Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's In A Name?

 (My absolute favorite picture so far of my five children taken together!!)

My children ask lots of 'why' questions.
The questions make me crazy and I often get tired of answering them.
So I frequently have a standard answer.
"Why is the sky blue?"
and "Why is your name...?"
My point being, sometimes there is no real answer.
Except, there is kind of an answer to 'Why is your name...?'
Hopefully they know the answer.
(And though I've told some of these 'stories'  before, I wanted them all together in one nice little (LONG) entry...

Megan Eliza
Clear back in junior high I decided my first girl would be Megan.  It seemed every Megan I knew was pretty and for some reason, my junior high mentality must have equated the two together.   I found out Megan was a girl while I was pregnant, but I wasn't sure she would be named Megan. There were a few other names I liked too. I made a chart that hung on the fridge that had the days of the week and what we would call our baby if she was born on a certain day. (The name 'Megan' was the only name on the chart more than once.) When Megan was born, I told Mike to go out to the waiting room and tell family members she had finally arrived.  Before he would go out he asked, "What's her name going to be?" I replied, "I don't know yet, just go tell them she's born." This dialogue went back and forth 3-4 times, until Mike said, "Is it going to be Megan?" and I said firmly, "FINE-It will be Megan. NOW GO TELL THEM SHE IS BORN!"
When Megan was just a few hours old, a family member (who shall remain nameless) said, "So what are you going to name her?" Mike replied, "Megan." The family member said, "Give us some more choices to choose from."
(That is not what you want to hear when you have just named your brand new first-born baby!!!!!!!)
Eliza was chosen as Megan's middle name after my Granny, Violet Eliza.

Luke Michael
I remember during my pregnancy with Luke throwing out lots of different names.  Samuel, Luke, Jacob, Joshua, Oliver, Liam, etc. etc.   Although Luke seemed a clear favorite of mine, Mike didn't really love any of them (surprise, surprise!) and we really had reached no decision.  The summer preceeding Luke's birth, was a very difficult, challenging time for Mike and me. Many serious decisions lingered overhead, Mike was struggling with some major life changes, and I was doing my best to support him.  It was no secret that I was frequently heard to say to Mike, "The timing of this baby couldn't be any worse."  One summer day, a friend of Mike's, mature in years and life experiences happened to drop by.  Sensing our struggles, Jim asked Mike if he could give Mike and me a blessing.  The only thing I remember being said was, "The baby you are carrying will bring a much needed light into your family."  I was humbled and said nothing more of the 'bad timing.'

Towards the end of my pregnancy with Luke, I laid in bed during General Conference flipping through a name book.  I found the name Luke.  It read 'Bringer of Light.'  I couldn't believe what I just read.  My decision was made.  I knew the Lord knew us and He loved us.  We have never forgotten that experience.  And though our world remained 'dark' for another year and a half or so, Luke was a much needed light that continually shone through.
Michael was chosen as Luke's middle name, after Mike!

Ellie Louise
When Megan was about a year old, I remember driving down the street and deciding that my next daughter would be named Annie.  Though I didn't 'find out' what Ellie was during my pregnancy, I knew she was a little girl.  I never considered any boy names, and really not any other girl names.  Her name was already picked out, 'Annie Louise.'  Ellie was born in the evening.  A couple of hours after Ellie was born, Mike and the kids left the hospital and it was just my new baby and me in the hospital room alone. I could not settle, I could not rest. I could not name my baby Annie.  She wasn't an Annie. I shed a few tears, and had no other name choice, but she was not Annie.  Mike came the next morning and I broke the news to him, that her name couldn't be Annie.  Of course he had no suggestions, only opinions.  I remember only saying three name choices, he scoffed at the first two and laughed out loud at the third, 'Eleanor.' "Well, what about Ellie instead?' I suggested.  He didn't really like it, but was not wanting to go up against a hormonal-just-delivered-a-baby-woman.  Ellie it was.  It just felt right, and even though my 'room-mate' in the hospital named her baby, Annie.  I didn't look back.  Ellie's name for 'some reason', was not Annie.
Louise was chosen as Ellie's middle name after my mom, Christine Louise and her grandmother, Edith Louise.

Joshua Jace
I have a list of names I wrote down when I was eleven years old to name my future children.  Joshua is on the list. The name 'Joshua' was never mentioned more than once or twice when considering a name for Luke, but it was a definite consideration with number four.  Though I did not choose to 'find out' Joshua was a boy, I had had an experience that left me fairly certain I was going to have a boy.  Though I doubted it (lacked faith) at times, I never considered a girls name.  Besides, I always had 'Annie' to fall back on.  In the hours after Joshua was born, I was torn between two names.  Joshua and Dallin.  I loved them both. My biggest drawback for the name Joshua was because I wanted the name to be called JoshUA.  I did not want a name that could be shortened.  But, as I thought back to my childhood list of future names, I chose Joshua.    (When Joshua was three months old, I spent the evening with a group of ladies, after a few hours, one of the ladies said to me, "Do you ever just say Josh?"  I replied no.  And even three and a half years later, I can honestly say, neither Mike or me or any of our children have EVER called him Josh!)  Incidentally, a couple of weeks ago while driving home from church, Joshua asked, "Why do they say 'Josh' to me in nursery?"
Jace was chosen as Joshua's middle name as a combination of my brothers Casey and James.

Drew William
Though I desperately wanted my last baby to be a boy, I could not come up with any boy name that felt right.  Of course, I did not 'find out' Drew was a boy and speculation was all we had to go by.  'Annie' was still clearly the choice for a girl.  I continually attempted to convince myself and those around me that 'it' was a girl because I only had a girl name option.  About three weeks before Drew was born, I laid on the couch in our loft while the children played.  With no particular focus on baby names, I suddenly thought of the name Drew.  I dismissed it almost immediately.  Upon mentioning the name to Mike, he quipped, "I don't particularly like the idea of naming a child a past-tense of a verb."  Nothing more was said about the first name.  Unlike the previous four pregnancies, we did not have a middle name picked out prior to a first name.  Knowing this baby would be the last, and considering the other four children were named after my side of the family, I asked Mike who he would like to name our baby after.  He had no opinion (surprise!!!). We were going to choose Peter (after my dad) as the middle name, but it seemed too close to my cousin, Andrew Peter if we did actually decide on Drew.   I pushed and prodded and nagged and complained for Mike to choose a middle name.  He didn't.  So I referred Mike to the fact that he frequently talks about his Grandpa Williams.  (Although I wasn't really keen on his grandpa's first or middle name as an option.)   In the end we decided that because Mike had dearly loved his Williams grandparents, we (I) chose 'William' as a close-enough match to 'WilliamS.'  (Additionally, I loved the reference to English royalty.) 

My brother and his fairly new wife had been at a family dinner with us the day before Drew was born when we all sat discussing baby names.  Everybody knew my girl choice was 'Annie', and my dear-somewhat-new-sister-in-law at the time kept quiet because that was 'her' baby name.  She later told us she desperately hoped Drew would not be a girl.  Eight months after Drew was born, we visited my brother and sister-in-law's brand new baby girl.  They had just named her Annie.  Though I do not think names are pre-destined, fore-ordained or necessarily of any eternal significance, I finally knew as I held baby Annie, why I had never used the name.  Ellie loves, loves, loves cousin Annie.  Sometimes I can't help but believe Ellie and Annie knew each other before this life, and I often contemplate whether or not it was their little spirits that whispered to me in that hospital room in Orem in 2004 not to name Ellie, Annie.

Someone once commented to me, 'It's the kid that makes the name, not the name that makes the kid.'  I have found that to be truer than true.
Megan. Luke. Ellie. Joshua. Drew.
I can't imagine them with any other name.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks In Our Own Way

Though we are very blessed to have family members around us, we rarely spend a holiday with just our little family.  We discussed it as a family, carefully listening and considering each family member's opinion and then we turned down four invitations for a traditional Thanksgiving spent with extended family. 

Here are a few of the highlights...

Running a 5K first thing Thursday morning in 16 degree temperatures with my BFF.  (Not who I was planning on running it with, but we decided at the very last minute to brave the cold...)
(I am well aware that this is NOT a good photo of me)

THE not-so-traditional-dinner...
The children voted between tacos at home or dinner at the Golden Corral.  The Golden Corral buffet won.  It was certainly an interesting crowd there on Thanksgiving Day!! And that is all I'm going to say about that...
  And of course as evening came, we had a Family Carnefel:
Complete with a 'Sucking Marshmallow game' courtesy of Ellie, a 'Turkey Hunt' courtesy of Megan, a 'Left/Right Turkey Story' written by Megan and a good old-fashioned game of Twister.

Drew entertained us with Peek-a-Boo.

Our cup surely runneth over--we are very blessed!

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

Thankful Papers

Our traditional November-hang-on-the-pantry-doors-and-be-thankful papers for 2010:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rope Art

Recently during Sacrament Meeting, Joshua asked for some paper.  I handed a small hotel chain pad for him to draw on.  Before I knew it, he had used up the whole pad.  Each picture looked like lots of repeated scribbled circles, but they were 'cowboy wopes.'

Just the other day I found some 'cowboy wopes' and I'm not talking about the ones that I trip over on my family room floor all day every day.
I found them on my bedside table.
Not so cute.

Then Saturday morning, while sitting in the chair next to the bed talking with Mike, I found some more 'wopes.'  This time, they had additional artwork included.
(excuse the flash)

Joshua was summoned into the room and Mike questioned, "Who drew on the dresser?"  Joshua stayed quiet, yet silently shook his head no, as Mike questioned him, "Was it Ellie?"  "Was it Megan?" and so on.  Not wanting Joshua tempted to lie, Mike carefully avoided asking Joshua directly if it was him.
To no avail would Joshua admit he was the artist.

And then in came Luke.
Smart Luke.

"What is this a picture of?" Luke slyly questioned as he pointed to the non-rope design.
To which Joshua remained silent.

Luke started making guesses.

And then presumably, after what Joshua must have considered insulting suggestions,
He snapped, "It's a SPIDER."

 There was no denying it then.

The side of my dresser is now adorned with a large selection of pen-induced engravings of 'cowboy wopes' and one SPIDER.

And such is the life of a parent.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho-It's Off To Work...

I love that when Luke wants something, he usually asks what he can do to try to get it.  This time around, his list of possible chores were given at bedtime and plans were made to work on them the next day after school.

The next morning he woke up slightly earlier than usual and went straight to the piano.
Followed by going upstairs to the loft/toyroom to clean up all the toys.
Next he came back downstairs retrieved the window cleaner and paper towels and proceeded to clean the inside of the sliding glass door.
His mind was so focused on how he could earn his $5.00 (back) that he didn't seem to be bothered about going outside to clean the other side of the door.
Even though it was 30 degrees outside and he was wearing only his underwear.
Upon finishing the door, Luke started to clean the bathroom, but getting dressed and ready for school was highly recommended (by me).

I love that about Luke.  He knows how and when to work.
Well, sort of...
Just not how and what to wear!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Memory For Monday (With 'That' Thursday)

While at the local grocery store recently, the girl checking me out and the girl bagging my groceries were discussing the upcoming holiday; Thanksgiving Day. The bagger mentioned that at her college, there are lots of students from another country and how strange that they have no plans, traditions or understanding of the upcoming day.

It took me back to a Thursday afternoon when I was about 12 years old. I was anticipating my dad coming home from work to take my brother and me to mutual that evening. My mom was fixing dinner and was teary eyed (and a little cranky). She mentioned through her tears something about her family 'back home being all together today.'

I remember distinctly standing in our back garden that 'Indian Summer' type afternoon playing with my brothers.   Looking towards the house, feeling glad I was outside and my mother was inside fixing dinner, I suddenly remembered, Oh, it is that Thursday that makes my mom cry. That's why she's fixing a 'Sunday dinner' on a Thursday!!!

I can remember that like it was yesterday.
I had absolutely no reference point for what my mother was missing.
Now I do.
I love Thanksgiving.
Though I didn't 'celebrate' or 'participate' in my first Thanksgiving until I was fourteen years old, I love, appreciate and treasure the holiday.
I now have an understanding as to why my mother used to cry on 'that Thursday.'

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Half

(Loving the half-wrapped make-up kit from Justice! Which was 40% off of 99 cents!!! Told you we don't do fancy gifts on half birthdays...)

Today Ellie is six and a half.
Instead of just reveling in the moment, she seemed perplexed as she asked,
"Why do we have to have a half birthday?"
I told her we didn't, we just thought it was fun to celebrate.  
To which she followed up with, 
"Well why did Jesus make half birthdays?"
Well Jesus didn't really.  It's just a passage of time. But how do you try to explain the existence of a date versus celebrating a date to a six and A HALF year old?
Happy Half Birthday Ellie.
Now just enjoy the rest of the day...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Around Here

It's been a good week or so around here.  Nothing too memorable or special, just the regular routines our days are made of.  But for some reason this week it's hitting me even more, that this is the real stuff life is made of, and I'm loving it....
  • While attending YW In Excellence the other night with Megan, I realized I've come full circle.  I've participated in the YW program as a youth, as a leader, and now as a parent.  My testimony of the inspired program has only strengthened through the years.
  • Megan recently read a book at school she thought Luke would love.  Each night she reads some of it to him while he draws pictures of what is happening in the story in the home-made book she made for  him.  She reviews what they have read and has him write highlights after the reading session, to make sure he is comprehending the above-his-grade-level-book. For some reason, the book makes me teary eyed to look at.  (They don't always get along quite so well....)
  • Joshua keeps randomly pleading "I want to go to the beach."  When I tell him it is too far to drive today, he responds, "We can just fr-ry in a plane".
  • Mike's car got sprayed by a skunk.  We all favored the suburban for this week's errands/trips.
  • Mike and I did a 48 hour experiment Sunday-Monday.  We didn't ask/remind our children to do a thing (Besides practice and brush their teeth).  Mike and I did very little but the necessities too.  By Monday night, there were things strewn EVERYWHERE.  A very interesting and TO THE POINT Family Home Evening followed...
  • The other day, I needed my potato masher.  I found it in the mudroom.  Go figure?
  • My PTA board is fabulous and truly makes my job seem easy.  Emails, kind words and a quick visit from them make the hard stuff easier.
  • I'm loving the random "I'm grateful fors" that are being written on our traditional November "I'm Grateful For..." papers on the pantry doors. Ellie writing she is thankful for the "pinerses" (pioneers) made me smile.
  • I am honestly trying to enjoy Drew as a toddler, but shelves and cupboards being emptied  everyday is not always conducive to 'savoring the moment.'

    • I HEART, HEART, HEART my husband.   He makes me laugh, he makes me happy, he makes me smile, he makes me want to be better. 
    • Joshua has returned to full-time Cowboy attire.  He's making sure to get to the bathroom in plenty of time to undo the chaps, belt buckle and Wranglers so as not to loose the privilege of wearing them...
    • We took a family vote on Sunday and have opted to stay home as a family for Thanksgiving day.  The children can't stop planning our festivities.  We've had suggestions and enthusiasm for ideas such as tacos for dinner, a family 'carnefel', games all day, and the newest favorite--eating out at an all you can eat buffet!  Who knows?
    • Last night I decided to 'test' Drew's abilities.  I asked him to go upstairs and get his jammies.  He returned wearing one of Ellie's sandals from her bedroom. Such is life!
    • While reading my current read, President Monson's biography the other night, a particular scripture jumped out to me, "Be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.  And out of small things proceedeth that which is great."  It's changed my attitude in the days since...
    Life is by no means perfect around here, but this week I'm consciously recalling one of my personal mottos: 'Enjoy the little things in life for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things.'  It is making all the difference.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    A Memory For Monday (With A House)

    Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the days/dates in 2010 are the same as in 2004?
    Now duh, I know that happens every few years (my dad and brother are probably screaming the answer at the computer screen as they read), but I've noticed it several times throughout this year.

    None more poignantly though than Saturday, November 13th.
    Saturday became six years since we moved from our beloved home.
    (The front view of our house that carefully disguises the garage part in back...)  

    To give a brief overview, I'm talking about our garage turned house that has it's own scrapbook dedicated to it's four year building plan.  It was Mike's dream garage.  Mike had the plans drawn up and started before we were even dating.  Mike will always say that my comment upon first hearing about his 'dream garage' was 'That's really cool."  But in MY DEFENSE, we were just friends and I had no idea we'd ever even date let alone get married....

    The whole garage part is too long for this memory and like I said, the building of the garage/house has it's own book of pictures and commentary.  (Please note when you look at the book, Mike is always quick to tell you to only look at the pictures, I'm quick to tell you to be sure to read what I wrote about it.)

    Anyway, we built the house portion of our house as though we would stay there forever.  It had a lot of bells and whistles.  We planned to stay there forever.  We loved our ward, we loved our neighborhood, we loved the city, we loved it all.  And then one day, when Ellie was just a couple of months old, I felt like we needed to move.  Mike laughed at first, and then dismissed the conversation anytime it arose.  Within a couple of months, he too knew it was what we were meant to do.  I'll never forget the first time I heard him ask in his prayers that our home would quickly sell, I knew then that this step in our lives was being guided by a higher power.

    We knew where we were supposed to move.  We knew it as soon as we saw the location, lot and house plan.  It was a backwards step in many ways.  It didn't make sense to many people, most of all to us.  The only way to get the location we knew we needed to be at was to go through a builder that did nothing custom.  Mike was losing his six car garage, I was losing my custom kitchen.  Yet we couldn't deny the guidance of the spirit in our lives.

    I'll never forget that November Saturday afternoon when Mike and I stood alone in the empty, cleared out house Mike built with his own two hands.  As we stood in the barren family room, before walking out the door for the last time, I held Mike while he cried and cried and cried.

    Later that night as we laid in bed at my parents house (that became our home for the next five months), it was my turn to cry and cry.  I apologized over and over to Mike that I had ever received the initial prompting.  I kept apologizing for what I was sure was the beginning of the biggest mistake of our lives.

    That day was six years ago.
    And though Mike still talks about his old garage space, and Megan still talks about the yellow tube slide out back and I frequently lament the loss of my custom kitchen cabinets, for some reason we are where we are meant to be.
    We now know it without a doubt.

    And we wouldn't trade it for the world.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010


    (I thought this thank you was very kind to put in the program. 
    It wasn't  until a couple of hours after church that Luke saw the printed program.  He beamed.)

    A dear lady from the days before we moved,  frequently referred to 'PayDays' for mothers.  At the time, my three children were much younger than most of her grandchildren, but I appreciated the sentiments of her words.  Today, I thought of Sister Ann Searle and wish I could tell her that today, I understood what she meant.

    As Megan sat playing the harp today during our Primary Sacrament Meeting Program, Mike knelt below her holding the microphone (Who knew the church doesn't have a microphone stand?!?). My dad leaned over to me and whispered, "Don't you wish you had a picture of that?"  Of course I did.  As I sat watching Megan (and Mike) at the harp, and Ellie and Luke singing enthusiastically, my mind took a picture.  One I hope never fades.

    Megan played her harp solo and then harp accompaniment clearly and beautifully.

    Luke recited his (written by himself) part somewhat nervously, yet with a sense of confidence as he recited from memory,  "Me and my dad set up chairs at the church every Sunday.  I also help my dad clean the garage.  Each week when I take our garbage cans out to the street I take two neighbor's cans too."

    (Before Ellie said her part, I leaned over to Mike and whispered, "I hope Ellie remembers the KEY word of her part."  Mike questioned, "What's that?"  "SOMETIMES" I replied.  I wouldn't want anyone to think scripture reading is magical at our house...)

    Ellie said her piece flawlessly from memory.  Quoting from a Primary talk she gave earlier in the year, she confidently declared, "My family reads the Book of Mormon.  Sometimes when we are reading it is nice and peaceful in our home.  It is easy to feel the Holy Ghost at those times."

    This year, ALL THREE of my children participating sang every word to every song.  They were reverent.  They performed their written parts and musical parts almost perfectly. 

    As the Bishop closed the meeting, he eloquently spoke of the Savior's visit to the Nephites, and reminded us of the Savior gathering the children around him.  It is no wonder that when we read the account in the Book of Mormon, it tells us that the Savior wept.

    Today my children, joined by all the children in our Primary taught us in a way no adult ever could.  Today was a payday.  One of those brief moments where all we try to instill in our children shows.  Even if just briefly.

    And of course, it will be an even greater payday if my children forever live the words with as much enthusiasm as they sang them today,
    "I know He lives.  I will follow faithfully. My heart I give to him, I know that my Savior loves me."

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    In My Humble Opinion

    Recently at a party, a friend of mine quoted an oft-said cliche.  It was directed at me and as everybody (including myself) laughed I turned to her and said, "Just so you know, I disagree with that."  In a friendly banter she quipped "Oh and that is unusual."  Of course everybody that knew me well laughed.

    In addition to that, a friend that I really enjoy (who I recently reconnected with after not interacting since we were teenagers) said to me, "When we were teenagers, I didn't know you had opinions." (Adulthood has brought out the opinionated side of me.)

    Even though it may come as a surprise to some of you, lately I feel like I've kept my mouth shut so much I feel like I'm going to explode.
    So to prevent a spontaneous combustion around here.
    Here goes-
    Consider yourselves all warned.

    I find it very hard to tolerate, "I don't have time for..." or "I can't afford...."  It's all about our choices.  I'd much rather hear "I don't choose to take the time for..." or "I don't choose to spend the money on..."  For the most part, we have the ability to choose how we spend each.
    (Don't even get me started on people I know who don't pay their bills, yet own nicer things than me....)

    Why do some people insist upon being so loud and center-of-attentionish that it causes others to cringe for their embarrassment?  My husband recently sat with me in a meeting I typically attend alone.  After the first five minutes, Mike turned to me and said, "I am already worn out."  Do some people not know when or HOW to be quiet?

    Why are mothers and wives so concerned about about 'getting out of the house'?  I have five children. I have a husband.  Though I LOVE a break every once in a while from the routines of life, and certainly mothers do need some time away from their children, why don't more women enjoy being with their husbands on a regular basis instead of girlfriends?  (Maybe I have just found myself on too many mass email lists of women inviting me to do too many other things with my time.  Don't they want to be home with their husbands?) I look forward to Mike coming home from work EVERY SINGLE DAY.    If we are both at home in the evenings after kids are in bed, we are together nearly 99% of that time.  He is the number one person I choose to spend my time with.

    I think we overuse the terms 'being Christian' and 'taking the higher road'.  Really-what do those terms really mean?   I DO NOT by any stretch of the imagination think it means participating, endorsing or excusing unhealthy, inappropriate or unkind behaviors.  Sometimes, it is better to just stay away from damaging situations.

    Ok-I really need to quit before I get myself in trouble.
    But just one last thing:

    Though I consider myself a nice person.  Maybe I'm not a NICE person.  The people that always have sweet, soft spoken voices, a big smile plastered on their faces and anytime you see them they have a big cheery wave of their hand for you despite carrying children, grocery bags, etc. make me CRAZY.  Just for once, please show the world you are HUMAN and your life isn't as perfect as you're hoping people think it is.

    And then for those people that think the cheery person's life actually is perfect and admirable and are heard to say "Oh-I-wish-I-could-be-like-them"--do you really?!?
    Not me. No way.

    Sure, maybe I have less friends than 'them.'
    But I'm perfectly ok with that.
    I am ME!
    And what you see is pretty much, what you get!

    Have a good weekend.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Now I Know My ABC's...

    Megan learned to read at three and a half years old.  No lie.  Though she could sing the ABC song at 21 months (courtesy of my tutoring), and I pulled out a wooden ABC puzzle for her when she was two and I taught her the letter 'N' was for Nana and 'G' for Grandpa, the real credit for her reading early is owed to Mike.  While I served in a YW calling and attended meetings after meetings, Luke was often sleeping and Mike used their alone time to teach Megan to read.  By the time she was in pre-school, her teacher periodically left Megan reading a book to the class while she ran downstairs and made copies. 
    Of course I was a proud parent.

    Luke learned to sing his ABC song and learned to read when he was ...  That doesn't really matter, he was busy learning how to build, explore and create.  But he did get a great review from his teacher on Tuesday and all is well in the academic department.
    Of course I was a proud parent.

    Ellie started reading chapter books last year in Kindergarten.  I'm not really sure who gets the credit for this.  Though she still had some access to the wooden ABC puzzle early on despite the missing 'T' and 'J', I have to admit she was not treated with the equal one-on-one time that the firstborn was.  And it was sometime during her pre-school year that I realized she could recognize simple words.  Truly, Ellie's above-grade-level reading ability should probably be credited to non-other than Ellie herself.  
    Of course I am a proud parent.

    Joshua loves to read books and has been able to sing his ABC song for over a year now.  But just a couple of months ago I began to experience feelings of panic when I realized that Joshua doesn't recognize any of the alphabet letters and Megan could READ AT HIS AGE!!  So a few weeks ago out came the magnetic letters and a big cookie sheet pan.  (The wooden ABC puzzle after losing more letters than 'T' and 'J'  is in it's final resting place at the local landfill.)  There is a reason I do not home-school my children... (or teach them to read!)   Learning to recognize letters with a three year old is not exactly my favorite leisurely past-time, I feel like nothing is sinking in.   (Then again, cleaning toilets is not exactly my favorite leisurely past-time--but it's in the same category--they need to get done!)  So alas, we keep on going.

    This morning Joshua sat on my lap while I read him a book.  We had just said 'The End' together and I closed the book shut, when Joshua started pointing to the letters on the back.  And while I sat there in complete and utter shock, he pointed to the letters and said
    'L is for Luke'
    'D is for Drew'
    'C' is for Casey and Cindy
    'B is for Bum-Bum'  (We do know people whose name starts with 'B' but for some reason, bum-bum is more fun to say.)
    'K' is for Kellen and Kari
    'U' is for James  (Ok, so we still have a little work to do!)

    But still, I am a proud parent.

    Four kids knowing their ABC's (almost).
    Only one to go!

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Guilt Reducer

    It’s no secret that English people are not known for the best teeth and of course, I grew up in England...

    (Slight sidenote:  When Mike and I were newlyweds, we met up for dinner with a group of friends he went to high school with.  One of the girls upon meeting me, had the audacity to say, “You have pretty good teeth for being from England.”  I thought her comment rather rude and didn’t excuse it even if  her husband was in dental school and she probably had a heightened awareness of teeth or because her name was GG (What kind of name is that anyway?! Of course, not that I'm holding a grudge or anything...)

    Though I strongly enforce teeth brushing in the morning and occasionally ask at night, I have never been good at getting my children to floss.  Every six months at our routine dentist visit the sweet hygienist reminds me of the importance of having my children floss daily.  She tells me about her little toddler whose teeth she brushes and flosses twice a day.  (I am always tempted to politely remind her that I have FIVE sets of teeth PLUS my own to keep track off, so brushing once a day is sometimes all that gets done.  But I refrain.)

    Without fail, I leave the dentist office riddled with guilt about the absence seldom flossing done at our house.

    Until recently....
    While perusing the dental hygiene aisle of Walmart I found what has become one of my favorite parenting guilt reducers.

    Now each night, my children lay in bed armed with a good book and a floss stick.  We are killing two birds with one stone...Flossing-check.   Reading Minutes-Check
    Now that is some efficient parenting!
    Although the one drawback is somehow they never make it into the garbage can and I find them scattered randomly throughout the house, and thus very frequently found in Drew’s hand/mouth.  But I consider Drew’s consumption of transferred germs (and possible pieces of food) a small price to pay for the potential of fewer cavities and far less parental guilt.

    Now if I could just find a product that will reduce the guilt that comes from raising my voice too much...
    Duct tape perhaps?

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    A Memory For Monday (With Ronald McDonald and A Cap)

    When I was about seven years old, Auntie Sue (who isn't really my aunt, but that's a whole 'nother story) hosted an adult only fancy dress party (Which translated into American means a costume party) that my parents were invited to. The party just so happened to fall on the same night as my friend's birthday party.  Fortunately, my dad was able to pick me up from the party I attended in time to get me home to my non-driving babysitter Granny and my brother and still be able to make it to the fancy dress party on time.

    You would not have believed the excitement at my friends house that early evening when the doorbell rang and Ronald McDonald was standing at the door.


    That is certainly a stand-out childhood memory to have been picked up from a birthday party by Ronald McDonald.  I was the talk of my school class that Monday morning in school.

    And for some reason, that picking-me-up-from-a-party-memory reminds me of a not so pleasant time when my dad picked me up from my friend Kathy Davies party one March evening.

    I can remember distinctly the birthday party and watching a Mickey Mouse film projected onto her bedroom wall.  And even though cartoons bored me as a child and I did not enjoy that part of the party, overall I'd had a great time.  And then my smile disappeared when my dad showed up at the door to pick me up wearing a cap similar to this. 

    A big lump gathered in my throat and I thought I was going to burst into tears at the embarrassment of my dad wearing the type of cap that our milkman wore.  (Now I DO NOT have anything against milkman, and certainly not against our milkman Barry, but to me he was old, not to mention missing a couple of teeth and had very poor grammar. And although his niceness and friendliness stand out most when I think about him now, as a child he was the only other person I knew that wore a cap like that.)  Well of course Phillip Overall always wore one too, but his personality fitted it perfectly.  It is very interesting to note that I always really liked both Barry and Phillip as a child and now as an adult I recognize them as 'true salt of the earth people' so who knows exactly why I had such an adverse reaction to my own dad wearing a cap.

    Oh man did I digress...
    Back to my point with the cap...
    My dad used to keep his coat/jacket/CAP in our storage room on an old metal garbage can (that we kept unopened bags of sugar and flour in).  It was his own personal coat rack of sorts.

    One day not too long after it's purchase, the cap went missing.

    And though I was THRILLED and excited about it's disappearance, my feelings towards the cap had never been a secret and so of course I was the first to be questioned.  I honestly knew nothing of it's disappearance.

    I pled my innocence and silently (actually maybe not so silently) hoped he'd never purchase another one.  And though I disliked that hat so much that it almost caused tears each time my dad wore it, I still feel badly that it went missing and that my dad (and surely my mother and brother) thought it was me who had caused the loss.  But I can honestly swear on anything that is good and holy that I know nothing about where it disappeared to.

    And as much as my dad loves me and trusts me.
    I still think he holds a slight suspicion that it was me that caused the cap to go missing.

    And even if he was only thirty-something and not a milkman, my dad liked his cap. 
    And I'm sorry he lost it.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    An Indifferent Win

    Before school even began, Megan saw a PTA magazine that stated this year's Reflections contest theme, "Together We Can."  Megan was determined to enter a photo, and chose her cousin Annie as the subject.

    Knowing that IMAX tickets were being given to each participant in our school district, I suggested all of my children participate so that everyone could receive a ticket.  Ellie was less than interested, but went along with the idea of submitting the photo that she had snapped while assisting Megan with her photo shoot.
    Fast forward a few weeks to Monday.  I received an email with a submission for our PTA newsletter.  As I read through it, I saw that Ellie was the winner in her category.

    "Ellie, your photo of Megan and Annie won in your Reflection's category."
    "What's Reflections again?" questioned Ellie.

    With a shade of green in their eyes, Megan and Luke listened, slightly disappointed that Ellie who ended up a winner, was the one who really didn't care to enter in the first place.

    Such is life.
    Congratulations Ellie!

    (The 6th grade entries haven't been judged yet, so Megan is still holding out hope...)

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    One of Those Days

    Sometimes I wonder what exactly I got myself into being a mother...

    A couple of days ago I found my camera lying on the tile floor in the hallway, the lens halfway open.  Even Fix-It-Man-Grandpa could do nothing with it.    The now unusable camera is a classic example of what happens when the one year old and three year old play together.

    This morning everyone slept in late, arguments, tears, and inpatience reigned.  Only a fifth of my children got their teeth brushed and if we're lucky maybe one bed got made.  Oh well, on the bright side, one less step I have to do for the bed that has to get clean sheets which probably explains the wet Buzz Lightyear pajamas and underwear lying on the floor...

    I have been called into the principal's office to deal with an unfortunate situation that one of my children has been in.  We have had a lot of tears at our house the past couple of weeks.  Suffice it to say, that I think it is one of the greatest tragedies that women and girls are told that by nature we are kind, compassionate, loving and sensitive yet unfortunately we are not exempt from the principle of opposition.  Women and girls are sadly capable of the exact opposite as well... 

    We have spoken parts to memorize for a Primary program, instruments to be practiced, toy bins to organize, spelling words to be mastered, math concepts to remember, chores to accomplish, and so on and so forth.

    Someone please remind of the 'warm and fuzzy' parts of motherhood...

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Shout Hooray!

    Luke is NINE!!!

    Cowboy belt and buckle, cowboy hat, roping rope, western clothing, etc. etc.
    Who ever would have thought?!?!?

    Hope he has a Rodeo-Rompin' good birthday!
    What's a party without some roping, barrel racing, bull-riding, a cowboy relay and the traditional pass-the-parcel?
    Happy 9th Birthday Luke!


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