Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eve's Stake Conference Debut

Pre-recorded for your viewing pleasure.

You know the mental check-list you scroll through when you get a call from the Stake Executive Secretary. Am I due for a new calling? Is Eric due for a new calling? Did someone see my pants fall down at the gas station and finally report me for lewd conduct?

When the call came last week, my indiscretions flashed before my eyes until I heard the words, "Can you bring Eve with you?"

Eve? Sure, she did dabble in some familial Halloween candy thievery this year, but I didn't think that merited a talk with the Stake President. Plus, she hasn't even been baptized. I can't help but pull out the old quote from Hafen family lore when an eight-year-old, Jon, said about a seven-year-old Dave, "He's still got another year before he gets baptized, so I told him to live it up!"

On Tuesday night, we informed Eve that the Stake Presidency wanted to talk to her and she didn't seem the least bit concerned. Luckily, Eric is friends with the first counselor who had given him a clue that it had something to do with Stake Conference.

Eve sat in her chair across from the dark-suited trio and stared them down like they were the ones being interviewed. The adjective that kept coming to mind as I watched the way Eve looked at the authority figures was "steely." Her steely gaze never faltered as the Stake President told her that the Stake Primary President had loved her talk in our ward's Primary Program so much that they wanted her to give it for Stake Conference.

Eve didn't even pause. She just said, "No."

And kept on staring.

The men sort of cleared their throats and smiled and said, "Well, Eve. . . perhaps you could think it over and talk with your parents and they can get back to us later."

When we got home, Eric was embarrassed, but, man, I was just proud. I reminded Eric that we've taught her to be cautious around people she doesn't know and as far as I was concerned, she'd sort of passed the "stranger danger" test. You go, girl.

Of course, we sat her down and explained to her how much people at Stake Conference would love her talk, but that it was up to her. She sort of shrugged and agreed like it was no big deal.

Because, really, why would speaking in front of HUNDREDS of people be a big deal?

To a six-year-old?

This morning, I kept flashbacking to Stake Conference three years ago when I was pregnant with Marie. Thirty minutes into the meeting, Eric had to flee the building with a blow-out saturated Peter. Thirty-seven minutes into the meeting, I knew that I was what Robert Fulghum once described as "a living grenade with the pin pulled out." I told the four older kids to follow me as I covered my mouth and b-lined for the Ladies' Room, which to my horror, had a line several women long. As I did my Lamaze breathing double-time, I furiously whispered to the kids, "Follow me. . . NOW!" and like traumatized little ducks, they scurried after me in a running row across the street to our house. I yelled out to Holden as we neared our house, "Run ahead! Open the door! Open the door!" As I flew into the house and headed straight to the bathroom, Eric looked up from Peter's diaper explosion clean-up and yelled out an encouraging, "It's. . . all. . . in your head!" as I upchucked enthusiastically for the first of many times with his words still echoing in the bathroom.

But this morning my usual nausea was also accompanied by flurries of nerves on Eve's behalf that made me an absolute sick mess. I had a bag full of saltines and gum, but I was still a major gag-fest. I had to keep reminding myself not to let my nerves radiate to my calm and collected daughter who had a happy, carefree morning as I dry-heaved and retched my way to 10 AM. I had to stop myself from asking her if she was nervous several times and I could tell Eric was doing the same.

I simply told her, "Eve, you'll be awesome!" and she responded, "I know."

Eric sat on the stand with Eve, who didn't seem bothered by the rows of Conference-goers that filled the chapel, the gym, and the stage of the Church. We were so far back in the gym that we had to watch Eve on the big screen. Marie sat up in her seat and squealed when she saw Eve saunter up to the pulpit and we all beamed up at her.

Since she was the kick-off talk, she and Eric were able to come and sit with us when she was done, and she grinned as she walked back to our row. I told her she had done "awesome" and she said, "It felt like my stomach was on fire!" You and me both, kiddo.

The talk started off as a simple mother-daughter endeavor for a talk Eve was assigned for Primary, then became her part in the Ward's Primary Program, and then she gave it in Stake Conference. I can almost see Lea Michele shrieking in her dewy-eyed, peppy, short-skirted way as she step-ball-changes across the high school hallway: "Now she's ready for NATIONALS!"

You might not be able to tell from the video, but she's wearing a strawberry-bedecked frock, a bracelet with a big strawberry dangling from it, and the bow in her hair has a strawberry embroidered on it. And. . . I honestly didn't buy any of it for the occasion. It was stuff we already had. . . you know. . . just kicking around in her closet, like I'm sure everyone else with a daughter TOTALLY does. (Yes, you can let your jaw drop and shake your head at me. I KNOW already.)
Our Strawberry Girls

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pregnant Thoughts in the Afternoon

Les disciples Pierre et Jean courant au sépulcre le matin de la Résurrection. Eugène BURNAND, 1898. Musée d’Orsay.

Let's see if I can get this out before I have to run for refuge in the bathroom. (If I use bigger words than usual it's because I get that way when I am sick and tired. . . just a quirk I fully realized recently.)

While in one of my many horizontal positions yesterday, feeling particularly afflicted and needy as I groaned under the blanket that I wear like a cape when it isn't over me, I caught a glimpse of these two anxious fellows on my wall.

The first time I met them was during my days as a post-mission traveler in France, cruising through the culture-doused streets of Paris with nagging anxieties about my future clawing into what should have been a care-free vacation with a good friend (whose rich "uncle" was paying for the whole shebang!). While I should have been joyfully diving into patisseries and appreciating only the layers of butter and air, I was worrying about that whole husband thing. Would I ever meet him? The One? Would I be too flawed for him to love me back? There were no prospects at the time and while I was prepared to run to him with open arms, I had serious doubts that he actually existed.

We wandered through museum after museum, feeling that floaty sensation that carries you through truly good art--the one where you feel like the paint is lifting you with soft fingers over the crowds and over all your woes just because it is there in front of you. Snapping into an ethereal connection between creator and audience, like they created it just for you in that moment.

In the Musée d'Orsay, I could almost hear the ghost trains sighing out steam around us as we wandered the hallways. That's when I saw Peter and John. That's when I saw me in their worry-ridden faces and clenched hands. I was them, running towards the unknown, not knowing what its face would look like when I saw it.

But I couldn't deny the beauty of that breathless morning behind them--all around them. Something bigger than what was inside of them was all around them. Undeniable despite not being seen. . . yet.

The fact that they were frozen in the tension just made it more breathtaking, more like how I felt most of the time.

I bought a print in the museum store and carted it around with me the rest of my trip, bringing it home a wrinkled mess after all of the travel, which was fine because it seemed more appropriate that way.

The rest of that particular chapter is family history. He did come. He did love me. And I only had to wait two aching years to make the dream real.

So yesterday, Peter and John reached out to me again. They were me again. They are me again. So much unknown. So much stillness. So much hope. So much frozen motion. . . and motion sickness.

And yet the sunrise is there too. I have so much beauty ahead. It will come because it always does. He always does.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Halloween Costume Reveal 2010 (and a little surprise)

Chicka-Bow-WOW! Lucky Number Seven! And in case you're wondering, the answer is YES. Yes, I do feel as awful as I am pretending not to look. Worst. Pregnancy. Ever.

Luckily I had been planning the costumes around this much-anticipated pregnancy, so Eric and I planned them almost a year ago so that I could get them done even if I was completely overwhelmed by Hurricane Preggo. We're looking forward to meeting our new player the beginning of May 2011!

Since I was in my usual reclining-like-some-Greek-Goddess pose on the couch on Friday night, it was a perfect place to spend forty-five minutes putting a plethora of curlers (no, not piñatas, El Guapo!) in Ethan's thick locks. He has been wanting a "real afro" since we told the kids about the costumes a few weeks ago and even refused to let me shear his mane. He wore the curlers all night and then all throughout the day on Saturday. He was so proud of the result I could practically hear his giddiness in the air around his fro. Total, afro-puff, man!

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