Monday, September 29, 2008

Tagged Twice II

I was tagged by Momzoo with the following rules:

So here goes:

1. I was born in a small Arkansas town that happened to have the 3rd WalMart ever built. We moved back when I was 12 and I would go there after school sometimes and buy Nestle's White Chocolate Crunch for 25 cents. I haven't had that candy bar for many, many years.

2. Until I was in my late 20's I used to be terrified someone would sneak into my house and hide in my closet until I was in bed. And then sneak out and kill me. I don't know why I was so scared, but whenever I accidentally left my door unlocked, I would search all my closets. I remember having this fear as young as 10. For some reason I stopped worrying about it when I lived in NC (maybe I had too many closets by then?).

3. On our honeymoon in Maui we bought a carved wooden statue. You can still find it on my shelf. It is a carving of the Hawaiian fertility god. Probably not the best choice . . .

4. I replaced my wedding ring last year. My first has always been a little tight, getting worse as the years went by (especially during the summer or pregnancy) and I rarely wore it. So I finally bought a new one- it is silver (instead of my original gold) and has 7 small diamonds embedded into it. I had thought of doing it for a long time, but decided after talking to my Aunt Gina (who assured me she was very happy she had done it) that I was going to do it. I wanted just a silver band, but Peter said I should at least look at diamonds and fell in love with this one.

5. I don't like Galileo. I think most of his problems with the church stemmed more from his method than ideas. Also, he did not invent the telescope and went out of his way to try to hurt careers of promising rivals- like Kepler. I was going to explain my theories on the removal of the feminine in science during the renaissance and its lasting implications today, but thought it might put too many people asleep. Plus it has been so long since I studied it, I probably don't remember the facts correctly.

6. I backtracked to see how long the picture of the rules had been used on this meme. 7 times back. But the tags go back further.

7. I was 3-4 classes from graduating with a degree in Physics Education not to be confused with physicAL education (even finished my student teaching). And all but 1 were general electives. I could have finished before my husband went to medical school, but my 2nd baby was due in the middle of the summer term and I was burned out. I had no desire to go back till a couple of years ago. When all my kids are in school, I am planning on finishing online, but probably in a whole new major.

Now, since I did two in a row, I will tag 7 people and let them choose whichever they'd like. Her goes: Brenda, Kim, Tami, Andrea, Jessica, Mary, LeAnn (mom). I apologize that half of them are private. I scared everyone into going private and then decided it wasn't that bad to be public.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tagged Twice

I have been tagged twice. I hope to post this one tonight and the next one tomorrow. Then I can post the next part of 6 Births and 1 Epidural (we had another birthday over the weekend).

Without further ado, here we go. . .

Someday: I will not have preschoolers at home during the day.

I usually: can’t stop reading a book once I start.

I wonder: where the power cord to my sewing machine went and when I will finally just replace it.

I regret: trying to sew some maternity clothes (maybe one day I’ll tell you why)

I love: mathematics.

I care: about making happy memories for my children.

I always: procrastinate getting my haircut.

I worry: my children will be spoiled.

I am not: good with pop culture trivia.

I remember: when I first realized my husband was “the one.”

I believe: one day we will find the Theory of Everything (if this doesn’t make sense, don’t worry it means you’re not as geeky as I am).

I dance: unbecomingly.

I sing: a little off key, but often.

I don’t always: turn in my library books on time.

I argue: with other drivers (but they can’t hear me) and sometimes the TV.

I write: a shopping list and dinner menu every week.

I win: at puzzle games.

I lose: my car keys more often than I should.

I wish: for 100 more wishes.

I listen: to talk radio while I clean.

I don't understand: latin.

I can be found: by following the sound of Matthew calling “mama” through the house.

I am scared: I will give my kids the wrong advice.

I need: at least 5 more hours in the day.

I forget: appointments when I don’t write them down.

I am happy: to relax with a bowl of ice cream and cup of hot chocolate.

Friday, September 26, 2008

10 Reasons Outhouses are a Good Idea Part 1

*WARNING- Andrea (and anyone else who has thought I posted something gross before) DO NOT READ THIS POST*

When Peter first entered residency, we bought a little half of a duplex. It was a wonderful home, but did have some flaws. Like the fact that it had only one small bathroom. And the toilet was broken. For almost 2 years. Anyone who visited during this time will gladly attest.

It could only be flushed if a particular amount of water was poured into the bowl at a particular time in the flush cycle, while uttering particular phrases about the fact that my husband hadn’t fixed the toilet yet.

In all fairness he was working 300 hours a week averaging, with residency pay, about 50 cents an hour (causing a lack of both time and money).

This is why I have no guilt about buying our next house with four full bathrooms. And no guilt about leasing this house with 5 bathrooms (4 full, one half and one room with just a tub). That means we are currently in possession of 9 bathrooms. I’m still not sure if that makes up for the 2 years of half a toilet, but it is a start.

But I digress. The point of this post is to tell you why I am done with toilets, not why I seem to collect them. The bathrooms in this house are as follows:

1-Half bath in basement
2-Guest bathroom
3-Jack and Jill Bathroom between boys’ rooms
4-Bathroom connected to girls’ room
5-Room with nothing in it but a huge bathtub
6-Master bathroom

Over the few months we have lived here I have noticed use of certain bathrooms to be dwindling:

1-Half bath in basement

This bathroom is a little creepy; I don’t think any of us have used it.

2-Guest bathroom

Someone flushed an unknown object down the toilet and it no longer flushes without several minutes with a plunger- it only took two weeks of threatening to convince the kids they ought not use this toilet.

3-Jack and Jill Bathroom between boys’ rooms

I think that, like my dishwasher and clothes washer, bathrooms predominately used by males should have a sanitary cycle. I should be able to shut the door and let super hot water wash and sanitize everything. This is the alternative one woman found to the not yet designed sanitary boys’ bathroom cycle.

4-Bathroom connecting to girls’ room

Without getting into details, this bathroom is grosser than the boys’ room. Not the least enhanced by the fact that you have to go through the girls’ less than spotless room to enter their bathroom. Since I think the mess has surpassed the abilities of all but the most seasoned veteran, I am hoping to attack this issue myself next week (if you don’t hear from me you’ll know I was killed by either noxious fumes or rebelling piles of junk, clothes, & garbage).

5-Room with nothing in it but a huge bathtub

This bathroom has no toilet. I think this may not have stopped my 4 year old, though.

6-Master bathroom

The only room left. Due to the fact that I clean the other bathrooms and know what gets done to them, I always exclusively use this bathroom. I have been known to disappear for extended periods. If it weren’t for the fact that I need to have feeling in my legs, it would be longer periods. If you don’t understand you must not have 500 people asking you to do 500 things 500 times a day. It was a sad day when I discovered everyone else was also using this bathroom.

This leads me to my point. Since there are no immediate plans to de-creep the basement, call a plumber, design a sanitary cycle bathroom, or get killed by noxious fumes, I have decided we need to reinstitute the use of outhouses. Once I realized the necessity of this move, I started thinking of all the side benefits.

(This post was originally the first half a post entitled Ten Reasons Outhouses are a Good Idea.  I split it into two for easier linking purposes.  Turns out I have lots of need to link to my ideas about outhouses.  You can read the 2nd half here)

Ten Reason Outhouses are a Good Idea Part 2

Here are the top 10 reasons
an outhouse is a good idea:
10- Unlike normal, where the kids start knocking before I can even sit, I will be harder to find. Also, the smell should keep my kids from camping outside the door stating most pressing and pertinent queries. Like, “What are you making for dinner in 3 hours?” or “You know my permission slip, the one I have had for two week and don’t need to turn in for one? I need it signed right now or I am going to die.”

9- No more new bottles of comet dumped down the toilet by a “helping” 2 year old.

8-Also, no more finding the 2 year old “helping” by scrubbing the toilet- after his brother forgot to flush.

7- And finally, no more 2 year old then carrying said scrubber around the house, sometimes with the plunger. (Not that this ever has happened . . . )

6- When company comes over I will not have to clean my room in case they need the only working, nondisgusting bathroom. Instead I can make them go outside and stare at my unmowed, unweeded yard.

5- When the kids drop something in the toilet, I will be able to see what it is instead of guessing while I plunge.

4- When my kids leave the house to visit neighbors while I am using the bathroom, I will, being outside, already be that much closer when I chase after them.

3- When my boys pee anywhere in the backyard, they will be closer to hitting the toilet than they will ever be standing in a bathroom.

2- When I run out of toilet paper in the middle of . . . things. . . I can always use leaves instead of trying to get my 4 year old to help and being told “That is why you should pee like a boy.”

1- Outhouses can be filled in and moved instead of cleaned. 

(This post was originally the last half a post entitled Ten Reasons Outhouses are a Good Idea.  I split it into two for easier linking purposes.  Turns out I have lots of need to link to my ideas about outhouses.  You can read the first half and all the original comments here)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sometimes I Misplace my Joy

Sometimes I misplace my joy. I usually feel her slipping away and know to cling to her fiercely, but at times I am blindsided. She is there and then she is gone, with only a hollow space left behind. I search in all her usual places, but I know joy is not to be found easily once misplaced.

And because there is an empty place where my joy belongs, I must resist the temptation to fill it with other things. There are many weeds waiting to overtake joy’s corner. And once her place is entrenched with sorrow, joy is harder to find. So I fight to keep sadness and hopelessness from overrunning joy’s rightful place. I try to not fill the emptiness with meaninglessness: watching TV all day, sitting at the computer for hours on end, forgetting to live life (although when joy is missing I’m not always successful). And I never stop searching.

When I seek out my joy’s regular haunts- time with my children, reading, praying, just living my life- I often find her shadows: happiness, pleasure, or enjoyment. For moments these shadows occupy joy’s place, keeping her spot open and reminding me to keep searching. But they are transient and insubstantial; dim reflections of joy. However, they can renew my strength and remind me my goal and sometimes they are enough to keep despair from usurping joy’s rightful place.

There was a time when I didn’t yet appreciate or notice joy. When she was gone I could not find her. I couldn’t even be sure how to find her, or if she truly ever existed. That was a long, difficult time and my joy came back only with outside help. Now I understand joy better and I miss her sooner. I recognize she is only misplaced and never lost forever. I know and miss joy keenly enough to preserve her place and persevere in my quest.

And so when joy leaves too quickly and I find she is misplaced, I keep living my life. I refuse to replace her with other things and try to hold to her shadows, without forgetting they are not joy’s equal. And I wait. And I search. And I struggle. But I know joy exists. I know she holds a place within me. I know she is only misplaced. This is what comforts me.

And one day I discover that joy has returned. Like glasses searched for in vain and found on top your head, she is found right where she always belongs. Often it only takes a few days, but sometimes a month or more will pass without her. There are even still times I wonder if she is not misplaced, but truly lost. But my joy has always returned. And I think knowing she is sometimes gone helps me embrace her more fully.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One and Half Years of Glasses

1.5 Years of Glasses + 10 Year Old Boy= 3rd Set Bites the Dust

(Good thing he has sports goggles- otherwise he'd be blind tomorrow)

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Later Week

I’ve gotten behind on family updates, so here is a week all in one post. (Lest you think I have oodles of friends, there are only two women talked about in this post)

Saturday (9/13)
The boys had their first football game. They are really enjoying playing. (right)Ethan has the red striped socks and (left)Ryan is playing with his mouthgaurd. We got home with just enough time to clean the downstairs (I raced Peter for bragging rights- family room vs. kitchen~ I lost) and make the cookies I signed up to bring to the church picnic.

The church picnic was held at Harkness State Park. I hadn’t been there before and it was really nice. Quite indignant that a church party would be planned at the same time as a BYU football game, Peter hinted that we would only be staying 45 minutes. We had so much fun that we ended up staying the whole time (it helps that our DVR faithfully recorded the game for us and Peter was getting updates via his balckberry).
As we were leaving, my friend asked if I was up for a girls’ night out, and our husbands (looking forward to a guilt-free golf date, no doubt) agreed to watch the kids. It helped that there was that game waiting to be watched at home. She came home with us and we got in the car to head out. Then we remembered that we are completely rusty on kid-free time. After some deliberation, we decided to walk downtown Mystic. It was nice to browse the shops and just talk. As my friend pointed out, we’ve forgotten how to have uninterrupted conversations lasting longer than 4 ½ minutes.
Sunday (9/14)
Primary program! The kids did great. Joseph was the only Sunbeam to give his part. During Primary, one of my Sunbeams had a full out tantrum and had to be taken to his Dad. Unfortunately it happened to be the only Sunbeam brave enough to do his part in the Primary program. Always fun to carry your own screaming, kicking child to the Primary President to take to your husband!

We celebrated Matthew's birthday after church and before Peter left for work.

Monday (9/15)
Happy Birthday to me! The older kids had their first piano lessons with their new teacher. They have been practicing all week and seem to really enjoy being back into lessons.

Tuesday (9/16)
I took a reconnaissance trip to Costco. My BJ’s membership comes due in a couple months and I wanted to see if it is worth the hour drive to go to Costco. My friend (aka the kids’ piano teacher and the Primary president) mentioned she was going and I was welcome to tag along. So I did (and brought along another friend for the fun). Definitely better selection and prices, but I don’t think it makes up for the $25 in gas and hour in drive. While there, I did make my first appearance at Trader Joes. This was cut short by another tantrum by my 3 year old.
Peter took advantage of his guilt-free golf date and the boys had their first night of cub scouts.

Wednesday (9/17)
Cleaning day

Thursday (9/18)
More cleaning, trip to library, Boys to football practice, read a book.

Friday (9/19)
Lured by the prospect of free breakfast, I went with a friend to IKEA (about an hour away). It was a lot of fun. Who can’t love a store with a built in babysitter and Swedish chocolate?

Saturday (9/20)
Another football game for the boys and then I watched my friend’s twin boys in the afternoon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who's Had a Birthday? Shout Hurray!

I like growing old. Yes, I know that isn't normal. Not only did I look forward to hitting 30, the thought of one day being 40 is downright exciting. I even check the mirror for signs of smile wrinkles, (and am happy to find them).

This being said, birthdays just don't do it for me. I tend to forget them. In fact, I realized today that I'll have to push back Joseph's party because I haven't sent out the invites (and his birthday is next week). I try to remember the birthday's for which I am directly responsible, but to everyone else, there isn't a great chance I will remember. I still love you, I promise. Well, most of you anyway . . .

So why am I pointing out my freakishness? Because Kim called me out with this comment on my last post:

"By the way, I was expecting a post on your birthday and got a housecleaning
one instead..."
Yes, last Monday was my birthday and I am only now posting about it. I feel bad, because it really was a happy birthday. I am 32 years old. I got bright floral dresses, flood length jeans, and orthopedic shoes. Oh wait, that is what I am getting Peter for his next birthday. Don't give away the surprise!

Actually, my parents sent me this nice crystal Christ statue that rotates and reflects changing colors. Apparently they are big out west, but having lived on the east coast for the last 7 years, I was unfamiliar with them. Thanks guys! (Matthew keeps climbing on the stool and pointing at it, saying, "Jesus on?" So he likes it, too)

Our friends graciously offered to come over and watch our kids while Peter and I went out to eat. Ever thoughtful, they even offered to pick up my oldest two from piano so Peter and I could go out early (Peter was working the night shift). We went to a great little restaurant (Olio's). It has been ages since we have been out alone in public. What a treat!

Turns out I have become hard to buy for. When Peter asked what I wanted, I couldn't think of a thing (unless you count shrink rays and transporters). While at dinner I mentioned that I would like to cook more things from scratch and the perfect idea came up: a wheat grinder! We are looking now.

So there is my birthday post. And I even remembered my correct age. And I only had to do the math twice to make sure I was right.

P.S. When I went to load a picture of my birthday, I had to go back 5 years to find one. That is NOT Joseph in the picture, it is ETHAN. And yes, we really had a purple living room back then. I guess I need to be better at remembering to pull out the camera (I told you birthdays were not my thing). And wait till you see some of the pictures I found for Create the Caption!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is There a Substitution for Housewife?

I tend to see mothering, especially the stay-at-home type, like a cookie recipe. Mostly because the more you can relate to cookies, the better. Anyway, there are the main staples that all recipes use in varying amounts and then there are the individual spices that make each recipe unique. The key is to find the perfect balance to your family's needs and your talents (which means continual tweaking of your mom "recipe").

Hmm, cookies, can you hold on a sec?

Orrie (gulp) I mean, sorry, had to go find a cookie. Anyway, one of the staples happens to be 'housewife'. Which in my mind is the housekeeping and cleaning part of being a mom. I seem to always be running short on this staple. But, as my sister recently found, it is hard to find substitutions for the staples. So every once in a while I have to buckle down and add some 'housewife' to my recipe.

Which is a long way to say I had a cleaning day on Wednesday. I started out with the lofty goal of cleaning the upstairs: the playroom, both boys rooms, and the boy's bathroom. If I started at 9, I could finish by lunch and then go to the library. I grossly underestimated the amount of 'housewife' I was going to need to finish this job.

The playroom floor might have been a jumbled maze of piled high toys. "Climbing" into the room might even have been a more accurate description than "walking". But I'm not admitting to anything other than the fact that it took me 4 1/2 hours to clean that one room.

All toys back in their labeled bins, all furniture moved around, folding table brought up so the TV wasn't sitting on the floor, and big inside toys- that were always intended for that room and left outside all summer until I "got around to it"- finally brought inside. Granted I could have shaved off a lot of time if I hadn't insisted the two preschoolers stay in the room with me (read dumping toys OUT of their labeled bins at nearly the same rate they were thrown placed inside), but the rest of my house really didn't need destroyed while I was cleaning.

So I finished late for lunch, but only by 2 hours. And as I ate lunch I noticed my kitchen was a little messy. Normally I would consider my 'housewife' portion of the recipe more than filled, but the front door pretty much opens on the kitchen and I have a paranoia that the owners of the house might decide to drop by unannounced sometime. Fear is always a great motivator. So after a 30 minute lunch/email pause, I cleaned it.

It only took me 2 hours. This truly boggles my mind. I cleaned it Monday and was gone all day Tuesday. Logically, it should have been nearly clean. Logically, I should have tied all my kids to the couch at this point.

So it is now 4:15. I have 45 minutes to "relax", then a whirlwind of dinner and clean up before Peter takes the boys to football. I mentioned to Peter that if he took the little boys with him to football I might be able to finish their room and the bathroom and thus complete my goal. This was more rhetorical musing than anything else; until he grabbed their shoes and took them! I figure he must have noticed the playroom and knew I was close to losing my mind. Maybe he noticed the rope and duct tape I left by the couch in case I became logical.

Now I had a choice. I could finish off the upstairs or I could do nothing. After all, I had used the word "might" hadn't I? But then I remembered that if their room wasn't done today, it would be done tomorrow and then I would have my two "helpers". So I cleaned the boys' room. I put away all the clothes dumped out of their drawers (to give you an idea, their drawers were empty when I started), folded the blankets (why was the entire closet of blankets in their room? I may never know), and scrubbed the carpet stains (ice cream, pepperonis, fingernail polish, ink, and a few I tried NOT to figure out). Then I moved to the bathroom all 4 boys share. I don't think I need to elaborate. 2 hours later I finished, just as Peter pulled up with the kids.

So sum it up. I added 8.5 hours of 'housewife' to my Mom recipe, all in one day. I think that leaves me half-baked. Where are those cookies?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Matthew!

We celebrated a little late (Peter was out of town on the 11th), but it was a lot of fun. Not quite understanding opening presents at the beginning, he mastered it by the end. I learned the cake idea from Betty Crocker's site. I used 1 cake mix, but it would have worked better if I used two. Also, I wish I had two vanilla frostings; using only one vanilla and one chocolate was stretching it!

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

6 Births, 1 Epidural Part VI

*I thought a fun way to celebrate my little ones’ birthdays would be to tell the stories of their birth days. Amazingly each was unique and a little funny. Since I thought of this idea just this week, you will get part 6 first*


After giving birth 5 times, I was prepared for this last labor. And by prepared, I mean I had absolutely nothing ready. As I sat thinking one afternoon, one whole week before the due date, I realized I had yet to find somewhere to safely stow the rest of my children while I was busy “welcoming” their youngest sibling. Keep in mind, 3 of my 5 children had been born a week or more early. Like I said, prepared. Very, very prepared. So I looked up some friends and asked if they would be willing to add some kids into their schedules at anytime of day for any amount of time. Amazingly enough, 2 agreed. Even though they had met my children before. Gotta love good friends.

We decided to split the kids into 3 groups: the 2 boys needed to stay in our small town so they could go to school (or get picked up depending on the timing), I wanted the 2 preschoolers to go to a place near the hospital (about 20 minutes away) and Elise was coming with us. Everything was working out great! I think I even pulled out the infant car seat and washed it out. Although I have no recollection of washing baby clothes, blankets, or any other superfluous baby items.

That very evening I was getting ready for bed. As I climbed into bed (no small feat for a 9 months pregnant woman), I wet my pants. That’s right, I said it. I wasn’t even embarrassed or flustered when it happened. If you’re shocked, I am jealous of your non-6 child bladder. Even now, I can barely hold it when I sneeze, not a chance with a 10 pound load stealing my innards’ limited space. Anyway, I got up, changed, cleaned and got back in bed. Only to wet again. Strangely enough, I wasn’t having the normal warnings so I could practice my kegels. I rolled my eyes, changed again, added a towel to my bed (in case I lost all control of my bladder in the night), and climbed into bed again. You can guess what happened. Oh, how jaded I had become not to suspect what you all must realize by now. I just thought my body was finally giving up.

It was just after this 3rd moment that my dear mother, come to hold the baby help out, walked by the door to wish me good night. I rolled my eyes (she has 6 kids and was bound to understand) as I told her about my poor, overworked, squished bladder. Always a wise woman, she suggested my water had broken. My water, break? Not a chance. I had 5 kids and had never had my water break without "help". Yeah, long crochet hooks are great. No really. Nevertheless, the smell test verified it. I was not losing control of my bladder, just my expectations on what labor is like. And it was just at this point that my water REALLY broke. Everywhere.

First, I called Peter, thankfully already on his way home from work. “Call the doctor,” I could practically hear him pressing the accelerator to the floor as we talked. So I called the doctor,

“Have you had any contractions?”

“Why no, it has been 15 minutes since it broke and, hmm . . .
ohhh . . .hmmm. Yeah, I just had a contraction.”

“You better head on in.”
(As I reread this post, I thought I should note that Peter worked at a different hospital from where I delivered. I know that shows real loyalty, but this one had a NICU and Peter always likes to be safe, having seen too many “situations” to risk it).

So my mother and I (and soon Peter) began gathering what we needed to take (like I said, prepared). We called our friend who had agreed to take the boys. By the time I found the number of my 2nd friend, I realized this was going to be FAST. “Call back Susan and tell her she’ll have all four. We won’t have time to stop twice.” 15 minutes had passed from that 1st contraction, and they were progressively becoming quicker and stronger.

We practically dumped the kids at the doorstep as we sped to the hospital. Dropping off the kids plus the 20 minute drive took barely 15, Peter trying to convince me not to have the baby in our car the whole time. I don’t think the nurse believed how close I was until she checked me. I was in a monitoring room (definition: no drop away exam table). After she checked me, she was more convinced of the urgency.
“We aren’t going to have time to switch rooms; you’re ready to
go now.”

“Does this mean no epidural?” I know, silly question, especially
when I heard the reply,

Epidural? The doctor isn’t even going to make it.”
Thankfully, the doctor walked in just as that statement was made. Apparently when a 6 time mother calls with first time broken water and has a contraction while on the phone, the doctor doesn’t wait to be called again. He walked in, I pushed (never knew how nice that drop down birth table is until I went without), Elise almost fainted (I will never forget her face), and Matthew made his rushed debut- all in about 10 minutes from walking in the hospital door. In no time at all I was in a recovery room and Peter was swinging by to take the kids home (“Done all ready?” my friend asked). It was all so quick, I felt in total shock. I can’t be done all ready! Not that I was complaining, mind you, just surprised.

And that is part six of how I had six births but only one epidural. Reason: Too Fast (expect 5 different reasons over the next year of birthdays)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years is Not Long Enough

It turns out that seven years is not long enough. Seven years is not long enough to stop reliving waking up to a ringing phone and my mom telling me to turn on the TV. To the first tower falling as I switched it on. Seven years is not long enough for the upwelling of emotion to be forgotten: fear, horror, anger, uncertainty, sadness. Every year I am as overwhelmed as I was that first day. Seven years is not long enough for my world to be the way it was. I realize there will never be enough years for that.

Life changed after that day. I changed. I feel more strongly my love of freedom, my resolve to enjoy life. I know that evil exists and the battle for free agency rages even now. I know that there are those that hate us for being free, for worshipping our God, and they will not stop till we or they are gone. They prey on those yearning for a better life to try to take away ours.

And after all this time I pray. I pray for those who lost loved ones. I pray for leaders who are still trying to protect our country the best they know how. I pray for those who felt they were doing right and for their mothers who felt the same. I don’t pray for their leaders, who taught them so. Seven years is not long enough to trust what I would say if I tried.

I pray for our country. I pray my children will not have to live such a day. I pray I can raise them to be willing to sacrifice if such a day comes again. I pray I would be able to do the same. And I pray that America will not forget. I beg for the sake of my children’s future, please don’t forget. Don’t sink back to indifference and arrogance. And although this day of grief and remembrance has been tempered by the birth of my son, 2 years ago today; as I listened to the news this morning, I realized that 7 years is still not long enough.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

And I was so looking forward to getting Mother of the Year

So today I was vacuuming crushed shredded wheat out of my dishwasher. Dinner was almost done, 20 minutes after my husband and daughter left for church. And my 7 year old was spread eagle on the floor getting disciplined for slamming the door on his little brother and leaving a mark. That is when it hit me, "There goes the Mother of the Year award." And then I remembered that I was out of the running a long time ago.

Case in point:

A couple of weeks ago, my youngest wanted to go on a walk. Since my other kids were all planning on walking and/or riding around the block, I asked them to throw him in the wagon and take him along. "Just make sure you put some clothes on him," I warned (not that he is in a diaper a lot or anything). All was fine until they came back a few minutes later. This is how my children were dressed as they paraded around the neighbors homes with bikes, scooters, and wagons:

(This is the middle of summer when it is hot outside)

(this is what Ryan looked like 1.5 seconds after he came in the door. Lest you think he is normal, he was the one I asked to dress Frog Head)

Just in case you're not convinced yet:

Joseph met a neighbor boy only a few months older than himself. This is wonderful. I envisioned play dates and school buddies. But Joseph just envisioned walking over ALL THE TIME, BY HIMSELF wearing WHO KNOWS WHAT to ask if the child could play. Which is bad enough on its own, but he always had a diaper clad 2 year old shadow trailing behind him. I tried telling him no. I tried punishment. I tried locking the screen door.

But the other morning, as I was using the restroom, I heard the door shut. 8:30 in the morning, wearing PJ's, with a brother who was not changed and wearing only a diaper, my kid knocks on the that child's door. It took a couple of minutes to register that I heard the door shut, and a couple more to get decent. By the time I got out to get them (also still wearing PJ's and barefoot with bed head) the child was on the front lawn talking to them and the horrified father was looking on (this was about the 4th time it had happened).

Needless to say, I doubt that child will ever be allowed near our home. (And I made Joe cry by scaring him about all the evil strangers waiting to grab him and his brother. And I may have mentioned that anyone driving around could call the police and put him in jail, too. At least he hasn't gone out on his own again.)

My Solution:

So, because I so want to be Mother of the Year, I suggest we make some new categories (ones I am sure to win) like the following:

  • Loudest yeller
  • Best able to tune out crying and/or whining
  • Biggest laundry pile
  • Best able to allow children to express their creativity in clothing choices
  • Best able to pretend you are fostering creativity in clothing choices when you really weren't paying attention
  • Best able to "hold it" because you don't know what will happen if you take 2 minutes to use the bathroom

I expect a nomination any day now . . .

Monday, September 8, 2008

Catching Up on the Last Couple of Weeks

Has school really been in for two whole weeks? Actually, now that I think about it, NO. You see we didn't start school till the last Tuesday in August and then had the first Monday in September off for celebration of communism, I mean Labor Day. That means that this is the 1st Monday of school and the first full week.

My Feelings on the School Year so Far:

  • It is like night and day, comparing this school to their old one. When we first moved to CT, the older kids dreaded going to school. It was a rough school and they had a hard time making friends. Hard to fit in when people are constantly threatening to beat you up . . .But this year they are excited about school again and already feel like they belong.
  • Ryan has a male teacher this year. I'm excited to see if this makes a difference in teaching style. Already he comes home with stories. (For instance) "If my teacher asks for volunteers and kids raise their hands before he says what he wants, he tells them they just volunteered for 20 push ups." This may be just the sort of teaching style Ryan has needed, plus he will be getting strong. (You have to know that a favorite punishment of Ryan's parents is to make the kids do push ups)
  • This is our first year utilizing buses. It has been wonderful! I love it!! How did I ever survive without buses? No more dragging the preschoolers out of bed to drive everyone to school. Elise leaves 45 minutes before the other kids and gets home 30 minutes earlier. This means (theoretically) I don't have to be home to greet the kids, she is old enough to watch the oldest 4. I have used the extra time, once spent waiting in line to pick up kids, making after school snacks (part of which I set aside for lunch the next day).
  • I have decided to try to make lunch everyday. In past years the kids bought once a week and last year (due to the fact that it was free to everyone at the school) they bought almost everyday. I'm trying to be more creative with lunches. I have yet to find a thermos type container I like for soups (any ideas would be appreciated).

What Else We Have Been Doing:

  • I am almost done tweaking my pre/post school time routines. I made a new chore chart for the new school year. We'll see how it works out. The kids have one major responsibility they are in charge of all the time (in addition to bedrooms, laundry, dishes, and toys). I have also added scripture reading onto their charts in the hope that they will be better at remembering than I am.
  • The oldest 2 are starting piano again this month. I can hear them trying to play Primary songs all the time so that should be exciting for them.
  • I have put Joseph in a preschool. I know, the first 4 were preschool free, but this one is run by a high school class and only meets 1 1/2 hours twice a week. I was worried that since I am also his primary teacher, that he needed to begin dealing with someone else before we threw him to the public system.
  • Peter went to the BYU football game in Seattle last Saturday with all his brothers (and most of the male in-laws). He had a lot of fun catching up with family. I had a lot of fun with all the kids back in Connecticut.
  • We went to the school picnic (the kids and I). At first I didn't really want to go, but I decided it was important to start to get to know the people we live around. It turned out a lot of fun. We rode in a fire truck, ate some good food, played at the playground, and I witnessed the beautiful site of my children dancing in public. No really, it was beautiful. In an Elaine Benes sort of way (remember that Seinfeld episode?). OK, it was really more funny than beautiful. Someday maybe I will get around to posting video of my children dancing.

  • I downloaded a lot of applications on my iphone. Being the genius I am, I decided to make it even more tempting for my children to walk around with my expensive cell phone. I know, if only everyone could be as bright as me. I have only lost it three times since then. At least that's my story.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Two Types of Green in this World

I have an announcement: I have decided to go green. You see I like green. I think it is very important. Only the green I’m talking about comes in paper form. You know the kind you might find in a wallet or bank; although not a lot of banks anymore (stupid lending practices), or, for that matter, wallets (stupid spending practices). Don’t get me wrong, I love our environment. The moon would be fun to visit, but who would want to live there? Plus, I’m all about clean air and water. And I’m sure you all realize that SUV’s caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and the Kyoto treaty wasn’t signed during the Little Ice Age of the 1600’s.

But my green helps with other important things in life, like eating or buying iTunes songs. Lucky for the over the top, crazy environmentalists (you know the ones fighting for the rights of one species of roach or flying in private jets all over the world to environmental conferences) , my green happens to correspond to theirs this time.

You see, funny thing about 6 kids, they TAKE UP A LOT OF ROOM. Which is why I drive a huge, gas guzzling, 9-seat Suburban. With the rising gas prices, I am having major green anxiety. Did you know most gas stations have a maximum amount you can buy per purchase? I do. In fact for certain parts of last summer I hit that limit EVERY week. I think it would have been less painful to actually give the station an arm and a leg.

Nowadays, $75 dollars seems to buy about 5 gallons of gas. With my Suburban’s mileage, I estimate that is enough to drive the 3 miles directly home and almost make it back to the station (on fumes, of course). So I have decided I need to find a way to save on my gas budget (which is closely approaching my house payment in size). Here are my ideas thus far:

1- Shrink the children with a shrink ray so they fit in the backseat of a car. This idea was perfect, until I found out shrink rays are hard to find. Did you know that “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” ISN’T a documentary?!? I know, I know, I was shocked, too.

2- Bungee cord one child on top of a minivan. I was in the middle of trying to decide between bungeeing a seat up there or just hooking the cords directly around them when I remembered how our window broke in our 1st house in PA- it involved bungee cords and near eye loss. And a lot of parental yelling. I decided I didn’t want to risk losing my voice (or eye) so I had to retire this idea.

3- Walk. Pioneers did it, why not? I was trying to estimate the size I needed to make my handcart. By the time you added everything I take with me in the Suburban (6 kids, water bottles, snacks, diapers, toys, extra clothes, missing shoes, candy wrappers, old french fries, the kitchen sink, etc.) I found my handcart would need to be, well, suburban size. I tried pushing the suburban. Not so great.

4- Combine outings for fewer trips. Hello, I actually tried this one after the oldest kids started school. Did you know that taking 2 kids to 6 stops is as exhausting as taking 6 kids to 2? And they said I would never need to use 1st grade math skills in real life.

5- Have my husband take the Suburban to work while the kids are in school so I can drive the Audi with my preschoolers. He told me he would get back to me on that one. . .

6- Convert my SUV to run on natural gas, or maybe milk, or uneaten french fries residing under car seats. My kids can come close to producing enough natural gas but not quite (only way to get it yet), milk is nearly as expensive as gas (don’t get me started on my exploding grocery budget), and the science just isn’t there yet for french fries (although I’ve heard some interesting things about used fast-food oil).

7- Buy a transporter. Star Trek isn’t real either? Science-FICTION?!? Totally not fair.

Well I am about out of ideas, plus I just found out that I could only sell my SUV for about $3.67 anyway (apparently no one else wants to spend a fortune on the drive to the supermarket either). I guess I’ll resort to sobbing miserably every time the gas gauge approaches “empty”. It’s not easy being green. Or losing green to my Big Red Suburban. And I think science should start researching shrink rays, transporters, and french fry cars. That would be great.

Join me next week when I discuss how I am trying to conserve water. Family baths anyone? We can wash the dishes at the same time!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How to Spend a Sunday Sick

Well, a couple of weeks ago we were too sick to go to church. It was one of those annoying illnesses where you feel almost OK, just a little off. And every couple of minutes you break out in a horrible cough. Oh, and your nose is a leaky, disgusting faucet of grossness.

I considered going anyway, but the coughing and nose running would definitely be a dead give away. And then we would be the family who got everyone sick. Which has happened before, but that is a different story. So we had a day at home without TV (or Peter who was working). What do we do? Our favorite sport of course.

We have participated in this sport for several years. Ever since we moved to our first wooden floored house in Pennsylvania. However this day the kids introduced a variation. Instead of skating around the floors, they had sliding contests across the carpet. Added some excitement to it all.

My kids entertained themselves this way for at least an hour. Half way through the "game" my youngest 3 decided they would be safer with helmets (not a bad choice, it did get a little rough). And now you know why I have to replace my kids socks so often.