Friday, August 17, 2012

On Modesty

Pin It

(Fair warning, dear friends, this blog post plagiarizes from various Facebook statuses and comments I’ve posted over the last year or so.)


A couple of weeks ago, my ten year old daughter came home from Primary with a printed copy of this June 2011 article from The Friend (a LDS magazine for children), in which four year old Hannah learns about the immodesty of sundresses and the importance of covering up her shoulders.  


(I still don't understand why her Grandma sent her that sundress.  Doesn't she know four year olds shouldn't dress like harlots?) 

I have been boiling ever since.

Because I do not want my girls learning at church that it is inappropriate for a four year old to show her shoulders.  A four year old’s shoulder is not a sexual object.  And that is precisely what we are teaching our children when we hyper-focus on modesty in this way. We are sexualizing our little girls, in the name of teaching them correct principles.

(I know some people think that Mormon children should abide by Mormon adult modesty standards because someday, as adults, if they choose to wear garments, they will need to cover their shoulders.  This, they believe, avoids any future confusion over changing standards.  I'm personally not on board with that.  I don’t believe changing the standards of what is appropriate to wear at various ages is confusing or difficult for children.  Different ages come with different responsibilities. We don't make five year old girls wear bras because someday they will have breasts and we don't want them to struggle with that. They wear bras when it is appropriate to wear them.  Our children are not simple minded, they can grasp that concept. But I know that's a common feeling, and hey, different strokes. But age appropriateness is not what bothers me the most about all of this.

I am really tired of the way in which we try to make women responsible, through their clothing choices, for the behavior, thoughts, and spirituality of men. 

Last month a friend in my old Highland ward told me that the YW in her ward decided that they should all wear shorts and t-shirts over their swimming suits at girls camp, EVEN WHILE SWIMMING, WHILE ENGAGING IN AN ATHLETIC ACTIVITY, so that they would not "tempt" the adult priesthood men in attendance.  

Read that again.  They are so worried about tempting the fathers of their peers, that they felt uncomfortable, AT GIRLS CAMP, wearing swimsuits while swimming. 

This is what we've taught them, that men are unable to control themselves, that the sight of girlish shoulders and thighs will present such a great temptation that even stalwart men will be tempted beyond all imagination. 

And that this is the responsibility of the young women.

Most of you probably heard about the BYU Idaho testing center skinny jeans debacle and about the incident where a random guy at BYU  walked up to a girl (dressed in a perfectly modest outfit) he didn’t know and handed her a note explaining that he felt she should rethink her outfit because it was basically a spiritual hardship for him to have to see her. We are teaching our young men that it is acceptable for them to police the clothing choices of our young women.

To quote one of my FB friends, "My issue is that there are guys who think it's fine (even a righteous duty) to go up to a woman they don't even know and harass them about their clothing choice." We are teaching them that it is acceptable to blame young women for their own sexual (and normal) thoughts.

Maybe these young men need to be taught not to leer at young women in public. Maybe they need to be taught to mind their own business. Maybe they need to be taught that they actually do have control over themselves and are responsible for their own thoughts and actions. 

Because how on earth are these guys going to function out in the real world? Because, guess what, they WILL encounter attractive, shapely young women out in the world and will have to find some way to deal with it. It reminds me of the recent incident where a group of Orthodox Jewish men in Israel spit on an 8 year old as she was walking to school because they felt her uniform wasn't modest enough. 

I think this is the natural result of spending so many years emphasizing hyper-modesty (instead of actual modesty in thought and action), dress, and appearance. We've now hypersexualized our young women to the point that a young girl wearing a perfectly acceptable and non-sexual outfit gets harassed at a church school. What's next, burkas for everyone? 

Guess what guys, if your son can't control himself when he sees my daughter's SHOULDER, that's on your son, not my daughter.

As my Uncle Alan said, “The irony of this fixation on modesty is that it only heightens sexual tension and desire.  The more of the body you cover in the name of modesty, the more area of the body you sexualize.  Why did Victorian men “swoon” when they happened to see a bit of ankle or wrist?  Only because it was hidden.  I think it was Mark Twain who wrote that nothing was ever made less tempting by forbidding it.”

And you know what?  If my sons are aroused by attractive young women, well – that just means they are NORMAL.  They are biologically SUPPOSED TO BE.  Isn’t almost EVERYTHING arousing to teenage boys at one point or another?  They have to learn to deal with it.  We can’t build up a whole institution of body shaming designed to help boys avoid lustful thoughts and adolescent erections.

All of this modesty fixation makes me want to grab my 9 and 10 year old daughters and run screaming into the wilderness. Because this is not what I want them to learn. 

If we go to church at all (and for this and a wide variety of other reasons I am starting to wonder if we should) I want her to learn about service, and honesty, and loving others, and goodness. I do not want them to learn a cute little head, shoulders, knees and toes activity they can do to ensure they are appropriately dressed.  

(I kid you not, I witnessed this in primary last year - it consisted of “touch your head – is anything showing?  Touch your toes, is anything showing?”  I wanted to blurt out “do a cartwheel IS ANYTHING SHOWING? FOR SHAME FOR SHAME”). 

I do not want them bringing home articles about sundresses.  I do not want them learning that they are walking pornography.

I want our religion to strengthen them, not shame them.

And I do not feel like that is too much to ask.

For now, I preview the primary lessons online. And when the lessons teach them to be ashamed of their shoulders, we go hiking in the mountains, in shorts, and flex our muscles and feel strong. When they come home feeling guilty about tank tops, we talk about how some people have silly ideas about shoulders, but God doesn’t actually care if your shoulders are showing.  He made your shoulders for holding up your arms and there is nothing shameful or sexual about them. 

And then I go in my room and stomp around and shake my head and ponder whether or not I want my kids learning this fundamentalist craziness.

And I wear tank tops around the neighborhood, out of spite.

(I KNOW.  THE DEVIL CLEARLY HAS ME IN HIS HOT FIERY GRIP.  You don’t need to leave a comment clarifying that.)

PS:  Please do not tell me to pray about this.  If you think I haven't done that already, you are crazy.  The fact that my answers don’t match up with the answers you expect me to get doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong, or that I’m full of sin.  I know that is hard for some of you to wrap your mind around.  You can go ahead and believe that, I don’t mind.  Or you can pray for me, that won’t hurt my feelings either.  You just can’t comment about it here.  Also, please don’t tell me that this isn’t a significant issue.  It is significant to ME.  

(Comments are now closed.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Pin It

So in the spirit of teaching my kids stuff (#111 - 116)  (and also in the spirit of Our Cupboards They are Barren), yesterday we went to Smiths to learn about grocery shopping and using an ATM card.

(I love Smiths Marketplace.  The warm fuzzies some of you have for Target, I reserve for Smiths.)

(If there isn't a Smiths by our new house I am totally cancelling the lease.)

I let the kids (including the two year old) (DANGER DANGER) each take a cart and then we proceeded to v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y make our way through the store.


Leading four kids with four carts (including one kid who continually shouts "I SMASH YOU") through a crowded grocery store = total insanity.

(I am not even kidding when I say that my heels were bloody by the time we got out of there.)

(DO NOT GIVE A TWO YEAR OLD A CART.  It is TOO. MUCH. POWER. for them to handle.)

(Also, WHY IN THE NAME OF HEAVEN don't the mini-grocery carts have bumpers?  WHY? WHY?)

(Other things my children learned yesterday: two new swears.  I'm so proud.)

I gave the three oldest lists.  For Megan (10) and Emma (9), the lists were general (bread, eggs, 2% milk, toilet paper, bananas, generic light canned pears) (which meant that we had to talk about what "generics" were) and I asked them to look at the different prices to see what the best deals were.

We talked about how sometimes an item might look like it's cheaper, but if you look at the size/number of ounces you are actually paying more. I also gave them each a budget and had them try to figure out if they had enough money for the things in their cart.

For Jake (7), we kept things a little simpler.  His list was pretty specific (Powerade Zero, Comet, etc.) in most cases.  When it wasn't specific, say for "cereal", I had him pick out the three cereals he liked best and then we compared what the prices were and picked the least expensive option.

Josh, meanwhile, was randomly throwing every kind of crap on the face of the earth into his cart (Goldfish! Oreos! Fudge Sticks! French Vanilla Cappuccino!) and as soon as he put something in, I went behind him and put it back on the shelf (although he was pretty insistent about the fudge sticks).

For my own sanity I didn't just let them take off, I made them stay on the same general aisle and pick out their stuff as we went along.  The other shoppers were not all that thrilled that we were continually blocking the aisles (other than the grandmas who by and large thought we were all ADORABLE JUST ADORABLE), but we tried to smooth things over with lots of "excuse mes" and by quickly moving out of the way as much as possible.  (Teaching politeness and grocery store etiquette, CHECK.)

When we were (finally) (FINALLY) done (seriously, this took FOREVER, but it was fun - other than, er, the part where MY HEELS WERE BLEEDING) (HAVE I MENTIONED MY HEELS WERE BLEEDING?  NO?), we took over two of the self-check stations so that two kids could check out while I helped them, while the remaining kid could attempt to keep Josh from absconding to Mexico.

They entered our fresh value card id number, checked and bagged their own groceries (including the produce), swiped their coupons, and then I let them use the debit card to pay (their favorite part, bar none).  (SECRET CODE.)  (DRUNK WITH POWER.)  The girls were very impressed by the How Much You Saved Today part of the receipt and kept reminding me How Much We Saved You Today Which Probably Means You Should Buy Us Slurpees.

I am nothing if not totally addicted to slurpees right now (SUGAR FREE mango - 20 calories for 8 ounces ARE YOU KIDDING ME), so that was our next stop.  At the Sev (as we like to call it in the hood) I gave them each some change and had them each take their own drinks to the counter and figure out how much change they needed to give the clerk.

I can't say that the clerk was all that thrilled to be part of our object lesson, but there was nobody else in the store so - SHUT IT grumpy store clerk.

They really loved this.  Megan took her receipt home and put it in her scrapbook, that's how much of an impression the whole thing made on her.  (The children's museum trip they took earlier in the day with their awesome babysitter - apparently not worthy of recording, but GROCERY SHOPPING WITH MOM = A DAY TO REMEMBER.)

We will definitely do this again, and next time I want to talk more about what KINDS of foods to buy - looking at ingredient labels, how to pick out fruit, etc.

And next time I will LEAVE JOSH AT HOME.

(I love you Josh, you little turd.)

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Nice Wadies

Pin It

On our way down to Vegas we stopped at Cove Fort, a historic pioneer fort about half-way between Fillmore and Beaver (for parents, it's located somewhere between "SHE'S TOUCHING ME MAKE HER STOP" and "MOM - HE'S MAKING THAT NOISE WITH HIS NOSE AGAIN").  We've probably driven past the fort hundreds of times, but we never stopped, partly because from the highway that particular spot looks pretty desolate.  You can't actually see the fort itself until you take the exit.

We kept telling Josh that we were going to Grandma and Grandpa's house, but he didn't really understand, and when we got out at Cove Fort he assumed WELL HEY THIS MUST BE GRANDMA'S HOUSE.  (It's been a while since we visited, obviously.)

Cove Fort is staffed by older couples serving LDS missions, and when we parked he saw an older woman approaching the car.

He said, "Dat gwamma?"

I told him, "No, it's just a nice lady."

I guess he was thinking that maybe he had ANOTHER grandma, one named "nice lady", because as soon as he got out of the car he raced over to her, shouted "Hi WADY!", wrapped his arms around her legs, and gave her a huge hug.

You should've seen the look on that missionary's face.  She was just tickled.  In a cracking voice she kept telling us how nice it was and how much she missed her own grandchildren.  I think he made her month.

She took us on a leisurely tour of the fort, telling the kids about the family who lived there, showing them how they did laundry and cooking, showing them the buffalo hides, the mattresses filled with straw, and the wooden bed with a detachable roller (so you could flatten your own mattress when the straw clumped up).  They investigated the garden and the gun portholes, and went up to the top of the fort to check out the view.

At the end of the tour she gave them an old fashioned pioneer toy to keep (after explaining how it represented that families are forever) (I would share that story with you except that I can't remember it), and then we headed back down the freeway.

It was a fun, free stop.  You can find out more about Cove Fort here.

(Practically speaking, they have a nice grassy area with picnic tables, large trees, a drinking fountain and nice restrooms, so if you need a clean, shady place to stop along the way to or from SLC, I'd definitely recommend it.  It's a great way to stretch your legs for a bit.)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Waterfall Hiking For Lazy Folks

Pin It

I really love Bridal Veil Falls.  This is another really simple, easy (quarter of a mile) waterfall hike (more like a stroll).  You can play in the shallow water at the base of the falls, or, if you're more adventurous, climb right up the waterfall itself.

From I-15, take Exit 273 for 800 North in Orem, which becomes US Highway 189.  About 4 miles up the canyon past the interchange, just past Canyon Glen Park, take the Nunn's Park exit, and park in the Bridal Veil Falls / Nunns Park parking lot (on the right side of the road).

Have a picnic in the park, then follow the paved path straight up to the falls.

Free.  Info here

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What We Have Here, My Son, Is A Failure To Communicate

Pin It

Oh man.  YOU GUYS.

The airshow was a total parental FAIL.

The sun was shining in Bountiful on Saturday morning when we left, so despite knowing that the forecast called for freezing rain and gusty winds, we set off for the air force base in short sleeves, leaving our sweaters behind in a rumpled pile on the couch.  Because - hey - the sun!  Stupid weather people.  Shows what THEY know, smirk smirk.

(Oh Sue.  Sue, Sue, Sue, Sue, Sue.  You moron.)

We got to the base right on time, set off on the mile-and-a-half hike to the tarmac feeling slightly chilly but optimistic that it could only warm up as the day progressed (HA!) (HAHAHAHAHA!), and by the time we got through the security we were walking ice cubes.   We kept seeing cool things we wanted to stop and look at, but we were too cold, and figured it would be better to just keep moving.

When we got to the runway area we sat in the dirt and huddled up together in the grass under the sheet (WE BROUGHT A SHEET) (MORONS) we had planned to use as a picnic blanket.  All of the other parents were totally judging us (almost was I warmed by the heat of a thousand parents giving me laser stink eye) as they held their own parka clad toddlers, but one kind lady (BLESS YOU KIND LADY) took pity on us, or rather, on my children, and insisted that we take one of her thick blankets. Unfortunately one thick blanket for four children and two adults is – still not enough blanket.

Despite parachuters descending from the sky holding American flags, and fighter jets zooming down over our heads, all we could really think about was our rapid onset hypothermia.  It was miserable and we ended up leaving after about an hour. AN HOUR.

I felt pretty bad about it, because they would’ve loved it if we’d been appropriately dressed.


The mile-and-a-half hike back to our car in the freezing wind and rain was – well – it was horrible, despite Megan's sweet attempts to make the best of it with her "it’s o.k., because we're on an adventure and sometimes you’re cold when you’re on an adventure” type talk.    Emma, on the other hand, (who is not at ALL like me when she gets upset, not at ALL) rolled her eyes and muttered a bunch of stuff I couldn't quite catch and a number of things I could, including “ridiculous” and “freezing” and “stupid airplanes” but she kept grimly marching forward and I couldn’t really blame her at that point.

When we got home the kids were all irritable and snappish with each other, and after making chocolate chip cookies failed to improve their mood I banned them to the basement Until Further Notice. This, as usual, had the fortunate side effect of transforming them into The Alliance of Unfortunately Oppressed Children Who Must Band Together Against The Enemy and they spent the rest of the day making indoor forts and playing - I don't know - some very involved game that had to do with forts. (I’m a very attentive mother, obviously.) (I was DONE at that point, what can I say.)

Sunday was rainy and cold again.

(May is such a jerk.)

I coped with my weather related disappointment by moping around and letting the kids watch positively unhealthy amounts of Phineas and Ferb.   I kept pacing back and forth and sighing heavily and muttering inconsiderate comments about nature and my husband finally was like WE GET IT, YOU ARE DISAPPOINTED ABOUT THE WEATHER. ENOUGH. 


On Monday we went - - well, actually, before we went anywhere we spent the morning cleaning stuff.

Lest you think it is non-stop fun around here, please know that interspersed with all of our (FAILED) activities, there is always plenty of slave labor going on.  I like to work my children's fingers to the bone using my highly complicated chore system, which consists of me looking around to see what needs to be done and then making them do it, and saying a lot of things like "ZIP IT" and "yes, well life is not fair", and "If you're complaining that just tells me that you need more stuff to do" and a lot of other things I swore I would never say to my own children.  

But LATER, later on Monday we went out to Fairfield for the Camp Floyd Memorial Day celebration, (which you can read about, er, via that link right back there) (before the comma) (what, you need directions?). The older kids had lots of fun.  


Josh is two now. 

Josh is currently very committed to his core values of:

1) "I DO IT MYSELF" and 
2) "I CANNOT BE CONTAINED" along with a smattering of 

What this means, practically speaking, is that he is very, very annoying to take anywhere.

He spent a lot of time accosting various puppies, attempting to run out of the park and into the road, trying to sneak onto the stagecoach or under the stagecoach, or basically anywhere he could potentially be kicked to death by the stagecoach horses, and watching a field mouse darting in and out of his hole. 

(OK, so that part was cute.)

He also spent a lot of time demanding non-existent crackers, telling us he WOULDN'T NOT DO IT when we asked him to do ANYTHING, sitting in time-out, and flailing around when we tried to carry him. It was charming. OH SO VERY CHARMING.

(This is what you get for saying, “Oh, he’ll probably just take a nap in the car.”) 


We wound up the weekend with a barbecue at my mom's - roasting hot dogs (Josh: "I DIVE IN THE FIRE") and marshmallows ("I SPREAD HOT MELTED SUGAR ON ME TENDER PARTS") over the firepit. 

I have never been so glad to buckle him into his car seat in my life.  (BLESS YOU CAR SEAT LAWS, that allow me to buckle in my child, hand him a book, and then righteously ignore him for at least 50 miles.)  

(And now you know the real reason we go on lots of long day trips - long stretches of time when he is legally strapped in place.)

Come For The Stagecoach, Stay For The Toilet Chair

Pin It

On Monday we went out to the Camp Floyd state park in Fairfield, a little town about 10 minutes west of Eagle Mountain. Camp Floyd is pretty sedate now, but back in the 1850s it was a roaring army outpost, established when President Buchanan sent out troops to break up what he thought was an impending Mormon Rebellion (which never materialized).  It was also a stop on the Pony Express trail, and is home to the Stagecoach Inn museum.  

On Memorial Day they held a free Civil War era reenactment that was pretty fun for the kids (they'll hold it again on Labor Day weekend).  The kids got to dress up in uniform, learn how to march in formation, and learn to load muskets.  (No, they didn't actually LOAD them, they just - learned about it.) 

Camp Floyd Memorial Day Civil War Reenactment Celebration

They also learned how to use a spinning wheel, and various other old timey things.  There was an old guy pretending to be a civil war era surgeon who quite graphically demonstrated (with knives and saws and the arm of a semi-willing volunteer) how amputations were performed during the war.  "Now this double-sided knife was much more efficient because you could just slam it in on one side of the bone and yank it down, and then slam it into the other side of the bone and yank it up..."  He also explained how you would use catgut in that scenario, and how to make sure you had a really nice skin flap for covering up your amputated bits.  

Jake's eyes were LIKE THIS. 

I keep waiting for Megan to hit the “this is so stupid” phase of tweendom, but so far so good.  She not only dressed up and learned to march in formation, she told me that was her favorite part.  Oh, that kid.  THAT KID.

You can read more about the day's events in the Daily Herald, here

As for visiting - the demonstrations and things were specific to this weekend, and if you go out to the state park on a normal day, you'll just see a few monuments and plaques, a little park, and the Stagecoach Inn museum, which is small but interesting.   My kids ran through it three times in fifteen minutes, if that gives you a little  perspective. (Jake couldn't get enough of the toilet chair.  "A TOILET CHAIR MOM. That's - that's SO GROSS.") (And yet, apparently, awesome.)  

I don't know if I would make a special trip out there to see it on a normal, non-event day, but if you're ever in Eagle Mountain or Saratoga Springs, it's only about a ten minute drive, and worth the trip.

PS:  Apparently they are holding Camp Floyd History Camps for kids in June, July, and August.  You can read about it on the Utah State Park website, here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Every. Single. Day.

Pin It

I don't think it's legal to live in Utah with children without coming to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum at least once, but folks in Utah are lucky enough to have a SECOND children's museum - the Treehouse Children's Museum, in Ogden.

I'd heard of it, but was never really motivated to make the drive (GAS IS EXPENSIVE) until Meg came home from a school field trip raving about it.

And with two free passes.

It was pretty great - full of displays and exhibits that my kids (who range in age from 2 to 10) really enjoyed.   When we were there, they announced optional staff-led activities every half an hour or so, like crafts, storytime, and a "Partici-Play" - where a staffer selected volunteers from the audience to come up on stage. (See the video clip below. Jake's one of the hunters.)

As you'll see in that vid, the volunteers and staff here are really enthusiastic. REALLY enthusiastic. I think sometimes when you work with kids in a place like this, it's easy to become sort of immune to all of the loud-manic-kid-joy going on around you, but these folks seemed to LOVE their jobs and seemed to love kids. I liked that a lot.  I also liked that all of the exhibits worked.

What I don't like is that now, every day, Josh asks to go to the "zeum tweehowse", and then cries a little when I tell him not today.

Every day.


Costs about $6 for kids, but they have a $1 off coupon on their website.  Info here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Cheap Mom's (That Would Be Me) Guide to Swimming in Utah

Pin It

We love the pool. Looooooooooove the pool.  I know people think of Utah as a snowy place but it gets freaking HOT in the summertime.  All of my family in Phoenix and Las Vegas are mocking me right now, I realize. It  does though. Something about the altitude simply melts your face off.

My kids think it's super exciting to explore new pools so we've been to a LOT of them.  (I can't imagine what they would do if we ever went to Seven Peaks or Lagoon-a-beach.  Probably die of joy-induced stroke.  Poor kids.  It's tough to have a really cheap mom.)   Luckily, Utah has some amazing (cheap) pools and pool complexes.  Sometimes I think the various city councils are all staffed by teenagers determined to top each other with the BIGGEST BEST MOST FUNNEST MOST AMAZINGEST pool ever.  And then they try.  Which works out great for me, personally.

Disclaimer:  This is not a list of EVERY swimming pool on the Wasatch Front, it's just a list of some of the pools I think are the most fun.  If I missed any good ones, let me know in the comments because WE WANT TO GO THERE.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Also: Brief, Not Long, And Really Quite Shrimpy

Pin It

On Mother's Day afternoon we decided to try hiking to Lisa Falls in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

(We picked this one because it was fairly close, but there are lots of fun waterfall hikes in Utah, including Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon - check out this lady's blog where she describes a bunch of fun waterfall hikes in Utah.)

This is a short (SUPER SHORT) (like four minutes) hike to a waterfall where you can play in the waterfall runoff.  The short hike includes a lot of scrambling over big boulders that my kids thought was pretty fun, but again, the hike is SHORT.

(Did I mention it was short?  Because it's pretty short.)  (After we hiked in and back we ended up crossing the road and hiking down the Little Cottonwood Trail and along the river for a while because the waterfall hike wasn't quite enough to satisfy our exploring urge.)

The water was slow enough that the kids could stand right beneath it and get wet.  The water was freezing - er, as snow melt tends to be.  We probably should've saved this hike for later in the summer.

To get there, go straight up Little Cottonwood Canyon, between mile marker 6 and 7.  There's a little parking area off on the north side of the road, and a trail right next to that.

Lisa Falls Waterfall Hike - Little Cottonwood Canyon Utah

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Pin It

Well. I mean, it's not TECHNICALLY five million.  But still.  It's a bunch. 300+.   Probably plenty for you, because let's be honest, are you really going to do five million things with your kids this summer?


I'm guessing you'll probably do around 20 and then spend the rest of the summer praying for the sweet release of death school. Me? I might last a little longer because I'm borne aloft on the wings of my Working Mom Guilt, but still.  NOT 300.

Some of this stuff is stuff you would need to do with them, but a lot of it is stuff they can do on their own, because I think kids, given a little nudge, should mostly be able to entertain themselves.  (I GAVE YOU SIBLINGS FOR A REASON, MY CHILDREN.)

(None of the stuff in this list is Utah specific.)

(Many thanks to my husband for letting me spend a bunch of time lying around / not spending much time with my children today so that I could write this post about spending time with my children.)

(I LOVE Mother's Day.)


300+ Things to do with your kids this summer

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Pin It

In mid-summer we love going to Pineview Reservoir in Huntsville.  There are camping spots, but we usually just go for the day.  Lots of people boat, but we don't have a freaking boat, NOT THAT I'M BITTER ABOUT THAT OR ANYTHING, NO BOAT FOR US, we just content ourselves with shooting laser beams of jealous rage out toward the More Fortunately Boated amongst us.

Luckily, they have a sandy beach area where no boats are allowed (TAKE THAT) and the water is usually pretty warm and calm.

It's so nice y'all.  It makes me feel all Southern and relaxed.  Everytime we go it makes me want to move to Huntsville.  

Info here:


Pineview Reservoir Huntsville Utah swimming beach

You Can Never Have Enough Castle Parks

Pin It

This Kaysville/Fruit Heights park is a lot like the Veteran's Memorial playground in South Jordan (seriously, there's a freaking castle park in every county), but I think it's more fun because it has the added bonus of having a woodland area with a creek.

We like to take a picnic then go for a little hike in the wooded area, skip a few rocks, tell the kids repeatedly not to go in the water, relent and tell them they can put their feet in the water BUT ONLY THEIR FEET, relent again and tell them they can go ahead and get wet, and then let them dry off back on the playground.  (We're really very strict.)

It also has restrooms, pavillions, and soccer fields.

Directions here.

Kaysville / Fruit Heights Castle Park Nicholls Park Summer Fun Utah


Pin It

It's a park!  It's a hike!  It's a park and a hike!

Seriously you guys, rich people have all the luck.  Tucked away inside a ritzy residential neighborhood in North Salt Lake is a cute little park, the Wild Rose Trailhead Park, with a pavillion and a playground.

(When we're at the playground with all of the rich people and their tiny dogs I like to speak with an accent and pretend that Yes, I Also Am A Faux British Millionaire.  Little trails lead to various parts of the neighborhood.  I don't know if this was actually a park feature, or if the rich folk had their servants dig the trails afterward.  Potato / Potahto.)

The BIG trails lead you up into the Bountiful foothills.  There are a lot of really easy hikes you can access from the trailhead, and lots of great picnic spots.  

(Are you sensing a theme here, what with all of the easy hikes?  (And the jealousy?) (Just pretend you don't see that part.)  Ahem.  As to the EASY part - we have little kids.  We have to carry the littlest.  So easy is sort of a prerequisite.)

(I didn't take many pictures of the park or the hike itself, apparently I was obsessing over my cute kids.  This  is Megan and Emma, teaching Josh the hiking victory dance.)

Wild Rose Trailhead Park Bountiful Utah foothills North Salt Lake

Discovery Trail. I Tried To Think Of Something Sarcastic To Say Here But This Is Actually Pretty Dang Cool

Pin It

We stumbled on this fun trail completely by accident after we attempted to go to the Canyon View Park in Spanish Fork Canyon and found it closed.  (We went to Canyon View on another day and all I really have to say about it is - meh.)

It's a wilderness area with a marked trail, that begins with a sort of a treasure map. Along the trail there are discovery/information stations and exhibits. My kids really loved it.  Still seems to be a pretty well kept secret.  Absolutely free.

Information and directions:

Discovery Trail Diamond Fork Youth Forest in Spanish Fork Great Trails for Kids Utah

Every Single Free Splash Pad In Utah

Pin It

Sometimes we like to get wet, but sometimes I'm not up to the whole and-now-I-must-keep-four-kids-from-drowning deal, so instead of heading to the pool we like to hit up splash pads.  And we mostly like to do it for free.  Because I'm cheap.

BEHOLD.  A list of all of the free splash pads along the Wasatch Front that I'm aware of, starting with...

Highland City Library Splash pad and "creek" (info here) (awesome)


(More splash pad info after the jump)

Willard Bay State Park.

Pin It

Have you been here yet?  It's a freshwater lake with a beach about 50 miles north of SLC.   There are free cabanas, picnic areas, and camping areas.   I think it cost about $10 to get in.

It gets CROWDED on the weekends, but everyone generally seems to be in a fantastic mood (possibly because a lot of people are drunk?) (I'm guessing?), so at least they are happy crowds.

Although maybe it's just that the heathens come out on Sunday, which is when we went. (TOTALLY KIDDING HEATHENS OF UTAH.) (DON'T EMAIL ME.)

I love it and can't wait to go back.

Info here:

Willard Bay State Park

Wildflower Hike to Secret Lake

Pin It

Oh you guys.  The wildflowers!  This is such an easy, gorgeous hike.  Technically the hike goes to a (rather underwhelming) (greenish) lake, but you really take this hike for the wildflowers.  We went in August and everything was in full bloom and SO GORGEOUS.   It's one of our family favorites.

The hike is only about a mile long.  It gets a little steep near the end where you hike up to the actual lake view, but honestly, you don't even need to go that far.  This would be a fantastic place for family pictures.  I need to bribe someone to take our pictures here, it has been years and years and years.  (Seriously, we don't even have a family pic with Josh in it. PARENT FAIL.)

You can find directions here:

Albion Basin Little Cottonwood Secret Lake (Cecret Lake) Wildflower Hike

Sippin Cideee Idee-Ider Through A Straw, Tweedlee Dee Ha Ha (Girls Camp Up In The House Y'ALL)

Pin It

What else would be located right smack in the middle of Ogden but a 152 acre non-profit nature preserve with trails, picnic areas, treehouses, and lakes?


We had no idea it was there either.

We had a great time exploring.  It was freezing when we went, and the trails to the treehouses were closed/washed out at the time, but we still manged to find a ton of entertaining stuff to do.

They have educational exhibits and programs designed to get kids involved with nature, and exhibits with wounded birds they are taking care of.  I've heard they have summer daycamp and overnight camp programs, but I have no idea how spendy they are and I was too lazy to look it up on their website.  I KNOW they have a family campout night with a picnic dinner, group singalong, and marshmallow roast, and I am just nerdy enough to think that sounds really fun. 

Costs $2-4 to get in, depending on age.

You can visit their website here:

Ogden Nature Center


Pin It

Another gorgeous lake - the Silver Flat Lake Reservoir.  This is a few miles up American Fork Canyon.  The drive is a little rough/scary (although I admit I'm a huge chicken when I'm not driving) (control issues much?), but it's worth it.

We had a picnic on the sandy beach, then went wading/swimming despite the fact that it was FREEZING.  (I think we went in May or June, can't remember.)  After a bit of swimming we were ready for a short hike.  We only hiked a little way up (we were already worn out) (plus I'm lazy), but you can hike from Silver Lake Flat Reservoir up to the actual Silver Lake (google it, there's tons of information online about the hike).   We stopped to climb on a few rocks and play in the river.

You can fish there, or camp (but, somewhat oddly, you can't camp within 1/2 mile of the lake).  More info here:

Silver Flat Lake American Fork Canyon

Stay Away From Hobo Huts, THIS MEANS YOU

Pin It

We loved Kelly's Grove, a park just a tad into Hobble Creek Canyon (near Springville).  A shallow river to wade in, wilder places to explore, pavillions to eat at, old school swingsets, baseball/kickball fields - we loved it.  We went in the fall and it was SO PRETTY.  SO GORGEOUS.  In fact, I just wandered around for a while repeating myself about how beautiful everything was.  KIND OF LIKE I'M DOING RIGHT NOW.

We went on a hike off in the reeds and found some kind of structure that it looked like hobos had been using.  The kids thought that was pretty awesome but my probation officer husband thought it was Dangerous Because He Knows All About What These Kids Today Use Hobo Huts For.

You can find directions and info here:

Kelly's Grove Park Hobble Creek Canyon Springville Utah

Random Spot On The Side Of The Road: American Fork Canyon

Pin It

Yeah.  Good luck getting there, but man, it was fun.

(I'm a brat, I know.)

American Fork Canyon

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Pin It That has nothing to do with anything. My visiting teacher said that to me the other day and I've been repeating it ever since, mostly in a highly sarcastic tone.

Apparently I‘ve moved out of sadness and into a really pleasant bitter-against-anyone-who-appears-to-be-remotely-happy stage.

(Of course, I’m not OUTWARDLY bitter, I just smile benignly and hold my feelings back, letting all of that nice toasty rage warm me from the inside. Kind of the same as when you’re really happy, but with more potential for stroke.)

I’m working on an extra freelance project right now, so as to earn a few extra dollars. I’m working late at night on that project and then getting up early to go to my regular full-time job. This means that right now I’m ALSO bitterly jealous of people (including, AHEM, my husband) who are consistently getting 8 hours of sleep at night.

If this is true for you, NEVER, NEVER tell me, because then I will be forced to resent you just on principle (the principle being: I’m tired), and if you ever stay over at our house, you will have to listen to me slamming bathroom drawers shut at 5:30 in the morning, in a series of purely coincidental I-swear-I’m-really-trying-to-be-quiet-so-you-can-sleep-but-OOPSIE-I-guess-I-just-did-it-again type accidents.

(These accidents are somewhat related to the 2AM oh-shoot-is-that-the-button-that-turns-on-my-alarm accident that I sometimes have when I come to bed and see my sweetly snoring spouse.)

(I’m really very accident prone.)

We were going to use the funds from the project to pay off back taxes, but they were diverted instead into our Fun With Cars emergency fund, so the net effect is that we still owe Uncle Sam just as much as we did before, but HEY, on the plus side, we now own a red ’93 mustang convertible that is completely paid for.

On the day that it became clear that we would need to use the money from this project (THAT IS KILLING ME SLOWLY NOT TO BE OVERLY DRAMATIC ABOUT IT OR ANYTHING) to buy another car - WELL. I just knelt down right there and said a little thankful prayer unto heaven, is what I did. My husband had to restrain me from doing a little dance of joy, right there in the driveway.

(If you’re not getting the sarcasm here, then please, COME CLOSER, LET ME SHOW YOU IT.)

My husband swears that the car is no fun at all to drive, since it’s old, and old, and also, Very Very Old, but come on. A red mustang convertible. This cannot be as embarrassing as he makes it out to be, am I right?

Somewhat unrelated: My husband and I are thinking about getting our real estate licenses. Just for an on-the-side type of thing. That probably sounds crazy, considering the market. But I love the industry and know it inside and out. I was an RE agent in Las Vegas for a couple of years, and was an escrow and title manager for five years, so I completely and thoroughly know the drill. And I have to believe that driving people around to look at houses (one of my favorite past-times EVER) would be a much more fun occasional side job than sitting on my couch creating technical illustrations and documenting software codecs.

So listen – next spring? If you’re looking for a bitter, jealous, slightly irrationally exhausted real estate agent? With a totally hot ancient convertible?

You know where to find me.

(You can hardly wait until I get this thing going, can you? I can tell. Man. My phone is going to be ringing off the freaking HOOK.)

PS: I feel compelled to say this: Eventually, when you keep on having financial issues, upon issues, upon issues, at some point, even allowing for a bad economy, and a failed business, and unemployment, and clients who don't pay you, and unexpected medical bills, and bad luck, and God (apparently) hating your guts - even allowing for that, at some point you have to look around and accept that some of your financial wounds are self-inflicted, because you have been JUST A LITTLE BIT of a (sorry Mom) dumbass. It's true. There has certainly been an element of that here.

But we're working on it. We have good jobs. We are roughly subscribing to the whole Dave Ramsey thing (minus the fanatasicm and mystical overtones). We are making very, very, very slow progress, most of which feels as circular as the situation described above, wherein I earn extra money to pay for something and it is instantly used up for something unexpected, like an exploding car, or tires, or a rash of medical bills for a year old surgery that your insurance has decided not to pay for, or, you know, damage caused by frogs falling from the sky. Like that.

But we'll get there.

Or else I'll have a stroke.

One or the other.

The end.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Pin It It galls me how much time is wasted in an office.

People stand around and talk about video games or television. They surf the internet and play hallway hackey-sack. They wander to the break-room for a soda, they stop and watch world cup soccer in the conference room. They stop by my cubicle and shoot the breeze and I smile and chat while thinking I could be with my kids right now, I could work from home and get all of this stuff done in four hours, GOOD GRIEF, THE AMOUNT OF TIME THAT IS WASTED IN AN OFFICE IS CRIMINAL. (Which is not to say that it isn’t a terrific job, because it is, and I am lucky to have it, and to have a great salary and a pleasant boss and interesting work, and you know what, let’s forget I said anything about work in the first place because the only thing that would be worse than working full-time would be NOT working full-time, PLEASE DON’T FIRE ME FOR THE LOVE)

The baby refuses to look at me when I finally get home. He wants his dad, which is ridiculous, because his dad has been gone just as long as I have, we CARPOOLED and yet I’m the one he’s holding a grudge against. He believes I’m a fair-weather friend, and it takes me the whole weekend to win back his good will and preference. I hold him for an hour after he falls asleep at night, wishing this could count as quality time, because now, suddenly, I’m one of those moms who is forced to care about quality time.

The children are excited I’m home, they aren’t holding the full-time job against me yet, but I can tell it’s wearing on them, from the way they cling and fuss and argue with each other. It’s been mostly fine because Grandma has been here for the last week and she lets them watch TV and play video games and eat too much junk, but she leaves on Wednesday and then they’ll be with a babysitter, and we’ll see if they are so willing to forgive me then.

Well meaning people ask where we are moving to, and I tell them "I don’t know,” and I make a joke about being spontaneous, something dumb about throwing a dart on the map, and then change the subject before I start to get morose and teary-eyed - because most people really don’t want to deal with your sadness - you can be sad, but not THAT sad, not sad in a way that's going to make everyone uncomfortable. When my powers of WASPy repression fail me, I try to at least make it more palatable for everyone around me, by being a version of sad that includes Not Feeling All That Sorry For Myself, or Looking on the Bright Side, or Having A Stiff Upper Lip, or Being O.K. With It Because I’ve Learned A Good Lesson About Fiscal Responsibility.

I am not really very good at this kind of acting though. I don’t have much experience pretending not to be depressed. The only time I was ever really depressed was as a teenager, and back then I flaunted it, I wore it proudly, I snarled and snapped and dared people to mess with me. People would say what is WRONG with you, and I took it as a compliment, an external validation of my self-diagnosed issues.

And honestly, I don’t think I have Clinical Depression or anything like that - I’m just sad because things kind of suck right now. I’m guessing that once things suck a little less, once we’re in some other mode than Stuck, (or once I eat this tray of brownies right here) well – THEN I’ll probably feel better. (And in probably related news, I am vastly fat right now, the fattest I’ve ever been in my life. Let’s hear it for my new insurance, which covers gastric bypass surgery, and I’m TOTALLY DOING IT, SHUT UP, I AM.)

I hide out in my house, avoid church, avoid friends who will ask how we’re doing, what’s going on, what's with the house? The truth is that I don’t care about the house, about how it’s gone and we have to move. Sure, I will miss my neighborhood, and the school and the park with the stream, and the way it takes an hour to walk around the block, because there is always a friend to stop and talk to for a few minutes. But I’m o.k. with it. I can handle it. It’s just a house, I tell my friends flippantly, and I mean it.

What I am not so o.k. with is the fact that I am out of the house for ten hours a day. I’m not o.k. with my nine month old being with a sitter more than he’s with me. My friends who work tell me I will get used to it, that it won’t bother me so much after a while, but I’m not sure that I WANT it not to hurt. I’m not sure I want to get to the point where I’m totally o.k. with leaving my kids for almost 50 hours per week.

It’s not as though I’m new to working. I’ve always worked full-time, ever since I was eighteen years old, but from the moment I got pregnant with Megan I worked from HOME - four or five hours during the day and three or four at night – and I could stop to take them to school, read them a story, fix them a snack. They had a sitter, but I was here, they could run in and out to see me, and when I was done working, I walked out of my room and into the family room, The End. But now there is This Freaking Economy to deal with, and apparently the tech writing gigs, they are not just falling out of the sky, and I have had to Make Certain Accommodations. It boggles my mind now to think about how I complained about it sometimes, about how hard it was to juggle work and the kids.

At night after they’re in bed, I know I should be packing, but I can’t make myself do it. I don’t know where we’re going, and what good is a departure without an arrival? Instead I climb into bed hours early, hiding under the covers, alternately sniffling and napping and picturing my children in the future, turned melodramatically goth and pale and sarcastic, full of hatred for their constantly absent mom.

(I am closing comments, but I will go ahead and list a few that I would fully expect to get: 1) I’m Sorry, 2) Come On Sue, It Could Be Worse, 3) Maybe You Should See A Counselor, 4) Just Be Grateful You Have a Job, 5) Hey, At Least Nobody Has Cancer (Yet), 6) I Lost My Job Too, But Now I’m Making Great Money Working From Home Selling XOSLIEFJL, 7) Here, Let Me Give You A Little Thing I Like To Call Perspective, 8) GAH, Stop Feeling So Sorry For Yourself, You Are Insufferable 9) I Hate To Say It But Working Moms Deserve To Feel Bad, And If Only You Would Sacrifice You Could Be At Home Like Me, 10) Defensive and Cuttingly Angry Comment From Working Mother, 11) Flame War, 12) €£¥∞β≠€¥€)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Faithless - Part The Third

Pin It (Part One is here and Part Two is here)

I've been debating this post in my mind over the last couple of weeks, torn between two options.

1)  Tying it all up in a pretty package, saying "Whew - what a journey - thank goodness THAT's over," and making it vague enough to ensure that my friends and relatives will stop worrying about the eternal state of my soul

2) Sticking with the messier truth

(Insert aggrieved dramatic sigh here.)

This is the first time I've talked about religion on my blog, and it will probably be the last.  I'm about five zillion miles outside of my comfort zone. It isn't funny, and it makes me nervous to write things that aren't at least 40% ridiculous.

It makes me uncomfortable not to be able to stand up here and say something definitive to you.  But I wanted to say it, so that when you read my blog, and you know I'm a Mormon, you don't think I'm representing mormon mommy bloggers.  Let that be Heather or Nat or Kalli.  But not me.

Never me.


So there I was.  I was trying to make sense of it all.  My brain was telling me one thing, my heart another.  I clung to my One True Miracle.

What about the blessing? I asked an athiest friend.

The body is a mysterious thing.  We're just starting to learn about the power of the brain to heal the body.

What about the blessing? I asked a Christian friend.

Just because Mormonism isn't true doesn't mean God won't still answer your prayers, she said.

What about the blessing? My husband would ask me.

I don't know, I would say.

What about the blessing, I would ask myself, and ask myself, and ask myself.  Sometimes I asked God, but He still didn't answer me. 

After a while I stopped asking.


To me, it felt like a tornado had come through my spiritual town.  All of my landmarks, everything I used to get my bearings - all of it was gone and I felt lost.

It was weird not to be able to definitively say, Yes, I believe it, or No, I don't.

For a long time, I struggled.

For years.


Years that I spent going to church but carefully avoiding bearing my testimony.

Years when I bit my tongue whenever the subject of religion came up, because I had no idea what to say.

Years where I waffled and qwaffled and flipped and flopped.

(I feel I should tell you - if I mentioned it here?  It isn't something that I really had an issue with.  Those were all examples of things that niggled at me when I DID have a measure of faith - those weren't the issues that actually destroyed it.)

(And there is a difference, I think, between that normal leap of faith we all take, where we have questions and doubts about dinosaurs and gender politics and statistical probabilities, and the leap that I felt was in front of me.  Once upon a time, I had questions and doubts, but I was looking at them from a place of faith, and the gap felt very small and inconsequential.  But now I was standing on the other side, coming from a place where there was so little left that I believed, so little left that I felt was true, that I felt the chasm between me and faith was far too wide to jump over without some kind of divine intervention. And absent that divine intervention...) 

In some ways the silent treatment was very good for me.

No longer sure that God would swoop down and sort out all of the injustice in the world, I felt a lot more responsibility to do what I could.

No longer sure that I knew what was Right and what was Wrong, I was a lot less judgmental. It softened me in a lot of ways.  I didn't have much to feel self-righteous about.

Not knowing what I believed, I hedged my bets.  Kept going to church, kept teaching my children.  We concentrated on the basics - be good, be honest, be loving. I tried to keep things The Same, tried not to rock the boat of our family's faith, even though I felt adrift.

I struggled and struggled and struggled.

And then one day, I woke up, and I didn't anymore.


I already talked to you, that one time. 

That was the impression that wouldn't leave my mind one morning.

It wasn't a gentle, warm feeling this time.  It was more like a shove.  Like, COME ON, Sue.  I don't have time for this.

And the impression I had wasn't necessarily It's True, It's True, It's All True, Every Bit, but more this is where I want you to be right now.  

I stood at the kitchen sink thinking, well FINALLY.  THANK YOU.  

(Actually, that isn't true. At first I ignored it, because it wasn't a strong impression, more like one of those things where you get a feeling, and you wonder, "OK, is this just the voices in my head talking to me again, or is this actually, you know, COMMUNICATION?"  But after a while, when the thought wouldn't leave me alone, then I said THANK YOU.)

(Although - I don't even know - is it appropriate to be grateful with God but irritated at the same time?  Like - thanks - but good grief, it took You long enough.) 

I told my husband that night, "I think we should start having Family Home Evening. And family prayer. We should try that. I'm thinking we should get our act together."

He gave me the curious eyeballs, but didn't ask many questions, probably because some of our talks on religion don't really go All That Well, if you want to know the truth.

He didn't know what to make of my apparent change of heart.

Neither did I, frankly.


It wasn't as though I had some big spiritual epiphany.  I didn't get neat answers to all of my questions.  I still have questions. I still have doubt.  I still hate reading my scriptures.  I still skip church a little bit too much.  I'm incredibly skeptical about a lot of things.

I am, I will admit, a cafeteria mormon.  I grab my tray and take portions of the stuff I can get on board with, like service and Jesus and loving one another, but I steer away from things like Prop 8 and the Book of Abraham and temple work.

I know a lot of people will disapprove of this.  They will tell me to get off the fence.  But I think the Lord gets it.  I think He knows I'm a work in progress, doing what I can.

My ex-mormon friends will say I've talked myself into it.  Maybe I have, I don't know.

But I feel at peace with it. I feel that I can believe some things, even if I can't believe all things.  When I pray now, I feel something.  Not anything big, but something.

Enough.  For now, it's enough.

Because what I feel? In my heart?

Is that this is where I'm supposed to be.

And hallelujah for that.


UPDATE:  I feel compelled to update this.  After a few years I couldn't maintain the mental gymnastics required to stay active and believing and I more or less left the church, although some of my family still attends.  I was mostly kidding myself in the last installment of this post.  I didn't believe it, but I WANTED to believe it, because it made my life so much easier to believe it.  I also didn't want to hurt my mom, but I'd written myself into a corner where I had to tie it up somehow, and this was the way I wrote myself out.  

I know I'm supposed to be "fallen" now, but I'm good.  I'm happier.  I'm less anxious.  I'm no longer conflicted and I no longer second guess every decision I make.  I've been mormon for so long that I basically still live my life as a mormon, just - without the guilt and angst.  I feel much more of a responsibility to do good things in the world, since I don't feel like God is going to swoop down and make everything right.  My family is happy and healthy, and we're doing great.  I know what kinds of things I want my children to learn and know, and I strive to teach them those things.  I still love and appreciate the millions of mormons in my life, and respect you all to bits, even if we no longer believe all of the same things.


Friday, April 09, 2010

Faithless, Take Two

Pin It There is this story in the Book of Mormon.

Lehi announces that he's had a vision that Jerusalem is going to be destroyed.  He tells his family, including his sons Laman and Lemuel, that they need to gather a few items and leave their home, to set off into the wilderness immediately.

Laman and Lemuel are the villains of the story.  They follow their father, but they're skeptical. They start off in the story merely questioning and grumbling, and eventually, over time, become more and more rebellious.

I always sort of related to Laman and Lemuel. 

If my father had announced he'd had a vision, that we were leaving our home and going to live in the desert, I would've thought he was nuts too. I understood their reluctance to do all of those hard things based only on faith. 

And it's not as though they didn't GO into the wilderness.  They did.  They went.  They were, at first, outwardly righteous.  They started off doing what they were supposed to be doing.  But it all went to hell later on, because they just didn't have enough faith.


I was always a fairly skeptical child.  I believed because I'd been brought up to believe, because it was just what we did - we believed.  I had a strong desire to be good, or at least to be THOUGHT OF as good. 

But now and then I would turn to my mom and say How can we think WE'RE right when there are all of those people in China who are just as convinced THEY'RE right?  How can we know for sure?  There's a whole lot more of them than us.

It didn't make sense to me, why God would allow so many people not to know our truth - missionaries or no missionaries.  It didn't make sense to me, statistically, that we would be the ones who were right.  Those people probably had testimonies of their truth too. How could we be sure?

As a kid, sometimes I felt like the stories I heard - from the bible, from the book of mormon, from church history - they seemed almost too fantastic. Somebody walked on water?  Somebody survived in the belly of a whale?  Somebody found golden plates?  Somebody rose from the dead?  An ark?  Really?  If I'd told stories like that, I would've been soundly spanked and sent to bed with no dinner.

Oh, I believed God was there and could see all of the naughty things I was doing, that He was writing them down and OH BOY WAS I GOING TO BE IN TROUBLE.

THAT, I believed.

But sometimes the details gave me pause.  Having a testimony required a suspension of disbelief that was sometimes difficult for me.  The whole cognitive dissonance thing.

Before I got married I was on my way home from a ski trip with The Boy Who Shall Not Be Named and I was pontificating about dinosaurs, and wondering out loud about how on earth could anyone possibly deny the reality of evolution, and he bit my head off, told me to stop focusing on such trivial crap and look at the big picture.  I was wounded, but managed to snap back, I SEE THE BIG PICTURE, but it doesn't make the little pictures invisible you big freak.  I just meant that someday I'll have a lot of questions for God. GOSH.  You're such a JERK.

That was pretty much how I felt, minus the insulting comments.

I had doubts, but I had enough faith to get past them.


When we lived in Las Vegas, shortly after I started having issues, I was called to be a Relief Society teacher. (Relief Society is the women's organization.)  I will be totally non-humble for a second and tell you that I was a GREAT Relief Society teacher.  I could make people laugh, make them cry, get a good discussion going. 

Every time I gave a lesson crowds of people would come up to me afterward, thank me for the lesson, tell me how strongly they felt the spirit.  That they could feel my testimony.

I would go home even more confused because - how could that be?  If a whole room full of women couldn't distinguish between the spirit and a charismatic speaker, how was I supposed to be able to recognize it?

I went to girl's camp as a teenager, stood up in the testimony meeting we were having around a campfire and gave a cathartic, weeping declaration of faith, then sat down feeling drained and bonded and happy, but another part of my brain thinking, well THAT was a bit much, wasn't it Sue?

Angel on one shoulder, devil on the other.


The few people I confided in would say, Sue, you just need to have faith.  

I would say, THAT'S THE PROBLEM.  I don't HAVE any.

They would tell me to pray, to read my scriptures, to take it to the Lord.

I would say, I'm doing that, I promise - because I WANT TO BELIEVE.  I WANT ANSWERS. I LIKE being a mormon.  I ROCK at being a mormon.  It's MY WHOLE THING.  I want these doubts to just - go plague someone else.  To get out of my head. I'm doing that and I'm getting NOTHING.

Usually, that's when they would imply that it must be because I was sinning.

After all, God talked to THEM, so clearly, I must be doing it wrong.  Or I wasn't recognizing it. 

But I'd heard His voice before.  I knew what it sounded like.


One starry night, Laman and Lemuel are beating their brother with a stick and an Angel of the Lord comes down and tells them to knock it off, Or Else.

They forget this lesson approximately 12.2 seconds after they learn it.

People are always perplexed by this story.  How could this be?  If an angel came and told you to stop doing something, wouldn't it make an impression?

If God intervened in your life that directly, how could you ever forget it?  How could you ever deny it?


When I was twenty-nine, my husband and I had been married for five years.  He was almost done with his degree and attending the police academy, and I was firmly entrenched in a challenging, well-paying job that I absolutely hated.

We had no children. This made us sort of an oddity in the Mormon world.  Nearly thirty and childless in a mormon context is like nearly forty in the rest of the world.  We'd been trying, but my uterus was not cooperating, and when we finally did get pregnant, I had a miscarriage.  My best friend got pregnant right after my miscarriage, and I tried hard to be happy for her, but I was heartbroken.

In the mormon world, teenagers get this thing called a patriarchal blessing. You go see the patriarch for your area and he gives you a special blessing with guidance just for you - specific to your life. They record it for you and give it to you to keep and refer back to throughout your life - kind of like a road map, or (as I rather mystically believed) like a fortune cookie, but from God, and typically more realistic.

I'd never gotten mine. When I was a teenager, I was sure that an invitation to have God speak directly to me would invite him to say things like "YOU FOOLISH GIRL" and "I KNOW WHAT YOU WERE DOING IN THE BATHROOM LAST NIGHT."  It was not something I wanted to deal with.  And then later on, it didn't feel right, so I didn't get it.

But at 29, without children, without a clear path for my life, I felt like maybe it was time.

We showed up there one Sunday morning at the appointed time, and chit-chatted for a minute, awkward small talk between strangers, before going into another room where he laid his hands on my head and pronounced a blessing.

He said the Lord knew the desires of my heart and knew how wounded I felt. He said that I would be a mother.  He said that my husband should give me a blessing of healing.  He told us the specific words my husband should say.  He told me the Lord knew how much I worried and fretted over things I'd done in the past, and that he wanted me to know it was o.k.  He said the Lord knew how hard I'd been on myself, and he wanted me to stop it, that those were no longer my burdens to carry.

And I felt something. Something I'd never felt before (or since).  Not the feeling of being kind of touched, that feeling I typically took to be the spirit (like that feeling you got after you watched a particularly moving Hallmark commercial), but a literal warmth and filling.  A physical weight, pressing down on me, an internal heater set full-blast. 

I sat there, shocked and crying.

Ten months later, Megan was born.


My husband would say to me, how can you possibly lack faith, knowing how Megan got here?

And I would cry and say, I don't know.  I don't know.  I just have these questions and these doubts and I don't know how to make them go away.  

I figured I took my doubts to the Lord and he didn't send me any kind of reassuring feeling, so it was on HIM.