Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Parenting Fail

If you have not yet discovered the greatness that is Rants From Mommyland, you need to check it out. I laugh every time I read their posts. They say the things that I won't say in my blog because I'm afraid to be judged. That could be the reason why they write for the Huffington Post and a newspaper in DC and I have eleven followers.

Anyway...

I'm totally stealing the idea behind their Parenting Fail posts.

I usually put my children to bed without the aid of sippy cups, books or movies. I'm mean that way. I have this totally unreasonable expectation that children should go to bed and be asleep soon thereafter instead of watching ten episodes of Phineas and Ferb.

Since I now live with my mother (which is fodder for innumerable posts), I sometimes have to cave and go against my best parenting judgment in order to keep the peace. One night last week I was working on a quilt that needed to be finished. When I'm working on a project, I'm working and I don't let much distract me, including screaming, climbing, destroying toddlers. My mother is not blessed with toddler blindness and deafness. She finally marched them into their bedroom and demanded that I put something on for them to watch, with the unspoken threat 'or else'.

I started some Handy Manny, or as Jack calls it 'Hammy Hammy' and left them to veg out while I went back to work and my mom went back to Law and Order. I went to check on the boys a while later, only to find that Hammy Hammy was over and The Godfather was now playing.

Yep, My two- and three-year-old sons were watching Don Corleone and getting such sage pieces of wisdom as, "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

Adam said, "Mom, Hammy Hammy is over. You should turn off the TV now."

If I find a severed horse's head in my bed, I'll have no one to blame but myself. Even though I deserve it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It Just Keeps Getting Better

Warning: If you are a man, this post discusses lady parts, and not in a way that is exciting, unless you're a gynecological intern. Proceed at your own risk. If you don't like to hear about lady business, go away. But only for this post. We can still be friends.

As was noted in a previous post, I am having a hysterectomy in about a week. I'm still super stoked about it. I'm actually even more excited about it now, after I had my pre-op appointment today. My doctor asked me if we were also doing a bladder repair. I told him that I wasn't aware that that was an option, but if it was available, sign me up! He asked if I peed when I laughed, coughed or sneezed. I laughed right then and almost demonstrated the problem for him. He did an exam and told me that I am an excellent candidate for the something-something-incontinence-something-sling, or, as I like to call it, the peeper fix.

Hooray! No more crossing my legs when I sneeze! No more coughing bouts followed by, "Oh, man!" Of course, I immediately texted my husband and good pals to let them know the wondrous news. If you haven't met Emily, you are missing out. No one gets my humor the same way she does. She is the only person with whom I know that I will never cross the line and have to say, "Oh, that was offensive, huh." She giggles along with me. She and I have discussed, along with practically every woman who has ever given birth, the unfortunate side effects of childbirth, i.e. a weakened pelvic floor. She has expressed her desire for the peeper fix. So my text was a two-fold mission. First, to inform her of my good fortune and second, to make her jealous. It's what friends do. But because she is the awesome friend that she is, this is what she had to say:



Julie: I'm getting my peeper fixed! No more
crossing my legs when I sneeze!

Emily: What?! No more uterus or pee pants? It's a Christmas miracle!

Julie: I KNOW! There really is a Santa Claus.

Emily: Yes, Vagina, there is a Santa.

And then the nurse and the receptionists inquired as to my well-being, as I was purple-faced and gasping for breath. Can't...stop...laughing. So I repeated the conversation to them and they all laughed so hard that I'm willing to bet at least one of them tinkled a little. Don't you just love irony?

*sigh* I have great friends.


So now, I have a serious question. It has already been determined that Shirley must go. But I have been given the option to bid adieu to my ovaries, Thelma and Louise, as well. They are essentially healthy, other than the fact that I have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome. Ovulation is painful. I can feel the follicle burst and then I have pain when the egg descends. Other than that, those two girls don't cause much trouble. I don't have a family history of ovarian cancer. Every other type of cancer, yes, but not ovarian. My doctor says that he recommends leaving them in because
  • I'm only 32.
  • Hormone replacement therapy is iffy and not always successful or without complication.
  • I am very young to go through menopause and removing the ovaries would induce that lovely life change. Apparently it is much more traumatic to your body to go through menopause artificially than if you let nature take its course and do it in its own sweet time, which my doctor estimates to be about nineteen years from now.
  • There is no immediate threat of illness or problem if I leave them in. He has left the choice up to me.

Here is my question: what would you do? Have any of you had a hysterectomy, either partial or complete? What, if anything, would you change? What about experiences with hormone replacement therapy?

I would really like to hear some feedback on this before I go in next Monday. Please, please give me some opinions! Ultimately, it is my decision, and I'm already leaning more one way than the other. But I would still like to hear some opinions from those who have experience.

Go ahead and leave a comment here, or if you would prefer to comment privately, email me at hoolianna55(at)hotmail(dot)com or send me a message on facebook.

Thanks in advance, ladies! And, uh, men, too, if you braved reading this post and have advice. Weirdos.

Friday, December 17, 2010

It Made Me Giggle

I found an old cell phone memory card tonight and found this picture:


I think I laughed harder tonight than I did when I saw this in a store. I have a juvenile sense of humor.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

She Totally Ratted On Herself

Noel's third grade class wrote letters to Santa last week. She brought hers home last night and showed it to Morgan and me. I didn't want to keep this all to myself...

"Dear Santa,

I don't think I have been good this year because I have been getting in a bunch of trouble this year. How's the North Pole? I'm getting in trouble by talking back to my mom, being mean to my brothers, and whining when I don't want to do something or when I wasn't the one who did it.

My parents are the Santa Claus so we don't have you anymore. How do your reindeer fly? What's your favorite Christmas song? Mine is The First Noel because Noel is my name! I'll leave milk and cookies for you and carrots for your reindeer! Even though you don't exist to my parents you still exist to me.

Love,

Noel Bennett"

I love that girl. She must have had a bad day and been feeling particularly down that day. She really isn't that poorly behaved. We reassured her that her good behavior far outweighs the bad.

Is it bad that this letter makes me giggle?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An Unorthodox Christmas Wish

Are you familiar with the song "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"? Familiarize yourself.



I went to see my OBGYN a few weeks ago and sang this song to him, only I substituted 'hysterectomy' for 'hippopotamus'.

After a battery of blood tests, physical exams, biopsies, etc., I'm excited to announce that my uterus and I will be parting company on December 27.

I never thought that I would be so excited for invasive surgery as I am to have the cursed organ removed.

My uterus, whom I shall call Shirley, and I have had a love/hate relationship. When I wanted Michael, she willingly obliged by the end of the first month of trying. Then when it was time for Noel, baby number two, Shirley was again most accommodating. However, when Morgan and I decided that we wanted a third child, Shirley put her foot down. Repeatedly. And she shouted a lot. To add injury to insult, my period of infertility was also when my heinously horrible menstrual cramps began. I had never experienced a single menstrual cramp until Noel was about three years old. But once they started, Shirley made up for lost time. The first two days of my cycle for the past six years have entailed me lying in bed, wishing that the sharp-toothed spiny tennis ball in my belly would just chew its way out already.

After three years of tears and infertility treatments, Morgan and I decided to quit trying. We had two healthy children; we were blessed and grateful. We got rid of our crib, our car seat, all of the accoutrements that one accumulates with the raising of small children. We looked at the bright side. The kids were (mostly) potty trained and relatively independent. No more bottles, diapers or sleepless nights.

Then Shirley promptly removed her foot. The one she had put down, remember? Yep. I got knocked up.

We were very excited, even though we had just gotten rid of every. baby. item we had ever owned and we had no medical insurance.

So Adam came along, and with his delivery came extensive hemorrhaging and the threat of an emergency hysterectomy. The doctor and nurses were able to stop the bleeding, however, and Shirley got to come home from the hospital with me, firmly rooted in my belly instead of floating in formaldehyde in a glass specimen jar.

I decided, being the frugal and incredibly stupid woman that I am, that no contraceptives were necessary since I had been, for all intents and purposes, infertile for three years. I considered my third pregnancy to be a fluke. Which is why I got pregnant with baby number four when Adam was eight months old. Shirley is a jerk. She has a twisted sense of humor. I taught her a lesson, though, when I had a tubal ligation after Jack was born. No more practical jokes for you, Shirley. Hah!

She has chosen to fight back the only way she knows: miserable, agonizing, wretched periods. She has to go.

Sorry, Shirley. You have no one to blame for this but yourself. Thank you for my children.

Goodbye.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Monster Quilt (!)

I don't usually share my crafting projects on this blog but I'm going to make an exception for this project. I wanted to try applique, something which, until now, seemed too intimidating. I got the idea for a monster quilt from Little Birdie Secrets. Their monsters inspired some of mine and the remainder I made up. Each piece is hand drawn, cut out and fused, then machine stitched. There was a ton of time involved in the making of this quilt but it was a lot of fun and I love the end results!








I also used this quilt as an opportunity to try out a few other firsts, namely basting spray and stipple quilting. The basting spray was nice and I think I'll be using it again in the future. The stipple quilting took a while to get used to. I had trouble getting the tension right and there were issues with the top looking great but the back being too tight. Also, I learned the value of good quality thread. I thought that I was using good stuff but after it broke innumerable times and I finally switched to a different brand, I was much more pleased with the results.

All in all, it was a great learning experience and I'm very proud of the end results!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

All right, blog land. I have 947 things to do before my kids get off of the bus in an hour but I would be derelict if I didn't take the time to post this.

My pal Brittany posted a very similar blog last month and I've thought about it ever since. I've thought how wonderful it is that God sees fit to bestow miracles upon us as we obey Him.

Lots of things happened to bring us to a very bad place yesterday morning. I won't chronicle all of them, suffice it to say that Moe's check had finally become available in the checking account (thanks, long weekend!) and I paid all of our bills. It was a good bill-paying, too, because we actually had money left over, which is always nice. Then, just to be safe, I checked the other check register (yeah, I have two, but I use one almost exclusively) just to make sure that I hadn't missed anything. I had. I figured it all out and we were in the hole ninety some-odd dollars and pay day isn't for another ten days. Frick. We had no cash on hand; no money socked away, nothing for a rainy day. Additionally, I had paid all of my bills online and you can't take that stuff back.

Note: Yeah, we're still stupid and we're still learning. This is embarrassing to write but it gets better, I promise. Don't judge.

Anyway, distraught does not quite cover how I felt all day yesterday. My diabetes is out of whack, therefore my insulin is out of whack and insulin is a hormone so therefore my hormones have been, you guessed it, out of whack. It's been stressful. On top of all the crazy emotions that I've been fighting every day, I behaved like a complete idiot last week, did some stupid crap, said some even stupider crap and in the process learned that honesty really isn't the best policy when you're dealing with personal opinions of another person's behavior. Did you know that not everyone likes to hear what other people think about them? Yeah, shocker. I'm an idiot, but at least I've learned that lesson. It's been a tough lesson to learn and the situation is not fully resolved. I fear that in my idiocy I have forever closed a door on some relationships that I cherish.

So, let's sum up what we've got so far, shall we?

  • Emotions: out of whack
  • Hormones: out of whack
  • Judgment: out of whack
  • Finances: out of whack
  • Personal relationships: out of whack
  • Life: pretty stinking whacktacular
Yeah. I'm not trying to blame hormones or what-not for my behavior; I take full responsibility. I'm just pointing out that things have been, uh, whacky around here.

This brings me to yesterday. Financial ruin, checks will soon start bouncing like a twelve-year-old at a bar and there's not a thing to be done about it.

Then I remembered the $100 in cash that I had set aside for tithing. Hmm. I talked with Moe. We could always use the $100 in the bank account and pay the tithing later. But we have been taught that we pay our tithing first, even if we don't feel we have the money and then trust in God to take care of us. We prayed for quite a while and I'm a little ashamed at how hard it was to make the decision. But once we knew, we knew. That wasn't our money to use. We had set it aside for tithing and using it for anything other than tithing would be disobedience.

Once the decision was made, it really didn't lessen my stress level. I was trying to have faith that all would work out, but I just couldn't figure out how. I talked with a friend about it and she suggested calling my Relief Society president. I hesitated, knowing that she would go to the bishop. I was already embarrassed enough at the situation and I didn't want to go running to the church to bail us out of a hole that we had dug ourselves. I finally called the RS president, if only because she always asks me why I never call her when things go wrong. She said that she would call the bishop, ask his opinion and then get back with me.

She called back a few minutes later and said that the bishop thought that we should put the tithing money into our checking account as it would be too late by the time he was able to do anything for us. Then we could talk with him on Sunday and figure out how to handle the issue of the tithing. I was still on the phone with the RS president as I sat down at the computer to check the bank account before I headed into town to deposit the money. There was a deposit of $100 in our account that neither I nor my husband had made. The checks that we had written and forgotten about hadn't cleared yet so there were no overdraft fees and that $100 deposit made it so that once everything had cleared we would still be in the black. We would have less than $10, but there wouldn't any overdraft fees. I told the RS president who got a little choked up. I was too stunned to cry (which will shock you if you know me at all).

I went through the evening feeling buoyed on a cloud of obedience and blessings. All I could think was "Wow."

Today came and I settled down to the task of trying to figure out a way to get a little bit of cash to get us through until the next pay day. The mystery deposit solved the immediate crisis, but there was still the matter of needing money to pay for gasoline and other necessities for the next several days.

To make a long story short(er), I received orders for two quilts this afternoon and one of the women paid me $60 in advance.

After Moe and I had made the decision not to use our tithing money to save our bacon, I tried to relax and have faith but I just could not see any way that we were going to get the money. I knew that things would work out, even if "work out" meant that we would end up with six overdraft fees that would eat up the next pay check but I would survive. That doesn't sound like the most pleasant way for things to work out, but again, I had faith that God would provide.

Provide he did, and in a most spectacular and obvious way. I think He wanted to make sure that I saw His hand in it. I did, and thanks.

Now the thought that is niggling at the corners of my brain is this: Why do we ever choose anything but the way we know to be right? If God has promised, he will come through.

I am proof.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm Busted

A Quick and Incomplete Summary of the Current Goings-On in the House of Bennett

As you may have read, I have chickens. (That sounds funny if you read that like some sort of terminal disease - "Did you hear? She has Chickens." "Oh, no! Once that gets into the blood stream they don't usually make it past a month.") Ahem. I decided that if I was going to feed and clean up after the critters that I might as well make it interesting, so this spring we bought Araucanas, a breed of chicken which lays colored eggs. For reals.

My family has waited in wild anticipation for the colored eggs to appear, and they finally did. But they were brown. Brown. If I had wanted brown eggs, I would have bought any number of other breeds of chickens that lay plain ol' brown eggs. I was schnookered. But then, wonder of wonders, look what we found:

In the upper left is an egg laid by one of our two Leghorns, which are a year older and therefore lay bigger eggs than the newbies. In the bottom right is an egg laid by the only chicken who read the manual. Colored eggs, girls, blue and green and sometimes lavender.

On a side note, the brown egg to the immediate right of the white egg had two yolks. I was frying a bunch of eggs for my nieces and nephews for breakfast and we were admiring how cute they were, the widdo biddy teeny fwied eggs, and then we were like "Whoa! Two yolks! Sweet!" We also wondered if the green egg would be lime-flavored. It wasn't. It was mint.

~

Adam's newest thing whenever he is angry with me or has to do something that he doesn't want to do is to yell, "You're busted!" At first, because he's three and doesn't speak all that clearly, I thought that he was calling me a bastard. And I was like, "Wha...?" How do you even know that word? I have a couple of bad words that I say occasionally, but that's not one of my favorites. Then I realized that he watches Phineas and Ferb. A lot. So, now I get to hear "You're busted!" several times a day, followed by the tinier and more mangled version of the same phrase exclaimed by Jack. Because anything Adam does, Jack does also.

~

I am totally the world's worst mother. Mike left Sunday night to spend several days with his grandmother and before he departed, he left me with this admonition: "I'm out of bird seed. Can you make some egg mash for my bird while I'm gone?" Yep. I can. Nope, I didn't. I figured that I was headed to the store the next day to buy more bird seed and that the little bugger could wait one day for his food. Obviously, he couldn't, as I found him dead in his cage half an hour before I left for the store. I haven't told Mike yet. How do you tell a ten-year-old kid that you starved his pet to death? After you had promised to feed it? I was sorely tempted to buy a new bird that matched the old one, but I can't bring myself to lie to the kid. As Moe told me, how can we expect our kids to tell the truth if we lie to them? So when he gets home tomorrow, I will put on my big girl panties and tell him. I hope he still likes me after that.

~

There is another vote in my favor of Worst Mom Ever as yesterday was a tough day. The boys played Dueling Diapers, as I have not yet had the courage to begin potty-training. Jack would poop, then minutes later Adam would, then Jack, etc. Three times each, for a total of six nasty, nasty diapers. Jack bit me so hard that it brought tears to my eyes and I couldn't get my finger out of his mouth. He'd stuck a bolt in his mouth and I was attempting to retrieve it. He laughed as I struggled to get my finger out of his mouth. A few chickens got out and I had to rescue them from the dog, wearing only a nightshirt. A short nightshirt. It occurred to me only as I was walking into the house that there may have been farm hands around. If there were and they saw me, I'm sure they got a show, and I don't just mean me running barefoot after my deaf dog, yelling at him (yeah, he's deaf and I was yelling), and assuredly flashing everyone who cared to look. You're welcome. As mentioned above, I killed Mike's bird. Throughout the day there were many screams of "You're busted!" and the old standby, "NNNOOOOO!" because simply saying it isn't enough. It must be screamed until the voice cracks. It was a rough day. My nerves were fried. Then Noel walked into the house with an armful of carrots freshly pulled from the garden and deposited them on the counter I had just washed. "Look at all the carrots I picked, Mom!" I hung my head, thinking that I was now going to have to pull off the tops, wash the carrots and the counter and find something to do with them so that they didn't go to waste. She saw my reaction and started to cry. She'd been trying to be helpful. I. Suck.

~

On the bright side, my flowers are all doing wonderfully as there are no goats to eat them this year. One of my sunflowers is over ten feet tall. I'm going to take pictures as soon as it blooms. It will be wicked awesome.

~

I'm working on several sewing projects right now including capes and jammies for my small terrors and a quilt and some new baby stuff for a friend who's due really soon.

~

Adam has become very protective of Jack. If anyone is harassing Jack (read: changing his diaper, dressing him, wiping his nose) and Jack is unhappy about it, Adam will yell, "Leave my bludder alone!" while glowering menacingly over the offender.

~

We have adopted two stray cats, Edward and Babs, or as Jack says Eddard and Bob. They are friendly and the mousingest cats I've ever seen, which is great. As my good pal says, we live in the middle of a field surrounded by mouse food. We've got lots o' mice. We also have a pair of Great Horned Owls living in the tree in our front yard, which is really cool yet also kind of scary as I read that they occasionally attack humans. Super.

~

The natives are beginning to stir. Adam just plunked his sippy cup in front of me on the desk and demanded "More milk!" The kid really needs some manners. So I'd better go. I most definitely do not want to be busted.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hello, My Name Is...

A couple of weeks ago, my good bloggy pal That Girl did a getting-to-know-you blog and encouraged her readers to do the same. So I am. Even though I have approximately 2.7 readers and 98% of them know me personally. So without further ado, ME.

I have five older brothers and sisters and I don't know any of them as well as I would like to. I probably love each and every one of them more than they think I do.

My dad died ten and-a-half years ago and I still have moments when I think "I should call Dad and ask what he thinks about this..." and then I cry.

Oldies music (real oldies, not eighties music, kids) makes me think of my dad.

I just found out that I am in fact older than most of my girl pals when I thought that I was younger. Not quite sure what that means...

I swear a lot more than I should, sometimes in front of my kids.

I love my husband more than I ever thought loving someone was possible. He makes me laugh every single day and I love being on his arm. You should all be jealous, because he is awesome.

I use the word "awesome" a lot.

I almost never eat leftovers. They gross me out.

I am terribly shy and don't like meeting people, even though I am aware that most people mistake my shyness for haughtiness. It's always a delight when someone is finally able to get past my prickly exterior and find out that I'm sorta like a burned marshmallow: not all that appealing on the outside but warm, soft and awesome on the inside.

I am easily annoyed by small, repetitive sounds. Squeaking rocking chairs, clicking pens, smacking gum; all have caused me to leave the room.

As you may have gathered from the last statement, I do my best to avoid confrontations. I pick my fights carefully, but when something has my dander up high enough you will hear about it. It just takes a while to get me to that point.

I have this insane idea that I look completely different than I did in school so whenever I see someone that I haven't seen in ten years or more, I pretend that I don't know them so that I don't look stupid when I say "Hi!" and they don't know who I am. Yes, I see the irony.

I love animals and have had more pets than I can even count.

I have four kids, am a stay-at-home-mom and never ever wish to have a "real" job again.

My kids alternately delight, astound, infuriate and amuse me each and every day.

When I was little, I loved Indiana Jones and I aspired to marry him, be known as Indiana Julie and have wonderful adventures with him.

I worry every day that my children will need to have therapy because of the fact that I am their mother. Really.

I have recently developed a crush on the country of Scotland and all things Celtic. It's pretty lame, but I am enamored. Thank you, Diana Gabaldon.

I love SpongeBob. I could watch it all day and I get really excited when an episode comes on that I've never seen.

I have a supremely over-active sense of guilt. I feel guilty about nearly everything. If there are any lonely, orphaned feelings of guilt out there, I will gather them to me and make them my own.

I hate shopping, especially clothes shopping. I haven't purchased clothing for myself in at least a year, maybe two. I always spend more than I need to because my shopping philosophy is "Get in, get the stuff, and get out. Quickly."

There you have it, in a nut shell, or a turtle shell, or a bomb shell, or whatever kind of shell you like.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm a Whiner

This post is about potty training and everything that goes along with it. You have been warned.

I have two sets of two kids. The Big Kids are 20 months apart. Five years later, we had the first of the Little Kids who are 16 months apart.

The Big Kids were nightmares to potty train. We were first time parents, reading all the materials, talking with the pediatrician, watching for all of the signs that said that our son was ready. We started when he was two. It didn't take. We tried again at three and he was finally fully potty trained sometime after his fourth birthday. I potty trained that kid for almost two years. We started with his sister when she was almost three years old. She is now eight and a half and is just barely, barely, dry during most days. She still has some days when she will have an accident and she wets the bed every. single. night. We have seen the pediatrician, counselors, a urologist; everyone says she will grow out of it. The way I see it, I potty trained her for nearly six years. Six years, people. Six years of washing multiple pairs of undies and pants per day. You can only imagine the smell.

Now the Little Kids are potty training age. One just turned three and the other will be two in a few months. Occasionally I'll set them on the potty and occasionally they'll go, but for the most part I ignore the fact that I should be working with them. I've heard it all.

Don't wait too long.

Don't start too early.

You have to be consistent.

Mine trained themselves.

Just wait until they're ready.

This weekend, we visited relatives across the state; a drive of about three hours. On the way home, we took our time, seeing the sites and stopping for lots of breaks. We were on the home stretch, the last hour of the trip when little Jack piped up. "Out!"

"You can't get out of your seat, buddy."

"Out!"

"I'm sorry. I know that you want out but we're not home yet."

A few moments of silence, then, "I poopy."

"You're poopy?"

"Uh-huh. A change a bum."

This seemed highly suspect to me, so I asked big brother Mike to give him a sniff. The verdict?

"He smells fresh."

The little smarty pants was just looking for an excuse to get out of his seat, which I thought was very sweet, endearing and sneaky.

I was sharing this story with my best pal and she said "That kid asks to have his bum changed? He needs to be potty trained!"

She is so right. I'm just prolonging the arrival of that most dreaded parenting landmark: potty training.

The point was further hammered home when, ten minutes ago, my three-year-old walked up to me, informed me that he was poopy and then asked me to change his diaper.

I really need to work on potty training, but my heart is not in it. I wish there was a camp you could send your kids away to and they would come home potty trained.

I need to just put on my big girl panties, put them in big boy underpants and do it, but I don't want to. (Imagine that last bit in the whiniest voice you can imagine, because that's how I say it.) I know that we'll save a bunch of money if we don't have to buy diapers or wipes. Yeah, I'm not green. I guess I'll also be doing my environmental part. Plus it's just ridiculous to have kids that old not potty trained.

I just don't want to!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Exactly How Much...

...is a butt-load of sand?


Is that a metric or imperial measurement?


Who cares? That is one happy kid.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Son the Feminist


I was weeding in my flower bed this evening and admiring a particularly stunning pansy. I pointed it out to Mike and said, "Look at this! The color combinations, the symmetry, there isn't a man on this planet who can create beauty as well as God does."

He agreed, thought for a moment and then asked, "What about a woman? Do you think there's a woman who could make something as beautiful as what God makes?"

My son is awesome.


Credit Card Case

I carry a lot of cards. A lot. Debit card, driver's license, insurance card for every family member (seriously), library cards, rewards cards for every freaking store in a thirty mile radius. Lots of cards. I can never find a wallet that will fit all of my cards. I finally found one of those hard shell cases that fit all of my cards (hooray!) and I've loved it for a couple of years.

Today that case bit the dust. (boo!)

So I decided to make a new one. Behold:




I made it up as I went along, so it's a little rough. I used striped fabric, which enhanced the crooked stitching. I also didn't give myself enough extra room so each pocket is a little tighter than I'd like it to be. There are two pockets behind each of the card pockets that could be used for receipts or cash. I originally wanted to include a pocket on the outside for my phone, but I had to cut, re-cut, sew, pick out seams and re-sew so many times that I just said "Forget it!"

Maybe if I make another one it will have a phone pocket. And I won't use striped fabric.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Adam Shows Us...Blue Steel!

Jack has been playing with the kitten for most of the morning and I decided to get it on video because it's so stinking cute. I ended up getting more than cute boy and kitty footage, as you will see.



I have no idea what Adam is doing, but it's awesome. I think Derek Zoolander is his inspiration.

Friday, June 11, 2010

An Adam Story

This is one of those moments that probably only Moe and I will think is funny, but I'm posting it here anyway.

Adam has recently gotten into labeling people, like Mike is a big boy, Noel is a big girl, Jack is a baby, Daddy is a big kid, etc. I love that Adam recognizes that Daddy is a kid. He even labeled my Visiting Teachers the other day. When they stood up to leave he said, "What are those kids doing?"

Today when he woke up, everyone was still in their rooms. That is a new experience for him, because he usually sleeps later than everyone else. He asked me, "Where is Mike?" I told him that Mike was in his room, so Adam went and knocked on Mike's door.

Knock knock.

"Who is it?"

"It's A-num (rhymes with Adam). Da kid!"

Like there would be any other. Kid, you're one-in-a-million.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Still, Not So Nice

Noel just finished the second grade. There was a girl in her class that is a bit of a queen bee. Okay, that's an understatement. That little girl is a witch. She is eight going on forty -three. A really bitter, mean forty-three. She is, in my humble opinion, spoiled rotten by her parents. She is always very well dressed, her hair is perfectly groomed and she knows everything there is to know about anything that a second grade girl would think was cool. She also believes herself to be the queen of the second grade.

Noel really, really wants this girl to like her. And she does, sometimes. She is fickle and moody and bossy. I do not like this child. I encourage Noel to be nice to her but I try to help Noel understand that not all people are nice. There are people who think that what you wear or the toys you have are what matters.

You know what I say? You have a lisp, mean girl. Go ahead and be nice one minute and then mock the second some poor girl's back is turned. I love to hear you say "Sthe is tho thtupid!" It makes my day.

Noel may not wear designer clothes. Her hair is not always impeccably coiffed. Sometimes it isn't even brushed. But she can say her esses.

Thuck on that.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sometimes I'm Not Very Nice

Get out your judging hats and prepare to look down on me, because I laughed at something inappropriate today and I'm going to tell you about it.

Mike had Pack Meeting tonight. For those of you unfamiliar with Scouts, that's the meeting once a month where the whole troop (?)--I'm not familiar with it, either--gets together. There is an activity, those who have earned badges receive said badges and then there are always refreshments of some kind.

Part of the activities for the evening was a "Getting To Know You" questionnaire that moms and scouts filled out together and then the leader read it in front of everyone and had the boys try to guess who it was. One of the questions was "What was the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you?" Tonight there was a new boy. Well, he was new to me and Mike but we miss Scouts 90% of the time so maybe he's been there a while. Anyway, this new boy said that he didn't have an embarrassing moment. (Kinda makes you jealous, huh?) Further down the page was the question "Which movie could you watch over and over?" and this boy answered "Carebears".

Let's take a time out for a moment, shall we? I know that there are people who think that Carebears are gender neutral toys. We are not those people. Carebears are girl toys. Additionally, Michael is old enough now to recognize gender separation and to notice when things seem a bit out of whack in that area.

The leader kindly commented that she liked Carebears, too, to which the boy said that he had one at home. She asked him which one and he said, "Well, I actually have three."

At which point my older and therefore more superior (feeling) son leaned over and muttered, "That should have been his most embarrassing moment."

To my credit, I didn't laugh out loud. I'm pretty sure that I snorted, though. I wasn't laughing at the little boy, but at my son and his shrewd perspective. Sometimes I forget how mature he is and so when things like that pop out of his mouth I'm surprised.

Go ahead and judge. I'm just as sensitive as the next mom, but that was funny.

Friday, May 14, 2010

An Open Letter to All Husbands

Dear husbands,

We, the women of the world, would like to express our love, appreciation and adoration to you. You provide for us. You love us, even though you have seen us in the morning right after we wake up, you have listened to our not-so-lady-like breathing or (gasp!) snoring as we sleep and you have probably even seen us throw up. You deserve mad props. Who else was there in the delivery room being supportive and wiping sweat from our brows even though most of our hostility was directed toward you? No one. That's right. You are there for us, and we adore you.

However.

Girls' night is special. It is about going out with friends and forgetting that anyone who resides in the same home as us actually exists for a few hours. Our entire lives revolve around answering to the needs of others. Therefore, we do not find it unreasonable that once a month we are allowed to put number one, well, number one for a few hours. Multiple text messages or phone calls are not appreciated. Here are text messages that are acceptable to send while your wife is out with friends:

  • The house is on fire. Would you like me to save your shoes or your craft supplies first?
  • Everything is just fine here at home. Take your time with your friends, enjoy yourself. I love you. This is the only message you'll hear from me.
That's it. Nothing else is so pressing that it warrants a girls' night interruption. Even if your great aunt has died, it can wait. It's not as if that's a particularly urgent message, right? She's not getting any deader.

These helpful tips are not only important for your wife, but for the friends who accompany her. Our whole lives are full of interruptions. We cannot do a single thing in our daily lives without interruptions. Try to understand for a moment what this must feel like: you finally have a captive audience and you are about to speak the first full sentence that has passed your lips in over two weeks. You have just gotten the first three words out of your mouth when the cell phone of your listener chimes. The listener has to answer because, after all, family trumps friends.

Can you imagine it? Can you imagine how it would feel to finally have an evening away from laundry, bum wiping, fourth grade homework and interruptions only to find that all of that crap has followed you? I'll tell you what that's like. It's like a great steaming pile of disappointment.

In closing, we love you with all of our hearts. But come girls' night, leave us the hell alone. Your wife and her friends will thank you for it. And a happy, well rested, soul-fed wife is much more likely to come home interested in bed sports than a wife who has left her house only to find that her job has followed her.

Respectfully yours,

Every Damn Wife in the World

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Somedays I'm Kinda Smart. Other Days, Not So Much

Seven years ago, I was a young mother and fledgling seamstress dying to make clothing for my young children. I decided upon a simple two-piece pajama set and picked out some fun fabrics.

I remember those pajamas with fondness. They were roomy enough that Mike was able to wear them for a couple of years. They were short sleeved with pants and made of a light cotton so they were suitable for both summer and winter. I accidentally made them too long so as he grew I let the pants down. I'm not sure who loved those pajamas more, me or Mike. By the time he was far too big to wear them any longer and they had to be retired, they were so worn that you could see the outline of his body through the fabric.

It was those pajamas that came to mind last week as I did the periodic clothes rotation that the seasons and growing children demand. Adam had outgrown most of his pajamas so I decided that I would make him a few pairs for his upcoming birthday. I even bought some fabric several months ago with the vague idea that I might one day turn it into jammies.

This morning found me in my sewing room, fondly reminiscing as I perused the box of every pattern I've ever purchased. There was the baby bunting I made for Noel. And there were the dragon and dragon-slayer Halloween costumes from when they were one and three.

I finally found the pajama pattern and pulled it out of the envelope to sort out the pieces that I would need.

I smiled to myself as I noticed the changes that several years of sewing have wrought. I used to carefully cut out every piece in the pattern, regardless of whether or not I actually planned on using it. Now I only cut out what I need, saving myself a lot of time that I used to waste cutting out patterns to projects I would never make.

I sorted through every piece, double checked, and then sorted again. There was every damn piece of that pattern except the ones I needed. Which leads me to assume that I threw them away!

I'm a minimalist kinda gal. If you're looking for knick knacks, keep looking because you won't find them at my house. My prom dress was simple enough that I wore it to church for years after I graduated from high school. I put my mother through endless stress because I wanted to rent instead of buy my wedding dress and I refused to get silk wedding flowers so that I could follow the tradition of keeping my wedding bouquet in a beautiful glass display case. (I left my fresh wedding flowers at the church, intending for them to be thrown away and my sneaky mother kept them, dried them and put them in a jar and gave them to me a few weeks later. It took several years before the guilt allowed me to fianlly throw them away.) My rule is this: "If it's not seasonal and you haven't used it in more than a month, you don't need it." Makes for some interesting, ah, conversations between me and my "saver" husband. But I digress.

Somewhere in that frugal little 24 year old brain of mine, I thought that it would make sense to throw away the only pieces of the pattern that I used and keep the rest. They were the key pieces so I can't even use the others, like the neck facing.

Turns out I was a big dummy even then. It's nice to know that some things never change.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In Which I Ruminate On Newfound Ideas

The past year has been full of changes for me. I've experienced things that have forced me to challenge the way I live and think. I've had a lot of my ingrained beliefs about things turned upside down. It has been an interesting journey, to say the least. Things are still changing for me almost daily. I've become a different person in a lot of ways. I hope that the changes in me are for the better.

I've found how much I value humility. It's interesting to take a group of thoughts, pet peeves maybe, and shuffle them around, examine them, really get to the root of them and discover just why you have such strong feelings about them.

I have found that cockiness ruffles my feathers. A lot. Even if the person really is all that they claim to be, constantly reminding everyone of their ultimate superiority makes my opinion of them plummet. Listening to someone brag on and on about themselves is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

There is a profound difference between quiet pride in a job well done and peacockish arrogance. That difference is humility. There is nothing wrong with self confidence. For me, the line is crossed when it is repeatedly rubbed in my face how great a person is.

Conversely, it is refreshing to spend time with a person who, while aware of their strong points, is also conscious of their faults as well. No "I'm the best, blah, blah, blah", just humble confidence and realness.

On the other side of the coin, negative people are difficult for me to tolerate as well. I have a relative who one of my sisters refers to as Old Lady Gloom and Doom. It doesn't matter what sort of silver lining she has discovered, she will find a cloud to go with it. It may be prudent to be aware and prepared for life's unpleasant surprises, but there is much good to be found if one is willing to look.

I know that I do my fair share of complaining. Sometimes it's hard not to. I think that there is a difference between venting frustration or confiding fears and constantly complaining about how horrible life is. I have a facebook friend whose status updates are almost always complaints. Her teenaged son is making poor choices, the government has let her down, she threw out her back, the rain has made her depressed. I think that at least nine out of ten of her updates are negative. I commented about it to my husband and he asked "Why is she your friend?"

Good question.

Maybe it's time for a little pruning of the acquaintance tree. I don't think that there is much to be done there, as I already only associate with people that I enjoy being around. Maybe it's time for me to learn more tolerance and compassion. I have been guilty of arrogance and negativity. I know that these are the stronger traits that show instead of what is really behind them: fear, uncertainty and sadness.

People who don't know me well think that I'm very quiet. I think that a good number of people who do know me well think the same. I disagree, but that is most likely because I can hear my constant stream of thoughts so, to myself, I seem very obstreperous. I bring this up because I want to touch on the subject of opinions. I have them. You have them. Everyone thinks that their opinion is correct. That's kind of the point of them, you know? I don't mind hearing the opinions of others. Sometimes I ask to hear them. It's interesting to hear what other people think. I like to have my mind opened to other ways of thinking. Everyone is entitled.

However.

I do not appreciate having my opinion run down. Disagreed with? Okay. Like I said, you're entitled. But just because my opinion differs from yours does not make me stupid, deficient, uninformed or inferior to you in any way. I will listen to your opinion and then I will probably keep my mouth shut. Arguing my point will just use time and energy that I'm not willing to spend just to make myself feel worse.

My husband has told me that I need to stand up for myself more, and he's probably right. The problem is I don't usually realize that I should have defended myself until well after the incident has occurred. That usually happens later on as I'm reflecting the situation and how it made me feel. Then I think "I should have said something!"

I have become more vigilant. I am making sure that if someone says something out of line and I feel that correcting them or expressing myself is appropriate, I'll do it. Some of the people that I associate with say or do the same sort of thing over and over again so I even have things prepared to say for the next time they run me down.

If you're still with me, thanks for reading this little glimpse into the inner workings of my psyche. I find it fascinating how much I continue to learn and grow every day.

I'll step off of my soapbox now and maybe soon we'll get back to the sort of goofy poppycock that you have come to expect from me here.

Any fellow synesthetes out there?

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Profound Lesson in an Unexpected Place

A couple of days ago, Morgan took the two older kids with him to run some errands. Mike had Scouts and Noel went along because, well, let's just say that Mommy needed her to go be with her daddy. Adam caught on that they were leaving just as they were walking out the door and decided that he wanted to go with them. By that time, it was too late to wait for him to get ready to go with them and as the door closed he began to cry.

I picked him up to try to calm him but he would have none of it. I tried my full bag of tricks. "Let's go read a story." "Where is your train? Do you want to play with your train?" "Ooh, look! SpongeBob is on!" "Do you want a cookie?" All I succeeded in doing was making him cry and scream even louder.

So I threw up my hands and walked away. I do that sometimes. I figure if nothing that I'm doing is helping, it's better for there to be distance between me and the tantrum or else pretty soon I'll be on the floor kicking and screaming, too.

I went about my business, tidying the house, folding laundry and keeping Jack out of trouble. Adam screamed and cried for thirty straight minutes, I am not even kidding. Finally, on one of my trips through the living room, I glanced over to where he was laying on the couch. He had reached that point in crying when his breath was coming in big gulping hiccups between each wail. The look on his face was one of such anguish that it literally stopped me where I stood. My kind Heavenly Father chose that moment to offer some gentle teaching. I was reminded of the times that I had found myself in the depths of despair - lonely, hopeless, and wishing for any sort of comfort. I remembered the times that I had literally begged through prayer for Him to send someone to me. "Please let someone call me or knock on my door. I need some comfort right now!"

I was humbled. I offered a quick prayer of repentant thankfulness and then gathered up my sweet little boy in my arms. We sat together on the couch, snuggled under his favorite blanket. I "sshhhed" and whispered calming things into his baby soft hair. He squirmed around until he finally found a comfortable spot on my lap and soon his cries had quieted into an occasional hiccup. After cuddling for about fifteen minutes, he climbed off of my lap and went into his room to play with his little brother.

I stayed on the couch and pondered what had happened. How many times have I pleaded for help and then had that plea answered? How many times have those within my sphere of influence, my children especially, pleaded for help, only to have me place my needs and desires ahead of others?

Sometimes as a mother you really do need to walk away. Sometimes it really is best to get some space between you and the child who is misbehaving. But I had passed the crisis point and was just ignoring him because he was irritating. There was nothing keeping me from offering him the comfort that he needed and which I was capable of giving except my own selfishness.

I marvel sometimes at the times and places in which my Heavenly Father chooses to teach me. It was a lesson I'll not soon forget.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Let's Try This Again, Shall We?









We decided to try the chicken thing again this year. We have high hopes that our mortality rate will drop considerably since we have spent the last year discovering the flaws in our chicken coop and refining the chicken-raising process.

We bought eleven Araucanas, which are also know as Easter Egg chickens because they lay colored eggs. No lie! The guy we bought the chickens from threw in a Rhode Island Red since it was in the cage with the others.

If my dog kills these ones....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Nose Is a Nose

Jack stuffs things up his nose. I don't know why. He has an affinity for fluffies. Things like pillow stuffing, quilt batting, pocket lint, yarn quilt ties, etc. He likes to rub them on his nose or ear while he sucks his thumb. I think that the nose-stuffing may have stemmed from that. He only puts things in his right nostril, though. Weird.

I have pulled an assortment of things out of his nose, including (but not limited to):
  • feathers
  • yarn
  • pencil erasers
  • a piece of a rubber shoe
  • foam rubber coach cushioning
  • hair
  • a dried pinto bean
  • a second pinto bean that was behind the first bean
  • a raisin that had the chance to sit overnight and was nearly a grape by the time I pulled it out the next day
  • bits of apple
  • rocks
  • dirt clods
  • dried grass pulp from the underside of the lawn mower
  • pocket lint
The crowning achievement, however, was today when I pulled out some fiberglass insulation. Not once, not twice, but three separate times. I don't know if he put it in there three different times or if he stuck one giant piece in there and I only thought that I was getting it all the first time. His little nose is so red and irritated now.

Of note is the fact that his older sister did the same thing when she was his age. She stuck with soft fluffy things like quilt batting or pillow stuffing. I remember the first time we gave her cotton candy. I handed her a piece and then turned back to the bag to give some to Michael. It struck me too late that cotton candy bears a strong resemblance to quilt batting. It was already a melted, sticky mess oozing out of her nose by the time I turned back to take it from her.

My kids are weird.

Occasionally Jack will put something in his ear, again only the right side, but he usually limits his partiality to putting things in his nose. Once he stuck some mandarin oranges in his ear and I was able to get a nice picture of that.





Yup. Strange, weird, bizarre kids.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Deserve a Frickin' Medal

Today I will brave the aisles of Walmart. I will take two toddler boys with me. I will do this without the aid of pharmaceuticals (other than the usuals, my cheese hasn't slid completely off of my cracker). I will fit two carts full of groceries into one cart, along with said boys. I will not commit homicide, or toddlercide, or fellowshoppercide. All will be well.

Your prayers are appreciated.

Update: I went. We all survived. Gwen is right - nothing is where it should be. I think the only reason that we all survived is Morgan came with us. Gotta love a hubby who's that devoted!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sometimes, Ignorance Is Bliss

Sometimes, in my daily wanderings as a mom, I'll find an unknown substance on a random surface. I always think "I wonder what this is?" and I almost always follow that thought with "I wonder if I want to know?"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stupid Goat

The other day I was sitting on the floor changing Jack's diaper when my mom burst through the door screaming at me. She was almost in tears as she yelled at me to come help her with my goat. I had no idea what she was talking about and my hands were kinda full at the time. When she was finally able to calm down enough to tell me what had happened, I was hard-pressed to give the situation the seriousness that she felt it deserved.

She had stopped by the court house and renewed her vehicle's registration on the way out to my house. When she got here, she was bent down by her license plate, peeling the sticker off of the registration. Humperdink ran up to her, snatched the paper and stickers out of her hand and ran off before she had a chance to react.

I have seen my goat do stuff like this before. He ate some wrapping paper off of a gift that my visiting teachers had brought for me as they stood outside the door. He likes to stick his head in the car as I'm buckling my kids in to see what tasty morsels he can find to nibble on. Anytime he finds something, it's gone before I have a chance to do anything about it.

I was trying to explain to my mom that her registration was most likely already in the beginning stages of digestion but she was almost crying so I went outside with her. There was Humperdink, licking his chops and looking very pleased with himself. My mom promptly burst into tears at the same time that the hysterical laughter that I had been holding back erupted. I glanced over at Flopsy to see that one of the stickers was stuck to his side. Apparently he thought that being licensed and registered for 2010 was important. Laughing even harder, I removed the sticker from his side and handed it to my mom. She headed to her car to affix the sticker to her license plate and spat over her shoulder "Get your kids back in the house." Everyone had run outside to see what the fuss was all about and neither Jack nor Adam was wearing pants.

I gathered up my brood and herded them back in the house. Mike and Noel wanted to know why Grandma was crying and why I was laughing. I think that they were very disappointed in me.

I was able to get myself a little more under control before my mom came back inside. I apologized for laughing and she cracked a small smile, which I took as permission to howl with laughter.

It was fully awesome.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vocabulary Fun

I made scrambled eggs and blueberry muffins for dinner tonight. (Why yes, I am the best mother alive, thanks for noticing.) Adam hates eggs. Hates 'em. Always has. I went through all my bag of tricks tonight, begging, pleading, etc. and I decided to put ketchup on them to see if that would entice him to eat them. I recently discovered that he loves ketchup. The conversation proceeded as follows:

Noel: What are you doing?

Me: Putting ketchup on Adam's eggs.

Noel: Why?

Me: Because maybe he'll eat them if they have ketchup on them.

Mike: Why doesn't he like eggs?

Me: Beats me.

Noel: Maybe it's because he's a veterinarian.

Mike: He was in the war?


Priceless.

~~~

Random factoid of the day:

If your toddler shoves a raisin up his nose at 9:00 pm, when you take it out at 1:00 pm the next day it will no longer be a raisin but a slightly shriveled grape.

Also, The nostrils of toddlers can stretch to accommodate a host of items. If I ever get into drug smuggling I know where I'm hiding the merchandise.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth (With 'Can' Being the Operative Word)

Last Sunday in Relief Society, I sat next to a friend as we sang the closing song "Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth". As the mothers of small children, the irony of the title didn't escape our notice, nor did the line about children honoring and obeying.

My friend blogged about this earlier today. To read her funny yet touching and thought-provoking post go here. To read my thoroughly cynical rendition of the song, stay where you are.

Home Can Be A Heaven on Earth
LDS Hymn Number 298
Music by W. Herbert Klopfer
New Lyrics by Julie Bennett

Home can be a heav'n on earth
When all the kids are sleeping,

Legos, Barbies, diapers, books
and "Who forgot to flush?"

Will the chaos ever end?
Benadryl's my closest friend,

Making bearable the madness
I embrace each day.


I love my kids. I love my life. But I also love bedtime.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

If You're Looking For Humor, It Stops In the Title

I have been feeling my age lately. Not that I feel old, I just mean that I have thought a lot recently about the undeniable reality that all of us face, which is that once time has passed there is no getting it back.

I had a pregnancy scare (!) that was just yesterday confirmed unfounded. I had a tubal ligation after my last baby was born so a pregnancy was unlikely, albeit possible. Finding out that I was not, in fact, pregnant, was a good thing, but it got my wheels turning.

I have never understood women who are unwilling to admit their true age, nor those who cover up their gray hairs. I have always thought that you are who you are and you'd better be willing to accept that fact or you're in for a rough life. But coming to the point in my life where I am definitely finished bearing children and finally putting that stage of life firmly in my past is strange to me. All of my life up until now has held the possibility of future children. Now I know that I have all of the children that I'm going to have and must focus my attention on the teaching and raising of those children.

Something else that has been a constant in my life is my relative youth. While I don't feel old, I know that the days in which I am part of the younger 50% of the population are numbered. Having these major changes in my life has caused a lot of thinking. I'm not sad to bid adieu to my child-bearing years, really. I enjoyed having children but the time has come to move on from that stage. It's also a novelty to me to have friends younger than me who are mothers. It's a shift, as I have been a part of the "new mom" crowd for so long.

I'm not sure where all of these thoughts are taking me. It's not depressing to think of these things. It's not really joyous either. I'm facing these changes with resolve. They are part of life that can't be changed.

I'm interested to see where I go from here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hammy Boys

Adam was beebling a mile a minute about popcorn and a bunch of other stuff that I couldn't understand so I grabbed the camera to record him because it was so darn cute. Of course, as soon as he saw the camera, he quit jabbering and started hamming it up for me to take a photo. Then Jack decided that he wanted a piece of the camera action and a brawl of miniature proportions ensued.

The best part of this entire video is how hard they both laughed when I put it up on the computer for them to watch. They thought that they were hysterical. I should take a video of them watching the video.


All Is Well That Ends Well, As Long As Everyone Has a Date

Upon returning home from church on Sunday, I had the following conversation with my husband (while my children looked on):

Me: The stake is having a Sweetheart Ball on the 13th and I really want to go.

Moe: Oh, yeah?

Me: Yeah. There is this guy I've had my eye on and I'm hoping that he'll ask me.

Moe: Hmm.

Me: Yeah, he's really handsome, sexy even, and sooo funny. I've been watching him for a long time now and I really hope he asks me.

Noel: (breathlessly interrupting) Who is it, mom?

I'm not sure if she was disappointed or relieved when I told her that it was her dad.

~~~

A few hours later as I was filling in the dates on the calendar...

Me: (spoken loudly for the benefit of Morgan who was in the next room) Yup. The Sweetheart Ball. I sure hope that hot guy asks me to go.

Noel: What if someone else asks you to go?

Me: I guess I'll go with whomever asks me first.

Noel: *gasp* What if Joe asks you before Dad? (Joe and his wife Emily are our friends.)

Me: Then I guess I'll go with Joe.

Noel: And Dad can take Emily!

I see her problem solving skills are coming along nicely.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Month of Service Concludes

Today is the last day of my month of service, which technically didn't last an entire month but hey, who's counting? I haven't posted the last few days' services so I'll catch up on those and then try figure out what I learned from this experience.

Thursday, I took my two little guys to visit a friend. Technically speaking, she is my mom's friend but I've adopted her, too. Her husband passed away about a year ago and all of her children are grown. Most of them live nearby so she doesn't want for family to visit but I know that sometimes she gets lonely. Anyway, I followed the promptings of the Spirit and we found ourselves at her house Thursday morning. I haven't seen her that excited in years. She promptly pulled out some tiny ceramic plates, loaded them with small cookies and banana slices and then poured each of the boys a cocktail of cranberry juice and ginger ale. Then the boys played with some toys while we visited. It was nice to reconnect and I felt we brought some sunshine into her day.

Thursday afternoon, I got sick. Contracted the Martian death flu, as my pal Em would say. Oh, I was sick. I did, however, manage some phone calls and letters between Friday, Saturday and today to people who I felt needed some uplifting or just a simple "I'm thinking of you."

So, what did I learn? Hmmm. I'm not sure. I can tell you some things that didn't happen. I was not visited by angels. Nope, no heavenly hosts. My problems did not miraculously disappear. Peace and joy did not prevail for every minute of every day. I don't think that I changed anyone's life, at least not drastically.

I'm not sure what I expected. I certainly hoped that there would be some positive effects, and there were. For instance, for at least several minutes of every day, I searched my heart for a way to help another. Some of my services took several hours, some just a matter of minutes. But in the time that I was thinking of others, I had ceased to dwell on my problems. It was a wonderful experience to put the needs of others before my own.

I learned that even though the day to day activities of a stay at home mom can mostly be classified as services, there are so many ways to go above and beyond. I needed to be reminded of that. I had gotten comfortable letting my family take care of most of their needs and it was very fulfilling to do a little extra for my husband or children.

I learned that, for the most part, "big" acts of service don't just fall into your lap. Easy services, such as opening a door for someone or giving someone a smile are easy to come by. It seemed that the bigger the difference I wanted to make, the harder I had to look and try for it.

This project brought me out of my shell a little bit. I have struggled with depression for so many years now that I have forgotten how to be normal. Living several miles out of town like I do with my nearest neighbor a quarter of a mile away, I had to get out of my house in order to perform a lot of my services. I have grown so comfortable in my ways. I like to be home. I like not having neighbors right outside my window. I like being able to feed my chickens in my underwear if the mood strikes. (Granted, I could do that no matter where I live, but out here it's a little less scandalous.) Having to make the effort to be dressed, presentable and actually interacting with people has been really, really good for me. A lot of things have changed in my life this month to bring me to the better emotional state where I find myself and I'd like to think that this service project had a lot to do with that.

Although my formal project is drawing to a close, looking for services to perform has become a habit. I know that I will continue to prayerfully consider those around me. I'm going to keep watching for opportunities to make a difference. I always think that service is a bit of a double edged sword, but in a positive way. Like a marshmallow sword with chocolate on one side and caramel on the other (which, consequently I can't eat, stupid analogy). Obviously, someone else will benefit from your actions but the person giving the service benefits, too, sometimes more than the other person.

Okay, I'm throwing down the gauntlet and issuing a challenge. Start your own month of service. Start it today. My friend Nikki noted that February is a good month since it only has 28 days. (Heh, heh, heh, I like your style.) Don't tell yourself that you need a few days to prepare. Go make someone a sandwich and call it today's service. Then you've bought yourself 24 hours to plan. Tell your spouse or a friend. It helps to make you accountable. Maybe ask them to do the project with you. I've had thoughts about doing this again but making it a family project. I don't care if you choose to blog about it, but writing it down has helped me to stay focused.

I'd like to hear about any of you who accept this challenge, whether you tell me publicly or in a private email. I didn't experience any huge, dramatic changes in my life but I did experience change and all of it was positive. How many opportunities will you get with prospects like that?

Go forth, serve, and be blessed.

You are dismissed.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

As If Letting the Toddler Paint Wasn't Enough, the Month of Service Continues to Continue

Today one of my besties in the whole world had a rough day, so I took her some ice cream. I got her favorite kind and I bought the good stuff. I purposely kept walking on down the ice cream aisle, going past the store brand, the next step up, and the next. I bought the best stuff they had that made her fave.

Sometimes bargain shopping is overrated, and she is worth the good stuff.

Love ya, sweetums!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just in case you wonder what a happy kid looks like...

This is a good example.







But my table, kitchen floor and bath tub will never be the same.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hi. I'm Julie and I Love Sugar. I Just Can't Eat It Anymore.

I was diagnosed with diabetes one week ago today. In that week I've had a lot of time to think about how this disease will affect me for the rest of my life. It's been a time of quiet pondering and thoughtful musing. I have come to some very important conclusions, one of which I'd like to share with you.

I hate people who can eat sugar. Hate.

If the fact that they can still consume pure glucose isn't enough, there are those who blatantly rub it in my face. I just read Wendi Aarons' newest post. Girl Scout cookies Wendi? Really? I might loathe you just a little bit. Or how about DeNae and her month long tribute to fudge? Keep one hand on your mace spray, sweetie. I find that even I am on the receiving end of my bitterness, as I noticed tonight when I discovered several shout-outs to chocolate (heeeyyy!) in some old blogs of mine.

Enough already! Sugar is delicious, especially when mixed with milk and chocolate and more sugar in the form of caramel. And I ... can no ... longer ... partake.

*sob*

Please do not suggest that I try sugar-free sweets. It would feel like I was cheating on sugar. I'd rather go without than consume a sub-standard substitute for my old friend.

I'd like to note that while I compulsively read both DeNae and Wendi's material, I have never exchanged witty blog comment banter or emails with either. I do, however, hold them both in the highest esteem (hi, girls!) and hope that each of them has a good enough sense of humor to not kick my trash if ever they visit my humble blog.

The Month of Service Continues....

Today was a day of gigantic proportions, emotionally speaking. As such, my service for the day was very personal. Please forgive me if I don't share it. You'll just have to take my word that I performed a service today. It's okay, I'm trustworthy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

No, I Haven't Forgotten or Given Up

I had to finish a quilt that someone ordered and I kinda-sorta procrastinated. Maybe. A little bit. So I spent the last two days working on the quilt literally all day long.

Today, I decided out of the blue to make cases for the Nintendo DSis that my two big kids got for Christmas. I wanted to buy them cases but they're about $25 each. So, I had each kid choose some fabric from my stash and I made up a pattern as I went along. I think they'll turn out nicely.

It's kind of a service to me and Morgan because now we don't have to spend money on cases, but I think my kids like the fact that *I* made the cases for them.

I'll post pictures as soon as they're both completely done.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Month of Service, Cont.

*It's actually harder to think of a new title each day than it is to find a service to perform. :)

I have been prayerfully considering my acts of service each day and asking Heavenly Father to direct me to people who need help. I had a certain friend in mind all day and felt like I should call her. I did, and it wasn't like she gushed that she had been hoping for someone to call and visit, but it was nice to talk. We chatted for about 20 minutes, caught each other up on our respective lives and that was it.

I hope that she enjoyed the talk as much as I did.

Month o' Service

As per her request, my service for yesterday was calling Emily and speaking karate. I think the belly laugh did her good.

You're welcome.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Month of Service, Is Anyone Still Counting the Days?

My husband is taking a karate class and needed the pants hemmed on his gi. (That's a karate uniform, for those of you who don't speak karate. I myself am not a karate speaker, other than the ridiculous "hwaaa" noises that permeate all Bruce Lee movies. But I digress.) He told me that they would need to be hemmed, so tonight I jumped in and did it without any procrastination. When he put them on and folded up the cuffs to show me how much to take off that was a pretty good reminder, though. :)

I hope that small act helped him to feel loved today.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Month of Service, I Forgot Which Day It Is

I asked my two oldest kids to clean their rooms today. Not just a quick tidy, but a super clean. You know, pull out everything from under the bed, take everything off of the dressers and shelves and then put it all back where it belongs. They were both upset, of course. Who wants to clean their room? So, instead of requiring them to clean by themselves, I helped each of them.

It was nice to have some one on one time with each of my kids. They are growing into such fun people with great senses of humor. I hope that they enjoyed the time as much as I did.

The Month of Service Continues

Last night I chose to do a service for my family in the form of dinner. I made clam chowder and served it in bread bowls, all made from scratch.I don't usually spend that much time on dinner, and my family seemed really appreciative of the extra effort. I also had all of the dishes washed before dinner so that after dinner all we had to do were the dishes that we ate off of and I did most of those myself.

It was nice to see the smiles and hear the excitement of my family when they heard what I was making for dinner. I think they felt extra loved.

I set this goal so that I would try to get out of my head and think of others instead of myself for a while. It's been difficult to find opportunities to serve that I feel are "worthy" of this project. I think that maybe I'm making it too hard.

I have a few ideas for service today, but I'm just going to go about my day and see which one I feel guided to do.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We Interrupt This Month of Service To Bring You....

Dude. I'm not doing so great right now. I didn't perform any acts of service yesterday, except for diaper changing and other family related stuff, so no acts that counted anyway. My husband and I had a talk last night that left me feeling pretty low and I was unable to sleep it off. I woke up this morning with a lot of negative thoughts about myself and have spent the last few hours wondering how I could gracefully bow out of this public goal that I have made. I even considered just deleting all of the posts and pretending like it never happened. But, being the smarty pants that I am, I made this goal publicly to prevent myself from weaseling out of it.

I was still pondering how to get out of it when I checked my email just a few minutes ago. Thank you, Nikki, for your comment on yesterday's post. It helped me to see that serving is easy. It doesn't have to be big. You may have just saved this project for me.

I made the rule that I have to serve at least one person besides myself, but I think that I'm going to bend that rule a little bit today.

My act of service today will be to pull myself out of this funk so that I can continue with my plans. I'm going to pray, read my scriptures, call a friend to chat, play with my boys and get rid of all of the negative self talk that's going on right now.

Before I sign off, can I give you a piece of advice? Don't set goals in public unless you have a safety net of good friends to buoy you up. Thanks for all of the good wishes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Month of Service, Day Three

I had hoped for a miraculous change of attitude last night, sort of a baptism by the spirit of laundry, but no such luck. I folded laundry and while I was pleased to help out my friend, the magic service fairies didn't reach down and plaster a smile on my face and coat my heart with warm fuzzies.

Today, however, I chose a service that may have been a little selfish. My husband was asked by a friend to pull out some old carpet so that new carpet can be installed later this week. I offered to help my husband so that it wouldn't take him as long. It was enjoyable, although I'm not sure if the joy was from giving freely of myself or from getting to spend a little one on one time with my husband.

I'm starting to get concerned about finding people to serve. Ideas? Anyone?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Month of Service, Day Two

I haven't performed my act of service yet today and it's nearly 8:00 pm. I found out this morning that I am diabetic so I've had a full day of wallowing in self pity, disgust, fear and embarrassment. I also ended up taking my baby to the doctor again as his fever went back up and he is again lethargic and dehydrated. The doctor actually kind of freaked me out, as he is not sure just what is wrong with Jack but, to use his words, "There is definitely something wrong." Awesome. My faith in the medical profession is a little shaky today.

This is the part of the day where I dry my tears, put on my big girl panties and head into my sewing room to fold a pile of laundry that I washed for a friend last week. It's time to focus on something other than my upcoming chocolate withdrawals and Jack's appointment tomorrow, where he will have a chest x-ray and more blood work.

I'm counting on this laundry to pull me out of my funk. Go team service!

Month of Service, Day One

Here I am at the beginning of my goal and I've already forgotten to post the first day! I didn't forget to serve, though.

I made cookies for some friends who visited us in the hospital Friday night. Our baby had a fever of 104 so we took him up to the ER and some friends came up to offer support in the form of a priesthood blessing and chocolate. I wanted to go visit Sunday evening but they weren't going to be home so I took the cookies to church with me and delivered them there.

So far, there have been no life altering changes from serving, but I'm still hopeful. ;)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

In Which I Publicly Set A Lofty Goal

I was perusing old magazines in a waiting room the other day when I came across a book review for 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker. I just read a small blurb about the book and it got my wheels spinning. I don't have the resources to give a material gift each day for a month, but I have a capable body with which I can perform services. I have been in a blah kind of funk for a few weeks and I've had a tough time climbing up out of this rut that I find myself squished into. Additionally, I gave a lesson in RS a few weeks ago on service and the message of the material has stuck with me: serve others to bless yourself.

(I did a little research and apparently this book has started a world-wide movement of people who give of themselves and find that they are recipients of positive effects as well. Go here to read the story.)

So, without further ado, I am committing myself to giving one act of service per day for the rest of the month of January. My plan is to document my experience here on this blog. I know that service is best done quietly, and I don't plan to shout about my experiences for the recognition and approval of any who might read this. It is simply a way to keep myself focused and motivated. If I know that even one person is checking up on me for the rest of the month I will be much more likely to follow through with my goal than if I keep the plan to myself.

As a wife and mother, I give acts of service every day, so I think it's necessary to set some guidelines. If I get feeling lazy, I can use "changed a diaper" as my service and check off the rest of the month right now!
I looked up "service" on dictionary.com to give me an idea of what sorts of things I can do. The definition is very simple: an act of helpful activity; help; aid. With that in mind, I have set my guidelines as follows:
  1. Each act must be something that is not in my normal daily routine, i.e. diaper changing, bed making, laundry, etc.
  2. Each act must benefit at least one person besides me in some manner, be it emotional, physical, spiritual or otherwise.
  3. Each act must be performed with sincerity and a happy heart.
That's it. I think it sounds simple but at the same time I'm worried that I will be able to find enough acts of service to perform. I'm pretty comfortable with my little hermit-like ways. It will be good for me to reach outside of my comfort zone and find others who are in need of help.

Wish me luck!