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.


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