Aug 22, 2014

Greenhouse and.... green everything

We have been struggling forever with our grass and our field. When we first moved in here we asked for a bunch of advice on facebook--what to do. We were told we'd likely need to till and re-seed. We've been planning on it... and planning... and planning. Each year something else came up and it got put off. And each spring, instead of enjoying one of my favorite times of year, I've experienced dread as the snow melts away to reveal my utterly horrible lawn and yard and field.

To start off this spring, though, someone anonymously came by and sprayed our weeds for us. It's something Jeff's struggled to want to do. He's dug his feet in a bit. He's really hesitant to do chemical weed killers and.... to be honest, I think he's liked having the dandelion greens within closer reach. But our neighbors (the high school, the seminary building) understandably do not like our dandelions. It was sort of a relief to me (I'll admit) when someone just came and did it for us, and we didn't have dandelions or alfalfa coming up through our grass.

And to add to this, last summer something kind of awesome happened. A guy came to our door--his mother sold the lot we now own to its previous owner, and apparently she sold water rights along with it, which were never officially transferred, but were, in fact, paid for. Because they were never transferred, the bank did not know about them when they were in possession of the property, and when they sold it to us, they told us that we did not have water rights.

Well, in settling up his mother's affairs, this man transferred the water rights. We now have official certificates for a certain number of shares in the canal that runs close to our property. And, to make it even more wonderful, the person who recently bought (or rented) the fields around us was motivated for us to irrigate. He said that it would make his situation better if we did. So.... he loaned us his tractor. And we dug our ditches. And with being able to flood a little, and bring our sub up, and with all the crazy rain we've had here, and horses that we've asked to come help us eat our weedy field down we are now....


(Look! it's grass! It's real grass!) And we're going to keep killing the weeds (yes, I'm going to put my foot down :/ ) and continue to add grass seed and it will get better each year. But this is the year we actually. have. a lawn. (of sorts. it's still patchy and there's still a lot of crab grass mixed in with real grass.)

It's nice because, rather than the expense of till-and-reseed, we may be able to instead purchase something we badly need.... a riding mower. Right now it takes about eight hours, all told, to mow everything that counts as lawn. And we have to mow it, or we get lame letters from the city.

As to the greenhouse. WE've made a breakthrough!! Jeff's continuing to mortar the blocks of course, but... we're doing the outside, and the inside, and the ceiling, in cedar. It will be lovely, and much cheaper than the other materials we've considered. I've liked the wood-look, so I'm pretty happy. If we could finish the blocks and finish the outside, at least, by the time snow comes, we'll be in good shape to slowly put things together inside over the course of this winter.

Aug 14, 2014


My writing goals have gotten me pretty far this year. I made a resolution to start writing 2000 words a day in January, and since then I've completed one manuscript at around 100,000 words and am about two thirds through another, which will probably end up being 200000 words. I'm glad... these are both stories I love, and have had weighing on the back burner for a while. I feel like I have one more I have to "get off my plate" before moving on to fresh, new, stuff.

But I don't know where any of them are going, is the problem. My publisher, Cedar Fort, turned down my most recent manuscript, a historical fiction, because they said that it did not have enough of a hook and tension through the beginning. So I re-sent it out to a bunch of readers, and have tweaked a bunch of stuff.

And i sent it somewhere else.

There's not a lot of places you can send an LDS fiction manuscript. So I'm kind of waiting to see what happens... what comes next will determine some pretty big writing-career-y decisions, I think.

But I sort of trust the Heavenly Father is in this. I can feel him in this. So I'm not worried, just... waiting.

(Cue Inigo Montoya: "I hate waiting.")

It's at moments like these that you have to remember you're writing because you love it, not because you have an audience. Hooray for writing, I love it. Now, hopefully there's an audience somewhere, too.

I'm going to have a few more poems published, and I'm entering some short fiction stuff in contests, and I'm helping a friend with his biography. I'm reading and reviewing LDS literature on A Motley Vision. Those things also keep me going and motivated (and busy.)

But yeah... I hate waiting.

Jul 29, 2014

How to Weather Hard Winters

One of my favorite books ever, like in my list of "top five", is The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I've read that she originally titled it "the Hard Winter," but her publisher had her change it, because he felt it was too harsh, the concept of "hard" vs "long."

As many of you know, the stories Ingalls wrote were autobiographical; what we'd call "creative nonfiction," nowadays, though she is such an accomplished writer, they read like novels. This particular section of Ingalls life-story stands apart from the others in the "Little House" series because it depicts a very difficult time for her family and for her little town. In The Long Winter we read about what it is like to go through near-starvation, death of exposure, being isolated on the Dakota prairie, during a wild and terrible time, from every help except for what the settlers in their little town could provide each other.

Therefore, we read of bravery. Sacrifice. Blind, dogged courage. I have two favorite parts of the story. The first is when Almanzo Wilder goes with a friend into the wilderness, under threat of deadly blizzards, to find food for the citizens in the town. The second is more relevant to what I'm writing about today: when Pa goes into the Wilder boys' store and offers a quarter for some grain he's savvy enough to know is hidden in their walls. He doesn't ask. But he also doesn't fight for it. He goes in, quietly, humbly, and tells them to fill his bucket with wheat for a quarter, so his family can eat for another few days.

Laura is the able-bodied member of her family. The Ingallses didn't have any sons, and so often it is her, going out with her father and helping him with the necessary tasks. She works hard to help her family survive.

And they do. In the end, the train gets through because of spring melt and the help of hordes of men shoveling off the tracks, and they get their Christmas turkey several months late. This story sends a very clear message--to survive, you need to pull together. You need to support each other. The very best and the very worst sides of human nature come out when people are fighting to survive. And those who make it are those who support and serve each other and accept service in return. Pa was a proud man, but he went into the Wilder boys' store with a quarter and an empty bucket because he had children to feed. Almanzo was going to get through the winter just fine, but he went off into the dangerous wilderness to find more food because he knew he would not be able to watch his friends starve around him.


I think back on some hard times of my own. I think one of my biggest failings has been my inability to ask for or receive service. It is a matter of pride. Some of us have pride that involves comparison to others' appearances, possessions, residences, professions etc. That has never been my problem. I personally wouldn't mind living in a cardboard box on the side of the road if I had to, if my family were still happy and healthy and well fed. Some of my friends could attest to that... I have a mild (or not so mild) obsession with tents and camping and backpacking. What I love is the simplicity of carrying all that you need with you. Not needing much at all to get by. I've been very blessed, however, not to have to live that way as a necessity. Perhaps my perspective would be different if I did.

However that is also my problem and my own personal brand of unrighteous pride--that sense of simplicity, of being able to get by on my own; priding myself in independence from others. I have struggled, in my life, to accept service because I feel frightened at the thought of not being able to get by on my own. Of having to depend on others. What if they fail me? And what if I can't give them anything back in return? Does that make me a broken, incapable person who always takes but never gives? Does it make me selfish and self-centered, that people serve me?

I have, however, gone through seasons in my life just like that hard winter the Ingallses weathered, where accepting help was necessary to my survival emotionally, physically, etc. And I wouldn't have been able to accept it even then, if it weren't for Loli.

for Loli's sake, I accepted a lot of things.

After everything fell apart and I found myself a divorced single parent, full-time student, part-time employee, I realized I literally could not do it on my own. I needed, for instance, someone to watch her while I finished my degree, and while I earned the money necessary to feed, house, and clothe us. And even then, I didn't make enough money to do so on my own. My parents bought a condo, which I lived in, rent-free, for two years.

During this time, I had a difficult schedule--get up at 4:45, drive Loli to Santaquin (because it was the only childcare we both felt comfortable with), get to work by 5:45, work with dozens of women struggling with tragedy, emotional upheaval, overwhelming anxiety and depression until 6pm, drive back to Santaquin by 6:45, get home by 7:30, play with Loli for an hour and give her dinner, get her to bed by 9. That was three to four days of my week.

The other days I spent trying to take care of the "everything else", taking care of my little girl and focusing on her during the time I had with her and also on bills, car maintenance, cleaning, shopping for groceries, and, eventually, dating my husband.

I look back on those years and the feeling I get from them is just.... emergency. I was constantly high-strung, constantly putting out fires. Like when our only car broke and the shop told us it was a new head-gasket (turned out they were trying to get money... I took it somewhere else and they bled an air bubble out of the radiator for free), and I was at work trying to focus on my job while trying not to worry about transportation and trying not to worry about Loli and how she was doing and whether she was being treated right and whether she was eating and whether I was spending enough time with her.... you get the picture.

I look back on my own "hard winter" and wonder what it says about me.

I learned how to accept a little bit of help and service--the stuff I had to accept for bare survival. I wasn't, however, always the best employee. I was too stressed out. Stressed to the max. And in an environment where everyone is professional... where maybe a few are enduring their own "hard winters" but everyone keeps it all to themselves... it's not quite the same, I don't think. It's not a community pulling together. It's a few people floundering to themselves in a mass of humanity all trying to figure out how to be best at what they're doing.

I didn't do as well as I could have. Well, the thing is, I did as well as I *could* have, in the situation. But people I worked with didn't get the "best" me, if that makes sense. And neither did Loli.

I look back on those experiences and wonder how I could have functioned better. I think it would have involved going to people for help instead of staying stubbornly independent and to myself. The Lori Hacking story broke during that time. And I was feeling some very strong fears, angers, and grieving. What if I had gone to my supervisor and talked to her, instead of staying behind the nursing station all day and isolating and not talking to anyone, including the patients I was supposed to be helping? What if, instead of presenting a hard, blank face to the world and keeping a wall between myself and others, I was being honest and open and vulnerable. Like "here is what I have to do this week. Just so you know." And then letting people talk back about their own stuff, and commiserating, and strategizing together... that is the stuff of which friendships are made. Of which functional, supportive communities are made.

The thing is, it has been a hard journey for me to be able to be open that way. I think my problem is, if something difficult is going on in my life, my default is to blame myself for it, to believe that I deserve it. So I feel shame, and keep it to myself. I am working on that.

I have realized, however, that some people also do not welcome vulnerability. They would rather stay in their shells and struggle alone. They feel threatened by others' sharing.

And some want to serve, and not be served in return. To them (and to me, I'll admit it) being served is giving up too much control. When someone does something for you, what might be their motive? What do they expect from you in return?

You can think of it that way, or you can see it as a symbol of something much more powerful and important. We are all the vessels of God's grace for each other. Sometime, at some point in your life, you will go through a season (more likely multiple seasons) of needing the service of others. You can either accept it and be whole, or push it away and struggle and not be as whole as God would like you to be.

In order to be strong enough to serve others, you need to accept service yourself. That is the beautiful, (sometimes, it feels like, horrible, but really, like anything really difficult, it's redeeming), truth to it all.

And how do you think someone feels about you after they serve you? Let me tell you from experience. They love you more. ANd they love you in a way that is Godly--they love you as someone they have served. It's a sort of love that runs deep, that infuses your relationship with forgiveness and mercy and longsuffering.

As anyone who has read the LIttle House series knows, Almanzo Wilder eventually married Laura. And I have wondered... how much of that feeling, that warmth he had for her that lead him to court her, came from the incident of filling her father's empty bucket?

Jul 18, 2014

Moving On to the Next Great Thing

I have been having babies for a while, let's face it. I had a brief respite between marriages--Loli was four when Jaws was born. Jeff and I filled in that gap pretty thoroughly by bringing home two girls meant to be in our family that were born in another country when I couldn't have them myself. Yeah, some would object to my describing it that way, but that's how I feel things happened. Bella and MayMay are most certainly my daughters. The first time I saw their picture, I knew they were my daughters, and the sisters of the girls I had given birth to biologically.

Heavenly Father has a way of blessing you doubly when things have to come about through a veil of pain. These two girls ended up in my family where they belong, but along the way they collected another family who loves them dearly, and a rich, unique culture, which flavors and spices and blesses our family as well.

Since Jaws, though, I really haven't had a break. I've had a child under age two for the last solid eight years. And I haven't started realizing until recently, exactly how difficult it is to have children so young. They take all your attention. All of it. When they're infants, it's because you are holding and feeding them constantly. When they're a little older it's because you are making sure they don't die by rolling off stuff or falling down stairs or choking on things or drowning or being taken by people or gashing themselves with knives (several of my toddlers have had a fascination with knives.)

I'm realizing all this because we're sort of coming to the end of our planned family, Jeff and I. We talked, at the beginning, of having six children together. We're there. Another baby would make six for us since we married in 2005. (Nine total, of course.) And right now, I'm getting to that point of thinking of starting that process again--another kid. Possibly the last kid. Pending prayer and answers to prayer, of course.

In my religion, we believe that there are spirits up in heaven waiting for bodies. That to raise children right, with values, and love and covenants and saving ordinances inherent in our gospel, is the most important job we do. So for me, and others with my theology, the decision to *stop* having children is a very serious one. Perhaps stressful. Some are comfortable stopping when they feel their family is complete--they just feel good about it and don't question that. For others, it's an agonizing decision. And some feel that "stopping" isn't an option... they need to allow as many children to come as Heavenly Father will bring them.

Thus, Mormons and large families. (btw. I'm being honest and vulnerable here... no judgy comments about birth control or population control, please. I will delete them all!)

For me, the decision to be done has a bit more of an edge and urgency. My mother and i share a genetic condition that renders pregnancy dangerous. Because I knew about it before I started having children, I have been able to take preventative action and not suffer from the sorts of things my mother did having her children. But it is still dangerous. And the danger kind of multiplies with age. My mother had her last biological child at age 35, and nearly didn't make it. Her stake president, who was also her obstetrician, told her she needed to think seriously about permanent preventative action, because she needed to be around to raise her family.

I am grateful for my stake president.

I have had a strong feeling, from the time I was thinking of such things, that I also need to be done at thirty five. I turn thirty four this year. Do the math--one more kid. It works out nicely with the feelings Jeff and I have had on the issue.

But it makes my heart break a little, too. I was the two-year-old who would nurse her dolls, who though often about having babies, about motherhood. I couldn't wait to be a mom. And I have enjoyed my babies so much. If anyone is going to suffer from residual baby-hunger, it's me. I tell myself it won't be so long and I'll have grandbabies to enjoy, but it's not quite the same. It's not that symbiotic relationship--just a small, helpless, trusting creature and me. A piece of my heart, smiling whenever I smile at them, whose favorite thing in the world is to be close, to lie for long hours on my chest. Little hands. Little feet.

It came across to me really strongly this last week. I have been feeling, for a while, that I needed to put DavyJones on formula. And he has taken to it well, and it has made important things possible--I have needed some time in the temple, for instance. I have needed to spend a bit longer at my calling than an exclusively-nursing baby would allow.

And I needed to go to girl's camp this year.

It was a good experience, but my milk is now dry. My baby boy is no longer nursing. It breaks. My. Heart.

What if, I think to myself, this is the last baby boy. What if I never nurse another baby boy for the rest of my life. What if this precious experience is now over. There is something about my baby boys--they have the most "mushy" part of my heart, as I was explaining it to Loli the other day. (She responded with, Mom, I'd much rather have the strong part of your heart.) (Anyway.)

What if this is done.

Well, it will be done, soon. I'm into my "lasts," last time trying for a baby. And it will turn into, last time experiencing morning sickness. Last time getting that middle-trimester burst of energy, last time with a growing stomach, last time with those crazy, overwrought emotions that make me cry during cheesy commercials but have actually been welcome because often, I struggle to feel my real feelings. Last time waiting for labor, for a baby to be born. Last time holding a soft, damp, newly-born person close to me, seeing them look up into my face for the first time.

I plan on savoring it--all these "lasts." It's the only way I'll be able to move on; if I savor every single moment.

But there are also other sorts of thoughts I've been having. Like... Gee. It will be nice to be able to work outside for an hour and mow the lawn. It will be nice to go out and pick up the trash that blows across from the high school. To plan a garden, work on it every day, weed it, pay attention to it and have a chance at real vegetables. To take a bike ride when I need one... and to be able to bring all the kids with me. To be able to go on hiking trips and camping trips and to be able to take my kids swimming (projecting a few years into the future here) without having to keep an anxious, uninterrupted watch over at least two of them.

To be able to take time to have talks with my teenagers.

To not be so exhausted in the morning I can't function..... or at least, to be exhausted for different reasons. Staying up to talk with teenagers who come home, rather than being constantly interrupted to nurse.

Instead of being confined to the house with a baby who isn't going to be happy outside for long,to be able to go out and find Jeff, and whatever project he's working on, and work alongside him. And to have our children join us.

I'm leaving behind something very special... but moving on to something else Great, and equally special. This, I think, is the time we figure out who we are as a family. Develop our traditions, our way of relating to each other, the activities we enjoy doing together, getting big projects done together, being silly together... this is really, in a way, where some other things I have always looked forward to, begin.

Loli came into the Young Women's program this year. And as it always is with our family, once started, things happen fast... Bella next year. MayMay the next. Two years later, Jaws. We're moving on.

And it will be great.

Jul 7, 2014

Adoption and emotional integration.

So, I haven't done any adoption posts lately. Mostly that is because, as adjustment continues, the issues are less and less salient, and less noticeably adoption-related. Meaning, everything has filtered down and melded and become "the things my kids and my family work on together," and it is not often something we think about anymore, "this is because of the adoption. These are struggles related to that."

I have been thinking about adoption lately, however. Because of some things in my personal life, and also this clip posted recently on Facebook.

Helen Doss--the story she wrote of her family and their experiences. I read it over and over again as a child. My mother did, as well. I am certain it is a major influence in my decision to adopt--I grew up thinking of adoption as not only normal, but delightful and wonderful. Her family--all happy, so big and colorful and wonderful. I wanted that.

My mother did too. And now, however many years later, I have two Ethiopian daughters and two (soon to be three) Chinese sisters. I wonder how many families have come to be because of Helen Doss.

Adoption is hard. It's interesting, looking back on all the posts I have written over the last five years, remembering various stages, struggles, frustrations and heartaches.

First we went through teaching kids not to hurt each other, health concerns that were difficult and sometimes nasty (Lice, Ringworm, Giardia which I caught from MayMay while pregnant with Hazel, aftereffects of severe malnutrition and other things).

After that, though, it was all emotional. And I'd argue, much harder than the physical. Our adoption was wonderful--we didn't have any of the issues adoptive parents worry so much about, like sexual abuse or attachment disorders. And our girls are good, good girls.

But I am an introvert. New people are hard.

I love kids. A lot. Honestly. And I don't mind babysitting other peoples' kids. Before the adoption, however, watching others' kids was always a very stressful experience. It was painful. It's like, having someone in my house who wasn't my own kid, I was on eggshells all the time. I didn't feel like I could be me, have my time, do the things i'd normally do... I felt like I had to be a "perfect mom" or "perfect babysitter" for the sake of another person's child.

that's sort of how it felt for me for the first.... oh. Two years. Like I was babysitting. It was very stressful. The introvert in me shrunk away from interaction with these girls for quite a while. I forced myself to overcompensate... so they ended up getting even more attention than my biological kids for a while. In the effort to counter my own tendencies, I ended up becoming...

well. A better mom. More attentive. Paying more attention to detail. Not just falling into the ruts of my own past experiences, parenting and being parented. (Not saying I didn't have good parents, I did. I just am glad I have a fresh canvas to paint on, if that makes sense... I can make different kinds of mistakes and have different strengths, and not just feel compelled out of habit to do it a certain way.)

But let's just say. It has taken a really, really long time... that last stage of adjustment, so that everybody feels like they belong. So that I feel nothing but gladness that all my kids are around me and nobody's missing. So that I don't automatically react, emotionally, with more harshness when it's one of my adopted kids being unkind to one of my bio kids.

I think everybody is different. There are people who immediately mesh with new people...who can become best friends right away. There are also people who are natural adopters. You know them--the people who have a satellite of those who call them "mom" or "dad" because they fill that role for a lot of people. There's this lady who was on a billboard in Utah for several years--she fostered 112 children.

I'm not like that. I'm an introvert. My relationships form slowly, solidify slowly, and because of some of my experiences, trust and security is something that comes with agonizing slowness.

I think these last two years have been the final stage for me, for Jeff, emotionally. I was so glad when school got out this year. I feel so much peace when I'm in my living room, sitting on the couch, looking at all of my kids gathered around me. We are a family. Irrevocably. Emotionally, everybody is mine and I am theirs.

I think that, looking back on the process, I am very glad to Have MayMay and Bella in my life. I'm not sure, if I'd been able to look at it from the other side, knowing how hard it would be emotionally, that I would have been brave enough to go forward. Thinking about adopting again, my insides kinda twist up into knots.

But I am so glad I have Bella and MayMay. I am so grateful I have them. The thought of not having them is incomprehensible, and heartbreaking. I love all my children.

I know that adoption is never an issue you leave behind--for the rest of their lives, I will be talking my girls through the reality of their adoption. And reassuring them of my love for them.

And there will always be times I want to run away and go camping for a week. But that's just life, as a mother of lots of small children. It's not because of adoption.

Yesterday I went on a bike ride. Bella asked to come. I thought for a minute--my bike rides are solitary. My time. But I realized, suddenly.... I don't feel threatened at the idea of her coming. My time is her time, too, because she is mine. WE rode out to the canal and sat there for a while, completely silent, throwing stuff in and watching it float. And we rode silently back home. It was just the being together--us. And it was OK. Knowing myself, it amazes me that that was even possible.

Jun 24, 2014

RE Feminism: Sister Oscarson, Kate Kelly, and Small, Tired Me.

I’m sad about this Kate Kelly thing.

It is hard to be a moderate feminist in the church. Some people tell me I shouldn’t label myself. A long time ago I wrote a post about why I call myself a feminist.

I feel like moderate feminists are in a tough spot right now, because of Kate Kelly and Ordain Women and other movements that basically sideline more moderate views. I feel like I have been called a lot of things lately by these more extreme feminist elements in the church—oppressed, ignorant. Uneducated. Unaware of church history, etc. All those things are inaccurate. Up until a couple of years ago, I participated occasionally in a large, well-known forum where women from the church gathered to discuss women's issues. I liked about 30% of what I read there, struggled with 30% and got sick of the drama that was the other 40%. I left that group when someone told me how wrong it was that I had so many children and that I must not know how to use birth control. (I don’t think anybody who says that truly realizes what they’re saying. Which of my children are you saying I should wish I don’t have?)

And so it is hard to find opportunities to discuss these things that are so important to me (how to help women worldwide, help for the spouses of pornography addicts (often women), help for women who are abuse victims, help for women who struggle with eating disorders, how to prevent these sorts of things from happening to the rising generation of young women, who I love with all my heart) among the general population of the church, without being sidelined and labeled as an extremist myself.

I think it’s hard to be a moderate anything these days.

I feel badly for Kate Kelly.I feel badly for all the women who are struggling because of this, feeling small, like they can’t speak up and be heard. That frustrates me. You CAN speak up and be heard. You CAN have opinions. As Kate Kelly’s bishop said (in the private letter provided so willingly to the media) the problem is not how you feel, what you wonder about, what you wish could happen, or your own answers to prayers and personal revelation you feel you’ve had. The problem is when you start telling people that your opinions are the right ones. When you start ridiculing others for disagreeing with you. When you start to accuse people because they aren’t giving you exactly what you want, right now, and you start talking to others about why this is a bad thing and stirring up peoples' doubts, fears, and pain to gain followers for a cause you've adopted in opposition to those who are actually in charge of figuring these things out church-wide. Personal revelation: that's yours. Revelation for the church? It'd be chaos if everybody decided suddenly they could receive revelation for the church.

In the wake of all this, I feel like things have gotten disingenuous. Sorry. I know that I’m judging. But I feel like some of the actions—providing everything to the press, not going to your own disciplinary counsel and instead submitting hundreds of letters from “followers” and a legal brief detailing exactly why church discipline doesn’t stand up to some sort of contract concocted by someone who’s read some version of the church handbook and extrapolated to create “rules” nobody has agreed to—show that a person isn’t much interested in remaining. It shows that you're finding plenty of support and fellowship from followers, and that is what is important to you. I might be wildly wrong, but that is what I feel burdened by, reading all this stuff.

I guess I’m mostly frustrated with a phenomenon, not a particular person. In short: NO I don’t want the priesthood. And I am fine with how the church is structured, I believe it is inspired, and I do my level best to manage my own heartbreak and pain over very real events that have damaged my trust in priesthood holders. And that does not make me ignorant, oppressed, or uninformed. I have had too many experiences with priesthood that are significant and real to not have a testimony of it. I have had answers to prayers that are unequivocal. That is where I’m at.

I’m OK with where you’re at, wherever that is—extreme on either side, moderate, or even ambivalent or not needing an answer. And what I wish: that we could all be ok with where we’re all at, and not judge each other. From any side. When I choose friends, I don’t look for a set of beliefs that match mine. I look for genuine people who are compassionate. I do enjoy certain traits: people who work hard, people who don’t complain, people who are open-minded. But those aren’t requirements for my friendship. I enjoy people, period.

I feel like this whole thing with Kate Kelly had been very hard and painful to watch. And I hope the aftereffects don’t make life harder for people who question. Because we need questioners in our church. Questions are how you get a testimony. If you have nothing to bring to God, you can’t get any answers in return.
I also hope the aftereffects don’t make life harder for people who willingly obey. Because it is no less hard for us—those journeys of testimony. We’ve had struggles, too. We’ve had our moments of wanting to give up. We’re not ignorant or uniformed, and we’re not close-minded.

This video by Sister Oscarson, our General Young Women president,exemplifies to me how we should act toward each other, no matter what our beliefs and circumstances are, no matter what sort of testimony we have. No matter what our standing is with the church (or outside the church. This isn’t just about church members, it’s about EVERYONE.)

Jun 17, 2014

Greenhouse Update & You Aren't What People Say You Are (redux)

I put up a post yesterday that I soon afterward took down. It detailed some struggles I've been having lately. I took it down because I worried that, even with making things vague, it'd end up being spread around and someone would find out and be upset, or others would assume I wrote about them. But I do want to repost one thing from what I posted, and that is, you can only control what you give, not what people take. You can do your absolute best to convey love, kindness, sincerity and someone could still take offense, if they choose to.

I am a kind, generous, creative, fun, nice, intelligent, loyal and good person. Nothing that somebody does, or says about me, will change that. The end.

Ok. Anyway. The greenhouse stuff is starting up again. Now that the ground is thawed, we can work on mortaring our cinderblocks. Jeffrey borrowed a cement drill from a nice ward member and put in rebar, and we're stacking the cinderblocks and mortaring. We're hoping to have the whole south side done, and the east side dug up, by the time our friends Dave and Courtney get here on Fourth of July weekend, and then Dave and Jeff can have some fun guy time putting together the east wall, which is smaller and hopefully will go faster because Jeff will have a routine down.

After that, we'll be doing outside insulation and the plan right now is cement-board siding, though I need to look into that more... I'm not sure if i like it or not. Jeff's really great at building things well, functional. I'm the one who's a bit more picky about appearance. I don't want a utilitarian greenhouse, I want a *beautiful* greenhouse. Suggestions for siding are welcome. Our house is currently light grey and white.

After that, we'll be able to (yay :) :) ) start on the INSIDE. Setting up watering first, I think. Then the floor, which will be landscape fabric covered with flagstone& swept, pressed sand. We have a ton of white flagstones lying around; we're repurposing them for inside the greenhouse (and, eventually, a walkway around the greenhouse and a patio).

After the floor is in, we can get going on square foot beds. And a greens tower (lettuces, kale, spinach, collards and dandelions) (yes, dandelions) and an herb tower. And also starting to grow cool mosses and creeping thymes in between the flagstones.

So that's where we are right now. We generally have about four hours of time on Saturdays that we can use for projects. Lately it's been completely eaten up in getting our ginormous jungle mown. So Jeff may need to take a day off work to finish the greenhouse. We spent the last three Saturdays getting all of the acre we call yard so it's inches-long stubble instead of a frenzy of dandelions and bushy alfalfa, but you know, weeds grow. We'll have to start again next Saturday.