May 30, 2008
May 28, 2008
Here's the cake. Of course I made it - it's my husband! Carrot with cream cheese frosting and pecans. Moist and de-delly-licious.
And a closeup of the birthday boy. Happy belated!
May 23, 2008
I'm not attempting to mimic that spot at all here, but I had to share something just silly. Yesterday I asked Ted to forward me all the pictures of me that showed a) how beautiful I am, and b) just how charismatic I can be. I had to include two of them for a little email I sent out today. I found an ad on craigslist that was making a casting call for female scientists who were smart, energetic, and charismatic. Hello!! Yoo-hoo!!! HEY, MORONS! I'M OVER HERE!!
So I did it. I sent in what they wanted. Hey, you never know, and I didn't want to watch some cool science show in the future with a dry hostess and think "I coulda done that WAY better". I have a problem with that most awful of phrases: I wish I would have...
I guffawed at the pictures Ted sent me. I had totally forgotten about most of them, and that's where the flashback comes in. This one cracked me up. Can you imagine opening up a resume email and seeing this?
I look like such a perv! Or that I just found the most interesting shell-shaped toilet in the world and I'm concentrating on using it. Which, of course, is also perverted.
Oh, and this was on our honeymoon. Ted and I had been married about 4 days. The boy knew what he was getting himself into, but it's things like this that make me wonder if he ever considered backing out while there was still time...
May 19, 2008
Luis: (6th grader, pre-pubescent) Hey miss - I just saw you have a sweat mark on your shirt. I just saw it right now when you raised your arms.
me: Oh brother. It's just sweat. Everybody sweats - it's a fact of nature.
Luis: I don't sweat. I got people.
me: I have an announcement to make that actually doesn't concern any of you, but which I'm very excited about.
Jennifer: Are you having a baby???
entire class: AAAGHHHH OH MY GOSH YOU'RE PREGNANT THAT IS SO AWESOME ARE YOU GOING TO NAME IT AFTER ME YOU'RE NOT EVEN SHOWING ARE YOU GOING TO FINISH THE SCHOOL YEAR I'M GOING TO MISS YOU IS IT A BOY OR GIRL???!!!?
Milton (a boy, of course): I'll take care of it! You can bring it to school and I'll breast-feed it! [makes motions of holding and nursing a baby]me: [laughing hysterically] Um, no, I'm not pregnant. I just wanted to tell you guys that I passed all 3 of my CSET exams, which means that part of my teacher certification is over.
Jennifer: Oh. It'd be better if you were having a baby.
Sandra: (after I explained a project we'll be doing called "Adopt an Element") When I turn 18 I'm going to adopt a boy who's 19 and call him my baby.
me: Hm. Well, for now you've got the responsibility for an element baby.
Sandra: But an element can't love me back...
Ionie: Miss Allison, why did you put "Asses" in the test? Aren't you supposed to not swear? You always tell US not to.
me: That's "assess". It means "analyze" or "evaluate." Learn to spell.
Ionie: Oh. hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe
Surrounding students: hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe
me: Okay, okay, calm down. Get your assess back to work.
me: (Teaching about objects in space) If the moon doesn't give off its own light, and the planets don't give off their own light, what's in space that does give off light?
Students: The Sun!
me: That's one object, yes. What else gives off light?
Juan, also known as Man Whore: (grinning like a Cheshire) Your smile.
A follow-up to that one:
me: How does the moon give off light?
Steven: A bunch of people with flashlights shine them on it.
Back in February:
Milton: Miss Allison, could you keep this present in your closet until Valentime's Day?
me: I'll keep it here, yes, but you know it's ValentiNe's Day, right? With an N?
Milton: Valenti..Vale...ValentiMe's Day. Yeah, that's what I said.
You get the picture of the darlings I get to hang around with daily... More to come, I'm sure.
May 14, 2008
So, for posterity's sake, and in case my flash drive gets stolen or left in some CalState computer somewhere, here it is:
Sacrament Meeting Talk – Mother’s Day – May 11, 2008
One of my new favorite authors is a woman who writes the science column every week for the New York Times. Her name is Natalie Angier, and in addition to her informative articles, she has also written several science-related books riddled with her humor and wit. In one of them, entitled Woman: An Intimate Geography, she writes of a group of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania who purposely isolate themselves from the rest of the world. "The Hadza refuse to be domesticated, despite efforts from church and government agencies to turn them into farmers. They always return to the bush. They hate gardening! They hate milking cows! Instead, they subsist almost entirely on wild pickings – game, berries, honey, tubers…. If they see an impala, they kill an impala. If the berries are ripening 3 miles away, they move 3 miles away.”
This no-frills existence has prompted them to be studied as an almost indigenous people – untouched by civilization and societal norms. “In the United States, demographers worry about the aging of the population and the potential drain of the elderly on the wealth and patience of the rest of us. The Hadza might worry about the opposite, what would happen if they didn’t have their corps of old ladies. As the data show, postmenopausal Hadza women are the hardest-working members of the tribe. Every day they’re out in the bush, digging, poking, reaching, clambering. They gather more food than any of their comrades. They share their food with young relatives who can’t fend for themselves. When a young woman is breastfeeding a newborn and can’t forage as effectively as usual for her older children, she turns for assistance not to her mate (now where has that man got to now??) but to a senior female relative. Grandma takes up the slack and keeps the kids in baobab and tubers. Hadza children are always thin, but without an elder’s efforts, they would become too thin, Karen Carpenter thin, whenever a new sibling arrives, and they might very well die as a result. Hadza elders are truly great grandmas. They are not an option. They are not a Hallmark sentiment. In this tribe, no nursing mother lacks a postmenopausal helper.”
Isn’t this much like the Atonement? Where we lack, Someone picks up the slack, and we are deeply indebted because it is something we cannot do for ourselves.
Perhaps this seems a strange and unlikely existence in the eyes of the world. I have been a member of this ward my whole life minus the years spent in BYU singles’ wards…yikes. Never has this need for mom or grandma manifested itself more plainly to me than in the Pasadena Ward Baby Boom of the New Millenium. As every new precious bundle is birthed straight from God’s Spirit Nursery, the call of the wild mother goes out to none other than their own mother. And boy, do they hear the frantic cries. Our Relief Society room has held proud new grandmothers who have flocked from all over the country because of a simple, basic fact. The divine calling of motherhood is being passed on to a new generation, and the new grandmas want to have a chance to laugh and gloat. So they do that for about one minute, and then they get to work, doing what is most ingrained and beautiful about a woman: they hold, they rock, they calm, they sing, they teach, and they love.
The calling of motherhood is so significant that it cannot be described by one who is not a mother herself, especially in the short time I have to speak. I do not have children of my own, but there are things I have seen about this singular role. Perhaps I can paint a picture.
I teach Physical Science to 70 8th graders in a charter school in Los Angeles. Since September, I have had some great days, many moderate days, and too many rough days to count. If it has been a particularly rough day, I can almost always point a finger at my entire 4th period. They’re right after lunch. They’re loud. They talk back to me. They’re unruly. They’re best friends with each other. They’re 14, but they’re bigger than I am. I have made mistakes in my classroom management techniques when it comes to this class, but I consider it a good day when I have their attention for half the period and I haven’t had to send anyone out of the room to either quiet down or just go straight to the principal’s office.
One of the more common perpetrators is a student I’ll call “Chris” – mostly because that’s his name. Come on, when are you ever going to meet any of my students? If I just call his name to take his seat he gets on the defensive and utters the famous “Why are you always picking on me???” line, which gets a laugh out of his friends, which he was looking for in the first place, which makes me have to count to ten. And that’s on a good day. He’s the class clown, he play fights with his buddies as he walks through my door, and I can’t get him to raise his hand before he speaks for the life of me. I related the issues I was having with him to a couple of his other teachers and they said, “Call his mom. She will be here so fast. Just ask her to come to your class for a day.” The following day, he was up to his same ol’ tricks, so I quickly said, “Chris? I’m going to call your mother.” I have never seen such a look of fear and angst. “WHY????!!” he exclaimed. “Because I’m tired of this behavior,” I calmly replied. I had finally gotten to him, and it felt good. For the rest of the class, he was certainly quiet, but I noticed it was more than that. He was pretty down and obviously in his own world. I chose not to bother him about it, and I also chose not to call his mother in case he got in some serious trouble. Why pour lemon juice on it when the threat of a wound is sufficient?
Just this past Friday, Chris’ mom made an unexpected and unsolicited visit to my classroom. She works nearby and came to give Chris something he’d forgotten. I was absolutely shocked to see what I saw next. Chris turned into absolute putty. He got up from his seat, walked to the door and said “Hi Mom!” and gave her a huge hug and a kiss in front of all his friends. He kept hugging her and I think she noticed we were all watching because she turned to me and said, “Chris loves his mama.” He kissed her cheek, and her forehead, and I had to pick up my jaw off the floor. Giggling with glee, she gave him what he’d left at home and then turned to me and asked, “Now, is he giving you any trouble?” I’m not gonna lie… so I meekly mentioned that he likes to be the class clown sometimes, and that’s when Chris’ grin turned sheepish, and he admitted to his mother it was true. As I turned to the rest of the class to get them into their groups, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that she had him in a headlock while she was quietly threatening him and kissing the top of his head. He glowed for the rest of the period, and I added that day to my list of great ones.
For every Mom like Chris’, there is one that is not. Giving birth is something human females have been designed to do, but being a nurturing mother is a choice. It is not a rite of passage that accompanies pregnancy. I imagine that most women, when their new child is placed in their arms for the first time, feel a strong need to be a good mother for this new life. But it takes work. Patience. A daily dedication to do all you can. To quote a good friend, “Don’t become a mom unless you’re ready to stop being the center of attention.” Obviously, I’m not there yet. But thank heaven for the ones who are and who have done everything they can to make their children’s world a wonderful one.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “In the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, a [mother] occupies a majesty all her own in the divine design of the Creator.” God has especially designed women to fulfill an incredible potential. They are admonished to educate themselves as much as possible, to expand their talents, to serve tirelessly, to say “yes” for any task whether they have the ability or time or not. Why? So that the refiner’s fire can strip away their dross to emerge as gleaming gold educators for all future generations! Who wouldn’t want their dross stripped??
I have often been in awe of those mothers who seem to pull off all that is asked and more with aplomb. There are a lot out there. The saying, “It takes a village” wasn’t lost on me. Several friends – usually young mothers – have asked me how my own mom was able to raise ten kids. Tired of just shrugging my shoulders, I decided to ask my mom one day. After the initial groan, she said, “You know, there were some days when I just wanted to rip my hair out and cry. At that point, I had to lock myself in the bathroom with the scriptures and have a 5-minute personal devotional. Sometimes, that’s all I could do.”
Those drops of oil in a mother’s lamp seem to run dry a lot. Hope and patience can sometimes be fleeting things. Orson F. Whitney, a member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote a 144-page poem in 1914 entitled “Elias, An Epic of the Ages”. In it he paints a vision of a mother’s reward:
O thou, of beauty, loveliest form and phase!
Kindler and keeper of the quenchless flame!
Partner and peer of human majesty!
Sharing with him life’s dual sovereignty,
Well canst thou wait for thrones and diadems,
Queen of the future, Eve of coming worlds,
Mother of spirits that shall people stars,
And hail thee empress of a universe!
I’ve had that quote close to me for about 9 years now. I take it out every once in a while to remind myself not only of my eternal potential, but the kind of legacy I need to live up to.
I hope you will all indulge me on this Mother’s Day. Everyone in this room came from a mother – one of those divine Eves who shall people stars. I came from a mother, too, and I just happen to be so lucky as to be in the same ward as she.
A quick intro to my mom. To quote Cheech and Chong, she was “born in East L.A.” and has lived ‘round these parts all her life. She teaches choral music to elementary school kids in Los Angeles (they love her), and she puts as much into that job as she has everything else. She and my dad got married…a while ago…and decided to have a few kids. A few turned into ten, and all ten believe she and Dad deserve their bejeweled crowns because so far, none of the kids have killed each other OR them.
Upon finding out I’d be speaking, I emailed all my siblings and their spouses and asked them to answer a few questions. Candacy, one of Mom’s daughters-in-law, wrote “if you talk about her too much in your talk, she will kill you.” This is a true statement, so I’m going to take this chance to say: “Mom. You have ten children who adore you and who want to give you an opportunity to bask in their love for once. We have given you pain for forty years, so what’s another 10 minutes? You need to sit down, keep your mouth closed, and face the fact that your children are going to brag about you.” I’ve been wanting to say that for so long. I would have been more harsh, but I’m not allowed to say ‘shut up.’
That said, I have no desire to turn this talk into what Ted termed a Deanne-imony. But I need to address what Ted notices every time I mention the two words “my Mom” in a sentence. I get interrupted by the other person’s exclamation, “I LOVE YOUR MOTHER.” It just happened yesterday with Allison Keeney, and I giggled – internally – because I’d never had the objective view of it. I want to mention a few things that came from my family, not only as a thank-you to our mom, since she’s the only mom we’re all familiar with, but also as life lessons for all of us.
One of the questions I asked my seven brothers, two sisters, six sisters-in-law, and one husband was 1) As a parent (or potential parent), what lessons have stuck with you most that you learned directly from Mom?
If one child contracts chicken pox, then infect the others so they all get it at the same time and get it over with. It was a painful 3-4 weeks, but then she and we never had to deal with it again!
I learned how to hold a wooden spoon and that the trick to its effectiveness is all in the wrist. However, I have been able to teach my kids that wooden spoons can also be used for cooking...
All joking aside, being a good mom takes two main things according to a few of us: 1) Expect the best out of your children. 2) Make sure your children know you love them.
And to save time, smother them with kisses while you have them in a headlock!
Question #2) What's a favorite teaching moment you had with Mom, either her giving you advice or vice versa?
One morning after seminary we were getting ready for school. We knelt down to say prayers before scurrying for the car. One girl, I remember, said the prayer super fast to get out of seminary "early" that morning and when called upon by mom to say it for the family I decided to use her example, barely understandable, in about 7 seconds. After "amen" I looked up and everyone was excited to get going so quickly, except for mom. She gave me "the look" and says with all intensity that I will never forget, "Don't ever say your prayer like that again!", and I could feel her eyes lasering a hole through my pupils. That moment flashes through my mind before every prayer.
Once, when I was in Kindergarten, Mom was cutting my hair in the kitchen. I saw something outside that made me exclaim, “Oh my God.” After mom pulled the scissors out of my ear she said, “Where did you hear that?” I said, “From the teachers at school.” She explained to me that we don’t say that, and why. I remember that lesson clearer than any I ever had at church.
I remember my own OMG experience. I was about 7 or 8 and I had opened a box that had a gorgeous hand-painted wooden treble clef, so of course I exclaimed the way I heard everyone exclaim. Mom grabbed my arm, marched me right into the bathroom and stuck a bar of Zest into my mouth. I had learned my lesson, and it only took me a few months to get over the lye poisoning.
This should make you happy, Mom, that you’ve fooled so many for so long. When I asked the question “When did you realize that Mom was (gasp!) not perfect?” a few wrote back in capital letters and multiple question marks, “SHE’S NOT???” and then followed it up with a “just kidding”.
Eric’s short answer: “She buzzed part of the front of my hair off.”
Several children commented on the lateness of her arrival when it came time to be picked up from school, choir practice, Scouts, Young Women, seminary, basketball, friends’ houses, etc. I guess I didn’t mind so much. There was always some cute boy to kiss to pass that time.
However, my realization of her imperfection did come. My parents were both grammar Nazis growing up, so if your sentence structure has ever been corrected by one of us, please accept my deepest apologies. It’s ingrained. I used to get letters on my mission from Mom, and talk about poor grammar. The whole thing would be a flurry of fragmented sentences – just a bullet point list of the latest happenings:
· Painters came. Fixed the trim.
· Shannon crashed car
· Dad got another award
· Gary still waiting for mish call
· We love Candacy. Christian finally met match
And at the end of every letter, “Love you, miss you, but DON’T COME HOME EARLY!” And to be fair, they may have been bullet-pointed, but those letters came every week for every missionary. I did some calculations: that’s 962 letters, plus packages every Christmas and birthday. And THOSE were on time.
Jesus Christ admonished us all to “be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect.” You’re close, Mom, but according to your children, you won’t reach perfection until you 1)use complete sentences in your letters and emails, 2)let Shannon do whatever she wants, and 3)stop tooting in the kitchen when you think no one can hear you.
I wasn’t surprised at the response I got from all those who married into our family, God bless their souls. You may not be their blood mother, but they love you and everything you do and are. It’s amusing and common to make fun of one’s mother-in-law, but Ted’s the only one who did. At least you have daughters-in-law who love you.
God designed mothers to be our teachers, our nurturers, and in many cases, our best friends. It has been that way since time began, and it will be that way into the eternities. I couldn’t help but feel a kinship with Sister Marjorie Hinckley when I read a letter she wrote to her family after she and “Gordon” had moved from Salt Lake to Denver. She was writing about the possibility of coming to visit with their third baby.
“I don’t feel too terribly enthused about spending a week over there if Mother would not be home. Not that I wouldn’t like to see Daddy and the girls. I’m simply bursting to see them and have them see the baby, but then they would be away mostly in the day and well, you know how it is with Momma. Take away Momma and what have you got? The house seems so darned empty just thinking about it. Guess you should have been twins, Mother, so you could divide yourself up more easily. You’re quite all right, what there is of you, but there just isn’t enough of you.”
I love you, Mom. I am absolutely honored to have a best friend like you.
For the most part it appears the CD is dead. Napster was one of the first nails in the CD coffin, iTunes was another and other nails are being hammered in everyday. There is one place, however, that still makes me yearn for that shiny polycarbonate disc. Amoeba Music. This place is a sacred shrine to all that is music. When I enter its doors all I want to do is open my wallet and empty out all my cash in exchange for CDs, CDs and more CDs.
May 5, 2008
She and I are of the same mind when it comes to the hymns. I am fond of many of the "familiar" hymns we sing in church, but I think there are way too many unsung heroes as well. Well, Janet finds places for them every week, and I can't recall the last time our congregation sang "Count Your Blessings" or "Choose the Right". Let's just say it's been a LONG time. And I admit, I like it that way. Janet refuses to play anything from what she calls "the sunshine section", and there are several more she won't touch because of their hokey factor. Instead, we get all the great and grandiose hymns that sound awesome on that full pipe organ: "All Glory, Laud and Honor", "All Creatures of Our God and King" "Praise to the Lord the Almighty", etc etc. Spreading the love is totally our bag, baby.
But then Janet went on a trip for her youngest daughter's graduation, and she left Kelly in charge of the pipes. Ohhh.....Kelly. Kelly is getting his DMA at USC this summer; he's an incredible musician, he's been living at my parent's house for the past several years, we've become good friends, and he knows just how to get under my skin.
He was allowed to pick whatever hymns he wanted while Janet was gone, so he took the liberty of choosing one he knew she and I wouldn't have: "In Our Lovely Deseret".
If any of the readers of this blog like/love that hymn, either accept my apology for what I'm about to say or...leave and come back after I've posted something else.
I can't stand the lyrics of that hymn. I made such a stink before the meeting started that Kelly, laughing the whole time, said he would change it if I REALLY wanted to. Well, I REALLY wanted to, but the meeting had already begun, numbers were already up, and Ted said it would be good for me to direct a hymn I couldn't stand. He even went as far as to say he'd be really mad if I changed it.
I should have changed it.
I get up to the podium and start directing away. I had a smirky smile on my face during the first verse, but got through it fine. And then the second verse started - you know what I'm talking about. That infernal verse with the lyrics that go:
That the children may live long
And be beautiful and strong,
Tea and coffee and tobacco they despise,
Drink no liquor, and they eat
But a very little meat;
They are seeking to be great and good and wise.
What was Eliza R. Snow THINKING??? I let out a bit of a giggle at "despise" because it seems so awkward to me that the word is present in any of our sacred hymns, but I had totally lost it at "very little meat". I would have composed myself within a few seconds were it not for seeing my mom in the congregation just giggling uncontrollably. Her face was red, her shoulders were shaking, and she was half-hiding behind her hymnbook. I tried to look away, but the damage was already done. I had two and a half verses to go! I'm in front of the whole congregation! I'm not allowed to lose it! But there I was, laughing away, arm waving (on beat, I might add) and Kelly at the organ, just grinning away. I saw people near guffaws in the congregation, and one usually classy, reverent woman admitted she laughed out loud.
See???? I told you not to choose that hymn! This is what happens!!!
In researching this most recent embarrassing moment, I realized I had little to be upset about. It turns out lots of people don't like the hymn and have even made up alternative words to it. In fact, people have made up LOTS of alternative lyrics to well-loved hymns. I may laugh profusely during Sacrament Meeting, but changing sacred lore is something I'd never do. (My tongue is securely stapled to my cheek)
But come on! This hymn was written in the latter half of the 1800s! It's time for an overhaul (read: throwing out) of that hymn and several others. I went down the list of hymns Sister Snow has penned, and you know what else was in there? "Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses" - that's right - the ultimate backwoods southern hymn. We used to sing that at district meeting in Georgia with our best drawl and would just giggle our whole way through it.
My full justification of yesterday's Deseret Debacle, however, came when I found the origin of the tune itself. It's from Civil War times and the tune is called "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp." 'Nuff said.