Friday, December 31, 2010

Recap of 2010

Did 2010 fly by as fast for everyone else as it did for me? I can't believe it's already over.

2010 brought some interesting events. I started taking violin lessons again in January of 2010. I was able to attend both BYU Women's Conference and the Casual Blogger Conference. I attended and finished a class called Just Moved for women who've moved to new places and finding ways to cope with the difficulties of moving. I was diagnosed in May with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and told that it would be difficult to conceive another child and then found out in July that I was pregnant with baby #5. I've spent the year teaching primary in church and trying to make friends in our new place. I've become reacquainted with some old friends who live in the area as well.

My husband started the year working out of one location and ended the year at another, with one more in between. His company started the year with four locations and ended with seven. We're hoping 2011 brings him a position of management, either at a new location to be built or at one of the old ones that may be vacated.

We bought our rental house. That was an unexpected turn of events, since we did a short sale on our house from where we moved. We happened to fall into a small group of people who'd had to short sell under certain conditions and were therefore able to buy again before the three year time period was up. It was a blessing to not have to move again, which we would have had we not been able to buy this house.

My oldest child finished first grade and got glasses over the summer. My second child started kindergarten in the fall. My third child went through a series of tests because of a sudden problem with his eyes that came up in September and is now wearing glasses. My daughter, my fourth child, potty trained before she was even three, much younger than my boys.

We had several health scares with our nearly 9-year-old dog and were afraid on more than one occasion that it was going to be time to say goodbye. Luckily, it wasn't and he is still around.

We were able to visit family in two different states over the summer and host a niece at our house here for several weeks.

A lot happened this year. I'm not sure how I feel about it all. I would change a lot of it, if I could, but I can't. I'd like to be starting out 2011 with my husband as a store manager instead of the second in command at his store. I'd like to be starting 2011 with five children already--I had wanted to have this fifth baby before September so my daughter and this child would only be two years apart in school instead of three. But I guess all things happen for a reason, whatever that might be.

Today I plan to sit down and write up some resolutions for 2011. I am a goal-setter and I have some definite ideas of what I want to work on this year. The hard part is picking and choosing what I might actually be able to accomplish and not set too many goals.

With that, Happy New Year, 2011! Goodbye 2010.

Church Callings

I have to be honest. I am NOT looking forward to my calling this year.

I have been teaching primary since last January. Before we moved here, I didn't have a calling for nearly a whole year. Before that, we taught the same class level out of the same lesson manual in primary. Before that, I was the relief society pianist and before that, I was the ward librarian. You get the drift. My callings have been less than exciting.

I have made up my mind to mostly just endure. Teaching primary is not my favorite calling. You'd think with my teaching experience that I would enjoy it more, but primary is a completely different setting than a public school classroom.

In the classroom, you are expected to set up rules and consequences. You enforce those and weed out bad behavior. You have standards and you have lesson materials and you keep the children engaged and focused. If they seriously act out, you send them to another classroom or the principal. You have conferences with the parents to track their progress and hopefully can expect some support from home.

Why is it in the church that many parents feel that primary is just a place for the kids to be baby-sat? They don't seem to care how well their children behave or even if they do, and they view it as the primary's problem? I know not all parents are like that, but it seems like a lot of them are.

I really don't like sharing time. It's so long and it annoys me how the kids can't sit and be quiet for any of it. We had a great primary presidency in both places that prepared good sharing times, but I noticed that a lot of times, they tell the children to be quiet and then continue on their lesson without actually waiting for the children to quiet down. There are no consequences for loud, noisy primary children, so they continue to be loud and noisy.

This year, my husband and I are supposed to teach in senior primary. The last few times, we've been in junior primary. I am not excited about this at all. I have a hard enough time being with little kids who love and adore you. I really don't want to work with older kids. And I'm quite sad that we won't be in sharing time at the same time as my other children, especially my daughter who is starting sunbeams this year.

And the fact that I will still have to prepare lessons every week because my husband doesn't ever contribute. If I leave it to him to do, he waits until Sunday morning, and I can't handle that. I don't want to show up unprepared.

Some day, I hope to have a calling I am at least enthusiastic about, but maybe that's my lesson. Maybe I will be stuck in primary until I get enthusiastic about it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dealing With Sick Kids

How do you handle dealing with sick children?

I get seriously stressed out, which is probably why I almost always get the bug myself. I don't sleep at night, and I am constantly on edge waiting for the next one to get it.

For the last two weeks we've been battling a horrible stomach bug that causes both diarrhea and vomiting for days and days. My oldest came down with it first. After three days, he seemed better. Two days later, it came back with a vengeance. After three more days, he seemed fine for a day, then it was back for three more. By Day 13, I was pretty worried. During that time, my daughter had one day where she had diarrhea and vomiting. Three days later, my second son had a bout of diarrhea. When we were at Day 13, I came down with it as well as my third child, who is now going into Day #4 of it.

Even though it seems everyone has had their run of it, I worry that the little bout my second child had of just diarrhea wasn't the same illness and that he is still going to get a turn with it. And that my daughter didn't truly have it either.

I myself spent time getting i.v. fluids and Zofran at the urgent care center on Tuesday morning from throwing up all night. And I do mean ALL night. I started in with the vomiting at 10:30 p.m. Monday night and it didn't subside until about 5 a.m. Tuesday. I literally slept on the bathroom floor, sitting upright (because whenever I would lay on my side, the stomach cramps would kick in hard and cause me to start all over again) on a towel (the floor was cold) with my back against the wall. It was a LONG miserable night.

Fortunately, my husband seems to have escaped it all. Or maybe he started it. It was only a few days before my oldest started that my husband had a bout with what we thought was some bad food.

Needless to say, he's been a gem in all this. I'm stressed out to the point where I can't even figure out what to feed the healthy kids, let alone the sick ones. He has been stoic and confident through all of it--administering blessings several times to my oldest and to me. He has slept fine during the night, getting up when the kids have needed us (two episodes of vomiting over the side of a top bunk bed=not fun) and helping clean up all their messes.

Last night, my fourth child seemed to be feeling better. He hadn't had any diarrhea or vomiting for at least 7 hours by bedtime, but he was still complaining of upset stomach. He didn't get up once during the night like he had the other three nights to use the bathroom or to throw up, so I'm hoping he's on the mend (he is, in fact, still in bed). But I'm still a little concerned that two of my children didn't seem to get the same thing.

I aired out my house yesterday in the freezing temperatures and washed all bedding, all towels and even the bathroom rugs. I used Lysol wipes on everything I could think of--door knobs, light switches, the stair banister, kitchen chairs, etc. And I thoroughly cleaned all the bathrooms.

I'm hoping we finally kicked this bug back to where it belongs. But every few hours I ask all my kids how they're feeling. This two-week long episode has made me paranoid.

Does that happen to you?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's a Material World

It really is a material world. Growing up, I never caught glimpse of all the materialism. Since becoming a parent, I can see how material it really is.

Take Christmas, for example. Now, we always hear about the "materialism" and "secularism" of Christmas. But I never really understood how it had infiltrated our supposedly humble LDS culture until this year. This year, in talking with friends about Christmas, I've found out that many of my peers, who share my beliefs, spend exorbitant amounts on Christmas and think nothing of it. Even if they don't spend a ton of money, they go to extremes (like waiting in a line overnight in subfreezing temperatures) to get certain gifts for their children or spouses.

Now, I don't have a problem with getting a good deal. But fighting someone in an aisle of a chain store at 12 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to get one of three Big Wheels for $88? Is it really that important that your child have that specific gift? For me, no material item on this earth would be worth getting up at midnight to get in line outside in subfreezing temperatures and try to fight off all the other shoppers.

Or the fact that so many people cannot seem to grasp the concept that just because it's Christmas, you don't need to go all out. I frequent random parenting message boards on the web, and often I see parents saying how they will get their kids whatever the kids want only because it's Christmas. Or they will forgo getting practical things (like coats, boots, clothes, etc.) and buy expensive, useless-after-one-week, toys that their children want "because it's special--it's Christmas!"

My sister-in-law told me her new method for Christmas shopping which I really like. I shared it with my husband and we decided that we'd like to do it next year and see how it goes. For Christmas, she and her husband bought each child "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read." They additionally got one Santa gift per kid, but you could also do a family Santa gift. Then it stays simple, the kids kind of know what to expect and can give you very definite ideas of what they want within those categories.

But that's also something that I'm not sure I agree with. Getting the kids what they want. Do we always have to ask them what they want and get that for them? What if we see a great deal on something we really feel they will love, can we not get that because it's not on their list? Some of the best gifts I've ever gotten have not been from a list of mine. I don't always know what I want, it's nice to be pleasantly surprised.

In fact, this year, I saw an ad for a certain boot I wanted. I circled the ad. I went to the store and tried on the pair. I wrote down the size, color, and name of the shoe. Then I passed that information on to my husband. He did buy me those boots. I was glad for that. But in addition to buying that pair of boots, he also got me some really cozy slippers and a really pretty pair of red pumps that I had never indicated I wanted. I didn't need those other two pairs either. But it was so nice to be surprised Christmas morning. Likewise, I enjoy finding a gift that would perfectly suit my kids and giving it to them and then seeing them be excited about it, even though they didn't ask for it.

I had plenty of conversations with other parents, despairing that their children didn't know what they wanted for Christmas and so they didn't know what to get them. I'd say, look at their interests and get them something along the lines of that. Even clothing with pictures of my child's favorite characters would make my children happy.

Next year, I want to make all their stocking goodies. I want to do as many homemade gifts as possible, actually. I want to make Christmas less material. After all, the true reason for the season isn't the next ipod or the next video gaming system, is it? How do all these material things fit in with the real meaning for the season anyway?

That will be another challenge I'd like to overcome--focusing on that true meaning. It will be hard with the materialism all around us. I even get sucked into the materialism, even though I try not to. It's hard not to--after all, gift giving and receiving is fun, isn't it?


I must explain my long hiatus from the blogosphere. I actually have quite a few things I wanted to write about this month, but we've been dealing with some health issues and other things around here that have kept me from even reading other people's blogs as regularly as I'd like. Plus with Christmas, I was a little more stressed out this year than normal, feeling like I wasn't quite ready for the season. And every year I vow to begin my Christmas preparations really early so that I'm done by December 1st and can just kick back and enjoy the month. That certainly would have helped this December, as I've been dealing with a bad stomach bug in our house since December 15th. Sure, it's only been two weeks, but that is a really LONG time when it comes to stomach bugs. And before that, we had two birthdays in our family to celebrate plus a family visitor. And the boys started basketball, so it's just been crazy!

Hopefully, I can at least write a few of my December posts before Friday. I've also been working to update my family blog, so it's been keeping me busy today.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I hate change. Granted, many people struggle with it, but I really can't stand it. Anything small that changes in my world throws me out of balance and leaves me wondering what is wrong with everyone and everything.

Don't tell me to read "Who Moved My Cheese?" Reading books about how to handle change has never helped me. My dad used to gather the family around for a family meeting, or evening as an FHE lesson, and talk about change and how to cope with it. Despite all that, I really still don't like it.

I didn't like it when they took one of my favorite characters off my favorite show this season.

I haven't liked it every new season when they change their TV re-run line-up during the day. Now it's to the point that there's absolutely nothing on worth watching at all.

I don't like that the next door neighbors are moving, even though I wasn't very good friends with them, just because my kids will miss their kids and now have nobody to play with outside during nice weather except each other. The chances of having new neighbors with kids the same ages is slim indeed--this is the first place we've ever lived where there were kids that mine could play with on the same block.

I don't like it when my husband transfers to a new store, which hasn't happened since October, but still, I don't like it.

Why do my brothers have to keep moving and not just stay in one place?

Why do we have to keep moving and not stay in one place?

I'm still bummed about the fact that we're having another boy instead of a girl. Why can't my daughter have a sister?

My sister-in-law (husband's sister) came out to visit her sister (husband's other sister). When I was telling my mom about the visit and how there was no real reason for her to visit, she just visited because she could, my mom said, "That's just what sisters wouldn't understand." No, of course, I wouldn't. I've never had someone come visit me just to visit me and spend time with me. Not once in my entire life. And now my daughter has the same curse. It's just not fair.

I hate change. Even change in my favor tends to be difficult for me. My husband did not get the store he wanted for his job--he was in the running to get his own store but didn't get it. And the next round of stores that will have openings for managers are not within driving distance, so that will necessitate a move.

More change. Yuck.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Santa Claus: to Believe or Not?

When I was little, I think I believed in Santa Claus. I'm not really sure. I think I kind of knew all along that Santa Claus was really just my parents. They never said anything, but from the time I could read (age 4), I could recognize my mom's handwriting and realized that the tags on the Christmas gifts that were all from Santa Claus were written by her hand. I remember that as being my first clue. But I also remember overhearing conversations about Christmas that included things like what they should do for the stockings (aren't stockings also Santa's territory?) and just the commercials for Christmas on TV. Why would all that stuff need to be advertised if you just ask Santa for what you want? So I'm pretty sure that I had it all figured out at a pretty young age as I don't actually remember believing in him completely or what it felt like when I "found out" that he wasn't real.

My oldest child is seven. He is actually a very bright and imaginative seven-year-old, and I suspect that somewhere in there, he knows Santa is not real. It just doesn't logically make sense--going around the whole world in one night delivering gifts to millions of children, etc. But he is also still such an innocent boy. He still likes playing with toys that younger kids like playing with (he is very into Buzz Lightyear and we had a hard time finding a big enough Buzz Lightyear costume for him for Halloween--he was the only Buzz Lightyear at his whole school, as witnessed in the Halloween parade), and he likes to watch preschool shows on TV (think Nick, Jr. shows like Ni Hao Kai Lan). Yesterday we went to see Santa at the city's event, and he was very nervous and shy about sitting on Santa's lap. And let me tell you, that Santa did a fantastic job of making it seem real--he listened carefully when I called my children by name, commented to them how much they'd grown in the last year, asked how they liked their gifts from last year, etc. He really played it up.

Well, my seven-year-old really wants a Phineas and Ferb Lego set for Christmas. I have researched this--no such thing exists. I did find some instructional sites online on how to create the character from that show out of ordinary Legos, but there is not one such set in existence. My son is adamant that he will be getting this set for Christmas since he wrote it in a letter to Santa and asked Santa himself for it. I've told him that there is no such set and it will be impossible to get, but he is convinced that Santa can do anything and that Phineas and Ferb Lego set will be there under the tree Christmas morning.

So how far do you let the Santa fantasy go? Is it time to break the news to him, should I just let him be big time disappointed on Christmas morning and that will break it to him that there is no such thing as Santa Claus? I am torn between what to do about this. I keep trying to convince him to ask for something else, but he will not budge.

What would you do? What do you do with regard to Santa in your family?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Freedom or Security?

Last week I posted a quip on my Facebook wall asking the question what people thought of the TSA's new pat down procedures and the full body X-ray scanners. I posted this article as the jumping off point and then let people talk about what they thought.

I never really added what I though to the equation, I just let people write what they thought.

So here is my exact thought: I feel that we are trading personal freedoms away in the name of security. I don't believe these new procedures make us any more secure. In fact, I think it is a huge step in the wrong direction. What's next, mandated strip-searching everyone? But I couldn't really express in words the reasons I felt this way, I just knew that I felt like another freedom in this free country was being taken away for the sake of something else (in this case, a false sense of security). I had one friend who commented and gave very good reasons for all that she thought, and I'd like to quote her:

I think both methods are too intrusive and invasive. I was just listening to an interview on NPR and the interviewee asserted that most of the terror plots regarding planes have been averted because of police and detective work NOT these scans. The metal detectors are fine, but a full-body scan or intrusive body pat, not appropriate for me or my children. Also those machines are extremely costly. I have to question the cost-effectiveness of it...

3 years ago, my family visited Israel for 6 weeks. They are far more security conscious that we in the U.S. Their airport security is excellent, far better than our U.S., very efficient and fast AND doesn't include intrusive body scans or full-down body pats for the majority of passengers.

What do we tell our kids now? I've steadily taught my children over the last several years that no one is supposed to touch their bodies in the manner that those full-body pats do. Now imagine telling your kids that they have to undergo such an invasive search. Absolutely inappropriate.

Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that these full-body scans or searches truly make us safer as passengers on airplanes.

If we had conclusive evidence that the technology had caught X-amount of terrorists, then we could discuss this, but until that is shown conclusively, I find that it violates my personal liberties in ways that I am not willing to forgo, despite talk that it makes me more secure...

I already agree to metal detector scan and a body pat, if warranted. I do not agree to have my naked body on a picture or have someone give me a full body pat. Nor do I agree to my children being subjected to that. I have the right to protect my family's modesty as a I see fit. I also have the right to fly.

I am being forced by the government to give up this part of my privacy in the name of unproven and unsubstantiated technology that purports to protect my safety in order to see my parents or my in-laws. That is a violation of my liberty to see them as I would choose. We have means in place. Let's spend the money on more policemen, improving the F.B.I. , better communication between federal agencies.

She put everything I was thinking so eloquently and had support to back up her claims, like having actually been to Israel and witnessing firsthand their security system in place. Words I wanted to speak but didn't know.

Then I found this article in a political magazine, the Week, to which my husband and I subscribe. Since this magazine tends to be very liberal and many of the views in it are views I disagree with (we got it as a gift subscription and read it with half-interest each time we receive one), I was surprised to see that the author was on the same side of an issue as I was. Since I can't find an online link to the article, I will quote it in its entirety here, and I hope you stick around to read it, because it wasn't very long and it was quite good.

Airport screening: Security gets personal

At airports, the backlash has begun, said Dan Gillmor in The Transportation Security Administration has begun widespread use of its new, full-body imaging devices, and "it's freaking people out." Pilots are rebelling against passing through the scanners several times a day, and some bloggers have named Nov. 24 "National Opt-Out Day," to encourage travelers to demand a body search instead of passing through the scanning machines. Some travelers say the ghostly images of bodies that the scanners produces is an invasion of privacy; indeed, "the scanner images of children would qualify as child porn in other circumstances." Others question the TSA's assurance that the scanners' low does of radiation will be safe for frequent travelers and pilots. If you think the imaging is intrusive, said Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune, just try opting for the "enhanced pat down." TSA agents will aggressively feel around breasts, buttocks, and crotches. "If we don't say no when they want to inspect and handle our private parts, when will we?"

The TSA is not out to humiliate anyone, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in USA Today. Even after thwarted attempts at airborne terrorism by the Underwear Bomber and the Shoe Bomber, U.S. intelligence reports that al Qaida and its allies are plotting to strike at aviation targets "and are constantly adapting their tactics for doing so." All images of passengers' bodies will be viewed only by a TSA officer behind a walled-off enclosure, and that officer will never interact with the passenger. "We face a determined enemy," and to prevent another terrorism atrocity, sacrifices must be made.

There are sacrifices, and then there are sacrifices, said Jeffrey Goldberg in To see what it's like, I recently opted for the pat down at T.F. Green International Airport in Providence. An agent snapped on latex gloves, and ran his hands up my thighs, over my buttocks, and then between my legs. It was very weird--and pointless. Both the pat down and the scanner machines would not detect plastic explosives or weapons that a terrorist could insert into his or her body cavities--which al Qaida suicide bombers have already done. To really keep terrorists off planes, the TSA should take the Israelis' lead, and focus on "learning the identity and background of each passenger." Viewing naked images of us, or groping around in our crotches, is "meaningless security theater."

I found it interesting that both my friend on Facebook and the author in this article compare the security to the Israeli airport and talk about how we should pattern ours after theirs. I also thought it interesting the idea of "learning the identity and background of each passenger" because that makes so much sense! I mean, the majority of us are ho-hum people with regular boring lives and nothing to hide, so why not do background checks and things like that to find out about the passengers. Then people with questionable backgrounds or intents to fly (even the intent to fly could be helpful, I think), could be looked at more in depth. It just seems like such an invasion of privacy and removal of personal freedom in the name of security.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Apparently, I'm a Nazi

This link will take you to a place called Yahoo Answers where I answered a specific question on whether or not you should address it if you walk in on your child masturbating or viewing pornography. I was the ONLY person on there who said that masturbation and pornography are wrong and my child shouldn't be doing that, so of course I would talk to them about it, despite the fact it might make me or them feel uncomfortable (the point of the question was that such a talk might make your child or you feel uncomfortable and it would be better to just ignore the whole thing). But since I've always been taught in the Church that these things are wrong and are actually sexual perversions, I said as much in my answer.

Her question was based off some Dr. Phil show where the 11-year-old had googled "naked people" and the parents were concerned about it. Same thing. If my 11-year-old was googling images of naked people, I would be concerned because that is pornography, even if mild.

And her response to me saying this?

She says, "You're a Nazi. I feel terribly sorry for your kids. Also, don't tell ME what good parenting is. I didn't ask, because I already know. Thank you. " (I simply said that good parents would talk to their kids about something they believe is wrong even though it makes them uncomfortable.)

I've seen many similar questions dealing with pornography and masturbation and other sexual perversions. It surprises me and disgusts me that most people think it's okay and right to experiment in such ways and that anybody who says it's wrong is immediately called up for being too strict or "like a Nazi."

Well, I guess I'll be a Nazi then. Though I'm not sure the Nazis had a position one way or the other on masturbation and pornography. But I'd prefer to teach my children what's right and hope they make good choices and then correct them when they don't make a good choice. Hopefully that will lead them the right way.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ah, the Moments of Motherhood

So you know those moments? Those moments when you realize that only a mother would have to deal with such a thing?

I had one of those moment the other night.

We went to Disney on Ice last night. During the performance, my 4-year-old came up to me and kept showing me his index finger. I thought he was telling me something was number one or that he wanted me to help him with something in one second. Finally, he really shoved the finger right up by my eyes and I could see a dark spot on the tip.

Turns out, he had picked his nose and there was no tissue anywhere to wipe it on. Usually, I have a stock of tissue, but I brought only what I needed in my pocket so I wouldn't have to bring my purse in.

So what do you do when confronted with such a situation? I did the only thing I thought I could do--I grabbed his hand and pulled him down as far under the seat at I could and had him wipe it back there on the floor.

Problem solved. Next time I'll remember the tissues.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Proud Parent

Today we had parent-teacher conferences for both boys. Our oldest who is in second grade is excelling in all subjects and shows creativity and ingenuity in his work. Our younger son, in kindergarten, knows all his letter sounds and is beginning to read.

Of course we were glad to hear they were both doing well academically.

But the part that made me feel like I was truly doing a good job as a mom?

Both boys are respectful and polite and they are friends with everyone in the class, always nice to all the other kids.

That made me pause and think about how much effort parents put in these days to make their children top of their class and super talented. All the sports teams and classes they take and lessons they have. All the extra reading and making sure they are getting their homework done and keeping up with their schoolwork. But how often to parents focus on how kind their children are to others? Since bullying is a huge issue these days, probably not as much as they focus on their children succeeding academically.

So I thought about what was more important and decided that I would rather raise children who are polite and respectful and treat others with kindness.

*Mormonad from New Era Magazine issued by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fast Food

*image courtesy Google images

Today I ran across this article on about how fast food companies market to children. Since my husband works in the fast food industry and we can hardly get around eating fast food occasionally, I definitely have some opinions on it.

I don't understand why the media and society in general want to blame the fast food industry for the rise in obesity. I guess just by throwing food that is not so healthy out there as an option for people means those people become brainwashed and can't decide for themselves to avoid it? That children are targeted because they can physically drag their parents to the fast food places and make them buy the meals for them?

Recently, San Francisco banned Happy Meals with toys in them unless they had less than 600 calories. According to this chart, the biggest problem with most meals are the French fries, the sauces (like the caramel dip or ranch dressing or even the BBQ sauce) and the sodas. It seems like it wouldn't be very difficult to order a Happy Meal that is less than 600 calories--just get the apples and milk instead of soda and fries. But the very fact that such legislation was even passed annoys me.

I'm a parent. My children eat fast food on occasion. I'm not a huge fan of fast food and only do it in a crunch (like when traveling) or when I really can't stand the thought of cooking. But when I do, I tend to use the value menu and buy a bunch of one thing, like chicken nuggets, and then we come home and split those up between everyone and then cut up some fresh fruit and veggies to have on the side as well as some milk and that's our meal. I realize that not all parents do it, but that's the point.

It's up to the PARENTS to make of it what they will and forming a legislation to supposedly keep parents from buying fast food won't help. They will just buy the bigger regular meals instead or still buy the meal but without the toy. And personally, I like to have the option to treat my kids to a Happy Meal if I want to. It's rare that I ever do that, but on occasion, I do treat them. Sometimes we go on a mother-son date, or mother-daughter date, and that's what my kids want--a Happy Meal with a toy.

All I'm saying is that I am SO fed up with all the blaming. Almost all problems that children face these days stem from how they're being raised, not necessarily the world we live in. Yes, we have some really bad choices out there, so we teach our children the difference between good and bad, right and wrong, and then we demonstrate it by making good choices ourselves.

And I'm married to a fast food man, yet still I've managed to only eat that stuff sparingly and have healthy, normal children.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Staying Home

I may not be the most positive person around, and I may complain a lot about my life, but there's one thing for certain--I definitely do love being able to stay home with my children and have that as my job, my career. It's the only thing I ever really dreamed of doing, and I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

So tonight, when my daughter said her prayer at bedtime, and thanked Heavenly Father that "Mommy can stay home with us", my heart just melted. It's actually the second time she has said that in a prayer--the last time was in a family prayer over the weekend.

My children are very aware that I stay home with them while many of their peers have mothers who are gone a lot and have expressed to me gratitude that I am always there and completely available to them. I do have my hobbies and activities that keep me busy, but they are right when they say that I am always there, ready to help them out when they need it most. I never have a project or something that will keep me from them because it's something that needs to get done. They are my work, and I am grateful for that!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Separation of Church and State

What does that phrase really mean?

It does not appear in the Constitution. I would assume that it comes from the First Amendment, which prohibits government establishment of religion. I agree that any one religion should not be taught in the public schools as the right religion or the best religion. However, I feel that ignoring religion altogether will create entire generations of people who do not understand our roots and the foundation of our country, which, despite many people who say otherwise, began based on religious principles and the desire for religious freedom. That is to say, the freedom to practice whatever religion one decides.

In today's world, the first amendment seems to be taken to mean the freedom from religion.

I don't know about everyone else, but my religion is a big part of who I am. Most of my choices are founded in my religious beliefs, whether consciously or subconsciously. Many people base their decisions and their actions on their religious beliefs, or the lack thereof. I cannot separate my religious beliefs from who I am because I am my religion. It is the reason behind so much of how I view the world (all pessimism aside--my religion certainly doesn't teach that).

In conclusion, I guess what I'm getting at is the very idea of "separation of church and state" doesn't work, in the sense that a religious politician, or an anti-religious one, bases his or her decisions and platform on their beliefs, which stem from that. So the truth is that there really is no separation, as far as the individual is concerned.

What do you think?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Brothers and Sisters

I need to vent right now.

Yesterday we went in for the ultrasound. We found out the sex of the baby. It's another boy. So we will have four sons and one daughter.

I myself have five brothers and no sisters. I have always been a little sad at not having a sister. Women with sisters are so lucky. They may have their differences, like all siblings do, but they have a built-in friend, someone they can confide in and share with. My brothers married good women, and I think I have great sisters-in-law, even the sisters of my husband are pretty cool. But when they need a confidante, or they need to vent or they need someone just to talk with, they go to their own sisters, not the sister of their husband or the wife of their brother. And I feel like I'm bothering them when I call them wanting to talk because I'm not their sister, just their sister-in-law. So I hardly ever do.

Boys grow up to men. Men are silent. They do not share emotionally the way women do, they do not bond in such ways. I do have a brother that I am close with and occasionally I call him when I need to vent or need advice. But he looks at everything from a man's perspective and is sometimes rather harsh and cold, not like a sister would be.

So I'm deeply saddened at the fact that, like myself, my daughter won't have a sister. It seems so unfair that she has to deal with the same thing I've missed out on all my life. I've never related well to other women and I've always blamed that on the fact that I grew up with boys. My poor daughter now has my same fate.

Being the only girl with all brothers isn't such a bad thing--there are some cool things about it and my cousins (two of my cousins have the same family make-up, they are the only girls with four or five brothers) seem to have handled it well. They seem to have found "sisters" in friends and others like I never really could.

But now I worry that my daughter will end up like me--not really able to relate well to the female crowd.

And the worst part for me is that almost all the people I know right now who are pregnant are having girls. When all the girl results started coming in, I knew I was having a boy because that is what happened with my oldest. He has only girl cousins his age. And most of my friends who were pregnant at the same time had girls as well. So it will be with this one. Only girl cousins his age and everyone else seems to be having a girl.

I know I should be happy, and I'll get there eventually, I hope. I just feel like I missed out on something by not having a sister. I love my brothers. But they aren't sisters, it's as simple as that.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Much Freedom?

Yes, it's been several weeks since I was last on. I have a whole list of ideas, but I've been avoiding writing on this blog because my writing reeks of my overall pessimistic outlook on life. So I refrain because I agree that it's not very enjoyable to read something with negative undertones. But, I wanted to see what other people think and do about this issue that has been plaguing me, so I write.

How much freedom do you give your children? I'm not asking hypothetically or whatever. How much do you actually give them? What are their ages?

My children are 7, 6, 4, and 2. Our neighbors' kids are 9 and 6. The parents let them run all over the neighborhood and they always want our kids to come out and play.

I want to give my kids the freedom to play near our house with their friends. But I'm very wary and cautious to let them go unsupervised like the neighbor kids do. I check on them frequently. It's only my two older ones that are allowed to go out there to play. My younger kids have to be with me, and I have to be out there with them if they are outside.

Am I being too paranoid? Am I not being cautious enough? Should I be out there every time they are outside or can they play out there with their friends and I just check on them every 20 minutes or so? And watch them from the windows.

What do you think?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Celebrating Halloween

last year's costumes: a construction worker, a princess, Wall-E, and Spider-man

How do you celebrate Halloween? Or do you at all?

I must admit, it's not my favorite holiday. There are fun things about it. But the whole idea behind it is rather Satanic and, to be frank, scary.

Growing up, I was able to dress up and go trick-or-treating in my neighborhood. Usually just around the block or two. My parents didn't really decorate for it. On the day of Halloween, they would put up a ghost in the front window made out of a tall floor lamp draped with a white sheet and black paper eyes and a mouth taped to the front. We used to have a witch that had hinged legs and arms that my parents would hang up on the front door. That was the extent of our decorations. Our costumes were often simple--usually something we could scrounge up out of stuff we already owned. Occasionally my mom would go all out and make us a costume, but that didn't happen most years. And we stopped trick-or-treating once we were 12 or in junior high, whichever came first. After that, the occasional Halloween dance at school or church or activity at church and maybe a party, depending on who was involved, was sometimes okay.

Now that I'm married, I remember the fun of dressing up and trick-or-treating and of carving the pumpkin. But I'm not into the decorating or the scary side of Halloween. And my husband really doesn't like Halloween at all. He would prefer that we shut off all the lights and go upstairs to our room and watch a movie. Not a scary Halloween movie, either, just any movie. But I think kids enjoy dressing up and pretending to be someone else. Plus the trick-or-treating is fun and it's fun to see the cute and creative costumes. Kids older than 12 out trick-or-treating really annoy me because then it's just out of greed and most of them don't even dress up. So our kids will definitely stick to the rule I had growing up, and nothing past the age of 12 or junior high/middle school.

So what do you think about Halloween and celebrating it?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Are We Raising a Bunch of Idiots?"

A friend showed me this article last week in the local newspaper.

It made me take a step back and think about what I allow my children to do on their own. Children are more capable than we often give them credit for. The other point the article made was that certain things, like ice cube trays, are somewhat obsolete in society today. However, are we giving our children the problem-solving skills they need to figure out something like that when presented with it?

I like to think that I do a pretty good job of this. When I was a new teacher, a veteran teacher gave me some very great advice that I think applies to parenting as well. She told me to not do anything for the students that they could do for themselves. It really decreased some of my workload, as I allowed them to do some prep work for their activities rather than doing it all myself.

In our family, my 7-year-old knows how to tie his shoes and has for about a year and my 5-year-old has almost got the hang of it. My 2-year-old drinks from a regular cup, only occasionally bringing a sippy cup for a long car ride, but the others can use water bottles without my help at all--they can even refill them without my help.

All but my 2-year-old can buckle into their own seats. They take out the trash, wash dishes, set the table (and correctly, too), and the oldest (age 7) even makes his own lunch for school. And not just a lunchable or a poptart, he makes a turkey sandwich and takes along a fruit, a whole-grain snack and a cookie.

But after reading this article, I decided that my children need to learn to do more things on their own and that I need to give them more opportunities to solve their own problems. I'm not sure I do that last part enough.

What do you think? Do you think our children are too reliant on technology? Are they too dependent on us too? Do we not allow them enough responsibility so, while they certainly are adopting more adult attitudes and interests earlier and earlier, they are not growing up timely at all (I know 5-year-olds who still drink from sippy cups)?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Just So Very Tired

I am so exhausted by life. It's not just the pregnancy. It's life in general. It's so much work to just live. To keep up with four kids. To manage a household. To strengthen a marriage. To do all the things we are supposed to be doing.

I sit here and think, I should do this or that to make my marriage better. But I'm just so tired and overwhelmed by everything that I do nothing. I think about how I could be a better primary teacher. A better mother. More involved in my children's school. More involved with the neighbors.

Most days, it's all I can do to just get out of bed in the morning, choke down breakfast and get one child out the door on time to school. Most days I don't have it in me to shower or get ready myself. It's just too exhausting. I hate not feeling fresh and clean and looking my best, but at the same time, why does it even matter? Nobody cares. Nobody usually sees me during the day.

Maybe it is just the pregnancy. But I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by life before it. I think it has just compounded the feeling.

And then when I think about how I feel like doing nothing, I feel guilty about being lazy and uninvolved.

And now I'm too tired to think. I guess I'll go to bed.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Raising Boys

I've posted a few other times about raising girls--how difficult it can be because of the media images that are always portrayed about women and girls. Expectations for beauty and looks and all that.

Well, today I was thinking about how boys are up against just as much. The media portrays men as scum quite often--that they cheat and don't treat women well and it's just kind of expected because, well, they're men. Boys will be boys, so the saying goes, and that somehow gives them an excuse to act like jerks.

So in addition to instilling a strong sense of self worth in our daughters, we must also raise our sons to defy the modern stigma. We must teach them to be gentlemen, to have self control and to be kind and loving.

Not that I believe that is how all men are, but it is certainly how they are portrayed in today's society.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Household Tips Aimed at Children and Husbands

Instead of leaving your trash on the counter beside the trash can, why can't you put it in the trash can? Seriously, you're right there by the trash can. It takes no extra effort to put it in the trash can versus leaving it on the counter. It also takes no extra time, so don't tell me that you're going to be late. And haven't you been taught since you were young to throw trash away in the trash can? So telling me you forgot isn't going to cut it either.

The same goes for laundry. It only takes an extra, I don't know, ten seconds maybe, to put your clothes in the hamper instead of leaving them on the bathroom floor. Or the bedroom floor.

I guess I will rebel and stop washing anything that doesn't get in the hamper. Didn't get your jeans washed for school? Oops. My bad. Didn't get any underwear in that day's wash? Oh well, I guess that's your problem. I only do laundry twice a week and if your dirty laundry isn't in the hamper, it won't get washed.

I refuse to walk around the house picking up your trash and your laundry when you are perfectly capable of doing that yourself with hardly any extra effort. But if I have to do that for five people besides myself, it ends up taking a lot more time than if you would just help me out.


Why is this such a hard concept?

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Great Food Battle

I have a four-year-old who literally whines ALL day that he's hungry. Every ten to fifteen minutes, he'll come to me, "Mom, I'm hungry!" Even if we just ate.

Then when I serve lunch, he requests a certain type of sandwich or chicken nuggets or a quesadilla. So I make it, mistakenly thinking that if he's asked for it, it's what he really wants, so he'll eat it. He takes about two bites and declares himself full and wants to get down from the table.

In today's modern theories of child-rearing, it is said to not use dessert as a bribe. But my children will certainly not get dessert if they don't touch their food at all. Sometimes I barter: "Take three more bites and you can have dessert." But that's tricky because then they start putting one pea on their spoon and calling it a bite.

I've also read that you should offer lots of choices. I have a hard enough time thinking of a main dish and a couple sides seven nights a week, so offering more than that is next to impossible. Plus, then, what if all they ever eat is the fruit? I always serve a fruit side (usually a mixed fruit salad), a vegetable, and the main dish, which is often something like spaghetti or beef stew.

My parents would sometimes make us sit there until we ate our food. I remember one particularly stubborn brother would sit there for hours, refusing to touch his food. Then they would cover his plate and put it in the fridge and he would have to eat it for breakfast the next morning. I'm not sure that worked.

So do you have any tricks that work? Because I'm getting desperate.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Letter to the President

As a family, we've been reading at the end of Alma, in the "war years" of the Book of Mormon. This morning we read in Alma 60. This is part of a letter from Moroni, the captain of the Nephite armies, to Pahoran, the chief-judge over the Nephites. Can you imagine if our general wrote such a letter to our president today?

v.14: "I fear exceedingly that the judgments of God will come upon this people, because of their exceeding slothfulness, yea, even the slothfulness of our government, and their exceedingly great neglect towards their brethren, yea, towards those who have been slain."

v. 15: "For were it not for the wickedness which first commenced at our head, we could have withstood our enemies that they could have gained no power over us."

v. 18: "But why should I say much concerning this matter? For we know not but what ye yourselves are seeking for authority. We know not but what ye are also traitors to your country."

v. 20: "Have ye forgotten the commandments of the Lord your God? Yea, have ye forgotten the captivity of our fathers? Have ye forgotten the many times we have been delivered out of the hands of our enemies?"

v. 21: "Or do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?"

v. 28: "Yea, behold I do not fear your power nor your authority, but it is my God whom I fear; and it is according to his commandments that I do take my sword to defend the cause of my country, and it is because of your iniquity that we have suffered so much loss."

Can you imagine if the leaders of our nation got such a letter today? What an uproar it would cause? It's amazing how applicable this entire chapter is to our day.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor

I am not a good neighbor. I have a hard time reaching outside my shell to meet new people and talk to them. When we lived in apartments, we never bothered with getting to know neighbors. Many times, people moved so frequently that we would find out who they are and within a month or two, they'd be gone.

When we moved to our first house, I was excited to have neighbors. Then we learned that the house next door was an investment house and often it was empty, no renters. During the nearly 4 years we owned that house, there were about 5 different families that lived in that rental house next door. Most of the time, they were hardly ever home, and I never really bothered getting to know any of them.

As for the rest of the street, I met and chatted with the neighbors across the street a couple of times, and the neighbors to the left of us hit our car that was parked on the street once, so we met them but didn't ever really talk to them again.

When we moved here, I swore it would be different. On move-in day, I went over and met the next door neighbor. After that, she never really even said hello to me in passing, and then it got awkward. How do I try to be friends with someone who appears to have no interest in a friendship? Our kids play together, but we still hardly ever exchange words. And now we've lived here a year. I hardly know what to do. We also don't know the rest of the neighbors that share our driveway. One of the things is that they are never home. Hard to get to know someone who isn't there.

Growing up, I always knew the neighbors. Now that I'm the grown-up, I really have no idea how to approach it. I'm too shy and chicken.

Why is it so hard to be a good neighbor?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Love/Hate Relationship

I have a love/hate relationship with sports. I love playing sports. I love supporting my kids and any other family members throughout the ages in sports. I even love watching certain sports.

But professional sports really irritate me.

I remember reading in the book Jurassic Park a certain character's opinion of professional baseball. He said something along the lines that it was just a bunch of grown men with bats swatting at balls. To put it that way spun a whole new light on professional sports.

Take a look at the typical professional athlete. They spend all their time playing a game. Are they contributing something worthwhile to society in their profession? Not really. Some of it is entertaining, but at an enormous cost. Most of the professional athletes I've heard of, their personal lives are severely screwed up. They act like children, like glorified teenagers. They are prideful and arrogant. They have way too much money and spend it on atrocious things. Sure, some of them are parents with children. I'm sure some of them are even pretty good people. But it sure seems like an overwhelming majority of professional athletes are exactly what I said before...glorified teenagers.

I love to watch college football--especially my favorite teams--BYU (of course), Michigan, and a few others. In fact, we are going to attend a BYU game this season, the entire family. I'm excited. The kids all have BYU T-shirts to wear and I even bought cute little matching bows for my daughter's hair.

I also love watching sports like gymnastics, both men's and women's, and many other Olympic sports. But I think that's where my line is--I like amateur sports but professional sports just annoy me.

So when it's football season and the great football gods of the NFL seem to rule the TV on a pretty regular basis, I get pretty steamed up. I think watching professional sports is a colossal waste of time. Think of all the hours people spend sitting on their bums in front of the TV during football season (or baseball season, or basketball season) watching grown men play sports and behave like children.

So that is my love/hate relationship. I love sports--I loved participating in gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, softball growing up. I enjoyed supporting my husband in college football and loved attending college football games myself when I was a student. I enjoy catching a college game now and then on TV. I enjoy going to local high school games--both basketball and football. I love having my kids play baseball, football and hopefully try soccer and basketball. Maybe even gymnastics.

But watching adults play their sport for huge salaries? That is just wrong in my book.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How Little Control We Really Have

Occasionally you have those experiences that remind you how little control you really have over anything. My children have all been perfectly healthy. Aside from my oldest being born five weeks early, which was truly a huge surprise and the doctors gave no reason for the prematurity--no infections, no loss of amniotic fluid, no problems whatsoever, my children have all been perfectly healthy from day one. They hit all their milestones at the right times, even early.

So it was a surprise when my 3-year-old (he'll be four next week) suddenly started having problems with his eyes crossing and then balance issues. I took him to the pediatrician, fully expecting just a referral to a pediatric opthamalogist. But he failed his neurological exam because of his balance issues, so she issued bloodwork and set him up for an MRI to check for a possible brain tumor.

The bloodwork came back negative. All the results were normal and perfect. That ruled out leukemia and a few other things. But the MRI came back with something. Cysts in his brain. The pediatrician does not know the significance of the cysts and doesn't want to start a battery of blood tests without consulting a pediatric neurologist first.

So that is where we are. We will be seeing a pediatric neurologist and also a pediatric opthamalogist in the next few weeks.

Part of me feels certain that it's nothing and all will be okay. But there is the teensiest part of me that wonders if this could be a sign of a huge underlying problem.

And then I realized how little control I have over any of this. Just life in general. It's been a powerful reminder of who is really in charge. And I guess if the one in charge sees fit to give my child some major health issues, so be it. I can't do anything about it. I hope this is not the case. I always imagined this child, who always has been extremely well-coordinated, as an athlete. Maybe that won't be the case.

I just have to remember that God is in charge and He has a plan.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


All of us have those things that we refuse to relinquish, no matter the cost. We think it is more important than most other things and can't understand why others don't feel the same way.

Some of us feel that way about breastfeeding. They breastfeed at any cost, and do it for sometimes more than 2 years. I believe that breastmilk is definitely the best food for a baby, but I also recognize, having experienced it myself, that sometimes when mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, and that unhappiness can be caused by breastfeeding. After trying for several months with constantly screaming, hungry infants, I always ended up switching to bottles and formula at about 4 months. The change was magical for me--no more screaming babies, a more relaxed, peaceful mom, and much happier, more well-rested days.

Some of us feel that way about carseats. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a lawbreaker. One should definitely follow the law and have children in appropriate carseats. But there are sometimes occasions where the car being used doesn't have the right carseat, for whatever reason, like in an emergency, and the best thing to do is to buckle up and drive carefully. Of course, you should always drive carefully. But I'm not going to advocate rear-facing carseats for 3-year-olds or insist that my 7-year-old is in a 5-point harness. As long as my carseats are legal and not breaking any laws, I will be satisfied with that.

Some of us are that way about natural childbirth. I'm sure it's probably a very intimate experience. But I believe that if you want to have pain relief, that doesn't make you a bad mom. I opted to have epidurals for all four births. I still feel like I had a deeply spiritual and intimate experience--I just got to do it without feeling any pain. I'm not going to go around telling people they should have an epidural just because that's the way I did it. More power to you if you want to have a natural birth or a water birth or even a home birth. And if you had a c-section, that's fine too. As long as you and the baby came through it all healthy, why does it matter which way the baby is born?

What am I particular about? I have no tolerance for a messy house. I prefer to live in a house that I can walk through without stepping on dirty clothes and toys. I prefer to live in a house with a kitchen that has clean, sticky-free counters and table and chairs. Yes, I wash my kitchen chairs regularly. My dishes always get done after each meal, or at least twice a day (sometimes I let the lunch dishes sit until dinner). My bathrooms are cleaned at least once a week by me, and several times a week by the kids. I do not like having to use a bathroom where the toilet has pee stains and evidence of the last person's emissions in the bowl. I do not like brushing my teeth in a sink that is covered in toothpaste residue and where the mirror has water spots. My carpets get vacuumed several times a week, sometimes every day. And I don't like dealing with dust, picking up something and having to blow off the dust, like a piano book or a magazine. And like many of you who are particular about other things, I can't understand why anybody would want to live in an environment that is less clean. Now that my children are older, they are able to help out more.

So, what is it that you are particular about? What really bugs you when people don't do it or do it differently (Though you'd never probably say it)?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's All About Me!

At the beginning of the summer, I stumbled into this blog post from ScaryMommy, a link on BlogFrog. It was sarcastically poking fun at the other blog post by Courtney.

To summarize, in case you don't want to click over to the blog posts, the blog post by Courtney was issuing a "Summer Marriage Challenge", which I tried to follow until I got sick with the pregnancy and couldn't function normally. Basically the challenge involved doing things for your husband to put his needs (and wants) first, before your own. Pray for him, even fast for him, ask him what his needs are, ask him what his goals are for the family, show him you love him by doing things for him and focusing on him for the summer rather than yourself. In all the literature I've read on marriage, both LDS and not, one huge key to a long, happy marriage is putting the other person before yourself; in other words, being unselfish.

I had left a comment on ScaryMommy's post defending Courtney's point of view on it because so many others were leaving comments that they would never do that, how old-fashioned, how backwards, etc., etc. The one that particularly irked me was the comment left by someone saying she was Mormon and would never consider doing such a thing, it was so backwards.

Because I left a comment, that triggered an email system where I get emailed every time someone else has left a comment after mine. So I've been getting emails from ScaryMommy's blog all summer, probably in the hundreds because so many comments were left on that post.

This is the most recent comment that was left, which I received in an email on Friday:

Personally, I have a major problem with putting "another person’s needs before [one's] own." And thankfully, I live with someone who has the same policy. If I'm not happy, then my boyfriend won't be happy either. That goes both ways. All each person can do is fix their own crap in their head (and yes, we all have some of it in there) and work on fulfilling their own needs. Trying to please someone all the time else will only lead to trouble...and major unhappiness.

Really? What is so wrong with trying to put another person's needs before your own? Perhaps if more people did that, there would be less hatred in the world and more love. More peace and less war. More marriages might last and the divorce rate might go down. Not that there is never a justifiable cause for divorce, because there certainly is, but if everyone (including me) was less selfish and focused on putting the other person before themselves, the love would increase. It's not about "trying to please someone all the time". It's about looking outside yourself and focusing on someone else for once.

After I read this comment (I actually haven't read most of them, just pressed delete upon seeing the email in my inbox), I was disgusted that this is the mentality of so many people out in the world. No wonder there is so much divorce, anger, rage, bullying, etc.

Of course, I have my own vices in this area, as many of you know. Which is why I felt that Courtney's challenge was a good one. I recognize the need for selflessness. It is hard to do because we are, by nature, selfish people. But it blows me away to realize that so many people are so against being unselfish toward their partner. I'd like to check back in 15 years to all these people who left similar comments and see if their marriages are still intact. That would be an interesting survey anyway. And after reading that comment and realizing that I wasn't doing a very good job and being unselfish, I decided I need to do better. I don't want to fall into that category. I have been taught all my life the right way to treat other people, especially my spouse, and I need to be better. That comment was a slap in the face to me.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I have been camping in my life a total of eight times. Yes, that was a one-digit number. I can remember camping with my family one time ever, and it was not the fondest memory I have. My dad was grouchy, which, in turn, made my mom grouchy, which in turn, made us kids grouchy. I don't recall even roasting marshmallows or anything of that nature that night, and I'm pretty sure we just had sandwiches for dinner and left before breakfast. I was ten.

Five other times I camped were girls' camp. I didn't go to my 6th year. I went to girls' camp in Texas the first four years and absolutely loved it. We had a very tight-knit stake and I loved being able to spend time with my friends in other wards that I never saw. We camped in some pretty cool places too. My fifth year was in Utah and I was less than impressed with the camp. For one thing, nights were freezing. In the middle of July, I was unable to sleep because of how cold it was. There weren't very many activities during the day either. And the leaders discouraged us from spending time with other wards--they wanted us to just hang out with our own ward. In Texas, we had activities ranging from horseback riding to archery to canoeing and kayaking. In Utah, we had crafts. I really didn't like it. So I didn't return for my sixth year. I used cheerleading and work as my excuse--I was too busy.

The next time I went camping was with one of my expert camping friends and two other girls in college. We went for a whole weekend, just us girls, to Fish Lake. By then I had figured out how to beat the cold (wear a hat and thermal underwear) and it was a great experience. That was in 1999.

The next time I camped was last summer, 2009, at a ward campout. Because we were in Arizona, and we had no information about the campground, we were unprepared for the weather. It was quite cold and we didn't have warm pajamas, extra blankets, or even jackets. It rained all night. We were freezing. The kids cried a lot, and I forgot my earplugs, so we didn't sleep. We left at about 6 am, after our kids had been up for 2 hours.

Tonight is a ward campout. We didn't own a tent until yesterday. Last year, we borrowed my parents' tent. Even though we didn't camp as a family, my parents raised 5 Eagle scouts and still have much of their camping gear stored. So yesterday, my husband and I went to the highly recommended outdoor store and spent nearly $800 on a tent and two sleeping bags (the kids already have sleeping bags).

I wondered why we were spending so much money when we are not campers. My husband has been camping a total of about five times in his life--a couple father/sons campouts when he was a kid and two since becoming a dad, plus that ward campout last year.

He insists that now that we have a really good quality tent we will camp more.

I wonder.

I will not be camping tonight. I will be joining them for the dutch oven dinner and games and then taking our daughter home to sleep in the warm house. It is supposed to be in the 40's tonight. I hope my boys will be warm enough. I can't camp right now. Sleeping in a place without a bathroom ten feet away would be a nightmare, since I'm up about six times a night to pee right now.

I'm excited for the dutch oven dinners. Those are always so good. The best part of the ward campout is that dinner and breakfast are provided. I might pack up some ingredients for s'mores for the boys. Hopefully we have fun tonight, despite the cold, and we'll go camping again. Although I sincerely doubt it will be until next summer, when it warms up again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In Awe

I stand in awe at the women who've gone before me, of the mothers who've sacrificed selflessly and cheerfully while raising up children who turn out to be successful, righteous adults.

How did they do it?

Did they cry all the tears that I cry when I can't get my little ones to stay in bed at night? Did they cheerfully wipe away the huge puddle of milk, splattered across the entire kitchen floor for the third time that day or did they do that through their tears too, like I do?

Did they force themselves off the couch after a long day of fighting nausea to make dinner for children who whine that they are hungry all day but then refuse to even taste the meal prepared?

Did they do all that with a smile?

Because I am miserably failing at the whole cheerful and smiling part of motherhood.

Yes, failing miserably.

To the point where, when I smile or laugh at something, my kids look alarmed and ask if I'm in a good mood.

Isn't that sad?

I really don't know how to do all of this cheerfully on a regular basis.

Life is a lot harder than I was ever led to believe it was. I think I'm really struggling with the reality of that.

Anyway, those mothers who seem to do all that is required of them cheerfully, I bow down to you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Homeowners Associations

I hate homeowners associations. So does everyone else I've ever met. I have not ever met one person who thinks they are a good idea. So how is it that they are still in existence?

For us, we haven't been able to buy a house in a neighborhood without a HOA. It seems that if you want to escape a HOA, you have to buy a fixer-upper or buy in a really upscale, well established neighborhood, neither of which is something we desire. We have no idea how to fix up a house that needs repairs and we can't afford to buy in a well-established neighborhood. So we bought a house here and of course, we have a wretched HOA to deal with yet again.

And really, what do they do with all that money? In our most recent neighborhood, we paid dues that were about $75/month. There were more than 1500 homes in our neighborhood, so if each homeowner was paying those dues, that HOA was bringing in over $100,000/month! Yet our parks were still dirty with broken swings and such, and I swear they spent all their money on sending out flyers telling us that we left our garbage can out 15 minutes too long on garbage day. It seems with that amount of money, the neighborhood should have been really nice and very clean. Not to mention, some HOA's have cable or water or something wrapped up the fees, but this one didn't. There was no community pool to keep up or community center to air condition either.

Anyway, that's my gripe for the day. Not that we've had any problems with our current HOA, because we haven't, but I still hate them. I know of a HOA that won't let the residents own pets. They can't own a dog in their own home on their own property because of their HOA. How dumb is that?

Monday, September 6, 2010

On and Off

I have really been having on and off days lately. I don't remember it getting this bad in my previous pregnancies, but that's probably because I didn't have children in school so there was nowhere that we absolutely had to be any given day (except church on Sunday) and certainly no pressure to get dressed. (Yes, I feel like I should get dressed to walk my son to the bus stop--I think wearing pajamas for such a thing, for leaving the house at all, is inappropriate. Just the way I was raised.)

Last week I had one really good day. I hardly felt sick at all and it happened to coincide with a day that my husband only worked a short shift, so he was home the rest of the day. Because I was feeling so good, we went out that night as a family to a high school football game and had a great time.

But other than that one day, for the last seven, I have really felt yucky. It's hard to manage the family when feeling so nauseated. The medication is helping take the edge off, I think--I'm afraid to not take and see how bad I truly might feel. I did make it to church on Sunday, but I'm considering taking a little break from church when I can, which shows how terrible I feel. I haven't missed church for pregnancy or childbearing, except the two weeks immediately following the birth of any one of my children, ever. I've already missed church twice this pregnancy, using my daughter's runny nose as an excuse to stay home, when really, I just didn't have it in me to go.

I am not the kind of person to slack off, even when I'm not feeling good. I still keep up with housework and feeding my family and the whole shebang. But this pregnancy is really doing me in. We all pitched in and cleaned the house today, but it had been nearly a month since any vacuuming, bathroom-cleaning, or dusting had been done and the clutter that had built up in that time was impressive.

Anyway, I just wish that the weeks wouldn't drag by so slowly. The nine months of pregnancy are always the slowest nine months ever. In the past 9 years, so 108 months, I've been pregnant for 36 of them, and those have been the slowest time periods. I am only 10 weeks along now, but I feel like I've been pregnant FOREVER. And I don't remember what it feels like to not be nauseated. What does that feel like?

I'm hoping for an "on" day tomorrow. Wish I could nail down what makes it on or off, but I can't seem to figure out what makes the difference!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Early Childhood=Fleeting Freedom

My second child starts kindergarten tomorrow. If I were feeling better, the fact that it's going to be a gorgeous day today would spur me to do something fabulous to celebrate his last real day of being a kid. Even if we were homeschooling, just taking on that responsibility of a formal education sort of takes away that blissful freedom of early childhood. Sure, there will still be carefree times and holidays, family outings and true moments of learning. But that same freedom, where there isn't any responsibility at all, is gone for him after today.

Early childhood is so short. I remember looking at it from the beginning when I had my first baby and thinking that five years was SO long--it seemed like it would be AGES before he would be reading, writing and and all that.

I'm not sad that #2 is starting school tomorrow. He is so excited, that it's contagious. I am excited for him and all the wonderful new experiences he will have. His teacher is awesome. He and I spent lots of time this last year doing my home preschool and he is eager to be in school. I am so glad they still do half-day kindergarten here and they still believe that play is a big part of learning, at least that is the philosophy the teacher shared with me yesterday. This is truly the way kindergarten is supposed to be.

So, here's to the last day of pure freedom and to the beginning of a journey that will no doubt teach him a lot about himself and others along the way!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


It's nearly 5 am. I've been awake since 3 am. I got up to go to the bathroom and was upset to find that I was bleeding. A lot. I've been spotting since last weekend on and off. My doctor didn't seem to concerned when I told her at my appointment last week. The ultrasound showed a viable pregnancy and a tiny, rapid heartbeat. So I relaxed. But the bleeding has continued since and not ebbed.

I'm still not sure if this is a miscarriage or just the first trimester bleeding I experienced with my three previous pregnancies. I don't have cramping. Or maybe I do. I can't tell. Feels like indigestion to me.

I go in today for a microRhogam shot. I'm Rh negative and because I've been spotting, they want to give me the shot to prevent complications from Rh incompatibility. I will definitely be talking to the doctor about this and if the pregnancy is still viable.

Until then, I'm a nervous Nellie. But I must not dwell on it. My second child has his kindergarten testing appointment this morning and I need to be fully there for him.

I know I've been negative. But if I miscarry, I'm not sure I will be trying to get pregnant again. I didn't want such a huge gap between any of my kids and at this rate, my daughter will be four. I also don't know if I can go through another month of morning sickness again, only to possibly miscarry again.

Well, I'm going to get ready for the day. Hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. There's not much to do at this point. If I'm going to miscarry, nothing will change that.

My oldest child will be so disappointed. He was so excited to be a big brother again. I think that will be the hardest part of all.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


What on earth was I thinking? Why did I think I could do this again? How did I manage to get through my previous pregnancies? I have no idea.

I am so sick. I am unable to function. My house is a disaster area, and if any of you know me, you know that says a lot, because usually it is very clean. I can't get control of my kids. My 3- and 2-year-olds keep chasing each other around the house, dangerously, and I can't get them to stop.

The laundry isn't getting washed. The bathrooms are exceptionally disgusting.

I can't eat a thing. Well, that's a lie. I do eat, but I force feed myself because I need the nutrition. I gag it down. Usually it stays down, fortunately. But I have the dry heaves all day. And night. And the nausea is with me 100% of the time. It never leaves.

I can't sleep because of it. I'm exhausted. I sit on the couch and yell at my kids and cry because I'm so frustrated.

I guess it's just harder this time. I have four kids. I'm in my 30s, not my 20s. And this is the first time that I've had to get up to get kids off to school during a pregnancy. My last pregnancy, my oldest child had just turned 4 during the first trimester.

I am at my wits' end. I'm barely functioning. I'm not sure how my son will get to his bus stop tomorrow morning. I hope I can get him there.

Every single day is a challenge. Every single morning I wake up feeling worse than I thought I could ever feel.

Is this really worth it?

Sorry about the vent. I can't help it. I'm too frustrated to do anything else. All I want to do is sit down and bawl. But that makes me gag, so I refrain.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Truth Comes Out

Okay, the real reason I gave up on the summer marriage challenge was simply that I just don't feel good.

I'm pregnant!

It was a huge surprise in light of the fertility troubles we've been having, the diagnosis I received in April and some other things. My period was late, but that's normal, having irregular periods, with PCOS. So I didn't think much of it at first, but as the days passed by, I started feeling queasy a lot, and hungry when I wasn't queasy. And very, very tired. So, after about a week, I finally caved and took a pregnancy test, not expecting much.

It was positive! I showed my husband and he was very excited!

The only thing is that I've been dealing with terrible morning sickness. The nausea is with me 100% of the time and hardly anything eases it. And believe me, I've tried everything, having had this severe nausea with all four other pregnancies. The trick is to find at least one thing that will alleviate it and stock up on that. For one of my pregnancies, that was S'mores pop tarts. For another, it was fruit roll-ups. This one, I haven't found one thing that helps. I'm even having aversions to strawberries, my favorite food in the whole world. Can't stand the sight of them or the smell and definitely can't stomach the taste.

It stinks. I'm hoping that it will follow the pattern of previous pregnancies and the morning sickness will ebb with the fourth month (or sooner) and not last the whole time. If it doesn't, then my problem will be weight gain.

Anyway, that's why I quit the marriage challenge and that's why I haven't written in forever.

Thought you ought to know.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer Marriage Challenge

Well, I didn't exactly give up on this, I just stopped doing it. There were two weeks left and I was so busy last week with a number of things that I didn't get around to it and then this week, well, it's just the run-off from last week.

I'm not sure this challenge helped my marriage in any way, but it did help me think about how I treat my husband and try to work harder on that.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Uncomfortable Situations

I ran into an old boyfriend today at the community swimming pool. Of all places, it had to be the one place where you are wearing next to nothing and all the flaws show. Plus my husband wasn't with me, as he had to work, which was another manifestation of how cruddy we have it sometimes because that old boyfriend was there with his wife and kids having a nice time all together as a family. They had the "divide and conquer" thing going on and I was busy chasing my four kids around the pool trying to keep them from drowning.

Seriously, it wasn't that bad because I had my mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law there with me, and three more children besides my own. They did help out quite a bit, but I felt like I spent most of the time scanning the pool for my kids to make sure they were all okay. Which also meant that he and his family crossed into my vision a lot. I hope they didn't think I was trying to spy on them or anything.

The best thing was that my boys kept fighting with his boys over the toys that my sister-in-law brought.

This is the guy that I probably would have married if the circumstances at the time were slightly different. I did date him for two years. I did wait for him on his mission for two years. I even dated him again when he got home. I'm not sure what went wrong exactly, except that we both married other people. I dated a few other guys in between and even had a near-marriage proposal from one of the others. But even running into him wasn't the same awkwardness as this guy.

I loved having my in-laws with me. It was a great reminder that if I'd married that guy, I wouldn't even know the awesome people I was with at that pool. I'm lucky that I get along smashingly well with my in-laws, even my mother-in-law. No issues there at all. This old boyfriend's parents and family didn't really like me very much. I never could figure out why, but looking back, I can only imagine what kind of in-laws they'd be. Certainly not like the ones I have!

Ever run into an old boyfriend or someone you used to really have a crush on, since marriage and kids? How did that go?


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