fat (I'll talk about that in Part 3), we found the hidden prize inside and eventually, because of him, but for me...I let go of Amber.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why did it take me 40 years to get rid of Amber? And can you see that it was the death of Amber that marked my engagement to someone that didn’t acknowledge her existence? Because she was gone. Jan didn’t give a damn anymore.

How do we come to that? Did the fat go away?

Ha! No.

I finally found someone that didn’t like Amber. He’s the only person that doesn’t ask me if I’m okay when I just want to be me: unfunny Jan sitting in her chair watching The Walking Dead and drinking…water.

At 41 years old I married a man that was 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed more than two of me. I was ecstatic! And he had the bluest eyes. I just got lost in his eyes. Because when he looked at me, he looked at Jan, not Amber. And he would hold his gaze like I was the only person on earth. And he would say things like, I can’t believe I’m marrying THE Jan Shelton.” And it should have flattered me but I genuinely didn't understand his adoration, because I disliked myself so much. I guess I had worked up quite a persona out there in our theatre world trying to hard to be someone I wasn't and giving my life away to worry, insecurity, bitterness and w.o.r.k., w.o.r.k., w.o.r.k. I didn't know that he was watching so closely. To tell you the truth, I thought he was pulling the old Mahana trick - and it was scary at first, there were risks to take and attention to be paid. I surely wasn't worth eight cows at the time.

I was running and reaching every day to the bottom of my soul to be brilliant all the time. There was no down time. But when I was around Andy, I was able to be myself and relax. Because we were around each other through community theatre for so long, we became friends first. He taught me that it’s okay to be yourself. He is never anything but himself. If you’ve heard Andy fart in public consider it a compliment. You are part of his world and he loves you…followed by a long face and “sorry, don’t want to bruise my colon.” This is the real guy. And one day he asked me to "go with him," the real guy, forever. And I took a giant risk, something I was never comfortable doing because Amber had...left the building.


If there is anything in my life that I am proud of, it isn't the teaching awards that are gathering dust, my blog or even my immaculate pantry organization...hehehe....it's the fact that I still deal with the self-doubt and the worry and the guilt, especially the guilt, when I sit down to my Kneaders Bread Bowl ($5.99 - can't beat that price) BUT now I am now able to see that food is not love. I am to blame for my weight but I am human. My reaction to my circumstances, good or bad, is about me. Not Amber. That bread bowl might kill me, but eventually, I will test my self-control again and go without for a while and then I will crack and eat one in the car...and start all over again. But I WILL start over. Jan starts over all the time now. And it's o.k.a.y. It's not the end of the world. The important thing is that I tried and every time I try, I get better at it.

Life.

I'm going to stop at this intersection for today because the story isn't over but I have to go to work. Part III of Giving Up Amber is about Jandy's journey through the Fat-lands of prejudice and what we can do to help each other give up the Ambers that rob us of our ability to love ourselves enough that other people will want to love us too.




Friday, February 12, 2016

Ladies in Waiting: GIVING UP AMBER, Part 1


When the "waist" on a pair of jeans went to the hips we all stopped caring about how thin our actual waist was. Waist bands went from a 28 inch average to a 34. We created the “muffin top” by wearing those kinds of jeans over the years. The further we wore them down on our hips, the less fabric was there to help us hold it all in. We lost our true waist. We've let it all hang out. The kids these days don’t even know what I’m talking about when we do a period drama and I find myself yelling “pull that skirt up around your waist” They look at me like I’ve gone nuts. So over the years my zipper got shorter and shorter but my waist got thicker and thicker (like everybody else). But I didn’t see everybody else get fat. I blame it on fashion. I just saw my middle “tire” expanding. Eventually, if I sit down, my tire now sticks out beyond my boobs. Which is good in a way, it’s a kind of shelf holding my bust up now.


Glass half full.  

I was never a thin girl. When I was a kid my relatives told me that my baby fat would go away. It never did. I still have it. I come from stocky German blood. Solid as a rock, big-boned and muscle-y. All I lack is a couple of braids, a milk bucket and a soundtrack filled with “World’s Greatest Polkas," to complete the picture. Even as I type this, I can see the evidence of my weight and age sagging around my thick, short neck in the reflection of the monitor. It’s someone I don’t know very well because sometime in the 90’s I quit really looking at myself in the mirror if I could help it.

I was first taken to a diet doctor when I was 10, then again at 12 and when they couldn’t find a band uniform to fit me, I was given boiled eggs and dry tuna fish. I know everyone around me was just trying to fix my misery but as a child, I never felt completely worthy of anyone’s love. If everyone is telling you that you need to be fixed...I was too tall, too fat, too much boobage, too much hair…then you never feel whole or right. You feel broken.

I’ve looked pretty much the same since 1969. Despite the diets, the exercise equipment that fills my basement and the prescriptions that riddle a certain drawer in my bathroom, my waist has never been anything but a tree trunk and my squatty neck still sprouts a head full of denial.

Delusion is nothing more than living the dream. Right?

I always had in my mind that my fat was the real reason I wasn’t taken seriously by… anybody. When you are a fat kid, it feels like people see the fat first. Nobody looks beyond your fat. It’s as if the fat is a wall between you and anyone that might actually want to get to know the real you. The real me was a skinny girl down deep inside named Amber that lived, happily, in my delusion.

Amber wore the newest jeans and she had hair scrunchies in every color. She had big blue eyes and blonde hair that hung straight down her back. My real eyes were the color of “shit-brindle” my grandma said, which I guess was supposed to be funny. I still don't know what shit-brindle is, though it must be nearly black in color. My hair was unruly, half straight, half curly with two cow licks, one above each eye, making the bangs of the 70’s impossible. Amber had perfect bangs.

BOYS ARE DUMB
In elementary school I had an elaborate daydream that I was wearing something like football pads and that some nutty professor was paying me to do a social experiment about being fat. I would wake up each morning and dutifully put on all my padding because I was earning money for my family by being a lab rat for a study on bullying. It was my job. One day, when the experiment was over, I would finally get to go to school without all my padding, and my friends would say, “…you look amaaaaaazing! You wanna eat lunch with us?” And I would get a boyfriend two minutes later.

In the fourth grade a new concept was catching on to all us 10 year-olds. My classmates were probably getting it from all their older siblings, but since I was the oldest in my family I really never had clue about the current social policies and procedures. I had to learn it from my friends that had older siblings. So even as young as 10 years old, the class of 1983 had picked up on “going with” another person. The rules went like this: You would send a note to the person you liked (never talk to them person to person!) and sometimes you would send a note through a third party and the notes said “Will you go with me?” with two squares below YES  NO  The note was usually folded in a some tricky origami 101 and the name of the recipient was written on the outside. If you sent the note back marked “yes” that meant that you would eventually get to hold his hand behind the school…that was about as far as it went in my crowd…that I know of…hehehe.  BLOG: "THE SPAZ" 

I had only one crush in fourth grade and I’ll save his family from the embarrassment of mentioning his name but he never sent me “the note.” I was disappointed, but when I did get my first note I was shocked that another boy secretly liked me. How could it be? There must be something wrong with him! My friends were all “going with” someone. It was what I wanted more than anything and I didn’t really care who it was. Let the hand holding commence!


I guess I expected that he would want to be around me. He avoided me. I expected that he would talk to me in class. He didn’t say a word. In fact, the more I tried to be near him or talk to him, the more he would push me away. I was confused. Then one day my best friend asked me why I was badgering this kid and I showed her the note. She laughed right out loud. She said it was just a joke. Someone had written the note and it wasn’t this kid. I was mortified. I’m sure I faked sick so that I could stay home the next day (I was a convincing actor from a very early age.) I remember very distinctly saying to myself, “it’s because I’m fat. It’s because I’m fat.”

There was a bright spot in my junior high years that I very distinctly remember. Robbie Zimmerman asked me to dance at an eighth grade dance. It was the one and only time I ever got asked by a boy to dance in junior high. He was considerably shorter than me then. But he ran around with the cool kids. He was a mischief maker and comedian, the kind that are sent the principal’s office more than they should but Robbie went willingly, looking back at the class with a wink. I'll always love him for that may he rest in peace.

BECOMING AMBER
If tears give birth to personal evolution I believe it was a relationship I fought for in high school that spawned the capable, cool and aloof apparition Amber. She buried me in the shelter of my shame.

My first real boyfriend took me to the movies but wouldn’t be seen holding my hand. He would kiss me, but only if we were by ourselves. I would see him look around first before he went in for the kiss, as if kissing me would rid him of his reputation. I knew what it was…but I was desperate to have a relationship like regular girls did. We had just graduated from high school and he was headed out to work in another state for the summer. I had loved him for four years and we were finally dating. I was so sad that he was leaving but I knew he had to go. He had been a runner in high school. He told me that if I would start running I would lose weight. He told me that for every five pounds I lost he would write me a letter. No email back then. I would hear from him, on the condition that I would lose weight. I tried not to show how disappointed I was when I found out he was like every other boy I had ever known. Now granted, he was in high school and we were just kids. I was so desperate for his attention, that I bought weight loss shakes with my college money and nearly killed myself trying to lose weight so that he would write to me.

Let me say that again. I spent my college money on a snake oil shake program that eventually made me vomit after I drank them. That was the added bonus to that diet I guess.  

But when my one and only boyfriend got home from his summer job he didn’t want anything to do with me. I was still fat. He ignored me completely. I guess I didn’t love him enough to get skinny for him. I didn’t know who I was at a time. I was only 17. I didn’t love myself enough to give up Amber. What I suspected all along, was true...boys didn't want Jan they wanted Amber. 

Every day I still dreamt about the padding coming off to reveal Amber, but I was more interested in adding a revenge element through high school. I dreamt I had the power to make other people fat. I would walk down the hall and with my laser-vision I would instantly implode them – ala Violet Beauregard in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Anyone that ever did a double take when they looked at me or any fat kid, I would just implode their butt or their head.  I didn't want to hurt anyone - I just wanted them to have a little empathy for what it felt like to be different. I knew that if other people could feel what it was like to be fat for just a few minutes, they would be kinder. Ironically, it was because I was fat, that I learned empathy.

In college it was all about getting the roles I wanted in the theatre. I dreamt that I was cast as anything BUT the mother, the ugly stepsister or the drunk. It was while I was in college that a beloved mentor said, “…you’ll never play Juliet and you have to be okay with that. YOU are the nurse.” It wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the time, but it was true. He was brave. He taught me what it’s like to be a true mentor. He later gave me an opportunity to direct my first play and it was magic. So the irony there is that because of those roles I learned how to act, how to teach acting and how to direct.

DISPELLING THE STEREOTYPES - JOLLY IS NOT A COMPLIMENT
The thing about delusional fat is that you are constantly trying to overachieve proving that you are someone you’re not. I assumed the stereotypes were being projected on me. So I tried to dispel every stereotype about fat that I could. If fat people are thought of as lazy, I worked my fingers to the bone. If fat people are thought to be slow, I would run. If fat people sit around and eat all the time I would never let people see me eat or if I could avoid it, I would stand…eat on the run like eating was an afterthought and I really didn’t need to do it. I was too busy to sit. My car became a junkyard for fast food wrappers. It was my formal dining room. If fat people were seen as tired all the time…well I was tired all the time…from trying to dispel the stereotype…from working and accomplishing far more than a normal person should. LINK TO THE SEVEN DOLLAR NAP Still to this day I have the hardest time accepting help from anyone because I think it makes me look like I can’t help myself…because... I’m fat.


When you are a fat person trying to fit in, you also overcompensate by being funny all the time.  The term jolly was invented for funny fat people and Santa. What else do we use it for? Have you ever known a jolly skinny person? Eventually you get tired of trying to be the funny person. If you are quiet at all someone will instantly ask “Are you okay? On NO! Her funny stopped! She’s broken! Someone put another quarter in her quick! We don’t want to hang around her if she’s not going to fulfill her duties as the comic relief.” That was my fear: That I was only useful if I made people laugh, and on my "off" days...well, I tried hard not to have an off day. That was a pressure I put on myself. Eventually I felt more comfortable wallowing in depression because jolly is hard to pull off all the time. It would be much easier to be appreciated for your blue eyes and rockin' body like Amber. Amber didn't have to be funny to draw attention to herself. Funny is such hard work.

When you are single, you would think that it would be easy to take care of yourself. You only have you to worry about. But I thought of myself as a single mom all those years with 200 children at a time and because I had delusional fat syndrome I had to be the best at what I did. The very best. I had to be the teacher that people talked about. NOT because she was fat, but because she was brilliant.
Can you name any brilliant fat people? Brilliant people are skinny.

I wanted people to think I was capable, cool and courageous. If I didn’t know how to do something I would fake it til I made it. I got addicted to the praise because that was my gauge. If people were saying “wow, that was a great play Jan," or “I don’t know how you do it all!” That meant that people were looking beyond the fat. But I knew the fat was still there. Amber was actually the capable, cool and courageous one. I was fat.

I was finally engaged in 1997. I was taking Phen-Phen at the time which had helped me take off 70+ pounds and I was running, feeling confident and looking good…for him. When we were dating I was constantly buying clothes that would make me look skinny, I was never in his presence without makeup on. I had big fake nails and I went to the tanning bed because I had heard that tanning makes you look skinnier. I wore his ring around like it was a trophy. And then one day he called me and said “we need to talk” and so I donned my exercise clothes and went running on the road where he usually came to my house. I wanted him to catch me on the road, glistening in my sweat and ready for a tumble. But he never showed up...

And Jan ran home, ceremoniously burned the box of wedding invitations over a dozen Krispy-Kremes and a six-pack of Diet Coke while Amber looked on a laughed.

There's my bell...gotta go back to work.










Sunday, January 17, 2016

Octo Mom: For sale: Maternal Instincts. Like New, Never Been Used.


When you don't have an opportunity to get married until you are peri-menapausal, everything about your new life as a married couple revolves around your period. (All the men that read my blog just signed out.) When was it? When is coming? How many days between it and the last one? How long did it last? Then after many unfortunate miscarriages and failed attempts at fertility treatments, your brain is fried and your bank account is as empty as your heart, you decide that you might be okay living as a "couple without children." After that, when you have a menstrual period it just pissed you off. There should be a tap. An OFF button. There should be a merciful way to stop the egg from dropping. The shriveled, ancient, useless, defective, eggs.

A lot of people have asked me if we would take Andy's sperm and someone else's egg, like one of my younger sisters, and have them married in a dish and then implanted back into one of said sisters. I personally would not. I don't have that kind of constitution to look at "my" child and know that I was actually looking at the face of Paula, Penny or JoEllen (no matter how beautiful they all are). No matter how immature it sounds, I don't need to raise my own niece or nephew. I am not that enlightened.

We asked about a new treatment we had heard of for older women, where they take your eggs out of you, diagnose the good from the ones that look like shrunken apple heads, create a baby in a dish with the eggs, and then implant it into a surrogate (say one of my sisters) and voila! Borrowed oven, 100% Hunsaker baby. I could do this. I would actually love to do this. So we checked into it.

Egg removal: $12,000
Separation of the good the bad and the ugly: $15,000
Build viable petri dish baby: $20,000
Invitro in surrogate: $25,000
Insurance in case you lose your income in the middle of it: $5000
Pray that it all catches on the first time (replace the knees in all my pants)
Hunsaker baby: Priceless

Priceless if you can pay the price.

Some do: movie stars and the 1% of our population that holds 95% of our wealth. I read about it all the time.

School teachers do not.

So...I turned 50 last year and we (I mean me...I don't know that Andy has ever processed what it will mean not raise kids in this life) officially went through the grieving and mourning process of children I will never carry. We told God that he could use us in other ways if He so chose. We thanked him for the opportunity, then said "we're going to be okay" as a kind of new commitment that we would re-focus our marriage in a more NON-traditional way if He would tell us what to do. We immediately got new jobs and three new church callings each.

We love the non-traditional! Bring it on. We are open-minded Mormons that have a strong relationship together and with God. We went into this next "we're-going-to-be-okay-without-children" phase in our marriage with faith and laughter. I threw away all the old prescriptions of Clomid and Progersterone, I donated all the hopeful baby quilt fabric I had amassed and I shook out my demons with a nice new prescription of something that helps me forget and move forward. I was emotionally stalled for so many years. It felt good to get a kick start even if it was a prescribed one. I recognized within a couple of weeks the thick density of the fog I had been living in when it lifted. It was really amazing. Thank you little pills.

I feel better.

I made a conscious choice to get back in the classroom, where I belong (that was always part of the problem), and I'm in a dream school and an even dreamier department. I'm a better teacher than I have ever been. I'm a better nurturer of other people's kids. I have regained my passion for work and family even though I still dream of retiring sooner than later so that I can start quilting, stay home with my little puppies and do some ironing. Because I married a man so much younger than me, I will wait a long time to do things with him. I hope I'm not too feeble to serve a mission with him or cross the country in a motor home when he retires. I will be 71 when Andy retires. I hope I can still walk then. Oh well. That was the price I have paid to marry someone that was perfectly right for me in ever way...every other way. I have exquisite blessings.

I want certain things and I can't have them in a traditional way. So I'm in a fierce combat with life all the time. I need to stop fighting against the traditional and start accepting that everything Andy and I do as a married couple from this point on will not revolve around raising our own kids....just someone else's kids. I need to stop waiting for the next big thing. I'm done with the big stuff. Now it seems like an endless stream of little, mundane, everyday stuff.

And I started working in the Payson Temple on the weekends.

(Notice how I started that sentence with "and?" Well, I've been taught all my life to never start a sentence with 'and' but John Steinbeck always started sentences that way so whoever writes the rules...what the heck? J.O.H.N. S.T.E.I.N.B.E.C.K.)

I digress.

We are the youngest married couple, on our temple shift. Our prayer meetings are filled with the a sea of white hair and wisdom. Don't get me wrong, this has been an incredible experience - but I can't help think, as we look around the entire shift, that we may have missed the stuff a couple does between getting married and then working in the temple. It's almost as if we skipped from the honeymoon to the temple shift without having a life in between.

This simple calling has made me feel much older than I am. It has thrown me into a funk. The drive to the temple reminds me that my kids are not home watching Saturday morning cartoons. The dogs are sitting in the window waiting for us to return. No babysitter needed. And as the youth of the church come into the baptistry where I work, I am reminded that I still work for other people's kids. Even on Saturday. It is another selfish pity party that I go through - I didn't expect to be bitter about working in the temple of all things, but it's there none the less. I do however, love, love, love what I do there and wouldn't stop doing it for the world.

Unless....

Unless someone gave me a child.

If there was a child (and maybe two or three) I could have someone to help me roll out the Christmas cookies. I might even have a reason to make cookies more than once a year. If there were children, I would teach them stuff. SO much stuff. They would not escape me telling them every second of the day WHY stuff is stuff and HOW stuff got to be stuff and WHAT stuff is good or bad or WHERE to go to do fun stuff..with me.

There would be a reason to come home from work, a reason to shut the computer off, a reason to buy children's books, a reason to Christmas shop, a reason to watch Disney movies, a reason to have birthday parties, a reason to make a vegetable for dinner, a reason to set the table, a reason to decorate for Halloween, a reason to hide Easter eggs, a reason to have a tree swing, a reason to go to a soccer game, a reason to read to someone, a reason to have "family" prayer, a reason to buy Spiderman bandaids, a reason to get a new family picture taken every year.

A reason to buy baby shoes. Is there anything cuter?

And there would be an endless stream of "ah ha" moments and what teacher doesn't crave that? There would be that feeling you get when your baby falls asleep in your arms. There would be someone to leave my wedding ring to when I died. There would be someone to call me "mom." And there would be hugs. There would be kisses.

There would be this!

I love otters. Ever seen Jim Henson's "Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas?" If you have kids, you should own this video. (What am I saying? I own this Muppet movie in three formats...)

It's a strange phase I'm going through. Sort of baby hungry, but more like toddler to 7 year-old hungry and I desperately crave the touch of a child's hug. I crave sitting on the couch watching Frozen for the 27th time running my hands through my child's hair. Sounds so goofy. But I saw a little boy leaning up against his mom on the church pew and I could not look at anything else. I have been stalking some friends (several couples) with new babies and it literally hurts right now...it's a keen and terrible heartache when I look at that tiny peaceful face being swaddled in warm blankets and rocked in the arms of it's DNA contributors. I get fixated on it until my heart aches, I want to throw up and I feel like I'm literally locked out of a store that sells air.

But I can't not look.

I imagine how that baby smells and what it would be like to kiss that silky little head. I've become overly sensitive to people talking about how great it is to have children, like: "No matter how hard it is, it is a joy like nothing else you've ever known." It's like someone is holding a giant bag of candy right in front of your face and they won't share. Lots of people get to buy this candy, except you. You are not even allowed to go into the candy store.

So I work. I have always worked outside my home because I have no reason not to. I don't even have a reason to leave work unless there is laundry to be done at home...work for work. So I find reasons to stay at work. More work. I've tried filling my life with reading, or writing and a person can only sit at a computer so long before you have to wander on over to Facebook and see everyone's new babies...er...bags of candy.

I try to think of things that are better than candy, things that I can put in my bag that are as awesome as that candy. We thought raising dogs would do it. I've tried to make Lily put her little 3 inch-long front legs around my neck but she hates being that close to my face without being able to lick my skin off and then I just end up getting bugged and saying "you dumb dog, get down and go find your baby." Even Lily has a baby. It only has one eye now and she nearly ate the squeaker the day she got it, but she knows what "baby" means.

Andy and I have been asked (to no apparent end) when we will adopt. I'm writing another blog about why people should never ask that question. Blog to appear ASAP.

We have also been encouraged (by the masses) to get into the foster-care system. It seems to me that we do a form of "foster-care" all day long, however, this idea doesn't bug me as much because I know there are kids out there that could use a couple of goof balls like me and Andy to call home. But for some reason, we haven't felt compelled (by the Spirit) to do this...yet. Everyone that I have talked to about the foster system says "do it for the money and for no other reason. It will break your heart." Well, we don't need the money and I surely don't need to repair my heart another time. No thanks.

Still...the heartbreak I have in Disneyland when I fixate on parents in line waiting to take a picture of their kids with Mickey Mouse does not go away. Have I said how much I hate mice?

Finally, don't tell me that I'll get the opportunity to raise kids in the next life. Duh. I know this already. But my natural man needs the hug of nine year-old so badly. MY nine-year old.

So my maternal instincts are for sale. They have only been used for 12 hours. Very dusty - needs a good scrub. Would gladly trade for condo time in the Bahamas...or anyplace where there are no happy families enjoying their time together before so and so goes off to college or a mission.

Offers can be sent to Spanish Fork High School or you can find us at the Payson LDS Temple on Saturday mornings just biding our time and trying to show God how much we are invested in the promise that we will get to raise our kids in the next life. I know it with all my broken, prescription- altered heart.