This Year’s Resolution: Read the Bible! Well, maybe not all of it this year . . .

I told you that I would sometimes tune in on Sunday and so here I am.

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This year I have decided to take on the Bible.  Somehow I would like to involve my children although I haven’t figured out how yet.  This morning, as I was reading, Deborah asked to sit on my lap so I read to her as I held her.  We talked about how Adam cleaved unto his wife and what it means to cleave–to hug, to hold close, to cherish.  “It’s kind of like what we are doing now,” I explained.  She was completely on board with cleaving.  She always has been.  It’s kind of funny how children are just born knowing what they should be doing.

I’ve also decided to keep a little Bible journal.  I think it’s good to read scriptures with a purpose.  As I’m reading it, I’m wanting to know what the Bible teaches about families.  How can I be a better wife?  How can I be a better mother?  How can I be a better sister and a daughter?

So here goes.  The first verse of the Bible?  “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

My footnotes in my scriptures say that in Hebrew, create also means shaped, fashioned, divine activity, organized, formed.  Isn’t the interesting?  That creation means organizing?

For years I have believed that the creative and the organized are at odds with each other.  The artist can‘t be tied down to rules or systems or structures but must be allowed to be live in chaos.  Boundaries cannot be formed.  However, the insight in this verse has changed my thinking so much so that I asked an artist about it when I interviewed her for the Deseret News.

Me:  In Genesis, when it talks about the Creation, “create” in Hebrew means to organize. And yet we see creative people and organized people on opposite ends of the spectrum. Is there a way that you have reconciled that as an organizer and a creator? How do you see that relationship?

Artist (Emily McPhie):   It rings so true to me. The first time I heard that, I thought, “Oh, that makes more sense of what I do.” I definitely feel like I am more of an assembler than a creator. You know, I take scrap and paint from it. I take pictures or pull images out of magazines or off the Internet and I piece them together. There’s a lot of organization to it, and I feel more that I’m piecing things together as opposed to just creating straight out of my head. I don’t pick up a brush, dip it in paint and start going.”

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One of Emily’s gorgeous paintings. LOVE her work.

So artists create order out of chaos.  This revelation has been profound for me because I struggle with structure and with systems.  Organizing often feels like drudgery while the idea of “creating” sounds like so much more fun.

But we as women are co-creators with our Heavenly Father.  We bring children into this world and must organize a world for them with order, structure, and purpose.  We organize a home and we create systems as well—chore systems, bedtime routines, and rules with consequences.   We need flashes of inspiration as well as discipline to carry these out.  (You can guess what part I’m better at).

Which is probably why I loved artist, Emily’s answer when I asked her how she found balance.

EM: That’s the million-dollar question. What I get asked most, “How are you a mom and an artist? How do you do it all?” and I want to say, “Do I do it all?” I wish I could say I did. No, it’s hard, it takes a lot of really hard work. You have to really, really want it, because it’s enough of a job to keep your house clean and your children fed. That’s full time. And to make room for art, you just have to have your house in order, none of this crazy artist who’s just free. That’s unreal. That’s unrealistic. You have to have your house in order. You have to have chore charts or whatever it is that you need today to get things back into balance, and it’s always changing; it’s always something else. Take your sketchbook with you while you take your children to dance lessons. You have to figure it out: How can I make this work?

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Does this not say it all? The woman is balancing an entire circus on her head! Notice that she has a very strong neck!

I was just at a friend’s house for a church meeting and she has four beautiful baskets placed in front of her fireplace.   Some of the baskets had books or small articles of clothing in them.  I asked her what the baskets were for.  She explained to me that each child had a basket.  When she found things that belonged to one of her children, she put it in his basket.  (And I’m not being gender neutral here.  It’s always his when it comes to messes.)  When the children came home from school, she asked each child to put away everything in his basket.  My friend had created a system here—a system that invited both order and beauty into her home.

I want to strive to do more of this myself.  So as I read about each creative period, I’m reading it with the idea that I am also a co-creator.  What can the Lord teach me about creating a beautiful place for my family?

Have you read much of the Bible?  Want to give it a go this year?

What systems have worked well in your home?

So Long, Farewell.

Yes, I’m afraid it’s true.  I’m not showing up here very much anymore.  I’ve been meaning to tell you, but break ups are hard to do.

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It’s not you.  It’s me.  I have precious few hours in my week to write.  Another door opened for me, and I’ve got to walk through it.  That just doesn’t leave as much time for us, does it?  I’ll try to drop a line on Sundays.  Wouldn’t mind hearing from you too.

It’s so weird because when I look at where people are who are reading my blog, they’re from all over the world.  Saudia Arabia, Ireland, Australia, China, but sometimes I think WordPress is just making that stuff up to keep me blogging.  But if WordPress is telling the truth, could you drop me a line?  I’m dying to get to know you.  beckyblackburnwrites@gmail.com.

Some last thoughts?  I know I’ve written a lot about being a mom of five.  Been going through some growing pains right now.  Running errands, making dinner, filing bills—yeah, I really don’t like any of that.  Do you?  Am I the only woman not built for this job?

I still do it all, but sometimes I get restless and antsy.  Sometimes I want to be a bigger part of the conversation out there. Then I have nights like tonight where what I’m doing all feels so right.

On Mondays, we have Family Home Evening, something our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon church) asks families to hold every Monday night.

We share a lesson, play a game, have a treat.  It’s all quite simple, but yet sometimes it’s hard.  Tonight went so wonderfully though.  Davy and the captain gave a lesson they had prepared on agency (free will).  We talked about why God allows evil to exist in the world.  It was funny because at that moment, it didn’t seem like evil did exist.  I felt like we were protected, safe from it—at least for that moment.  My children are going to have to face a lot of challenges in this life, but hopefully they will remember these sweet times together and that will give them strength.

We then played a fun game called Timeline and as we sat there gathered around that little coffee table, and as the children were laughing, I couldn’t help but think, “This is right.  This is where we are supposed to be.  This is what we are supposed to be doing.”

We were so peaceful with one another which is so —unlike us.  We are like any other family with our share of fights and disagreements and whininess (I’m the biggest whiner of us all), but I really felt like the Lord was with us tonight.  Everyone was so sweet with each other and everything felt so peaceful, and I just wanted to write about it before I forgot about it.

When are your best family moments?

Again, I would love to hear from you.  If you have questions or comments, e-mail me at beckyblackburnwrites@gmail.com

13 Signs That You’re Getting Older

 

1.  While other people made New Year’s resolutions to spend less time on social media, you are resolved to learn how social media works. 

You finally understand FaceBook only to find out that it is no longer hip.  You try to ignore the correlation between your mastery of the network and its sudden nosedive.  You finally start using Instagram only to find it overloaded with pictures of a skinny chic who’s always eating ice-cream.  And you don’t like her.

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  2. Your kids don’t like you anymore.

Your five-year-old may still still smitten with you, but your fifteen-year-old has to keep explaining to you why you’re the lamest parent on the block.  His friends get more allowance.  His friends stay up later.  His friends have cooler video games.  You just nod at him and tell him to take out the trash.

 3. You go to your 10 year high school class reunion only to realize that you are at your 20 year high school class reunion.

You cannot believe it.  It’s been twenty years since you thought you were all that–slamming locker doors, strutting down the hall, flirting with the teacher’s aide so you could get another day to turn in your late assignment.  But now here you are–eating cold chicken at an elks lodge, trying to remember people’s names, insulted that so many people seem to have forgotten yours.  You look with horror at your classmates that look so old and ask the younger looking ones if they’re using Botox.  You meet your old boyfriend’s wife.  She graduated in 2011.

4.  You have an expensive exercise bike in your bedroom which you never use.

You have an expensive exercise bike in your bedroom which you never use.  You also have a weight set, a dozen Pilates and yoga tapes, a calorie counter on your phone, and you wonder why you lose your phone so much.  Every few years you sell all of your equipment at a yard sale.  Then you buy better and more expensive equipment, but you don’t use that either.

5. Sandra Bullock is your champion.

You love everything Sandra Bullock does and every movie that she’s in.  You love that she’s so real and funny and that she jokes that she’s getting old at the Golden Globe awards.  You think she’s your best friend even though you two have never actually met. You start a fan blog for her and connect with a lot of other middle-aged women.  The lot of you take a bus to her ranch in Texas and hope she’ll invite you in for dinner.  Unfortunately, she’s off in Fiji with her new twenty-something boyfriend. And then you cry.

6.  You can’t understand why Bilbo Baggins left the shire.

You wonder why in the world Bilbo left his perfect little hole in the ground.  You love his round door, the fine rich woodwork, his pantry stuffed with hams, breads, and fine cheeses.  You love his pipe even if you’ve never smoked one before, and you hum along when the dwarves sing their middle earth songs.

But you can’t understand what Bilbo was thinking when he left on such a ridiculous adventure.  He’s probably already got the home paid off for crying out loud.  You don’t bother to go to the second hobbit movie because you’re not going to get to sit by his cozy fire and dragons give you headaches.

7. Your friends start calling you middle-aged. 

Your friend calls you middle-aged, and when you tell her you don’t appreciate it, she reminds you that she is the same age as you are.  Given that she looks ten years younger and weighs ten pounds less than you do, this does not make you feel better.

8. You opt for the Alaskan cruise instead of the Caribbean cruise

You know one thing, and that is that your husband does not need to see a bunch of women in bikinis.  You like that your tour agents tells you to bring lots of layers–sweaters, jackets, boots and grateful that these very layers will hide that fact that you plan on eating lobster, filet mignon, and baked Alaska every night of your trip.

You’d much rather be stuffed on a tour bus and see glaciers than swim with sting rays.  You also like that almost everybody on the ship, including your husband, has gone to bed by 10:30 which for the first time in years makes you a party animal. You don’t know what to do with yourself so you push buttons in the elevator for a half an hour, going up and down, up and down, until the lobster still sitting in your stomach tells you it’s time to call it a night.

9. You buy expensive skin care products but you forget to put them on.

Sorry dear, but Mac and NuSkin do you no good if they are put away in your drawer.  The problem is you don’t remember which drawer you put them in.  Your wrinkles are duking it out with your creeping dementia and unfortunately, your dementia is winning.

10.   You read teen fiction because it makes you feel young again.

You like that these young heroines have so much physical energy and can climb trees, jump over walls, and run like the wind.  You opt to read about these feats of strength instead of actually doing them yourself.  You envy the girl because everyone appreciates that she just saved the world when no one appreciates that you just cleaned your kitchen.   You don’t understand how so many boys are in love with her when she’s so mouthy and opinionated.  It’s certainly not working for you.

11. You are offended by a lot of teen fiction because parents get no respect.

While you love your teen heroes, you can’t believe how much they talk back to their parents.  You wonder why the heroine is so utterly awesome and the parents are such total losers.  You wish she wouldn’t use bad language, get tattoos, sneak into boys’ bedrooms, and storm off on her parents when they’re giving her a first class lecture.  You also wish she’d clean up around the house a little more.  You’re upset that the parents have to be killed off or at least gotten out of the way so that the heroine/hero can actually grow up into a fine human being.  What?!!

12.  If you do venture out into something athletic you need to bring a lot of extra equipment.

Did you remember to bring your knee pads?  Your back strap?  Your neck brace?  If you didn’t, you better bow out of this basketball game.  Even if you did remember to bring it all, you might still consider your medical deductible and the deductibles of those around you.  After all you’re barely on board with this game as it is, and the last thing you want to do at the end of the night is fork over a thousand dollars for a broken leg.  With that kind of money, you could buy you two snow blowers, which would not only save you lots of shoveling time, but also reduce your lower back pain.

13.  PBS is your favorite channel.  Hands down.

Enough said.  Oh, and you’re just dying to go on that Viking River Cruise.

How did you score?

0-3 You’re still a baby!

4-6  You’re o-kay now, but you might want to hit the gym.

7-9   Give the Caribbean a go.  Try scuba diving with sharks, go parasailing, and swim from St. Thomas to Antigua.  This is your last chance before arthritis sets in.

10-14  Congratulations!  You now can get the senior citizen discount?

What signs have got you worried that you’re getting older?


What Do I Need? An iPad or a MacBook Air?

Oh goodness, I haven’t written for almost a week.  I’ve been too busy brushing my children’s teeth. Oh, and our computer are pretty broken down too.  You wouldn’t believe how much harder it is to post things when your computers aren’t working.

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On Sunday, a big black blotch appeared on the top of our laptop’s screen.  I set it down, and then a crack came down the screen.  Shortly thereafter, the whole half of the left screen was out.

I was so worried that it was my fault.  The captain has not appreciated the casual way I treat computers.

When Ben announced the broken screen to me, I said, “Do you think we can keep this from you dad until Friday?”

I’m really wanting an iPad for my birthday (which is on Friday), but the captain subscribes to the outdated notion that you shouldn’t get new toys if you haven’t been taking care of your old ones.

Anyway, the captain discovered the screen for himself on Tuesday.  He was surprising calmly but sorely disappointed.   To my relief, he announced that the screen had been broken because a child had thrown a wooden block at it.  Well, thank goodness! I knew I hadn’t gone that far. In fact, it was probably one of the neighbors.  My children and I are very good at blaming things on the neighbors.

Unfortunately, the captain did say to me, “See why I don’t think we should get a new laptop?”  Of course, I wasn’t thinking that at all.  I never liked our laptop anyway, so this seemed a great opportunity to get a new one.

I’m not quite sure what I need.  I want to get an iPad with a keyboard, but I also want to use it to keep a journal, post blog posts sometimes, and who knows? Maybe write a novel?  It would be awfully nice if 32 gigabytes could do the job, but the salesman was quite convinced that I needed at least 64 and that I probably needed the MacBook Air (which only costs another $400).  Please, I need some advice!

This is all I want my Apple device to

1) Keep me organized

2) Be easy to take everywhere yet never get lost

3) Keep a journal

4) Help me write my million dollar novel (or just write it for me).

5)  Check e-mails, order things online.

6)  Make blogging super easy!  (Taking great pictures would help.)

Anybody use any Apple products?  What do you have?  What do you love and hate about it?  Friday is approaching!

Shopping with Boys

On New Years Day, we went to the Dillard’s sale with the rest of Utah County. I took my husband and two of our boys, and when we got there at 10:45, the parking lot was packed. We went straight to the men’s shoe section to find that the locusts had already taken them. Ben asked if we could leave now.

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The captain struck out on his own, and I went to find a pair of  30″ W 34″ L pants. That’s what size Ben is, and apparently there weren’t any pants of that size in the store.  We looked for a few shirts, and when we finally found some things that didn’t elicit a strong reaction from him, I told him to go into the dressing room to try them on.

“What?!!  You want me to try these on?”  he asked incredulously.

“That’s the idea,” I said.

“I’m not, no matter what, I’m not trying these on.”

“Well can you just try on a couple shirts just to be sure?”

“Fine,” he said as he walked into the dressing room because of course he was doing me the favor.

The captain was gone a long time, but he finally came back.  “I found these pants,” he said.

“But I thought you were a 32″ length.”

“Oh,” he said.  I handed him some 32″ length pants, and he held them up to his waist and protested.  “But look how long they are on me.”

“Honey, can you try them on please?”

“You want me to try them on?”  he asked.  Hadn’t I just had this conversation?

“Yes, honey.  Go find a dressing room.”

Ben liked a few of the shirts, but only if they were dark blue or grey because heaven help the boy if people actually noticed him. Davy, on the other hand, was disappointed that they didn’t have any brightly colored shirts in his size.

We decided Davy might have better luck in the boys’ section, and as soon as we got there he said, “Cool!  Pink and purple shirts!”  but none of them were the right size either.  Turns out he is both too small and too large for Dillard’s.  He was somewhat satisfied by a fluorescent green shirt we found, and then we went back to Ben who was lying dead in the hall of the dressing room.

I was sure I had killed him, but I made him try on some Levi’s anyway.

“I am NOT trying on any jeans,” he said as I handed them to him and pushed him back into the dressing room.  He tried on three pairs and was so exhausted by the end that he offered no resistance when I asked if I could buy him a pink shirt. The lines were way long, and the boys were super hungry and grouchy and iPhones had to be lent out on the way home to buy their silence.

The whole day had been shot, they told me (three hours to be precise, which is incidentally the same time they can play the Xbox and tell me they just barely started).

The captain was a pretty good sport about it all, but I could tell he had reached his limit too.  All the kids and cousins were going sledding that afternoon.  I had planned on having a quiet afternoon at home while the captain took them, but it was clear that that was not going to happen.  He needed some caveman time in his garage to recuperate so yeah!  I got to take the kids sledding!  I can’t wait until Dillard’s sale next year.

Question:  Are pink shirts okay for guys.  I LOVE them, but some cavemen I know had a few concerns . . .

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It’s Time for Confessions . . .

I took the kids to the dentist yesterday.  Dental appointments don’t usually provide positive feedback on my job performance as the head mama around here.

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He looks like he has great teeth. Don’t let him fool you.

I suppose we’re allowed to drop the ball on a few things although helping your kids brush their teeth is actually pretty important.  Also pretty basic.  The thing is I’m just so wiped out at the end of the day that I just hope the kids find their way to their beds.  (So yeah, I also get a thumbs down on tucking them in too.)

Sometimes after I’m in bed, I get up to check on them just to make sure that they are all there.  Usually they are.  Sometimes we find a straggler hiding in the computer room which means we’re also flunking internet safety 101.

Anyway, getting back to this whole teeth brushing thing.  I think I should get some credit for making sure that we have toothpaste and fluoride and dental floss and all that stuff in the house.  What they choose to do (or not do) with the dental hygiene supplies is their business.

Still, I was pretty upset when the dentist told me that my seven-year-old has four cavities.  Not only that, but they were in the same place that the cavities were last time which means our insurance won’t cover it.   (So no, we didn’t learn our lesson nor do I appreciate our insurance company acting like they have the moral high ground here.)

My eleven-year-old also has four cavities.  I’m the kind of parent that believes in doling out harsh (and frequently unenforced) consequences more than I believe in helping my kids do things they are perfectly capable of doing on their own.  So we’re calling a moratorium on candy until the next dental visit or until some Wiley Wallaby Watermelon licorice finds it ways into our house.  We also have a reliable Cub Scout den leader, and I’m thinking about paying him $10 a week to brush and floss Ricky’s teeth every night.   And while he’s at it, he can put him in his pajamas.

So now that I’ve got that confession off my chest, I should let you know that I also drag my feet at picking up my fifteen-year-old from basketball practice.  He’s used to hearing, “Can’t you walk?” or “Isn’t there anybody else that can drive you home?” or even worse, “Sure, I’m just finishing up something. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Oh, and also, I don’t recycle.

Let the becky bashing begin!

What confession do you want to make?  Don’t worry.  I’m very understanding.

Welcome to Our Land of Oz. Christmas 2013

The Neighborhood Halloween Parade

Even witches have standards when it comes to doing their hair–

Our wizard: No charlatan but the real deal.  Pulls fish hooks out of boy scouts, makes chessboards in woodshop, and juggles new banking regulations.   He’d love to hear from you!

Our witch:  Tries to be the good witch, but she has her days.  No longer changes diapers and will soon be done with car seats.  Loves this season of her life.  Her favorite mathematical equation: Uno + tennis + piano > spit up.

Our flying monkey (14):  Not good at taking orders from the witch.  Flies to scouts, basketball, tennis, and school.  Always flies away from the girls.  Right Ben?

Our tin man (12):  Big heart.  Loads dishwasher without being asked and helps younger siblings.  His mom worries he will soon be a heart throb; learning French and playing Beethoven.

Our scarecrow (10):  Definitely has a brain but doesn’t use it when annoying older brothers.  Math and science whiz.  Loves explosions.

Our cowardly lion (6):  Getting braver everyday.  Showers and fireworks now okay.  Balloons problematic.  Not afraid of cute babysitters.

Our Dorothy (4):  Tornados follow her wherever she goes.  Fashionista.  Outdated mom insists that outfits match.  Dorothy costume was a hard sell until she saw the ruby slippers.  Likes to hang out with the witch.  Knows there is no place like home.  We miss you all and love you!

Merry Christmas!