Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero . . .

Shout-outs (shouts-out?) to AzĂșcar, C Jane, Carrie, CC (currently of London), Eric D. (who had his own entire website before this blog was even a twinkle in my eye) and others (you know who you are, don't you?) for inspiring me to get a little more creative around here.

Let us all blog on.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I Like To Look For Rainbows

Wrangling my Sunbeam class these past two Sundays was so vexing that I had no other choice but to write a song about it.

As I approached the Primary room yesterday, a small figure streaked past me, going a hundred miles an hour in the opposite direction. Evidently, his father had not consulted him as to whether he actually wanted to attend Primary, but had merely deposited him and then quickly departed (with a small sigh of relief, perhaps?) to a classroom unknown. My little friend was having none of it. I gave chase, pausing for the end of the opening prayer in a chapel-held Gospel Doctrine class as my Sunbeam dashed between rows of benches and out the far door, his cry of "NOOOOOOOO!" echoing behind him. When I finally caught up with him, he was in no mood for my sweet-talking, nor my reasoning. At long last, the promise of a "special surprise" got him headed back to the classroom, but he was obviously very skeptical. (And with good reason. I didn't think a crumpled sticker from the bottom of my Primary bag was all that special, either, though it would be surprising to find one there.)

As I wrestled to persuade my escapee to remain seated, my littlest class member was dropped off by her mother, and I turned to say hello. She, who usually springs onto my lap and fights off other would-be lap sitters with surprising ferocity for one so small, looked up and gave me the biggest scowl I've ever seen on such a sweet little face. Somehow, in the first five seconds of our interaction, I had fallen from her good graces, and remained so throughout the rest of our time together. Perhaps it was just as well, as last week it was only after she'd been sitting on my lap that I realized she hadn't been forthcoming about her urgent need to take a trip to the ladies' room. At least I'd been wearing my black skirt.

As I kept a watchful eye throughout Sharing Time on the two aforementioned Sunbeams (who, while the rest of the Primary sweetly sang "I Like To Look For Rainbows," had thrice attempted escape), I felt a curious warmth on my chest. Looking down, I saw a little arm, and the little hand attached to it squeezing my right breast. Evidently, the Sunbeam sitting next to me, a visitor whose name I'd not yet learned, was not going to let a lack of formal introduction keep him from making himself as comfortable as possible.

When at last the time came to separate for classes, my two scowling friends, fresh from their latest botched escape attempt, exclaimed loudly (and, impressively, almost in unison):

"BUT I DON'T WANT TO GO WITH HER!!!"

"Funny," said the Primary President, "They loved you last week."

"Yeah. Funny."

Once inside the classroom, things went even more rapidly downhill. The friendly visitor had a meltdown, and kicked (accidentally?) my gimpy knee. They didn't want to color. They didn't want to sing. A story? How dare I even suggest it! It was the most acute case of Preschooler PMS I'd ever seen.

They did, however, all want to go to the bathroom. At least that much they agreed upon. I'd only opened the door a crack when one of the boys pushed through and took off down the hall at lightning speed. I caught up with him just in time to see the men's room door swing shut; "I CAN DO IT MYSELF!" echoing from within. When he emerged a minute later, the front of his pants appeared to disprove his earlier exclamation.

It was at this point that I started to compose my song. Its tune is a simple one, and perhaps someday I will post the accompaniment, but for now:

I Do Not Ever Want To Go To Church Again

I do not ever want to go to church again
I'd rather stay at home
I'd rather be alone

I do not ever want to go to church again
I'm not a jungle gym
I'd rather sing a hymn

All alone
In my home

I do not ever want to go
'Til in hell there is some snow
I do not ever want to go to church again!


I hummed my song as I searched for a parent to help restore the pants to their former state, and as I wrestled my unwieldy group back into their classroom.

Once inside, a miraculous change occurred. Had they said they hadn't wanted to color? Ridiculous! That's what they wanted to do more than anything in the world! A story? They thought I'd never ask! Songs? Why, they knew all the lyrics, and then some!

Except for the lyrics to my song. But I think I'll keep those to myself.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Mohawk in Manhattan

One early summer day in New York, I was headed to the Times Square subway station when I noticed a small crowd ahead. As I got closer, I could see that the group of people were gathered around Mr. T, who was decked out in all his Mr. T glory. By the time I reached him, the crowd had dissipated somewhat, and he looked up from signing an autograph.

"Hey, Mr. T!" I said, giving him a smile and wave as I passed.

"Well, hello there, little lady!" he responded, giving me a megawatt Mr. T grin.

At my favorite Indian restaurant later that night, I told my friend about my A-Team encounter.

"Did you get his autograph?"

"No."

"Wasn't he offended?"

"I don't think so."

"I bet he was. After you left, I bet he said: 'I pity the fool who doesn't ask for my autograph!'"

Somehow I doubt it. But I think that, of my several celebrity sightings while living in the Big Apple, exchanging grins with Mr. T was my favorite.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Misanthrope and Her Pool

This just in: Money can buy happiness!

For the past week I've been spending a great deal of quality time with my latest (and perhaps greatest) purchase. Allow me to introduce you!



I call her AJ for short. I strap her around my waist, and hop into the pool. She keeps my head above water in the deep end so I can exercise without any knee stress. She is truly the loveliest of inventions!

I've been slipping into the pool around 4pm every day. The apartment complex is quiet, the sun is low, and there's usually a lovely, water-rippling breeze. Often, two or three bunnies come to keep me company; hopping around on the grass near the gate. I know I look completely ridiculous; my swimcapped head bobbing along the surface of the water, but I don't care. It feels fantastic, and I get a lot of good thinking done to boot!

Until yesterday. As I took my first step down into the deep end, I heard the squeak of a sliding glass door. Glancing up, I saw a man peering down at me from his balcony.

"Just jump in! It won't be so cold if you just jump in!"

I gave him a courtesy smile, and continued my slow descent.

"Seriously, just jump! It can't be that cold!"


"It's pretty cold."

"Aw, come on! It's not as cold as the ocean! Why don't you get a full wetsuit? Then you wouldn't be so cold!"

At this point, I decided on the "if I'm not looking at you then you're not there" approach. It worked for about 5 seconds.

"See, it's not so cold, is it?? Ya shoulda just jumped in!"

I began my laps. Five minutes later, I looked up, and he was still there, staring down at me.

"How is it now? You're used to it now, I bet! Not so cold now, is it!"


Today, I managed to make it into the pool with no sign of Mr. Balcony. Just as I was breathing a sigh of relief, I heard:

"Hey!"


Looking up at Mr. Balcony's balcony, I saw a girl staring down at me.

Two minutes later, the girl appeared at the gate wearing her swimsuit and carrying a large red inner tube.

"Hey! I forgot my key! Can you get out and let me in?"


She grabbed the gate and shook it. As I stared up at her, an elderly gentleman with keys walked by, and let her in.

"Hey, is it cold in there? I bet it's cold!"

"It's a little cold."

"I guess I better just jump in, then!"


She and her inner tube came hurtling towards me, landing almost on top of me with a gigantic splash.

"Awesome! It's not cold! It feels totally warm! It's not EVEN cold!"

The elderly gentleman peered at us through the gate.

For the next twenty minutes, she shrieked and splashed as if she were playing with a school of friendly dolphins, all the while exclaiming:

"It's WARM in here! It's not EVEN cold! Not EVEN!"


She swam closer and closer until she was diving and paddling mere inches from me. At one point, she strapped on some goggles and put her face in the water, staring straight at my stomach.

"Hey! What's that thing around your waist? Why are you wearing that thing?"

The elderly gentleman, who had disappeared at some point, came back and peered at me through the gate.

What will happen tomorrow, I wonder? Will I meet the rest of the impressively warm-blooded Balcony family? Will the elderly gentleman throw on a pair of trunks and join us? Will my AquaJogger be an effective device with which to pummel people over the head? Repeatedly?

I may not know the answers to these questions, but I'll tell you this much: when I am rich, I will have my own pool. Balconies and red inner tubes will be prohibited, as will peering, elderly gentlemen.

And my pool will be heated. It won't be cold. Not EVEN!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Garden of Delights

I could have sworn I was in England yesterday, but for the sun (it was shining a little too brightly, you see). And then there was the bamboo path. You don't often come across those in the UK.

I'll tell you this much: if you ever visit Orange County (and I both know and like you), I will take you immediately to the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. Did you know they even existed? I didn't. Until yesterday, when my wonderful in-laws introduced me.

If you come, we will start with tea in the Rose Garden.



(But only after stopping to smell the roses.)





After scones, fruit tarts, and cucumber sandwiches (with cream cheese and watercress, I believe), we could stroll through the Shakespeare and Herb Gardens, if you'd like.







We could also stop and look at some of the statuary Henry Huntington and his wife Arabella imported from Europe. (They had a LOT of money, you see.)



Since there are 120 acres of gardens, we might need to stop and rest in the Japanese Garden.









Then, if you wanted to, we could go to the museum and look at Blue Boy. (I didn't take this picture, but he's there! I promise!)



After a few more rooms filled with John Singer Sargent, maybe you'd like to see the Gutenberg Bible, or some early Shakespeare folios.

Or, we could just sit under a tree and smell the flowers. I'll wear my rose-colored glasses.



Even though, in this place, I don't need to.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

So I decided a little while ago that I want to get more creative with my missionary endeavors. Here's the thing - I could continue to give out the Book of Mormon, but everybody's doing that! Anyway, after giving it a lot of thought, I decided that what I really want to do is to give out Brother of Jared action figures. And amazingly enough, my brother-in-law found just the place for me to get them! He was totally inspired.



This Brother of Jared action figure comes with his very own glow in the dark stones! And for an extra $9.95, you can get a carrying case for him, styled after the Golden Plates.

Here's what I'm thinking: shouldn't the Ammon action figure come with a bag full of arms?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Heal Thyself


I have issues with Western medicine.

Don't worry - if you break your arm in my presence, I won't suggest an herb poultice and some acupuncture. (Although once the cast comes off, that wouldn't be a bad idea.) However, after my last visit to the physical therapist, I was reminded of the myopic tendencies of many of those I've dealt with in the medical profession.

A very brief summary of my knee's offense is that my IT band (the muscle that runs along the outside of the thigh) is a little too short, and has been since I hit that crazy growth spurt and attained 5'9" by the 7th grade. This made for some awkward Jr. High dances, especially since the boy I liked was 5'6". (My husband informs me that he was even shorter than that at that age, which would have made dancing with him either very awkward or "totally awesome", depending on who you talk to.)

Ahem. Anyway, the muscle couldn't keep up with my bone growth, and the disparity has been pulling my kneecap out of alignment ever since. (Slipping on ice and landing on my knee as a sister missionary didn't really help either, but that's another story for another blog.) During my teen years, I didn't realize what was going on with my knee because I was dealing with the origin of my issues with Western medicine:

When I was 12, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Over the course of my adolescence, I saw many doctors, and their treatment was heavy-duty pain killers and steroids. The result was a slight reduction in pain, and a major increase in weight gain, grogginess, and depression. Eventually I decided that I'd rather live with the pain than with a body full of drugs with scary side effects. Fortunately, my mom had been on a tireless quest for alternative methods of treatment, and, in the end, the things that brought me the most relief were acupuncture, massage, herbal supplements, and prayer. I continued to treat my symptoms the non-Western way until my early 20s, when the pain began to dissipate, and ultimately (Hallelujah!) disappear almost entirely. The doctors were amazed that I suffered no joint damage, and the only symptom I have now is that I get a little achy when a storm's coming in. (I can predict the weather! It's great at parties!)

So, back to my present issues with the West. My recent knee surgery was to get rid of damaged cartilage and de-tighten the IT band (my surgeon is excellent: he's a good Westie), and then it was off to physical therapy. Throughout the next few weeks, I made a little progress, but my muscle was still extremely tight, and I was worried. Each conversation with my PT went something like this:

"So my IT band is still really tight."

"Hmmm. It shouldn't be."

"Well, it is, though. What can I do?"

"Hmmm. Well, the IT band is a really hard muscle to stretch. Are you icing and taking your anti-inflammatory?"

"Yup. So how can I stretch my IT band?"

"Well, it's a really hard muscle to stretch. Keep icing and taking your anti-inflammatory."

She finally showed me one stretch, but subsequent visits proved frustrating and painful. Doing some tearful google research one night, I came upon my salvation: a slim volume entitled Yoga for Healthy Knees. Amazingly enough, ladies and gentlemen, there are many wonderful stretches for the IT band. Many. Wonderful. Stretches. Within the first week, I started noticing a major difference. Now, 2 months later, my leg feels happier than it has in years. Am I still icing and taking my anti-inflammatory? Well, I'm icing, and once in a while I pop a pill. Certainly the surgery has a lot to do with my knee's recovery, but it wouldn't be nearly as happy without the yoga.

So, while I'm definitely not in the Tom Cruisey camp of natural healing (heaven help Ms. Holmes if she gets post-partum depression), I do think that Western medicine's approach could do with a lot less treating the body as a battleground (and smothering symptoms with drugs), and a lot more exploration of the mind/body connection, seeking out the true sources of our ailments, and working with the body to heal itself. Also, more IT band stretches.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go snack on some seaweed and aloe vera juice.