Sunday, November 29, 2015

Writing prompt #18: Tell about a casserole

And again... here's the pledge...

Writing prompt #18: Tell about a casserole

It all started with a casserole. One casserole was all it took to change my life forever. It was the way the cheer on top was cooked. Perfectly golden, bubbles undulating, just waiting to collapse in my mouth. My saliva glands warmed up. Two more people in front of me and it would be mine.

This was why I endured the silly ritual of breaking my once-a-month fast with all these late 20-something (and spattered early 30's) almost strangers. It was the food. Every other day of the month, I was content with microwave pizza, deli sandwiches from the cafe around the corner of my office and protein bars while navigating my way through morning traffic. But, once a month, I indulged my taste buds. Real, actual home-grown food. Multiple entrees, sides, and even desserts.

I reached for the utensil ladling the casserole and grasped. Air. What? I looked down. The serving utensil was gone. Someone else was helping themselves to my casserole. Was even scaring off the cheesy goodness. What nerve!

"Excuse me!" I said, following the hand holding the ladle up. A strong hand. Clean, clipped fingernails, long sleeve light blue button up shirt. As I reached his face, he stopped scooping and looked at me. His eyes smiles, a deep, blue smile. And, suddenly, I really wasn't all that hungry.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Writing prompt #17: stream of consciousness gratitude

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I'd share the prompt from our last writer's meeting. We were asked to write a list of things we were grateful for, but instead of just a list, to qualify them with a phrase or two of explanation. Here is mine:

1. The way time passes when I'm fast asleep because it means I'm really resting and rejuvenating, something I've struggle with for too much of my life.
2. The way Dave comes and finds me wherever I am in the house when he gets home to give me a hug and kiss.
3. The way my family rallies around each other at the slightest hiccup of a need, but allows space to breathe an independent life.
4. The way my daughter makes it a point to tell me goodnight and is often the first to say, "love you,"
5. The various positions of blankets and clothing choices I find my youngest daughter in when I go to check on her before retiring. It lets me know she was busy imagining up a new world moments before finally surrendering to slumber.
6. The way by quiet son nods his head in agreement whenever I comment on how smart he is. He's not cocky, but simply aware of a gift and self-confidence enough to not deny it.
7. The ability to be a stay-at-home mom and learn and stretch and grow according to a timeline not imposed by a paycheck.
8. Tender experience in my youth that established a rock of a foundation in my belief in God and His Son, Jesus Christ and in the Kingdom here on earth.
9. Opportunities to serve others in a wide range of callings and capacities that open my soul to see others in a light that can only be sourced in Heaven.
10. The look on my husband's face when he follows through on some inspiration he's felt -- to visit his parents, to call a friend, or to rethink organizing his work space.
11. The way technology connect me to family and friends all throughout the world so I can celebrate and mourn and converse with people I might never see with my mortal eyes again.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Writing prompt #16: Tell the backstory of a phobia

Here's my pledge.

Writing prompt #16: Tell the backstory of a phobia

We were relegated to her bedroom. Again. It's what happens with seven kids plus friends and a small house when no TV is allowed, it's raining outside, and our brothers were being, well, brothers.

After rehashing who said what and who did what during exciting 5th grade, we sat on her bed and looked around for our next source of entertainment.

To this day, I have no idea which one of us suggested it first, but we both jumped on board.

"Let's take turns climbing in the toy chest and seeing how long we can last in there,"

We cleaned it of stuffed animals and baby blankets. We were both on the small end for our ages, but still, even squished up, it'd be a tight fit.

The rules were simple and clear. One of us went in. The other sat on top of the closed chest. Then, the person inside would count in their heads. When they were ready to come out, the knocked three times. The person on top got up and opened the chest. The person with the highest count won.

Jenny went in first. I sat excitedly on top, trying to visualize what she was going through. Playing with my fingers, awaiting my turn at adventure.

Knock, knock, knock. I jumped up and opened it to see her smiling face. "50" she said and unhinged her body out of the box.

My turn. I crawled in, bending my legs and arms to fit them in all the crevices and crouched my head down in the corner. "Okay, go!" I said. Darkness enveloped me, but I just started counting. "One, two, three..." This was easy easy. "Forty-nine, Fifty." Ten more for good measure. "Okay, I'm done."

Knock. Knock. Knock.


Knock. Knock. KNOCK.




"Jenny?" I pushed hard against the top of the chest. It wouldn't budge. My legs started contributing now. I was stuck. "Help!" My heart started to race and I felt like I was about to die. "Jenny! It's not funny anymore! Let me out!" Tears sprang to my eyes as I realized I just might die in this silly chest.

Then, she opened it. She was silently laughing. "I tricked you!" she said, laughing, until she saw the tears streaming down my face.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Writing prompt #15: A secret message

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #15: A secret message

'Crap!' I thought, setting the 17th box of the morning down. 'What did I just break? Already.' I turned around and bent down. I couldn't see any cracks, but I knew I had heard something. I retraced my steps. There. I see-sawed on and off of one of the large 20 inch Italian tiles that had only been one of the myriad of reasons I had fallen head over heels in love with this 85-year old fixer-upper. I crouched and fingered the edge of the tile in question. Yep, I had definitely cracked the grout holding it in place. I moved it around and suddenly it came up in my fingers. It was heavy. Heavy.

'This must be grant or marble,' I thought. As I was inspecting it, a sliver of something caught my eye. I slid it gingerly to the side, wondering what it was underneath the tile that had grabbed my attention. The more I moved it, the more I could see. Yes, that was definitely some words -- writing. I rotated it slightly to get the sunlight on the exposed hole. Tiny, almost illegible scribbles were somehow etched into the floor.

"January 20, 1929. My name is Peter LaForce. I built this home. If you are reading this, beware. This home is haunted."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Writing Prompt #14: A different ending to a fairy tale

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my Prompt posting pledge.

Writing Prompt #14: Write a different ending to a fairy tale

NOTE: I wrote this on October 15, 2013, long before the new Disney Cinderella came out. Long before I had ever heard the phrase, 'have courage and be kind.'  Nice to know the Disney writers and I think alike...

Revenge was just not in my nature. My parents had raised me well. Well, my real parents. My sweet mother had been scorned when she married my father -- a duke. She had been the second daughter of a miller. But, my father, who knew what mattered, had fallen in love with the goodness, both in and out, of my mother. He didn't care that his family taunted and begged him to reconsider. Love was more important than money or title. During their first few years, before I came along, my mother dealt with all sorts of duplicitous townsfolk, trying to trip her up in her new 'lofty' state, to cause her to believe she was less than her married-into-status. My father and mother held hands and stood together, strong and full of the confidence that comes from within, from a pure soul.

Often, as a child, my mother would tell me these stories. About people who now loved her who used to make fun of her. "I could have been vengeful towards them, as my influence in the town grew, but that is never the answer. Love always is. Remember that, sweet Ella. Always return good. Good for good. Good for evil. Good even for only mediocre. If you have only good in you, only good will be able to come out,"

Now, here I was, the crown princess with more power and influence than my mother or father ever dreamed of having. And the court room full of dignitaries and dukes awaited my decision.

My step-mother and two step-sisters, who had done nothing but injure and demean me for years stood in front of me. What would be their fate? Revenge could certainly be justified. But, I remembered my mother's words. Always return good.

I smiled, "Let them be free."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Writing prompt #13: A disastrous family picnic

I, Jennie Blaser, promise to uphold my prompt posting pledge.

Writing prompt #13: Write about a disastrous family picnic...  {And, as you can see below, sometimes the time runs out before I even broach the writing prompt's intended topic}

"If we don't leave NOW, it's going to be too dark to enjoy the scenery," I shouted to anyone who bothered to listen. Sometimes I felt like my voice was nothing but white noise in my kids' ears. Chatter they tuned out unless it has the words 'ice cream' or 'play' in it.

I'd heard about this spot from a few friends. Seen posts online. They made it look idyllic. Eden-like. We could use some Eden-like in our lives right now. My husband's job security was, well, un-secure. A recent car incident had left our financial situation more topsy-turvy than a tumbling new toddler. Our oldest child had officially entered teenage-dom with its eye-rolling amendments and attitude regimes.

Our youngest was so obsessed with puppy dogs, she only ate from under the table and bake at me if I didn't call her by her new self-given name of "Princess Puppy."

Our middle child had discovered a website with DIY practical jokes. Twice I'd fallen for the saran-wrap over the toilet bit. Twice.  Yes, we needed idyllic.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Confessions of a scripture-reading family

We are a scripture-reading family. But we are not a perfect scripture-reading family. If we only read scriptures when circumstances were perfect, we would be stretching the truth to state we were a scripture-reading family.

I'm a numbers person, so here is what I mean, broken down by digits.

25% of the time we read scriptures, a member of our family is missing. Dave is out of town for work or busy with a church calling. I'm gone to book club or a child has a late activity. Dave leaves for work at 5:00 a.m., long before the rest of our alarms are even gearing up. Eden leaves at 6:45, Josh leaves at 7:30, and Teya leaves at 8:25. And, Teya needs the extra sleep. If we were to wake her any earlier than absolutely necessary, we'd pay a price in family accord we just aren't willing to pay. Thus, we read at night.

20% of the time we read, we actually listen to the scriptures being read by the male voice on gospel library as we are driving home from a family outing or dinner with grandparents.  Car = Captive audience.

20% of the time we don't read scriptures at all. We forget. Dave and I are out for a date night. We are just too tired. It happens. We decide a family prayer will have to suffice for the evening.

100% of the time at least one member, if not multiple members of our family are reading them on our phones or electronic devices. Those phones are always nearby and sometimes we can't find scriptures bags that were hastily placed somewhere after church on the way to raid the fridge.

So, if you imagine the Blaser family sitting around in a circle, our leather-bound scriptures open and the five of us pondering and commenting and marking and reading every day, you'd be imagining fiction.

But if we waited until the circumstances were perfect -- until we were all home, had found our physical scriptures, and weren't tired, well, we probably would have a horrible scripture reading track record.

So, we read the scriptures when and how works best. And we love them. However we get the words of inspired prophets into our minds...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Why I dislike parenting books...

I recently read a book on parenting for my book club. It was a good book full of new insight and wonderful concepts and ideas on being a better parent and I plan to implement many of them. However, as a general rule, I don’t enjoy reading parenting books. Every parenting book I’ve read has been what someone else in our book group has chosen over the years. I try to read every book because I love to learn.

So, why don’t I read or like to read parenting books? Because I’m a perfect parent already and don’t need the help? Hardly. I think it stems back to my childhood. (Something I learned from reading parenting books is that most of our issues as adults stemmed from childhood). 

My parents raised us using the scriptures as their parenting manual. 

I know, I know. Preachy, churchy, etc., etc. But as a 40-something mother, when I reflect on what my parents taught me about being parents, I realize the lessons that sunk in deepest and formed my core beliefs surrounding parenting was using the scriptures and making Heavenly Father a co-parent. 

Here are just a few specific memories:

I remember sitting around our large round wooden table as a family reading the scriptures. We were reading in 1 Nephi, where Nephi discusses building a boat. He had no previous knowledge of how to build a boat. He was not a shipwright. He was not educated in construction. But, he turned to the Lord and the Lord helped him build a boat. After he and his brothers finish building the boat, Nephi said, “ Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.” (1 Nephi 18:2)

My mom read that verse and then looked up and said, “That’s how I’ve always felt about being a parent. I am trying to build a family, but not after the manner which was learned by men. I’m trying to build a family after the manner which the Lord as shown me and continues to show me.”

That idea stuck like super glue on my soul. Build a family after the manner of the Lord, not after the manner the world tells you to.

Years later, I was leaving on my mission to Slovenia. It was the summer of 1994 and Slovenia was a brand new country that still tousled with aftershocks of war and independence. It bordered Croatia, where Serbia and Bosnia still battled and bombs and tanks reigned supreme. I wasn’t worried to go there because I was born with an adventurous spirit and knew the Lord had called me to go there. But what my mom said in her talk the day of my farewell cemented the faith of brilliant parenting into me. 

“You might think, ‘why would I be okay with sending our daughter across the world into a war-torn area, where we will worry for her safety and well-being’. Well, before she was our daughter, she was His. He knows what is best for her, and we trust Him.”

Before my children were my children, they were (and still are) His children. He who is all powerful, all knowing, all loving is their parent. He wants what is best for them. He knows what is best for them. And He will share that knowledge in an instant if we but ask.

So, I have asked. And received answers. And asked. And read verses that provide insight into appropriate courses of actions. And asked. And felt impressions from church talks. And asked. And felt inspired to say certain words. And asked. And sometimes… felt inspired to remember something I read in a parenting book chosen in book group. And asked. And listened. And read. And pondered. And asked. And always, always, He answers.

For I am not building a family after the manner of men. My parenting book is written by the first and best parent. He wants what is best for our children. For they are His children.

Related Posts with Thumbnails