Ming’s Garden Restaurant Menu | Chinese Food in Coaldale, Alberta

There’s this Chinese restaurant near our house that we patronize from time to time: Ming’s Garden Chinese Restaurant in Coaldale, Alberta. But every time we try to order takeout, we get frustrated because their menu is nowhere to be found online, and we never keep the ones we get with our orders from the previous time. So I’ve decided to post it here and then the next time we want takeout all our problems will be solved. 

Future Camille will thank me. 

(I recommend the deep fried wontons.)

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Nipple Confusion…

…Holden doesn’t have it. 

In fact, he is quite good at identifying the various nipples presented to him on any given day. And shunning all of them but the two attached to me. Half the time he even laughs in the process, because he’s just a little bit sadistic. For a baby.


Yes, it matters. 

When Hutch was born we gave him his soother the first day in the hospital, and he took to it instantly. It was basically pure heaven. 

However, despite the knowledge that he would almost always be immediately calmed by popping one of those little lovelies in his mouth, I never shook the suspicion that it was part of my problem with nursing him. Also, at 2.5 years old, Hutch is still obsessed with his soother and literally—LITERALLY—won’t sleep without one. As in, he never has. Not one nap or nighttime sleep in his entire life. While it’s nice to have that sure-fire way of knocking him out, it’s also awful to be so tied down to it. I can’t count the number of late-night pharmacy runs I’ve made in a panic because Hutch is wailing (or more often, lately, just whining really annoyingly) for his soo soo, with none to be found. 

Also, at his dentist checkup this morning (NO CAVITIES!) we learned his soother obsession has affected his teeth and though the damage will self correct, it only does so if the soother is trashed by age 3. I don’t relish the thought of orthedenture, but even so, this is a fight I’m just not ready to face. 


You don’t see many photos of Hutch without a soother in his mouth. He literally lights up when he finds one, like finding an old friend. It’s both adorable and troubling.
Holden, on the other hand, only takes a soother maybe 25% of the times he’s offered one. And of that, half the time it falls out mid-suck and makes him angry. So if I did the math correctly (never a guarantee mind you), we have about a 12.5% success rate, soother-wise. Definitely not the 100% I’ve come to expect from children within my care. 

However—and here’s some good news—Holden is now officially EBF (exclusively breast fed). This is exciting for me since it’s been my goal for both boys from day one, but never fully achieved with Hutchy. A lot of factors have come into play to make this possible (truly a whole post on its own), but I can’t help wondering if waiting a few days to give Holden a soother might have played a part in our breastfeeding success. 

Who knows, really. 

What I do know is that, as Hutch says, “Ho’den don’t want his soo soo,” and since he pretty much refuses to fall asleep or stay asleep without a nipple in his mouth, my own personal God-made soothers are certainly taking the brunt of his preference. 

Just one of the many joys of motherhood.

Good thing he looks like this or I might never forgive him.
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A Holden is Born

Let me be clear on one crucial point: the first word my sweet baby Holden heard on his earthly existence was shit.

More specifically, SHIT.


He looked so much like Hutch when he was first born we almost couldn’t tell them apart.

Here’s how it went down:

Because Hutch weighed 10 pounds 2 ounces when he was born at 41 weeks, and I had third degree tears from pushing him out (oy vey), my doctor was concerned that another baby that size would do similar damage…and apparently the second time around, third degree tears can be a lot worse in the long term.

Thus, despite all my best efforts (literally, all the efforts) to get this kid out of me, we decided that by 40.5 weeks if he wasn’t born we would induce. I was seriously displeased with this child because I hated being induced with Hutch. But the thought of a lifetime of rectal…issues…was compelling enough to agree to it anyway.

So Saturday, December 5th rolled around, and Kyle and I rolled to the hospital.

Side note: my angel mother had come up to visit us on November 20th, and like a roach motel, we sort of made her check in and refused to let her leave. I kept reassuring her (and everyone) that the baby would be born before his due date (December 1), so she just kept waiting it out. In the end she stayed a total of 3 weeks and her help with Hutch, both before the baby was born when I could barely walk, and after the baby was born (when I could still barely walk but for different reasons), speaks volumes to how much she loves me. And all of us. I seriously could not have made it through November and December without her help here.

We left that morning knowing Hutch was in good and loving hands, which made me feel calmer throughout the whole ordeal.

Anyway, the induction was set for 8. According to the notes I took on my calendar app, the rest of the day proceeded as follows:

8:00 AM: Check in, urine sample, monitor baby’s heart rate (all is fine). Dilated to a 1.5.

9:30 AM: Nothing yet

10:00 AM: Take drug to induce labour; doctor informs us that this drug can be taken once every 4 hours, up to 4 times; if nothing happens after 16 hours (!!!) then we will start oxytocin. Say WHAAAAA?

11:30 AM: Baby’s heart rate drops extremely low. Nurses freak the hell out and call in other nurses and the doctor. *TRIGGER WARNING* I get finger raped as one nurse rams her hand quite far up my hoo-ha trying to stimulate the baby and get his heart rate up. I am sobbing because of 1) the pain, 2) the fear, and 3) the fact that I really really need to pee.

11:45 AM: It is determined that the low heart rate was probably the monitor accidentally picking up my *own* heart rate, and that the baby was probably fine the whole time. I am now allowed to pee.

12:00 PM: I’m allowed to go for a walk for 45 minutes. I do so, and get lunch at the hospital cafeteria, enjoying the best bowl of cream of cauliflower soup I’ve ever tasted. It was so delicious and I’ve actually considered going back more than once in the past few weeks just to get some more of it. Kyle takes the opportunity to go buy me a push present and then comes back and joins me for the last 20 minutes of my walk. We roam the halls looking at pictures of nursing school graduates from the 1900’s and contemplating how weird it will be to have a second child.

12:45 PM: Make it back to the room, nothing changed except I am now dilated to a 2. I’m feeling great, having enjoyed my walk and thinking how lovely the whole morning has been. Kyle and I discuss possible name options and finally settle on Holden…probably. We  laugh and joke and all is right in my world.

1:45 PM: My doctor decides to forgo the 16-hour process and just break my water and give me the oxytocin, because of the scare with the baby’s heart rate. Even though it was probably nothing, she wants to move things along. She says if the baby is at risk then this way, if we have to have an emergency C-section we will know sooner and just get it over with. I cry. And then pray. I really really don’t want to have a C-section.

2:00 PM: Moved from induction room to delivery room, next door to the one where Hutch was born. It’s nice to feel a bit more settled. Kyle is giddy to have a reclining chair again.

2:20 PM: Oxytocin starts.

3:20 PM: Mild contractions begin. Kyle and I hear the horrific moans and groans from a lady giving birth next door. She sounded like a terrible sort of animal. We chortle smugly because when Hutch was born my epidural was so strong I literally could not feel any contractions. I only grunted when I was pushing him out.

At this point my notes disappear, so I’m recalling the (already hazy) rest of the experience to the best of my ability:

4:20 PM: Contractions sort of start to hurt. My doctor recommends I start with morphine for the pain rather than the epidural, because of my “high risk” situation. I ask if morphine will make me feel better and am told “it will take the edge off.” Liking the sound of that, I agree to the morphine.

4:45 PM: Twenty five minutes into the morphine nonsense and I have gotten zero pain relief. I ask my nurses WTF is wrong with the morphine and I’m told morphine actually only helps relax the patient between contractions, and in fact does nothing to dull the pain. I say, and I quote, “I don’t need help relaxing in between. I’m perfectly relaxed. I need pain relief.”

5:00 PM: Contractions have become more and more intense. They feel exactly the same as they did with Hutch (like a terrible need-to-poo stomachache and a horrible UTI need to pee all at the same time). I am now making my own animal noises, moaning really loudly and embarrassingly during each contraction. I try different positions and hate them all. The only thing that helps a little is Kyle pushing on my back, but eventually even that starts to bug me. As soon as they become really horrible I ask to get checked. I am dilated only to a 3, so I officially ask for my epidural. The nurse tells me she will check on it.

5:15 PM: I’m notified the anesthesiologist is in the OR with a C-section patient, and his understudy is eating lunch. Looking really sorry, the nurse tells me it will likely be at least 45 minutes before I can get the juice. I curse the woman getting a C-section even though I feel bad for her. I also curse the understudy for having the gall to take a break, and society at large for ever coming up with the concept of lunch in the first place. Panicking at the thought of no relief any time soon, or possibly ever, I resort to cussing my way through contractions. Loudly.

6:05 PM: True to his word, the anesthesiologist saunters in 45 minutes later. I hate the sight of him. But I also love his guts. But then he starts giving me a damn spiel about the risks of an epidural and I hate him again. But then he gets out his magic needles and I love him again. But then he takes FOR-DAMN-EVER to give me the epidural and I really, truly hate him again. I am fairly certain when I got my first epidural with Hutch it only took like 5 minutes before I felt relief; with this guy I suffer through what feels like 20 contractions (but I believe was 4 or 5) sitting perfectly still leaning against Kyle while that shit-ass anesthesiologist took his f*cking time getting me epiduralled up. I seriously hate him so much. Why is it taking so long? WHY?

6:25 PM: The anesthesiologist says, “Okay, that’s it, the drugs will start kicking in within 10 minutes.” And I say, “These contractions are getting really BAAAAAAAAAAAD!” And my nurse says, “Okay, tell me if you feel pressure in your rectum,” and I say “I FEEL PRESSURE! SHIT! I HAVE TO PUUUUUUUUUUSH!” And the nurse says, “Well let me check to see what you’re dilated to,” and I say, “CHECK ME THEN!” And she checks and quietly pages my doctor and I say, “WHAT AM I DILATED TO? WHAT AM I DILATED TO??” And she won’t answer me and [Kyle says] at this point the anesthesiologist books it the heck out of there. And my nurse still won’t tell me what I am dilated to.

6:26 PM: More contractions that make me say SHIIIIIIIIIIT, WHEN WILL MY EPIDURAL START WORKING? I HAVE TO PUUUUUUUUSH! And my nurse says, “You can push, you can push,” but my doctor isn’t there but a whole crapload of nurses suddenly appear and—

6:27 PM: I start to push. I literally cannot control it, the pushing. And I am not quiet and mellow and serene like I was when I had Hutch. I am ugly and scream-y and moan-y and cuss-y and I feel like it will never, never end and I hate life and the anesthesiologist for taking so long and especially that C-section bitch who stole my drugs from me.

6:28 PM: My doctor runs in and ties up her hair and immediately tells the nurses to turn on the vacuums. I don’t know why I care so much but that really pisses me off, that she doesn’t even stop to check things out without assuming I’d need the vacuums. For some reason I hone in on that one detail and yell, “NO! I DON’T WANT VACUUMS!” (I’m embarrassed now. I was embarrassed while it was happening actually.)

6:29-6:36 PM: I vacillate between yelling SHIT! SHIT! and apologizing to the nurses for yelling SHIT! so much. I also continue to ask when my epidural will kick in. The only thing—literally the only thing—getting me through each contraction is the hope that the epidural will have kicked in by the next one. In retrospect I don’t think anyone ever even had time to push the little button to make the drug drip into the tube. I never did get numb. I was beat when I was born.

6:36 PM: I CAN’T DO THIIIIIIIIIIIIS! I yell, and one of my nurses says, “Yes you can, you have to and as soon as you do it will all be over.” And it strikes me that I really need to make this end as quickly as possible, so I push the hell out of that next contraction.

6:36 PM: All of my hippie childbirthing reading from my first pregnancy rushes back to me when I suddenly feel my body being torn asunder from the worst place imaginable. I know immediately what everyone means by the “ring of fire,” and the minute I realize that’s what it is…it is over. Holden Fairbanks is born.

6:37 PM: HA HA, JUST KIDDING SUCKERS, that was only his head. Still have to push the rest of his squirmy little self out of my crotch. But I do, and this time instead of being whisked away for the NICU nurses to poke and prod at, they slap him right up on my chest, gooey and gunky and everything, two seconds after he’d been inside of me. It is the grossest thing ever but I also don’t care because it is finished. The pain is over. And I love my baby so much, not in that automatic motherly way (though that came very shortly after), but simply because he’d finally—gloriously—put me out of my misery.

When women give birth without an epidural and describe it as “euphoria” afterwards, I never quite understood that. But then I did it (well, annoyingly I *did* have the epidural, but I’m acting like I didn’t because I felt every damn thing [PLUS I suffered the misery of actually getting the epidural, so it was the worst of both worlds]) and I understand. For me, it wasn’t really euphoria in the sense that I was proud of myself or anything. But the idea that it had been so hard—SO HARD—and then it was over, just like that! I couldn’t believe it. I was in this blissful state of shock. I kept saying to Kyle, “Can you believe it’s over? It’s OVER! He’s born! This is so surreal. I can’t believe I’m not pregnant anymore; I’m so happy not to be pregnant anymore!”

I kept apologizing to Holden for scaring him by being so loud when he was being born. I think he’s forgiven me now, but who can be sure. I also ap0logized to the nurses and they laughed, saying I had every right to cuss so much and that it was nothing compared to a lot of ladies. And FYI: I only tore a little bit with Holden, and only had 5 stitches. The recovery has been leaps and BOUNDS better than it was with Hutch.

When Hutch was born he was really fussy for about 30 minutes—he whimpered on my chest for a long time and wouldn’t settle, probably because of the trauma of the NICU situation. But with Holden, after his first couple of cries he just settled right in on my chest and stayed there quietly, and has remained pretty much the same ever since.

He weighed 9 lbs 1 oz and measured 22.5 inches. And we love him to bits.

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On Change, and Autumn

Mornings lately have had an autumnal feel about them. Chilly, crisp, fresh. Fall is near, and I’m reflecting on the events of the past six months.

It’s hard to believe it was only six months ago we got serious about decluttering and listing our house for sale. We rented a storage unit, had a yard sale, hired a professional photographer, and got a realtor. We listed and waited. We had a lot of showings, but it seemed to take forever for anything serious to happen. Finally the house sold, and in somewhat of a daze we proceeded to search for a new house in a nearby bigger city. We found it, bought it, and moved in. And although it is far from my dream home, it’s been a good move for us. Slowly but surely it’s starting to feel a little less foreign. We’ve even had a houseguest and a dinner party here!

Utah back in June, just days before our scheduled move.

Amidst all that, there have been trips. We took a family trip to Utah to see my parents and nephews (mini family reunion). Hutch and I took a spur-of-the-moment trip down to Arizona to visit the rest of the bunch, and then a month later Hutch and I went back to Utah for a book signing and presentation at Sunstone. There have been a couple of quick weekend getaways here and there as well—one to Kyle’s sister’s cabin in Montana, and a couple of quick jaunts up to Calgary just for fun (and for Ikea, which is actually redundant because Ikea = fun).

Plus I’ve had work to keep me busy.

Pancake Breakfast family picture
Hutch threw up the night before a big event I was in charge of at work, so Kyle had to stay home with him the next morning (rather than send a pukey kid to daycare). After a while he seemed to be feeling better so Kyle brought him down to visit at the pancake breakfast I was in charge of. It meant a lot to me that my boys came to support.

Anyway, the point of this recap is to say that this summer has been intense, and adding to that intensity is the fact that I’ve been pregnant since March. It’s kind of funny, maybe a little sad even, that this pregnancy has taken quite the back seat to…well, life…when my pregnancy with Hutch was my life for 10 months. This time, though, I’ve been so busy that I kind of barely even think about it. That’s both good and bad: good because it has been an easy pregnancy and I haven’t needed to think about it much (knock on wood), but bad because I feel like this baby is getting the short end of the stick, life-wise, especially compared to Hutch.

When I was pregnant with Hutch, I knew to the day how many weeks along I was at any given moment (20 weeks, 3 days; 21 weeks, 0 days). This time around I can barely remember what trimester I’m in.

But despite how distracted I’ve been these past few months, the knowledge that life will soon be changing for us is never far from my mind. I can’t decide if having a second baby will be a bigger change or a smaller one than having the first. On the one hand, we’ve already done this once, so it *should* be a little easier the second time around (supposing this baby is as healthy and mellow as Hutch was, knock on wood and pray for me). On the other hand, though, this time we’re not just changing two lives…we’re changing three. And Poor Hutch really has no idea what’s about to happen. We’ve tried to tell him Mommy’s having a baby, that he’s going to be a big brother, but he just doesn’t get it. How could he? He has no frame of reference for what this means.

So with that in mind—with the knowledge that Hutch’s tiny little world will soon be shaken forever—I’ve been trying to make this summer as magical as possible for him. Pretty much anything he wants, he gets (I mean, within reason…but then his wants are pretty reasonable at this point: donuts, ice cream cones, visits to dad at work, tractor rides with Papa, sliding down slides, reading The Cat in the Hat seven times in a row). I don’t have much energy to do any of these things to be honest, but I try to do at least one joyful thing a day with him, so that as he lays down each night he might sort of feel like his life is a little bit awesome.

Yesterday we drove by a parking lot carnival and Hutch saw all the lit-up rides, something he’d never seen or imagined before, and in childhood exuberance and with perfect clarity he squealed, “WHOA! THAT’S A LOTTA TOYS!” After dying laughing, Kyle and I agreed it had to be done.

Anyway I don’t really have a point to all of this except to say that change is in the air. I feel it, and I’m both excited and nervous for how it will all work out in the end. I hope Hutch loves his baby brother. I hope they get along. I hope I don’t zone out with Baby #2 the way I did when Hutch was born—these boys need their mama to be present. I hope we’re all healthy and happy for the rest of our lives. I don’t even care anymore if we ever get rich. I just want everyone I love to live long and fulfilled lives.

Happy autumn, everyone.

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On Hutch at 2 Years Old

This weekend we visited family down in Montana, and on our drive home through the Rocky Mountains I grew pensive. Long mountain drives often have that effect on me.

I looked out the window at the greenness of it all, and thought back on what a pleasant weekend it’d been. Then my thoughts drifted to all the other similar weekends and day trips we’ve taken to that same area over the years, and how times have changed so much since my very first Montana trip ten years ago. Of course eventually I became a little sad, thinking about how fast the years fly and how soon all that green will turn to brown and then white, as winter descends upon us once again.

And with that, I couldn’t help but recall the words of that great Robert Frost poem I learned back in junior high, the one I loved so much that it was, in fact, the *only* poem I ever loved for many years (I went through a years-long phase of hating poetry):

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf
As Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day 
Nothing gold can stay.

Hutch and Camille on Boat

I recited it over and over to myself as we carried on through the mountains. It was the only soundtrack to our trip for many miles, with Hutch sleeping quietly in the back seat and Kyle focusing on passing every vehicle in front of us whenever the lines were dotted.

Hutch Sleeping Two Years Old

Before long, though, Hutch stirred from his nap and started adding his thoughts to my own—at this point in his little life he basically says everything that comes to mind, very stream-of-consciousness style, which this afternoon was…

“Choo choo train! Hi train! Chugga chugga CHOO CHOO! One, two, three, four, six, seven, eight, nine, TEN! GOOD JOB, HUTCHY! Tunnel…train…see ya soon train! Bye bye, train; see ya soon! More train? More train? MORE TRAIN! Want treat? Want treat? WANT TREAT! Soo-soo off? [That means he took his pacifier out.] Soo-soo on? Want water? Want water? WANT WATER! Go see Papa? Go see Gaga? Go see Dell-dell? Go see Preston, go see Ben, go see Abby? Go see Auntie Maymie? Go see Ady? Go see Cece? GO SEE CECE! Want Mommy’s green ice cream cone, okay? Okay.”

And so on, carried my little postmodernist toddler.

As he narrated the last leg of our journey, his thoughts mingled with my own to create a strange blend of pleasant sadness. I commented to Kyle how two years ago at exactly that time I had just gotten my epidural, and he said: It seems like ten.

And he’s right. People sometimes ask me if I can even remember what life was like before having Hutch, and I always respond the same:

Yes, of course. It was lovely. We had leisure time, extra money, and very relaxing restaurant experiences. We slept in on weekends, grocery shopped on our own schedules, packed for trips with relative ease. Life before Hutch was not always easy, but it was certainly easier.

Yet even though I remember those days, they seem hazy and very far-distant, almost like they are another person’s memories altogether, and that perhaps I only dreamed they were mine.

Because even though it’s only been two years…it’s been two years. Two short years, yes, but 730 very long days (probably 720 of which have begun with 6 hours of sleep). Sometimes I can’t believe he’s only been with us for two years, and other days I can’t believe we’ve kept him alive for two whole years.

Camille and Hutch Reading ScripturesHutch is a bundle of energy. He loves to be outside, especially when it involves riding “side bike.” (The name an evolution of his constant begging for “Outside? Bike?”) His latest hobby is to wake up and find me, either in bed next to him or in my own bed the next room over, press his face right up to mine and chirp, “Hello, Mom! Good morning! Wake UP!” He’s a morning person I’m afraid.

He loves hugs and kisses and says so. Seriously. I’ll give him a hug and he’ll say, “I…love…HUGS!” He loves them so much he’ll often just ask for one: “Hugs? Mama? Okay.”

Camille and Hutch on Bus
He also loves buses, so on our recent trip to Salt Lake (sans Kyle), we rode an open-topped one for two hours before we had to leave for the airport. He loved every second of it. I thought it was ridiculously overpriced at $33 (Hutch was free, so that was just my ticket), but then I remembered my Uncle Henry’s old saying: Money makes memories. I will never miss those 33 dollars, and I will always have those two dreamy hours with my boy.
Hutch is a wildcard eater: some days he will eat entire cartons of berries (raspberries and blackberries being his favourites), and others he will spit them out: “Yuckies?” Interestingly, he never spits out meat.

He knows when he’s about to poo, and sometimes hides or shoos me away so he can do his biness in private. We’ve courted the potty here and there, but usually he doesn’t want much to do with it. I don’t want to push him and wreck any chances of potty training soon, but I also don’t want to be changing two sets of diapers come November 14th.

He’s a large child. The last time he had a doctor’s appointment he was in the 100+ percentile for height and weight combined. He’s the same size (or taller) than some of my friends’ three year-olds. His daycare (“school,” to Hutchy) almost didn’t believe me when I brought him in the first time. Oh, he’s in the three year-old class? No…he’s 22 months.

He hates being left alone for any length of time, either to sleep, eat, watch cartoons, or wait in the truck while I run back inside because I forgot something. He always screams. It’s one of the few things that *does* make him scream, in fact. When he wants me to come with him somewhere, he grabs my hand and says, “I come for you? I come for you!” It means, “Will you come with me?”

Hutch Sleeping Eyelashes

He understands instructions, from “Wipe your hands with this towel,” to “Throw this in the trash,” and “Your soo-soo is in the chair next to you.” He appears to love “the baby in mommy’s tummy” already, giving it kisses daily, although he might just think that the baby is my belly button. (He loves belly buttons.)

I read an article about how to help prevent your child from being sexually abused, and the main thing it said was to teach them the anatomically correct names for their privates—something about if we give it a name it’s suddenly not mysterious or secretive anymore. This was very uncomfortable for me as I was raised quite differently, but in an effort to be the best parent I can be, I taught Hutch the right name during bath time one night. He loved the word instantly, and makes Kyle very uneasy now during diaper changes when he talks about his “PENIS!” (Kyle is still not convinced this was the best route to go, parenting-wise, but as I’m the only parent who reads any sort of articles on the subject, I maintain it was my right to drop that bombshell. At any rate, the damage is done. That’s a word you don’t just un-learn, apparently.)

He counts to ten very well except he consistently leaves out five, and even when we stop him after four to interject “FIVE!” he takes that as his cue to continue on to six, thus skipping five either way. We suspect he actually just hates the number five.

After ten he’s a little shaky, but he usually nails eleven, twelve, and then a couple of the teens, followed by “twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-FOUR! GOOD JOB, HUTCHY!”

He loves to tell himself good job.

Hutch at Park Eating Raspberries

His funniest complete sentences of the past few weeks have been:

“Where’s the park? I don’t know!

“What’s Daddy doing?”

“I need fan on! I need light off!” It cracks me up that he can identify needs versus wants, and specifies which it is for any given situation.

He’s a mellow child, and as long as he’s gotten enough sleep he’s pretty adaptable to his surroundings.

He’s the love of my life.

Can I remember what life was like before Hutch was in it?

Yes…but I don’t want to.

Stay gold, Ponyboy.

Posted in change, family, hutchface, introspection, It's All Good, kid stuffs, looking back | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Guilt and Judgment in Mormonism: Some References

For regular blog readers, this post will probably mean very little, and for that I am sorry. I promise I will stop talking about my essay and that book very, very soon. 

But tomorrow I am presenting, along with five fellow authors from Fresh Courage Take, at a conference in Salt Lake City called Sunstone. I only have 10 minutes, so I’m going to direct anyone interested in more in-depth information to this blog post for a list of references and further reading/listening. 

Of course, if *you* are interested in how I started working past my own unproductive guilt and judgment issues, stay tuned: I will be releasing a recap here after Sunstone.

In the meantime, for Sunstone attendees, here is the promised list: 


Belmont, Judith A. The Therapist’s Ultimate Solution Book: Essential Strategies, Tips & Tools to Empower Your Clients

Dehlin, John, Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, and Jennifer Rooney White. “The Dynamics of Guilt and Shame,” Podcast, MormonMatters.com.

Further Research: (Note: I have not read each and every one of these in their entirety yet, as I’m still on this journey myself! Use your judgment to decide which might add value to your own life.)














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Fresh Courage Take: New Directions by Mormon Women

Fresh Courage Take: New Directions by Mormon Women

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook you’re likely sick to death of me talking about this by now, but if not, some news: I wrote an essay that was published in a real, live, hardcover book! It’s so exciting to me, not only to be published but also to have contributed something to such an amazing cause—Mormon womanhood in the 21st century.

Book Signing 2
Signing books. At a book signing. To which I was invited. For a legitimate reason. CRAZY!

The book is called Fresh Courage Take: New Directions by Mormon Women, and as I read through the final version a few weeks ago (staying up until 3 a.m. to do so), I thought of so many friends and loved ones who would benefit from the 12 essays in the compilation. I truly believe that there is something in it for everyone: woman or not, Mormon or not, anyone. If nothing else, it is an awesome reminder to keep an open mind and try to understand what your friends and neighbours might be struggling with.

Book Signing 1
L-R: Half of Sylvia Lankford, Camille Fairbanks, Brooke Stoneman, Jamie Zvirzdin

So, tonight I had the great pleasure of speaking at the book’s release party at Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City, and now that the party is over I think it’s safe to share what I said there. It should give you a little taste of what my essay is about (I’ve wanted to share that particular essay here for over two years now! I’ll never be able to, since it would infringe on copyright laws, but if you want to read it you can buy the book on Amazon—the Kindle version is only $6! Or wait to check it out from the library. I don’t feel comfortable asking people to spend $20 on a book because it seems a little tacky…plus I was never in this to make money. I only wanted to add my voice to this cool movement.)

Book Signing 3
Pretty awesome to see such a great turnout! I was so honoured to have not only my parents there (all the way from Arizona), but four other friends and family members show up to represent. Thanks, guys!

So here’s what you missed if you weren’t there in the flesh:

My involvement with this book started several years ago not as a writer but as a proofreader, when my e-friend Jamie Zvirzdin asked me to review a series of essays she’d commissioned for a book on the Mormon woman’s condition. I heartily agreed, and devoured the essays as I got them. I loved them so much that I forgot to proofread as I went—I just read them and cried.

When I did finish proofreading them, I told Jamie that as much as I loved the essays, I was kind of sad that I didn’t get to add my voice to the “quorum” of women she’d collected. But the manuscript was just about ready and I understood. Besides, what would I say? I didn’t have any real topic in mind; I just knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Many months later, one of the authors of the group rescinded her essay for personal reasons, and Jamie emailed me: did I still want to be a part of this?

I didn’t even have to think about it: Yes, I said. Please, yes.

By that time, the spring of 2013, I had become pregnant with my first child, and I was terrified.

See, growing up in a devout Mormon family, it was generally accepted that at some point in life I would get married and begin to reproduce. However, during those pivotal teenage years we all know and love, my life developed in such a way that lead me to dread the idea, not only of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood but of marriage and sex as well.

So there I was, preparing to have a baby despite all earlier misgivings. As I faced the thing I’d molded my identity around swearing I would never do, the topic of my essay became clear to me: I needed to write about how I’d come to create this child—I, who for so many years swore it would never happen. I needed to write about what had changed to make it happen, and what was still holding me back from fully embracing it and loving my life.

I needed to write about it, not just so I could contribute to this book, but so I could sort through my issues and move forward. I felt that if I continued burying my head in the sand, I would deliver my baby and completely check out from reality, probably ending up with a divorce and a social worker and maybe even jail time. It sounds dramatic, but I just didn’t know how I could possibly love that baby, and the knowledge that I would have to pretend to love him (so nobody would think I was a Bad Mother) would drive me mad before long.

So I wrote. I wrote my heart into that essay. I wrote my deepest fears that I hadn’t admitted to anyone; I wrote about decade-old memories I’d buried long before; I wrote of my life the way it had been and the way I pictured it could be, someday, if only I could let go of my deep-seated anxieties and embrace a new mindset.

That new mindset included the following:

* To stop judging myself & release myself from guilt
* To stop judging other women & release them from shaming
* To stop thinking that everyone else is judging me (which is a lot easier to believe when I’m not judging others)
* And to do only the things I want or feel impressed to do, not because anyone else says that I should, but simply because I want or feel impressed to do them.

I can’t say more because I don’t want to give the essay away. However, I will say this: I’m pretty sure it worked. By writing it out, and choosing to believe the words I’d written, I was eventually able to overcome most of my doubts and anxieties—and the ones I couldn’t overcome, I learned to live with in a healthier way.

Now, over two years later, I can say the words my teenage self never believed she would: I am a mother. I am a mother, and I love being a mother. I won’t deny that it is difficult, and that many days the difficulties outweigh the joys. But for me being a mother is more good than bad. So good that I’m doing it again at least once, and am very much looking forward to meeting my second baby in a few months.

Even more important than my life-changing acceptance and appreciation for motherhood, though, is this: that if I hadn’t taken to it quite so well, or if I had chosen never to undertake it in the first place, I would still have merit in the world and in the eyes of my Heavenly Parents.

That knowledge—that freedom—has made all the difference.

Posted in awesome., Book Reports, feminism, introspection, Mormonism, Overall Good Things | Tagged , , | 3 Comments