Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Vacation That Wasn't

Highlights of our week in Park City.

Visit from our friends Kellen, Kari and Miles.  And I'm sad that I didn't get a photo of us eating dinner outside (which is one of my all time favorite summer activities) at a nearby restaurant with them, minus our five children.

A visit from Nana:
Which just so happened to coincide with a visit from the Vacation Fairy:
Craft classes in the condo during rain storms and Drew's afternoon naps:

Alpine Slide, Merry-Go-Round and Airplanes:
Visit to Main Street which included in a deep desire to ride the Main Street Trolley that is now really none other than a small version of a UTA bus:
A visit to the Olympic Park and Museum:

And tensions were a little to high to get a photo of the drive to Deer Valley which resulted in car sick Drew and the need to purchase a brand new car seat...

And of course the highlight of the trip is always one of my very favorite things about vacations...
The suitcase full of dirty laundry to sort, wash, fold and put away.  I.LOVE.LAUNDRY.

And that is our sorta-vacation in a nut-shell.

P.S. I am well aware of my need for a new camera.  Good thing my birthday is coming up in a couple of months.  I don't ever officially begin the countdown for mine until my BFF's birthday on August 23rd (then it is 59 days until mine.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Right For Us


I've had a couple of thoughts lately mulling around in my mind. Thoughts of contentment, security and fulfillment. Yet, sometimes, due to my sarcasm, tongue-in-cheek-humor and lack of maternal patience, I wonder if I inaccurately portray my true feelings and thoughts of having five children.

Just this morning, we saw a mother, father, grandfather and six children walking by us. With large opened eyes, and a slightly louder than should be voice, Ellie announced, "Wow. That is a lot of people."

I started to tell Ellie it is only one more (child) than our family plus Nana the other evening parading through Park City Resort. But instead I just smiled and looked at the mother and father holding hands at the rear of the group. Though the mother knew nothing of my smile, it was one of those kinship smiles of love that mothers sometimes share.

It made me think more deeply about an interaction we had with a stranger at church on Sunday. An older gentleman walked into the chapel and upon seeing our family sitting on the church pew, turned to Mike and said, "What a great family you have." And then he proceeded aloud to count the children. This friendly man then turned to Megan, and said,

"You need another girl don't you?"
"A baby sister is what you need, isn't it?"
Too which, Megan just politely smiled and nodded.

And I smiled, a real smile. The kind of smile that reaches deep to the heart and feels sheer happiness, joy and contentment. I have five children. Each one was a carefully discussed, premeditated, much desired decision. We were blessed to have them when and how we desired them. It is a blessing that to many women is withheld, but for some reason, the deep maternal desires that I had clear back as a young child, have come full circle.

As a young child, teenager, and even young adult, my journal is filled with numerous entries mentioning the large family I desired. My numbers varied over the years, but the number never fell below eight. I always thought I wanted at least eight.

And then I had one, then two, and then number three came along. And then one day, before number four and five were even planned, I announced that there would be five children in our family.
I just knew.

A few weeks ago, I talked with a friend who has four girls and can't quite decide whether to have another baby. She asked me how I came to my decision. I really had no explanation. I don't think anybody really does, because really, it is a very complex decision...

Health reasons, financial decisions, miscarriages, personal circumstances, culture, religion...

It is all so deeply personal.

I dearly love each of my five children.

I will always remember standing in the kitchen with Mike, six week old Drew laying on the couch nearby asleep. And Mike completely out of the blue, saying,

"You're right. I can be done too. It's time for a different stage."

Five seems just right for us. I can't tell you how. I can't tell you why.

And though I see newborn babies, and bittersweetly recognize the end of writing that chapter of my life, I am content as I see other chapters that I am just now beginning to write.

The number of children a mother has is so deeply interconnected to the complex fabrics of our lives. And though there are different lifestyles involved in one child versus eight children, or three children versus five, there is no doubt that most mothers know the smile that I smiled as the mother of six children passed me by this morning.

The smile of love, contentment, fulfillment and pride.

Mothers love their children.
Whether we have one child or eight.

(You may enjoy reading a fantastic article, a wonderful woman I'm blessed to know wrote: My Quiver Is Full.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What Is A Vacation?

I'm really not much of a traveler and we don't vacation too frequently.  In fact, the question I like the least during summer vacation is? "What fun trips do you have planned?"  Our 'vacations' tend to happen in the winter when Mike's work is much slower.

And even considering our winter vacations, more often than not, I am quite content staying at home.  I think it is partly due to the fact that I am still trying to determine what a vacation really is. 

Especially when you have five children...

For example, consider the trip we take every other year to Southern California.  It is hardly relaxing.  There is Disneyland to visit, beaches to play on, cousins to hang out with, SeaWorld to see, etc. etc. etc.  Often times upon returning from such a vacation is a desire to 'go on a vacation.'

Or the trip to Phoenix we took in January.  Twelve hours in a car with five children.... Enough said.

Then there is a trip like this one that I took with Mike to Arizona a few months back.  But even that had a heightened level of concern, worry and guilt (not to mention numerous phone calls from a certain eight year old) about a babysitter left watching my five kids while I...tried to relax.

And then there is the vacation that I am supposedly on. 
Me, in Park City for a week with five children.

Trying to keep a one year old all the way to an eleven year old entertained.
Trying to keep them from hurting each other.
Trying to keep a happy medium on the varied lengths of time, five different children desire to stay in a pool.
Trying to keep them quiet from neighboring condos.
Trying to keep them occupied for long enough for me to read a chapter of a book.

Mike returns to Park City each evening after work.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Mike is the one having a vacation...

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Memory for Monday (With The Future)

(An unrelated-to-this-post-photo of Mike's family on a Service Vacation to Mexico in 1994--but it's the right time period at least...)

Back in the summer of 1993, my BFF and I (and I honestly can't remember who we went with!?) went to a UB40 concert at what was then, Park West.  We couldn't help but notice the group sitting in front of us on the grassy hill, because one of the girls in the group had very unique, long, brown, tight curly hair.
A year and a half or so later, my BFF and I both happened to notice this girl at the LDS institute at the University of Utah.  We named her (from afar) the UB40 girl.  (Oh man, I could do a whole essay alone on names that my BFF and I used to give people...)

Fast forward a few months, and we recently met Mike (my now husband).  One day we saw him talking to the UB40 girl and another girl.   And so we later said to him, "Hey, you know the UB40 girl?" 

Turns out that she is Mike's sister's BFF!

What a small world!
But, even better, when we explained to Mike why she was named the UB40 girl, Mike told us that he was at that concert with them.

I love this story.
I LOVE it.

Who would ever have guessed that while I was standing at the UB40 concert in August of 1993 daydreaming of a boy named BJ, that my future husband, a complete stranger, was ten feet away from me.

I love that!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Signing Up

Sometimes my kids have come home and talked about the Leprecaun that visits their friends houses on St. Patrick's Day.  Or friends that have Cupid stop by on Valentine's Day.  (Of course, I dislike both of those holidays, but that is beside the point...)
Why does Cupid visit some homes and not others?  Why do some kids get pajamas from a pajama fairy and others don't?

I'll tell you, like I tell my kids.

Moms and Dads sign up for different things.  Most moms and dads sign up for the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.  We sign up for each of those plus the Pajama Fairy (for those of you unfamiliar with her services, she delivers new pajamas by children's bedroom doors for them to wake up and find on Christmas EVE.
(2008 California Vacation Fairy Visit...)

Over the years we have taken a lot of vacations with (my parents) Nana and Grandpa.  Sometime during those vacations, the 'Vacation Fairy' visited during the night, and each morning the children would wake up to a small surprise.

We are soon to leave for a few days, to a place that we previously have been with my parents.

Just now I overheard Ellie ask Megan, "Remember we get stuff from the Vacation Fairy when we go there?"

And Megan, wise in her eleven and a half years in essence replied,
"I think Nana signed up for the Vacation Fairy.  So this time the Vacation Fairy won't be coming."

To which Ellie replied, "Well Nana must know lots of Vacation Fairies" as she recalled trips to California...Bear Lake...Park City...

And I sat with a smile on my face quietly listening, albeit, a slightly guilty smile thinking of potentially disappointed children.

But I reminded myself of what I tell them,
'It would be very difficult for parents to sign up for everything.'

What have you signed up for?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Storage

Back when I was a first time mom, it was still the days of buying a roll of film, and waiting days to see whether or not the photo you tried to capture actually worked.

As a result of rolls of film and being a first child...Megan has a photo album devoted to each year of her first six years of life. 

And then I got a digital camera.
And a few more kids.

And now I have hundreds of photos stored on a computer, very few printed out, and Drew (and I actually think Joshua) don't even have a photo album, let alone more than 2-3 printed out hard copy photos of them.

So the blessings of digital cameras are certainly the instant knowing whether the photo worked.  But now I have 5873 other photos sitting on my computer that really aren't that important but then I feel all sorts of motherhood guilt deleting a photo of a beloved child...
Even if it only shows half a face or a blurred moving body part.

I don't scrapbook anymore.
I do blog (duh). And I have printed out a blog book for 2008 and 2009.  I even made smaller, individual ones for each child from 2009.

I own one photo album from Mike's childhood that spans anywhere from baby pictures to junior high.  And we glance at it frequently (mainly to compare the uncanny resemblance between Mike and Drew).  It is very doable.  Much better than Megan one day having to lug around six different albums to find a photo of her at a particular age.

What will Drew (or Joshua) do one day when they are Student of the Week and I have to make a poster complete with photos to send to school?  They won't have as much luck finding photos of them in the 'photo drawer' that the other kids will...

How will our children view photos one day?
What do you do?
Do you store them all electronically?

Please, please, please give me some ideas?

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Memory For Monday (With The Look)

 (Completely random and unrelated to the post...My mom, Ellie, Megan and me--February 2008)

I remember clear as day the afternoon riding in the back seat of the car with my older-by seventeen-months-brother, Matthew. However, I can not remember who was the special passenger in the front seat alongside my mother, to elicit the 'You better be on your best behavior' lecture earlier that morning.

And so obediently, Matt and I kept to ourselves. We didn't interrupt, we didn't fight, we didn't even talk to those up front. We entertained ourselves with conversation. I, maybe six-seven years old, but already ever the questioner and random conversation starter asked Matt,

"What do you like to do best? Coughing, sneezing or yawning?

I can not for the life of me remember Matt's response.  But, I do remember my response, more importantly though, I remember The Look that I saw in the rear view mirror.  You know The Look that every mother is capable of giving.  The Look of warning, threat, punishment and quite possibly, doom.

Obviously, I had answered my own question loud enough for my mother and special passenger to hear too.

"I like sneezing the best.  Especially when snot shoots out of your nose."

The Look was enough.
I immediately halted any further discussion of bodily functions and/or fluids.
And for the record, I received no further punishment or talk.
After all, any mother knows that more often than not, The Look is sufficient.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

True Gold

It is said that 'silence is golden' and boy do I agree
It's just Drew, my dad's Mini Cooper and me for a couple of days while my kids (and suburban) are at 'Cousin Camp' for 32 hours.
Oh I love my children.
I really truly do.

But there is no fighting, no whining, no noise, no dirty underwear on any floor, no unmade beds, no toothpaste in the sink, no shoes on the kitchen floor, no bikes scattered on the driveway, there is only one cup instead of two or three each sitting out on the counter, and the floor that I mopped yesterday afternoon is STILL CLEAN!

It's just me and a 16 month old who still takes two decent naps...

B.L.I.S.S.

Hmmm...

So completely unrelated to this cute-snotty-nosed-little boy,
Something is up with Blogger, at least for me.  It is always closing out my account even when I try to 'keep logged in,'  I have had four different people tell me they can't leave a comment, and sometimes I can't even get in.
I did go in and make a change to my settings.  Maybe that will help.
Other than that, I don't know what the problem is. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Photos of Summer

Though I have a love/hate relationship with Summer, the last line of this essay I wrote during the Spring, has been my summer motto,

"My children will only be young once, and summers don’t last forever.   This summer I am committed to 'treasure the doing’ of the ‘little things in life.’  I’m determined to make it a summer to remember."

Summer is almost half way over... These are some of the 'little things' I want to remember:

Our own city parade is so much cooler, smaller and more enjoyable than the tradition of the neighboring city. I think this parade will become our family's new tradition...
The standard question we hear every evening when Mike returns home from work 'Who got in the dirt?'
Eating our breakfasts, lunches and dinners outside...
Lazy Summer afternoons...
Megan recruiting 25+ neighbor kids to come and play night-games, then becoming frustrated that everyone was being too noisy to listen to the game instructions...
Constantly finding popsicle sticks, otter pop wrappers, and children with sticky hands...

And though I occasionally find myself looking forward to the more structured and scheduled days of a school year
And fewer kids at home...
I am certain the next half of summer will go as quickly as the first (if not faster)...
So I'll keep trying my best to enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Memory For Monday (Yesterday Afternoon)

(The Thomas The Tank Engine train set Coal Mine)

After an enjoyable morning/afternoon with Mike's family celebrating his parent's homecoming from a mission, we went to our good friends, The Taylor's home, to play, visit, eat some more and RELAX.

Only problem was, there were a couple of mishaps...

On Luke's way outside to play, he walked past a broken piano bench with an exposed hinge...
It ripped his shorts and left him with a two inch gash on his leg.  It bled through a couple of bandaids, but all was well to go play.

Mike enjoyed laying on the couch watching a television show with Alan.  Drew just kind of fit in amidst the crowd of nine kids playing... Except, I don't think Drew quite understood that the Coal Mine that comes with the wooden Thomas The Tank Engine train set should stay on the floor with the wooden Thomas The Tank Engine train set and not get thrown at Daddy.

All adult eyes were on Mike as we heard the pained reaction as he grabbed his eye and gasped in pain.  With a little blood, some blurry vision, a slight headache and hopefully not a black eye when he wakes up...
We are reconsidering our next trip to the Taylor's house.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Natural Leader

Recently,when catching up with an old friend on Facebook, she reminded me of how bossy I was as a child. 
 Me? Bossy?
Well that's besides the point here.

For some reason my children have always been natural leaders.  Kids in the neighborhood always flock to them.  If my kids aren't out in the cul-de-sac playing, others aren't.

Ellie is the middle child. And though she sometimes takes the 'silent route' she is no less of the leader and/or boss as the other two kids are.

Today I went outside and there on the driveway were four neighbor kids, Ellie and Joshua.  Ellie had a card table set up, a carefully labeled drinking cup for each, a water squirter for everyone, popsicles for each and was in the middle of bossing giving instructions to the neighbor children of the next 'summer camp activity.'
Only one child besides Joshua was younger than her.

Hmmm.
Wish my old friend could have seen it...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Summer Afternoon


I don't enjoy water. I never have and probably  never will.  The first time I ever completely submerged my face in the water as a child was as an eight year old getting baptized.  (It was really quite traumatic.)
I can honestly say that I have never jumped into a pool or a lake either. I remember when I had to take swimming lessons at my school and I persuaded the teacher to kind of let me 'jump/slide' in from a sitting position instead.

So taking five children to a public pool is not exactly the most relaxing summertime event for me.  First of all, who can possibly relax when there is a constant "Mom watch this" coming from four of them and constant arms and eyes that are permanently watching a one year old's explorations.

And though I am thrilled that my oldest two children have not inherited my water dislike, my breathing stops each time one of them jumps from the high dive as I am not sure whether to keep my eyes on them with the prayer that they will come up out of the water, or keep my eyes on the lifeguard making sure they are paying the utmost attention to the jumpers.  Specifically my two children.

And what about when my nervous-of-the-water six year old finally gets up the courage to go down the slide if I promise to catch her.  Me? Catch her? I stood at the end of the water slide shaking like a leaf, lacking faith in myself to prevent my daughter from really not landing under the water.  (I caught her foot, the rest of her went under...)

As we returned to the waiting siblings, one of us crying, the other trying not to.  I pondered who's idea exactly it was to go swimming.  And why in the world did the BIG SISTER keep bugging the little siblings to go down the slides?

All in all, it was a fairly relaxing enjoyable afternoon watching my children play with each other.  But, the highlight certainly came when Luke declared that he had 'made a boat and do you want to watch it float?' I was very glad I have a camera on my phone. Because really, what kind of kid, first of all even makes something to take to the pool, let alone something like this?


Again, I have to ask, what kind of kid does this sort of thing?

And that was just another afternoon at the pool.
Happy Summer...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Five Kids

I'm not sure if it is because it is Summertime and I have all of my children around me all day long, but I am really beginning to realize we are no small group.  I go back and forth between whether or not I have a 'large family.'  To me, large seems six or more children.  But to someone with two, maybe four seems large.  Surely it is all relative, but when looking at a recently taken photo of Mike, me and the kids, it kind of looked like a lot of people...

But whether it is all relative or not, I am finding constant reminders that I kind of have a lot of kids...
When ...
  • I do not have enough chairs at the kitchen table to seat everyone, and thus the one year old is often left in the corner. 
  • I have no extra seats in my suburban.
  • I wear a 'children charm' necklace and a sarcastic neighbor warns me it will break if I add anymore to it.
  • I only have three children at the store with me, and it seems like bliss.
  • I've almost outgrown the need to ever use a 9x13 casserole dish.
  • On Mondays I do at least 8 loads of laundry, and they'll still be more to do the next day.
  • Buying a Happy Meal for each child almost breaks the bank.
  • One loaf of bread isn't usually enough for everyone to have sandwiches for a picnic.
  • My children have to argue about who gets to practice the piano first.
  • I've been changing diapers for 11 1/2 years and I still have a couple more years to go.
  • I pretty much have to start the dishwasher after one meal.
  • I cringe slightly when asked at a restaurant  'How many in your party?'
  • Me or my children never experience loneliness.  There is always someone that won't leave someone alone.
Oh well!
With this many in the house, life is never boring.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Memory For Monday (With The Flag)

I had only lived in America for a few days when during the morning announcements at my junior high school everyone in my art class suddenly stood up and began saying something I had never before heard. I must have had a puzzled look on my face, because after everyone sat down, my kind art teacher Mr. Lee called me over to his desk. He tenderly explained that the students had been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. He went on to explain to me that I didn’t need to join in, but I should show respect by standing with them. His nonjudgmental explanation was a pivotal moment for me. It was then and there that I made the conscious decision to love and respect the traditions and symbols of what was to me a very new country. Since then I have always been deeply touched anytime the pledge is recited or the national anthem is sung, and I can honestly say that I do not take seeing a flag flying for granted.


  (Yankee Stadium, September 2004)
Of course, it was almost 20 years after this experience that I became 'officially eligible' to participate in The Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem.  And I can honestly say whether I am standing in a school classroom with my children, at home outside around our displayed flag, at a Cub Scout Pack Meeting, a sporting event, a family home evening or even at a rodeo...I get teary eyed each and every time I participate in the pledge or the national anthem.

I take them both very seriously.
I truly am...
Proud To Be An American.

The Tradition Continues...

This year was our FIFTH annual 4th (or 5th) July Water Baseball BBQ, and oh what fun it is.
It all began when I tried to liven up a not-so-lively-sit-around-and-eat-BBQ.

Mike calls it "An organized water fight."
My dad referred to it as "It somewhat resembles a baseball game."
My BFF calls it "Seriously the funnest party. You should be jealous if you weren't there."

And as for me, I am thrilled when traditions stick, and people have a great time.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Love The 4th

Independence Day is tied for first as my FAVORITE holiday.
 Obviously, not all of my children are as  happy on July 4th as I am. 
 Happy Freedom Day!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Having and Being Friends

Remember the time in your life when it really mattered who your friends were?   Clothes, hair, social status, etc. all seemed to matter. Really, honestly, didn't you sometimes pick your friends based on the outside?
Now I don't mean we're all superficial, but in all reality friends are often very similar.  Similar fashion ideas, similar hobbies, similar ages, etc.  Whether you really choose to admit it or not, often times the first, quick judgment we have to make about somebody is based on physical appearance. 

I am so grateful and feel so blessed to have reached the point in my life where so many of those things don't matter.  Among my dearest friends, I have a couple who are 15-20 years older than me, I have a few who are 8-10 years younger.

 (Drew and his first little friend, Miles-one of them is always crying over Miles' toy car)

Sunday night I thought of this more deeply.
You see.  Mike and I have some dear friends we love to hang out with.  From outside appearances they are opposite from us in many ways.
They are ten years younger.
They have one child, we have five.
Their first child and our fifth child are only days apart.  Sometimes their baby, dressed as a first often is, puts my fifth's wardrobe choices and personal hygiene to shame
They have great physically fit bodies.

Their clothes are stylish, fashionable and I'm sure they own no clothing from Walmart.
You'd be hard pressed to find dirty toilets or a cluttery closet in their house.
When we got in their car the other evening, they did not have to clear off debris and food from the seats before we could sit down.

You get the picture...
As we frequently do, we spent a summer evening out visiting with them on their driveway the other night.  The time passed quickly, the sun went down, the mosquitos came out, neighbor's houses went dark, the temple lights up on the hill turned dim, we even watched the moon rise over the mountain.  It was a splendid evening.

I couldn't help but feel blessed that at some point, adults reach a point in life where we realize what really matters in a friendship.  (Sure, age is a legitimate factor in younger years, as really, a 15 year old really wouldn't want to be hanging out with a 25 year old.)  But what  a blessing that we let go of the other 'differences' that seem so important at other times.  I love these friends.  Over time, long talks on the driveways, late night card games, and an occasional meal together have turned into a friendship we value greatly. 

And so on Sunday night, when at 10:00PM they give Mike a steak from their fridge and wheeled their BBQ to the front driveway to curb Mike's 'meat craving' I realized how much I truly do love these 'oh so different from outside appearances' friends.  Because deep down, we're all very similar,
We laugh.
We cry.
We speculate.
We confide.
We listen.
We care.
We value.
We love.
Because really, isn't that what friendship is all about?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Jumping Ban

What do you do when you have some extra home-made roping dummies?


You make a bike ramp.

Helmets were required.
Neighbors kids were not allowed to attempt.
And when Dad showed Mom the photos...
And then Luke showed Mom one jump.
The roping dummy bike jump was banned for good.
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