Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Resuscitation

In a few hours I’m leaving for Women’s Conference. And it’s a good thing. My low battery light has been blinking for days. I need to be recharged by the likes of Sheri Dew and Julie Beck. I need to spend four days laughing with my sisters. I need to be ensconced in maternal love…I’m going with both my mother-in-law and my mom.

As a big bonus, we’re having a baby shower for my sister-in-law Jennifer tonight. I’ll get to spend some time with the great girls my brothers married. My sweet cousin Hannah will be there too. I’ll get to meet her twin babies and also my newest niece, Olivia. (I come from a family where you can’t have too many Olivias.) It just keeps getting better and better.

I don’t know what I’m looking forward to most about Women’s Conference. Reading for two straight hours on the flight? Being in Provo and thinking fondly about my BYU years and wondering why they let twelve year olds go to school there now? (I didn’t possibly look that young when I was a student!) It could be my mom taking us all to the Hale Theater for a play then to Jamba Juice afterward. Maybe it’s hearing the great speakers share their lives and experiences, being reminded of what’s important. Being recharged.

This morning I woke with a start to Mark screaming. I shot out of bed and into his room, my heart racing. He seemed OK, lying in bed, not bleeding. I asked him what was wrong and he looked sheepish. I think he was screaming for his brother’s and sister’s benefit, not mine. He said simply, “I’m alone and I don’t want to be.” Then he scooted over in his twin bed and patted the space next to him. Since my head was still reeling from my abrupt awakening, I obliged him and crawled into bed. He snuggled next to me and said, “If I had other moms, you would still be my favorite.”

Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded why I do what I do and who I do it for.

I’m still going to Women’s Conference though. Let Mark scare the life out of Adam for awhile.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

How to Not Make Money

Every spring there’s a neighborhood garage sale around here. To our kids it’s a big party day. It seems like the entire community is out and about and miraculously the sun is usually shining.

The down side of the all of this frivolity are the armloads of free stuff our kids come home with at the end of the day when people give up on making much money. Kind of a “here, you throw this away” scenario but our kids aren’t interested in throwing anything away. Ever.

This year, Emma and her friend and fellow American Girl magazine aficionada, Freja, decided to make “pet products” to sell at the garage sale. They got their ideas for goods and how to’s straight from the pages of their beloved AG magazine.

In my effort to try harder to be the Good Mother and Enjoy my Children, I took them to Michael’s yesterday afternoon. We turned our kitchen into an art studio. Creativity, puff paint and craft foam abounded.


Freja decorating a picture frame for a potential bunny owner


Emma painting the all important colorful sign advertising their wares

Freja’s mom, Janet, and I, had minimal interest in devoting our day to the garage sale (despite the Good Mother and Enjoy our Children quests). We committed to 9:00-11:00 a.m. At 8:00 this morning, my girl who never in her life is ready for school at 8:30, was geared up to go out the door. She’d touched up the sign, was dressed, had eaten her breakfast, had her hair brushed, was packed and all set. Who are you and what have you done with my Emma?

We set up the card table (by Janet and Freja’s house because of more traffic).

And then we sat and waited. Waited for the pet owners to come in droves and snap up as many pet products as they could get their hands on.

In the first hour we had one taker that bought a 25 cent magnet.

In an attempt to stave off discouragement, I made a phone call to Emma’s Aunt Whitney. She has pets and she’s the kind of aunt you can invite to buy your products. She lives 25 miles away in Seattle but I thought perhaps she was in the area for some reason. She was home. She said, “How long will she be selling?” I assured her not long enough to merit a trip to Everett. Darn.

Next, I handed Emma the phone and told her to call her grandparents. They don’t have pets but they’re the kind of grandparents that you can invite to buy your products. Grandma Geri said she would come. We had a few other takers and things started to pick up. Janet spent $4.

Emma and Freja were brilliant salesladies. They would wave their arms with a flourish and offer their goods. Most people smiled and gave a polite no thanks. Some ignored them completely and a few glared a bit. Neither Emma nor Freja were very deterred by such behavior. Janet and I, sitting nearby on our camp chairs, wondered where our girls got their gumption.

When we closed up shop and counted the cash, they made $11.80. That is including the couple of dollars in change that I started them out with as well as the profits from Freja's brother Leif’s leftover pastries. He was selling donuts and pastries earlier but gave up his domain to the girls. (He had heard the siren song of the garage sale.) Janet and I had each given the girls $5 to spend at Michael’s plus Janet provided the ribbon and puff paint and I supplied the wash cloths ($4) they used to make the “paw cloths”. I’m no accounting whiz but I’m not sure it was extremely profitable.

We ended up with about half of the stock remaining. If you have a pet and would like a "paw cloth", picture frame or magnet (lovingly made of craft foam), I know where you can get a good deal.


Since Hallmark was having a sale on Webkinz today (spend $10 and get a Webkinz animal free), we headed there after the “big” sale. The girls each got a Webkin and got their face painted. After we got home, we were in the delightful they’re-giving-it-away-free stage of the garage sale. Emma scored a hat from our neighbors.


Here's Emma, sporting the hat and holding "Blizzard", the new addition to her thriving stuffed cat collection. When I see that smile, I am reminded that sometimes profits don't necessarily need to be monetary to be worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Maybe

More often than I’d like to admit (like this morning for example), I get to my breaking point. My I can’t do it all and I’m tired of trying point. I talk to Adam and I think, “He just doesn’t get it.”

Here’s the thing. I don’t expect too much. Just perfection. Is that so much to ask? Why can’t I have perfect children that always look fabulous and smell good? That doesn’t seem like so very much to ask. Why can’t I always look fabulous while we’re at it? Why can’t I always exercise and never have ragged looking fingernails? Why can’t I expect my hair to always look great and my make-up the same? Why is it that my house can’t be in a state of perpetual peace and harmony…and cleanliness? Is it too much to ask that I don’t find cobwebs on the pot rack in my kitchen and clutter in the corners of my bedroom?

Why can’t I just be tidy and “pick it up if I lay it down”? Why can’t I instill that habit in my darling children? Why is it that I don’t make nutritious and delicious dinners every night? Isn’t that easy enough to accomplish? What’s my PROBLEM?

While I’m thinking about it, why can’t I do a better job home schooling my children? Shouldn’t the expectation be that they’re brilliant and excited about learning and about ready for college by now since I’m such an exceptional teacher?

What major flaw am I fighting that I have so many unfinished projects and un-ironed shirts hanging in my laundry room? Why don’t I read to my children enough?

And look at those baseboards? When is the last time they were dusted?

I could go on and on but we might both get too depressed. There’s our 72-hour kits, food storage, family history, scrapbooks that are 5+ years behind to consider. I am not the scriptorian I aspire to be or the homemaker or writer or gardener or wife, daughter, sister, mother, visiting teacher, YW MiaMaid advisor or in general Sister in Zion.

How can I stand being such a loser? Because he’s my good husband, Adam assures me that I’m not a loser. Sometimes that sounds like my mom telling me in junior high when I had braces and glasses and really bad hair that I was pretty. Yeah, right!

I talk to my sisters and friends though. They, because they’re my beloved beacons in a faulty world, tell me that I am NOT a loser. They point out (like Adam did) what I’m doing right. I believe them slightly more (but they’re kind of obligated to be kind to me much like Adam is). When they tell me they feel the same way though, I sit up and pay attention.

What?!

How can they? I see their radiance as spectacular mothers. I see Marianne sewing a quilt with her daughters, I see Olivia teaching her children Spanish and being excited about doing some family history on a recent trip to Los Angeles. (When have I ever done much family history, let alone on a Disneyland vacation?) I see Janet with her spotless house always looking beautiful while juggling a million responsibilities. I see Stephanie, constantly teaching her children to work and insisting beyond all his protests that her 7 year old wear a helmet when zipping around on his scooter. I think THESE women are SUCCESSES. They know what they’re doing.

When they mirror back my own feelings though, I think WHAT IS OUR PROBLEM?! Maybe we’re all doing JUST FINE. Of course we all want to improve. That. Is. Life. As much as I wish it weren’t the case.

So I was thinking, maybe in this world where I have 300 directions I should be going in and no one to tell me which one is the right one, maybe there is just one choice. Maybe I should choose happiness. When I see the cobwebs, maybe I can congratulate myself for early Halloween decorations. (Wow, I’m on top of things.) Maybe I can remind my children over and over to do the same task…. but without snarling. (Wouldn’t THAT be something?) Maybe I can step around clutter with a smile on my face and realize it will be taken care of eventually. Maybe I can criticize my children a little less and tell them I love them a little more.

Maybe.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I Don't Understand

It is rare that we ever get much snow here. Today is really crazy because it's April 18 and it's...snowing!



It's that wet, sloppy, heavy snow that we always get here. We sadly covered the flowers we planted 6 days ago (!) when it was 80 degrees (!!!) with a tarp and hoped for the best.


My day got crazier though. It is also Braeden's first 11 year old scout camp out. The one Adam made his London trip short for. The one Braeden's been counting down the days until. The one he's been looking forward to forever. And. It. Is. Snowing.

The craziest thing of all? They went anyway! They were excited by it! I don't get it. I was sure they would cancel. I was sure they would stay home and watch a movie with us snuggled by the fire with popcorn. No. They still went camping. Adam and I talked about it and it was one of those familiar times that I know we both think the other one is absolutely wrong and insane. I thought he was insane (for obvious reasons) and he thought I was insane because "boys love this kind of thing." It's "fighting the elements together and winning." It's the winning part I'm worried about I guess. I've spent a good part of the last 11 years working towards the health and safety of my boy and it's hard to just hand that over to fool hardy camping trips in the middle of blizzards.

I was amazed they were going right up until the point when they drove off into the snowstorm. I wanted to call after Adam, "Wait, you've spent a lot of time in London lately. Maybe you don't remember, we have this..."

"And this...and remember, the gas fireplace turns on with the flip of a switch?"


"And remember this little beauty?!"

Why leave all that to go camping? In the snow? My neighbor and I were talking about it while bringing the snow covered garbage and recycling bins up to our houses. She said, "It's nice to be a girl." It is. And my good and wise husband probably never said a truer statement when he said, "You just don't understand how boys think." He's right. I don't.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Happiness, thy name is Mark

Today Braeden and Emma had the WASL test so I had time with just Mark. We went to the Children's Museum and had a great time. Days like today I feel like I've repaid Mark a little for all of the third child neglect.


Mark's favorite spot was inside the cockpit of the plane. He told everyone to buckle up because he was going to do a loop de loop. He also combated "enemy fire" with gusto.


Playing in the water.




An enthusiastic horseman.

Not a conventional way to milk a cow but not a conventional cow...it gave water.





Making paths for the "eggs".



We need one of these in our house!



On the rooftop.

Uncovering dinosaur bones in the archaeological dig


Construction!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Making Dreams Come True

Yesterday was dreary and today was quickly becoming drearier. I had horrible allergies. From across the world, Adam diagnosed that it’s because of the change in the weather. He says it always happens to me. Maybe. I guess the one who hears me whine the most would know. I drugged myself up like nobody’s business though and even put my head over a pot of steaming water. I feel better tonight. And my kids have a magical way of cheering me up. They, the ones who bring me the most anxiety, stress and irritation and they that take up most of my time, are also responsible for most of my happiness…especially when Adam’s away.

Tonight in his prayer, Mark was thankful for silverware “so we don’t get our hands all messy.”

In Family Home Evening, Emma had us re-enact the creation of the world. She spread out a blue blanket for the ocean and a green blanket for the land. She and Braeden (a.k.a. Adam and Eve) had blankets for togas and Mark was a monkey. He didn’t have a costume but he also didn’t need one to be a convincing monkey. As for me I flexed my thespian muscles and played a tree.

When I tucked Braeden into bed, he made sure I was going to wake him up tomorrow. He has the WASL test tomorrow and we have to leave the house at 8:00 (a shock to the home schooling system). I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been up before him since he’s been out of a crib and can get himself up. I assured him I’d wake him up and he said, “Good, then I can say, ‘just 5 more minutes’”. Yes, you can say that. Whatever it takes to make your dreams come true.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dreary

Yesterday the temperature was 80 degrees here. That’s unusual and I was in heaven. The only thing that would have been better is if my boys hadn’t whined so much about “all the sun” and “it’s SO hot.” They run around in t-shirts and sandals and shorts (if I let them) all winter and turn into wilted wimps when the temperature rises. I love it though. I love the sunshine and the blue sky. We bought flowers even though there weren’t too many for sale yet and put them in the ground. Well, Adam put them in the ground. I “helped” by deciding where they should go then I sat on the porch and watched him work. I did bring him some lemonade though and since I am such an exceptional wife I also put lime slices in the lemonade. It was just that sort of delicious sunshine-y day.

Then today happened. It’s cool and rainy (again). My boys are happy in their t-shirts and I pulled out a cardigan. On top of all the weather non-bliss, we had to take Adam to the airport because he’s off to London. I don’t know if I have Seasonal Affected Disorder or the lesser known but equally depression inducing Adam’s in London Disorder.

I decided to cheer myself up by listing things that are GOOD about Adam being gone:

1. I may make pancakes for dinner later and I may not. We may have cereal.
2. Tomorrow I’m going to Blockbuster and rent the chickiest chick flick I can find to watch while he’s gone.
3. I can read a lot without Adam asking me if I’m STILL reading.
4. I can look forward to chatty emails from Adam. I love getting letters from him.
5. I will get more sleep. Adam’s a night owl and I’m not.

O.K. that’s all I can come up with. Now I’m MORE depressed because it’s such a brief list. The good news for me is that it’s a much shorter than normal trip for him. He’ll be back Thursday and after five days and three nights of being away (I know—the math doesn’t add up), he thinks he’s going to play in a church basketball game that night. He’s crazy but I love him.

And miss him.

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