Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nothing Special, Just Life

Before too long, the lazy days of summer will be upon us. I can't wait. Well I say that, but there is a likely possibility that by mid-day on Monday I'll be wishing some or all of my children were back in school.
With the warmer weather lately, Joshua has preferred flip-flops and shorts to his Wrangler's and boots. Although he spent everyday last week, hot temperatures or not, in his long pants and boots being a cowboy. His gun and hat didn't leave his side for days, and on the rainy day, the back of the couch served him well as a make-shift horse.
Speaking of Joshua, he graduated from pre-school. Which if you remember is a major pet-peeve of both mine and Mike's. Graduations are clearly over-done, and I preferred to view it simply as an "end of year program." Mike was not disappointed in the least that his schedule precluded him from attending. 

Please note Joshua's hair that (still) needs to be cut that stuck out of his "papa bear" hat. (Please further note that I may break down today and take Joshua to the hairdresser's to get his hair cut. Another pet-peeve of Mike's, but it will likely be long enough for a ponytail before Mike gets around to cutting it himself.
Megan and I took Ellie to get some photos done for Ellie's baptism invitations. Ellie plopped down on the grass and began a reading pose with the Book of Mormon prop Megan had brought along. It ended up being my favorite photo. I could have left you to think my children naturally gravitate towards spiritual nourishment and she was genuinely reading and not posing. But after the moans and groans I heard on Sunday when I suggested we put the Book of Mormon CD in while in the car, it is safe to say they do not (yet?) love reading from the Book of Mormon.
(And yes, I have no problem admitting that. More Mormons should.)
Megan and I spent far too much time (and money) at City Creek Shopping Center on Saturday. Megan is at a really fun age to go shopping with, and I love how wise and thoughtful she is about spending her money.  I felt like we literally shopped until we dropped. My tiredness was exasperated further when Megan kept appearing outside my dressing room door saying, "Just try this one on for fun too." I don't try clothes on for fun.
Luke insisted that he was not tired after waking up at 4am for a hike on Monday morning. But when I left him to unload groceries from the suburban while I hurried inside to take care of my rising bread dough, I found him 20 minutes later like this. He was fast asleep.
Drew has a funny fascination with acting like animals. It is not uncommon to see him kneeling up on the counter or table eating his food directly from the bowl with his mouth. And he has been known to sing songs and even pray in animal sounds. He is most often a dog, goat or horse. Typically he does his animal re-enactments in just his underwear, but on occasion he loves to pull out this size18-month horse costume. The too small costume is a far better alternative than his oft-heard declaration, "Animals don't wear unner-wear", which is essentially his request to play completely naked. (I decline that particular request.)
I've tried having the conversation with him that animals really don't drive cars either. But he doesn't seem to care.
And that's us.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A True Mother

There is a speech I frequently periodically give to my children when their behavior and/or attitude gets less than desirable. In short, I remind them of the fact that I gave them life. I remind them that the very fact they are alive and breathing is due to me (and Mike), and so if nothing else, that fact alone grants me respect.

They've each heard it over and over again, and every child of mine could probably give an impressive imitation version of the speech.

This week, I have added a line to my speech when should I ever have to give my speech again to Luke. It's a pretty simple line. In fact, one sentence is all.

"I drove goats to school for you."

Yes. You read that right.

This was me a few days ago.
I must give credit where credit is due. None of it would have been possible without my dear, kind neighbor who loaded the animals into the trailer and of course hooked the trailer to the suburban. All the while my dear husband worked a couple of counties away counting his blessings feeling badly he wasn't the one able to drive goats to school.
As I stood outside the school waiting for Luke and his class to come outside, I was mildly self conscious standing by a trailer with two loud goats inside, while my two pre-schoolers ran up and down the nearby stairs. Instead of ignoring the confused glance of a passer-by father, I simply smiled and declared, "I'm in the running for some Mother-of-the-year award." I'm not sure what his nervous laugh was a result of, the loud neah-ing sounds coming from the goats or my comment.
I'm really not a farm girl. If fact, what am I saying? I AM NOT a farm girl. As my dad likes to say, believe it or not I was once a proper little English school-girl. Yet somewhere along the way I took a drastic "wrong" turn and can now say I have driven goats to school for a 'show and tell'.

Although Hank and Lily stole the show, Luke was a pretty popular guy himself.
This better be a day Luke remembers for the rest of his life. The day his mother drove goats to school!! I don't ever pull trailers, let alone pulling a trailer carrying livestock.
What a mother!
Even if I do say so myself.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dirty Baseboards and Homemade Forts

It's easier said than done sometimes, but I love the occasional reminder of what really matters. Click HERE to read about my choice to climb into a homemade fort instead of cleaning my house...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Eight IS GREAT

Fortunately the real birthday was much better than the birthday party the day before.

It all began with the traditional "open presents on Mom and Dad's bed" routine. Typically I allow the birthday child to wake everyone up whenever they wake up to begin the celebrations. (Remember I LOVE birthdays and have instilled in my children the "it is so hard to sleep the night before one's birthday" issue.) Ellie's Sunday morning birthday came far too early following an extremely long week for all of us, and I felt mildly guilty about sending her to watch television alone until 7:30am. By then the guilt was preventing me from sleeping any longer and the celebrations began!

(This photo is proof enough how much I have relaxed in many areas of my life. I used to make sure the night before birthdays that my children were wearing cute, appropriate pajamas for pictures on birthday morning. The fact that this year Ellie was wearing snowman/winter pajamas in May made me crinch just slightly as compared to times when I have been known to launder pajamas the day before a birthday to make sure they are wearing cute ones.)

I can't believe I just admitted that!!!

Besides a two-hour church meeting (Stake Conference) Ellie wasn't too excited about, it was a pretty swell day. Ellie loved sewing with her new sewing machine, and told us the time every few minutes with her new "slapwrist" watch. She looked darling in her new outfit, and nobody knew she stuffed tissues in the toes of her new shoes that were a tad too big.

Unfortunately, I'm trying to simplify my life in many areas, and I didn't take as many photos of the day as I typically do. That's okay--it's the mind memories, right? The pizza dinner with grandparents was a pretty good way to celebrate her special day. Ellie was delighted with her "blue 8 cake with pink dots" that she has been awaiting for several weeks now. Not to mention the "#8" candle she has been asking for since February.
Throw in the traditional Pass-the-Parcel game, an exciting game of Musical Chairs and plenty of time to sit around playing, talking, and of course sewing. It was a pretty great day. Including a photo with Grandpa Steve, whose birthday she shares.

At 7:45pm, we hooped and hollered as Ellie's official birth-time was recognized and she innocently looked up at me from her bed and very seriously asked, "Did all my body switch to 'eights' now?" It was humorous and endearing all mixed to one.


Ellie is EIGHT!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Not My Best

Ellie's EIGHTH birthday fell on a Sunday this year, and after much deliberation about whether or not to have a "friend party" or not, Ellie opted to have one! The Saturday afternoon before her official birthday was declared the day of choice.

I wish I could tell you that the best memories of the party are of the t-shirts we let each little girl design and color, or the cute bracelets they each made. Or even the present opening, or the games. Except those memories have already faded into the recesses of "typical childhood birthday party" and instead we are left with the memories of...
**Mike, Joshua and Luke returning home 15 minutes into the party, dirty and muddy and in desperate need of clean clothes. I couldn't bear to think of them walking upstairs dusting their path with mud and instead insisted on them each stripping down in the garage and running quickly upstairs wearing just their underwear. My job was to distract the little party-goers from threatening any of the boys' dignity. In my defense, there were several little girls at the party, and so I really had no idea that one of the girls was standing there staring at her friend's dad, big brother and little brother as they streaked through the house. (On the bright side, at least their underwear wasn't muddy and so I hadn't requested that be removed too.)

**Mike was very tired from his early morning, (working in aforementioned mud) and previous long work week that he was pretty sluggish when I politely asked him to please send the girls outside for the next activity. Somehow Mike didn't get them outside fast enough, and Ellie got distracted on her way outside with the china platter of hot pink cupcakes and attempted to carry it amidst 11 giggly, moving around 7-8 year olds. I got frustrated and nervous she was carrying my favorite platter full of cupcakes and as she attempted to set it down on the table to calm her mother's nerves, she bumped it against the edge of the table and cupcakes spilled everywhere. On the bright side, when I exclaimed an "Oh my h@##!" and began to not so kindly ask Ellie what in the world she was thinking, the girls all got outside in a much more timely manner than Mike was originally getting them out there.

On the not-so-bright side, I felt like a pretty crummy mother for hours after the party as I replayed the scene over and over in my mind. What really would it have mattered even if the white china platter had smashed and 12 cupcakes were ruined completely? Ellie says she has forgiven me, but I am still fully prepared for this to be one of those memories she will never quite erase from her memory.

** The neighbor children around here know Mike is kidding when he begs them for anything they are eating. On the other hand, most of the little girls at Ellie's party don't know Mike well at all. So when Mike sat in his chair outside asking for particular pieces of candy from their pinata loot bag, the girls were timidly handing pieces over to him. I quickly put a stop to it after I saw a little girl's face as she was handing over the begged for candy. I demanded Mike return each piece of candy and tried to explain to the not-so-smiley girls that Mike was playfully teasing them.
It really wasn't one of the better birthday parties I've hosted. And I've hosted a lot!

They say "It is great to be eight" but in my defense, Ellie's birthday party was held the day before her birthday, so she was still seven. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Better Late than Never

It's a few days late, but for my own sake, I don't want to forget Mother's Day 2012.
Now, don't start getting worried that I'm going to regale you with tales of Mother's Day at our house that will leave you feeling as though your special day was a total flop. I won't.

I have no tales of breakfast-in-bed, perfectly behaved children or my time spent being pampered. Instead, I'll tell you about the hand-written note that said, "I'm glad you were invented" and the game of hot potato we all played while sitting under the trampoline, and the nap that Mike and I took on the grass in the shade of the shed. (My nap lasted about 10 minutes until I seemed to be the one a child urgently needed, which was actually just fine. I'm not a fan of naps, and that was probably the first one I've taken in a year.)

I'll skip the part about being completely confused whether it was Mother's Day or Father's Day when Mike "completely vanished" and wasn't to be found anywhere. I finally told a child to look for him in Drew's bedroom. A place nobody had thought to look for him previously because they know it is a strict rule not to go into the bedroom during Drew's naptime. Mike had snuck in there to finish up the nap that didn't last as long as he had hoped outside in the shade of the shed. (Not sure if Mike's first nap was interrupted because of the shade turning to full sun, or the wife whining that she had been summoned to wipe a bum and not him.)

I'll tell you about the interview Mike video-ed of Joshua and me, and Joshua responding to Mike's question of how much I weigh with, "36 inches." I'll tell you about my children gathered around me trying to get everyone to smile for a photo.
I won't tell you about the mini-tantrum I had when I realized one of the best photos of us all actually smiling nicely and looking at the camera had Megan doing 'bunny ears' to me. It was deleted during part of the tantrum. Even though now, several days later I probably could (almost) laugh about it.

I can't tell you of serious, heartfelt expressions of love as we spent plenty of hours together all Sunday afternoon. Although I will tell you about the unrestrained laughter when Luke made a completely innocent (but hilarious to Mike and me) comment about the word "ass" found in the Book of Mormon scripture verse we were reading.

I have no tales of flower bouquets, pedicures or massages. But I will tell you about the painted handprint butterfly print Drew made for me in his nursery class at church. (Bless those nursery leaders! It is one of my all-time favorite Mother's Day gifts.) I'll tell you about the homemade heartfelt letters I received from everyone except Drew. I'll tell you about the Milky Way candy bar and box of Hot Tamales that were lovingly picked out for me. (I'll skip the part about Mike opening the Hot Tamales and eating most of the box himself.)

It was one of my absolute favorite Mother's Days ever.

It was perfect in a completely imperfect way.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Important People

On Sunday, tears streamed down my face during the opening song in our Sacrament Meeting at church. It wasn't because we singing the song I typically hate that we sing every Mother's Day (Love at Home). It was because my thirteen year old daughter was accompanying the congregation on the organ. My heart was full with joy and pride watching Megan do something I would probably never have the guts (or talent) to do.

Over the weekend, I was told to be sure and watch the P&G Olympic tribute to mothers. I didn't get around to it until today. As I watched, I couldn't help but think of Megan playing the organ on Sunday at church. I thought of the years leading up to it--rides to and from music lessons, nagging gentle reminders to practice, check after check written out to music teachers and so on.

Very few of our children will become Olympians. Few of our children will become church organists. But this tribute to mothers shows all the work that goes behind the scenes to make our children great. Although this video shows children participating in athletic events, it would be no different if we were seeing a video of a child helping out a friend that is sad, or a child finally passing a math test at school, or a child holding a door for a stranger, or a child who can finally tie their own shoe. All events that very often, all of us as mothers have helped happen.

Just this morning I came across this sentence in an essay by Chrysula Winegar, a champion for mothers worldwide.  "I remember that being a mother is the most powerful role in society - a fact that society works very hard at concealing from us."

I've said enough. Watch the video and give yourself a pat on the back.
Mother's Day or not.
We mothers are pretty powerful and important people.
YOURSELF included.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Time-off and Clowns

I'm not going to tell you about my fabulous, dreamy, soothing, luxurious, best-ever, all-spoiling, poignant, sentimental, meaningful (insert sarcasm here) Mother's Day, or my wonderful (no sarcasm necessary) time spent at the Park City Power of Moms Retreat  this last weekend. Instead, I'm going to simply link to an article I wrote recently that's on the Power of Moms site.

I should scan in the original piece of art that inspired the essay, but it is up high in a file box and I'm taking a few days off. Now I don't exactly mean I'm taking time off of all my duties, or that I'm too lazy to climb on a step-stool to rummage through a file, what I mean is...

Never mind, it's nobody's business but my own. I'm taking a few days off.
That's it.

Now go read about Clowns or Clouds.
Click HERE to read.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ring, Ring, Ring

Last week I had a sudden moment of realization, that Joshua is five years old and wasn't capable of making a phone call. 

Now, really I should bask in the realization that I have one less child calling me when I am gone somewhere to ask questions such as, "Can I breathe?" or "Can I stay up late next month?"

Instead, I decided to be a good mother and teach my son how to use the telephone. I wrote down my cell phone number and Mike's and had him practice copying the number, and of course teaching him the nuances of the on/off/start/end buttons. 

Oh boy was Joshua excited! 

He called Mike a couple of times during the day and would excitedly exclaim, "I learned how to call."

He called me about 481 times during the day. Joshua thought he was being so tricky going into a different room than me to call my cell phone. When I'd answer he'd say, "Hi!"

It was cute for the first 2-3 times. By the 13th time it was far from cute. By the 162nd time I was getting slightly annoyed. By the 481st time I regretted ever being a responsible parent.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lessons Learned

(Warning, this is long--only those written about are obligated to read.)

About two weeks ago, I made a spontaneous (for me) decision to take a couple of my children and ride down with my parents to St. George. Knowing it would be nothing but sheer bliss, harmony and Kumbayah-ing as a family, I convinced Casey and Cindy to drive up from California too.

Despite the fact that we never quite got to the Kumbayah level, it was a pretty swell weekend and somewhere amid the good times, there were all sorts of nuggets of wisdom I discovered.

Lesson #1.
I should take more vacations traveling with just me and two children in the back seat of my parents car. Oh my word! No passing around snacks to the whole multitude. No keeping the driver entertained, fed or thirsted and (for the most part) no squabbling children in the back seat. No cutting up fruit to pass around to hungry children. (Mike's choice of snack for the children when we travel with the kids! Obviously he thinks using sharp knives at 70+ mph is no big deal.) But traveling with my parents? What a glorious way to travel--crackers, candy, two children, i-pads, i-phones, and Netflix. I may consider making far more road-trips with that kind of stuff!

Lesson #2
When on vacation, it is entirely appropriate to sit inside a gas station's convenience store to eat our lunch. Five adults and one child squeezed into a convenience store booth to eat Subway sandwiches is not something I typically do.

Lesson #3
My parents are really into the moon. Like, really into it. Like, mention it over and over on the five hour drive down. Set phone alarms so it isn't forgotten. Go outside 20 minutes early. Stay outside until the peak time. Call the grown kids inside the house to tell them they have 4 minutes until they should get outside. It was funny. And for whatever reason, my photos of it were even funnier. Maybe you had to be there. Believe me, we were. I'm not likely to forget the "Super Moon of 2012".

Lesson #4
Speaking of gas stations and what I don't typically do... (This paragraph really should have an entire blog post dedicated to this one experience.) While the adult take-out was being picked up, Casey and I ran down to the local Taco Bell to pick up a bean burrito for Ellie. Taco Bell drive-thru was our only plan, so it really shouldn't have mattered at all that we decided to throw in diaper-wearing ONLY Lucy to ride with us. Except somehow one thing led to another and we found ourselves at the local Maverick convenience store. Feeling like splurging, I let Ellie pick out a juice bottle for herself. Well then I realized Joshua, Lucy and Annie would probably want one too. So I left  her at one end of the aisle, while I went to the fountain drink counter to help Casey fill the requests we had just solicited from those left back home. One little problem-well actually, a few different problems. Ellie's hands are little and her carrying four juice bottles didn't quite work out and one of them met it's fate. As blue juice spilled from the bottle on the store floor, I tried to keep Ellie from crying and help console her, while balancing Lucy on one hip, and three remaining juice bottles in my hands, while wending my way to the store clerk to alert him to a clean-up on Aisle 1. In the meantime, Casey was filling what seemed like cup after cup full of soda and between one of us carrying Lucy, and Ellie too scared to help carry anymore drinks, we made what seemed like 37 trips up to the counter to plonk down our purchases. We were the epitome of white trash. From the diaper wearing one year old, to spilling juice all over the aisle, to purchasing far too much sugary soda. We couldn't help but laugh hard as we got into the car. Except that was posing a slight problem too, the drinks were quite full and precariously balanced in the cardboard cup holders, and the slight jiggly movements from laughter was potentially disastrous. I will think twice before making snap judgments in the future when I see a similar sight and hope that others did the same of Casey and me. We were clearly not in our element.

(I'd insert the photo here that Casey took of us in the car. But I look as though I singlehandedly drink that much soda on a daily basis-and will therefore delete that photo permanently.)

Lesson #5
In exchange for keeping a temper tantrum at bay due to a lost privilege to use Nana's i-pad, a 5 year-old will stay quiet and content when given free reign of the point and shoot camera. Well if you don't count the ornery sister who started to cry each time the camera was pointed at her. Whatever it takes to make a five hour journey bearable...

Lesson #6
Even though we love and adore Cindy-and even though she was sitting in front of us with a birthday hat on and a cake full of lit candles in front of us--when Ellie was singing the loudest and made a mistake and sung, "Happy Birthday dear Krist...." we all followed suit! A room full of capable and knowledgeable adults and we still practically all made the same mistake as the almost-eight year old. Between that and the gas station lunch, cancelled dinner plans, and lack of reserved seating at a movie theater, I think a fairly decent birthday was still had. Mental note though to think twice before going to St. George for a family trip on my birthday.
Lesson #7
Sometimes when you're on vacation, there are no limits to sugar intake.
Lesson #8
My brothers do not share my same sentiments about wishing I had been born a century earlier. And despite the whole crowd being more than willing to accompany me to Judd's General Store on Saturday morning, they laughed and scoffed when I suggested one day wearing my pioneer dress to visit this charming, quaint little shop.

Lesson #9
Even though I can not sing on-key, my baby Drew (who incidentally, can sing on-key) loves my singing before he goes to bed. He missed me lots, and by the third night he insisted Luke call me on the phone, and insisted I sing to him over the phone. Good thing I had already shut myself in the garage for the phone call, so nobody seemed to notice when I began singing "Hush little baby don't say a word..."

Lesson #10
Not only does my youngest child love me, but my younger brother does too. He had the option to enjoy dinner with only the adults when I offered to stay home and babysit all the children. He opted for dinner with his cranky one year old over me not being there. Ahh-how tender. It was quite reminiscent of James circling the Las Vegas airport three times before dropping me off last month. They aren't brothers to tell me they love me, but circling airports and telling me they'd rather deal with a cranky child than not have me at dinner with them, says we love you all the same.

Lesson #11
Nosiness is hereditary and I blame dear Granny entirely for it. While sitting at the park on a pleasant Sunday evening, we watched while Joshua and Cousin Annie stood in a giant sandbox fixated on a stranger boy having a temper tantrum. The beckoning swings, slides and monkey bars they had entirely to themselves were no match for poking their nose into somebody else's business. Despite the two of them standing as still as statues staring, I was unable to capture a photo.

Lesson #12
Lest you think I went to St. George last weekend to act like white trash at a gas station or lament the fact I was born a century too late, I didn't. I went because my little niece, Kate was "being blessed." Now, you have to know that I think baby blessings are completely over-exaggerated and should become a non-issue. In fact the day before Drew's blessing, Mike had to beg me to quit being ornery and helped remind me it was the last time we ever had to do it. Okay, I digressed big time, back to Kate. Casting all my opinions aside, it was a special occasion. Kate was beautiful (wish I had a photo of her alone) and I couldn't help but feel proud of my little brother as he blessed his dear little baby.
(James, Kristin, Annie and Kate) 


Oh there was so much more! There were potty breaks on the side of the road, iron-man fascinations, swimming pools, stuffed animals getting into the wrong hands, late night talks, carousel rides, laundry-room-turned personal space, long conversations, train restaurants, and so much more.
Lesson #13
Through it all, I realized that despite all the flaws, I have some pretty swell family members.

Love them.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Organs and Jumps

One Sunday when Megan was about three years old, she sat at our upright piano in our home in American Fork and with one finger started playing out a catchy tune of a popular hymn we had sung in church earlier that day. ("Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel")

It was the beginning of a few self-taught years of piano before she began taking piano lessons formally at age 7. Since quitting piano lessons at age 12 to focus more on the harp, Megan has accompanied (on the piano) our church choir two times and has been teaching piano students for a little over a year.

And so it really shouldn't have come as too much of a shock, but it still did--when the other week our Bishop (the head of our local church congregation) asked Megan if she would be our church organist!!!???? With absolutely no talking to us, Megan confidently accepted the Bishop's call to serve.

My heart was pounding quickly the day Megan stood in our Sacrament Meeting as the members of our congregation raised their hands to sustain and support Megan in this new endeavor. I felt a mixture of pride and nerves for my firstborn who had just been called to a new church calling despite the fact she had never laid hands on an organ before.

She's played the prelude and postlude a couple of times now, but her debut congregation singing accompanying performance will be May 13--Mother's Day. I know I will be far more nervous than she will be, but I am excited for her to stretch herself and do something hard. She knows she has been blessed with particular talents and she is an example to me as I watch her talents multiply as she uses them wisely.

Between her learning to play the organ this month and doing the long-jump on the track team at school I will think twice before I say to myself, "I'm not sure I can do that, it seems kind of hard."

What a girl!

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