Thursday, March 28, 2013

Being Friendly Has a Price

Years ago I lived in a neighborhood where a particular neighbor turned the other way whenever I drove by. I tried to be friendly and wave, but more often than not, I waved to a back-side. It bugged me.

Another neighbor I have had always waved. Didn't matter if they were bent over a car trunk unloading groceries, or if they were carrying a baby on a hip AND rolling in a garbage can, they found a way to wave whenever I passed by. You'd think after the years I spent waving to another neighbor's back-side, I would enjoy the friendly waves of this over-zealous waving neighbor. I didn't. It still bugged me.

(Maybe I have waving issues? Actually, we won't go there. Mike on more than one occasion has accused me of "pretending not to see people." His accusations may or may not be accurate.)

For the most part though, I wave.

Apparently, I need to teach Luke that sometimes it is okay NOT to wave. Especially while riding a motor scooter. Next time he is on his motor scooter (which won't be for a while), a courteous smile, perhaps with a slight nod of his head for some added politeness will be sufficient to greet passer-bys.

I'm a little disheartened to think, that me, a "may or may not selectively see and wave at people type gal", has a son who politely and courteously waved at a passing neighbor, and now has a broken wrist as a result.

Waving and motor scooters obviously don't mix.
(Third cast on his left arm, second red one, all in the month of March of different years, different bones, different reasons.)

For the record, I am paying a "royalty" to Luke for disclosing the real cause of his injury. He told me if I blogged about it, I needed to "Make up a better story like, I hit a rock on the sidewalk or something. Otherwise you should pay me per sentence."

Apparently when you are 11 years old, it is less embarrassing to crash if you hit a rock, than to crash for waving to a middle-aged woman.

Poor Luke.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Poor Head

(blurry-but so cute--photo courtesy of Joshua?)

Last week I had a killer headache, it was awful. I could barely walk or function, and spent the majority of the day on the couch. A couple of people asked me what I thought caused it, I think I know the answer.

I read this statistic recently, "A preschool-age child requires a mother's attention once every four minutes, or 210 times per day."

That statistic alone tells me why I am repeatedly telling Mike that I think the older I've gotten the more attention deficit I have become. It's my children's fault!

I have had (at least) one pre-schooler home with me for 14 1/2 years. Which broken down means, I have been interrupted about 210 times a day for 14 1/2 years. Which further broken down means, I have been interrupted 1,111,425 times in the last 14 + years of my life.

And people actually wondered why I had a headache?

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Glorified Fork

I AM not a fan of school projects. Remember the days of Megan and her Science Fair projects? I can't stand projects that require more involvement from the parent than the student.

For the last couple of weeks, I have heard Megan talk about a particular project. Every time it seemed it went in one ear, out the other. At the same time, I was vaguely aware of the neighbor girl and a friend spending hours and days working on a project together. (The dad even coming to borrow a saw from Mike.) See? That is my point. If a project requires a POWER TOOL is it probably a little beyond a "student project."

Regardless. Last Thursday night, I finally began to process what exactly Megan had been talking about for days almost 3 weeks.

"Science class"
"Big project"
"Grape smasher"
"7 different machines or systems"
"Due on Monday"

Wait! What?

"It's due on Monday and today is 8pm on a Thursday night?" I ask, with a less than kind tone.
"Ummmm yes. I have been talking about it for weeks, " came Megan's quiet reply.

"Talking about it, isn't the same as doing it. Call Grandpa," came my reply in the same less than kind tone.

While I picked up fresh fruit in the produce section of the grocery store late on Thursday evening. Megan was on the phone requesting my dad's help for her project for 2 hours on Saturday afternoon.

It became much longer than a 2 hour project, and ended up with my dad saying, "It was actually really fun." (After the part where he asked a somewhat rhetorical question, which echoed my sentiments of STUDENT INVOLVED PROJECTS vs PARENT INVOLVED projects. To preserve his innocence, I'll refrain from putting the exact question he asked on here.)

My dad is an engineer, and very smart. So Megan and Grandpa's "Grape Smasher" ended up being pretty top-notch.
Yes, you read that right. The assignment was to make a grape smasher.
I personally would have told her to take a fork. Last time I checked it smashes grapes perfectly fine.

Hours later, with a concerned Drew that his truck was never going to be returned to him, and children gathering to watch, grapes were smashed on the sidewalk.
I must add, that while Megan was gone for hours and I was worrying about my dad spending all his Saturday on a silly school project, Mike asked more than once, "I could have helped her, but nobody asked me."
But then when Mike watched a grape smash before his eyes, he confirmed with 100% clarity that I had been absolutely correct in saying, "Call Grandpa."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Keeping the Little Things REAL

I loved...

That Ellie and I stood outside in the dark while she showed me a back handspring on the trampoline. Except that after the 2nd or 3rd try she bashed her thigh on the metal bar and somehow it was my fault.

Luke calling me to ask if he could buy new baby chicks and explaining he was going to get ones that laid colored eggs. No more boring brown ones. Except he practically hung up on me when I told him not that particular day, as I didn't have even five extra minutes to fit chick purchases in.

Bringing home 21 tacos from 3 for $1.00 taco night at Del Taco for the seven of us, and seeing my children's faces light up like it was some kind of delicacy. Except no one thought to throw away the aforementioned 21 taco wrappers on the kitchen counters while they babysat themselves while Mike and I were at the (LDS) temple.

Laying on the floor with Megan while we both felt under the weather. Except for the part where one of the little boys sat on her head and it made her mad.

Seeing Drew thrilled to be riding his Power Wheels 4-wheeler for the first time in months. Except for the part that he wasn't sharing nicely with the neighbor boy, and someone was always crying.

Sitting outside last week during the beautiful spring-like weather watching the children play. Except for the part where Drew got sunburned and I forgot about what a sunscreen Nazi Mike is, and I got slightly chastised.

Mike filling in for me at a school obligation for Ellie's class because I was home sick. Except for the part that he said Ellie practically ignored him

Watching Megan enjoy being in the kitchen, cooking and baking. Except the part that I was left doing the majority of the clean-up.

Listening to Luke make up a song about "keeping a house clean" (part of his pick-a-chore). Except the part where he'd downloaded 3 things onto my phone in the process of finding the music to make up his song with.

Joshua bringing me a blanket and covering me with it, while I laid on the couch sick. Except for the part that it smelt like dried pee, but I was too sick to care.

Drew being extra snuggly and mellow. Except the part that it was because he was sick and a. I felt bad for him b. He woke me up a few too many times in the night and c. He had to change his underwear every time he "popped."

Seeing the excitement on Ellie and Joshua's face when I let them sleep in my bed with me while Mike and Luke were at a scout camp. Except the part where I kept getting pushed to the edge.

Hearing through my open bedroom window Joshua pushing Drew on the swing and saying, "in-out-in-out-in-out" in an effort to teach Drew how to pump his legs. Except the part where they saw me peeking through the open window trying to capture the Kodak moment, and my quiet time was over with them begging me to come push them.
Gathered together for family prayer at bedtime. Except for the part where one child refused to kneel. One child cried because they were convinced it was their turn. And one child kept poking another child with a stuffed monkey. Oh, and one child was in the shower, but nobody noticed till the prayer was over.

Still working on my March commitment to enjoy the Little Things. Obviously there are exceptions to everything.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Solution

I think we have found the reason behind the 9 migraines and scores of headaches Megan has had in the past 11 months...

One eye is far sighted, one eye is near sighted, and they have been working hard to compensate.

Not anymore though.

I'm sure when Megan sees this photo she will wish it was taken with more of a side angle so the "cute design and color" could be seen. Megan choosing a pair of glasses was no easy (or quick) feat. She shops for glasses the same way she shops for everything else: with a lot of time, thought, focus and attention.

Next time round?
I'll send Mike.
After all, it is his eye genes she likely inherited.

Of course, she gets her beauty from me.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Worth My Attention

First of all, thank you for all the nice comments about my China dress purchase. They confirmed to me even more what a good purchase it was. Now just for some places to actually wear it...

Back to real life and my love for the Little Things.

But first a reality check. Don't let me fool you into thinking my life is nothing but noticing and basking in these Little Things. It isn't. There were a few times this week I considered running away and not looking back. Okay, maybe only one time in particular that I really thought that, but I did have a hard time appreciating the Little Things more than I care to admit.

Fortunately, in between some of my frustrations I was able to let a few moments of joy (albeit fleeting in some instances) sneak into my life.

Seeing Joshua laying in bed with a headlamp reading a 4th grade book and phonetically sounding out each word, "w-w--a-a-n-t-want" "t-t-t-o-to". Not sure why he was reading that particular book, and not more of a beginner's book.
Not thinking twice about giving Drew 2 quarters to ride this helicopter outside a local drug-store. Smiles like he gave are well worth 50 cents.
I love watching Ellie's genuine excitement as she just about masters a back hand-spring by herself. I also LOVE Megan's genuine excitement and enthusiasm for her little sister mastering such a feat.
(I am soooo not a photographer.)
I loved Drew requesting to watch "The people that play the piano when Baby Jesus was born". (The Piano Guys, O Come Emmanuel on YouTube). He sat like this the whole time, intently watching it. He never lost interest and requested it more than once. Our first and last-borns got the true musical appreciations in this family.
Reminding myself that muddy cowboy boots and sweaty hats won't be left by the back door forever.
Texts and phone-calls from Megan while she was on a very spontaneous trip to St. George and this cute spring-time napkin holder she brought back for me. (Napkins are a MUST at our dinner table.)
The sincere and loving handmade card and sentiments I received from Luke, that had both Mike and me in tears after reading it. There was not a single punctuation mark in the big, long, run-on sentence turned paragraph, which made it all the more endearing.
These are the moments that really do make it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Unveiling

During my January visit to California, I couldn't go without a visit to Chinatown. I adore Chinatown's ever since my first visit to one in San Francisco in 1995. While there as a poor college student, I eyed something I wish I'd had the discretionary money to buy, but didn't. Since then I've been to Chinatown in New York and Southern California--and each time I've eyed something but never purchased.

It became not really about the price, but more about what would I actually do with "it".

This last time in California, Casey and Cindy (and Lucy) patiently waited while I went into more Chinatown shops than I probably needed to. (Although not nearly as many as I visited when Mike and I went a year ago.)

Eventually, Casey plonked himself down on a bench with Lucy (can't remember where Cindy went), and told me he'd wait there for me.

While alone in a fun little Chinatown shop, I eyed what I've eyed for years. This time more seriously. I looked at colors, I contemplated sizes, questioned the price, and then walked out of the shop and down the street to Casey.  I really don't think he was very thrilled that I began a spiel about the pros and cons of making this particular purchase.

Whether it was his effort to expedite our exit from Chinatown, or because he genuinely cared about my purchase, he listed a few reasons why I should go ahead and buy what I have eyed for almost two decades.

With a spring in my step, I returned to the Chinese shop (where Cindy soon met me) and tried on a beautiful Chinese Dress in a door-less backroom of a Chinatown shop, trying my hardest to maintain some dignity, yet still get a decent fitting of a dress over clothes I couldn't bear taking off in the door-less backroom of a Chinatown shop. (That is one awesome run-on sentence turned paragraph...)

I made my Chinatown Dress debut for Mike upon my arrival home from California. His response nowhere near matched my near-bursting excitement, but he politely acknowledged its beauty.

A couple of weeks later I debuted my Chinatown Dress for my children. I thought my girls would ooh and aah over its exquisteness and beauty.

Put it this way,
When Mike suggested we go outside for better lighting for my Chinatown Dress Photo Shoot, my children looked at me like I was crazy. They couldn't believe I would risk being seen in public wearing such a dress.

Yes, the slits in the sides are quite high, and it isn't really the kind of dress I'd wear to any of the places I typically wear dresses, and I really can't believe I'm putting these photos of me dressed in it on the world wide web!

But I finally own a beautiful Chinese Dress.
And I love it.
I guess that's all that matters.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Haven't Forgotten

It may have been a few days since I've posted them, but I haven't forgotten the last few days' Little Things.

~ listening to the boys play (and splash) in the tub upstairs while Mike (obviously not having taken on the Little Things Challenge himself) yells things like, "Stop splashing!" and "Stop!" and "Settle down."

~ Drew asking if he could take his drink outside and then watching him sit at his picnic table that just barely became visible again, thank you to the snow melting

~ reading "Arthur's Underwear" to my little boys and them giggling about it

~ going outside last night to pick up toys and afterwards engaging in a spontaneous game of basketball with Luke (instead of playing 'h-o-r-s-e' or 'p-i-g', we play 'h-a-n-k'

~ watching Ellie and Joshua engage in a game of soccer together and Joshua completely naive to Ellie's manipulation of the rules

~ letting Megan's room stay a little bit messier than usual and basking in her goodness instead

~ stopping what I was doing and helping to make a car wash for Joshua and Drew's trucks out of the piano bench and an end table
(I should have taken a photo of the finished products--they were pretty awesome)

~ helping Ellie gather photos for a school spotlight this next week and wondering where exactly the time has gone??

~  ignore the cost involved of the fact Joshua goes through a thing of scotch tape every few days.

~ allowing Drew to put "just one more" scoop of chocolate milk mix into his milk and then watching him messily stirring and mixing it by himself.

~ taking the three younger kids out to a restaurant and watching their faces light up when I let them have soda instead of water. Joshua later declared, "Usually when we go everywhere we have to have water."

~ having the two older kids gone on Saturday night and being able to put our clocks forward at dinnertime without the younger children having any idea that they will be in bed a whole hour earlier!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ode to the Little Things

As my children get older, I think to myself how much I enjoy new stages. Although there are a lot of stages I am glad we are almost through with, there is one stage I will miss terribly. I will miss having small children around that you never know what they will say or do. Here's a few recent ones...

Things like:
  • Drew not wanting to go over to see Hank (the goat) for his birthday and so instead asked, "Can we text him?"
  • Drew asking, "Is Jesus a girl? Then how come he has girl hair?"
  • holding Drew on my lap, and him pointing at my chest and saying "Those are like hills."
Joshua and Drew playing house the other day:
Drew: "How 'bout the mom dies."Joshua: "No. The mom has to have babies in her tummy. She can't if she's dead."
Drew: "Oh"
  • Drew playing with toy screwdriver while I held a toy said, "Move your hand so you don't get screwed."
  • Drew while making loud car noises (vrrrmmmm) while playing with Hot Wheels said, "I wish I had 3 mouths so my mouth wouldn't be tired."
  • Joshua asking: "If you mow the lawn in the winter when there's snow on the grass, will the lawn mower break?"
I'll miss homemade car mats that get declared, "This is way better than the one Mom made us, huh?"
And children eating their evenly counted out gummy bears and sour worms that were the result of an after school treasure hunt.
I'll miss children that pick up my phone and take far too many pictures with it, and make the photos my new wallpaper background.
I'll miss when the younger three no longer hold my hands when walking places or when no one asks me to tuck them into bed at night.

I know I'll miss all this. I know I will. Which is precisely why I'm trying to focus this month on all the Little Things I'll miss, and not get wrapped up in irritating things like this:
(Yes, I still only have 5 children.)

~enjoy the little things in life, one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things~

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Pressure of March 2nd

(A new Dr. Seuss book found on the kitchen table every March 2nd.)

Of course Saturday was March 2nd, that ordinary day we throw in a little extra. Planning and putting the new Dr. Seuss book on the table was the easy part, the other parts didn't come quite as easily.

Not that the "other parts" are any trouble, and typically happen in passing not as anything formal, but this year I found added pressure to carry through with every element of "the tradition" now that it is mentioned in a published book!!

An excerpt of my chapter in the Power of Moms book, Deliberate Motherhood: 12 Key Powers of Peace, Order & Joy, includes a tribute to a typical March 2nd around here:

Another of our family traditions falls on March 2nd. As an adult, the day always stood out in my mind because of a silly memory from back in my college days. Later, when I had three young children, my grandfather passed away on this day. A couple of years after he died, I thought about the reasons that particular day stood out in my mind. Throw into the mix that it is Dr. Seuss' birthday, and I had all the motivation I needed to start a new family tradition! Our celebration is very simple. Upon waking up, my children find a new Dr. Seuss book on the kitchen table. At dinner, we retell a story about my grandpa and I regale them with the silly memory from college. It isn't a big event, but it's enough for good memories. Take it from my daughter, Ellie, who recently asked, "When's that day we get a new book on the table? That's a fun day."

See how simple this is? Yet Mike and I were in a doozy of an argument for much of Saturday, and I lost most of my incentive to tell any fun memories from my past or to make the effort to put any "extra" into an ordinary Saturday. Except it really wasn't an ordinary Saturday, because it isn't that often Mike and I aren't speaking to each other, or that we have a houseful of extra children. But that wasn't the kind of "extra" in "ordinary" that I wrote a whole chapter segment about, so I decided to make a chocolate bundt cake.

(Incidentally, my husband and I made up just moments after him partaking of this delicious cake. Except, I don't really think it was the cake that changed his mind, I think it was me, his fabulous wife that he couldn't stand staying mad at for any longer.)

We had four extra children for dinner and cake, and even though I got booted from the kitchen table and dined alone with my tacos in the dining room. (Mike was still not talking to me at this point and declined to join me in there. I actually didn't "invite" him to join me, but he declined nonetheless.) So instead of regaling all my children with my favorite memories as I was "supposed to", I let Ellie lead part of them in singing Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss, Ellie then alluded to my college memory, and I'm sad to say we didn't talk about my Grandpa, even though I found myself thinking about him a lot during the day.

Before Mike had the chocolate cake, he was doing his routine "Somersault Machine" and horse-rides with the children. In an effort to make peace with Mike, I told him I would do the "Somersault Machine" that I was too scared to try in the past.

Without giving too many details, as it really isn't a mental picture you want in your mind, I will say, Mike Megan and Ellie were very impressed. Although the second and third attempt didn't go quite as smoothly as the first, but the crash landing onto Mike's chest was quite humorous.

So between the chocolate cake and the somersault machine, my husband and I were on speaking terms again by late Saturday evening. Except the next morning my neck and back were suffering the after-effects from a somersault in the air above my husband's body.

Nothing that a piece of left-over chocolate bundt cake for breakfast couldn't fix.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Few of March's Little Things

Despite all the other things that crowd into our lives as a busy family, I really have tried to stop and observe and bask in the Little Things the last few days as I've challenged myself to do for the month of March.

Sometimes I grabbed a camera, other times I wished I had one, and there were a few times I didn't want to spoil the moment and instead took a mind picture. I basked in more moments than these ones below, but here a few of my efforts.

~ Walking into the grocery store with my two little boys at my side each holding my hand. I didn't say, "hurry" nor did I rush them along. I walked slowly with the boys at my side and basked in the fact they were with me swinging their arms, and jumping their feet. (I only have three children left that will still instinctively grab for my hand.)
~ The girls working together in the kitchen making caramel popcorn to take to a hot dog roast with the neighbors.
~ Drew's excitement and contentment in placing some free stickers that came in the mail.
~ Ellie carrying Drew on her hip and comforting him while he cried, "Joshua kicked my chin."
~ The children laughing hysterically while Mike gave horse-rides, and/or bucked them off.
~ Drew insisting of going to the mailbox with me and riding Joshua's scooter alongside me with regular requests of "wait for me."
~ Playing a game of Rummikub with Ellie and her doing cartwheels in between her turns.
~ Megan using mock concentration as she demonstrated how to release a bundt cake from the pan and us laughing when it didn't work.
~ Luke trying to squelch a huge smile when some old motor scooters gifted from a neighbor's brother started running again. He couldn't stop grinning every time he rode them, or even mentioned them.

It has made a difference to slow down and bask in the moment for even just a minute. It seems that in those moments I forget the crumbs under the kitchen table, or the only half-effort done chores and in full clarity I am reminded,

The days are long, but the years are short. 


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