You are currently browsing smylies’s articles.

The picture has nothing to do with the post. But it was Adelaide’s first turn at karaoke and I love it. I’m going to miss this forum for showing off.

I have spent the last twenty minutes going over some of my Apron Stage regrets.

  • I never wrote that post about what it was like to not be a LOST fan but still be a normal person.
  • My cousin Jeff never actually guested.
  • We never started the “best comments” side bar.
  • I always had to go after Lisa and before Louise. (Not that I’d have loved a slot by Sarah either.)
  • I used too many em dashes, too many parentheticals, and started every other sentence with And or But.

Of course right now, as I sit down to write my very last post, the big regret is that we ever decided to stop. I’m going to miss a lot about this place.

Moving on seems to be a theme in my life right now.  I’m not thrilled about it.  I didn’t want to move to Virginia and I don’t really want to move to Africa. But every sunday school lesson lately seems to be the one where the children of Israel are complaining about all the good things they had to leave behind in Egypt. And then they complain so much that they never make it Canaan.

So I’ve been trying to look at things I’m going to miss (like America or The Apron Stage) and instead of being upset about them, be glad I got them at all. Cheer up Charlie.

Reasons I’m glad we did this.

  • The comments.
  • Getting to interact with Sarah, Lisa, and Lousie on a regular basis.
  • That post where Louise accurately describes Tagg as “some guy who dresses like the uni-bomber but doesn’t like explosions” or even better, the one where she says her goldfish is like a “glob of mucous with a little blood in it…spit with fins.” Louise sent her posts to me to put up, so I always had the first read. I’d read them to Levi before I put them up and we’d laugh and laugh. Spit with fins? Brilliant.
  • Sarah producing what was quite possibly the best critique of The New Moon ever written (and a lot were written.) Could this amount of witticism have come from the same pen that spoke so openly and honestly about body and real appetites and then personally responded to all 150+ comments?
  • It got Lisa and Tagg married. Say what they will about the real reasons they got together (so what if they’d already dated for two years…), I knew it would take a little something extra to get our Amish Lisa married to Tagg the astronaut.  It was the sheer genius in posts like this one, or this one. And of course, of course, this one.
  • Not to dwell on Lisa getting married (you have to agree though, it’s the single greatest success of the Apron Stage) but one of my all-time favorite AS moments was probably when Lisa (already engaged, but not publicly) wrote a message to her future husband (and he responded).
  • All that fantastic Tom and Louise-ness. This, or this, or this, or this.
  • Wanting to be a part of Sarah Olson’s Family.
  • Wonderful, insightful, funny guest posts.

There is a lot to miss (always–Sarah already covered that).  But onward and upward: I’m going to work on new writing projects, maybe start updating my personal blog with some regularity. Oh yeah, and I’m going to learn French, and have a baby and move to Africa.  As I type this, Adelaide is marching around the living room with a cardboard box on her head, waving the Senegal flag, chanting, “Let’s go to Senegal! Let’s go to Senegal!”

I wonder which of us is more clueless about what’s up ahead. But  here we go and there you have it.


Next week we find out this baby’s gender. As if I need a machine to tell me. On the off-chance that the ultrasound technician says it’s a girl, I’ll tell him to CHECK AGAIN. I am ninety-percent certain that the rock uncomfortably squeezing itself between my pelvic bones is a little boy.

Consider the evidence.

  1. This pregnancy is totally different than my first, girl-producing pregnancy.
  2. My mother-in-law had a dream three days before we found out we were pregnant that I was pregnant with a boy.
  3. I’m carrying low.
  4. The baby’s heart rate is above 140.
  5. My left breast is slightly larger than my right.
  6. When I mixed my urine with Drano, it came out blue.
  7. Levi has lost weight this pregnancy.
  8. And on the last half moon, with seven pennies in each pocket and four marshmallows in my mouth, I stood under an azalea tree in full bloom and hummed the 1812 Overture whilst dangling a ring on a string above my belly. As you’ve probably already guessed, the ring swung back and forth.

Why only ninety percent certian, you ask? With all of that evidence, why that doubting ten percent?

It goes back to the evening I saw a friend at the church. She’s from Honduras and calls it like it is. I was pregnant with Adelaide at the time.  “You’re having a girl, aren’t you?” she said.  “I know because girls steal all of their mother’s beauty.”

And let me tell you—what with my pimply face and my straggly hair and the way the allergies are making my eyes puff out and how I can’t wear my contacts so I have to wear my glasses which because my prescription is so heavy make my eyeballs look even smaller—let me tell you, we might very well be having a girl.


My sister Sarah once described the thought process of men to me.  It goes something like, “That guy did it, so I could probably do it.  I’m at least as good as that guy. Yeah, I could definitely do that.  I mean, it’s sort of like I already did it. Yeah, that’s right, I did do it. I did that.”

As she explained this to me, the catalog of innocuous exaggerations (some might call ‘lies’) that cameo in the stories of my life flashed across my inner youtube. Stories that I’ve told so many times that fiction has become fact, and I’m honestly not sure exactly what happened.  Like a t.v. reality show, sure it happened, but not without some heavy editing and perhaps a few reenacted scenes. Read the rest of this entry »

I can’t remember where I first read it, but it was something along these lines: that Mr. Rogers and his liberal habit of telling kids they were special—for no reason—is to blame for a generation of entitled adults who never lived up to the praise they received scot-free as children.

Now, I’m not about to blame Mr. Rogers or his sweater for anything, but something in me (perhaps that cold, blackened part?) was glad to hear someone else bristle at that voice adults often use when they’re speaking to children.

It’s like that study I always seem to hear about where two sets of kids were given a puzzle and upon completion, Group A was praised for being so smart and Group B was praised for working hard. When given a more difficult puzzle, the group that had been labeled smart gave up, whereas Group B worked until they completed the task.

I often wonder how the things I say to my daughter will affect the way she sees herself. I hope my contributions are the kind that help her grow up and be a teenager and then an adult who loves herself—who is confident enough to know when to keep going and when to stop. In other words, I want her to have a good self-esteem.

But what is that? More pointedly, what kind of a goal is that? Teach her to love herself?  If I’m honest about it, my belief system doesn’t focus on the importance of loving yourself. The way I read them, scriptural directives about love are always pointed outwards. Love others. Love God.

Which I’m finally realizing is the answer if I really do want her to respect herself. Thinking back, the times in my life when I have been happiest with who I am are those times when I experienced more clarity about my relationship with God.  Understanding that relationship—sometimes a difficult and seemingly unnatural thing to do—has been the source of real self-esteem for me. The other day, a friend pointed out that when he was younger and went through sustained periods of self-doubt, his emergence at the other end was nothing he conjured. It had decidedly come from outside of him–and not from other people’s compliments either.

I agreed with him. At least in my experience, self-esteem is a misnomer.  Does it sound like I’m putting myself down by saying I’m convinced it comes from somewhere far more noble than my very own right here? And have I crossed the line by saying that not even Fred Rogers could produce it?

I wondered if mothers and fathers with unattractive children could see that their children weren’t stunning.  Going through some old pictures of Adelaide’s hair, my suspicions were confirmed: THEY HAVE NO IDEA.

I mean, we knew enough to take pictures of it, knew enough to consider cutting it, but that was it.  I have memories of my sister-in-law saying she was “dying to get her hands on that hair,” but she went to beauty school so we just figured she wanted to get her hands on everyone’s hair.

I ask my friends why they never said anything about it to us and they’re always all “we thought you knew…”


Last week, the doctor put me on bed rest.  I called my second-opinion friend. She has a nursing degree and I don’t believe anything a doctor tells me until I clear it with her.

“What does bed rest mean?” I asked her. “We have tickets to a show tonight, I’ll just be sitting there.”

She said no. Get in bed. Get someone to watch Adelaide. Get up only to go to the bathroom. Recumbence.

With that, I took to my back.

Luckily, Levi was able to work from home last week—and did he ever work. In addition to his professional responsibilities, he cooked every meal,* played with Adelaide,** kept the apartment clean. He answered my every call: a drink, a sandwich, some chapstick, a different book. Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve lived here for two months now, and in that time I haven’t had one good night’s sleep. I wake up multiple times a night.  My dreams are weird and close to the surface. There’s a ritual bathroom run at 3am. It’s annoying.

Up until now, I have prided myself on my ability to sleep. I fell asleep in every class I ever took. In the dentist chair. During movies.  At stoplights.

My first thought is to blame the bed. It’s too big.We moved into a furnished apartment here in Virginia—upgrading us to a king. We’ve had to string two tin cans together so we can still have pillow talk. And although Levi wants none of it, I’m a class five cuddler. The bigger bed is cramping my style.  On top of which, the mattress is just a touch too hard, the comforter a bit too heavy, etc. I’m yearning for our bed, the one that Levi bought to surprise me last year, the one that’s tucked away in some storage facility in Maryland.

Perhaps I’m just getting older. Isn’t it fact that something like fifty percent of women over the age fifty have insomnia in some form? Maybe this is early onset.

Maybe it’s a sign that I still haven’t settled here.

Maybe it’s because in less than year I’m MOVING TO AFRICA.

Maybe it’s the noise from the parking lot under our window.

Levi thinks it’s because I’m pregnant.

And while we’re at it, let’s blame the pregnancy for the nausea, the inertia, the weight gain, the exhaustion, the desire to vomit every time I take a drink of water.

Also going to blame the pregnancy for those giddy, bubbling feelings that often find Levi and I catching each other’s eyes and then laughing.

We’re thrilled.  Raise a glass to more and more sleepless nights.


I’m one of 53 grandchildren on my mom’s side. 59 on my dad’s. It means I can’t really go anywhere without running into family.

At BYU and in New York I lived with cousins. My most recent stake president was a cousin. When Teach for America placed me in a school in New York—a school system 1200 schools big—I happened to get placed in a school where my cousin had already been teaching for a year. The interview went like this: “You’re Fowler’s cousin? You’re hired.” And last week, just six weeks after moving to Virginia, a cousin moved into our same apartment complex.

I feel like every time I have to do something that scares me (go to college, move to New York, join the Foreign Service), God sends me a cousin to ease the load. I would not be a little bit surprised if after we got to Senegal, we got an email from a cousin telling me “he was getting transferred.”

Is this braggy? Because I haven’t even brought up second-cousins. Don’t get me started on the two separate times I was on a date with a boy only to find that our mothers were, you guessed it, cousins.

It’s this wonderful thing my parents and their siblings did for me, and I spend a lot of time hoping and hoping that our children will have cousins like I have cousins.

A bunch of us got to be together Easter weekend. We watched conference and egg hunted and Easter dinnered. I had really looked forward to the weekend, thinking back on the many cousin dinners of the last ten years. We’d eat something wonderful and then sit around and talk and laugh late into the night. I couldn’t wait.

But something was terribly off the entire weekend. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but for some reason, it wasn’t working. I felt tired. Conversations seemed short and at times, hurried. It was noisy and messy. There a constant backdrop of complaining and fighting. While it was wonderful in its own way, it wasn’t one of the cousins’ gatherings I remembered.

Then it hit me:  we all have kids now. I think about the time, at a family reunion, when my older brother, up in the middle of the night (again) with a screaming child, was heard to cry in despair, “WHY ARE YOU RUINING MY LIFE?”

Brace myself, I suppose. Like I said, I want my children to have cousins like I had cousins.

Let the wild rumpus continue.

One of my all-time favorite paintings is Titian’s Noli Me Tangere. The story goes that during World War II, London besieged by bombs, the museum trustees at the National Gallery removed the most valuable pieces of art to protect them. They would hang only one masterpiece a month. Noli Me Tangere was the piece chosen by the public as the one it most wanted to see.

There are all sorts of reasons a people in the midst of that awful, awful war would find comfort and peace in Titian’s depiction of the garden scene. Neil MacGregor, once the director of the National Gallery, guesses it might be that “what it meant to the war-torn Londoners must have been close to the central poetic truth that Titian was originally trying to express—the reassurance of a love so strong that it can survive death.”

There are so many little pieces in the stories of Christ’s last week that I love. I love (though it’s painful) the image of Christ weeping over Jerusalem. I love thinking about the man who owned the colt that Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Can you imagine? Two disciples come and untie your colt—the one that’s never been ridden—and when you ask why, they just tell you that the “Lord hath need.” I like to wonder whether that man had planned on using his colt that day.

I love that right after He cleanses the temple—this rare show—He heals the blind and the lame. I get surprised that when the chief priests see the miracles, their concern is how these miracles and divine shows will take away from their personal power. Certainly there have been times in my life when I’ve chosen to write off the miracle in front of me (“No, that’s not a miracle, I’ll say”), because it didn’t fit my concept or purpose.

I love Christ looking down from the cross and tending to his mother.

But at least right now, my favorite moment in all of that week is the one Titian captures. Mary is standing at the tomb, weeping for her Lord. She doesn’t recognize Him at first, not even when He speaks to her. But then he calls her by name.

“Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not…” (John 20:16-17).

It makes sense to me that those Londoners found comfort by remembering that moment. Certainly in my darkest times, I like to remember that the Savior of the world knows me by name. And while perhaps maybe it shouldn’t, it makes it that much easier for me to turn and see that He is there.


Resolving to do better with the whole journaling thing, I decided I would get out the journal I’ve kept on the computer for the past six years. I am going to print it out and put it all in one place and think about how happy and inspired it will make my posterity.

EXCEPT. I’ve been reading through it. Man oh man oh man. Is it wrong of me to cut out entire paragraphs, entire entries, entire summers?

The very first line:

I sit in a dorm room at Fordham University.

I sit? Was I having some existential moment? Captured only by the simple present tense? I cringe to read parts of my journals.  I fall over and clutch at my stomach. My finger reaches for the delete key.

There are parts of it I am glad are in there, as there are things I don’t want to forget about my life.

I am living with a girl named Sally who is from Missouri. She is a liberal atheist who likes to walk around completely naked.

More often, however, there are parts that offer uncontestable proof that I was not cool or level-headed or smart or any of the things I spend so much daily effort trying to prove to the people with whom I interact.

I also spent some time with Joe Schmoe. I have a crush on him and it was good to feel it out. I think he feels the same way for me but both of know it would never work because we both have enough hang-ups neither of us could actually pull it off. But there was definitely some tension. Not while we were actually together but maybe in the afterward moments. Oh Joe.

It’s not just that I don’t want anybody to read about my flaws. It’s that I don’t want them to know how utterly ridiculous I am. I feel like I’ve tried to save that part of myself for Levi. Only Levi will ever know the true extent.  Levi and anyone who reads the unedited version of my journal.

I think I could be a good wife.  I think I can be supportive and deferent. So again, I sat in relief society and cried because I wanted to marry David O. McKay and he’s dead.

So I was about to start deleting things when I started to feel guilty because am I altering history?

Don’t know how much I like Jimmy, but I was glad we kissed because I decided that I had to kiss someone by Valentine’s day, and I’m always glad when I can continue to have faith in my set a date program. Maybe I should try using it for missionary work a little more often.

There are things that happened in this world only recorded by me and isn’t that reason enough to let them stand?

The crazy thing is, I think I am in love with Johnny. I hope I’m not wrong. I’d feel like such an idiot.

I swear that in a four month span I said “I think I am in love” three times about three different boys and I meant it every time. Also, I was not in high school. I was in graduate school.

Okay so I’m in love. I know I just said that about someone else, but it feels different this time. It’s just that I love the way Jerry treats me.

My problem is my audience. Why am I so aware of my audience as I write in a private journal?  It’s these cursed delusions of grandeur–the same ones that find me worrying about where I’m going to find a modest dress for the Oscars. Someday my biographers are going to be glad I left such a detailed record.

Somewhere, in the tussy in my brain about whether or not it’s ethical to alter my record (at one point in the inner debate, I even quoted Orwell) and all of my back reading, an even bigger problem presented: it’s a moot point, isn’t it?

I suppose I should stop trying to write like I am a writer and start getting the facts down so that my posterity has something to remember this week by. No one will ever care about this week, will they?

Louise Plummer

Sarah L Olson

Rebecca Smylie

Lisa Piorczynski

Email us:

theapronstage at gmail dot com