Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Half Birthday and Dirty Laundry

Here's the thing with my half birthday tradition...

It was first introduced and since been carried out as a way to put a little "extra" in an otherwise ordinary day. Half birthdays have never been an event in and of themselves, they just fit in with the flow of an ordinary day.

Introduce this year, specifically today, September 30th: Drew's half birthday. Not exactly an ordinary day. We have our Primary Program (the children's organization at our church that I am partly in charge of), followed by grandparents for dinner, followed by a harp recital later in the evening (at our house).

Now, one could argue that the 1/2 birthday cake could be dessert following dinner with the grandparents, but you forget that it is HALF a birthday cake. Which is barely enough for my 649 member family. (see last post!). Although I have now started to "layer it with the 'other half'" to go further. So the issue isn't really about not having sufficient chocolate cake to go around, but timing, as we're also squeezing in Mike and Megan going off to choir practice and grandparents going to visit friends in between dinner and recital. Oh, and we ought to do some sort of basic picking up of toys and clothing strewn across the family room before people come listen to harp music.

Oh! And we should probably have a little refreshments for the recital guests to enjoy. (Half a cake is out of the question.) Oh, and Megan decided a few  hours before the recital that we should make and print programs for it.

You see what I mean? I knew all week it wasn't going to exactly be the type of day that is easy to throw in a little extra like a half birthday celebration. My friend suggested I make cupcakes. Another suggested doing it a different day.

It's a HALF birthday people! A simple tradition that isn't something to reschedule and/or plan around, let alone stress about. So that's why I woke up early to frost the cake and decided we would have chocolate cake for breakfast before 9am church. Chocolate cake for breakfast would not only be delicious, but a good way to get the (supposed to be fun) celebration "out of the way."

Except while I was applying my mascara upstairs, Mike decided to come downstairs and start feeding the children scrambled eggs and toast. Obviously we hadn't communicated well regarding the chocolate cake that was unmistakably sitting in the middle of the kitchen counter, waiting to be sung around. When I suggested the children forgo the eggs in favor of chocolate cake my husband spoke up in favor of the eggs.

Now. I don't ever criticize my husband publicly, but today I will.

My husband who yesterday ate 4 glazed donuts and a bowl of ice cream (among other things) WOULD NOT let us eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

I say "WOULD NOT LET US" somewhat lightly, I could have over-ridden his opinion, but I decided instead to cut my nose off to spite my face and stormed off upstairs to finish getting dressed.

There. How's that for a half birthday synopsis AND some airing of dirty laundry?

We fit in Drew's celebration while Mike and Megan were at choir and Grandma and Grandpa were visiting friends. I may or may not have left a piece of chocolate cake for Mike.

Happy Half Birthday Drew!!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do I Have Too Many Children?

There are a lot of times I joke about the size of my family, and grossly exaggerate the number of children I have. Living in Utah, a family my size is not unusual, and so I often forget that to many people, the number of children in our family is excessive.

When I was pregnant with Joshua, I went on a business trip to Washington with Mike. While mingling with a group of women from across the country, I was asked, "What number child will this be for you?" When I replied "Number four", I was shocked and mildly self-conscious of the gasps around me. One lady brave enough to do more than gasp, said loudly, "Good (expletive)! Four??"

Up until that point, I hadn't thought four was all that many. Of course we went one more than that, and we are now parents to five children. And as I just said, there are occasions, five children doesn't really seem like that many.

And then there are other times, when, well, five children seems like a few too many.

*  We can't take a box of granola bars (typically a 6 pack) on a family outing and have one for everyone.

*  With seven people using the toilets, we have at least one toilet clogged every other day. (I wish this were an exaggeration, but sadly it is not.)

*  When I wonder why we each didn't get very many Hot Tamales from the "theater size box", I realize the serving size says "5".

*  Our total bill when eating at a place like McDonalds or Wendys is more than the total bill for Mike and I alone to eat at a decent, sit-down restaurant and even include a tip!

*  We estimate the price of admission to Disneyland.

*  When I try to find a moment of peace and quiet around here.

*  A 9 x 13 pan of Rice Krispie treats is gone within minutes of them firming up. (Actually, if I'm around no size pan of Rice Krispie treats is sufficient.)

*  I wondered why there were finger nails (or toe nails...eeewww) all over the bathroom counter the other day. I was trying to guess who the culprit was, but then realized with 70 fingers and 70 toes around here--they could belong to just about anyone.

Then I think about Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, who are the parents of 19 children. I have a soft place in my heart for Michelle Duggar, who together with her husband decided early on in their marriage to leave the number of children they would have up to God.

Without giving too many details, if Mike and I had made that same choice, we could probably very easily have almost double the children we have. Which I'm glad we don't, because that would mean even less Rice Krispie Treats per person and potentially more clogged toilets.

I love all five of my children, but I can't help but wonder at times if we have too many? Too many mouths to feed, too many shoes to buy, too many voices competing, too many personalities to mesh and too many messes to clean.

But then I wonder which one exactly I could have done without, and the answer is none.

I couldn't have done without the one who is always willing to curl up onto my lap or be snuggled at my side. I can't imagine not having the one who is constantly bouncing from the walls and thinks life is one big practical joke. I can't imagine not having the one that leaves trails of their belongings in every room of the house. I can't imagine not having the child that whispers their prayers into my ear nearly every night. And I can't imagine not having the one who makes me think about things I never would have thought I'd ever think about.

Do I have too many children?
No, not at all.

Especially when I consider how quickly time is flying by.
(April 2009)
Really, I wouldn't trade a thing.

(Depending of course on the day.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Trash and Color

Some families spend their Saturdays hiking, or playing at a park, or maybe enjoying a bike ride together, perhaps some go to a ball game. Of course there are those that stay home working on house and garden projects together.

Us?

We spent our Saturday at an auction.
Yes. You read that right. At an auction.

On top of that, you could say, well, we tail-gated at the auction.
I came home from my shift at the temple on Saturday morning to find Mike had the car packed with sandwiches, chairs and blankets. He even thought to pack games!

Forget monster truck shows, county fairs and even a toddler who runs around the neighborhood in underwear. Tailgating at the auction on Saturday is perhaps one of the most white-trashiest things we have ever done as a family.
Despite suffering a few bouts of extreme boredom, the children were somewhat entertained for the most part. I mean who wouldn't be? There was an overabundance of bum cracks, cigarette smells, foul language and the occasional domestic dispute. The children loved seeing the "homeless man" buy a motor-home for $800, they wished Mike would have put a bid in for one of the school buses and/or semi trucks, and Joshua whiningly asked me why we couldn't buy a golf cart. Megan was mortified that she'd see someone she knew. Ellie threw a minor temper-tantrum and as Mike dragged her away, her cries of  "I don't want to go with you" resembled some sort of attempted kidnapping. It didn't seem to be too much of a concern to the surrounding people, which makes me realize I ought to hold my childrens' hands even tighter next time we go to the auction.

Which we will be doing according to Mike. Mike went this time to "learn about the process" and next time he'll get braver and hopefully won't come away regretting not bidding higher on a piece of small equipment.
As for me, I just hope it is a bright sunny day again next time we go, because wearing sunglasses makes it so much easier for me to disguise one of my many fine abilities.

Staring at other people.
It was the highlight of my day.
Well that and listening to the auctioneers. I loved that part almost as much as the staring! I could listen to those people for hours.

We redeemed ourselves afterwards with a drive through Emigration Canyon to see some fall colors, and found ourselves at the base of a gated community. With the exception of having to stop a child before they began to use the nearby flowerbed as a toilet, and the child waving obnoxiously into a nearby security camera, we appeared to have snapped out of our earlier trashy personas.

Well, maybe not when you consider four of the five children were not wearing shoes as they traipsed across an elite housing development's parking lot.

We are what we are.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Make up your mind

I'm big to use those scissors.
I'm little to carry that grocery bag.
I'm big to eat three cookies.
I'm little to put the toys away.
I'm big to go with Luke.
I'm little to go to my bed.
I'm big to have a knife.
I'm little to help clean up.
I'm big to stay up with Megan.
I'm little to walk that far.
I am big to ride a horse.
I am little to ride the roller coaster.

No joke. Drew has said everyone of these things. He first determines how much or how little he wants to participate in a certain activity or perform a particular task, and then he decides if he is "big" or "little". It makes us all a little bit crazy. He can be "big" and help Luke haul a 50lb bag of goat feed across the street in the red wagon, but 10 minutes later when he is asked to put away a toy, he is "little."

On a random note, if anyone has a cookie, treat or food item he wants he says, "Give me three because I'm three."

Drew is a little bit entitled. A little bit demanding. And a little bit hard-work.
But somehow he still manages to be everyone's favorite around here. Actually, I shouldn't speak for Joshua, Joshua still has some teeth marks on his chest that may make my previous sentence false.

Oh to be three and big and little.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quality Girl Time

There are moments like this last weekend, that I wish I could magic into something tangible that I could bottle up in a jar to save for the days and moments when life seems mundane and dreary, and nowhere near as enjoyable.

I would have bottled up the car-ride to and from Rigby, Idaho with dear friends, Taunie and Saren to a Power of Moms Retreat.
I loved the time we spent together talking about the serious things of life, and the not so serious. I loved the memory we created in a Walmart bathroom putting together a flower bouquet with everything we had just purchased... from the flower bouquets, to the pitcher, to the ribbon and scissors. We laughed at what we probably looked like, but savored the memories more than any stares from others.
I would have bottled up the feeling as the three of us sat together on a bedroom floor eating Hot Tamales and discussing our agenda for the next day. I will always savor kneeling with these women in prayer as we thanked the Lord for safety in our travels and guidance the next day.

I would have bottled up the feelings of optimism the three of us felt as we sat around a restaurant table in Brigham City late Saturday night, eating mediocre food and discussing future Power of Moms workshops and retreats.

Most of all, I wish I could have bottled up the time spent with these wonderful women on Saturday for our Idaho Power of Moms Retreat.After spending several hours in front of a computer screen prepping for such an event (emails, registrations, agendas, presentations, etc.) it is always such a reward to then spend the day mingling and learning together with wonderful women and mothers.

I mean fabulous, phenomenal, capable, deliberate mothers who all want to make a difference in their little families. These mothers here mother 164 children!! (That includes me behind the camera.)
This retreat was an extra special one for me, getting to be able to present alongside Saren Loosli. Saren and I go back 25 years or so, to a few months spent together at church in England as teenagers. I admired Saren (somewhat from a distance), even copying her hair style once at school, only to be reprimanded for the ribbons in my hair. I thought Saren was beautiful, and little did I know that 25 years later I would work so closely alongside her. What a blessing that "coincidental re-connection" almost 3 years ago has made in my life.
(I'm not quite sure what Saren is doing in that lower right photo, but it's good for a laugh!)

I wish I could bottle up the feelings of love, encouragement and gratitude that the mothers in that room felt for one another.
I wish I could bottle up my associations with these mothers I feel so much love for,  to save for the days I need a reminder that I'm not alone on my journey through motherhood.
 (Me and my dear friend Emilee who I met through the Power of Moms a few retreats ago. Love her!)
Saren, Jennifer and me--I met Jennifer at our Centerville retreat--she was instrumental in getting our delicious lunch sponsored from Gator Jacks of Rexburg, Idaho.
Me, Shannon, Saren and Stefanie--it was Shannon that got this retreat rolling by asking us to come to Idaho. We could not have done this retreat without Shannon and Stefanie's hard work. And look at those darling babies in their arms! Shannon and Stefanie did all the behind the scenes kitchen work with those babes in arms--we didn't even hear a peep from those sweet little things.

Of all the things I wish I could bottle up into a jar to remember, I wish I could remember the personal "a-ha moment" I had when this lady shared an experience with one of her children while we were in a small group discussion. It was a huge, personal light bulb moment that I felt was quite possibly the reason I was meant to go to Idaho. I wish I could bottle up the feeling around that kitchen table as this dear mother spoke from her heart, while touching my own. (More on that experience later--it deserves a blog post to itself.)
Much of the curriculum we discuss at these Power of Moms Retreats is the same each time, yet the presentation, ideas and dynamics are always different. Attending each retreat, is like experiencing it all for the first time again. I love that!

I cherish the associations I have with so many wonderful women through the Power of Moms. I leave every retreat feeling encouraged and renewed.  I wish I could have bottled up the renewed hope, encouragement and peace I felt this weekend about my own mothering to save for times like...

Today, when I just saw the state of my girls' bedroom that they obviously ignored before they went to school, and my 3 year old that has a severe case of crankiness.

Thank goodness for memories.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Remembering... ME

Years ago, while living in American Fork, I served as a Young Women leader in our church. I remember distinctly a meeting in which our dear Bishop (leader of our local church congregation) said to me, "Tiffany, you can't imagine the impact you are having on these young girls. They will likely remember you for the rest of their lives."

Yeah well-I'm pretty sure he was NOT referring to a little post I got on my Facebook wall yesterday from one of my old favorite Young Women girls, Tory. She posted a clip of the song "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (by Bonnie Tyler) and asked if I remembered jamming out to the song with them.

I think I had somewhat erased (or suppressed) those Total Eclipse of the Heart memories of yesteryear. It all started during my college days, when somehow my BFF and I would regularly sing along to the song. Anyone that knew us probably had one time or another heard that song sung with gusto, loudness and off-keyness. In fact, now that I think about it, I'm somewhat embarrassed at the places and times we "performed" for random audiences.

I'm very glad this was in the days before cell-phones so chances are very high there are no permanent records of our self-endorsed concerts. (Although I'm sure somewhere I could dig out an old home VHS video of it.)

Oh good heavens.
I hate to even think of the memories people may have of us in our not-so-prime-conditions singing our youthful hearts out. Obviously I must have continued some of those performances on into not only adulthood, but into my church callings too.

BUT, I can't tell you how happy it made me to have this dear young woman (who is now a full grown adult) remind me of this memory on Facebook yesterday. Guess it goes to show that it doesn't matter how we're remembered, it matters that we are.

I'm now beginning to think there are too many people in my life right now that have no association whatsoever between me and that fabulous song, "Total Eclipse of the Heart." I must work on changing that.
Starting with my children tonight. I'm going to crank up the ipod, pull out a wooden spoon (for a microphone) a chair (for my stage) and sing my heart out.

It's been far too long.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Drew's Off and Away


After much deliberation last spring, I opted to send Drew to preschool this fall. Last Wednesday was his first day. I've waited for this day for almost 14 years--the day when all of my children would be occupied at school for some amount of time....

As Drew walked into school on his first day, he ran 6 feet ahead of me. I couldn't for the life of me get him to slow down and walk by my side, let alone hold my hand. It caused all sorts of mixed feelings as I turned around and saw him not even look up at me as I did my best to get his attention as I waved goodbye. I kept my sunglasses on, despite being in the shade, to cover my eyes. Not because I was embarrassed for anyone else to see my tears, but because it felt like too private of a moment. I didn't want anyone intruding on such a personal occasion.

I felt as though I had climbed to the peak of a mountain. I felt as though I had arrived at some sought after destination, only to be reminded that really I'd only made it to a small plateau, and I still have several mountains to scale. But that's ok--I'm getting stronger at the climb every day.

As I turned and looked at Drew one last time, knowing I had stiff competition with the play-dough already being molded in his little hand, I waved one last time, blowing a kiss that went no further than the sliding glass door.

I returned to the car alone. Essentially, alone for the first time in almost 14 years.

Today I took my baby to preschool. It's a day that will be etched into my heart forever.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Yes, Megan

Eleven years ago Megan, with her almost 3 year old faith prayed, "Please bless the broken buildings and the people that cried and died."


The days and weeks that followed, flags were flying at many places. Each time Megan would see a flag she would ask, "Do we think about the broken buildings today?"

Today we do.

 (Originally posted September 11, 2009)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Here's to a GOOD School Year

Last Monday night I was pretty ornery. Actually, I was really ornery. I'll tell you a couple of the triggers...

After finishing up day 8 of Drew having diarrhea, I realized I absolutely had to make a trip to the store to purchase new underwear for him. After hearing (and dealing with) "I just popped (that's our term for passing gas) and now there is poop in my underwear" for the bazillioneth time last week, there were very few pair of underwear of Drew's left in the house. Yes, I'll admit, I'm a waster. Cleaning poop out of underwear is not something I do.

I can't believe I just wrote a whole paragraph about that.
Anyway-back to the fact I absolutely had to make a trip to the store to buy new underwear. In an attempt to avoid all the last minute back to school shoppers last Monday evening, I grabbed Drew a packet of assorted Disney underwear and came home. I usually have a rule about underwear needing to be washed before wearing, but Drew couldn't wait and on the new underwear went. As we all know, Drew wears only underwear and there was a slight problem.

The coverage wasn't great, and I'm not talking about my cell-phone that incidentally during this same hour, had to be taken into the cell-phone store THREE separate times.

Use your imagination if you'd prefer, but I'm not going to spell it out. All I'll say is the coverage wasn't great, and Mike and Luke were laughing their heads off every few minutes, and Drew, bless his heart kept having to make some adjustments to keep things tucked in.

Back to the store I went, to get the next size up.

By the time it was time for our annual Back to School Paper Doll Family Home Evening lesson, I was not very happy. The last thing I wanted to do was sit around as a family talking about the importance of being nice to others, when I clearly hadn't said a nice word to anyone for the last couple of hours.

Of course, tradition reigned. We've had the same Back to School Paper Doll lesson every year since the night before Megan started Kindergarten in 2004. Megan couldn't bear the thought of not having the lesson, and so out came the paper dolls, and the card stock for our one word reminder, and off Megan went with the evening.

After singing a few songs, and talking about our paper dolls without hair, or missing an arm, or wearing glasses, it was time to settle on a good word for the 2012-13 school year. Although Mike is still struggling with the fact the kids haven't mastered the word  we repeated for several years (OBEY), and we weren't exactly feeling the word from this last school year (LOVE), we still opted for a new word. The children offered some great suggestions, and with some guidance from Mike, came up with our new word.

We keep nothing on the front of the fridge but our one word reminder, each letter written by a child so they can "own" the word. We're thinking by next year we're going to have to move up to a 5 letter word, so Drew can participate in writing a letter too:

(And yes, in case you are thinking the "o" looks like an "a" it does. That was Joshua's letter, and Megan was not happy with his attempt. We had already had to start over a second time because the first "G" (by Ellie) didn't meet Megan's approval. Mike and I both snapped an overly loud "NO" at the same time, when Megan began suggesting starting over a third time. As you can see, we didn't exactly get off to a GOOD start!)

We're committed to making good choices, finding the good, getting good grades, being good friends, having good friends, being good examples, you get the idea.

Hopefully, the children will too.

And now, in all their sprinkler valve box glory tradition I present...

Joshua--kindergarten
 Ellie--3rd grade
Luke--5th grade
Megan--8th grade
Oh, and we couldn't exclude Drew.  More on him later...

Friday, September 7, 2012

All About Me

I feel kind of honored to be spotlighted over at The Power of Moms. Completing the interview/questionnaire was a lot harder than I would have thought! I spent days poring over the thoughts of what it is about motherhood that I love, or have learned, or makes me unique, etc.

You can see the spotlight HERE.

I do love being a mother, and I think this spotlight captured my thoughts and feelings well--there was less of the snide, snarky remarks I make too often here on my blog.

I quote myself, " Despite it all, I wouldn't trade being a mother for anything in the world."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Have No Idea

My two younger brothers and their families came into town last weekend. My children were thrilled to have their favorite cousins come and play for a few days.

One thing I DO NOT take for granted is how nice it is to be at the stage where I have a built-in babysitter. Megan is so good to babysit for us, and 81% of the time has a pretty decent attitude about it. The one exception for a guaranteed fabulous attitude about babysitting is when cute little cousins are in need of being babysat too.

While the adults all enjoyed dinner out last Friday night, the cousins enjoyed playing...
exploring...

and who knows exactly what?
I can't quite get a straight answer as to what exactly was going on when the photo was captured. I think it is because the children stand in front of the computer screen laughing their heads off every time they see it. Supposedly, that was NOT the point of the photo, it just happened to have been captured at the exact moment Drew decided to bend down and retrieve something from the nearby swamp.

Goes to show, we don't always know what our children do while we're away!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Trendy or Not

I don't exactly get into trends of any kind. I'm the one that will refuse to read a book simply because everyone is reading it, or if I do, I read it years later. (Note: I have never seen or read a Harry Potter or Twilight movie or film.)

Up until two weeks ago, I had never taken trendy back to school photos either. Not that "trendy" is necessarily the right word, but you know what I mean, right? I mean, I'm the mom that takes my kids' first day of school pictures on our sprinkler valve box.

That all changed when Megan discovered Pinterest this summer. (Which I may add is one of those things I refuse to do because of the same reasons as Harry Potter or Twilight, etc.) For those of you that "follow" my name on Pinterest. It is 100% Megan. I've never clicked on the link in my life, although I have sat by her side as she navigates through it. (And I might add, it gives me mild anxiety to do that.)

I'm way off the subject.
Well kind of.
Megan decided it would be oh so fun to get creative and take "Cuter pictures than the valve box pictures you take every year."

Somehow, I got roped into doing it with her. It was actually kind of fun. Well, as fun as it can be trying to get kids to smile, and then act natural, then do this, then do that.

And Megan wasn't exactly happy when Joshua moved wrong.

Ellie kept getting in trouble for being too "posed."


Of course Drew didn't want to be left out. Megan was less than thrilled to be taking "posed" photos of Drew while wearing only underwear, but I insisted to avoid a tantrum.

Of course I insisted Megan participate. Except I didn't have as much patience as she did, so there are far fewer photos of her.
Luke wasn't home when the photo shoot occurred. But when he saw the photos being uploaded to the computer he looked horrified as he declared, "I am NOT doing that."

He didn't have to.
He'll get to stand on the green valve box instead. Along with everyone else on the morning of the first day of school.
It's tradition.
Stay posted.

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