Friday, November 22, 2013

Christmas Came Early This Year

My how things have changed in the last 16 years.  For our first Christmas as a married couple, I was less than thrilled to unwrap a Scumbuster and size 24W pajamas from my sweetheart.  Click on the link to read my full post about that story.  Because the YouTube video on that post no longer works, I'll make it up to you with an unflattering photo of my reaction that Christmas morning.  You can even see the Scumbuster in the bottom left corner of the photo.  (Sorry for the poor quality.  This is a cropped scan of a picture from our scrapbook.)

You would think that experience would have provided me with a lifelong aversion to practical Christmas gifts, specifically practical Christmas gifts that are bathroom appliances.  Not so, as it turns out!

After months and months of using extra water from a water bottle to add enough force to each flush...after way too long finding surprises that didn't quite make it down...after a year of clogged and overflowing toilets (sorry about your experience as a guest in my home last spring, Min)...we were all ready for a replacement.

When Kent came home a couple weeks ago and said a business contact had extended Whipple Plumbing's summertime radio offer for a new, installed toilet with a price tag of $199, we jumped on the opportunity.  Or rather we let my parents jump on the opportunity.  I knew they were tired of guessing what clothes or other gifts we would like each year--though my mom generally has done a good job with that in the past--so they were happy to provide a gift that Kent and I could share and love!

That's right.  With a Christmas check in hand from Mom & Dad, we ordered this pair out...

...and this guy in.

You're looking at the Gerber Viper low-flow toilet!  This toilet is so awesome that it has its own YouTube video.  It flushes so quietly that I at first doubted it could handle the job; but after a few days of use, I think we agree that we're in love.

The kids were so enamored with the idea of a toilet that would flush on the first try, that they were willing to give up the Christmas gifts I had planned to buy them, and swap them for their very own Viper.

That's right, we are now the proud owners of two new Christmas toilets, neither of which smells like pickles--yet.  Come on over and try one out.  Merry Christmas to us!

P.S.  I am embarrassed to admit that when I enter the search term "toilet" on my blog, I now have nine posts mentioning the word.  I'm not embarrassed enough to not publish this current post, but maybe now I have an idea for my 2014 New Year's resolution.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Lap of Luxury: Not My Cup of Tea

Kent and I are in the last few hours of our two-day stay at The Montage Resort in Deer Valley, near Park City, Utah.  Kent is attending a business conference here, and I decided to come along and write for fun and catch up on some reading in the peace and quiet of the guest room.  Other than the hour-long yoga class I attended this morning followed by 25 minutes of cycling in the "wellness room", I've mostly sat curled up by fireplaces sipping hot chocolate.

This little library tucked away in the grand hall kept me cozy and comfortable for a few hours.  So comfortable, in fact, that I fell asleep while a father and his son played billiard games just outside the doorway.

I did spend about an hour yesterday getting over the shock of in-room dining prices here.  (Click the photo to view larger.)

  It's a good thing I brought my own $20 worth of snacks/meals (there were more in the fridge)...

...because the fancy snacks stocked in the room would have set me back $122.  
($4 for that bag of chips.  Really?!)

 When I sat down to write a letter, I had to chuckle that the pen tips were dipped in wax--to prevent them from drying out, I suppose.  Who thinks of these things?!

The attention to detail is probably what makes The Montage a luxury hotel.  One such detail that I noticed today is that every throw pillow on every sofa and wing-backed chair in the hotel has been karate-chopped on top:
The accommodations are quite nice, and I've enjoyed the interesting company of the other business owners in the evening.  But I have to admit that despite all the staff's efforts to make my stay as comfortable as possible, I just can't settle in completely.  Part of it is the fact that the money spent paying attention to all these details seems so ridiculous, especially as I look forward to our family spending Thanksgiving week sleeping on cots at Door of Faith Orphanage in Mexico.  Another part may be that I usually keep myself so busy with the demands of my life that I have a sense of wasting time in simply reading and doing nothing that serves others.  Mostly, though, I think I'm just not cut out for luxury.  I prefer the Clarion or Holiday Inn Express where I can enjoy a breakfast buffet without paying $21 for eggs, plus 18% gratuity, plus a $5 food delivery fee.  I can relax more with hotel staff who don't feel like servants bowing to my whims.

It's been nice to be surrounded by comfort for a couple days, but I'm ready to return to the loud, messy, vibrant place I call home.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

No Pictures For This Post--Thank Me Later

Nudity has been on my mind this week.

Kent asked me a day or two ago if I had read his email response to my SIL, Jenni, when she posted on Facebook a question about the age at which a child should stop seeing his/her parent/s naked.  Then yesterday, my friend, Kelly, said she purposely walked to her teenage daughter's room in the nude after complaints about towel usage in their home.  (It would take too long to connect the dots of that story, but it had me laughing.)  Kelly has also used undressing as a means of getting her teenagers to go to bed when they stay up too late.  Brilliant!  Besides some good laughs, these comments got me thinking that I should write to tell the world about our family's nudity policy.

Family nudity is a topic that Kent researched several years ago, and found some surprising results.  (These results are probably surprising only because we are Americans.  Europeans don't seem to have the same body issues that we do.)  At the time, we were trying to decide if we should implement a privacy policy at home, because our children were growing out of the early elementary age.  I don't remember everything that Kent learned, but I'll summarize what I remember.

Basically, children who grow up seeing their parents or each other naked have a lot fewer body issues than those who are taught to be "private".  They know what a human body looks like, and they know the edited pictures they see in magazines and other media aren't realistic.  They are comfortable in their own skin.  Statistically, children from nude homes are older when they start having sex.  Boys who know what a nude woman looks like don't tend to be tempted by pornography, probably because their curiosity isn't piqued by it.  Thus, they don't see women as objects, which I would hope leads to healthier marriages for them.  One LDS father shared his story online, and it has stayed with me.  He had been thinking about his family's approach to nudity, and thought it would probably be healthy to be comfortable with it in his house.  So one day he began walking from the bathroom to his bedroom in the buff.  He said his teenagers were unsettled by this at first, but they soon became used to it and it was no big deal.  Not long thereafter, his daughter told him that she had been raped several months earlier.  This father was convinced that his decision to be open about his body helped his daughter be open about that experience, and he was able to help her work through it.  Overall, Kent's research showed no ill effects for children who grow up in an openly nude home.

After talking and praying about it, Kent and I decided to not change anything about nudity in our home.  When our children were babies, they showered with us.  When they could safely sit in a tub or take a shower on their own, they did so.  But we never told them they were too old to see us naked, and we never told them they had to stay wrapped in a towel or robe after a shower.  Our kids walk into the bathroom while we're showering on a regular basis.  If we want privacy, we lock the door.  They also dress in front of each other all the time.  We do have one daughter who is slightly bothered by nudity.  She'll look at my body and say it's gross to see me with no clothes on.  I just laugh and tell her she'll look like this one day, which makes her scowl.  As my older girls have reached puberty, they've been very open about the changes in their bodies.  One of them told me that as a little kid, she made up her mind to never have hair where adults do; but now that she does, it doesn't bother her.

This openness about our bodies has also led to healthy discussions about sex.  Basically, we answer our children's questions, no matter how young they are, but don't tell them more than they ask for.  They know no topic is off limits with us.  The same daughter who avoids seeing us naked has not expressed interest in talk about reproduction, but all her siblings were very curious starting around age six, and we've answered their questions.  I'm guessing she has picked up information from conversations in our home, but she just isn't interested in discussing that topic yet; and we don't push it.

Nudity in our home doesn't go beyond seeing each other in the bathroom or getting dressed.  I have at times had to self-talk myself into not being bothered by my children seeing me nude, because it's not how I grew up.  But overall, I'm used to it, and I can see that my children assume that nudity within a family is normal.

Since I am LDS, I'll briefly address the issue of modesty as well.  As I have studied prophets' words about modesty, and the dictionary definition of a modest personality, I've come to think about modesty as an issue of attitude and not a standard of skirt length.  I think Church leaders who define modesty by the length of sleeves or the scoop of a neckline probably mean well.  However, such teachings set people up to be judgmental of others, which is in opposition to the accepting love that leaders should be exemplifying.  I have no problem with dress codes for dances, or with BYU specifying clothing requirements as part of its honor code.  People who choose to attend those activities or a private university should abide by the codes in place.  However, modesty is not something we should use to measure or condemn others.  It is a personal choice.  A person can be nude or dressed and be immodest by the way s/he carries herself/himself and tries to attract others' attention.  It is a personal decision to decide if one's dress coincides with the way they understand the covenants they have made to be like Jesus Christ.

I know most people implement teachings about privacy when their children are preschoolers, and I'm sure most of those kids grow up just fine.  My hope is that our approach will help our children avoid pitfalls that come to others, or at least help them to be confident individuals.  What are your thoughts?

Update: December 13, 2013
Since posting this topic a month ago, I've received only a couple comments on the blog, and a few more in person.  Those of you who know our family know we are good at creating awkwardness, and it looks like I hit that nail on the head with this post!  Since the original post, I've paid more attention to what nudity looks like in our household (not literally--you know what I mean!), and thought maybe this update would put a few of you at ease.

While our attitude about nudity is captured in the description above, the actual practice is probably different than you are imagining.  We don't walk around naked for the fun of it.  When I wrote that my adolescents are open about the changes in their bodies, that means those changes might become dinner conversations, but they don't go around showing off developing body parts.  My two oldest daughters get ready and are off to the high school each morning before their siblings or father even wake up.  The younger ones all prefer to shower alone, usually behind a locked bathroom door, as do the rest of us.  Our attitude about nudity comes into practice only in that if someone leaves the bathroom door unlocked and someone else walks in and catches them in the act of drying off, neither one freaks out.  Weekends are pretty much the only time anyone might see someone else naked, and that's always in the context of someone getting dressed or of the bathroom being filled with people: someone showering, others styling hair, etc.  Our master bath has a shower with glass walls, and our children have no qualms about talking to us while either parent is in the shower.  The walls tend to be steamed up, but if anyone sees anything, neither side makes a big deal about it.
On those occasions that someone outside of the immediate family is in the house (friend,  house guest, etc.), all family members are aware and are careful to wrap a towel or robe around their bodies while moving from the bathroom to a bedroom, and to knock before entering bedrooms.

I have noticed, too, with the one daughter who was more private that the rest of us, that since she started wearing a training bra, she is more open and will run in her underwear to the laundry room to retrieve clean clothes, just like the rest of us.

I apologize for any redundancy.  I've just found in face-to-face conversations that this explanation seems to help, so I wanted any blogollers (blog followers) to also have better understanding.  If you're ever an overnight guest in our home, I think you'll be just as comfortable here as anywhere else.  It's always an open invitation; but not overly open--you know what I mean!