Friday, April 16, 2010

What-up with Jackson

Hey everyone, this is Jackson. Mom thinks that all I ever do on her computer is press random buttons, try to hit the power button, close the lid while she's typing or sit on it. This will show her!

I've had a busy couple of days. I have tons that I have to get done, but Mom keeps getting in the way. Don't get me wrong-- I love her and all, but she can really keep me from being fully productive. Sigh. I guess I just have to do the best I can.

Yesterday I was practicing my drums for "Band Hero" (offline, of course- ever since Dad installed locks on the TV cabinet it has seriously inhibited my Wii practice), but mom put the drums away in the corner. I couldn't stand in the corner to practice drums so I had to find some multi-level practice surface in the middle of the room. Hmmm, baby Addy's Exersaucer tray... and her head! A perfect substitute! Nice and round,  just like the drum pads, and a very convenient height, to boot. I was getting in a great practice session until Addy had to start making a big fuss about it. Then mom came in and took away my drumsticks! The nerve of her! Doesn't she want me to be a musical child? Or at least a rock star? Luckily, I had a bunch of other things to get done to which I could turn my attention.

There are these really annoying dangling things that hang down in front of our sliding glass door. They make it so you can't even see outside through the window. Since they just get in the way I started to pull them off. They even made great play toys once they were pulled off, but I only got to one of them before mom got in the way... again.

My parents are nice enough people, but they have really bad taste in decorating. Everything is boring. They need some color and fun to spice things up. I have done my best to add some color to the walls when I get a chance, but mom and dad never allow me to fully express myself artistically. Yesterday I decided that Mom and Dad's room could use a little boost, so I climbed on top of their dresser with a mirror on it and decided to add some nice wall accents above the mirror. I hadn't even finished when mom came and pulled me down, mumbling some garbage about pens needing to be used on paper instead of walls. How do they expect me to work under these conditions- always being interrupted?

Yesterday I realized that carpet in the living room hadn't been watered in weeks. (Are my parents trying to let it die?) So I got a water bottle from the kitchen to try and fix it. I couldn't get the lid off completely, but I figured out that if you turn the bottle upside down and squeeze hard enough the water will start coming out anyway. Phew. But I had only finished watering one spot when mom came and interrupted me again.

I've been doing all of this in addition to my usual responsibilities of keeping the baby entertained (she loves to have her eyes poked and my fingers stuck in her mouth), keeping Addy's hair done (she like it best with big bursts of slobber streaked through it) and putting the phone back where it goes (in the cupboard, of course). And two days ago, I managed to clean up a ton of stuff in the basement before mom interfered. (Why doesn't she realize that it's much faster to throw them over the deck railing into the backyard rather than put them on shelves? Grown-ups can be so dense...).

Anyway, Mom makes it really hard to do my job sometimes and she has a real knack for getting in the way, but I want her to know I love her anyway.



Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's a Hard-Knock Life

Last Saturday... where to begin. I was trying to steer this blog away from being a series of child-related disaster stories. But since I'm still trying to keep this blog in the "non-fiction" category, yet another child-related disaster is coming your way. Consider yourself forewarned.

Saturday was the first day of April General Conference. In case any of my 5 blog readers aren't members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, twice a year we cancel regular three-hour Sunday meetings and spend a whole weekend watching General Conference: eight hours of satellite broadcasts to the whole church (make that ten if you're a guy) over a two-day period. And you thought three hours was a lot of church, huh? :) Joking aside, I love General Conference. The prophet, the 12 apostles and other church leaders (including the leaders of the women's and Young Women's organizations) speak to us about what they feel is relevant for us to hear right now. It's also a nice chance to spend the weekend at home with the family.

We have a couple of Conference traditions: we print out a Conference activity book for the kids and we make "Monkey Bread": a caramel-y concoction of canned refrigerator biscuits, melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. (I know a lot of people who make homemade Cinnamon Rolls for their special "Conference treat" but after my last post I'm not comparing any more, okay? Besides, I baked it in a fancy bundt pan this year. That's totally as good as homemade.)

Having kids running around makes it a little bit harder to focus on the talks --and even with our best efforts we only made it through two of the four sessions over the actual weekend. (Hooray for DVRs!) But so far my favorite talks were Elder Uchdorf's talk on how we need to show more love and kindness to those around us-- even to people who are different than we are-- and judge others less. I also enjoyed the talks about mothers and daughters and the importance of a mother;s teaching in the home. But now I digress....

On Saturday afternoon, Dave left to go to the Priesthood session of Conference (for all the men 12 and up) and then had to go in to work after that. Not wanting to be stuck at home by myself with all of the kids on a Saturday, I decided to go out and kill some time hanging out at the local toy store and picking up a few things for the kids' Easter baskets. Except that by the time I figured out what I wanted and got it up to the counter to check out, the kids decided that the toys on display near the front were the most interesting and I had to casually wait for another 20 minutes before I could slyly get the presents paid for and to the car without them noticing.

I had plans to take Jared and Camryn to see a community production of "Annie" that night, so we drove through Taco Bell and then raced Jackson and Addy to the friend who was going to watch them for us. I must have been really hungry (I think I skipped lunch) because on the way back to go to the play, I impulsively decided that I absolutely HAD to have another Gordita to be able to make it through the play. So I drove through Taco Bell again (yes, the lady in the drive-through recognized me... that was kinda embarrassing), got my Gordita and we were off to the play with a whole three minutes to spare. So imagine how irked I was when I pulled out my Gordita and found a Chalupa in its place! Instead of soft yummy flatbread goodness (okay, 'flatbread goodness' is a little bit strong for Taco Bell, but remember-- I skipped lunch so I was STARVING), I found super-fried grease-o-rama. I didn't have time (or gall) enough to drive through the drive-through a third time. I took two bites and gave up.

Because of my drive-through shenanigans, we got to "Annie" one minute before it started. We parked and set off at a run for the entrance, inciting piercing shrieks from Camryn of "I can't run, Mom! It makes my stomach hurt!" (Don't you love six-year-olds?) We did manage to slip into some seats on the end of a row just as the overture started and I even got Jared to run to concessions to get some Junior Mints and Skittles to tide me over through the play.

The play was really cute and having learned my lesson after chasing Jackson around the back of "The Music Man" last summer before giving up at the end of the first act, I was really enjoying the play in Jackson's absence. But after the first act Camryn started to get really tired and cranky. I tried to get her to lay her head on my lap to go to sleep, but she didn't want to. She ended up curling up toward the back of her chair, so I went back to watching the show.

Then suddenly there was a noise-- like something spilling-- some people on the row behind us startled and a girl behind us reached for something by her shoe. In the dark it took me a few seconds to connect all the dots; I thought maybe Camryn had spilled a box of candy or something. So it wasn't until there was another burst of the "spilling" sound from Camryn's direction a second later that I realized it was not a box of Junior Mints but throw-up that was landing on the shoes of the poor couple behind us. Dots now connected, I snapped into action, grabbed Camryn and tried to furtively head for the back towards the bathroom. Our attempt at a quiet escape down the exit aisle was thwarted by a loud burst of projectile vomit that spectacularly sprayed in every direction from Camryn's lips. So much for trying to be subtle.

This probably sounds horrible, but I had to try really hard not to laugh. You know how in movies they have those stupid fake special-effects where barf sprays everywhere, totally unrealistically? That is exactly what it looked like, except it was real. (And if I thought too hard about the poor people behind us trying to wipe barf off of their shoes I would probably have burst into tears, so best not to go there for now). After a few remarkable bursts of barf, we made it safely to the bathroom, only to have Camryn let loose another spray all over the toilet stall. I'll spare you the remaining gory details of cleanup (although I have never been more annoyed with those stupid hands-free paper-towel dispensers that only give you 5 inches of paper towel at a time) and how the staff had to set up cones down most of the aisle to keep people from stepping in the mess/cleanup attempts and close down the entire bathroom (I have to hand it to the staff- they were incredibly gracious given the mess that we made).

The play was almost over at this point, so Cam and I decided to hang out and watch from the back by the bathroom door so Jared could finish the whole thing. (She felt much better at this point- who could blame her?). She turned to me and said, "Mom, I guess I probably ruined everything for you, huh?""Of course not, honey. Things like this just happen sometimes." And so they do.

The good news is that Camryn felt better after that and didn't throw up again. Nobody else in the whole house got sick or threw up. (Honestly, I wasn't trying to take a sick child to a community event to spread germs around.) Maybe it was just too many Skittles in one sitting. I'll never know. But I know we had one performance that we'll never forget.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Soapbox Moment

This post was initially inspired by the fact that in one day I had several different friends who commented via blog or FB on how they had been "blog-hopping" and ended up feeling bad about themselves. Kept it in my "holding tank" for a while because I didn't want to sound like I'm on one (I'm really not) but hey, we can stir the pot a little, can't we?

Why do women get so creative in finding ways to feel bad about themselves? This is a rhetorical question and yes, I am as bad as any other woman, but sometimes I even surprise myself with what I find to feel bad about. So I am going to step up on my soapbox and say it: Most of the things that women use to incessantly lower their self-esteem are silly when you really think about it-- or even if you don't think too hard. More than a handful of these things are counter to any common sense, if not completely illogical. Not that they aren't still effective when you want to give yourself an instant downer day --but, hey-- now at least you can add "I'm unrealistic and illogical" to your list of self-tirades. ;) In all seriousness, I don't think women are illogical and silly, I just think we are too quick to feel bad about ourselves without seeing how certain expectations (even if they are culturally prevalent) are inherently unrealistic and flawed. Here goes:

"I don't look like I did when I was 20." -- Since when are you supposed to be able to freeze dry yourself at a certain age and stay looking like that forever? Um, you will stop looking like you are 20 when you are, oh, around 21. Unless of course you want to undergo massive Botox and plastification and then you can look like a scary human zombie of a 60-year-old that bears an eerie resemblance to what a 20-year-old might look like if they had been coated in a semi-solid amorphous material.

"I've put on a few pounds since I had kids." -- There are a few models, marathon runners and mutants out there who manage to escape post-baby weight and look fantastic, but these are the exception, not the rule. (I know quite a few of them and what really stinks is that they are really nice people too so you can't hate them.) ;) For those of you out there who aren't entirely familiar with the childbirth process, a woman's body expands and adapts to accommodate an entire (albeit small) human being, which she manages to feed, shelter and nurture inside her own body for 9 months, despite nausea, discomfort and a large awkward shape. After delivering the baby she spends another 6 months minimum of extremely intense care, involving frequent feedings (often from her own, yet again changing, body), night wakings and nearly incessant needs. The incessant needs for care eventually diminishes but doesn't completely go away for about 18 years. There are those out there who manage to focus on "getting their old body back" during this time. I'm not one of them. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for eating healthy, exercising and taking care of yourself. But how many of us really are motivated to lose weight more by a desire to be healthy and less by a desire to look great in a swimsuit?

"I'm not as cute or fashionable as I was before I had kids." -- Not to say that you want to abandon all goals of cuteness or fashion, but please see above paragraph. But really, being cute and fashionable is all that really matters anyway. That said, it's hard to be excited about cuteness and fashion when whatever fashion you attempt may be assailed by random spit-up, drool or boogers or probably won't fit in six months because of pregnancy/nursing/weight gain/weight loss or child-pushing-buttons-on-the-dryer-induced shrinkage.

"My house is a mess." -- Just so you know, this one is completely your fault. While your children are working their rear ends off, trying to keep things tidy, clean and sanitized, you are sitting on the couch watching cartoons and playing with toys, making messes for them to clean up. Shame on you! Enough said.

I know. This is an old rant. I've probably visited it on my blog two-hundred-bajillion times before. But it still is irritating that so often we/people/society give lip service to things that are really important (spending time with your kids, eating healthy, being there for other people, thinking about more than yourself or appearances) but so much of our culture is really tied up in appearances and the form rather than the substance of things (looking skinny vs. actually being healthy or being "free" to be objectified for your appearance or exploit your body for money vs. true equality for women). I really wonder if the problem of women having low self-esteem is worsened by the messages our culture promotes about women. Our "modern society" talks about promoting equality for women when so often what is really promoted is women used as objects of seduction to sell products. I know. It's all said like a women who resents losing her swimsuit body and would rather whine about it than get on a treadmill. OK, there may be some truth in that. =] But there's truth in my half of the argument too.

I believe in equality for women. But I also believe in respect for "womanly" [Can you even use that term?] characteristics such as tenderness, compassion, nurturing and giving of yourself for others (regardless of what gender the person is who is exhibiting those characteristics). Is it possible to have equal respect for a woman (or man) who chooses to raise children, care for elderly parents or serve in the community rather than pursuing money or fame? Is it possible for a woman to be "beautiful" who may not have a great body, but spends her time with compassion and caring for others? Is the only way for a woman to be equal for her to become more like a "man" (meaning obsessed with self, money, career, power, sex-- although I would argue that a true "man" doesn't exhibit these characteristics either)?

OK. Enough of my rant for the day. I'm really not as on one as I sound from this post. I suppose the problem is that really I wish I could have it all: care for others, raise children, lucrative career, impressive hobbies, perfect body. It's possible, right? All I have to do is buy the right products.... (After all, I'm worth it!)

 (By the way, does anyone buy soap in a box anymore? I'm assuming the term doesn't refer to bar soap-- box too small. Laundry soap might work, but I get it in a plastic container with a spout that would be tricky to stand on for too long.)

Blog Shy

It's been about two weeks since I've posted to my blog. There are several reasons for that. One is that with four kids and various other stuff going on, I have so much free time that it's almost impossible not to blog. Um, yeah. I have at least proven to myself that my life doesn't have to revolve around the internet. I've read a couple of books, worked on stuff for my choir, made my kids' lives miserable by enforcing piano practice and so forth. :)

I've had a couple of posts that I've started writing but never completed or posted. Every so often, rather than just writing I start worrying about what blog readers will think of what I have to say --a sure recipe for killing artistic motivation or intellectual honesty, for that matter.

My favorite blogs are ones where people just write honestly about their everyday lives or what is important to them. I like having a glimpse into people's personalities and what makes them tick. I try to do that on my blog. But it's all-too-easy to fall back into a mid-life internet version of middle-school fashion: "I will copiously follow what I perceive is popular so I can reproduce that and have the greatest chances of making everyone like me." Or it can easily fall into a kind of virtual self-marketing: "Look at me and my perfect life! Did I mention all the things I do or how talented and photogenic my kids are? Or how great my side photography business is? Or how diligently and perfectly I do all the things that I perceive are recognized and valued by my peer group?" (I know, I know, there are a lot of blogs that exist for the purpose of self-marketing. You could argue that that is really what they are for....)

I guess it just bugs me when I hear of people who start out reading their friends' blogs and the end result is that they feel depressed because they don't measure up: they aren't as talented, their kids aren't as photogenic, they aren't as skinny, they've never run a marathon, their scrap-booking isn't as cute, their marriage isn't as perfect, their cooking isn't as gourmet, their photography isn't as good (or they, gasp, can't even work a digital SLR), their house isn't as clean, their wall vinyl isn't as snazzy, their food isn't as organic, their blog doesn't have as many "followers" or whatever. If I'm being honest, I fall into this too. It's too easy to "comparison shop" and find yourself falling short. And this makes it that much harder if you want to have a blog that is honest, because you always wonder if you come off sounding like a wet blanket un-artistic failure of a mother who is always having disasters.

Don't get me wrong... I still love to chill out sometimes to picture-perfect blogs of delicious food that I'll probably never get around to making. Maybe someday I'll have a blog like that or make food like that on a regular basis. I get a kick out of reading about cool things that my friends have done and seeing cute pictures of their kids. And I don't think there's anything wrong with focusing on the positive, running marathons or having photogenic children. But it's worth keeping things in perspective.

So where does that put me and my blog? Not sure. I'm pretty sure I analyze things too much. In other exciting news, the earth is still round....