Monday, December 31, 2012

Planning Mishap

My first plant and seed catalogs began arriving in the mail last week.  I get a few excellent ones with beautiful pictures--so clear you can almost smell the flowers' fragrance.  I have spent too many hours pouring over the descriptions, thinking of what would go best together and the happy corner in my lot where it would live.

I especially relished my plan for a rose bed.  I think roses look best when they have their own bed accompanied by a few favorite companions.  The front of our property is the sunniest spot.  We have a 100 foot split-rail fence on the edge of the property that is pleading for roses.  I figured I could put a rose plant in front of each post then fill in the spaces with lavender, baby's breath, Russian sage and the like.  

Kind of like this, only with a mossy split-rail rather than the white picket.
My mother-in-law is a rose expert of sorts so I worked on my plan with her to choose the most fragrant or largest or most unique blooms.  In my mind, the rustic, cottage bed would be a welcoming entrance to the driveway.
Here is a good image more like my fence.  Hydrangeas don't do well in my area, so
imagine roses in their place.

When I get working on a project like this, it is always in the back of my mind.  When I'm doing laundry or running errands, I mull it over.  Sometimes I'm figuring out logistics (where to get plants and materials), but often I am just enjoying the dream of it.  I was happily and busily dreaming about the newly established plan when this showed up in our front yard:


Guess what moose eat.  That's right; roses.  This is the first time in the over 18 months that we have lived here that we have seen moose.  We've only spotted a mule deer once!  

What is a dreamer to do?

Saturday, December 29, 2012


A few years ago, I posted about my then-eleven year old son.  I thought maybe he would never learn how to glue himself together every day.

Fast forward a few years.  He will be 14 in a couple of weeks.  He takes a shower every day.  He uses shampoo and soap.  He puts on deodorant.  He even wears clean underwear.  

In the past 24 hours, he has asked for a haircut and requested ironing lessons.

This was Christmas morning, so he was a bit disheveled which opposes the point of this post.
Nice smile, though.  :)
So, for you mothers of wrinkled, crazy-haired eleven year olds out there, here is your dose of hope.  
In a few short years, he will smell good and look nice.

And your heart will break just a little bit.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Break Over

My dear readers,

We have had a wonderful Christmas, but I realized it is time to get back to the grind, so to speak.  My volunteer church position requires a lot of attention just before the beginning of the new year, though I have kept up on house work fairly well, it is time to buckle down with our Architect to get our house planned, Isaac's ballet competition in San Francisco needs planning, there are some fabulous newly released movies that must be watched (if it doesn't get on my list, it doesn't get done!), we must figure out a way to fit another child into our Little House in the Big Woods, and so on and so forth.

Before I do begin checking boxes . . .

What I Did on Christmas Vacation
by The MotherShip

As a stay at home mother whose children do not leave daily to attend school somewhere else, Christmas Break can look like any other time of the year.  I have to make a concerted effort to add in the traditions and celebrations that set the time apart.  I didn't always succeed, but it was still a memorable season.

I sent out Christmas cards, a tradition I skipped last year because I didn't know how to write out the super difficult facts of the year.  It was nice for me to look back on this year and recognize that it has been a blessed one for us.

We participated in our nightly advent tradition.  When my children were all small, I sat down and studied out a succinct way to teach the Christmas Story.  It has been a lovely tradition and simple way to keep the focus of the season on our Savior.  This year, however, I noticed my older children spitting out answers in a rote sort of way.  While I'm glad that they understand the facts, I came away realizing that I'll need to up the ante next year.

One of my favorite family traditions that I began with my new family (because it would have been a torturous activity for my own mother) is the making of Christmas treats.  I have a whole list of mega-favorites and decided on a handful.  We made sugar cookies.  That's it.  I felt like an utter failure each time I looked at the pile of ingredients on my kitchen counter, but I never acted on it.  My husband has been trying to watch his sugar intake as well and I didn't want to taunt him with piles of desirable cookies and treats.  If I look at from that perspective, I don't feel so guilty.

Speaking of guilt, this is the first year ever that I purchased pajamas for the Christmas Eve gift.  I have never spent so much on pajamas in my life and I couldn't shake the nagging thought of how much I could have saved it I'd pulled out the sewing machine.

Please ignore our casual theater attire.  We'd made it into town just in time!
One thing I didn't mind spending money on, however, was tickets to The Nutcracker.  We didn't take the girls last year because it would have meant taking the big car on the long trip, as well as the expense of the ticket purchase.  The entire ballet I felt bad, knowing the girls would have loved it.  This year, we took them all and got to watch the magical production together.  Isaac's many outstanding roles made it even more exciting!  What a joy to get to watch him dance!

Our oldest daughter had her piano recital.  Her teacher gives a wonderful service to a local nursing home each year and has the recitals during their dinner hour.  Most of the sick and elderly love and appreciate the music and the presence of the children.  Our daughter did a wonderful job on her piece and was even asked to accompany us all for some caroling.  This is the best time of year to have a piano student in your home!

Mother Nature cooperated in a remarkable way and delivered a glorious white Christmas.  We had over a foot of snow on the ground on the big day (which is a pain for the new bicycle owners).  We feel blessed every day by this perfect world.

And so, I am back.  I will continue to write and you can continue to read, if you so desire.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


It is Nutcracker season.  For dancers, that means constant rehearsals, moving sets and props, hanging lights, preparing and performing.  It is an exciting and exhausting time.  For parents, it means fixing costumes, helping with make-up, providing portable and healthy meals, but mostly, praying--praying that our child will be happy with their performance.  Praying that they will be able to portray the emotion of the dance; they have worked so many hours to perfect it so the audience won't be distracted by sub-par dancing.

Our nation has had a horrible day; a day everyone would rather have never happened.  All of us have shed tears and felt the heartbreak of the event.  Most of us gathered our children around us to read books, watch a movie or otherwise have them close.  Many of us felt the innate desire to never leave the house ever again and take other extreme steps to protect our families.  

But is was opening night of The Nutcracker.  Our children were tasked with taking our minds off of tragedy.
  In the midst of the darkness, they were asked to provide light.

You know, very often I have wished my son was a mediocre player on his junior high basketball team.  It is unspeakably difficult to watch him grow from 500 miles away.  But I can see the good he is doing.

Here I am trying to keep up on laundry, 
but my son is bring beauty to the world.  

This is the joy of mothering.  I get to be a part of growing someone better.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spoiling the Youngest

It happened.  I kind of knew it was happening, but mostly ignored my conscience because I didn't want to fight.  We were having a date, after all, and a tantrum spoils dates quicker than any other situation.

After having taken my other three daughters out for their Christmas shopping date, it was finally the four year old's turn.  She had waited patiently for over a week--the whole time watching each sister excitedly get ready, staying home for a couple of hours knowing that the sister was having a fun time with Mom, then witnessing the giddy sister run inside with a bag in her hand and success written all over her face.  It must have been terribly hard to be patient!

Well, today it was her turn.  We picked out a cute outfit (my most outfit conscious child), bid the other sisters farewell (who were glad to see us go) and jumped in the car.  For a couple of weeks, since the drawing of names, I had asked her what ideas she had.  "Guitar or drums," she proudly declared.  I was only thinking, How about something a little less than $200.

I decided to take her to the mall for variety's sake.  You need to understand that my oldest girl is about as un-frilly as you can get.  She isn't exactly a tom boy; she wears girl clothes . . . they just can't be pink and they can't be sparkly and they can't be cute.  You also need to understand that my youngest daughter is all about pink, sparkly, cute anything.  (Remember that she circled everything, literally everything, in the Toys R Us catalog that fell into those categories   That included toys she already had and a little girl with pink clothes who was modeling a bike.  She wanted the little girl!)

When we do our Christmas shopping, the children know that we are not there to pick out something for themselves; we are only there for the sibling gift.  Over the years, it has taken different children different amounts of training, but they always get it and it is always a rewarding experience.  Today was somehow different.  My little girl could not shift her mind into older sister mode.  Everything she saw that was over-the-top with color and twinkle was perfect!  I reminded her in a hundred ways that her big sister would never like what was being picked.  She was so sad.  Her taste level is so exquisite, she couldn't imagine anyone not liking her choices.

So I bought her these.

Every single other child did not get to buy something for themselves!  I mean, they each got a milk shake or a pretzel or whatever, but not a toy and certainly not pink, sparkly shoes!  She really did need some new tennis shoes and these are kind of tennis shoe-y.  They were on clearance and if I waited to buy them until she wasn't with me, they would likely have been gone.  BUT, every one of my older children who needed new tennis shoes two weeks before Christmas would have found them under the tree on Christmas morning.

What is happening to me?  My guard is going down.  It is a good thing there is another baby on the way or this child could become a major problem--because of her mother.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Our Business

‎"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself. 

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business! 

"Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me?"

(A few moments after this exchange, Scrooge was led to the window and instructed to look out.)  

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went.  Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free.  Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives.  He had bee quite familiar with the one old ghost in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below upon a doorstep.  The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever. (Dickens, Charles.  A Christmas Carol.  pgs 14, 21.  Bold added for emphasis.)

Are we our brother's keeper?  Yes, indeed.  We ought to be, like our Savior, "about my Father's business."

Here are the next few days' advent . . .

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

An Important Feature

To begin, I'm sorry if this topic is not lady-like, but it must be mentioned for the good of the cause.

I must be busy.  I don't know if this is a long-standing personal trait or if it is one developed over the last fourteen years of mothering.  If I am just sitting, I must be folding laundry (movie), eating (meals), typing (this) or reading.  If I am at a doctor's office, for instance, and have forgotten my book, I will read the side of my tube of chapstick.

One of my favorite things in our first house was a magazine rack in the bathroom.  This may be unsavory to a more genteel reader, but I assure you, once the magazine gained entrance to the bathroom, there it lived out its life.  Reading material was discarded regularly.

Not my kid.
My current bathroom does not have this feature.  I had had a large stack of old magazines given to me by a friend (Thank you, Lisa) who was innocent of their intended location.  Over the past several months, I slowly worked my through them.  The stack is gone.

Since the magazines are gone, I have found myself in the bathroom, stranded!  Nothing to read, nothing at all!  I have read the labels of all of the shampoo bottles, soap containers and cleanser wrappers.

Note to Self:
In the Someday House, remember to make a place to store those essential "just sitting" reading materials.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


My hair is getting long again.  I have thick, generally bodied hair.  This is the look I'm going for:

This is what it usually looks like:

(Actually, I'm not going to show you.
Imagine me in last night's make-up, greasy bangs and hair in a tight bun at the nape of my neck.)

Sometimes my hair looks really great, but not all that often.  I do try to do interesting things with it, but I am bobby-pin inept.  It may look just like the inspirational photo when I leave for church, but by the time Primary is over, it is a hot mess.

The problem is that I like my hair!  I like the color and the warmth on my back.  Why is this the problem?  I don't have to look at it, except during those getting ready moments in front of the mirror, but my husband does.  He would never say anything hurtful, but I think he's getting bored with the bun.  He says he wants something above my shoulders, below my chin.  (I've done pixie a few times before and I'm pretty sure he doesn't like that on me, though, again, he won't say anything if he thinks it would hurt me.)

I wouldn't really mind cutting my hair because I do like change, and hair is such an easy change, except for one major situation:  I am entering my fat stage.

Some of you luckies gain weight on only certain areas (bottom, belly, legs, etc), but when I gain weight, it goes to my face.  I've already gained 20 pounds and probably have another 30 to go.  I used to worry and struggle with this; now I just know it is part of the way my body makes babies.  That understanding and acceptances doesn't make me feel any cuter!  I still feel round-faced and double-chinned.

Long hair is supposed to elongate.  This is the time I need elongation.

So, I'm stuck.  What do you think I should do?


Totally unrelated, but pertinent because it is December 1st, here is a link to my advent if you are interested.