Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crossroads Square Branch

Sometimes I get to do some pretty cool things.

Usually, it's because my parents think I am talented, and they come up with ways for me to use my talents to help others.

One of my favorite pretty cool things I've ever been asked to do was to help make a video for the Crossroads Square Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to use during their 2013 Youth Conference.  My parents served an 18 month mission in this branch, helping the members, refugees from Nepal, in a variety of ways.  Although I am certain my parents helped many people in this branch, I think their connection was the strongest with these youth.

Although I made this video nearly a year ago, watching it still brings tears to my eyes.  Maybe it's because I have met some of these teenagers.  Maybe it's because one of them, Suman Pakwal, lives with my parents and is pretty much my brother.  Maybe it's because the gospel is true, and because humanity is good, and because we really are all children of the same loving Heavenly Father.  

I don't know.  

But it touched me today, so I thought I would share it.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sound Off: 10 Boy Mom Musts

You know the drill.  Read the original post here.  Then put up with my rambling as I write whatever comes to mind.

Of course these are all stereotypes and generalizations, but what I've learned being the mom of 3 sons is that if a stereotype happens to be false for one son... I still have 2 chances of it being true for another.  If you've ever assumed it about boys, you're probably right about our house!

#1  "You must love bathtime."
I think someone ought to change the must to a should.  I should love bathtime.  It would make life lots more fun.  But I don't.  When Dylan was a baby, Aunt Heather lived with us and bathed him regularly.  After that, I can guarantee he bathed before church and perhaps on other occasions when the ratio of dirt to child had become an improper fraction.  The good(ish) news is that now that the boys are older, they love bathtime.  Or rather, they love showers.  And now that they can handle this part of day on their own, I am proud to say they shower an average of 6 days a week!  If only I could get them to stop using all the hot water...

#2  "You must think farts are funny."
Hmm... again... I don't!  Clearly I'm not so great at this mom-of-boys thing.  I do think farts are inevitable.  And I do think boys laughing at farts is inevitable.  But since I don't find them funny, I try to use this subject as a chance to teach respect for others' preferences.  "I don't care if you want to laugh about farts with your brothers or your friends, since you clearly find them funny.  But out of respect for your mother, I would appreciate it if you didn't talk (or laugh) about farts around me."  It works really well... until someone farts.

#3  "You must be prepared for the constant - CONSTANT - battle with the toilet."
Gah!  Story of my life!  The recent battle of mine has been to get that adorable middle child of mine to lift the toilet seat to pee.  You think little boys have bad aim?  Imagine how well that goes when he has chosen to reduce the target size.  #1 reason to be grateful for my new house?  I have my own toilet again.

#4  "You must rethink your standards of 'safety.'"
I agree that a lot of moms probably have to rethink.  But I was raised by a man who has decided that rather than walking around the block (or through the new Mecham-Fife Strait) to get from Michelle's house to mine, he will walk a-la-balance-beam along the fence line then drop down into my yard.  I applaud bravery, reward adrenaline driven stupidity, and carefully teach the kids to at least assess the risks.  As I taught Adam last summer, "Just think to yourself, 'What's the worst possible thing that is likely to happen?'  If that worst thing is a broken bone (and there is someone around to go for help), go for it!  If that worst possible likely thing is death, you may want to reconsider."

(The video is okay, but the audio of D as he tries to be as brave as his brother is awesome.)



#5   "You must not be surprised at drama."
I would be willing to but Adam against any girl in a drama-driven crying match.  He literally loses all control and is incapable of calming down.  My rule is, "You are always welcome to cry.  It's normal and natural.  But please do it in your bedroom.  If you want to talk about what is bothering you in a calm and rational way, I am always here."

#6   "You must be prepared for messes."
I'm not sure if this is because I'm the mother of boys or because I'm the mother of Alex.  I really don't even mind messes.  Well, at least not rational ones.  The messes that drive me crazy are the ones that I cannot fathom how they came to be, and they usually involve some sort of destruction of property.  Slashed insulation.  Scratched chairs/tables/assorted furniture.  Forcefully beaten drawers.  Strange things happen at our house when Alex is behaving absentmindedly.  (And nearly all of these could be considered our fault for leaving interesting-looking instruments around the house.)

#7   "You must have a lot of food on hand at all times."
Or be big fans of Golden Corral.  Which we are.

Sidenote: One time I convinced Adam that he was reading it wrong, and that the restaurant is really called Golden Coral.  "Really?" he querried.  "I really thought it was cor-ral..."

But for reals.  Adam eats a ton.  I'm sure the others will follow suit.  And I'm preparing to be the hang-out house, which I know means I not only need to provide for these 3 mouths but for the mouths of their equally voracious friends.

#8   "You must be prepared to go through LOTS. And LOTS. Of JEANS."
Or, in our house, uniform khakis.  I'd like to say its because of holes, but I've actually figured out that department.

(The secret: shop at Sears.  They have an awesome kid guarantee, but if I buy the slightly more expensive Dockers brand pants, they last me the school year anyway.)

Or they would last the school year if Adam would stop pocketing crayons during art.  We are now at 4 loads of ruined laundry, and I told the boys they're just wearing the orange-spotted pants the rest of the year.  And the long-term solution (to be implemented next school year) is that I will be sewing the pockets shut the second I purchase them.

As for holey-pants, that seems right now to be affecting anything Adam wears, but since its because he's constantly down on his knees playing with Tyler and Ryder, it is hard for me to get too frustrated.

#9   "You must be cool with nudity."
I am so grateful to share a home with surprisingly modest young gentlemen.  Sure, they love to sleep as "belly men," meaning without the matching pajama shirt, but we don't really have issues with nudity or even hanging out in their underwear.  Fingers crossed that this trend will continue.  Either way, I draw the line at the table.  If the boys want food, they will show up fully clothed.

#10   "You must get used to 'The Grab.'"

Not going there.  :)

Sure, being the mom of boys comes with some prepackaged adventures, but it also comes with a whole ton of handsome!

Ha ha!  Slightly goofy faces in an otherwise awesome picture.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Notebook

Though I don't have the pages to prove it, I am nearly positive this notebook began its journey clear back in 2001, when Kirk and I lived in a tiny townhome in Kearns, and he had asked me to teach him piano.  Although he was an excellent student, his concurrent efforts toward earning a Bachelors degree, being 23 years old, and not being particularly dedicated seemed to get in the way of finding time to practice.  (That and the fact that it was hilarious to watch his ape-sized hands attempt to play in "C Position."  Think clown-car.)

 I am imagining it then lived, forgotten, in my piano bench for some time.  10 years later, it resurfaced; most likely as I rummaged through the house looking for anything with blank pages.  I probably glanced fondly at the piano lesson ledger, ripped out the no-longer-needed pages, and stashed it in the bag I was taking to Oklahoma rehearsal.

I assume that was the case, since its first pages include my purposeful handwriting, the kind I use when I am writing slowly and carefully with the intent to easily read the words later.  I was, no doubt, sitting next to Arlee as we discussed our entrances and exits and made nearly identical reference notes so as not to forget anything.

After those first few pages, this notebook becomes a journal of sorts.  If not a journal, perhaps a travelogue, detailing several months of one busy year!

[March 2011] I have 6 pages dedicated to Oklahoma, most of which is notes which director Nanny Mackenzie must have insisted we write down.

No idea what Nanny meant when she said not to "Tonya Harding"

My favorite note of all time: "Enjoy being a hussy..."

Another favorite: "Andrea, back off on the harmonies."


[May 2011] I have 4 pages of plans, audition notes, and finalized cast list for Joseph...Dreamcoat.



[July 2011] I have 3 pages of blocking notes and contact info for the youth I worked with for our stake's patriotic concert.



I wish I hadn't used a separate notebook for [August 2011] Into the Woods and [August 2011] Willy Wonka, Jr. but it doesn't surprise me that I did.  I had to work ridiculously hard to make sure I kept one rehearsal separate from the next.

[December 2011] The year ends with 7 pages of detailed notes and trial lyrics I used to compose an original number from the perspectives of Heavenly Father, Zacharius, and Mary to be performed as part of the choir Christmas program.



I also used a separate notebook for [December 2011] Dickens Festival.  

The notebook appears to have gotten a break until [June 2012] when I took it to a show I reviewed for the UTBA.  I hope that means I took a break, too!  It is fun to look back and see how easy it so tell when the sun went down at the amphitheater (and I just gave up on neat writing).



[August 2012]  The notebook attended one of my favorite shows I have seen courtesy of UTBA.  It was fun to compare my chicken-scratch notes to the polished review I submitted to the site.



And then, as notebooks do, it faded into obscurity, not to be picked up again until 4/24/2014, once again to attend a production.

It's kind of silly how much I love old notebooks, and how I can't bear to throw one away.  But everything from the pen color to the slant to the topic is a reflection of whoever I was that day.  Even the to do lists are telling!

Since [April 2014], I have added Personal Progess notes, "To Survive Monday Morning" (the list I wrote of essentials to move in Phase 1 of our recent move, and solo audition notes for an upcoming 6th grade performance.

This old notebook only has 6 pages left, but I predict my life will be recorded in many a wandering notebook.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Original Mr. & Mrs. Fife

My mother-in-law came to the school recently to watch the kids participate in a school-wide event.  I was showing her around the school when a second grade student passed me by with a cheery, "Hi, Mrs. Fife!"  Mom said, "I should have really messed with her and responded back."  I stood there, confused for a second, as it dawned on me that her name is also Mrs. Fife.  I've never heard her called that, so it honestly had never occurred to me.

I brag about my in-laws all the time.  So many people have horror stories to tell of the in-laws from hell.  Not me.  Not only did I hit he jackpot for husbands, but I also married into the perfect family.  The Fifes are generous, accepting, and hilarious, and they have always made me feel as much a part of the family as Kirk is.  But that's not to say I don't stand back sometimes and just laugh.

For example, Mom works as a lunch lady at Granger High School.  She loves to have visitors so she can proudly show off her family to her lunch lady friends.  When Kirk and I were engaged, I stopped by so I could get the introduction to the gang, and I ended up getting an invitation to accompany them to Red Robin.  We were all seated in a private seating area (I'm guessing Red Robin knew more of what to expect from these ladies than I did) and got ready to enjoy a nice meal.  I can't recall the details that lead up to it, but the next thing I knew, these full grown women were doing the Bunny Hop around the table.  I'm telling you, Mom and her friends know how to have fun.

So it came as no surprise when I saw this recent video posted on YouTube (Mom is the tall one in burgundy scrubs):



If I could learn one thing from my mother-in-law it would be to have fun in every situation.

From Dad, I could learn dedication.

I'll admit, I have occasionally wondered aloud if he's going to end up some sort of recluse that never emerges from his train room.  But when he includes his grandsons in the fun, I'm a little less judgmental.



Not only is he willing to let the kids run his very expensive train set, but he recently invited Alex to go to a train show with him.  Alex enjoyed getting to see "Big Boy," apparently a super old train that was being moved in order to be restored.


The kids are fortunate to have a grandpa who is passionate about his interests and willing to share!

I've always encouraged my kids to be proud of their name - that being a Fife is a big deal.  But somehow I'd never really considered that just as my kids' actions reflect on me and Kirk, my actions now reflect on the legacy of the original Mr. & Mrs. Fife.

I hope I'll make them proud.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Few of my Favorite Things

I feel a little delinquent since I haven't really posted a "Welcome to the New House" post yet.  We still have kind of a lot of work to do before I feel ready to unveil it to the world, but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite things:

new|CHAIR     I had something fairly specific in mind, but it wasn't the sort of thing I could actually look for.  Instead, I kept my eye out until I saw something that would fit the bill.  And guess what?  It reclines.  BONUS.

favorite|PICTURE     This is my all-time favorite picture of me and Kirk, and when he came across it while unpacking, he claimed it for his end table.  I love seeing it every day, but it is even better knowing that Kirk picked one of my favorites.

perfect|RAILING     I love everything about this particular spot in the house.  The contrast of the black metal with the warm wood.  The only carpet in the whole house.  A hint of the slate blue I've worked into the palette.  And I can't wait to decorate the banister come Christmas.

updated|MENU BOARD     Michelle was kind enough to update my menu board to reflect the new colors.  It's nice to have something familiar nearby as I try to remember where on earth I put the pizza cutter/melon baller/apple corer... that list definitely goes on!

grown up|PLACE SETTING     I've always wanted to own a set of fine china but have never indulged because I can't reconcile my contemporary style with the idea that china should have a history.  I finally feel like I can give up the desire for china since I now have a gorgeous place setting for 12 including formal glasses in a sleek, modern style.

french|DOORS     When a friend came over to do an awesome empty-house photo shoot, she was sure to grab a picture of me next to one of my favorite features: the french doors that lead into the piano room.  I could gush on and on about all I love, but I'll keep it simple with the chart topper: the laticed shadows cast into the entry when the sun streams through the piano room window.

welcome|HOME     We're still a week or two away from moving the boys into their new bedrooms (they are going to be EPIC), which means we are still a week or three away from truly unpacking and settling in.  But while it is far from perfect and far from finished, it already feels like home.

Friday, May 9, 2014

I Am

Why am I so obsessed with personality tests?  I'm pretty sure its because I like to feed my own ego, hearing compliments about my personality type.  It's probably also because I really am pretty introspective (read: self-centered).  

Fortunately, with all the tests that frequently fill my news feed, I can feel better knowing I am clearly not alone in my obsession.  But rather than re-post, I've been saving screen shots of my results, waiting for a good day to publish a comprehensive pros & cons look at me.  So here it is.  The Good.  The Bad.  And the Ugly.

I am:


THE GOOD

I:

  • am strong – physically and mentally.
  • don’t take guff from anyone.
  • always treat those in my inner circle like family.
  • thrive in exciting situations.
  • am spontaneous, passionate, and energetic…
  • like to evaluate and make decisions through objective analysis. 
  • am very rational, objective and fair.
  • prefer to think independently and read.
  • like implication, analogy, connections, possibility, inference, and prediction.
  • have many creative thoughts.
  • am a critical thinker.
  • am looked up to.
  • am extremely smart.
  • believe that you should live big or go home.
  • am a smart and sassy world-shaker.
  • am a charismatic, magnetic leader who has no problem standing up to authority figures when it comes to paving my own way.
  • think outside the box, enjoy being in the spotlight, and are a loyal and committed friend.
  • want a man who’s self-sufficient and hardworking.
  • may seem a bit serious, but underneath it all I've got a quirky sense of humor that few humans get to enjoy.
  • am a dreamer, good friend, and a person who strives to do the right thing for the greater good.

THE BAD

I:

  • occasionally act immature, though I only mean to make myself and others happy.
  • should only have 2 kids.  "Your child needs a sibling, and you can handle another.  Probably."
  • think principles are more important than being flexible.
  • like to make plans and would like to manage, control and drive for the results.
  • always try to turn my ideas into fact, tirelessly reaching my goals that I set for yourself.
  • always have a high standard no matter if its for myself or other people


THE UGLY (iPersonic Test: DYNAMIC THINKER)

The harshest test I've taken kind of took everything I usually consider to be my assets and made me sound a bit like a horrible person!  Read on to see the personality test that brought my ego back down a notch.

You have a sharp eye for errors and can criticize without mercy if you see the success of a project endangered. You are completely unconcerned as to whether you alienate anyone in the process. But you are always open to objective arguments; you love discussions, you are very gifted rhetorically and you are good at convincing and enthusing others.
As Dynamic Thinkers are very sociable, you like to have a lot of friends around you, preferably those with whom you can share your interests and discuss all sorts of subjects. You are very direct but never in an underhand or scheming manner. If one can bear being spoken to frankly, one has in you a loyal and unwavering advisor as friend. Everything new and unknown stimulates Dynamic Thinkers and awakens your curiosity. However, rules, routine and traditional things arouse your resistance. If something does not go the way you want it to, you can react rather pigheadedly and obstinately.
Adjectives that describe your type:  extroverted, theoretical, logical, planning, rational, self-confident, ambitious, direct, open, severe, organized, determined, witty, independent, purposeful, dynamic, energetic, optimistic, competent, responsible, clever, intellectual, enthusiastic, demanding, structured, controlled, aggressive

It is a bit painful to think back on specific times I've been each of those not-so-great things.  (Generally when I am directing a show or leading a team project.)  

But along with the arguably ugly, I am:


and I'm okay with that!