Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Few Things

Occasionally I feel as though I am Fabulous. For the most part I feel like I'm Ordinary. But mostly I'm beginning to realize I am FABULOUSLY Ordinary. You can read about it HERE.

Mike may or may not have laughed out loud that me of all people wrote this article about loving other people's children. He did however compliment me on "turning over a new leaf." I've assured him though that just because I wrote the article doesn't mean I've completely internalized the principal... You can read about it HERE.

And sometimes Drew makes me smile...

Happy Thursday.
Did you know Thursday has always been my favorite day of the week?!?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Fabulous Day

I spent last weekend in Sunny (cloudy) California for yet another fabulous Power of Moms Retreat. I LOVE these things. Every single time, without fail I meet wonderful women who inspire me and end up being some of my most favorite women.
I wish we could have spent hours more together. I'm quite certain that with all those women in a room we could quite possibly solve every parenting dilemma out there. (And boy do I have my share of those...)

One of the highlights of this retreat for me was attending with my sister-in-law Cindy, and one of my favorite cousins, Karena.
I'm not usually one to show food pictures. In fact, typically they bug me. But here's why I included this one. I love that my sister-in-law, Cindy (in the lower right) is obviously giving a lot of deep thought to which sandwich to choose. Or maybe it was the carrots or cucumbers she was debating about.

I also love that my cousin Karena is front and center in the top photo looking absolutely thrilled to be there. Ha ha. She did enjoy the day... At least she said she did. I'll go with that instead of her face in the photo.

The food was generously sponsored by Panera. The photo collage is courtesy of Emily Barton

I was very excited to be able to see my friend Laurie. Laurie and I met at one of the first Power of Moms Retreats almost 3 years ago. I haven't seen her since 2010, and I was thrilled to visit with her (we're actually behind Miss Deciding-on-Food-Sister-in-Law in the above photo). I wish I could have chatted with Laurie much longer. She is one of those people that genuinely inspires me. She has so much faith and perseverance despite difficult times and when I read what she writes, I always want to be better. (in a good way)
These were the wonderful group of women that made the LA Retreat actually happen. I consider my work with such great women a true blessing in my life.
I would share a photo of me while presenting, but it is really quite unflattering. And even though I did talk briefly (among other things) about it being important to accept ourselves physically, I'm still not sharing the photo with the world.

Wasn't the location beautiful? Such a beautiful part of the world. I'm convinced people living in California can't help but be happy and content people.
What a fabulous day! It was the perfect renewal I needed during the long, cold, Utah days of winter to remind myself that I do love my life and adore that my deepest wish from childhood to be a mother, has come true. Even though we have a similar agenda at each retreat, every time it is different. Different perspectives, different women, different stories, but the same encouragement and renewal.

Now to apply some of what I learned this time around...

PS--If you live in or around Orange County, CA or simply want a weekend get-away, register for the Power of Moms Couples Mini-Retreat on Friday, February 8th. Even if you have to drag your husband there initially, I tell you, each time the men end up talking just as much or MORE than the women!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lessons From the Friendly Skies


Things I learned on my recent weekend trip to California while traveling with my friend, Allyson.
(We didn't plan the arm thing.)

1. Don’t sit next to jerks on the plane. I’ll explain further.

Although there is a somewhat “unspoken rule” that the window seat person controls the window, some people obviously don’t know that. Which is why I again refer to my previous lesson; don’t sit next to jerk’s on the plane. I know "jerk" is a strong word. But it's better than what I called him on Friday.

Okay, yes. He could have just had a bad day. But huffing aloud and rolling his eyes at least 4 times, plus plugging his ears, and then ultimately saying, “Oh I see how it is. You control the window do you?” to my friend Allyson after she had closed the window because I was convinced the plane was not simply turning, but heading wing first into the Pacific Ocean.

(Not to mention the fact he kept his foot inside my bag and wouldn’t budge it even when I was reaching to retrieve my bag.)

2. Not everyone wants to help out and let two traveling partners sit together. So if you fly Southwest and thus your seats aren't assigned, and you're some of the last to board the plane, you end up being extremely thankful for the girl who immediately upon seeing us want to sit together (once she un-engrossed herself from her ipad and realized other people were on the plane) gave up her seat immediately. 

3. Do not fly in the winter. I have enough fear of DRIVING in snow and FLYING in any weather, and so the combination of a delayed flight, turbulent skies, and then having to get in the car and ride home on snowpacked roads at 30 mph was almost too much for my travel anxiety. Thank heavens for over the counter anxiety meds or I may surely have died.

4. Fly with a friend. I love Mike, but he seems to have his own unspoken rule that when he flies he reads. Not Allyson. We talked non-stop the entire way there and back. (Okay, so maybe the guy next to me had reason to put his fingers in his ears, but  it still wasn’t a very nice gesture.)

5. On the return flight home sit in between aforementioned friend and a nice BYUI student who let me squeeze her leg (well I didn’t actually ask, it just kind of happened). Nice Kimberly, told me she has a horrid fear of public speaking which was quite ironic considering that was exactly WHY I was on the plane ride in the first place. Bless her.

6. Don't squeeze friend Allyson's hands quite as tightly as I must have been to have her say, "I'm a writer and a pianist and have delicate fingers. Please don't break my bones."

7. At the airport sit next to nice men who when seeing both my friend and I need to charge our phones at the same time and there is only one plug available offers us the USB port on his ipad to charge into. Sure it made us have to sit kind of close to the man on the floor of the LAX airport, but when you’re offering to be friendly that’s the price you pay. (Mike's convinced he retrieved all of Allyson's information and his kindness was simply a ploy for identity theft. How rude of Mike. The USB port sharer was a nice man and I feel the desire to defend him.)

I have a picture of the cute older man, but decided against publishing it on my blog.

8. While feeling tense and panicky about upcoming flight into a massive snowstorm, notice a man’s hat on backwards with a somewhat crude saying on it facing us. Allyson and I laughed hysterically at it. We both took pictures and sent to people we knew that would appreciate it. Except I don’t think anyone really appreciated it as much as we did, as neither of us got any responses to our texts. Maybe we were so exhausted and panicked (me) that we would have laughed about just about anything.

Speaking of feeling tense and panicky, dear Allyson decided to completely eliminate the risk of us not being able to sit together on our return flight home and went to speak to the gate agent. I'm not quite sure I want to know exactly what she must have said about her "friend with severe travel anxiety" to have returned with this:
(can you see the fine print? on the basis of "disability")
It made me laugh so much. You'd never know from the photo that I was one step away from having a panic attack of all panic attacks. (Not that I've ever had one, but I'm fairly certain I was close on Sunday night.)

9. Don’t leave my can of Pringles in my brother’s car. A delayed flight caused for a little extra hungriness and it would have been nice to offer them to my hungry friend in exchange for letting me hold her hand. (I was too tense and panicked to have eaten anything myself.)

10. That driving through a major snow storm while being able to feel sand in my toes (thanks to my niece throwing sand on the beach), did not make me think only of my good California memories just hours before. It made me realize that I should move to California where there will never be the risk of snowy roads.

11. Pray. Pray. Pray. And then Pray some more. I’m alive and well and survived flying and driving in a snowstorm in one day. It better never happen again.

12. Which it won’t, because the biggest thing I learned was to stay home from now on and never have to worry about weather, and airplanes, and turbulence, or heading wing first into the Pacific Ocean again.

Maybe by the next time a trip opportunity comes around, I'll have forgotten about this one.

(More on why I went to California and my visit with some of my favorite people there later...)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Super Mom

Sometimes, just sometimes I surprise myself and get a little bit crafty.

My boys have spent enough time with homemade paper capes and superhero logos (courtesy of Joshua) that I made the plan to make them capes for their birthdays this spring.

But then true to myself, when I get "a bee in my bonnet" I want to act on it. The capes were no different. Last Saturday, I went to the fabric store, had the capes made, and the pictures taken all within a couple of hours. Which is exactly why no one should look too closely at any of the finer stitching.

Megan did a great job working with me side-by-side so we could get both of them finished at the same time. Except 3/4 of the way through it, I remembered she had a babysitting job in 20 minutes, she needed to be ready for. So I had to finish them up by myself, which was actually quite nice, as Megan is a little better sewer than me, and suggested "unpicking" and "doing it over" way more than an unperfectionist like me cared about. So it was nice to be able to finish up my somewhat shoddy sewing job alone.

And oh the smiles on their faces when the project was complete! Drew stood by me the whole time patiently waiting, and my poor planning actually finished Joshua's 5 minutes before his.

Okay, so maybe the faces don't exactly look like they loved the capes. But I promise they did. Which is exactly why they were so frowny--because they wanted to run around jumping off of couches and flying and being Superman. Not smiling for a photo.

They wear them all the time.
Yes. I mean all the time.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Top of My Bucket List

As a child attending school in England, school uniforms were required, and the color, functionality and style of the shoes we wore mattered. I think because of the fact there was little variance in the clothes we wore, our shoes seemed to stand out all the more. (You can't get too creative with grey skirts, white shirts, ties and grey or green sweaters. The boys wore the same but obviously wore trousers instead of skirts.)

At least for me that was the case. I noticed everyone else's shoes. I have many memories as a child noticing and loving shoes. One of them are my memories of walking down Sutton High Street (most often with my dad) and seeing all the different shoe shops there. There were lots of them and I loved walking by the outside displays that bragged rows and rows of shoes suitable for most standard school uniform rules.

Except, apparently, most of the shoes those shelves held were "cheap" and "low-quality" and the fabulous shoes with diamonds on the front, or a bow on the side, or slightly wedged heels were deemed inappropriate and impractical for school.

By my parents.

My parents insisted on the best quality. They shelled out the bigger bucks (pounds) once or twice a year for high quality shoes that would last the test of time. In all practicalities, it is a very wise thing to do: do buy higher quality shoes once or twice a year, versus lower quality shoes that would need replacing every few weeks. But as a child?

It was miserable. Those Clarks Shoes lasted fooorrreeevvvveeeerrrrr. I swear, unless I outgrew them (my parents were pros at feeling the tops of toes and declaring there to be "loads of room still"), I was stuck with the same old pair of shoes for almost the entire school year. Not even a pair of scissors taken to the buckle could destroy the durability of those shoes.

I mean, not that I would know whether or not you could cut off the strap of a buckle to look like the leather strap tore, and thus attempt to hasten the need for new shoes.

It didn't even matter that the shoes got scuffed up. Because almost faithfully every weekend my dad polished my brother's and my shoes ready for the school week. Nothing wore through the leather of those Clarks leather shoes. Nothing.

Well I mean, I wouldn't know whether or not dragging my feet with the top of the shoes along the pavement on purpose would cause damaging scuffs or not.

(Almost 25 years later, I have a love/hate relationship with the smell of shoe polish. Love the smell when I think about the fond memories of lovingly polished shoes each Monday morning, but hate the smell when I think about the SAME lovingly polished shoes every Monday morning for an entire school year.)

Incidentally, the shoe polishing must have begun after my 1st grade class photo (which I can not find) when I was seated on the front row with very clearly, unpolished (I'm sure Clarks) shoes.

This photo is a landmark for me. I have the best shoes on the row! Way to go mother! Perhaps the one and only time in a school photo I didn't have sensible shoes on.
(Nursery School Summer 1978, I'm on the front row, 3rd from the left in those brown sandals (cutest shoes on  the row) and darling blue sundress (which I still have.) My brother Matthew is seated to the right in the striped shirt.)

As for this photo? Yeah well, not only had my mother obviously jumped on the sensible shoe band wagon by then, I was also recovering from an awful haircut courtesy of my brother, Matthew.
(Nursery School Autumn 1978, I'm on the front row, third from the left in that awful mustard colored shirt, wearing sensible shoes and awful hair.)

Last year I sat with a group of women, and as an opening, ice-breaker type question we were asked to share something on our bucket list.

I was one of the first to be asked and I replied, "To own a pair of shoes for every day of the year." I felt mildly self-conscious of my worldliness, after everyone that followed answered with more worthy things like, "Find a cure for cancer, create world peace, and put an end to homelessness."

I blame the fact one of my most focused goals in life (a pair of shoes for every day of the year) is worldly, selfish and frivolous entirely upon my parents and the company, Clarks Shoes. Of which, I will never again own a pair of their shoes.

Because if you can't tell already, I go for quantity (of shoes), not quality.
I've been there, done that, and don't like it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Love is a Wonderful Thing

(Lily, August 2012)
Yesterday I wrote a total of 4 1/2 pages in my personal journal throughout the course of the day. I thought that a lot of what I wrote would eventually be turned into a blog post, but I have decided instead to leave most of my most tender feelings and thoughts in my personal journal alone.

However, there are a few things I would love to share. Namely, how wonderful the act of loving is. As I said to Ellie yesterday, "I think that our ability to love others is one of the greatest gifts we have been given in this life."

I will not start by giving the heart-wrenching and traumatic events that my dear son, Luke went though yesterday, but instead begin with the fact that Lily, Luke's beloved goat spent much of yesterday morning and afternoon laying on our family room floor. From the first events that occurred and even still today, I have been overwhelmed with thoughts of one word and the definition of that word I have seen displayed over and over in the last 36 hours.
Love
(Luke and Lily, January 2013)

Love
Luke spent hours yesterday lovingly by Lily's side, covering her with warm blankets, feeding her water, rubbing her body and legs, changing out towels, never leaving her side.

Love
Ellie's tears as she walked into the school, concerned about the condition of a goat. Not that it is the goat Ellie has such a fondness for, but the love she felt towards her big brother was obvious.

Love
The love of a parent that was so tender and real, that I felt emulate from Mike on the phone when he burst into tears and said, "I feel so bad for Luke." Immediately I began to cry too, and Mike told me he no longer thought Lily would recover.

Love
Walking into the house minutes after that phone call and seeing Luke laying on the family room floor. Nose to nose with Lily, his arm around her head sobbing. It is a picture I declined to take with the camera, but most certainly took in my mind.

Love
Mike and I sitting nearby on the couch, crying too, each taking turns to periodically lay down next to Luke to comfort Luke as he comforted Lily.

Love
Mike quietly, and almost reverently, every few minutes checking Lily's heartbeat.

Love
The heart-wrenching cries that came from Luke when Mike, while kneeling close to Lily and Luke whispered, "She's gone now."

Love
Me sitting on the couch holding Luke close to me, both of us quietly crying while Mike lovingly, silently and reverently wrapped Lily in a purple and white bed sheet.

Love
Within minutes of Luke answering his dear friend, Paul's question of, "How is Lily?", Mike, Luke and I see Paul in the very cold (not even teen temperatures), and of course through 15+ inches of snow, silently digging a burial spot for Luke's beloved Lily. Within moments, Mike joined Paul in the field and began digging too. (Bless Luke's heart, he picked up a shovel to begin digging too, until I whispered to him that he didn't have to help.) Tears streamed down my cheeks as Luke and I stood nearby watching two men who dearly, dearly love Luke perform an act of service in his behalf.

Love
Watching Paul help Mike as he gently carried Lily,  still wrapped carefully in the sheet to her burial spot. Paul took Lily from Mike and climbed into the hole to place her. After looking at Luke for his approval, Mike and Paul silently began covering the hole in with frozen dirt.

Love
Seeing Megan break down in tears as Mike told her of Lily's death. Listening to Megan tearfully say, "I'm just so so sad for Luke.

Love
The subdued atmosphere in our home Monday evening as everyone seemed to treat each other a little more kindly and a little more gently.

Love
Mike and I taking it in turns to lay next to Luke in bed as he cried himself to sleep.

Love
Mike and I coming to a new understanding of the depths of love for our son, and our deep desire to carry his pain entirely ourselves if we could.

Love
The fact that me, a once complete non-animal lover, has a soft spot in my heart for the animals my son so dearly loves.

One of the many prayers offered yesterday said, by I think Drew, was: "Thank you we can love Lily."

I think we always will.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Phonetic Spellings and Worriers

If you know me well, then you certainly must know I am a worrier. While at school in (equivalent) 7th grade, my headmistress told my parents at a parent teacher conference that I was "worried too much."
That's always stuck with me for a few reasons,

a. How in the world did the headmistress know that about me?
b. Why in the world were my parents visiting with the headmistress? (Perhaps it was protocol, who knows?)
c. Have I always been a worrier, or did I fulfill some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy and should I blame the headmistress?

Regardless, it seems only fitting that a distinct "worry memory" I have, happened while a student at that school. Not that the worry had anything to do with the school, and certainly the headmistress would never have known about it, but maybe I was more of a teenage worrier than I remember.

Anyways, my point?

I remember a home economics assignment to sew a stuffed animal "Snoopy". After school one day, my friend Nicola Steuer's mother picked us up from school to drive us to Allders to buy material for our project. In the back seat with us was her younger sister who was reading window signs, shop signs and road signs as we passed them. I can remember distinctly, the part of the road we were on, when I suddenly felt a sick feeling in my stomach and had the thought (worry), "What if Casey and James (my two younger brothers who would have been toddlers/preschoolers at the time) won't be able to learn how to read?"

I'm not quite sure why I was so worried about that as a 13 year old girl. Perhaps my headmistress was right after all and I was indeed a worrier.

(Joshua, age 5)

I thought about that worry the other night, as Joshua was sounding out words during family scripture reading time. (I have had the same 'Casey and James worry thought' with each of my own children. I think it began the second Megan was conceived and will likely be with me until Joshua and Drew can really read.)

Back to scripture study the other night.

I'm quite selective about when we let Joshua take a turn to read, as there are a lot of very unknown big words in our scriptures that are hard enough for the advanced readers, let alone a beginner reader. I opt to let Joshua have a turn on the verses that begin, "And it came to pass..." which incidentally occur about a billion times in the Book of Mormon. (It's much better than sitting around for him to sound out words like, "Shimnilom" or "Amalekites" or "Middoni" which aren't exactly the most necessary words for him to be learning at this stage of his reading career.)

Except there is a slight problem with me allowing him to read the oft-repeated phrase that I do. The words, "And it came to pass..." read by a learning to read five year old, cause a few threatening looks from mother to the other children to suppress any and all giggles as Joshua reads in a long, drawn-out phonetic process the word 'pass' which sounds more like "pa pa pa pa" (long pause) "ass".

And as I said, the phrase "And it came to pass..." occurs about a million times per nightly reading, and each time I'm torn between letting Joshua read it to practice his reading, and thus ultimately help towards dispelling  some of my worries about him not ever learning to read, or the risk of him saying his version of the word "pass" and disrupting the already fragile co-operation from the other children.

This kind of mind turmoil is exactly what I meant while having an in-depth conversation with a dear friend on the phone the other day. After she finished lamenting the woes of being 40 and pregnant, I was lamenting the constant chaos in my brain. Part of my 2013 resolutions are to eliminate some of that mind chaos by worrying less.

So, to help along my resolution, I allow Joshua's efforts to sound out the word "pass" even though it really sounds like he's saying an inappropriate-word, which he probably doesn't even know is inappropriate because he hears his mother say it. Which is actually, probably okay, because it is a word found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. (All three of "my words" are found in both of those books of scripture, therefore they can't be so bad now can they?!)

As for Drew, just the other day he hollered to me,  "Mom, Look at my letter 'H'!" which he had made out of a truck, a trailer, and another truck. I was quite impressed.

I'm hoping that between Drew and his 'H's' made out of trucks, and Joshua and his profane sounding words, I may be able to eliminate a little of my mind chaos. AKA: constant worrying about anything and everything.

Because it really could be a lot worse. I could be 40 and pregnant. I'll take mind chaos over that any day.


PS. My two little brothers never had any trouble learning to read.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Baby, A Sunbeam

I don't typically take photos at church. In fact, I never have before, until this last Sunday, when I had to borrow a friend's phone to do so.

I'll explain/justify/rationalize why now.

In our church we have an organization for the children, ages 18 months-11 years old called Primary. From 18 months-3 years old they attend a Nursery class, then the children officially join the older children in Primary the January following their 3rd birthday. They join the 3 year old class known as, the Sunbeams. It's kind of a big milestone.

It's an even bigger milestone when you're the baby of the family. As is my little Drew.

I am one of the Primary leaders, and as I sat in the back of the Primary room on Sunday, I noticed Drew's little legs swinging under his chair. My very first thought was, his feet are going to touch the ground soon!

I know I talk a lot about taking "mind pictures," and this moment was certainly one of those mind memories I'll forever have. But there just seemed to be something about my baby, sitting on the front row of Primary that made my eyes get all misty, and I had to ask my friend if she had a cell-phone I could borrow.
A few seats over from Drew sat Drew's little friend. I thought about it being his first day in Primary too. I thought about his mom, my good friend, and wondered how it felt for her sending her oldest to Primary.

I remember Megan's first day in Primary in January of 2002. Mike and I were team-teachers in a Primary class back then, and we sat in the back of the room, while Megan, wearing a little knit purple floral Baby Gap dress sat on the front row. I had no camera to take a photo of her then, and even if I had have had one with me, I likely wouldn't have taken a photo. I don't think I would have known back then what exactly I was taking a photo of.

Although I clearly took a mind picture 11 years ago of Megan's first day in Primary in her little purple dress. I remember little else of that day. This last Sunday, it wasn't the picture of Drew in his black sweater vest, and crisply ironed shirt I wanted to capture. It was those swinging legs of his that are too short to touch the ground.

Perhaps Megan's legs didn't touch the ground either. It's likely Luke, Ellie and Joshua's didn't either on their first official day of Primary. But there was something about those swinging legs of my baby, that brought it all into perspective. In that moment, those little swinging legs reminded me of my oft-repeated phrase, the days are long, but the years are short.

Nothing illustrates that favorite phrase of mine more, than my baby reaching milestones.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Oh The Places a Toothbrush Goes

Believe me, you wouldn't want a photo included that actually "goes with" this post, so instead I'll show a picture of my children during more innocent times.

Recently on a local radio talk show the hosts were talking about toothbrushes in stockings. One of the radio hosts concluded that Santa obviously really didn't like the children if toothbrushes were found in stockings. Whatever! I have no problem with Santa being practical every once in a while.

Considering I have a slight bias towards Santa being practical as well as frivolous, I didn't even consider doubting Santa's love for our children when on Christmas morning each child pulled a toothbrush out of their stocking.

I must digress for just a moment...
One of my children's favorite stories of Mike's childhood, and one Mike enjoys telling is about the time his older brother, David, received a new pair of shoes. Mike feeling envious that David got shoes, and he did not, decided one day to pee in his brothers brand new shoes.
Back to my story.

A day or so after the excitement of all the other gifts had died down, long enough to pay attention to the toothbrushes, I began to second guess Santa's choices...When the two little boys realized the older three children received battery operated toothbrushes, and the two youngest got regular ones. (Albeit Elmo and Lightening McQueen ones.)

The toothbrushes have obviously been quite a novelty. At least among the battery-operated owners. Teeth brushing is now happening at least twice a day, even for the child who sometimes barely ever brushed once a day. It's quite the accomplishment around here. So much so that I've decided to appease Joshua's incessant requests since Christmas for a "toothbrush like the other kids have", for no other reason than to get him on the frequent teeth brushing band-wagon too.

Megan didn't need a fancy toothbrush to increase her teeth-brushing frequency, but I kept hearing about how she refused to use her new toothbrush. She (as usual) kept bringing the toothbrush non-use up at irrelevant times and although I'd hear the odd words like, "Drew", "bum", "toothbrush", "never", "I'm serious," and "refuse" in the same sentence, I'd tune her out/ignore her most of the time.

(Before you judge my parenting skills of ignoring a child, remember this is the child that doesn't stop talking. Megan will interrupt us in our bed at night at least 63 times to ponder such things as, "Where do you think snakes go during the winter?" or "On my 16th birthday, maybe we could..." So monologues about toothbrushes didn't seem important enough to talk about on the way to church, during family prayer time, or when Mike and I were falling asleep.)

Sunday evening, when mentioning I was going to the store the next day, Joshua asked if I could please get him a new toothbrush. Remembering Megan never used hers, (and knowing Santa would be quite irritated  at a somewhat overpriced device not being used) I opted to get to the bottom of Megan's whole not-using-the-toothbrush saga.

Beware, that pun is intended.

Somehow, as a valid, trusted, witness source, Luke was chosen to give the explanation of Drew and the now unusable toothbrush. Luke was just about in bed for the night when he was summoned to the loft (family den) to explain to Mike and me what exactly happened in the days following Christmas that has deemed Megan's toothbrush untouchable. It was quite fitting that Luke was wearing only his underwear (his choice of pajamas), as that was of course 100% realistically what Drew was wearing when "the incident" occurred.

I became slightly uncomfortable as Luke's toothbrush demonstration began, and I put a quick halt to his one person theatrical debut, when I began to realize what really happened to the toothbrush.  I think it was the part where Luke started to chant the words, "brush, brush, brush" as he began demonstrating Drew's actions of brushing his bum cheeks.

(I have no idea where Mike, Megan or I were when Drew and the toothbrush mis-use was occurring.)

I didn't know whether to laugh because really it was quite a funny little re-enactment of Drew's escapades with Megan's toothbrush. Or be appalled that Drew would think toothbrushes have any need to come in contact with his bum. OR, be disappointed with the fact that Santa's money was being wasted and the toothbrush was well and truly being declared a final time by Megan, who had now joined us in the loft,  that she was "NEVER AGAIN USING THAT TOOTHBRUSH."

But then Joshua, good old Joshua. The Joshua who so frequently hands over a toy to Drew to make peace, declared, "I will just have Megan's toothbrush, then you won't have to buy me one."

I started to feel badly that Joshua would have a purple, girly toothbrush as his own. But then I realized if Joshua doesn't care that the toothbrush has brushed his brother's bum, (and other unmentionables), he certainly must not care that it is purple.

The worst part of the whole thing?
I'm taking Joshua up on his offer to keep and use the purple toothbrush.
May as well save money where I can.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking Ahead

I've felt a little bogged down lately. I'm not so sure it really even was the holiday season that has caused it. It's the day-to-day parenting and motherhood that has been zapping energy from me.

My dear in-laws invited ALL five of our children to spend New Year's Eve with them. When we received the invite a couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled beyond measure. I threw out all sorts of fantastic ideas that Mike would surely want to do with me on New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve day didn't quite go as planned (likely due in part to my bogged down feelings), and thus our evening wasn't exactly what I had envisioned in the days leading up to it. But enjoying the company of just Mike with no interruptions beat any other grandiose plans.

Mike and I sat down to review 2012 and make a few plans for 2013, and before I knew it I was writing as fast as I could to keep up with all of Mike's ideas and plans for this year. I so appreciated all he had to say, because the ideas he was rattling off were the type of things I often wonder if I'm alone in thinking about, and too often don't have the energy to implement/carry-out.

Our plans just may whip us all into shape and rid ourselves of some of the bogginess we've had around here lately. We shall see.

We then spent New Year's Day cleaning, organizing, and cleaning and organizing some more. We were both amazed at how much we were able to accomplish without five children interrupting us, and/or messing up the newly cleaned spaces. It was one of the most enjoyable few hours I've spent with Mike for a long time. It wasn't that I don't love the games of Scrabble around our kitchen table, or the long chats on the couch, or the dinners out together. It just felt so good to be anxiously engaged in a common goal together. I think we each felt a little of the renewed efforts we had discussed the night before, and were trying our best to get our little family off on the right foot for the year.

Mike squeezed an extra hour out of his parents for us to finish up some last few closets, areas and spaces. Bless them. Bless them. Especially his mother.

The children returned home too early for me to really have had time to miss them, despite them being gone for 24 hours. The return home didn't go as smoothly as I'd envisioned, due mostly in part to the incessant tattling I received from each child about one particular child's behavior at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

I'd already heard it from Mike, via his parents, and it all added to the bogginess I was trying to rid myself of for the beginning of a new year. I felt embarrassed that my child would act this way despite hours and hours of deliberate parenting efforts in manners and behaviors. I also felt mildly irritated at Mike that my children all have such strong personalities and as of yet, none have exhibited traits of passiveness, calmness, or submissiveness.

(I incorrectly or correctly put most of the blame on my children's undesirable traits on my husband. Judge me if you want, but it's pretty fair to blame him. Ask his parents about his childhood/teenage years. Ask my parents about mine, and you'll see I'm RIGHT. Love you Mike xx)

I know when all is said and done, these more passive traits aren't really the traits I want my children to have, but I do daydream about them exhibiting them for at least a few hours at some point in their lives.

Regardless of all the undesirable parts of New Years Day evening, we did have a few moments to sit down with the children and share together some of our goals and ideas for the year. One child was sent from the room at least twice. Another child was yelled at, at least once. And they were all threatened at least thrice.

It wasn't exactly the start to the new year Mike and I had dreamed of. I ended up crawling into bed after sending an apologetic, yet thankful email to my (worn-out) mother-in-law for her graciousness in hosting my five children, and sending a vibe to Mike that I'd never forgive him if my children are not invited to sleepover there again.

About that same time, Mike had to climb out of bed to discipline a few disobedient children down the hall, and I tried to resist the urge to pack my bags and begin a move to a foreign country far away.

Instead I turned off my light and laid in bed. I knew it was no consequence at all that a scripture from the Bible came to my mind in that moment, and I have opted to take it on as a personal theme for the year. It was clearly an answer to a yet unspoken prayer, and I was reminded in that moment, that Mike and I do not parent alone.

I woke up this morning with a more clear understanding of the bogged down feeling I've had now for a few weeks. You all know as much as I do that I love being a mother. I'd even go as far as consider myself a cheerleader for motherhood. But that still doesn't mean it's easy. Motherhood feels so big and huge at times. There are so many responsibilities, from making sure a child doesn't incorporate the word "stupid" into every interaction with somebody on the school bus, to making sure one particular child knows they don't walk around burping at their grandparents's house. Or making sure another child understands the principle of commitment and a good effort, and helping another child learn that toys don't go in every square inch of the house. Or making sure another child doesn't freeze when they go to feed the chickens in snow boots, a coat and... underwear when the temperature outside is 11 degrees (Fahrenheit).

No lie. I wish I had taken a photo.
By the way, it was not the 3 year old.

Regardless of attempting to teach my children to wear pants while feeding chickens or that burps are only acceptable at home, there are moments when I am able to forget the hugeness of this task I've embarked on.

The moments like sitting on the couch this morning reading books to my two little boys. Or a few minutes later, sitting by the tub watching them splash and play together. While watching Joshua and Drew bathe this morning, I was reminded of a couple of weeks ago when Drew "baptized" Joshua in the bath. Before dunking him under the water Drew's short baptismal prayer consisted of, "Joshua, welcome to the church of Jesus Christ." And with that Joshua went underwater.

While the boys bathed, I suddenly remembered this photo I had on my cell-phone.
I must give an explanation for no other reason than the fact I may incorrectly think years from now that this photo was taken on Halloween. Au contraire! This photo was taken on none other than a busy December afternoon when I was taking Luke somewhere and Drew began crying that he wanted to come too. An older sibling brought him to the car and buckled him in. In my crazy afternoon rush, I paid little attention to the little boy who wanted to accompany his mother, until I opened the door to help unbuckle him upon our return home.

I laughed out loud. And I mean, really laughed out loud. There was Drew, dressed in an Elmo costume (of course with no pants), clutching his monkey stuffed animal in one hand, while holding a yellow star-shaped plastic wand in another

Those are the moments that make the long days bearable.
And those are the moments I'm going to focus more on in 2013.

Happy New Year.

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