Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Writing Prompt Wednesday # 9

Today's prompt: My life would be different if I'd never met... (Courtesy of Glen and Karen Bledsoe's Writing for Children website

My life would have been different if I'd never met Mary.

I remember the day her family moved into our ward. She bounced into Sunday School all auburn curls and bright, gap-toothed smiles, inviting all the girls she had just met to come to her Star Wars themed birthday party the next week. At Girls' Camp she carried around an old Cabbage Patch Kid doll she called Jack and sang silly songs to herself. I thought she was funny and slightly crazy. I never dreamed we'd become friends.

But somehow, we did.

I was nothing like Mary. I was shy, straight-haired, and afraid of being different. But Mary, with her brilliant combination of charm and eccentricity, taught me to get over myself and drink life in differently. Before I knew it we were singing and dancing down her street, dressing up like Queen Amidala, falling in love with Christian Bale in Newsies, making movies, and staying up late playing MASH and dreaming of our futures. When we started going to Youth Dances, Mary would pull me away from my spot on the wall and make me dance to the fast songs with her. I had no idea what I was doing. But it was a blast. When I was around Mary, I no longer felt like the little shy girl that nobody noticed. I was easily, wonderously, gloriously me.

We were friends in the quiet moments, too, when no one else was around and the laughter died away. We offered each other shoulders to cry on when life looked bleak and dark, words of strength and hope, love and encouragement. We nursed each other through countless broken hearts. No matter what life threw at me, there was always a bright point ahead, and it was Mary, my best friend.

Although it wasn't intentional, ours was the bond that made other people feel excluded. We were so close we could practically read each other's thoughts. We wrote elaborate notes to each other in Seminary and during Firesides. We snickered simultaneously at inside-jokes. We were so inseparable that people would ask us where the other was when we were apart. When we had a falling-out it was unbearable, as if a part of me was missing.

I've had a lot of friendships in my life come and go, but mine and Mary's has withstood thirteen years, the heartache of liking the same boy, college, marriage, and children. We don't see each other as often these days, but when we do, we fall into conversation as if we've never been apart.

And then we watch the monkeys pick bugs off of each other, because we're usually at the zoo.

Are you reading this, Mary?

I love you.

I miss you.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A List

15 Reasons Why I'm Glad I'm Not Pregnant:
(Danielle Bright Photography)

1. I can wear skinny jeans and heels.

2. I don't feel blah and nauseous all day, every day.

3. I don't have to listen to people say, "You don't even look pregnant," or "You exploded overnight," or "You're going to get such bad stretch marks" or any of the other tactful things people say to pregnant women.

4. I don't feel the need to eat an entire jar of peanut M&Ms. Well, mostly I don't.

5. I don't wake up in the middle of the night coughing, choking on my acid reflux.

6. I still have a lap for Baby Brown Eyes to sit on.

7. I can eat sushi.

8. I don't fall asleep in the middle of a movie at eight o'clock at night.

9. I can sleep on my back.

10. I don't have to worry about having two kids in diapers. Yet.

11. Well, you know. Trying to get pregnant is a lot of fun.

12. I'm not hormonal and crazy. Ha ha. Ok, not as bad as I would be if I was pregnant.

13. I don't spill food on my belly.

14. I don't have to pee every ten minutes.

15. I can go on hard hikes, white water rafting, and out on Mr. Brown Eyes' fishing boat without fear of capsizing it.


Maybe I've convinced myself.

For now at least,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, July 25, 2011

Asking Dad

My dad is half-Italian. You can see it in his dark hair, olive-skin, and prominent nose. (All of which he gave to me. Hmm.) You also get a sense of it in his fiery temper. (What's that, Mr. Brown Eyes? He gave me that, too?) Although I've never been to Italy, I get the sense that most Italians are warm and friendly, as generous with their conversation as they are with their food.

In that way, my dad is very un-Italian.

I'm not saying he's not warm and generous. He is; but only once you get to know him. Growing up, I remember going to restaurants and stores with my dad and when waitresses or cashiers tried to make small talk, he would do little more than grunt in response. He isn't one to waste smiles and words, especially on strangers. And once his good opinion of someone is lost, it's lost forever. Even as his daughter, I was constantly intimidated by him.

I used to worry about how my future husband would get along with my dad. I mean, if the man I married was expecting a big, pat-on-the-back hug and a "welcome to the family, son" from my dad, he was going to be greatly disappointed.

Thankfully, Mr. Brown Eyes and my dad seemed to hit it off from the beginning. Mr. Brown Eyes met all my dad's criteria of work ethic, faithfulness to the gospel, and, of course, devotion to me. And Mr. Brown Eyes didn't seem intimidated by Dad's aloofness. He insisted on joking with him, even going as far as putting an Oregon Ducks sticker (the rival of my dad's Washington Huskies) on the back of Dad's truck. When Dad just took the sticker off and grumbled without getting mad, I knew he liked Mr. Brown Eyes.

So when Mr. Brown Eyes and I started talking marriage and strolling hand in hand through the mall to all the different jewelers, trying out sparkly diamond rings on my finger, I knew my future husband would have no trouble asking my dad for permission to marry me. Not that he needed permission, but I had always wanted the man I married to ask my dad for my hand. I thought it was romantic and respectful. And Mr. Brown Eyes readily agreed.

A couple weeks later we took a day trip with my family to my sister's house for her son's baptism. While we were there, I locked my keys in my truck. After much emotion, begging, pleading, and cajoling, we managed to convince the local dealership to make another key for me. While  I waited for it, I told Mr. Brown Eyes to go have lunch with everyone else and I'd join them when I was done.

When I finally got my key and met everyone at McDonald's, sliding into the hard plastic booth next to Mr. Brown Eyes, I could tell something was wrong. He seemed distant and upset about something. When I asked him what was wrong, he just shook his head. But he hardly spoke a word all through lunch, and as we said goodbye to everyone and got into my truck to drive back to Phoenix, his silence persisted.

"What is wrong?" I finally asked again. "Something is, I can tell. Please tell me."

He sighed, gripping the steering wheel with one hand and my hand with the other. "I didn't want you to know, but, while you were waiting at the dealership, I decided to talk to your dad."

My heart sank. Could Dad have told Mr. Brown Eyes he wasn't good enough to marry me? Would Dad say such a thing?

"I showed him this picture," he continued, handing me his phone, which displayed a tiny picture of a hand holding a diamond ring. "And told him I was thinking about buying this for you, and asked him what he thought."


He paused, staring straight ahead at the winding mountain road. "He laughed at me."

I gaped at him. "He laughed at you?" That didn't sound like Dad at all. "There must be some mistake."

"No. I handed him the phone, showed him the picture, and he just laughed and handed it back to me. Then started talking to someone else."

He sounded so dejected, and looked so adorable, it was all I could do to lean in and kiss his cheek. "He must not have understood what you were telling him. I promise he wasn't rejecting you. You'll just have to try again."

He looked at me like that was the last thing he wanted to do. I felt for him. I remembered as a kid gathering the nerve to ask my dad for money. It was hard enough doing it once. But twice? Not if you didn't have to.

But Mr. Brown Eyes did. The picture of courage, he marched into my dad's computer room a few days later and asked him again, this time a little more straightforward, without the use of pictures. Dad gave him his blessing, told him he had been impressed with him, and probably rejoiced at the thought of another daughter out of his hair. To clear the air, Mr. Brown Eyes mentioned that he had tried to ask the same question at McDonald's that day.

"I thought that might have been what you were asking," Dad replied. "But the picture was so small, I couldn't tell what it was."

So he laughed.

At least he didn't pull out a shotgun.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Happy Mother

Almost, it seems, from the moment Baby Brown Eyes was born, I've been hearing the question. "Does he sleep through the night?"

And always, from the first time I was asked, I chuckle in disbelief and answer, "No."

I realize this question is just a way to make conversation, but after hearing it enough, I started to wonder. Should my baby be sleeping through the night already? Is there something wrong with him? Is this sleeping-through-the-night business some milestone that he skimmed over?

Then I learned about babies that did sleep through the night, at young ages, too, and I started feeling like a failure as a mother. It took me a while to realize that, although Baby Brown Eyes wakes up a few times a night, our methods are working well for us, we're all happy, and that's what matters.

I realize a lot of mothers use the "cry it out" method to teach their babies to sleep on their own. I realize a lot of mothers swear by this method. I realize that it probably does work, and if I had the guts to try it my baby would probably be sleeping like a pro by now. I don't condemn mothers who use "cry it out." I wouldn't want other people judging my mothering methods and I certainly can't judge anyone else's.

It's just that "crying it out" is never something I've been able to do with Baby Brown Eyes. Not that I've tried very hard. But seeing those big brown eyes filled with tears, those little hands reaching out for me, that's not a sight I can turn away from. And I don't think I'm supposed to. As his mother, I am built to respond to his needs. Even if those needs come in the middle of a very peaceful and contented sleep. He is just a baby, after all. And babies need their mothers.

Would I like a full eight to ten hours of sleep? Absolutely. But I waved goodbye to those days when I got pregnant, just like I said "see ya later" to my perfect little tummy, uninterrupted snuggling sessions with Mr. Brown Eyes, and a pristine, uncluttered living room floor. The minute I brought Baby Brown Eyes into this world, my life ceased to be completely mine. While my needs are still important, his come first, as will the needs of all my future children. This is what being a mother is all about. If you can't hack it, by all means, don't have children.

I could make every day a battle, forcing Baby Brown Eyes to nap when I want him to, letting him fuss and cry and frustrate me while I try to accomplish tasks that may be important but can certainly wait until later. Or I can lose myself in the joy of being a mother, remembering that the laundry and the dishes will still be there when I find time for them, but Baby Brown Eyes will only be a baby once, and fleetingly.

In my mind, enjoying motherhood is not about conquering your baby and getting him to submit to your schedule. It's nice when Baby Brown Eyes sleeps when I want him to and happily entertains himself with his toys. But I can also find joy in the times he doesn't. Because if there's one thing I've learned about motherhood, it's that it's chock full of unpredictable ups, downs, highs, lows, and everywhere in betweens. It's days of frustration sprinkled with beautiful moments that make your heart swell with more love than you can possibly contain. You can't schedule that. You can't control it. You just have to live it.

My baby is almost fifteen months old and he has yet to sleep through the night. But I wouldn't trade a hundred restful nights for the sweet feeling of rocking Baby Brown Eyes to sleep in my arms, his warm, perfect little baby body snuggled against me.

Call me crazy,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Writing Prompt Wednesday #8

Today's prompt: What is the worst accident you have ever had? The most recent? The silliest? The srangest? The most painful? The most embarrassing?
(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises"

Worst: The first time I fell off my horse. I had only had him for a few months and still didn't really know how to ride. I started running him on the canal road behind my parents' house--a strip of dirt road that wound alongside a deep, wide cement canal. Sultan sensed he was headed for home, so when I tried to get him to stop he tossed his head and fought me. As he rounded the corner I tipped out of the saddle but, like the amatuer I was, I kept the reins clutched in my hands. So as Sultan kept running, I was dragged across the rough, gravelly dirt. I don't remember how I got there, but somehow, without being trampled by Sultan's hooves, I ended up clinging to the side of the canal, crying out for help, watching Sultan turn into a little speck at the other end of the road. A guy from the adjoining neighborhood came running and pulled me out, then chased Sultan down where he had finally come to a stop, munching on a clump of weeds without a shred of concern for me.

Most Recent: I am accident-prone. But a recent one I can think of was when Baby Brown Eyes head-butted me and jammed my lip into my braces. I cried. He cried. And I was holding an ice pack against my fat lip for the next hour.

Silliest: Now that I'm about to share this with the world, I think it qualifies as most embarrassing. On my 16th birthday I invited a bunch of friends over for a sleep-over in a tent in my front yard. As the night progressed we got goofy and a few of us decided to run up and down the street. That's it. Harmless, right? Ok, ok, we also decided it would be a good idea to run up and down the street with our underwear on the outside of our clothes. I can't explain our teenage thought process. We just thought it would be great fun. So when we got back to my yard I saw a couple people walk out of the house and thought for sure it was my sisters. I didn't want them to catch me in my present state, so we all rushed back into the tent. In the chaos my friend Shanna jabbed me right in the eye with her finger. My first thought amid the searing pain was that my eye had fallen out, and I started yelling exactly that. It took a minute for me to realize that my eye was still intact, but that was the end of the fun for the night.

Strangest: My dad raises bulls for meat. Before I got married and moved into a house of my own, those bulls shared a pasture with my horse. This was never a very big deal; for the most part I ignored them and they ignored me. Occasionally my dad would buy a bull with a more aggressive streak, but usually a yell or throwing an object at such a bull was enough to keep him away. Until one summer when I was home from college. That year my dad's bull was the meanest ever. One day, as I was walking through the pasture to get my horse, the bull started following me and wouldn't back off, no matter how many times I hit him in the head with my horse's halter, the only weapon I had at my disposal. My horse ran off and I found myself backed up against the neighbor's fence, an angry bull lowering his massive head at me, tearing the grass into chunks with his hooves. I knew I had no where to go, and right before he lunged at me I squeezed my eyes shut, certain I was about to be impaled. Instead, I was caught between the bull's horns and dragged a few feet. He let me go and backed off a few steps, in which time I grabbed my fallen glasses and scrambled up the fence. As I sat astride it, pondering what to do, the bull still kept trying to come at me, slinging snot through the air as he angrily tossed his head. In the end I climbed the fence into my neighbor's yard and escaped that way. After that, I stayed as far from that bull as possible. And a few months later, he was in the shape of a hamburger on my plate.

Most Painful: The third or so time I fell off my horse. He spooked at something and I came halfway out of the saddle but managed to hold on. I was at a precarious angle, though, and couldn't pull myself back up. "Just let go," I told myself. "It won't hurt too bad." Wrong! I landed flat on my back on the hard asphalt road. The pain radiated through my body and for a minute or so I couldn't even move. At least Sultan stood patiently next to me until I managed to stand up again.

Most Embarrassing: The day after Mr. Brown Eyes and I got back from our honeymoon, I turned my truck too soon out of my parking spot at the apartment complex and scraped it against a pole. Ok, it didn't just scrape. It got completely stuck. The sickening shriek of stressed metal not only called my husband over, but a neighbor guy who helped me get unstuck. I felt so stupid that even his help embarrassed me. And then Mr. Brown Eyes told him that we had just gotten married. The neighbor replied, "Oh, and she's wrecking the car already?"

Tell me I'm not the only one who does things like that,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Singing in the Rain

Do you know the one thing that makes sweating through Arizona summers worthwhile?


I realize thunderstorms are dangerous. Driving home yesterday afternoon, we could hardly see the car in front of us through all the dust blowing across the road. But somehow, even though I practically pee my pants when I ride a rollercoaster, I have no fear of thunderstorms. I love the thrill of watching our trees whip wildly in the wind, rain pouring down in silver sheets off our roof. I love sitting on the front porch with Mr. Brown Eyes and watching the lightning flash over the mountains. I love hearing the thunder crack so loud my heart stops for just a second.

The best thunderstorms are the ones that hit in the middle of the afternoon. One minute the air is so thick with heat and humidity it could suffocate you, the sky clear blue and bright with sunshine, and the next minute, it seems, the sky is dark and cool, refreshing rain is pelting your skin. It's like a little gift from Mother Nature, a welcome reprieve from the scorching summer sun.

The summer after we bought our house, however, my love for thunderstorms seriously waned. The first storm of the summer hit one afternoon while Mr. Brown Eyes was at work. I had already discovered a leak in our dining room, so I put a towel down to soak up the water and went about whatever activities I used to engage in before becoming a mother, like painting my toenails and vacuuming. (Seriously, what did I do with all that spare time I used to have? I have no idea.) Then I heard a steady plop, plop coming from the living room. Following the sound, I found another leak over our staircase. Two, actually. I set bowls down to catch the drips. The plop changed to a thunk as the drips hit the plastic bowls.

Three leaks, I thought to myself. Not a big deal. We can take care of them.

Then the plop, plop resumed, this time on the opposite end of the living room. Once again I followed the sound and found a leak on the left side of the fireplace. I put the bowl down, but then--another plop. Another leak, on the other side of the fireplace. This one was steady and splattered rainwater all over me. I put another bowl underneath it.

By now I was running out of bowls and the rain was coming down harder, pummeling the roof with a staccato beat. But just as soon as I located one leak, the plop of water hitting the carpet would signal another one. I found myself scrambling back and forth across the living room, moving a bowl here, throwing down a towel there, until there were so many leaks I couldn't possibly pinpoint them all.

I gave up trying to keep our living room dry and tore at my hair in frustration. I fell to my knees and begged, pleaded, for Heavenly Father to stop the rain. But when I opened my eyes the rain was pouring down harder than ever, my living room a regular metronome of plops and thunks. I cried. I prayed again, certain that if I had enough faith Heavenly Father would have compassion on my predicament.

But it kept raining.

For a moment I was angry, and then a quote I had heard once or twice returned to my mind, "Sometimes the Lord calms the storm, but other times He calms the child, while the storm rages on."

I realized then that Heavenly Father had seen fit to let the storm rage on, but He was offering me His comfort. So I knelt down again and changed the tone of my prayer, asking instead for peace and comfort to make it through the storm. The thunder continued to rumble outside, the rain drip, drip, dripping from my ceiling for most of the afternoon, but I was comforted. Instead of praying to change my circumstances, I prayed to change myself.

Thankfully, the leaks in our ceiling are now (mostly) fixed, and I can enjoy thunderstorms again.

They are seriously the best thing about Arizona summers.

Bring on the rain,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Purpose of Cats

We have a cat.
(Courtesy of Danielle Bright Photography)
I'm not sure why.

You can ride a horse. You can walk a dog. What do you do with a cat?

Nothing. The cat does stuff with you. The cat makes you put out a box full of sand that she poops and pees in and you have to clean up. The cat jumps on your bed in the middle of the night to remind you that it will be morning in four short hours and you had better not forget to feed her. The cat sheds her unwanted fur on your couch and waits until you vacuum it, then sheds some more. The cat begs and begs to be fed, then promptly hacks up a hairball at your feet in gratitude. The cat turns her nose up at your love and affection, but jumps into your lap and sticks her tail in your face when you're caught up in a good book.

It makes you wonder why anyone loves cats.

I love cats. Ok, maybe not any cat, but I love our cat. I fell in love with her when she was brought into the animal hospital where I worked. She was a kitten, just days old, and one of our clients had found her and her two littermates at a construction site, motherless and hungry. The vet techs agreed to trade off taking the kittens home each night and bottlefeeding them, but despite their best efforts the kittens got sick and two of them died. The remaining kitten was put into the incubator at the animal hospital, her every need attended to. She managed to pull through where her siblings had not, and when it was clear that she would survive one of the vet techs named her Oot, short for One Out of Three.

The animal hospital became Oot's home. She was given a small kennel full of toys and every day the daughter of one of the vet techs would come and play with her (and, to Oot's dismay, bathe her). One day as I was working the front desk, she brought Oot up and handed her to me. Still a tiny kitten, Oot fit perfectly in my two hands, a little ball of soft gray fur with big, expressive gray eyes. I cooed and gushed over her and she lifted one white paw and daintily batted at my face. I fell in love right then and there.

Working at the animal hospital gave me many opportunities to bring home needy and unwanted animals, but I was still living at home at the time, and my dad's answer was always an emphatic, "No." I knew he would never agree to me bringing home another cat. So I didn't ask. I stowed her, mewling pitifully, into a cat carrier and drove her home, where I introduced her to my parents and promised that when I moved out, so did she.

I could almost feel little Oot's joy when I let her out of the carrier and, no longer a prisoner of the kennel, she romped and spun and rolled and played the way a kitten should. Well, a little more psychotic than a normal kitten, but I chalk that up to being imprisoned too long. Or maybe to getting too many baths. Either way, it was really cute the way she curled up and attacked her own back feet.

True to my word, when I married Mr. Brown Eyes Oot came to live in our apartment with us, where she spent most of her days hiding from Mr. Brown Eyes' cat, Critter.

Now she spends her days shedding, begging for food, and escaping from Baby Brown Eyes, who thinks she's the funnest toy he's ever seen. He'll chase her around the house, squealing in delight, reaching for her fur with his chubby little hands. Sometimes he actually manages to grab her tail but, instead of trying to bite him, she merely wails in agitation until one of us releases her. And then the chase begins again.

So I guess Oot does have a purpose after all.
Wasn't she just the cutest kitten ever?
She is still a brat, though,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writing Prompt Wednesday #7

I just want to say, for the record, that it's starting to feel like there are a lot more Wednesdays in the week than there used to be.

Today's prompt: Write a short story (or start a longer story) with this as the opening line: "Imogene Hornwinkle was the meanest, nastiest, most horrible girl in all of third grade" (Courtesy of Glen and Karen Bledsoe's Writing for Children website

Imogene Hornwinkle was the meanest, nastiest, most horrible girl in all of third grade.

I would know because she was also my best friend.

How could this be, you ask? How could a girl as sweet as me be friends with such a monster, a girl who, the first day we met, popped the head off of my favorite Barbie doll and flushed it down the toilet? A girl who hides dead bugs in her desk just so she can toss them down the shirt of the nearest unsuspecting bystander? A girl who purposely dives into the mud in protest of the dress her mom made her wear that day, and then blames me for pushing her?

I don't know how it happened.

I had never even talked to Imogene except to tell her to leave me alone and yes, she could have the cookie from my lunch, just please don't cut my hair with those scissors. But that day, the pretty girls in class--Brittany McDonald, Clare Durphy, and Shirley Wolster--clustered around my lunch table, intent on making me their victim because Clare hadn't known what "illiterate" meant when the teacher asked her, and I had raised my hand and given the correct definition.

"Nice dress, Janie," Shirley said in a sing-song voice. "You must like it, since you wear it everyday."

"I have a word for you," Clare hissed. "Do you know what 'dork' means?"

Brittany laughed. "Yeah, or 'loser'? Or 'ugly'?"

I sank further and further into my chair, wishing I could disappear entirely. I imagined they would keep making fun of me until I laid my head down and cried, and even then, but just as their jeers were cutting deep, I heard another voice. When I saw Imogene pushing her way through my three tormentors, I was sure she was coming to join in the fun.

To my surprise, she turned on Brittany. "Who are you calling ugly, Buckteeth?"

Brittany started, then scowled. "Imogene Hornwinkle, you..."

But Imogene was turning her attention to Clare. "And you. Janie can't help it that she's smarter than you. Everyone is. Maybe you should start reading the dictionary."

"What would you know about it, Imogene?" Shirley sneered. "You failed last week's spelling test."

"On purpose," Imogene bragged, smirking. "And besides, you didn't see me making fun of Janie just because I failed and she didn't. That's stupid. Oh, but I like your dress."

Shirley smiled. "Thank you."

"But I think it needs something..." That's when we realized Imogene was holding something behind her back. Before Shirley knew what hit her, she was wearing the remnants of Imogene's lunch--mashed potatoes and peas in her hair, chocolate milk all over the front of her dress, yogurt dribbling down her arms. With a shriek she dashed toward the bathroom, followed closely by Clare and Brittany.

Imogene placed her now-empty tray on the table and took a seat next to me. I just stared at her, my mouth hanging open in awe.

"Shut your trap, Janie. You look like a fish."

I closed my mouth quickly, then mumbled, "Thank you."

She either didn't hear me or pretended not to. "I didn't finish my lunch. Give me your cookie."


"Do it or I'll break your arm."

I handed her the cookie.

We were best friends from then on.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, July 7, 2011

No Pain, No Gain

After my most recent braces-adjustment, my teeth hurt almost as bad as they did when I first got my braces on. At lunchtime I went to bite into my juicy, delicious hamburger and...couldn't. I had to cut it up into bite-sized pieces and chew very slowly lest my teeth clamp together too hard and send pain shooting through my mouth.

At first I was frustrated that I have to experience this soreness all over again, but after a while my frustration yielded to gratitude. I am glad my teeth hurt. It means my braces are doing their job and my teeth are straightening. If they didn't hurt, they would probably still be crooked and all this awkward metal in my mouth would be for nothing.

So bring on the pain! I mean, in little, managable doses, please. That I can subdue with some Tylenol.

I think it's the same with life. Pain is necessary for us to become everything Heavenly Father sees in us. It hurts, and we don't like it, but if we never experienced it, how would we progress? We would never be happy because we wouldn't know what it felt like not to be happy. We would never feel the stretch in our souls as we rise to meet our challenges, the sweet satisfaction of overcoming, that quiet peace that comes in the midst of our pain "which passeth all understanding."

This life is a chance for us to grow, learn, and become more like our Heavenly Father. Pain is a necessary component in teaching us those lessons.

But Heavenly Father doesn't just throw pain our way and watch us squirm. He loves us too much for that. He's given us a Savior who, through the Atonement, has experienced every kind of pain possible, much more than any of us will ever have to suffer. He can comfort us, strengthen us, heal us, and hold us. And He will. If we just turn to Him.

And let's not forget that, between the pain, Heavenly Father gives us exquisite moments of happiness, moments when the curtain is lifted just a bit and we get a glimpse of heaven, a reminder of all that can be ours when the pain is done.

Not that we should all jump up and down and wish for pain. But at least, when it comes, we can remember that it is not without purpose.

Braces: They straighten your teeth and teach you life lessons.

I'm going to go slurp some applesauce now,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dance, Dance, Dance

Confession: I LOVE "So You Think You Can Dance." Last week, this dance made me melt into gooshy romantic goo.

And this one made me feel all deep and moved.

Man, I wish I could dance.

Does polka-ing in the living room with my baby count? Or slow-dancing in the kitchen with my husband?

That's the only kind of dancing I do.

If I am ever able to capture it on video, I will share Baby Brown Eyes' dancing skills with you. He dances like me, with one exception. He looks cute while he's doing it.

I just look like a dork.

But I won't let that stop me.

Can't wait to watch tonight's episode,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Writing Prompt Wednesday #6

Today's prompt:
Describe the lifeguard. Why does he (or she) take an axe to the oak tree? Write your story in five minutes.
(Reprinted by permission all rights reserved (c) C.M. Mayo "Giant Golden Buddha and 364 More 5 Minute Writing Exercises
His name was Chip. He had deeply tanned, golden skin and blond, almost bleached hair that he liked to keep short and spiked. He pretended to be tough, ripping off his tank-top in front of the bikini-clad girls and showing off his firm pecs and rippled abs. But he was really a big softie inside. He like poetry and cried whenever he watched "A River Runs Through It."
He went out into his parents' backyard one morning to find a tiny baby bird dead on the ground. It had fallen out of its nest in the leafy oak tree. This was not the first crime the oak tree committed. When Chip was three he fell out of the tree and broke his arm. When he was 14 he carved his initials in the tree's trunk next to the initials of his dream girl, and she promptly dumped him. Then, just last year, a branch from the old tree had broken off and landed directly on his brand-new motorcycle. The baby bird was the last straw. The tree had to go.
Don't mess with Chip,
The Brown-Eyed Girl