Monday, December 12, 2016

SHINIEST ORNAMENTS ON THE TREE

Our family was the featured entertainment at church yesterday. I decided to blog it for posterity. You're welcome.

Our daughter was asked to play a musical number during Sacrament meeting. She chose a Christmas favorite—"Oh Come, Oh Come, Emanuel," and the practicing commenced. For two months it commenced and commenced and commenced. In fact, so much did it commence that I almost preferred Feliz Navidad. Of course, by almost I mean that will never, EVER happen, but I was grateful when she finally perfected it.

We dressed her in Christmas plaid, long blond hair flowing over her shoulders and lips painted in festive red. When the speaker sat down, Julia stood up and Sterling and I grabbed each other's hands, knowing we were about to be the shiniest ornament on the tree.

Her fingers were like Olympic figure skaters, trilling and twirling and dusting up shimmering notes that hung in the air like magic. Our nerves dissipated as we relaxed our grip and both started to grin like arrogant Cheshire cats.

Suddenly, a troll escaped from Hell and came running across the piano keys.

At least that's what I think happened, because with no warning, every single note was wrong.  And I don't just mean wrong, but I mean it didn't even resemble the song. And this didn't just last for a quick couple of seconds until she got her bearings. No, this went on for at least—at LEAST—20 seconds. An entire page of convulsions. It was like her fingers were chasing the demon as he went crunking across the keyboard.

Then just as quickly as it began, it ceased, and she climbed up from the frozen ice to try that triple jump again. Unfortunately, just as before, the exact same thing happened—all Hades broke loose mid-refrain. Sterling and I looked at each other and we knew; this was going to cost her the gold.

It was also unfortunate that, by this time, I had started to laugh. And I use the term lightly because really, I had a complete meltdown—I'm talking the kind of collapse that gets you kicked out of a rock concert, it's so disruptive.

Mid hysteria, I looked over Sterling's shoulder as he shot a spiritual text to our other children who weren't there: "Your sister just slaughtered the shit out of her piano piece..." More was said, but that was enough. My composure packed up and left to start a band. To make a much too long story shorter, I sob-laughed for the rest of Julia's recital and two more speakers. Had to redo my makeup.

When the meeting was over, every lovely person in the ward put an arm around Julia and commiserated about what had happened, even while pretending nobody had noticed. Most of them ended with, "But you sure looked pretty" (as you went down in flames). Jules handled it beautifully, and I stood by her side, wiping remnants of eye liner off my chin, knowing I was an enormous liability, but grateful that the glare of the spotlight was dimming.

Turns out I was wrong.

At the conclusion of Sunday School, a good man stood up to say the prayer—a thoughtful prayer. There were several extended pauses between phrases and he finished one particular sentence with the name of our Savior. Well, in our culture, those are trigger words, you guys. Prompts, if you will. They signal the end of the prayer, and that's when we all exclaim, "Amen." But that kind of thing is all about the timing.

THIS time, it was my dear mother who misread the cue and offered up a hearty, "Amen", only to realize that, apparently, there was more to be said. He ignored her suggestion and the interrupted prayer continued. My mom, mortified, whispered, "Don't you dare start laughing," but it was too late. And I haven't stopped since.

We all gathered together that afternoon for dinner. Every few seconds, we relived our humiliation, and lamented that our nearly flawless facades had crumbled to pieces. But my mom put the prettiest bow on it when she said, "You know, I've never liked someone more because they were perfect. I only like them more when they're not."

Pretty sure a lot of people like us more.



video


I asked Julia for a Reader's Digest reenactment. She obliged, bless her heart. Just times this by 10.














Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I CAN'T WORK OUT

GOOD NEWS! I just received a .05 cent refund from Amazon. Must be living right.

By the way, did I mention we adopted a dog? Yup. Lost my ever lovin' mind. It seems one day I woke up and said, "I feel like I want a burden so heavy that it wakes me up at 4:00 every morning with anxiety. Plus, we have a lot of things that could use a good chewing; sprinkler heads, expensive shoes, fermenting garbage, our cat. How we've lived this long with our wicker furniture in great condition is beyond me.  Also, we have a lot of disposable income that could be spent on kidney jerky and stuffed animal squeaker toys to be strewn about the yard and ripped to shreds. And my parents have it too good. There is far too much peace in their lives, as they're able to get from house to car without a hairy beast charging at them. That's just wrong. There is but one solution: How about we adopt a puppy?"

And so we did. Luna Bingham is her name. Short for Lunatic. Also Lunachick, Lunar eclipse and Luna Tuna fish. She answers to all of the above as well as to any movement, light or sound of any kind made anywhere in the entire house or surrounding neighborhood.

A few things convinced me this was a good idea. Guilt, for sure. But especially the earnest promises from my children that they would ABSOLUTELY clean up her poop, take her for daily walks and train her to shut the hell up. And now it's clear I raised a bunch of lying jerks.

Every one of my pockets—jackets, robes, pants, pajamas—now house a roll of doggy pooh bags. I think twice before entering the kitchen which is adjacent to her laundry room vacation home. And anything that fits through her doggy door is pulled through her doggy door, whether it wants to be or not.

I was walking her in to her training class and some weirdo said, "Oh! I just love puppies! Don't you just love puppies? I wish they would stay that way forever!"

I wanted to say, "Did you hit your head? What does your house look like? How about your shoes? Your lawn? Do you like leaping over baby gates? Just can't get enough of vaccinations and the cone of shame? You must like to stand in negative temperatures and watch the steam escape your mouth as you plead for your puppy to, "Go potty! Go potty, Luna! Go potty! Come on, girl, go potty! Let's go potty! Luna, go potty! Go potty, Luna! Luna! Potty! Go potty! Go potty! Come on, Luna. Go potty! Go potty! Luna! Potty! Go potty, girl! Potty, potty, potty, go potty!"

Yes, I wanted to say all of that and then offer to sell the puppy to her in return for a cold Dr. Pepper, but I didn't, because I was suddenly yanked inside Petco by my Lunatic as she went in search of a very specific smell that ended up being her own rump.

Anyway, just thought you all should know I have a dog and that's why I can't work out. Don't ask me why, it's just the way things are. And yes, I love her, so shut up and quit judging me. But just because I love her doesn't mean I have to like what I've become.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a sharp piece of doggy bone I need to step on and some frozen feces calling my name. This is the life.



Luna and her cone of shame with customized duct tape extension. 





Sassy is not a fan of Luna. But still, here she is wishing her a Merry Christmas with her sweater.




Tuesday, December 6, 2016

YOUR BLACK SOULS

I don't know why I do this. I don't know why I let days then weeks then months and even years pass me by without putting finger to keyboard. Actually, that's a lie. I do know why.

Fear.

And a pinch (vat) of laziness, which my fleshy bod already bore witness to, so don't act like that's news.

But really, every day I pray that today will be the day. Today I will be BRILLIANT and HYSTERICAL and FILL YOUR BLACK SOULS WITH LIGHT! So I sit down to the computer, hours pass, and somehow, when I climb into bed at night, there is a new Kate Spade purse on its way and no new words on this blog.

I am plagued with insecurities.

What if I repeat stories?
What if I sit in front of the computer screen and nothing but farts come out of my fingertips?
What if each sentence is like a selfie taken from below?

I have lied to myself that I am simply being patient. Waiting for Heavenly Father to open the Heavens and heap humor into my skull like dung in a garden. But He doesn't operate like that. Something about, "Faith without works is dead."

So here I sit, belly full of salsa and yogurt (a combustible combination) and Christmas tree full of ornaments, hoping this screen will suddenly be filled as well. But the only thing that seems to be happening is Sterling is watching a Charlie's Angels episode without me, and my FOMO will not allow me to chill.

Thus, I will end my ramblings with a promise that tomorrow, I SHALL RETURN! I can't promise there will be brilliance, hysteria or that your black souls will be drained like the swamp of DC, but
I.
WILL.
BE.
BACK.

In the meantime,  enjoy this picture of the Kate Spade I'll be sporting come early spring and try not to let the envy turn you into a Christmas elf.


If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right.











Thursday, May 26, 2016

THINGS WORTH DYING FOR

I like dirt.

Let me be more specific. I like to eat dirt.

When I was little, I used to fill a small bucket with dirt, hide it under my bed, and every few days, eat a spoonful or two.  Shhh...sh...sh...sh...it's okay. Don't gag. There was only a little bit of potato bugs and cat poop in it, and I was too young to realize.

Fast forward a few years and I'm laying in bed, miserable with morning sickness and sobbing to my husband, "The only thing that I can even stand the smell of is dirt. Like I want to eat some. And that makes me sad!"

I was able to withstand the craving then, but only because grown women are frowned upon when they burp and sputter mud.

Fast forward even more years, and we've come full circle, as I just ordered a bag of dirt for my second son. To eat. For his own good. And probably there is a little bit of potato bugs and cat poop in it, but it's called, "homeopathic" and "food grade", so it's fine.

So why am I feeding Chris dirt? That's on account of he served a mission for our church in Uganda and Ethiopia. As you can imagine, he ate his fair share of impoverished third world parasites, and apparently, some are clinging with white knuckles to his innards, hoping to make it big here in the U.S., which is causing all sorts of intestinal distress.

Going on four years now. That's not exactly a recipe for peace. Bless him.

But he's not the only missionary in our family with issues. A few months ago,  Seth started experiencing some scary symptoms. The most alarming; his vision would suddenly flip upside down. What the?! Of course my conservative diagnosis was BRAIN TUMOR/CERTAIN DEATH, and I spent the next couple of weeks wringing my hands and contacting doctors about MRI results. 

While in the midst of this, I was talking to Chris, and he said, "Mom, it's okay. All of us have some sort of souvenir from our missions. Ash got fat and bald, I have eternal diarrhea and Seth has a brain tumor. But it's all good. Nobody gets out of these things unscathed."

Just the perspective I needed. (*Turns out my diagnosis was wrong. Not a tumor. Anemia, polyps and cysts. Needless to say, we've met our deductible.)

Then I remembered watching a documentary about missionaries where they interviewed a man who had served in a really difficult part of the world. Bullets had whizzed past him, causing him to lose his religion later in life. He said, "I just realized, they had no right to ask me to do that. There is nothing worth dying for in this life."

He clearly didn't understand that, intentionally or not, he would, in fact, die for something. Whether you give up your body for babies or your years in service to your country, or your beauty to hardship and labor...or just waste away on a couch in a dark room playing video games...like cash in a wallet, you will eventually spend your life on something, until you are left with no more.

None of us get out of this life unscathed. We weren't meant to. We were meant to spend it...all of it...on something of worth. Then return to our maker fat, bald, crippled and medicated, with incredible tales of what we did with the greatest gift we've ever been given. About how we used our hands to be His hands and brought great things to pass.

And so, I give a profound THANK YOU this Memorial weekend, to the courageous men and women who spent their lives in a noble cause—protecting our love of God, Family and Country—and passed to the other side not unscathed, but with the conviction that THERE REALLY ARE THINGS IN LIFE WORTH DYING FOR




The boys, before they were fat, bald, incontinent, and full of tumors


Grandpa Jack Wood and Grandpa Boyd Stewart 
Two incredible men who lived and died for what they believed



Thursday, May 19, 2016

WHICH YEARS MATTER MOST?

'Tis a season of change upon us, can you feel it? The winds have shifted and we're about to watch boys and girls becoming men and women as they move their tassels and close the books on the last 18 years of their lives and suddenly realize...that there are even more books required—about $500 worth each semester—and no, you can't find them cheaper on the internet.

Add to that the kids who will also embark on LDS missions just weeks after high school graduation and you realize it's more of a hurricane than a light breeze.

And although I don't have a graduating child, change is heading our way, too. Six weeks from today, my son will step off an airplane and onto an escalator, where he'll take the fastest and slowest descent of his life, searching for a familiar face in a sea of Mormon families. Of course, ours will be the best looking (she said modestly).

Two years is a really long time, you guys.

So long, in fact, that when a sweet woman from his mission in New York asked me for "10 fun facts about Seth," I reverted to things like, "Um...he likes red meat. Like steak. And roast...does that count as three?"

Yeah. Way fun facts.

You'd think we were strangers. And in a way, we kind of are, on account of I carved him out of my heart and mind when he left us that sunshiny day in June. It was the only way to survive the missing of him. Surprisingly, several days could pass by where I was totally fine. And then, I would walk past his cardboard cutout on my way through the library and suddenly could hardly breathe, remembering how the walls shook when he thundered down the stairs and his genuine I AM ABSOLUTELY THRILLED TO SEE YOU EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE YOU greeting and his guileless personality and his Captain America physique.

A few people might have seen me weeping down the cereal aisle, as I realized the days of buying Honeycombs in bulk and gallons of milk had come to an end. I had done this before so I understood that even when they come home, they never really come home. The dynamics are forever changed, and they will never again think of you, or themselves, as they once were.

Which is exactly as it should be.

Recently, Seth told me that he had been plagued by the concern that the way he had spent these last two years would be a precursor for the rest of his life. He admitted he had some regrets and guilt and hadn't always done what he should have, and he was worried that this was a sample of the man he would always be.

So let me see if I understand. In two years, you've made some mistakes and have guilt and regrets and wish you'd done a few things differently?

I should probably sit down while I put in my surprise eyes, because I never feel that way. And by never I mean constantly.

Of course, I know that what I did today can be repented of tomorrow, and it doesn't need to color the rest of my life. Two years as a missionary matters just as much as two years as a wife and two years as a father and two years as a daughter and two years as a student and two years as a friend and two years as a brother and two years as...well, a people.

If Heavenly Father had intended only one of these two years to matter the most, then He would have made two years the entire span of our lives. Which two years do you think matter the most? Exactly.

All of them matter, all of them can bring us closer to our eternal destination and all of them leave us forever changed, because we will never think of ourselves, or the people around us, as we once were.

Which is exactly as it should be.

So welcome to the next two years, dear friends! They matter more than any other two years of your life...except for the two years after that...from now until eternity.



Two years as my little boy


Two years as a student


Two years on his mission



Friday, April 29, 2016

BIG PLANS!

First of all, Prince is dead. I just thought we should mention that so nobody is embarrassed if I start to wail out the lyrics to I Would Die 4 U (complete with hand/face actions) during this blog. And just for the record, that exotic baby man driving his Little Red Corvette will always have a place in my heart...and my garage. Amen.

Second, my youngest son has two months left on his LDS mission, and will be returning to pass unrighteous judgment on me, so I have to make it look like I've been doing something besides eating cinnamon bears for the last two years. Which is why I have to get busy redecorating a room or two. Not his room, mind you. His room is a shiz hole. Always has been, since all three of the boys lived there together and we found a booger kingdom hidden on the backside of a headboard. There's really no coming back from that. Best to just light a match and walk away.

Anyway, I'm thinking about throwing some paint around in the sitting room, which is my favorite room. But it's going on twelve years, people. It's kind of a decorating version of the leisure suit—it had its day. Of course the leisure suit was a sin against God, so maybe that's not the best example, but you get the idea.

Plus, we all know people who held on a liiiiiiitle too long to their favorite things. Ie; acid washed joggers, Farrah Fawcett hair, frosted blue eyeshadow and perms. All of which, oddly enough, have made a comeback, so never mind.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. My sitting room.

I have big plans for that room. Big, BIG PLANS. And as soon as I steal those plans from Pinterest, you'll be the first to know.

Speaking of sisters having babies (just go with me here) my youngest sister has just announced she is HAVING A BABY!!! That makes six. SIX BABIES, YOU GUYS! Pretty much she's a baby hoarder. When she's pregnant, she vomits in her sleep. And can't even drink water. But she's a size 0 and has stunningly beautiful children, so I think that evens things out.

So to sum up, missionary son, cinnamon bears, leisure suits, Farrah Fawcett, babies and vomit.  It's pretty clear I have laser focus when it comes to writing this blog. My brain is a horse that keeps getting spooked.

Thanks for holding onto the reigns and coming along for the ride.


Farewell, beautiful sitting room, and thank you for the last 12 years. 







Tuesday, April 12, 2016

ISLAND GIRL

I'M BACK FROM KAUAI! And I yell this because I left my keys on all caps lock. But also because I want everyone to know that I am a world traveler and that's why I ignored your texts and all responsibilities for 8 days and 7 nights. Two of which were spent in an airport with 350 other passengers and a flight attendant who consistently announced bad news that ended with an insincere, "Mahalo."

Mahalo my fanny.

Anyway, I waded through piles of sand and dead skin to give you this blog post so that you, too, can feel like you were right there with us.

So let's begin my travelog with a picture. This is Julia, otherwise known as Goddess of the Pacific Isles. 

It is important to note that this is completely un-retouched. 

Now,  a picture of the apple tree from which she fell—


Also completely un-retouched.

So what do we learn from this? Well, obviously, Lisa Bingham = Island Girl. But that's hardly worth mentioning. What IS worth mentioning is how tan I am.

Of course, 47 year old tan is way different than 15 year old tan. Julia is a wind in her hair bronze skinned beauty in Hawaii. I am a chocolate covered macadamia nut eating, stringy haired, "I can see most of your scalp and it's burned" melted make-up, age spot sporting, "Is that Lisa? Oh, wait, no, it's a sun-bathing seal,"  kind of exotic. And just for the record, it is not mascara smeared on my cheek. It is sun damage. So quit trying to wipe it off.

Even with all that going on, we managed to visit about ten GLORIOUS beaches, ATV through the jungle, float on tubes through abandoned sugar cane mines, jump in waterfalls, swim with the turtles, almost STEP ON AN OCTOPUS, YOU GUYS—THEY REALLY EXIST! We also luau-ed, ate some pig and were woken up by roosters at 4:00 a.m. Also at 4:03...4:10...4:17...4:18...4:25...it's a really good thing that they're a protected species.

We fruitlessly searched for cold drinks and sea shells and ignored the fact that we spent more on sub-par food than our airline tickets. I grew a few chin hairs and one fingernail on my left hand, and we snorkity-snorked away our afternoons under the deep blue sea, where Julia was stung by a jelly fish. To which I promptly replied, "You're fine. You imagined the searing pain." Because that's what good mothers do.

Then, on our very last night in Princeville, Layne said, "Hey, there's a really cool path that you can go down to the shore and watch the sun set behind the ocean. There might be a few areas you'll need to hold onto a rope, but if you feel like you're up for it..."

Well, I'm nothing if not up for a rope strewn path down to the shore. So we swallowed our last bite, threw on our tennis shoes, and zipped down to the trail.

A trail made by Beelzebub himself.

In fact, so cursed was this trail that the only way to get down it was to constantly yell—cover the eyes of the children and easily offended—"HOLY HEL*! HOLY HEL*! HOLY HEL*!!!"

At least that's how I went down. Not sure what other people did.

About 30 seconds into the completely vertical decline, the three strands of fat wrapped sinew that currently form my thighs screamed and snapped in rebellion. "WHAT IN THEE...?! YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN, LADY!" And it was all downhill from there. Figuratively and literally.

Until we had to go back up, which is when the prayers began in earnest. All I asked was not to need a rescue op. But I promised way more, so He would feel like it was a bargain if He obliged. I am happy to report that a deal was struck, and I made it back to the top on my own, where Julia sing-songed,

"That was so fun!"

Me: (cough, hack, spitting out blood)

And now, I bid you Aloha, as I must go practice the beautiful Island Girl ritual of combing dead scalp skin out of my hair. Kauai just keeps giving and giving. To which I say, "Mahalo".


GLORIOUS scenery!


"Sunscreen is for fools"


The view at the bottom of satan's path


The other view at the bottom of satan's path


We were looking for "De plane! De plane!" (Fantasy Island was filmed here)
Unfortunately, it was delayed five hours