Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Three strikes and Luke was almost out.

Hey. This is Ryan.

I'm starting (I guess) to sink into the role of Taxi Mom as in I'm always thinking about where I need to be and at what time and what outfit should all the children be wearing. Today we had tee ball at 8:30 a.m. You read that right. Eight-freakin'-thirty in the morning I had to have Luke chipper, cheerful and ready to make his "home slams" for his team of ... special ... boys.

Here's how it went down this morning: I got up at 6 a.m. to do the dishes because I knew my day would not allow housework. And with the cousins coming to spend the night, I knew they would inevitably blab to my sister-in-law that our house was "disgusting." I had to make sure at least the front room was picked up and the dishes were clean.

I also have learned my lesson that if I want to not smell like a barrel of farts, as Emma puts it, I better shower before the kids wake up. I also shaved my head, but that's a story for another blog. I even brushed my teeth today. I figured I better do it some time this summer.

Before doing the dishes, I decided to log into Facebook and do my farm chores. If you're wondering what kind of chores I could mean, well, I'm addicted to a stupid, time-sucking Flash game called Farm Town. I watered the wife's garden and cleaned up some tornadoes at neighboring farms so I could reach Level 12. That must have been some hard, intensive labor in Virtual World, because by the time I finished, it was already 8 a.m. So much for my plan to have the family up, breakfast served and family prayers.

My Karma punishment for putting wants before needs was walking into Luke's room and thinking I'd entered the Proctor & Gamble ammonia laboratory. The kid had peed the equivalent of a fire hydrant being left open for several hours. And it reached to his chin and the bottom of his pillows. Only 20 minutes to go before he had to be on the baseball field.

I threw him into the shower, washed him and got him dressed for the game and headed out the door. Of course we were about five minutes late, and the other team had cycled through most of their lineup by the time we arrived. He ran out on the field and took his position and I took mine behind the fence to watch what happened next.

Our team consists of 12 four-year-olds and 39 screaming adults. My math is not off because I've factored in grandparents, friends, other family and the occasional busybody that decides yelling at little kids might be fun that day. For the most part, the team is pretty oblivious. While parents scream, "Nathan! Nathan! Naaaa-than! Stand up! Put down that bug! Not in your mouth! Hey, batter, batter, bat...Nathan, put that bug down, I said!" the boys tend to their newly made dirt farms, investigate beetle deaths and call each other, "babies."

Today was an especially hard game, but finally evenly matched. I mean that the players were around the same age as our boys. At the last two games, our boys struggled with remaining upright while the opposite team struggled with getting dates for the Prom that night. It was hard today because Luke and maybe two other boys take the game seriously while the others throw dirt or (no joke) third base at each other.

Luke may take sports a little too seriously. Anyone who knows my kid, knows he did not inherit his athleticism from either my wife or me. The kid can play anything. Case in point: We ran up to Rexburg this afternoon to play in their free water park. I lost sight of Luke while changing Clark's diaper for only a second. I found him playing tennis with two young BYU-Idaho coeds. They were cooing about how great he played tennis as I dragged him off the court, ready to lecture about the dangers of running off. "Really?" I asked.

"Yeah," the one closest to me said as she jogged over to ruffle Luke's hair and give him a hug goodbye. "He was great. He returned our serves and I thought you had him in lessons."

"Nope," I said and then asked, "Can I see him play with you girls a little?"

They obliged and I witnessed Lukey Agassi return their serves and volley the ball a bit. I was amazed. He had never touched a tennis racket until today, not unless you count Wii Sports (which I totally do!). Well, that's Lukey. He's taught himself so many sports and just wants me to play ball with him. All the time! I've played more sports in the four years of his life than in my entire life.

And he loves baseball. While two of his teammates called each other the bad guys from Batman: "Hey, Joker!" "Yes, Penguin?" and still three others struggled to see the camel at the zoo from across the field, Luke suddenly lost his patience. "Guys! Come on, guys! Get your head in the game!" So High School Musical had made an impact on his athleticism. I knew it was a good idea to show him that!

This brought the team around, but I decided to help Coach Luke out a little more. The actual tee ball coach has the boys throw the ball to first base every time. I decided to switch it up: "Luke," I whisper-yelled. "When you get the ball and there's someone on third base, run the ball to the tee and set it on the tee."

"Okay, Dad!" The ball came straight for him and I beamed with pride as he ran forward to scoop the ball. Only he didn't scoop up the ball. He missed the ball, ran back and grabbed it, but was beat by the runner previously on third base. That's when the pouting began. "What's the matter?" I cried out, worried that this was the end of our budding sports hero. "Nuh-fing (nothing)," he said through pursed lips. "I just can't run fast enough!"

I reassured him that it took practice and that he would beat the runner home soon, but in the meantime, stop crying! That made him upset even more, so I tried to be more supportive. "Luke! Suck it up or I'm taking you outta this game!"

More pouting. In fact, it became worse as he meandered to the ball-in-play. Finally, I took him out behind our van and said he better straighten up or he would be done with baseball - FOREVER! That got him. He ran out to the field and grabbed the next ball with gusto and ran to get the runner out at home.

I am not one of those dads that has to be so involved that I yell at my kid as he plays his game and I'm definitely not trying to relive my childhood through him. I just know that some kids a little reality check to get them to perform at their optimum level. Luke finished the game hitting his two times at bat and making the outfield interupt their daisy-petal counting and beetle eating. All I need to do is get him to understand the concept of good sportsmanship. Guess that means I'll have to learn it first.

P.S. Luke is still working off the whole windshield vs. rock incident a few months ago. Just thought you'd like to know that. He's not forgotten and we've not forgotten.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Repent, ye sinners! Or just you, Ally.

Hey. This is Ryan.

After my buddy made me aware that maybe the length of my posts are scaring away readers, I'm trying to consolidate my writing. That's why I'm splitting my "Emma-isms" into two. The whole reason I wrote about Emma's candor is from the episode I accidentally overheard yesterday.

Our oldest daughter, Ally, was baptized on Saturday. I hadn't felt the Spirit like that in a long, long time. I was emotional as was Lisha (read here for her reaction). Apparently, the baptism meant one more thing: something with which to hold over an older sibling.

We try to have Family Home Evening (FHE) every Monday night. This is an hour (or 15 minutes, depending on how long it will take Lisha or I to finally give up in exhausted frustration) dedicated to singing a song, teaching a short lesson on a Gospel principle, maybe play a game and have treats. Guess which part the kids beg for the minute we finish singing the song?

Our FHE's usually begin this way:

The self-appointed head of household dishes out the assignments for the night, usually to spite the rest of the family. "Emma, you pick the song," Ally begins. "Mom, you say the prayer, Daddy has the lesson and Luke, since you called me a poo-poo head this morning, you get to vacuum the crumbs from the treat out of the carpet with your mouth."

Of course, we reassign the kids. Emma is much too shy to offer the song, but Luke's assignment is just about right. After we sing the famous hymn, "Old MacDonald," Lish gives the prayer, asking "to bless all children in this house with their eyes open to be struck blind so as to learn the hard way to be reverent during a prayer" and we have an important family meeting about flushing the toilet and leaving the seat down since half the household consists of girls, it's time for the lesson. This is the children's cue to start rolling around on the floor, hiding in the corner or taking interest of what treasures lie under the couches.

I guess one of our lessons on baptism and the Holy Ghost sunk into Emma's brain somewhere between digging so far into her nose that blood oozed out and smelling Clark's bum through a tissue-stuffed nose about 10 times to see if he was poopy because the other day I caught her finally getting the best of her bossy, older sister.

Nothing can start a blood feud in our house faster than asking the girls to clean their room. Which I did on Monday before cousins from Salt Lake City arrived. I now know why Lish tells them to leave the door open as they "clean." I did not follow her example and shut the door. As any mom will tell you, the minute the kids are out of sight, they quickly become "in sound." As in, the resulting screaming and gnashing of teeth could have the Devil himself stuffing cotton balls in his ears.

Emma uses the shut door as an excuse to play with the toys on her floor instead of picking them up. This infuriates Ally. She will not clean by herself and Emma's refusal to clean just adds injury to insult. Having remembered that I had blocked out Lisha telling me this, I strode back over to the door and cracked it so as to be privy to this conversation:

"Emma! Get off your butt and start cleaning!"

"You said 'butt,' Ally. You need to repent," Emma replied, taking a sudden interest in the naked Ariel doll she held in her hands.

And then it happened. Silence from Ally. Through the door crack, I saw the wheels turning in Ally's head and the sudden realization in Emma's eyes that she finally had something with which to shut out her sister's constant bossing.

"You better start cleaning or I'll tell Dad," Ally finally said, knowing the Parent Card always got some sort of reaction.

Emma, with new-found confidence, looked her in the face and said, "I think that's tattling and now you have to repent for that, too."

Again, Ally considered her sister's spiritual advice. She ripped Naked Ariel out of Emma's hand and threw it against the wall. I wondered if I should step in, but was so delighted that Emma was finally standing up for herself and actually winning, that I stayed at the door to see how it all played out. Of course, Emma was indignant but remained in control. "Whoa, Ally. You just were mean to a princess. That's gonna mean you have to repent so much now!"

That was the final straw for Ally. I saw her face contort as she turned to stomp out the door. I quickly ducked inside my room across the hall and acted like I knew nothing of the impromptu spiritual welfare meeting. Suddenly, Ally burst through the doors, crying and wailing, "Emma. Won't. Stop. Telling. Me. To. REEEEEEEPPEEENT!!!"

It took everything I had to keep from smiling, but I forced myself to keep a straight face. "Well, maybe Emma's right," I said. "Do you have something you need to repent about?"

"No," she cried. "Ijustwaswantinghertohelpmeclean'cuzshe'sjustsittin'there, playin'withherstupidArielandI'mdoin'everyyyytthhhing!" It came out in one big sob and I couldn't keep my laughter hidden anymore. That set her off even more. "NO ONE EVER BELIEVES ME!" This is her new rant when we call out her drama.

Hoping to satisfy her and at least get them working on the room again, I called into Emma's room, "Emma, quit telling your sister to repent!"

"Okay, Daddy," she sang from her room, checking over Naked Ariel to make sure she was unharmed.

"There," I reassured her. "Emma's done telling you to repent. Can you go clean your room now?"

Ally turned toward her room, but threw me a withering look. "If she tells me to repent one more time, she's dead."

"That's a death threat and I'm pretty sure you should repent for that," I said.

She slammed the door on me and any notion that repentance will ever be easy.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Hey. This is Ryan.

Our second-oldest child, Emma (she's six), has inherited my tact. And by inherited I mean she has none just like her Old Man.

In the United States, we've distorted a saying from Psalms that starts with, "Out of the mouth of babes ..." and finished it with "comes the darndest things." If Bill Cosby still ran that show, my daughter would make a killing.

Here's some samples just from today:

As I was changing Clark's poopy diaper, Emma plopped down next to me and started staring. First she'd look at the baby's bare behind and then look at me. This went on for about a minute. "May I help you, kid?" I asked her. "Um, Daddy?" she started. Whenever she's about to inadvertantly insult me, she starts it with, "Um, Daddy?".

"Um, Daddy?" she said.

"Yes, Emma?" I answered, bracing for what was about to come next.

"Is that you that smells like farts or is it Clark?"

I looked away so as not to laugh in her face. Apparently there isn't much of a difference between what Clark's poop smells like and what I smell like on a regular basis.

Then, as we made our way through downtown traffic after a hellacious trip to Walmart, I got stopped at a red light. From the back of the van, Emma made an observation. "Um, Daddy? If you smell Mexican, well, it's right over there."

I turned to the direction she was pointing, a little apprehensive I would see a car filled with Hispanic people. Instead, it was a taco truck idling next to us, waiting for the light to turn green.

She must have been in a mood today, because the Emma-isms kept coming. Her two friends that live on our street are a little on the portly side. As she walked out the door to ride bikes with these friends, she called out nonchalantly, "Um, Daddy? I'm off to play with my chubby friends." I know they were standing outside the front door, waiting for her.

And finally as we were brushing our teeth next to each other before bed, Emma turns to me and said, "Um, Daddy?"

Once again I geared up for the inevitable innocent insult. "Yeeeesss, dear?"

"Um, Daddy?" she said again, but this time holding her nose. "It's a good thing you're brushing your teeth because your breath is stiiii-nnnky!"

I think I'll rent her out to the police department to replace their bloodhounds. I just hope the men and women in blue have thick skins because Emma's tact - or lack thereof - could bring the entire precinct to tears.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Major Milestone

I just wanted to add my two cents here since I have a few minutes at home!

My baby got baptized yesterday and I am having mixed feelings about it. SO proud of her and her decicsion to be baptized. Feeling like I am all of a sudden on the path to O.L.D.

I have to share my experience though.

I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time we were welcoming people and all our family and friends started pouring in. It made me so happy to see everyone and to know how much people really do care about us. Ally was even a little on the shy side--I KNOW! That never happens. It was a little overwhelming for me and I think for her too.

So of course I started to cry. A little when my mom gave the talk on baptism, but not a lot until it was time for her to actually get in the water. Then I lost it. Whoever decided to close the door and have a special spot for the mom to wait so we could be there to "help" was a genius! So I stayed behind the door and bawled during the whole thing. Luckily Ally was too cold and shivery to notice that I was tear stained. The time it took to help her change and redo her hair was sufficient for me to regain my composure and reapply a little make up.

It was a great day and the spirit was really stong. I am grateful for my family and that they made the effort to be there.

Ryan's Dad and Step mom were able to visit from AZ and that was fun. I took a picture of them but... well you know what happened to the pictures if you read Ryan's post. I am just happy we got one. The plan is to take more in the pretty white dress provided by Rach (thanks G) near the temple sometime later this week, so watch for those pictures.

All I want for Father's Day is a nap.

Hey. This is Ryan.

Before I get started, for some reason all of our baptism pictures were deleted from our memory card. I don't know how that happened and I'm sick about it. We do have one picture of Ally in her baptismal dress with Lisha's Grandma Davis. It is the image posted above.

Today is Father's Day and all I wanted is a nap. But, I decided to forgo that so I could tell you about my dad. He's a pretty good dad and we were blessed to have him and his wife visit this weekend for our oldest daughter's baptism. From previous posts, you know I was pretty harried all week, what with chasing down poop-covered kids, dealing with judgmental moms and preparing for one of the most spiritual days of Ally's life. I even had to speak (with my wife) in church today.

I woke up at 5 a.m. yesterday to prepare my talk. I started it by talking about semantics. You know, you say poh-tay-toe, I say poh-tah-toe stuff. For instance, some call me "irreverent." I prefer my mission president's description of my methods/spirituality - "unorthodox." While my brothers call me a "big baby." I just think I'm sensitive. I knew I'd cry in at least three of the parts. So, I decided to post my talk I gave today.

What I didn't write is the part at the end when I felt like I should say this to the men in our ward: "Brethren, the days of us treating our wives like servants and the person who does everything in the house are in the past. The far past." (I got pretty revved up during my talk - so revved up, I might have even pounded the pulpit a bit.) "Long gone are the days of expecting, nay, demanding, our slippers and newspaper the minute we walk in the door from work," I continued. "I am here to tell you our wives have difficult days. I admit I used to roll my eyes in pretentious disdain when I would come in and the dishes were still in the sink. I was wrong and the Lord or somebody has enlightened me. While we are at our jobs, they are dealing with one of your kids screaming at a neighbor because she 'borrowed' his bike while the baby has pooped all the way up to his neck - on both sides of his body, mind you - and still another is rooting under her bed, searching for a necklace she lost as she pushes everything out into a room you had just cleaned up not two minutes earlier. And, because she's whining so much during this process, you've gone into said room to help her just to get her to, quite frankly, shut up, the baby has now rolled over, mashing poop into the carpet and dragging a poop trail across the living room. This is their lives, brethren! Help them! I'm telling you, it is not an easy existence, but we can make it easier. Change a poopy diaper once in a while. Do the dishes after dinner. Heck, make dinner when you get home and then do the dishes. That is what I believe is the meaning of honoring and loving your wife."

I was surprised I didn't have the female portion of the ward "amen"-ing and "hallelujah"-ing a la the most spirited holy-roller church. I did, however, see a lot of vigorous nodding and side-glances at their husbands. I don't think the husbands were happy with me, but I don't care! While we're in the holy-roller mood, let me proclaim, "I have seen the light!"

Here is my talk. Don't think I'm some scriptural genius, either. I merged my talk with one of James E. Faust's priesthood session talks. His words were genius and inspiring. I loved hearing his talks and miss hearing him now. I loved him even more because, like me, he went to Brazil on his mission. Here is my talk:

My talk is directed to primarily to the men and young men today, but sisters, feel free to take notes for ammunition later. My talk is based on a talk given in the Priesthood Session of April 2001 by James E. Faust.

Brethren, to be successful men, we must honor four sacred principles in our lives. Today I will specifically talk about reverence for Deity, respecting and honoring family relationships, reverence for and obedience to the ordinances and covenants of the holy priesthood and respect for yourself as a son of God.

The first is reverence for Deity. The Lord has blessed us as a people with temporal blessings (or worldly goods) unequaled in the history of the Church. Just in technology alone, our limits almost know no bounds. I remember coming home from my mission in 1996 and my Ricks College adviser and teacher pulled me into the office to show me this cool new communication technology called “e-mail” and “Internet.” He sent a message to his secretary from his computer and had me go into her office to retrieve it. Instant mail? What would they think of next? Phones that could be used from your car or anywhere really with wires?

Some of you have never known not being without color TV or a VCR. I do. It was a big deal when my dad came home one day with a VCR that played full-size Disney movie tapes - one that we didn’t have to always rent from the video store. However, these resources have been given us to do good and to permit our work on earth to accelerate. But I fear that through prosperity many of us have been preoccupied with what Daniel called “gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know.” These, of course, are idols.

In reverence for the sacred, more important than all else is a love and respect for Deity. During most of the world’s history, mankind has labored much in idolatry, either worshiping false gods or trying to acquire the material things of this world. I remember as a college student at Idaho State University and just married to my sweet wife. We had her green Geo, having sold my truck to pay for a summer semester that would get me out of there faster. I loved my Nissan truck, but knew it was for the best. The hardest thing was to see others around me that had not gone to college driving these huge, awesome Fords and I was in a Geo. I would get frustrated and complain to Lisha about how it’s “not fair” that someone who doesn’t have a degree has such cool things. Lish would reach over and put her arm around me and say, “You can’t take trucks to heaven, but you can take what you’ve learned at school.” And I, being the understanding and listening husband that I am, would reply, “Well, in my heaven, men drive trucks.” Are we focusing on what matters in life and not what materials we have in life? A good man and father can separate wants from needs, as my dad used to say.

The requirement that we should love the Lord above bank accounts, trucks, clothes, electronics, just plain stuff, or any other possession is total; it is absolute. The first commandment given unto the ancient Israelites was “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The Savior Himself amplified this command when He told the lawyer who asked Him which was the greatest commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” The lawyer couldn't handle giving up his possessions to follow the Lord. Sad.

We who have been commissioned with the priesthood authority to act in the name of the Savior need to respect God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost above all else.

The second is to respect and honor family relationships. This should begin with reverence for Mother’s sacred love. All mothers go down into the valley of the shadow of death as they labor in birth to give us life. My mom died when I was 14. I miss her. Mostly I miss her unconditional love. The yearning to be with her is at times almost overpowering. Most of us could say, with Abraham Lincoln, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” I am blessed in this life to have two mothers, though. My dad found a woman who is kind, loving and fun to be around. She has listened to me and helped me when I needed her. I know that she loves me and my family as one of her own and I hope she knows I love and respect her as a member of my family, too.

Brethren, noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine attributes of our Father in Heaven. A father should be many things. He should magnify his priesthood and be an example of righteousness. In companionship with his wife, he should be the source of stability and strength for the whole family. He should be the protector and the provider and the champion of the members of his family. Much of his love for his children should flow from his example of love, concern, and fidelity for their mother. By his uncompromising example he should instill character into his children.

Oh, character. Growing up, we didn’t have much, but what we lacked in material possessions, we got in character-building experiences. For my formative teen years, I was raised by a single father. I know now, but unfortunately was not grateful for then, how much he sacrificed for us. He couldn’t always give us the cool, new jeans, but (even though it was torture sometimes) he gave us experiences.

I grew up on a farm and we had to work there the majority of my childhood. I hated it. I would complain when he would come in and vacuum or noisily wash dishes at 5 in the morning to get us up. When that wouldn’t work, he’d come in and mess with us – drip water or pull blankets off. Then we’d have tofu pancakes and “read scriptures.” By read, I mean, he read and we dozed with the Book of Mormon as a pillow. Then we’d load up into the truck and remain out on the farm until late in the evening. We felt cheated because as our friends spent their summers in a pool, we were “working” about 30 miles out of town. What Dad gave us were opportunities to make friends with the people we’d be around for eternity. What Dad gave us was the principle of work … do anything and everything to provide for your family.

Here’s another character-building experience: Ask anyone in our family what was the worst family outing we ever had and they'll say our hike in the Dragoon Mountains. One Saturday afternoon, Dad decided to ease up and take a quick trip to the Dragoons. They were about 10 minutes away and since we never had really played up there, it would be good to just hike around. After all, these were the mountains where the famous Apache chief Geronimo hid out and eluded the US Army for so long. There might be arrowheads!

Of course, we grumbled. Or as he put it, “murmured.” (We murmured a lot.) But, since we really had no choice in the matter, a hiking we were forced to go. We got up to the summit of the mountains and Dad saw a dried-up river bed or wash. He got all excited and said we should go down a different way to get there and then maybe we’d find arrowheads. Again, murmuring.

We started making our way down the side of the mountain, but quickly realized that this way was a bit more treacherous. There were small drops and overhangs that had to be carefully maneuvered down or we would fall and get hurt. And the sun was getting pretty low in the sky. Then I did something really stupid. I jumped from a ledge to an overhang I thought was closer than it actually was and sprained my ankle pretty badly.

Now, Dad had an injured (pudgy, I might add) son with his other three, one was about seven or eight, to get down before it was dark. Dad would distract us by singing or telling us stories, all to which we just rolled our eyes. We climbed for what seemed like hours and finally made it down in the dark. We walked in the wash to get to the truck and spent most of the ride home telling Dad he was crazy and why had we even listened to him? Ask any of my brothers about one of the worst family trips and this one is sure to come up. (And I’ll probably be painted as a big baby.) What characteristic could I have possibly gotten from that? My dad gave me optimism and the ability to make a bad situation a little better. He also gave me the ability to persevere and finish what I start.

The third is respect for and obedience to the ordinances and covenants of the priesthood. We honor the Lord by keeping our baptismal covenants, our sacrament covenants, our temple covenants, and by keeping the Sabbath day holy. The Lord has said, “All among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.” I was honored to baptize and confirm my daughter yesterday. I have baptized and confirmed many people in my lifetime, but yesterday’s experience was by far the best. I know it will be the same feeling when I perform priesthood ordinances for my remaining children.

The fourth is to respect yourself as a son of God. Those of us who have served missions have seen the miracle in the lives of some we have taught as they have come to realize that they are sons and daughters of God.

I served my mission in Brasilia, Brazil. In my first area, I met a woman who was one of the kindest people I have ever known. However, she did not agree with what we taught her at first. After careful thought, she decided that she was done with the lessons, but we could still all be friends. In one of the bravest moments of my life, I stood up and said in as much Portuguese as I knew, “No, Maricela, we cannot be friends. I can’t let my friends turn down something that will help them for the rest of their lives. I can’t let my friends make stupid decisions and still be friends with them. If we are to be friends, then you need to know that I know this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If you accept it, be baptized and live by the principles of the Church, then you will be happy forever. Will you be baptized?”

One of the greatest moments of my life was when, as I was just about to leave, I received a letter in the office. It was from Maricela and it was an invitation to attend the temple session where she was to be sealed for time and all eternity to the then Elder’s Quorum president.

If we are constantly aware of the seeds of divinity in us, it will help us rise above earthly challenges and difficulties. Brigham Young said: “When I look upon the faces of intelligent beings I look upon the image of the God I serve. There are none but what have a certain portion of divinity within them; and though we are clothed with bodies which are in the image of our God, yet this mortality shrinks before that portion of divinity which we inherit from our Father.” Being aware of our divine heritage will help men young and old to grow and magnify the divinity which is within them and within all of us.

All of us who wish to be honored by the Lord and receive of His goodness, mercy, and eternal blessings must, I repeat, be obedient to these four great principles:

  1. Have a reverence for Deity.

  2. Have respect for and honor family relationships.

  3. Have a profound reverence for and obedience to the ordinances and covenants of the holy priesthood.

  4. Have respect for yourself as a son of God.

I know it is important to love and honor our Heavenly Father by trying to be like Him in all the things we do. I am thankful to belong to a church that instructs and encourages men to treat their wives with dignity and respect because, after all, we believe we will be together forever. And forever is a very long time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reality Bites

Here's the latest realization on what a jerk I've been to my sweet, patient, hard-working, misunderstood wife: You can't get everything you have planned done, so you better pick your battles. I'll admit that, on many an occasion, I'd walk in from work, see dishes in the sink from breakfast and lunch or the same pile of laundry on the couch that was there when I left in the morning and give Lish a disgusted look and retreat to my bedroom in pouty protest. Here it comes, and it's even written as proof: "I'M SORRY! I WAS WRONG TO JUDGE YOU! YOU ARE AWESOME!"

Here's what was on today's to-do list before my dad and stepmom arrived from Arizona (on Friday) in order to avoid any critical glances or comments with "Undertone." And today was going to be a hard one as Lisha had a double shift at Olive Garden. I had to bring my "A" Game or some other sports metaphor dads like me should know. Here's a metaphor more suited to my understanding and knowledge: The Force had to be with me today.

The Impossible List:

  1. Finish, fold and put away any and all laundry.

  2. Weed the flower bed.

  3. Mow the lawn.

  4. Weedeat the lawn.

  5. Chop down the dead tree in the backyard.

  6. Make beds.

  7. Vacuum.

  8. Keep up on the dishes throughout the day.

  9. Oh yeah, feed the kids.

  10. Sweep and mop the floor.

  11. Scrub every inch of the bathroom.

  12. Design and print Ally's baptism programs.

  13. Make a DVD celebrating Ally's life to play while she gets ready between her baptism and confirmation.

  14. Organize and clean the computer desk area.

  15. Get the girls to Dance Camp on time with the appropriate shoes and dressed in the appropriate outfits.

  16. Pick the girls up from Dance Camp on time and make sure they bring home their shoes.

  17. Get all of the milk jugs and newspaper to the recycling bin.

  18. Clean up the back yard.

  19. Talk to the neighbors about restraining their pitbull during dinner after the baptism on Saturday.

  20. Call a kid in my Young Men's group to make sure he has started his Eagle project this week.

  21. Oh, and write my talk for Sacrament Meeting on Sunday.

Eight. That's what I got done today. Eight out of 21 important tasks. If this was a quiz I had given my students at school, I would have failed miserably with a 38 percent. Yet, I feel like I got a ton done. I just need to do a ton more tomorrow morning.

Here's the problem that moms have after careful reflection. Your kids impede you from doing the other 60 percent of what you hope to accomplish in a day. The other 2 percent is, let's face it, down time that you have got to take. I used mine today playing the all-too-important distraction known as Facebook.

I love my kids. I do. But if I were home alone today, then I would have gotten at least 85 percent of the stuff done. In the afternoon, I just put Clark down for his name and started scrubbing the bathroom when I heard thunder. All three remaining kids sprinted through the door, screaming that they were almost hit by thunder.

"No, really, Daddy," Ally said. "The sky was all black and something happened and ... and ... and ... we almost died."

Her siblings nodded in agreement, wide-eyed. You see, in a sudden stroke of genius, I had shooed them out onto the freshly mowed lawn, laid down blankets in the shade and said (probably a little too forcefully), "Read!" Then I threw them some library books and shut the front door. They were out there for about seven minutes, allowing me begin the decontamination of our bathroom.

"Hey, calm down, you guys," I said, wiping sweat from my brow and quickly wishing I hadn't stuck my hand near my nose. "You can't get hit by thunder. Just lightning will kill you."

They all started whimpering and I turned back to the toilet. Then Clark started screaming from his crib and I knew I would never get done with the bathroom. Or the laundry. Or weedeating or anything else, for that matter.

I grabbed Clark out of his bed, held him for a few minutes and set him down a safe distant from all the chemicals and started to clean again. Not two minutes went by when Luke came to the door and said, "Dad, I think I need a snack."

I grunted and turned back to the toilet. "Dad. Dad. Dad. Daddy. Dad. Dad. ..." Luke is the master of annoying me until he gets what he wants, so I answered, rather sweetly, "What?! Luke, if you're hungry go have Ally make you some popcorn. I have to finish this before Papa Hansen gets here tomorrow!"

He bolted. I started cleaning once more, all the while keeping half-empty toothpaste bottles and assorted pony-tail holders out of Clark's mouth. It was quiet. I got the bathroom done except for the tub when my Spidey sense started tingling. The kids were too quiet.

I walked into the living room to find it full of the kids' blankets, pillows, a movie blaring on the TV and popcorn EVERYWHERE. Plus, the bag had been ripped open and butter licked off the side of the bag. The kids were no where to be found.

"What the what?" I said to Clark. Clark just looked at me and then the floor and bounced in my arms. "Great," I thought. "I can't even put him down or else he'll choke to death on popcorn seeds and I can't put him in his crib or he'll scream." I put him in his room, surrounded him by toys and shut the door.

I marched up and down the sidewalk looking for my absent children. I am not proud of this next part. Don't judge me! I found them at the neighbor's house playing. I lost it. "Get your butts down to the house and clean up the front room!" I yelled in front of the neighbor kids. "I want EVERY piece of popcorn picked up or I'm taking away your blankets. FOREVER!"

They booked it home and did what I asked. I looked up at the clock as they were cleaning. It was almost 6 p.m. I had started cleaning the bathroom around 3:30 p.m. Where had my afternoon gone? Now I had to start thinking about what to make for dinner.

You know, female monkeys carry their young as they do menial tasks around the jungle. Maybe my primal instincts were kicking in as I considered strapping Clark in our baby backpack and finish everything I needed to get done. However, I didn't have a pair of baby safety goggles to strap onto Clark and weedeat the yard. I didn't have a baby tox mask in order to finish the bathroom. And I didn't have a plastic baby bubble to shield him from bubbling stroganoff and noodle water. Here's what seperates us from our primate cousins: Duct tape. Tomorrow I should put a strip of Duct tape on the seat of the kids' pants and tape 'em to the floor. I'll turn on Barney and hypnotize them as I finish what I need to get done.

Mothers, once again you amaze me. How you get anything done in a day is beyond me. And you do it with monkeys literally clinging to your backs!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Showering is optional

Hey. This is Ryan.

Day Three of Mr. Mommin' it and I'm bushed! I had a raucous discussion with some of the sisters-in-law about when moms or anyone for that matter has time to blog. Well, it's 11:06 p.m., the kids have been in bed for an hour, I just switched the laundry so I'll have less to do tomorrow morning and I need to let out some emotional steam. This is when there's time to blog.

As far as the "you want crow with that?" portion of this week's eye-opening, today was pretty stock full of crow. As in, I'm eating a lot of it.

Man myth No. 257: Women should have enough time in the morning to shower, do their makeup, etc. and get out the door in plenty of time to make it wherever they need to be. I am ashamed to admit I have been critical of Lisha and her hygiene. Or more specifically, the conversation would go something like this:

Me: "Uh, you're showering right now?"

Lish: "Yes. Is there a problem with that?"

Me: "It's 3:30 in the afternoon."

Lish: "So?"

Me: "Why can't you shower in the morning, like a normal person? You have plenty of time."

Aaaaand ... scene!

Now, here's my awakening and crow-eating: Yesterday went fairly smoothly because I learned from the day before. I've been using old missionary planners to make sure my brood is on time for whatever millionth activity they had that day was attended and on time, thus resulting in my present-day overconfidence (or cockiness, if you will). I added a personal errand to the morning. Mistake No. 1. I loaded the kids up in the van and went over to a friend's house to deliver their family pictures I shot on Saturday.

I also had worked on them in Photoshop this morning (Mistake No. 2) while the children ate breakfast. Did I mention they were in the van in their PJs? Mistake No. 3, come on down! The meeting lasted a little longer and threw off my planner. When we got home, I told our oldest, Ally, to please get the dance clothes ready for later on, get dressed and could she get Emma (six years old) some clothes for today, too? We're up to Mistake No. 4, if you're still counting. I overloaded her tiny eight-year-old brain. She couldn't process all my instructions, so she responded with, "Dad, Clark (the nine-month-old baby) is poopy."

I knew that. I could smell him from down the hall. But, Luke (the four-year-old) had a game in 30 minutes, and it was more important to make sure he was getting dressed. (Mistake No. 5.) Besides, I was already rooting through his drawers for his game shirt and sweats, a fresh pair of underwear and socks and shoes.

As Luke dressed, I grabbed Clark and changed him. Poop all the way up his back. Again. How can something so little poop so much? And electric yellow? Really? He's also taken to kicking like a braying mule whilst getting his bum changed, consequently smearing the neon stuff into the carpet. Not duct-taping Clark to a changing station with some sort of poop guard: Mistake No. 6.

Ally's now screaming at Emma that, "DAD SAID YOU HAVE TO GET DRESSED! RIGHT (pause) NOW!"

Emma responds with, "AAAALLLLYYYY! YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!" and sprints out their bedroom door, naked and screaming, "STAY AWAY FROM ME!"

Luke is joining in now by whining that he wanted to wear shorts. I tell him that it's about to rain and his game will likely be cancelled again anyway, so get your sweats on ... NOW! Mistake No. 7. He flails on the floor, bawling and throws his sweats, shoes and socks across the room, refusing to finish getting dressed. "When am I ever going to play in a game?!" he cries, over and over.

Clark is changed, poop scrubbed out of the carpet and now Naked Emma is in front of me, starting to (finally) get dressed. I had to console her and gently remind Ally that, "You're not the Mom." Emma sticks her tongue out at Ally and Ally retaliates by rolling her eyes and stomping in the direction of her room, wailing, "I was only doing what Daddy asked me to! Jeez! Everyone always thinks I'm lying!"

Later, I secretly thanked her for semi-doing what I asked. In her defense, she had gotten Emma clothes and laid out their dance clothes for later. Well, this happened about 10 minutes after she played with Clark and teased Luke with, "You're not gonna pla-ay, you're not gonna pla-ay." But she did do what I asked her. Sort of.

This was it! The children were dressed, their hair was done but I still had to get ready. And here's where I learned to understand why my wife could be stinky when I came home at lunch and what an ignorant jerk I was/am/will continue to be. I took a shower. We're up to eight crucial, time-sucking mistakes.

The kids were, allegedly, ready to go and riding their bikes. Clark was in his playpen/crib playing with his toys. I had about 15 minutes before Luke's game started to take a quick shower, get dressed and leave. Wrong. By the time I got out of the shower, dressed and shaved, we had five minutes to get to the ballpark. And - this should be tattooed on every poser-father's forehead - whatever can go wrong in those five minutes, will go wrong. Just as we were about to step out the door, Luke ran in with wet pants. "I had an accident," he whined. We were SO close!

I hurriedly changed his pants and underwear and we sprinted for the van. Emma was halfway down the block on her bike, so I made her stash it in a friend's yard (they were in Boise and wouldn't be home until later tonight anyway) and off we went.

We were about 10 minutes late to the game. And here's the kicker ... I went to the back of the van to grab Lukey's mitt. It wasn't there! "I think I know where it is," he said. "It's at home under the tree." He had been playing baseball with the neighbors the night before and left it in the yard.

There he sat on the bench, full-out sobbing because he was late (his team was in the outfield) and he didn't have a mitt. Luckily, another mom took pity on his plight (I told him he couldn't play without a mitt) and loaned him the extra one in their car.

So there you have it. Another day of trying to move four kids out the door and what have I really learned? I've learned not to get cocky. I've learned my wife is AMAZING. I've learned every mother who strives to provide their kid a decent summer, school year or whatever is FREAKIN' AMAZING. Keep it up, girls. You've won over this former criticizer. Now we only have to convince, like, 3.286 billion more. (That's the estimated male population on this planet, by the way.)

Epilogue: Luke was the last batter, which in t-ball means he hits the ball and everyone on bases runs home, regardless if they get tagged out or not. Translation: He hit two grand slams. He was so proud as he rounded all three bases and tagged home without stopping. And frankly, so was I.

Epilogue II: When we got home, he brought me his mitt. As he walked through the door, he put his hand in it and quickly recoiled. "There's something in it!" he cried.

We pounded on the mitt (Mistake No. 9) and a ton of earwigs and beetles came flying out all over the carpet, which Clark, who was in the vicinity, grabbed and ate before all four of us (by screaming at the top of our lungs) could stop him. He spit it out and started crying because we scared him so badly. He didn't stop until we left to take the girls to dance camp. That brings us to a full 10 mistakes. Another lesson learned: Don't leave baseball mitts outside in Idaho unless you want to recreate a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Tomorrow has to be a better day. I have way too much housework and yard work to do for this weekend's impending baptism of Ally and arrival of my dad and stepmom. I'll get used to this and figure out how to get everything done without losing my mind, right? And I'll have time to shower in the morning, too, right? Right?! Oh, man. I am doomed to a very stinky summer. And I haven't even got to my misconception of how moms should have enough time and energy in the day to make sure menial housework is done before their husbands come home.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How do moms do it?


This is Ryan. Just in time for Father's Day.

It’s that time of year again when I realize how hard my wife’s life is and, in turn, all mothers’ lives. I’m officially Mr. Mom for the summer. With me teaching high school, we've always kind of agreed that I’d be the “house spouse” during the summer and Lisha would work. Lisha got a job at The Olive Garden as a waitress (ka-ching!) and started training this week. That means all four kids are my full-time responsibility. Add to the cooking, cleaning, feeding, washing, toddler butt-wiping responsibilities, Clark is still breastfeeding, so Lisha has to pump and I have to fight to give him a bottle. It did not go well at all today.

First, we both work at our gym here so that we don’t have to pay $90 a month for a family membership. We work in the day care which is great because our kids get to go with us and hang out at the gym. So, a lady called today to switch shifts at around 8:30 a.m. This was perfect because Luke’s game was in the middle of my shift on Wednesday and I needed to trade anyway. Her shift was at 10:30 a.m. I thought, “This is my chance to show Lisha that all her whining about getting out the door is a bunch of hooey. I can get out so fast and then gloat about it later.” Funny famous last words. How do women do it?

I got the kids fed, did the girls’ hair and changed and dressed Clark – all simple tasks in my inexperienced mind. Here’s how it really went down: At breakfast, as told by Emma in pouts and pointing, I made the cereal wrong. Apparently her cereal needs to be drowning in milk. When it was time to do hair, I might as well have been skinning cats. The sounds that came out of the girls’ mouths alerted me that I was pulling way too tight. I knew Clark would be easy. I change diapers all of the time. What I didn’t know was that the little wet spots on his back weren’t from the spilled milk on the kitchen floor. He had pooped so much that it had come out of his diaper all the way to the middle of his back as well as past his belly button. I didn’t even try to wipe it all off. I put him in the tub and washed everything off with the faucet.

The other mistake I made was allowing him to crawl around naked because I had about five minutes to jump in the shower and get out the door to make it to the gym in time. Seriously! And I packed my backpack, which I now call my DadPack, to make sure I had all the essentials: two pairs of underwear and pants per kid, the digital camera, the zoo passes, three diapers and a newly stocked (and girly) wipe box, two Onesies, socks, and a missionary planner that I am now using to schedule our days. I was NOT going to carry around a diaper bag.

I am happy to report, however, that I made it on time to the gym. The moms laughed as I told them they were all saints. The kids played well until Emma thought she’d carry Clark to me. She dropped him on the floor right on his face. He started screaming that silent, shaking sob and I did my best to comfort him as a bump on his forehead slowly made its way to an Everest-size peak. I nervously glanced around at the other moms, who gave me a pitying “Ohhhh-is-the-little-man-trying-to play-mommy?” look. I ducked behind a wall and sat on a rocker and tried to comfort Clark. Suddenly, another mom swooped in and snatched Clark away as I sat dejected in the corner. And, to add insult to injury, Clark laid his head on her shoulder and looked at me. I swear there was a little smirk on his face as if to say, “You don’t have breasts so you’re not worthy.”

My shift went to 1:30 p.m. and despite my best efforts to include everything I thought necessary in the DadPack, I did not calculate that the shift would go through lunch. Guess what I didn’t pack? Yup, the kids’ lunch. At about 12:45 p.m., Luke started rolling around on the floor of the day care, clutching his stomach and moaning, “I’m huuuuunnngggrryyy! I’m soooooooo hungry!” I had only brought some Kix and a bottle of breast milk for Clark. So, once again, the moms’ judgmental eyes were upon me.

One particularly sympathetic mom walked by Luke, looked at him rolling on the floor and muttered in my direction, “Jeez, what’s the matter with him?”

“Hungry, I guess,” I said as I laughed a little nervously. “We’ll eat when I get off, heh, heh.”

Then, I glared down at Luke and growled, “Luke, stand up! We’ll eat when we’re done!”

"Awwwwww!" he cried. That didn’t satisfy him, especially when Overhelpful Baby Stealer Mom’s son came in with a Wendy’s bag. Luke saw that and changed his whine from I’m hungry to “I want Weeeeennnndddyy’s!”

Just then, Clark started whining a little and I knew it was time to feed him as well. I grabbed the breast-milk bottle and shoved it in his mouth. He spit it out. I shoved it in again. He spit it out again. I didn’t even need to look up to know the pity looks were back. I finally gave up and replaced the bottle with his pacifier. He took that and stopped whining – much to my relief!

My shift finally got over and I met Lish at home as her shift ended about the same time mine did. Clark practically unbuckled himself and sprinted across the room to get to her. Another pity look came my way. But, there are about three months left to this summer. I have time to win him over.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

You Are Invited...

Let us know if you will be able to make it!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Here they are in the school shirts all ready for the big group picture.  I cannot believe how much they have changed from the beginning of the year!  You can see that post HERE!

Bring on the summer!  

Monday, June 1, 2009

9 Months Old and MOBILE!

Clark is crawling. He learned yesterday in church, during Sunday School. Setting him in a circle and cleaning everything within his reach is no longer an option. All those little things all over the carpet are his favorite things to go after. So now my baby is eating everything he can get his hands on. My mom calls it "tweezer fingers." Today he gagged on a piece of paper and made himself throw up. It was awesome.

Tonight he heard the water as I ran his bath and he started moving toward the bathroom--with a little help from Ally. When he got close to the bathroom, he stopped. The floor felt different and he didn't like it. So he sat outside the bathroom door and whined because he wanted to be in the water, but didn't want to touch the floor. I can't say I blame him. It is disgusting. (Our toilet has a leak in the seal so there is always icky water surrounding the base of it no matter how many times a day I wipe it up. I know. Gross. They "fixed" it a few months ago, but it didn't last too long. I think we just need to redo the whole floor. I wish it was my choice.)

FREE Summer Fun

FREE Movies at Edwards Theater. All shows start at 10am. Feel free to pass this info on to your friends! I am posting it so I will always know where my list is!

Free Family Film Festival Schedule:

June 16, 17, 18 - The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (G) & Evan Almighty (PG)

June 30, July 1, 2 - Horton Hears a Who (G) & Nim's Island (PG)

July 7, 8, 9 - Tale of Desperaeux (G) & Kung Fu Panda (PG)

July 14, 15, 16 - Everyone's Hero (G) & Surfs Up (PG)

July 21, 22, 23 - Igor (G) & Journey to the Center of the Earth (PG)

July 28, 29, 30 - Mr. Magorium's Wonderful Emporium (G) & Bee Movie (PG)

August 4, 5, 6 - Curious George (G) & Alvin & the Chipmunks (PG)

August 11, 12, 13 - Space Chimps (G) & Madagascar 2 (PG)

Find More Free Custom Color Layouts at April Showers