Easy Listening

I've recently emerged from a music rut.
You know what I mean?  Like when all music starts to feel old and played out?  Sometimes it happens with food too -- nothing sounds good (except chocolate, let's be real.)
It was Paul Simon who helped me out of my rut.  I've found there is always another Paul Simon song to discover.  This time it was Slip Sliding Away, which I'd forgotten existed.
Image result for paul simon slip sliding away
My musical whiz of a husband makes playlists with me on my beloved music app Rhapsody.  If you don't have Rhapsody and you're still dinking around on Spotify, YouTube or heaven help me Pandora then you are on the wrong App. http://www.rhapsody.com/  (Dear rhapsody, pay me money.  I stunt for you all the time.)

It costs a little bit of money.  I think it's less than $10 a month, can't remember.  But Hush and I use the same account and we have saved playlists from the last few years.  The way the playlists are generated is just by whatever we happen to be listening to that month, so if I go back to June of 2013 I am transported by songs into memories.  The lists ideally tie together, but lots of times they're just songs we are into that month or that we want the kids to know.  Or it's what we've Shazam'd.  Or a song we'd forgotten that needs to be part of our lives again.

June 2013:
Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leppard
Abandoned Love -- Bob Dylan
Situation -- Yaz
White Lines -- Grandmaster Flash
Jesus was Way Cool -- King Missle
Teenage Dirtbag -- Wheatus
Gimme Shelter -- Rolling Stones
Begin the Beguine -- Artie Shaw
You Got the Silver -- Rolling Stones
Domino -- Van Morrison
Baba O'Riley -- The Who
When the Music's Over -- Doors
Patience -- GnR
Don't Fear the Reaper -- Blue Oyster Cult
Champagne and Reefer -- Muddy Waters
Hurt -- NIN
The Beautiful People -- Marilyn Manson
The Man Who Sold the World -- Nirvana
Debaser -- Pixies
The Black Jack White -- Spirit Animal
Crazy Baby -- Joan Osborne
Carry that Weight -- Paul McCartney
212 -- Azealia Banks
The Final Countdown -- Europe
Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth -- Primitive Radio Gods
Christiansands -- Tricky
My Name is Trouble -- Keren Ann

Last month Hush hit me with this mix which included covers by people I like more than the original bands.

The Scientist -- Willie Nelson
Satellite of Love -- (Betty) Lou Reed
Mary Ann with the Shakey Hand -- Petra Haden
Mozambique -- Bob Dylan
Bang the Drum all Day -- Todd Rundgren
Eminence Front -- The Who
Go Down Gamblin' -- Blood, Sweat, Tears
One Toke Over the Line -- Brewer & Shipley
Low Rider -- WAR
Riptide -- Vance Joy
Other Side -- Family Portrait
Don't Sweat the Technique
All Night Dinner -- Modest Mouse
Stuck in the Middle With You -- Stealers Wheel

Our musical taste is very similar with Hush (and Mimi) tending more toward country influences like Johnny Cash and Classic Rock like David Bowie and Queen.  There's a pretty sweet playlist they made around the time Lou was born including Golden Years and Way Down Yonder in the Minor Key by Billy Bragg/Wilco.  If you don't know that song you should.  Jude and I prefer the harder rocking songs like Green Day and Beastie Boys.  Silas just likes The Final Countdown.  I feel a moral responsibility to my children to provide them with a vast and thorough musical education. It cracks me up when their friends are around and they demand to rock out to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons like it's a favorite amongs the kindergarten crowd.  Well, it should be.  And sometimes they come to me asking for a Nickle Bag of Funk from Digable Planets.

Right now I'm putting together "Shameless Pop Songs that are Just Great Songs"  and these have to meet both mine and Hush's satisfaction to be on the list.  Right now the list has:
Jessie J -- Bang Bang
Britney -- Toxic
Katy Perry -- Roar
Timber -- Kesha/Pitbull

Got any idea of other songs that need to be on there?  Anything garnishes a listen and we're fairly accepting.  I have even gotten sucked into a Jonas Brother's version of Poor Unfortunate Souls.

This month it's all about Mr. Paul Simon in all his many varieties for me.  Sometimes you just need to go back to the classics.
But that doesn't mean that some completely weird song will suck both of us in as the witching hours approach.  And on those days you get a little something like this:

Just Me Myself And I.  My favorite line is the end when Hush says, "That has to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever done."


May Round Up

In early May in the year of our Lord 2015 these happenings happened.
Jude did his Kindergarten music and dance show.  His favorite song was Never Smile at a Crocodile. I can't remember which song warranted the frog head piece.
BL, nearly 8 months, had her tummy zerbeted.
Silas went on a field trip with his Pre-K and I attended. Natural History museum.

Si wore Jude's Komodo Dragon mask and terrified yours neighborhood.
I was finally awarded my unicorn horn.
Worked on my dreadlocks, week two. Yes I wash them.  They're all my own hair. 
Mr McHandsome hung out at Jude's most spectacular soccer game.  Here's a text write up by grandpa Jim: 

Report from Jude's soccer game: MVP 

The opposing team scored an opening goal. That was a mistake. They awoke the sleeping monster: JUDE  He got a look of determination on his face and promptly scored two goals. There was no stopping him. 

Next, standing a few feet from his goal an opponent kicked the ball that became lodged between Jude's legs. Rather than dropping the ball Jude hopped over to the front of the other teams goal and then dropped it so he would have a good shot. But he was only getting started.

A player from the opposing team got a hold of one and kicked the ball so hard into Jude's head that it snapped his head back. The field and spectators went silent: you could hear them thinking is this kid seriously hurt? The ref walk over to Jude who had jumped to his feet. Jude sees that everyone is stunned besides him. In the confusion he runs to the ball and sends it half way down the field everyone else looking on with their mouths open. The kid is tough and smart. College scholarship and pro soccer get ready for Jude the Terrible. 
LouLou had lift off. She's already crawling, pulling up on everything, cruising and now she's trying to stand by herself. Slow down, kid. You're barely 8 months.
With busy hands I try to dictate into my phone. Apparently I am asking Siri to act against her moral code.
Mimi has inherited her grandpa's love of contracts.  Favorite parts: be supportive! Don't sit around doing nothing!  
Mimi's hair is thick and lovely but hard to style because she runs away every time I try to brush it.  Her hair also prevents her from being first place in our morning getting ready contest.  This is our temporary solution and I think she looks absolutely fabulous! Next she's going to get big gold hoop earrings.
I just love this kid. Her outfits have always been fantastic. She was born with style.

There were some tears.
Hush has started our family on nightly meditation through an instructional app called Calm.  Every day the kids get better at the ten minutes of stillness.  The first night was a chore but every night since then they beg to do it. It's been good for our family.
We're getting pretty tired of waking up for school. LouLou helps them wake up by crawling over their faces and then they all pile in one bed to snuggle.
Just baby Lou being beautiful.
I've started exercising and I hate it. How could anyone ever enjoy exercise?  This pic for Christine and Rebekah who couldn't picture me in workout clothes.
Surly Silas' Mother's Day picture.  I love my mom because "Her give me food." He just cannot lock down the she/her pronoun and it has become a trademark.
Mimi had her school singing performance.  Her line was "I can save the planet by avoiding fast food wrapping". I cannot agree to that.

Working on a new project. Inspired by Van Gogh's Starry Night and Irises. Oh, and Gaudi, mosaic master. 
And starting another new project that required me going to city hall. Utah has no grocery delivery service. I'm going to try to start one.  I'm a big ideas small results type of person so we shall see how far this new activity goes.

All my kids want to do is play play play.  Right now they're doing a lot of swords and guns in the backyard.  They get mad when we have to load in the car and go places.  We are ready for regularly scheduled programming to end. School wake up is at 7:50. Tuesdays Mimi and Jude have piano and Jude has soccer practice. Wednesday is Mimi's activity days with primary.  Thursday Mimi has dance class which ends soon with a recital. Friday Mimi has drums and Jude has guitar. Saturdays Jude has soccer.  Silas has pre-k four days a week and has to be toted along on all of our activities, as does BL.  Every activity is wonderful and necessary and most just require walking rather than driving, but we long for the summer days of having nothing planned.
Untill, of course, they all start driving me nuts and I can't wait for school to start again!


Oh, Just Your Spring Hair?

I am having a hair identity crisis.  I know it's irrelevant but it is driving me crazy.  Kylie freaking Jenner has been wearing wigs that match my hair.

 Buzzfeed is posting list after list of "Festival Hair" which is pastel colored hair just like mine.  I am absolutely pro people having colored hair, Team Unicorn is expanding and that makes me very happy. HOWEVER, I am angry that pastel hair is a trend.  Because trends go out.  Is pastel hair the Rachel of this decade?

Jennifer Aniston has stated that she hated the now-iconic “Rachel” haircut. | 25 Fascinating Facts You Might Not Know About "Friends"

Are people going to be saying "remember when everybody had weird colored hair?"  Like those horrible skunk stripes people did for a while?  What about those of us whose natural color IS pink?  

It's just not fair.  I have invested five years into this hair it aint no passing fancy.  Now my normal is going to be passe in probably six months.  I love all the colors, it reminds me of the Capital from Hunger Games.  Those are my people!  But damn you stupid Buzzfeed for calling it "Festival Hair." And damn you for all of these articles:
If Famous Paintings had Festival Hair
Pastel Rainbow Hair
All About Pastel Goth
Tay Swift Pastel Hair
15 Celebrities with Colored Hair  with the worst possible tag line: All the SPRING hair inspiration you need.  Spring?!?  No.  Not just the Spring of 2015.  Life.  My children have no memory of me with anything but pink hair (with occasional bouts of teal and purple).

I do not need this kind of publicity around my hair color.  Just let us dye our hair and don't make it a thing.  Don't Rachel us.

So what do I do?  Do I have to jump ship?  Go back to natural, whatever that may be?
In frustration and while I wait on a solution to present itself I will wear dreadlocks.



I'm taking this show off the road.  You're welcome to come along, but I'll need your email if you want to keep reading.
My reasons for privatizing this blog are thusly:
1. I intend to primarily post about my husband and children as a record of our lives.  Since we've been married, bought a house and have stabilized our lives to a great degree I don't feel like publicizing.
Blue apron kids

2.  The kids are getting old enough to roam outside of my eyesight and I don't feel safe advertising them publically.  We live next to a school and I don't want to make them that easy to find.
This is the main reason.  I am obsessed with kidnapping stories and terrified of human trafficking. Safety is an illusion but the least I can do at this time is reduce my phobias by making them less accessible.
Betty Lou 7 months

3.  I haven't been able to speak as candidly as I'd like and privatizing allows for that. I want to write more scathing things. 
She's got the baby blues.

4. You are all quitters and it bugs me that I'm one of the last bloggers standing. This is unrelated to privatizing but I wanted to chastise you nonetheless.
5.  I want to post about adventures without my squirrely people having access to them. You know who you are! I can't believe you're still reading this! Go away!
Rad freak snow storm in April. 44 inches in 48 hours, apparently, though it looked more like 6.

6. Hush has indicated that he would prefer my blog to be private and I concede that sometimes he knows best.
Silas failing to put on footie pajamas.

7. I want to relieve the pressure of writing for strangers. Mostly I write for my records and I want to be more braggy about my kids without worrying that I'm that parent who thinks their kids are better than everybody else's kids.  
Playing monopoly on the porch.

8. I want my kids to start reading so I want to share things that they will enjoy having recorded.
A colorful feast for the eyes.

9. I want to post about parties and events without worrying that somebody feels bad for not being included. Everybody who knows me knows that I am all-inclusive, with the exception of adulterers, but I'm tired of those social media posts that make people feel left out. So maybe privatizing will reduce that? This idea deserves a post of its own.
10. I'm tired of giving away handouts. I'll share with you but the price is my knowing who is reading. No more looky-loos and no telly-who's. 

So if you want to continue to follow along you're going to have to let me know either by commenting your email address on here or on facebook.  If you read the blog now you are welcome and invited. 

Faith Earthquakes

Hush and I were asked to give talks last week in church.  Here's mine.  I'm putting it on here for my records and to share with my family, but if you gain something from it then coolio. 
And because it's important, here were my outfit choices:

 And this is what we ended up lookin' like.

I have 4 kids, one husband, two parents, five colors in my hair, seven siblings, 9 pairs of boots and 1 faith.  As you know if you’re here, faith is not easy to come by.  Rosemary Wixom spoke of faith in her talk “Returning to Faith” on Sunday morning of Conference, which I wager is the session most widely heard, especially if you came from my family of nascence.   My younger brother tells a story of entering the mission home in the fall and on the Saturday of Conference weekend he was mystified by all the people getting suited up in their church clothes.  He couldn’t figure it out, were they going to take sacrament to people or something?  His companion told him they were going to the Saturday Conference session, and he scoffed in disbelief.  There’s no church on Saturdays!  Whoops.  We always spent Conference Saturday visiting our grandmother and evidently the “talk radio” my dad played in the car and we were unable to hear because the seven of us were bickering in the back seats was actually LDS Conference. 
I was, however, raised in the LDS faith.  I was taught about Christ and about the Plan of Happiness, then called the plan of Salvation, we were fully active and I had a fairly reasonable testimony.  My religious upbringing was not unlike that of the woman Sister Wixom discussed on Sunday morning:
She shared a story that involved a woman who was raised in the gospel, married in the temple, and loved to learn and discover truths.  While searching for truths her questions became harder, and so did the answers.  Sometimes there were no answers – or no answers that brought peace.  Eventually, as she sought to find answers, more and more questions arose, and she began to question some of the very foundations of her faith.
This story is very familiar.  Every adult who chooses to continue in the faith of their father’s goes through a process of owning that faith, and our faith evolves.  Perhaps it’s because I am currently living in the nexus of the LDS faith and therefore hear more about the faith challenges of the community, but it seems to me that many pieces of LDS history are becoming more accessible and therefore more problematic for some members.  Most of these elements are familiar – polygamy in the early church, the translation of the BoM, the history of the Pearl of Great Price. Even more recent issues such as the Book of Mormon musical coming to town, all the discussion around gay marriage, the new sizing of garments – all of these things can be stumbling blocks to even the most faithful members of the church.
I was in the SF bay area last week visiting my family.  One night around midnight the quiet house suddenly jarred.  For those of you who have been in an earthquake you are probably familiar with the rapid fire analysis your brain does when an earthquake starts.  First you think, did something hit the house or was that an earthquake?  A second more of shaking confirms earthquake.  Then you gauge the size – is it big enough to cause problems like the 1989 quake?  Or just a little bump?  Do I need to grab all four of my children and go outside?  Earthquakes are extremely disarming because you don’t know how serious it is and you have to make very quick assessments.  The earthquake last week was a few seconds long and only a 3.6, which is fairly minor.  Light fixtures swing but that’s about it.  The only injury was sustained by my sister who ran to my children.  She stepped on a Lego. 
When we are plodding along in our spiritual journeys we often run into what I like to think of as Faith Earthquakes.  These are the little shocks, the jarring bits of conflict that for some reason cause us to stumble.  Maybe something from the pulpit rubs you the wrong way.  Perhaps a member behaves in a way that is frustrating.  Maybe it’s a lesson about families and you’re sitting there being all single.  These are our Faith Earthquakes.  Now I know that the children are ready for Earthquakes because this week they participated in the Great Shake- Out earthquake drill (and earthquakes hardly ever happen in Utah).  They are prepared for any kind of shake-ups because they are taught in primary that Christ brings peace and comfort.
3rd Nephi 14 provides the counsel we need in these situations, and I want the primary children to think of a song that talks about the exact same thing: A wise man built his house upon a rock and the rain came down and the floods came up and the house on the rock stood firm.
I believe the rock in this story is Christ and the basic tenants of worshipping him: reading the scriptures and saying prayers.  Those are the foundations of my belief and personal experience has taught me that Christ, prayer and reading scriptures can help me through difficult times.
When we run into Faith Earthquakes we can take a step back and think ourselves through them:  is this an earthquake that has the power to shake my faith?  Is the earth moving under my feet, is the sky tumbling down?   Do I need to grab my children and flee?
Most of the time the answer is no, this is minor and cannot shake me away from my faith.  But in all of our lives at different times the big ones inevitably come.  And we need a plan.
A few years ago my faith was seriously shaken in a most unexpected way. 
I was again visiting my parents and staying at their home when a few police officers knocked at our door.  When I saw them I was not alarmed, I have an older brother who used to get in trouble from time to time and I expected it to be something related to him.  He’d caused my parents a lot of grief.  When they came in they told me that there had been a car accident and that my brother Nate was dead.  I’d seen Nate about a half hour before and I told them they’d made a mistake, he was just here.  But there was no mistake and the officer told me to find my parents and siblings and let them know.  I then walked up the longest staircase I’ve ever walked to tell my dad that his eldest son was dead.
When I woke him I told him that there was terrible news, the worst possible news about Nate and that the police were downstairs.  And then I prayed. 
My brother was a lot of things – clever, charming and super cool.  He was a pro skateboarder and snowboarder.  He was not married and had no children.  Nobody else was killed in the accident and there were no drugs nor alcohol involved.  Three years ago yesterday he was basically just plucked from this earth. 
Now we are taught a lot of things about death and life after death and I thought I believed and understood them.  But at this time my faith fell flat.  I didn’t know where my brother was.  He had been baptized but stopped attending church in his twenties.  He wasn’t living a righteous lifestyle – he was righteous but not righteous.  My religion tells me that he is in some version of an afterlife, but frankly my faith had not followed that leap.
The months following his death were a dark time for me.  How could my brother and I be headed to the same place if he had made so many bad choices? How could life continue with one of the eight of us just gone?  What had Nate’s 37 years meant?  I wondered if Shakespeare was right and I could not get that part of MacBeth out of my head: Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.  Out out, brief candle!  Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.  It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”  Nate’s life had not followed the traditional plan that we are taught.  Did he fail the test?  What happens when your family member fails? 
It was a pretty major faith earthquake for me.  It felt weird having his funeral in the church building where we were raised amongst the Young Men’s teachers who had worried about him.  I wondered if he had ever felt comfortable there, being a black sheep.  I wondered how much the religion divided our family.  I doubted.
But there was still light.  There were my children and my family, and we were in it together.   There were good friends.  There was the sun in the morning and the moon at night.  There were so many blessings in my life and the day still dawned whether or not I knew for sure where my brother was.  My brother’s death was a major faith shaker, but it wasn’t enough to shake me from Hope. 
My children still needed someone to take them to primary so that they could learn about Christ and hope.  Elder Uchdorf counsels us to doubt our doubts.  And so, with a heart laden with questions and doubts, we continued to go to church. 
Sister Wixom shared a story from the writings of Mother Teresa.  In a 1953 letter, Mother Teresa wrote: “Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself—for there is such terrible darkness within me. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.’ Ask Our Lord to give me courage.”
Archbishop PĂ©rier responded: “God guides you, dear Mother; you are not so much in the dark as you think. The path to be followed may not always be clear at once. Pray for light; do not decide too quickly, listen to what others have to say, consider their reasons. You will always find something to help you. … Guided by faith, by prayer, and by reason with a right intention, you have enough.”5
I like to think of faith as a pyramid.  There are pieces of religion and truth that I do not yet know or understand about my faith, there are holes in my pyramid.  Goethe wrote, “It is the nature of grace to fill the places that have been empty.”  That’s why I’m here – to find a way to fill those holes and make my pyramid impervious to Faith Earthquakes.   I believe that Christ fills in those holes – that He is the bridge over the troubled parts and that I can be strong in Him.
So I don’t have perfect faith, but Christ said in 2nd Corinthians “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  We are all far from perfect, but the scriptures are full of imperfect people.  Jacob was a cheater.  Peter had a temper.  David had an affair.  Noah got drunk.  Jonah ran from God.  Paul was a murderer. Martha was a worrier.  Thomas was a doubter.  Moses stuttered.  Zaccheus was short.  Abraham was old.  And Lazarus was dead.  That is the type of ward I want to belong to: spiritual giants, followers of Christ despite their weaknesses, flawed people who come to church seeking to be made whole.  The Church I want to belong to isn’t a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken and humbled. 
Christ surely has enough grace for the rest of us who come upon Faith Earthquakes.  I belong here, learning about Christ and worshipping Him, and so do you.
In the meantime, between now and when we know everything and are totally perfect, we have to find what President Monson calls “Joy in the Journey” which is similar to the Japanese concept Wabi-sabi.   Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.  I think this world view beautifully applies to faith: our faiths are works in progress, continuously changing – for the better if we nourish them, for the worse if we dwell on the things we do not know.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland counseled “Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.”9  The standing strong is the part that impresses me most.  Wabi Sabi essentially means to find beauty in the “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.”   
If Mother Teresa could live her religion without all the answers and without a feeling of clarity in all things, maybe we can too.  And maybe we can find the beauty in our weaknesses and imperfections because those weaknesses are where we need the light of Christ most.    “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
I bear testimony that I need Christ to fill in all of my cracks and to carry me through my earthquakes.