Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Following Alma

Since watching "The Mormons" and hearing so many dissenting opinions about Joseph Smith, it came home to me that I do not have a testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I know the Book of Mormon is the Word of God and so therefore logically he must be, but I do not know for myself.

I gained a testimony of Brigham Young because the man who came to our house to fix (something or other) disparaged him with COMPLETE contempt and disdain and I, who was always irritated by President Young, didn't know what to answer. So I prayed and searched until I gained that testimony (of all the bathroom. I joke not). In that same way I have no answer to those disparagers of Joseph Smith. How can I have gone so many years without a firm knowledge of this basic point of faith?

I therefore resolved to find out for myself. I prayed yesterday to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet but left no time for listening.

(I did, actually, write here the whole process, the whole experience of kneeling and all the feelings I had whilst I prayed. Something told me to wait and not post it right away...and today after reviewing...I decided not to post the whole thing. Some things are too tender and too sacred to myself.)

Suffice it to say that I have a testimony that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God. A tender beginning testimony. Envisioning the little tomato seedlings on my kitchen ledge, I asked the Lord to help me nurture this fragile testimony so that it may grow deep and strong roots. I pray I may one day enjoy the delicious fruits thereof. =)

On another subject.....

I also prayed that I would be able to teach my son to write.

A thought came after my prayer - something Ruth Beechick said about "To teach a child to write, have him write everyday" or something like that. I thought:

1. Journal
2. Letters
3. Essay
in rotation.

But perhaps:
1. Journal
2. Letters
3. Essay
4. Note taking
5. Outlining

This is frightening to me - to teach with no textbook. How can I do that? But it doesn't feel right to teach a canned programme either. But...the more I think about it, the more I think "Hey! Maybe I CAN do this." The feeling is growing. I don't need to spend $160 on IEW or $375 on a tutorial or $250 on a BYU online class (though the feeling I get from the Spirit there is "Meh - you can if you want" and a 'whatever' shoulder shrug.)

I think I can do this. Oh, I'm scared scared scared scared scared scared because if I fail, it's Ben who'll pay the price, not me.

Planning thoughts in the past five minutes:
1. Everyday write at lest a full page journal entry. After the first week focus, week by week on improvement. But what kinds of improvement? Capitalization - he knows that already. Longer, more descriptive sentences? Spelling? His spelling is great. Paragraphs? I don't know. Where do I go from here?

In addition to the journal:
One day a week write a letter of about a page.
One day a week write an essay of not less than five paragraphs, five sentences each. Not less than one page. This essay can be on a variety of subjects including but not limited to
a) a question concerning the book we're reading
b) a descriptive essay
c) a short story
d) what else?
One day a week take notes as I read something aloud
One day a week outline a page/chapter/something. How to outline? Look in WTM. Pray the Lord sends me an insanely inexpensive/free copy of some book or paper or something on how to take notes, how to outline and the different types of paragraphs (descriptive/narrative etc)

To my beloved children

You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky."

"To my child" quoted in Charles L. Wallis' The Treasure Chest
Author Ann Campbell

Ahhh, just love that homeschool humour....

ROFL! =D Brilliant!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Do we really care about mothers.....

....and their boring stultifying repetitive jobs? C'mon! Everyone knows that a woman who stays at home with her kids is just too lazy to go out to work and probably just lies on the couch all day eating chocolate and watching soaps. Right?


"Any woman who has devoted herself to raising children has experienced the hollow praise that only thinly conceals smug dismissal." Ann Crittenden

My mother, this morning, referred to having children as "tying you down" and being trapped. While I'm sure it was simply a repetition of what the media in England and Europe portray as motherhood, rather than an attack on motherhood and children, I find this incredibly disturbing.

The lack of respect towards what is the highest of holy callings is bringing down society as a whole. Only when the world TRULY honours women and men in their roles as mothers and fathers, recognizes children as precious gifts rather than annoyances, and honours the family unit as sacred, can there be peace on earth.

I wonder if this simple formula has occurred to anyone claiming to support world peace?

I Am a Mother, by Jane Clayson Johnson

A couple of years ago, my husband and I attended a dinner meeting outside Washington, D.C. It was a wonderful gathering of about seventy-five mostly LDS couples from a variety of professions, including law, business, education, and communications. After dinner, each of us was asked to introduce him or herself.

The men in the room confidently and appropriately stated their professional achievements, which were impressive. They had degrees; they served on boards; they tended to patients and served clients; they had accomplished sons and daughters.

Then their wives stood up-beautiful, intelligent, spiritual women. Many of them had served on boards, held degrees, and were seasoned in their respective fields. Each of them was also a mother.

But this is how many of the women described themselves:

"Oh, I'm just a mom."

"I don't have any credentials; I'm just raising our six children."

"My life's not very exciting right now; I'm just a stay-at-home mom."

"I don't have much to offer here. I'm just a mother."

We heard some variation of the phrase "I'm just a mother" repeated, almost apologetically, over and over again.

Their words surprised me. I had recently given birth to my first child, and I was on top of the world. My baby was a blessing that had come to me a little later in life than usual, and I was excited and honored to finally accept the mantle of motherhood. I felt an extraordinary sense of responsibility. And power. Not as the world defines the word, but from entering a sacred partnership with the Creator Himself. What a remarkable gift! I wanted to shout from the rooftops, "I am a mother! I am a mother!"

I was so bewildered by their comments that questions began to gnaw at me-What have I done?

When I left my television career in New York City to get married and to have a family, many of my colleagues told me I was crazy, that I was out of my mind. I had turned down a lucrative, four-year network contract, working on exciting, high-profile, prime-time projects.

Some people were incredibly supportive. One producer in particular came into my office, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "Good for you!" He wasn't endorsing my decision to be a mother per se, but he did congratulate me for having the courage to follow my heart, to act on my convictions. He noted that there were so very many others with the impulse to leave; but they wouldn't. They just couldn't walk away from the prestige, the money, or whatever it was that seemed more important than following their hearts.

By way of contrast, when I explained to another rather influential colleague that I would not be taking that contract offer, he told me I was making a terrible decision that I would regret for years to come. "What will you be without your job?" he asked. "If you leave television now, you're done." He quoted an old CBS newsman as saying, "Without work, there is no meaning to life." And finally, knowing of my faith, he asked, "What are you going to do.move up there and teach Sunday School?" Well, as it turned out, the first Sunday in my new ward, I was called to teach-the Gospel Doctrine class.

I found that the reaction from my female colleagues was largely, and disappointingly, less than supportive. I shared my decision with one woman who smugly joked, "Why don't you just get a nanny?" Another network executive asked me what I was going to do once I got to Boston. I told her I was going to have a family, I was going to be a mother. "No, I understand that," she said, puzzled, "but what are you going to do?"

All of this was still fresh on my mind during that evening spent near Washington, D.C. A chorus of "I'm just a mother," juxtaposed with "What will you be without your job? And "You're making a terrible mistake" made me wonder, Could they be right? Is it possible that motherhood is an insignificant, second-rate occupation?

Had I made a bad decision? I thought I'd done everything right. I'd fasted and prayed. I'd felt such a powerful, spiritual confirmation that this was the right choice, for me. Could it be that Heavenly Father would plan for me to walk away from something I loved for the "misery" of being "just a mother"?

What I have since learned is that God's definition of motherhood and the world's definition are vastly different. And sometimes-probably all too often-the challenges, daily physical and emotional exhaustion, and occasional self-doubt that come along with being a mother cause many of us to buy into an inaccurate and destructive understanding of our role. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of joy-or fulfillment- associated with the world's interpretation of motherhood.

But when we trust in the arm of the Lord rather than the voices of the world, everything changes. Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed, "When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?" ("The Women of God," 10-11).

At times, there may be few immediate rewards for those of us who are mothers. There are no Christmas bonuses, no promotions, no paid vacations. But there is love, there is laughter, and there is joy.

Changing the Way We Think

I love it when I hear educated, talented, well-known women from different corridors of life call on other women to raise the image of motherhood, to erase the feeling that any of us are "just mothers." Recently, I watched an interview with Maria Shriver, the wife of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She was explaining her agenda as the state's first lady and said that one of her goals is to "empower mothers"!

"How do we get women," she said, "to stop saying, 'I'm just a mother.' Or, 'I used to be such and such, but now I'm just a mother? We need to market motherhood. So I came up with a saying: 'Motherhood: 24/7 on the frontlines of humanity. Are you man enough to try it?'" (from "First Lady Maria Shriver-Her New Life," The Oprah Winfrey Show, April 29, 2004).

"In our society, we give motherhood plenty of lip service," says Oprah Winfrey, another champion of motherhood. "We pat moms on the head, bring them flowers on Mother's Day, and honor them before crowds. But at the end of the day, we don't extend them the same respect we would a professor, a dentist, an accountant, or a judge.

"I believe the choice to become a mother in the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is. To create an environment that's stimulating and nurturing, to pass on a sense of responsibility to another human being, to raise a child who understands that he or she is create from good and is capable of anything-I know for sure that few callings are more honorable. To play down mothering as small is to crack the very foundation on which greatness stands.

"The world can only value mothering to the extent that women everywhere stand and declare that it must be so. In our hands we hold the power to transform the perception of motherhood.. We should no longer allow a mother to be defined as 'just a mom.' It is on her back that great nations are built" ("What I Know for Sure," O, The Oprah Magazine, 66, emphasis added).

Are you protective of your role as a mother? When asked, do you meekly respond that you're "just a mother," or do you confidently declare, "I am a mother"?

True Success

The sanctity of motherhood can be hard to appreciate when you spend endless hours making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, singing along with Elmo, helping create elaborate science projects, or enforcing late-night curfews. Many in the world will shout that motherhood is full of small, mundane tasks. And certainly, if you look only on the surface, this is true. But underneath all of the secondary things mothers do-cook, clean, read, chauffeur, nurse, and so on-is a mother's real occupation and, I believe, the definition of true success. Webster defines occupation as "the principal business of one's life." The principal business of a mother's life is loving and nurturing her children; it is teaching them, by example how to pass on that love and thereby strengthening the world around them.

For years, many in the business world have taught-and been taught-that the definition of success is achievement, chiefly in career and financial terms. At the Harvard Business School, the model of success included one word: achievement. A few years ago, however, Harvard took another look at the model and added a few more words: happiness, significance, and legacy. Is there any person who can bring more happiness to her young charges, has more significance in another's life, or has the potential to leave a greater legacy for those who come after her than a mother?

I believe, from the depths of my heart, that a righteous mother is the embodiment of success. I believed this about motherhood before I got married and had children. Now, I know it: As a woman, the most important work I will ever do will happen within the walls of my own home.

Having said that, I must admit that there are some days when I think it would be easier, if not preferable, to be a foreign correspondent than to be a mother. There are definitely moments when I am down on my hands and knees, mopping up yet another mess, when I look up at the TV to see one of my old friends interviewing someone famous or globe-trotting on a big story, and I think, What have I done? But as I look at the little faces of my children, I realize I would not trade in my current occupation. Not for anything.

I know what I gave up so that I can be a mother during this season of my life. But I also know what I have given it up for. I traded in fancy lunches in fancy restaurants for rice cereal and bunny-shaped macaroni. There's no one to do my hair and makeup anymore. Some mornings I'm lucky to squeeze in a shower. When I get up at 4:00 A.M. these days, it's not to be chauffeured to a television studio. Instead, you'll find me huddled near a nightlight, lulling a little baby (or two!) back to sleep. No more pats on the back for booking exclusive interviews. They don't give awards for best diaper change of the day. And I don't get a paycheck that can be cashed at any bank. Now my compensation comes in packages money can't buy.

Why it Matters

So why is it that, while most of us honor our own mothers, society as a whole doesn't always seem to appreciate-or even understand-what being a mother entails or how much of an impact mothers have on our families, communities, and nations?

Why don't we honor motherhood more? Why don't we mother with more delight? Why do we seem to struggle so much with the value of this great calling? Do we really understand its significance and get it that the seemingly small things we do while our children are young-teaching them to pray, reading them a story, telling them how much we love them-tend to stick with them throughout life?

Why do mothers matter?

A recent editorial in USA Today reflected on the nation's inability to agree on the value of motherhood: "Society is deeply ambivalent about mothers. Yes, the idealistic Hallmark take on motherhood is deeply rooted: the selfless woman who bakes apple pies, loves her children unconditionally, and so on. But ever since the 1960s, the feminist movement has introduced another scale of measurement: Women should become CEOs, lawmakers, and astronauts like men. And pull in earnings to match" ("Hey Mom, You're Underpaid," USA Today, May 5, 2005).

These dual expectations are tough to live up to. And even on our best days, it's hard for mom to believe that spending an hour scrubbing apple juice off the floor (and the walls, the refrigerator, and every other tiny crevice that a spilled cup of juice is capable of reaching!) is tantamount to setting public policy or breaking national news.

Perhaps you can relate to a conversation I had recently.

Party guest: "What do you do?"

Me: "I am a mother."

Audible pause: "Oh, congratulations. "

End of conversation.

My inquisitor on this occasion quickly moved on, having summed me up, perhaps, as less interesting than the next party guest. Maybe that same person would have been more motivated to keep talking if my response had been, "I'm a network news anchor for CBS," or "I'm a foreign correspondent at ABC."

Former New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize nominee Ann Crittenden writes: "Any woman who has devoted herself to raising children has experienced the hollow praise that only thinly conceals smug dismissal. In a culture that measures worth and achievement almost solely in terms of money, the intensive work of rearing responsible adults counts for little. One of the most intriguing questions in economic history is how this came to be; how mothers came to be excluded from the ranks of productive citizens. How did the demanding job of rearing a modern child come to be trivialized as baby-sitting? When did caring for children become a 'labor of love,' smothered under a blanket of sentimentality that hides its economic importance?" (The Price of Motherhood).

Indeed, why is it that in this day and age there are so many who think so little of motherhood?

In her book, We Are Our Mothers' Daughters, journalist Cokie Roberts describes, in part, how this happened:

For most of human history, men and women worked together in the same place and each one's work complemented the other's. No one thought the farmer's job was more important than the farmer's wife's. Neither could manage without the other..

"It was the industrial revolution that changed everything. Men went out to work for wages, and they were paid for the hours they put in, not the tasks they completed.. Suddenly, what women did at home lost its value because there was no paycheck attached. Repetitive housework replaced home manufacture as women's crafts moved into assembly-line production. And that's what we've been struggling with ever since.

"Doing work that is economically rewarded and socially recognized means leaving home.. Women aren't paid for their jobs as nurturers."

A Purpose for Every Season

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Meg Whitman at Princeton University. Meg is the CEO of eBay, with a new worth of a billion dollars. Meg was a lovely woman, gracious and kind. We had a wonderful conversation.

We talked about all sorts of things related to her many professional accomplishments. At one point, I asked her a question that I hadn't intended. And I was taken aback by her very honest reply.

"Looking back on it all," I said, "what's your biggest regret?"

Unlike her other responses, which had come quickly and easily, this answer came only after a thoughtful pause.

"Probably not spending as much time with the kids.. I did miss certain parts of their.development. I wasn't there to see some of the really fun things that they did. So I suppose the biggest regret would be really great to have spent more time with them, particularly when they were little.. And you can't get that back."

She seemed willing to expound, and I continued, "So, the illusion that you can have it all.that it's out there.doesn' t exist?

"I actually don't think so. I think you can have a wonderful life, but you have to decide what trade-offs you're willing to make" (The Early Show, CBS, December 19, 2000).

To her words, I would add these: You must also decide that mothers matter-that you matter.


LDS Living Magazine

Thursday, May 03, 2007


While visiting this wonderful website:

baby steps

I came across this article:

Earth Day Irony

which is absolutely brilliant. Surely...surely that man wasn't suggesting she murder her child just to support his idea of what's right???? That would be....unconscionable.

The Evils of the Stomach Flu

Andrew came down with it on Monday.
Tuesday at 7pm Ben came down with it.
Wednesday about 3am I came down with it.
Wednesday about 10am Emily came down with it.

The whole works.

Luckily, Bert wasn't on a business trip. He stayed home and took care of Andrew and the rest of us. Oh my, were we grateful!!! He had a business trip today and I was terrified he'd catch it on his trip - thankfully he seems fine thus far. It's only a matter of time though. He'll probably come down with it tomorrow. How can he avoid it? It's a miracle he's survived thus far.

Andrew's recovered and at full steam ahead. Emily, Ben and myself are just dead. I started eating today and thus far it's really going well. Emily's eaten saltine crackers, applesauce and chips. Ben has eaten nothing since Tuesday afternoon. I'm really quite worried about him. He's had it worse than any of us and was still battling diarrhea this morning. I've managed to get a little water and gatorade down him though, so hopefully he'll perk up soon. Bert says when his body's ready to eat he'll eat.

Now I must take a nap before Andrew wakes up and turns into a whirling dirvish again.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

same as yesterday

Poor Andrew threw up again in the night. He still has a fever and is just flopping around watching TV. He dozed on me for about half an hour. I was in fear that he would pee on me. =D He must not have been fully asleep because he didn't - hooray!

I'm making him some more rice. He threw up the bread he ate yesterday, but not the rice, and he's whinging because he's so hungry. Poor sausage.

MAN I'm tired. It was a late night last night. Emily was out with Victoria helping her and comforting her. What a good friend! I don't know how Emily does it. She was in bed the same time as me and by the time I woke up with a vomit covered Andrew she was already gone to Seminary. Someone give that girl a medal.