Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ramona


I am officially 0 for 5 on successfully taking scissors to Lauren's hair to do even the most minor trimming. When I went in to have it fixed this time, the hair stylist said she understood and that it can be hard when 2 year olds are squirming so much when you try to cut their hair. She said even the best in the business make mistakes trying to cut a child's hair that's squirming like a little pig. I smiled and nodded but didn't tell her that Lauren was actually sitting as still as a statue when I cut her bangs 1 inch shorter on her right side than on her left.

I had the stylist give her a bob to make the ridiculously short and uneven bangs I gave her look like it was at least a little part of the plan. They're still slanted because I told the stylist I would have her retrim them when the right side grew out a little more. Everytime I look at her I think of Ramona Quimby, the character from the books and I want to hug her and apologize for trying to save a few bucks and trimming her bangs myself.

I told Dennis that the next time he sees me trying to take scissors to Lauren's hair and does not intervene and take them away from me, by force if necessary, her bad haircut will be HIS FAULT!!!

Easter Sunday. Sitting like a lady is something that's still a work in progress.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Your World In a Minute


Wow..... Looking through some of my latest posts I realize I've sounded like I'm having some serious issues with life and people around me. I really haven't been feeling as pessimitic as I've been coming across in some of my posts. Quite the opposite actually- life is pretty good! But I was reading something in the paper today that I feel strongly enough to blog about, even if it adds to the negative vibes I'm afraid I'm sending off.

I opened up the newspaper this morning and read a fairly extensive story about a topic that held a superficial level of human interest, but in the end held little substance to it. The length and attention given to the subject irked me a little but I kept skimming the other articles. As I was browsing I came across another article, back towards the end of the newspaper, substantially shorter and less conspicuous than the first article I read, but that took my breath away.

The story was about a doctor in Libya who was recently taking his family on a weekend trip out of town in an attempt to find some respite from the chaos of war. Somewhere along their journey, their car unexpectedely got caught between some crossfire between rebel and Gadhafi's forces. All four of his young children were shot to death, their little bodies riddled with bullet holes, almost to the point of being unrecognizeable. He and his wife miraculously survived but had to flee the scene as quickly as they could to seek cover. He spoke of how heart wrenching it was to leave the children in the car, even knowing that they were dead, feeling he was abandoning them. A week after the incident, the heart-broken father went back to work at the hospitals as an anesthesiologist. When asked why he returned to work so quickly, he said he felt he needed to be in the hospitals, taking care of people that he knew were suffering and had lost loved ones just as he had. He felt this was his way of fighting the rebel cause.

It reminded me of a segment on a news station that we used to watch when we lived in Utah. The first dozen or so stories aired were usually local- sometimes important and at times quite trivial. I remember once the top story of the nightly news being about a business owner who was frustrated that the road his business was on had changed names and he had recently ordered business cards and stationary. The announcer's voice tried as hard as he could to dramatize the man's frustration in having to reorder the supplies with the newly changed name of the street on his stationary.

After the local stories were aired, a man's voice came over the air, said, "And now.... for your world in a minute." He then proceeded, talking as fast as an auctioneer selling swine at the county fair, to give the top news stories from around the world in...you got it... one minute. I listened in disgust as he rambled off at 100mph, "100 people were killed in bus accident in Pakistan; a mudslide in Indonesia claimed the lives of 400 people; a suicide bomber went off in a market in Baghdad killing 23 people, many of whom were women and children." He finished the segment with a dramatic pause followed by, "And that's your world in a minute." Then it was time for the sports.

I'm not sure at what point or how it happened that things like Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding are the only international events that can hold the attention of the American public for more than 30 seconds. When I watch the Today Show in the morning, at least 3 or 4 segments are devoted every day to the event, with the countdown until the royal wedding having started about 2 months ago. Skimmed over are the earthquakes, nuclear threats, mine collapses, and casualities of the many wars all around the world, as they delve into speculation on who will be designing Kate's dress and what the guests will be eating at the reception.


Perhaps this fleeting interest in international events is taught in schools or perhaps in the homes. I'm not sure. Perhaps this indifference is ingrained unintentionally with the intense obsession on celebrities and reality TV. I remember as a 10th grade student in Colombia our final exam in debate class being a month-long study and debate about the effects of the Aswan High Dam in Africa. As teenagers we would often sit around and casually discuss politics and world events, even outside the classroom. I don't mean to imply that we were more elite in our way of thinking, but I wonder what has led to the gap of disconnect between then and now.

It scares me to think that my children might develop that same level of casualness about world events. It's as though there is some invisible barrier that makes everything outside our borders unimportant, only worth the 5 second spotlight given on the local news and at times even sadistically mocked on the Jay Leno show.


I realize some may say, "Well this is local news and it's serving it's purpose. If you want world news, watch CNN." But I can't help but think what kind of difference it would make if the common, non-cable subscribing population were more clued into the fact that guerillas are not large banana-eating primates in the jungle. That people in Mexico don't speak Mexican, they speak Spanish- and people in Brazil don't speak Brazilian, they speak Portuguese. And that there really is some valid reason to know, care, discuss and even act on what goes on outside our borders.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Exercise and Pregnancy

Finishing the Beat Coach Pete 5k with the kids a couple weeks ago. It was Camden and Luke's first 5k and they did great.



I am so sore today. I've been doing the penguin waddle all day (very similar to the pregnant waddle). When I was in the gym yesterday, I overdid it on the leg extensions and shoulder press so my quads and deltoids have been absolutely killing me. For once it's nice to be waddling not because of my protruding belly, loosey-goosey hips, or other areas that I will avoid mentioning.

I find that no matter how hard I try, there will always be things that I do that people will raise their eyebrows at or mutter about, and exercising, pregnant or not, has definitely been one of those for me. When I'm in the weight room lately, a number of people watch my every move and not a day goes by that I don't get a comment or two- some admiring, some reprimanding- about being in the gym while sporting my big gut.

I feel so blessed to have had the physical capacity during this pregnancy to exercise so far into it. I've had pregnancies in the past where it took all of my strength just to get through the day and exercising was the furthest thing from my mind. I think Heavenly Father knew I needed to feel in control of my life enough to at least be able to make it to the gym to get through this pregnancy. I've needed to exercise during this pregnancy more than ever before for my sanity and feeling of well-being.

I find it interesting that about half of the people approve and give encouraging remarks while the other half shake their heads as though I were giving vodka to the child in my womb.

I've found though, that if your house is too clean, some will say you're a perfectionist who is depriving your children of a normal, care-free childhood. But if you're house is too dirty, then you're a slob who needs to get their act together before they call DCFS.

If you're too fit, people will say you're self-centered and spend too much time on yourself. But if you're too fat, then you need to get off your butt and teach your children the importance of a healthy lifestyle with exercise and nutrition.

If you're too frugal, you're a tightwad who needs to learn to have fun and not let money rule your life. But if you're careless with money, you really need to exercise some self-control.

So then you find yourself going in circles thinking: How clean and smudged with fingerprints, at the same time, does my house need to be for people to get off my back about being too uptight?

How much chubs, while still staying fit, do I need to to keep to stop getting snide remarks about my exercise?

How old does my vehicle need to be to still be reliable but for people not to interrogate me on my monthly payments?

It's as if there's a certain level of mediocrity that people are the most comfortable with and feel the least threatened by- and that's where they want you to be.

I've always known I worry too much about what other people think and say. Remarks that pass judgment on me and my family have always affected me way more than I cared for them to. I find there are people who's approval I subconsciously want, but will never measure up, no matter what I do... or don't do for that matter.

Sometimes the most hurtful things are those said in reference to the things you work the hardest at, take the greatest pride in, or mean the most to you. Sometimes the people you think would approve of your choices don't, and that can also be a blow.

I've found that one of the best things about getting older is that with every passing year, I care less and less about other's judgments of me. I've found that as I try to do things for myself instead of seeking the approval of others, most of my choices and lifestyle remain the same, but carry less guilt and pressure. That is one perk about getting older I certainly didn't expect but very much enjoy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing a Letter to Me


A while ago I wrote a post about things I wish I would have known before I had kids. I'm sure that in about ten years from now, I'll be writing a post about things I wish I would have known when I had young children. That's just the way life rolls, I guess, always learning things that would have been so nice to know yesterday.

I know this is so lame, but as I was mopping the floor yesterday (I do most of my thinking when I'm scrubbing toilets and mopping floors) and even though I'm not a huge country music fan, I started thinking about a country song (yes, very cliché) called, "If I Could Write a Letter to Me." It's a thought-provoking song and Brad Paisley is one of the country sings who isn't too twangy or whiney so I can handle his music. I started thinking about all the things I would write to my teenage self in a letter. I immediately had a flood of advice and regrets that I wish I could pass on to my younger self.

I wish I would have been easier on my parents, realizing that they were stumbling through parenthood just as I was stumbling through adolescence. So many times I thought they were deliberately trying to ruin my life without realizing how much decisions you make as a parent are just shots in the dark while you keeping your fingers crossed.

I wish I wouldn't have dated boys so seriously. I laugh when I remember my mom, in her Chilean accent, suggesting that I "be like a butterfly and try all the flowers!" I had the rest of my life ahead of me to be married! Why in the world was I acting like I was married to these boys when I was 13 and 14 years old?

I would have treasured my time with my grandparents and parents, realizing that I would spend the vast majority of my life with them living far away, or with them having had passed away.

I wouldn't have been so rude to that boy that wrote me love notes and kept asking me out. I could have still been gracious and kind in letting him know that I wasn't interested. How awkward it was to run into him 10 years later as an adult. He being just as sweet as ever, and me feeling like a rat for the terrible way I had treated him.

I wish I wouldn't have fretted so much about what others thought of me, constantly trying to fit in. Some of the people I admire the most are those who march to the beat of their own drum and aren't afraid to be different.

I would have told myself not to beat myself up about not always getting the best grades in school. Looking back, I'm glad that I developed other hobbies and athletic interests other than focusing solely on academics. Even as the chronic B and C student, I was still able to get an excellent college education and career that I love, while still coming away with hobbies to carry me through my adult years. (Yes, I realize many will disagree with this one)

Knowing now the struggles and challenges my siblings have had to face in their adult years, I would have tried harder to develop relationships that would carry us through these difficult times.

I would open my eyes to the constant sacrifices my parents were making for me on a daily and even hourly basis for me.

I would have gone on more early morning jogs with my dad and had more talks with my mom.

And last, but certainly not least, I would have taken tweezers to those mangy things I called eyebrows and a curling iron to that mop of hair!

Last night I was at a Relief Society meeting that talked about the importance of journaling and I realized that in a sense I can write a letter to myself through journaling in hopes that my children will read it and learn from my many mistakes. I can't do anything to change my past but I can certainly try to help make my childrens' pasts ones with fewer regrets and wishes for do-overs. For me, my blog has become my primary source of journaling.

It was brought up that many of the experiences we face are not for ourselves, but for our posterity. I shouldn't always think that my experiences are all about me. They may not have anything to do with me, but more to do with my children and grandchildren and the lessons they will glean from them.

I recently read a book that recounted the experiences of the Willie and Martin handcart companies. As I read it, I thought many times how the trials and unimagineable tradgedies they endured were not only meant to be sanctifying for them, but for those who decades later, would read their personal accounts and be strengthened by their remarkable faith and courage. I know that reading the accounts of their experiences and sacrifices was life-changing for me.

If you have any advice you'd write to your youngerself, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quirks

I love my kids' quirks. They have so many of them. Here are a few recent ones:

This morning I got a call from Camden's teacher at school telling me that yesterday he had a bit of a scuffle with another student. I told Camden that before he went to school, he needed to write an apology note to the boy. Camden agreed and wrote: "I am sorry for kicking you yesterday." And then continued on starting in on writing out a lecture for the other boy. I told him that an apology wasn't to say "sorry" followed by a lecture, but that apologizing was all that he was to put in the note. He was so frustrated that I had completely taken the wind out of his sails. He had so much more that he wanted to say! He had planned on giving the poor kid an earful.

Later on this morning Luke told me he wanted to talk to his dad at work. I called Dennis but had a couple of things to tell him before I handed the phone over to Luke. Apparently I was taking to long because Luke got within a couple inches of the phone and started singing as loudly and obnoxiously as he could so I couldn't hear Dennis and to subtly expedite the process of getting his mother off the phone.






For lunch today, Luke decided that cold cereal in milk is pretty good, but what's even better is cold cereal with tortilla chips in milk. He ate the whole bowl with a smug little grin, watching me and enjoying my grossed out reaction.









Most babies go through a phase of giving open-mouthed kisses and eventually grow out of it after they realize that the rest of the world generally gives closed-mouth kisses. Apparently Lauren quite enjoys the attention and squeals of protest she gets from her brothers when she gives them a drool bath for a kiss, so she has never transitioned over to the closed-mouth kissing. Yes, she's almost two. If this doesn't correct itself in the next little while, we might need to have a serious intervention chat with her before she starts kindergarten. But in the meantime, I think they're pretty funny and I love how she giggles in satisfaction after she gives them and watches us wipe our faces off.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Being Normal

I've been thinking lately that the longer I live in Idaho and the more kids I have, the more ordinary my life is becoming. The longer time goes by, the fewer things in my life change and the more invisible and unnotable I feel. I had always imagined myself living in large cities as I had as a child, moving from adventure to adventure and living a much more glamorous life style. I never imagined that my days would be so routine living in a mostly unknown suburban American town, day after day, with so little variation.

But the most surprising thing about my revelation of my ordinary life is how okay I am with it. Not just okay, but how much I am learning to revel in it. As a kid, we were always the newcomers that stood out like a sore thumb, drawing attention everywhere we went. We always seemed to be somewhat stumbling around trying to find our way around the new places we lived- always in explorer mode. We were the perpetual new kids or visitors, whether we were in a foreign country or in the U.S.

I love the fact that when I go to the grocery store I almost always run into people I know. I love the network of friends that I've developed and that my kids know the other children that live in our neighborhood. I love that I don't have to keep in the back of my mind that in a year or two I'm going to have to say goodbye to my dear friends, most likely to never see them again. I love Camden's school, my trips to the gym, the girls-nights-out, the fact that I'm discovering hidden treasures in the community and the realization that 5 years from now, there's a good chance my life won't be much different than it is today. I never thought stability and normalcy would be so comforting.

Of course there are things I desperately miss about my childhood. I loved being in the Southern Hemisphere during the cold winter months of the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa during our trips to the U.S. in June and July. I miss the abundance of tree-ripened fruit. I miss our frequent family vacations to exciting beaches, resorts and ruins. I miss the dancing and the music of the Latin culture. Those are the things I long for on the blustery, rainy spring days like today.

It has been liberating to find enough joy and satisfaction in the simple and uneventful things in life like Luke crawling into bed with me at 6:30am, a long run on a summer evening, a good book, planting new trees in our backyard that I know I will be around long enough to enjoy them as they mature, and realizing that the walls of our house are the only home my children have ever known. It has been wonderful to not always be looking around the corner for something bigger and better than what I have now. As Dennis can attest, I still get restless and anxious for change at times, but as I've told him, I hope someday that my need for change will be satisfied with a new pair of shoes rather than moving to a new country.

I struggle knowing how to make my childhood experiences relevant and pertinent to my life now. I believe everyone should make their childhood experiences and their parent's sacrifices a part of their lives in some significant way. The trick is knowing how to do it while living in the moment without always keep one foot in the past. I have yet to discover that. Sometimes I feel like they are so distant and different that I wonder how they could possibly make a difference in who I am today. But I am determined to find that link.

Sometimes as I look at my brother's blog who lives overseas with his family, I think how I wish trips to Jerusalem, Roman ruins, and a child's baptism at the Sea of Galilee were what I journaled about and what my children's memories were made of instead of crazy trips to Costco. But then I realize that this is my life and it has been given to me on a silver platter. Life as I know it now is happier and more fulfilling than I could have ever planned or imagined. As a kid I certainly wouldn't have sketched this out as my life plan but it's a good thing the Lord knows me better than I know myself. And boy, does He.