Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Temporarily Out of Service...

When we got through the summer, I had such high hopes for the fall.  I thought for sure that with children nestled all snug in their classrooms, that I would have quiet mornings to get some of my favorite things done, like blogging, and enjoy some peace and quiet as I pad around the house with two sleeping kids.  It's mid-October, and I'm still waiting.  Instead of carefree time and reading books on a comfy couch, my days are more like a giant, daily, slide than anything else.

Just like climbing UP the steps of the slide, my mornings start with an uphill battle: me getting up is the first hurdle - especially if Isaiah was up a lot in the night, followed by getting everyone ELSE up.  Then its getting breakfast, doing some scripture study with the kids, and the "showering/dressing/bedmaking" rigmarole that needs to take place before the "find your backpack/shoes/homework" scurry, so we can send off daddy and the first two to school. *breathe!*

Next rung up is "Morning Madness" of gathering clothes, stacking dishes and putting away breakfast followed by the "Morning Machine Race" where I start my house working for me before I am buried by IT.  Laundry in, dishwasher started, quick vacuum (which is almost so quick it looks as though it didn't even happen at all,) and a check at my dinner list to see what needs to be bought/thawed/prepped.

After that, the next step is usually the first load of laundry ready to be folded.  Somewhere in there a toddler needs attention, and there were some diaper changes in there.  Then my Kinder comes home.  After the big climb up, it is allllll downhill from here. If it's not done by now, its probably not gonna get done today.

Open backpack to see what homework *I* (sic) now have.  Seriously, a Kindergartner is supposed to come up with a creative way to do a "self-portrait" on a gingerbread cookie? When was the last time your kinder asked for some ric rac, was responsible with glue, and even cared that the stupid project even got done??  More digging; A Sally Foster fundraiser. *sigh* and it's RED RIBBON week.  Hooray. So on top of a bonkers morning I also have to facilitate the crazy hat/pajamas/crazy hair and athletic wear???!!!  All this so that my kids will not do drugs.  They'll just LOOK like they're doing drugs - for a week.

Do that homework, put baby down for a nap and read the library book they sent home with a check list, "15 minutes a day to reading success! *smiley*."  Then put everything BACK in the backpack and get ready to get big Sis.  Who also has homework.  Some of which is actually appropriate for her age.  Since the grocery store is by her school, I get to go shopping with ALL the kids, as I wonder how on earth I ran out of pancake syrup and milk in just one weekend (aka "what my kids did this weekend while Mum and Dad were cleaning the grungy carpet....").  Yes, its like Ralphie on the slide, as someone comments to me, "You look really tired kid."  Really?  I thought it was on top of it! AHHHHHHhhhhhhhhh. *thud*

Finally, with the whole crew out of school, errands completed, and back home. Cue the whining as we start the "do your bit" part of tidying - which could also be named, "Mommy could do it faster AND better, but I am raising productive children and not plants" portion of the day.  Kids complain and drag their feet while accomplishing such mammoth tasks as putting away their own laundry, unloading part of the dishwasher, and helping set the table - cuz now its time to start getting dinner on the table.  And cleaned up. 

Then everyone in jammas.  Books to read, teeth to brush, and a slew of nighttime requests and "special appearances" of pajama'd kids, while I collapse into a comatose trance watching something like "Dancing with the Stars."

Somewhere in these days I have to wedge in plans for Halloween costumes, checkups, teacher's conferences, "minimal" school days, visiting teaching, the mountain of paper that magically appears on every horizontal surface, and extra projects that kinda make my head spin.  Oh how I despise you neighborhood ghost for giving me an extra project to complete in "just one day!" 

And that's the bottom of the slide.  It takes a day to get from top to bottom, and it will start alllll over again tomorrow.  I have had some blogging thoughts, but they just don't have the time to mature into a real post.

My Mother once said, "If you thought you had to do it all the time, you'd never make it.  So, just take it one day at a time, and things will change...." 

Yes they will.  The baby will sleep through the night. The toddler will get toilet trained, and some day - the kids won't want us to put them to bed.  But for now, its a daily trip up and down the slide.  Its crazy, its nuts, but it won't last forever.  I'm sorry blogging friends who keep stopping by for a lucid thought.

I'm like a log roller.  You are either on top of it, straddling it, or under it.  Right now, I'm just trying to stay on top of the log. We'll just have to hope for lucid thoughts later. ;D

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friendly Fire

Friendly Fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death, and though it doesn't really say so in the official definition, it seems to happen more in marriage than it does on the battlefield.  Well, the injury part - not the death part so much...

I recently had a "row" with my spouse, and after the smoke had cleared, and everyone had a chance to explain, we realized that due to bad communication, (and some situations out of context), we had turned our emotional guns on each other.

After a heated discussion over lunch, we left each other in a huff.  We are both of us rather stubborn individuals, and not likely to concede in a battle where we feel we are RIGHT.  That's what you want in a good lawyer, and it's what a good lawyer wants in a freaking awesome wife.  While stubbornness has its place in not getting walked on, the best lawyers are also the best diplomats.

After our little tiff then I was surprised that he asked me out to dinner. Texted me, actually.  Being married to a lawyer, I felt the need to be mentally prepared with logical arguments backing up my sound reasoning, and wasn't quite sure what I was in for.  But I knew that, by gum, if a ship was going down, it wasn't going to be my own.  After a toe-to-toe afternoon, I was ready for ROUND 2! *ding!*

So, it was surprising to learn that the conflict was actually a struggle at work. An insane work week filled with lots and lots of stress. He apologized for unloading on me - I had felt the full force of the blast, but the conflict had originated elsewhere.   A stupid comment from the night before had lit the powder-keg, and instead of turning our guns on the source, we had turned our guns on each other.

Pat Benatar croons that Love is a Battlefield, and in many ways it is.  The minute you get married, the world starts trying to tear you apart. Work wants all of you, children want all of you, and with what is left over, sustaining life takes its share in the form of cars, bills, and mortgages.  Grocery shopping, planning, kiddie care, lawn mowing and laundry also exact their due. What is left is usually two ragged and tired people. And the love that blossomed so easily while dating becomes ridiculously hard to keep growing!  Its far easier to snap at each other, blame, and point out faults. 

Unless.  Unless you do as Joshua Chamberlain told 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment when they were in a tight spot at Gettysburg and, "Fix Bayonets!".  During the Civil War, the men of the 20th Maine were up against the rocks of Little Round Top, outnumbered by the Confederates with nowhere to retreat. It was imperative to keep it together.

You see, if the Union line broke, the Confederates (red) would literally divide the Union army (blue) and conquer; surrounding the Union armies on both sides. (As shown in this lovely little pic -->)

After 3-4 hours of heated combat, the 20th Maine ran out of ammo.  With no means of being supplied, Col. Chamberlain hollered for the men, up and down the line, to ready themselves with nothing but the bayonet on the end of their musket, and to fight like hell. Which they did.  The Confederates never got behind that line.

No whinin', complainin' or nit pickin'. It was time to focus on the task at hand, the enemy at hand, and get the job done.  Marriage is like that sometimes.  There are "things"coming at you left, right and center with not enough time, energy, or money to easily deal with it.  And what a surprise that maturity is not always commensurate with age. (I'm pretty sure y'all would have thought our arguments were pretty stupid and petty.)   But if you let it, wisdom and experience will give you a birds-eye view of certain conflicts, and help you get the higher ground so you at least have a shot at a good outcome.
So, after a lovely dinner at the Texas Roadhouse, we did just that.  We walked around the grounds of the Timpanogos Temple.  We talked.  We strategized.  We listened to each other and exposed our weaker sides.  Now we know what to cover.  And our ship is not going down.

We are "fixing bayonets", identifying the true enemy, and we will not let anything divide us.  My dad told me something about how lucky he felt to marry my mom because, "She's the one you want with you in the fox hole!"

I always thought that was terribly unromantic, but wisdom has shown me how true it is, and how valuable to sustaining a marriage.  And I want my honey in the fox hole with me.  We are better together than we are apart, and he has got my back - and I have his.  So long as we keep our guns pointed in the right direction, we have a good chance of surviving this life long enough to enjoy it. So, "Fix Bayonets" baby, here we go.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oops, I Did it Again...

This is supposed to be a therapeutic post.  I confess that I did it again: I wore the ugly shirt in the bottom of my drawer today, and ought to be publicly shamed for it. *breathes in*  I have tried to rationalize it, but the truth is - is that I did it out of convenience, and I should have had better sense.

Yes, it was the only thing that would go with my stretchy yoga pants, but that can no longer be an excuse. Because, I say "go" but I only mean that in the most obtuse fashion sense.  It "goes" better than a button up shirt.  Its also easy to nurse in, and I know, I know!  Convenience aside, when you start looking really bad, its time to stop being so lazy.  I got to this point by neglect.  I neglected to take it out of my drawer. Matthew and I stayed up late watching Jim Gaffagin (neglecting to get to bed on time), and then I neglected to get up early, and had to hurry and get Abigail out to horse camp this morning - and it was there!!!

In a rush to get out the door, I grabbed what was clean and handy.  Only, we went to a family reunion in Idaho this weekend, so there wasn't a whole lot of "clean" to choose from.  And as I was rifling through my drawers there it was.  Its a white shirt that I bought while I was expecting.  The ribbed sleeves, neckline and waist looked fairly cute for someone who was clearly having a baby, and clearly wanting her shirt to cover underneath the bulge.  But many washes and a 3 month old baby later, I have been meaning to toss it. Its time, its old, and it is NOT flattering.  Its down right trashy lookin'.  But then I just put it on ... one more time; until I go shopping for a better one, or until I can wear a smaller size, until I find something athletic that "goes" with yoga pants (yet can also be respectable in the grocery store,) etc. etc.

Then, like today, I catch myself in the mirror and jump back with a, "GAAAH!  I should NEVER wear this ugly shirt in public AGAIN!  I look like I just waltzed out of the trailer park!!!  Oh me, why don't I have the sense god gave a lemon when it comes to getting dressed?"  So.  I'm gonna do it.  I'm gonna wash it. And. And DI it.  Just so long as I can get it in the DI bag before I need a convenient shirt to nurse in.  Dang.  Maybe just keep it for days where I don't leave the house in it...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Confessions of a School Mom

I don't like the summer this year.  There I said it out loud.  Or at least wrote it. I am a school mom in a summer hell, and if I didn't think it would traumatize the children, I would make a paper chain of days left until they go back to school.  Danika asked me what has happened to me.  My blogging has dropped off completely; no pics, no witticisms, and nothing thoughtful.  How can I explain that - mainly due to this massive inconvenience to my life - I can barely keep it all together, let alone THINK.

The house looks like it has been tumbled through the dryer, and I have to fight for the will to sit in my kids room and tell them, again, to pick it up.  Make their bed.  Get those toys off the floor. Put your clothes ON. *siiiigh* Of course, I didn't know that there was a difference between a "school mom" and a "summer mom" until I took an innocuous survey that would tell you; it basically tests whether you like your days scheduled and structured, or more free flowing and spontaneous. After 10 incredibly "scientific" questions the result was overwhelming. *angelic chorus*  I am a 97% Bonified School Mom.  Why?

Because I love the school time of year.  I love that we all have to get up, get dressed, and have to GO somewhere. I can make a quick early morning stop at the store, right after the last kiddo springs merrily off to class.  The small kids take naps as scheduled, and in that peace and quiet of the morning I can BLOG, get the laundry going, pad about the house picking up stuff without anyone undoing it, start the dishwasher, wipe off the counter, and thoughtfully prepare for dinner and what the afternoon will bring.  I make phone calls during this quiet time - either to make appointments, research, or call a friend to catch up without being peppered by children's tattling, and questions about whether they can have some juice RIGHT NOW, and random screaming.  I am organizing, recharging, and putting my little world to rights.

Summer is none of these things.  And with a newborn babe, a busy road by my house, and young kids not old enough to self-supervise, it is ESPECIALLY none of these things.  I sat in a friends house yesterday, and confessed my hatred of Otter pops.  She has 6 of her own kids and said, "Oh I KNOW!  The clipped ends all over, the drippy syrup, sticky fingers, sticky faces and stained clothes!  I told my husband that if he ever brings them home again, he's dead meat!!"  Oh soul sister.  Thank you.  I didn't have to say it.

You see, when other mothers beam about the delights of having their kids home for the summer, I have always felt a particular guilt that either I was a rotten mom, or that I had rotten kids.  Now I understand that it is neither of those things.  I am a great mom - 9 months out of the year!  My kids have homework done on time, projects completed, and an awesome "Market Day" entrepreneurial experience!  They wear clean clothes, have early morning scripture study, get to school.... pretty close to on time, with their backpack, lunch and permission slip signed!  Later on, we have a sit down dinner at the table.  With a fruit, vegetable, and  A CLEAN TABLE CLOTH!

I scream A LOT less during those months....

But for now, it is summer.  It is hot.  We are home.  All of us.  All the time.  We are sick of each other.  Everything fun requires time and money, but worst of all it requires getting everyone dressed and into the car.  And I don't want to take a newborn to the pool and simultaneously try to keep the 2 yr old from drowning.  Grocery trips are a nightmare for all of us.  I hate the germs (and the food) associated with the play land.  It is not fun for me to keep having to do a head count to make sure no one is being molested. The vegetable project is a failure; meaning that the strawberry plants died, but the pumpkins and weeds are growing like gangbusters.  Every time I pull into the garage I think that we should organize it, followed immediately by the thought that it is too hot to organize it right now.

I am weary.  I am out of synch.  There is cereal on the counters and the floor.  The spot of toothpaste that I meant to get up off the carpet has been upgraded to "needs the carpet cleaner" status.  And I would do it, if the kids could ever stop tromping on the hallway carpet.  I am just not a summer mom.  This is not fun for me, and I will be glad when it is all over. And when it is you will see me blogging once more and doing this:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Time Saver #1: Dealing with Dinner

As we are getting ready for baby, a lot of things are getting "prepped."  I was talking to my sonographer about frozen meals, and she was so amazed that she was taking notes, so here is my wisdom, THUS FAR about taking care of dinner. It is the blending of three idealogies:
  • Once-a-month cooking
  • Marie Rick's "House of Order"
  • and Sandra Lee's Money Saving Meals.
 After attending Marie Rick's "House of Order" seminars, she suggested that knowing well in advance what you are going to make for dinner saves you time, energy, and most of all frustration.

Having a plan gets the decision making out of the way early in the day, and if you strategically plan your meals, you can multi-task the prep work.  After all, it's just as easy to cook 6 lbs of hamburger and onions as it is to do 2.    It also facilitates grocery shopping, and keeps you away from expensive (and often unhealthy) fast food.  If you are going to have, say, pears as your fruit for 6 of your dinners in a month, you can get a case of pears and be set for 2 -3 months.

So, with that in mind I made this grid on excel: 5 weeks of meals including a main dish, a V: = vegetable and F= fruit.  I took a poll of what dinners my family would like to see in a month, then gathered all of my recipes together and decided on 7 categories for each day of the week.  For Example: Mondays are set aside for Family Home Evening, so I do my quickest recipes then so that I can ALSO have the time to help the kids make a treat.  I dubbed it "Dump It" night - my fast recipes that I can make in under 20 minutes.

After naming each genre of the week, I pulled/copied the recipes for the month in a single binder and put them in plastic sheet protectors (knowing how sloppy my cooking can be).  I also printed out a copy of my Month O'Meals  and have it taped it to the fridge.  It was a bit harder than I thought, and it's not perfect yet, but here it is! One month of recipes. One place to look for what I need.  This way, I can take the whole binder with me when I go the grocery store and flip through a week or two of recipes to see what I'll  need. Slick! 

Part of my weekly genres include recipes from the Food Network Show, "Sandra Lee's MSV, or "money saving meals."  I tivo the show every Sunday, and have been trying out her recipes much to the delight of my family - I've never made Greek food before!  Even better, she has a "Round 2 Recipe," where you reserve some of the ingredients from your first recipe, and for a few ingredients more, comes up with another meal.  It cuts down on my prep time, and helps me to feel a little bit ahead of the 8 ball.

Lastly, freezer meals.  Once-a-Month Cooking is both a book and a technique.  Matthew and I used this in our college days when no one was home to prep dinner. We would make a list of meals from the books "Frozen Assets" and "Once-a-Month Cooking, then go grocery shopping on Friday night, leave all the cans out on the counter, and put it together on Saturday morning.

Most recipes can  be stored in a gallon sized zip lock bag.  You freeze them flat, then line them up in your freezer shelf like library books.  There are often a few "extras" that go with the meal, like chopped tomatoes/avocados on "Sopa de Maize," or Frito's,  but that is minimal work compared with having to make the whole thing.

I have, currently, about 17 meals in the freezer.  Do I follow any of these plans strictly?  Heck no. Each technique has it's merit, and by combining them, it gives me time and it gives me options.  At the end of the day, you do what works best for you and your family. 

But I can say that having a plan, and simple techniques is much better than trying to make it up every day.  I hope to be SO organized one day that I can have FOUR binders of month long recipes.  Winter, Spring, Summer (YAY GRILLING!) and Fall.  In my mind, I'll have everything plotted out by what is in season cross checked by what grocery stores usually have on sale. Cue "Dream the Impossible Dream...."

But I can't think about that now.... I'll have to think about it tomorrah... after I pull out mah freezer meal!

Time Saver #2: Bathroom Apprentice

Many of you already know that I love a clean bathroom.  I don't like actually cleaning the bathroom, but I love the effect afterwards.  As time has gone by, Matthew and I split up the stewardship of the bathrooms.  I let him choose which one he wanted to police, and then we would make sure that "our" bathroom got cleaned every Saturday. 

This way, I don't have to be the only one hollering around the house, "Pick up your towel - the maid is off duty this week!  Who tried to finger paint in the tooth paste?!!!  I see clothes on the floor here... come pick these up - THIS IS NOT A HOTEL!!!"

One Saturday though, as I was scrubbing out the toilet, it occurred to me that it was a bit unfair to have the parents scrubbing away while the kids were out there watching tv.  Frankly, it was that way just because it was easier to get them out of the way - and they didn't know how to clean the bathroom anyway.  Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

"Hon, how 'bout we split up the kids and make each one our apprentice for cleaning the bathroom?  Once we teach them how to do it, they'll take over the bathrooms..."  He thought it was genius.  He got the 9 yr old, and I got the 5 yr old. 

Now, we are training up our brood to properly clean the bathroom.  For the past month, we take our apprentice and show them how we do it.  Matthew and I use a technique that we learned from Jeff Campbell's dvd "Speed Cleaning."  Matthew is closer to freedom than I am, but let me tell you something - just having all of the stuff taken out of the bathroom (towels, bathmat, hand soap, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, garbage can etc.) makes it go twice as fast!  And while I'm scrubbing out the tub, my 5 yr old is wiping down the dusty base boards. 

I'm still cleaning off the majority of the surfaces, but he is right there with me.  And he loves the challenge of getting it done before Daddy and Abigail.  Especially since he is allowed to go watch tv and sit on his tat while his sister is learning the finer points of wiping down the toilet seat.

And the bathrooms?  Since employing our apprentices, they seem to have stayed - CLEANER. Well, lets just say that those two kids have a more keen interest in making sure that THEIR bathroom doesn't become a mess.... ;D  And that makes for a happier momma!

Time Saver #3: The Blitz

Or, "How to Clean an Entire Kitchen in 10 - 15 minutes."  This technique was invented by my parents.  It is based on Hitler's advancement tactic called "The Blitzkrieg."

In German, Blitzkrieg means lightning war (Blitz-Krieg). Blitzkrieg was named so because it included surprise attacks, "Lighting fast" rapid advances into enemy territory, with coordinated massive air attacks, which struck and shocked the enemy as if it was struck by lightning. The German military in WWII achieved most of its great victories with the Blitzkrieg tactic, and it's also how I clean my kitchen. Well, without Hitler, or the artillery.

  1. Everyone helps. Family, friends, guests.  No one is, as my 5 yr old says, "Sittin on their tat!"  There is a warning sent out by father, "okay, we're about to Blitz..." which means, "If you have to use the bathroom, make a phone call, tie your shoe etc. you have about one flat minute to do so.."  My mom believes that having dad lead the way was key. No one had an excuse to slack off.  If dad, who works all day, can help for 10 minutes, so can you!
  2. Once "Blitz" is called, rockin' music is selected (some of us have playlists on our ipods, and the kids can sometimes pick the music - though be careful.  We had to listen to Abigail's school musical for quite a few evenings...), and everyone gets up, clears their plate, and starts on a job; load the dishwasher, clear off a counter/stove, put away left overs, scrub/dry pots n pans, take the chairs out of the room (then put them back when the floor is dry), sweep and/or mop the floor etc.  There is a job for every skill level.  Even wiping down the appliances and cupboards makes a huge difference!
  3. If anyone who ate dinner has disappeared, anyone may call your name, "So and So is out of the room!" and in a rapid fire manner the whole family starts to count to 10.  If a body part of the missing individual does not make it into the kitchen before the family reaches 10, the remainder of the kitchen is left for that person to clean by themselves. 
  4. Try and get it done in under 10 minutes. Always try and beat your best time.
In such a short time, you have clean counters, clean floor, the dishwasher is running, the sink is scrubbed out, dinner is put away, the appliances gleam, and no one had to spend more than 10 minutes working.

This picture isn't my kitchen, but you get the idea. This is so much better to look at 10 minutes after slaving away at dinner instead of a messy counter and sink full of dishes.  Many hands make light work. It's lightening fast, and the dirt in the kitchen never knew what hit it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just as Nasty as you Remembered it...

It hasn't happened in years.  Though I have been prepared for it, I haven't had to actually MAKE any powdered milk.  Then, through a series of events, I was left without a choice; there was no way to fill up on milk, and go to all of my appointments, AND have something for Sam's nap.  So I made some.

Using my ingenious knowledge of quarts and gallons, I swished out the last of the dregs of our last gallon of milk, set aside the bottle *taps forehead*, and then poured 3 cups of powdered milk into one hot quart of water and mixed thoroughly with a whisk.  It had an odd bubbly familiarity.  Familiar because my mom had done it before.  Odder yet because it definitely had the appearance of milk.

"Maybe powdered milk in the new millennium is better than what my mom had..." I thought to myself.  I continued to REALLY mix, convincing myself that the warm water was getting out ALL of the nasty clumps that would betray it's humble powdered beginnings.  Added 3 more quarts of freezing cold water, and stuck it in the fridge.  It LOOKED just like the last gallon of milk!  SUCCESS!!

Since then, I have been cheerfully substituting it in my cooking, in Sam's bottle, and leaving it out for the kids.  And the gallon is nearly out.  I decided to, tentatively, take a little sip.  It has chilled overnight, it looks like milk, and Sam took it for the second time in a row with no complaints.  This bodes well!

OH MY DISGUSTING!!!!!! It was not only AS bad as I remembered it - IT WAS WORSE! My brain had convinced myself that it couldn't be as bad as it had been.  It was SOOOO nasty tasting, and I wasn't prepared for the after shock gag, either.  If I had had ANY food in my stomach, it would have been all over the floor.

Some people say they love it, and that if the milk is properly chilled you can't even tell the difference.  Let me tell you friends, IT IS A LIE!  It's the same lie that Diet Soda drinkers tell their fat friends, "Ohhhhh, you get used to it, until you don't notice it anymore..." Lies, all lies!!!  If you are one of these, and can so deaden your taste-buds to not notice, then PLEASE!  Come over and have some powdered milk!  We have lots! I'm sure you won't be able to tell the difference!  If you can voluntarily drink diet soda AND powdered milk, hell! you could probably get used to guzzling TURPENTINE!

But as for me, we will have the good stuff thank you very much!  You can keep your diet, your powdered, and your turpentine. Now excuse me while I go drag my tongue along the carpet to get rid of this nasty taste in my mouth!!!  EHhhhwwww. BLECH!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Little Ireland for St. Pattys Day...

Happy St. Patrick's Day my Blogging friends! Guess what!? My sister had her baby! Ireland Gayle. In Boston. How appropriate is THIS!? I'm just excited because her quilt from Aunt Katrina arrived only shortly before she did. My sister and I seem to have some sort of genetic sympathy where our kids tend to be about a month apart. This time, they will be EXACTLY a month apart. Sam and Liesel are 22 days apart. Soon, we will both have newborns to cuddle, as well as a 2yr old's birthday party to plan.

While babies are truly fun, I really had to scramble to get this quilt ready, and the more kids I have, the more I realize that I just need to give up this hobby! But I'm glad that she could get one, just like all of her cousins. The swirly swirly quilting is called "McTavishing" and I love the effect, and the Irish-y name of it. Debbie Lee is my quilter, and she has.... oh 8 kids to care for including one that is going on a mission soon. She. Is. Amazing. And I love her work! The fabrics are reproductions from the 30's, and the design is just a modified 1/2 square, set on point, to look like an hour glass.

As my own kids are growing up, it seems like time is all warped - where the days are like weeks and the weeks are like days. There is so much to get through in a day, and yet, all those days pile up and suddenly you are hurdling year after year! So, this quilt is just a little reminder that time goes by so fast with little ones, who turn into big ones. I edged it in green and hoped that it would add a bit o' the emerald to pay tribute to the wee bonny lass, Ireland. Welcome welcome!

For better details, click on the photos....

P.S. Yes, I DO know that the quote I put on the quilt label by Jim Croce was written in a song about a couple, and not a baby, but it seems to fit just as well here as there...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Please Don't Ask....

Belly Shots. I don't want to do them. Please don't ask me. It's not that I am denying the wonders of pregnancy, or hiding in shame. It's like wearing hot pink lipstick, some people just can't carry it off without looking like a Vegas street walker. I just can't carry it off - gracefully.

Am I opposed to them? No. Some women, like the one pictured here, enjoy their first photo shoot with ample cleavage. They have skinny little arms and grow a mini basketball in their tummy that is nearly universally deemed "cute." No stretchmarks, furry or lined bellies, or red veiny road-map-like nasty things cover their tum. And good for them. *sarcastic "thumbs up"*

Somehow, the fat stays off their face and sticks straight onto the baby, they look great in spandex which reveal their precious bump, and it resembles a bouncy ball more than, say, a tripled batch of white, pasty, bread dough. Their children exit like the plant from Mary Poppin's carpet bag, leaving no evidence behind that they were ever gestating. Whoopedeedo for you.

I - on the other hand - don't get pregnant this way. I get pregnant in a way that resembles Jabba the Hutt. Pregnant all over. Big face, fat butt. When I see photos of myself, it isn't a "Awww, remember when?!" It is very literally a "WHAAAH!!! GAAAH! Who took this?! Lets destroy it before someone is traumatized for life..."

So, at least for endearing belly shots, please understand that it's just... not for me. Also, just so you know, pregnancy for me is not a fun, tummy-bearing adventure. I ache, I barf, I retain the Atlantic Ocean in fluid, and feel ridiculously tired and cranky. Right now, even as I write, I am at that stage of pregnancy where my arm starts to puff up like a Cabbage Patch doll, and I've just about lost all indications that I ever had ankle bones.

To this end, I have a particular hatred for those that love pregnancy. If you deem it "the best you've ever felt in your entire life!" and "would do it 100 times if I could!" I currently want to rip your face off with my bare hands.

So, please, no cameras, no request, and no stories of how you loved every minute of your pregnancy. Give me a year, and I might - eventually - even admire your professional cute bump photos. But for now, just keep a safe distance, and don't ask. Forewarned is forearmed. Or else, in the words of the great Jabba the Hutt(loosely translated from Huttenese): "There will be no bargain, young Jedi. I shall enjoy watching you die."

Friday, February 26, 2010


Abigail had school Market Day Auction Day today. Each kid is allowed to bring ONE thing to auction off to the class. Abigail took a plastic giraffe that we got at a zoo years ago. "Its just a plastic animal, that shouldn't bring much of a bid..." I thought to myself. And then I sat and waited - trying to convince myself that this would not end badly...

Those of you who have been following our darling family know that Abigail is a bit of a magpie/hoarder. A bit - as in "a lot." But, since each kid could only bring ONE thing, it stands to reason that they should only come home with ONE thing. Maybe two. I mean, you'd have to get the bid cheap on your first item, then have enough left over to outbid another kid on something else. Right? Nope.

"Mom! I got two toy stuffed dragons and 3 bouncy balls!"

"Abigail, how is that possible?" I asked.

"Well, since my giraffe had the tongue sticking out, everyone in the class wanted it! Everyone bid on it - EVEN MY TEACHER! So I got $1400 for it. The only thing that was more expensive was the stuffed toy horse, which cost $1500!" [Try to trace the ownership of the horse now, it changes hands at least 3 times...]

"Oh, well, who got that?"

"Kylie bought my giraffe with all of her Market Money. And then [with my winnings from the dumb plastic giraffe with the tongue sticking out], I got the horse!"

"But [looking at the dragons] you don't have the horse... what happened?"

Little did I know that my kid was as crafty and shrewd as an Arab trader....

"Well, Olivia didn't win the horse, and she really really wanted it, and she had one of the dragons, so I gave her some of my left-over money to go buy the OTHER baby dragon from Kaden. So she did, and then we traded."

"Ohhh kaaaaye..." Yes, I'm trying to follow all of this too...

"Olivia got the horse, and with her trades I got the two baby dragons, three bouncy balls and $600! I'm so glad that "Ginger" (the horse) went to a good home."

With more than a bit of chagrin, I drove her to her daddy's office to show off her "treasures." He complimented her on her shrewd trading acumen, then looked at me, with his eyes twinkling.

"She's just like her mom. Give her a little bit of money, list the parameters, and she'll find a way to get the lion's share of anything..."

I was stunned! I had never seen it that way. My little girl is just like me. Well, only I don't have a problem keeping my toys put away. I pondered on that as we went to the Red Box - me with my two free video codes, and Abigail with her new-found loot. She's just like me. I had to think about whether or not that's a good thing. Hmm. I'm not sure, but this I DO know - whereas I only got rid of one thing, I now have to find a place for 5 more items. All because my daughter takes after her mama.

Well, either way, I'm just glad that her dad thinks that THAT is a good thing. *wink!*

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm About to Put the Hammer Down...

Convoy: by CW McCall

Was the dark of the moon, on the sixth of June
In a Kenworth, pullin' logs
Cabover Pete with a reefer on
And a Jimmy haulin' hogs
We 'as headin' fer bear on I-One-Oh
'Bout a mile outta Shaky-Town
I sez Pig-Pen, this here's the Rubber Duck
An' I'm about to put the hammer on down!

I love this song. The truckers vs. the police or "bears." It was the litmus test for our Spanish foreign exchange student to see if he really understood "American English." And I've been thinking about it all morning long. You see, every Wednesday, I go to a class held by Marie Ricks of "House of Order" fame. And last night we covered the topic of children. Helping them become obedient and self reliant. The short title would have been, "Parenting: Taking Back the Reigns."

It was NOT a comfortable class. The premise being that children will get away with as much as they possibly can; and that to teach effectively, you need to be PRESENT and CONSISTENT with them until they can manage age-appropriate tasks on their own. Here are some highlights:

"Children will push the boundaries of acceptable conduct their whole lives while they are under your roof. It is only when you stand firm that they understand where the edge is. You may have to leave the grocery store, you may have to go home from a wonderful activity, you may have to postpone or be late for your own meetings. But it is more important that they understand those boundaries so that they can self govern when they are older..."

"Of course this is time consuming and difficult - you are raising children, not dolls!"

"Children are about as obedient as you expect them to be."

"You don't need to be mean, you just need to be firm."

"You need to first model the behavior for the task, let them try, and then follow up with enormous amounts of specific praise... a child will not believe that he is "good," but he will believe that you feel proud of him for hanging up his coat nice and straight in the closet..."

Needless to say, this is a weak spot for me. I have felt tired and unmotivated to go, find the child, and wait for them to do everything that I ask. Let alone be patient and even tempered. My voice pitch and anger have just taken the familiar paths of escalation until I got compliance. Or... I just decide it's not worth the fight, and drop it.

But today dawns the New Day. Parents in Control Day. We have a standing rule that you don't go to school until your bed is made, you are dressed (in clean clothes), and everything is picked up in your room. The kids have made tacit attempts, but truly, neither of their rooms could be considered "clean" by any stretch of the imagination.

So we are starting again. Stating the rule beforehand in a calm, neutral tone: "You know, you don't go to school until your room is clean." Then watching over them - in their presence. I let Matthew pick his opponent first. He picked Benjamin - The Easy. I got Abigail, aka "The Hoarder." It has been a loooooooong morning. You can not imagine the surprise on my daughter's face as I plopped down on her bed and said, "Well, I'll help where I can, but you have a big task to tackle this morning..." In P.J.s, and patiently working things through, it only took from 7:30 am til 10:30 am. They are both late for school today.

And we're supposed to do this for A WEEK! Watch over, guide, neutrally react, and teach. "We hang those up on a hanger. Garbage goes in the garbage can. Dirty socks go in the hamper." Stating the job, not commanding or threatening! Being CALLLLM!

In the program, we then move to R&R: Return and Report. Where they know the standard, and they return to tell us that it is done, and we "reward."

Then move to SI: or Self Reliance. Where they do it without being asked, without reward, but understand that it is just expected in our home.

In the clean chapel with all those other women, I can visualize it in my head. I turn from the Ogre to the Sweet Fairy Tale Mother that I always wanted to be. Oh, no, I do not have delusions that this is a primrose path that runs by itself.

But I realize that sometimes, [and with parenting - most of the time], I have to put what I want on the shelf, so that I can take the time to parent. Yeah, sure it is easier to be lazy and yell, but that is not why we had children. This is not gonna be fun, but it will have to get done. Not because I'm a neat-nick, but because I need to prepare my kids to live on their own - and quite possibly teach, and have, kids of their own. Scary thought today.

Heaven help us all.

So to my Pig Pens, this here's the Mama Duck,
An' I'm about to put the hammer down...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Today I am one day shy of 30 weeks pregnant, and this time has significant meaning for me. This is exactly how pregnant I was when Benjamin was born. He was 3lbs 4oz, and an emergency c-section. I can easily remember how small he was, his whole hand didn't reach around his daddy's pinkie. I didn't see him the whole first day or night that he was born. And when I did get to go see him, the immense sorrow of seeing my baby with tubes and tape and an enormous "newborn" diaper engulfed me. One question was on everyone's lips, "Will he make it?" We didn't know. The nurse who worked on him said, "Look at this little guy fight! He does NOT want that tube down his throat. That's a good sign - he's a fighter..."

The details of that day resurface every now and again, and when they do, the fear and anxiety return. One of my sisters once asked to see a photo of Benjamin and his newborn curly blonde hair. I hadn't seen those photos in awhile, and as I flipped through each newborn NICU picture, the memories flooded so fast and furious that I could only look and sob.

Even now, for this blog, as I pick through those first photos, I edit again, "That one is too scary," "You see all of the tubes in this one, " "This one would make people uncomfortable - or even worse, scared..." In all of them, Matthew and I look like death warmed over. Life moved from "normal" to ... to something all together different. And I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Though that time was dark for us, ever so gradually, shines the light of that time. Through that blackest of nights came the dawn. Every day offered a little more hope, and one more chance to enjoy our little boy. Many of our prayers were answered, and we found that faith isn't just an ethereal idea - rather, it is a solid rock that harbors your soul in the hurricanes of life. We didn't skip through this trial by any means, but we were not alone either.

Fast forward 5 years, and that premature baby is as solid as a keg of nails, and about to be a big brother for the second time. He can flush toys down the toilet, and scribble on walls like the best of them. If you didn't already know, you would have to be told that he was a preemie. Everything is just fine. We were blessed, we are lucky; and to be able to do it again, we are grateful. I'm happy for this new little one, and I am happy - despite the side effects, to keep this little bun in the oven for awhile - especially today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Life Has a Plan and Other Crazy Maps

I went to Relief Society Meeting last night. Imagine 3.2 tons of makeup and perfume with the dearest souls on earth who are trying to keep it together. I was the one in the stretchy maternity clothes and a scant offering of mascara and lip balm - but they were offering a nursery to watch my kids for a few hours. "C'mon Em (my SIL), let's go!"

For this year's meeting they decided to get a variety of women together and have a panel on issues that we face under the banner of "A Proclamation to the World on the Family." I sat on a very back row so that I could catch the nursery worker's eye just in case my child had a poopy diaper, or was makin' a ruckus in the nursery. Hymns, prayers and many ideas later of how to live better, they asked a question to the panel about living the gospel when things don't turn out the way you thought they would. The darling representative for "Older Single Sisters" raised her hand and shared a story of meeting someone who had left the church.

"I asked him why he left, and he said, 'Well, my life doesn't look the way that I thought it should,' and - I was nice and everything -, but inside I was thinking, TAKE A NUMBER!"

She went on to testify that even though her life was not what she had wanted, it was - indeed - tailored to fit her soul to learn by a loving Father in Heaven, "who wants for me what I want - even more than I do." And it got me thinking. Could I say the same?

Same evening, I'm reading my big brother's short story about a colleague who he worked with in his youth. Joel's friend survived brain cancer, but was disfigured in the attempt to remove the cancerous tumor. And though they had rollicking times in the Sears mechanical department, his friend Calvin ultimately committed suicide from... well, disappointment about the way his life was turning out. A college graduate, witty commentator, and WWII officiando, my brother still feels the loss of someone who just couldn't fathom that there was a rhyme or reason to it all.

Throughout all this, I am wondering about my own life and whether it has been planned, or whether - as I suspect - it is unrolling one day at a time, with bizarre factors that have given me a truly frenetic past. And I go to sleep.

In the dream I have that night, I am in a benign wilderness, trudging through gulleys and mountains, and trying to get somewhere. It reminds me of Midway, Utah where the Olympics set up the luge - civilized, but just waaaay out there.

In the dream sequence, I tell Matthew I'm gonna double check my bearings and get some directions. So, I show up at a railroad station and ask the bartender there (I know, they don't match, but it was a dream!),if I'm headed in the right direction. She pulls out a huge travel map and an orange highlighter, and starts asking me about where I've been and sloppily starts to outline my path with the highlighter. (I would grab the pen to make nicer lines, but she knows the place, and I don't.)

"Okay - so it looks like you started here, and then went this way..." *marker swaths start to cover the map*

We outline the most horrendous map. Horrendous because the path is so.. messy and nonsensical. Instead of going from point A to point B, there are ellipses, wiggly lines, weird paths, and one huge dip through the middle of it all.

"And then you came up on this side, and started over here - is that right?" she asks me as we look over the orange highlights.

As I stand back, my eyes take in this map which is criss-crossed with orange highlighter, with different names of places where I've been. Yes - I was there, and there... I was just at that place gathering flowers on my way over, hm, why was I going there? And the big ditch. That sucka is HUGE. Cavernous. Goes on forever.

Then I see that I am on a track, as it were, and completing a most bizarre circle. Not a neat and tidy one, but one that has a rough, ragged outline, and doesn't keep to the edges, but goes, literally all over the map. And under all the highlighter are a ton of roads that I haven't even been on, or knew they were there. Overall, the path has an outline of a jagged "C", and I can tell that, roughly, I'm going back to where I started - or at least trying to get back.

When I wake up - because baby is kicking me at O'Dark:Thirty, I try to remember this dream. And then I get it. It's a map of my life. A totally bizarre, backtracking, messy, yet utterly map-able life. And I'm on track. Something that in the wilds of young motherhood and present craziness, I never would have suspected. My children sing in Primary, "My life is a gift; my life has a plan. My life has a purpose; in heav’n it began."

Sitting and thinking about God-as-architect, I am reminded that most people don't believe that someone could have orchestrated all this. It's too complicated, there are too many factors. One minuscule change reverberates in unknowable directions - and to unknowable ends.

But, perhaps we will discover, as I did, that there is more to life than we ever suspected, and even the most rickety, remote, and ragged terrain is "right on track." Of course, I also dreamed that I had lice night before last. But, at least for me, it has brought me a measure of comfort. I have believing blood, and an utter respect for the Almighty. And if this was all plotted out exactly as it has unfolded, have mercy on my poor family, because the uncharted parts of that map are WACK!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Invisible Work

I think that being a mom is a lot like being invisible. You are... in many senses THERE, but the evidence is awfully hard to come by. "What do you do with all your time?" is a frequent question, and there's the joke of a man coming home to a house in utter chaos, and after following a trail of debris, kids swinging from chandeliers half naked and a ton of junk he starts looking for his wife. He finds her relaxing on the bed reading a book. "What HAPPENED here!!??"

"Well Darling, you always wonder what I do with my day, and today I didn't do it..."

This came to mind as I surveyed the house at the end of yesterday. I worked really hard! But as I looked around at the end of the day, I knew that hardly anyone would be able to tell - they would only be able to tell if I hadn't done it. For example I:

* Changed the sheets, and washed the comforter cover on the bed. I don't know how mustard got on the comforter, I just knew it was there. At least I *hope* it was mustard...

* Cleaned all the pillowcases, and some of the pillows. I started the wash early in the day so that I could put them back exactly where they were this morning - only cleaner. I've heard so many horror stories about how many organisms live in your mattress, eating skin, as well as how much heavier your pillow is when you sweat in it day after day (even though I have TWO pillowcases on all pillows - as per being brought up correctly). So I tossed 'em in the wash too, to... well, drown 'em I guess, or at least give 'em a bath.

* Scoured the bathroom. Saturday ritual that shines up the faucets, cleans out the toilet/tub, and gets the hair off the floor. There's not a lot of dust after a week, but it rises exponentially from dust bunnies to dust rhinoceroses if you wait even one day.

* Helped clean out the garage. We've "taken out" 3 mice to date, but they have left their little party droppings all over the garage. Besides being disgusting, it is also a very emotional endeavor as you get ticked at every single thing that they pooped on. We have no less than three tall shelves packed with stuff on each shelf.

"GAH! They got into THAT! *curse curse mutter mutter* They ate the Styrofoam on Sam's old infant car seat!!! *styrofoam confetti sprinkles to the floor* EW! They pooped all over the DVD movie covers?! Now we have to clean out that whole box!!" etc. etc.

150 Lysol wipes later, the garage is clean yes, but not in such a major way that you would have noticed anything different with a casual glance before and after. The old washer/dryer got moved to storage, the bed rails are now UPRIGHT, and we still have to figure out what to do with the sleds. And the shelves are covered in plastic bins. Now, if it's in MY garage, it's in a plastic bin to keep out/starve unwanted rodents. *curse curse mutter mutter*

* All this while doing load after load of laundry and a trip or two to the grocery store.
Still tired but not finished, we got dinner on, then put away. Floor swept and mopped and it just all looked pretty much like it did when I got up. I worked like a friggin' galley slave, yet there is really no evidence of the struggle. Like... building the Taj Mahal, and then having nothing there but the dirt you started with! It seems like there should be something... THERE! But my proof of hard work is that the counter has NOTHING there!

And that's when it hit me: Mom's are invisible. Food is in the pantry, and dishes in the dishwasher (transported, as if by magic, from the counter and sink to the dishwasher!!)and it seems to all happen when nobody is looking. It's all invisible, that is,unless you stop. It is only then that the evidence starts to pile up of what you used to do, but that isn't getting done now.

But for now, at least, we can roll on. The work of the invisible is done, and the house is where it was this morning. Just with fewer dust mites and mice poop.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Miracle Product

I know, like you, I really don't believe that miracle products really exist. I have been more disappointed by "new," "ultra," "uber," "radical formula," than I can shake a stick at. But it did just happen - last night.

I have been struggling with DISGUSTING dishes. We have hard water, and it has never taken such a devastating toll on my dishes as it has here. Like seeing a cataract develop, my glasses/dish lids have gotten whiter and whiter over the past 18 mos 'til you have to look at the TOP of a clear glass to see what drink is in there.

Em brought me this Lemi Shine stuff that touts itself as "The Hard Water Expert," *uh huh, yah - WHATEVER!* and I thought, "Oh well, what the heck," and hucked it in the dishwasher last night and went to bed.

Then, this morning, I went to unload the dishes and what to my wondering eyes should appear?!!! *cue angelic chorus* I can not describe to you what I felt when I opened the dishwasher door that comes close to the euphoria I felt as I pulled out each CLEAN glass. I couldn't believe my eyes, but the kids were saying stuff like, "You can see through our glasses mom!" *fears to publish such revealing information* "Where's all the gross stuff?!" and simply, "WHAT HAPPENED!"?

All after one load! And I kid you not, this was not a small task - you could see my fingerprints on the pot lids despite hand washing them multiple times in hot water and detergent. My metal colander had white buildup at the base, and everything looked like it had just been dipped in a heavy salt/water solution and dried on there. And now - they are crystal clear! *more angelic chorus*

So, to my good blog readers, if you too are suffering from gross and disgusting dishes, measuring cups, lids and all things glass, there is hope! Find this stuff! Buy this stuff! I will grab my clean glasses and toast you and your clean glasses, tears rolling, to clean dishware again.

For other opinions: http://www10.epinions.com/content_273229385348

Their website: http://www.envirocontech.com/products/Learn-More-about-Lemi-Shine.html

If you want to know where I live in Utah, check out the Lemi Shine hard water map and look for the orange spot in Utah - which is the color indicating the worst kind of water EVER - yup! that's where I live!

*puts on ipod to "I'm a Believer," and boogies around the kitchen holding clean glasses*

Addendum: Could this product GET any better? Well, I contacted the company with this blog post and got this reply:


Thank you so much for your wonderful blog post! Since you are such an avid user and promoter of our product, we would like to send you a product package including Lemi Shine, Lemi Shine Rinse, Lemi Shine MC3, 5 Lemi Shine samples, 5 Lemi Shine Rinse samples, and 5 MC3 samples along with a Lemi Shine t-shirt and tote bag. Please send me your shipping address and t-shirt size, and I will get the bundle out to you as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please let me know. We truly appreciate your business and support and hope you will share the product samples with your family and friends. Have a terrific Tuesday afternoon!

Lee McDonald

SCORE!!!!!!!!!!!! Wait... I have to share????!!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Threats n' Bribes....

[Click on Charts to read the fine print] My mama always said that raising kids is just "threats n' bribes, threats n' bribes..." which is a pretty simple philosophy considering all the tomes written on raising children. I've known this, but haven't been applying the "bribe" portion very well.

You see, just about every mom I know of is struggling with their kids right now. For me, it was the battle with the 5 yr old over throwing away Sam's stinky diapers. The feelings of guilt that swarmed every confrontation, not to mention his pleas for a play date were just getting to me because I didn't want to add ONE MORE KID to the mess I was dealing with! Then I noticed my sister had a very simple notebook paper "chart" on her fridge. So, I asked her about it.

"Allen (her husband) made that. When she's good, she moves forward a space, and when she's naughty, she moves back. Too far back and she'll end up on her bed..."

"What happens if she gets to the end?"

"Oh, she gets a package of M&M's..."

So SIMPLE! And a cheap bribe too! It eliminates motherly commentary on behavior, "What is WRONG with YOU TODAY!" and just simply, and emotionlessly, inflicts a consequence. BAM, you moved back a space. Wanna go another?
So, I made up a chart for my two kids. Service and being ready on time gets you points, sass & backchat moves you back. I printed it off, got some of those cheapie flat magnets off the fridge and had it all laminated together so it sticks on the fridge. Each kid has their own magnet to move forward and back.

Has it worked?!

YES! We have had two play dates, and the kids are excited now to get a point for any ole thing. My kids very own chart is probably the crappiest of the three, but I've been happy to switch the template and help others with their chidlren to gain some ground in the serenity department.

Cost? One bag of M&M's. Threats n' bribes baby, threats n' bribes...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Organize This!

We have been chasing keys for awhile - you look at them and think, "What is THIS one to?" and in sum, we have lost some that we really needed.

Tonight, my SIL Em and I had a polishing party, where we did keys! The downstairs to my house has many wonders that can be pillaged unchecked, so we have locks on the following doors:

1) The furnace room: you wouldn't THINK a kid would want to play in there, but you'd be wrong!

2) The Harry Potter closet a.k.a The Christmas Closet: This one, of course is the closet under the stairs, and it has all of our Christmas decorations/tree and festive knick knacks.

3) The toy closet. Due to incredibly generous friends, neighbors and family, we have accumulated quiet a few toys, games, and puzzles. I like my kids to have them, but not all at the same time, so this closet - along with Mom's vintage clothing, is also locked.

Throw in a house key, back door key, keys to different cars, old keys, keys to locks not currently in use, and you start to see a lot of silver! So, just like a girls night out, Em and I pulled out her collection of fingernail polish and stickers. We had a blast putting on base coats and colors with teeny decorations to our various keys. The result is that they look fabulous! AND - they are all different colors! AND, we now know which keys are duplicates, which ones go to what closet, and where we're going to store them.

It's a small step in the key department, but a big relief for our overall organization. Now we can finally open the furnace room which has also been lacking organization and get started on that. And I have Em's fabulous nail polish and sticker collection to thank. It's smooth sailing in the door department, and all because we got our heads together and had a painting party. Genius!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thoughts on 38

Having just celebrated my 38th birthday, I've tried to think about what it "means" to be this old. I know that when I was a kid, and I met someone this old, you knew that they were an adult. You assumed that they could/would tell you what to do, and had attained just about all the knowledge they were ever gonna get.

They could drive, and have kids, and make dinner. And though I didn't know the in's and outs, I pretty much knew that an adult could buy ANYTHING they wanted. They could own every Strawberry Shortcake doll, plus the Berry Berry house, AND the scratch n' sniff stickers! Though they never ever EVER seemed to want to. Which was weird to me. I KNEW in my heart that I could spend money better than my folks. I would skip the phone bill and get all the cool toys.

Much wiser, I know how little I know about the world we live in, it's history, and what the future holds. So what has 38 years taught me? Well, here's a sampling:

Driving is scary. I fear for my kids lives every time we get in the car. There are some stupid people out there, and I have seen trucks run into cars, cars slide off the road, and even overturned cars that make my heart skip a beat.

The garage is one of the best cleaning investments. You see it every day, and it will stay cleaner than nearly any other part of the house.

Kids are not handed out on merit. I know many terrific people that struggle, or will never have biological children of their own. They seem to deserve kids more than some thoughtless kids who are in no way prepared to bring children into the world, and don't care.

Learnin to spel helps others understand you easily - and wearing clothes isn't just identity, it shows the world that you give a modicum of a darn about how you present yourself to them. Tuck in underwear - no one wants to see your panties, and beware of those who do want to see them - their intentions are not good. Don't physically damage yourself for fashion. Be gentle with the elderly.

If it is kind, it is always best to think out loud: I love that shirt! Your hair is super cute today! What a cute baby you have! I want to look like you do in those jeans. The most secure and put-together people are surprised that others think well of them without wanting anything in return, "Can I have yo number?".

Giving stuff to Goodwill is 99.9% always a good idea. I can count on one hand the number of things I've given away in 38 years and wish I had back. I can't think of one right now...

Instead of hoping for a boys or girls, it is wiser to hope for good kids, whatever they are!

The best way to secure laziness is to be supremely organized.

Everyone, at some point, will disappoint you - even God (though he may have the best intentions for doing so out of everyone...). Unless it's a toxic relationship, you forgive and forget, then remember that you too have disappointed people. Move on and be better friends tomorrow.

If you think, "Gosh I love you!" then say it as soon as you think it! Make a shortcut from your brain to your mouth. And say why. It is water to a parched soul, and no one is ever told enough that they are loved. Never.

Art is not a luxury. Keep yourself surrounded by the beauty that moves you - even if you can only afford the print.

Try to smile at yourself in the mirror instead of hunt for flaws. Children do, and adults don't.

Wherever possible, buy a balloon for your kid. You never need an excuse to have a balloon...

Help elderly and handicapped people without being asked. A simple, "Can I help you with that, " doesn't cost anything, and brings out the best in humanity.

Birthdays are a big deal. Even if doesn't end in a zero. Thanks to everyone who made mine spectacular!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What We're Having...

Let me start off by saying that this baby was a surprise. I was 10 1/2 weeks along before even considering that perhaps this nagging "flu" the kids had given me, might be something more. As soon as we confirmed it, I threw up. Ooooohhhh, the excitement.

Though we are backing into this, it is with great anticipation that we welcome #4. I was fairly certain that I knew the sex too. A girl. I was right with my first, Abigail. Then Benjamin, I predicted with my inner pregnancy eye, had to be a girl as well. As did Sam. And after my OB confirmed my suspicions a few months ago, saying that he was 60% sure that THIS one was a girl, it all seemed to fall into place.

Why? Because the Good Lord knows that I DO girls. I do hair, I do ruffles, I do ribbons & tutus. I do clothing colors that match skin tone, and I also did summer camp with 10 JAP's ten-year olds rather successfully.

Abigail's younger girl cousins have been enjoying a plethora of Daisy Kingdom dresses with sparkles, tulle skirts, bloomers and full slips. I also have ample advice on getting that perfect 'do. (Put 'em on the edge of the sink with their feet IN the sink so the fear of falling makes them not squirm as much when you do their hair...). I am courted by Gymboree, Wooden Soldier, Pottery Barn Kids, and Chasing Fireflies. So, the two boys were a surprise - but we worked it all in.

You see, in my 17-yr-old Life's Plan, I figured that it would play out this way; marry the awesome guy (check!), then have 4 kids in this order: girl, girl, boy, & girl. Putting the boy between two girls would ensure that he was raised to put the seat down and flush, or face their communal wrath. So, the girl, boy, boy was... not as planned, but okay. This last one was sure to finish out the set. Even Stevens. Two of Each. Matthew thought so as well. It's time for a girl... TLC, Tatiana Lisbon Crane. :D
So, ultrasound day, the sunny sonographer asked if we wanted to know what we're having. Heck yes! Show us that cute face! So, she goes immediately to the area and announces: it's a boy! (Imagine here a really long pause that can only be described as shock...) My three sons. You could have knocked me off the table with a feather - I nearly fell without the feather.

What the HECK! My last child will be a fashion dead end of bugs, dinosaurs, jobs and automobiles? The balance has shifted, irrevocably, to more males than females?! This is WACK. Matthew has 5 sisters and 1 brother! I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers. I did the math! The odds were in my favor!

I don't understand the Eternal Meaning of all this, but this is for certain; there's gonna be a lot of scouting in my future. Camp-outs and Pine Wood Derbies. The triumvirate of S's: Spit, Sports, & Scatological humor. All three boys will be within 5 years of each other. Based on the first boy, I believe that they will, collectively, destroy the house... all together; all at once. I'm cringing already. But, if they even THINK of rabbit hunting, i.e. dating a young, stupid airhead, they will go into an immediate course of Women's Studies from their mama.

But, for awhile, this baby will be mine. He will get loves and cuddles. I will swing him around, laugh with him, and tickle his tummy. He'll wear hats with bear ears, matching outfits, and have to put up with mom kissing him a lot. He'll be my baby, and our last. Welcome Lil' Baby Boy, to our nutty family. Hang on tight, and brace yourself, you're gonna fit right in kiddo - simply because you have no choice. :D