Sunday, July 26, 2009

Looking Backward and Forward

While lying awake after a disturbing dream at 4:30 this morning, I realized that I was awake for the day. Even though I am eight months pregnant, went to bed after midnight, and I could use the rest, my body just wasn't going back to sleep. Great! I thought. I will go blog about my high school reunion. I have been meaning to do this all week.

If you are planning on going to your high school reunion then you are in for some fun, if it is anything like mine was. A week ago I went to my 20 year reunion for the American Fork High class of 1989. It was in two parts. The first part was an icebreaker family picnic at a park in Alpine, Utah. The second part was a fancy, adults-only dinner at a hotel in SLC. That part I couldn't go to. The icebreaker picnic was fabulous though. My husband, who has been to many high school reunions, since he is ancient (50) thinks this reunion was the best, because there was so much mixing and mingling.

It is so hard to believe that it's been 20 years. I grew up in Highland, Utah, and back then all of American Fork, Alpine, and Highland went to the same junior high and high school. Our class had over 400 people. It was amazing to see so many familiar faces and most of the time, I could even remember the name that goes with the face.

Most of the girls have resorted to hair coloring, I noticed. When you see the pictures on Facebook, it is like a peroxide parade. I don't think any of the guys have. A few guys were bald and some of the guys had gray hair. I have to say that one of the guys with gray hair actually looks better. He has some depth and maturity to his looks that flatter him. In three hours' time I had my picnic dinner with my husband and two youngest children, (we left the four oldest at the family reunion we had been having all week in Park City because I knew they would be bored- I get a little bored at my husband's high school reunions and I'm an adult) and then circulated around to talk with at least a dozen people.

It was so liberating to remind myself, "You are not shy anymore. You can talk to whoever you want." Amazingly, labels don't seem to matter much twenty years later. I could talk to the girl jocks, and the cheerleaders and football players, the in-crowd. I was painfully shy in high school and talked more that night to these dozen people than I did through all three years of high school. I was afraid that I would be the only pregnant one there but one of my classmates is also pregnant with her seventh like I am, another with her eighth, and two of my classmates who got married to each other are expecting number 10! Wow! Ten kids in 20 years is not something I want to attempt in this life.

One of my classmates came all the way from Switzerland to attend. I was saddened to hear that one of them had his temple marriage end in divorce when his wife chose an alternative lifestyle. But hooray for him for making it work as a very committed stay-at-home dad. It turns out that one of my classmates plays guitar occasionally with my brother-in-law, Michael Dowdle. Another classmate is a colleague with my brother at BYU as a professor. I am very good friends with another classmate's cousin. It turns out that a handful of my classmates live in Davis County, Utah, like I do, one is even in the same ward here in Layton as a good homeschooling friend of mine, and knows here well. One of my classmates, a scrawny thing who seemed to look prepubescent all three years, now has the girth of Tim Allen in The Santa Clause movie. It was fun to see which classmates had married each other, that is just something that I can't relate to.

If you go to a high school reunion, it helps to bring along an extroverted, garrulous spouse. My dear husband was constantly urging me to go mix and mingle, assuring me that he was watching our two little kids on the playground. Whenever anybody would walk by us while we were eating he would say, "Who's that?" or "Do you know her?" I excused myself to go the restroom (quite a jaunt) and when I came back he was yakking it up with one of my classmates, a person he has never met before, as if he was the one who went to school with him! It turns out this classmate knows my dad, a BYU professor, through his profession as a textbook salesman. I never said anything to this classmate in all my years of knowing him since fourth grade, but he treated me like an old buddy and we had a good time visiting.

I told this story to my sister and she said, "Well Celestia, it looks like you still don't need to do any talking, just have Dan do it for you!" She was referring to a story from my high school days. One of my classmates thought that I couldn't speak because he had never heard me say anything. He told this to another classmate, who knew I could talk because we was in my ward and went to Sunday School with me. The second classmate set out to prove that I could talk. So, across the room, one day in our honors math class, he asked me how many I got wrong on the recent test. Instead of responding verbally, I answered by holding up two fingers. So to this day that other classmate probably still thinks I am mute.

It was soooo fun to visit with all these people. I was not social at all in high school, and I regret that, looking backwards. I think I missed out on what could have been deeper friendships with some quality people. My class had so many good, hard-working, talented kids. Yet I am grateful that I eschewed all the silly social shenanigans kids go through to impress each other and focused on studying hard. I feel I got a great education which opened the door for me to attend and graduate from BYU. I am also grateful that I had nothing to be ashamed of as I faced people at the reunion.

It still seems strange to me that we put over 1200, hormone-raging kids, ages 15-18, in one building, give them textbooks and a lot of distracting extracurricular activities, and expect them to get a high quality, classical education to prepare them for the rest of their lives. Most of them are distracted by their hormones and the social activities. i have never liked the social circus aspect of high school and if I were in charge of secondary education in Utah I would somehow revamp it. Those kids who wanted to play at athletics and social games could have opportunities to play all they wanted, with some service projects involving hard physical work thrown in, and those who wanted to study hard would be in a separate school, which was gender segregated. Looking forward, I am grateful that my kids don't have to endure all the negative aspects of the conveyor belt social circus we call high school.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Almost Heaven, Yet Stressful

What do the following all have in common?

-living within 100 yards of a swimming pool
-playing Boggle at 9:30 PM
-seeing people I haven't seen in 20 years
-sleeping in every morning
-cutting ten inches off of my daughter's hair
-someone breaking into my house, and then police coming over to check the scene
-packing and then unpacking for a week away from home for our family of 8
-watching BYUTV
-connecting with a brother and his family who have been in China for over two years
-hearing my children complain that they are bored despite being surrounded by siblings and cousins
-sending a son off on Scout camp to go rappelling and hiking for three days
-reading one of Dr. Laura's books
-having a birthday party for my son
-walking in on a room full of teens and tweens at 10:45 PM who have no adult supervision and hear them claim that they can't go to bed yet. This is because they haven't started their "game night" because they have been talking. (This is the night before a 10 AM checkout and nobody has done any packing.)
-feeling deliciously buoyant at 8 months pregnant
-going swimming again after we got home because of one more party
-not having to fix dinner every night
-getting a foot massage from my little sister

All of these things happened in my life this past week. I think I am ready for another vacation! Needless to say I hope I don't see this much excitement all in one week until the birth of my seventh child in a month. Every year my parents invite my four siblings and me and our spouses and children to come vacation at condos in the Marriott timeshare vacation system. It is always a lot of fun to escape the routine of everyday life. Each family gets their own unit and we are usually all on the same floor. It seems almost heaven to be on vacation with my parents, siblings, and the cousins so close.

I have to say this year was the most eventful one yet. We slept in almost every morning, went swimming almost every day, and visited with family. My mom helped the grandkids do beading projects and watercolor paintings. I listened to two of my kids complain about their cousins not wanting to do anything so therefore they were bored.
Halfway during the trip we got word that our house had been broken in to, but it turns out it was just the little neighbor boy coming over to play with my kids. He got too curious and decided to slip in through a back door that was accidentally left unlocked after no response came from knocking. Thankfully, all he took (as far as we can tell) was a Buzz Lightyear toy and a light saber, which he left on our grass. My husband came home during the middle of the week to send my son off on Scout camp to find all this out (and make sure the door was locked when he came back).

My third son turned 8 so we had a big party for him. He got a skateboard and pegs to put on his bike. Now the four-year-old thinks that when he turns five next month we will come back to Park City to celebrate. I got to talk about China with my brother who has lived there for the past 2 1/2 years. I connected with my family but also had some personal and alone downtime. I got to learn about J. Reuben Clark and Henry Eyring by watching BYUTV. I watched a DVD presentation by Leslie Householder. I read a lot of one of Dr. Laura's books. My daughter wanted her hair cut so I cut 10 inches off for locks of love and then my artistic sister evened it up. We each took turns fixing dinner and that was heavenly to have such a long break from thinking about what to have for dinner and preparing it. I enjoyed playing Boggle with my siblings and talking with them about what books they are currently reading. My son left to go hike in the Uintahs. When he got home on Saturday I found out he did a lot more rappelling than hiking and he even did it "Aussie style." (I am glad I was not there to watch that- Google that one if you want to know more.)

To top it off, on Friday night, I left the family enclave and went to my 20-year high school reunion with my husband and two youngest. How strange to see people from my past 20 years ago. I enjoyed mixing and mingling. I probably did more talking with a dozen people from my class than I ever did in high school, as I was extremely shy back then. See my next post for more on that. Then after we got home and unpacked we got ready to go out again and attend a picnic and swimming party for all of my midwife's clients, past and present, at North Ogden's water park. So, I think my pregnant adrenals and edemic feet have had enough fun for a week and it's time to enjoy the routine life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Best Independence Day So Far

Now that I am on vacation and things have settled down a bit in my life (last week was for getting ready for a week in Park City for my family of 8, no easy task to be done in a single day, and attending a homeschooling seminar) I can catch up on my blogging. Thanks to the gift of a used laptop from my brother-in-law who didn't want to pack it up to move, we can now be online while on vacation. Hopefully it will prove to be only a blessing. I don't want to be addicted to our electronic pastimes.

Happily, I report that our Independence Day was the best we've had so far. (In our family, we stress the importance of saying "Independence Day" not "the Fourth of July" because we want to remember that this holiday is about a concept, a very important one, and not just a date. Just like we want to keep calling Christmas, Christmas, not, "the 25th.") The reason it was so great was because it wasn't full of self-congratulatory patriotism, gluttony, and a pacified feeling of "all is well in Zion" but a reminder of what our Founding Fathers truly founded (a republic of republics, not a democracy). We also learned about the serious trouble our country is in. At a "tea party" that our neighbor organized in our hometown of Layton City, Utah, we became aware of resources we can use to learn more and do more. To top it all off and lighten it up, we had some delicious food at two different picnics, one with a lot of our neighbors.

My husband and I attended a presentation the night before Independence Day, by Stephen Pratt, from libertyandlearning.com. I was so excited, I felt I was going to a rock concert. He is a celebrity in my mind. I have listened to and watched all of his videos available on his website, which I just mentioned. He taught us about what sovereignty is. We learned a lot about early American history, about Federalists, anti-Federalists, the Massachusetts school of thought, and the struggle between advocates of states' rights and those who pushed for a centralization of power at the federal level, especially Hamilton, Daniel Webster, and Lincoln.

"What do we celebrate on the Fourth of July?" asked Mr. Pratt. After teaching us a bit, he answered his question. He said that we celebrate the ideals of Jefferson that have been lost in a Hamiltonian world. In other words, we celebrate the idea of independence that we don't truly have in this nation of increasing socialism and restrictions of freedom at the federal level. It was a sobering thought to ponder.

The next day we attended the Tea Party that our civic-minded neighbor sponsored. Please see teapartypatriots.org. I learned that Layton has many people who feel like I do that our federal government is out of control with too much spending, too many regulations, and unwise proposals, like "cap and trade." Here are some resources that were spoken of to learn more:

the912project.com
Google "Obama deception"
Google "Bob Basso" and watch his portrayal of Thomas Paine and his plea for a second American revolution

I haven't researched these so I can't vouch for them completely, but I am thinking there is some truth in them. If the people in Book of Mormon days struggled with men who were seeking for too much power in government (read the book of Ether, it's amazing) and forming secret combinations to threaten liberty of individual, average people, how could we not have that problem today? We are no more righteous than they were.