I Think I Am Jane Jetson

I am nuts about 50s and 60s architecture and design.  I love the homes built during this era, I love church buildings built during this era. Even furniture and automobiles were so cutting- edge for their time.  Design during this time is usually referred to as mid-century modern because although we (and I mean YOU) may sometimes consider it old-fashioned, many of the designs were completely daring and modern.  The sleek flat roof lines and walls of glass are the first things that draw me in, and then I get totally hooked and try and figure out legitimate ways to get myself inside.  I haven't taken any dishonest steps, the way my brother did one summer by claiming he was taking photos for a classic car magazine so that he could pose next to people's Corvettes.  

Last month my friend was going to a church social at a neighbor's home that I had always admired, so when I mentioned it to my friend she invited me along.  While everyone else was going ga-ga over the spread of croissants and salads I was staring at the design of the end tables and noticing the rock wall that ran down the entire height of the staircase.  Food, schmood.  I was getting my fill by looking at the decorating in this coolest-of-the-cool house.

I am posting here a photo of another home in my town that I "accidentally" drive past on a regular basis.  Last week I was having a rough day and on the way home from a meeting I drove by as a way of self-medicating.  I must say it helped.  But don't tell anyone.

So, my question to you would be what building or piece of furniture has inspired you? Give me details and maybe I can change my driving route to include your suggestion.  :)


My best friend's grandfather was found in a cornfield today.  

28 days of praying, of searching, of remembering.

His small body reunited with the earth.

Kind neighbors and unmet friends offering hope.

The corn standing guard, like tall sentinels.

The earth takes back its own.

Lessons from China

With the close of the Olympics I must admit that there were some things that got under my skin, like the 16 year-old gymnast (air quotes here) that was probably about 11.  Also, some of the vestiges of a corrupt government which played out in a couple of ways (think little girl singing at the opening ceremonies).

But at the same time I found myself staring in unbelief at the stunning opening ceremonies. So some of the spectacle was militant and almost scary?  The entertainment value was beyond anything I have seen before, and so I suspended any suspicion for those couple of hours.  If there hadn't been a live audience I might have guessed there were CGIs being used to replicate the performers.  It was simply unreal.

In one of the segments that ran on the Today show last week, the hosts had a Chinese woman on to demonstrate how to properly drink tea.  I will admit that if it had been a British guest I might have done a bit of eye-rolling, having lived there for 4 months and experienced their sense of ritual, which really translates into such strict rule-keeping that people sometimes get forgotten as rules must be obeyed.  But I digress...  In this Chinese tea drinking there are three steps to be followed.  First comes a short drink, to taste.  Second a longer one, to drink.  And third, the longest drink of all, to remember.  

I liked this idea of tasting, drinking, and remembering.  It was beautifully demonstrated and a wonderful metaphor for life.  Sometimes in life these three steps might be spread out over the course of years.  It can be analogous to getting older and wiser.  It can relate to developing relationships.  I just hope that in whatever way I choose to taste, drink, and remember, that I will leave a little room in the cup for unexpected moments.

I'll take one of each, please.

An interesting thing happened today.  A phenomenon of epic proportions.  You might think I am talking about a solar eclipse, or planets aligning in a way that only happens once a millennium. Nope.  And I am not talking about the kids rinsing their own plates before putting them in the dishwasher either.  That would be way too weird!  

No, my personal phenomenon has to do with my children, but not with their housekeeping skills. Today each of my four sons is on a different plane, not unlike the planets listed above.  I have reached the point where I have one child at each level of public schooling.  Not to mention my oldest, who is in Nairobi, Kenya, serving a mission for our church. 

As the whirlwind of school shopping, paying registration fees, and stuffing their new back packs was circling around me I didn't really have a chance to realize the impact of this new phase.  I almost feel like an observer who has less and less of a hands-on position and more and more of a supervisory one.  I am not really complaining here.  It is terrific to have kids take more charge of their lives and choices.  But it is strange to be down to my last elementary-aged son, and he is in fifth grade!

It is like from here on out we are starting to count down to being at the end of things.  Counting down until the mortgage is paid off, etc.  I have friends with younger kids than mine and I see them counting up until things begin.  "Only three more years until this one starts school."  "In two years I will have a high-schooler!"   

And even though life is good, I have to ask where did all of the time go? Remember your mom saying stuff like that?  


There we were, living in Los Angeles for five years.  Two little baby boys, no real income, and a husband pushing through two master's degrees and a PhD.  Not to mention a wife who usually didn't have any transportation during the day and sometimes felt a little locked in.  Don't get me wrong, we had a blast in the middle of all of the stress.  We made good friends that have become like family and we learned a lot about life and struggle and being a team.  I think our marriage would be different had we not had our California years, because it was while we were there that we learned that we could do things that were hard.  We learned that we were pretty darned independent (something this writer still pays for), and that we liked an adventure.  

But I still find it so ironic that while we lived right there near the Pacific Ocean I didn't always know the secret keys to helping my husband feel pacified.  I can blame it on being distracted with food and shelter needs, or even on the relatively short amount of time we had been together (or spent together at least).  There were times when Geo would come home and be on the verge of a mini-breakdown, like when he was getting close to completing his dissertation and his mentor had him rewrite large sections.  It was the first real time I had seen him question himself and his abilities.  It was a very hard thing to watch and to experience along with him. He made the needed changes and worked so hard during the end run in order to graduate and get out on the market as soon as possible.  I realize now that I didn't thank him enough for all of his hard work and persistence during those years.  He sacrificed time with the boys (especially our second son who was born while we lived in LA) so that we could get on with the business of being a family and doing family things, like getting a good job and buying our first house.  I can look back now and call him our hero, our champion.

It has been 14 years since we packed up our little U-Haul, went to say goodbye to our very best LA friends, who had moved to Pasadena, and got on the road toward BYU.  We had mixed emotions about leaving, but we were excited to  be moving forward with a chance to see Geo's hard work pay off.  

I still see the stress come out in my friend, my husband.  He is hard on himself and knows he has important things to do with his life.  He really is a visionary person in the best sense of the word.  He wants to contribute all that he has to making a difference in his field, even when he is the only one who seems to catch some of that vision.  (Ironically, now that we live in land-locked Utah he has water-skiing as a major stress reliever!)   

Circumstances can change, but most often the person deep down inside is the same.  The best thing about getting older is that you can see things coming from more of a distance.  The signs become a little clearer to read and the sharp edges of disappointment and self-doubt don't seem to cut quite so deep.  I used to think it was that we get numb to things that used to sting a bit more, but now I realize it is not numbness as much as increased compassion.  That first time in LA when I witnessed my husband having an honestly weak moment I was thrown.  I felt the tremors that come from uncertainty and I had no idea how to react.  After more than a couple of decades together I spot signals better.  I am not as blind-sided by my own whirlwinds or the ones that happen inside my home, even when they knock things off the walls.  I now know that the Lord takes every opportunity to soften us and allow us to be less and less traumatized by life and the people in it.  Not because we lose our sense of feeling, but because we gain more and more of it.  Only now it is concern for others more than for ourselves.

Keep Up The Good Work

This is just a mini-blog I wanted to post to acknowledge my son's 8-month mark on his mission. He is already 1/3 of the way through his 2 years, although I am not the mom who will count down everyday.  I am not intending to brag, only to share a part of my life which wouldn't be complete without talking about my children.

Our son is serving in the Kenya Nairobi mission where he works hard proselytizing and strengthening current local members.  He is learning so many terrific life lessons as he dedicates his time serving other people, and I am pleased with the growth we have already seen in him as we read his letters and emails.  I secretly prayed for my son to be assigned to a place where he would have to stretch and where he would be tried.  My prayers were answered and I couldn't be happier.  Elder B. is a great example to his younger brothers, and to his parents, who love him tremendously!

free will comes with a price

One of my favorite quotes was given by a past female leader in our church.  She said, "The hardest sin to repent of is the one you didn't commit."  The reason I like this quote is because it allows for some personal interpretation, but it also is undeniably about being on the receiving end of someone else's poor choices.  

Free will is a God-given gift that we treasure.  We can spend a whole lifetime learning to tame it, and when the end comes we still may not really have it mastered.  One of the toughest things about the principle of free will is allowing people we have any stewardship over to exercise their own portion of it.  "I love having my own free will, and while I am at it why don't I just show you the best way to use yours!" 

Luckily there is an appropriate period of time when we are to help our own children learn how to make decisions and even act as a buffer for the consequences.  Before my kids would turn 8 years old I would sit down with them and talk to them about TV programs, movies, and other activities that I felt were not great choices for them.  When they were at friends' houses they would have to call and double check with me about a video being shown or an activity that was suggested.  I helped them make the best possible decisions while letting them pitch in on the discussion.  Once they were 8 I started to expect them to make some of these decisions alone- after all, they were not life-changing things, but they were a good place to start.  At 12 they were allowed into a friend's house if parents were not there, but never before 12 unless it was family.  This was a rule to protect them and to teach them about accountability.  My husband and I felt good about these guidelines.  But then comes the gray area concerning free will.  

There are rules about how old you have to be to drive, to vote, and in our church, to date.  But where are the rules written down about reporting every activity engaged in in their free time?  And isn't it unchristian to only allow our children to have friends of the same faith or family dynamic as our own?  When do we start letting them make some of these choices on their own, no matter the consequences?  When do we get them out of the jams they create and when do we let them unstick themselves?  All I know is from my own experience with my boys, and all I can say is that there is really no set answer.  And until you have a teenager you can't really relate to the mix of joys and heartaches that come bundled together in their growing, skinny, pimply selves.  

Some things are always good, like chocolate, chats with friends, time with a spouse.  But some things are mixed blessings even though they come from God.  Free will is one of those things. We treasure it and we loath it, all depending on where we are in our lives.  The trick is learning to embrace this principle even when we are stung by it, because, like other complicated ideas, there are plenty of great things we reap from it too.