Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Chinese Garden Festival

Sundays... a day of rest... in theory, at least. But not in practice, at least if you're a musician. I love Sundays, mostly because it is the one day that Dave usually doesn't have work and we get to see a bit more of him than we usually do. But if you judge the success of a Sunday by the proportion of rest actually obtained, then my Sundays would be a miserable failure indeed.

Let's take this Sunday. The choir was singing in church, which means that we meet at 8:15 to run through the piece at the church. I am not a morning person, true, but without children 8:15 is a reasonable time to meet for a pre-church practice. But when you add kids (especially a nursing baby) into the equation, an 8:15 rehearsal becomes a figure of impossibility equivalent to trying to match my weight with a supermodel's or my figure with Barbie's... it just ain't gonna happen. But the perpetual optimist in me really believes that if something needs to happen I will just step it up and make it happen. And I probably would have if I didn't have kids. I came really close. I was ready. Jared and Camryn were ready. Dave was ready to take another car with Jackson later. But then Adelyn wanted to nurse. Now. (No ifs, ands or buts.) And Jackson had a fever, so there was the question of what to do with him for church. I succumbed to the gravitational pull of my kids' interminable needs and ended up walking into my 8:15 rehearsal at 8:28, hanging my head in embarrassment and mortification.

Then I was on to substitute for playing the organ for church. So after a mad dash to find someone to sit with the kids I rushed to the organ and tried to use the few minutes of prelude to run through the hymns I needed to play for the meeting. (This is all the more irritating because I had some beautiful prelude prepared from the wedding I played for the night before. But my limited practice time for the wedding- most of which happened with Adelyn on my lap nursing- did not allow time to prepare the hymns for the meeting, so I was left winging it.) Luckily my kids were abnormally well-behaved. At the end of the meeting Adelyn was still asleep, so I took the liberty of skipping Sunday School to practice the hymns for next week (when I am on to substitute again).

Between an interview and other miscellaneous stuff I didn't get home until an hour before choir. Mad dash to feed kids, pick up house and figure out what is most essential to work on during choir.... Big stress out as I realize how little time is left until the Christmas program... By the time choir is done and cleaned up, most of the afternoon is gone. 

At this point Jared, handed me an important-looking packet of papers in his handwriting. He had issued me an invitation to "a Chinese Garden Festival" taking place at our house that very night! (I had lent out a bunch of greenery from our house as well as some white Christmas lights for the wedding the night before. Jared arranged the greenery, flower arrangements, etc. with white lights on them in our living room, thus creating the backdrop for his "Chinese Garden Festival." Why Chinese? I'm not sure... I guess it sounds more exciting than a just plain garden festival.) Complete with the invitation was a schedule of events (music, games, dinner, dancing, looking at lights, treat) and a list of music asking me if I would play and requiring my signature. (Even my own son can't invite me to an event without asking me to play for it. ;])

I was more than a little bit worn out by that point, but he was so excited about it that I didn't have much choice but to accept the invitation. So at 5:00 pm, Dave and I showed up to the Chinese Garden Festival. We walked around to look at the lights (it didn't take long), we sang songs for our music and then we all played Chinese Checkers before making dinner. After dinner we sang a few more songs, watched the kids dance and had a treat.

So I never was able to squeeze my nap in on Sunday. But I have to admit that despite the absence of nap time for mom, I had a good time. And I went to my very first "Chinese Garden Festival." Beat that, all you nap-takers. =]

Monday, November 23, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well I think I must be losing steam for NaBloPoMo. I've missed two posting two days in a row. Yikes!

Saturday was a crazy mish-mash of Cantico rehearsal, grocery shopping, Jared's first basketball practice, playing the organ for a wedding and falling asleep to a rental movie. I guess I just didn't find time to post. I guess I'll have to pick up and try again this week....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Random Useful Skills

By the time you have your fourth child you do things without even thinking about it that would be absolutely unthinkable with a first child. When Jared was a baby, my mother-in-law told me that she remembered when her kids were little all of the hectic evenings of nursing the baby and stirring dinner at the same time. I didn't say anything, but I thought she was crazy. "What but the most pressing of emergencies could possibly induce you to stand up while you were nursing your baby?" I obviously had not had four children (or even two)....

When you have multiple children you acquire lots of random useful skills that might seem utterly useless to someone without kids but are essential for survival once you have several. Gone are the days when you can wait for a lull in the baby's schedule to cook dinner or wait to run all of your errands until the baby is asleep (although I still try to work it out that way when I can manage it). Ballet and cub scouts come at the same time every week, regardless of whether baby is down for her nap, happily hanging out or screaming her head off. Even if your baby is screaming her head off that doesn't make your two-year-old less anxious for his dinner.

Enter random useful skills...Call it survival of the fittest. This is when you figure out that if you twist your body and stretch your arm backwards really far while driving the car you can hold a pacifier (or a finger) in the baby's mouth while driving. (OK, lots of people learn this with child #1.) This is when you learn how to change a baby boy's diaper without getting squirted or hold a wriggling toddler down with your legs for a diaper change. This is when you learn how to nurse standing up holding the baby with one arm (and occasionally lean over to rest the baby on the counter top so your arm gets a break). This is when you develop a repertoire of meals that can be prepared using only one hand. I can cut up a pear one-handed or carry massive amounts of stuff while holding a diaper bag, purse and baby car seat. I can tell where Jackson is in the house and what he is doing by listening for the sounds he is making. I can practice the piano, accompany a singer or even direct a choir while nursing a baby. (Practicing the organ while nursing is a bit harder, but can be done.) I can carry a toddler and a newborn at the same time (but only under duress).

I'm not sure what my point is in this post, but I wanted to point out that you still continue to learn useful skills as a mom. Just not skills that are useful to everyone.... ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hairspray... or the lack thereof...

I have a friend who just wrote a blog post about mommy hair... you know, how you chop your hair off when you have a baby so it will be easier to care for. She was saying that she wants to grow it out again so it looks more "hot mama" and less "Laura Bush." (Although I have to say for the record that I think her hair looks great.) The post made me reflect a little on my hairstyle... or lack thereof.

I had shorter hair for a long time after I had Camryn, with the theory that it would be easier to care for. My resultant hairstyle ended up being less "Laura Bush" and more "Laura Bush just rolled out of bed and ran a brush through her hair." So I grew my hair out. It is now long... and that's about all. So my current hairstyle of choice is "slightly disheveled ponytail" (not to be confused with "the messy pony" or other actually deliberate hairstyles). I had a goal of going out and getting a fabulous haircut right before Adelyn was born, but with her induction date getting moved up that didn't quite happen. She just turned 6 weeks old yesterday and I still haven't gotten a haircut.

Do you ever have one of those moments where you look in the mirror (or more often, see a picture of yourself) and realize that how you picture yourself looking isn't how you actually look anymore? (Or that the weight that you picture yourself weighing it not what you weigh anymore? ;] I guess pregnancy and nursing both do that to you.) I could definitely use a mommy make-over. But as much as I could use it, Addy is still only 6 weeks old, doesn't take a bottle yet and Dave's work schedule is as crazy as ever. When it comes down to it, looking fabulous ends up on my list of theoretical rather than actual priorities.

I would invoke the classic "there is a time and season" quote, but that would make me sound like a dying vine that has resigned myself to looking haggard forever. Which isn't true... I fully intend to look fabulous again. Just maybe next week....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happiness is...

My sister and I have a saying that (for us at least) "Happiness is productivity." We both thrive on having a big project to bite off that we can just conquer. I have always been inclined to measure my self-worth and base my happiness and fulfillment in life, at least to some extent, on what (or how much) I get done.

The problem is that as a mom the whole concept of "productivity" becomes a lot trickier. If I were to measure productivity in typical terms of net output (i.e. how much laundry gets folded) I would probably have a net negative -especially since I have a two-year-old that loves to sit in laundry piles, unfold them and dump them over the stair railing. It is difficult to be productive when the odds are stacked against you, four mess-makers vs. one cleaner-upper. As a mom, even if you manage to be productive, whatever you produce, be it changed diaper, clean house, fed baby or clean dishes, is usually undone within hours or even minutes. This is problematic for a person with my personality. How do you feel happy and fulfilled when it is hard to have something to show for what you do all day?

I really struggled with this when I first became a mom and even fought depression for a while. It still is hard for me at times, but I feel like I have become better at it. I have had to learn to find happiness in other things and (since you can't totally circumvent the personality which which you were born) to redefine "productivity." If you measure my productivity in terms of hours Adelyn has been nursed or the times I have saved Jackson from certain disaster, then I am among the most productive people around. ;)

I have found happiness (and productivity) in a baby who has happily drifted off to sleep while drooling milk at the end of a nursing. I have found happiness (and productivity) in Jackson excitedly asking at the end of reading a book for the fourth time, "Again!" I have found happiness in hearing Jared's elaborate plans to host a circus at our house on Thanksgiving or hearing Camryn say proudly, "Mom, listen to me play 'Whole Note March' on the piano!" But even better, I think I have learned to see myself as more than a sum of the stuff that I get done, awards that I have earned, how clean my house is, the grades that I earn or the amount that I get paid.

But getting a good project done here and there certainly doesn't hurt. ;)

To Work On...

At family night last night our lesson was on being a good example. At the end of the lesson I asked Jared and Camryn what some qualities are that we could work on to help us be a better example. After listing a bunch (i.e. being honest, being patient, being nice) I told them that we would each choose one to work on this week. When I was trying to decide what to choose for mine, Jared said, "You should work on being patient, Mom. You're plenty nice, but patient... not so much."

Jackson quotes:
Jackson: (when the microwave beeps) 's done! 's done! Mom! 's done!
Jackson: uh wah wah piece!! (I want a piece)
Jackson: Phone! Where's da phone? Dere it is! It's da phone!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jackson words

[Yet another beginning of an unfinished blog post found in my drafts folder....]

My sister and I have a saying that (for us at least) "Happiness is productivity." I have always been inclined to measure my self-worth and base my happiness, at least to some extent, on what (or how much) I do.

Jackson: 's done! 's done! Mom! 's done!
Jackson: uh wah wah piece!! (I want a piece)
Jackson: Phone! Where's da phone? Dere it is! It's da phone!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The World's Stupidest Post (or how to pontificate about a breakfast food)

As I've been writing every day for NaBloPoMo, I've realized that it's a bit trickier to blog every single day. Not that I run out of things to say, I just run out of things that I think people will actually want to read. =] I mean, there are only so many times you want to read about Jackson climbing on the counters and getting into stuff.

So I'm going to write about something totally random: Oatmeal. I spent a lot of time thinking that oatmeal was a sort of lower life form where breakfast foods are concerned. I remember my grandma making really yummy, creamy oatmeal on the stove, but it never seemed to turn out the same when I made it myself. Just gooey, tasteless, pasty mush.... Sure, it will keep you alive if you have to live off your food storage, but if you have a choice whether to eat it? Um, no. Keep some on hand for oatmeal cookies and call it good.

When I was an intern during the summers between college I discovered the beauty of instant oatmeal: if I kept packets of it in my desk I could use the hot water dispenser to make some when I got to work. It was ready instantly and I could eat it while I worked at my desk and not have to eat breakfast before I left, saving whole minutes of my life! Score! But while it worked fine for sustenance, it still was more of a low-tier, survival sort of food and dropped out of my diet once I returned to school and didn't have a hot water dispenser.

Oatmeal again entered my life when I tried to lose weight after I had Camryn. I discovered an easy Weight Watchers recipe that was an easy, filling perfect breakfast: Applesauce Cinnamon Walnut Oatmeal. It was a total of 4 points and filled me up so I ate it literally almost every day for more than a year. (The recipe, by the way, is really easy: You microwave 1/2 cup of quick-cooking oatmeal with 1 cup of water. Add 1 tsp. brown sugar, 1/2 cup applesauce and sprinkle it with cinnamon and 5 walnut halves, broken up. Mix together and voila! Incidentally, my kids love this recipe and it is the only way they will eat oatmeal.) But all good things must come to an end and eventually I tired of my applesauce oatmeal kick and moved on to other breakfast foods.

When I first moved here to the Northwest, I went to an Enrichment meeting on nutrition. The lady giving it talked about how you to be REALLY nutritious you don't want to eat horrible, inferior quick-cooking oatmeal: you have to cook the old-fashioned slow cooking kind. And if you REALLY want to be nutritious, then you need to cook steel-cut oats (which take 20 minutes to cook!). I was irritated that anyone could dis my once-beloved quick-cooking oatmeal. But my curiosity was piqued and I decided I had to try it. I went to Safeway and looked but couldn't even find steel-cut oats. I finally went to a specialty grain store and bought some. I made a truly life-changing discovery. Steel-cut oats truly take oatmeal to a new level. No longer do you have tasteless, mushy paste for your breakfast. It is creamy but chewy with a real oat-y flavor to it. If you add sliced bananas or Craisins with walnuts and evaporated milk, then you have a truly delectable breakfast experience, fit to drive off the damp chill of a Northwest winter morning.

But being the lazy person that I am, I am not about to wait for 20 minutes every morning for my oatmeal to boil (actually it's only 15 but that is still way too long). So I cook a big pot on Monday morning and then microwave a little each morning for my breakfast. I always have canned milk, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts, but I vary the fruit.

Of course I eventually get tired of it and move on to some other breakfast food kick, but when the chilly, damp November mornings hit, inevitably I get hit with an oatmeal craving. Yum!

P.S. Today was the Primary program at church. All of the kids from age 4-12 do the entire church program, singing songs and speaking lines. I have been the music leader for the primary program four times and I know how much work goes into it. The kids did a fantastic job (not to mention the leaders who put it all together).Great job, Jared and Camryn!!

P.P.S I can't believe I really wrote an entire post about oatmeal. OK. It's time to get my scanner working again so I can scan some old pictures and write about something more interesting.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Welcome Break

Today was our Relief Society (church women's group) Super Saturday Activity. Basically you spend half a day doing crafts. I am not a super-crafty person, (I enjoy crafts but am not super-talented in that department) but the chance to have several hours with no kids (okay, with only 1 of the 4) and adults to talk to? Woo hoo! The best part is that at a Relief Society activity there is no end of other ladies who are willing to hold your baby for you while you do your projects. Dave even willingly watched  the other three kids while I was gone. (Did I mention that I love this man?) So the fact that Camryn is still in her pj's? Well it will make her ready for bed that much sooner, right? (Did I use too many parentheses in this post? Don't answer that.) =]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Harvest Festival Pictures

The weekend before Halloween Jared talked Dave and I into taking the kids to a Harvest Festival fundraiser at the local middle school.

The kids ate donuts on a string first.

We bought Jared and Camryn some tickets and they went wild with all of the games.

We were going to go in the spook alley. I was worried that it might be too scary, but the clincher was that it was 6 tickets to go in. Maybe next year...

The kids bought some cotton candy instead.

Jackson was thrilled for the chance to run around.

 See you later, alligator!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Boy and His Hamster: A Love Story

It seems like an unavoidable of every parent's existence to undergo negotiations for a pet. I remember as a kid begging and pleading for a pet (including my less-than-successful try for a horse) and not understanding why my parents didn't think having a pet would be the coolest, most fun thing in the whole world. I wanted a cat (not knowing at the time that I was horribly allergic to them) and my brothers wanted a dog, but either one of them would be great in my opinion- and inexplicably, neither one of them sounded even remotely great to my boring parents.

My parents eventually caved and got a dog when my older brother was about 10. And thus I was able to have a complete childhood: complete with muddy paw-prints tracked onto the carpet when it rained, food stolen from the kitchen counters, arguments over whose turn it was to give the dog a bath and perpetual dog hair (none of which seemed the least bit inconvenient at the time-- well, except giving the dog a bath). Our Houdini of a dog would break chains and cables, jump fences, and once even jumped out the window of our car while it was moving. (This wouldn't have been nearly so dramatic if he hadn't been wearing a leash at the time- that was still being held by a child inside the car. Luckily he was quite a fast runner and my mom caught on quickly, but he it still gave his claws quite the quick trim.) I never did understand why my parents weren't so keen on the idea of getting a dog- even after all of the arguments over whose turn it was to feed/water/wash the dog.

Enter being a parent. I knew the pet question had to come up eventually. Somehow this question looks so much different when you are the one in charge of mopping floors --and that occurrence is embarrassingly rare as is, without a canine addition to your bunch of mess-makers. Jared has been begging for a dog since he was barely 5. Dave responded by telling him that he could get a dog when he was 10. Jared wasn't at all discouraged by this answer, despite the fact that he needed to wait for an additional lifespan for the event to occur. Now that he's 8, the ten-year-old deadline seems uncomfortably close... especially with hardwood floors and light carpets and a climate of near-perpetual winter rain. Don't get me wrong, I loved having a dog as a kid. I just don't want to take care of it --and I don't want to take care of my house with a dog and its aftermath in it.

As I saw the deadline looming in the not-too-far distance, I started trying to work a way out of getting a dog. I tried to explain to Jared that this house really isn't a good house for a dog. It would ruin the floors. It would have to go down too many stairs to even get to the backyard. We would really want to have a bigger yard so it had more room to run. (At these objections, Camryn cheerfully replied, "That's OK. We'll just move again!") Apparently, Jared took these considerations seriously because at the end of this summer he hatched a plan. He decided that since this isn't a great house for a dog, we should get a hamster instead- and get it right now. He bugged me about it for a long time, but truthfully, I wasn't that thrilled about having a hamster either. But, the possibility of getting out of having to get a dog was a strongly influencing it in his favor. I finally worked out a compromise that Jared could use his money to buy a hamster if he could prove to me he was responsible by practicing his piano every day. If he continued to practice, I would continue to buy food for the hamster. If not... bye-bye.

To make a long story short, I got piano practice and Jared got a hamster. While Grandma Rogers and Grama Susan were visiting for his baptism, they took him to PetSmart and let him pick out a hamster cage as his birthday present. Since then, we have had a new beloved member of our family: Fredrick. (Fredrick is actually a girl hamster, but Jared wanted a boy name... so he named her Fredrick anyway. I guess we just have a gender-confused rodent.)

I have a hard time forgiving Fredrick for the fact that his.. I mean her... poop looks like mouse turd. I could have told you that Jared was going to sigh and pout every time I told him that the hamster cage needed to be cleaned. I could have predicted that I was not going to love having the faint aroma of hamster droppings near my dining area. But I have to admit, the kids absolutely love the hamster. They built a hamster playland out of Zaks blocks and tissue paper boxes. Jared has been known to give Fredrick rides in Jackson's play shopping cart. They even named their play school "Hamsterdam." Jared made a great effort to point out that he was very magnanimous in wanting a hamster- not just for him, but because the whole family would love it and have a pet-- even me. Jackson is particularly fascinated with the "ster," as he calls it.

So Fredrick is the lucky inhabitant of a glow-in-the-dark neon plastic modular nifty-swifty hamster cage. Except that he/she keeps filling up the hamster wheel (which is a modular piece on the outside of the cage) with bedding and using it for a nest. It was getting to the point that the hamster wasn't getting any exercise, so Jared decided to use his money to buy another hamster wheel extension for the cage -so he could use one wheel as his nest and the other for exercise. So now in my dining area I have a glow-in-the-dark neon plastic modular hamster cage with bright-colored modular plastic tumor-like extensions growing out of it. (I haven't yet taken a picture of the new and improved hamster cage, in all its glory. Did I mention it makes it a heck of a lot harder to clean, too?)

I have been wanting a particular china cabinet/buffet that matched my dining room table for a couple of years now. The store that carried them was discontinuing it this summer, so Dave bought it for me for my birthday. It is really a beautiful piece of furniture: deep mahogany-finished wood with a silky-smooth finish, two glass doors and brushed nickel hardware. I envisioned it as a place for a flower arrangement or a display of fresh fruits and vegetables to round out the dining area. But that was not fated to be... It has now met its calling in life... as the world's most beautiful hamster cage holder.
Random Quotes:

Jared: "Mom, did you know that this shirt I have on is 100% cotton? One-HUN-dred percent of it...."
Jackson: (pointing at the sesame street characters on Adelyn's diapers): Mommo! Mommo! [Elmo]
Jackson: "Where's da phone? Dere it is!"
Me to Jackson: "Do you want to read Clifford?" J: "Uuuuuuuggh" K:"Do you want to read Big Dog, Little Dog?" J:"Uuuuuuuuuugh" K: "Do you want to read "Ox-Cart Man?" J: [big smile]
Me: (during scripture time in 2 Nephi 2) "What would have happened if Adam and Eve hadn't left the Garden of Eden?"
Camryn: "They never would have had kids. And all they would have had to eat was fruit."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Putting Things in Perspective

To put things in perspective from yesterday, I just wanted to post about a friend of mine from my choir who has been on my mind a lot recently. My friend Courtney is a fantastic musician- she went to BYU at the same time that I did and got her masters in vocal performance. She is also a wonderful, caring person and a great mom. She had her fourth baby 5 days after I had Adelyn. At our last choir rehearsal, we found out that earlier that day she had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I just can't even imagine what it would be like to have a brand new baby with three older kids and then have a crisis like that hit on top of it all. It definitely makes my current challenge of trying to keep Jackson from pushing Adelyn too hard in her baby swing and dumping cereal on the floor a bit laughable to even call a "challenge."

Today at 5:30 a.m. she went in for surgery on the tumor. You can read more about it on her blog. I am praying really hard for her that things will go well. If you have any extra prayers to send her way, she could definitely use them. Meanwhile, I am thankful for good health and for her example of courage and good humor in incredibly difficult circumstances. My heart and thoughts are with you today, Courtney!

Yesterday's Post

Well, I missed a day of posting... so much for having a perfect record for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Although I guess I started a few days late so I didn't have a perfect record to begin with. I meant to post yesterday but it just didn't happen. I'll be blunt. Yesterday was a tough day. I usually try to wait to write about tough days until a bit of time has passed and I can be philosophical about it. So I kept trying to come up with something else to write about, but my mind was stuck in the present.

It wasn't like yesterday was the worst day ever or anything. There wasn't even anything unusually bad about it. I just was more tired than usual- the new baby less-than-perfect-night's-sleep is starting to catch up with me, Adelyn was more hungry and fussy than usual and Jackson... well he was his normal, curious self. =] To quote my facebook status update from yesterday at 8:00 am: "Dear Jackson, Thank you for turning off the timer for my steel-cut oats, turning on the wall oven broiler, dumping 1/2 a bag of cereal on the floor and getting into the raisins- all within 30 minutes of waking up. You keep my days exciting. Love, Mommy."

None of this would have been insurmountable if I hadn't actually tried to get something done. I had some stuff to do for Cantico (the choir that I co-direct). We have tickets going on sale for our Christmas concert this week, plus I'm in the thick of planning for next season. Every time I finished nursing Addy and tried to set her down, she would start crying within about 30 seconds. I think she must be having a growth spurt because she basically just wanted to be nursed the entire day. Or held. And meanwhile, Jackson used this opportunity to climb on counters, get into cupboards and explore whatever he could before I finally got up, nursing and all to get him down. (When Dave picked Jackson up from nursery on Sunday the nursery leader told him that we need to work with Jackson this week because he kept trying to stand or sit on the snack table, which would inspire all of the other kids to want to do the same. Great. He's not even 2 and already we need to "work with him" on his behavior for church.) Or if I finally had set Adelyn down, Jackson would go over and "hug" her and wake her up and generally raise my blood pressure by "being nice" and "playing" with Addy. I finally got Jackson to take a nap, but had to wake him up early to take Jared to cub scouts. (Are you ever tempted to stay sitting in the car longer after you are done driving, merely because it means your child is strapped in and contained?)

I finally got Addy to take a nap by wearing her in the baby carrier for 2 1/2 hours. She is not that heavy, but by the end of it I was starting to get tired. I made it through dinner and, thankfully, Dave got home in time to help put the kids to bed. After the kids were in bed, Dave and I started watching Dancing with the Stars from our DVR, but I was falling asleep within about 20 minutes. So that is my very long excuse for why I didn't post yesterday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pushing Buttons

Right now Jackson is at a stage where he is obsessed with buttons (except he calls them "butties"). He roams the house looking for things with buttons to press. Then he presses all of them to see what happens. The phone, the wall oven, the TV, the stereo, the alarm clock, the remote control-- all are sources of new "butties" for him to explore.

Jackson now has a new kind of button that he loves- belly buttons. He also calls them "butties." (Incidentally, Camryn's word for belly button was "tuppin." We thought that was so cute that we actually tried to get Jackson to adopt it, but to no avail.) When Jackson gets changed into his jammies at night he likes always has to look for his "buttie."

But today he made a new discovery: Adelyn has a buttie! Now whenever I change Addy's diaper he comes over and says, "Where's da buttie? Dere it is!" Then he points to it and giggles and laughs like he just discovered a gold mine. Then he gives baby a big hug and goes "Bee-bee! Buttie!" Simple pleasures.

(You can tell it's a low on inspiration day when I'm writing about belly buttons. I have been waiting to do a "Memory Monday" post about when Dave and I were dating, but I can't get my scanner to work to scan the pictures... probably because someone has been pressing some "butties". That's what I get for growing up in the non-digital stone age.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How Can I Keep From Singing?

Last Sunday we started ward choir again after my break to recover from having a baby. We got off to a bit of a rough start. We didn't have a lot of people and it was just kind of a tough rehearsal- I didn't feel like we accomplished a whole lot or like people enjoyed it. Today it was Sunday and again, the time had rolled around for choir. While ward choir director is one of my favorite jobs in the world and I LOVE it when things are going well, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with choir. I LOVE choosing music, directing the music, having rehearsals, the friends I make at rehearsals, putting together performances, teaching people about singing, and so on. But trying to recruit and get people to come is the bane of my existence. I HATE recruiting for choir. Mormons are notoriously busy with multiple callings, small children, extended family, community activities and such. Trying to convince people that they can find time for one more thing, especially on Sundays, can seem like an impossible task. All along my hope with choir has been that if I try and work hard enough and long enough, eventually we will get a consistent group of people to come and we will be able to not just sing a song or two for church, but progress as a group and get better... that we will be able to make beautiful music that expresses our love for the Lord, brings the Spirit into the meeting and touches people's hearts. But whenever we start to take steps toward that, it seems like things fall apart and we go back to having a "choir" of 6 or 7 people. I try not to take it personally when people don't come, but it is hard not to....

For a while I have been getting discouraged with choir because it seems like we have had more steps backward than forward and choir has been getting smaller, not bigger. Today I decided that I needed to at least make an effort to recruit for the Christmas program and call to remind people. (Note: I would rather get teeth pulled than have to call and try to get people to come to choir. It makes me extremely uncomfortable and nervous. And I take it personally when they say no.) I started calling people and the very first person I called said, "You know I love choir but I just need to spend that time with my family right now." What are you supposed to say to that? The next two people that I called were also "no"s. At that point I was about ready to just ask to be released from this calling. Why do they have me do this if all I am doing is torturing people, tearing them away from their families and making them suffer through one more Sunday meeting?

Regardless of my inauspicious start, I kept calling people and got a few "yes" responses. I quit calling people when Dave called me to eat lunch. He had cooked bacon, toast and omelets for lunch. (Did I mention that I love this man?) After filling my stomach with delicious, salty, greasy food I felt much better about life.     

By the time we finished eating it was almost time for choir, so I started getting chairs out and getting the music ready. At a typical choir practice, two or three people arrive by 2:05, with another couple coming by 2:10 and a few more at 2:15. Today we had 6 people here by 2:00. By 2:05 there were 14 people. And more and more people kept coming. We had 25 people at choir today, including some brand new people who I didn't even call! We had a great rehearsal, working on a piece to sing later this month and a couple of songs for Christmas. The choir sounded great! We had fun! We made progress! I love this calling! Someone from the choir had volunteered to bring treats so people stayed for a few minutes afterward to socialize and eat treats. It was an all-around great rehearsal and great day.

I always worry that when we have a good turnout like this people will assume that this means that they aren't needed and will stop coming (this has happened to me several times). But if they keep coming, think how awesome it would be...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Summer-y Summary Part VI: The Best of the Rest

Here are some other summer highlights.... Jackson's shopping cart (gotten for free from a friend). Jackson spent days diligently pushing this cart the house. Jared got the idea of using it to push Jackson (worked great for about 5 minutes- then Jackson tipped over).

We didn't get a chance to do an all-out blackberry picking trip (my huge belly and pregnancy fatigue finally caught up with me). We didn't even make a single batch of blackberry freezer jam. But we managed to pick some berries at a friend's house and from the berry patch down the street.

But before we knew it, school was starting again. Here are the pictures of Jared and Camryn on their first day of 3rd grade and 1st grade.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Something Always Comes Up...

After my days of frustration earlier this week, yesterday was a pretty good day. I took a shower in the morning (!) and even put on make-up. Jackson took a good nap (hooray!) and Adelyn took not one, but two solid naps. It's amazing how much of a difference those little things can make in the chaos level in my life. Suddenly there were ample opportunities to get the piles of clean laundry folded, do a few more loads, clean up the kitchen and tidy up in general. I was feeling much more calm and in control of life. Even though my clean kitchen was gone within minutes of my two older kids walking in from school, life seemed quite manageable again.

As I was making dinner Jackson started to get fussy- not an unusual turn of events. A few minutes later I heard Jackson start crying loudly. I turned and saw him standing next to a puddle of vomit with remainders splashed all over his clothes. "Oh good. Just what we need. I bet he has swine flu and the entire family is going to get it. Just great." I cleaned up the mess and got Jackson changed into clean pajamas as I desperately thought, "How am I going to keep Addy from getting whatever bug he has? How many times a day does he go over and hug her?" I took Jackson's temperature and while his temperature was totally normal, that wasn't reassuring enough to make me feel better. I tried to keep Jackson from going near Addy, but he didn't feel good and just wanted mommy to hold him. Meanwhile Addy had determined that it was mealtime and she wanted it NOW. Never mind that the spaghetti was boiling on the stove and would need to be drained any minute now. Sheesh. So much for my calm day.

Two more barfs and one pair of pajamas later, I got Jackson to bed. But not before resigning myself to my only option of sitting on the couch nursing Adelyn with Jackson snuggled up next to me, despite his chance of infecting her with whatever he had. Getting Jackson to bed was a challenge: he kept going around the kitchen asking for food: spaghetti? beans? rais-ies (raisins)? How do you explain to an almost-two-year-old that he can't eat anything even if he wants it? Given the fine results from the little bit of juice I gave him I wasn't going to risk him eating anything else. I went to bed praying that Adelyn would somehow have enough immunity from nursing to not get whatever Jackson had.

Jackson woke up this morning and appeared to be his normal happy self. After downing a bunch crackers and toast and begging loudly for more, he ate a full breakfast and kept it down. He then proceeded into his usual morning routine of trying to dismantle the DVD player and turning on the beeping handset finder in our phone before putting it in the kitchen cupboard for safekeeping.

Last night Camryn found a mostly-full sippy cup of curdled milk sitting around upstairs. Putting two and two together, that may have been the culprit for last night's episode, given that any sippy cup that Jackson finds immediately goes into his mouth. For now I'm crossing my fingers... but Jackson seems to be his normal self and we may have escaped the swine flu- for now at least.

Sorry if this whole post is TMI.... being a mom in general requires way too many up-close-and-personal encounters with diapers, vomit and other unmentionables. Did you catch the stupid pun I used for my title? That's how you can tell I've spent way too much time around 8-year-old humor and Captain Underpants. Did I ever mention that it still irks me that Jared gets all of the Captain Underpants books from the school library? Are they purposely trying to foil my attempts to direct him toward finer literature? Or at least books that don't include 10 or more uses of the term "wedgie?"

Now Jackson is on the counter turning on the garbage disposal and trying to figure out the toaster. I think that is my cue to go....

Summer-y Summary Part V: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Remember the huge remodel of our yard I did back in July?
I managed to only kill three plants of the 50+ new plants I planted. Those plants have have already been replaced. (I am blaming a sprinkler malfunction for their untimely demise.)

I would say that record is pretty dang good considering that we had record-shattering heat at the end of July.

So you can see that the plants are growing and looking great. (Pat self loudly on back.)

Okay, I just need to remind myself at this phase (when I am getting nothing done) that once upon a time I could do projects.... Someday...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Summer-y Summary Part IV: Jared's Birthday

With a couple of exceptions, I mostly remember birthdays growing up being fun but pretty low-key affairs. Mom would bake a cake mix and decorate the cake with frosting and those stick-on candies that said "Happy Birthday." We would have some friends over and watch a movie or play on the slip and slide. We might even get to go with mom or dad to get our free birthday meal at Denny's. But I don't remember ever having huge elaborate parties. I didn't have a "friend party" every year. And I never went to an outside place like Chuck E. Cheese for a birthday.

So I don't know how I got swept up into big birthdays. Maybe it was because when we lived in California our student apartment complex had a tradition of huge birthday parties where you would invite basically all of the kids who lived in that courtyard and have a huge party. You kind of felt like a cop-out if you didn't at least have a huge cake with games and a pinata. Maybe it is because Dave always says, "Oh that would be fun for the kids, we should do it!" but somehow I always get sucked into doing a friend party. Part of me is crochety-old-person that says, "What was good enough for me is good enough for my kids. They don't need a party every year!! That will make them start to feel entitled and create spoiled kids, right?" (Now I'm REALLY starting to sound like an old person...) =] But part of me is a sucker and always ends up doing something... which usually escalates into something bigger and more expensive than I intended.

It seems like every year I say, "This year is going to be low-key. We don't need a friend party every year." And this has started to work a little bit. (Translation: My kids no longer assume that birthday = big pinata and 10+ kids coming over.) But although I have been successful at paring down the party, we always seem to end up doing something. Maybe that is a good compromise and I should leave it at that.

This year when Jared turned 8 I told him we weren't doing a friend party this year. Instead he could choose 1 friend to go to Chuck E. Cheese with us for lunch on his birthday and we would get some tokens. Nice, easy, low-key. Of course that one friend ended up turning into 5, but who's counting? Fine, I am a sucker.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To Be or Not To Be... Frustrated, That Is

So I did post something for today, but a) I didn't write anything besides the title... and b) I set it up yesterday to post today. Does that count? Hmmmmm.... Maybe not. So I'm going to actually write something.

Today Adelyn turns four weeks old. The past couple days I've been hovering between getting frustrated and willfully ignoring that temptation. With that four week birthday I've been hoping for a return to a routine/normalcy, but I have to keep telling myself that normalcy has changed... if not forever, for a VERY long time. (Recite to self: "It is normal to not get things done with a newborn. It is normal to have a messy house.") Part of me tells myself to just relax and let go. The other part says, "Why are you blogging while she is asleep right now? You should be folding laundry. Or at least getting out of your pajamas."

I've had enough experience having kids that it's not like I expect myself to be going full throttle and have a perfect house and a routine organized life with a four-week-old baby. By this point in my parenting experience I am actually very well-adapted to adjusting my life to a child's pace: taking advantage of little openings to get things done when they come and accepting interruptions the rest of the time. But I often lose my calm and get frustrated when things get to the point that it seems like my life is one continuous interruption: interrupted sleep, interrupted meal, interrupted phone call, interrupted thought, interrupted sentence, interrupted feeding.... It seems like my daily life comes down to a balancing dance going between interruptions from Jackson and Addy: feed Addy while trying to verbally coax Jackson into his high chair; try to quickly get Jackson to bed before Addy wakes up and starts crying (or end up trying to rock/read story/nurse all at the same time); fold laundry before Jackson can dump the folded piles; change Addy's umpteenth diaper then run to pull raisins out of Jackson ears; blog until Jackson starts pressing the delete button and trying to close my laptop (happening as I type now...).

I understand that this is part of life -- no, this IS life-- at my current stage and I am willing to accept that. Jackson is at a stage where the daily endangerment of his person (and our household electronic equipment) is a simple unpleasant fact of life. I just do my best to rescue him or at least mitigate the risk from him standing on the oven door, destroying the DVD player, turning on the garbage disposal, walking on the counter, climbing into Addy's baby swing and so forth. (Did I mention that he got out one of my crystal goblets from the china cupboard up high the other day? That kid...) Adelyn is at the stage where she pretty much needs to be held or nursed most of the time-- and if she doesn't, she needs to be protected from Jackson's attention and love. But what if you are a person that craves order and control and completion? What if having a clean and orderly home makes you feel peaceful and happy? What if you would like to have an uninterrupted moment sometime before 2015? How do you avoid going crazy?

In a slightly different vein, yesterday I was actually feeling quite skinny. My stomach felt downright flat. I was so excited about this new development that I made the mistake of actually measuring it. Don't ever do that four weeks post-baby. (In case you were wondering, my waist was 1 inch smaller than my chest used to be in my post-Camryn skinny days. Whether that says worse things about my waist now or my chest then I will decline to comment on.)

Which brings me to the post-baby weight frustration... between Jared and Camryn (and Dave =]) I put on quite a bit of weight, so after Camryn really worked hard and lost it all, getting down to skinnier than I was in college. I eventually leveled out a few pounds higher, but it was still a really good, healthy weight for me. Then I had Jackson and never lost the last 10 lbs. with him. Now, having had another baby to add to it, I am much closer to where I was when I started losing weight after Camryn than where I was when I finished. That is really frustrating. I know I'm not even to the six-week point yet, but it still pretty much stinks. Don't you think you should get some kind of heavenly weight-loss reward for having babies? Too bad it doesn't work out that way. I'm eating healthy and having lots of vegetables, but getting it off is so much slower than putting it on.

So I'm at that lovely stage where almost none of my clothes fit: maternity tops are way too big, regular jeans are way too small... regular tops will be WAY too small for as long as I am nursing. But of course, I spent almost all of my weekly budget on Monday... buying vegetables so I can eat healthy and fit into my clothes again. GRRRRRR!!!

Now, of course I can just choose not to be frustrated. Weight gain is part of childbirth and with time and patience I can lose it. Looking fabulous doesn't need to be the focus of my life right now. Having a clean house doesn't either. Jackson will outgrow this stage eventually (right????) and Addy will outgrow the newborn stage faster than I want her to.

My phone just rang and I could not find the phone because Jackson had been playing with it. I could hear it ringing, not more than 5 feet away, but I could not find it. Finally after it stopped ringing I used the handset finder to locate the phone. I finally found it only 2 feet away from me... inside the Raisin Bran box, of course. (Of course!) That just kind of summarizes my life right now. But I can choose not to be frustrated. After all, a Raisin Bran box is a perfectly logical place for a phone to go... at least to a two-year-old.

Summer-y Summary Part III: Playing Out Back


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adelyn Pictures

I took some pictures of Adelyn yesterday. It's amazing how much she has grown-- and how small she still is. =] Tomorrow she will be four weeks old.

She is getting better at holding her head up and is more alert during the times when she is awake.

She likes to look around with big inquisitive eyes.


Jackson still loves our "bee-bee" and gives her hugs all the time.



Yesterday I saw a friend had posted something about NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month for the uninititated-- you try to post every day for the month). I started to say, "Why is she posting about that? NaBloPoMo isn't until November!" And then I realized it is November. Oops. Wow, this year has flown by....

Unfortunately because it is the 3rd, that means that I've already missed two days and I'm behind already. Sheesh. Well maybe my two extra posts for today will count to catch me up....

Last night we were having Family Night in the living room. Unfortunately the kids were distracted by the fact that there was a perfect full moon out and you could see it clearly right through the living room window (we have a window that is up on the level with the 2nd story). The lesson was on serving others and I was trying to at least get through the story part of the lesson. After a minute or two of excitement about the moon, Jared and Camryn settled down and listened to the story. But Jackson was obsessed.

Jackson: "Mom! Mom!"
Me: "What Jackson?"
Jackson: "Mooooo!!!! Moooo!!! (pointing out the window at the moon)
Me: "Yes. I see the moon. It's very pretty. Now, Jared and Camryn, what are some things that we can do to serve our family?"
Jackson: "Mom! Mom!"
Me: "How do we feel when we serve others?"
Jackson: (more urgently) "Mom!!! Mom!!!"
Me: "What Jackson?"
Jackson: (pointing out the window) "Moooon!! Moooo!!"

I would try to go back to the lesson and about ten seconds later, Jackson would interrupt me- "Mom!!!! Mom!!!!"- and try as I might, he would not stop until I let him point out the moon and I acknowledged that I saw the cool moon out our window. This happened over and over, literally 10 or 15 times until each time he said "Moooon!" the two older kids burst out laughing. This only added fuel to Jackson's fire. He would point out the moon and then grin at how clever and funny he was.

Finally, Dave got home and interrupted the whole thing. Jackson was finally pacified by having a new person to whom he could point out the moon and we were able to finish our lesson. Of course, Jared and Camryn were totally distracted by that point, but, at least we did finish....

Summer-y Summary Part II: Trip to the Coast

During August we went to the coast for a few days with some good friends.

We managed to hit the beach during one of the few times it wasn't overcast

Jackson liked hanging out in the sand.

We also went to the aquarium.
The kids love playing on the fish sculptures at the end.

Thanks for a great break and lots of fun, Ranell!

Summer-y Summary Part I: Horseback Riding

So I missed a few things this summer that I wanted to post about. I will try to summarize instead. This past year I taught some organ lessons to a friend of a friend for no charge. In exchange, she offered to teach a few horseback riding lessons to one of my kids. Over the summer, Jared got to take the lessons (Cam wasn't quite old enough).

Camryn and Jackson loved watching the horses and playing with the dog and cats who lived at the stable.

I never could understand as a kid why my parents wouldn't even consider it when I wanted a horse for a pet...

I mean, he could have fit in our suburban backyard, right?

And it wouldn't have been any work to take care of the thing...

Parents can be so unreasonable.