29 September 2008

It's a GREAT Harvest

Mr. Snicklebutt and I have a confession. We're addicted to canning.

He's addicted to eating whatever I can, and I'm addicted to canning. In fact, today I'm officially so far behind I may never catch up.

Numbers will be changed to reflect the TRUE amount of canning I have done in the past few weeks, but sufficieth it to say that today alone I canned 6.5 quarts of pear sauce and at LEAST 18 pints and 4 quarts of pear butter. And now I know why I NEVER make pear butter. I'm just now getting the kitchen clean for round two tomorrow.

I'll post tomorrow on the effects of the canning...

Right now, I'm seeing the screen wobble again. Something about too little sleep...


28 September 2008

Who am I?????

What do you mean, WHO AM I???

Well, here it is - Sunday... again. And weeks have flown by since I last posted - mostly because I let life get in the way of life, and needed to take a rejuvenation break. But that's another post for another day... look for "When Life Takes Over" coming soon.

Two weeks ago, I was talking to Mr. Snicklebutt on the telephone, and he mentioned that a friend of ours who lives in Florida commented on our personal blog spot. His actual comment wasn't posted, but it was something along the lines of this: "Your wife needs to put more pictures of herself on the blog for people who don't know who she is." I laughed. Seriously. I am forever the photographer, and, as happens, never the photograph-ed. Not that I don't LIKE having my photo taken, I just find that I look extremely dorky if I hold the camera out in front of myself to take the picture. So I don't do it.

His comment, however, has made me think. Who AM I? Really. Do I know who I am? I've been thinking about it for the past week or so. What defines ME? What makes me, the person that I am today? Is it my childhood? Is it the experiences that I had as a missionary in Ukraine? Is it the fact that I am a wife and a mother? What makes me, well, ME? So I've been on a mental quest to define myself.

I was born in Alaska. I am the second oldest of seven children (5 girls, two boys). I play the violin. I love crayons. I considered myself to be a fairly decent student (terrible study habits, but a decent student nonetheless). I served a 19 month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the Ukraine. I am a mother. I love KFC chicken. I like my eggs fresh, and fried over easy (unless I'm in a restaurant, then I ask for them to be fried over medium - that way they always turn out right, instead of just the wrong side of sunny side up; although I did go through that phase too...). I like living on a farm. I LOVE canning and preserving food. I am a master fudgeologist. I love making jam. I like hiking. I love making friends - even though it's not always easy for me. My favorite television shows are MONK and PSYCH - they just make me laugh. I collect miniature oil lamps. I love cooking on a wood stove. My ideal house is the one that I live in, and I hope NEVER to move. I love working with the Young Women of the church. I like to read. I enjoy scrapbooking, but more than that I just love getting together with friends for a great gab fest - even if I don't get anything accomplished, it's relaxing enough for me to just hang out with great women. I love learning. I love photography. My favorite food is Russian. I love my kids. My biggest pet peeve ever is people who come for dinner and graze before the rest of us have a chance to get to the table; it makes me feel as if they aren't really going to sit and enjoy the dinner with the rest of us - or as if they feel that they can take over a carefully planned meal and stuff themselves before the rest of us can try it. I love cooking.

And I could go on for hours with what I love and what really bugs me. My question, however, is this: "Do all the things that I like (or love) really define me? Are there other inner things that define to other people who I am?" My answer is a resounding YES! Above and beyond the fact that I am a daughter to two very wonderful people and a loving wife to a magnificient husband, I know beyond anything else who I really am, and it has very little to do with my likes and dislikes, my loves and my hates. More than anything else, I AM A DAUGHTER OF A HEAVENLY FATHER! He loves me. He wants me to succeed. He wants me to develop divine qualities that will help me to be like him. All of my likes and loves and dislikes and hates are qualities that I have that HELP to define me, but they are not me. They are a PART of me, but they are not me.

It's taken the last few years of my life for me to truly understand who I am. I was raised with the song, I Am a Child of God - and by two parents who taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to doing. It took, however, some difficult trials and some extreme heartache and pain before I truly understood what I had known all my life. I am a DAUGHTER; a CHILD of GOD! How wonderful is that??? During the most trying trial of my life, my Mother had the wisdom and the foresight to ask me, "What are you going to do now?" And without missing a beat, or truly understanding what I was saying, I said to her, "I don't know. Before I do ANYTHING, I have to find out who I am again. I have to take some time to just be me." And so I did. But I am just now understanding that what I REALLY did was to define qualities that help me to be happy and to be me.
Who we are is determined by our eternal potential and what we are aspiring to become - Gods and Godesses. I am especially grateful for the difficult times and trials and blessings and, dare I say it without being cheesy - PEOPLE who have helped to shape me into the woman that I am today. It is through all of those experiences that I have come to understand who I am. What I like and what I do is my role. I hope to play it with the same grace that I see other women of stature playing. And, one day, I hope that I can SEE in myself the woman that I know I am.

So, who am I? I am Mdme. Sloopy Snicklebutt. Daughter of a Heavenly King. What else is there???

15 September 2008

Monday, Monday...

Well... it's Monday. Again. And today, I am officially 20-13 and 354 days old. Tomorrow is my 20-14th birthday, and there is no one here to celebrate it with me. Mr. Snicklebutt is in Arizona on his way to California and then hopefully home, and the children are too young to do anything about a birthday.

Birthdays growing up were never really a big issue at our home. My most memorable was the birthday that my parents decided we were going to celebrate the way the Irish supposedly do and the birthday person was to hand out gifts to everyone instead of receiving gifts. I was the only one that they did that for. I'm not sure if I was a selfish child - I like to think that I WASN'T, but... the things parents will do to teach their children.

My second most memorable was my first year at college. Happened to be that I was so incredibly sick that I spent all day in bed wishing that I was home with Mom's chicken noodle soup. At midnight I called Alaska to let everyone know that I wasn't waiting any longer for them to call to wish me a happy birthday. It took an hour for them to call me back. AND to compound the terrible day, the box that the family was sending for my birthday was extremely late. I think I got it for my brother's birthday.

I told Mr. Snicklebutt that it wasn't really a big deal that he was going to be gone for the big 20-14; but the more I think about it, the more certain I am that I lied. It would be nice to just spend the day with him and to wake up to him telling me that he's glad I'm there with him. BUT... oh well. Instead, I get to spend the day baking my own birthday cake, making pearple (cross between apple and pear) sauce, taking care of children, cleaning the house, trying to get life organized enough to teach a class for Enrichment (of which this is my first one as the leader, and my entire committee has bailed...) SO..................

This sounds like an incredible pity party. Maybe it is. Don't we all have days when we just want to sound pitiful in the hopes that someone else is having a rotten day as well and we can be rotten together? Not really. But it sounded good.

I will admit that having a birthday sure beats the alternative... at least from my perspective.

13 September 2008

A Rose by Another Name...

Would still smell like a rose. And some roses don't have an odor. I know. I have about 20 DIFFERENT varieties of roses here at my house. Don't worry, I have no idea what they are, they were all here when we moved here, and my job is to not kill them. My children are the ones who discovered that while they ALL have thorns, not all of them "stink".

But really, I didn't want to talk about roses. What I really wanted to ponder on is names.

Before we went to the hospital to have our second baby, Mr. Snicklebutt and I had already picked out two names. One for a boy (just in case), and one for a girl... (also, just in case). This last time, we had a name for a girl... (just in case), and we were in deliberation on a name for a boy. I didn't like the name he REALLY wanted, and he didn't like the name I REALLY wanted, so we had decided to not worry about a boy name until we found out the gender of our baby.

It would have saved a lot of time if we had just come up with a name before we got to the hospital. But then... none of the names that we had considered seemed to fit. It took us three days to come up for a name for our little D.F.

So why the struggle with a name for a boy? I have come to the conclusion that a name is something that you give to a child that they can never get rid of. (They can try, but their name will always be there...) A girl child has the option of changing her name a little - when she gets married, she can either keep or drop her maiden name; as a middle name or even as a hyphenated name (not my choice of an option, but hey - it happens). A boy child on the other hand - that's his name for life! This knowledge became so much an integral part of our decision to name our little guy that it was almost a battle to decide what we wanted him to be known as. The name decision came down to a name that really sounded strange to me. I didn't want to have any sort of a way for people to make fun of our child's name, but then again, I didn't want to give him a name that other people would wonder what we were thinking about. So... after much deliberation and some arguing and some debating, we decided to leave the name alone. I would pray about it overnight - there were some surface issues with the name that I was concerned about - and then make the decision in the morning.

End result? Our son is named after a concrete company. He has a good solid name. It's one that has taken me some time to get used to, but it seems to fit him - strangely... His first name is LeGrand. He is definitely "The Large". Everything that he has done has seemed to be LARGE.

I wonder often though - what causes a person to name their child after fruit? Or after a day of the week? Or after a CAR??? What really is in a name? Is it just a series of letters strung together to make a word, or is it something that is to be treasured as it used to be?

I was named after the wife of a friend of my parents after the friend was killed in a plane crash. The wife is still alive and living in Florida, I think... I have two sisters who are named for virtues. I have a brother who shares my Dad's first name as his middle name. I have neices who are named after grandparents. I have a daughter who is named after a favorite great-aunt - and then we found out that we have MULTIPLE Great-Aunts who all share the same name... So what is it with names?

I know the history behind my name... Do you know yours? Does your name have a special meaning? Is it spelled the way it is because of language nuances? Why is your name important? What makes you... well, YOU!?

10 September 2008

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...

The time has come... The time is now. Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now???!!!

Not really. But every time I hear the phrase: "The time has come, the time is now..." I think of that Dr. Suess book with Marvin K. Mooney in it. And I wonder - has he gone yet? Better yet, where is he supposed to go?

Of all the things to wonder at, I wonder at the marvelous nature of babies. The miracle that they are. I am always amazed at the little things that they do - from the first time they smile at you to the first words that they choose. A good friend of mine from college used to say frequently:
"A child's face can say a lot... especially the mouth part!"
I'm inclined to agree. This afternoon, D.F., our youngest, opened his mouth and laughed for the first time. It was such a marvelous little noise! I've been trying all day to get him to repeat it with no success. I'll keep trying. I find that there are few things greater in life than the true love of a child. D.D. has been trying to get me to play with her on a more regular basis. I am almost ashamed to admit that I have forgotten how to play. She is teaching me how to be a child again. And me at almost 34 years old.

Two of my favorite phrases are. "Mommy, will you pin with me?" (substitute the word spin for the word pin, and you'll understand my reluctance - I know that my equilibrium is incredibly off since having two babies, I'm not sure I want to find out what the third has done for it!) My second favorite is having her hold her arms out to me and asking me, "Mommy, will you dance with me?" What mother can resist a dance with a two year old? Especially when said two year old is wearing said mother's highest pair of heels so that she can be just like mom? I certainly can't. I can, however, refuse to "pin". I just don't like the feeling of having the room spin around me...

So my advice today - it's free. You don't have to pay for it - or even take it, for that matter... it's simply this. Enjoy your children. Take time to "pin" or dance with them. LOVE them. Because soon enough they don't want to "pin" or dance or even talk to you. Sometimes they don't even want you to love them. Do it anyway. Your children depend on it.

09 September 2008

Tales from a Tuesday...

Have a baby, or pass a kidney stone?

And how appropriate - since the story here began on a Tuesday... Actually, this story has happened on a Friday when I thought I was going to be hosting a luncheon at work and my daughter made other plans; on a Wednesday when I least expected to welcome a second daughter; and finally, on a Tuesday - when Mr. Snicklebutt and I chose our son's birthday. (How I feel about that is still very conflicted, but not knowing the gender of our little one made up for the confliction of having picked his birthday for him.)

I have had many requests over the years to tell my own personal experiences in giving birth. I start by stating the obvious...Every woman is different and handles pain differently. For example: I have a dear friend who has birthed three children - all of them at home. I have sisters who have (in total) birthed 11 children, some with pain medication, some without. So... this is truly my own experience.

Of the three children that I have, Boobie Sneezy is the only one that I birthed 100% without pain medication requests. Her birth was - in my own personal opinion - relatively easy. My water broke on its own at 3:30 in the morning on the day that I was supposed to host the Thanksgiving luncheon at work. I ended up leaving voice mail messages for at least three other people and delegating. And then I was upset that I couldn't be there. I threw up once during labor and required air because I didn't know how to breathe; what woman really does? But aside from those little snafus everything else went well. I went home the day after she was born, and took her grocery shopping the day after that. She is also the only one of our children who, when she was born, caused another person to quit his job in the maternity section and move to another area of the hospital to work. Apparently, they should ask the kitchen help if they have ever heard a woman give birth before sending them to deliver meals to new mothers in the maternity section of the hospital. He hadn't. I missed my hospital meal that night...

Our second, Dorfus Dorky, was an experience. I suffered major back pain throughout the entire pregnancy, and was, in fact, on percoset and some other pain medication for the majority of the pregnancy. Still, when it came time to go to the hospital, we elected to go for the "natural" route. I would have to say that D.D.'s labor experience was a real trip. Literally. About 20 minutes before she made her appearance, I told the midwife that I needed something to take the edge off of the pain - the back labor was killing me, and I wasn't sure if I could handle the pain much longer. So...they gave me something. I can't remember what it was, but it was a real trip. It made me so incredibly loopy, I will never forget it!

Labor started when my water was broken; at least that's how I always look at labor - when the pain hits, the labor begins. No pain, no labor. So after being in the hospital for many hours and not progressing beyond the dilation of 5 that I was when I came in, the midwife on duty decided that perhaps I just needed to go home. I assured her that if my water was broken, I would probably have a baby. She decided to let the next midwife on duty decide if she wanted to do that, and, at 9:30 in the morning, the next midwife did. An hour and a half later - we welcomed Dorfus Dorky into the world.

So the labor... First off - I was on penicillin for the majority of my labor because D.D. decided to come 28 days early and the Group B Strep test results weren't in yet. Add to that the medicine that I got to take the edge off, and I was higher than a kite. Still felt the pain of delivery, but the pain of being stitched up was nonexistent. I remember that I had to go to the bathroom before delivering D.D. and asked the nurse if I could go to the bathroom before being hooked up to the monitor again. She assured me that would be fine, and then waited to see if I needed help. After watching me sit there for a few minutes looking REALLY stunned, she asked if I still needed to go. The following is the conversation we had.
"I can't."
"Why not?"
"I forgot how to walk."
"You just put one foot in front of the other..."
"Which one do I start with?"
"Which ever one you want..."

She probably thought I was the craziest woman she'd ever seen, but I managed to get through it all. I slept a lot immediately after D.D. was born - the drugs made me really tired...

When our third, Dumbo Farcus was born, I mentioned to the midwife that I did not want to be loopy like that again. She made a note of that, and we progressed. Based on my past history of having babies early and rapidly, my midwife made sure that I was at the hospital when my water broke by breaking it herself. And then we started waiting. I was expecting a baby within an hour or two, and when nothing happened - not even dilation - I found a book to read and took a nap and walked the halls and did jumping jacks and did all sorts of things to entertain myself. Mr. Snicklebutt, the love of my life, was bored out of his handsome gourd. He went to the bank for an hour or so. He came back. He took a nap and bugged me and took a nap and bugged me and pestered me and drove me crazy until I sent him away from the hospital to get himself something to eat with strict orders to NOT COME BACK UNTIL HE WASN'T BORED!!! I'm still surprised that he came back...

And so he did. And then immediate boredom set in again. Sometime around 4:15 in the afternoon (my water was broken at 10:32 in the morning), Mr. Snicklebutt mentioned to me that he needed to feed the animals on our little farm. So... knowing that the 1.5 hour drive was inevitable, we asked the midwife to check for progression. Only having moved 2 cm. in dilation, I told Mr. Snicklebutt that he might as well go home to take care of the animals - nothing was happening. And so, he did.

And then things started happening. I bounced on a birthing ball to try to get things going - and then couldn't get up because the contractions were coming so hard and so fast. I had one contraction that lasted for 7 (and yes, you did read that right) minutes. Seven LOOOONG minutes. Once the contractions started coming, they didn't stop. One right on top of another until little D.F. made his appearance. I should note at this point that I am anti-shots in the spine, so all of this laboring is being done without the benefit of pain medication or any other medication... At 6 pm, I called Mr. Snicklebutt to find out how long it was going to be before he got back to the hospital. He was still at home. Hadn't left. I mentioned that he MIGHT want to think about hurrying back because things were happening. And so, he did. Meanwhile, back in the hospital, I was on the bed facing the wall because I had climbed up on the bed that direction and then couldn't move. Literally. I was stuck. The contractions had come so fast and so hard that I could not move from the talking on the phone position I had been in. I was lucky to have made it to the bed! The L&D nurse who was in there was a true trooper. She rubbed my back the entire time Mr. Snicklebutt was gone. He walked in the door just minutes before 7 pm. And just barely before I asked the doctor for something to take the edge off the pain so that I could maybe breathe.

So... she checked me and found that I was dilated to 7 cm, and gave the o.k. for 50 cc's of something. Again - I have no idea what it was. Thankfully, it did NOT make me loopy. It also did not kick in until after our little one was born. D.F. was born at 7:12 pm. It took us three days to come up with a name for him. Recovery was pleasant - I didn't feel a thing. And Mr. Snicklebutt missed all of the boring transitional stuff. He came in just in time to watch our son be born and to cut the cord. I missed the cord cutting ceremony - I was facing the wrong way.

Would I prefer to give birth under anesthetics? Probably not. It may make the pain less, but think of all the fun stories I would miss out on! I do find it pretty exciting to be able to feel all of the everything that comes with giving birth... but then again, I'm one of those few women who recovers quickly and who doesn't need anything for pain after the baby comes too... For me - giving birth is a blessing to be experienced, not a pain to be dealt with. I would never judge another woman for using pain medication through the entire labor experience - I have never felt her pain. For me, it's just no big deal...

In case anyone's wondering... I'd rather have a baby than pass a kidney stone. But that's a story for another time...

08 September 2008

A Monday Moment

What was your WORST, really embarassing moment???

Well that would have to be wetting my pants in the seventh grade. I was in Ms. Fuller's science class and had finished my test early. Unfortunately, I had also had a lot to drink, and had neglected to take the time to go to the bathroom. Also unfortunate - when I went to ask Ms. Fuller if I could go to the bathroom because I had already turned in my test and I REALLY needed to go, she told me no. So... I sat back down and did the potty dance in my chair.

I can still picture it. That's how traumatized I was. I'm sure no one else remembers that I wet my pants as a seventh grader, but I remember. I was sitting three rows from the back. Philip Jensen sat next to me and Carmelita Laska sat behind me. I don't remember who sat with her. I do remember that our table was on the right hand side of the room, and it was next to the sink. I can even smell the room still if I think about it hard enough - a little like formaldhyde and chocolate. Kind of sweet, yet stinky. And not quite sterile. Not quite that hospital smell...

At any rate - a few minutes passed, and without me meaning to - I mean really. Who ever means to wet their pants when they're in the seventh grade? I certainly didn't. I was mortified to find that I was all of a sudden sitting in a puddle, and there wasn't even a drink around that I could blame it on. Philip was nice enough to get up and get me some paper towels. As soon as the bell rang, I BOOKED it out of class with my notebook covering my rear and what I hoped was all of the wet spot. I went home in my P.E. clothes.

I will be eternally grateful to those who sat around me for NEVER mentioning to a soul that I had wet my pants in Ms. Fuller's science class. It could have made for a humiliating story passed around the entire school. I think that all of those sitting with me knew that it could have been them, and that's the reason that it wasn't passed around. I would LIKE to think that it's because they all liked and respected me, but this was Jr. High, and I don't flatter myself - even if it WAS the truth. Carmelita became one of my better friends in high school - Philip just became one of the class clowns and we got along. Still... only a true friend never tells a soul that you wet your pants when you were in the seventh grade. Thanks Philip.

07 September 2008

Not Just a Missing Person...

Today being Sunday, I thought I'd ramble on about something a bit more on the "spiritual" side of things - something that I've had on my mind a lot lately.

The other day I saw a bumper sticker that said:
"Some days all I want to be is a missing person."

I laughed; which, I assume, was the reaction that was warranted from the sticker, but it's stuck with me for a while now.

After my initial reaction, I started thinking that there are days when I feel exactly the same way. After all, a missing person is constantly being sought after. There is a lot of attention paid to finding that person who is missing. Don't we all have days when we feel like we're that bowl of leftover, cold oatmeal waiting to be found and reheated (or thrown away - because even then someone would be paying attention to us!?). I know I certainly have had days when I wondered if there really was someone out there who knew where I was and what I was doing - and not in that creepy way that you hear about on television.

Then it hit me. I DO know who I am, where I came from, and what my purpose is here on this earth. Instead of wondering when it's my turn to be a missing person and have someone to search for - perhaps I need to find that person who feels like a missing person. I know that I have a Father in Heaven who knows me intimately. He knows who I am and what I'm doing. He knows my needs. He hears those personal, private conversations that I have with my husband - and the needs that I have and concerns that I have; He passes on some of those needs to other people who can best help me. If you REALLY think deeply about it - God is the ultimate Stalker, Eavesdropper, and Philanthropist. And NONE of that is creepy. He watches over us. He listens to us. He gives us things that we need; and if we really wanted to know, He tells us that too!

The whole point here is that none of us truly is a missing person. We may have days when we feel like we WANT to be a missing person - with someone to look for us and to try to find us. We're not, however, truly lost. We have someone who knows where we are at all times. All we have to do is to ask. And on those days when I feel like I want to be a missing person - really all I want to do is to be a runaway. Far, far away from my problems and the life I've created for myself - no matter how good I think it may be. So... instead of having a bumper sticker that reads:
"Some days all I want to be is a missing person..."

Perhaps we should have bumper stickers that read:
"Some days I just want to be a runaway..."

Unfortunately for the runaway (or perhaps it's fortunate...) there will still be someone who cares about you; someone who is always searching for you; and someone who wants what's best for you. And, unfortunately for the runaway - the problems that you're running away from will still be there when you get back. Only now, you've procrastinated working through them and perhaps they're a lot larger than they were.

For me, the "problems" that I would want to run away from aren't really problems - they're blessings with a trial attached. And there are days when I've wanted to give ALL my trials back to the Lord and tell him that I am on vacation. Problem with that is this: If I give all my trials back, I also have to give back the blessings that come with the trials. The personal growth. The learning. And the chance to NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! I think, in the long run, I'll take my trials any day.

And on those days when I just want to be a runaway - I've found that a long hot bath and a very heavy snowstorm in a cup are just what I need.

01 September 2008

Madam Sloopy Snicklebutt???

Yes, indeed, I have chosen a random name from a delightful book series, Captain Underpants... A bit juvenile, perhaps, but after looking high and low for a name for my blog - a way to creatively express myself - it's the best I could do.

As for a by the by - you'll not find Madam Sloopy Snicklebutt anywhere NEAR Captain Underpants - she truly does not exist. But what a great nom de plume!