Monday, December 17, 2012

To Donate or Not to Donate, That is the Question.

Hold on.

Hear me out.

Imagine with me for a minute...

It's that time again: Christmas, birthday, spring cleaning, your closet is overflowing, you can't afford the storage unit anymore or find yourself contemplating a bigger one.  You've decided it's time to get rid of some stuff.

You unlock the lock, throw open the doors and behold: the Mountain of Stuff.  Boxes and boxes of it.  Some of it is from last week, some from last year, some from 30 years ago, some from the Mesozoic Era.  Plastic boxes, cardboard boxes, metal boxes. Some black or silver or white garbage bags.  You well and truly don't even know what's there exactly.  What are you going to do with it?  Toss. Keep. Donate. 

You think to yourself as you open each box, Oh, I remember this!  What a great time we had together.  I guess I don't need it anymore.  But it must still be useful!  I'll donate it. Someone will want it.

Stop. Hold it right there.

What are you holding?  Clothing?  An old toy?  A book?  A piece of furniture?  An 8-track player?  A holey (that is NOT misspelled) shoe?  A sock with no mate?  An archaic piece of technology?

Is it REALLY going to help someone in need?  Or is it just going to get some treasure-to-you-trash-to-everyone-else guilt off your chest?  Will it help someone survive or live better, or will it just add to a pile of useless junk in someone else's closet or even the store because no one will pay money for it??

What brought this on?  It is natural to wonder.  I'll tell you.

My kids' toys.

It happens naturally enough.  They get a toy from a friend or family member.  They love it for a few hours, days, months, or the lucky toys even get a few years.  Inevitably, the toys lose their appeal and drift to sundry bedroom corners or sink to the bottom of the toy box.  Vital pieces go missing (or are eaten, ha).

"But!" you say.  "We have memories here!  I can't just throw our memories in the trash!  If this such-and-such is used by someone else, our memories will be preserved, honored, remembered!"

Um. Yeah. No. Not really.

They won't have your memories.  Your memories belong to you.  They're pretty much meaningless to most everyone else, and that's fine.

You know what that stuff is doing in your house, to your house?  To your psyche?  To your soul??

Who has heard the backpack/rocks/sin parable?  Raise of hands?  Great!   Well, it doesn't just pertain to sin.

The stuff we accumulate weighs on our minds.  It stops us in our tracks physically and emotionally and spiritually.  The more you have to keep track of, the less brainpower you have to dedicate to other (some would say more important) things or people.

So I'm going to get rid of these extra toys that the kids don't even ask about anymore, that don't have all their pieces, and even some that require batteries that I don't feel like spending the money to replace.  And seeing as how most of it got to us because someone else didn't want it either, I'm going to toss it in the trash and not feel even one tiny inkling of guilt about it.

Because sometimes, your trash is everybody else's trash too.

And you know what the kids are going to do?  Mostly nothing.   They won't even notice that stuff is gone.  If they do notice, it will be in passing.  I will answer honestly when they ask me if I know where it is, "No, I don't know exactly where it is."  Then they will forget.

Oh, and they'll be running around the house with huge grins on their faces because, unbeknownst to them, they were weighed down by all the stuff they had to choose from to play with, and suddenly they feel much better.  They won't know why, but they'll be happier.  And I like happy children.

So next time you find yourself getting ready to donate something, please ask yourself if it is truly worth donating, or if it is more honorable to take a picture (with a camera or just your mind) and let it rest in peace.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

GFDF Enchilada Casserole

As many of you know, my children have some food sensitivities as do my new stepchildren.  It's quite entertaining telling people, actually.  You have how many children? And how many stepchildren? And your kids are gluten free and his are dairy free? And then come the accolades about how amazing I am for taking that on.  Like it's hard?  I was prepared for this day.  I lived with my parents and brother for a year and my mother has more food allergies and sensitivities than foods she can eat freely including but not limited to gluten and dairy products.  Cooking for her for that year enabled me to reach a certain level of proficiency with that kind of cooking to the point that I can make up GFDF versions of things without much trouble right off the cuff.  (It's a gift I attribute to my Dad and my Heavenly Father.)  Here is my latest creation.  Hope you like it! Personally, I didn't really miss the cheese or sour cream.

So without further ado, GFDF Enchilada Casserole!

16 GF corn tortillas (Mission makes them)
1 32-oz can enchilada sauce
1 15 oz can vegetarian refried beans
1 4-oz can diced green chiles
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 15-oz can medium black olives, sliced

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Lightly grease 13x9 baking pan.  Spoon 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce into bottom of pan and spread around.  Use 4 tortillas to cover the pan.  The arrangement I used had two whole ones in the middle, two halves along the long sides at the edge, and one quarter in each corner.  Spoon 1/3 of the beans onto the tortillas and spread around.  Add about 1/2 the diced green chiles. Add another layer of tortillas.  Spread 1/3 of the beans around, and top with 1/2 the olives and 1/2 the can of tomatoes.  Add another layer of tortillas.  Spread the remaining beans and top with the remaining ingredients.  Add one more layer of corn tortillas.  Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce on top, making sure to cover all the tortillas.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Serves about 10, but only if it's not the only thing you serve and we're talking "normal" portions, not teenage boy portions. :)

Make this and let me know how it worked for you!  Comment below!


Guest Post for a Friend

My good friend Jenn Greenland has a blog all about essential oils and how awesome they are.  However, she can't use anything with lavender so she asked me to write about the blend Past Tense.  Check out my article and the others on her blog!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Our Story

One of many profile pics
In desperation, she signed up for an LDSSingles account.  A PAID one. *gasp*

The first profile pic I saw

In desperation, he signed up for an LDSSingles account.  A PAID one. *gasp*

She just wanted to talk to some adults for once.

He thought she would make good practice for when he really started dating.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

On January 20, 2012, he sent her a message remarking on how interesting it was that they were nearly perfect matches on the compatibility profile, and how he had family in Thatcher.  Coincidence? Well...

Thus began the journey.  Messages were sporadic at first. I have a test today, she'd say.  I'm going to a hockey game tonight, he'd say.  They exchanged names.  They exchanged numbers.  They chatted on messenger.   They chatted on video. (He was wearing a red shirt and had just had his hair cut the first time!)

She really liked him.  REALLY liked him.  A LOT.

He really liked her.  REALLY liked her.  A LOT.

She found out how fresh he was off a divorce, decided she didn't want that drama right now and just wanted to be friends.  She managed, for perhaps the first time in all history (or at least her history) to truly put a man she was attracted to on the "just friends" shelf.  She started dating other men.

They still chatted.  He still called.  He always enjoyed their conversations.  She was always happy to hear from him.

She got tired of having so many men interested in her.  (I know it's hard to imagine.)  She wanted to choose one.  But whom should she choose?  Men kept coming out of the woodwork!

She narrowed and whittled.  She debated and questioned.

He patiently waited.

She wanted to meet this other guy she was dating, and they were meeting in Utah, but she would have a couple days before he arrived due to other arrangements.  Could she maybe meet Seth while she was up there?  Yes, he'd love to meet her.  Just as friends, of course. Silly girl.

July 4th, 2012.  They met in a park.  He was there with his kids.  (He was wearing an orange shirt, FYI.)

My view from the ground at a tree in the park
It was a little awkward.  Just a little.

He introduced his (adorable!) kids.  They warmed up pretty quickly!  They all spent the afternoon together until the kids' nap time.  Then he dropped them off with their mother.  Seth invited Arienne over.

He rocked her to sleep!
Arienne was falling in love.

He played guitar for her. She swooned inside. (Who doesn't like a musician?)

He took her to dinner.  They laughed and talked.  He took her to USU campus.  They talked and laughed some more.  He showed her Michael Ballam's office. (So cool!!!)  They walked around, Seth acting as her personal tour guide.

She was fighting it and losing.

They found a hill on campus overlooking the Logan temple.  When it became dark, fireworks started going off right over the temple.
See?  Awesome!!

She fought it harder. (She was meeting another man the next day! Giminy.)

He finally took her back to her car.  They hugged good night.
The next two days were the vacation from the Netherworld.

She unexpectedly had two more days to kill by herself before she could take the kids home.

Call Seth.

What? No!  It felt weird.

Call Seth.


Call Seth.

Okay!  Fine!

Okay, fine! Hehehe

Can she come see him again?  Absolutely!

He had his kids for the weekend.  (There isn't much that is more attractive than a man having fun with his kids, and handling them well, too.)

She fell harder.

He had to be with his kids that night.  She found herself thinking about him all night.  What was going on with her?

He invited her to church with him the next day.  She happily accepted.

The kids were happy to see her.  She was happy to see Seth.  (He wore a dark green suit.  Nothing like a man in a suit. Hubba hubba!)
First picture together

The hymn started.  She heard him sing.  She heard their voices blend together so very beautifully.

That was it.  She was in love.

That night he kissed her.  It was beautiful and perfect.

It took me about two weeks to disentangle myself from the other men in my life.  But I distinctly remember the moment I knew he was the man I wanted and he was the only one I wanted.  I had spent the previous two years trying to be flexible about the qualities of the men I dated.  I tried so hard to throw the list of the ideal man I had created as a teenager out the window.  But like the children's advertisement for a nanny in that classic movie, Mary Poppins, the list came right back to me in the form of a real person.  He is everything on that list and then some.  Heavenly Father blessed me and looked after me.  He brought Seth and I together, and I will be forever grateful.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Leftovers Renewed

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  You've gorged yourself on pies, turkey, potatoes, or whatever else you love.

It's two days later.

And there are still leftovers in your fridge.

What to do?

Here's what I came up with!  It was a HUGE hit with my 4 little ones.

Fried Mash and Turkey Curry

Leftover mashed potatoes
Leftover white meat (the dark meat goes fast here!0
Curry powder
Vegenaise (or mayo... but no Miracle Whip!)
Chopped celery

I'm not giving a lot of amounts here... Tastes are so individual.

Heat up a skillet or griddle. Take 1/4-1/3 cup size mounds of mashed potatoes and smash 'em on there.  They'll take a while to brown, so get going on the turkey!

Chop turkey as fine as you can get.  Chop celery equally fine.  I'd say one stalk is plenty for 2 cups of turkey, but you may like less.  Dump both in a bowl of appropriate size.  Add 1-3 tsp of curry (I go for even a little more, but that's just me) and enough vegenaise to moisten, and you may choose to add a small splash of lemon juice, and salt to taste, if you will.  Mix mix mix and dollop some on top of your recently fried mash.  Grab a fork and dig in!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

School, Bookworm, and a Photo Shoot!

Here's a little update on the family in general.

This was the first day of school, August 8th.  We are pleased to have a 3rd grader, a 2nd grader, and our brand-new kindergartener.  They're going to Discovery Plus Academy in Pima this year.  It was the only school I could find that would let Tristan, whose birthday is just past the September 1st deadline, test into kindergarten.  He passed preschool with flying colors, and I knew he was ready.  Kael had issues with Jack Daley Primary School last year, so I wanted to try him in a new school that seemed more able to cope with uniqueness in its students. And then, if the boys were going, we might as well get Elizabeth in there, too.  Every day when I pick them up and ask how school is going, I get responses from all of them such as, "Awesome!" "Cool!" and "I love going to school!"
It's rather funny that last year, Kael was throwing fits because he didn't want to go to school. Yesterday, he threw a fit because he never wanted to leave school! What a turnaround! And totally worth the drive to and from school.

This is a collage of Lorelai in a dress that I wore when I was about her age.  Isn't it just darling?! I don't have the picture of me handy, but you can be sure when I find my scrapbooks, I'll be digging it out and doing a side-by-side comparison.  What do you think, Mom? :)

 So once I was done with Lorelai, I felt like taking more pictures. So I did! These are some of my favorites.  I love my kids!!! And I think they like me, too. Always a plus. ;)

I'm not sure how it happened, but somehow, when I say, "Okay, let's go in the car!" it has become a cue for Lorelai to grab whatever books she can see and carry them to the car.  She then proceeds to read them during the entire trip, especially if she is alone, which she is often these days.  She loves books and reading!  She can sit for a long time just reading book after book, whether it's me reading to her, or her looking through it herself.  I've trained her so that after I read, I tell her it's her turn to read it, and she wanders off and reads it to herself! It's SO funny watching her read the books, hearing the inflections in her voice that she picked up from listening to me.  Her favorite book of the moment is one called Holler Loudly, which she loves because we get to yell really loud when it's Holler's turn to speak.

I love being a mom!  It's times like these that make every not-so-great moment worth it.

My baby is growing up though. Might be time for a new baby. ;)

Until next time!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


This will be just a picture post. I'll do the story in a different post.

Ha ha. I'm so mean.

Anyway, heeeeeeeeeeere they are! (ala Price is Right)

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Goin' Courtin': Saying Yes Means Saying No

Saying yes is fantastic, and I'll get to that in another post later.

Saying no is not so fantastic.

Dating is fun. You get to meet all these new people.  They compliment you, point out all the good things about you, you have fun together, you get close with people. Relationships like that are essential to most human's well-being.

Dating is hard.  You build all these relationships, share yourself with all these people.  In the end, you're going to have to say goodbye to most of them.  No matter what people may say, sometimes you can't be just friends.

Sometimes it's all or nothing.

Sometimes it's now or never.

So we find someone for whom we want to give it all, right now and forever.

Saying yes to that feels wonderful!  There's no feeling in the world like being chosen by the one you want.

This does lead to saying to no to the others.  You're saying no to possibilities. You're saying goodbye to friends you love and care about.

And that hurts.  And you might feel angry, sad, depressed, or even guilty.

I have learned that if you are making the choice that is right for you, the choice that is in your best interest, those feelings will be temporary.

The joy and elation of choosing and being chosen always wins out.

Last week, I decided I wanted to say yes to someone.  I'll go into more detail about that later.

But saying yes to him meant saying no to all the other guys I have been dating.

The thought made me sick.

I am a very empathetic, compassionate person.  It's all too easy for me to feel what others are feeling, or to feel in anticipation what I would imagine they would feel.  Hurting all these men with whom I had grown close and cultivated relationships scared me.  I was suddenly filled with dread and doubt.  Was I making the right choice?  Was I ready to be with just one?  Saying no now would in all likelihood mean saying no forever.

But I couldn't keep them all.  And I really wanted this one.  So I had to suck it up and do it.

It was hard.

It hurt them.  It hurt me.

I took time between each one to mourn the loss of the friendship, and the loss of possibility.

Inevitably, I ended up happy again.  I remembered why I was ending things, why I had made the choice I made.  I would then spend a while with this ridiculous grin on my face before I moved on to the next ending.

Whatever happens in the future, I will always remember these men who helped me along my way, who helped me recover from my divorce and all that pain, who helped me find myself again.

You may always carry a place in your heart for those to whom you said, "No."  That's okay.  You should.  They helped you get to where you are, and become who you've become.  Never forget.  But don't get swallowed up in it.

Let yourself love.  It's the best gift you can give to the people in your past, the people in your present, and the people in your future.

Happy courtin'!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Family Pics 2012

At the end of may, the Johansens had a family reunion.  We took a LOT of family pictures.  I'm not allowed to publish any but my own family, but we had some good ones! Here are my favorites:

Alexandra and Lorelai meet

Generations... and a dog :)

Photo Shoot-Uncle couldn't resist

The best of the family pics
 I am truly blessed to have a family that looks as good on the outside as they are on the inside! XOXOXO

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Goin' Courtin': My Best Interest

Earlier this year, I decided it would be a good idea to get some counseling to help me heal from my previous marriage.  I thought I would go in, talk about my story, get some pat answers and overused advice, then maybe I'd feel better.

My counselor listened. Then she gave me a book.  The first chapter (my homework assignment) talked about honoring yourself, and acting in your own best interest.


This was akin to blasphemy to my way of thinking.  I have that kind of personality that wants to please everyone, even at the expense of me.  I had mastered it so much that I no longer thought of me at all.  Every decision was what other people thought would be best: for me, for my children, for my future.  Think about myself? You're kidding, right?


The point that really struck home to me in that chapter was that almost 100% of the time, acting in your own best interest is in everyone else's best interest, too.

Talk about a paradigm shift!  To go from thinking only of others, to thinking only of my own interests was mind-boggling.

Here's how it relates to dating.

I'm very easily persuaded.  Unless deep-rooted, or consciously kept in mind, I often forget my own opinions when presented with strongly voice opinions of others.

And I cannot tell you how many times a man has started dating me and proceeded to fall in love immediately, only to be followed by the need to convince me we're meant to be together.  I have mentioned before how I have been seeing casually several men at a time.  Twice in the last three months, I have had 3-5 different men telling me we're meant to be together.  Now, I don't know of any religion, and certainly not mine, that allows polyandry here on earth or in heaven, so I knew they couldn't all be right.  But they were all so sure!!!  I knew I had to make a decision.  But which one?

I found myself talking about it in terms of how I could help them.  "I could be an example to him, his strength."  "He needs support." "He needs a mother for his kids."

Or I thought about what lessons I would be teaching my children: Marry in the temple, give second chances, there are exceptions, etc.

What I needed to think about, at least a little, was myself.  How do I feel when I'm with him? How do I feel when we're apart?  What personality traits are important to have? Which traits should I avoid?

As I asked myself these questions, I was finally able to sort through these men who all claimed me as theirs and decide on one I wanted to claim for myself.  I could see how I wasn't really what they needed or wanted.  I could see that they would be better with someone else.  I could see how my choice was also the best for my kids.

And I felt peace.

And I felt hope.

And I felt love.

It was and will be hard to break up with the others, but acting in my own best interest truly is best for everyone in the end.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Goin' Courtin': Mormon Dating Game, or Kissing: What Does It Mean?

Apparently, we Mormons date differently than a lot of the rest of the world.

Specifically when it comes to kissing.

I was surprised to hear that this was a Mormon phenomenon.  Feel free to comment below and enlighten me if I get it wrong, or back me up if I'm right.

What does kissing mean to you?

When I was dating the first time around, kissing meant we were going to be exclusive if we weren't already.  It was almost an implied, "We're boyfriend/girlfriend now."

And this, I'm told, is how the rest of the world works.  We'll call it Way 1.

I haven't necessarily operated that way this time around.  (I sort of canvassed this already in general in my post, Relationship Girl Vs. Dating Girl.)  Working against my own background, I sometimes feel like a... woman of loose morals.

But let's face it.

Kissing is fun.

It's exhilarating.

It can also be dangerous.

This seems to be the norm, however.  I only date within my religion, so I can't vouch for how it is in any other scene.  However, it seems to be part of the determination process to try kissing out.  We'll call this Way 2.

Where's the line, then?  Is it a certain number of kisses? Length? Depth?  How many guys/girls are you allowed to be kissing?  I know some who give out kisses like candy at a parade.  I know some that don't kiss until they get married. And there is everything inbetween.

I don't really and truly have an answer to these questions, and it may just be that it's wholly individual.

What happens when someone who works Way 1 meets someone who works Way 2?  Which way wins?  Can a relationship work between them?

Again, I don't have the answers. I sure would like to know though!

Happy courtin'!

P.S.  So what do you think?  How do you work?  Have you tried both ways?  Share with us your wisdom and experiences.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Goin' Courtin': Addictive

A man told me once that I was addictive.

I was feeling cheeky and replied, Yes, I know. Or something like that.

He responded with, "You knew?? You could have WARNED me!!"

And I said, Where's the fun in that?

Then I started thinking. (A dangerous pastime, I know.)

I started wondering if this was something I needed to worry about, or try to control. (Because I'm a minor league control freak. It's what I do.)  Should I restrict myself somehow, so people are less likely to get addicted to me?  What would that look like?

I know what it would look like. The reason for becoming what I had become was different than this approach would be, but it would end the same.  I did it to myself in my previous marriage.

I would stop flirting with guys, and stop talking with anybody about anything fun, interesting, or personal.  I would stop trying to look good.  I would stop going out.

I would die.

Then I realized, I can't change myself to save other people.  Just like any drug, I am just being who I am.  If that makes me addictive to some people, then so be it.  I am not responsible for their choice to love me, or become addicted to me, or anything of the sort, and trying to take that responsibility would destroy this lovely person I've finally rediscovered after two years of searching.  And doing it knowingly would be all kinds of wrong, like murder almost.

So I did something completely out of character.  I stopped trying to save everybody else.  I let it go.

I'm free to be who I am, no worries.

I'm addictive?


Friday, June 15, 2012

Goin' Courtin': I have a secret...

Psst... Come here... I have a secret to tell you...

I can fall in love with any man I want.

Oh, I know you're shocked.  From our earliest days we're constantly fed fairytales and romance novels and romantic comedy movies that make it seem like love should be instantaneous, or at least quick. There is only one (or maybe two) people who will work for you as a long-term partner.  And if it doesn't work between two people, they just weren't right for each other-- they weren't "the One."  Or, if you botch it with that one right person, you're doomed to a lifetime of loneliness or second-rate relationships.

Bull.  Codswallop.  Rubbish.  Baloney.  Hogwash.

Love is a choice.

Most, if not all, people in successfully long-term relationships will tell you that.  After a while, that initial falling-in-love buzz wears off.  You start seeing their flaws.  They see yours.  You fight.  Then you choose to go back, make up, and make it work.

Again and again.

Over and over.

And those people are most often the happiest and most content people we know.

So, why not choose from the beginning?

In reality, we DO all choose.  Mostly this is done by look, or sometimes gut feelings.  We decide we don't like the look of them, or their attitude, or we get a little further and we don't like their job, or their friends, or their hobbies.  Online dating sites let us be even MORE picky, as our potential mates fill out information on kids, values, religion, hobbies, goals, politics, and any other myriad number of things. And once we get through all of that, we decide we can give this one or that one a chance.  We choose.

But, Arienne, that is SO un-romantic.  

Actually, it's the most romantic idea to grace the stage.  How is that possible?  In the end, don't we ALL want someone to say to us, "I choose you. If every man/woman in the world were standing before me, and I could have any one I wanted, I would choose you."  We choose.

But what if you choose someone, and you have irreconcilable differences?

There's no such thing, not for real, mature adults.  ANYthing can be worked out. Any problem can be solved. Any objection can be overcome.  We just have to grow up, which I know is a foreign concept to many.  However, there it is.  We choose.

So how do you decide who you want?

It's going to be different for every person. And in the end, you just need to know in your heart, in your gut, that it's the right choice. Then, once you've made the choice, really and truly commit to it. Live it. Make that choice again and again and again.  When you both do that, it will work.

Now I need to go pick one. :)

Happy courtin'!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

GFCF Banana Coconut Muffins

Here it is, the long-awaited recipe that I made up off the cuff.  Enjoy!
(It is still somewhat a work in progress. If you have any ideas for improvements, let me know!)

And my breakfast-picky kids LOVED them...

GFCF Banana Coconut Muffins
Makes 12-18

2 cups GF all-purpose flour (I used Giusto's)
1 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup flaked coconut
2/3 cup brown sugar

3 eggs, lihgtly beaten
1 tsp GF vanilla
1 cup coconut milk

2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Prepare muffin tin by greasing lightly.

In large bowl, mix first 5 ingredients together.  In another bowl, combine next 3 ingredients.  Add wet ingredients and bananas to dry mixture, and stir until combined (can still be lumpy).  Spoon batter into muffin tin evenly.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until tops are browned, and toothpick comes out clean.

Top with powdered or coarse sugar, and serve. Delicious warm or cool.


That's right. That's it. Here are some side notes:

*Not all GF all-purpose flours are created equal.  You may need to adjust the recipe to the one you use.  Judge it based on the batter result: You want it a medium thickness, so that it holds its shape for just a few seconds when you move it around.
*The riper your bananas, the sweeter and more banana-flavored they are. Adjust recipe accordingly, to your tastes.
*I find coconut milk adds more flavor to the recipe, but I have also used almond milk to good effect.

Now go try it, and let me know how it turns out for you!!!

I still can't believe I did this out of hand!! :D

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Goin' Courtin': Relationship Girl Vs. Dating Girl

You should not date until you are at least 16 years old. When you begin dating, go with one or more additional couples. Avoid going on frequent dates with the same person. Developing serious relationships too early in life can limit the number of other people you meet and can perhaps lead to immorality.  --For the Strength of Youth

I think I did this backwards.

It wasn't long after I turned 16 that I had my first boyfriend.  If I cared to look, I could come up with an exact number of days, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't more than a month.  And that's how it was. I pretty much went from relationship to relationship.  I can count the number of guys I dated just once from my high school days on one hand, and it wouldn't take all five fingers.  I had a few months in between each relationship, but it was purely a recovery period, and I didn't date much in the interval.  This led to me having a total of five boyfriends before I got married (the fifth being my husband).

Back then, that also meant I had only kissed 5 boys, because kissing was something that didn't happen unless we were exclusive or on the road to being so.

To quote my favorite TV show, "I have boyfriends, not escorts." (Name that show!)

My, how times have changed.

Okay, maybe it didn't start out any differently post-divorce.  I was still in my old patterns.  An admittedly stupid attitude of, "If I'm not exclusive with a boy, I can't have fun with him."  And I had one boyfriend under that premise.

Enter "online dating."

I tried doing dating like I was used to doing it, and it was just depressing. It's my own fault, I know.  I would get excited that a guy liked me, and my imagination would get all tangled up in the possibilities of the future, only to find out he "wasn't that into" me, ha ha.   I realized this probably wasn't an attractive quality to quality men, either.

So I decided I could flirt with a lot of guys.  I posted some new pics, flirted a little, and answered most flirts that came to me (which started coming in at what was to me a startling pace).  It was fun for a while, having several guys telling me I'm cute/pretty/beautiful and great/amazing/wonderful.  And I figured that they would all just naturally fall away if they weren't right. A Utopian ideal, perhaps.  I'm not unused to being the one to end a relationship, or end the possibility.

The problem came when more than one progressed to levels that in my former life would have meant exclusivity.  At one point, that number was as high as five.

I started to be wracked with confusion. What was wrong with this picture? Was I acting inappropriately?  Maybe my definitions were off, and I was actually okay doing what I was doing?  I didn't know. I still don't know.  I've never done this before.  How far can you go, how close can you get with a guy before it's wrong to be that way with more than one at a time?  Were my limits before reasonable, or just set up by circumstance? I can honestly say I didn't have more than one pursuing me at a time in my younger years. I only learned much later that it was because most of them were following the counsel cited above prior to missions or life in general, which we have already established I did not do. LOL.

If this is standard events for a Dating Girl, I'm not sure I'm cut out for it.  When I do it, I just end up feeling guilty, which leads me to detach myself from feeling anything, which obviously prevents me from attaching to anybody, which defeats the whole purpose of dating in the first place.

So, Dating Girls: What are the limits? When do I start to look like a whore, or some equally unflattering adjective applied to women?  What's okay, and what's not?  Help a sister out here.

P.S. If you men out there have any advice to offer, please feel free.

P.P.S.  If you are dating me, and this idea offends you, I'm sorry.  This wasn't intentional. And I think it should count for something that I'm trying to figure it out. Right?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Needles don't scare me!

A few weeks ago, I took the kids to get some blood drawn for lab work for our new doctor.  All four were going to set in the big chair. I think the hardest thing was that they had to be fasting. They get so cranky when they don't eat!
This was not how the kids were!

We didn't have long to wait for our turn.  I'm sure we must have been quite the sight, mom and four kids skipping, running, and walking down the hallway.

Kael volunteered to be first.  He hopped up in that chair with a big smile on his face.  The staff were amazed! He answered all their questions with aplomb and enthusiasm. They were shocked! When they poked him with the needle, all he said was, "Cool!"  They gushed!  Then they gave him stickers.

Next was Lorelai, at my insistence because she was really suffering from lack of food. (I had brought snacks for them to have after.)  One of the staff held her in her lap.  When they poked her with the needle, there were no tears, no hysterics. I believe the best way to describe the look on her face is something like, "Are you done yet? I'm hungry."  They began to be astonished!

Next came Tristan.  He'd done stuff like this before, so he jumped in the chair with much energy, and stuck his arm out like a pro.  The staff just couldn't get over it.  Again, no tears.  He didn't even need to look away.  He got his stickers, and he was happy.

At last it was Elizabeth's turn.  She was the only one who managed to get a little worked up.  She insisted that I hold her on my lap, so one of the staff took Lorelai again.  When they poked her, she gasped, and then started to giggle, I think because she realized it wasn't that bad after all. They gave her stickers, and she was happy.

This whole time, all four staff members talked to each other and to me, remarking how amazing it was that they weren't freaking out, how they had never seen kids like that, and how wonderful my kids are. (No surprise on that one, just a new facet of their wonderful-ness.)

Today, we went back, this time just Tristan, Lorelai and me, and only Tristan and I were getting blood drawn.  The lady in charge called us back. She seemed surprised at Tristan's happy attitude.

"Has he done this before?" Yes.

"Does he know what's happening?" Yes.

We had one of the staff from the last time, a young man. While Tristan was in the chair (which he once again climbed into most happily), he said, "Remember a few weeks ago, when I told you about that big group of kids that came in, and none of them was scared?"

"Those were my kids," I said with a smile.  I loved that they had been talking about my kids after we were gone! So much fun!

They kept asking me how I'd gotten them to be that way.  I honestly don't know. I'm pretty sure Lorelai was born that way.  Also, I never freaked out about it.  However, I am relatively certain it's either part of who they are, or a product of the environment they live in. I do try to keep things happy and peaceful, and welcome the Spirit in.

All I know is, needles don't scare us!  And if that makes my kids remarkable, then that's super.

Just more of what I already knew.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Goin' Courtin' Series

Yes, we're "Goin' Courtin'" now.

This series will mainly be a self-therapy method.  I've had quite the time trying to figure out dating this time around.

Questions I have in mind already are:

Why can't we be "just friends"? Is it really impossible?
Should I be Relationship Girl, Dating Girl, or is there a balance to strike?
How can you like more than one guy at a time?
How is dating now different from 10-15 years ago?

And hopefully at the end of this, I'll have some kind of answer to:

How do you know it can last forever?

Do you have any questions you'd like resolved?  Even if you're married, are there some things that still mystify you?  Are you wise and sage-like, and just want to give me something to ponder?  Let me know.

I realize I'm taking my dating life in my hands with these things, as several of the men I'll be referencing have access to this blog.  But it must be done. (I won't be using names, or even much description, but they know who they are.  And for those who are just finding out that I've been "seeing" more than one man at a time, I'm sorry.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

An Unexpected Turn

This is an essay I wrote for my English class. I like how it turned out, so here it is!

Finally, I had a moment to relax. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off for three weeks had left me exhausted in every way. The kids were in bed. Most of my earthly belongings precariously perched on top of one another in teetering towers of boxes clinging to the walls of my new apartment. I flung myself onto my newly-acquired (from my parents) very large couch, closed my eyes and sighed.
How did I get here?
A little over a year before this, I had divorced the father of my children, sold practically everything I owned, and moved in with my parents. About nine months later, I started feeling it might be time to move on, but I resisted because I didn't know what I'd do, or where I would go. The pressure I felt kept growing, heavier and heavier, until I could hardly breathe, and I started to lash out at the people around me. So at the end of July, I scheduled an appointment with my bishop. I knew with absolute clarity that if I needed to leave my parents' house, I would need divine guidance. That week, my life took an unexpected turn.
I walked into Bishop's office with not a little trepidation. My hands fluttered like leaves in the breeze, my heart threatened to beat out of my chest, and my head swam like a fish. As I sat down and poured out my soul, relating how I loved my parents, but it would be best for everyone if we moved out, and how I felt it was time to move on with my life, I felt a little lighter. That feeling didn't last long, though, as Bishop started talking about the possibility of me going back to school. I had completed an Associate of Arts degree about 6 years previously, but it wasn't going to get me a job that would support my family. I decided nursing sounded fun, and that I'd like to go to school again, a place I'd always loved. However, the only place I could think of was back in Idaho, and the thought of moving so far away from my family again sent a wave of panic through me.
“Have you considered EA?” asked Bishop.
“Um... no. What's that?”
“It's a school in Thatcher.”
“Uh, sorry, never heard of that before.”
And with that he set out to tell me all about Thatcher, and Eastern Arizona College, and how many people in our ward had gone to school there, grown up there, or had family there. A strange mixture of peace and excitement flowed into me, making my hair stand on end and my blood pump faster. As I took his advice and spoke with some of the people he had mentioned, I felt like a snowball that had been pushed off the top of a tall mountain, rolling slowly at first, but getting faster and faster, and bigger and bigger, until it was unstoppable, and I knew moving was what I needed to do.
There was one problem. School started in three weeks.
Holy crud.
It was a flurry of activity from there. I applied to the school and got in. I applied for financial aid. I signed up for classes. I made several trips from Tucson to Thatcher and back again, looking for a place to live, moving things, and getting things situated. By some miracle I was able to find a two bedroom apartment for a good amount, one block from school, that didn't mind that I had four children coming with me. By some miracle, financial aid came through. And, by some miracle, I packed everything in my parents' house that belonged to us, and found someone to help me take it over there. I even got my best friend to come live with us for a week while I found babysitters for my class times.
One might have thought getting into school and moving a family of five in three weeks was improbable, if not impossible. I proved that notion otherwise, but I know why it worked. It worked because it was right. This was where I was meant to be. I would spend the next few weeks getting that confirmed over and over again, as free furniture showed up on my doorstep, and mystery people anonymously donated gift cards and a microwave.
Sigh. Everything will be just fine.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mom, PLEASE find a man!

The other night at dinner, the kids and I were talking about moving.  I guess they've picked up my move-once-a-year rhythm, drat it all. Anyway, so I was telling them that we wouldn't be moving this year, because I had one more year of school left. And then I told them that I wasn't sure where we'd go after that - maybe closer to Granmama, or who knows.

"Or, if I find a man, then..."
"Oh, Mom, PLEASE find a man!" exclaimed Elizabeth.
"What?!" And I burst out laughing for at least a minute.
"Mom, I really want you to find a man! You need a husband, and I want another dad, and it would just be a good thing."
"So if I met a man and liked him enough to marry him, but he lived far away, I have your permission to move?"
"Yeah. That's fine." To which the boys also gave their approval.

So I guess I need to find a man. I can't disappoint my kids!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...