Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What kind of husband does that?

My husband is with another woman right now.  Actually, he left work early today to spend time with her and is spending several days at her place.  He even cooked dinner for her tonight.  Actually, I'm quite pleased with this fact.  But, what kind of husband and father does that? He left the state and left me with 5 kids to take care of the week before Christmas.  I'm pretty sure he bought some things for her as well. Again, what kind of husband does that?

I'm thinking he's not going to be doing much sleeping tonight.  Of course, that may have something to do with the new baby in the other room.  And his willingness to get up in the middle of the night and help feed the baby if needed.  And change poopy diapers. And swaddle and rock a baby.  What kind of husband does that? For a child that is not his?

He's visiting his sister right now and helping out with her new baby.  It made more sense for him to be there as there are 5 kids here that need taking care of, and his work is flexible enough that he can work away from the office.  His sisters and mom and dad have been taking turns helping out, and he's taking his turn.  I believe his brother is taking a turn in a few weeks.  Again, what kind of husband does that? Just when I think I couldn't love him more, he does something like this to remind me what a good deal I got in marrying such a good man.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Becoming a responsible adult

I clearly remember the feeling of responsibility I had when I bought my first car.  I signed all the documents and they then gave me the keys and I drove off.  It seemed a little unreal to me that they were going to let me just take the car.  I kept wondering if they were going to make me bring it back. I was so used to at least reporting back to my parents that I was taking the car somewhere, it seemed strange that it was all mine.

I had the same reaction when I bought my house.  The numbers involved were much larger, but really I just signed some papers, they gave me a key, and it was mine.  No worrying about a landlord or reporting back to anyone.  The bank really seemed to think I was a responsible adult and that I was old enough to take care of a house by myself.

I remember having a similar feeling when I had my first child.  Granted, I had spent 9 months carrying her around with me and "taking care" of her.  But, when they checked me out of the hospital, I just took her with me and went home.  No nurses at the house, no "adult" checking up on me to make sure I was doing everything right.  I was supposed to be a responsible adult, and care for this little child. It was more than a little bit overwhelming.  You'd think at 34 I was old enough to consider myself responsible, but I'm not sure anything can prepare you for that type of responsibility.

As I think about it, though, I don't "own" this child in the same sense that I "owned" my car or my house.  She's on loan to me.  She's God's child.  I'm not really left alone with her.  If something with her needs "repairing", I can always go to Him for help.  He feels the responsibility I feel for taking care of her.  He for some reason considers me a responsible adult capable of taking care of His child on a very long term basis.  Knowing this makes me feel the responsibility even more, and at the same time comforts me in knowing I'm not alone in caring for a child.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"When I grow up, I don't want to be a mom"

"When I grow up, I don't want to be a mom". My 7 year old has said this to me several times.  It always makes me a little sad.  I figured I wasn't letting her know how much I love being a mom.  Maybe I complain too much about the not so fun parts of being a mom, like changing diapers and dealing with whining children.  I think I'm extra sensitive to the comment also because when I was growing up, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say "A mom".  The mom guilt was setting in every time my daughter made this comment.

Well, last night at dinner I finally discovered the source for the comment.  I was asking my children what they wanted to do for a job when they grew up. These answers are constantly varying from Lego designer to rockstar dressmaker.  Here was my 7 year old's response.

7 yr old: "I don't want to be a mom when I grow up."

Me: "Why not? I love being a mom.  It's the best thing ever."

7 yr old: "Does every mom have to do taxes? I don't want to do taxes."

I can now breathe a sigh of relief.  Apparently it's not that she doesn't want to be a Mom when she grows up.  She doesn't want to be a CPA and do taxes for clients like her mom does.  She thought that because her mom works from home and does taxes, that every mom has to do that.  That's it's just part of being a mom.  After much laughter, we explained to her that no, not every mom does taxes.  She can be a mom and still do something else.  I love getting rid of mommy guilt.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Color blindness

When I look at my growing up experiences, I've always thought of myself as growing up "color blind". Meaning, I had friends of all kinds of nationalities and races, but they never really seemed that different to me.  I kind of patted myself on the back for not really thinking my friends whose parents were from Korea were any different than my friends who were half-Puerto Rican or African-American.  This kind of goes along with the idea of America being a giant melting pot. (Too much Schoolhouse Rock as a kid, I know).

As I've gotten older and looked at it and tried to teach my children, I've realized I've kind of missed out. I've had Jewish friends, Iranian friends, and Indian friends, but by trying to treat them all the same, I really missed out on understanding who they were and learning more about their cultures.  My kids will make a comment about someone like "They have a brown face and black hair", and I'll say "Yep. They do.  And you have blonde hair.  Everybody has different color skin and hair, don't they?" Really, though, isn't it okay to acknowledge that someone is different and say, we should learn more about the country Venezuela where our neighbor just moved from, rather than just saying, we're all the same? I guess that's the idea of America being more like a giant beef stew rather than a melting pot.

I don't want my children to be rascist by any means, but I think that if we learn a little more about each other and where we came from, there's a lot more understanding and appreciation for differences rather than just being completely color blind.

Friday, October 18, 2013


I never really had a BFF.  I had lots of good friends growing up, but I was never really a "best friend" type of person.  I was always more comfortable with having lots of different friends, even if we weren't really that close, than I was with having a "best" friend.  Part of this has to do with the fact that I switched schools several times growing up.  I switched in 3rd grade, and luckily 2 of my friends switched along with me.  I switched again in 7th grade, going back to school with some of those from 1st and 2nd grade.  However, my junior high was shutdown after 7th grade, so I ended up back with friends from 3rd-6th grade.  The school boundaries then changed, but I wanted to stay at the same school as my older siblings, so once again, I switched back to friends from 7th grade. This also means that my neighborhood friends went to the new high school. And, last but not least, my parents moved right before my junior year of high school, so my neighbors/church friends changed, but I got to stay at the same high school.  Of course, amidst all of this, other kids were moving in and out of my schools, and high school brought along friends that had gone to a different "feeder" school that I had never met.

I contrast this a bit with my husband's schooling experience.  I'm pretty sure that almost everyone that went to his elementary school also went to the same junior high and then the same high school together.  In fact, I don't think there was a 2nd junior high, so really, it was mostly the exact same group of kids that went to school together from 1st through 12th grade.  Wow.

Now that I've reconnected with friends from high school, junior high, and even elementary school on Facebook, sometimes I'm a little jealous when I read their comments about knowing each other's families or funny things from their early childhood they experienced together.  I don't really get it.  There are very few people in my life that were consistently around for my entire childhood.  One more reason to be thankful for a family of 6 children, where my brothers and sisters were always there and could be my "best friends".

I started thinking about this when I went to an assembly for my 2nd grader.  All the 2nd grade classes put on a Folk Song Festival.  My 2nd grader has a "best friend".  Actually, I think sometimes they fight as much as they get along, but she's still her "best friend".  I looked at all of those kids there lined up in classes and realized that, if we didn't move and lots of those kids stuck around, they could really end up going to all of elementary school, junior high and high school together.  That's such a foreign concept to me.  Having the same good friend consistently for 12 years.  Wow.  I have an older sister that experienced that, but not me. One more thing I will learn from my children, I guess: How to keep a consistent friendship going through all that life throws at you throughout your childhood and teenage years. How to be and have a BFF.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Zoning out - kid style

We all need time to zone out every once in a while.  You know, when you're brain dead, and feel like you want to just sit on the couch and stare at the wall for an hour - preferably in silence, which isn't going to happen when you have kids around.

I've learned that kids need this sometimes, too.  My kids have learned to say "I need my alone time", when they just need some space and quiet to unwind.  Or, sometimes I tell them to go have some alone time, when the fighting has reached too high of a level.  My 4 year old will play Barbies by herself for alone time.  My 5 year old will do Legos.  My 7 year old will usually go read.  A few weeks ago, though, my 7 year old, pulled out Bop-It for her alone time.  I wasn't as happy with that, and not just because it's an obnoxious game.

I confess that video/computer games scare me a little.  Not because I think there's anything inherently wrong with them.  We mainly don't have them because my kids are little and I think it's easier and better for them to play games together or that involve them using their creativity.  And, I have a fear of turning my children into Zombies who don't know how to entertain themselves.  As my 7 year old sat and played Bop-It for her alone time, I could totally see her zoning out.  I know it's okay to zone out every now and then, but I think that addictive behaviors sometimes start because we need to zone out and we're looking for something that doesn't require our mind to think.

I know.  I sound completely paranoid as if my 7 year old is going to be an addict to something because she plays Bop-It.  That's not really it.  It just made me think about teaching my children to zone out productively, if that makes sense.  I'd much rather they sit and read or play music or draw when they need to zone out rather than rely on electronics.  I know that for me, it's much more refreshing to zone out by playing the piano or reading a book, than watching TV or going through Facebook. What do you think? Am I being paranoid? Or is there really such a thing as teaching children to productively zone out?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Panic attack

I just read this article by Jason Wright in the Deseret News yesterday and I had to nod my head in agreement. I had heard people talk about having anxiety issues or panic attacks, and I kind of had the same attitude of "just get over it and be brave". That is, until I had my first panic episode.  Apparently, it's not uncommon to have panic attacks when you're pregnant.  I didn't know that.  It had never happened to me until I was pregnant with child number 5.  I just assumed they were talking about the stress you feel in having a baby and how that kind of freaks you out. I didn't realize it meant, in my case, flying on an airplane when 5 months pregnant and feeling claustrophobic to the point that you felt like you couldn't breathe and had to get out. Needless to say, you can't really do that at 30,000 feet.

My apologies to anyone who has had anxiety attacks before and had someone like me who just smiled and nodded without really appreciating what that means.  I spent most of a 4 hour flight standing in the back aisle of an airplane. The thought of sitting in that little space between two people was more than I could stomach.  Literally.  I had another panic attack shortly after the baby was born.  This one happened at home late at night, but it was so bad that I really felt like I couldn't breathe.  I couldn't make the air go into my lungs and I thought I was going to die.  It was very real. It was not just a "Boy, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment." Happy to say I haven't had to deal with it since then.  But to all of you who deal with this or have family members who deal with it on a regular basis, you have my complete sympathy. Wish I could do more to help. Maybe understanding is enough for now.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Counting kids

I find myself constantly counting kids these days.  And it's not just to make sure all of them are there.  Really, it's more to make sure the correct number of kids are there at the right time.

Going to church: 5 kids all here?
Picking up from kindergarten: 5 kids - 1 still in school + 2 extra ones to take home = 4 kids
Taking to preschool: 5 kids - 2 at school = 3 kids
Picking up from preschool: 5 kids - 2 at school - 1 at preschool = 2 kids
Coming home from mommy mingle at the park: 5 kids - 1 at school = 4 kids

It's no wonder I get confused sometimes. During the summer, it's easy to always do a roll call in the car and have 5. We do almost everything together.  School has started, and I'm pretty sure it's only a matter of time before I forget a child. Or two.  I used to think counting kids was just a sign that maybe you should have another child (which is a post for another day). Now I realize it's a matter of making sure you have the right kids.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Caught in a lie

We've been a having a little honesty problem around our house lately.  Nothing big.  Just little white lies.
"Go brush your teeth."
"I did."
I feel the toothbrush, and it's completely dry.  No teeth have been brushed.
Well, the other day, we have actual video/camera evidence of a lie. It was a little embarrassing for the kids.
I was out running/going to the grocery store early on a Saturday morning.  Dad slept in a little, which means the kids were left to their own devices. When I came home, the 7 and 5 year old promptly tell me that the 4 year old has been eating candy.
"She stole some candy!"
"She stole some candy and was eating it downstairs!"
"What candy?"
"Dad's candy bars. [For his lunches]. She had a Crunch bar. And a 100 Grand."
"Where are the wrappers?"
"They're downstairs."
Meanwhile, the 4 year old is protesting, "I did not! They ate some too!"
While the 5 and 7 year old are strongly denying eating any.
It sounds so neat when you write it down like that, but really, it involves 3 children yelling, accusing, and denying simultaneously.  I wish I could have taped the chaos to truly describe it. They bring up wrappers for 2 Crunch bars, a half eaten Crunch bar, a partially eaten 100 Grand, an open bag of peanut M&Ms and a bag of chocolate covered caramels. Needless to say, the treats have now been hidden and the 4 year old doesn't get any treats for the rest of the week.

Later that day, we found the camera hidden under the bed in our room.  The 7 year old just recently learned that she can take pictures and video by herself. Here's what we found in reviewing the tape:

By the way, this is the 5 year old, not the 4 year old.  One who vehemently denied eating any of the candy and blamed it on his 4 year old sister.  Obviously, the thought that Mom and Dad may actually look at the pictures never entered his mind.  It's actually a great shot taken by the 7 year old.

And there's more. Like I said, the 7 year old also learned how to take videos on the camera. Kind of.

Needless to say, I don't think there will be so much playing with the camera.  Certainly not when kids are doing something they shouldn't. As for the lying, I'm not sure this will stop that.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Stress dreams

Growing up, my nightmares/stress dreams seemed to revolve around school.  They usual involved my showing up at school and not being able to remember my locker combination, forgetting what class was next on my schedule, or having to take a test in a class where I hadn't attended all year.  Of course, there was the random show up to school naked dream, but really it was mostly not remembering something I should have remembered.

When I finished college and moved on to the working world, I would still occasionally have the school stress dream.  However, I also started having spy dreams.  I'm pretty sure this has something to do with watching to much "Alias", but I seemed to do a lot of running from people that were trying to shoot or kill me.  I was a pretty good spy, though, so I usually was fairly indestructible in a Sydney Bristow/Jack Bauer fashion.

When I left my overtime-working accounting job, I went to work substituting at the elementary schools, along with other things.  My stress dreams during this time period usually involved having to substitute for a sixth grade class of hellions, or the dreams had something to do with showing up at my old accounting job to work part-time or just for tax season.  I always knew, waking up from one of these dreams, that I must be stressed about something.

Enter parenthood.  Rarely do I have the locker/school dreams any more.  It's been a long time since I've had a spy dream. I kind of miss those. I don't usually dream about my old jobs anymore, either.  My dreams not revolve around my family.  But not always in a happy way.  They usually have to do with children waking up at 5 am and trashing the house; or extended family members descending upon my house at 6 am looking for food.  Or having a child get lost or drowning in the bathtub.  Apparently these are the things I now stress about subconsciously.

How about you? What are your stress dreams? Do they in any way reflect your true life and stresses?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Every morning is Christmas

We have a tradition in our family, that on Christmas morning all the children come into our room when they wake up.  They wait there until everyone is awake, and then we all go downstairs together to the front room to see what Santa has brought. Apparently this tradition has stuck because our children, when they wake up in the morning, on any day, come immediately into our room and don't seem to want to go downstairs until everyone is awake and ready to go down for breakfast.
We'll have 5 children rolling around on our bed or our floor, asking us over and over again "Can we go down and have breakfast now?" It doesn't matter how often we tell them "You can go downstairs anytime you want.  You don't have to wait for us." They seem to treat it like Christmas, where they can't go downstairs until everyone is ready and Mom and Dad say it's okay.

I have no doubt this is one of those things that when they are older I will miss.  Knowing that my children want to see me first thing when they wake up in the morning and that they want to be together.  It would be nice if they would occasionally wake up on a morning when I finally get to sleep in, and decide "I think I will go downstairs and play quietly by myself rather than waking Mom and Dad up and staying in their room until everyone is here." I have my doubts about whether this will ever happen, and I guess I'll miss it when it finally does.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Early to bed...

Benjamin Franklin has the following quote attributed to him: "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise". Besides health, wealth, and wisdom, I can think of many reasons why I should go to bed earlier at night. Here are some of them:

I can wake up earlier.
I'm more likely to exercise.
I have time to read my scriptures before the day begins.
It's not as hot when I'm running outside.
I get to see the sunrise as I run.
There aren't as many cars on the road when I'm biking.
I'm up before my children and have a little bit of quiet time.
I feel more rested.
I have more patience with my children and everyone else.
I'm more productive.
My brain functions more clearly.
I have lunches made on time.
I'm not late for morning appointments.
I get my morning chores done.
I don't feel like falling asleep at 4 pm.
I'm happier.

You'd think with a list like that, I'd be completely motivated to go to bed early. And yet, I have a hard time stopping at night in time so that I do go to bed early.  Maybe I need to hang this list up somewhere and review it every night after the kids go to bed, to remind myself to go to bed early. It's kind of like eating healthy. You know you should do it, and you know you feel better when you do it, and yet somehow, it doesn't always usually happen. Maybe I need help from some of you that do go to bed early.  I'm pretty sure someone must go to bed early or at a reasonable time. How do you do it? Set an alarm? Rewards for going to bed early? A more comfortable bed? Any tips?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Overscheduled kids

I always hear stories about how kids are overscheduled these days.  Too many lessons, practices, and other activities and not enough free time to just play, and lots of time spent driving around in the car.  This week I experienced it, and hope to not experience it again.  At least not for a looong time.  As part of a plan to not overschedule my kids during the school year, I let each child choose one activity to sign up for this summer.  My 5 year old chose a city sports camp where they go for 1 hour each day for 4 days and learn a different sport each day (soccer, baseball, basketball, and football).  My girls each chose a dance camp put on by the local theater, that was 2 hours each day for 5 days with a little performance on the last day.

I thought I was being clever by having both girls sign up for the same week.  Even though one would go in the morning and the other in the afternoon, I thought it would be better to have the girls go one week, and my boy go a few weeks later.  Ugggh.  What this really meant was that 4 times a day I was driving to the theater to drop off or pick up.  While hauling 4 other children around with me.  We went at 9:30, 11:30, 12:30 and 2:30.  I hated it and my kids hated it as well.  The first day, my 5 year old started throwing a fit at the last pick up.  "I don't want to go! I hate this!"  I had to agree with him.  After that first day, I decided we weren't going to do "school" for the week or worry about practicing piano.  I wanted them to be able to have time to play. 

I still am glad my girls went to the camp.  They had a blast! And I'm still glad we chose to do one week of dance camp rather than worrying about every week taking them to a practice during the school year (and paying for it every month).  But, wow, I'm recommitted to not overscheduling my kids as they get older.  If nothing else, there's no way I want to spend that much time in the car.  I can think of much more enjoyable and productive uses of my time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Remember when...

Remember when...

You thought it was difficult to take your one child in a car seat to the grocery store
You could sit and quietly read as you constantly fed your first baby
Your child's pants didn't yet have holes in the knees
The nurses and doctors in the delivery room didn't quite respect your opinions
You worried when your baby got a runny nose
You made sure to keep the entire house quiet when the baby was taking a nap
You could fit other people in your car with your family
Your child watched Baby Einstein videos instead of Superhero Squad
You took 10 minute videos of your child breathing/smiling/giggling
You didn't have a routine
You could stay home all day when your child was sick
You wondered who really bought applesauce or bread or milk in bulk
You made sure your child's hands and face were always clean
When a toy/bottle/pacifier dropped on the ground, you took it home and sterilized it
Your crib didn't have teeth marks on the railings
Your stroller/high chair/exersaucer didn't have any stains/spills on it
You could own a white couch
You could sleep in if the baby had a rough night
Your house was quiet at times
You thought your sister's children were loud
You didn't understand the magical quiet of library day
You had time to iron and owned clothes that needed ironing
You could follow the advice of napping when your baby napped
People didn't even really notice when you walked into a store
You had time to completely fill out a baby book and document everything
You had a cute scrapbook for your baby instead of unprinted pictures on the computer

Remember when you didn't understand that the more children you have, the crazier life gets, but the more love that fills your heart and your house?

Friday, June 7, 2013

This motherhood stuff can be hard work

So, I came to a realization this week that this motherhood stuff can be hard work. Not that it always is, but it certainly can be.  I know. 5 children later and I'm just realizing this?

School got out for the summer this week. Really that means my 7 year old is now home all day with her 4 younger siblings.  Not that much of a change really. I decided I didn't want her to forget everything she's learned in 1st grade (although I'm pretty doubtful that could really happen, especially since she loves to read), so I decided to do "summer school" for all the kids. After quiet time each day (have I mentioned how much I love quiet time?), the kids get out their "journals". My 7 year old's is lined paper where she just has to write 4 sentences or so. The 5 year old draws a picture and tries to write about the picture.  The 4 year old draws a picture and I write what she tells me about it. The 2 year old scribbles all over a blank page and throws the crayons all over the place. I'm giving the 4 month old a reprieve from school. After journals, we do one activity for the day and the 2 older ones then practice their piano.  Monday we did handwriting/practicing letters, Tuesday was a math worksheet for each one, Wednesday we did an art project, Thursday we did a science experiment, and Friday we talked about a "social studies" topic.

We really only spend maybe 30 minutes tops on all of this, but man, it was hard work.  I'm a wimp, I know.  I gained even greater respect for my friends and family who homeschool their children.  I understand that usually they have a pre-set curriculum they follow, and their kids are probably a little bit older, but still.  Hard work.

One of the things I realized as I do this, is that I don't take very much time to be "actively involved" in my childrens' learning.  That doesn't mean I'm not teaching them.  I am.  But I don't think very much about what I want to teach them and how I should teach them.  I think I've been missing out a little bit.  I'm pretty good at letting them just play (which I think is also pretty darn important), and hoping I can get something done, like maybe sweep the floor, while everyone is occupied and getting along.  Managing the chaos can be hard, but it's not a purposefully difficult task.  It can be pretty easy to just let my children manage their own learning or let someone else teach them.  I'm not sure that's really want I want, though.  I've realized I need to spend some time deciding "What things do I want my children to learn and know" and then plan on what I'm going to do to help them learn this. Hard work. But so worth it.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Pop Music Suggestions

It finally happened.  My 7 year old discovered pop music. 

My children are pretty familiar with a diverse range of music.  They listen to opera, classical, showtunes, religious music, Doo-wop, and kids' music.  But we don't listen to much pop music.  I confess that if the music/singer came around in the past 20 years, I'm probably not too familiar with it.  I'm old.  I know.  Even in high school, I listened to classic rock as much as I listened to pop music.  I can name a couple of popular singers/groups these days, but I can't usually match the names with music I may hear on the radio.

My 7 year old has done karaoke in her music class at school a couple of times, and frequently the kids will choose artists like Taylor Swift or Katy Perry or One Direction to sing.  My daughter has decided she really likes Taylor Swift.  Part of this is because she can understand lyrics like "She wears high heels, I wear sneakers" or "I hate that stupid old pickup truck".

I decided I would help her out by checking out some CDs from the library for her to listen to.  All the Taylor Swift CDs were checked out, so we got two "Now That's Music" CDs that had a Taylor Swift song on them.  I'm not sure I can adequately express my shock at the album covers that they had inside the CDs showing all the artists on the compilation. Half of them looked like the type of pictures you used to only find covered up behind the counter at 7-Eleven when I was growing up.  Once again, yes, I know I'm old.  Most of the music on the CDs also all sounded the same to me, and the lyrics weren't all that great.  My daughter also discovered that she could pull up Pandora on the computer and listen to a Taylor Swift station, where they show the lyrics to a lot of the songs so she can sing along.

So, here's my dilemma.  I have no idea what artists/singers/groups I should have my 7 year old listen to.  I'm one of those out of touch moms. I have no problem with my daughter listening to appropriate pop music, I just don't know which way to steer her.  So, I'm asking for suggestions.  Anyone have any ideas of music my daughter would like that I wouldn't be embarrassed for her to read the lyrics and sing along with? Any help would be appreciated so that my child knows more than the music from 1960's Broadway shows.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Repetitive phrases

There are certain repetitive phrases from my childhood that I still hear in my head. To this day, if I'm running around in my socks, I'll hear in my head "Either put your shoes on, or take your socks off". When my children ask "What's for dinner?" I respond as my mom did by saying "Pickled pigs feet and sauerkraut." There are other phrases I repeat to my children, that I wonder if 40 years down the road, they'll still hear in their heads. Phrases like the following:

"Shoes and coats!" "Hair and teeth!" "Wipe, flush, wash your hands."

Or these:

To my 7 year old: "Coat, shoes, backpack away." "Feet down." "Stop shoveling your food."

To my 5 year old: "Sit on your bum. No perching." "Don't throw a fit. Just ask for help."

To my 4 year old: "Just be patient." "Do you have any underwear on?" [Really. I say this one quite a lot.]

To my 2 year old: "Don't throw [insert an object here]." "Where are your pants?"

To my baby: "Read a book, sing a song, take a nap." "Double duty diaper duty!" [This is when I'm changing two kids at once. Which happens frequently."

Most importantly, though, I hope that 40 years down the road they still hear in their heads "I love you!"

Friday, May 17, 2013

The smiles make it all worthwhile

I love it when my babies finally start smiling and laughing.  It makes it all worthwhile.  I feel like I must be doing something right, because my child is happy.  Here's a little something to share that makes me happy.
How can you not smile at such a thing? This is one of those things I'll return to periodically and watch just when I want to smile.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thanks to mothers

"When I grow up, I want to be a mother, and have a family. 1 little, 2 little, 3 little babies of my own..."  When I was a little girl, this song by Janeen Brady was one of my favorite songs.  If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell you I wanted to be a mom.  I had other things I would say I wanted to be, but always a mom.  Even in high school, I remember having a conversation with friends asking what we wanted to study in college and be "when we grew up".  I told them I wanted to be a mom.  They kept saying, "But what do you really want to be?" My answer was "a mom".  I still planned on getting a Masters degree in Accounting and probably working as a CPA, but I really wanted to be a mom. 

Time went on, I graduated with my Masters in Accounting and started working as a CPA.  By the time I was 32 or 33 and still single, I started thinking maybe I wasn't ever going to get married and have children of my own.  I remember hearing and reading talks, like this one from Sheri Dew, that helped me realize that I can still be a mother figure to others.  I was also blessed to have a wonderful Great Aunt, Aunt Gladys, who never married or had children of her own but truly is the greatest Aunt ever to all her nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.  I thought, "If I can't be a mother, than I can be the world's greatest aunt like Aunt Gladys".  I still had that great desire to be a mom, but figured maybe it wasn't going to happen for me.

Then I met my husband.  I fell in love with him almost immediately, we were married 6 months after we met, I was pregnant a year after we met, and less than two years after we met we had our first child.  I was a mom.  And it was hard. And wonderful.  I remember thinking, "I'm not really young anymore, maybe this is it.  One child. I have my chance to be a mom and I'm grateful for it."  Well, here I am 7 years later and the mom of 5 children.  I'm a mom.  And sometimes I'm still a little amazed by it.  I'm grateful for the chance I have to be a mom and all it teaches me.  I don't know why God chose to give me this responsibility and opportunity, but I'm thankful for it.  I have plenty of friends who have not had the opportunity to become mothers yet who I know would do an amazing job being moms.  Maybe that gives me a little more sense of the responsibility and a little more gratitude for the opportunity. 

For whatever reason, I'm now a mom.  I love it.  My children at times are loud, obnoxious and drive me crazy.  Or other times, like today at church when my 5 year old wants to climb on my lap and sing the hymns with me as I point to each word, or as my 7 year old gives me a tote she decorated herself to give to me for Mother's Day, I'm overwhelmed with the love I feel for my children.  I think of the words by Robert Louis Stevenson "Thanks to our Father, we will bring. For he gives us ev'rything."

Thanks to a loving God who has given me the opportunity and responsibility to be a mother.
Thanks to my husband who helps me be the best mom I can be and without whom I would not be a mother.
Thanks to my own mother and her amazing example of selfless service and how to be a mother.
Thanks to my sisters and their examples of motherhood shared with me even before I became a mother, and for letting me "mother" their children before I had my own children.
Thanks to my sisters-in-law for mothering children with my brothers.
Thanks to my friends at church and in my neighborhood who help to be mothers to my children and set such great examples to me.
Thanks to my friends who are not yet mothers and yet care for my children as they would their own.
Thanks to my children for allowing me to be their mother and for learning with me as we go.

To finish in the words of the song "When I grow up, if I can be a mother, how happy I will be. 4 little 5 little 6 little blessings of my own."

Friday, May 10, 2013

I want to raise children like that.

I was reading an article in the newspaper the other day about a local high school student who was held up in his golf game by a group of high school girls golfing in a competition and sharing a single set of golf clubs.  He learned that a lot of girls high school golf teams had this same problem of only having a single set of golf clubs, which made it difficult for them to practice and compete.  He decided to do something about it.  He wrote some letters, made some phone calls and flyers, and started collecting equipment.  In the end, he outfitted seven different high schools with several sets of clubs and lots of other equipment.  All of this, because he saw a need and acted on it. 

As I read this article, I thought "I want to raise children like that". I want my children to grow up to become adults and even teeanagers who see a need and act on it.  I want them to have that Christ-like love for others and look for ways to help others. I then realized that if I want to raise children like that, I need to be like that myself.  Most children are not going to automatically be able to identify someone else's needs and know how to help.  They need examples and the best way to teach them this is to show them myself.  It would be fairly hypocritical of me to tell my children "You need to help others", if I am not doing it myself. 

So, I'm trying.  I'm looking for ways to help my children learn to look out for others.  A woman I had gone to church with as a young single adult recently passed away as she gave birth to her sixth child. A fund has been setup to help her family deal with medical costs, the cost of raising 5 children as a single father, etc. I explained this to my children and told them I was going to put $10 into this account and that they could put some of their money in two.  My two daughters each said "I want to give $1 to them", so we're going to the bank to deposit this money.  My 5 year old son didn't want to, but I'm not going to force him to.  I'm just trying to get in the habit of looking for how we can help out when we hear about someone who needs help.  Hopefully I can develop this quality better in my life and raise children like that.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Scheduling my stress

There are plenty of things in life to stress about.  I won't list them all here, because that would just add more stress to see them all written down in one place.  This past month, I rediscovered one way for me to deal with that stress.  I say rediscovered, because this is something I use in personal finance instruction but forget to apply to the rest of my life. 

With 3 weeks left in tax season and a new baby, I was feeling more than a little bit overwhelmed.  Something had to give. There was no way I could get everything done.  I made a conscious decision to not exercise or worry about going to bed on time for those 3 weeks.  This was different than just not doing those things for 3 weeks.  If I had just not exercised, I would have felt guilty that I was supposed to be exercising and it was just one more thing I didn't have time to do.  I decided to just not stress about it.  I knew I would start up again after the deadline with exercising and trying to get to bed at a reasonable hour, but I wouldn't schedule to do it until then.  It was such a stress relief to not even worry about exercising when I woke up tired in the morning. For a lot of people, I know that probably seems like a basic principle, but for me it was kind of eye opening. 

In advising people in their personal finances, I will talk to people about setting up a debt reduction plan.  This involves putting a schedule in place to pay off debts one at a time.  It's a long road to pay off those debts sometimes, but if you're following a plan, you don't worry as much about the large sum and how it should be paid off today.  Instead, you know you're dealing with it and you have a schedule in place for when it will eventually happen. You can deal  with making this month's payments, rather than the full payoff. The same thing can apply to other personal stresses.

My husband is much better at scheduling his stress than I am.  I create task lists that show everything I need to get done for work.  Sometimes I look at that list and wonder how in the world I'll get all of those items done in the day.  My husband will instead schedule specific tasks to get done each day. He won't stress about the other tasks, because he knows he's scheduled them to get done on a different day. Let's hope I can keep relearning this principle and scheduling which things I will stress about on a given day instead of letting myself get overwhelmed with trying to accomplish everything all at once.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cleaning house - inside and out.

My house is dirty.  Not completely cluttered, but dirty.  I can keep my front room fairly clutter free (usually by dumping all the toys unceremoniously in the basement), but it's been way too long since I've dusted in there.  And the bookshelf has a growing stack of papers that my children have brought home from church. One wrong bump and they all crash to the floor.  My dishes are put away most of the time in the kitchen, but don't open the laundry room door to see the giant, precarious stack on top of the dryer or on the shelf or items waiting to be donated to DI.  The floors are swept and vacuumed most of the time, but best to not carefully look at the linoleum and see the giant food stains that need to be mopped.

The superficial cleaning has been kept up okay, but it's been a while since I've done any deep cleaning. Pretty reflective of the rest of my life. It's fairly easy to do the superficial things in life that make me feel like I'm doing okay: going to church, reading scriptures, taking my children to the park.  It takes a lot more effort to do the deep inner cleaning: really worshipping God, studying the scriptures, praying to God and not just saying prayers, finding out what each of my children really need from me, actively looking for ways to help others each day. You get the idea. 

I'm not being hard on myself, just looking realistically at what I need to work on.  If you don't take an inventory every now in then of your house and what needs to be done to fix it, eventually things will break down. The same holds true with my life.  I always think of the quote from C.S. Lewis in "Mere Christianity" that says to imagine yourself as a living house. God starts knocking things around to build a palace, when we thought we were satisfied with a little cottage.  Sometimes it's best to not just wait for external circumstances to knock you around, but to be a little proactive and do some deep cleaning before it becomes inevitably urgent.  When I deep clean my house, I usually only do one thing each day or week and don't worry about doing it all at once.  Time to do the same with my life.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spiraling disobedience

I have a 3 year old who I cannot punish.  I know that sounds weird.  When she does something she shouldn't, if I put her in time out or take things away, it just makes things worse.  She seems to spiral downhill more and more the more I try to punish her.  If she hits someone and I put her in timeout, she gets defiant and will then proceed to do something like rip a coloring page.  If I then tell her she loses her crayons, she'll find something else to do.  I frequently can't send her to her room if she's done something wrong, because I'm afraid she's going to start destroying things.  I know part of this is my fault, that she likes to see that she can make me react, but even if I dole out a punishment calmly and without reacting, she still does it.

I'm trying to help her understand that there are consequences to her bad behavior.  Just talking and reasoning with her does not work.  She is 3, after all.  Any suggestions on how to do this? I must admit, she's at least getting better at apologizing after she's done something wrong. And I'm trying to show "an increase of love" afterwards.  I just need to find an effective way to help her to stop when she's done something wrong.  Any ideas? Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The straw to break the camel's back

You know the old saying about "the straw that broke the camel's back?" I feel like that camel, except without that last straw.  Before having baby #5, I felt like life was fairly full, but I felt like I was keeping up on things.  The house was relatively clean, I was exercising, meals got prepared, etc. Well, baby #5 came and life has seemed to become even fuller. Weird how that happens, huh? Of course, this also coincided with tax season beginning. And, the new baby did spend 4 days in the hospital with RSV and a week attached to an oxygen tank at home.  I don't feel like life has completely fallen apart. Yet.

Have you ever had those times in life where you feel like you're barely keeping things under control? Where one more straw added on may be the last one?  Meals are prepared - most of the time. The house isn't a complete disaster - but please don't look at the kitchen floor. Or in the basement. Or under the kids' beds. Books aren't read to the kids as often. Exercising happens once or twice a week. You certainly aren't getting enough sleep. 

Having made it through 4 other new babies and 18 other tax seasons, I know this will eventually end.  And I'll make it through. Eventually.  But I'll be balancing life precariously for the next month. Or longer.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

First time fears

I did it. I ventured out with 5 kids in tow. This was not an easy feat. I had visions of my kids running wild through the store while the baby screamed & I had a meltdown. Sometimes the fear of trying something new is worse than the thing itself. But, I had to attempt it sometime. Thank goodness for these giant carts at Target. Everyone fit, and I even fit a few items in the cart as well.  I got some odd looks, and even maintained my sense of humor as the kids chanted/sang through half the store and while checking out. First time is always the hardest. I'm not going to say I "enjoyed" it, but at least I know I can do it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baby prep - Rest or Work?

I've been having a dilemma the past week or so.  My baby is due tomorrow.  I've spent most evenings the past week or so debating on how to spend my time.  Do I work or do I rest?  On one hand, I tell myself that I should sit and read and relax and enjoy the time I have before a new baby comes and fills in every gap of extra time I had.  On the other hand, I tell myself that I should get as much work done as possible before the new baby comes and fills in every gap of work time I had.  I confess that work has usually won.  One more night left of debating this. Do I work or do I relax?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pregnancy preparation and paranoia

Preregistered at hospital for delivery - check
New car seats on order - check
New bunk beds setup - check
One package of newborn diapers - check
One can or infant formula - check
Baby car seat and pack & play accessible - check
Box of newborn clothes pulled out of storage - check
Almost done paying the OB/Gyn - check
Ready for baby to come in less than 3 weeks - no way.

With all of those items checked off, you'd think I was ready for baby #5 to join our family. I'm not.  It's not that I don't want this baby to join us, I'm just not quite emotionally prepared yet.  I live most of my 9-1/2 months of pregnancy in denial and paranoia. I've known far too many friends and family members who have miscarried or had stillborns, that until I hear that baby cry for the first time, I live in a bit of paranoia about what could go wrong. Maybe I'm missing out on some of the "joy" of pregnancy, but that is my reality. I'm just now reaching the physically uncomfortable stage where you're willing to go through labor & delivery to get past that.  Here's to hoping the next 3 weeks bring me less stress and more emotional preparedness and excitement!