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Utah, United States
One night while tucking Abby into bed she sweetly chimed, "good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed bites bug you!" I like her thinking. Sometimes life bites. The trick is to not let it bug you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Out of the Foul Mouths of Babes

One of my favorite new TV discoveries is the BBC series "Outnumbered," airing weeknights at 10pm on KUED in Utah. It is the most realistic comedy I've ever seen about what it is like being a parent, and I understand that the show includes quite a bit of improvisation. I'm sure the episodes we are getting aired in Britain 2-3 years ago, but I completely identify with every single one. The issues of parenthood are timeless.

A recent episode showed mother Sue on the phone with her son's school teacher. We only hear one side of the conversation, Sue indicating that her son "doesn't know words like that...(pause)... well, he knows that one... (pause)... and that one..."

Yesterday I pulled up to the school to pick up one of my youngest, only to have the teacher approach my window to let me know he had led his table in a group display of an inappropriate digital gesture. (Groan.)

The teacher indicated that he hadn't participated, but that it was "his idea." We appropriately scolded him, but he has been tearfully insisting that it was actually the idea of another kid. Whatever the case may be, I'm sure he has no idea what the gesture means.

I do know he likes attention, though, and loves to be the clown making everyone laugh, including himself. His mischief is punctuated by his giddy aloofness, not deviousness. Even now, I am listening to his happy-go-lucky voice, half singing, half narrating his imaginative solo play in the backyard. I remember being a little like that myself as a kid, no clue that silly mischief could possibly have a deeper, highly offensive meaning.

So, somehow I need to figure out how to convey to him that naughty gestures and words ARE highly offensive, and not an appropriate way to make people laugh.

Then he comes and wants to tell me all about the amazing Sesame Street animal segment he just watched about the "aardfart." (Provoking my immediate laughter. I am clearly part of the problem here.)

This is going to be a long process.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meet Garrick

This photo is not pixelated; it's impressionistic.
We once had a neighbor named Garrick,

a fellow who's quite esoteric.

He's sassy and sly,

and with rolling eye

he leaves us in laughter hysteric!

Garrick recently told me that, after weeks of following my blog, he wondered why I hadn't yet mentioned him. This caused me to wonder also, as Garrick is quite an interesting character.

Garrick was one of the first neighbors on our street we met and became friends with, lo, nearly 11 years ago. He gave us a young pine he wasn't fond of, and it has flourished in our yard. He helped set up our swing set. He helped me do flowers for Lesley's wedding. Garrick is a multi-talented, neighborly neighbor.

He also snuck into our backyard once and shut off our power.

He's just that kind of guy.

Truthfully, Garrick is a bit of a handful, as I'm sure Cari will attest. But we've had lots of fun and laughs with this guy. Thanks for being an awesome neighbor and friend, Garrick!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mother's Day PTSD

I hope Mother's Day weekend treated every mom well! I was so busy enjoying it, I didn't find time to blog. and I think I'm still recovering from it. I have, however, been contemplating what being a mom, specifically, my being a mom, means to me. So, even though I may be a few days late and dollars short with this post, I still feel compelled to express my thoughts.

I have an amazing mom. I was lucky to have her close enough to spend a good part of Sunday with her this year, as she has been visiting my equally amazing grandma. Aren't they gorgeous? I have great childhood memories of them both. My mother was patient and selfless, made awesome dinners and sack lunches, introduced me to the Beatles and Tchaikovsky and set me on the path to good grammar (though I've yet to reach her level of proficiency). My grandma was unconditionally loving, grew her own cucumbers and pickled them, enjoyed mildly naughty humor and warbled with the best of the old ladies at church. Now as an adult, I appreciate so much more about who they are and what they did for me. Both of them taught me things I've incorporated into my own momhood, which began almost 15 years ago.

These are the people who are s'posed to help me get a nap.
Since becoming a mom, I've enjoyed Mother's Day. I like the homemade gifts and handprint cards from school. I like getting my flower at church (or CD, as was the case this year). I like getting a guilt-free nap.

I know there are women who dislike Mother's Day, including my mother-in-law, who over the years has dreaded listening to the old men at church stand and recount the perfections of their dearly departed mothers. Guilt trips can certainly be a reason to dislike Mother's Day, as can feeling insufficiently recognized. I have a friend whose husband (the father of their children) has flat out told her he doesn't celebrate Mother's Day! Dork.

Scott is great at Mother's Day. He assumes the responsibilities I usually shoulder, and rallies the kids to dote on (and give space to) me so I can rest. Maybe Mother's Day is meant to be more than a day for dads to take care of the kids, but I have no problem with that aspect of the holiday! I'll do the same for my husband on Father's Day, after all.
This year, Scott signed me up for a 5k the day before Mother's Day. I took 1st place in my age category, so he is forgiven.

At Abby's recital, 8/10.
I like the fact that on Mother's Day moms are recognized, not just for being beautiful, cuddly and sweet, as many of us indeed are, but more importantly for all the crap we put up with. If I were to write up a job description of what it is I do everyday, many of the details would border on the ridiculous. If I wanted to be classy about it, I could say that my duties would cover many different positions found in a typical Fortune 500 company: secretarial, janitorial, mail room, human resources, P.R., food services, car service and lots of after-hours unpaid meetings and paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! (Though no self-respecting business would allow their clients to ride in my car!-- Be sure to go to that link. You'll die laughing.)

The truth of it is, I just finished a 15 minute game of "Where's Bobby?" with my toddler who just discovered the sliding doors on his closet. I seem to have endless conversations about excrement. I have to change my shirt a couple of times a day because these people ooze and squirt and spill constantly.  I have a serious case of "Mother Brain" amnesia. I am reminded regularly that I can't remember algebra (and therefore remind myself regularly that I have my degree and shouldn't have to remember it anymore), and I regularly forget the names of my children (that I picked out for them).

Tennis with Andrew.
Then again, I also get to snuggle a sleeping baby while removing him from his car seat and settling him into his bed. I am the recipient of breathy little boy cheek-kisses after school everyday. I get to introduce my favorite music and interests to my older kids, and share their excitement in appreciating anew what I've taken for granted. Not bad job benefits.

In all seriousness, I have realized that part of the reason I feel valuable as a woman and mother is because I am a part of a religious culture that holds motherhood in high esteem. I also like the fact that it is becoming increasingly popular to recognize women in general on Mother's Day, as even in our modern society, women in almost every setting are still doing a lot of "mothering" to their neighbors, co-workers, and even their own parents. Mothers or not, it is so nice to have a day when women can be recognized for their unique contributions to the world. In a recent world-wide conference, LDS members were reminded:
Our doctrine is clear: Women are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves them. Wives are equal to their husbands. Marriage requires a full partnership where wives and husbands work side by side to meet the needs of the family. - Elder Quentin L. Cook

Though I have worked outside the home at times, I have never questioned whether my contribution to society was less while being at home full-time. I appreciate what Elder Cook had to say on this subject:

These are very emotional, personal decisions, but there are two principles that we should always keep in mind. First, no woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children. Nothing could be more significant in our Father in Heaven’s plan. Second, we should all be careful not to be judgmental or assume that women are less valiant if the decision is made to work outside the home. We rarely understand or fully appreciate people’s circumstances. Husbands and wives should prayerfully counsel together, understanding they are accountable to God for their decisions.

I love the idea that as I go through my experience as a mom, I'm performing a divinely sanctioned task. It is this thought that gets me through the difficult days, and makes me smile on the good ones. God and I are in this job together. He's my boss, and I'm very thankful he has employed me as a mom.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Spring Fever: Wreaking Havoc or Reeking of Havoc

Tramp: official toy of Utah. Or should be.
We've finally had a few consecutive days of good spring weather, and the kids have been on the trampoline and their bikes, attempting to recover from some serious cases of "cabin fever." Not enough for Scott, though, who apparently thinks our kids are missing some essential childhood experiences.

Funny what you learn about your spouse after 16 years. I already knew Scott had a mischievous side, and a mischievous little giggle to go with it. When Scott and I got engaged, his sister Kristina came up to me with a completely straight face and said, "your kids are going to be hellions." So far, none of our children have displayed the mischievous tendencies Scott was apparently renowned for, much to Scott's disappointment. A recent conversation between Scott and Wes was very revealing.

Wes: "I'm bored."
Still exploring: Scott & Will, 7/10.

Scott: "You're crazy. When I was your age, I would have been out exploring."

Wes: "Pretty much everything to be explored has been discovered by now, Dad, there's nothing left to explore." (Well, true, I guess we can't expect Wes to ever know the joys we had on our expeditions with Louis & Clark.)
Atop King's Peak, 7/10.

Scott: "Are you crazy? When I was your age, I would have been all over that golf course." Scott points in the direction of the nearby neighborhood links.

Wes: "What would I do over there? I'm not into golf."

Scott (rolling his eyes): "I would have been all over that place, checking it out, finding golf balls, trying to joy-ride a golf cart..."

I immediately started laughing, thinking about a mulleted Scott attempting covert operations at a golf course.

Scott went on to regale us with stories of his glory days of juvenile delinquency, taking down friends Ryan and Will with him.

Tri-ing together, 9/10.
Now, I don't mean to imply that Scott was up to anything devious in nature, but I think it would be safe to say that Scott had occasion to use some of his scouting skills outside of the camp, so to speak. Anyway, while Scott's stories are funny to hear about and I smile thinking of him up to his boyhood capers, I find it even funnier that all of this golf course madness has occurred to him... as an adult!

Having his own adventures: Wes at Lake Powell, 7/10.

As far as I'm aware, Wes has a mellow teen life at the moment, hanging with his buddies, riding his bike, playing a few video games. I am relieved I'm not getting calls from golf pros (or police, for that matter), asking me to come pick up my son and banning him from the premises. Now that he's had the idea, though, I'm not so sure I won't be getting such a call about my husband!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Tender Mercies

I had a light-hearted essay ready, but in light of the fact that the father of a good friend passed away today, it didn't seem right to post it. Instead, my thoughts have been dwelling on the tender mercies that seem to arise at our darkest moments.

Free Bible verses available here.
Life can be mercilessly unfair, yet also extremely generous. My friend's father is no longer in the presence of his family, blessing their lives with his intelligence and humor, but she was able to (what now seems miraculously) cross the country to spend the last few days of his life with him.

Remembering my own experiences with grief I began to think, what can I say to her- to anyone- to sufficiently convey sympathy and hope? Nothing seems right. Truly, grief is so intense and personal that it is probably more important just to be available to a grieving person, so that they know they are not alone.

It is after the initial shock of loss that words of hope seem more appropriate. More than anything else, what I would want a grieving person to know is that life can and does go on. That it is no tribute to your deceased loved one to let their loss destroy your future. Rather, when we move forward with positive goals in their honor, we are a living memorial to them every day.

I also know that surviving my own grief was made possible by the knowledge of a loving Heavenly Father, whose love and tender mercies sustained me. I am so grateful for His plan that will enable us to be together forever when this life is over.

I'm getting to the age where many of my friends are losing their parents. It is a transitional experience, I'm observing. My love and prayers go to all such friends. May you feel the Lord's loving arms around you at this difficult time.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama bin nice knowin' ya... but not really.

It took 'em almost 10 years, but better late than never.

The morning of September 11th I woke and turned on the news. That is not a part of my regular routine, but I switched it on before getting out of bed that day. Immediately, the terrible images of tower Number 1 came on the screen. Soon thereafter I saw the second plane hit tower Number 2. 5-year-old Wes came walking in and climbed into bed with me. Maybe I should have sheltered him from the news, but after explaining that "airplanes crashed into those buildings," we sat mesmerized together.

I called my parents. They were watching, too. Scott called me from work. They were watching; nobody was working. A couple of hours later Scott came home. We hung our flag. We left the news on all day. That day, and over the next several months, we agonized with those searching for loved ones, cried with the firefighters and cheered with the Ground Zero search teams when President Bush shook his fist at Osama. We watched as friends, loved ones and neighbors left to go to war. Our new favorite song became the Angry American by Toby Keith.

We had our own revenge. We went on with life, Andrew was born the following year. We flew across the Atlantic. We continued to fly our flag.

Wes has always been a sober kid, but I have no way of knowing how much witnessing 9/11 as a kid impacted him. He's a patriotic kid, though, and often talks about a possible future in the Air Force. Andrew is a child with a lot of turbulence in him. I only hope it is how he was born to be, and not due to 9 months of gestating with a stressed-out, "threat level orange" mom. Andrew is a bright, creative light that wasn't extinguished by some sucker in a cave.

Oh yeah, about that. I hope Osama's cave-dwelling comrades are aware that he was knocked off in a mansion, chillin' on a pillow-top mattress.

Last night as Scott and I sat in bed watching the President's speech, a 14-year-old Wes came walking in. We were able to give him the news. Good news, this time. 

 Today, the world is heaving sighs of relief with a different American president. Our lives went on. The good guys won. Today, I'm flying my flag again.