Thursday, January 28, 2010

Maybe They Do Grow Up...

Two days ago, Jared decided that he wanted to have waffles for breakfast. So that night before he went to bed, he got out the waffle maker, the whole wheat waffle mix that I made on Monday, a bowl and the instructions for mixing the waffles (add an egg and milk). He asked me how to mix them and turn on the waffle iron (just to make sure) and then reminded me that I needed to make more pancake syrup before I went to bed. He set his alarm for 5 minutes earlier than usual so he would have a little extra time.

Yesterday morning, I came downstairs at 7:05 to find Jared and Camryn eating freshly-made waffles that Jared had mixed and cooked himself. Seriously. Jared is 8 years old. I suppose I shouldn't be so floored when he can make homemade breadsticks by himself (yeast and everything- Grandma R. taught him last time she came to visit), but still... to wake up early to make waffles, having set everything up the night before. There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon... someday your kids do learn things and grow up!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Days

I would probably be better served if I quit writing this post and swept my floor right now. But I suppose if I really believed that I would sweep instead of blog. ;)

The remains of Jackson's dinner are still scattered haphazardly around my kitchen floor from last night. I am hoping that one of these days he outgrows the need to demonstrate that he is done with dinner by hurling his leftover food as far and wide as it will go. I try to take his food before he starts chucking it, but that is tempered by my desire to get him to consume something besides a sippy cup of milk at a meal.

I think one of the real challenges of being a mother is being able to not lose sight of what you do accomplish in the midst of all that you wish you had accomplished but didn't. Take yesterday for example. A lot of good things happened. I read Jackson his favorite "Elmo Colors" book at least four times. I washed three loads of laundry. I ground fresh wheat flour and made a whole bunch of whole-wheat waffle mix. I ground another batch of wheat and made a big batch of whole-wheat bread dough to keep in my fridge and a fantastic loaf of delicious, healthy bread. Jared and Camryn both practiced piano without being asked and got most of their homework for the week done. I read a chapter in a book on choral conducting. We had a fantastic dinner of Spicy Pan-Fried Noodles with Egg Drop Soup (that Jared and Camryn eagerly devoured) and then had family night together. Dave and I exercised together and then snuggled up to watch a TV show. I'm just a picture-perfect Suzy Homemaker, with a perfect life, huh? (Maybe I should blog this way more often; I'll call it "selective blogging.")

The rest of the story is what didn't happen yesterday: I did not load or empty the dishwasher, let alone do hand dishes. I didn't make dinner (a friend of mine made the fantastic meal as part of a dinner exchange) or even clear the table completely before I went to bed. I didn't get any of the three loads of laundry folded, let alone the two still sitting in baskets from Saturday. My kitchen floor, despite being moderately clean at the beginning of the day, by the end of the day was piled with enough food droppings to feed a third-world country, topped by a spattering of sticky juice and milk in places (courtesy of Jackson and Camryn) and a sprinkling of wheat kernels (courtesy of me). Jared and Camryn had only 8 fights between snack time and dinner and spent a good hour zoned out in front of the Wii (except of course, when Jared yelled at Camryn for "distracting him" and "making him die" on Super Mario, at which point I threatened to turn off the Wii). Jackson refused to eat anything except his milk at dinner, which maybe had something to do with why he had a diaper that leaked out on to his clothes. Our spiritual family night lesson was punctuated by Jackson sliding down his slide and repeatedly bopping Camryn on the head for 10 minutes straight. My "big" workout session was a grand total of 15 minutes.

So which day presents an accurate picture of my life? They both happened... at the same time, to be precise. I guess the difficulty is not letting Day #2 overshadow Day #1 and make it invisible. So today I'm going to celebrate Day #1. Hooray for me! Look at all the stuff I got done! What a great life I have! And honestly, it is a great life, Day #2 or not. Just because a day has negative things happen does not mean that they cancel out the positive things, like some cosmic math problem. Besides, having Day #2 gives me something to laugh at... or at least keep me humble. =]


Warning: Do not read this post if you are faint of stomach or are easily offended by descriptions of unpleasant potty substances.

As a mom, you get your share of the good, the bad and the ugly. Especially the ugly. The kind of ugly that you never had really even entered your head before you became a mom. Being the oldest girl in a family of six children, I was well-prepared for many aspects of motherhood, such as cooking and basic housekeeping. But I was thoroughly and completely unprepared for the intimate, close-up acquaintance with poop. Yes, I had changed my fair share of messy diapers. I even had nicknames for different types of messy diapers, such as "pebble beach" or "soft-serve ice cream dispenser." But my mother shielded me from cleaning any of the truly disastrous diaper disasters.

And so I was left to be initiated to one of motherhood's most lovely experiences on my own: what to do about poop. They have parenting manuals that tell you (or at least try to tell you) how to feed, bathe and diaper your child. But I have yet to find a manual that tells you how to clean up a diaper blow-out that goes all the way up to the child's shoulders. Or what to do when you are changing a messy diaper and the baby has a brown explosion that lands on stuff across the room (not a frequent occurrence, but seems to happen at least once per child). I guess the manuals leave that stuff alone because there really is no happy way to clean it up (and if you're reading it already, it's too late to decide to not have children). You do your best and then replace the carpet when your kids are grown.

Different people have different hang-ups. Some people cannot tolerate vomit. I'm not a fan of throw-up, but I just really hate poop. I'm not talking about plug-your-nose diaper changes. I mean when it gets out of the confines of the diaper and INVADES your space. I don't really consider myself germ-phobic, but how do you properly sanitize clothing/carpet/shoes or whatever it is that  the brown stuff decides to attack? (Speaking of which, what did the pioneers do about dirty diapers and poopy blow-outs on the plains? I don't even want to know. I would have made a horrible pioneer.)

I guess I just have poop on my mind right now. Jackson had diarrhea last week and it is just one of those experiences that can turn a patient, loving person into a raving lunatic. How a child can manage to have brown stuff get down their pant legs and onto the carpet so many times in a few days is beyond me. Maybe the Lysol company is trying to boost their sales and so they have tainted the world's fruit snack supply with laxatives. If so, it's working.

The worst is gone now and we have retreated from having to wear footed sleepers 24/7 as a safety measure. But almost every single morning Jackson wakes up drenched or poopy- like poop that is outside of the confines of his diaper poopy. This is while he is wearing those special overnight diapers that are supposed to hold more in. We have stopped giving him liquids after dinner and it is still a problem. This morning he woke up at 6:30 (this is after I purposely didn't let him take a nap yesterday so he would sleep longer, no night-time milk and while he was wearing a high-absorbency overnight diaper), drenched. Washing Jackson's sheets is becoming a treasured morning ritual.

I know it will pass. (Yes, it will pass. I promise it will pass.) Someday I will look back at this time and laugh and have fond memories of this. Right? Or maybe we have a blessed thing called selective memory that has a "bypass poop" function and I won't remember this until my daughter calls me to ask what on earth you can do to sanitize carpet that has been invaded by the dreaded brown stuff and why her children's diapers won't just do their job already.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Conversations with Jackson

K: Jackson, would you like to sit up in your seat?
J: No seat!!!!!
K: Jackson, would you like some cheese for lunch?
J: No cheese!!!
K: Jackson, would you like a peanut butter sandwich?
J: No butter!!!!
K: Jackson, would you like some cracker?
J: No cracker!!!!!!
K: Jackson, would you like a drink of milk?
J: Moke!!! Moke!!!!
K: Jackson, let's give you a shower.
J: No shower!!!!!
K: How about a bath instead?
J: No bath!!!!
K: Jackson, it's time to change your diaper.
J: No dopper!!
Me: Jackson, would you like to watch Barney?
J: Bah-eee!!! Bahn-eee!! (Barney!!!)

Moral of the story: Never ask a two-year-old whether he wants something. And Barney or milk will always work in a pinch.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bubble Burst

I know. That took a long time.

I still love my life. But that doesn't preclude me from having a screaming two-year-old that missed his nap, has diarrhea with a diaper rash and chucks any food besides a sippy cup of milk off of his high chair tray. Or whining and complaining older kids who think everything is not fair. Or Addy who finally woke from her marathon nap and wants to eat NOW!

The moral of the story is never write a blog post while you should be putting dinner on the table. Bad idea.

P.S. Jackson is really cute when he sings the ABC song. But he is less cute when he chucks his food on the floor and then (for some odd reason) is hungry. Or when he is a screaming wreck from having no nap. Time to get that kid to bed.

On a Good Day

One of the problems of using your blog as therapy is that you tend to not write much when things are going well. I guess days that go wrong are far more interesting. (Or maybe they are not- but at least I get to stay under the delusion that they are....) ;) Do you really want to hear me gush about how fun it is to kiss baby Addy's cheeks or how Jackson is the funniest kid that ever walked the planet? Well, regardless of what you think, most days I would rather kiss Addy's cheeks or listen to Jackson being his funny self than write about it on my blog. When it comes down to it, when I'm having a good day I'm too busy enjoying it to write much on my blog. I suppose that's probably a good thing.

About a year ago I had an anonymous person comment on my blog, "Why are you so negative all of the time? Can't you just look for the positive in life?" I admit that it really shook me up at first-- nobody likes to be viewed as a wet blanket. I try to "keep it real" on my blog --with both challenges and good times-- instead of making my life look pretty and perfect all of the time. But I never have intended to sound --or be-- negative or ungrateful.

But there is part of me that is uncomfortable with saying, "Life is wonderful! Things are going great!"-- even if it is and they are. Maybe I'm afraid of jinxing myself or tempting fate. Or maybe I think that it will sound fake. Or I don't want to come off sounding like I'm bragging "Look at me! Neener neener!" It doesn't help that in my family we have a tendency to understate things. It's kind of a joke in our family that if Dave gets a new shirt, Dave's mom will say "You look fantastic!! Just amazing!!" and I will say, "You look pretty good," and we mean just about the same thing. My family also has a fanatical avoidance of any behavior that could be viewed as mushy or sappy. If we haven't seen each other for a year and we are thrilled to be together again, rather than running to each other's arms crying, we'll wave across the room and give a calm, "Hey, how's it going? Good to see you again!"

But lest all of you readers think that I am perpetually negative or have a life filled solely with toddler shopping disasters, I want to document (at the risk of jinxing myself) that I am having a really great week. No really. A fantastic week! Just amazing!! (See, I can't even type it without feeling like it must sound fake. I really do mean it.) Nothing special has happened. But I just really enjoy doing what I do every day. I really love being a mom, shopping disasters and all. It's a tough job at times but I truly love it with my whole heart. I love my kids and my husband and feel so incredibly blessed in so many ways. (What I say next I say will fly in the face of family precedent.) I love my life! Things are going great!!! 

(Waiting for thunder to come crashing down and burst the bubble....)

P.S. After reading this post, you get one guess as to how long Addy slept today... hmmm... you're smart. =]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why You Should Never Give a Two-Year-Old a Danimal

Why you should never give a two-year-old (who is used to drinking with a sippy cup) a Danimal yogurt drink, no matter how desperate you are.

"I want my Danimal back!!!!"

 "What mess, Mom?"

Monday, January 11, 2010

I've Read That Post Somewhere Before...

Sometimes I feel like rather than writing a new post, I should just include a link to one of my previous posts and write a note that you should change a few words or places around. So maybe my blog is redundant. Or maybe it is proof that it is still me writing and not some other person who has a perfect, unusually interesting life that has hijacked my google account. But it is my blog... and nobody's making you read it. At the risk of sounding exactly like many of my previous posts, I'm going to write this anyway.

I had a great weekend. Saturday is my day to sleep in. Dave works from home on his laptop while the kids play Wii and I... sleep! Dave often will take the phone off the hook (or he has even been known to put in the fridge) so I won't be disturbed during my one chance of the week to catch some zzzz's-- or maybe he just doesn't want to be bothered while he works. ;) At any rate, I apologize to any of you who have tried to call me on Saturday morning and had the phone ring endlessly to only be heard by the milk and eggs. Dave took the kids to Jared's basketball game and I had a quiet hour and a half with Addy to take a shower and mop the floor! (I think my fifteen-year-old self would cringe if she could have read that sentence.) But it was great. We didn't do much besides work around the house, but just having Dave around makes a day great. Saturday night Dave and I went out for dinner on a date.

Sundays are entirely transformed by the advent of ... 11:30 am church!!!! We have been 100%, completely, totally on time for two weeks in a row. It also helps that my two older kids have reached that blessed age when I can tell them to go upstairs and take a shower and they do just that. Mid-morning church has its flip side, though. Halfway through the meeting Jackson started asking for milk. Dave and I both realized that we were right smack in the middle of Jackson's lunchtime and because we had gotten to church early at 10:45 to practice the choir number, we didn't feed Jackson before we left or remember to pack snacks. Big-time oops. Jackson's pleas for milk got louder and louder. I staved him off for a while with fruit leather and a breath mint (both of which were generously applied to Dave's suit pants) but eventually had to take him out. By the time we got out of all three meetings at 2:30, got home and finished lunch it was almost 4:00. Jackson had a very late nap which resulted in a scream-until-10:30 p.m. bedtime (thank you, Dave, for putting him to bed!). Nonetheless, the day had its highlights including restful reading time, enjoyable conversation, Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Sugar Sage Walnut Sauce for lunch and homemade Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup with fresh artisan bread for dinner (I know, it's always about the food)-- and the dishes even got done, too.

I greeted Monday morning convinced that I had the best life ever, set to conquer the world anew. I was cheerful when I got the kids out the door to school (what a great mother!), I made whole-wheat waffles for Jackson and I breakfast (see how domestic I am! what a great cook!), I planned some meals and made a grocery list (such an organized woman! a wise steward of resources!) and I didn't even get too annoyed when Jackson started pushing buttons on my laptop and trying to turn off the wireless (so patient and long-suffering-- well, at least working on it...). I had learned how to enjoy my life and handle my workload. I just had to know my limits and not try to be super-woman. To just enjoy what I have and enjoy what I do. To choose what is most important and do that well. And so I resolved that I would.

I needed to shop for groceries, so rather than making a big trip to Costco I decided to go somewhere closer (always looking for ways to cut back and conserve!). I needed to get the band on my watch adjusted, so I just figured that I would go to Fred Meyer and get the watch fixed and grocery shopping done all in one fell swoop (efficient, that's me!). Addy even fell asleep on the way to Fred Meyer (perfect timing!). It occurred to me that Jackson is old enough for the play place at Fred Meyer now. I could shop without trying to wrestle a two-year-old. Even better.

Unfortunately even the best-laid plans can come to naught. I spent almost the whole hour that Jackson was in the play place looking for storage containers and wash cloths for the kitchen, tights for Camryn and pricing silk plants. (My green thumb does not extend to houseplants. I have one that literally has turned black.) So I still ended up grocery shopping with Jackson. By that point Addy woke up and was fussy. Never fear! I had a sling packed in the diaper bag. So I grocery shopped with a two-year-old in the cart and a baby strapped on to me (I am buff woman! hear me roar!). Soon Addy really wanted to nurse. Luckily, the sling I have allows for that. So I grocery shopped with a getting-impatient two-year-old in the cart and a baby strapped on to me in nursing position (now that is multi-tasking!).

Proud as I was with myself for this feat of dexterity, I didn't realize that my trip was hanging by a thread. And then I was side-tracked... Fred Meyer has a cheese counter. With samples. So I stopped and sampled the Beecher's peppery Marco Polo, a cave-aged gruyere, some orange-blue I don't remember and parmigianno reggiano. I even bought some Beecher's. But then it was too late. The Jackson clock had timed out.

I got Jackson a cookie from the bakery but that only bought me a few precious minutes. It was way past his lunch time and the countdown had begun. He kept crying for whatever I was putting in the cart- and I can't blame him, he was definitely hungry. I would have tried to just give him something, but my feat of nursing/pushing cart/keeping two-year-old seated/balancing emtpy infant seat on top of groceries didn't allow much remaining dexterity and I didn't have anything handy to feed him. So I tried to make a run for the check out. I resolutely pushed my seemingly 500 lb. cart toward the checkout amid cries of "Ownge (orange)!! Go-gurt!! Moke (milk)!!! I made my way through the checkout, despite Jackson's attempts to commandeer the credit card slider. I didn't even lose it at the checker when he forgot to scan my coupons and then suggested (amidst the screaming two-year-old in my cart and fussing baby strapped to my front) that I take them to the customer service desk. (I may be crazy, but I ain't that crazy.)

By the time I got to the car, Addy was screaming and ready to eat. Jackson was also screaming and ready to eat. I threw groceries in the car as fast as I could, pulled out a "Danimals" yogurt cup for Jackson and sat in the car to nurse Addy. I enjoyed a few brief moments of quiet before Jackson dropped his cup, splashing yogurt all over his car seat, his clothes and the car. Then, of course, he screamed even louder because his food was gone. So what to do in this position of tranquility and contemplation, pondering how you are going to make the 15-minute drive home in 10 minutes or less (before the older kids get home from school) whilst there is yogurt everywhere? You do what anyone in that position would do: you take a picture. And then thank your lucky stars for baby wipes and garage door codes.

Eventually I will find something to write about besides my battles with dirty dishes and misadventures with toddlers in grocery stores. But today is not that day....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Question

What if your baby is too cute to set down so you can clean house? She really is adorable. If you could see her right now you would understand.

(Fine, it's just another excuse. But it's a good one.)

Cooking or Cleaning?

I meant to write this post a few days ago... I guess better late than never.

I found an awesome system for keeping your kitchen clean: don't cook in it. No seriously, I frequently have a messy kitchen and have often wondered why I struggle so much with maintaining neatness in my kitchen. One factor against me (aside from the fact that I don't derive any inherent pleasure from doing dishes) is that I love to cook-- I mean really cook. Like making things from scratch, chopping tons of things on multiple cutting boards, making my own bread and side dishes kind of cooking. Not that I don't have my nights of frozen ravioli on a regular basis. But even if your meals consist of Costco potstickers (which mine frequently do), it only takes one or two times of not doing the dishes right away to find yourself with a big messy pileup. When you add chopping, sauteeing, mixing, and so forth to the mix, it can result in an instant pileup. So my kitchen is frequently messy because I am such a great cook. Right? Right???

I mean, look at this fabulous meal that I made the other night: Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash with fresh steamed broccoli and Home-made Sun-dried Tomato Parmesan Bread. (Don't you love my kids' beautiful table setting, complete the Thomas Tank Engine centerpiece added by Jackson?)

OK, fine. Now I'm really just making excuses. The truth is that I am a project person and would rather work on my latest project of interest than diligently do my dishes and clean things up every day. It certainly doesn't help that the kids can get things messy way faster than I can possibly keep up- even just trying to keep up with the school papers that they dump everywhere seems daunting. So that's one of my main excuses. The other is that I'm an all or nothing person, so if I am not going to be able to get (or keep) my house 100% perfectly clean all of the time then why should I even start?

It's definitely something I need to work on and I have tried several times. How do you get into a good tidying/cleaning routine? I've tried flylady, and it worked reasonably well, but I basically cleaned all day to keep up with it. I want to have order but I don't want it to become an all-consuming obsession- especially because when I let cleaning and organization be my "project" of choice I often got frustrated when the kids (or, ahem, Dave) leave things out or aren't perfectly tidy. My house isn't disastrous, but I really just want things to be organized, neat, and tidy. I'm to the point where I'm almost ready to hire a cleaner, but that doesn't help so much with the "tidying" and "picking things up" part of cleaning. I'm working on teaching the kids to do more jobs, but that is a process and is often more work than doing it yourself.

For those of you who aren't so housecleaning-challenged, what do you do that works?

This is all starting to sound remarkably similar to one (or several) of my previous blog posts. I suppose it would probably help if I started by getting off of my blog and cleaning- instead of blogging about not doing it. ;) Or I could watch Addy smile and goo and make cute faces.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


You might look at my house right now and see a big mess. But you're wrong. I am collecting a body of evidence (and leaving it on prominent display, unfortunately). Here is what I see evidence for:

  • I have enough food to eat (I have the dishes -and waistline- to prove it)mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm [Jackson was eager for you to read that].mmmmkmmmmmmmm
  • I have a happy family that surrounds me and brings me joy (and has yet to learn how to put away everything that they get out)
  • I have been blessed with four beautiful children (they leave evidence of their existence everywhere they go)
  • I have the world's most beautiful baby (see exhibit A, attached to me at least 18 hours a day)
  • I have a very smart two-year-old (at this moment he is saying "ah-you" and pressing the "W" button on my computer... lots of backspaces for me)
  • My life is filled with things that I love- that sometimes keep me from getting to my dishes as soon as I shouldmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm,



I will have to finish this post later . Appare ntly Jackson has a new favorite letter.mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmnmmm

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Roller Coasters

When I was growing up in California, we had a summer tradition of going to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We would usually go for "1907 nights"-- on Monday or Tuesday after 5 pm you could get on any ride for one ticket. My favorite ride was "The Giant Dipper"- a red and white, old-fashioned wooden roller coaster. Incidentally, I gave mom the scare of her life when I went on that ride the first time. I barely squeaked past the height requirement. When we went down the first hill I slid down into the car so my head was on the seat where my bum should have been. For a moment my mom thought I had been thrown out of the roller-coaster car. I spent the rest of the ride trying to get my bum back up on the seat where it belonged while my mom laughed at me.

I'd like to think of the Giant Dipper as a metaphor for my emotions right now: there are lots of great highs and stomach-dropping dips, all packed in quick succession (thank you, post-baby hormones). Actually that first ride on the Giant Dipper is an even more apt metaphor: I feel like I get started on this great ride and then I find myself down on the floor making futile efforts to get back up where I'm supposed to be. Christmas break was one of the highs. We enjoyed happy times with family and friends, Dave had time off of work and the kids had a magical Christmas. On Sunday I was basking in the post-holiday glow, thinking about how blessed I am in so many ways and how much I have for which I am grateful. I truly love being the mother to four beautiful children and my life is filled with things that bring me joy and happiness. But, in typical human fashion, by Sunday night I was dejectedly bemoaning my poochy post-holiday figure and trying to find motivation to approach my plethora of possible resolutions for the year. A friend at church (who reads this blog) asked how last year's resolution- making my bed every day- went. I'm not proud to record that it lasted only about 2 1/2 months. And that was for a lame, easy resolution like making my bed! That doesn't bode well for trying to resolve on something weightier....

Last night as I pondered all of the things I am wanting to change or improve about myself, I wondered if maybe it would be more efficient to just trade me in for a different person/different model. (There must be some kind of warranty...) What are the chances of me actually losing weight, getting my house organized, keeping my house clean, reading my scriptures, doing my hair and make-up before noon each day, praying/meditating daily, waking up early, exercising, cooking healthy food, folding my laundry, baking homemade bread, eating less meat, keeping things picked up, reading all of my book club books, planting a garden, being more frugal, finding more ways to serve others, spending more time with the kids and making my bed every day? (Please don't laugh if you already do all of those things- just let me know your secret! ;) So maybe it's time to take a different tack. While I do have a bazillion things that I need to improve or fix, I would like to take a moment to ponder what I did do this past year.
  • Successfully negotiated pregnancy for the fourth time
  • Had a baby
  • Cared for four children
  • Supported my husband in his stressful job with a minimal amount of complaining or whining
  • Was co-conductor for two choir concerts
  • Helped plan and produce said choir concerts
  • Cooked a few hundred meals
  • Did dishes several hundred times
  • Did a couple hundred loads of laundry
  • Changed roughly 2500 diapers
  • Re-planted our entire front yard including transplanting 3 full-grown bushes and digging holes/planting an additional 50+ plants (not including small annuals) while pregnant
  • Directed a volunteer church choir in monthly performances, an Easter program and a Christmas program
  • Wrote 145 blog posts ;)
  • Taught some piano lessons and a voice class
  • Taught Jared and Camryn piano lessons
  • Read several books, including David Copperfield, Hunger Games, John Adams, The Book Thief, Leadership and Self-Deception, etc.
  • Nursed a baby for who knows how many hours...
Okay, enough of patting myself on the back. My point is that it is easy to focus on our weaknesses and forget all of the good things that we do. Maybe that will be my resolution for this year: to focus on finding the positive... and losing weight and cleaning my house and......