Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shout, Hooray!

Despite the fact that Drew was prepped all day yesterday with various choruses of "Tomorrow's your birthday, shout HOORAY", when he wandered into my bedroom this morning and saw some presents, and everyone squealing varied happy birthday greetings, he had no idea what to think.

(Drew loved the tractor picture Luke drew for him as a birthday gift.)

Though our poor, expressionless Drew says little, he has done a fabulous job of singing 'Happy Birthday' to himself repeatedly today .
The delight on Drew's face when he saw his birthday cake was all worth the messy kitchen and the repeated groans to myself of "Why do I attempt this every single birthday?"  When I sat him up to look at his cake, he kept smiling and in a rarely heard, enthusiastic voice, kept saying "ta" which is his word for truck and trailer and tractor.

Happy 2nd Birthday Dewie!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Battles to Pick?

Despite the potentially high stress situations around here, things have been running pretty smoothly.  There are several circumstances that really could lend themselves to hot tempers, raised voices and unkind words, but they aren't really happening.

Well okay- if you don't count the part where I had to put myself in a time-out last night after dinner.

But that's kind of what I mean--I knew to separate myself from the rest of the family before my voice raised fair too many decibels.

I think for the most part it is because I'm letting go of certain things.  I don't mean, we're all turning to lazy bums, or giver-uppers, I'm just choosing to 'pick my battles' a little more wisely.

AND, it is important to note, that though I may not be picking a particular battle today, doesn't mean in a few months I won't choose to pick it then.

I'm not having a constant battle with Ellie with her music--she is not quite seven.  Her personality is not quite co-operative, and for now, she plays when she wants to, and Megan is kindly accommodating Ellie's request for a lesson when Ellie decides she wants one.

I'm closing Megan and Ellie's bedroom door more and more.  Enough said.

I don't mind putting the laundry away by myself.  My kids have enough tasks they regularly do, putting away their laundry is not going to be one of them.

Setting the table for dinner just isn't quite happening around here.  And I'm getting to be okay with that.  My kids have limited playtime outside as it is with school, homework, scouts, YW, etc. etc. that I haven't been calling everyone to dinner until it's served.  A nicely set table is not necessary every night.  I'm beginning to accept that.

Now, with all of that said.

Megan and Luke are going to learn to do the dishes together if it kills me or them, or all of us.

Ready for the "walking to school up hill both ways speech"?  My brother, Matt and I did the dishes pretty much every night by ourselves.  And that was for many years before a dishwasher!!!  We knew to wash the glasses first so they didn't get 'foggy', then move onto the silverware, then plates, then pots and pans...  We survived.  Okay-well, we may not exactly be each other's favorite people right now in our lives, but hey-I don't think it is the fault of washing dishes together.

It is all out war-fare around here when Megan and Luke do the dishes.  One day last week, Mike and I left for an hour or so with instructions for Megan and Luke to do the dishes.  Suffice it to say that I consider it a plus that they both survived it unscathed, but Megan and Luke doing the dishes together is one battle for some reason I refuse to give up.

If you can put two and two together-you'll find the reason why I put myself in a time-out last night!

Half of my time-out, I spent wondering if I should just relax about the dishes or persevere?  The other half I answered the pleading knockings and the sudden urgent requests on the other side of the bedroom door, such as "Can I play on the computer?" or "What new book should I start reading?"

Back to the relaxing or persevering?  I haven't made a decision...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Women, Bad Food and a New Commitment

I happened to thoroughly enjoy the LDS Young Women broadcast on Saturday night with Megan.  Her first one!!  Though we had a slight hic-cup in our evening plans, and showed up eight minutes late-it turned out to be a very enjoyable evening.

A few things I noticed:

I am grateful Megan has inherited my 'hate to be late' attitude. I am RARELY late for anything.  Knowing we were going to be late, but knowing it was out of either of our control, I bit my tongue and didn't say a thing.  It thrilled me as we walked/ran into the Stake Center, and Megan said, "I really hate being late to things."

When I looked over at Megan at one point in the broadcast, I couldn't help but ask, "When exactly did you get to be old enough to come to one of these broadcasts!?!"

Sometimes I like to talk at the wrong times.  Even my 12 year old daughter had to say, "Mom, quit talking to me during this."

The restaurant I loved all through high school and college, that I probably  haven't eaten at for 5+ years, has gone down hill.  (Either that, or my taste buds have seriously improved.)  But, it was Megan's restaurant choice tonight.  I kept quiet and let her form her own opinion of the food, but the fact she brought home all but one bite of her main dish and gave it to Mike, says something!

I have a deep testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and was thrilled to share the experience with Megan tonight.  I was delighted at dinner when Megan initiated the discussion, asking me, "What did you think of the broadcast?"  I laughed when she later commented, "I knew you would cry during it."

As a couple hundred young women chorus sang the closing song, the last verse really touched me.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
-I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!
I couldn't help but think if every single person within earshot of those words tonight, committed to them, it could quite possibly change the world.

It gave me a chance to spiritually recharge.  This last week was a crazy week. Mike's work plans have drastically changed.  I have a new responsibility with The Power of Moms, I'm trying to settle into.   There are finances without a paycheck to juggle.  I had a cranky, sick, almost two year old.  There is a book chapter to edit.  PTA (I'm seriously counting down the days) meetings and emails.  Not to mention the minutiae of day to day life that fills up every waking hour.   During the conference, I felt the love and influence of the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life and felt a desire to renew my dedication and commitment to doing more of what I should be doing.

I love having a daughter. Not a day goes by that I don't intentionally think what or how I can do better in my relationship with her.  Some days I fall short, other days are better.  I loved Saturday night as Megan was going to bed, she said to Mike and me, "You are really fun to talk to." Today was one of the better days.

Of all the things discussed during the ninety minute meeting, the call to be more kind to others, resonated with me the most.  Many mornings when my kids leave for school, I play primary songs on the piano as they get ready.  Purposefully, I play 'I Want to be Kind to Everyone' more than once. It is a short, simple song:

I want to be kind to everyone, for that is right you see.  
So I say to myself, remember this.  Kindness begins with me.

My thinking is that the tune and/or words will get stuck in their head during the day and as a result they'll be more kind to others.   Forget just my kids internalizing the message of kindness, I need to too.  I am committed to being more kind.  (Why oh why is it so hard sometimes?!?)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Weedy Wreath

The other day, Luke summoned me to the front door. As I passed by the front room, I saw my front-door wreath (that I have been lamenting aloud lately that it needs replacing ) laying on the floor.  I started to raise my voice and ask why in the world my wreath was laying on the floor, but for some reason, stopped myself.

I was quite glad I had stopped myself from yelling, when the front door flung open, and Luke with the proud smile that only Luke can give, was presenting me with a brand new wreath for my front door.

It reminded me so clearly of this poem, and this day almost seven years ago...

Roses can say, "I love you"
Orchids can enthrall,
But a weed bouquet in a chubby fist,
Oh boy, that says it all!"

(Luke, July 04)

The wreath he presented to me certainly isn't a 'rose' or 'orchid' type wreath, but 'Oh boy that says it all.'

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Poo at the Junior High

Yesterday I had a meeting with our school principal.  (Don't be alarmed, it was PTA stuff, not 'my children' type stuff.)  Having spent the last couple of years working closely with our principal, I have gotten to know her quite well.  I always thoroughly enjoy our visits and have enjoyed getting to know her better, both personally and professionally.

As our meeting was wrapping up yesterday, she was lamenting some of the serious upcoming tasks she has ahead of her.  Then in a sincere tone she said (along the lines), "I never set out to be a professional.  I always wanted  to be a Mama and have a few kids.  But here I am, a professional."

Friendly, I quipped back, "And some of us are mama's, wishing at times we were A Professional."

We had a quick little dialogue and I said, "In fact, let me tell you, exactly how un-professional I am."

And we both had a good laugh, as I launched into the following experience, that really shouldn't go without being permanently recorded!

A couple of weeks ago, we were finishing up dinner. I was slightly rushed as I had a meeting I was soon due at, at the local junior high to discuss next year's honors program.  Drew, dressed only in a onesie and diaper, had a little explosion, and so I carried him 'carefully' to be changed.  I finished the whole diaper episode, and as I finished up my dinner, I could still smell poo, so I re-washed my hands.

I finished my dinner, grabbed my purse, checked my teeth/hair, etc. you know all the stuff you check before you walk out the door, and went on my way.

As I was driving, I thought, 'Man, I can still smell that poo.  It must have been a really potent poopy diaper, to still have the smell lingering in my nose.'

I walked into the junior high, took my seat and began listening to the principal.  I still felt like I could smell poo, and by this time wondered if perhaps I had stepped in some dog poo or something, somewhere along the way.   Upon checking, my shoes proved clean.

And then it happened.

The voices discussing 'self motivated students' and 'more accelerated pace' and 'college not too far in the future' completely faded in the background.  I had my focus on one thing.  And one thing only.
There, on my left thigh was a good four-five inch area of POO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here I am, trying to establish my footing as a soon-to-be-junior-high-parent, and the stark realization hits that I still have a toddler.  And I have POO. ON. MY. LEG. FOR. EVERYONE. TO SEE!!!!!!

I saw lots of familiar faces at the meeting, but as soon as the 'Thanks for coming' was said, I bee-lined for the door. I needed to get home.

In the parking lot, I called Mike and by this time I was laughing hysterically, and he too, couldn't stop the laughter.

As soon, as I arrived home, I went to find Mike.  Still laughing, I presented my poo-ey leg to him for viewing.  Mike's laughter increased, and he laid there aghast, pointing and laughing and exclaimed, "It's all over your jacket pocket too."

Sure enough, all over my left jacket pocket, in addition to my thigh, was POO!

At this point, Megan walked in to see what all the ruckus was about.
Bless her little, soon-to-be-junior-high-heart.
Her face was mortified. MORTIFIED! Her mother had just paraded around her prospective school wearing poo, POO!! all over her clothes!!!!

I learned a few things that day:
#1-I need to do more than just a teeth, hair, make-up, etc. check when I walk out the door.

#2-In the twelve and a half years (straight!) of changing diapers, I should know better that the smell of a stinky diaper does not linger 'in the air' when you are no longer in the same room.  Still smelling poo after changing rooms, being in the car, and then in a school gymnasium  should have been clear indication enough that something was awry.

#3-I am a mom.  Enough said.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Not All Fun and Games

Lest you think our Family Carnefels are all 'Tape the Blanket to the Baby' (think 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey' here people) and 'Race Your Balloon Train Through the House ' fun and games, they aren't.

We have kids pouting because they got in trouble.

And we had an ice pack on a so-almost-broke-the-skin bonk on the back of a head BECAUSE SOMEONE WAS BEING TOO WILD AT THE WRONG TIME.

And, we had an upset three year old (not because of the bonk on his head) but because everytime someone (blindfolded no less) taped their 'water' to his 'bridge' (think 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey' again) he would exclaim, 'No, you not 'apposed'  to tape it there.

We have some who prefer not to get in on all of the fun...

We have arguments about sharing dessert.

Like I said at the beginning;
Lest you think it's all fun and games around here...

Monday, March 21, 2011

And Then There is. . .

my baby Dewie.

Because of Drew, I have a whole new love and appreciation for youngest children. You know when people say things like, "Oh, they're the baby of the family, they get everything we didn't. . ." etc. etc.   I've actually never begrudged my baby brother. Sure he may get 'perks' that the rest of us never did/do, but at the same time, I think the last ones miss out on plenty of 'family' things that somehow the perks have to compensate for.  I think of my poor youngest brother James, having had to wake up on Christmas morning to just my parents, or Family Home Evenings/dinner-times, etc. when it was just him and my parents. It's all trade-offs in my opinion.

But, I digress.
Back to Drew.
My baby.

I love that Drew walks around in my bathroom while I get ready each day, with the mirror suctioned to his face trying to do what, I don't know.

I love that Drew snuggles up on my shoulder and squeezes his hands under his tummy.

I love that when Drew puckers up to give a kiss he squeezes his cheeks in so far, it looks painful.

I love that he loves music.  I love that though he can hardly say any words, he can very clearly in his own style sing many songs.  I love that he insists on sitting on my lap anytime I play the piano, or that his fussiness pauses while there is music being sung or performed during church meetings.

I love that today for the first time with any of my children, I sat for about fifteen minutes or so in his church nursery class.  The teacher was talking about families, and the little boy  next to Drew (two weeks YOUNGER than Drew) was saying, "Mommy, Daddy, 'pencer" (his big brothers name).  It was quite endearing to watch this other little boy speak.  As I turned to Drew, he just sat there staring at the teacher and her picture with his head tilted in typical Drew fashion.  He didn't say a word.  If Drew had been my first, second or even third child, I may have made unnecessary comparisons.  Today, I didn't. I just smiled. I love Drew, just the way he is.  He'll figure out talking one of these days...
(Drew's trademark 'crooked face')

I love that Drew has turned into somewhat of a Mama's boy.  All my kids have been 'Daddy's kids', and even with Mike home so much lately, there is no question that Drew favors me.

Being the third boy, we have LOTS of random trailer, truck and tractor toys around our house.  Drew loves, LOVES putting any kind of trailer with any kind of vehicle and insisting someone help him put them together.  Most often, they are not a match and he is told to go find something different to hook to.

I'm considering making Drew's birthday cake later this month, as a truck and trailer.
My baby is almost two.

And, whether Drew is two or twenty two, I am beginning to realize, he'll always be my baby.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dream Day

"In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others."
— C.S. Lewis

For the past six years or so, the four of us have gotten together for 'an over-nighter' about 2-3 times a year.  Due to Scarlet (and Mark's) situation, our one planned for January was postponed. Towards the end of February, Scarlet send out an SOS-I-need-a-break-type-text.  A date was finalized and it was permanently marked on all of our calendars.

Yesterday was the big day.
Though we  had to skip the over-nighter for an all-dayer instead, the laughs, the tears, the food, the friendship and the fun was still the same.

We each have some pretty serious 'issues' looming over our heads, and it certainly wasn't easy to arrange a day away from our families.  We all had children's schedules to consider, one of us had to find a sitter for a husband, one of us had to take off work, one of us had to trust a husband could do a fairly decent job babysitting while spending much of the time in bed,  one of us left a husband on a day off from work, one of us had to arrange for three different babysitters, and so on and so forth.

But it was worth it all.
We loved every single minute of it.
Pedicures, lunch, shopping, dinner and scrap-booking.
(Okay, I think only Scarlet still does any 'real' scrapbooking).  Some of us inserted photos in photo sleeves, some of us made Christmas ornaments(!), some of us just kind of sat and visited, and some of us just slapped photos on a piece of cardstock, (much to Scarlet's disapproval!)

I love, love, LOVE these ladies!
Even though as we said our goodbyes Friday night, instead of the much wished for Saturday afternoon,  we all surmised that at least this way, nobody got ornery or snotty with each other. Unfortunately, that usually happens by the end of the day on the second day of an overnighter.  You know--the whole lack of sleep thing--that doesn't always make for the pleasantest of experiences!
(Yes, I do have a 'preview' button on my camera, but the first shot taken Kim had her eyes closed, and this one I look bad with whatever I'm doing with my mouth. But, the restaurant employee did need to get on with her regular tasks, and didn't want to do an all-out photo shoot...)

(It was SOOO fun to have Sara join us for the scrapbooking part of the day.  We've scrapped on and off with Sara over the years and she is always a good fit to the group. (Even if she did not want to be part of this photo...)

I have found what C.S. Lewis once said to be true, "The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others."

I love friends.
Not just these ones, but

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Obviously, Bad Advice

Remember a few months ago when I told you about the guy that gave me the advice to never tell my children to go to bed because I need my own personal time? Well, I ended the post with a hint at another piece of advice he gave me once too.

I occasionally think of Jim and his (I'm sure) well intended words.  I tell you, those haunted words of advice somehow find their way sneaking into my psyche.  Today was one of those days.  Let me tell you why.

I got carried away trying to do a project for my husband on the computer, before I had picked up the house sufficiently from the morning rush, before I had emptied the dishes from the sink, and before I had even showered for the day.  To accommodate my boys while I worked on this frustrating task, I threw food in the general direction of my two boys while one vrrmed trucks and trailers at my feet and the other rode Woody around on a toy horse.  The television was on in the background, and dvd cases, and remotes provided a natural obstacle course.  In a quick rush to finish the stupid project, and bribe the boys to keep playing for just a while longer, I got out a container of Fisher Price toys without cleaning up the toys that were originally keeping them occupied.   In the midst of all this, I realized the piano tuner was due any minute.  It was mid-day,  I was still dressed in stinky exercise clothes, but I could hardly go shower then and leave my children unattended with the piano tuner.  So I decided to stick close by, and began the task of organizing my spice cupboard.  While spices scattered the counter tops, I realized I should hurry and unload the dishwasher first so I didn't have to deal with the dirty dishes spilling onto the counter.  By this time, the three year old left the house to go find a neighbor to play with, and the toddler was walking around the house eating from a bag of potato chips.

So, let's make sure you've got this clear:

A toddler walking around the house eating a bag of potato chips.
Fisher Price toys (the vintage ones no less!) strewn all over the family room floor.
The toy cupboard door open wide exposing the empty toy cupboard, that should be housing the trucks and trailers that are instead intermixed with Fisher Price toys on the carpet.
A couple of jackets and sweatshirts on the tile floor, that were given second thoughts during the morning rush.
Dishes piled on one side of the sink.
Spice cupboard contents atop the counters.
School papers from last minute emptied backpacks on the kitchen table.

And there was me. The mom, still in her exercise clothes and unshowered at 11:45am, praying that the piano tuner would not leave the tidy front room, and hearing clearly good 'ole Jim's advice from long ago run through my mind.

His advice?
Years ago, when I had ONE CHILD, Jim came to town and unexpectedly showed up to visit.  As I invited him in to have a seat in our (obviously clean at that time) family room he said with a big smile,

"See? It can be done! Mormon women with children can keep a clean house.  Keep this up, Tiffany.  Don't ever become one of those Mormon mothers who can't keep their house clean or their children looking nice."

And so today, as I looked around my house, I thought of Jim.  I was glad he wouldn't be coming to visit.  And then I thought, Actually, I wish he were coming to visit!  I would be able to ask him a few questions that have wandered through my mind over the years.
1.  What does being a Mormon have to do with keeping a house clean?
2.  Have you ever really lived in a house with children?
3.  Have you really never had more urgent things to do than wash dried egg off of a three year old's face?
4. Have you never been in such a hurry that it was easier and quicker to leave the wet pee-ed on onesie on the toddler and hope it would dry before you had to put the child's pants back on?
5.  Have you never had to do more important tasks than dishes, and clean-up?

And finally I would ask him,
6.  Jim, what world do you live in exactly?  Because you certainly don't live in mine?!?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reality Check

Just minutes before I was due out the door for a district PTA meeting the other morning, I dropped (with extra strength) the laundry basket full of clean clothes on my bedroom floor, (with a not-so-nice tone) I turned to Mike and questioned,

"What in the H#*@ did I get myself into?"

Mike politely replied,
"Oh you mean doing PTA?"

"No" I responded loudly, and with a lot of emphasis,
"I mean motherhood"

Some days are like that.
Last night, the girls would not go to sleep, and thus slept in way too late this morning.
The kids bathroom somehow got overlooked during cleaning hour on Saturday.  It could well be deemed unsanitary by the local health board.
The bikes, scooters and wagons are strewn across my yard, and may never find their proper put-away-place until the next few seasons are over.
There are cupcake crumbs from last night's dessert still sitting on the table.
A forgotten school book lays on the counter.
The current world events are a stark reminder that our 72 hour kits still aren't quite finished.
The healthy breakfast of wheat toast and yogurt sits untouched on the table, while my son is settled on the couch watching a home movie and eating Swedish Fish.
My almost two-year old still asks for (and receives) a bottle several times a day.
My husband is still spending most of his time in bed.  He has spent the past few days captivated and saddened by  the events in Japan.  He is seeing specific cities, landmarks, and neighborhoods, that he remembers spending time in during his LDS mission, destroyed.

And then there are more personal, yet serious, life-changing events going on in our current life.   I am not going to broach the topics that add such angst to my current state of mind, in a public forum like this, instead I will answer the question I asked Mike the other day,

"What in the H#*@ did I get myself into?"

Having Joshua fall asleep on my lap while sitting outside on a pleasant almost Spring like day.
Drew snuggled up to my chest, his head resting on my shoulder being rocked back to sleep in the middle of the night.
Shopping and running errands with Megan on Saturday, and laughing and having fun together.
Ellie holding hands with both Mike and me as we walked into Costco yesterday.
Luke's smile and enthusiasm after he finally convinced me to come watch him circle the cul-de-sac a few times on his new bike.

In the midst of apprehensiveness, and uncertainty going on at our house, I allow questions like the one I asked Mike the other day, to pop out of my mouth.  In those brief moments, I allow myself to view motherhood as an inconvenience to already complicated lives. Briefly, I forget the big picture.

I spent the weekend thinking about that now regrettable question.
I chose to be a mother.
I love being a mother.

And as with most things, I just need to remember you can't have the good without the bad.

And though those really good things, like Joshua falling asleep on my lap, or Ellie's swinging arms as she held hands with Mike and me, may not really seem like anything they are EVERYTHING.
And I wouldn't change it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Opening What I Shouldn't

My relationship with my in-laws has changed dramatically over the last couple of years.  In fact, I feel like I can finally say I even have a relationship with them.  For that, I am very grateful.  It is a great blessing to feel like we have a mutual love and understanding for each other.

Except for in one area.
They don't quite know, what NOT to do:
Giving me access to wrapped up presents and expecting me to wait.

Each time my in-laws leave on an LDS mission (they are on their third!), they make sure each family has a big bag full of birthday presents for the next year.

Let me tell you about the previous missions-worth-of-presents.

The first mission, we actually got Christmas presents too.  And I opened them all up the first night.  I liked the porcelain statue of The First Vision so much, I promptly put it in a prominent place on the family room shelf.  There was a slight problem, and though I can't remember all the details too well, I think my sister-in-law blew my secret.  Oh well. I took the gentle chiding.

Then there was their next mission.  The bag of presents for the kids was put up on a shelf in the closet (well, except for mine.  It was opened that night.)  One boring summer day, I was cleaning out my closet and I really needed the room on the shelf....

I called all the kids in, gave them each a present, told them who they were from and what they were for, exhanged a quick pretend happy birthday greeting with each of them, and then they kept themselves occupied with some new toys while I kept working on my closet cleaning.

There was a slight problem.  My usual attempts to make sure my children give appropriate thank-yous was not really possible.   By the time my children's real birthdays rolled around, the presents were somewhat forgotten and the thank-yous were much less sincere and real, if they were even remembered to be given...

And then there was my last birthday.  Though my in-laws weren't on a mission, they were going to be out of town the week around my birthday, and so they gave Mike their gift to me a week or so early.  Mike put it in the trunk of his car to keep it safely hidden until my birthday.

When I opened the trunk to load in some groceries.... a gift bag jumped out amongst the hard hat and dirty work boots in there... and well yes.  I helped myself much earlier than October 22nd.

And so now my in-laws are on their third mission.  A couple of nights before they left, they loaded the plastic present filled container into the car.  I think my mother-in-law even told me not to peek.  I think I changed the subject or something.

Well, I'm going to go off on a tangent for just a minute, but I'll be back.

So, for months now, I have wanted a new toiletry bag.  The plastic red plaid one I've had since 1993 is in need of replacement. (Which incidentally I remember once opening to take a peek a few days before Christmas...) But, every time I look at one I like in the store, I think that I really don't need to spend the money on a new one. You know, the whole 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without' thing.  And I put it back on the store shelf, and move on to more necessary items like toilet paper and deodorant.

Ok, I'm back.

Late January, the morning after we said our goodbyes to my in-laws for their third mission, I said goodbye to my school aged kids, and then turned and looked at the plastic container sitting on the kitchen table.  My plan was to take it upstairs to my closet.  And I did.

But before setting it up onto the empty spot on the high shelf, I took out the present that said, 'Tiffany'.  And without a second thought, I opened it up.

And standing alone in my bedroom, I started laughing out loud.
My birthday present was a new toiletry bag.
I like(d) it.
A lot.

And then, I realized, just like all the prematurely opened presents before, my curiosity has caused a slight problem.  You see my next trip coming up is to Washington DC.  And I really want to be able to use my new toiletry bag for it.  Except, we're going to be staying in a fairly small Washington DC apartment.... visiting my in-laws! 

And technically, the toiletry bag I'd love to be able to use next month, I shouldn't really know about until October 22nd.

Should I use the bag in April and
a. hope my mother-in-law doesn't notice
b. knowing my mother-in-law occasionally reads my blog, graciously say THANK YOU now.  (After all, I'm sure I'll forget in seven months time.)

Perhaps knowing that I love the gift will give my mother-in-law so much satisfaction, that she'll forgive my over-eager curiosity.

Thanks for the (early) birthday present Laurie!
See you in April (with my cute new toiletry bag).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Leave Me Alone

"When you are exasperated by interruptions, try to remember that their very frequency may indicate the value of your life. Only people who are full of help and strength are burdened by other persons needs. The interruptions which we chafe at are the credentials of our indispensability. The greatest condemnation that anybody could incur - and it is a danger to guard against - is to be so independent, so unhelpful, that nobody ever interrupts us, and we are left comfortably alone."
-Reverend Canon Hughes

I've had this quote hanging in my kitchen for a couple of months now.  Some days it serves very well to pep myself up about the constant interruptions, which really means I am important and all that good stuff.

But then there are other days, I can't help but day-dream about how glorious it really would be, to be left comfortably alone.

Alas, I am a mother of five young children and wife to a husband who has been home laying in bed for over a month.
I don't know what alone means.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

N.O. spells NO

A month or so ago I was asked by an acquaintance if I would be interested in spear-heading a community service project.  I told her to give me a couple of days to think about it.  As soon as I hung up the phone, I just wasn't 'feeling it'.  I very carefully weighed the pros and cons.  I thought about other responsibilities I currently have, and those responsibilities that I might have in a few months when the time for the service project came.  I thought of this. I thought of that.  I prayed and I talked with my husband, but mostly I just thought about it.

Sooner than I had promised her, I called her back.  With confidence and security in my decision, I thanked her for considering me for the position, and then told her I was choosing not to accept the task.  I hung up the phone with absolutely no feelings of guilt. I knew I had made the right decision for me (and my family).

Last night I had a similar discussion with Megan, my twelve year old...

We are not too involved in extra-curricular activities around here.  Mike and I both have very strong feelings about this.  Our family finances, dinner-times, and children having time to play creatively are of up-most importance to us.

And yet still, even with our 'non-over-scheduled-schedule' I had to have a 'being able to say no' discussion with my twelve year old.  And it had nothing to do with the 'Just Say No' drug campaign! ;)

By the time Megan gets home from school each day it is almost 4:00pm.  Of course there is homework (don't EVEN get me started on my homework opinions), then there is any research that might need to be done for upcoming reports, reviewing spelling test lists, or science fair projects, and of course fit in thirty minutes of the required a night reading.  That's just school.

Let's throw in a chore or two, some musical practice (thank heavens she practices some in the morning), dinner with the family (non-negotiable around here), and some personal or friend time.

Okay, we haven't even mentioned time to work on her personal progress (an LDS teenage girl program), or the assignment to work on for a stake youth fireside, or the district spelling bee she qualified for, that happens to fall on the same night as an honors meeting for next year's junior high students. And that still isn't all of it, but you get the idea.

I know, I know, it is all about Good, Better, Best.  But what do you say no to?  Church meetings? School projects? Family time?

We hear so much about PARENT'S over-scheduling their kids now days, but it isn't just the parents to blame.  It comes from school; example, regular homework assignments the same week as science fair projects.  church; example, young women sports nights as well as a regular young women activity in the same week.  (Incidentally, my friend's stake DOES NOT allow two youth activities in one week.  If they're going to the temple for baptisms, no mutual.  If it is youth sports, no mutual.... I LIKE THAT!)

And I KNOW, KNOW, KNOW, ultimately it all comes down to the choice of our little family.  But really, what part do you really cut out? Education? Religion?

On Sunday night, Megan and I talked about what she has to do this week. And it really isn't an out of the ordinary week.   I asked how she felt about what she had to do.  Then I gave her the option of eliminating any of the items from her week.  I let her make her decision.  I kept quiet. (please don't act surprised, i do have some parenting skills).  Megan chose to eliminate the district spelling bee.

And though I sent the email to the Spelling Bee in-charge-teacher, with slight trepidation for how the teacher may respond, far outweighing the slight trepidation, were two other things.  The confidence, that it is the right decision for Megan.  And the satisfaction, that hopefully, saying no sometimes, will be a positive lesson learned for Megan.

You can't do it all.
A very valuable lesson to learn.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

To Write Or Not

There are days I consider packing in the blog, and relying more heavily on my personal journal and a good old fashioned photo album.

But, alas, I have not yet given it in.  I love the ease and speed in which I can record a memory, a moment or a thought.

Blogging is a very interesting phenomenon--and though, I myself read a fair number of blogs, I have a few blogging pet-peeves.

Why do I write?  To record my thoughts, feelings and memories, or for others to read, or both!?  I would be lying if I didn't say, I love receiving kind thoughts, compliments and comments, but that isn't the reason I write.  I don't have a blog to see how many followers or readers I can generate.  And though, I do enjoy reading the comments I receive, I do occasionally consider turning off the comment option.  Several people frequently Facebook, email or text me comments for them to be more private, I love receiving them all.  I write for me, and though I am THRILLED people care to read what I write, I don't write merely for the feedback.

I don't love the anonymity that the world wide web offers.  Whether it is blog comments or comments on newspaper articles, news stories, etc. I think anonymity goes hand in hand with cowardness.  The things people spout off all in the name of anonymity are hard to take seriously.  If you have something to say, you should be able to stand behind it.  Otherwise, I think you lose a lot of credibility.

Though blogs, certainly count as a journal, they should by no means take the place of my personal journal.  Whether a blog is private or public, there are some things that shouldn't be written for anyone but you to see. Enough said.

There seems to be such a pretense of 'life is all good' that springs forth from many blogs.  No one's life is perfect, no one's life is magical, and no one's life is without problems.  I don't want to ever paint an inaccurate picture of what my life is like.  I do my very best to balance the reality of my life without crossing the line into problems or situations that really don't have a place in such a public forum.

When somebody tells me my life 'seems charmed' or 'I want my family  to be like yours when I grow up' I wonder if I am painting an inaccurate portrayal of my life.  I slam doors, I throw books and I raise my voice.   My toilets have dried pee on them, my floor hasn't been mopped in a few weeks, I could write a love note in the dust on my bedroom dresser and my children have many less than desirable qualities.  But then again, I am a realist.  I see through most 'life looks perfect' on the outside of others, and assume too often people do the same to me.  But too many (women in particular) don't, and it does a disservice to us ALL.

Our life is FAR from perfect.  I hope I accurately portray that.

But for now, I'll keep on blogging.  I love uploading a picture, typing a few sentences and VOILA- having a record of my people.  And having that record, combined with my love of writing, is really why I continue to do this.  And if a few people enjoy it along the way, then it's probably worth it!

PS-Just to clarify--On my four recommendations on my 'Record of My People' post, they were recommendations.  I did not and have not ever, ever, claimed to have mastered any of them.  Therefore there is no hypocrisy involved.  Just sayin'!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Always the First

Megan's turn!

I remember distinctly the exact location I was at in a busy American Fork intersection, when I realized my life would never again be the same.  Megan was about two weeks old and was snuggled quietly in her carefully chosen navy blue plaid car seat in back of me.  As the light turned and I came to a stop, I heard the what were becoming familiar, newborn sounds coming from the backseat.   I vividly recall the post-partum blues feeling that thought, "Aagh-When will I ever be alone again?"

Now, here I am almost twelve and a half years later!

Even without any post-partum blues, I still find myself asking, "Aagh-When will I ever be alone again?"  Though I have never found an acceptable answer to my question, I ask the question now with a much clearer mind.  For that, I have Megan to thank.

Motherhood really isn't so bad.  And Megan, must not have been too bad of a baby and/or toddler, or we surely wouldn't have done it four more times.

Megan is pretty much the ideal first-born.  She's all those things you hope a first-born will be.  (She's also some not-so-pleasant-other stuff, but today that's neither here nor there!)

I love that when Megan comes home from places, I never have to ask her if she said, 'Please' and 'Thank you'.  I never have to worry that she treated others kindly.

I love that Megan shows an array of emotions in any given day.  Okay, so maybe I don't always exactly love it, but she's a girl--an almost teenage one at that, and so I simply embrace the the opportunity to learn more patience.  (I think that sentence sounds like I have better mothering skills than saying, "Some days I want to scream and yell at her, but I refrain.)

Megan picks and chooses what she wants to do, when she wants to do it.  She is the queen of distraction and diddle-daddling.  Qualities that are both endearing and disenchanting all at the same time.

One of my favorite things I love about Megan is how conscious she is of my mothering.  From her quip back as a nine year old at a local parade when the Mother of the Year float passed by, when she turned and said, "You'll never be that, huh, Mom?" to just yesterday when she said, "You could be a better Mom.  You could be a worse Mom."  Then when I jokingly said, "I could be better?"  She said, "Well, maybe not."  (I assured her of course we can ALL be better!)

(She also in true Megan, politeness said, "I notice you don't swear as much as you used to." So of course, in true Tiffany, realness said, "Well that's a d^#@ good thing isn't it?")

Recently, Megan and one other student qualified to represent her class at the school spelling bee.  She was not too thrilled, but we put it on the calendar.  And then nobody bothered to look at the calendar,  until the night before at 9:45pm Megan came into our room and loudly proclaimed, "Tomorrow is the spelling bee, I haven't even looked at the list."

Megan looked at the list for five minutes in class the next day.  Apparently, Megan looked down at me as they announced her 'Second place win' and in Megan's words I quote, "Both your hands were on your cheeks and you were mouthing the words, ..." Ok, well I don't need to say she guessed correctly thinks I said."

Similarly, a few days later, the phone call went the same way as the aforementioned 'spelling bee mouthed surprise' when she called me to tell me she won the school science fair!  So off she had to go to the District Science Fair a couple of weeks later.  Megan opted to skip the 'District Science Fair Award Ceremony' because, really aren't Science Fair winners supposed to be kids that actually enjoyed doing their projects?  Guess not, as the morning after the District Award Ceremony, I get a phone call from Megan at school saying, "Mom, you aren't going to believe what I'm going to say!" "I got third place at the district fair."

That's just kind of how Megan does things.
Except for keeping her closet floor clean.  I'm not quite sure she'd be in the running for an award for that.
Oh well.  Probably a good thing,  otherwise she'd almost be perfect.

Well, except for going to bed at night without visiting our bedroom 5,439 times first.
So I guess we'll surmise, that even if Megan is not exactly perfect, she's pretty darn decent.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Record Of My People

The other morning before school, Luke read us the story of Enos from the Book of Mormon.  Who knows exactly who was listening as I'm pretty sure someone was throwing a temper tantrum, someone was still looking for their shoes, and someone was vrmming a car along the floor.  You know, the typical morning routine...

Luke obviously had more faith in everybody's attention span.  His Family Home Evening lesson that night was "a game about the story of Enos to see what you learned this morning."

After the first question, he decided to re-read the story.  As he read about Enos praying that the 'Lord would preserve the records' I interrupted him and took a moment to share some thoughts dear to my heart.

I shared briefly with my family, my love for journal writing that began as a young child.  From prophets of old, to prophets now, we are encouraged to record our thoughts, memories and personal histories.  I consider my blog, my camera and my photo albums and my volumes of personal journals, a modern-day 'record of my people.'    (Why aren't ALL the commandments so easy for me to obey?)

Which let me digress for just a moment--
For Luke's Family Home Evening game, he had us all sit lined up on the kitchen chairs.  As we sat there lined up watching Luke, I felt such joy in being with my little family.  I asked Luke to take a picture.  No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get it not blurry.  And look at us!!!! Mike in his robe with socks and flip-flops, Megan in a green shirt  with purple sweats (I PROMISE SHE DID NOT WEAR THAT OUTFIT TO SCHOOL!), and me comfy and cozy in my jammies.

So after all the blurry ones, I decided to set the camera on timer.  You can see how well that one went... Mike (with his eyes shut no less) clearly giving Joshua a 'counting warning.' and I didn't even make it in the shot before it went off. (Luke was off writing out a certificate for the winner.) This is our life. I LOVE IT.

And so, it brings me to today.  My dear friend Lesley, recently 'tagged' me on a blog post.  And my first thought was, "Oh no, do I have to?"  Love you Lesley ;)  

I thought about her blog tag this morning, and I realized what a perfect way to record some everyday stuff about me!  Even though some of the details may not be significant or of any importance in the grand scheme of things, they are about me.
And one day I (and generations to follow) may enjoy looking back and reading it.  And that my friends, is exactly what our personal records are for.
So, here you have it:

four places I go
1. the elementary school
2. grocery shopping
3. neighbor's house (usually to find my children and / or husband that seem to always migrate there)
4. exercising with my friend

four favorite smells
1. aroma of flowers in the air in the summer (especially petunias from people's gardens/pots)
2. sweet pea lotion/gel from Bath & Body
3. drew lotioned up after his tub
4. coming in the door to dinner cooking

four favorite TV shows/movies
1. i don't really watch any shows now except the news
2. but I used to love Beverly Hills 90210
3. once a year I 'make' Mike watch 'The Notebook' with me
4. i sometimes listen with half an ear (while I read) on Saturday nights when Mike watches 48 Hour Mystery

four recommendations
1. don't ever feel obligated
2. if you have 'an issue' with someone, do your best to resolve it
3. don't diet
4. give compliments

And instead of 'tagging' others, I'll just encourage us all to be good 'record keepers of our people.'

Happy Thursday! (Incidentally-Thursday has always been my favorite day of the week!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Loving Them All

Contrary to my BFF, I love all the months of the year, all the seasons, all the weathers, and so on.
This morning as I said goodbye to my kids at the front door, the sky was a clear, bright blue and the sun was shining. And though the temperatures are still not quite warm, without a doubt, it was obvious Spring is in the air. I said aloud to my kids, "Just look at that sky. That is certainly a March 1st kind of sky."

(I see these mountains all day, every day from my kitchen window. I love them.)

This morning I went on a late morning walk by myself, I had to remove my sweatshirt mid-way, it is a pleasant contrast to the layers my friend, Lori and I have had to wear while exercising for the last couple of months.  I continued to enjoy the clear blue sky, this time focusing on the stark white contrast of snowy mountain peaks (remember I'm trying to capture the beauties more).  I felt sheer exhilaration as I anticipated the sunny days of Spring.  I can't wait to see bulbs poking through the dirt, rows of vegetables planted neatly in a row, my Flowering Plum shrubs with their delicate pink blooms, and my Flowering Pear tree with it's stunning white blossoms.

As I began to think, 'Spring is my favorite', I realized that wouldn't be accurate.

I love every month and every season.
I love March.  I love that no matter the temperatures, simply because my calendar is turned to March, I know Spring is almost here.

I love April.  I love the bulbs that have finally bloomed. I love Easter.  I love light in the evenings. I love my anniversary. I love spring showers.

I love May.  I love the anticipation of school ending soon. I love planting a garden. I love planting flowers in my pots.  I love seeing the proof that my perennials survived another dreary winter.

I love June. I love the last day of school.  I love the newness of lazy summer days. I love celebrating the Summer Solstice. I love the snow that is all of a sudden gone from the mountain tops.

I love July. I love Independence Day. I love pioneer heritage celebrations.   I love barbeques.  I love neighbors outside talking on warm evenings.  I love my flower garden in full bloom.

I love August. I love the anticipation of school starting again.  I love knowing lazy summer days will end.   I love buying school supplies.  I love fresh produce from my vegetable garden.

I love September. I love the newness and re-commitment a new school year brings.  I love the cooler temperatures that are welcomed after a hot summer. I love evening walks. I love family bike rides.

I love October. I love my birthday.  I love the fall colors.  I love pumpkins decorating front porches.  I love the end of having to care for a vegetable garden.  I love my Black-Eyed Susans that out-bloom every other flower in the garden.

I love November. I love Thanksgiving. I love the time change that brings dark evenings.  I love the excitement of Christmas that is in the air.  I love the putting away of outside things in anticipation of winter.

I love December. I love the snowstorms when I have nowhere to go. I love the smell of my Christmas tree. I love seeing well-done Christmas lights.  I love turning lights on in the early evening.

I love January. I love feeling cozy at home on hazy, smoggy days.  I love the feeling of newness a new year offers.  That's about all I love about January.

I love February. I love that spring is right around the corner. I love the odd day of mild temperatures.  I love there are only 28 (sometimes 29) days in the month.

And now we are back to March.
I love and appreciate it all.
Of course I favor some more than others.
But you will RARELY hear me complain about the weather, the temperatures (unless it is hotter than 95 degrees), or the seasons.
I love all twelve months and all four seasons.

Unlike my BFF...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

PTA President Anyone?

Here's the fair warning to anyone considering becoming a PTA President, and may have to spend a full day getting ready for a silent auction fundraiser....

Your children (and your PTA board member's children) may have free reign of the house while you are otherwise occupied...

Your dining room table will be out of use for dinner for several days...

You may forget not have time to change your baby's diaper until it is showing half his bum and weighs more than he does...
(Drew climbed up on the bench as I grabbed the camera, and fortunately  his kneeling position made for a more dignified photo of his behind...)

Thinking again about considering the PTA President job?

Really, it isn't this bad all of the time.

(Though I would be dishonest if I didn't admit that my children, husband and MYSELF are giddy with excitement quite relieved that the two year PTA President term is soon coming to an end...)


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