Friday, April 17, 2015

Six Forever and Ever


Stating the obvious...I haven't blogged as regularly as I have in years past. But I didn't realize that I haven't even mentioned birthdays lately. In fact, I didn't even "review" the photos I took on Drew's birthday until last night, Joshua, Drew and I found ourselves scrolling through several weeks of photos. When I came to the ones of Drew's birthday, specifically of his birthday cake, he sighed, "My birthday was the best day ever. I loved it."

Drew's best day ever, and I hadn't permanently recorded it. Point taken.

A few things not to be forgotten about March 30th, 2015:

For months, Drew has taken to frequently calling Mike, "Mike Wazowski with One Eye." Additionally, as mentioned before, Drew has a unique love of stuffed animals. So when I saw this at a store several weeks before his birthday, I knew I needed to make the $5 purchase for Mike to gift to Drew.

Drew really only had one request for his birthday. BMX clothes. Wish/request granted.

The morning of Drew's birthday, I taught him the poem "When I am Six" by A.A. Milne. I adore hearing him recite it. Even weeks since his birthday, I hear him repeating it, and when he gets to the part, "Now I am six, I'm as clever as clever. I think I'll be six forever and ever" he gets a giant grin on his face and I wish in that moment time would freeze and there was a way to slow my baby's age. There isn't, so instead I smile and bask in the moment of his innocent childlike pride.

In the days leading up to Drew's birthday he couldn't decide what exactly he wanted to do; Something as a family, or a party with friends. Something with family AND a party with friends AND then go to a restaurant to eat dinner.  All seemed options to Drew, despite him being told repeatedly it was a party with friends, or something as a family.

Within just a few days before his birthday, Drew opted for a party. But then what type of party became an issue. (Because birthday parties have to have a theme???)

A football one or a Curious George one. I knew what I was hoping for, but I kept my mouth completely closed and let him choose. Finally he announced, "I want a George one." I was thrilled! As this is probably his last year to get away with a Curious George party, but he can have football ones for years to come.

(Sidenote: My children LOVE Curious George. Even Luke during one of his recent strep episodes laid on the couch watching hours of Curious George over a couple day period.)

We had big plans for a giant "Man in the Yellow Hat" to be printed with Mike's large printer for a "Pin the Hat" game. The morning of the party, the printer didn't work, but as I hung up the phone with Mike I saw hanging on our pantry door this portrait drawn by the birthday boy himself just days before.

I copied it and made extra hats and had our own personalized game. Which really, this little portrait attempt far exceeds any printed Google image I found.

(Too bad that at the party, Drew decided he didn't want to play this game after all.)

Drew had a fun party with a handful of his little friends. I didn't take photos, I enjoyed the moments instead. But I do kinda wish now that I had photos of them playing Curious George Character Chardes, Pass-the-Parcel, or Dance Like George.

I've always felt a sense of pride about my efforts each birthday to make home-made birthday cakes in the shapes, patterns and designs my children request. We've had a few good ones, intermixed with some truly terrible ones, but they have ALWAYS put a smile on my children's faces. (Well, except for the infamous Barney one I made when Megan was two and she looked at it completely straight-faced and asked, "What is that?") 

A couple days before Drew's birthday, Joshua and Drew were home sick from school. Joshua had been throwing up, and I had NO IDEA what or who was next for our family. (We had a bad 2-3 week  sick period around here.) I detest store bought cakes, especially for children's birthdays, with the exception of ice cream cakes, which I cheated and did for Ellie a day late last year after she'd spent her birthday in LA with Mike.

I mentioned a Dairy Queen cake to Drew and told him, perhaps we could go and see if they had a Curious George pattern they could make for him. Drew was soooo excited, that he requested we go right then and there. Which we did. Him in his pajamas, with a pale-sick face, (I'm a good mom like that.) and me feeling relief at the possibility of not having to make a birthday cake.

Lo and behold, there in the freezer of Dairy Queen was a Curious George cake made up, ready for sale. I think I felt such exhaustion at the previous few weeks of my life (remember post-surgery, two cases of strep, couple cases of stomach flu, etc.) I may or may not have started crying when I saw the perfect George cake staring back at me.

Drew loved it. I loved it. And I felt zero guilt the morning of his birthday not having a birthday cake to make.

We ended up the day as a family enjoying a picnic at a park.

According to the newly turned 6 year old, "It was the best day ever."

I loved Luke's sentiments on Drew's birthday when he exclaimed, "I love birthdays at our house. Even when it isn't mine. I just love birthdays."

I do too.

PS-I really should do a whole blog post about Megan's new vlogging hobby. She recorded a lot of great highlights of Drew's birthday, including Mike and me on a teeter-totter... Her vlogs will surely be treasures one day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Joshua's Special Day


I've relaxed a lot over the years, and the day of Joshua's baptism was proof. Because amid all the preparations for a baptism service, (us singing a musical number, a child giving a talk, change of underwear and towels, etc. etc.) , plus 40+ people converging at my house for dessert a few hours later, when I pulled out Joshua's white shirt from his closet and realized it was FILTHY,  I... actually laughed out loud. (I may actually have said "damn-it" first, but I did laugh out loud. I promise.)

My toilets were clean for guests to use in a few hours, my sliding glass door wiped free of finger prints, and the kitchen floor swept of debris. But Joshua's shirt, that he hasn't even worn for two weeks (didn't go to church last week due to General Conference), was neglectfully left in his closet with nary a thought about it until 20 minutes before he was due at the church.

Luke was dressed in a brand new suit at his baptism, and of course the girls in perfectly new and clean white dresses at theirs. But not the poor 4th child. He wore a white shirt a size too small.

But I was more relaxed, calm and pleasant than at any of the others, and that's what really matters.

Joshua's baptism service was simple and beautiful.

As Latter-day Saints (Mormons), we believe that baptism is done at eight years of age because it is the age of accountability; the age of discerning between right and wrong. Baptism at age 8, isn't so much the symbolic "washing away of sins" (children under 8 don't "sin") as it is making a promise to follow Jesus, and the first step to returning to live with God and Jesus again.


Four of my children have now been baptized, and for some naive reason, I think my children are going to be so overcome with the baptism ordinance and commitment they are making, that they will be committed to never again disobey, or do wrong. You'd think I of all people would remember children are NOT PERFECT, but instead I seemed shocked somehow when just hours after Joshua's baptism, Drew came into the house to tattle, "Joshua just called me an idiot." (An absolute no-no in our house!)

Four kids, four burst bubbles: baptism doesn't equal perfection.

I looked at Drew and smiled and suggested, "Why don't you go outside to Joshua and say, 'Congratulations. You've just made your first mistake.'" To which Mike piped up, "Perhaps you could offer to help him repent?"

Maybe you had to be there.
But it was funny.

Saturday was a good day. As our home and yard were filled with family and friends that love Joshua and our family, I couldn't help but smile. These days are fleeting, and when I came across these little children sitting out on the step eating ice cream, I couldn't help but wish time would freeze for just a few moments. Instead it keeps marching forward and before I know it, these photos of young children will be only a memory.

They are only young once.

(Damon, Elizabeth, Miles, Drew, Jonah, Joshua)

This photo was taken the next day. 
(Drew, Cousin Kate, Cousin Annie, and Joshua)

Life is good.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Pum

I keep thinking about all the things I should blog about but instead for now I'll share with you Drew's "pum" that he memorized. Not sure what is more darling, the way he says "pum" instead of "poem", or the actual video...



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Permanent Records


From a fairly young age I have loved writing in a journal. I wrote my first journal entry when I was 4 years old in my green hardback journal. I wrote on and off for years growing up, and then when I was about 13, I wrote faithfully daily up until the day I got married. It's been spotty for the past 18 years, but lately, I've been rededicated to writing regularly in my personal journal. (There's just soooo much I don't want to forget about life in all of its ups and downs.)

Every so often I do my best to get my children to follow suit and write regularly in journals too. Ellie is the only one that does it on her own, and I LOVE IT!! Luke is asked to do it every so often, and it is probably one of his least favorite things to do. But like I told him a couple of weeks ago, when there was apparently "nothing to write about." "Just write about ANYTHING!You'll be happy you have recorded the daily stuff of your life."

He must have got the idea, because he proceeded to write about an incident that will likely be fun (for some?) to remember one day. Luke gave a brief synopsis of the event (he is required to do at least 6-8 sentences!), but instead of taking a photo of his version (privacy?), I'll share briefly my own version of it.

On a pleasant Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, Joshua walked into the house from playing in the backyard wearing only his underwear. Of course I was immediately alerted to something being wrong and I asked him what in the world he was doing, and WHERE. WERE. HIS. CLOTHES?!?

As I looked at the family room window to the trampoline, and listened to Joshua's version of the incident, it all fell into place. Luke, Joshua, Drew and a couple of neighbor boys were jumping on the trampoline, when Luke thought it would be funny to chain Joshua to the side of the trampoline and see if he could get himself free. Which Joshua was able to do...but he had to leave his clothes chained to the trampoline in order to gain freedom.

I didn't laugh (at the time). I went outside, yelled at Luke, sent the neighbor boys home, and instructed Joshua to go back and retrieve his clothes. Luke's defense was, he wouldn't have done it to anyone but his own brothers. Mike laid on the couch throughout the whole incident trying not to laugh.

Someone asked me the other day, why I don't write blog posts as much anymore. She complimented me on being funny and writing well in the past, and asked why I stopped. I didn't really have an answer, except to say, that maybe as my children get older, they do less funny things, or more accurately, they do things that are sorta funny/sorta questionable. Such as chaining a brother up to a trampoline and him having to strip down to his undies to get free. Perhaps good judgement would say to keep it in the personal journals only. But here we are. (Which really, now that I think about it...sharing the yellow snow incident a few years ago was questionable too.)

(Joshua drew a picture of the trampoline experience in his journal later that evening to go along with the above entry.)

It just so happened Drew chose the exact same thing to write and draw about that Sunday evening too.

And now I have a whole blog post about an incident I had no intention of recording. I was going to write about journals and how much I love Ellie's journals that she always invites me to read. (I'll give her privacy and won't take a photo of them.) I love how much she writes about herself. Love it! She'll surely treasure those written monologues one day.

Megan on the other hand, has discovered a new way to record her life.
Oh boy.
Megan's biggest fan is herself, and her newest hobby is perfect for her.
Vlogging.
She can talk all she wants to a camera and nobody has to interrupt her to get a word in, or tell her to stop talking.
And she gets to edit the hours of her chatter to her greatest priority. It's quite a good hobby for a self-proclaimed narcissist. (insert winky face)

You can watch her introductory vlog here. (And if you really love it...there's more on YouTube!)


Now. Go record something permanent yourself!
You won't regret it.


Monday, March 23, 2015

A Good Mom


Social media has been making me crazy lately.

Why?

Because of all the declarations of, "You're such a good mom!" or "You're the best mom ever!" Last week it was because of leprechaun mischievousness, traps, treats, and green meals.

By these standards, it makes those of us who didn't do or wear anything "green" except grant permission to the 5 year old to go ahead and pinch me for refusing to conforming to the cliche-ness of the day, appear to be the opposite of "Good mom!" or "Fun mom!" or "Best mom ever!"

Today, I read a Facebook status of a friend leaving on a long(ish) trip with her husband. She hasn't left her children for 5 years, and she was lamenting how difficult it was to think about leaving, and the tears, etc. One commentor stated, "It's because you're an Awesome  Mom!" Though, I could relate to the tears and anxiety about leaving. Is that really what makes someone an awesome mom? I was much that way, until I've traveled more frequently in the last couple of years. And though I miss my children, I LOVE time alone with Mike. On our last trip alone? I didn't cry. I may or may not have even missed them a lot. My enjoyment in basking in the present, and realizing real life would return all to quickly, didn't even make me question once, whether or not I was an "awesome" mom.

There's lots of good moms out there! Nearly every mother I know is a good mom, whether or not they dye their milk green on March 17th or cry when they leave their children for a few days.

Reasons I AM a "good mom" in my own right:

I smiled when the 13 year old wrote his name in the dust on the furniture.

I picked up throw up chunks off the church carpet from my 5 year old. (more on that later)

I sat at the dining room table and talked with  my 16 year old, when I really, really wanted to go to bed.

I spent 20 minutes letting the 10 year old ask me question after question for a "Questionnaire Diary" just when I was about to pick up and read a new book.

I held a sad 7 year old on my lap, when I had 20 guests arriving in 30 minutes and food to finish preparing.

I am a good mom. I'm quite certain you are too.

But it likely has nothing to do with whether or not leprechauns came to your house last week, or if you picked up chunks of throw-up at church yesterday.

Rant over.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Crocodiles in Africa

Beginning a few months ago, Drew has had a fascination with Africa. For a good two weeks, he asked questions incessantly about Africa. "Why don't we ever go to Africa?" "Can we go to Africa this summer?" "Is it scary in Africa?" "Do they have cities in Africa?" "What?! People live in Africa?"

I'm quite certain Drew's love of Africa comes from his deep love for monkeys.

Drew's obsession with Africa has lifted over the last few weeks. Well until last Sunday that is. Since then it's been rekindled, but with a depressing twist to it.

Crocodiles eating animals and people.

Megan was in charge of our weekly Family Home Evening this last week. She pulled out an old (LDS) church video, titled, "Spiritual Crocodiles." Mike remembered seeing it during his youth. I, on the other hand had never seen it before. (Or perhaps I would have questioned the appropriateness of it for a child that loves Africa!?)

With genuine apology for the spoiler alert, the video shows an antelope being eaten by a crocodile, and then without showing it, the viewer realizes a man is also eaten by a crocodile.

The analogy is very good. I loved it...

For my older children.

But for Drew?

He didn't get the lessons of "temptation" or "avoiding bad things." Drew didn't comprehend mud-waters and traps being likened to sin and wrong-doing. All he could think about was crocodiles in AFRICA eating animals and people. In the short six and a half minute segment we watched of the video, Drew's romanticized fascination with Africa was tainted with crocodiles not only living in its waters, but eating its animals and people!

When the video ended, Drew sat on the couch trying hard not to cry. We cajoled him along in participating with our "hunt for crocodiles" activity Megan had arranged, and before long it seemed the video was forgotten.

Or so I thought.

The next morning, Drew enjoyed a very full bath alone. As usual I was nearby, but not close enough for Drew's liking. He exclaimed aloud to me, "Mom! You might want to come watch me be a crocodile." So I moved closer and observed a crocodile-like-child making his way through the tub water. Quickly, Drew arose from the water, and with a serious and sullen face voiced, "I am so glad I was not that animal that got eaten by a crocodile."

And with his announcement, Drew was finished being a pseudo crocodile in the water. He immediately wanted to get out of the tub. I was irritated he didn't stay in there very long for how full the water was, but the look on his face, though completely irrational, was enough for me to give in and allow gallons of warm, soapy water to be wasted.

His obsessive questions have ceased from being about Africa, and he is now completely obsessed about crocodiles and the danger they impose. ("And are there alligators in Africa too?")

I've decided to institute a new rule. Family Home Evening lessons and church video viewing now has to be approved by me.

PS-It's unfortunate that a couple of Drew's favorite people at our office happen to be the son and grandson of the "Spiritual Crocodiles" author. Usually my children love recognizing and reminding each other "that's so and so's"dad/grandpa. Except now for Drew. Right now, Drew can't believe someone's grandpa and dad would tell such a horrible story. (Even though Drew is mightily impressed that Jeff's grandpa has been to Africa and seen a crocodile. Never mind the fact that Drew's grandparents have been there too. Ho hum. )

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Lot of Time to Think

I've had a lot of extra time on my hands for the last week. A lot of time to do nothing but lay in bed, read books, watch a show on Netflix, flip through magazines, eat chocolate, etc. As fidgety and antsy as I've felt at times during the forced down time, I've had a lot of time to think. I decided this morning, I'd better record these thoughts of mine, because I don't anticipate this kind of down time again, at least I hope not. Surgery is not really my cup of tea.

(Mike insisted last week pre-surgery, "Let's take a before picture. You look smily and happy! Then in a few hours we'll take an after picture." I think Mike knew better than to take an after picture.)

Last Thursday, I had a hysterectomy. The surgery went well, but those initial 24+ hours afterwards were hell. The nausea and vomiting was horrible. I felt like I was in a back and forth dance step with the nurses...they were trying to help control pain, I was just trying to quit feeling sick. They wanted to keep trying different drugs until I told them I didn't care what my pain level was, I didn't want anymore pain meds. I'd deal with the pain, once the nausea subsided. I was right...even though it took far too many more hours to get it all out of my system. I'm pretty in tune with my body. I wasn't sick because I was hungry--and therefore DID NOT NEED THAT DISGUSTING CUP OF CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP AT 12:40AM. I put one bite in my mouth for the nurse, and wanted to cry. I think I did. I declined anymore, and then allowed the second shot in my bum of anti-nausea medicine to knock me out, and within hours, all the anesthesia and pain meds were out of my system, and my stomach growled of hunger and the nausea WAS GONE. (There were quite a few heartfelt prayers offered too--I won't give full credit to the medicine alone.)

Mike is my favorite. He is far from a romantic. There were no fancy bouquets of flowers, or handwritten get-well cards from him, but having the person you love most in the world, hold your throw-up bag while you fill it, or help remove the blankets because of what didn't make it into the bag says I love you more than many words could. He sat by my bed for hours and hours while I dozed in and out of sleep. He calmed me when I got agitated, and laughed at me while I hallucinated. (He has a page and a half of quotes I apparently said/asked during my drug induced state.) Although, I clearly do remember a bird flying over my head in the hospital room, and having to duck to avoid it. Mike insists there was no bird, and I was laying perfectly still when I exclaimed, "Agh-there's a bird in the room." Apparently I thought there was a cow down in the hospital lobby too, but that's a whole 'nother story. I may or may not have accused him of making too much noise playing a game of "Bop-It" as he silently sat perusing a landscape magazine.

Upon my arrival home from the hospital, Mike's unconditional love has continued. The laundry, the meals, the clean-up, the constant, "Sit down." "Get back in bed!" instructions speak louder than any "romantic" notions could. He loves me. Not that I ever doubt it, but as I've watched him to double-duty, I have felt so much love from him through his simple gestures and hard-work. Although, I say he is not a romantic, I can't discount the flower that he pulls from a nearby bouquet on the counter (from someone else!) that has been placed on my breakfast tray every single morning, when he (or a child) hand delivers the breakfast to my bed. It sounds trite, and I'm recording it only for me, but the fact he squirts my ketchup into a little separate condiment dish rather than on the plate with my egg, along with the egg/grilled peppers presentation, and the flower to the side speaks volumes to me. I'd take a photo, but the only tray we have...a cheap purple plastic one from Target I bought 15+ years ago for Megan sort of ruins the ambiance of the whole thing. I must buy a classier tray for such breakfast in bed gestures.

We have had several meals brought to our family. Last night it happened to be me that said the blessing on the dinner before we ate. As I expressed thanks for the food, my heart was filled with true gratitude, and I had a hard time speaking aloud the words of my prayer. Though I've prepared and delivered many meals for other families, there is something humbling about being on the receiving end. I'm truly grateful for the kindnesses of others.

I'm not a television, movie, or Netflix person...typically. Except since Saturday, I've watched about 10 hours of a charming BBC television series set in 1870's England. I have about 5 hours left of the series, and I'm quite committed to not starting another. I find myself wrapped up in the lives of a department store 100+ years ago, and though I would have absolutely adored dressing in those dresses each day, I think the fact I dreamed last night I was part of the charming 1870's community, tells me I've spent a little too much time in front of a screen.

In an email just before surgery, my mother-in-law was reminding me to take it easy, and then said, "Be sure to keep wearing your pajamas for effect." I've thought of her each morning after I shower and get dressed in....pajamas. I think it is wise advise. I may start wearing pajamas out of the blue every so often. It'll be code for, "Today I'm taking a day off."

I have a softer side to me than Mike does. He's a little more strict and firm with the children in the morning than I am, and when Joshua informed me this morning he hadn't had breakfast yet because, "we have to clean", I was reminded how anxious everyone is for my return to normalcy.

I think my family appreciates and realizes how much I really do for them and the house. Mike is shocked how many wet towels are on the floor by 8:20 each morning, and how often the laundry baskets re-fill after he's emptied them. I think the children prefer my type of after school snacks on the counter, rather than the bunch of rotting bananas and bowl of wilting grapes Mike set out for them on Monday.

I have dear friends, and a good family.

I love that my body is physically healthy and strong. With the exception of a few internal body parts that hadn't been working correctly lately and needed removing, I'm physically fit and healthy--for which I am very grateful. I don't like that I feel exhausted after climbing our stairs. I miss not being able to run up the stairs two at a time, and I don't like that I have to lay down and rest after showering. But I know it will soon pass, and I'm anxious for that to happen.

I'm trying my hardest to quit feeling antsy about my rest. In a few weeks, I will likely long for a day to stay in bed with no commitments or expectations, except to take it easy. So I will enjoy it for a few days longer, while I can. I won't think of the things I could be helping with, or what things aren't getting done, I will simply enjoy my friends that come to visit, the books on my nightstand, the last few series on my Netflix feed, the games with my children, and the lazy moments throughout the day, when Mike returns home to help with Drew, or to switch the laundry, and he lays down in the bed next to me for a while, even though I know he has 549 other things he should or could be doing at the office.

Laying low for so long now hasn't been easy for me, but this temporary change from normalcy has some benefits for us all. Because honestly? I quite enjoy the sound of Mike vacuuming downstairs right now, while I'm laying in my nightgown in bed, at 9:17am doing nothing but posting this blog post, and then I plan to watch something on Netflix.

Glorious.
Temporary.
But glorious.


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