Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh What Do You Do

One of my favorite Primary Songs from a child is the oldie "Oh What Do You Do In The Summertime?". I have loved singing it in Primary a couple of times this summer. Apart from posing the question once on our chalkboard in the upstairs hall, I don't think of the song very often, but I was THRILLED when Joshua and Ellie sat eating breakfast the other morning on the bar stools and Joshua turned to Ellie and asked, (quoting part of the song)
"Do you want to count all the stars in the sky?"
to which Ellie replied,
"That's impossible Joshua!" "But we could (quoting the song) 'Swim in a pool to keep ourselves cool', can we Mom?"

What Do WE Do In The Summertime?

This year there have been far fewer outings and field trips, but we're doing things like:

Making impromptu, last minute trips to some water fountains at a nearby park.

We attend neighborhood parties with bands playing (and get blurry pictures because Megan and her Cousin Ben dance partner are swing dancing way too fast!).
We spend afternoons in the canyon with extended family, evenings on driveways with neighbors, hours on  back patios visiting with friends, kids splash and get wet, we read books, we do crafts, we clean toilets, we fight and argue,
These are lazy days of summer. So lazy in fact, that I rarely even grab a camera, but occasionally grab my cell phone to take pictures instead (thus the above quality!).

This week I had only two "have to's" on my calendar and it thrilled me.  Our long, lazy, days of summer are numbered, so we'll keep doing what we're doing for just a little longer, before real life kicks in again.
Lazy Summer Days.
Nothing quite compares.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Slow and Steady

Growing up, my mother always said, "If a jobs worth doing, it's worth doing well." As a mother, I have come to completely disagree with that cliche. Sometimes a job just needs to get done--and so I do it. Some jobs just need to be barely done, so I barely put the effort in, and race through the task. Mike is the exact opposite to me in this way. It comes out glaringly in may ways. For example, when Mike and I weed the flower or vegetable gardens together. After thirty minutes Mike will still be in his small section of the dirt and it will look beautiful. No weeds, in the dark, lush dirt he has overturned and refreshed. My section? Well I pull weeds that I see anywhere in the garden. I just pull. And even though I may have the same amount of weeds in my weed pail as Mike, I've done the essentials of 'doing' the job: ie pulling the weeds, but Mike has done the 'worth doing well' part of the job with the end result of not just pulled weeds, but his section looking far more pleasing to the eye than mine.

The other day at the dentist, (and I'm only brave enough to admit this so publicly because my friend Laurie has the exact same diagnosis and admitted the same thing recently too!) they told me my gums are receding because I brush my teeth too quickly and vigorously, and need to slow down. Again, I do the job to get the job done. My quick and vigorous brushing, could quite possibly be blamed on the fact that as soon as a toothbrush is sloshing around my foamed up with toothpaste mouth, all five children inevitably seem to need urgent responses and attention. Is it any wonder I brush quickly and vigorously when I need to urgently respond to queries such as,  "Can we have an ice cream cone for breakfast?" or "Is it okay if Drew comes outside to play with me even though he took off his diaper?"

My friend and exercise partner, Lori, and I have become a little lax on our exercise-running-routine lately. We spent too many weeks embracing our disdain for running, and have walked in place of running far too much. With an upcoming race on HER horizon (Thank goodness I have a water fear, or she'd surely be making me do the triathalon with her!), we've decided the last few times to run more. As the end of our painful running sessions loom closer, (I really dislike running! Why do I do it?) and the exhaustion and soreness sets in, Lori and I have two different styles. Lori likes to slow her pace down. I want to speed up. I want to race as fast as I can to the finish line just to get the pain over with. But what I guess comes down to mutual respect and common courtesy, and the enjoyment of being together, we stick together. I slow down more than I'd like, Lori doesn't slow down as much as she'd like to, but for the most part we stick side-by-side.

Just the other day, Lori and I were both exhausted. Without either of us voicing it, we both wanted to quit running before the end. Lori began to slow down and 'knowing my preference' kindly said, "Go ahead and run fast to get it over with, and just wait for me at the end." I wasn't going to leave her, instead, I slowed down and said, "Slow and steady wins the race."

And that morning run provided a much needed epiphany for me.
"Slow and steady wins the race."

Not that I'm trying to 'win' the race, I just want to finish the course. Slow and steady will finish the course.

I'm not just talking flower gardens or teeth brushing or painful morning runs. I'm talking raising my children, learning the gospel, teaching my children all the qualities I think they need, working on my own goals and aspirations, financial security, making sure kids reach academic milestones, etc. etc.

I am always in a RUSH. Always in a hurry. I am impatient. My morning run last week made me re-read the old classic, 'The Tortoise and the Hare.' The moral of the classic story is the same encouragement Mike already seems to have mastered and frequently and kindly reminds me, "Slow and steady." Everything takes time, even life. I'm going to be more patient with the things I really can't control, I'm going to be a little more like Mike, and my good friend Lori, I'm going to slow down and realize some things take time.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Crowded Bed

The three younger children and I were left home alone this weekend, while Mike and the older two children spent the weekend engaging in such activities as jet-ski riding, knee-boarding, fishing, splashing in a lake, being pulled on a tube behind a boat, and calling and awakening me from a deep slumber to say how glorious the shooting stars are while they lie on sleeping bags atop a houseboat.

I'm really not jealous much of the water activities, and even the sleeping on top of the houseboat would probably put my worrying in full gear, but what I was slightly envious of was the easy, lazy, night-time slumber I knew they would be enjoying under nature's brilliant light show while I enjoyed a not so comfortable night slumber back home.

Let me back up.
I adore sharing a bed with my husband, but I really quite enjoy the few times a year when for whatever reason I have a bed to myself.  And usually, there is a 'Mom sleeps by herself rule' when and if Daddy is gone...

On Friday morning, as the loaded car backed out of the driveway with excited and Lake Powell anticipating destinators waved us goodbye, a couple of the ones left behind waving, choked back tears as they sighed, "I will miss 'thum'" and "I really, really wish I could go with them." In a weak, I-feel-bad-for-my-children-left-behind mothering-moment I exclaimed, "Let's have a sleepover in my bedroom while they're gone!" In an instant the goodbyes were forgotten, and replaced with visions and plans of We're sleeping in Mom's room.

And oh boy did we have a sleepover...

(Please note: There are no photos of my sleeping children. It was hard enough to get them to fall asleep during our 'sleepovers' that there was NO WAY I was going to risk them waking up with the click of a camera.)

Somehow the "Look at this comfy bed I've made for you on the floor" on Friday night didn't quite appeal to the whole crowd. Instead, I've spent the last few evenings listening to teeth grinding, a sleep-talker, helping someone back into the bed who fell off (DUH--a possible clue there was quite possibly too many people in the bed!), and dealing with kicks to the face by someone who confused the pillow as a place for FEET not HEADS.

I was really looking forward to having Mike back home in my bed tonight, but I'm a little disappointed I didn't get the bed to myself for a night.  I wonder if Mike wouldn't mind if I offered HIM the "Look at this comfy bed I've made for you on the floor" that somehow didn't get used this weekend...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Birthday Party That Wasn't

Have I mentioned before that I LOVE birthdays?
But even if you didn't, who couldn't love a party like this?
For not liking birthdays much, even the birthday boy spent the evening smiling.
Before the evening ended, we had a few different friends, family and neighbors join us. The "non-birthday dinner" turned into a family carnefel that turned into an impromptu gathering of family and friends on the back patio.
 Even Mike exclaimed as he laid down in bed,
"What a fun evening."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The NON-Birthday

It's no secret I LOVE birthdays and Mike doesn't so much. But after Mike's birthday last year (that you can read about HERE), I have spent the last year telling Mike that this year we will not be celebrating his birthday. Mike didn't seem to care whenever I would bring it up, except for a few snide comments here and there that he doesn't think I'd be able to really carry through with it.

Mike entered the kitchen this morning, probably indifferent to the fact that there were no upside down balloons hanging from our kitchen ceiling, with heartfelt messages from each family member. I however, cringed when entering the kitchen. It is SOMEBODY'S birthday and there were NO balloons and no 'birthday-set-table.'

This morning I left to buy a few groceries for a somewhat decent non-birthday dinner and when I came home, I found my house and yard like this:

I obviously forgot to tell my children that there was a NO-BIRTHDAY RULE for Dad this year. And now, we've got ourselves a big old birthday family carnefel being planned. Balloons are dangling from strings, carnefel games are all over, signs are hanging, and the kids are more excited than they've ever been on even  their birthdays.

And what about me?
Guess instead of a nice serving of birthday cake tonight, I'm going to be eating a big ole' dish of humble pie!

Happy NON Birthday Mike!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Knowing Nothing, Doing Anything

(I filled two wheelbarrows by myself--and my mother who did the least amount of work somehow looks like she's the only one working in this photo!?!--smart lady!)

In thinking about Ellie's recent declaration that if you're going to be a mom "you don't have to know anything" I keep thinking back to a comment I overheard at our school Field Day back in May.

A mother was giving instruction to a teacher/supervisor about needing to change a bandaid dressing later in the day.  In response to the mother's concerns, the teacher replied, "I am a mother, I can do anything."

How true that is!
Mother's really can do anything, even if according to Ellie they don't have to know anything.

Whether mothers can change a wound dressing or can carry every grocery bag into the house in one trip, whether mothers can function on very little sleep, or be masters at multi-tasking, Mother's really can do anything.

I remember being pregnant with my first child, and wondering if I really would be able to know how to give birth. Then when I must have resolved that worry, I moved onto whether or not I'd know when to feed her, how would I know she would be ready for solid foods, how would I learn how to potty train her, and so on and so forth.

(I have been a professional worrier all of my life, but didn't really know it until my parents came home from a parent/teacher conference when I was thirteen years old and told me the head-mistress claimed I 'worried too much.'  I still wonder HOW exactly the head-mistress (principal) knew me well enough to surmise that, but I've done my best to live up to the claim ever since.)

I digress. Back to my worrying when I was pregnant. I worried about it all.
And then, guess what?
I just figured it out. In fact I didn't really figure anything out, I just did it. Nobody told me, nobody showed me. Sure I read a few parenting magazines and books along the way and chatted with some friends. But for the most part, I just figured it out. Formula gave way to solid foods, diapers gave way to underwear, toddlers turned into preschoolers, grade-schoolers gradually turn into tweens.
I just do it.
"I'm a Mother, I can do anything."

Perhaps after all, Ellie is correct in her thinking. We don't have to know anything to be a mom--it just all comes naturally. Because really, what can't a mother do?

I remember clearly a morning when Megan was just shy of her first birthday. As I went into her crib to greet her, she was wearing (new) one-piece zip-up pajamas. Immediately, upon entering the room I knew something was ghastly wrong. The smell was atrocious and the color of her pajamas were NOT the color they had been when I put her to bed. Poo covered her from toe to neck. I was a (fairly) new mom, and the thought of poo in my bathtub must have seemed completely improbable. So I did what any smart, loving, mother would do. I took her outside to the lawn, undressed her, turned on the hose (in my defense, it was hooked to a hot/cold faucet), and hosed her down. While she ran around naked (but clean) I proceeded to hose wash the new-but-soiled pajamas until there was no trace of poo left on them. Both the pajamas and baby were then declared clean enough for the washing machine and bathtub (respectively).

(I'll digress just once more--oh how far I've come in almost thirteen years! I now know poo can go down a shower drain just fine AND if you use the extra rinse cycle on the washing machine it's okay if an article of clothing isn't pressure washed by the garden hose first.)

If it is true that 'The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world' it is no surprise that the mother at Field Day had the confidence to exclaim, "I'm a Mother, I can do anything."

And so Ellie, even if mothers don't have to know anything, they sure can do anything.
What a wonderful thing to be!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekend Stuff

Ellie doesn't have to make her bed until the end of summer due to her bravery in jumping off of the diving board at her cousin's pool Saturday afternoon. Now if you know me well, you know that is quite the reward, as unmade beds are cause for very loud noises from the mother. As Ellie stood by and watched me make her bed this morning, her smile was every bit as big as it was when she resurfaced from the water after her inaugural jump. Ellie has now surpassed me in her swimming and water experiences, I am very proud. Since her victorious jump, I've been contemplating overcoming my own water fear, and maybe jumping off of a diving board myself one of these days. But I've already shocked my family enough this weekend with the thought of mom being okay with an unmade bed for the rest of the summer. I'll have to space the shocks out a little.

Luke announced that with the combination of Goat Hank drinking lots of water and the water that 'alaporates' he has to fill up the water buckets frequently.

In Primary today, Mike was recognized and sung a birthday song to, due to his upcoming birthday this week. There were no other children (or teachers) being sung to, so he was given a little personal attention. The chorister had the children guess how old he was going to be turning on Wednesday. Their guesses ranged from 46-67!!!!!!! For not liking his birthday much, Mike wasn't shy about declaring to the children, "I am accepting gifts all week, not just on Wednesday."

Megan stubbed her little toe the other day. I think I've told you before that she isn't my favorite child to be sick, hurt, or in pain. Enough said about that.

Ever nag? Well I do, and sometimes the nagging doesn't work. Case in point: I've been asking Mike to cut Luke's hair for over a week now to no avail (Did you know Mike is our boys' hairdresser?) My strategy to get the job done? Attempt to do it myself while Mike is downstairs in the family room singing during ward choir practice. Knowing Luke was not presentable to leave the house (especially to church), Mike was forced to find the time to fix my efforts. My defense? Luke told me Mike takes off all the clipper attachments to do around the ear. According to Mike that is NOT TRUE.

We were invited to an impromptu birthday party for my deceased grandpa tonight. Really it just turned into an extended family 'visit and eat' while sitting on my parents front flagstone patio (courtesy of my dear husband). It was a very, very, pleasant way to spend a humid, Sunday evening. Even if Joshua consumed enough sugar to add even more cavities to the current three in his teeth! At least he wasn't the one 'drinking' the sugar left in the bottom of the bowl from the already consumed Sour Patch Kid candies.
(Why does it look like everyone is interested in what I am saying except for my own husband!?!)

Luke must have felt no animosity towards Mike for having to mow the lawn this week as he mowed 'D-A-D' in the front grass. Unless I were to have climbed onto the roof of the house, a good photo really wasn't possible. I never thought three letters mowed into a lawn could make me teary, but it did! Imagine the floodgates if it were to have said, M-O-M.
(Says Ellie during the photo: "It's kind of like we're getting married pictures, huh Joshua?")

Joshua lamented while passing a construction site on Friday afternoon, "Why can't girls be workers?" and "How much stuff does it take to build stuff? So, so, so much?"

Ellie recently asked how people "learn to do stuff." After a brief discussion about college, degrees, and education, she declared, "I'm going to be a school teacher or a dentist. Then I'll be a Mom, but you don't have to learn anything for that."

And that was our weekend.
Here's to a new week.
Happy Monday!

PS: After re-reading these last two items, I'm thinking instead of spelling tests this week, I might introduce my children to a thesaurus.... too much usage of the word 'stuff' around here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cowboy Moments

Luke has been working hard in exchange for his horse lessons lately. I believe it was no coincidence in May when his horse teacher asked if he would like to mow his lawn. Upon seeing what a thorough, and complete job Luke did (with some assistance from Mike), he offered to trade the lessons for mowing straight across. It was an answer to a yet unspoken prayer, as horse lessons would probably have had to otherwise take a back seat financially.

Now it is summer, and Luke has been invited to go down and ride whenever he would like. He saddles up the horse himself and has spent many an hour riding on the trails by the arena, and around the arena itself. 

Luke was invited to participate in a horse show last week. Mike and I were not too keen to fit it into the family schedule or finances this time around, but his teacher really wanted him to, and we made arrangements for it to happen. Luke earned part of his entry fee by laying sod at a good friend's house.

The thrill in his voice when he called to tell me he got "A first place, two seconds and a third" were nothing compared to the obvious thrill as he declared next, "I won a halter!" That boy was pretty darn close to cloud nine!

Mike and I weren't too far away from cloud nine ourselves, when his horse teacher spoke so highly of Luke's responsibility and hard work throughout the day taking care of the horses, trailers, equipment, etc.

Our current situation lends itself quite well to Luke not feeling a sense of entitlement to what he participates in. He works hard, he plays hard, and hopefully along the way he's learning some life-long lessons.

Each time I go to the horse stalls and find Luke packing up the horse for the day, my senses are heightened by the smells and sounds of my surroundings. One day it will probably seem more normal, but it is still so far from what Mike and I would ever have imagined for our child, that it almost seems fictitious that this is really my son. Yet those smells and sounds that have become so frequent in my life, have slowly yet surely endeared me to this fancy.

Today, I followed Luke through the stalls--he was unaware I was there as he walked ahead of the horse. I was touched by Luke's interaction with the horse. I felt as though I was intruding on his life, interrupting a magical moment, encroaching on the bond between him and a borrowed horse.  So after snapping a few pictures (with my cell phone), I let my presence known.

Somehow this son of mine, whose endless energy I have spent hours and hours in frustration with over the years, is beginning to find his niche in life. I know he is only nine (and a half!), but I have a hunch this isn't a 'stage' for Luke. I could be wrong, but after my sneak peek into his life for a couple of minutes this afternoon, I don't think I am.

Hard-earned lessons, gifted saddles, borrowed horses, and prized halters are pretty high on Luke's favorite things list. I hope he adds to the list, his sister who was exuding pride as she carried the (quite heavy) saddle to the car for Luke while he finished up a final task.

What a life!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ears and Pride

Remember the test of Megan's ability to forgive just over two years ago?  When Mike allowed Ellie to go and get her ears pierced because she asked a couple of times, when Megan had been asking for years....  (You can read about it here.)

For whatever reasons, Megan moved on and whether it was because of her pride, or she just didn't care, she rarely talked about getting her ears pierced anymore. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, she mentioned it on occasion, but whenever she was asked if she was really serious, she dropped the subject.

A couple of weeks ago, while I was at a baby shower, 35 miles from home and not returning for a few hours, Megan called and without any greeting said, "Can I get my ears pierced today?"

One thing led to another, and later that afternoon, after what seemed like 372 hours of picking out ear-rings, dramatic, over-animated, nervous Megan sat anticipating the first hole punch! Ellie was inches away with her expressions alternating between smugness and excitement.

I love Megan. But she isn't exactly the easiest child when it comes to pain, discomfort, sickness, etc. But I've been pleasantly surprised. The stern, strict, over-rambled lecture on the way to the 'Ear Piercing Place' about me (or Dad) not wanting to hear anything about pain or discomfort for the first few days, must have sunk in clearly. We were both pleasantly surprised at her lack of a constant commentary about her new ear-rings. Actually, who am I kidding? We did hear over and over, "Why didn't I do this before?" or "I can't believe I finally have my ears pierced." But we heard nothing of discomfort or pain.

It's funny really-the whole ear-piercing thing. Discussing the particulars of ear-piercing (age, restrictions, etc) is quite commonplace among women/girls, and it has always been a source of questioning as to why Ellie, the younger sister, had her ears pierced but Megan, the older sister did not. Megan doesn't like 'the family ear-piercing story' quite as much as Ellie, Mike, and me, but I think the little tiny green studs in her ears, and the patiently waiting un-used birthday presents sitting in her jewlery box are bringing her closer and closer to embracing (and smiling at) the story that will surely go down in our family history as a definite highlight.

Now if Megan can figure out a way to just get Ellie to say 'Goodnight' and 'Good morning' instead of 'Don't forget to turn your ear-rings' or 'Have you sprayed your ears today?' She could enjoy her new accessories even more.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

End of The Rope

Last week was one of those weeks! One of those weeks where I can honestly admit I stood in my closet (while crying) and asked myself, "Why did I get myself into this?"  I then proceeded to make my bed while day-dreaming of a life of just Mike and me.

And guess what?
I'm not ashamed to admit that.

I love my kids, I love being a mother. But sometimes I don't necessarily like it.
And last week there were a few too many of those times.

But then there was the time earlier in the week that after yelling, slamming some doors, and throwing a few items (I'm talking about me, not the children...), I finally got into the car and Luke and Ellie from the back seat start singing me a Primary Mother's Day song. The harmonies from the back seat changed my attitude pretty darn fast.

And then there was the time when I was trying with all my might to discipline Joshua without losing my patience.  As I fought with him restrained on my lap for a few minutes, he suddenly relaxed, curled up into me and said, "Will you sing to me, Mama?"

And then there was the time after spewing some not so nice words at Megan who had spent the morning going above and beyond what she had been asked to do, sat down on the couch with me and immediately accepted my apology and embrace.

And I don't want to forget the night this week when all the other kids were in bed, and Megan laid in between Mike and me in bed watching the evening news (even though she was earning extra privileges by scratching Mike's back!).

And I want to forever remember laying on a blanket on the grass last night with some of the children and in a sudden effort to diffuse a potential argument as one child ran away with the blanket, I pretended it was our ship that we quickly needed back before we were lost in the drowning grassy ocean to be eaten by sharks.  Mom playing sharks with us? What fun! must have been the blanket thief's next thought because before I knew it, four of us were rolling around on blankets and being 'raa-raa'-ed at by a shark, resembling a diaper clad two year old.

I would be lying if I didn't admit that there are times I dream of being on a beach in Hawaii alone with Mike and no parenting concerns in the world. No un-made beds, no mouths to feed, no bums to wipe, no chores to nag about, no tears to dry, no Hot Wheels to step on, and no arguments to referee.

But alas, here I am.
A mother.
And most of the time, (lately) a pretty ornery one.

But then again, that quiet, peaceful, beach in Hawaii wouldn't be quite as peaceful, quite as harmonious, quite as solitudinous, and quite as carefree, if I didn't know the chaos, the conflicts, the en masse, and the responsibility of motherhood.

And one day, I KNOW, these parts of motherhood, these parts that for now try my patience and push me close to my limits, will one day in retrospect seem the very easiest of all.  One day, forgiving voices from the back seat singing me a song, tender lullaby requests, shark eating toddlers, and a child between us in bed, will be distant memories as slowly, yet swiftly we will move into the world of broken hearts, night-time curfews, college applications, missionary goodbyes, and life-course decisions. The temper tantrums, sore foot from Hot Wheels accidents, constant mouths to feed, hands to wash, and chores to administer, today, will quite possibly be missed tomorrow.

Onward I go.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

One of My Favorite Things

I have thought lately, that I love the 'eve' of an event. But why do we really only celebrate Christmas Eve? I love the night before birthdays, I love the night before school starts, I love the night before Easter, I love the night before a big event. Think about it. Isn't sometimes the anticipation just as great (sometimes even better!) than the actual day. And it isn't even the anticipation; it is the preparations, and the moments in preparation that become their own celebration of sorts.

(How cute is this? Luke and Ellie's homemade fans for hot attendees at our Water Baseball BBQ.)

Sunday night kind of became that way. An impromptu visit to my parents with just a couple of kids in tow became a pleasant few moments of anticipation, conversation, and preparation. So great! As we drove home, Luke reminisced about ''Independence Day Eve' last year. I was surprised that even me, with my own great memory, had forgotten some of the small details that Luke recalled. So it was with a great sense of satisfaction and excitement that we turned into our cul-de-sac and I exclaimed to Luke, 'There's your Eve Party.' Because there on our great friends driveway were fireworks, family members, and a party! Knowing we could sort of invite ourselves, we did. And oh what a fun late night!
(Luke was thrilled that this year I let him light a few himself!)

Chocolate Cake
(Megan was commissioned by her ornery mother to make a chocolate cake after church!)

Some questionable safety
(Kellen and Luke)

A poor scared to death toddler who kept his eyes closed and face the opposite way to the fireworks!

And of course, all that was just the beginning of even more fun on the big day...

Family and friends
Water Baseball Warm-Ups
The Game

As I collapsed into bed last night utterly exhausted, I still couldn't help but smile. It was a good kind of exhaustion.  And it is now official, July 4th--Independence Day--has been moved up from my second favorite holiday to my first. With that said, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving. That holiday is a very close second.
Until next year...

Monday, July 4, 2011


As I recall my recent Springtime visit to Washington, DC, today I want to remember that it is because of things like this:

and this:

That we have this:
(July 4th Water Baseball & BBQ 2010)

and this:
(July 4th Water Baseball & BBQ 2008)

2011 will be spent the same way. It is my favorite holiday.
We are truly blessed.
(Ellie, 2011)

As Megan used to say,
"Happy Freedom Day"


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