Monday, January 31, 2011

Beauty

Mike is very detail oriented. And I don't just mean the twenty minutes he spends ironing one shirt or the forty five minutes he can spend cleaning a single toilet. Mike notices everything. We can't drive down the street or go on a walk without him calling our attention to something. Whether it is a sunset, the buds forming on a tree, the architecture of a building or the way a shadow/lighting falls on an object. Mike notices it all.

It's never been one of my favorite qualities of his. When I'm at Disneyland, I want to enjoy the rides, the characters and the atmosphere. Not the flowerbeds or the brickwork. When I'm at Buckingham Palace in London, I do not want to stop and look at the type of sprinkler head they use. When we are driving south on I-15 on our honeymoon, I want to talk about US, not be told to look out the window at every passing mountain peak.

As our children have gotten older, they are the same way. Mike and now our children notice EVERYTHING. There is rarely peace and quiet on our car-rides or family walks. (And it isn't JUST because of the fighting.) It's because of the never ending:
"Oh look at that."
"Look over there, hurry, don't miss it."
"Did you see that?"
"Oh that is cool."
"Now that is pretty."

Though I certainly appreciate a beautiful landscape and the wonders of nature, I don't usually notice them as frequently as Mike (or my children!).  But slowly, yet surely, Mike's observations have had an effect on me.  I have found myself being far more aware of the more intricate, less noticed beauties around me.

Take the other day for example.
While running along a local trail alone last week, something caught my eye. A faucet of sorts with water spray coming out was hidden amongst shrubs off to the side of the trail. The water had frozen into a beautiful 'shape.' I was proud of myself for noticing it, even more proud of myself for stopping to admire it and promptly thought I'd have to bring my family to see it. I knew they would love it. I couldn't wait!

Later that afternoon, taking full advantage of the fairly decent temperatures for January in Utah, I loaded Drew in the stroller. I instructed Luke and Joshua to get on their bikes, "There is something I want you to see." And off we headed.  In true Luke style, Luke sped off ahead of me and as I turned the corner, I saw that Luke had stopped in the middle of the trail.

My thoughts were:
He better not have stopped at what I want to show him.
I hope he has just stopped and won't notice it close by.
I want to show him what I 'found.'

As soon as I got within 'voice range' I heard Luke yell, "Mom, come see this. There is something really, really cool."  Instead of feeling disappointment that MY surprise was ruined, I smiled. A great big smile. My nine year old son, who so easily could have ridden right on by, paying no attention to the simple beauties around him noticed a simple water-spray-turned-ice-sculpture.


And I was glad.
It reminded me of an idea I once heard, about the day we meet God.  Perhaps He won't simply ask us the standard questions about whether or not we served our fellowman well, or did we truly love one another, or did we obey the commandments.  Maybe He's going to throw in a few questions that will really make people think about before they answer, "How did you like all those variety of trees around you?"  "Did you enjoy all those sunsets and sunrises?"  "How often did you visit those beautiful mountains I created, minutes from your home?"  Will we be able to tell God that we loved and enjoyed and even noticed His creations?

I've decided I'm not going to snap responses as much anymore that sound like, "No, I didn't see it, maybe I was looking at something else." or "It's a tree. Big deal." or "Aagh, let's just have quiet time and enjoy the drive."

I'm going to follow the example of Mike and my kids on this one.

I'm not going to just live in beautiful surroundings anymore, I'm going to notice them.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thankfully, It's Over

Last weekend, Mike and I sat down and made a list of all the 'honey-dos' that we want to get down before this week, when life as we know it will change for several weeks.  Last Sunday night I went to bed knowing that we had quite a week ahead of us, and tried to remain calm and breathe deeply despite the lack of any space left on any of the white little squares on my calendar.

Amidst honey-do lists, loads of laundry, household chores, homework assignments, practicing and all the regular stuff.  And though there were a few moments of heated tempers, rattled nerves and mental confusion--we survived the week.  And what didn't get down, probably won't and that is OK.  We fit in quite a bit...
  • Megan completed and turned in her Science Fair project...
  • Luke completed his Pinewood Derby car Livestock Truck...

  • Mike, as the Cubmaster, fulfilled his assignments at the Pinewood Derby...
  • Doctors appointments and lab work...
  • An five-eight hour day spent with three PTA members and a dear friend (with no PTA affiliation!) putting together silent auction baskets at my house...
  • Listening to Megan's prepared-by-herself talk she has written for her first time speaking in Sacrament Meeting...
  • An extra little friend sleeping over while his parents were out of town...
  • Listening to Luke's prepared-with-some-nudging talk he has written to speak at an extended family meeting...
  • Home teaching and a Presidency meeting at the same time in which both Mike and I were interrupted with phone calls...
  • Some early mornings and late evenings plugging away on a writing assignment/deadline...
  • A CRASHED computer with no back up of photos or personal documents and the external hard drive my brother purchased for me last week sitting UNOPENED on my desk...
  • A missed Science Fair Open House because there were three other things on the calendar at the same time AND a sore throat and hurt ears...
  • A family visit to a pizza parlor where I think only two children cried...
  • A phone call Friday morning from Megan as soon as she arrived at school, telling me she had WON THE SCIENCE FAIR!!  And though I complimented her first, my MOTHER OF THE YEAR comment was, "Oh Megan, that's one more thing to fit on our calendar for February!"  (She is also going to the District Spelling Bee!)   If you know me very well, you know well my feelings about school science fairs and spelling bees......and going to the District Science Fair and District Spelling Bee are not high on my list of want-to-dos.

Such is life.
We survived the week.

Into a new week we go...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Someone Made A Mistake

I'm not sure when or how, but at some point in the past eight years or so, I reached a satisfaction with my body. Sure, I know I could be thinner, in better shape, have better hair, etc. etc. But I have children and other pursuits, and at the end of the day, I take deep satisfaction in the fact that I am a mother. When I consider the time, effort and energy motherhood takes, the rest seems quite insignificant. I believe acceptance and satisfaction is a HUGE part of happiness.

With all that said though, I have one BIG complaint about my body.
Why in the world did the creator of us all, only give women, TWO ARMS?  I can't understand why we get so many things added to our bodies after giving life to children (I'll spare you the details, because you know all too well the things I am talking about!) that why doesn't the birth of a baby produce extra arms instead of stretch marks and extra skin that really serve no purpose. Some extra arms (with different lengths) could really be put to use.

Think breakfast-
One arm could be pouring juice, one arm could be making the sandwich for home lunch, one arm could be signing the forgotten paper that was due YESTERDAY, one arm could be flipping the egg, one arm could be brushing hair and the other arm could be wiping up smeared applesauce...
Think lunch-
One arm could be answering a phone call, one arm could be pouring a drink, one arm could be holding a book to read, one arm could be stirring the macoroni, and one arm can be retrieving silverware from the garbage can...
Think after school-
One arm could be signing the completed homework sheet, one arm could be getting the after school snack, one arm could be getting meat out of the freezer to thaw, one arm could be comforting the toddler who just got pushed out of the way, one arm could be helping a practicing child hit the right notes on the piano...
Think dinner-
One arm could wipe the tears of the child who does not like the menu choice, one arm could stir the soup, one arm could answer the phone, one arm could spank help the child who is still sitting in front of an empty homework paper, one arm could clear off the table so we can sit at it to eat...
Think bedtime-
One arm could hug one child, one arm could hold the book while reading to another, one arm could pick up dirty clothes, one arm could turn off a light, one arm could pull down the bedspread and one arm can rub my tired eyes...

But alas, I have only two arms.
And it is NOWHERE near enough.
So someone and somethings will have to wait.

Now please excuse me, as I can't type, hold a child, pour a drink, wipe a nose and remove the twelve year old's toothbrush from the one year old's mouth all at the same time.

In the next life?
Forget a tall and slender body, forget great hair, forget ...
I want to be an OCTOPUS


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Laughing Again

Today (and yesterday) marks five years from one of the saddest days of my life, and most certainly one of the saddest days of my BFF's life. Though time has certainly healed some pain for my dear friend, I will never forget the heartache and despair Melanie wore on her face for months.

Five years ago, I captured this photo. Two brothers and a dad surrounding a lifeless, perfectly formed little brother and son. I will never forget the haunting phone call I received from Melanie, following a routine ultrasound in which she declared,  "My baby has died."

On that dreary January day, I was taken back to the summer of 1995. When on a sunny, summer day, Melanie's mom passed away in a car accident. In the first day that followed that dreadful news, I felt as though Melanie and I would never laugh again. I truly believed it. Those first few days seemed gloomy and dark. Melanie was injured, her mother was dead and I knew life as we knew it had ended. I could not imagine 'Mel and Tiff' who were so often told to be quiet, calm down and act mature, would ever smile, let alone laugh and be ourselves ever again.

In 1995, about four days after the tragic car accident, I decided to help Melanie go outside and get some fresh air. With a borrowed wheelchair, I began to push Melanie up the slight incline of her street. I can't even remember exactly what happened next, but I do know the wheelchair got stuck, Melanie almost tipped out and there we were on the side of the road laughing. And I mean, really laughing. The tears-coming-out-your-eyes-belly-hurting and I-need-to-find-a-bathroom type laugh. We were laughing. Just days after I had convinced myself we never would again.

Back to that wintery, January day five years ago.
Though I recalled how soon we did indeed laugh again following her mom's death, this time I really doubted it. This time we were adults. We were not immature, single, college students with our real adult lives still ahead of us.  We were wives and we were mothers and Melanie had just been handed a heartbreaking, life-changing set back.  Her baby that shouldn't have been born for three more months, died before he could ever take a breath.

I'd like to say we found something to laugh about just a few days later, like we had ten years previously, but we didn't.  It was a horrible winter.  It seemed for weeks I would sit on Melanie's couch or she would come and sit on mine.  I have no recollections of what we talked about, what we ate or what we did.  It was a long, dark winter.

Five years have now passed.  I've had two babies since then, and she had one, a miracle in its truest form, her Jonah baby who is now three and a half!

Fortunately, Melanie and I proved myself wrong yet again, we have indeed laughed since her baby James' birth and death five years ago.  In fact, I can confidently say, we have laughed plenty. And though we are probably never told to be quiet, calm down and act mature, that is a probably a product of age and circumstance, not life experiences.  Melanie is a fine example of smiling, laughing and enjoying life amidst it's heartbreaks and disappointments.  What a friend to have!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dessert Anyone?

Last Fall our neighbor friends introduced Mike and me to 'Skookies.'  It seemed at least once a week, Mike and I would put our kids to bed or in front of a movie and we'd head over to Kari and Kellen's for dessert!  Our kids always heard the word 'Skookie', and we always lied assured them they wouldn't like them and they weren't missing out...

And then our FABULOUS friends gave us our own Skookie pans as a Christmas gift.

We accepted the gifts graciously and interpreted them as,

"We love you so much we'd like you to have your own pans"
 NOT
"Here's your own pans. Now leave us alone on the weekends."

(Warm, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies topped with ice cream. 
Yum! And I don't even usually love cookies.)

By the way, we usually always have at least two people per Skookie, but Luke and I had much bigger eyes than our stomachs one evening--we ate until we were sick, still not finishing our portions!  We now have a 'Two-Person-Per-Pan Rule'.

And surely this has to be the cutest picture ever of someone dishing themselves up some ice cream!?

Mike often says he can skip dessert when there is a good main course (good meat).
Not me.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS room for dessert.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Friends and Miracles

(Brandi, Tiffany, Kim, Scarlet)
I love these ladies.  They are dear, dear friends.  Though some of us have been friends with each other for longer, the four of us have been friends together for six years now.   We have shared babies, deaths, struggles and joy.  We have shared some of our most personal, deepest thoughts and we have laughed until it hurts.  They are the true definition of 'friends.' I love them dearly.
(Brandi & Keith, Tiffany & Mike, Kim & Alan, Scarlet & Mark)
As I sat at a restaurant table surrounded by these wonderful people yesterday, I could not help but take my mind back to my thoughts and feelings on December 4th, when we should have been together and we weren't.

Sitting across the table and being able to look Mark and Scarlet in the eye is nothing short of a miracle.  I add my voices to the myriad of doctors that have already said it, 'Mark is a miracle.'  I love what Scarlet wrote on her blog yesterday, "Dr. Cook told him on Friday that his great challenge now is to figure out what the Lord wants him to do, why He allowed him to live and stay on the earth." 

Though Mark still has a lot of progress still to make, and a long journey ahead of him, being with him yesterday strengthened my faith in a God who loves us, hears our prayers, and performs miracles still today. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lucky Me!

More than ever before, it seems in the last year I have had enough experiences and/or interactions with others to make me truly, truly count as one of my greatest blessings, my husband Mike.

I'm not really the sappy type, and too often I'm heard saying a cutting remark, or seen rolling my eyes at my dear husband!  But I love him.  I truly do.

For the past few weeks, I've been grateful for some of the little things that make me treasure my relationship with him a little more.  Though there have been a myriad of experiences this last year, I think the culminating, cherry-on-top-I am-truly-blessed situations to have been privvy to have been, watching my dear friend Scarlet stand by her husband's side as he slowly recovers from a near death experience.  (You can read about her day to day ups and downs here.)  Her love is real.  She knows firsthand what it means 'For better or for worse, in sickness and in health.'  The other experience was watching a man stand at the graveside of his wife of twenty years.  (I wrote about the sudden death of Mike's work associate's wife last week, here.)

Life is so unsure and sometimes I need to not care so much about the glass of water I have to remove from his side of the bed in the morning (even though we don't have 'sides'), or the non-funny jokes he might tell or his rolled-up-filled-with-head-shavings-towel he always leaves on the bathroom counter.  There ARE more important things in life.

Our relationship is far from perfect, but we both feel pretty darn (are you impressed?) good about US.  I LOVE Mike. And just like most couples we have things that make us, US and I LOVE them...
  • I love that he tells me often "I like just being with you."  
  • I love that he spontaneously writes me love notes.  Even if I had to immediately rip the one up he wrote the other night, so no innocent child eyes ever saw it...
  • I love that when we're going upstairs to bed he will often hide somewhere and jump out at me, even though he knows it makes me crazy to be alarmed.
  • I love that even if I'm sleeping he either kisses me goodbye or says goodbye and waits for a response.
  • I love that we go to bed together at the same time every night.  Even the other night at 8:43pm, when his back was done for the day and needed to lay down in bed and  I had a bazillion things I wanted to get done downstairs, but it's what we do.  So in bed I got too!
  • I love that he is my biggest cheerleader.  Though he isn't a man of a lot of words, I know he is proud of things I do. 
  • I love that our rule at church has always been, we sit next to each other.  Sure we may have kids on our lap, or kids either side, but our kids know they don't sit between us.
  • I love that no matter how chaotic or crazy it is when he gets home from work, and how many people may be clamoring for his attention, he always finds his way to where I am to greet me personally.

A year ago, I received a message from somebody I didn't know telling me they believed my husband and I didn't have a good relationship.  Mike and I were both flabbergasted that somebody would assume such details of our life.  At the time, I chose not to react or respond, but I have to honestly admit it made me wonder what in the world I must write that one would assume that...

So...
I LOVE MIKE.
There you have it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

T-I-M-E

We just finished up a long weekend. Kids home from school, husband home from work and nothing really planned.  I have no major event to record.  No fancy field trip to tell about. No photos to show. No fabulous outing to describe.

Though at the time it seemed we were doing 'nothing.'
Looking back, it seems we did 'everything.'

We went on a family walk/bike ride and get caught in a major hail storm.  With some on bikes, some on foot, and a lucky one in a partially covered stroller, we arrived home out of breath, with sore faces from hail and hair as wet as though we'd just showered.  At 4:45pm we all changed out of wet clothes and into our pajamas and settled down to a co-operative task of fixing tacos for dinner---everyone's all time favorite meal!

We enjoyed a family movie night sans two children, viewing the old favorite, E.T. We all relished in a little less chaos with two less noisemakers.

We enjoyed an evening with extended family and an evening with dear friends.

We enjoyed a laughter filled game of 'Quickly-pull-your-candy-attached-to-a-string-before-the-pan-lid-slams-down-on-it' that Megan enthusiastically introduced to us.   (We did our best to ignore Joshua's incessant requests of "When can I eat it?")

I love what Elder Uchtdorf said in his last General Conference address,

"In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time."

I couldn't agree with him more.  We don't have a lot of fancy toys, we don't really have a lot of extra money, but we have T-I-M-E.  And as a mother of rapidly growing children, I am finding that is one of the best things of all.

Although I must point out that I am not in agreement with Elder Uchtdorf's next sentence, "Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home." 
Case in point: 
  • One child preferred to make a leather case for their chapstick instead of pitching in with all the others to assist with dinner preparation.
  • One child slammed their finger in a heavy container and the rest of us spent the whole day reeling from the loud whining effects. 
  • One child felt the need to watch the movie with their feet about twelve inches from another child's face.
  • One child caused Mom to still be fighting with them about unbrushed teeth at 5:25PM.
  • One child's frequent attempts to turn on their own DVD, resulted in an unfixable DVD player. 
Maybe it isn't so much that I don't 'agree' with Elder Uchtdorf's claim, it's just that we haven't yet found that exact result.  'Harmony at home' is not exactly how I'd describe our home.  But what's the big deal?  Sure we may not have a lot of harmony together, but we do have a lot of T-I-M-E together.  And if that is really how you spell love, then we're probably doing ok.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Playing House

Remember my thoughts about children playing 'house' here in this post? 
In case you're not one to follow links, I'll remind you of a few of my words...

Many years ago, I was babysitting a four year old girl, whose parents were going through a divorce/break-up (actually I'm not sure if they were even married now that I think about it).
The little girl, with baby dolls and strollers, was playing house.  As she played, I could hear her say things in a mad voice such as, "I don't want to have her tonight. It's your turn." or  "I have things to do, I'm not watching her."
Of course I was shocked.  But I realized, that our children 'play house,' very similarly to their real life 'house.'

Well now, I eat my words after hearing Ellie and Joshua playing house today...

Ellie "Say 'Our mom is in jail'?"
Joshua: "Yeah because our mom was at a baseball game and she threw a baseball at someone and then she went to jail."

FYI in my defense:
1. It's been a few years since I was even at a baseball game!
2. Have you ever seen me aim and throw?

FYI for my children's play:
1. Mom has been known to throw the occasional paper/toy/item in a not so nice manner when it is not in its proper place.
2. We have very vivid imaginations and we are very good at PRETENDING.

There you have it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Using Them

I am loving learning to use the new camera I received from my parent's for Christmas...


And I loved, loved, LOVED using my Christmas present from Mike....

Tickets to a Monster Truck Show!!!
(photos were not taken with my new camera...)

If you don't love a monster truck show. I'm sure you've never been.
There's nothing quite like seeing trucks in the air and cars being smashed all while trying your best to protect your hearing and not be overcome with exhaust fumes.
Not to mention the people.
Oh the type of people who go to these shows...
Of course, I like to think I'm an exception...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Keeping It Real

No matter what it may seem, our family life is anything from perfect, magical or harmonious around here...



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Too Late

Mike has been in the same industry for seventeen plus years.  Mike knows a lot of people.   I have been on business trips, and have attended enough banquets, social events and parties, even a couple of weddings and funerals to have met some of these associates.  Some I have liked more than others.  (People and events!)  A little over ten years ago, I remember sitting on a job-site with Mike and some of his crew eating a Subway sandwich courtesy of a Sprinkler Rep I was meeting for the first time.   The Sprinkler Rep was very friendly and I was flattered that he included not only me, but my two year old toddler as though we were nothing out of the ordinary for a job-site lunch. 

Sometime after that lunch, I had the opportunity to sit at the same table as this Sprinkler Rep and his wife at a Landscape Convention banquet.  I remember his wife talking about learning to do a 'new' kind of math with her grade-school son.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time talking with her about a subject we shared in common: motherhood, as the men around the table spoke of sprinklers and plants.

A few years later, we enjoyed a family dinner one Friday night with this same couple and their son, and another in-industry family.  It was a great night of laughter, good food and fun. 

Fast forward a few years.  With the exception of running into them coincidentally once, while both of our families were visiting Temple Square, our interactions with Russ and his wife lessened as Mike and Russ each moved into some different circles (still within the industry).

Last September we attended an industry BBQ we have attended many times over the years.  We were thrilled to share a table with Russ, Kathy, their son Logan and another family.  We had many conversations that evening, covering an array of topics.  Two things from that evening will forever stand out to me.  First was Kathy's repeated desire to repeat the Friday night dinner of so many years ago. She mentioned more than once the need for Mike and Russ to co-ordinate schedules and get a dinner planned.  Secondly, Kathy was thrilled to have been served an over-sized portion of ice cream.  Insignificant memories? Perhaps...
We said our 'good to see yous' and our goodbyes, and as we walked away, I heard Kathy yell out, "Call us to arrange another dinner."

Life gets busy.
Time quickly passes.

In December, Mike and I received the following card in the mail:

This Christmas card will not be thrown out with some of the others.  It won't earn a place on our magnet board this year with some of our favorite Christmas card photos.  It will be put in a safe place.  A permanent place. A place that can remind me not to let time get away from us.

This Christmas card will forever remind me that some tomorrows will never happen.

Last Monday, three weeks after receiving the card, I sat next to Russ at an 'Ice Cream Gathering' following the Graveside Service for his dear wife, Kathy.

Life got busy.
September to December quickly passed.
Kathy unexpectedly passed away.

We never went to dinner. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dinner's Ready

Remember this guy last year?  The one who told Mike while talking to him on the phone that it sounded like Mike was at the zoo, instead of at home on a pleasant Sunday morning?  Well I met Mark the other week as I stepped into an elevator with Mike.  I had no idea who he was as he said, "I enjoyed reading your blog."  My face must as looked as dumbfounded and confused as my mind as he continued, "I'm the one you wrote about, Mike told me about it."

I was slightly embarrassed.

I thought of him the other night during dinner.
It was a relatively average dinner at our house.
But I was glad there was no phone call that could risk overhearing dinnertime in our home.

There is really no telling what one might hear in the background, even though it is pretty much the same routine every night.

Drew sits at the table, spoon and bowl in hand before the food preparation is even finished.
Joshua looks at the food on his plate.
Ellie moves the food around on her plate.  Ellie has figured out if she is quiet and doesn't vocalize her complaints, rarely will anyone notice that she hasn't eaten and thus suffers no 'Didn't eat dinner consequence.'
Luke snarfs it all down with lots of water during the final two minute count he has before he is sent to bed for the night. 
Megan is a pleasant dinner participant.
Mike is also a pleasant dinner participant.
As for me, I can be heard saying my standard line every night, "You telling me dinner is yucky, is just like me seeing a project you drew/colored/made and saying, "That's ugly."  Oh, that line is always preceeded or proceeded by, "I don't know why I keep doing this night after night."  I have a few other 'regular lines' but you get the picture...

(Please note, the reason for these pictures of us enjoying dinner together eating dinner together the other night...)  During dinner, Drew reached into the meatloaf pan, and with the large serving spoon picked himself up an over-sized portion of meatloaf which he promptly put in his mouth.  Of course, by the time the camera was retrieved, the original kodak moment was gone....)

Welcome to dinner.
We hope you enjoy...

Please note the lack of plate in front of Joshua and the disgusted look on Ellie's face...
In fact, just to be sure, let's get a closer look at what meatloaf, baked potato and corn can do to Ellie...
This is the proud look of a one year old who just successfully retrieved a large portion of meatloaf from the pan and placed the whole thing in his mouth.
(Un)Fortunately, my dad wasn't at dinner, so no one reminded Luke not to wear a hat at the table...
If I remember correctly, Joshua, upon being told that nothing could enter his mouth until the next morning if he didn't eat any dinner, took a bite.  You decide for yourself if he liked what he tasted or not...
Megan with the 94 cent cup she just had to have from Walmart last week...
(And yes, most weeknights I serve food right from the pan.  Once a week the china, cloth  napkins, matching glasses and fancy platters come out, the rest of the time? What you see is what you get...)

I used to really enjoy cooking.  But now that we have well and truly concluded that there are only two meals that don't cause contention, crying, tears and threats, dinner preparation and dinnertime seem less desirable than scrubbing toilets.

But yet we do it.
Every single night.
Dinner as a family with a home-cooked meal.

I worry about the adage,'perfection comes through repetition.'
Because we are going to be perfect at all the wrong things...

 I'm just glad the other night when Mike's phone rang just as we were finishing up eating dinner, he stepped into the garage to take the call...

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Morning Headache

Last night my brain would not shut down. It took me far too long to fall asleep, and so when the alarm went off four hours later to get Megan up and out the door at 5:10am, my head didn't feel very good.

After walking Megan down the street in my slippers, pajamas and big winter coat (in the teen degree temperature) to her YW leader's house I returned to bed.

I was still sleeping quietly when Megan returned.
I was still sleeping quietly as Megan cooked herself and all of the kids some eggs for breakfast.
I was still sleeping while Megan did Ellie's hair.
I was still sleeping while Megan packed two home lunches.
I was still (okay, well by now I was mostly awake) when Luke practiced the piano with no one reminding or asking him to.
I was still laying in bed while I listened to four people demanding Megan's attention.

"Megan, listen to this song."
"Megan, we bought apple juice yesterday. I want that."
"Da-Da-Da" (Drew's sounds for anything that could have ranged from asking for anything from food to a diaper change)
"Megan, will you pour the juice for me?"
"Megan, I want a capri-sun in my lunch."
"da-da-da"
"Megan, where are my shoes?"

Megan was actually very patient. I didn't even feel the slight bit guilty, but instead laid in bed worn out at the constant demands being asked of Megan, and realized it is NO WONDER I am WORN out when my three oldest kids walk out of the house at 8:21am.

I finally dragged myself out of bed at 7:47am. Sat on the couch with Joshua,read a book, and laughed out loud when it was finished and as I closed the book heard him exclaim, "That was a great book!"

I did not laugh however when at 8:22am, Ellie was standing in the front yard screaming and crying (long story) and I simply said, "Goodbye. I love you. Have a good day, and don't you dare miss the bus." I then turned around, locked the front door and watched her from the front window.

I'm certainly going to take Megan up on her offer as I laid in bed of, "You can do this once a week."
The one exception?
I'll stay in bed until 8:23am.

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Front Room Sounds

So back in November when our piano teacher decided she really should settle down and get ready for the birth of her second baby, rather than come to our house weekly to teach three piano students, we had some decisions to make...

We arranged a new piano teacher for Megan. (Her harp teacher just graduated with a degree in piano--how great is that?!)

As for Ellie and Luke, we had to think a little harder. We didn't feel we needed to pay the price of Megan's teachers, when they aren't as advanced (yet ;).  And, we have been very spoiled with our piano (and harp) teachers coming to our home for the past couple of years, so something close to home was very appealing...

With three children in musical lessons and one in horse lessons and five growing kids and seven need-to-eat-bellies, the cost was a definite consideration...
Having a twelve year old with some serious musical talent was certainly on our minds...
Having two other children who don't always enjoy piano couldn't be dismissed either...

But since November, for better or for worse, it's sorta been working.
Megan is the new piano teacher.

Megan is very different from any past piano teachers we've had..
  • She sent us an enveloped invoice when our payment was past due.
  • She rings the doorbell and makes a grand entrance when it's time for Ellie's lesson.
  • She once called Mike and resigned from being one of the student's teachers. (Her resignation was only accepted for one week.)
  • She is occasionally known to march into the kitchen and demand the lesson to be over.
  • We hear loud sounds coming from the front room that do not come from a piano.
Megan is rich in musical talent and not quite as rich in patience with her siblings, but for the most part it is working well for all of us.

Thanks to some advice, information and ideas from her Aunt Christie who is currently working on her Doctorates in Piano Studies, in addition to teaching Luke and Ellie, Megan has been helping the neighbor girl weekly with her piano studies, and counting it as a YW value experience.

But, the highlight of all Megan's music studies and dedication came this last Tuesday.  Megan had her first 'REAL PIANO STUDENT'.  (We aren't sure what Megan considers Luke and Ellie, but obviously not 'real'...)

Her school friend, Seth.  (Who I also happen to think is one of the cutest, nicest, politest boys in 6th grade.)
Seth didn't fight and Seth didn't argue.
Megan didn't complain and Megan didn't resign.
Seems like it just might be a good fit.

Happy Teaching, Megan.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Luke's Remnant

While talking with my dad the other day, I mentioned to him what Luke has done during his Christmas break; made nine leather knife pouches, practiced the piano almost non-stop... I was just starting to say, "sewed a..." when my dad interrupted me and said, "It's stitching, don't call it sewing."  My dad thought I was referring to Luke's leather projects.

Oh but I wasn't.
I was trying to say, "Luke sewed a pillow."

And so, I told him the story about how I was in the material section of Walmart the other night picking up some ribbon....

Luke was intently looking at all the material (in his beloved 'genre') trying to tell me all the things he wanted to make with them.  (I was trying so hard to be patient with him, because I had really wanted to go to the store alone that evening, but I finally gave into his pleading and allowed him to accompany me and oh man was he wearing me out did he have lots to say...)

When lo and behold, in the box of remnants was a yard of horse material, clearance priced.  Oh it was like Christmas morning all over again.  The energy, excitement and enthusiasm coming from one little nine year old.

And then in seriousness he asked, "I don't really have a lot of money right now, what could I do to earn this?"

Seriously?
What did he say?
I don't know what was making me smile more:  His enthusiasm for a remnant piece of fabric or the principal of 'we work for what we want' that somewhere, somehow has sunk in.

I tossed the three dollar piece of horse fabric into the cart and listened to Luke drill me for the duration of our shopping time, the drive home and the carrying in of groceries, "Have you thought yet what I need to do to earn it?"

"Yes" I responded, "I'd like my lower kitchen cabinets cleaned out and organized."
There was no groaning and no complaining, simply a "Please can you keep Drew away from me while I do it?"
He began the minute he walked in the door.
He worked fast.
He worked efficiently
And only complained once when I shirked my responsibility of keeping Drew away from undoing his work. 

Then Luke disappeared.
He returned a little while later and he had HANDSTITCHED THE ENTIRE YARD OF FABRIC CLOSED INTO A PILLOW CASE.
HANDSTITCHED!

He showed such determination and dedication, I dreaded the thought of his disappointment when the whole pillowcase would very likely come apart within minutes of inserting a pillow into it.
And so very kindly, I said, "Luke it might not be very strong."
And in a momentary lapse of New Year's Eve judgement. I offered to teach him how to sew with a sewing machine.
You'd have thought he had died and gone to heaven.
That smile was bigger than any Christmas morning smile.

(You see, he has begged and pleaded for a sewing lesson more than once, following past 'sewing projects' but I am not one to teach my children things like that.  It takes a lot of patience, and that is not something I have much of.  And besides, what nine year old boy really needs to know how to work a sewing machine!?!)

But I must have had some New Year's Eve kindness in me.
And our lesson began...
And by golly, that proud smile on his face at the end made all the biting of my tongue worth it.
And then in true, generous Luke fashion, Luke promptly gave it to Mike to be the first to 'try it out'.

I love Luke! I can't think of another nine year old kid I know that is anywhere near as creative, innovative or resourceful as Luke is. But the thing I love the most is his confidence in what he does.  He hasn't a care in the world that he talks with his friends and hears all about the game systems and electronics they received and/or played with during Christmas break.  He just answers back, "I got a leather punch and some leather and made stuff." 

Luke's great!
I've never met anyone quite like him.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Bee in Mike's Bonnet


I have to give a brief background...

Mike comes from a very musically talented family.  His entire youth was spent actively involved in musical performances, practicing, etc.  Mike's family are all still very actively involved in music as adults.  But Mike, not so much.

Sure he sings in the ward choir, faithfully attending every weekly practice WITH Megan for almost four years straight now.
He has a very acute ear and will holler from another room which note a practicing child should have played.  He also patiently lays on the music room floor to monitor a practicing child.

And though Mike is a talented musician, in my (humble) opinion, he doesn't/hasn't let his talent shine in adulthood as he should.

BUT, he does strongly encourage music from his children.
'If you want horse riding lessons, you gotta play the piano...'
'If you want to go play with friends, get your practicing done first...'
'If you want food to eat, clothes to wear, and a shelter overhead, keep up on your musical studies.'

You get my point...

Well, for sometime now, Mike has been concerned about three children needing to practice the piano daily,  and one child needing to additionally practice the harp each day, all in the same room.  Oh and of course there are only so many hours in a day.  For months, Mike has suggested the idea of a second piano.

I have politely ignored him for several reasons...

Number 1 being, I LOVE my baby grand piano that I purchased with money received when my dear Granny passed away and I don't want it being neglected.
Number 2, There are lots of other things I'd like that fall into the price range of a second piano.
Number 3, Where am I going to put a second piano, I have been content with my family room as it is...

And then I guess I ran out of good, valid reasons to ignore Mike any longer.  And so with a slight nod of my head indicating approval, and with lots of research behind him, Mike took Luke and Megan on a trip to Summerhayes Music Store recently.  Mike allowed the children to pick out the particular piano.

It is a digital piano with all the bells and whistles.   USB connections, built-in Alfred Piano Book Lessons, recording capabilities, split keyboards, you name it.

But it isn't the fanciness of this silly digital piano that has Mike and I laughing and smiling.  It is the six months worth of practicing that our children (mainly Luke) have done in a four-five day period.  Though the novelty will surely not last in it's entirety, we both our thrilled our children have interests and talents in music.

The music has not stopped...  

It didn't matter if the bench wasn't even put together yet...
Doesn't matter if it is one kid helping another...
 Or one kid TRYING to play alone...

Doesn't matter if it is two kids playing a duet...


Or if you're told you have to wear headphones so Mom doesn't have to hear any more...
Doesn't even matter if you are wearing pants...


The chaos of five children arguing over a piano, WHEN THERE IS ANOTHER ONE SITTING IDLY IN THE FRONT ROOM is filling our home.
But then again, so is music.
And Mike (and I) wouldn't trade it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

This Year

Last year, I resolved to laugh more.

I asked Mike the other day if he happened to notice if I spent 2010 laughing more...
I think we both agreed I have plenty of room for improvement.

I think the reason I didn't succeed quite as planned though is; last January I got a little ahead of myself....

Before I can laugh more, I need to RELAX more.

And I don't mean the lay on the couch and kick my feet up type relaxing.
I mean taking literally the quote I recently read in President Monson's biography.

'Don't take life so seriously.'

We'll see how it goes...

All the best for 2011.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
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