Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year, New Goals

Since today is the last day of 2009, it's time to have some goals for the new year. In 2005, after having my second child, I really wanted to set goals but also accomplish them, so I set up this system of little things I could do every day to accomplish one big goal (like losing the baby weight, so I exercised either Pilates or walking every day). It worked well for me, so I did it again in 2006, but it wore me out. It wore me out to the point I haven't really set goals at the new year since. However, I am a goal-oriented person. Having goals and an idea in my head of how to accomplish them makes me feel like I'm doing something. Like my life is in order, organized, instead of chaotic and messy (even though chaotic and messy is really more or less what real life is like).

So this year, I decided that I need to set goals again. I've been thinking about what I want to accomplish next year for about the last month or two. I want to be a better mother--more patient with my children, spend less time online and more time doing interactive activities with them. I want to be healthier, more fit. Actually take the vitamins that are filling up my cupboard and stretch every day to try and regain some of that awesome flexibility I had a decade ago. Maybe learn yoga. I want to write a book. I realize I probably say that every year, but every year I do nothing to accomplish that goal and I feel time slipping away. The only dream I've ever had since I was a kid besides being a wife and mom was to write a book and be a published author. I'm 32 and haven't even come close to realizing that dream. I'd also like to re-learn the violin, and I'm trying to decide if I should take formal lessons again to refresh my memory on certain techniques or if I should just buy a beginner/intermediate level book and go from there. I do remember some, I picked it up the other day and played a bunch of primary songs.

I need to be more spiritual, read the scriptures every day and pray every day, two things that for some reason, I find painfully difficult to do. I have my children pray morning and night regularly, but I myself hardly ever do it anymore. I also want to find a better way to manage the family finances and maybe tuck some away in savings. Maybe find some way to bring in a little extra cash to pay off those debts and save for another house (which all seems SO far in the future).

Okay, so I have a lot I want to accomplish and maybe I should write these down in an achievable way instead of just blurting out all that I want to do. Too hard to do while I'm trying to manage my children at the same time, so I'm signing off for now...

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Finding That Balance

I can't find the balance between being a mom and being a person. For the most part, the "mom" me is me. It's too hard to separate the two, but in essence, because I can't separate me the person from me the mom, I end up just being me the mom. Does that make sense?

There are many parts of me that have been ignored since having children. I used to be an interesting person. I read good books, studied about other places and cultures, kept up on current events. I played the violin, the guitar and the piano. I tried to stay involved in church or school or community. I was active, joining the church basketball team or going hiking with friends or going out country dancing.

I've tried to incorporate some of those activities into my life as a mom, but I find that it is too stressful and distracting to try and be that person on top of trying to raise four children. If I sit down to play the piano, either all my children are climbing all over me trying to play on the piano too or they are in the toy room destroying it.

I feel like if I try to do anything that interests me, I'm being way too selfish and neglecting my children. I just can't seem to figure out how to do all that I want, like even keeping up with this blog. I love to write, and probably could get much better at it if I ever had time to actually do it. Moments like these right now are rare, and, in fact, I can think of about a half dozen other things that are probably more important and need to get done while the kids are in bed before I'm too tired to do them.

So I guess me the person surrenders to me the mom. I have to put her aside for a few more years. If I don't, then I will just continue to feel like a horrible mom who neglects her children. Yet, if I do put her aside, then I feel like a worthless person with nothing to offer.

So what gives?

Maybe 2010 will be my year to find that balance.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tis the Season

When I was growing up, December was my favorite month of the year. Everything about it was glorious to me. The cold that caused your breath to come out in little white puffs. The homes brilliantly lit with thousands of colorful lights. The boughs of holly and bright red berries decorating doorways and stores and everything. The fact that my birthday falls a few days before Christmas. The wondering and waiting for Christmas morning, the excitement to watch family members open gifts from me and the thrill of opening my own gifts. I loved it all.

Back in those days, I was able to earn my own money baby-sitting, and around this time of year, I spent much of that money on cards and gifts for my friends and family. I started sending out Christmas cards in the sixth grade. Yes, you read that right. Sixth grade. That year I sent them to my closest friends, and probably some cousins and friends who lived in other places. And every year after that, I always had at least a dozen cards that I would send out.

I loved wearing Christmas sweaters and little Santa hats and just red, green and white. I used to have a whole wardrobe just for Christmas.

The music in choir and orchestra--Silver Bells, The Carol of the Bells, Candlelight Carol, Wassail, the Hallelujah Chorus--so many of my favorites we sung and played. One year, when I was in 8th grade, I got to lead my junior high school orchestra at the winter concert in a few pieces. I remember that I wore a white skirt with a red Christmas sweater to conduct. I wanted to stand out. I think most everyone else in the orchestra wore dark colors, but I wore that bright red and white. I think the concert may have been on my birthday, or very close to it.

Fast forward a decade or two.

I haven't really listened to any Christmas music this year.

I don't own any Christmas-specific clothes, just a red sweater or two.

I do still send out Christmas cards, and I love to do that.

My son asked me today why we can't just use rocks to trade for what we need and want instead of money. He said there seemed to be a lot more rocks than money, so we should just use rocks.

Christmas just isn't the delight it used to be for me. We just never seem to have enough time or money to do everything we want with the season. I don't know how to ignore all that and focus on the one thing that really matters, which is Christ. How do I focus only on that and teach my children to focus on that when everywhere around me is talk of the best Christmas deal and Santa Claus and how I HAVE to get my son's teacher a gift and I HAVE to take all my neighbors plates full of goodies and I HAVE to do this and that and everything in between.

And then yesterday I stopped to think. Why is Christmas this necessity? We spent a bare minimum on Christmas this year. Yet, I wonder, that money could probably be much better spent on something more important.

How can I make this season joyful again?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Women in My Life

I was inspired by this on someone else's blog, so I decided to write about the women who've made a difference in my life. I've been blessed by so many great and wonderful women in my life, probably too many, in fact, to mention here, but I wanted to pay tribute to the women who've touched my life the most.

First and foremost, of course, is my mother. Not only did she sacrifice her own wants and desires in raising me and my brothers, but she taught me how to be a mother. Her example of faith and perseverance has really helped me to push forward even when times are tough. She set a great example in our home of spirituality and trusting in the Lord. I know there are times when she struggled with motherhood, but she never gave up and still doesn't.

The next woman who has inspired me is my sister-in-law Andrea. I love all my sisters-in-law and think they are all spectacular, but for me, Andrea is like the sister I never had. That's probably because she was my first sister-in-law. I have all brothers, so when we grew up and started dating to marry, I was excited to gain some "sisters". I was lucky to gain the ones I did--Allison, Kaori and Eve are all also fantastic and I love and admire them in different ways. But Andrea is my paragon of perfection. She is Supermom (with 6 kids, the youngest two being twins), she keeps busy but makes time for others in her life. She's everyone's friend, and by that, I mean she is really a true friend. She listens and loves and doesn't judge. She also keeps her children engaged in wholesome, meaningful activities, she is a superb cook, she is talented in music, she's athletic, she's just great. Sometimes I think I'd like to BE Andrea. Just so I could be such a great person too.

Next comes my mom's baby sister, my Aunt Ruth. Like Andrea, she excels in so many areas and seems to keep it all together. Even through the passing of one of her children as an infant and other hard trials she's dealt with (having a surprise baby in her 40's and caring for her aging father for many years, to name a few), she is happy, upbeat, and faithful in all she does. She has earned the place of confidante of her nieces and she is just a truly great person.

Next is my mother-in-law, Marti. I hear so often of women complaining of their mothers-in-law. How they are always butting in on childrearing and housekeeping. They are critical of everything. But my mother-in-law is not like that at all. she is so nice, she pays the same amount of attention to all her grandkids (and I don't think she even tries, she just does it), she doesn't judge or anything. She has also had her share of trials, losing her husband of 20+ years to cancer fairly young (in his 40's) who was also her high school sweetheart had to be difficult. Yet she still carries on with a cheerful heart.

Another woman I admire is my friend, Melissa. The first ward my husband and I lived in as a married couple, my husband and Melissa's husband were in the Elder's Quorum presidency together. When I first met Melissa, she had just had her fourth child. Her oldest was just 7. I respected that Melissa was a stay-at-home mom and her husband didn't have a high profile, lucrative career. They were sacrificing a lot to make ends meet, and she is another of those women who just seems to know how to be a mom and a wife and do it all with cheerfulness and faith. Today, 8-1/2 years later, Melissa now has 8 children and has seen her husband go from one job to another, but still, she finds joy in life despite the hardships she has faced.

Whitney was in the same elementary education cohort of mine in college. The first day of the cohort, I came in the auditorium and sat down behind her. She was talking to someone else, and I overheard her conversation. She had been married a short time, about a year, and was just gushing over how in love with her husband she was. Not only that, but as I got to know her, she breathed this enthusiasm for life and God's creations that I just can't do no matter how hard I try. She finds joy in every little thing around her. I only knew her those two short years. One short 6 week spring term we had a class together on another campus that we carpooled together for. During that time I learned that she joined the Church as a teenager and faced trials in that. Her husband is military and has spent some time away from home. I don't know her now as a mother very well because when we graduated, she had a baby and I moved on to teach school in another state. Then she moved even further away and today lives overseas. I get newsletters from her time to time, and she still has that never-ending optimism and enthusiasm that I can't even fake. I am grateful that she still includes me in some aspects of her life, being that we weren't the best of friends even then, but her example has meant a lot to me.

The last person I want to pay tribute to is my cousin's wife Lori. In June, just a few weeks after having her fourth child, who was a long time coming after she'd had several miscarriages, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. She is currently undergoing treatments for the cancer, but when she's not at doctor's appointments, she maintains a full, busy life. Did I mention that her oldest child is only 7? I think if it were me, I would be sitting in bed bemoaning my fate in life. But she does fun activities with her kids, she keeps busy with her social life and she takes great care of her husband, despite how tired her cancer treatments are making her. He works two jobs to provide for them and I know that money is tight, but yet they still manage to find happiness and hope.

There are so many more women that I could highlight, former roommates of mine, friends from different wards I've lived in, even friends from high school who are now doing amazing things with their lives as mothers and wives and teachers and friends.

I guess what I need to glean from all these examples is to find joy in life even when things are hard, which they always seem to be. Thank you, my beautiful sisters, for bringing me hope by your shining examples.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jobs Vs. Professions

Today my husband's company started interviewing for their new stores in this area. The lines were out the door and all the way to the street. Hundreds upon hundreds of applicants, all for only about 60-70 positions.

My husband holds a bachelor's degree, something that is not required for his "job". He is not a professional, but he works in fast food management. His career has moved from the entry level associate that he was hired as at the age of 16 up to a 2nd manager at the store level--the 2nd in command in the individual store. Of course, he did take a 2-year break to serve a mission for our church and after we got married, we lived one year in a state that didn't have this fast food chain, so he was gone a year for that. In the last 15 years, he has worked for this company for 12 of them. The first 3 years were just as a job for the typical high school/college student. After his mission, he went back because it was there and a way to work his way through school. Then he married me and his ambitions to finish school were followed through with an out-of-state move to another school. That plan didn't work out the way we'd hoped and we went back to his old job at the fast food restaurant because it offered paid benefits so I would be able to stay home with our one child at the time and he could continue to work through school. He quit school for a few years when the opportunity to go into management came up. So, after about 5 years with the company was when he finally went into management. It took about a year to get into it before he actually was made a manager. Then he was a manager at that level for about a year, then at the next level for 4 years and now he is up a level from that. Of course, some things have been unfair and not right about his slow promotion, but he has worked hard. He also worked and went to school, both full time, for 2 of those 4 years as a 3rd manager.

So today after his company started interviews that brought such a huge crowd, there was an article on the local news website about the excitement. I read the article, which was positive, but the comments were mostly negative: "Why are people standing in line to make this kind of money when they can go to school and make 2-3 times that much? I think it's because people are lazy these days and don't want to put in the 2+ years and the hard work to do it."

I agree that going to school is a wise investment, but that doesn't mean that "flipping burgers" is a bad job. Not to mention, if this person thinks all these people should go to school, what does he think they'll do to work their way through it? Doesn't $10/hr "flipping burgers" sound like a good way to do it?

I don't understand the animosity out there toward blue collar jobs. Don't people realize that blue collar jobs are just as needed in society as white collar? Okay, maybe fast food isn't a necessity, I would definitely be one to argue that if it bit the big one, society would probable be better for it, but unfortunately, it's here to stay. So why not be part of a fast food company that trains its employees well, treats them as family, and utilizes business organizational methods to make it a better professional environment for those involved? Why not get that fast food job that pays well above minimum wage and offers benefits, good benefits, for full-time employees. The company was founded with the premise that if you treat your employees right and pay them well, they will want to work for you and do their best at that work, even if the work is making one good hamburger.

I am tired of feeling less than worthy because my husband works in fast food. I'm tired of feeling judged by everyone who thinks that working in fast food is for uneducated people who don't speak English. College degree or not (and my husband does have one), my husband LOVES his job. I would dare to wager that many women cannot say that. I have listened to more than my fair share of men complaining about their jobs, but mine NEVER complains about his. Not to mention that just because a fair share of managers in this company don't hold college degrees doesn't mean they don't know anything. This company trains their managers SO well, that even my father, who has loads of experience in organizational behavior and development, had to give kudos to this company for how well-oiled they run it all.

I don't think it should matter whether a person has 6-figure lucrative career they came into because of tons of formal education or they make their way by working in the food or construction industry, so-called "blue-collar work", as long as they do honest work and work hard.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Modesty for Little Girls

When it comes to little girls dressing modestly, where do you draw the line? I personally think it's wise to teach them correct standards of modesty from a young age. If you don't want them wearing spaghetti straps as teenagers, you probably shouldn't allow them to wear them as a young child. I admit, my daughter has a few less-than-modest outfits, but only a couple. Since I made up my mind about this a few months ago, I bought a couple of white blouses that she'll wear under the strappy shirts and dresses to keep her modest. I feel that if I start with her when she's young, she'll be less likely to fight me about it when she's older. That said, it's hard to avoid shorter shorts for young girls, but I'm thinking of pairing shorter skirts with leggings while she's young (out when she's a teen--I think it looks ridiculous for someone over 12).

Any thoughts? Do you think how you dress your daughters when they are little will have an affect on the choices they make as a teenager? Or do you think I'm being ridiculously strict?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stranger Slaps Child

Have you seen this story? Apparently, a 61-year-old man slapped a 2-year-old girl in the face to get her to stop crying in a Walmart in Georgia. So tell me, what would you do if some strange man told you to get your child to stop crying and if you didn't, they came over, picked him or her up and slapped them 4 times?

I think I would turn into the protective mother bear and the other customers would have to hold me back!

Monday, August 31, 2009


When I was in school, I made friends easily. Moving around a lot also provided me with the opportunity to see who my friends really were. I have quite a few friends from my past that I still keep in touch with, even after more than 20 years since I've even seen them. I can name about 8-10 friends that I've kept in touch with, first by regular mail and then later by email and now through Facebook and blogging, I'm able to really keep up with them.

However, since I got married, my ability to make such friends has really gone downhill and now I'm more of a loner. I just recently read about some gals in my ward that entered a triathlon together. They trained together and did it together. Some of these sisters are the same sisters who took a road trip to Utah for Women's Conference together. They shop together, have lunch on occasion, have girls' night out's, and the like. I really have made very few, if any, friends since marriage that I feel I could do any of that with. I don't think I've had a shopping partner since I was in college, actually. I did have the opportunity about a month ago to go ice skating with a friend of mine, but she and I were roommates before husbands were even on the horizon for us.

Now that I'm moving again, I have to try once more to make friends. I never seem to be able to make the kind of friends I was able to make before marriage. I think that too many women see me only as the mom and wife that I am and the other me, the one who has interests outside of marriage and motherhood. Then again, I don't feel like I know anyone on that level either. People are so shielded, they really don't share anything. Since I started noticing how little people share of themselves, I started to do it too. I generally keep my mouth shut when in a large group and share nothing personal. Somewhere along the way I decided that people don't really care about that and don't really want to know, so why bother opening up?

So it's my goal that with this move, I try and find the person I used to be and bring her back from the dead. Don't know how to do it, but I will just have to try!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Sunday

My day today began with my husband coming in from his late-night shift at 3:30 a.m. and telling me he had to work the day shift today instead of the night shift that he was originally scheduled. To those of you who really know me, you can probably figure out how upset that made me that he would be missing yet again another day of church, so I never went back to sleep. After trying unsuccessfully to sleep and then crying for a while, I finally got up and showered at about 5:00 a.m. I was fully showered and dressed and ready for the day by 5:45, and at 6:00 a.m. was when the first child showed up in my room (husband slept on the couch). At that point, I went in and got the cinnamon rolls in baking (canned rolls, I'm no super-woman) and changed two diapers. We ate breakfast and got dressed for church and had scripture reading/prayer before Daddy left for work at the same time that we left for church, at 7:40 a.m.

I got to church, and to my dismay, even though I was there a full 15 minutes early, someone was already sitting in our usual bench as well as the benches surrounding it. So I found somewhere else to sit and sat through the revelatory period trying to keep my kids quiet. They like us to be early for church for the revelatory period, but it always spells bad news and makes for a LONG sacrament meeting when the kids won't even be quiet for the first 15 minutes and I'm taking them out in the hall BEFORE church even starts.

We ended up leaving sacrament meeting about 10 minutes early because I'd had it with kids climbing all over me, crying, throwing themselves on the floor, etc. We went down to the primary room and waited outside the door for the line-up (they line them up outside the door and march them in quietly), and just when I was hearing the closing hymn being sung in the chapel, almost the full ten minutes later, my second oldest reminds me that he has to give a talk in Primary, which I completely forgot about! So there I am, pulling a pen and paper out of the church bag and quickly writing down a talk for me to whisper in his ear, something to do with families and temples, I think.

After church, I gather up the kids, which is no small feat, and we get in the car and drive home. The kids run in the house while I'm getting the church bag and my scriptures out of the car, and then I hear them start yelling and running back out to the garage,

"Mom! Snoopy [the dog] pooped in the kitchen!"

I walk in and am immediately overtaken by the smell of fresh poop. I'm thinking, maybe it's only one piece on the floor, or what not, but nope, it is an enormous amount spread over the ENTIRE kitchen, mixed with some pee as well. I hadn't sent the dog out before I left for church, I assumed that DH would send him out when he left for work a few minutes later, but he didn't.

I spend the next 20-30 minutes trying to pick up dog poop that is soft and almost-diarrhea like. It was the worst when I was trying to scrape it off with a paper towel. I finally got the mop and bucket and mopped the floor TWICE, after which I lit a scented candle, sprayed the floor with Febreeze (I know, a hard floor probably didn't absorb much Febreeze, but it was SO stinky inside the house, and with it being 105+ outside, I couldn't just open the house to air it out), and then got on my hands and knees and scrubbed it all again with Lysol wipes.

At least I didn't have to clean up my own throw up too, I managed to suppress that, but it was a hard fight at one point where I was gagging and dry heaving. Thank goodness I only had two cinnamon rolls for breakfast and that had been almost 6 hours previously!

Right now the kids are all up from their naps and running around playing some sort of wild animal attack game.

It sure seems I will never have the enjoyable relaxing Spirit-filled Sundays I used to have when I was a Young Single Adult.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fictional Character

Who is your favorite fictional character? Fictional protagonist, that is, not the bad guy. If you can't narrow it down to one, could you narrow it down to a few? What traits to admire in these characters? What weaknesses do they have that possibly reflect your own (hence, why you might be able to identify with them)? What fictional protagonist do you like the least?

I have to say that one of my least favorite protagonists is Bella Swan from the Twilight series. I find her so annoying that I could hardly get through the books, yet I still HAD to read them all just to find out how they ended. I found Edward quite annoying also, to be precise, but she was just sickening. I couldn't identify with her in the slightest. She was so whiny and swoony, it was pathetic. And I couldn't figure out why she was such a catch in Oregon when she wasn't in Phoenix. Was Stephenie Meyer trying to suggest that boys in Phoenix are blind or that boys in Oregon know true beauty or what? How can you go from being pretty much an invisible loner to a very visible loner just because of moving? The novelty didn't seem to wear off through the whole series, yet, I've moved enough to know that the novelty of being new eventually wears off and you are no longer "fresh meat" after the first few months.

I think one of my favorite characters is Anne Shirley because I can really identify with her. She spends her whole life dreaming and imagining, which has always been a vice of mine. She has a temper to match her hair, but I don't think redheads are the only ones who supposedly have such tempers--mine could easily be more thunderous than any of the redheads I know, and I know quite a few. I also like Hermione Granger because I see myself in her as well--the studious, by-the-book rule-keeper. And when I was a child, my favorite was Ramona Quimby. I even thought I would be what she would have looked like--short, chin-length brown hair and brown eyes, plain-faced, and I spent my time creating with crayons just like she did.

What do you think?

Friday, August 21, 2009

High School Days

Okay, I know a lot of people might laugh at this. Many people will think I'm totally strange. There don't seem to be very many people in the world who want to re-live high school. But I do. Those days were the most carefree, fun days of my life. It might seem pathetic to you, but let me explain why I feel that way.

I had a part-time job and was therefore earning my own money. My parents didn't pay for anything fun that I did (eating out, buying new clothes, etc.), but I was able to pay for that myself by working. Given some responsibility and trust by my parents, I was allowed to drive one of their cars as my own as long as I stayed out of trouble and paid for the fuel. I was involved in cheerleading and choir in high school. During my senior year, I was dating a really nice guy and had a really solid and close-knit group of friends. We hung out every Friday night after sporting events (which were well-attended by the high school crowd) and most Saturday nights went out on big group dates, when I wasn't working. My group of friends were solid in the Church, so on Sundays, we spent the days with our families and attending church.

And the future. There was SO much in the future to look forward to. So many paths to take and options to choose from. So much to wonder about...where my friends would get called on missions, whom we would marry, how many children we would have, where we would end up living. And the dreams and hopes that hung on those questions...owning a home, having a good education and good job, planting roots somewhere nice, etc.

For me, living it is not as much fun as hoping for it was. I guess because my ideals and expectations of the future have not turned out at all how I wanted them to. I've been disappointed in more ways than one. Today, we closed on our home. We bought our home 4 years ago when the market was sky high. Then it crashed. We had to do a short sale due to relocation and we just closed on it today. We are no longer homeowners. That dream of owning a home and putting down roots has been lost to me for now. Most of my friends are living that dream and not losing it like me. They have their nice homes, their jobs, their wonderful families with children who are perfectly smart and talented, and they have put down roots. My roots have been torn away from me. I have to start all over AGAIN. For the 25th time in my life.

High school was great. When I picked up Westley at school, I saw a group of cheerleaders at the school handing out flyers for something. These were girls from the new high school handing out flyers to girls at the middle school (actually, K-8 school). In that moment, my stomach leaped when I remembered how fun it was to run out on that track, tumbling and jumping and cheering, on a Friday night at a football game. I was jealous, jealous for a split second that they had their whole futures ahead, they had upcoming fun events to attend, and I was sitting in my minivan with three small children, sweating to death in the 105 degree humid heat waiting for the final bell to ring, with nothing to do on my Friday night but watch dumb TV shows and surf the Internet.

I know there's still a lot of future ahead and a lot can happen, but a lot of the things I was looking forward to doing and discovering have already been done. I've done college. I've taught school. I've gotten married. I've had four children. And some roads have been closed. I will probably never again have the opportunity to develop certain talents that seem to be offered only to the young, and at the same time, know full well that in our financial situation I might not be able to offer these same opportunities to my children.

Nope, life has not led me where I had hoped. I know for some that is the big adventure in it all, but right now, in this situation I am currently in, I feel only disappointment, not excitement.

So that is why tonight I am missing my carefree, hopeful high school days.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Moment

Do you ever have that moment, a fleeting second even, when you can sit back and say, "I feel like I'm doing a great job!" That moment when all your efforts at motherhood are paying off in a big way. Like when your 2-year-old tells you your his best bud in the whole world and gives you a big wet kiss followed by a jack o'lantern grin and your 6-year-old sets the table without being asked while his 4-year-old brother helps by climbing up on the counter to hand him the plates? Or when you look around and see that the house, while it wouldn't pass the white-gloved mafia test for cleanliness, is clean enough and your children are happy and learning and you just feel content?

I had one of those moments recently. I made dinner with my 2-year-old at my side, spooning the pizza sauce onto the hamburger buns and sprinkling the cheese on top. My 1-year-old splashed away happily in the sink a few feet away, pouring water into cups and squeezing out the dishrag with delight while standing on a towel-covered chair and floor to keep the water mess to a minimum. My 6- and 4-year-old's sat at the table drawing superheroes and making up stories. Then, when the pizzas came out of the oven 15 minutes later, and I told them dinner was ready, they hopped up, cleared off the table themselves and went to work setting it while I cut up fruit and the younger two "helped" put my laundry away.

I thought to myself, "Man, I'm awesome at this!"

I'd better hold on to that thought. Because I'm sure that tomorrow while a child is having a major meltdown, I'll be thinking, "What was I thinking?!"

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Looking Good

If you want an ego boost, get dressed up nice and go to the Home Depot. I had to stop there a few days ago to exchange something that we had bought in the wrong color. I had a dentist appointment that morning, and I was dressed casually, but nice. I was wearing a red blouse, a straight, knee-length Levi skirt, brown wedge sandals and a pair of red earrings. I wore the skirt because all my shorts were in the wash and at 110 degrees, it's a little too hot for jeans for me. I knew exactly what I needed, but when I walked in, I was followed by about two Home Depot workers (men) and another guy who was there buying stuff asking if I needed help finding anything. I told them no, thank you, but the whole experience made me feel like I looked like a million bucks. Anyway, so if you want to feel like a supermodel, dress nice and go to Home Depot!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Our Adversity this Month

This is not a complaining post. This is just the story of what we're facing right now. So much has been happening that I'm not sure I can explain it in just a few words.

We sold our house and are supposed to be out by the 21st of this month. Last week, we found a great place to rent where we are moving. My brother kindly drove down from where he lives, a 1-1/2 to 2 hour drive, and checked it out for us. He met the landlord. He said she seemed nice. The house was beautiful. However, there were some details about the whole thing that I was uncomfortable with. After weighing those details against the pros of renting this particular house, we decided to move forward with it. I went to the bank and had them cut me a cashier's check in the amount of $500, which was less than 1/3 of the total deposit that she wanted. I went straight to the post office and sent the check plus the application papers via Express Mail to arrive at her place on Monday (this was Friday). At first, I was happy to have found a great place. But the more I thought on it, the more uncomfortable I was with it all. On Sunday, we fasted and prayed about our decision. We sat down and crunched numbers. The finances would be tight, but if we really wanted this house, we could make it work. I still didn't feel calm. On Monday morning, we both felt the same way. We decided to call it off. We called the landlord and told her that it just wasn't going to work. She hadn't received the package we sent, so we asked her kindly to please return it to us so we could use the $500 for our other expenses.
EDIT: I forgot to mention the trial that came with this possible rental house. The landlord didn't refund us the money. Instead, she cashed the check. We are still trying to get hold of her to find out why and if we can get any of that back.

That was Monday morning. Then on Monday night, when my husband went to work, he found out that his company would not be able to move us as soon as August 21st. Something about not wanting us up there without him too long, and they wanted us to wait until they were closer to opening up there. So it turns out that we couldn't have moved then anyway. That presented a problem though. We are supposed to be out when we close on August 21st. So we talked to our real estate agent about talking with our buyers about the possibility of renting the house back from them for the rest of August and the month of September. They had mentioned when they put an offer on the house how they would only be living in it for half the year, in the winter, and asked if we be interested in renting from them, as the home was so clean and well-kept. So we were kind of taking them up on the offer. So now, our agent is working with the buyers, who are working with a property management company, to let us rent the house for about 6 weeks.

We are not moving out-of-state for at least 6 more weeks. If we have to, we will rent a house here in the neighborhood for 6 weeks and move twice. I hope it doesn't come to that. That sounds like a lot of work.

My last piece of adversity came in a very different form. My brother has a friend where we are moving to, someone he was roommates with in college. He owns a house that we were looking at renting. Because of this, I had been in touch with my brother's friend's real estate agent for information on the house. That agent happens to be friends with my parents from a previous ward we lived in growing up. Long story short--we decided not to rent his house. However, I got an email from the agent this morning letting me know that this man, my brother's friend, had passed away suddenly from a diabetic coma. He had tried to get in touch with my brother and my parents and couldn't find a way to contact them other than through me. I passed the information along to my brother, but I was suddenly struck with the reality of the situation. This man, one of my brother's close friends, someone he had lived with in college and afterward, was dead. Gone. No goodbyes or anything. I believe that recently my brother and he had not been speaking over some disagreement or misunderstanding. When I told my brother over the phone, I could hear the cracking in his voice. His friend was gone. I imagined how that must feel to hear that a friend had passed away suddenly, especially one that you hadn't talked to for a while because of a spat. It must be very hard indeed.

Then I thought of this friend. He was a single guy, lived alone, didn't have very many friends. His parents had passed away many years ago, leaving only him and a few siblings (I believe he had a couple sisters, not sure if he had any more than that). Now those sisters are without their brother. This was a young man--in his late twenties. He probably passed away at home, alone. I don't know the details. I imagine it was a little while before he was discovered. All of this, despite my knowledge of gospel principles and the life hereafter, make me feel very sad indeed. Sad for him, sad for his family, sad for my brother.

It's also a very strong reminder of how unpredictable life really is. Maybe it was just his time to go. Maybe his death was untimely. We don't really know. But if you think about it, any one of us could suddenly be gone, just like that. I will definitely give all my children and husband hugs and kisses tonight and let them know I love them. Because you never know.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is America Dying as a Nation?

I recently read an article that said the following:

"About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:

'A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;

2. From spiritual faith to great courage;

3. From courage to liberty;

4. From liberty to abundance;

5. From abundance to complacency;

6. From complacency to apathy;

7. From apathy to dependence;

8. From dependence back into bondage.

Where do you think we stand in this cycle? This seems reminiscent of the pride cycle so often repeated in the Book of Mormon. Thoughts?

Dress for Success

I ran across this article on Yahoo this morning, so I clicked on the link to see what they deemed acceptable dress for work.

Can I just say a huge resounding "DUH!"?

Thank you for enlightening us so much. It's crazy that women in the workforce need this reminder. Then again, women everywhere probably need it!

Friday, July 17, 2009

What We're Up Against

I think we are up against a lot of hard stuff as parents today. The world has gotten quite wicked. Most of the time, I plug away at life, going about my business, taking my family to church, heeding to the counsels given there, and just try my best, but some days, I get a little overwhelmed at what we have to bolster our children against. It's quite frightening. Here are some examples: gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle, the sexualizing of society, abortion, teen pregnancy, sex ed, pregnancy outside of marriage, pedophiles, etc., etc. Notice most of these things have to do with blurred lines concerning the law of chastity. Hmmm. I find that quite significant.

I've read some disturbing articles the last few days. The NEA voted to support gay marriage. I'm sorry, but what is the union of public teachers in the United States doing putting the funds of the teachers who have joined toward one political agenda or another? Shouldn't they be focusing on how to better the curriculum in schools to escape the epidemic of illiteracy that is sweeping the nation? Shouldn't they be concerned with the fact that there is still a surprisingly high dropout rate from high school instead of being concerned with a marriage that has nothing to do with academic learning? Well, I guess marriage, the fundamental unit of our society, the unit that produces children, not only by procreating them, but by bringing them up to be responsible, law-abiding citizens, does have something to do with education. But putting funds toward a political agenda with the dues that public school teachers pay--some who are actually against the demoralization of society--is not right.

Another article I read talked about how in Britain, they are trying to make sex education mandatory so that parents cannot opt out. According to the statistic I read, only 4 students out of like 10,000 even opt out now. But making it so they cannot, by law, opt out? That's also wrong. Whether or not sex education even belongs in school is another discussion entirely, but parents should have the most control over what their children learn, not the schools. If that sort of thing hits the U.S., and no doubt it will, my husband, who is so anti-homeschooling it's not even funny (he wrote a paper in college about the benefits of public school versus home or private), has actually said that we'll start to homeschool.

Actually sex education in schools is a major contributor to the big problem of oversexualizing everything. All the other problems I mentioned: abortion, teen pregnancy, sex outside of marriage, even homosexuality, are problems that teaching sex education in school, without the boundaries of morality to assist, have caused. I know these things existed before, but I'm guessing not in the numbers they do now.

It used to be shameful to have a baby outside of marriage. Now, not only is it acceptable, it's condoned. I was on a message board a few months ago where someone asked why it was wrong to have a baby outside of marriage, and about 98% of the answers were along the lines of "it's not wrong, it's okay" or "my parents aren't married and I turned out fine."

The Proclamation to the World on the Family was given at a critical time. This document came out BEFORE all this became so widely the norm. Even in 1995, when it was given, the world still frowned on babies outside of marriage, abortion, homosexuality, at least to the degree that if you said you thought those things were wrong, you wouldn't be called a bigot. Today, if I stand up for morality, I'm called a bigot, even by members of my own faith. I'm denying someone else the right to make a choice if I vote against the legalization of abortion or homosexual marriage. These things are destroying the very sacred unit of the family, and the warning given at the end of the Proclamation is true: "we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." Yes, indeed, we've already seen some of that unfolding.

I decided today that I'm going to initiate a practice with my children. Every day when they arrive home from school, I'm going to ask them if they learned anything at school they found questionable, or that they have questions about. This will hopefully open a dialogue to discuss anything and everything they are learning at school so I might be able to correct misunderstanding or wrong ideas. If it gets too bad, this can be my gauge to determine whether or not homeschooling is appropriate.

We are up against Satan himself as he tears apart families and destroys that which is most sacred. I hope that I can raise my children to be strong against these waves and tides of inhumanity and remember the gospel doctrines that life is based upon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How the Day Turned Out

I unloaded the dishwasher and washed the day's dishes, but this did not get done until I was making dinner, which was scrambled eggs, toast and juice. Nobody came to look at the house, so it was all good.

I finished washing the laundry and had the boys help fold it to earn tokens for computer time.

I did not vacuum or clean bathrooms today.

I went to the store for school supplies and diapers, bringing all four kids along. It actually went way better than going to the Meet the Teacher night last night, at which every single child threw a tantrum about different things (even my first grader). I managed to find the book for book group at Wal-mart in the LDS section for cheaper than it would have been at Deseret Book. Yea!

I even managed to shower and get ready as well as pay the bills that I needed to pay AND enter all of it into the checkbook and onto our budget system on the computer.

The stomach bug child was on and off cranky/happy all day. I'm not sure he's even sick. But the two younger ones (who are 2-1/2 and 1-1/2) are seriously stubborn and impossible to understand. Always crying for no fathomable reason. They both only napped for about 30 minutes, so not a good napping day.

I feel like I got a lot accomplished, but still have stuff to do tomorrow. As my husband says, there's always tomorrow.

My Day

I am feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to get done today.

I have to unload the dishwasher, wash the dishes from breakfast, and make sure the kitchen looks clean in case someone wants to come look at the house.

I have to do about 3-4 loads of laundry and fold the clothes that my husband washed on Tuesday night after he returned from his trip but left in the dryer.

I have to vacuum and clean bathrooms and try to eradicate the illness that seems to never leave this house.

I have to go to the store and get diapers for my 3rd child, he ran out last night and is wearing one of his little sister's diapers this morning.

While I'm there, I have to get the school supplies, which I'm sure will be pretty much gone, for my son, since I barely got the list last night and school starts Monday. Since there is one Wal-mart nearby and this whole area is starting school Monday, I'm sure that things will be sold out. I don't know why they couldn't have sent the supply lists with the teacher assignment in the mail last week!

I also want to go and buy the book for our book group that meets on Tuesday so I can get it read before then--didn't know about it before or I could have bought it easily on my trip and started reading it then.

Oh yeah, I still have to shower and get ready. My husband doesn't get home from work tonight until about 9 and he left at 6:30 am. He has a 12-hour day today, due to a meeting after his regular shift. He always claims those meetings last only one hour, but from experience, I don't expect him home until after a two hour meeting.

Oh yeah, there's the general paying of bills that come due in the next week that I have to take care of as well.

Sound like too much yet?

Plus I have one sick child with a stomach bug--I really shouldn't be dragging him along to the store, but I'm afraid if I wait until Saturday, the next time I'm possibly able to get out without kids, all the school supplies that are cheap and on sale will be gone already. Plus he (the sick one is also the 3rd child) really does need diapers.

Either it will be an endlessly long day or one that flies by fast, given that I have so much to do.

Now I'd better get started.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Modern Luxuries

I tend to overthink everything. I think too much and too long on subjects that many people probably don't even consider. For one thing, I really don't like some contemporary cultural rituals of ours. I wonder where they all started and how they became so important in our lives. Despite the advancements in technology, which have improved our lives, true, some of it is unnecessary and has created a culture of both selfishness and laziness.

An example of this is the decorated bedroom. Not that I'm against a child having their own room and even having it decorated to their tastes, but when did it become a necessity? I recently saw a commercial advertising cheap decorating accessories so you can change your teen's room as her moods and tastes change. Really? I don't think my parents ever did anything for decorating my room other than giving me a matching bedspread and pillow cases with a bedskirt that also matched. I was fortunate enough just to have my own room, growing up with 5 brothers. That's actually the only reason I got my own room--because I was the only girl. My brothers all shared until the older ones moved out of the house. One house we lived in my four brothers shared a basement as their bedroom. It didn't even have a door, it was basically the basement living room turned into a bedroom with two sets of bunk beds. My baby brother was less than a year at the time, so he got his own room upstairs across the hall from my parents. Two homes later, my two older brothers shared one room and the three younger ones shared another room, and all five of them shared one bathroom between them.

All I'm saying is that some things that are deemed as "necessary" by parents of today's contemporary culture are not really necessities, but luxuries that we could live without. I could go on about other types of this indulgence, but I can't think anymore right now. My brain needs a rest!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Work From Home?

Working from home in order to be at home with your children is sort of a new fad. Lots of moms do it (dads too even) and there's all sorts of companies and things out there that cater to it. You can have home parties for anything from kitchenware to skin care to tasers. Yes, tasers. I read that one in a magazine about a year ago.

We've been involved with a network marketing company in the arena of health and wellness since September of 2003. We've had some ups and downs with it. Right now, we still keep our business open so that at some point, hopefully, it can pan out for us. Occasionally we get a check, often when we're least expecting it. I was working the business hard just before my 3rd child was born, and since then, I haven't done much with it because I had him and then I had our 4th just 14 months after our 3rd. Since then, it's been pretty much chaotic insanity just trying to keep it together, much less work a business on the side.

Still, extra income is always needed around here. While we do okay, mostly, from month-to-month, it would be nice to establish a savings, have more money to build up a more adequate food storage, and just have more money to use for all the extras that seem to bombard us regularly--new brakes on the car, for instance. So I've been toying around the ideas of different money-making schemes.

Here are the latest ideas:

A home preschool.
If I could enroll 7 students at $120/month, I could make $840/month. I would probably put about $100-$150 back into the preschool each month for supplies. If I could have two sessions going at once, a morning class and an afternoon class, that would even double the amount I would make. Plus, I think $120/month is way more affordable than most preschools out there. I would stick to my philosophy that children need to learn through play and exploration.

Write a book.
Obviously, I can't make any money with this unless it sells. I've been working on several ideas, but I have yet to think of something that is really stellar. This might make me a little bit of extra, but I certainly can't count on this as a huge stream of income, unless I get lucky and write a best seller. I've no doubt that I could write one, but there really isn't a high chance statistically of that happening.

Cake decorating.
I love to make fun cakes for my kids, and some of them have turned out quite well. I've often thought about taking classes and then doing cakes as a business. But I'm not ready to start making them for money yet, I still have a lot to learn. All of what I've done so far has been on my own, I don't even know the proper way of doing any of it. And I would need to get some delicious recipes for good cakes--no cake mixes in a business like that!

House cleaning and organizing.
Since I seem to possess natural talent in the area of cleanliness and organization, this could be fun. But would somebody honestly pay for help in that area?

I know I had more ideas than this when I started this post, but I've been interrupted several times and even had to postpone finishing it overnight, so now I can't remember what else I was going to write about. These are just some of my ideas. They are just that, ideas. None that are even close to being followed through with.

Have you done anything from home that allows you to continue to be home with your children but creates a side income?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Bloom Where You're Planted"

I'm 31 years old, and this move will be the 25th time in my life that I've had to move. I moved 9 times during my childhood, between birth and graduation from high school. When I went off to college, I moved 8 times while there. After college and since marriage, I've moved 7 times, at least 7 times to different cities. I did move one time that I didn't count when I moved from one apartment to another in the same complex just after getting married.

I remember one time moving as a child. I was between 5th and 6th grade, approaching my 3rd move in 3 years. For that move, we actually moved back to the same school as we had been in 3 years before. I remember my mom telling me that when moving, it's best to "bloom where you're planted". In other words, make friends and live there as if you'll live there forever.

There's something to be said for that. It really does make living in a place much more enjoyable than when you don't bother doing that. I've moved so many times that I've clearly done it both ways--blooming where I've been planted or just biding my time until the next move. But when you bloom where you're planted, it sure makes moving oh so hard.

This is one of those times. When we left our last apartment in 2005 and moved into this house, our first home, we were planning on staying here for a at least 5 years. Our plans were changed slightly when we decided to rent out our house at the end of 2007 for 18 months while my husband finished school. Then our tenants decided to move out sooner than we had previously arranged and we moved back here. That was okay, because we've been planning on staying here even longer all along.

But plans change. Oh, how they always change! My life has not gone at all the way I planned it or necessarily even wanted it to go. Most of the time, that's all right. Most of the time, it's not so hard to adjust to the change, to bend with the wind as it blows, so to speak. But there are occasions where the change, especially a more sudden change, is really difficult, painful even.

When we moved here, I tried hard to "bloom where I've been planted". I've gotten involved in the ward. I've tried to attend every activity that I possibly can. I've tried keeping up with my visiting teaching. I've joined the ward choir. I've fulfilled my callings. I have served when being asked to serve. I have made some great friends and brushed lives with some absolutely awesome people. I'm very sad to be leaving this ward at this time. This would have been a good ward for my children to spend their childhood. I am so sad at the thought of leaving those behind with whom I've tried very hard to cultivate friendships.

The prospect of moving and starting over fresh is always enticing to me. I'm not saying this is a bad decision or something I don't want to do. But with moving always comes sadness. Today I'm feeling that sadness.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Era of Television

What did men do before there was television? It just seems to always be on whenever my husband is home, which leads me to wonder what did men do "to relax" after work or to pass the time when they were bored (they probably were too busy to ever be bored)? When the children go to bed, the TV goes on and stays on until we go to bed. The only time I have his undivided attention is while we're driving somewhere together and all the children are asleep in the back of the car, or they aren't with us. Which is why it's so important that we go on regular dates.

Although, have you noticed, that in practically every sit-down restaurant from here to Timbuktu, they have TV's playing sporting events? We've gone out to dinner for something special, like our anniversary, to a generally nice place, and my husband ends up spending the time watching some sporting event on the TV's there. Even though my husband means well, he can't stop himself from watching whatever is on that screen. It's so distracting!

I really wonder what life was like before television. What did men do before there was television? Read the newspaper? My husband doesn't really read stuff like that, so I can hardly imagine what that would be like. I guess that could be annoying in its own sphere, but as of right now, I'd be delighted to catch him reading anything!

This is not a gripe about husbands, just a thought about the all new ruler of the day--television. How did it come to be that the TV rules the activities of the day? I remember a time not too long ago in this house when we arranged our evening schedules based on the shows that were on. I've lost interest in that recently. I find I am much more constructive with my time when I leave the TV off. I am able to keep the house cleaner, read more, and spend more quality time with my family. I cook better meals and just have more time in general. I have a hard time getting my husband to see things that way though and realize that even he would get more accomplished if we left it off more than not. I think that there are good things about TV, but sometimes it's too easy to just turn the TV on and tune out everything else in life.

Is this something anybody else has experienced?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Women

I LOVE this movie. My SIL gave it to me for Christmas this past year and I had never seen it. A few weeks ago, I was looking for something to watch while my husband was at work one night and ran across it, still in the plastic. So I pulled it out, popped it in, and now it's one of my favorite movies. So well done. So many parts that leave me totally laughing or just nodding in agreement.

So what's a movie that really speaks to you?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Why Sundays Are the Hardest

I loved Sundays when I was young. They were truly a break from the chaos of the rest of my week, a day of rest and peaceful thought and reflection. Even when I would be busy with callings in college or my singles ward, Sundays were the best days. I didn't do homework, housework, or watch T.V. on Sundays. I tried to invite the Spirit by listening to peaceful music and reading good books and magazines. I would go to church, listen to the speakers (even taking notes!), attend Sunday school and Relief Society, having read the material beforehand. The afternoons would be filled with a nap, visiting teaching, a dinner with friends and roommates, and then possibly a fireside in the evening. I would emerge from such a Sabbath feeling rejuvenated, energized, and ready to start a new week.

Fast forward to today, an example of a typical Sunday.
5:15 a.m. I hear a door slam shut and realize that I don't get to wake up at 5:30 and shower before the children get up as planned. When I go to check, I find that 3 out of my 4 children are already awake. I bring two of them into our room (one in the bed with Daddy and one in the bathroom with me and leave the other one to cry in her crib).

6:00 a.m. I am ready for the day and start preheating the oven for the cinnamon rolls. Then I clear the dishwasher out and prepare the pot roast, potatoes and carrots. The cinnamon rolls are done, so I gather the children to their seats in the kitchen.

6:45 a.m. I realize that I'm supposed to be at the church at 7 a.m. for ward choir practice, so I hurry the children along. They get down from the table, get dressed quickly, and then we are out the door. Only to realize that the garage door is not working, and the light is not turning on. I call on my husband for help, he groans and gets out of bed and opens the garage door by hand for me, then he goes to look at the breakers and I leave for church with all 4 kids in tow (he joins us there later).

7:25 a.m. We arrive at the church, and the children sit on the pew and are actually pretty well-behaved while I practice on the stand with the choir. After the choir practice, I sit down with the children and spend the next 15 minutes before church disciplining and quieting them, taking them out a few times even before church starts.

8:00 a.m. Church starts. I spend the next 1 hr and 10 minutes going in and out, in and out of the chapel with 1, 2, or even all of the children. Finally, my husband arrives about 20 minutes before the end of the meeting. We end up taking all the children out to a room and sit them down and lecture them about their horrible behavior. I try to go to Sunday school but just can't pay attention, same with Relief Society.

11 a.m. Church ends. We all go home to a roast in the oven. We make the final preparations and eat lunch. Put kids down for naps. I lay down, unable to stay awake. I doze on and off for the next couple hours while the younger children sleep and the older ones play Legos and my husband does his home teaching.

3 p.m. Husband leaves for work. Children are all awake from naps now. They spend the rest of the time running around and I try to engage them in quiet activities, so I can read or do something similar to what I used to do on Sundays, but to no avail. We end up turning on the preschool channel Noggin and they watch that. Usually I go to choir practice, which is at the director's house, from 3-4 after husband leaves for work, taking all the children with me, but I couldn't face it today.

5:30 p.m. We eat a small supper of cold cereal and fruit.

6:00 p.m. We get in pajamas and clean up the house. Then I put the baby to bed, after which, the older ones brush their teeth and then I read them books and they all go to bed (7:30).

Now you can see the drastic change in how my Sundays go. I sure do miss those old days when I could really enjoy my Sabbath Day. Now that the children are down to bed, I will probably take a bath, read something and enjoy a fraction of what I used to enjoy all day. I know the day will come in the future when I will get to have that calm of a peaceful Sabbath again, but right now, they are chaotic and leave me feeling completely drained and worn out and not ready to face another week!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I've Been Cursed

Well, that's about all there is to it, I must have been cursed. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, my children have just decided that the day starts at 5 am. I've tried rewarding them for staying in bed until 6, punishing them if they don't stay in bed until 6. They even have a digital clock in their room so they can see the 6 and aren't supposed to get out of bed until that first number is a 6. We are going to putting up blackout curtains sometime soon, we have them. But, they aren't working for my daughter in the next room, who still wakes up at 5 am. So I doubt they'll do much good in the boys' room either. If I want to shower or anything without them running through the house playing and screaming (and waking up Daddy who needs to sleep late since he gets in so late--the hardest part is keeping them quiet enough to not disturb him), then I have to be up before them, and 4:30 is just too early. My children get regular naps and have always been on a pretty tight sleep schedule, but no matter what sleep training is suggested for their wake-up time, nothing works. And for some reason, they wake up all bright and eager and energetic to start the day, and I can't figure out what the heck they're so darn excited about!

My children are not bad sleepers, when I've asked online groups for advice on this or mentioned it to friends, they always assume that I'm doing something wrong for my children to be doing this. But I have spent HOURS reading sleep books and sleep advice articles, and so much energy trying things to teach them to stay in their beds. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if I didn't have to be so careful about not waking my husband, but he doesn't get in most nights until 3 am now.  He says he doesn't mind, but I want him to get some sleep.

If I'd realized that I would be up before 5 am for the next 20 years, I probably wouldn't have ever done it. And the thing is that I'm really more a morning person, I'd rather get up early than stay up late, but there are early hours that are just too early, even for a morning person. Collectively, over time, if you continually have such early hours, it begins to take its toll and now I'm grouchy as a grizzly bear when I get up. I'd give anything for the days when I got up on my own accord, now I only get up because my built-in alarm clocks are awake. Since my husband can't get up because of his job, I have no choice but to get up with the little boogers.

It's my curse.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sleep Issues Disaster Area

I'm member of an online group for LDS women, and on that group, there was a link to an article posted about motherhood, mostly about the lack of a good night's sleep in motherhood. I read the link and laughed because my children wake up sometimes at night, and I finally didn't feel alone. I walk around in a blur day in and day out because I get up almost always at least once a night. If it's not for my children, it's because my husband climbs into bed around 3 am at least three times a week because of his job, and that also wakes me up.

I posted a comment about this article. I said that I felt better because I felt like someone could relate to me. I mentioned how the last time I complained about my lack of sleep to a certain friend, she simply said, "my kids always sleep all night long" and when she said that it seemed so "my kids are better than yours"-ish. Anyway, I wrote that and was immediately blasted by about four women saying their children ALWAYS sleep all night, every night (even young ages, under five), barring illnesses.

Not one of your children has ever suffered a nightmare? A night terror? An early-morning trip to the toilet (for the potty training child)? The need for a drink a couple hours after they've gone to bed (which technically doesn't interrupt my sleeping hours, but it is them out of bed once during their night)? Wet the bed? Not ONCE?

I really don't buy that. Even the best sleep-trained children have an occasional nightmare. Every night, ten to twelve hours, never waking from a non-sick reason, NOT ONCE!!!! Unbelievable.

Actually, it's probably more that these parents are heavy sleepers and I'm just not, so when my children get up just to use the toilet, I wake up because I hear them or the light on in the hallway wakes me up. I do want my children to know I'm available to them, even at night, if they need me.

So I guess it boils down to this--are you willing to deal with your children needing you at night, or do you prefer to let them handle their nighttime crises on their own so you can get a good night's rest?

How Blessed I Am!

In this day and age, it seems harder for a mom to stay home and raise her kids. Raising one is hard enough on the pocketbook, but four is even harder. It has only been with a little help from above that I've been able to continue to stay home and raise our children. It is definitely a blessing of tithing and a desire to be obedient.

It seems that the ability to stay home and raise children is possible only through sacrifice. I definitely believe that. My husband mentioned in one of his classes that his wife stays home and how important we both feel it is that I am home with the kids. His instructor asked if we made any sacrifices, specifically, if I had made sacrifices. My husband said yes, that we have given up quite a few things. That using generic brands instead of name brands really doesn't make much of a difference. We don't vacation in the tropics, we try not to go out and eat more than a few times a month, and all of these are considered sacrifices in these modern times.

But I think that the instructor was really asking if there are any personal sacrifices that I make, being the wife who stays home. I don't think my husband realizes some of the things I've given up to do this. In a way, though, it doesn't necessarily feel like a sacrifice because this, being a stay-at-home mom, was always my ideal future life when I was growing up. In the world's eyes, yes, I have given up a career (teaching school) that I would have been quite successful at. I probably would have already earned a master's degree by now, maybe traveled the world some, and certainly, I would be more involved with expanding my own talents and mind if I weren't so busy taking care of my little children and holding down the fort, so to speak. But I think that being a mom is so big a part of who I am that all that doesn't matter all that much. Yes, I need to have other interests, and I do, but it's okay to put them aside a little bit to focus on being the best mom I can be. In fact, some of my talents are quite useful to being a mom--like cooking and keeping the house clean (yes, I'm talented in being organized, boring gift, but it's true!).

There have been a few schools of thought that I've come into contact with. Some women I know comment about the importance they feel in "contributing" to their household by providing help with the finances. I definitely feel like I "contribute." Who else could do what I'm doing for my kids?

For me, honestly, it's a little hard to not want to "keep up with the Joneses", but when I really examine it with an eternal perspective, I realize that it really isn't important at all. What's more important is sharing what we do have, our time, talents, and means, with others who are in need. We have been blessed with a home that fits our needs. We now have cars that can get ALL of us from place to place. Our kids seem to be happy and well adjusted.

The point I'm trying to make is that none of this is our doing. I feel that "God is at the helm". I'm grateful to have what I do at this point in my life. I feel very blessed to be able to continue to stay at home with my children. I feel it is so important for me to be here. In fact, we had a recent conversation, my husband and I, about the possibility of him finding some sort of second job to help with finances if the need arises. So far, we've been very blessed and haven't needed that. I am grateful, too, that I married a man who feels the same as I do, and understands the importance of mother being at home.

Friday, May 1, 2009

"It is better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent."

Or so the saying goes. Not sure who said that, my mind wants me to think it was President Benson, but I'm not about to go digging in my monstrous file full of that sort of thing to try and find it.

Recently, a friend posted something about her feelings on sex education on her blog. She referred to another blog post about object lessons in Young Women's to try and teach the law of chastity. I went ahead and clicked on her link and read the post and the subsequent comments on it.

There was one thing that really bothered me. Some of the people commenting talked about how the object lessons never really included the doctrine of repentance. The visuals they gave were very strong on how sin can cause you to become unworthy, but there was nothing taught, or no object lessons given, to be more accurate, on repentance. The thing that really bothered me is that some of these women seemed to blame the well-intentioned Young Women's leaders for their problems.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but ideally, we teach youth not to sin, to stay away from sin, and to not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, right? Because the goal is to not sin in the first place. As the title says, it is better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.

I have been in many Relief Society lessons where sisters start inputting that the Young Women's program is so faulty as to lead to failed marriages and other problems they have as adults. Why don't they just come right out and blame the Church for teaching false doctrines or for not telling them the whole story? Like they say that in Young Women's, they only teach about getting to marriage, but say nothing of life after that temple sealing, and how hard it can be. Why should they? By the time the young women most likely are married, they are not in Young Women's anymore, and they need to learn about marriage from other sources. I learned a lot about marriage and all the good and bad from my LDS Marriage and Families class at BYU. True, it was before I got married, before marriage was even on my radar, but taking a class like that was quite valuable. Hand in hand with the many, many lessons on chastity (is it any wonder that they've now added "virtue" as a value?), that class and my experience in Young Women's served to only strengthen my testimony of the law of chastity.

Having also served in Young Women's, it makes me sad when women seem to blame some of their life's trials on a former young women's leader who only had the best intentions at heart. She wanted to teach the law of chastity, and in the law of chastity, there is no sex before or outside of marriage, period. It is the doctrine of repentance that allows for mistakes to be made and rectified, which probably wasn't part of the lesson.

I just really don't like it when the Young Women's program is denigrated by people who made bad life choices. It really bothers me because the program is not bad.  If the teachings are followed, life will be easier for the girl following those teachings. 

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Doing Too Much Without Really Doing Anything

Sometimes I feel like my life is so full and busy and then at the end of the day I can't even figure out what I did. Or when my husband calls from work or school and asks what I'm doing, usually it's not worth explaining to him what exactly it is that I'm doing...I'm looking for my daughter's missing shoe, or I'm trying to restack the Tupperware she pulled out of the cabinet, or I'm helping my 2-year-old in the bathroom, or I'm trying to calm a crying 4-year-old who didn't get the pencil he wanted, or sometimes I'm just lying there on the couch trying to figure out what comes next.

Then there are the point of my day that are so jam-packed that I just can't seem to keep it all together. When I'm making dinner for both my family and a family in need. I don't have enough of what I was making for us, so I have to make something else for them, and I'm doing both at the same time.

Yet it all seems so meaningless. Sometimes I do things just to keep myself busy. Do the pictures that haven't been put in an album yet really need to be re-organized? Probably not. Do I really need to go through the swimsuits and toss the worn out ones right now since we most likely won't be going swimming anytime soon? Not really. Is it really necessary to re-organize the extra room closet--was it really so bad before?

Then I have all the projects I want to do and probably need to do that I just can't seem to get motivated to do. Like repainting the kitchen. At first I didn't mind the pink, but the longer I'm in it, the more I feel like I'm living inside a bottle of Pepto-Bismal. So we bought some cranberry to re-paint. I know that once I get started, the job will be done in a matter of days and, knowing me and my love for monotonous yet detailed work, I will probably really enjoy the actual work. However, I can't seem to get motivated enough to open that can of paint, cover everything with plastic, and get going on it. I'd rather lay on the couch and watch re-runs of "Home Improvement" while the children nap.

Does anybody else ever feel like their day is so full but they accomplish nothing?


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