Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blue and Gold

PART A (2:53 pm on February 27th, about four hours before the Blue and Gold Banquet)

We have two new important colors around here now that Adam has turned eight: Blue and Gold.

The only problem is that I'm a girl who grew up with sisters, and I'm pretty sure I could scratch everything I know about the combination on the back side of a napkin.


I guess I could add that many of the awesome people I've known throughout my life have been Eagle Scouts, and that I wouldn't at all mind being the mother of one (or three).  

But then I'd have to add that the whole "Eagle Scout" thing stresses me out a bit.  Let's face it.  Behind every just about every Eagle is a mother who helped said Eagle follow through on all the great things he meant to do.  Am I ready to be that mom?  Am I ready to try to find the balance between support, nagging, and pushing?

At the back of my mind, I've always had this great plan:

STEP 1: Sit down with the scout and whatever materials it is that goes along with scouting.
STEP 2: Allow the scout to set goals.
STEP 3: Ask the scout how much support he would like from mom.  

  • Do you want to sit down with me each Sunday and look over your scout stuff?
  • Do you want to handle your own stuff, and you'll ask me when you need help?
  • Do you want me to do everything I can to force help you achieve your goals?
STEP 4: Discuss special privileges that someone who has shown the responsibility of achieving a big goal might earn.
  • Later curfews (bedtimes)
  • Extra use of electronics (cell phone, etc when the scout is a teenager)
  • Use of adult property (like a car, etc when the scout is 16)
STEP 5: Praise accomplishments like crazy.
STEP 6: Repeat steps 1-5 at each advancement.

STEP 7: Sit back and watch my scouts independently and happily earn their badges and advancements.

Okay, go ahead and roll your eyes / gag / call me crazy.  I know it's wishful thinking.

And so here I sit, wondering exactly what scouts is going to actually  look like in this family and still mostly just wondering about what on earth even happens at a Blue and Gold Banquet.

PART B (1:55 pm on February 28th, one day after the Blue and Gold Banquet)

Well, I definitely learned some stuff last night. 
  1. If you think theater people are weird, you should attend Cub Scouts.  I think I could have survived another 31 years without knowing how to do a watermelon clap.
  2. The Cub Scout flag ceremony was nearly enough to bring me to tears.  Respectful young men in uniform honoring their country and their flag.  Okay, I will endure strange clapping rituals for that.
  3. If you want tips on uniforms and badges, sit with the families that have multiple boys.  I think I'll follow the advice of one mom who suggested a shirt that should fit for the next two years, which can then be passed down to Al when Adam needs a bigger one.  What about the patches?  It was suggested that little brother might enjoy having older brother's patches already sewn on because - let's face it - you're never going to get around to sewing them on the 2nd shirt.  I was also informed that they sell plastic inserts for the pockets that you can put the patches/badges on, but since the other dads agreed that they "look dumb," I think I will avoid that option.
  4. Apparently it's not that hard to succeed in Cub Scouts.  One dad assured me that most of the stuff if stuff people do anyway; it's just a matter of marking it in the book.  And apparently after a few times of attending scouts, Adam had already earned a belt thingy.  (I still have plenty of work to do on my scout lingo.)
  5. I'm pretty sure they call it a "pack" because the boys seem to clump together and move from place to place in a semi-solid blob.  And since I think that is a pretty natural male mentality, I am grateful to have a blob with solid values to send my sons to hang out in.
  6. I'm still overwhelmed.  And I'm still pretty clueless.  But I can't wait to see what Adam - and six of his best buddies - are about to accomplish.
Adam with his first "belt thingy"... many more to come!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Public Humiliation

It's 8:55 a.m. on a Sunday and the chapel is full of bodies in their Sunday best but lacking a certain expected sound.  A quick glance reveals that the organ bench is conspicuously empty.

I step up to the stand and whisper, "Bishop, it isn't my week for the organ, but I guess Amy isn't here.  I'll go up and play."

"Amy is right there..." he responds, a bit confused.  I walk the aisle to the pew where her family is seated and kindly proceed, "Um, I think it is your month to play the organ, isn't it?"

"No," she says.  "It is still February."

"Right.  And I played in January."

"No, you've been playing all month," she insists.

Really?  And of course, my mom, sister, husband, and half the ward are hearing this exchange as she tries to prove to me that she really hasn't been playing.

"I wasn't even at church two weeks ago," she points out.

And now it is 8:59, and I take a walk of shame up to the organ with no time to set the stops and find a decent song.  Just play something.  Anything.  The bishopric is kind enough to let me play half a verse before beginning the meeting.  And then I panic.

My list of preferred stops is on my phone.  Which I set down by my family in our pew.  Luckily Alex has decided to hang out with me.  I whisper in his ear, "Go tell Daddy that Mommy needs her phone and has no idea where she set it."

Kirk sends it up, sparing no time to prevent others from staring at the exchange, and I have about 30 seconds before the first song.  I set half the stops, but run out of time.  I play a brass-heavy opening hymn, cursing myself for not becoming more educated in either German (the language of all the stops) or the organ in general, helpless to make any decisions on the fly.

I finish the song, finish the stops, and try to move on from what I considered to be several moments of torture.  On to one of the most challenging choir numbers my awesome choir has ever performed.  I'm directing it when I hear a crash to my right.  Although I had no proof, I suddenly had the mental image of Alex falling out of his chair.  Which instantly gave me a giggle-fit nearly impossible to suppress.

I survived, but distracted, forgot to replace the chorister's book on the music stand.  Unthinking, I play a standard-length introduction to the closing hymn, and resolve its melody into the standard "time-to-sing-now" cadence.  At which point I realize that the chorister is still replacing her book.  I awkwardly loop the intro back onto itself and start anew.

But I'm distracted.  Embarrassed.  Flustered.  And I just can't focus on the music.  Which verse am I on?  Oh, they just sang "brother" which is in the 4th verse.  I guess I'm done.  So I stop.  And the chorister keeps waving.  And she glares at me.  So I start again, frantically skimming the lyrics until I note the word "brother" definitely appears near the end of both verse 3 and 4.

Whatever.  Sacrament meeting is over, thankfully, and I am moving on.  I have a mental to-do list which includes checking with a young man's mom about an upcoming solo opportunity.  I walk up to the woman, address her by her first name ("Hi, Jane"), and ask if her family will be in town on Easter Sunday.  She looks at me confused, and I continue, "I would like to see if your son wants to sing a solo, and I wanted to make sure you'd be in town."

"I'm not Jane Doe," she says.  At which point, I of course realize she is not at all the woman I needed to talk to.  She was super kind and tried to downplay the situation, but I just still felt pretty stupid.

So I came home and made brownies to share with the choir.

"What's the occasion?" they asked.

I just needed brownies.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Difference

Here's a short list of the "Sunday School answers."  You know, the basic stuff that most* of us figure is the basic recipe for spiritual success.


Church is often an excellent reminder of the why's and how's associated with checking of this to-do list.  And as far as those check-marks go, I'd say I'm averaging about 3 of 8, so there's plenty of work still to do.

But an excellent talk in Sacrament Meeting today suggested that even if I've checked off every item, there's a good chance I haven't really gotten it done the way I needed to.  

I mean, consider Laman and Lemuel, Mormonism's most notorious complainers.  If you really think about it, they got check-marks in the same basic places that Nephi did:


Brother Densley explained a few points that make all sorts of sense to me:

  • Laman and Lemuel saw an an angel and still lacked faith
  • If they had spiritually understood the significance of that, they would have been held accountable for the whole denying-the-spirit business
  • Heavenly Father is a loving God who wouldn't have set Laman and Lemuel up for failure
  • According to Lehi's dream, Laman and Lemuel never tasted the fruit (which is the love of God)
The pivotal difference between Nephi and his brothers was not what he did but what he believed when he was doing it.

Which was pretty much an "Oh, crap!" moment for me.  You mean, I can't just earn the check-marks for check-marks' sake?  You mean I need to feel the spirit while I work toward my eternal reward?  You mean that there's often a whole lot more standing between me and the Savior than a few empty boxes?

Wait... you mean the whole point of each of the boxes is actually to help me feel that spirit and increase that testimony?  

And then came the "Well, duh!" moment for me.  I've known that all along.  And I am certainly capable of working toward that.  But I am grateful for the opportunity to refocus and try harder to make up the difference.


*By "us," I mean practicing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I use the word "us," because that's where my beliefs and the beliefs of many of my friends and family lie.  If you would like to know more, please visit http://mormon.org/.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Meet Bob



This is Bob.  I am not entirely certain when or how he appeared (though I think it has something to do with a strange dialogue Adam picked up from a carpool buddy last year), but he has become as much a part of our lives as Dylan himself.

When it rains, Bob gets wet.

When Dylan gets a treat, Bob holds it while Dylan eats.

We receive frequent updates daily regarding Bob's comfort and emotional well-being.

In fact, it's kind of like having a kid with an imaginary friend, except with the adorable benefit of a grubby-handed representation.

This morning, I was mentally scripting my life as a Facebook status (that happens more frequently than I would like to admit), when I thought to post the following.

"Things that make me happy: doing Pilates with my two little boys."

But then I realized how awesome my Eminem station on Pandora was treating me, and I thought to amend it.

"Things that make me happy: blasting Eminem through my headphones while doing Pilates with my two little boys."

And just as I had settled on the new and improved verbage, I glanced at Dylan.  Who was no longer participating in the leg lifts.  Instead, Bob was mimicking the motions as well as could be expected from a hand.

And I thought, "Things that make me happy: blasting Eminem through my headphones while doing Pilates with my two little boys and a hand named Bob."

But that just sounded weird.