Thursday, March 26, 2015

Permanent Records

From a fairly young age I have loved writing in a journal. I wrote my first journal entry when I was 4 years old in my green hardback journal. I wrote on and off for years growing up, and then when I was about 13, I wrote faithfully daily up until the day I got married. It's been spotty for the past 18 years, but lately, I've been rededicated to writing regularly in my personal journal. (There's just soooo much I don't want to forget about life in all of its ups and downs.)

Every so often I do my best to get my children to follow suit and write regularly in journals too. Ellie is the only one that does it on her own, and I LOVE IT!! Luke is asked to do it every so often, and it is probably one of his least favorite things to do. But like I told him a couple of weeks ago, when there was apparently "nothing to write about." "Just write about ANYTHING!You'll be happy you have recorded the daily stuff of your life."

He must have got the idea, because he proceeded to write about an incident that will likely be fun (for some?) to remember one day. Luke gave a brief synopsis of the event (he is required to do at least 6-8 sentences!), but instead of taking a photo of his version (privacy?), I'll share briefly my own version of it.

On a pleasant Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, Joshua walked into the house from playing in the backyard wearing only his underwear. Of course I was immediately alerted to something being wrong and I asked him what in the world he was doing, and WHERE. WERE. HIS. CLOTHES?!?

As I looked at the family room window to the trampoline, and listened to Joshua's version of the incident, it all fell into place. Luke, Joshua, Drew and a couple of neighbor boys were jumping on the trampoline, when Luke thought it would be funny to chain Joshua to the side of the trampoline and see if he could get himself free. Which Joshua was able to do...but he had to leave his clothes chained to the trampoline in order to gain freedom.

I didn't laugh (at the time). I went outside, yelled at Luke, sent the neighbor boys home, and instructed Joshua to go back and retrieve his clothes. Luke's defense was, he wouldn't have done it to anyone but his own brothers. Mike laid on the couch throughout the whole incident trying not to laugh.

Someone asked me the other day, why I don't write blog posts as much anymore. She complimented me on being funny and writing well in the past, and asked why I stopped. I didn't really have an answer, except to say, that maybe as my children get older, they do less funny things, or more accurately, they do things that are sorta funny/sorta questionable. Such as chaining a brother up to a trampoline and him having to strip down to his undies to get free. Perhaps good judgement would say to keep it in the personal journals only. But here we are. (Which really, now that I think about it...sharing the yellow snow incident a few years ago was questionable too.)

(Joshua drew a picture of the trampoline experience in his journal later that evening to go along with the above entry.)

It just so happened Drew chose the exact same thing to write and draw about that Sunday evening too.

And now I have a whole blog post about an incident I had no intention of recording. I was going to write about journals and how much I love Ellie's journals that she always invites me to read. (I'll give her privacy and won't take a photo of them.) I love how much she writes about herself. Love it! She'll surely treasure those written monologues one day.

Megan on the other hand, has discovered a new way to record her life.
Oh boy.
Megan's biggest fan is herself, and her newest hobby is perfect for her.
She can talk all she wants to a camera and nobody has to interrupt her to get a word in, or tell her to stop talking.
And she gets to edit the hours of her chatter to her greatest priority. It's quite a good hobby for a self-proclaimed narcissist. (insert winky face)

You can watch her introductory vlog here. (And if you really love it...there's more on YouTube!)

Now. Go record something permanent yourself!
You won't regret it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Good Mom

Social media has been making me crazy lately.


Because of all the declarations of, "You're such a good mom!" or "You're the best mom ever!" Last week it was because of leprechaun mischievousness, traps, treats, and green meals.

By these standards, it makes those of us who didn't do or wear anything "green" except grant permission to the 5 year old to go ahead and pinch me for refusing to conforming to the cliche-ness of the day, appear to be the opposite of "Good mom!" or "Fun mom!" or "Best mom ever!"

Today, I read a Facebook status of a friend leaving on a long(ish) trip with her husband. She hasn't left her children for 5 years, and she was lamenting how difficult it was to think about leaving, and the tears, etc. One commentor stated, "It's because you're an Awesome  Mom!" Though, I could relate to the tears and anxiety about leaving. Is that really what makes someone an awesome mom? I was much that way, until I've traveled more frequently in the last couple of years. And though I miss my children, I LOVE time alone with Mike. On our last trip alone? I didn't cry. I may or may not have even missed them a lot. My enjoyment in basking in the present, and realizing real life would return all to quickly, didn't even make me question once, whether or not I was an "awesome" mom.

There's lots of good moms out there! Nearly every mother I know is a good mom, whether or not they dye their milk green on March 17th or cry when they leave their children for a few days.

Reasons I AM a "good mom" in my own right:

I smiled when the 13 year old wrote his name in the dust on the furniture.

I picked up throw up chunks off the church carpet from my 5 year old. (more on that later)

I sat at the dining room table and talked with  my 16 year old, when I really, really wanted to go to bed.

I spent 20 minutes letting the 10 year old ask me question after question for a "Questionnaire Diary" just when I was about to pick up and read a new book.

I held a sad 7 year old on my lap, when I had 20 guests arriving in 30 minutes and food to finish preparing.

I am a good mom. I'm quite certain you are too.

But it likely has nothing to do with whether or not leprechauns came to your house last week, or if you picked up chunks of throw-up at church yesterday.

Rant over.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Crocodiles in Africa

Beginning a few months ago, Drew has had a fascination with Africa. For a good two weeks, he asked questions incessantly about Africa. "Why don't we ever go to Africa?" "Can we go to Africa this summer?" "Is it scary in Africa?" "Do they have cities in Africa?" "What?! People live in Africa?"

I'm quite certain Drew's love of Africa comes from his deep love for monkeys.

Drew's obsession with Africa has lifted over the last few weeks. Well until last Sunday that is. Since then it's been rekindled, but with a depressing twist to it.

Crocodiles eating animals and people.

Megan was in charge of our weekly Family Home Evening this last week. She pulled out an old (LDS) church video, titled, "Spiritual Crocodiles." Mike remembered seeing it during his youth. I, on the other hand had never seen it before. (Or perhaps I would have questioned the appropriateness of it for a child that loves Africa!?)

With genuine apology for the spoiler alert, the video shows an antelope being eaten by a crocodile, and then without showing it, the viewer realizes a man is also eaten by a crocodile.

The analogy is very good. I loved it...

For my older children.

But for Drew?

He didn't get the lessons of "temptation" or "avoiding bad things." Drew didn't comprehend mud-waters and traps being likened to sin and wrong-doing. All he could think about was crocodiles in AFRICA eating animals and people. In the short six and a half minute segment we watched of the video, Drew's romanticized fascination with Africa was tainted with crocodiles not only living in its waters, but eating its animals and people!

When the video ended, Drew sat on the couch trying hard not to cry. We cajoled him along in participating with our "hunt for crocodiles" activity Megan had arranged, and before long it seemed the video was forgotten.

Or so I thought.

The next morning, Drew enjoyed a very full bath alone. As usual I was nearby, but not close enough for Drew's liking. He exclaimed aloud to me, "Mom! You might want to come watch me be a crocodile." So I moved closer and observed a crocodile-like-child making his way through the tub water. Quickly, Drew arose from the water, and with a serious and sullen face voiced, "I am so glad I was not that animal that got eaten by a crocodile."

And with his announcement, Drew was finished being a pseudo crocodile in the water. He immediately wanted to get out of the tub. I was irritated he didn't stay in there very long for how full the water was, but the look on his face, though completely irrational, was enough for me to give in and allow gallons of warm, soapy water to be wasted.

His obsessive questions have ceased from being about Africa, and he is now completely obsessed about crocodiles and the danger they impose. ("And are there alligators in Africa too?")

I've decided to institute a new rule. Family Home Evening lessons and church video viewing now has to be approved by me.

PS-It's unfortunate that a couple of Drew's favorite people at our office happen to be the son and grandson of the "Spiritual Crocodiles" author. Usually my children love recognizing and reminding each other "that's so and so's"dad/grandpa. Except now for Drew. Right now, Drew can't believe someone's grandpa and dad would tell such a horrible story. (Even though Drew is mightily impressed that Jeff's grandpa has been to Africa and seen a crocodile. Never mind the fact that Drew's grandparents have been there too. Ho hum. )

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Lot of Time to Think

I've had a lot of extra time on my hands for the last week. A lot of time to do nothing but lay in bed, read books, watch a show on Netflix, flip through magazines, eat chocolate, etc. As fidgety and antsy as I've felt at times during the forced down time, I've had a lot of time to think. I decided this morning, I'd better record these thoughts of mine, because I don't anticipate this kind of down time again, at least I hope not. Surgery is not really my cup of tea.

(Mike insisted last week pre-surgery, "Let's take a before picture. You look smily and happy! Then in a few hours we'll take an after picture." I think Mike knew better than to take an after picture.)

Last Thursday, I had a hysterectomy. The surgery went well, but those initial 24+ hours afterwards were hell. The nausea and vomiting was horrible. I felt like I was in a back and forth dance step with the nurses...they were trying to help control pain, I was just trying to quit feeling sick. They wanted to keep trying different drugs until I told them I didn't care what my pain level was, I didn't want anymore pain meds. I'd deal with the pain, once the nausea subsided. I was right...even though it took far too many more hours to get it all out of my system. I'm pretty in tune with my body. I wasn't sick because I was hungry--and therefore DID NOT NEED THAT DISGUSTING CUP OF CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP AT 12:40AM. I put one bite in my mouth for the nurse, and wanted to cry. I think I did. I declined anymore, and then allowed the second shot in my bum of anti-nausea medicine to knock me out, and within hours, all the anesthesia and pain meds were out of my system, and my stomach growled of hunger and the nausea WAS GONE. (There were quite a few heartfelt prayers offered too--I won't give full credit to the medicine alone.)

Mike is my favorite. He is far from a romantic. There were no fancy bouquets of flowers, or handwritten get-well cards from him, but having the person you love most in the world, hold your throw-up bag while you fill it, or help remove the blankets because of what didn't make it into the bag says I love you more than many words could. He sat by my bed for hours and hours while I dozed in and out of sleep. He calmed me when I got agitated, and laughed at me while I hallucinated. (He has a page and a half of quotes I apparently said/asked during my drug induced state.) Although, I clearly do remember a bird flying over my head in the hospital room, and having to duck to avoid it. Mike insists there was no bird, and I was laying perfectly still when I exclaimed, "Agh-there's a bird in the room." Apparently I thought there was a cow down in the hospital lobby too, but that's a whole 'nother story. I may or may not have accused him of making too much noise playing a game of "Bop-It" as he silently sat perusing a landscape magazine.

Upon my arrival home from the hospital, Mike's unconditional love has continued. The laundry, the meals, the clean-up, the constant, "Sit down." "Get back in bed!" instructions speak louder than any "romantic" notions could. He loves me. Not that I ever doubt it, but as I've watched him to double-duty, I have felt so much love from him through his simple gestures and hard-work. Although, I say he is not a romantic, I can't discount the flower that he pulls from a nearby bouquet on the counter (from someone else!) that has been placed on my breakfast tray every single morning, when he (or a child) hand delivers the breakfast to my bed. It sounds trite, and I'm recording it only for me, but the fact he squirts my ketchup into a little separate condiment dish rather than on the plate with my egg, along with the egg/grilled peppers presentation, and the flower to the side speaks volumes to me. I'd take a photo, but the only tray we have...a cheap purple plastic one from Target I bought 15+ years ago for Megan sort of ruins the ambiance of the whole thing. I must buy a classier tray for such breakfast in bed gestures.

We have had several meals brought to our family. Last night it happened to be me that said the blessing on the dinner before we ate. As I expressed thanks for the food, my heart was filled with true gratitude, and I had a hard time speaking aloud the words of my prayer. Though I've prepared and delivered many meals for other families, there is something humbling about being on the receiving end. I'm truly grateful for the kindnesses of others.

I'm not a television, movie, or Netflix person...typically. Except since Saturday, I've watched about 10 hours of a charming BBC television series set in 1870's England. I have about 5 hours left of the series, and I'm quite committed to not starting another. I find myself wrapped up in the lives of a department store 100+ years ago, and though I would have absolutely adored dressing in those dresses each day, I think the fact I dreamed last night I was part of the charming 1870's community, tells me I've spent a little too much time in front of a screen.

In an email just before surgery, my mother-in-law was reminding me to take it easy, and then said, "Be sure to keep wearing your pajamas for effect." I've thought of her each morning after I shower and get dressed in....pajamas. I think it is wise advise. I may start wearing pajamas out of the blue every so often. It'll be code for, "Today I'm taking a day off."

I have a softer side to me than Mike does. He's a little more strict and firm with the children in the morning than I am, and when Joshua informed me this morning he hadn't had breakfast yet because, "we have to clean", I was reminded how anxious everyone is for my return to normalcy.

I think my family appreciates and realizes how much I really do for them and the house. Mike is shocked how many wet towels are on the floor by 8:20 each morning, and how often the laundry baskets re-fill after he's emptied them. I think the children prefer my type of after school snacks on the counter, rather than the bunch of rotting bananas and bowl of wilting grapes Mike set out for them on Monday.

I have dear friends, and a good family.

I love that my body is physically healthy and strong. With the exception of a few internal body parts that hadn't been working correctly lately and needed removing, I'm physically fit and healthy--for which I am very grateful. I don't like that I feel exhausted after climbing our stairs. I miss not being able to run up the stairs two at a time, and I don't like that I have to lay down and rest after showering. But I know it will soon pass, and I'm anxious for that to happen.

I'm trying my hardest to quit feeling antsy about my rest. In a few weeks, I will likely long for a day to stay in bed with no commitments or expectations, except to take it easy. So I will enjoy it for a few days longer, while I can. I won't think of the things I could be helping with, or what things aren't getting done, I will simply enjoy my friends that come to visit, the books on my nightstand, the last few series on my Netflix feed, the games with my children, and the lazy moments throughout the day, when Mike returns home to help with Drew, or to switch the laundry, and he lays down in the bed next to me for a while, even though I know he has 549 other things he should or could be doing at the office.

Laying low for so long now hasn't been easy for me, but this temporary change from normalcy has some benefits for us all. Because honestly? I quite enjoy the sound of Mike vacuuming downstairs right now, while I'm laying in my nightgown in bed, at 9:17am doing nothing but posting this blog post, and then I plan to watch something on Netflix.

But glorious.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Something Hard. Check.

It would be very accurate to say, I am not a water person. The single "most traumatic" experience of my childhood was being baptized a member of the LDS church when I was 8 years old. That is a story in and of itself, but suffice it to say that was the first (and second!) time I ever put my head completely under the water.

Although I did learn to swim as a child, I have never to this day jumped into a pool or body of water that isn't more than 3 feet deep. I have never passed on my fear of water to my children, they just understand it to be that I don't really "enjoy water."

This year on our cruise, in talking to one of the couples in our large group they brought to our attention one of the "shore excursions" they were going to go on at the end of the week. Immediately, I wanted to do it. Mike looked at me like I had just said we were going to jump off the ship and swim home. He couldn't believe I wanted to do something that used words to describe it like: "snorkeling in the ocean", "kayaking", "strenuous", etc.

For some reason, I had a tight grip on the idea, and Mike stood encouragingly by me a couple of days later as I signed us up for the, "Kayak, Snorkel, Hike" excursion.

 Mike never said a word to discourage me, in fact I think he was rendered absolutely speechless by me suggesting and signing us up for the whole thing!  (He also knows me well enough to know, I'm somewhat frugal, and so if I'd just paid that amount of money for it, he knew I wouldn't cancel or bail.)

Granted. I knew I had  signed up for something completely out of my comfort zone, but I was still surprised the night before our 8am meeting time when I couldn't sleep well. It wasn't just the stress of which shoes to wear first and which ones to pack (both flip flops and tennis shoes suggested) that was keeping me awake, it was the excitement/nervousness/apprehension/surprise/anxiety about the whole adventure I was about to embark on.

Really, one could think I am making far too big of a deal about a simple excursion. But I know me well, Mike knows me well, so do my children. So this was a big flippin' deal that I was doing this! And I can't let it not be recorded into my family history files.

As we boarded our truck/wagon/would be 100% illegal and unsafe in the USA vehicle that transported us to our destination, I knew the experience was going to be one of two things:

a. A complete flop in which either Mike or I, or both would be completely embarrassed of my fears and the potential outburst I could have at either him or anyone else, and we would return to our cruise ship deflated and at odds.

b. Or, it was going to be one of the proudest days of my life. A day which I accomplished something fearful, difficult and hard. And not only lived to tell the tale, but had a smile on my face for days because of it.

The latter occurred.

It was one of the most fabulous things Mike and I have ever done together. I loved it. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't the smoothest few hours. I did speak a little harshly to Mike on the initial kayak ride that he needed to quit moving because it was going to tip us. And I did initially chicken out about swimming out to the 12 foot deep waters to snorkel, and instead told Mike to go on without me. (Mike should have been born a fish,  he loves the opportunity to be in any body of water. Especially, the beautiful clear waters of the Caribbean. I didn't want him to miss out on this experience.)

(I wish I had a photo of the look on my children's faces, when I told them, "Dad and I rode kayaks in the ocean, and went snorkeling together." Their jaws hit the ground and the comments were, "No way!" "Seriously? You?" "I don't believe it. We need proof.")

(I spent the first little while with a death-grip on Mike.)

Mike refused to leave me behind, and in a firm, yet kind way encouraged me to come further. And before I knew it--I was snorkeling in water that was well above any depth of water I've ever been in before, and having the time of my life.

(Me posting this photo, is almost as brave as actually being in the water!)

 (There's a sting-ray down there if you know what you're looking for.)

There were so many emotions, and life-lessons for me personally from doing something so out of my comfort zone. I know it is a seemingly easy experience for most, but it wasn't for me, and I felt pure pride and satisfaction from doing something so hard.

The world is a beautiful place, and I'm so glad I got to see parts of it I've never seen before.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Patting Myself on the Back

I recently returned from spending 9 days away from home. Mike and I enjoyed time alone together in the beautiful Southern Caribbean. For 9 days, we did little to no parenting. Unless you count responding to:

a. the phone call while sitting on the beach from my 5 year old to inform me he was alone in the house (with his 2  neighbor friends) and that the over-night babysitter hadn't locked up the house.
b. the text from Megan asking if she should check Luke out from school because he keeps texting her to inform her he feels like he is going to "barf and poop."
c. the email to Megan to tell whomever keeps purchasing songs on my i-Tunes account to stop.
d. the text to Luke telling him, "No. You can't stay home from school today to ride your horse."

I have to say it was quite nice to have very limited text/phone call/email ability.

(Mike and Tiffany-victims of a blow-hole in St. Thomas)

We returned home very late on Saturday night. Well, technically, Sunday morning. All the children were fast asleep in bed, and I wandered the {clean} house (go Megan!) kissing them goodnight, and noticing a "few things" that sort of bugged me. Mike instructed me to "let it go" and we climbed into bed about 2am.

I'm not so sure how much of my not being able to fall asleep was due to my body thinking it was 5am, or because I was busy thinking about all the things I had just noticed. Things that in my absence, didn't quite seem to happen, but that DO happen when I am home.

The bunch of bananas and bowl of apples would have been consumed instead of sitting on the counter rotting.

Joshua's "Evaluate the moon for 20 days" assignment  that I left hanging in a prominent place would have been done at least one night.

Shirts would not have been in the clean laundry basket. They would have promptly been hung up upon their retrieval from the dryer.

All of the children's candy from their school Valentine's parties, and the candy gift I left them for Valentine's Day, would not have been consumed in their entirety so rapidly. Nor would the wrappers be left strewn on the carpet as evidence. (In fairness, this was primarily the doing of Drew and Joshua.)

Drew's homework packet would have been done at least once during the week.

I fell asleep early Sunday morning, within minutes of my arrival home, mentally patting myself on the back about all the things that occur when I am home.

As if I needed further proof of my mothering and household-running competence...

Seven hours later (yes. that's right.), we sat in church with our family. Drew was sitting close to Mike, and I heard Mike ask him, "Did you brush your teeth at all while we were gone?" To which Drew responded timidly, "Umm. No." Disgusted, I asked him, "Did you bathe or shower while we were gone?" To which Drew replied, "I had a tubbie once."

Just for the record I thought I'd see how Joshua's personal hygiene fared in our absence, and I leaned across Mike and questioned Joshua, "Did you brush your teeth while we were gone?" His face resembled Drew's as he quietly answered, "I did once."

I turned my focus back to the church meeting, but not before snidely commenting to Mike, "I do a lot when I'm home."

In addition to bananas not rotting, and clean laundry being hung up, when I am home, teeth get brushed and bodies get cleaned.

I didn't dare ask if Drew ever changed his underwear.
I honestly, don't want to know.

PS-The babysitter, and the older children did a FABULOUS job running the household while we were gone. Plenty of things were done, and done well. There were just a few things that obviously fell through the cracks. Oh well.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our Insta-Sort of Life

I had a good phone conversation with my friend Allyson the other day. Among all sorts of other woes we were discussing (solving?), we talked about blogging versus Instagram.

The pros of Instagram, is recording one photo with one simple blurb, rather than write a whole blog post about a particular photo or experience. Instagram captures little moments so succinctly and perfectly, and if you know me well, you know the little moments and things are my favorite parts of life.

But, I'm not a big Instagram-er either. I don't post photos usually more than once a week, and I'm not blogging a ton either, so I'm feeling a little pressed for recording my children's memories. Although, I have been photocopying the family update letters I write to my mother-in-law on a mission to put in my personal journal. I mean, heaven forbid I forget the day-to-day details of running a household of seven...

I mean, as though I want to forget that Luke has a foot issue that is leaving a orthopedic foot doctor "baffled" and him in constant pain. Or that Ellie was a little apprehensive about a new school teacher the first day of 3rd term. Or that Megan baked 150+ peanut butter bars last Saturday for a fundraiser (I think I forget to tell my MIL that part), and then a few hours later came down with a fever and sore throat. (We're hoping none of the PB bar customers caught the germs...) I don't want to forget that Drew had his first lesson on cheating when he dealt out our UNO game and he had all Wild Draw 4 and Draw 2 cards. So much for letting him deal when I'm busy finishing up a task in the next room. I don't want to forget Joshua's dirty knees from playing football outside every afternoon, although I do want to forget the dead grass that is tracked into my house every afternoon.

None of the above have any photos, but I think all could have made some type of Instagram post. But they didn't, and now they are nothing more than a passing sentence on this post.

But here's a few things that were captured in a sentence or less on an Instagram post...

Cookies at the bus stop. Once a month or so, I bake a gazillion cookies (side note: do you know I don't really like chocolate chip cookies?, but I LOVE the uncooked dough) and stand at the junior high and elementary school bus stop. (I did the high school bus stop once this year, but this day Megan had driven to school.)

I try to ignore the germs of a million hands inside the cookie container, and I try to look past the rude children that don't say thank you but instead say, "How many can we have?" I love the junior high kids that get off the bus a stop early to have a cookie, and I love a few of the junior high kids that think they're too cool to get excited about a cookie, but the suppressing of their smiles is awesome. I love most of all the look on my own kids' faces when they see me standing there with cookies. (I never tell them in advance.)
 I told Drew that he needed to practice the latest round of sight words for another day or two before returning it to school. He was obviously too anxious for the full size candy bar they get after passing the testing (I so disagree with the candy bar thing...) that he signed the paper himself. I am hoping this is the first and last time he forges my signature.

(In his defense, I really don't think he had a clue I was supposed to sign it, he just was signing his name and taking care of business himself.)

Somehow, we  have turned into NFL fans, and our last few Sunday afternoons have been spent cheering on the Green Bay Packers. Since before last year's Superbowl, my kids have also loved the Seahawks (but clearly 2nd to the Packers). Sunday's game was a major disappointment to my kids and even hours later I was feeling bummed for my boys.

My brother Casey is thrilled to hear we are sports fans now and the texts between him and I on Sunday made me chuckle. In reference to me still feeling disappointed 4 hours after the Packers loss he sent a text that summed up my life well, "hahahahahahahahahahah...This is almost as good as you now owning farm animals."

Yep. Farm animals and NFL fans. I'd never have predicted these parts of my life!

There's some more serious parts of life I'm gearing up to write about (maybe), but for now, this will suffice as a permanent tidbit of our life.
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