Monday, April 23, 2012

When Obsessive Compulsive Isn't Cool - Disneyland

There have been a few times in my life when Obsessive Compulsions take over.  But more often than not- it is just a disorder that I envy.  Don't get me wrong- hopping over cracks in the pavement or locking my door 82 times like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets doesn't appeal to me.  It is the idea that I could spend hours of time doing something to perfection that sounds good.  You know, before I get distracted by my own blog, or get overwhelmed by whatever task I started obsessing about.

Some of the time obsessing has paid off:

New Babies.  Before Riley was born I stopped working the day job to focus on doing hair out of my house and to spend time every day growing the baby inside of me.  I spent a lot of time in the giant kiddie pool in my backyard wearing my bathing suit soaking up every last drop of summer reading every pregnancy book I could get my hands on.  I was well aware that I knew almost nothing about babies.  (other than that they will spit up on  you if wear anything that is dry clean only) So I read all the books.  I have to say- after I had Riley and JT changed all of her diapers in the Hospital and then I cried at home when I had to change one because JT was helping the guy repair the furnace that broke while we were in labor and I was scared that I might somehow smush her while he was in the garage- I was a pretty good mom!  (and you get 50 points if that sentence made any sense to you) But the books did help.  If any of you remember Riley as a baby you will know she slept like a champ.  (we are talking 3 naps a day and  full 12 hour nights within the first 3 months) She was pretty much a dream baby.  Whenever people commented about what a good baby she was I would say that Heavenly Father knew I would never have a second if the first was hard.  (This is actually very true)  I also promptly explained that it was the books.  It was all the books.  It was hours obsessing and studying and training for the little bundle that others instinctively knew how to raise.   It was the obsessive side of me that knew that if I fed her at 8:07a.m. she would sleep way longer than if I fed her at 8:23a.m.  It was the books telling me that the prenatal yoga I did is what made her so happy and made her poop smell good.  (ok, I think you can see that I may have gone a little too far with the books- kind of like hopping over cracks in the sidewalk) But I will say- it was helpful to be a little obsessive.

Some of the time obsessing goes very bad:

Eating.  The more I try to count calories... the more I cut out evil gooey yumminess... the more I turn down an ice cold Diet Coke... the more I want to look good- The crazier I become.  It is the same phenomenon.  Only instead of creating a perfectly well rested happy baby- I create a monster.  The kind that is irritable, frustrated, counting (playing with numbers alone is enough to make me cry), and usually gaining weight.  This obsession usually doesn't last long before I tell myself that I look better in a bigger size jeans than I do in that ugly grumpy deprived dieter face.  (the one I had on last week when JT and I cut back our treat intake)

Besides those few things, I have obsessed over... nothing.  You see, I am not very good at this OCD thing.

Until now.

I found a new obsession.  Not facebook, not pinterest (although those do help)- DISNEYLAND.

Yep, my obsession is "The Happiest Place on Earth".  But I think my obsession may turn it into "The Most Stressful Vacation on Earth".

We have been planning to go at the end of May.  We (ok, I) have been  looking forward to the break from reality, the last big fling before the official start of P.A. school, the hope of seeing a full week's worth of sunshine, and the chance to see my kids' faces light up.  I have wanted to go for a long time, but didn't think it was possible.  But thanks to some airline miles, family in California, and a bonus from JT's work- I think we can swing it!  This is where the obsession has kicked in.

I have been reading everything.  Only this time, I have not been sitting in my giant kiddie pool in the backyard #1 because it is April and still rainy (yes, I know, except for today, I know some Seattle lover wants to point out that we had two days of non rain this week) #2 because my backyard is less private in this house and I don't want all of you checking me out in my bathing suit right now- see Obsession #2 above for reasons why that would be a bad idea #3 because the baby that was in my tummy came out, along with two more and life is far too crazy to lay out all day reading about Disneyland.... So I stay up all night.  On pintrest, on blogs, on the Disneyland website. I can't get enough.  I find myself daydreaming about the kids matching shirts (that Aleisa will make :), the magical flight (yep, I l-o-v-e planes, I am looking forward to flying almost as much as California itself, strange, I know), building sand castles on the beach with Riley, eating expensive Mickey Mouse Ears ice cream with Macie, and wearing flip flops for a whole week.  *sigh*

Right here is when we think Obsessing is working out in my favor, right?  Until I went to purchase the plane tickets and realized that  Cars Land opens in June!  (obsession gone overboard)  If we go in May we are missing Cars Land by just a few weeks! (Have you met Blake? My son with the Lightning McQueen Obsession?)   My first instinct was to think that I wouldn't go in the summer anyways because of crowds, but then I went to the Crowd Counter chart (which I found online during one of my midnight obsessions) and saw that the very end of August isn't that busy.  We could go then.  JT will have that time off between quarters, and we are almost guaranteed good weather.  But the plane tickets are more expensive in the summer. (does anyone know if those will drop?)  And it could get pretty hot...

And here is where it goes bad.

How can I decide?  Go now when the lines aren't as long, and the weather is mild (since my kids sweat like crazy in the heat)?  Wait until August so that Blake can experience Cars Land?  Go now since Macie cried herself to sleep tonight because I mentioned Disneyland and she thought we were going today?  Wait till August so that we can go on a weekday and still have the park open late to see the fireworks and Fantasmic?  Go now when I need the break?  Wait until August when I will need the break?  Go now when I am already obsessing about it - so that I don't spend the whole summer in the kiddie pool researching?  Go in August so that I have the whole summer to sit in the kiddie pool researching?

Are you exhausted yet?  How did Jack Nicholson do it???

I know it has not worked in the past for me to ask a question and solicit tons of advice on my blog (even though I dream of asking an important question, like this one, and taking a pole and getting thousands of responses from my 3 readers) - I am going to ask anyways:

What should I do??  What would you do??  Please, help me stop obsessing!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spiders, Yoda, and Fear

Usually my posts come from things that have been stuck in my brain for a long time. (ok, some of them are just venting or blah blah blah or funny things my kids say).   This is one of those that has been in my mind for at least a year.


I hate that word.  The word "fear" itself sends shivers up my spine.

"Fear is the antithesis of faith. It is corrosive in its effects, even deadly.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7)."
President Gordon B. Hinckley (New Era Jan 2002)

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear." 1 John 4:18

"Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering." Yoda

President Hinckley, the Savior, and even Yoda have all been clear that fear is a dangerous thing.  And the opposite of love and happiness.  In his talk, President Hinckley points out that some people feel fear to a greater degree than others.  I think that might be me.

I have such a fear of fear- that I am almost superstitious in my regard for it.  That is part of why this blog post has sat in the corners of my mind for over a year.  I am afraid that even verbalizing my fears will somehow make them come true like a baseball player who knows that if he washes his socks he will strike out.  So I keep them bottled up inside making me more afraid, and he has stinky nasty feet that make him more rich.

I have tried hard to overcome my fears.  Like the time I let a gigantic spider climb up my arm in Madagascar because the other missionaries claimed it would help me overcome my fear of spiders.  (P.S. I really wish I knew where the picture of that is so I could put it on here and you would see that I was not only brave on my mission, but very very chubby!) I believed the missionaries (mainly because one of them was Navajo and I swear he had a strange sixth sense, like the time he instinctively woke up in the middle of the night right before we called him for help because a witch was breaking into our apartment.  Yep, all of that happened.)  when they said that if I let a giant spider climb my arm I would be cured.  If you have witnessed my reaction to a hairy little arachnid in the past 8 years you will know how effective that little exercise was. (And if you haven't seen my reaction I am certain that you have heard it, since I am sure my screams of terror can be heard in outer space).

Other fears, that are much more haunting than spiders or heights, seem to be much more difficult to overcome.  In light of a friend's recent loss- I am referring to the death of a loved one. This seems to be my fear to trump all fears.  And it is extremely difficult for me to even verbalize it.  (again, because saying it out loud would cause it to happen, like simply soaking those nasty home run socks would break the hitting streak) But since I trust Yoda, who claims that "fear of loss is the path to the Darkside", and since I believe President Hinckley, who asserts that I can not have faith and fear at the same time- I am trying to overcome it.

The problem is: how?  Is it like the spiders in Madagascar?  The only way to overcome it is to let the giant evil beast climb up my arm?  That might even be the reason this is such a fear of mine.  I have never had death get that close to me.  (there is that yucky feeling that I am jinxing myself, even though I believe in a God that doesn't jinx) The few times it has been close enough to view I can't take my eyes off the ones that are left behind.  I am not afraid of me dying.  Although now that I mention it, I am afraid of pain... But I am really terrified of losing someone that I need, or love, or can't imagine living without.  So I can't really (or don't really want to) face this head on- like the spiders.  And honestly, that didn't work too well anyways. (yep, even a Navajo with a sixth sense can be wrong sometimes)

As long as I am comparing my real fear of death to my irrational fear of spiders - I should add that my fear is not so much of spiders themselves.  It is the fear of how sneaky they are!  It is the element of surprise.  It is the moment I catch one running across the floor out of the corner of my eye, or see one climbing the wall right as I sit down on a toilet, or the fear that one will try to attack me when I open the lid to a Pringles can where it has been held captive for hours in anticipation of this moment. (yep, also the missionaries in Madagascar)  I guess the fear is that spiders are unpredictable.  I am actually somewhat OK with spiders "in the wild"... if I have a shoe handy, or if I can step on it easily.... Not if they are sprawled in a giant 10 foot canopy of web, filled with hundreds of spiders the size of the palm of my hand hanging over my head when I come out of an outhouse.  (yep, that too happened on my mission, and even though I had just come out of an outhouse- I think I may have peed my pants) Is there a connection between these fears?  Is my real fear that I might not be ready?  Or that I might not get to say good bye?  That I might be caught off guard?  And let's face it- anyone dying before they are 75 is being "caught off guard" to me.  Or is it the actual loss.  The fear that the rest of this life would be too long without them?  Or that I would be insufficient without them?

The concept of death has been heavy on my mind all month as I have watched (from a safe distance on facebook) the battle my friend and her husband have fought with Cancer.  I have felt every range of emotion that I am sure do not even compare to what she has experienced.  Anger.  Hurt. Sorrow.  Helplessness.  Confusion.  Fear.  I have asked all of those questions:  How can this happen?  And to someone so young?  To someone so good?  He doesn't deserve this.  It isn't fair.

But who does deserve this?  All of us, I guess.  According to another friend who was relating to me her own experience with a husband dying of cancer last year: Every one is born at different times, and everyone dies at different times.  It's true.  Everyone dies.  Why shouldn't it be his time? Everyone has to die.   But it shouldn't be his!  He has a family.  A young wife and child.  It just isn't fair.  It is not suppose to surprise us when we are young, like a spider in a tin can.  It is suppose to come to us when we are old, and tired in our saggy bodies, and ready for heaven and peace. 

As my heart keeps breaking for my friend, fear comes in and whispers that I could be next.  And why not? If it has to come to everyone?  And this is where I have to think of Yoda and Anakin and how he did go to the Darkside. (Can you tell that that movie had a big scary impact on me, because I related to Anakin not wanting to lose Padme? and now I am afraid I may actually become Darth Vader?? )  And really, what I am realizing is that fear is just poison.  It is just something toxic that creeps in and festers and becomes irrational and uncontrollable.  It prevents us from moving forward.  It keeps me huddled in the outhouse afraid to look up.  It keeps those stinky socks mildewing and burning with athletes foot. It keeps me from sleeping.  It could stop me from living and enjoying what I do have. 

When I was an EFY counselor there was a Theme Song one summer that said "Fear is a lie".  Because of how corny it sounds; this became a funny catch phrase for the counselors to throw around all summer.  But it has stayed close to me through the years- as corny as it is - because I do believe it, fear is a lie.

So this post is me- taking off the stinky socks, verbalizing my fears, giving light to things that haunt me at night.  This is me, believing the Savior who taught his disciples "Perfect love casteth out fear".  I am not going to look for a spider to climb my arm, or pounce from a canopy web, I am going to find a way to let love cast out my fears.  Love for the present.  Love for the people in my life, and those who are near me, but on the other side.  Love for a Heavenly Father (that does not jinx) who has a perfect plan, with a loving Savior whose job is to redeem me.  Love for Easter and the knowledge of the Resurrection and the possibility to be reunited with loved ones again.  Love for life.  Whatever it may bring. 

"Cast not away therefore your confidence...we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." Heb 10: 35, 39

I will not let fear make me draw back.  Perfect love will cast out my fears.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How To: A Tutorial That is Not About Crafting

How To: A Tutorial That is Not About Crafting

I know what you all are thinking right now.  (I just noticed how I like to refer to my readers as "you all" when it would probably be more accurate to write "both of you"... oh well)  You are thrilled at the idea that in the past month I have blogged about recipes, and about homemaking, and even posted pictures of my kids.  If that doesn't make me a True Mormon Mommy Blogger- I don't know what else does!  Ok, ok, maybe my lack of cool web design, having millions of Relief Society readers, any true talent, and last of all a Good Old "How To" Tutorial.  So here you go, you all.  A Real Tutorial.  No it won't be how to crochet a Wedding Gown, or a Bread Recipe for the greatest Sacrament Bread your toddler has ever eaten- and gone back for seconds even though the tray is two rows behind you, or even a really cool tote for all of your Sunday Essentials.

This post is: How To Take a Compliment.

What? You already made a crocheted gown - but this is the last piece of information to make your life complete?  Good.

Years ago I read in a book, or maybe overheard, or maybe just made up in my mind - a really classy, sophisticated, polished woman stating how important it is to learn how to take a compliment.  Wait? That is something we learn how to do?  If you, like me, are not from formal upper class upbringing you may have no idea that this is something young debutantes learn at tea party training.  (or at least that is what I pictured when that refined women in the book, or in the restaurant, or in my head made that statement)  And if you, like me, never learned how to take a compliment - This Tutorial is for You. (or both of you)

First we should point out the interaction I had at the park yesterday where all of my fancy, sophisticated friends witnessed first hand that I can not take a compliment.

Friend:  Katie, I love your shirt!
Katie: (with ugliest face you have ever seen) Really??!

It might be important to note the kind of morning I had.  Where my closet threw up it's 10 year old clothes all over me and filled me with the anger and the ever reoccurring phrase "I have nothing to wear".  So of course when I received a compliment directed at that old closet throw up draped over my body I assumed it was fake.  Even when other nice friends said:

Other Nice Friends:  No, really, Katie. I thought you looked skinny.
Other Nice Friends: Yeah, it is cute!
Other Nice Friends: Yeah, if only I could be as cute as you.

(ok, maybe that last one didn't happen, I was busy being ugly faced and shooting down compliments to pay close attention)

And that is when I realized--- I have failed in life.  I don't know how to take a compliment.

Some people don't receive compliments well because they are so humble (or at least trying to portray themselves as humble)  "Oh, no, your shirt is so much prettier".  That is not taking a compliment.

Others don't receive compliments well because they are being ugly face or grumpy. " really?? because my closet threw up on me and I am miserable all day because of it".  That is not taking a compliment.

And there are even others who don't take them because it is so foreign to them that they have to deflect it with humor.  "Yes, it does look pretty awesome on me. 'lol'!" (dripping with sarcasm)  Again, not taking a compliment.

I unfortunately have done all of these.  Why am I not all refined and sophisticated and good at letting people praise me?

I know how to induce a compliment....

Katie:  Oh, I am such a bad cook...
Friends:  No, Katie, these cupcakes are amazing!

Katie:  My body just isn't what it was before 3 kids...
JT:  No, Babe, you look as beautiful as the day we met... and you chased me down, and begged me to go out with you.

Katie: Hey Blog Readers, aren't I so cool and witty and talented??
Comments: * awkward silence *

(Ok, that might not have been the best example)

If there is one thing Nelson Women are good at- besides pretty much everything- it is inviting a compliment.  And yet I can't take one.  Do I blame it on my Mom? After all, I learned the talent of acquiring compliments from her.  Or am I too young to "blame my mom"?  We all know that at some point or another we become our moms.  I have already had my sisters point it out to me- or I to them.  Usually followed by the Homer Simpson "Doh!"  This banter is something I learned from  my own mom and her sisters. It was practically a Thanksgiving Tradition to hear one of my mom's sisters call her "Margaret" and then they all laugh because they know what that means.  I still don't know what it means, but I know what it means to be "Nancy". (So do you Chris, Karen, and Beth! Doh!)  In fact, maybe I can blame this on my Grandma... I hardly even knew her.  She passed away when I was young and one of the only memories coming to mind right now is from her Funeral.... Which she technically wasn't really at!  I just remember the fun I had with my other 10 year old cousin "Cousin Smell" (who is actually Cousin Shelly- shortened to Smelly, shortened to Smell- who is probably my coolest cousin, which actually says a lot because there are like 30 of us cousins and I bet if we took a vote at the next family reunion- She would be "Favorite Cousin".  That actually sounds like a great idea! Maybe I will submit it to the Reunion Committee to do one night at the campfire! But then again, do I want to be rated Cool Cousin #36.. out of only 30 cousins?? Maybe I won't take that pole and I will just know in my mind that I think she is the Coolest Cousin. ) We were sitting on the front row and singing "God Be With You Till We Meet Again". One of us would try to sing the men's part while the other sang the women's part.  We were so cool...

Wait, what the heck was I talking about?! Compliments?  Blaming my mother? My Grandmother? How cool my cousin is?  That may have been The Longest  Parenthetical Tangent Ever on My Blog!!!  Pretty impressive, eh?

Thank you. Thank you.
*small curtsy*

Back  to me at the park yesterday.  The correct response (I think) goes something like this:

Friend: Katie, I love your shirt!
Katie: (smiling politely) Thank you.

Wow. Was that it?  No self deprecating comment?  No ugly face?  No scoffing at "this old thing?"  No deflecting it back on her?  No awkwardness whatsoever?

But... if I hadn't flipped out yesterday- ranting at "this old thing, that makes me look 4 months pregnant, that I just wore yesterday and the day before and the day before and the day before because nothing else looks "good" right now, that I tried to hide under my favorite (also over worn) pink hoodie" Then I wouldn't have ended up on a Fantastic Retail Therapy Trip by myself (courtesy of Best Hubbie Ever) buying wonderfully superfluous pink shoes (that I can't even wear today because it is raining, or tomorrow, because it will be raining or 80% of the year here in Washington) and a "Feel Good for $1" Diet Dr. Pepper from McDonalds!  (which, ironically, Diet Caffeinated Soda is also the stamp of a Good Old Mormon Mommy Blog - score one more for me)

So there you go, Miss Stuffy Refined Sophisticated Classy Manners Lady (from a book, or somewhere, or my mind) maybe it isn't so important if you ever learn how to take a compliment!

Thank you.
*small curtsy*