Thursday, December 1, 2016

Build the Wall and Other Tales of Childrearing During 2016

David Earl

I have a five year old son. When the Beardocrat and I were thinking of names for the wee one we once called Squirmy we wanted to give him a name that meant something so we chose David (after the Beardocrat's grandfather) and Earl (after my own grandfather). I hoped that as he grew he'd be interested in learning about the men whose names he shares and he'd be inspired to be like them. Strong. Hardworking. Kind. Not afraid to stand up for what is right. Well, yesterday he came home with a 'hilarious' (his word not mine) story from school. At recess apparently some kids started chanting "Build the Wool"(yes, David thought they were saying "wool") to the guys removing the snow. Wasn't that funny?

Take a breath...

So, full disclosure. I hate Donald Trump. I hate everything he is. I hate the way he says whatever he thinks will appeal to the angry and overlooked. I also hate Hillary Clinton. LIKE REALLY HATE her. I think she and the Donald are essentially the same human being pandering to those who agree and vilifying those who don't. So the way that some of my friends felt about the result of the 2016 Presidential Election, I felt that way back at the beginning of 2016 when the two major parties chose Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton as their people. I felt sad. I felt depressed. I felt, "What is happening?" Which is a polite way of saying "WHAT THE HECK???" Which is a polite way of saying something else. In short, I felt without hope. As the election neared it became worse and worse. I felt awful when Donald won, and it would have personally been equally horrifying if Hilary would have won. Then I started hearing about kids at Elementary schools chanting "Build the Wall" while their hispanic classmates cried and I thought, "Who is raising these monsters?"

Then my David came home with his 'hilarious' story and I genuinely thought that I might throw up. It made me that sick. My David, my sweet, quirky, opinionated, wonderful David found the chanting funny. Okay. So he didn't know that they were talking about a wall or what that meant at all. He only knows he likes to chant. Being familiar with the type of children that go to David's school I imagine their parents would be horrified if they knew what their kids were chanting. Immigration legal or otherwise is a nuanced issue and I doubt that any of the children involved understood anything except that they were getting a rise out of their teachers. They weren't monsters, they were just ignorant.

Take a breath...

But is that okay? Is it okay to be ignorant in a world when there are people who are screaming "Build the Wall!!!" and they mean it. Ignorance isn't okay. After my initial revulsion of David's 'hilarious' story I felt hope. I felt opportunity. I felt the chance to be the light in a world that is embracing darkness. I sat down with David and we had a long talk. I told him about the man who would be president for the next four years. I told him very specifically that the Donald's personal character is not something we want to emulate and that some of his professed policies don't align with what I personally believe or the teachings of Christ which we strive to follow. I told David that once to appeal to the masses Donald Trump said he'd build a wall to keep others out. Sure, I dumbed it down, but I feel I got the essential. There are people who are not like us (though, with the Chilean mother, those on the other side of Trump's imagined wall are actually quite like us) and we can choose how to treat those differences. We talked about love. We talked about compassion. We talked about how it feels to be excluded. We talked about bravery and what he should do if he hears any more kids shouting "Build The Wall!" We talked about how one person choosing to stand up for what is right can change the course of history. We talked about the responsibility that we have to be better.

Once upon a time I thought I would be an international lawyer. I wanted to work for corporations. Then I grew a soul, but that is a whole other story. I thought that I would change the world in big, visual, breathtaking ways. When I sat down with David and we talked together about why we love other people and how we can disagree with others and still show love and respect and dignity, I was changing the world in a big and breathtaking way. I don't care who is the President (well, I do, but that isn't my first priority). The state of the world today has given me the unique opportunity to educate my children and encourage them to be better. Not just them, but myself. There is no reason to despair, hang my head, or stop trying just because the candidates our country chose are corrupt, immoral, and self serving. When people give their worst behavior, we MUST give them our best.

Back to David. He is growing up in an interesting time, and I am sure every previous generation felt the same. When David was born I remember singing to him alone in our hospital room that he was a child of God and was sent to earth with a plan. As he grows I see wonderful (and infuriating) traits develop or demonstrate themselves. He is naturally very compassionate and it makes him sad when he sees other people unhappy. He likes being with people and is physically very affectionate. He can be moody, but his most prevalent mood is cheerfulness. His laugh can make anyone want to join in. Best of all, at this point he WANTS to be good. He wants to make good choices. He wants to be kind to others. If I can help keep him on this path, he will surely grow up to honor the men whose names he has been given and instead of building walls, he will be opening his arms and heart to those who most need compassion.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Fruitland how we love thee!
This is my bestie and me. Were we thinner then? Yes, yes we were. Are we even MORE awesome now? Yes. Is that even possible? Oh, yes. This 15th The Wicked Rage (as she is known to her friends) will celebrate her birthday. Since she will be in Disneyland, this blog tribute will have to count as my happy birthday wish.

The Wicked Rage and I met when I got the cheapest apartment on short notice a week before the BYU semester started. I was 'technically' beginning my Junior year of college, but the place felt completely different because I had just returned home from serving a mission in Brazil (little did I know, so had The Wicked Rage!). I didn't know any of my roommates, and when I met her initially I thought she was a friend of my other roommate. I didn't have any thoughts on the subject. The Wicked Rage will tell you that she disliked me immediately. Well, dislike might be too strong, she said she thought I was weird and that I went home all the time. To clarify, the weirdness she speaks of is holing up and reading Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time Series all night  every night. I don't think this is weird, one has to read all night to finish a book a day and I was WAY behind at that point. I didn't know there would be a million books in the series, then there were only seven. Now let me address the "go home all the time" accusation. I have a birthday in September,  Labor Day falls in September, and THAT particular year my former sister in law was having a baby shower in September. So yes, that MONTH, I did go home a lot, but not because I am a strange recluse, because there was free food at all of these events and I can not pass up free food.

The Wicked Rage has a prickly exterior. For this reason we didn't really click until one evening when she was watching a TV Show called American Idol. I had no idea what this show was about, but I asked her. She seemed annoyed with my questions. I didn't care, I asked her more questions. Then, we found ourselves mocking the contestants left and right and a friendship was born. This friendship has sustained moving together, a crazy roommate, various jobs, periodic homelessness, road trips, Angel marathons, fan fictions, unfortunate hair/fashion choices, and a car accident (or two). I've known the Wicked Rage longer than I've known the Beardocrat and I make it no secret I prefer watching movies with her (she LIKES to talk during movies).

Though the Wicked Rage has a prickly exterior, she has a tender heart. She is the first person I have told about each of my pregnancies (after the Beardocrat, of course). She is willing to go shopping at a moments notice and always convinces me to buy the shoes I need. She peer pressured me into cutting my nasty damaged hair after my mission, and that was a great choice. She is ALWAYS up for a gossip session. She tells me which make-up to buy, otherwise, I really wouldn't know. She introduced me to wake boarding. She enjoys horrible movies AS DO I! She is the person I share my secrets with. She has saved my sanity a million times over with her weekly visits. She makes me laugh. When I had Corinne-tin-tin (#3) she was at the hospital during the scheduled C-Section and saw the baby more thoroughly before I did! For these reasons, and many others, I named #3 to honor her.

#3's middle name is Linell, which is the Wicked Rage's middle name. It is a combination of both of her grandmother's names. I hope that #3 will have those attributes that I admire in my bestie. I hope she is kind and has a kind heart. I hope she is hard working. I hope she is service oriented. I hope she is a good friend. I hope she has a great sense of humor. I hope she is smart, and just a little nerdy. I hope she can pull off any hair color (including tiger stripes!). I hope that she lives up to the name we gave her.

Happy B-Day, Wicked Rage, you are the best Bestie around.
Corinne Linell and the original, Rachel Linell

Sunday, April 5, 2015

To Sustain

Once upon a time in a distant country filled with sun, sun, and even more sun, I was a missionary. I served in a tiny branch that covered several cities that all ran together (urban sprawl, ya'll). It was the only branch in the stake, and the members felt this keenly. Their Branch President was a humble man, without a car, who rode his bike over many miles to visit the sick, encourage the depressed, and fulfill his church duties. He was married to a nice lady who was a member of a different church and had two nice children in their early teens who also belonged to their mother's church. This kindly man hadn't been a member of the LDS church for many years when he was called as Branch President, it was no secret that a majority of that tiny congregation felt that a different man was better qualified (he wasn't, but that is yet ANOTHER story). One particular day, we had a lunch appointment with the Branch President and he was fairly discouraged about the situation. I've got to say, I don't blame the dude because some of the members of that branch were pretty awful, and I don't mean full of awe. He looked at me and said, "The problem is, Sister, that when they sustained me, they only sustained me with their hands, they didn't sustain me with their hearts."

I've thought of that a lot during my time in the church. In one of my wards we had a difficulty getting people to come help clean the church building. In order to ease the burden of the Elder's Quorum President, our Bishopric assigned each auxiliary a month to be in charge of the cleaning. The building was a Stake Center that housed meetings for the area's missionaries and occasional visiting general authority, so the building needed to be cleaned twice a week. I remember one day when I was 9 months pregnant cleaning the church when only two other women had shown up. So the three of us set off to clean the entire stake center. As I refilled the toilet paper rolls, the empty rolls kept breaking and falling to the ground. I had to maneuver my pregnant body to my hands and knees on a bathroom floor to gather them up. After about the 5th time, I was saying words in a church that you probably shouldn't even think. I was so angry. I don't type that lightly. Let me repeat... I WAS SO ANGRY. As the Relief Society President, it was my responsibility to make sure it was cleaned during our month, and we'd called a committee to organize and help assure that it would happen. At that moment I thought, "Where are all those people that sustained me? Did they sustain me with their hands or with their hearts?"

As I have moved on to a different ward and a different calling, I continue to think about that Branch President and what it means to sustain someone with your heart. I currently serve in my ward's Primary as the president. I find this calling to be a continual struggle. I am not a 'kid person' and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to mingle with grown ups. Being a stay at home mom, sometimes Sunday is my big chance to socialize. When I accepted this calling, it was with trepidation. While I admire the men in my Bishopric, we don't always agree. In fact, sometimes we passionately disagree. And if you don't understand how passionately a half-Chilean can disagree, let me introduce you to my husband and he'll fill you in. While my Bishopric and I don't always see eye to eye, I have always felt that the decisions they make are based out of love for the members of the congregation. They are not made of ego. They are not made lightly. Oftentimes, they are made after prayer, fasting, and with the knowledge that some people (sometimes me) will not be happy about the outcome. When given the opportunity in ward conference, I sustain my fellow ward members with my hand, but throughout the year... I hope I sustain them with my heart.

This means, when my visiting teaching supervisor calls/texts/emails to find out if I have visited my sisters this month... I reply promptly. It means when the stake president asks people attending a fireside to move to the front or center so latecomers can fill the back and sides... I move to the front and center. It means when it is my turn to clean the church, I do it, nine months pregnant and all. It means when my neighbor starts griping about their kid's beehive leader, I don't join in. It means that when my councilors ask me to be more aware of their needs, I make their concerns my first priority. It means when I have yet another meeting added to a busy schedule, I do my best to make time for that meeting. Hopefully (but not always, I am no saint) with a good attitude. It means when my husband is called away to give a blessing that I immediately let him know that despite my desire for him to be with the kids and I that I understand the importance of what he needs to do and I encourage him to go. It means when I personally dislike people that are called to teach lessons, be in bishoprics, be in presidencies, or be my home and/or visiting teachers, that I suck it up and act like a grown up and not a petulant child. It means that when my visiting teachers want to come at the most inconvenient time, I do my best to accommodate.

I am going to switch gears a little bit and talk about a guy named Moses and his brother Aaron. Moses was an Israelite man, not raised within the Hebrew tradition. You can read all about him in the Old Testament in the books of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (what a read, let me tell you!). When Moses was called to lead the children of Israel out of captivity, he balked. He basically said, "Me? Really?" Then the Lord tells him to go to the leaders of Israel and say that he has seen God and that he's been called to lead them out of Egypt. To which Moses says, "Me? Really?" Well, not exactly, he says they won't believe him. So God shows him some miracles and Moses says he isn't a great speaker, yada yada yada. The Lord then says Aaron will help him sort it all out. So Aaron is actually the older brother, and by all accounts HE should be the spiritual leader of his family. Apparently he was an eloquent speaker and respected by the Hebrew Elders. So why Moses? Why not Aaron? And what did Aaron feel about all this? Well, Aaron was cool with it and together they lead the people from Egypt... but the story doesn't end there. I want to talk about what happened while the Israelites were a'wandering.

The children of Israel get a lot of press for being whiney, slow to remember God, and generally lacking in faith. After a whining episode about some water the Israelites went to battle against Amalek at a place called Rephidim. If I had more time and energy I'd go into all that because I did NOT get an A in Old Testament class for nothing, so maybe some other time. ANYWAY, Moses stood on a hill with a rod in his hand. When he held up the rod, the Israelites would do well, when he dropped it, Amalek would do well. And then:
              But Moses' hands were heavy and they took a stone, and put it under him,
              and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the
              one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until 
              the going down of the sun. Exodus 17:12 emphasis added
I can't explain how I love that passage. They *literally* help up his arms until the sun went down. Look at that image. They all look like they are struggling, that it wasn't an easy thing that they were called to do, but they did it. I imagine Aaron, someone born with both the talents and abilities to be the prophet of God certainly, yet here he is, faithfully sustaining his younger brother Moses with his hand AND his heart.

So what does that mean for us? What does that mean today? Why such a long post? Don't you have kids to watch? A house to clean? Books to read? Exercise to do? Why is THIS so important?

Well, today we have these guys...

Lets not forget about these guys as well...
As sure as I type on this computer, I know that they are the men chosen by God to lead the world (notice I didn't say His Church, I said the world) during these current times of crisis, poverty, tragedy, and hope. They are men who received preparation in a variety of career paths, through different family experiences, and certainly opportunities to choose alternate routes along the way. Sustaining prophets in latter-days does not mean we always will agree, it does not mean that we always understand, it does not even mean that we will stay awake during their talks during General Conference (sorry, P Monson, the cadence of your voice is like a sweet, sweet lullaby). It means that President Monson is standing there holding up this heavy rod during a battle, and I have the choice to be by his side (figuratively, obviously) and hold his hand up by helping those around me, by loving when it would be easier to hate, by smiling when I don't feel like it, by sacrificing and by sharing my talents and gifts with my neighbors and anyone else in need. What more can I say? THESE MEN ARE CALLED OF GOD and I sustain them with my hand, and my heart until the sun goes down.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tis the Season

I am impatient. I have probably always been an impatient person, but I feel like somewhere between having my first kid and becoming a crazy person, my impatience has skyrocketed to unmeasurable proportions. The supermarket is where this comes to a head. I believe I've stated before that I DO NOT ever pick the right lane. It is something of a talent to perpetually find yourself in the slowest lane 100% of the time, but I have that talent. I've posted a series of blog posts about my many misadventures in the supermarket and if I weren't too lazy to actually hyperlink to them, you could have a good read. But alas, I am too lazy, so you will just have to imagine what my impatient self could write about the grocery store... which brings us to yesterday.

Yesterday I went to the Walmart closest to my house to get some tomatoes, an onion, a green pepper, some protein bars... well, you get the point. I went to get some last minute groceries that I needed for dinner because I haven't been the best planner of late and it seems like someone is running to the store at least once a day for something I forgot to get the last time I ran to the store. Vicious cycle. Anyway. Unlike Walmart's usual 40-lanes-in-existence-only-3-checkout-lanes-open policy, there were sufficient lanes open. Everything looked like it was moving swiftly and efficiently and I was pumped to get out of there quickly. It was a holiday season miracle. So I scanned all the lanes, passing up a few and settling on one I thought looked great. The people in front of me didn't look like they were 90 years old and writing a check. They didn't look like they would be price matching all of the thousands of items in their cart and hunting around for that last coupon. They seemed like people who could handle the debit card machine with ease and they didn't have too much stuff... then I noticed the cashier. He had one functional arm, the other was shriveled and unusable at his side. He also seemed to have developmental difficulties. Do you know how long it takes someone with one arm to scan and bag a cartful of groceries? My heart sunk... and then it hit me.

I am a jerk. Really. A total jerk. I felt it instantaneously. The Beardocrat's mom was with the kids, and I was blissfully alone, and there was absolutely no reason to be in any rush. I didn't have anything pressing to get to, and even if I had, who cares? As I watched customer after customer get in line behind me, notice the cashier, and hastily move to another aisle with annoyed scowls, I was ashamed. Not of those people, necessarily, because who knows what was going on in their lives? But I was ashamed of myself. Being impatient means that the focus is solely on me. And who am I to think the world revolves around me and my schedule? As I watched the cashier slowly scan and bag items clumsily I had time to think about his life. How great that he has a job and can provide for himself. How great that he cares enough about my produce not to toss them into the bag but place it gently. How wonderful that he seemed focused on the task at hand and didn't pay any attention to people fleeing from his aisle rudely.

So holiday season (and beyond, lets hope) resolution. Be more patient. Be more aware of the people around me and their needs and contributions.

The end.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Year Five

Every year we do an annual report in lieu of a Christmas card. I personally love reading updates of what all my friends are up to, we just didn't feel like the Christmas Newsletter thing was very "us." We determined that we would send out something on a random holiday, and then we decided our anniversary, which is near Tax Day would work the best. We change up the format every year and are DEFINITELY pairing down for next year... but here is our Year Five Annual Report.

You can read it HERE!

Friday, June 6, 2014

On Gratitude

The other day, in between vomiting sessions brought to you by Wilson 3.0, I watched a documentary titled It's a Girl on Netflix. I am not ignorant about world affairs, so I was aware that this problem existed. One of my political science professors in college devoted an entire semester to gender issues in politics. I also spend a fair amount of time reading essays, books, and the odd article or two about a wide variety of topics hot with feminists. I have no idea why this documentary touched me so much at this time, but it did. Perhaps it is because I have a little girl of my own. How grateful I am that I was born in a location and to parents who truly wanted a little girl. I am grateful that my parents taught my brothers and I that we could do achieve anything that we worked for. Gender was never mentioned, because there was no distinction of one gender being better than another. When I needed extra money for summer camps and travels while I was in high school, my dad suggested I mow lawns. My brothers learned how to cook and be self sufficient house keepers.

I am grateful that my little girl was born into our family. I am grateful when we discuss what she might become one day, Big Steve says. "She's good with her hands, I bet she'll be a surgeon." I am grateful that my two nephews (Ladybug's only cousins on my side) let her boss them around shamelessly even though she can't really talk. I am grateful that the Beardocrat talks about the mission that she will one day serve, and the adventures she might one day go on. I am grateful that her older brother adores her. He does not think he is better than her (though he DOES think he is her boss, but that isn't unique, he thinks he is everyone's boss), he loves to make her smile and see her happy. I am grateful that Ladybug's opportunities will be wide, and varied, and of her own choosing, just like mine.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nautical Victorian Bath II

The devil is in the details now. Nautical Victorian. I am not exactly sure where I came up with the idea, but I liked the idea of a striped shower curtain, and as I said, I didn't want to repaint baseboards which had already been painted dark. I had the idea for how I wanted things to look, but it took a while to get all the elements together. By far and away, the most difficult was...

I wanted a wooden black/brown toilet seat. The one I REALLY wanted I saw at Ikea, but sadly, they stopped making them. It was perfect and inexpensive. I wanted something with an actual wooden texture, but the models at all the hardware stores and home improvement stores were too glossy and cost WAY too much. I found one that I thought would work, but it was a hundred and forty dollars. Who wants to spend that much money on a toilet seat? Not I, finally after HOURS on google I hit They had a cheap version that wasn't perfect (it had crome hardware and the other hardware is brushed nickel), but I liked it well enough and it only cost twenty dollars, so it works.

These gems were nice additions and fit well with the victorian theme. I like the color, and the ornateness. Once again, you'll notice that not all the hardware is matchy, matchy. In modern baths I like clean lines and matching, but in this, I wanted it to look like a bathroom that could have existed when manufacturing was not as wide spread and a bathroom would have had hand crafted details.

I wish you could see the color of this shower curtain, it is truly nice. It is kind of a bright navy. I am currently still searching for some kind of bath mat/rug that matches well enough to use in this room. I haven't found one that fits the style or color I am looking for so I am holding out.

This is the original light fixture. Before it was a gross copper color. Yes, I realize it is a bit art deco but the sconces are pretty and look like they belong in the victorian era. I spray painted this. ME. SPRAY PAINT. Yes, I'm a bit ashamed. And while we are at it, lets discuss the paint on the walls. I did that. Yep. I inhaled fumes for a couple days and --fun discovery-- I am a really decent taper. Also, when we went to get paint, the paint man told us about this mix in scent that he could add to the paint. We bought the Clean Linen (one of my favorite smells) mix-in, and it is awesome. 

This was not my original faucet choice, but happily, I like it better than the original choice. The Beardocrat and I installed this one and it was leaky and awful. Then Alan re-did it by himself and now it is wonderful. I removed the old faucet, if that counts for anything.

These wall plates were actually last minute purchases. After the whole room was finished, the cheapo white wall plates really stood out, and they didn't look great. These plates gave a great finishing touch, and *decorating tip, hold your breath* these are an inexpensive way to add interest, color, or personalization to a room. Clearly, one could go overboard, but I think with the victorian theme they weren't too much. The swirly pattern also compliments the light fixture and some of the accents.

This hand towel rack is the only original hardware I kept leftover from the old bathroom. I liked it, it works, and I didn't have to paint it. We can talk a bit about other leftover pieces. The shower curtain rod, inner shower curtain, and shower curtain rings are things left over from other bathrooms. Brushed Nickel, always my favorite. 

These are two of the three pictures on the wall. I couldn't get a great photo of the compass art, so these examples will suffice. I worried about being too literal with the art, as the shower curtain was very nautical. Happily I felt the whimsical nature of the Sea Meets Sky was nice, and embraced the theme without going into literal land like the hook. Also, the Adirondack shelf pictured in the other post is meant to be more of an art piece as the towels aren't meant to be used. Just for show.  We can talk about the mirror at this point as well (picture on other post). The Beardocrat removed the old mirror, and it was no small effort. That is one of the reasons we decided to paint. 

Overall, this was a fun project. I like the effect. Once again, not perfect, but I feel like this whole designing thing is getting easier. I am making rules, and following them, and the results are pleasant. Maybe I am saying this because I only have one more bathroom to go, and I've already done a majority of the planning on that one, so it requires a few trips to the hardware store and some Beardocrat labor and it will be good to go. After the third bathroom, I will be moving on to the Master Bedroom, and then David's bedroom, which will be David and Adele's bedroom by the end of the summer. I promise no jungle or nautical themes for either.