Friday, July 31, 2009

More Sage Advice

"No, way! You camp with a baby?!" Why, yes. Always have or we would never go camping--seems my eggs and his fertilizer do not know how to keep their hands to themselves I always have a new baby.

Here are a few instructions.
Number one, let them eat the dirt. They like dirt because it is dirty, see.
Number two, soot is also a popular in-the-woods toy. Good Parenting Tip: make sure it is cool.
Number three, see number one. Good Parenting Tip: buy Tide with Bleach.

I am a professional parent. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I am so flippin' full of wisdom, well, you just wouldn't be able to comprehend it's scope.

Coming next week: How to teach your children the meaning of the words "hot" and "sharp."


Yours Truly,

The MotherShip

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shoes

There is a Little House on the Prairie episode where Charles re-soles the girls' shoes to make them last through the winter. Another example of why I wish I were Charles or Caroline.

Today, though I caught a great sale, used coupons, bought clearance when possible and sent in my rebate as soon as I stepped in the door, I had to cut off one of my arms--above the elbow--to buy shoes and socks for most of my family. They are like light bulbs; they all go out at once.

For those of you who will be seeing my children in their new shoes, let me explain. Yes, I do buy name brand tennis shoes. There have been times when I haven't and I've always regretted it. Shoes get heavy wear, kids play hard, and nothing is more infuriating then having to replace shoes within the same quarter of the year. The cheap brands are fine for sandals and slippers, but for church shoes and tennis shoes, it is worth it to pay a little more and have them last exponentially longer.

And, just for the record, my son picked his shoes. I did not pick his shoes. He did. Please be patient with his fashion sense.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Things I Enjoy Cleaning

  1. Sweeping sticky rice
  2. Jello that has been sitting for a couple of hours--it gets a nice, tough skin on the top
  3. Any age of Cream of Wheat; if it's fresh, it sticks to everything, if it's old, it is now part of your table . . . for the rest of eternity
  4. Koolaid anywhere, but especially from the upper lip of a child
  5. Honey! This is a favorite because you get to clean the area over and over before it's no longer sticky
  6. Have you ever tried sweeping beads? Super fun!!
  7. My third pod continues to believe that there are chicks inside our Albertson's eggs. She "nests" them all over the house. Sometimes they are slept on or stepped on. Serious delight for any cleaner
  8. Marshmallows
  9. The gunk that collects in the kitchen sink drains
  10. Behind the toilet (I asked my son once, "Do you try to pee in the toilet or just at the toilet?)
  11. The casings of windows that house not just dirt and household dust, but dehydrated bugs that fall apart when touched with a rag
  12. An obvious favorite: poo, snot, and vomit; talk about party time
  13. Chewing gum out of hair and carpets
  14. Petrified Cheerios
  15. Carmel that leaked out of the upside-down bottle and coated the bottom of every bottle of A-1, mustard, tarter sauce, Hershey's syrup and soy sauce in the fridge
  16. Magic Marker or fingernail polish

What are your favorites?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Someday House Library

My husband has three more years of pharmacy school. The way I see it, that means I have three years to plan the perfect house.

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am enamored with small houses--super small. But the reality is that I will never have fewer than five children. Their bodies will grow larger and their music louder. The showers and the study time will be longer and the amount of food consumed (and thus prepared) will increase. I still want a small house, but maybe not super small. Maybe just less than 2000 square feet rather than less than 1000.

Because our home is also school, one of the rooms I dream about is the library. The walls will be lined with books, there will be a ladder because how cool would that be and there will be a long, sturdy table in the center of the room for spreading out papers or maps or time lines.

I want the shelves interspersed with small reading areas, each with good lighting, a comfortable chair and a small table. There will be window seats that look out on a private garden--something hidden from the rest of the garden--where birds will bathe and quiet flowers, like lily of the valley, will bloom. It will be the kind of garden that invites fairies. I imagine moments of reading when you see movement out of the corner of your eye, convinced you just saw a faun slipping behind the trees.

The library will have fine art (prints, of course) hung at eye level; where one could stand and study detail and color. The kind of paintings that make you want to try your hand with a brush or inspire you to pick up a pen and write it's story.
Most of all, I want a place, separate from the busy household, where one can find sanctuary in a book. A place where noisy music is not allowed, conversations are hushed, and the sounds of a scratching pencil, the tapping of a keyboard and the turning of a page dominate. It is the first room planned in our Someday House.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Retrenching

Several months ago, I wondered what it was that kept me busy all day so I kept a log. I learned, to my great relief, that I am not lazy, just busy with the mundane tasks associated with small children (wipe, pick up, put away, cook, repeat). I do have a little discretionary time, however. After I knew where my time was going, I made another list; a list of my highest life priorities. I then tried to plan my time better to make sure my family and I were getting the most out of my discretionary time. Was my leisure time reflecting my most important goals?

That was several months ago, but things slip and I have found that it is time to do it again. I am retrenching. I am reassessing . I am recommitting.


We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.

~Dallin H Oaks


That seems pretty straightforward, but what are the good, better and best? How do we decide which areas to pursue? I think our priorities must change according to our life seasons or we will go crazy trying to do it all. Some things, like scripture study and prayer, should be at the top of anyone's To Do list regardless of age and responsibility. Some things are temporary, like tending to sick children or university educations.

What are my top priorities?

  1. Return to my Heavenly Father by dedicating my heart, might, mind and soul to Him.
  2. Teach my family with the hope that my #1 will become their #1.
  3. Become a well educated, provident, wise woman.

    That's it.


    That's huge.


    Here is my commitment: Personal gospel study will improve. Family gospel study will occur more frequently. Exercise will continue. Bedtimes will be enforced. There are a few other, more private goals, but I am determined to do better.

    Satan has a powerful tool to use against good people. It is distraction. He would have good people fill their lives with good things so there is no room for the essential ones.

    ~Richard G Scott

    I'm sure you will be reading a similar post in a few months. By then, after all, my life will have changed yet again.

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    The Making of Me

    When I lived at home (with my parents, not with my husband . . . I still do live at that home), I had a strong timid tendency. Not shy, mind you, but timid. And really only timid about some things. I was not timid when it came to singing "Ave Maria" for student body elections with the slight lyric change of "Vote for Emily! Please, just vote for Emily!" over and over. I was not timid about voicing my opinions about rude adults--to the rude adults. I was not timid about expressing my desire for some man, some where to some day love me. No, my timidity was more along the lines of not wanting to put someone out. My family still teases me about the fact that I just couldn't order a pizza. Yes, I am aware they are paid for the gig, but it really just felt like I was making their lives hard, that I was solely responsible for making their shift too burdensome. I would not ask for directions because I might be interrupting some one's conversation. Making an appointment with someone whose job it is to accept appointments felt too invasive. I was loath to inconvenience anyone.


    Enter college. Enter collage across the ocean. Enter collage across the ocean without my mom!

    I learned to make appointments. I learned that people like to talk about their specialities; that people are sometimes annoyed when they are not consulted concerning their specialities. I learned that if something broken was to be fixed, it was to be fixed by me. Otherwise, it would go on being broken. I learned that my parents were right about most things. I learned that my testimony of the gospel was really mine, and not that of my parents. I learned that I could make life-long friends in a new place. I learned that I could love a roommate who spoke Mongolian and Russian, but not English. I learned that I was strong enough to do it--that I could take on challenges and succeed.

    I learned who I was, on that island.

    My niece arrived at my old dorm (!) a couple of days ago and I am suddenly homesick. I am homesick for Hawaii and college and my eighteenth year. I never want to be eighteen and single and nervous again, yet I miss it. I am quite different now than I was that August day, 1995, when I landed in a place I had never been, with no one I had ever known, yet I am who I am today because of that freshman year.

    I thought I would go back, after my adventures abroad, but met The Bluest Eyes instead. Someday I will walk the streets again; the streets that saw me discover myself, but it won't be the same. How could it be? My life has been wonderful, full of adventure and surprises, full of experience and growth.

    What a gift.

    What a beautiful gift.

    Ariel, I am smelling the flowers and feeling the air, I am hearing the waves and the birds and the campus noises, I am proving myself to myself right along with you. I envy you for the journey you are taking.

    I treasure the memory of mine.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Pioneer or A/C


    I like to think I'd have been a good pioneer.


    I'm fairly resourceful, I like dresses and I don't whine (except when I'm pregnant and I figure I have to use that excuse as much as possible because it is such a temporary situation). We've thought about going off the grid . . . and we would do it . . . were it not for


    the A/C


    and the washing machine


    and the hot water tank


    and the computer.


    But besides those few "needs electricity" items, I like the idea of going to bed with the sun, raising much of my own food and the non-electric family entertainment.


    On the other hand, maybe the non-electric entertainment is the reason we have so much family.


    Hmmm.

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    To Love a Baby

    How do babies survive older brothers and sisters?? Then again, how do siblings survive without one another?

    Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Movie Theater Honesty

    Over a hundred years ago, my beloved Uncle Mike smuggled a paper bag (grocery store size) of air popped popcorn into the theater. After sitting down, he realized he had forgotten to put butter on it. He promplty took the bag out to the concession stand and asked them to butter his popcorn. They did.

    Somewhere along the way, I decided that it was dishonest to bring treats into the movies. There is that sign, after all: Please do not bring in outside food and drink. Our family usually--as in almost always--goes to the bargain theater. Because I know they make no money off the tickets, and because it is a family-owned, local business, I don't mind paying for their treats. Plus, they are reasonably priced, for a theater, of course.

    In the past few weeks, I have seen a sudden desire to 1. forgo movies at the "new release" theaters forever and 2. if I have to go, disregard their plea for honesty. The first scenario includes a $2.50 unadvertised and additional fee for the required 3D movie glasses. When a humongous family saves up for a movie, they don't save up for unadvertised additional fees--fees one must pay when one has promised a brood of children they are going to a movie and for which they are in the lobby of the theater. The second scenario includes $5.64 for a large soda the size of which is smaller than the $1 two liter bottle of soda I can get at any grocery store.

    Now, I'm not trying to justify my own temptation for dishonesty by saying "They were dishonest first by charging too much." But, really! They were dishonest first by charging too much!!!

    Thoughts?

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Sisters

    When we were expecting our third child, I was especially thrilled that it was another girl because it meant a sister for our second child. I think women need each other more than men need each other. Not that men don't need friends--they do--it's just that men need each other in a different way. Men do (golf, mountain bike, hunt, go to a movie). Women, on the other hand, need sisters with whom they can share (philosophy, recipes, ideas, frustrations, information). Of course there are exceptions, but that is the basic experience I have had in my life.

    Since moving away from my mother's other daughter, I have fallen into a wonderful group of sisters and I must introduce you.

    Vanessa. Vanessa is that woman who can do everything well. I know you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. To list some of the everything: triathlons, quilts, super clean house, piano, patient mothering, and the reading of the classics with her book club each month. You'd love to hate her, but then she is so wonderful that you find it impossible.
    Then there is Candee. Candee has a graduate degree in Chemistry. She's kinda dumb, but we don't hold it against her. Just kidding, Candee!! This is the most organized woman you'll meet. There isn't an activity in our town but that Candee has the information and a schedule for you.

    Vanessa, Candee and I were the co-founders of our little book club.
    Next is beautiful Tiffany. Tiffany manages to be gentle and kind while having and standing up for her strong opinions. She likes to throw you for a loop; for instance, she seems like the type who would love soft things like french poetry, but has a degree in biology--you know, fungus and bugs and eyeballs and other yechy, gechy stuff.

    Oh, Becky. Becky likes to tell people that she is crazy (not the I'm-crazy-for-having-so-many-kids kind, but the doctor-confirmed-it kind of crazy), but the truth is, everyone adores her and her craziness. We appreciate her straight talk, her easy laugh, her non-judgmental style, and her overwhelming love for others. Becky makes us all feel welcomed into her world.

    Tami is our stable, sees-it-like-it-is person. She can draw concise conclusions while the rest of us (especially me) are confounded. She can do anything with paper or material and has been published several times for her abilities. Also, Tami is wise.

    There are a few others (my camera didn't come through with their photos) and some who have moved away. We have some who come every once in a while and some who promise they will come some day. Our discussions are lively and we don't have a problem with contradicting another's insight. A book that one woman LOVES, another HATES. That is my second favorite part of our book club.
    The first favorite thing is the sisterhood. I love these women. I learn something new each time we meet.
    Who are your sisters?

    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Courage

    Friday night, for reasons I won't go into here, we had to go camping. The problem was that Dad had to work both days so he couldn't join the other six of us. Now, I grew up camping and we camp frequently as a family, so I didn't think it would be too difficult. Though there was a bit of this, we did fine--great, actually. The children were cooperative, the weather was perfect, and the time frame was right. Though I came home quite tired, I never lost my cool and no one had an injury that needed more than a bandaid. Success.
    Today, I took my five pods to church, again without Dad because of work. We go to church every week. You would think they understood the ropes (sit still, listen to the service, read approved reading materials, write or draw, play quietly with the Little People dolls, don't lay on the pew with your feet in the air--underwear blazing, refrain from pulling hair, stealing pencils, crawling under the pew to the funny and irreverent grandpa behind you, crying or whimpering with any kind of volume, sticking your finger up the sleeping baby's nostril, biting your sisters' finger "to see what she would do," tearing the hymn book, yanking on, and breaking, Mom's beaded necklace, et cetera).

    May I say, in this safe environment, it was MUCH easier taking them camping than it was to sit in church for an hour and a half.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Whirring Around In My Head

    As if the children didn't give me enough about which to worry


    (eating the raw cookie dough, climbing onto the roof of the garage, jumping off the roof of the garage, falling out of the bunk beds in the middle of the night, learning to look both ways before crossing the street, neighbors yelling profanities, swimming pool drains,accidental internet pornography, choking on carrots/marshmallows/hot dogs/balloons, exposure to drugs, mean friends, crashing a bike into an impaling tree branch, windowless white vans, eating the Comet under the kitchen sink, am I completely screwing them up in our home school Great Experiment, washing hands after sneezing/petting zoo animals/attempting to change the baby's diaper by her five year old self, large furniture tipping over, uncovered hot tubs, vicious dogs)


    my baby has learned how to open the front door--the one that leads to the streets.

    Yes, that is a battery she is holding.

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    Getting My Hopes Up

    Every summer since 1999, my parents have gone on a two to four week motorcycle tour of different parts of the US and Canada. They call it their Three Week Hug (Mom doesn't drive, she rides). I used to live about ten minutes away from their house and so visited regularly. I absolutely love my parents.


    Last night, I was weeding my flower beds and had my back to the road. I heard the distinctive sound of a Harley roaring down the street. It made me smile, as I thought of my parents on their road trip. I hope they are having a good time, I thought. Then, the Harley began to slow down right in front of my house! I jumped up, heart fluttering, thinking my parents were surprising us (they have never done this)! As I turned, I saw a 62 year old man with a gray beard, split in the middle, with the wind blowing it over his shoulders, pulling up to the neighbor's house.
    Miss you, Mom and Dad. See you in August!

    Friday, July 3, 2009

    Speechless

    I just helped my daughter shave her legs for the first time.






    .

    Thursday, July 2, 2009

    What Should I Have Done?

    I think I fouled up today.

    Our community has free lunches in the park every weekday through the summer. It's some kind of extension of the free and reduced lunches during the school year. There is a park about three blocks from my house where the school lunch ladies set up their tables, so we go nearly every day. Many of my friends and their children also come to lunch at the park. We usually pick a shady spot and visit while the kids have a casual picnic together.

    There is a kind of creepy guy that goes to my church. He is about my age, has two young boys and never comes to church with his wife (if there is one). The problem is that he is too familiar with me; says things like, after looking me up and down, "You look cute." He just makes me feel uncomfortable.

    Today, I arrive at the park to find that none of my friends are there. As we pull our bikes up under a tree, Creepy Guy waves to me. Oh, no. I think. What do I do? I would definitely feel uncomfortable sitting alone with him. Frankly, there are very few men with whom I would feel comfortable sitting alone--a list mostly comprised of my brothers and uncles.

    There wasn't a whole lot of room in "his" shady spot so I walked a bit farther and sat alone. Within moments three families from church arrived and sat by me. There is no way he couldn't have noticed.

    I feel terrible. I don't think he is predatory. If I had known others were on their way I would have been fine sitting with him--and the group.

    What should I have done?