Hey Mormon Ladies!

March 6, 2014 · 2 comments

in Church

Guess what I’m writing about over at Segullah today? Everybody’s favorite calling!

You guys! Last weekend was one of those times when everything stacks up and crushes me near to death. It’s all I could do to keep breathing til last night.

First of all, it was my anniversary. Nice, pretty mellow. But still it’s a whole evening when I had lots of other things to do. What other things, you might ask? Well, at church the men are given a little gift on father’s day. A lot of times the teenage girls are in charge of it (actually, the leaders are in charge. The girls just hand them out). But this year the women were in charge. I was thinking of something store-bought but I realized how much I hate to receive store-bought stuff so I decided to make some monster cookies. In case you have lived a sheltered, pitiful life and don’t know what they are: kind of a half-peanut butter, half-oatmeal cookie with M&Ms and chocolate chips. Only I don’t have a good recipe. So I had to search the interwebs to find something worthy. Which required me making a whole ton of Monster Cookies to try out. The grand winner was this recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction. It’s a keeper because it’s not too heavy on the oatmeal; too much oatmeal makes a cookie taste blah. So my anniversary cut into my baking time.

On my way home from working out on Friday I stopped to buy all the M&Ms and chocolate chips. Nothing like being absolutely soaked with sweat holding 15 bags of candy. I’m sure people suspected bulimia. And the stores here don’t provide grocery bags (of course I had forgotten mine in the car, as always) so I was dropping bags of M&Ms left and right. Those suckers are slippery! But I made it home with all my chocolate and began to bake.

I spent some of Friday and most of Saturday making 90 giant Monster Cookies. I have a gigantic mixer that does three or four batches at a time, so it really wasn’t as much trouble as it sounds. My counselors did all the wrapping and labelling and i think the cookies were a big hit.

But you know that wasn’t all I had to do, right? Mister dragged me to a movie on Friday night. I can’t remember what it was called but it was Danish and I liked it very much. It put me behind schedule. As did the wedding we had to go to in San Antonio on Saturday morning. Two hours each way for a 40-minute ceremony. Oy. But we discovered a new (and delicious!) BBQ place halfway between San Antonio and Austin and that made everything all better (the brisket melted in my mouth. Divine!)

Also this weekend: Arabella had to give a talk in church. Mormons don’t have a clergyman that speaks in church every week. Instead, members of the congregation are asked to speak about a given topic. Everybody gets a turn, aren’t we so lucky? Once kids turn twelve they’re fair game for speaking, too. This was Arabella’s first talk and it was about fathers so that meant that I had to help her with it instead of pawning it off on Mister. Much encouragement and proofreading ensued.

This wasn’t our only “first” at church either. India got asked to play the prelude music in church for the first time (piano not organ). Meaning I had to nag her to practice several times (“Mom, nobody even listens to the prelude music!”). She did a really good job and I’m guessing she’ll get asked again. Our house was filled with hymns all weekend, which seems nice in theory but really just put me on edge.

Then there were the teenagers nagging me to sign up for summer church camps right this second, requiring me to decide exactly what our itinerary is going to be as camp is four states away and will require travel of 10-12 days total. There is nothing that I despise as much as planning things in advance and I’ve been avoiding the details of our big summer trip. But there I was trying to get the kids all signed up for camps, knowing that there were only four slots left at the session they wanted to go to (“what do you mean you can’t remember your camp password from last year? Well, then they can email it to you. You forgot your email password too???” ) It took over an hour but we finally got it squared away.

There were Father’s Day presents to wrap, cards to nag the kids to make, and the Father’s Day meals to prepare. And a whole bunch of church busywork that takes a million years and is no fun at all but had to be done for Sunday.

It’s really a wonder that I only burned one tray of cookies. As much multi-tasking as I was doing, there should have been a few dozen burned.

And then there was Jasper. Poor, poor Jasper. It was his birthday on Sunday too. But I felt sorry for him having to share his day with Mister, and that it was on a Sunday (no eating out or having much fun being the Sabbath Day and all), so we lied and told him that we hadn’t looked at the calendar properly and that his birthday was actually Monday. Thank goodness he bought it! Having his birthday yesterday instead of Sunday was so much better. We went swimming with friends and he didn’t have to share his special day with his dad. It ended up being a great idea. I’ll have to remember to lie to my kids a lot more often.

OK, this is officially the most boring blog post I’ve ever written. But I just wanted you to know what I’ve been up to. I’ve had good reasons to slack on blogging and I’ve got the dark circles under my eyes to to prove it.


It’s been Prom time around here. We have a no-dating-til-age-16 rule which means this was the first year that York and India were both old enough to go. India went with her boyfriend, Ethan, to both the school Prom and MoPro (Mormon Prom) where there aren’t so many skanky dresses and hoochie dancing. York just went to MoPro. Boys have a really easy time as far as the Prom is concerned: we bought him a nice suit, got his haircut, picked up a corsage and voilà! He was all set. For girls it is another story entirely. First there is the dress. It’s bad enough finding a dress that is cute and affordable, but when you’re Mormon it’s supposed to be modest too, meaning no crazy cleavage and shoulders must be covered. Choices are very limited locally. (I wish there were some sort of modest Prom Dress Excahange!) One of India’s friends loaned her a really pretty navy dress that we managed to modest-ize and I think it turned out well. Now that the Prom’s over we have to unpick all the modest additions so we can return it. Good thing they were just basted on.

It’s also a good thing that I know how to do nails, hair and makeup. There were a lot of girls who didn’t even bother to put on lipstick! For the Prom! It’s a good teaching opportunity to explain the difference between daytime and nighttime makeup. Of course India’s face showed up the best in all the pictures. I don’t take my beauty responsibilities lightly! Because India went to two Proms, that meant I got to spend two Saturdays in a row getting her all ready. (Luckily I used Angel Pro nail polish–with some silver glitter on the tips–so her manicure looked just as nice the second weekend as the first.)

Mister waited for India’s date to show up.

India’s boyfriend is the nicest boy. Terribly sweet and gentlemanly. Even so I had a little chat and told him that I’d punch him in the face if he drank any alcohol. I like to make sure that we’re on the same page.  I was sort of kidding, but not really.

The Prom was pretty nice and a good time was had until things started to get crazy and everyone was grinding on the dance floor.

The next weekend was MoPro. Since York doesn’t have his driver’s license yet, India had to drive him to pick up his date, Taylor. It was like some sort of bad Brady Bunch episode. Taylor is a pretty low-key, casual girl and York likes hanging out with her so they had a fun time.

I especially love this picture because York never–and I mean never–smiles for pictures. But lookie here! What a nice smile! I knew he could do it. York is not really into looking good (I picked him up from track practice a few weeks ago and he was wearing a dark green t-shirt, orange silky basketball shorts and black knee-high dress socks. He wears this ugly stuff proudly!). Finn, who is 14, is super into his looks. He actually had to tie York’s bow tie for him, help York style his hair and loaned him a nice watch to wear. It was pretty funny to see.

All the people going to MoPro together came over to our neighborhood and took pictures before heading off to dinner. What a cute bunch of kids!

Today we were on our way to church when a car pulled up beside us at s stop sign. It was a nice new convertible. The woman in the passenger seat was wearing a bathing suit and there was a young boy in the back. I heaved a big sigh because some Sundays I would much rather be hanging out and having another Saturday. Mormons are big-time Sabbath keepers. Sunday is the day for church and family, thinking about God, napping (being the Day of Rest and all) and maybe taking a leisurely stroll. There is no eating out, no swimming or sports and absolutely no shopping. The idea being that we don’t want to cause anyone to break the commandment of keeping the Sabbath Day holy.*

When we were travelling home from Arizona a couple of months ago, our trip spilled over onto a Sunday. Obviously if you’re travelling you have to buy gas and food and all even though it’s the Sabbath, so we decided to stop at the Costco in El Paso to grab some hot dogs. Holy Cow! Costco on Sunday is even crazier that Costco on Saturday! Maybe the El Paso Costco is always that way. But we could barely find a parking spot! Is this what Sunday is? The day of shopping? I had no idea!

Part of me really likes having a day that we don’t have to worry about most of the cares of the world. We don’t have to think about errands or kids’ birthday parties (a Sunday invitation is an automatic no). It’s a day to recharge ourselves spiritually and physically. I also love having my kids around me for an entire day without everyone scattering in a million different directions.

I needed to talk to one of the women in the ward when I was at church today. I hadn’t seen her during Sacrament meeting so I asked one of her friends if she would be there for either of the other meetings (church is three hours long and consists of three separate meetings). “No, she was really tired and wanted to sleep in and just have an at-home day”, her friend told me. I really felt like screaming. I would like nothing more than sleeping in and having an at-home day too! What makes her think that we all love being at church? It’s like being on a diet and having someone tell you that they can’t diet because they like sweets too much. I like sweets too!

A lot of time doing the right thing is the harder, less fun choice. And yes, I think going to church is the right choice. No matter what religion you are, spending time thinking about something other than yourself and what you feel like doing is a good thing. Especially if you’re encouraged to be loving and kind to other people. But it’s not a fun choice. It’s not entertaining. It’s like eating vegetables. It’s the best choice as far as eating goes, but it’s not exactly the tastiest choice. Some people really love veggies–to the point of being a vegetarian–but there are a lot of people who go days–or even weeks–without eating their veg. I think we could all agree that vegetables will never taste as good as a cookie.  But you need to eat food that is nourishing. And church is kind of like vegetables. Maybe not the funnest or most exciting but it’s the thing that will keep your spirit healthiest.

And so the family in the convertible turned right today; going to the lake or maybe to the water park. We turned left as we always do and went to church. Just like every week.


*There are plenty of crappy Mormons who shop/go boating/eat out on Sundays. If we see them we usually shout, “booooo” and thrown rotten food at them. Just kidding. I’ve struggled with Sabbath-keeping at different points in my life. We all make choices and will have to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be. But it’s one of the Ten Commandments, so you can’t really argue with that.

Adelaide Amelia Clementine turned eight last week.

Turning eight is not just any birthday if you’re Mormon. That’s when we get baptized. Mormons believe that babies and children automatically go to Heaven if they die, so baptism isn’t a requirement until kids are old enough to really understand the difference between right and wrong. Which we have interpreted to be eight years old. So although Ada’s birthday was a big deal, it was the baptism that took center stage. All the grandparents flew into town, which was nice. I don’t think we’ve ever had that happen before here in Texas.

Ada was the only person in the ward turning eight this month so we asked if the baptism could be held when it worked out schedule-wise for all the relatives. Which turned out to be on Ada’s actual birthday. It seemed a charming idea for the baptism to be held on her birthday but let me tell you, NOT the best idea.

Baptism traditions differ from place to place but here we have the baptism which is followed by cookies and punch. Since the baptism isn’t part of church, not as many people come. We had about 60 people which is a pretty good turnout. Being a snobby baker I made all the cookies myself. All 250 of them. Interspersed with cookie making I had to make a birthday cake and a birthday breakfast. Mister made the birthday lunch, so that was one less thing for me to worry about. Then we had to do presents.

Basically by Sunday evening I was bone-tired.

I had been planning all along on making Ada’s baptism dress. After doing hours and hours of research, however, I just couldn’t find a dress/pattern/fabric that I liked better than the dupioni silk dresses I’d made for India and Arabella. While most Mormon girls wear a white dress for their baptisms, that’s nothing more than a tradition. Our family likes to be just a smidge different. Heaven knows it would have been a jillion times easier to find a white dress with Communion season upon us. Pretty white dresses are a dime a dozen. But that’s not how we roll, so I talked Ada into wearing India’s old dress. (It wasn’t hard. I just said, “Doesn’t this blue dress match your eyes perfectly?” And Ada was all over it. She’s very proud of her blue eyes.) The hem had to be let out a bit since India had been so shrimpy, but it worked out perfectly in the end.

Here’s the silly thing about the dress: the girl doesn’t actually get baptized in it. Since we do what Jesus did, that means actual immersion under water. Dresses usually float to the top of the water so years ago the church switched to providing white jumpsuits for the baptizees. The dress (or suit if it’s a boy) is worn to the baptism and changed into immediately after the baptism itself for the rest of the event. It’s not like they’re expected to walk around in some soaking wet thing all day.

The service was just lovely. Mister performed the baptism and the confirmation afterwards where the gift is given of having the Holy Ghost as a constant comapanion. There was an awkward moment during the talk about baptism that my mother was giving where I halfway expected her to start talking about the birds and the bees, but other than that it was perfect. Mister and I tried to get a few pictures with the birthday girl but after only one my iphone decided it had had enough. So here is our one memento that Mister and I were both at our sweet Adelaide’s baptism.



I’m about to walk out the door to JoAnn Fabrics. I shall be buying fabric and sewing a pioneer outfit for my oldest daughter for the Pioneer Trek this weekend. It’s a tradition of Mormons to recreate  a pioneer experience for the teenagers every few years. Of course starvation, death and cholera will be omitted but sunburns and blisters will certainly be on the menu. From what I can gather, handcarts will be included but, sadly, conestoga wagons and oxen will not.

The kids are supposed to dress “pioneerish” while still being practical. Boys have to wear long pants (no jeans) and button-up shirts. Girls wear ankle-length skirts and aprons–bonnets optional. Basically they look like sloppy Amish people. Shoes are expected to be sturdy and comfy. We bought hiking shoes for all three kids last month and have been making the kids wear them to break them in. India has been particularly incensed that she wear hiking shoes to school. Better than than blisters, though.

Because Texas summers are killer, we do our Trek in the winter-time, unlike most of the church kids in other parts of the country. Realism is only taken so far; We don’t want them dropping like flies. The highs this weekend should be in the low 70′s. Perfect. The kids and equipment will be taken a couple of hours away and everyone will walk around pushing carts and doing other pioneer-y things for a couple of days. The Mormon kids in Utah will often times get to travel the very same wagon paths the original Pioneers followed. But this is Texas so the kids will wander around some nice rancher’s property. If you want a visual watch the movie True Grit. It was filmed close to the ranch where they’ll be staying. (Plus True Grit is just a fantastic movie.)

Mormons have a pioneer heritage but so do a lot of other people in this country. I think everyone in the Western half of the U.S. should have to reenact some sort of migration. Maybe someone should start a tourism company that does treks over the Sierra Nevadas or maybe up the Oregon Trail. The super adventurous could even do a recreation of a winter time Donner Party expedition. It would be like those PBS shows “Texas Ranch House” or “1890 house” but shorter-term. I wonder if people would do that.

Maybe there already is such a thing? I, of course, would not do it. Instead I will make some pioneer  garb for my daughter and wave goodbye. And go to sleep in my nice Tempurpedic bed.

The Relief Society is in charge of the ward Christmas Party this year. I already have my decorating theme (Candy Canes! Everything will be red and white.) But I’m not really jazzed about any of the program/activity ideas that that we’ve been considering.  Have you been to any church Christmas parties that  you’ve really liked? Has any activity really stood out to you? Have you read about any ideas that seemed particularly cool? Please tell me!  Links are great too. These are the only requirements:

No Santa. I believe church should be the one Santa-free zone.

No Old-world christmas or Bethlehem-type themes. We’ve already started buying red and white decorations.

P.S. Non-Mormons, feel free to give me any ideas as well if you’ve been to some great church parties.

Mother’s Day is a difficult day for a lot of people: there are the people who want to be mothers but can’t; the people who have lost their mothers; people who are estranged from their mothers/daughters; mothers who mourn the death of a child; and mothers who feel like they have totally failed at their job. I swear that half the women at church don’t show up on this day. It’s just too raw. Not even to get the plant/cookie/candy bar that the men hand out after church.

Here is my humble suggestion: remember the blessings that you do have. Because there are blessings in your life. Despite some heartbreaks that seems especially bleak on Mother’s Day, there is still reason to be glad. Even if it’s just because there is a new episode of Sherlock on PBS.

In either General Conference or Oprah (pretty much the same thing) the point was made that you can’t feel both depression and gratitude at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive. So let’s all choose gratitude today. Sit down and actively think of the wonderful things in your life.

Or you can do what I do: treat this as a day to make people cater to my whims. It is the day when I can use my female-ness to get people to do my bidding. I have asked York to scrub my very dirty stovetop, had my family to make me brownies, Pecan Honeypots and buy me my favorite ice cream; and had the playroom cleaned. All with a simple, “it’s Mother’s Day; you have to do as I say.”

When you look at it that way, there’s no reason not to adore this holiday!

I’ve been trying to do a book review but my heart just isn’t in it. Instead let me tell you about my new calling. For those who aren’t Mormon let me explain what a calling is:  In our church everything is run by volunteers. Even the pastor (called the Bishop) works for free in addition to having a regular job. We are expected to work hard because taking care of each other is what God wants. People are the Lord’s hands and we’d better help each other because that’s the whole point of life, for pete’s sake. So each job at church is called a calling. Mormons are huge fans of speaking to God and firmly believe that God speaks back. So when it’s time for a job to be filled (most callings are held for two or three years), the leaders pray about it and get an answer of who would be best for that job. It works pretty well for us.

My new calling is a doozy. I’m the Relief Society President.

I know. But I swear the church is still true!

Which means, according to Julie Beck who has been the Big Cheese in Salt Lake City for the last five years, I am responsible for every home in my ward. Repeat: every home in my ward.


All the needs of the women (hence their husbands and children too) are my job. Mormons have their own welfare system and the Bishop and I work together to make sure everyone is fed and clothed. And visited. I will be visiting all the women in the ward, as well as being in charge of visiting teaching (see that glossary over to the left if you don’t know what I’m talking about). Supervising/planning/executing visiting teaching is a full-time job in itself.

I’ve had this calling for not even two weeks and I spent half of that time out of state. I got home from the SNAP conference on Monday night and spent the ENTIRE Tuesday on the phone or visiting with people who needed something.

And then yesterday. Oh gosh. I won’t go into details as it’s not appropriate but our ward suffered a terrible tragedy. I called up the former Relief Society President who is on a much-needed vacation and just wailed, “helllllllppppp!” We talked for a while and she gave me a lot of good advice. And then ended with, “this is pretty much the worst thing that could happen. So from here on out things will only get better for you!”


Why am I telling you this? One, if you are a praying person please pray for me. I am not the sweet and huggy type of woman usually called to be the RS Pres. Please pray that I don’t screw this up too badly.

Secondly, I’m not sure how blogging is going to fit into all of this. My spare time will be a little iffy. Hopefully this will help me to squander my time less and I’ll actually be disciplined for once and blog more.  Maybe I’ll keep blogging and give up entirely on housecleaning. Now that’s a brilliant solution!

Either way, you can be sure I’m going to nag you a lot about being good! (Nah, I won’t. But since we’re at it, how is your 3-month supply coming along?)

I have been neglecting this blog very sorely. Part of it is general summer laziness; the fact that our schedule is rather–how shall I put it–fluid. I do the minimum amount of everything needed. The least amount of cooking, the least amount of cleaning, and the least amount of blogging. It’s nothing personal; just a lack of mojo.

Not helping the situation has been my computer which has been so naughty and disfunctional, but seems to be liking me once again. Sort of.

I’ve been doing some odds and ends around the house. Not cleaning or anything. Just crafty-type things (I haven’t been entirely useless. Just mostly useless). Nothing is as satisfying and therapeutic as making stuff. (Eating is a close second but there is nothing to show for that but an empty Oreos package and fat thighs.)


Mister has very sensitive skin so I make most of our soap. Our bathroom is black, white and green so I thought making some matching soaps would be in order.

I tried two very different designs. The one on the left is a shea butter & babassu soap that has more of a funky, rustic vibe. For the life of me I can’t remember what I scented it with, but it smells fantastic. Hopefully it will be really moisturizing. I tried a new recipe but it won’t be cured for another month. I’ll let you know.

The soap on the right is glycerine and is very pretty and tailored-looking. I scented it with Vera Wang which is my favorite perfume these days. Mister probably doesn’t want to smell like Vera Wang, but I guess he’ll have to make his own soap.


Did your mom have one of these pincushions? I use one when I sew because it’s so convenient, but this stupid thing is always falling off and the chintzy plastic band is really itchy.


So I made an adorable wrist pincushion out of felt. I got the pattern (free!) from Heather Bailey, although I tweaked it a bit. I buy my felt online from Giant Dwarf on Etsy. Her prices are excellent (don’t use that vile stuff from the craft store. Please). My pincushion is super comfy but most importantly it’s cute!


Also going on recently was the adult Pinewood Derby at church. Most of the couples did a car together but Mister wanted no part of my design. Wonder why?


Tacky? Check. Girly? Double check.

My car is called “Put A Bird On It”. Which is named after the funny skit on Portlandia (I’ll link to it down below). I must say “put a bird on it” at least once a day.

Mister made his car out of a slab of chocolate-chip cookie.


There are no holds barred at the Derby and people (men!) were adding tons of weight to the cars in between races to make them go faster. Since we didn’t think to bring pocketfulls of lead, Mister was left to improvise. Watermelon seemed like a nice, heavy choice.


His car came in dead last, but it got the biggest laugh, which as everyone knows is more important than winning. Put a Bird On It came in second to last. But it was by far the prettiest Pinewood Derby car to ever grace the church gym.