Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Big Day

She was baptized and confirmed last weekend. She was absolutely glowing.
It was one of those moments for which a parent works and hopes . . . and always remembers.
Her big brother gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and he was spot on. Her Down Syndrome uncle gave the opening prayer. Her grandparents sang a hymn. Her father performed the ordinance. Her mother cried and smiled.

I am blessed by this daughter.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Alive

My dad is in town. I've told you a little about him before. I've also told you about my project. After about 20 minutes of visiting (which, by the way, coined the term visitor), Dad had had enough. He started looking for a project.

After a lot of money at Lowe's, heaping mounds of dirt in my backyard, a fifteen foot trench, and the hauling out of every tool I own . . .

we have electricity!! The extension cord that my husband had draped across the lawn is coiled and put away. The trench has been filled in and, because there are miracles even today, all of the fixtures and outlets that I put in WORK. I cried. I literally cried when the lights came on like they were supposed to.

So, now the study room has power, a heater and a porch light for his early morning/late night study sessions. Can I just say:


Thank you for watching.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Right Before My Eyes

Pod #1 had a doctor's visit the other day. While there, the doctor told us that puberty had begun (about which we had a clue, and bought him deodorant, recently). He said to expect a flurry of changes over the next 18 months, or so. The boy was thrilled, but dignified.

Afterword, we went to a pretzel place for a treat. He got a pretzel covered in a thick layer of Parmesan cheese. We sat on a bench in the mall and talked about puberty and I explained some of the unfamiliar terms the doctor used.

Time goes so quickly. This little boy, whose birth and infant life I remember so clearly, was changing right before my eyes. The doctor said he was in the 89% for height so he'll probably be over 6'. That came as a surprise because, though I have tall genes, the husband's gene pool is of the shorter folk. As we visited on that bench, now about other things, I saw a young man walking with his parents. He was probably 15 years old and his bones were too long for his fat. As the gangly boy passed, I thought, That will be me with my boy in just a few years. Before I know it, my Pod will be tall, with a deeper voice and the chiseled features of a man, grown out of his boyhood softness. Tears crept into the corners of my eyes as I pictured the seemingly instant growing-up of my boy. I put my arm around his shoulders and squeezed. Then I looked down.

I'm not sure what happened to him while I was replacing the passing young man's face with my son's, but something changed.

Somehow, the nearly gone pretzel had exploded on my boy. He had Parmesan in his hair, all down the front of his dark blue t-shirt, sprinkled across his jeans, and, instead of the darkened peach fuzz I think I expected to see, he had white cheese covering his mouth and chin. He was coated.

Ummm, nope. Not a man, yet. That was a close one.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Reverse That

Remember how I told you it was Spring? Well, yes, this is Spring, in my neck of the woods. 70 Degrees on Friday (kids ran through the sprinkler!!), four inches of cold, blowing snow on Monday.
I actually don't mind a whole lot. This is what March is supposed to do and I only plant zone hardy plants so I don't need to worry about them. This kind of weather makes the daffodils brighter and the tulips happier.

Good thing I didn't pack the snow clothes away for the summer. Looks like we'll be building a snow man . . . again.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Unveiling

First, you must understand that I am an old lady at heart. Some people are still kids at heart, or 29 forever. Not me. I enjoy genealogy, I have a drippy nose, and marigolds and petunias fill out my flower beds. I can enter the newest, biggest, shiniest house with cut tile floors and granite counter tops and leave thinking, "Good for them. What a nice house." But, when I leave an old lady's house, I am a touch green; the old furniture, the antique bedstead, the timeless light fixtures, the homemade touches lovingly added over the years (children's school projects, Great-Great-Grandma's quilt, crocheted doilies, waxed woodwork, etc).

Having said that, let me introduce you to The Reading Chair. It is brand new, but doesn't it look like it came from an Estate Sale? Don't you think I ought to learn how to tat a doily for the back and arms? I love the paisley, the greens, golds and salmon, the cushy comfort without looking like it belongs in the family room. I love how it looks different in the morning, mid-day and dark. The colors change according to the light.

The name? Oh, yes. I didn't want to tag it Mom's Chair, but I wanted it to feel special. After sitting in it several times over several days, I kept saying to the saleslady, "I want to pick up a book and read every time I sit here." Thus, it became The Reading Chair. Anyone can sit in it, but if you are under the age of 18, you must be reading.

It has worked so far.

And here, dear friends, is the sofa. I have to say, it feels a little weird to be showing it to you--kind of like showing you a spatula or sheets or a fancy new toothbrush. You need the things, but no one really cares what it looks like. Now, The Reading Chair is more than furniture, but the couch is just a place to put your fanny. I like it. I'm happy it is structurally sound, but, you know, it's a couch.

My friend, Amy, bought a new van recently. She said she thought it was kind of odd when people came up to "oooh" and "ahhh" about it. "It's just a van!" she exclaimed, incredulously.

Yeah, I kinda feel like that.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SPRING!!

It must be Spring. I told my husband the other day that something was just "not quite right" with me. He explained it simply, "You are a gardener and can't be in the garden. You are out of balance." It made so much sense to me.

Today, I was outside as much as possible. I moved dirt, raked, pulled, picked up Winter-blown garbage, created a new bed, and felt the sun on my bare arms for the first time in nearly a century (or at least it felt that long). My freckles are making their annual DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME statement. Like I could. There is a long Master List on my desk of garden Things To Do and I feel great! In the last several days, all of us have been needing to get outside. We have flown kites and blown bubbles. (It is really hard to get a picture of bubbles.) We stare at the Spring bulbs that are just beginning to show their brilliant, awakening color. The sidewalk is covered with chalk.

And, look who is nine months old:

Closer . . .
Doing her funny crawl which involves not hands and knees, but hands and feet.
Oh, my word. Sweetest Baby Pod.


I am expecting at least one more good snow, here in the Mountains, but I'm taking every glimmer of sunlight and unfrozen soil that is offered.

Can you feel it, too?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's Time

Usually when you see that title, it means another blog is giving up the ghost. This post is not about the end of blogging, it is about the end of my couch.

Let me introduce you. We bought this sofa in the year 2000. It was our first couch (we had a used love seat and an even more used chair) and it was purchased with my last paycheck. I saw it in the showroom three months before I could actually pay for it and loved it. I still think it's a pretty cute couch, but it had some serious issues--none of which are the fault of nine years and seven people. *wink*
It had very high legs so you could see almost all the way to the wall. The problem with this, is that the vacuum cleaner didn't fit under there, so crumbs, small toys, the atlas, the phone book, wires and other things that were supposed to hide under couches were always in plain view. It was a daily job for the skinny pods to fish out balls that rolled under, popcorn, shoes or whatever else tried to escape.

Please also notice the always classy cinder block that held up one side of the sofa so it wouldn't send guests plunging to their deaths (or at least to a sore backside).


This was another serious problem with said piece of furniture: the cushions were not secured to the back and were ALWAYS looking disheveled. Several times a day I was straightening cushions. I hated them. They were the bane of my tidy living room.

Problem number 98: The seats were awfully threadbare.


And it's underwear was showing.

We decided that, since the recession is making for some great furniture prices, it was time to let it go. Not having a truck to bring it to the dump, I put it outside with a free sign on it. It was gone within hours. I felt a touch sentimental, but mostly ready to see it gone. My pods, however, were beside themselves, "It's the only couch I've ever known," and "I love that couch," and "Please, Mom, one more picture."

Okay, the last request was not hard. Baby Pod was asleep, but we got the other four on the beloved seat.

And they insisted on getting a picture of me. (Even here, notice how my weight is pulling the thing into a V shape.)

My oldest conducted a funeral. "You've been a good couch. Mom went into labor on you. You were fun to jump on (obviously) and had a lot of cushions for our forts. We will miss you. Goodbye, old friend."

They stood in the window and watched the guy take away his "new" couch.

Then they jumped on my new sofa until I threatened to bury them in the backyard.

The End.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Daughter


Some You-Are-Having-a-Baby-So-We-Will-Tell-You-Everything-Possible-About-Pregnancy-And-Delivery Book said that if your first baby is early, your second will be, too. My first was early. That means that I set my due date one week ahead of my actual due date with my second. Every day that passed my self-set due date was akin to the days of any other woman watching the calendar pages flip after she was supposed to have had a baby. I did not take caster oil, but I did everything else to convince God that I was right, on this one, and He should let her come already.
On the morning of March 16, 2001, I went to my sisters house to visit. We went on a long walk to encourage what seemed like . . . maybe . . . possibly labor-like contractions. They intensified. I was told, after my speedy first delivery, to get to the hospital right away when I thought I was in labor. Second babies always come faster than first babies, I was told. At about 3 o'clock, I called my husband home from work.

We went to the hospital and took about an hour checking in, doing paperwork, changing clothes. Contractions came steadily. After I was settled, my nurse said that she had received instructions to called my doctor, even though she was not on call, soon after I arrived. No one wanted the hurried frenzy of my last visit to L & D. They got Dr. Joy (yes, her real name) on the phone. She asked me if I was sure it was labor. "Yes!" I declared . . . but I wasn't sure. I hoped, but I wasn't sure. I closed my eyes and thought, Oh, I hope, I hope this is real labor. Just at that moment, like I had willed it to happen, my water broke.

Alright, I thought, Let's go! I was ready to get the show on the road. Contractions continued to slug along. Good grief. What's the deal? I wondered after two more hours. My doctor came and checked my progress. Not much dilation, not much effacement, and my bag of waters had resealed. I didn't even know that was possible.

She re-broke my water and had me sit on the edge of the bed to encourage the baby to drop. That worked. Things started really moving, then, and I began to make progress. My sweet companion was there holding my hand, like he has done with every baby. Another check: fully effaced and dilated to six. Also, the baby is posterior. They had me get on my hands and knees and rock back and forth. I then experienced the worst pain of my life. I could feel my body splitting asunder as, in once contraction, the baby turned and I went from a six to a ten.

I didn't have to be reminded how to push. This time, I knew just what to do. I pushed and out slipped my tiny baby. A girl. I reached for her and pulled her up onto my chest. She looked so much like our son, that that was the first thing I said about her. I lifted her tiny, slippery body up to my check and breathed her name into her ear; her middle name after my sister.

She didn't cry, but began rooting feverishly. I produced her food source and she latched on quickly and sucked with fervor. (Once she could get her thumb to her mouth, she began sucking it and didn't stop until she was seven. We all think she sucked in utero and was probably looking for her thumb in those first moments outside the womb.) I held her close and smelled her skin--that newborn skin that is so soft that you almost can't feel it. I thought I loved her then, but how could I have known how the mother's love grows and grows? How can anyone understand it without experiencing it? Is this how my mother loves me?

Our beautiful daughter is eight, now. She has slept through the night since the beginning. She loves to cuddle, which is so healthy for a sometimes haggard mother, and she exudes sweetness that improves the demeanor of the whole household.
Happy Birthday, you pretty little thing.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

You Lie, Liar

Sometimes I lie to my pods. Sometimes they will ask me things like, "Mom, can you help me with this level in my game?" I reply, "I'm sorry, honey, I just don't know that much about video games." Okay. The game was made for ten year olds. If I can figure out how to wire a new bedroom or read Dickens or keep children who enjoy jumping off of the garage roof alive, I am sure I could figure out a few tips to give the poor, stuck creature. But, since I am the Mothership, it is my prerogative to lie now and again.


I thought, for years, that I would never get to drink Squirt because my dad always told me that I could have one "when you are a dad."

Sometimes I will tell them, "I don't think I have all of the ingredients" when they ask to make an especially arduous dish. Sometimes I just divert, "You'll have to ask your dad how to do that." Why do I lie? I do because the ding dang kids will not abide by the mother's end-of-conversation word "because."


A fib now and then frees up a lot of time. Plus, I just get sick of explaining every doggone reason for every doggone decision.


Let me hear an Amen!

Nature

This is my oldest daughter. Something is afoot, right now. She is changing before my eyes. Her Eighth Birthday is on Monday (come back then for her birth story) and I think she is feeling that unexplainable growing-up urge. She asks me what she can do to help, she holds the baby and helps the toddler. She wants to do womanly things (asked to shave her legs and wear deodorant) and often opts out of games so she can visit with me and my friends. I remember doing the same thing. It is an interesting time in a girls' life--not really old enough to wear deodorant or shave her legs, but not little anymore, either. She is becoming my friend, if you know what I mean. She is interesting to talk with, fun to be around. My mother taught me a great lesson: she said that, while it is important to have authority with your children, it is also okay to be their friend. None of my siblings, nor I, had big Mom problems when we were teens and Mom genuinely enjoyed our teenage years. There were bumps in the road, of course, but the relationship was strong. Now, as adults, all of us love to call Mom because she is one of our best friends (spouses and siblings are also in that category).
I see the beginning of that kind of relationship with this sweet child. I love her and am proud of who she is becoming.
I ache for her because I know what's coming. She'll have heartbreak and sadness and pain that none of us want for our children, but none of us have the power to stop. But, then, I am excited for her because I know what's coming. She'll have love and joy and success and fulfillment in a way that every parent hopes their child will feel.
Right now, though, she is still only nearly eight. She is still losing teeth and still plays with dolls. I am going to savor every bit of the Little Girl that is left. Before I know it, she will be wearing mascara and heels and sitting in the front seat of the car. But maybe, if I do this right, she will want to hold my hand and will lean on me when she needs to cry for many years to come.
Like I do with my mom, my grown-up friend. Some things don't have to change.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Curious Brain

I have a problem. It is reaccuring and infuriating. I do not have a name for it, though it needs one.

When I am laying in bed at night or doing laundry or washing dishes, I come up with the greatest blog posts. I compose them in my mind. They are clever and witty and thought-provoking. They are filled with wisdom and inspiration. They propose a new way of thinking and being and doing.

Then, when I have a moment to sit down and type, those incredible ideas are AWOL. . . poof . . . vanished.

Dang.

**Does anyone know of a great tutorial for the lay, lye, laid, laying, lie problem? I am never sure which goes where. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thoughts on Shots

It used to be that every family planned on losing at least one child to a childhood disease. Some families escaped that devastation, but even if a child didn't die, the children were likely very, very sick. My grandmother lost a baby to disease and she would get tears in her eyes, even as an old lady, when she talked about it.

"One medical method by which acquired immunity is conferred is inoculation. The term inoculate is fascinating. It comes from two Latin roots: in, meaning “within”; and oculus, meaning “an eye.” The verb to inoculate, therefore, literally means “to put an eye within”—to monitor against harm." Russell M. Nelson, MD.

My sweet, fat, happy baby had another dose of her shots today. She put up quite a revolt, but, as much as we all hate to see our babies sad and hurting, at least I know that she has, literally, an "eye within."

And, just to make sure this post is as controversial as possible, I also have my babies in a hospital, use disposable diapers, and have never purchased an essential oil.

Yes, I homeschool. That'll teach you to stereo-type!

Monday, March 9, 2009

One Lucky Lady

We spent a day in the Big City on Saturday. My husband had a conference, so while he attended it, we were tourists. One mom, five pods.

Anyone with more than one child knows what everyone says to the mother doing the juggling act, "Wow! You have your hands full!" and variations on that theme. I recognize that people are not trying to be rude, just making small talk, so I usually respond graciously. Saturday, I heard the comment many, many, many times.

Yes, yes, my hands are full. . . Great way to be full, though, isn't it? . . . Thank you, aren't they wonderful . . . Boy, don't I know it . . . isn't it fun? . . . Why don't you stop observing my full hands and pick up the shoe my baby just tossed. Thanks. And, by the way, you don't need to shake you head in pity--I chose to have five children and I LIKE IT! I may have more.

But, as I've told you before, I am never churlish and don't make the curt replies over which I've mused. I somehow feel that I am the spokeswoman for all large-ish families. (I wonder, parenthetically, if all mothers-of-many feel this way.)

We were at the stop for the public transportation and I was organizing my brood. "Oldest, hold the baby. Second take the hand of the fourth. Third, you make sure you get your hiney on the train. Your mothership will fold up the obnoxious double stroller and haul the beast up the skinny steps. As soon as the doors open, move fast because leaving one of you at the stop would be a nightmare--for mother and child." I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a woman, about 50, just watching me. My hands were a bit full (har, har) so I didn't give her much heed. After a few minutes, she came over and spoke. She said, "You are one lucky lady."


A big smile burst upon my face as I agreed and thanked her again and again. That was the best thing I heard all day.

You know what? I am a lucky lady. There are women who cry themselves to sleep at night because they cannot have children. There are women in China who are still mourning because they were only allowed to have one child and that child died in an earthquake. There are women whose children are not with them because of painful custody battles. The adoption agencies have books full of the names of women who, so badly, want a child.

As I looked at my beautiful gifts piled all about me on that train, I thanked God for them.
I don't know why I have been given enough children to warrant public pity, but I do know that at least one other woman in that Big City, recognized that it is a good thing.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Calming Soil


Yesterday, after expelling the steam that had been building up in my system for a while, I felt better, but still a little hopped up. It was a cold and sunny March day, here in the high mountain desert. I went outside with my clippers and set to work. After pruning my apple trees, I then set to work on my flower beds. The soil is still mostly frozen so I couldn't do anything with the actual dirt. I have a few perennials that I don't cut back until spring because I like the texture that they give to the winter garden. I tackled those, cleared dead leaves, and picked up blown-in garbage. The wind whipped my hair around and flushed my cheeks. I breathed deeply the fresh, green air. I counted the tips of the tulips, windflower, crocus, daffodils and other promises pushing their way up, despite the cold, the deadening frost.

I was outside for about an hour and felt rejuvenated and determined, not unlike the hardy bulbs, to fight and push against things that discourage my growth. We the People, right? WE.

I love gardening. It organizes my mind and soothes my soul.

But, based on the comments to my last post, this discussion is not over.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mad, Mad, Mad!

A few things get my blood boiling. I have avoided writing about them in this sphere because I don't want to alienate anyone, but I have to write about this issue.

I am screaming mad about the economic packages being passed by the president and congress. MAD!! My husband and I have made many sacrifices to be fiscally responsible. We are living in a tiny, old house which I romanticize by calling it a bungalow. Truthfully, it is an old house with a leaky foundation, lead paint, and corroding pipes. We bought it, though, because we knew we could pay for it and fix it slowly without going into debt. I feed my family of seven on $200 a month. That means I spend a lot of time in the kitchen making foods from scratch. We drive a 13 year old van with 100 broken things. I make many of the children's clothes and rarely eat out. We do not have a cell phone (or even caller ID). I don't take the children into a studio for portraits because of the money. Do not get me wrong; I am not upset about being poor. We have learned a great many lessons and have been blessed time and time again during this time of little to no income. I really do love my bungalow because I have put so much of myself into it's improvement. I'm just laying this out there for you so that you can understand why my fingertips are white and my lips are pursed.

Count ten and take a few deep breaths, Emily.

What makes my hair flame is all of the "government spending" to help out the guy who has more bathrooms, a newer car, $700 a month in food stamps, and has taken his kids to Disneyland several times. And WHY, in a side note, do they call it "government spending?" That is not the government's money!! It is MY MONEY! I have a friend who may get up to $10,000 if they agree to buy a home this year. This is a gift, not a loan. While that is great for them, I would like Ten Thousand Dollars! When we purchased our first home, we had to take a financial planning class and then had to pay mortgage insurance until we had 20% equity in our home. What happened to that? All of the risky mortgages that started this most recent ruin should have been insured. But, heck. Why pay for insurance when your neighbor, who will be saving for three more years to take her family to Disneyland, would gladly pay your mortgage when you can't? You just sit there in your comfy chair and watch your humongous TV while you wait for me to pay up. You know I'm good for it because I've never even bounced a check, much less defaulted on a loan.

What happened to Debtor's Prison? If you couldn't pay, you went to freaking JAIL. Now, you just get a pat on the back and a sympathetic, "I understand. You needed all of those collectible plates." I don't think we should reinstate Debtor's Prison (because the prisoner didn't pay back the loan, the children and wife did), we certainly should not be rewarding the irresponsible thief for their deeds.

Now, I realize that some people came upon their troubles honestly (and many more will, over the next few months). This rant is not directed at them.

Haven't we always been told that if it seems too good to be true, it is? Well, now, if it seems too good to be true, and it turns out to be too good to be true, don't worry, the tax payers will allow you to keep your leather living room set, your heated bucket seats, and your riding lawnmower, and we'll make sure your mistake won't even effect your future credit.

So, spend away, you filthy scum. I've got your back.

With all my love,
The Mothership

Monday, March 2, 2009

Reading Styles

When I pick up a book, I usually finish it before beginning another. I like to have one story bouncy around in my head over which I muse while doing laundry and weeding the garden. I am a parable person, I suppose, because I love to glean life-lessons from stories. My favorite books are those which make me think, make me question my opinions (or, more often, make me refine and defend my opinions or positions), or inspire a personal desire for improvement. Just from some recent reads, for instance:
  • Booker T. Washington taught me to be slow to judge my perceived enemy, to persevere in the face of great, seemingly insurmountable opposition, and to brush my teeth.
  • The Gilbreths were proud of the large family, never embarrassed. I love the way they always encouraged learning and found fun and creative ways to educate themselves.
  • Caddie's father taught me the difference between a lofty, silly lady and a stable, grounded, capable woman. He explained how influential a mother is in a community, nation, and . . .
  • I had no idea how trench warfare looked and am once more filled with gratitude for the soldier's sacrifice. I also wonder how many people fight for their country (even receiving medals) and are then are betrayed by them (German Jews, American Blacks).
  • We have fallen a long way from the visionaries in 1774 Boston. They wouldn't pay a very small tax on tea, now we are paying more and more and more taxes for, often, ineffective, inefficient programs. And we just whine in our living rooms. We aren't doing anything about it.
  • The Call of the Wild should have never made it to publishing. It was an irritating book with a stupid ending.
  • I would like to see The Lake District someday.

And so on. I loathe self-help books. They rub me the wrong way and seem so contrived. A story format, for me, is easier to absorb. Also, self-help writers cannot hold a candle to classic authors or, more absolutely, scripture. My sassy way of taking notes on an assigned self-help book was to write scriptural references in the margins where the Lord says a similar thing only better.

My husband, on the other hand, is a skimmer. Although he has a list of books he has finished, generally, he reads short passages, single chapters or a section he remembers enjoying during his last skim. He leaves a path a books through our house. His mother claims that he has always done this. On his bed stand, right now, sit Greatest Speeches of 1980, a couple of Childcraft Encyclopedias, a biography about Spencer W Kimball, Divine Center, a manual for a class he taught a dozen years ago, Strange Stories and Amazing Facts, and his notes from Microeconomics--a course taken in 2007. It used to drive me crazy, but now it has become endearing. I love that man.

My daughter likes to choose a series and exhaust it. My sister reads everything she touches (101 books in 2008!!). My friend only listens to books on tape--she feels like she is not wasting time, that way, and can still get her house clean. My baby ingests the words, literally.

How do you read?