Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back in the Bay Area

Yesterday I had lunch at a Monogolian BBQ place with a Chinese buffet sitting next to a bunch of guys speaking Hindi while American oldies played on the radio and a Spanish talk show was showing on the TV. Yep, I'm back in the Bay Area. :) It's actually one of the things I miss living in the great Northwest... we may have fun quirkiness, but we just don't have quite the same mishmash of people, races, cultures and languages jammed together in close quarters. The nearest grocery store to my parents' house here is a Chinese supermarket (in a shopping center where more of the signs are in Mandarin than in English). Yesterday's Mongolian BBQ place was in a strip mall full of stores advertising Indian and Pakistani fashions and halal groceries. As I made dinner last night I could hear some neighbors blasting mariachi music on the radio while they worked in the yard. There's something fascinating to me about so many different people from such different places and backgrounds living so closely together.

So much has changed since I grew up here and yet so much is the same. I remember my mom driving with us kids through Thousand Oaks on one of our vacations once and getting so sentimental while pointing out, "There is the house I grew up in, complete with the ivy just how it used to be" and "That's where so and so lived." I didn't really get it at the time. But I'm starting to get that way when I come back here and visit. Most of my friends have grown up and moved away, just like I have, but there are so many memories... driving past places I went on dates, taking my kids to the park that I played at growing up, talking to our long-time neighbors and realizing their "little" kids have all grown up and graduated from high school. (I still remember the gargantuan first birthday party they had for their daughter, complete with a whole pig roasted in their backyard.)

Now I'm starting to sound old.... :) I guess it won't help my case if I add, "I remember going to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Monday and Tuesday "1907 nights" when it was only 25 cents for a ticket. Can you believe that it is $1 per ticket now? That's highway robbery!" It reminds me of my grandpa and his storied about trying to decide whether to use his nickel for a bus ride or a hamburger.

Well enough ramblings... I'm excited to visit with all of my siblings as they filter in through the course of the week-- and for the kids to play with their cousins! Beautiful weather, fun activities planned... Camryn whining from going to bed too late.... I guess it's still real life, even on vacation. :)  

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One Year Ago ...Alaska: Endicott Arm Fjord

I found this post from our Alaska trip last June that I forgot to post. So here is where Dave and I were one year ago: cruising Alaska, seeing Endicott Arm Fjord while I was pregnant with Adelyn. Fun memories!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Two years Ago: Pictures from Grampy's 90th Birthday

Here's another blog post that never got posted... this one is from two years ago at my Grampa's 90th birthday party (June 20th 2008). Jackson was the age that Addy is now. Wow, time flies!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jared's Blast to the Past

Jared came up to me yesterday and asked if he could use the phone. I was a little bit suspicious and asked him what he wanted to use it for. He said, "Mom, do you know what a Game Boy is?"
"Um, yes." [How does he know about Game Boys?]
"It's kind of like a DS but it doesn't have two screens on top of each other."
"Oh, really."
"There's this number I want to call and I can earn my own Game Boy."

So it turns out that he is really excited because he has been reading some old "3-2-1 Contact" magazines that we got from grandma. [Do any of you remember that show-- "Contact, it's the answer, it's the moment, when everything happens, contact!"] He points to the back page of the magazine where there is an advertisement: "Earn Great Prizes and Cash! It takes only one FREE phone call." Jared says, "Look mom. It says you can call anytime. I want to call so I can earn a Game Boy."

Yes, my 8-year-old wants to call this number to sell stuff so he can earn a Game Boy. Yes, one of those Game Boys... the old black and white teensy screen things from my childhood. I try to suppress my urge to laugh and ask him to hand me the magazine. I look for the publishing date and say, "Jared, this magazine was printed in 1991. Do you know how many years ago that was?" He mentally calculates for a moment and then says, "Almost twenty.... But it says I can call anytime." At this point I lost it and laughed out loud.

I don't know if I should be proud of myself or ashamed that his hand-held video game deprivation is so bad that the prospect of a black and white Game Boy is exciting....  I don't know which is funnier: wanting the game boy or wanting to call the company from the 20-year-old magazine ad.
Check out the sweet AM/FM Cassette with Black and White TV and the hi-tech Emerson Video Cassette Recorder. Pretty sweet prizes... I'd be tempted too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last Day and Leopards

Today was the last day of school. I celebrated by trying to clean up the boatloads of papers and school supplies that the kids brought home and dumped on the floor yesterday. Camryn and Jared celebrated by having a massive 6-hour-long argument-and-teasing-fest, interrupted only by the 45 minutes that Camryn was in her dance class. The end of school simultaneously filled me with relief and dismay: no more mornings of trying to cram cereal down kids while combing crazy bed-heads in a sleepy haze, but if they fight like this the rest of the summer I may have to resort to covering their mouths with duct tape. Let's hope that today was just a transition day and that they will start settling into a summer routine soon!

In honor of the last day of school, I wanted to share a page from Jared's animal report on Leopards. We are not super-talented visual artists in our house, but I thought the report was really cute and the page entitled "About the Author" was classic.
Here is a quote from the page "About the Author":

Jared, age 8, grew up in [town we live in now-- I love how it is past tense.]. His birthday is [date]... 9:00 p.m. One book that he wrote that he remembers is "Two Cool Kids" based on the story by Spencer Adams. In his family, he has two sisters age 6 and 4 months. He also has a baby brother, age 2/3. His favorite pet he ever had was a female hamster. He's also had a praying mantis and a ladybug. And maybe trying to catch a bee wasn't such a good idea. [Wow, he almost makes it sound like his parents are pet-lovers!] His favorite school subject is Math. He just loves stacked addition. During his free time, he likes to make comic books. He likes making "Super Diaper Man." He also likes r.c. He wants to be an engineer when he grows up. he thinks his speciality is Humor. Too bad he couldn't add any in this book...

He finishes at the end of the report by saying, "Well, I guess it's time to wrap up. So, my three favorite facts were..." and then adds "Be sure to read my other books!" [He's learning self-promotion already....]

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kindred Spirits

"A bosom friend-- an intimate friend, you know-- a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I've dreamed of meeting her all my life." -Anne of Green Gables

Friendship means different things to us at different times in our lives. From the six or seven "best friends" of a five-year-old to the "co-parenting" buddies of a young mother, friendships grow with us and adapt to where we are in life. When I was a teenager, I wanted to find that one true "best friend"-- someone who really knew, understood and appreciated me. This person would have all of the same interests and hobbies that I did. They would like the same music, the same movies and the same activities. They would share all of the same opinions on important issues. While I had many good and important friendships, I never found the "one" person who fit all of these things, so my teenager-ly brain figured that it must be because all of those qualities would come together in my true best friend and "one and only," my future spouse.

I created the rosy picture in my mind: he would love classical music and be a music major, just like I was. We would while away the evenings playing chamber music together (sigh! so romantic!). He would love classic literature and old movies and we would discuss books together. He wouldn't really care about sports (I certainly didn't) and we would ballroom dance together on all of our dates. We would share a refined life of art and culture and raise little musicians, just like us.

I still have yet to find that friend who is just like me in every respect. And (please control your shock) even my husband didn't turn out to be exactly like me --and (more shocking still) I married him anyway. Until they legalize human cloning my friends will probably always have just as many differences from me as similarities--thank goodness. The goal to find people just like me was overtaken by the desire to find people who complement me-- and that category is much, much more broad than I had originally supposed. While most of my good friends have several interests that overlap with mine, friendship has become more about appreciating each other than mirroring each other.

Rather than the literary music major I envisioned in my teenage fantasies, I married a sports-crazy chemical engineer. But our love and friendship changed me in ways that would never have occurred to my romantic, book-loving teenage self. Because of my husband I learned how to follow (and enjoy) a football game, I know random minutiae about designing and building semiconductors, I learned to downhill ski (and conquered a black diamond), and I've tried (and loved) sea kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling and Beatles Rock Band. Because of me, my sports-maniac engineer husband has learned to enjoy opera, has a mean ear for choral and piano music, can rock a couple of cha-cha moves and appreciate a truly fine blue cheese. He still hates old movies. And whipped cream. But I can live with that.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pictures for "Perspective" or The Big Spill

The big spill.... OK, fine. It's not such a big deal compared to that spill. But this came on the same day that Jared was doing an "experiment" in the kitchen sink involving yeast. He had Camryn put the yeast away for him and she didn't close the ziploc bag all the way, so all of the contents of the lower half of our freezer had a lovely coating of yeast sprinkles. They had a lovely argument over who was responsible for the mess, Jared for getting out the yeast or Camryn for putting it away wrong.

Here is our most-of-a-gallon milk mess.
This was a full unopened gallon of milk....
One bright spot. I sent Camryn to her bed since she was only hindering the clean up and she apparently took me bursting into laughter upon the milk carton breaking to mean that this wasn't such a big deal. After drenching two bath towels, I went to rinse them out in the bathtub. When I came back, Jared was doing his best to clean up the remaining mess with a dish towel. He gave me a hug and said, "It's not fair that you always have to clean up the messes while we play, mom."

As I write this, the kids are all finally asleep. Last of all, Addy in a sweaty but happy post-nursing nap on my lap.

Perspective. Um, Yeah.

Nothing ruins your perspective like having your 7-year-old drop an entire gallon of milk on the floor and have it explode open. (Don't blame her...she was holding the gallon on her head to bring it in from the garage fridge.)

Just sayin'.

If I'd Only Known

I have always been analytical. Maybe it's one of those skills that you learn as a musician, but from my childhood I have always tried to "assess and then do it better." I guess that's what one of the habits you pick up from hour upon hour of piano practice... How did I play that passage? How can I play it better this time? Once you get one part right there is another layer that needs to be added. Don't be too excited about playing the right notes: now it's time to add the right dynamics and make it staccato and.... (Can you imagine how much Jared loves taking piano from his mother?)

I have always been an "analyze and assess" person and, I believe, fairly observant. So I have spent a lot of time in the course of my life evaluating and assessing things for future reference. For example, I really thought it was great that my mom had six kids. As one of the kids it was lots of fun: there were always other people to play with and talk to and lots of fun things going on. But (in all of my 8-year-old wisdom) I thought, "If I was going to do it, I think I would keep the house cleaner, instead of just being in a panic to clean up when people were coming over." I also decided that I wouldn't raise my voice to get my kids to clean up when dad had an interview at our house in five minutes (I couldn't understand why we couldn't still be cleaning-- wouldn't they just be impressed at how hard working we were?). And I would have more structured activities on Sunday instead of just watching Sunday movies or letting the kids run wild. We would have a gourmet, multiple-course family dinner on Sundays instead of popcorn and cold cereal. And I would make sure that my kids kept their rooms clean and made their beds and never had dirty faces.... yes, nuggets of wisdom, tucked away in my 11-year-old brain for future reference.

I would never let my child watch more than 30 minutes of TV in one day (like my little sister who had "The Little Mermaid" memorized!) or probably any TV at all and I would always give my children my undivided attention whenever they wanted it instead of doing annoying projects on the computer. I would always give my kids lots of warning before asking them to do jobs. My husband would never come home late from work like my dad did. He would pull more than his fair share of the house work, to set a good example for our boys of true egalitarianism. We would have a delightful family life of wonderful regularity and order. Oh, and did I mention that I would never, ever let my child go in public with a runny nose? (Yuck! How can you just not care like that?) And I would never tolerate being seen with a booger or barf on my shirt (my piano teacher had a kid's booger stuck on her shoulder during a lesson once and I was puzzled that she either didn't notice it or just didn't bother to change her shirt).

I suppose this is why we grow up and have lives of our own. There are a lot of things that are difficult or even impossible to fully comprehend without experience. I suppose it never occurred to my eleven-year-old brain that maybe my mother had fully intended to have a perfectly tidy house and for some unexplainable reason -well six, to be precise- was just never quite able to reach that goal. (In fact, my mom was a neat freak before she had kids. Much more so than her tidy-when-she-feels-like-it daughter.) It never crossed my mind that my dad probably fully intended to have dinner with his family every night too and wasn't missing just because he didn't feel like it.

I can't count how many times as a mother I have had one of those "a-ha" moments, when I suddenly realized why my mom raised her voice and got panicked to get the house cleaned up, why she let my sister watch TV when she was exhausted, why we often spent Sundays watching church movies or running wild while my dad was gone at meetings and why my piano teacher didn't bother to change the shirt with a booger on it. And it wasn't until I had my first "real" challenging job and found how exhausting and stressful it was-- or until I witnessed first-hand my husband's struggle to meet the expectations of both his employer and his wife-- that it suddenly dawned on me, with startling clarity, what a struggle it must have been for my dad to try to balance a time-consuming, competitive job with a demanding church calling and fathering a large family.

For the record, my intent was good (at least mostly). I wanted to figure out how to do things better. And I still try. But just like piano, we work in layers. And even though we try to get it all right from the beginning, sometimes we should be excited with "just" the right notes. Or even a valiant attempt at the right notes. And the additional layers do come eventually. Just not how we expect.

P.S. I would like to take this moment to say that I am really, really sorry to that one lady I babysat for that one time for thinking that her kitchen was a disgusting mess and being shocked that she would leave the house with it looking that. I can't even count how many times my babysitters must be thinking that exact same thing. But I'm still proud of myself that I cleaned the mess up for her so she came home to a clean house.

P.P.S. I can still quote whole sections of "The Ten Commandments" from memory. And some of my best childhood memories are when we were "running wild" while my dad was at meetings on Sunday.

P.P.P.S. I think eating Reese's Pieces while we watch the church history movies sounds like a fabulous Sunday dinner.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Finale to "Some Days" or "How Not to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"

So the day after my last whiny pathetic post I made yet another stab at getting Adelyn's picture taken, this time with success. I also learned a valuable lesson on how to successfully drive a business into the ground. Next time I have the urge to buy a quickie-kids-photo-where-they-run-the-camera-like-a-cash-register franchise, I'll remember it.

I returned to Kiddie Kandids on Friday, but this time I made an appointment. Despite all attempts at promptness, I hit traffic, construction and Jackson's willpower and ended up being late. I tried 3 or 4 times to call the studio to let them know I would be a few minutes behind, but got a busy signal every single time. I apologized when I got there and the photographer (that seems generous, I think "camera operator" is probably more appropriate term) said that "she was on the phone with her superior." Does "superior" translate into "boyfriend" in any English-related dialects? No matter. She was still finishing up someone else's photos when I arrived, so I didn't feel so very bad for being late.

We got down to pictures and, all in all, they went pretty well. Except that Jackson thought it looked like great fun, so he climbed down from the shopping cart and attempted to get in the picture with Addy. And distracted her so she looked at him instead of the camera. And generally interrupted the process however possible.

When I made the appointment, they informed me that the studio was under new ownership and a few things had changed. For one thing, they didn't print out your photos immediately any more: you had to wait two weeks and come back. That was definitely sad news, but hey, it still beat having to park at the mall, find the elevator at JCPenney's and wait 45 minutes when you had an appointment, right? I still got to pick out the photos on the spot. The difficulty was that there was someone with an appointment for pictures immediately after me and the other girl who was supposed to be working that morning hadn't shown up yet. So the camera operator asked if I could come back in 15 minutes to pick out the photos. Addy was getting fussy and wanted to nurse, so that actually worked out rather well. I went and nursed Addy in the mother's room (at least one plus for being in a Babies'R'Us store) and then went back. And waited. And waited. And waited. It was at least 30 minutes after I got back from nursing Addy that I waited just to get a chance to look through my pictures to pick which ones I wanted. You can imagine how patient and obedient Jackson was by the time we had puttered around a store for 45 minutes.

Finally, camera operator #2 showed up and she was able to help me look at my pictures. With only a quick "Sorry, I was detained," for my 45 minutes of confinement in a store with a two-year-old and a baby, we went on to the pleasant process of selecting pictures with a whiny two-year-old who refused to stay near me. "Just wait a moment please, while I put together some collages for you. Typically we do this during the 15 minutes while you are waiting," she added. I internally retorted, "I don't need to pay extra for fancy writing and a cheesy border. Just show me my pictures already. Finally we got to it.

"Let me show you our Premiere package," she began. "Actually," I interrupted her, "I just want four 8x10s please." She stared in disbelief, like I had just turned down a chance to purchase a Picasso for pennies and then proceeded with her spiel, adding only, "Well, just in case, let me show you our packages anyway." Translation: I am forced to try to sell this to you. It is my job. I don't care that you have a fussy baby and a whiny two-year-old, of whose whereabouts you are now uncertain. So I sat while she patiently explained that while the Premiere package was $999.99, it was on sale for only $459.99 and with the special discounts running right now it was a bargain at $429.99. She finally got to the last package and emphasized that this was the last package that included the CD with the digital images and rights to the photos. If you opted out of the wall portrait, it was only $199.99! I earned myself another shocked stare when I turned this opportunity down without a second thought. "But what if you want them someday?" she protested. Hmmm... maybe I'll take that money and use it on a real photographer?

I finally got to the photos themselves. I asked if there was any way to compare two photos side by side. There wasn't. So back and forth we went. I tried to go as quickly as I could in between breaks to race off and drag Jackson back from whatever part of the store he had wandered off to or lure him back with a toy. As I sorted past photos I didn't like, she would interject, "I really like that one. It's so cute." Or she would randomly butt in and say, "I think you should get this one with the fluorescent green border. It really brightens it up!" Well I don't, OK?

I tried to keep Jackson in the near vicinity by grabbing some toys or the floor model of a tricycle for him to play with and the camera operator had the gall to scold him at one point, "You need to be careful! This isn't a playground!" Well, he wouldn't be at the end of his rope already if we hadn't been waiting for 45 minutes (through the middle of his lunchtime) for you to show up for work! By the time we finished we had been there for two and half hours. With no lunch.

I finally got my four 8x10s, as predicted, along with a sheet of 5x7s and a free collage. That is, I got them ordered. I still have to go back and pick them up. So, how is that for being more convenient than JCPenney? I had to make an appointment, I had to wait around forever, I have to come back and pick the pictures up later. Well, at least I didn't have to go up an elevator....

My Blogging Love Language

I loved this post:

P.S. Yes. I am a comment junkie. It makes my day. Unless you're a Chinese spammer.

Friday, June 4, 2010

More on "Some Days"

So my day wasn't really over yet with that last post, I was just tired of writing in present-tense. (It gets annoying really fast.)

After re-realizing yet again why it is that I don't usually attempt arduous tasks like folding laundry, I piled Addy and Jackson into the car to run errands. When Camryn came down this morning she said, "Mom, I need $16.69 or I don't get a class party." It turns out what she really meant was that she couldn't find her library book and unless she returned it or brought replacement money they wouldn't get a class party. I asked if she'd looked for it and she said, "Yes. I've looked everywhere." So I told her to eat her breakfast and I raced around the house, looking behind Camryn's bed and in the toy bins, but to no avail. Two minutes after Camryn had left for the bus, I saw her lunch sitting on the counter and I looked in a pile of papers on the paper-stacker where we put homework. Book found. Lovely. So basically that was a really long way of explaining why my first errand was to the school.

At this point Jackson was hungry, so I drove through Taco Bell and got him a cheese roll-up to eat while I sat in the parking lot preparing a bank deposit. When I checked to see how much he'd eaten, I saw a small stump of cheese roll-up by his feet and the rest was gone. Upon further examination I found that he had fed most of his cheese roll-up to Addy, who looked like she had enjoyed it immensely. After I drove through the bank, I pulled into a parking space to take a break to nurse Addy, who was starting to fuss. She had a stinky diaper... which had leaked onto her clothes. Which wouldn't be a problem except that I had 6 Jackson-sized diapers in the diaper bag and not a single one for Addy. After some creative folding, I got her changed and nursed her in the scenic parking lot.

Meanwhile, Jackson started to get fussy. He seemed hungry-- maybe that was because he fed his lunch to his 8-month-old sister. Baby back in seat, drive back to house, dump dirty clothes and diaper, get correct-sized diapers for Addy and milk cup for Jackson and off again.

In our family we wait to take baby pictures until the baby can sit up by herself. But Addy has been able to sit for a while now and is now 8 months old --and I still haven't gotten a studio picture of her taken. Even though it's been at the top of my list for over a week it still hasn't happened, so today, I determined, would be the day. We drove off to Babies'R'Us because they have a KiddieKandids that doesn't require an appointment. (I used to go to JCPenney but after enough experiences of waiting for an hour after my appointment before we got our pictures taken I just gave up.)

I got to Babies'R'Us and dinked around for a few minutes to see if they had an outfit there that was cuter than the one I brought. Jackson was still hungry (shocker, after how much of his lunch he fed to Addy) and was starting to whine for snacks, so I went to the back of the store and got a bag of baby cookies so he had something to snack on. Hopefully this would bribe Jackson to stay in the cart long enough to get Adelyn's picture taken.

I finally got up to the Kiddie Kandids desk and asked when their next appointment was. The lady cheerfully replied, "We have one at 3:00 pm." It was 1:42.... When I asked if there was anything earlier, she said, "I'm taking this customer at 1:45 and then we close for lunch from 2-3." Really... that's intuitive. I'm sure glad that wasn't posted on their website when I checked. The reasonable part of me realized that this was my fault. I should have called and made an appointment. I should have gotten an "appointment" as soon as I walked in the store. Honestly, I had been there before and never required an appointment or had them close from 2-3. But the unreasonable part of my was spitting mad. Did they realize that I drove 20 minutes through construction with a two-year-old and a baby just to come get her picture taken, not to mention wrestling Jackson through the store, trying to keep him in the cart? And I had to be home by 2:30 for the older kids to get home from school?

I wandered through the store, ready to punch somebody or at least put a two-year-old up for sale. At this point Jackson was trying to climb out of the cart seat and into the basket. He was putting a cookie in his mouth just long enough to get slobber on it and then spitting it out into the cart, where it was landing on the cute dress that I brought for Addy to wear in her picture. I don't believe in corporal punishment, but I had an overwhelming urge to smack that kid until he sat down in that cart and did what I said, but self-control prevailed at least in part and I contented my self with growling threats through clenched teeth. I got the handful of other things I needed and went to check out. By this time both children were upset and fussy. I imagine I didn't look very friendly. The checker asked, "Rough day?" Yeah. You could say that.

I wish I could say it got better. I got home and Camryn was a pill. We did her piano lesson and she had checked the box on her assignment sheet twice for a worksheet that she never did at all. During Jared's lesson we had weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth because I had the gall to ask him to play the right hand alone, "forte" like it was marked. And I asked him to practice slow!!!!!!! (Sob! The indignity of it all! The tragic, tragic horrible-ness....) "Mom," he explained in a cross between a growl and a sob, "how am I supposed to play it fast when I've practiced it slow?" "Jared," I responded in what was just plain a growl, "which one of us studied piano for 20 years (including studying just piano in college) and has taken lessons with famous teachers who are experts in the field just so she could know the best way to practice? I don't think it was you. So why are you trying to tell me the best way to do it?" (It turns out he was just expecting to pass off his piece right away and once he passed off one of his pieces on the first try he was happy as a lark.)

Grand illusions of cooking a beautiful, nutritious meal for dinner evolved into a plan to cook the corn on the cob before it went bad to supplement leftover mac and cheese. I sat Jackson up to eat, but he ate a few bites and then started chucking his food to the floor. I took away his high chair tray but then made multiple attempts to get him to eat more, to no avail. After dinner, the kids started building a fort out of chair cushions and Jackson's slide and a few minutes later Camryn erupted into a cacophony of savage screams, "Jared ruined my invention before I even got to try it!" By this point I had had enough. I sent Camryn and Jared to bed for the night at 7:00 pm followed by putting Jackson to bed. At this point, Jackson realized he was hungry. But I was not in the mood to be merciful, having spent 20 minutes trying to get him to eat that only resulted in him throwing food on my newly-mopped floor. So his sobs of, "My milk! My milk!" (as if maybe his milk would show compassion on him, now that his horrible mother wouldn't) fell on deaf ears. Sorry buddy, if you won't eat every time I sit you up, you feed all of your lunch to your sister and you've already had 5 cups of milk today that's what you're going to get.

Such was my day. The mother with the "lovely smile" who "cooks watermelon" that Camryn immortalized in her Mother's Day poem had turned into the wicked, evil stepmother. I guess I'll go buy a broom.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Some Days

Today I decided to make a redoubled attempt to just get done what needs to get done. No more of this beating around the bush and getting distracted. If you just give enough ooomph to something you can make it happen. "So let it be written. So let it be done." (Somebody watched "The Ten Commandments" too many times as a "Sunday movie" as a kid.)

Get Jackson dressed: check. (The "Want Jammies, No pants!!" tantrum only lasted about 3 minutes today. Woohoo!) Sit Jackson up with his breakfast: check. Start loading the huge pile of dishes from the night before, squish the ant that is exploring the drippings on our counter, shoo Jackson away from the dishwasher, refill Jackson's milk cup, give Addy a new toy to play with, what was I doing again? Oh yeah, the dishwasher. Back to the dishwasher. Jackson starts crawling on the counters and getting into stuff. I get him down. Did I remember to eat breakfast? No... so I put a piece of bread in the toaster. I get Jackson back onto the bar stool, making sure there aren't any crayons or pens in his reach. What was I doing again? Dishwasher, that's right. Back to the dishes. But there was something else I needed... what was it? Toast! Dangit, it's cold already. Put it back in for a second, get Jackson to sit up with his food, pop it out before it burns (phew), put on some Nutella. Now Jackson says, "Tella! Tella!" so I get him some on his piece of toast. Wasn't I doing something? Oh yes, the dishes. I take a bite of toast and go back to the dishes.

After a few dishes I turn to check on Jackson and he is down from the bar stool smearing brown Nutella hands on some object. I pull him back, wipe him up and decide maybe he is done. I grab Addy and we go up stairs. Laundry. Give Addy toys, Jackson a book; attempt to fold laundry: Jackson climbs on my lap. "Awwww. How sweet." I keep folding but after a few minutes my arms get tired and he starts grabbing at the laundry. Addy starts to fuss. "Wait, I forgot to feed Addy breakfast." We all go back downstairs, I sit her up and start scooping baby food in her mouth. "Wasn't there something I left down here? My toast, wait I only took two bites of it. I need to eat." I go across the room, pick up my toast and take a bite. While I'm gone for 5 seconds, Jackson picks up Addy's spoon and starts shoveling food in her mouth. He has also figured out how to take the lid of the new-fangled rice cereal container (I thought maybe a screw-top lid would keep him out. Nope.) and is licking the pour-spout and peeking inside.

Maybe we should just can this whole thing and go somewhere. But there was something I needed to do first... what was it? Oh yeah, the dishes.

Whenever I Think About Pioneers...

A while ago I went to Costco to go grocery shopping. Adelyn was asleep, so I took her in the store in her baby car seat, which I put in the cart. I lured Jackson into the shopping cart seat with a hot dog and went about my shopping. Midway through the store Addy woke up so I put her in the front pack. I had a huge pile of groceries, so eventually there wasn't room for her car seat in the cart. At the end, Jackson started getting fussy so I made the grave mistake of getting him out of the cart while we were paying for our groceries at the cash register. Of course my chances of getting him back in the cart after that were nil.

I pondered how best to get myself and company out to the car in the rain: a baby strapped to my chest, a double-wide shopping cart- piled over the top with groceries and diapers, a baby car seat carrier that didn't readily fit anywhere and an energetic two-year-old running all over the place trying to avoid being caught, refusing to go back in the cart. I finally piled the car seat on top of the cart, took a deep breath, picked up my 35-pound two-year-old with one arm, and pulling the shopping cart with the other trudged out to the car in the rain.

As I walked out, an amusing spectacle to other Costco customers, I thought, "I feel just like a pioneer! Pulling my handcart with my belongings and children out into the rain." To my air-conditioned/heated car, to drive home to my spacious, modern centrally-heated house. With a car full of disposable diapers and fresh groceries that would boggle any pioneer's mind. So maybe it wasn't just like being a pioneer.

Maybe it's just having too much time on my hands, but I've often wondered what it would be like to be a pioneer or just to live in the 1800's in general. I had Mormon pioneer ancestors who crossed the plains in covered wagons and I am amazed at their strength and determination. I've read "Little House on the Prairie" and it amazes me how Ma can pick up and move time and time again. Or reading novels like "These is My Words" leads me to mull over how on earth you could live in Arizona with no air-conditioning. Or how you could handle 5 children while your husband left to fight in the army in an era of no disposable diapers? Or exactly how would you dry laundry in the freezing winter? Especially if you lived in a small one-room cabin to begin with....

Usually I end up with the conclusion that I am a total wimp. Not just a wimp, but a lazy wimp. I complain about doing my laundry when I have not one, but two front-loading washers and dryers (yes, the woman who built this house before we lived here and insisted on that feature was truly brilliant). Because I have to fold it and that's hard and boring. So instead I let my laundry pile up in the upstairs hallway while I sit on my computer and write blogs about it and ponder important things like whether this blog post has too many italics.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not an ungrateful wretch. On the contrary, I'm deeply grateful. After all, I am only one generation removed from when cloth diapers were your only option. (Can you imagine how considerably less comfortable of an arrangement co-sleeping would be in the era of cloth diapers?) Every single time I change a diaper I thank my lucky stars for the invention of disposables. I've also thought about inventing disposable socks that don't need to be sorted and folded. :)

It definitely would have been a hard life to be a pioneer, but there would have been things that were good about it too, like working together as a family and not being so split up all the time or not having all of the pressures of modern life. And maybe there are parts of my cushy modern life that a pioneer wouldn't really like that much. They probably wouldn't like that you can't just send your kids out to roam on your 10 acres of land. Or getting in trouble with your HOA for having chickens in your backyard (that was for you, Emily). Or maybe they couldn't stand having a backyard the size of a postage stamp. We have a whole slew of different expectations. They might hate the fact that while we have plentiful delicious food to eat, if you want to be considered attractive you should renounce it and try to look like you're starving. (Or maybe that has always been part of being female.) They might even share my dislike of sorting through the piles of papers that get sent home from school in my kids' backpacks. Maybe they wouldn't like dragging a two-year-old through Costco. :)

But regardless of what a pioneer would or wouldn't have thought of my life, I'm pretty sure that if one of my pioneer ancestors was placed in my shoes, they wouldn't think , "Let's be sure to make sure I feel bad every day because I'm a wimp and don't live in a log cabin and trudge through the Oregon rain and mud to get my water every day." So I guess all anyone can do in their given situation is to enjoy what you can for what it is and be grateful.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why Dogged Determination is Not Always a Good Thing...

A while ago I was teaching Camryn her piano lesson. Jackson came up and started climbing on me. But I was not to be deterred from my purpose, so I let him be and continued our lesson. He continued climbing on me, rubbing my back and playing with my shirt, but I refused to be distracted. I continued the lesson, proud of myself, how I was pressing forward in the name of art and the continuation of Western culture, ignoring any petty distraction that might get thrown in my way. When we finally finished the lesson, I realized that Jackson was indeed rubbing my back... with a green marker. Maybe I should have paid more attention....

Jackson's Vocab Practice

There is something so cute about a child who is just learning to express themselves (no, I'm not talking about throwing the bowl of Cheerios all over the floor when they don't get what they want). Like tonight, Jackson was having a hard time going to bed, and when he cried he didn't just cry for mom, he cried, "(sniff, sniff, sniff) My mommy! MY mommy!" Awwww. That even goes beyond the cuteness of "Want shoes. Shoes socks. Go car. Yell's house." (Okay, the fact that it's about me instead of going to see my friend doesn't hurt.)

I also like how he refers to Jared and Camryn as a single unit: JareCammin. "JareCammin at school." Lately he is also given to finding things, "School Bus! There it is! I found it!" He also likes to quiz me to make sure I'm keeping up with my numbers and alphabet. When I read him "Seven Silly Monkeys," he always has to interrupt me and ask "What's that?" (pointing at the 7) He won't let me go on until he has completely ascertained that I can tell him the numbers properly.

But probably my favorite thing he says is when he refers to baby Adelyn. He calls her "Bee-bee a-ee cakes" (Baby Addy-cakes). It almost makes up for every night when I get to hear him wail, "No jammies!!!" and every morning when he wails, "Want jammies!! No pants!!!" He may be fickle, but at least he lets you know what he wants.

Ah, The Irony

My favorite quote of the year maybe... someone came up to Dave at the Cantico concert and asked him, "So how is it, having your wife gone all the time?" I wasn't in on the conversation to see how reacted, but he said he kept a straight face and said, "Oh yeah, it's um... tough, yeah, tough."

What is it like, I wonder? :)