Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Photog for a Day

Marty's turn to play paparazzi. After my complaint that I'm not in most of our family photos.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What DO I do all day??

I don't get asked this question very often because most of the people I talk to on a regular basis are in the same boat and already know the answer. But I do sometimes wonder myself.

I actually try hard not to be busy. I don't like the feeling of rushing from place to place with a stressful to-do list and exhausted kids in tow. And to be honest, I'd much rather be at home reading stories to my children, cooking dinner at a relaxed pace (with time for kid help and taste tests,) and being present for all the moments in my family's lives, big and small. So I try to carefully limit what I sign up for. Which sometimes leads me to wonder at the end of a long day where all the time went and what exactly I did with it since on paper it doesn't look like much. That is why I'm putting it on paper now, so I'll have something to refer to when I ask myself this question. And to show to the kids when they complain that they do all the work around here. (Jacob actually told me the other day that he thinks we had him purely for slave labor. But that's another post....)

Of course, there are the daily tasks: wake the children, breakfast, help Jacob find lost shoe, pack his lunch, walk him to the bus stop, feed Isaac and Grace, cleanup, dress Grace, change diapers, wash dishes, motivate kids to pick up toys, dust, vacuum, bake cookies, read my scriptures, teach Isaac preschool (, dishes, laundry, more laundry, scrub crayon off the walls and marker off the toilet, organize closets, take kids to the park, swat flies, pay bills, shop for groceries, weekly trip to library, occasional playdates, cut the kids' hair, clean the bathrooms, read books to children (TONS of books,) take advantage of teaching moments, pick Grace up off the floor after she falls every half hour or so, oversee the kids' chores, homework with Jacob, teach children how to solve their disagreements, orchestrate baths, meal prep, more cleanup, phone calls, family scripture study, you get the idea....

And then there are weeks like last one. (I prefer to measure time in weeks, not days. Feels more productive and balanced that way.)

Monday: Cleaned the house. (As Isaac says, "We don't work on Sunday. Sunday is the day we trash the house so we can clean it up on Monday." Nice.) Baked an apple pie for a friend. Quick trip to Kohl's for a last-minute birthday gift. Fielded phone calls about Cub Scouts. Played "Aye, Aye, Nephi!" with Isaac. Smiled when he referred to the Liahona as the Oklahoma.

Prepared Family Home Evening lesson on pride, based on President Benson's talk.

Tuesday: Attended weekly Institute parenting class. (Awesome, by the way.) Grocery shopping for Marty's birthday dinner and decorations. Baked brownies. Presidency meeting at 4:00 pm.

Wednesday: Worked on blog. Marty's birthday festivities, detailed in the previous post. Prepared activities for preschool Thursday.

Thursday: Taught preschool. (Three moms and I have a rotating co-op. I teach once a month.) Made sugar cookies shaped like stars. Let Isaac take pictures of me and blankie.

Taught piano lesson. Visiting teaching.

Friday: Rehearsed a piano-violin-flute trio for Sacrament Meeting. Worked on Jacob's Halloween costume.

Family tradition: I sew the kids' costumes each October. This year I lucked out. Isaac chose a costume I made two years ago, and Grace barely fit into the cute little lamb costume my mother made when Jacob was a baby. Nevertheless, Jacob's monkey costume took me several hours. Returned books to the library. Picked up printer cartridge. Impromptu photo shoot in the backyard.

Ordered Chinese food for date night.

Borrowed DVDs from next-door neighbor for a family movie night.

Watched D.A.R.Y.L and National Treasure 2. Worked on new cross-stitch. (I can't stand to watch a movie without doing something.)

Saturday: Primary program practice at the Church. Went early to set up. Stayed late to clean up. Brief rehearsal with the trio. Finished Jacob's monkey costume. Our ward chili cook-off and Trunk or Treat 6:00 pm. Brought orange-frosted cookies from Walmart that I arranged on a plate so they might pass for homemade. :)

Sunday: Marty-home teaching. Church from 1:00 to 4:00. Primary program in Sacrament Meeting. Hooray, it's done! (Been working on that for two months.) Fortunately, no choir practice today. Watched kids so Marty could nap. Short family walk. Dinner. Planning meeting with Marty. Read five pages of Eclipse before falling asleep with the book open.

Sorry if this post is terribly boring for all of you. I figured I'd better write it down, because I likely won't have another week this "productive" for a long time.

And that's perfectly fine with me.

The Play by Play

Marty took his birthday off from work and spent a peaceful morning up at the lake with his metal detector, which gave Isaac and me plenty of time to blow up balloons and hang streamers. I relearned something about myself: I can't blow up balloons. (Can't whistle either; Marty thinks that's hilarious.) I tried and tried, but finally had to admit defeat and let Isaac do it. Yes, Isaac blew up all twenty-some balloons. Being the sensitive child that he is, he tried to comfort me, saying "I think it's because I have more air inside of me." Even he struggled with the stubborn little balloons though. We had to get creative and use a bike tire pump.

The stage is set.

After an early lasagna dinner, we drove out to a local corn maze/pumpkin patch where we partied until 9:00, country-style.

The boys took charge of leading us through the short corn maze. Grace took charge of collecting as many corn cobs as her arms could hold.

They had a fantastic petting zoo, complete with zebra and camel. (This explains the camel I saw riding down the road near our home the other day.) They also had a hayride which we rode between activities.

Marty the Great Pumpkin Slinger. He thought this was absolutely awesome. And he was a great shot. He won himself a bag of popcorn.

The boys' favorite: gigantic blow-up slide. They went down this thing dozens of times while they waited for their hot chocolate to cool down.

The three greatest birthday gifts ever.

Marty requested his traditional cherry pie for dessert instead of cake. (I can't imagine choosing fruit over chocolate, but that's Marty for you.) Make a wish.

And there you have it.

The end.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

36 Reasons to Celebrate

Happy birthday, Marty!!! In your honor, here are 36 (completely random number, you know) things I love about you:

I love how you help get the children ready for Church every week, and even pack the diaper bag.

I love how you play Scrabble with me, even though you hate it.

I love how you sneak Grace chocolate chips after dinner because you know I don't approve but you want to see her face light up.

I love how you clean the house and make the kids clean too while I scrapbook on my mornings off.

I love how you get so excited about Twilight Zone reruns.

I love how when I ask you to grate the cheese, you look at it admiringly and say "Great cheese. Great, great cheese."

I love that you plan surprises for my birthday and our anniversary.

I love how you read the same books to Isaac over and over again because he loves them, even though they get really boring after awhile.

I love how you drive almost everywhere we go. Wait, I should rephrase that - I love that you drive, not always how.

I love that you're several inches taller than me and can reach all the items in the kitchen that I can't.

I love how you let Isaac "help" you mow the lawn. And then you give him a Popsicle.

I love how you made it through an intense three years of graduate school - with straight A's and a scholarship!

I love that you read my blog. And say you like it. :)

I love how you work really hard at teaching the gospel to our children.

I love how you enjoy providing for your family. And you do a great job of it so I can stay home with the children.

I love that you're NOT a sports fanatic.

I love that you make amazing omelettes.

I love how you'd much rather spend time with the children than watch TV or "just relax" after work every day.

I love that you are very creative when it comes to inventing things.

I love how you offer to help out in the kitchen when you get home from work.

I love how you don't complain when I bring the camera everywhere we go. And you're so cooperative when I try to take your picture.

I love your dry sense of humor that few people understand but me.

I love how you put on cologne for date nights, even if we're just watching a movie at home.

I love that you can fix anything - cars, toys, furniture - you name it.

I love how last week you said, "Feel free to go out and by yourself a new dress... because the ones you wear now are... um... sort of... out of style."

I love how you let me play the piano for as long as I want to, and never complain about the noise.

I love how you fold your clothes before you put them in the basket to be washed.

I love that you love the mountains and the stars.

I love that you don't want cable or cell phones; you'd rather save the money.

I love your smile.

I love how you won't buy anything that's not backed by Consumer Reports.

I love that you like to be silly with the boys.

I love that you get so excited when Jacob brings home books about cars, airplanes, or submarines from the library.

I love how you give the boys piggy-back rides.

I love how you always know what direction we're driving, because I usually don't have a clue.

I love how you appreciate the simple things in life.

There you have it. There are so many more reasons, but you'll just have to wait until you're older. :) Happy birthday, honey!! Hope it's spectacular. We are so very thankful to have you.
Christine & company

Sunday, October 19, 2008

They Said There'd be Bon-bons

Note to pre-parents: contains spoilers.

Almost everything I heard about motherhood before I had children was either a lie or too vague to be helpful. For example, people would say (with a twinkle in their eye): "Having children will change your life." (Care to elaborate? At least tell me if you mean "change" in a good way or a bad way.) Or "Don't worry, you'll know what to do." (No, I can definitely say that I don't.)

Or my favorite (which yes, I knew had to be a stretch): The oft-repeated but completely insane notion that "mothers sit at home all day watching soap operas and eating bon-bons." The first obvious error in this sentence is the word "sit." Just about the only time I ever sit is when I trip over a toy someone left on the stairs. And the only soaps I watch are floating in the tub (or, heaven forbid, the toilet) after the boys have found our year's supply of Ivory bars.

Now, to be fair (and because my former Young Women leaders read this blog,) there were many lovingly-prepared and spiritually-delivered lessons on the joys and privileges of motherhood which I do remember but was too immature to comprehend at the time. Such lessons prompted visions of my future as a noble mother in Zion, singing and laughing (and impeccably groomed,) gently guiding my children along the rose petal-covered paths of life. And in many ways, that vision is coming true. Except that roses are too expensive nowadays, so we substitute dandelions.

One of my favorite scriptures evoking this glorious vision of motherhood is found in Proverbs chapter 31. In part, it reads:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her....
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands....
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household... (a tribute to nursing mothers!)
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard....
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor: yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy....
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

I remember one day when I thought I'd reached that pinnacle where my child recognized the nobility of motherhood and "called me blessed." Four-year-old Jacob I were sitting together in church. I looked down at his little face which was turned upward to me with a most serious and awed expression. He gazed at me in silence for several seconds. I imagined all the inspired thoughts he must be thinking: Wow, Mom, you're really special. I'm so glad Heavenly Father sent me to you....

After a long silence, he finally spoke: "Mom?"

"Yes, dear?" (preparing to bask in the glory of appreciated motherhood)

"I can see up your nose."

And so, I patiently wait for that day, likely after the children leave home, when they will arise up and call me "kind of cool" (the modern day equivalent of "blessed," I suppose.) In the meantime, I have much wool to spin, meat to give, and vineyards to plant. And many dandelion-strewn paths to walk down with my children.

In truth, the reality of motherhood is far better than the myth. Instead of bon-bons, there are gooey Lifesavers that were left in little pockets for a bit too long because "I was saving them just for you, Mommy." And instead of soap operas, there are home videos of first steps, first words, and first Christmases. As a singing, laughing, and far-from-impeccably-groomed mother in Zion, I truly am blessed, even if my children don't yet "arise up" and say so.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friends Forever: The Sequel

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. When she was 12 years old, her family moved to a new town. The little girl didn't know anyone when she arrived, but soon met another little girl, with long blond hair, who lived two streets down. And so began a wonderful friendship. Summers spent climbing trees and jumping on the trampoline. Snowy days spent playing chess and drinking cocoa. Many candy runs to the corner drugstore. Girls Camp and swim parties. Many years of homework sessions, board games, and movie nights...

Then one day, the two little girls grew up and had two beautiful little girls of their own. And one sunny October day, these two little girls brought their Carebears and met for Cheerios and milk. And so begins a wonderful friendship.

Grace and Seren
October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fox in Socks

Dr. Seuss is a very big part of our lives right now. Like practically a member of the family. Our kids can't get enough. So if I can't manage to carry on an adult conversation the next time I talk to you, it is because I spend much of my time saying this:

(Read out loud for full effect)

When tweetle beetles fight,
it's called a tweetle beetle battle.

And when they battle in a puddle,
it's a tweetle beetle puddle battle.

AND when tweetle beetles battle
with paddles in a puddle,
they call it a tweetle beetle puddle paddle battle.

When beetles battle beetles in a puddle paddle battle
and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle...
...they call this a tweetle beetle bottle puddle paddle battle muddle.

When beetles fight these battles
in a bottle with their paddles
and the bottle's on a poodle
and the poodle's eating noodles...

...they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle
bottle paddle battle.

I got tongue-tied just typing that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Like Monopoly With Cows

We have a fantastic tradition in my family of Sunday dinner/game nights. These are especially fun now that all of my brothers are married so I have sisters! The itinerary is always the same at our house. After dinner, the uncles wrestle with our kids and get them completely wound up so that putting them to bed resembles a circus act. Hey, it's tradition. And I wouldn't change it. With the children safely, if not quietly, tucked into bed, we settle into the family room to begin the friendly rivalry. And there is always dessert. If Kelly makes it, it's mouthwatering and fancy, like last week's chocolate-raspberry cheesecake. If David and Constance make it, it's chocolate chip cookies, for which they are famous and with good reason. If I make it, it's Breyer's ice cream from Walmart. ;) To each his own. Mint chocolate chip tonight.

This week, the game of choice was The Farming Game, a family classic that we've been playing for probably 15 years. It's a lot like Monopoly, except you own a farm and buy things like hay and grain and cherries which cost more money to maintain than you ever make off of them. And there are early frosts and droughts and Mount St. Helens. And just like the past 15 years, Danny won. It's okay though, because we all know in advance that he's going to win (sorry David, but it's true) and he's a really good sport about it.

Best of all, there is always much laughter. Here, my sister-in-law Constance is rocking out to tunes like "Oh Susannah" and "When the Saints Go Marching In" on Grace's piano. Funny how the adults get more entertainment from the kids' toys than the kids do. Kelly and I joined in on "Rockin' Robin." I tell you, it's almost as good as karaoke.

The ever photogenic Danny.

My brother David. Youngest child - can you tell?

David's broker. I think he may be the key to solving the Wall Street crisis.

Yes, my family is awesome. A little peculiar, but awesome.