IMO

I really, really love Instagram (you can find me @heyhildie). I used to fight it because I hated the idea that all my pictures have to be square. Now I accept square-ness (and I know how to get past that if I need to). Instagram is kind of like Facebook but without all the ads and weird stuff. And, of course, you always have to use a picture (or video!). That’s the whole point.

If you’re on Instagram or are thinking about it, let me give you a few hints. These might sound a little bratty, but I’m just trying to help you out. If you want people to like your stuff (and obviously you do or you wouldn’t be putting your pictures up for public approval on Instagram), you need to follow a few guidelines:

1. Don’t be a Private User. There is nothing more annoying than having someone comment on one of your photos, only to click over to their info and this is what you see:

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There is pretty much no info on your Instagram account unless you put it there. Meaning that there is no way people can figure out your name and address and kidnap your kids unless you put it on Instagram on purpose. Facebook is way more scary in that respect.

 2. Keep the pics of your kids to a minimum (I’d say 50% or less). Yes, I know you have the cutest toddler ever and your teenage daughter is simply gorgeous, but unless your mom is your only follower the rest of us don’t want to see endless photos of your kids. It’s boring. Sorry. It also makes you look lame and one-dimensional. Certainly there is more to your life than your children (please say yes). I know that Christmas and Halloween are kid-heavy holidays and we’re all guilty of putting up lots of pics on Instagram during that time of year. Just try to expand your horizons a little and find interesting/pretty/funny things that don’t revolve around your offspring.

 

3. Limit pictures of your animals. Pets are even more boring than kids. At least kids have different facial expressions. Unless your pet is doing something really hilarious, or it’s a particularly gorgeous shot, don’t post it. A cat lying on a bed is not interesting unless you’re a ten-year-old girl. If that’s who follows you on Instagram, then knock yourself out. I have one friend whom I had to unfollow because all she ever posted were pictures of her Afghan Hound sleeping. It just looked like a brownish mop laying on the floor. You can only give a person so many sympathy “likes” before you just unfollow them.

 

4. Do not even think of posting a shot looking down at your shoes! We’ve all taken one, which is what makes it so boring and overdone. I don’t care how great of a filter you use. If you want to show that you are about to go running, wrack your brain for some other way to illustrate this.

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5. Don’t go overboard with hashtags. This is a tricky area. I like a hashtag if it’s funny or clever. Or if I actually want to be able to search for the topic of the picture. Please don’t go crazy with the “funny” hashtags. It can get really, really annoying. Like an eight-year-old who won’t quit with the knock-knock jokes.

 

Yes, you can put whatever you want on Intagram. But if you want people to like your pictures and follow you, you need to keep things interesting.

 

This subject comes up again and again every time I’m together with a bunch of moms; do you force your child to keep taking piano lessons even when he starts to hate it and complains endlessly?  Most parents were allowed to quit and always bemoan the fact that their parents didn’t make them keep with it. I come from the opposite side: my mother wouldn’t allow me to quit. “You’ll thank me one day!” she loved to say.

I never liked playing the piano. Never. It was not the instrument that spoke to me. I wanted to play the harp. “That’s much too expensive!” my mother informed me on more than one occasion; expensive unlike, say . . . a piano? Because pianos are dirt cheap, don’t you know.  Anyway, playing the piano–and eventually the organ–was my mother’s dream. The woman loves an audience and the thought of playing in front of the church congregation every week was her fondest wish. But she had nine siblings and her mom let her quit when she complained, blahblahblah. We all know where she was coming from. So my mother decided that she would force her children to play the piano until they graduated from high school no matter what. They would praise her name for it one day!

When I started piano lessons at age 8 it wasn’t too bad, but within a year I grew to hate it. I hated the lessons, I hated the piano in general and I especially hated my mother for forcing me to play. By the time I was ten I would get terrible stress headaches every lesson day and I would cry most of the way to my teacher’s house. My mother refused to budge. “Just think how wonderful it will be when you can play the organ in front of everyone,” she would sigh. Not being the kind of person who likes to perform at all, this was the most horrible scenario I could imagine. “You’ll thank me one day,” she would shout from the car as I dragged myself to the piano teacher’s sliding glass door. One day I snapped. I narrowed my eyes and said in a very even, cold tone, “once I turn eighteen I will never touch the piano again.”

I don’t think it ever occurred to my mother that her daughter would be more stubborn than she was. Even after a go at organ lessons, which my mother thought would be “exhilarating” (“wait, now I have to play with not only my hands but my feet too? Forget it!”), I continued to hate all of it.

Fate smiled on me when I was sixteen. I was in a car accident and my arm was badly broken. Not only did I have a cast but because my arm had broken backwards (The bruising was horrifying), the muscles and tendons were a complete mess and I needed physical therapy for months.

I finally got to quit piano lessons.

Once my arm recovered and I probably could have resumed playing, I never did. I was as good as my word; I never played the piano again. And as a side benefit I grew to hate my mother for disregarding my feelings by forcing me to do something I so clearly hated.  Now if I sit down at the piano I can kind of pick out a tune with one hand; I barely remember anything.  Am I sad about this? Not at all. I hated playing the piano. It was my mother’s dream, not mine. There is no regret at all.

So now I have children of my own. And the idea of music lessons eventually came up when they were little. I do believe that learning music is very important; I believe that learning to play an instrument can teach discipline and responsibility. But so can lots of other things. In the Mormon culture especially, learning an instrument is very important. So this is what I have done with my children: they have all had to take music lessons, usually on the piano.  The minimum for lessons is one year; that is non-negotiable. Every human being should learn how to read music; even if it’s just to sing an unfamiliar hymn in church. It’s just a life skill like learning to make your bed.

After one year we reassess. If the child wants to continue to play the piano, that’s great. If they want to go on to another instrument that’s fine too. Finn went on to play the trumpet, York quit completely (he is just not the kind of person who is drawn to playing an instrument. It is not where his talents lie and even at the age of eight I realized that about him and I was OK with that.) India continued playing the piano for a few years and then we had a couple of years off because we could not find a teacher that she gelled with. She continued to play on her own nearly every day and finally we found her a great piano teacher last year. She’s doing well and still enjoys it.  Arabella has finished her second year of lessons (we got a late start with her), rarely needs to be reminded to practice and has never mentioned quitting. Maybe she’ll stick with the piano, maybe she won’t. She’s shown some interest in the hammered dulcimer than I have sitting around and if she wants to take lesson in that instead I have no problem with that.

My musical story has a happy ending (besides the fact that I don’t hate my mother anymore). When I was about 32 I decided to finally take harp lessons. I had loved the harp all these years and realized that it wasn’t too late to learn something new (why have we decided that childhood is the only time you can learn anything new???). I found a wonderful teacher and rented a harp. Let me tell you something, it is a million times easier to learn an instrument as an adult! All that music theory my piano teachers tried to explain over and over and over? It finally made perfect sense. I loved the harp and was mature enough to practice every day. I progressed a jillion times faster than I had as a child. When we moved to Texas I turned my harp back in and with six kids under age 11, I just didn’t have the time to start it up again down here.

I have missed playing the harp. Mister knows that. So my sweet husband tried to buy me a harp for my birthday. But it’s rather hard buying an instrument when you know nothing about it. So he had to spoil his surprise and tell me his plan. I was more than thrilled to help him find the perfect harp. We picked it up yesterday and I am over the moon.

I am too crazy busy with end-of-school stuff and a huge church party tonight and a Blog Her conference tomorrow and Friday to spend more than a few minutes here and there playing. But come Sunday, I’ll dust off my old harp books and go to town.

To answer my original question: should you make your kids keep taking music lessons when they complain about hating it? Please don’t make a blanket statement, yes or no. Think about your child; think about her personality. Ask if there’s another instrument she would rather play. My cousin really wanted to play the saxophone but her dad said no because saxophones aren’t in an orchestra which means it’s not a “real instrument”. She had to settle for the trumpet which she didn’t like much at all. Would your child be better suited for some other pursuit? York has the brain of an engineer that likes to invent and solve problems; playing music felt very dull and stifling to him. We accepted that facet of his personality and moved on. Not everyone in the world is suited to music.

Also ask yourself why you want your child to play so badly. What does it say about your hopes and desires? If you always dreamed of playing on the stage, don’t try to live out your fantasies through your kids; it’s going to backfire at some point. Why don’t you take lessons? You may be too old to become the next Van Cliburn, but you can still get pretty good and you’ll feel much so much prouder of yourself than you would of your child. It really isn’t too late to start your own musical training!

Believe it or not, your job as a parent isn’t to gild your child with hobbies and talents and trophies. Your job is to help your child find her interests (not to decide what they are for her), learn discipline and love herself. If music is a part of that, great. If not, that’s OK too. Be prepared to let it go. If your child is a prodigy, you’ll know early on. Be sensitive to what your child really needs. Not everyone wants to play in the high school marching band or accompany the church choir. Every child does need to be listened to and validated.

HEB (the best grocery store in Texas, hence the World) sent me some new Primo Picks to try out. Primo Picks are interesting/cool/extra awesome products that they feature at the store. Since I am always game to try new things, I was pretty jazzed.

I waited until the kids got home from school before I tried anything. I wanted to have more than one opinion than just my own. The clear favorites for them were these yummy things:

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The Lacey’s cookies are halfway between candy and a cookie. They’re two of toffee-esque cookies with a slather of dark chocolate in-between. I’ve seen them around before but never tried them. Ohhhh man, I wish I had never tried them. They’re now what I fantasize about when I have my cheat day. Since you can’t really send your kids to school with such sugar bombs (save those for Mommy, please), This Snacklemouth Salty Chocolate Clusters is a little more appropriate for every day. The kids snarfed down this stuff which is kind of like moist, chocolatey granola. It’s gluten-free and not very high in sugar. A perfect addition to the lunch boxes. Or at least it would have been if we hadn’t promptly eaten it all. Plus, don’t you dig the funky box? The guys has chocolate dripping from his mustache and eyeballs! Sweeeet!

The chips were also a big hit. As much as I love sweets, I love a nice salty potato chip as well (with a coke, naturally). I like the big crunch of Kettle Chips and these don’t disappoint. They have a really pronounced potato flavor which I appreciate when I eat chips; I don’t want to taste a bunch of chemicals, thankyouverymuch. Plus the bag is cute. I like the fonts. Yes, fonts matter!

I really appreciated the coconut oil and coconut water. Despite appearances to the contrary, I’m actually trying to make healthier choices for my family. Lately when I’ve cooked stuff in the frying pan I’ve been using olive oil. I’ve heard amazing things about coconut oil, so I was very happy to give HEB’s virgin Coconut Oil a try. I cooked up some Basa fish (have you heard of it? It’s some new kind of fish and it’s superyum) in the coconut oil and slathered it with guacamole (you don’t eat guacamole on your fish? What’s the matter with you?) The coconut oil gave it a subtle tropical-ish flavor. I like it. And it’s fantastically healthy (for a fat, I mean. It’s not healthier than a handful of fresh carrots.)

 

My whole family was very excited to try the three flavors of BBQ sauce. Let me give you a little background, though. We used to always buy grocery store BBQ sauce and it’s always tasted fine. That’s because we didn’t live in Texas. Now we live in Texas where BBQ is taken terribly seriously. We usually buy a bottle of sauce at our favorite restaurants (I prefer the sauce at Southside in Elgin, TX and Mister Prefers the sauce at Rudy’s.) One time we ran out of restaurant sauce and I bought the same old BBQ sauce at the store like we used to buy. Only this time it was inedible. It tasted all wrong. It was weirdly sweet and had nasty chemical overtones. (I complain about food tasting like chemicals a lot. That’s because I’m spoiled and like homemade-tasting food. Unless it’s Funyons.) We scraped the sauce off and ate our dry meat without. So I was intrigued by the trio of sauces that HEB provided. If nothing else, it gave us an excuse to buy a heaping lot of brisket. The verdict? All three sauces were mighty good. No chemical flavors whatsoever.  Finn, Arabella and I preferred the Better Than Good Traditional Texas sauce. Mister and India like Mama’s Original sauce the best. York Preferred the Better Than Good Texas Moppin’ Sauce, and Ada doesn’t like meat at all so she just had a salad.  The Texas Moppin’ Sauce has a definite mustard overtone. I think mustard is simply the most disgusting condiment in the world so I didn’t care for it at all.  I was more than happy to find some grocery store sauces that I can be happy about using. Now I don’t have to buy spendy bottles at restaurants any more.

I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the Primo Picks at HEB. Pick up a few next time you’re at HEB. And if you don’t live in Texas, poor you.

 

 

I was compensated by HEB but, trust me, the opinions are all mine. You can’t buy my taste buds.

Tonight we had some time to kill after dinner so I took my kids to the neighborhood pool. SInce it was close to bedtime there were only a couple of families there. A lot of times if you go to the pool in the evenings, dads are on kid-duty and the moms are at home (or are they??). Tonight I sat and eavesdropped (one of my favorite pool activities) on two dads having a really in-depth discussion on how to get a charter or magnet school for gifted kids to open nearby. It was a pretty interesting discussion, I have to say. After discussing the need to provide our brilliant children with better educational opportunities, both of the dads left. Or rather, one dad left and the other dad attempted to leave. The second dad had a little boy about 6 or 7 years old who had been splashing jasper and trying to jump on his inner tube the entire time we’d been at the pool.

The dad kept threatening his son who blissfully ignored him while attempting to terrorize/drown Jasper. Eventually the dad got fed up and went and got in the car. This was after begging his son for over ten minutes to get out of the pool because it’s time to go or I’m going to leave you do you hear me Im serious I’m not going to ask you again.

When the dad started actually driving away the kid finally realized his dad was serious and went tearing out of the pool.

This is what I wanted to tell the dad: you might want to forget about a fancy education and spend a little more time getting your son to obey. Who cares how smart and well-educated someone is if he won’t do what he’s asked? Seriously parents, smarts aren’t nearly as important as obedience. You might want to paste that on every mirror in your house.

I started out kind of shy. I always felt incredibly nervous in a situation with people I didn’t know. The thought of introducing myself was enough to make me run away in petrified fright. I am super outgoing once I meet someone but the idea of breaking the ice has always scared me silly.

At some point I realized that this was stupid. I guess I talked to enough people to realize that we all feel intimidated by meeting others for the first time. I also was “the new person” enough times to know that there are very few things as wonderful as being in a new place or sitting by a stranger and having someone reach out a hand of friendship*. At some point I decided I just need to put the scaredness behind me and say hello to strangers.

Everyone feels shy sometimes. Nearly all of us feel slightly bashful about initiating a conversation or meeting somebody new. I was surprised to find out that even my mother–the most outgoing person ever born on Planet Earth–feels shy sometimes.  Here’s what I have to say about shyness: get over it. All shyness will ever do is hold you back in life.

I’m sure some of you will swear that this isn’t the case, but I really feel like being shy is just another facet of being scared. Whether it’s being scared of rejection, or being scared of making a fool of yourself or being scared of simply trying something new, it all boils down to getting over yourself.  You aren’t the prettiest or the funniest or the smartest. So what? You’re still an interesting person and your views on things are just as good as the views as the person sitting next to you. So stop being a quiet little mouse.

I know, I know. It’s easier to just tell yourself that people won’t like you or you don’t know what to say. Here’s the secret: people don’t really rememeber what you say, especially if you’re in a crowd or busy place. Think about the last time you met someone. Do you remember the exact conversation you had with them? No? I can’t remember either. I pretty much just remember that the last person I met was interesting to talk to and that she had just moved here from out of state. That’s it. So don’t overanalyze what you say when you meet someone, just say something. Don’t try to hard to be funny or interesting. Trying too hard is a recipe for disaster. Being a good listener is the ticket.

So what do you say? How do you start? It’s just like jumping into a swimming pool. It’s best just to do it; the more you think about it, the more freaked out you’ll get.  Here’s a scenario that works pretty much anywhere that you might be sitting next to a stranger. This could be at a concert, at church, at a meeting, at a college lecture. This is what you do: turn to the person and say, “Hi, I’m [insert your name]”  Hold your hand out to shake if it’s appropriate (not so much in High School English). Then pay them a compliment of some sort (this is for women, I don’t know that this works the same way for men. Probably men might be a little weirded out if you tell them they have nice hair). Here are some examples:

I love your sweater.

That purse is so adorable.

Your eyes are the prettiest shade of gold.

That necklace is really cool.

Don’t go overboard and don’t start talking about yourself and how you hate your purse but your sister bought it for you so you have to use it anyway. Or how you have blue eyes just like your grandmother. It’s our natural nervous reaction to talk about ourselves. Fight it. Please, please fight it.

Next, ask them something about themselves and how it relates to the place where you are.

Have you been to a concert here before?

How do you think this class is going so far?

Do you come to blog conferences a lot?

WARNING: if you are meeting someone new at a place you’ve been going to forever, it can be a little tricky asking them if they’re new. It can seem really terrible if they’ve been going to the same church/yoga class/book club for three months and you just barely noticed them . It can really sting when someone asks you if you’re new and you aren’t. So try not to ask, “are you new here?” They may be, but if they aren’t it’s going to seem really awkward. If you honestly haven’t noticed, try a phrase like, “I don’t think we’ve officially met” This is especially good when you’ve seen the person around but you’ve both been too shy to make introductions.

After the person has answered this question, I find that admitting how nervous you were about the situation creates instant camaraderie and let’s them know that you are honest and they can relax around you. When people feel like they can be themselves around you then you will both feel a lot less shy.

“I was so nervous walking in here. Everyone seems like they know what they’re doing”

“I’ve never been to this club and I was so nervous about where to park”

“I always feel so awkward sitting next to a total stranger”

“I was so nervous that I might not be smart enough to come to this book club.”

The awesome thing is that when you admit something that you were nervous or scared about, the other person will agree or show some sort of empathy. Always. This is just the American way to communicate. If you don’t live in America, you can try this but I have no idea if it works. If you are shy in the U.S., though, give this a try. Admitting you were scared is a fantastic ice-breaker.

After this you should be able to come up with some things to say. Remember, though, to ask questions of the other person. Don’t just talk about yourself. It’s tacky and boring to the other person. If you suddenly find a lull in conversation, ask them about themselves: where they grew up, if they have kids/siblings, what they studied in college. I’m sure you can come up with something.

I still get butterflies when I have to introduce myself to a complete stranger. Due to my job at church, though, I pretty much have to. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a funk or if they don’t look like someone who might not be my type. I’ve come to realize that we all want to feel like we belong. It’s your job as a decent human to put that shyness away and try to be friendly. Seriously, being shy is lame. I’m speaking as a sometimes-shy person. Really, the title of this post shouldn’t be “how to not feel shy”. Because I don’t really know how to to just not feel shy. I still feel shy all the time. Really I want you to learn how to get over it and be friendly even when it’s scary and you’re not in the mood. So what if you don’t want to? You’re a grown-up, do it anyway!

If it helps you can repeat this saying that I made up for my chronically bashful children:

Be the first one to say “hi”,

Even if you’re feeling shy.

 

*To this day I will always remember and be grateful to Suzie Cavolloro who stood next to me in the lunch line at my new school in 11th grade. She introduced herself, asked if I wanted to sit next to her in the lunchroom (YES!!! There is no event as horribly intimidating as the first time you walk into the lunchroom at a new school), and even invited me to a party she was planning that weekend. Your kindness has stayed with me all these years, Suzie!



 

Here are ten things that make me really happy (In no particular order):

Looking out the window. I could sit for hours and just look out the window. Any window, really.  I just like to let my mind wander and think about whatever. Sometimes I’ll walk by a window and can’t resist stopping and staring. And staring. and thinking. I don’t know why this is. But it also explains why I like road trips, since that’s nothing more than sitting and looking out the window for hours on end.

Presents. These are my love language and I just love them. I cannot resist a present. But it can’t just be any old present; it has to actually be selected thoughtfully. I don’t care if it’s expensive (actually, I prefer it not to be), as long as it’s thoughtful. My husband is the king of thoughtful presents. That’s really what won me over when we were dating. He can give a better gift with $20 than most people could with $200. My mom, on the other hand is not a good gift giver (sorry, Mom!) Mostly because she either leaves the tags from Goodwill on the item or she does something like this: I found a prettily-wrapped present on my pillow earlier this year and unwrapped it to find a pair of cute earrings. When I thanked my mom she replied, “they came with a necklace I just bought. Since I don’t have pierced ears I threw them away. But then I decided to give them to you instead.” Great! My present is your garbage! Way to make me feel special.

My family. No duh, right? But there is nothing that fills me with happiness and joy quite like my immediate family. My kids and my husband are the best. My extended family, though? That’s a little iffier.

Flowers. I love flowers. Love, love, love them. Especially if they are from a florist or growing in some place other than my yard. I mean, I love having flowers grow in my yard but I hate gardening. It really takes the magic away. If I could have a gardener I would be a very happy woman.

Cookies. Let me clarify: good cookies. I will not eat most store-bought cookies. But a great homemade cookie is a beautiful (and rare!) thing. They’re not as messy and overly sweet as a piece of cake, not as sloppy as pie, and more interesting than a piece of candy. Cookies are perfect. I think my cookies are the best but my favorite cookie not made by me is the Cadillac cookie at the Rolling in Thyme and Dough Bakery in Dripping Springs, Texas. It an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie with caramel and maybe some toffee. If you call ahead of time, they’ll make a fresh batch for you.

Going to the Movies. And I mean going to the movie theatre. Not just watching a movie on Netflix. The movie is often a let-down but there is nothing more magical than escaping to a dark theatre. I adore movie popcorn with lots of butter and I never, ever miss the previews. Actually, I like the previews more than the movie most of the time. (Funny how I can always make it to the movies on time, but church is quite another story.) The best thing is going to see a movie that I know nothing about and have zero expectations. And then having it be good. (Just saw Mud with a scuzzy looking Matthew McConaughey and that’s exactly how it was.)

Friends that Are Easy to Be Around. We all have friends that are fun but high-maintenence. They are not who I am talking about. I’m talking about friends that you start talking to and an hour slips by without even noticing. Friends that you can actually count on, that you know will help you however they can. People that leave you energized and excited, not bummed out and disappointed. Sometimes these friends are people you’ve known forever, sometimes they are people you’ve just met. But a true, easy friend is a joy. I would pretty much do anything for my friends and once we have a relationship I am stalwart to the end. It’s been a sad realization that many people aren’t this same way.

Making stuff. I’m actually quite crafty although I never put my projects on my blog. Usually because they’re total rip-offs of something I saw elsewhere on the internet. There is such a thrill when I buy stuff to get ready for a project. And then when it’s done and it looks good? Heaven. Seriously, is there anything more satisfying than finishing a crafty project that looks good? (And is there anything more maddening than finishing a crafty project that looks bad?)

Church. Please don’t roll your eyes. I love being at church (although I love it more when we start at 11 and not 9 am). I love the sense of community. But I especially love going someplace where I am encouraged to know God, to ask questions, and to search for personal meaning in everything. It makes me happy going to a church where my questions are answered.

Downloading a new album. This is so exciting I can’t even listen to the whole album straight through. I listen to about 30 seconds of each song before I impatiently fast-forwarding to the next. Then I can go through and listen to the whole thing. Speaking of which, Vampire Weekend has a new album. I’d better click over to itunes and buy it right now!

 

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.

I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to quotes that I love. If I could I would print them up and post them everywhere around my house. The sad thing is that when you post something around your house it quickly becomes commonplace and ignored. So instead I will read these every once in a while and be totally inspired for about five minutes.

I absolutely worship Anne LaMott. She is what I wish I were as an author: intelligent, observant, witty, and spiritual without being heavy-handed. I love this quote because sometimes I feel like sharing something that happened in my past isn’t exactly flattering to the other people involved. But I do own the events that happened to me! And she’s right, if people didn’t want to be written about negatively, they should have acted better.

 

I see soooo many parents who do everything for their children, thinking that they are making their kids’ lives better. It’s appalling to see how many parents are still waking their teenagers up, doing their grown children’s laundry, carrying their children’s backpacks home from school, and catering to their kids whims. Moms and dads aren’t meant to be maids or cruise directors. It starts out that way when we’ve got babies, but by the time the kids are late teens they should be pretty self-sufficient. If they’re not, college and grown-up life are going to be mighty rough.

 

I love, love, love the idea that the Lord does indeed answer prayers and it’s usually through another person. Wouldn’t you like to be the answer to someone’s prayer?  This is an eternal truth: helping other people is the most instantaneous way to feel happier and better about your life.  Being of service is the key to being fulfilled and happy.

I went to see that new Jackie Robinson movie yesterday. I snuck out in the middle of the day and went to the fancy theatre that has super cushy recliners. It was all fine and dandy until I spilled an entire Coke Zero on my pants. But I’m a tough broad so I just ignored the soaking wet denim. I was actually wearing a raincoat but do you think I spilled the Coke on that? Of course not.

The movie was good, if formulaic. It’s always so crazy to see how racist people used to be. (I’m sure there are still incredibly racist normal people–normal, as in “not skinheads”–but it’s got to be pretty underground.)  When I see movies like 42 or The Help it’s very hard to understand that’s how things were for black people not that long ago. Part of me wonders if was really that bad because how could people have been so hateful because of someone’s skin color?

I grew up in a different environment than most white people, I guess.  Detroit, where I was born and raised, is mostly black. I lived in the first suburb north of the city. It was lower- to middle-class and was probably the first stop when people wanted to move on up from Detroit proper. I would say that the schools I went to were pretty evenly split between black and white, especially as I entered my teen years. Unlike the South, though, there really was no sort of “us vs. them” mentality. The most popular boys in my fifth grade class were Jahmod (A black kid) and Jason (a Jewish kid). (Oh yeah, there was a huge Jewish population in our town too. Which meant white Christians were totally the minority. We loved Jewish kids because that meant we got a whole bunch of Jewish holidays off of school too; not just the regular Christian ones.) Being Mormon and white? Super minority. I was pretty much the only one in middle and high school.

The mall closest to our house was called Northland and was the first modern shopping mall in America.  I remember going there and being the only white person I’d see. It didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or weird; it just was the way it was. I took Mister to that same mall when we went back to visit Detroit for my dad’s funeral back in the early 90′s. Man, did he almost have a heart attack! Being from Portland, OR, he was never exposed to many black people. He thought for sure someone was going to attack us. I just laughed and told him how I’d been shopping there dozens of times by myself at night. I can only blame the media for giving him the idea that young black men are all thugs; how else would he have developed that opinion?

We had lots of black people at church. Our bishop was eventually a black man, as were some of my primary teachers and Young Women Leaders. Our ward spread deep into Detroit and we had a real variety of members.Not just blacks but some members of Arabic descent too. It all seemed completely normal. I don’t recall the race card ever being mentioned.

When I look back on the relations between blacks and whites growing up, I wonder if maybe I was just clueless. But I remember blacks and whites sitting at the same tables at lunch; blacks and whites going to dances together and hanging out. Maybe our town was unique or maybe I just remember things differently, being a white girl.

 

*Yep, that’s me, Jennie Hildegard Davis, in the third row of the school picture; rocking the braces and feathered bangs. Viva Eighth Grade!

 

Let’s talk about fashion first: Watching the Oscars is a bit lame when you don’t have cable. You can’t switch between four channels to make sure you don’t miss a single dress on the red carpet. Instead I had to sort through pictures on the internet this morning to see if there were some stunners I missed.  There weren’t. My opinion is that color is good. Neutral tones really don’t flatter many people. I mean, some of those grey/white/bronze dresses looked nice but think how much prettier they would have looked in a nice peacock blue. Especially that knock-out Jessica Chastain (At least she had some bright lips to perk things up). And Amy Adams hair? It looks Nanny and the Professor. Ew.


I guess I should amend the above statement to say that white girls shouldn’t wear neutrals. My favorite dress of the night was on Zoe Saldana who is one of the most gorgeous women ever. It’s a pearly grey but it doesn’t look washed out since Zoe has that lovely cappuccino skin. Love the layers at the hem and the flowers up top. LOVE!

 

Normally I hate everything about Jennifer Aniston but she looks 100% gorgeous.

I thought everyone looked pretty decent. This isn’t like the Oscars of the 80′s when everyone looked ridiculous. But there were a few things that caused me to raise my eyebrows:

Oh Anne, the satin and the darts combine to create the perfect storm. I’m sure your nipples are lovely but we really don’t all need to know. Her diamond necklace is adorable but I hope the “necklace on backwards’ trend ends quickly. It’s weird.

And then there are a couple of ladies taking a footnote from the 80′s. Halle Berry gets all Alexis Carrington while Jane looks like she’s on her way to the Captain’s table on The Love Boat.

 

But enough about clothes. Let’s talk about movies. I haven’t seen most of them. Although Mister and I did catch a screening last weekend of all the live action and animated shorts. It was three hours long but completely enjoyable.

I’m still not sure who Seth MacFarlane is but I quite enjoyed him. And what a nice singer. I loved the stage set. So bright and pretty. But I’d have to give the broadcast a thumbs down. Why? Too much singing! This isn’t the Tony’s! It’s like the producers said, “Oh look how popular Les Mis is. People must like singing. Let’s have lots of singing!”

No, people just want to see the awards. And who could possible agree that Chicago is the best musical of the last 10 years? I hate Chicago! And that lady singing Goldfinger? She rocked the last note but what a waste of five minutes. Same with Barbra Streisand. I was like, “I’m going to go make some cookies. Tell me when the singing’s done.”

I love that Jennifer Lawrence tripped on the stairs. She is such a funny, honest person. She recovered beautifully. I’m sure if it had been a prima donna like Catherine Zeta-Jones she would have promptly committed suicide.

Daniel Day Lewis is the best actor ever. Anyone who could give us Abraham Lincoln, Cristy from My Left Foot, Hawkeye from The last of the Mohicans and Cecil from A Room With a View is completely brilliant. Tommy Lee Jones, on the other hand, was nominated for an award despite playing the exact same grumpy jerk that he plays in every single movie he’s ever been in. How is that even acting?

I was really hoping Ben Affleck would win because I really feel for him because of all his struggles. And I love Jennifer Garner. His acceptance speech was so humble and touching.

And the whole Michelle Obama thing? Odd. Especially with that passel of footmen (and footwomen?) surrounding her. Although it makes sense considering the love affair that Hollywood and the Obamas have with each other. That relationship also explains how Obama can blame everything and everyone for the violence that is exploding in our society EXCEPT for blaming Hollywood. People like Quentin Tarantino aren’t chastised for making horrendously violent films that glorify murder, torture, anger and revenge –they’re celebrated and honored for it. It really sickens me.

OK, sorry for the outburst.

Let’s lighten the mood by discussing the ubiquitous aging European men with flowing blond hair. In case you were wondering what Legolas would look like as a middle-aged man:

 

Even more bizarre? The mystery of Renee Zelweger’s scrunched up face. Maybe she needed a Claritin? And Kristin Stewart? How does this person have a career? She is peevish, sullen and thoroughly detestable. She couldn’t even pretend to be charming for three minutes while presenting an Oscar. I think I hate K. Stew more than any other actress.

What were your highlights and bombs of the Oscars this year?