Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year End Holiday Newsletter

Notable Illness:
Kenzie contracts mono. Shocker — Brig comes down with mono, too. How did that happen?

Cool Places Visited:
San Francisco. Great city, good memories. Museums, buses, seals, crab, fortune cookies, cable cars, etc.

Famous sayings of 2006:
Hug me. Hug me now.
—Good Boy

Love you more than a gazilion twix bars
Soooo amazing, soooo wonderful, sooooo keep on keepin’ on…


I like a plethora of…
I’m pretty sure that guy was beat up a lot in high school…

—B. Gomer

Hey, ‘lil mommy
Brig, Brig, Brig, Brig, Brig, Brig, Brig, Brig.
(…ad nauseum)

Huh, huh?
Sometimes I like to wear stretchy pants when no one is looking.


Most Pleasant Surprise and Unexpected Blessing for 2006:
Brig Gomer Arnold and here’s why: He is kind and polite and easy in his skin. He is smart, funny and attentive to others' needs. He is affable and confident and aware of his power to lead and influence. And he is spiritual, in a Spencer W/J Golden Kimball kind of way. He uses all of these gifts well; in fact, he uses them better than anyone the parental-in-laws have ever known. But we’ll stop right there as we don’t want his A.S.S.* to grow any bigger. Suffice it to say, we love him.
     *Arnett/Arnold Self-Assured Syndrome

Awards earned:
Most dumb computer award:
Bestowed by fam on lil’ Mommy.

Most awkward moment award:
Bestowed on ld when at the dinner table in the middle of a completely unrelated conversation he blurts out to FSIL: So, you’re not into pornography are you?

Tender moments:
Hand holding over a baked potato.

Most important lesson learned in 2006:
If your computer starts to smoke and smells burnt this means it will probably blow up.

Hero of the year:
1st Place:
Janny for retrieving my hard drive from my blown up defunct computer and restoring all 3,000 files.
2nd Place:
Janny for giving me his old laptop.

Fondest Wish for the year 2007:
ld buying me a new laptop.

Profound books read:
(Notice I’m not listing everything good that was read, only the profound stuff. That makes the list a lot shorter.)
Some stuff by Kate Chopin, especially the Awakening
How People Change by Alan Wheelis
RS Handbook

This year’s can’t live without gadget:

New family craze:
Visit us at: csarnett / ldsquared / my blog is better than yours

New family Cheer:
(This replaces our old one on account of Brig joining the fam.)
Old Cheer:
Mom and Dad, Meg, Kenz and Jantz
on the dance floor of life
Let’s get out there and dance!

New Cheer:
Mom and Dad, Meg, Kenz and Jantz—
And Brig.
Let's all do a jig (everyone does a jig)
We’ve got courage
Like a lion (this is where Janny roars loudly)
So let’s all keep a tryin’
Family Alliance Unite! (This is where we all unite our fists into one)
(I like our new cheer on account of it’s so deep and has layers upon layers of symbolism.)

Additional Family Motto:
We still like Hard is Good but this year we are adopting Sprinkle Joy as well. So we will be sprinklin’ some joy on all that hard stuff.

2006 has been a good year. It found us still pluggin’ along. Jantzen is much happier and finding strength he thought he’d lost. Our lil’ missionary Meghan is doing wonderful, awesome, sooooo much, all good as her emails and letters attest and Mackenzie found her true love, Brig. We are grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and we love love love each other. To all our dear extended fam and friends, we love you, too. Happy Holidays.

cs & ld

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

If, Then...

If you eat 8 pieces of Sees candy, 6 chocolate eclairs (the little baby ones from Costco, okay?), and a sliver of pumpkin pie (because pumpkin is afterall a vegetable) and you eat this all for breakfast, you will get sick. Very sick.

If you do it again, for 3 days straight, you will hate yourself.

And because you now hate yourself, you will have to take drastic measures. Like eliminate the temptation.

Which is why for the 4th day running now I have gobbled down 2 boxes of See’s, most of the Costco Chocolate Cream puffs and the chocolate covered macadamia nut things not to mention the neighbor’s cheese ball and the peppermint nougats I swiped from GB’s stocking.

I had to do this. Get rid of it all. Just so I wouldn’t be tempted.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Such Lovely Gifts

Yesterday, I received some really nice Christmas gifts.

From ld: a new iPod. The kind that shows movies. Now when I am standing in a long line, sitting in a boring meeting, or stopped at a red light I can pass the time productively by watching P&P.

From G.B.: A battery operated head comber thingy. It is heaven. It looks to be a bunch of wire coat hangers attached to a battery. You are skeptical, I know. I was too. But for all you Arnett’s who have paid your kids a quarter to brush your hair let me just say: You must get one of these.

Also from G.B: a powder blue vest. Which will become my new uniform until spring.

From our ‘lil missionary: A can of real maple syrup. From real maple trees in Canada. Oh, and we got to talk to her yesterday which was present enough. She is doing wonderfully well.

From Kenz and the Brig: A game about quotes. Where they found this little gem I don’t know, but finally a game where I can kick everyone’s hiney.

All of these gifts were given by people who not only love me but know me well, as their gift choices attest. Thank you ‘lil family. You are the best.

And as if all this Christmas wonderfulness weren’t enough, before I dropped off to sleep I came across a wonderful new book. Here’s a quote from it and a link. My Christmas present to you. Merry Christmas, er, Merry Day After.

From Extraordinary Resilience (Smithsonian, December 2006)

A resilient person is performing competently while in the midst of adversity or, more often, after the adversity. Many people who are exposed to severe adversity don't do very well in life, so these really are very important exceptions. People evolve to become resilient, and they get there in different ways.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Reason #57: Why my growing older isn’t the same thing as growing up

I called someone an idiot yesterday. To their face. This is why I can never be let out in public ever again.

I did this because I was provoked and couldn’t overcome my provokedness, er, annoyance. That is the line I am taking, but even as I type this I am realizing what a jerk I am.

Kenzie and I were trying to park at the mall down by Nordstrom’s. This lady is backing out but then decides not to. I’m trying to park in the stall next to her. Is she going to back out or not? We sit there for a while, until she decides and then in exasperation I go past her and try for the parking space much further up, but that space is pretty tiny and I parked crooked. So I proceed to back up and straighten my angle. Only said lady is now behind me, boxing me in. I wait patiently until she passes. Only she never passes. And it’s not like there were any other cars around. No one is in front of her. She just sits there and proceeds to finish her book or clip her nails or have a tasty snack. She doesn’t move. What is she thinking?

More time passes. Seriously, what is she doing? I’m getting steamed and Kenzie and I discuss said lady’s state of mind. Hmmmph! I roll down the window and wave my arm vigorously for the lady to move it. She doesn’t. She is knitting a sweater or something and can’t be bothered. Finally, and this is the good part, I blurt out to Kenzie, I’m going to roll down my window and tell that lady she is an idiot and I start rolling down the window, only the rolling down is too slow, so I open up the door, stick my head out and yell, You are an IDIOT.

Yup. I said that. And this is the part where you all should pay attention and learn from your Auntie’s serious lapse in judgment. Never say that to someone you haven’t actually seen face to face.

As soon as I make eye contact I realize the magnitude of my sin. Surprise, surprise, she wasn’t a green martian afterall. She was a real live human being who looked to be about my age and someone I would chat up in the grocery store line. The look on her face — well, I recognized it immediately. She was befuddled and bewildered. It was a look that communicated: Look, I don’t know why I am sitting here not moving. I just am. Okay?

I could so relate. The woman, she smiled at me weakly and I nodded my acknowledgement that I understood our shared human condition. I sheepishly and silently tuck my head back into the car and close the door.

I turn to Kenzie and remind her of her family loyalty. We will never speak of this to anyone, right Kenz? Right?

But too late. She is laughing hysterically, uproariously even. Oh that was just great, Mom. So classic.

I console myself that it could have been much worse. Meghan would have delivered a tongue lashing. I can hear her now, So, uh, Mom. Do we even belong to the same church?


I tried all day to justify my behavior with all the typical rationales. I was provoked, I was justified, I was tired. I had low blood sugar. I had a bad childhood. Growing up, my brothers’ were meanies.

But the reality is this. Most days I can keep my act together, really. But then there are days when the real me comes out. The childish me. The one that tells people they have never met before that they are IDIOTS.

CS Lewis lectures me with his Rats in the Cellar analogy:

When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.
~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (1952)

Good ole’ CS. He always comes through in a pinch and nails it. I have rats in my cellar, er, in my heart. But then maybe we all do.

If by chance the lady in the above encounter ever reads this: I’m so sorry. I want you to know that I have been motivated to do penance as all day today I have waved and smiled cheerily to fellow drivers. I even let some of them cut in front of me and as they did so I mouthed the words, I love you, fellow traveler.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Discounted Epiphanies

I have a love/hate relationship with All A Dollar. I really do. On the one hand, I love the place because of all the truly great cheap stuff I’ve found there. Like my bulk purchase of 32 Smiley face fly swatters (c’mon it was for Young Women) or Christmas napkins for our Progressive Dinner, or my latest treasure of 8 episodes of the Andy Griffith Show (and that includes the episode where Ernest T. Bass kidnaps Barney dressed in drag) and on DVD no less. Thank you All A Dollar, I love you.

But then I hate All A Dollar, too. I hate that place because at least once a year I have a major life changing epiphany there. All A Dollar pricks my social conscience in a way that few other places do, other than the temple or church. Seriously. And having to face yourself or discover kernals of truth about yourself isn’t always pleasant. Or fun. Or easy.

I’m speaking of encounters like the one a couple of Christmas’s back when this grumpy old man was being pushed in a wheelchair by his 30 something daughter. They were picking out Christmas gifts for the man to give his grandchildren. Only the man wasn’t soft spoken but really rather rude as he kept making comments to the little kids running around bumping into his wheelchair. He had bed head and his shirt was covered in old man dribble. Anyway, his daughter was pushing him around and patiently making suggestions as to what he could buy.

The old man would snort, No, I don’t want none of that crap or grunt, No, I gave that to them before.

The whole time Kenzie and I are nonchalantly following them around in the store hoping they won’t notice our interest in them.

Finally the woman perks up and says, I know, Dad, what about a can of pop! The kids would love that, what do you think?

And finally the old man agrees. So now the woman is happy and the old man is happy and the grandkids will be getting a can of pop from Grandpa. For Christmas. So many thoughts on so many levels, I won’t even go there but it was a sweet and tender experience for me and I couldn’t stop thinking and crying about it for days.

Also, at All A Dollar for the past 3 years running I see the little old spanish beggar man only he isn’t dressed like a beggar and hops out of his nice shiny car to ask me if I ‘have any money to buy food and medicine’. He always leaves me wondering and confused. What is his story? Hurry into the store, don’t make eye contact. More thoughts, more soul searching.

And then there’s the little lady in the check out line back in March. It was raining like crazy that day and I ran into All A Dollar to pick up a cheap umbrella as I was driving Kenz to BYU for her voice lesson and she had given her umbrella to her roommate and we were running late as usual…

Anyway, this little lady with the hearing aid turns to me and smiles sweetly. She proceeds to chat me up and delivers this powerful little sermon:

I love the rain don’t you? Some people don’t you know, but I do. My mother used to say to me, ‘Embrace the rain, honey. Let it kiss your face. If you’ll do that, you’ll never ever get wrinkles.’ And so I do. I embrace the rain.

I looked into this sweet little lady’s face and I kid you not she appeared normal. Yet she’s telling me this at All A Dollar. Embrace the rain, honey.

All A Dollar I hate you. You make me confront myself and my attitudes. You make me, no, force me, to interact with the lonely, the odd, the old. Even the check out girl, with the weirdly painted on eyebrows, I can’t ignore. Sometimes I try, but I can’t. Worthy of my respect and notice, all of them. I mean they are my kind of people. And let’s face it I’ve never had such encounters in Mervyns or even Target. No, there is something special about All A Dollar.

So yesterday I ran into All A Dollar quick to pick up more gingerbread house candy. The lines are long. It’s Christmas and I’m mad at the people ahead of me because don’t they know, I am busy busy and the stuff I gotta do is important and they are so slow. So I’m clutching my snowman suckers and my cotton candy and it happened. Another All A Dollar epiphany. My ‘haven’t slept for 3 nights running’ state of mind starts racing. What if. What if some crazy person in line had a gun? And what if they took us all hostage right here in All A Dollar? Which one of us would emerge the hero? Which one would fight off the crazy man, maybe tackle him or use psychology on him, or offer to remain a hostage if he’d let the others go. Here’s the really sad part, I know it wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be the hero. That’s because I’m a wimp and have no nunchuck skills. Someone else out of the throng of All A Dollar shoppers would step up and save the day. Suddenly I know this. And I’m overflowing with love vibes for my fellow heroic shoppers when the lady behind me with the mullet nudges me with her cart and interrupts my reverie. Move along. But again, I am changed.

So no matter anymore our relationship. I’ve come to terms with it. Whatever else All A Dollar is, it’s a place where I feel comfortable. Where else can you pop in wearing your little ducky pajama bottoms and not feel out of place. Plus, the bargains. On any given day you can get a stale bag of Cheetos or a Sermon, and all for only a dollar. Discounted epiphanies.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Missing Mommy

This morning I came across this wonderful statement:

Man's conscious influence, when he is on dress-parade, when he is posing to impress those around him,--is woefully small. But his unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality, the effect of his words and acts, the trifles he never considers,—is tremendous… Every man has an atmosphere which is affecting every other. So silent and unconsciously is this influence working, that man may forget that it exists…
…In all Nature the wonders of the "seen" are dwarfed into insignificance when compared with the majesty and glory of the unseen…
Into the hands of every individual is given a marvellous power for good or for evil,—the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of his life.

[William George Jordan, The Power of Personal Influence, The Majesty of Calmness, pp.18&19]

This statement brought tears to my eyes this morning as I have been thinking a lot lately of my mother. Christmas always brings a mixed bag of emotions for me as it seems to magnify what I’m already feeling. The beautifully decorated tree, the music, the shopping for gifts, the Christmas Eves, all things my mother loved. Doing these things without her these past 17 years has been really hard. Even now.

But it’s funny, it’s not that I’m sad because she doesn’t exist anymore, because I know she does. And I’m not sad because I can’t remember her, because I do. I remember every little detail about some things. There are no regrets to our relationship, no bad memories. The sadness comes from just missing her presence, the separation. It sucks.

Yet, I feel her with me all the time. Some days more than others, but she’s there. How is that possible for love ties to reach across death and still touch us, motivate us and cheer us? How is it that some people can touch us so profoundly that just the memory of them can give us courage?

I don’t know all the rules of the afterlife, but the memory and the influence of my mother is a sustaining thing. And what an influence she had. In her small corner of the world she made a difference through her teaching, her loving, her example, her church service. She was everything that was beautiful and good and fine.

When I teach a lesson, her influence is there. I remember how she taught with power and clarity and the price she paid in preparation. When I struggle with a family relationship I remember how quick she was to apologize. When I want to whine and kick and scream because I have a bad cold, I remember her patience in suffering.

She was a righteous example, an incredible influence, my inspiration.

Again, some words by the Jordan guy:

To make our influence felt we must live our faith, we must practice what we believe…
…No individual is so insignificant as to be without influence…We should ever let our influence filter through human love and sympathy. We should not be merely an influence, — we should be an inspiration. By our very presence we should be a tower of strength to the hungering human souls around us.
[The Majesty of Calmness, pp. 22&23]

My mother. How I love and miss her.
She’s the voice in my head reminding me that I can do better and the whispering in my heart that no matter how badly I screw up, I’m loved.
Simply conjuring up her face in my mind brings strength.
Now that’s some influence.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Grandma Rose Would So Understand

One day last week:
Mackenzie and I were driving home from her voice lesson and turned the corner onto our street. That’s when I saw it, so I slowed down. I wanted it badly.

Me: Ohhh, look at that cardboard. It’s a fridge box no less. Those are the best kind.

Kenzie: Uh, Mom…

Me: Seriously, what a beautiful piece of cardboard. Brand new. I wonder what he’s going to do with it?

(I put the car in neutral. I’m going to get out)

Kenzie: Mom, no. Nooooo. No. Mom.

So I drive on by. I don’t even stop and dumpster dive. But I wanted to. Oh, how I wanted to. And if Kenzie hadn’t been in the car with me I know I would have succumbed. But I have to start acting with restraint and curb my impulsiveness as I’m too young to be really eccentric. Right now I’m just quirky. Weird doesn’t start until 50, eccentric at 65.

Besides, cardboard would be a distraction and I don’t need that as the Society of Relief consumes most all of my time. Plus, with Christmas here and all the seasonal duties that entails a person just has to be rational and prioritize their time. I read it in the RS Handbook. Right under ‘Don’t waste time making stuff out of cardboard. Not even cool stuff like, trains or forts or life size people. Be an Example. Act with decorum always. No stealing and stay away from dumpsters.’

So I’m patting myself on the back, congratulating myself on sacrificing my creative impulses for the sake of being mature and all relief society sister like, when my kids nonchalantly say:

Jantzen: How come you don’t make those cardboard cubbies anymore? The ones with little doors and handles? They were really special. I miss those.

Kenzie: Yeah, mom. You know, what I would really like for Christmas? Something made from cardboard.

Now, I know my kids were snickering and poking fun, they are bums. But as I am fond of quoting to them, What we say, we say with intent. Joking around always has some truth in it. Therefore, it won’t be such a surprise to you, will it, come Christmas morning when you open up your cardboard shirt, or your cardboard lava lamp, hmmmm, kiddies?

You just gave me license, in the interest of being a good mom, of course, to swipe that man on the corner’s cardboard. I will cut and saw and glue and paint just like old times. And duct tape. I’ll use lots and lots of duct tape. You can use duct tape in Relief Society. It says so in the handbook.

I come by this calling naturally. Grandma Rose was a RS President in Tucson, Arizona for many, many years. My favorite memory/story of her is when she would dumpster dive at cemetaries looking for thrown away plastic artificial flowers. Frugal she was. She used these flowers to supply the sisters for their homemaking crafts/pursuits. Back then the handbook read: 'Beautify your home with flowers from the dead.'

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Sueños de noche

It’s no secret I have insomnia. Have had it for years. Before you go prescribing home remedies of herbal tea let me stop you right there and assure you I so have a handle on it. It’s all part of this menopausal crapola. I’m sorry to offend the sensitivities and sensibilities of my male readers but there it is.

Pre-menopausal symptoms include insomnia, as in early waking, as in from 2:00 am on. That’s the lot for the normal woman suffering through it. But as we have daily proof, I am not nor never have been normal. So I get the version of meno where you never sleep on most nights and then on the nights that you do get to enjoy really bizarre techno color dreams. As in they are so wacky that even for a dream I lie there thinking, “must wake up this is just too weird and in no possible scenario or other planet could this be happening”.

So last night was one of those. Dreams I mean. It involved Jesse James and Owen Wilson and Opie Taylor. Oh and me. And get this: I was the sane one. Anyhoo, we were all at the Salt Lake Temple involved in a shoot out. This dream never resolved, I just finally woke up but I am so hoping that not one part of it is even remotely real as it is very disheartening to envision the Salt Lake Temple decorated predominately in red and with Saloon doors.

This dream somewhat alters my To Do list.


1. Visit the sick and afflicted.

2. Visiting Teaching Report .

3. Teach piano. (Secure my piano garland:)

4. Fix dinner, clean toilet, miss Meghan, practice with Kenz, hug Jantzen and text Brig a quote.

5. Do temple work for Ron Howard. (Jesse James’ work has already been done.

Friday, December 1, 2006

It's back

Open for business.