Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A lesson in modesty

The other day, Joel was cleaning out the car in preparation for our upcoming road trip. He came in and showed me this little slip of paper he found under Bria's booster seat. Once I read it, I had to laugh: "I don't want to be modist. I want to be unmodist." Too funny...but of some concern. I remembered a few days ago in the car she was telling me she wished she could have an immodest dress like Princess Mia of the Princess Diaries. When I told her we needed to be modest because that's what Heavenly Father has taught us, she just sighed. And then, I suppose, she wrote down how she really felt.

Well, back to finding the paper. Joel and I thought we should talk to her about it, and so we sat her down and asked her why she wrote it. She was clearly a little embarrassed, but basically told us she really, really wanted a dress like Princess Mia's (it's strapless) and that it wasn't fair that she had to be modest because so many people she sees aren't. This is all very true. And she's very influenced by the people she sees around us...I've noticed her watching older girls when we're out and about. She really wants to be beautiful, and unfortunately, the world often associates beauty with immodest dress.

While I was listening to her, my mind was racing. How can I teach her the importance of modesty, but at the same time assure her that she can still wear beautiful (yet modest) clothing? Our Relief Society lesson just the day before had had some discussion of modesty and teaching our daughters. I think I've done a pretty good job of teaching Bria we need to be modest (after all, if I hadn't, it's doubtful she would have even been worried about the issue in the first place, right?), but I was beginning to think the whys were somewhat lost on her. She's only five years old, so many of the reasons would be too much for her to understand.

I finally had the bright idea to get my scrapbooks out from high school and college and show her all the dresses I wore to dances, recitals and in operas. They are beautiful and modest. I think it helped her and she asked me if I still had any of them so that she could wear them when she gets big enough. I have a few performance dresses in my closet, so we went and got them out so she could look at them in real life. Then Joel got my temple dress out and showed that to her (my wedding dress is unfortunately at my parents' house), and explained a little about going to the temple and how modesty fits in that way.

Ever since, Bria has had a new understanding of the entire issue, I think. On our roadtrip she got a new Bratz coloring book. She was drawing in more modest clothing for them when they were not so modest, and she would get very excited when she found one that was dressed modestly.

I still think it's hilarious to find such a note written by my five year old. But I am so glad that we were able to turn it into a learning situation for her. And maybe by the time she's sixteen she'll be okay with wearing a modest dress to the prom.

Friday, June 16, 2006

"No news yet...we'll keep you informed"

This is what is written on the marquis of the Elementary School by my house. I'm not really sure what they're talking about, but I'm sure I'll find out sooner or later, when they actually have news. Hopefully, they'll post it on the marquis so that we can all know what's going on!

I'm thinking maybe Joel and I should use the school's idea, and start posting that message in prominent places:

On our email signature lines:
Dr. Joel "no news yet" Neves
"I'll keep you informed"
On our answering machine:
"Hello. You've reached the Neves household. Sorry to inform you, we have no news. Check back later and we'll be sure to keep you posted."
On our rear windshield:
"Yes, we're still driving this tiny car. We'll let you know as soon as we have news that will allow us to buy a bigger one."
On our front door:
"Welcome to our home! Before entering, please be aware: WE HAVE NO NEWS. We promise to keep you informed."

It might be a little overboard, but I'm thinking it's completely necessary that we get a few "no news yet" T-shirts. Maybe even a hat for Joel., in case you have NO idea what I'm talking about, Joel has not found a job yet. Last night I kind of hit a wall about it. (Okay. So I had something of an emotional breakdown.) I've been feeling really calm and have had a lot of faith that something will happen for us. But every day that it doesn't happen I get more and more discouraged. And I freak out a little bit. Mostly because I'm having a baby in a matter of weeks and I am really needing to know what the future holds for us. Also because I look at my sweet daughters and want what's best for them. I want them to have stability in their lives. And finally, I want Joel to be happy. I want him to have a job that he loves after all the hard work he put into graduate school. I'm having a hard time watching other people's lives just come together perfectly. I know that it isn't really fair to say, because I don't know what kind of trials it took for them to be where they are. It's just becoming harder and harder for me to swallow, that's all.

So, for now, we have faith, but no news yet. We will keep you informed.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The parable of Bria's glasses

So, Bria had an eye appointment last week and it turns out she really needed glasses. Her eyes are almost as bad as Joel's already, and well...she has blind me for a mother. She wasn't so excited about the prospect of getting glasses until she saw the box of children's frames that she could choose from. She immediately picked up the frames that looked just like mine. (You know, the uber cool black rectangular ones.) We persuaded her to try on all of them, just in case she might like another pair better, but she ended up sticking with her first decision. When we couldn't go home with the glasses that day she was sad, and looked forward to finally getting them.

Well, we picked them up a couple days ago and she has been getting used to wearing them. I have to say she looks absolutely adorable, but older and smarter. Funny how glasses do that to a person. She's been fine about wearing them, even in public to the store, so I was a little surprised at her reaction this morning when I told her to put them on so we could go to church. She started bawling. Didn't want to wear them to church, and if she did, she didn't want to go to Primary, didn't want to sit in our regular pew in the chapel because her friends sit around us, and she didn't want anyone to see her. She was terrified that they would make fun of her...and besides Mommy doesn't ever wear her glasses to church, so why should she? (I usually wear my contacts.)

(I must mention here that I totally relate. I wasn't much older than her when I got my first pair of glasses. I'll never forget being a little late to school on the first day wearing them, most likely because I was causing a similar scene. I got there during the Pledge of Allegiance, and so I had to stand by the door until everyone was finished. As soon as the class sat down, a boy named Carson remarked about my glasses. Something not very nice. I was crushed. But then, another little boy named Kimo said, "I think she looks nice in them." and saved the day. It's hard to watch my little girl go through the same sort of feelings and not be able to promise her that nobody will ever make fun of her for having glasses.)

I made a deal with her that I would also wear my glasses to church today...and that helped a bit. I also had to promise her ice cream tomorrow, and then I just prayed that it would be okay and that the kids would be nice about it. She was pretty much an emotional WRECK on the way to church in the car, and when we got to the chapel and sat down, she immediately put her coloring book in front of her face and stayed that way for a good ten minutes. I think she finally realized nobody was really looking at her and decided to actually color in her book. I had her count all the people wearing glasses in the congregation and that seemed to help, too. Joel told the Bishop to compliment her, and I asked her Primary teachers to make a big deal over how cute she looks...and it all seemed to go well. At the end of the day she said that nobody made fun and everybody thought she looked adorable. (Whew!)

I was just thinking about her experience today, and the lesson I had in Sunday School about trusting the Lord. Bria wanted glasses just like mine. And I think it's safe to say that most of us want to become like our Heavenly Father one day--after all, that's what we are commanded to do. Also, the glasses are something that will help her. She can't see well without them and they are relatively simple to wear in order to correct poor vision. The Lord gives us commandments to help us become more like Him. Most of those commandments are pretty simple to keep. Like Bria, we are usually pretty okay with wearing our glasses/keeping the commandments when nobody is watching, but as soon as we think someone might judge us, it is a little bit harder. Suddenly, we see that not everyone wears glasses. A lot of people go around doing things that are against what we've been taught, and suddenly the commandments we've been given don't seem so simple anymore. It's good to have a support look around and realize that a lot more people wear glasses than you'd previously noticed. Good to have good associates who are as committed to keeping the commandments as you are. And most of have to trust the Lord. That what He is telling us to do is for our best good. Just like wearing glasses is the best thing to do when you don't see well and the optometrist says you need them.

Anyway, I don't know if I have that total trust in the Lord yet. Of course, I'm not perfect yet, but I am trying. And sometimes it's difficult. Just like it takes a lot of courage for a 5 year old to see her peers in her new eyewear, it can be very hard for me to be brave enough to do all I know I should when I live in the world that I do.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More proof positive...

Here is a conversation I had with Joel the other night. Just more proof that my brain cells are completely gone...

Me: still have a whole week to apply for Cabrillo (a conducting workshop).

Joel: I do not.

Me: Yes, you do. I'm sitting here looking at the website right have about a week.

Joel: I do? Are you sure? When is it due?

Me: The 10th.

Joel: Really? Read to me what it says.

Me: (Why won't he believe me?) It says, "applications are due Monday, April 10th."

Joel: That's passed.

Me: No it hasn't! It's only the 4th today!

Joel: April?? Lara, that was two months ago...this is JUNE.

Me: (checks website, checks calendar, feels sheepish) Oh. Well, why didn't you apply for it?

Joel: Maybe because you'll be having a baby during the week of the workshop...or did you not notice that either?