Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ambiguous Photos

Recently my phone broke (less than 2 months old I may add). It just so happened that the day before it broke, I realized my Dropbox was full and clearing it out hadn't been checked off my to-do list yet. A handful of photos on my broken phone were irretrievable.

This morning, while finally getting around to doing some Dropbox organizing, I was pleasantly surprised to find that a few of the photos from our Memorial Day hike to Ensign Peak were saved. As I glanced through them, I found myself finding such hidden meaning and a type of metaphor in the series of snapshots.

For once, I really am going to keep my mouth shut. Interpret them as you wish.

This is my life.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

No Attitude Here

My friend had the audacity to ask me the other night if I "had attitude lately?" I really, really like this friend, and that was the saving grace in not verbally vomiting on him my "defense." I know I haven't been sitting around "shooting the breeze" much lately, and my days are flying by faster than I could ever imagine, but it isn't because of any poor attitude on my part. It is because I feel like I am walking upstream in a fast-moving creek--which if I was an eloquent metaphorical writer would translate to being understood as: I am a mother in the midst of summer vacation. And maybe that in and of itself produces some kind of "attitude"...

1. My floor will NOT stay clean. I have towel mopped my floor more times than I can count in the last few days. I refuse to put in the effort of fully mopping it because: a. I'm not sure anyone would really notice. (Exception. Joshua would. He complains about sticky floors almost daily.) and b. The clean floor wouldn't last more than 5 minutes.
2. Our backyard is always full of more than just my children. Neighbors, friends, cousins, even visiting animals seem to be around more often than not. As such, popsicles, Otter Pops, or some other treat is often consumed, and the remains discarded somewhere on my property. I am convinced none of the children know what a garbage can is

3. Socks! I swore when school got out that my boys would no longer be allowed to wear socks. Who wears socks in the summer? It should be flip-flops only! But not my boys. Between horse riding and bike jumps, their shoe of choice is not a piece of foam with their toes exposed. I can't get them to quite wearing shoes and socks, nor can I get them to pick them up from all over the house. The other day I had a dirty pair of socks in my dining room, a pair on the back patio, a pair on the garage floor and one on my bathroom floor. (More pairs of socks than sons, I know. But someone changes them far too frequently... the woes of horse hair and straw in socks.) I threaten to take them all away, but to no avail. I am losing the sock battle and some of my sanity pair of dirty socks at a time.

4. Food! My kids getting bigger combined with them home all day every day is causing A LOT of food to be consumed. My wallet and my fridge feel like they are being depleted daily. It also causes more crumbs, more sticky messes (see #1), more wrappers and garbage (see #2), and more dirty dishes than I ever imagined. Life was less messy when my kids couldn't fix their own snacks and meals. (Or so I like to think.)

5. No one leaves me alone! Despite the fact I can leave my children home alone, they all know how to use a telephone. I can't escape conversation, texts, or phone calls no matter how hard I try. Please don't suggest I silence my phone when I go out. I have tried that and the return home is even more brutal. I would rather have the airing of grievances separated out by phone calls and texts than be greeted in the garage by 5 children speaking over each other AT ME at the exact same time.

6. I have hay in places I never thought there would be hay. And that is something I NEVER thought I'd complain about. It is tracked into every single entry way into our house. It is in the dryer vents. It is stuck to dirty clothes and socks. (See #3) And just the other day I found a piece of hay on the kitchen counter. Aren't you glad I haven't invited you to dinner lately?!

7. I feel like I have been so organized and on top of chore charts and family systems thus far this summer, only to have it backfire on me by mid-day. Each child has the responsibility to make sure their rooms look nice in the morning, but by mid-day they are all a wreck. If one needs a pair of sunglasses they turn over every item in their room looking for them. If they play with a friend, they use every possible object imaginable in their room. If they do a project, they forget to clean it up. Get my point? By late afternoon the house resembles the aftermath of a tornado, yet I can't get anyone to really help clean because they all claim "I already did this morning." I am trying to find a delicate balance of not yelling too much and letting them be children, yet teaching them some responsibility and basic housekeeping skills. Who am I kidding though? I'm not really finding any balance--we are instead tilting towards living in disarray and disorganization all in the name of summer vacation?!

8. My kids entertain themselves. Which COULD  and SHOULD be a good thing, but it results in things like, big brother giving little brothers mohawk haircuts (yes deja-vu from last summer), our trashy, well-worn bike ramps all over the cul-de-sac, Ellie playing "restaurant" and inviting the neighbors and distributing cookies and drinks to them all (see #4), and girls trying new recipes and me eating too much of what they try.

9. The late nights! Having all young children was hard and tiring, but I felt much more in control. Though I had to do most things for them, times were much simpler. Not easier, but simpler. Bedtimes were consistent, and earlier. Now our children stay up later than us most nights. Yes, even the 5 and 7 year old sometimes. But Mike and I are too worn out some nights to care.

10. The talking is non-stop. (see #5) Questions, stories, complaints, tattling, ideas, suggestions, requests, etc. It never ends. It is on-going. Incessant. Relentless. Ceaseless. Perpetual. Non-stop. Continual. Steady.Constant.

In response to my friend's question, "Have you had attitude lately?"

No. I am a mother of five active, busy children in the height of summer vacation. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Megan's Hard Life

When Megan was a very young child, we lived on a fairly main road. As such, a frequent summer sight and sound was the ice cream truck. As first children's luck would have it, I was more than willing to splurge for an over-priced ice cream treat.

Except we had a slight problem. 

Whenever the ice cream truck's music was heard in the background. Megan would begin to scream hysterically and run to my arms for safety. It didn't matter if she was out front in the yard, or safely inside a locked house. Megan feared the ice cream truck.

Fast forward 10-12 years... We live in a cul-de-sac in a somewhat quiet neighborhood, and I can't say as we hear (let alone see) an ice cream truck very often.

Until tonight. Just as dinner dishes were being cleared, my almost SIXTEEN year old daughter became hysterically EXCITED that she could hear the ice cream truck. A couple of the younger siblings were anxiously and anticipatingly looking on at her excitement, when a look of sheer dismay came upon their faces when I announced, "Oh dear. The ice cream truck only plays music when it is out of ice cream." I had them for mere seconds, until Megan turned to me with a look on her face and asked facetiously, "Are you really going to ruin their childhood?"

With that comment, and my general motherhood motto that you all know (enjoy the little things in life for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things),  I ignored my strong feelings about the high prices of an ice cream truck's offerings, I bit my lip from announcing aloud my firm belief/stereotype/judgement that most ice cream truck drivers are child predators, and handed Megan a $20 bill. She ran out the front door, with three younger siblings trailing her out of the cul-de-sac.

Minutes later, they returned home empty-handed and Megan gathered two of the three siblings for the following selfie:

She then posted the photo with the following caption on Instagram...

My mom should win "mother of the year award"... Me and my siblings were sitting outside when we heard an ice cream truck, so naturally we ran inside to ask her for money. Being the loving, caring, giving mother that she is, she told my younger siblings that the ice cream truck ONLY PLAYED MUSIC WHEN IT WAS OUT OF ICE CREAM!! Really Mom?! Are you trying to ruin their childhood? When I finally talked her into letting us go, the ice cream truck had passed and was too far to chase down. Thanks Mom. We love you too. Now our evening is as dull as this picture. (I don't know what is more sad: that my mom said it only plays music when out of ice cream or that my siblings believed her. #iliveatroubledlife #mysiblingsdotoo

Despite her Instagram post being slightly longer than a typical Instagram post, her friends seemed to like it and I did too!! So much so, that I decided to repost her picture and put it on my own Instagram feed. We laughed about the event all evening. 

Well, I did. Megan not so much. She had been so excited about introducing her siblings to the ice cream truck experience, that she harbored a few ill feelings towards me and my slowness to grant permission that resulted in the near-miss of the whole experience.

When we all settled in for the evening (after sharing store-bought ice cream on the front lawn with our neighbors I might add), I handed Mike my phone to look at the Instagram post. I knew he'd appreciate it especially as Megan's younger years ice-cream-truck-hysteria is a fond memory of ours. It was all fine and dandy as Mike read through the post. He laughed. He chuckled. He made a few comments and then all of a sudden he gasped. Handed me the phone and announced, "You have to edit that right now!" One of Megan's very innocent hashtags, turned out to be not really very innocent.

Unfortunately, Instagram doesn't have an edit feature, and (un)fortunately, Megan learned a new vocabulary word tonight. Megan and I each hit the delete button on our phones tonight with a little bit of disappointment of such an innocent, silly, mistake that we didn't want published on the world wide web. (Not without copying it out onto this blogpost first though!)

Note: I changed the wording of the hashtag written above to essentially say the same thing, just in a better way...

Megan has now gone to bed tonight feeling down, because not only did she get no ice cream from the ice cream truck, but then she had to delete the post that she was using as therapy to work out her ice cream truck/motherhood issues, and she was feeling mildly scarred about the brief educational moment she had with her parents. 

Just as Megan said goodnight to me for the last time she reminded me of the time we were in Washington DC and I splurged and bought her, Luke and me an over-priced ice cream from a nearby ice cream truck. She chose a silly Spongebob Squarepants ice cream, and within seconds of her first taste, it landed face first onto the sweltering DC street. She didn't laugh as we watched Spongebob Squarepants melt into a pool of yellow on the hot asphalt road. I choose to remember the experience being that Luke and I didn't laugh either, but instead had absolute sympathy for her distress.

I might add, when Megan emailed me the above photo so I could include it in this post, she titled the email: "ice cream trucks continue to ruin my life."

Poor Megan. 
She obviously has ice cream issues.
I'm hoping there is therapy for that.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Too Honest to Teach

In the LDS church, our teachers and leaders are everyday people like me! No one gets paid, no one is a specialist, it's just a bunch of regular people doing their best to serve. We rotate around different positions, that we refer to as "callings" based off of "inspiration" and let's be honest, convenience. The last few years have found me in the children's organization, we Mormons call "Primary." It was not my favorite place to be, and I admit that I counted down the unknown number of months I was assigned there, more than I should have.

Back in March, I was finally given a new calling/position/assignment. I was thrilled! It's actually been my "dream calling" for years now....Relief Society instructor. Which is teaching once a month the adult women in our church congregation. Between a couple of different church conferences and my traveling abroad, I finally taught my first lesson last week.

I'm not going to mention the title of the lesson here, because the lesson in itself was a huge struggle for me. It was based from a past General Conference talk and seemed to me to be more of a platform about a certain political issue than a goodwill talk. I took the liberty to take a more broad approach to the talk, and one of the subtopics we discussed was having greater love for those around us.

And in the course of such a Christlike theme and discussion, somehow my big mouth shared that the greeters at Wal-Mart bug me. Like the kind of bug me that I don't greet them, and my children have been known to say, "Mom, they said, "Hi" to you and you ignored them. That's rude."

Oh those proud moments when I really shine as a mother.

Among the group of women in our class, one comment briefly reacted to my admittance, and one hand (from a Wal-Mart employee no less) was waiting in the wings, until I really had to move on as time was out. I PROMISE.

Oh dear.
Me and my big mouth.

On the bright side, I had three people come up to me in the week since and tell me how much they appreciated my honesty, and one of them even admitted to disliking the Wal-Mart greeters too. She claims more probably feel the same way we do, but few would admit it. I'm not sure I agree. There are a lot of nice people out there.

And those nice people are probably the ones that the Relief Society lesson the week after mine, taught by no other than the Relief Society President herself was not worried about internalizing. I feel unequivocally and positively certain that the next week's lesson was for me. And me alone.

It was on charity.
And I quote from the good ole' Bible itself:

Chairty suffereth long, and is kind... Doth not behave itself not easily provoked.
I Corinthians 13:4-5

Bet you can't guess what I've been working on in the days since Sunday?
Suffering longer, being more kind, behaving more seemly and being less easily provoked.

While I'm at it, I'm going to work on being less honest in my admittance about myself and my flaws, and learn to keep my mouth shut more. Oh! And while I'm working on self-improvements, I'll try harder to respond to people that greet me.

It's hard.  Although I'll have you know I walked into Wal-Mart the other day prepared. I had a smile plastered on my face, my hand already in waving position, only to be greeted by...

What? No Wal-Mart greeter?! Since when is there no greeter at Wal-Mart? Especially when I'm embarking on some great self-improvement plan!

I tried.

(P.S. It makes Mike crazy when I don't have a photo attached to a post. But I really don't have one that I think would fit. Of course a photo of a Wal-Mart greeter would be appropriate, but I don't think my newfound niceness is quite ready yet to take a selfie with one. But you never know what I might aspire to next....after all, even just my attempt to be kinder/more charitable may be shocking to some.)


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