Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another reason I love kids

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A few days ago I found this picture Camden had drawn depicting an incident that had happened at school where he thought someone had stolen something from his desk and then used the stolen item for Show and Tell the following week.  (I blurred out her name for obvious reasons)  He was furious.  Then he did what any 2nd grade boy would do with a picture depicting an emotionally scarring event- he folded it into a paper airplane and threw it around the house for the rest of the evening.

Scan

"I know you're upset, Camden, but what do you think Heavenly Father would want you to do?" I asked.

It seemed I had given him just the opportunity he had been waiting for.  His little eyes lit up and he said, "Well, Mom, I've been reading in the scriptures and in the Old Testament, when people did things that were wicked, God would send fires and floods and destroy them!"  
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Another one of mom's attempts to teach values using reflective questioning bites the dust...

Then today as Luke and I were trying to decide what to do to keep us entertained on a snowy, blustery morning I asked him what he felt like doing.

As casually as if he were suggesting we play a game of Candyland he said (in his little Mickey Mouse voice), "Well, we could play 'Blow up Justin Beiber.'"  

"What?!? You don't even know who Justin Beiber is!"

Snicker, snicker... "I know."

So we settled for a close second- pretending he was Mr. Potato Head.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Explanation

My intent in writing this isn't to divulge every detail that you never cared to know nor is it to have you pull up a chair alongside me on my pity pot, but I think there are some things that might give a little insight to the recent back and forth in my blog with making it private and then public again.  I realize this is very long-winded but I think it will make the picture a little clearer.

I'll start from where I think would be a good place to start.  As I'm sure many mothers can relate, the birth of my fourth child brought with it some pretty big changes- more busyness, less sleep, more to do, and less time to do it in.  That also came along with a period of readjusting and redefining myself to adapt to my circumstances.  During that readjustment process (which for some reason seems to have taken a LONG time this go round) a number of things have dropped off my plate in the process- some deliberately, others not so much like regular exercising, sound sleep, yadda, yadda.  It's the story of almost every mom anywhere in the world.  

But the other night as I was struggling to fall asleep yet again at 2am, I thought, “What has happened to me?”  It's not just the big things- it's the little things too.  My organizational skills, my ability to set a goal and follow through with it, my time management skills, my self-discipline- they all seem to be ghostly remnants from a former life.  What were once strengths are now desperate weaknesses. I no longer find time for friendships or things that in the past had kept me not only afloat, but swimming.  From the outside very little may seem to have changed, but from the inside, at times I can barely recognize myself.  

While things were (and still are) hard in some ways, there are many things that have kept me going.  I've discovered a passion for photography (that's a word I generally avoid using but I've found that it really has become a passion).  I've enjoyed being a wife and a mother more than I ever have before.  Reading the scriptures has brought them to life in a way they never have before.  

And then there is my blog- one of the few things that keeps me feeling connected to the outside world (when you live in Suburbia, Idaho with four kids ages 7 and under, that's not always an easy thing to find).  It challenges me to process my thoughts and to verbalize what it is that makes me tick.  There's something about the process of verbalizing my thoughts that demystifies them.  I put my finger on whatever elusive concept it is I struggle to make sense of.  Old people do Sudoku and crossword puzzles to ward off insanity… I blog.

When I started my blog, I started it with the intent of creating a connection with other people.  I feel connected and close to people when I read their blogs so I hoped this would do the same for other people that lived for away or even perhaps that lived near by.

I realized before I started that in some ways stepping foot into the blogging world can be like stepping foot back into high school and I braced myself for it.  The popularity contests, keeping up with so and so who seems to have it all together, and the criticism that comes along with it- it’s all out there in the blogging world.  

But I decided that what I was doing was first and foremost for me.  If somewhere along the way people decided they wanted to read my blog, then so be it.  I promised myself I would never recruit readers nor would I allow myself to feel badly if no one commented on what I had written.  As much as I enjoyed the feedback, I couldn’t let that be my primary motivator.

As time went on, I realized some of the things I had said had rubbed some people the wrong way and hurt some feelings.  I realize that yes, there have been some very insensitive things I have said and I've beat myself up over it time and time again.  I've stayed awake at night for hours agonizing over this or that thing I said, wishing I could go back in time and shut my big, stupid mouth.  

The more time went on, the more I found myself stressing over things I posted, at times fretting for days over whether what I wrote would be misconstrued or misinterpreted and then come back to bite me in the butt.

Finally I decided I had had enough.  One more thing to stress and lose sleep over was the last thing I needed- so I made my blog private.  As I started going through the process of sending out personal invites to read my blog, I had a realization.  If I was trying to avoid hurt feelings, purposefully excluding and shutting people out wasn't going to help my case- it would only make things worse.  The only way to avoid any further problems, as far as I could see, was to make it completely private, visible only to me and no one else.

At the risk of sounding overly theatrical, after I made that decision, something inside me fell apart. I felt like one of the last remaining remnants of my former self had just been laid to rest.  I literally felt like someone had just died, and that person was me. I cried like a baby for the rest of the day.  I couldn't even think about it without crying. (Yes, this is where I’d be rolling my eyes too)

That's when I realized that my tears weren't about the blog.  It was the feeling that I had just sealed the coffin on the person I used to be.  And what hurt the most was that I like who I used to be and felt I had just given up on her.  But darn her, she has stayed just outside of my grasp for over a year.  What else was I supposed to do?

So I called up a friend who is one of my go-to people for advice.  Once again, I started bawling like a freakin' baby.  I told her that I felt like I had just given up on one of the last remaining pieces of who I used to be.  I was failing miserably at any and all attempts to reconstruct my former self.  I was done.  I was checking out.  And then she did something that startled me.  She started crying too, on the other side of the line.  Her tears made me realize that this loss wasn't only mine.  My throwing in of the towel, not just of the blog but of everything else, affected others around me too and they are people that I care about deeply.  

I had fallen victim to the very thing I had sworn off that plagues not only bloggers but so many others as well, and that is the need for approval.  I was so pathetically lacking in self approval that I couldn't handle the thought of others not approving of me either, and this blog is very much a reflection of me.

So here's my point (finally).  I have never, nor will I ever solicit readers for my blog. I will never have giveaways to entice readers or even have the “followers” icon on my sidebar.  Your choice to read my blog is entirely yours.  Most of my closest friends don't read my blog and that's perfectly fine with me.  I try very hard to speak honestly without offending, even though I’m not always successful.  There is a fine line between being direct and honest, and being a tactless butthead, and that is a line I try hard not to cross, even though unfortunately I will probably still fail from time to time.  I will still love you and we can still have a good relationship if you do not read my blog.  Who knows, it may even make our relationship better if you don’t.   The relationships I have with my family and friends are in the end what buoy me up…not my blog, but there is a sense of self that I have to maintain so I won’t lose my mind.

I hope this is the last blog post that I’ll fret over, as I certainly have.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You might be a mom if...


Last night I was reading a book about the different symptoms of medical conditions in women.  I had to laugh as I realized that each of these conditions have an eerie similarity to another condition I know.

First it gave the symptoms for hypothyroidism: weight gain, hair loss, feeling cold, aches and pains, fatigue, slower thinking, trouble remembering things, feeling down.

Then they moved on to diabetes: frequent urination, increased appetite, drowsiness, lethargy, irritability.

Then came menopause:  mood swings, fatigue, hair thinning, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, weight gain, depression, (as well as some other girly symptoms that I'll avoid mentioning but that still apply).

Almost any mom on any given day of the year could probably go into the doctor with these exact symptoms and he'd just smile, pat you on the back, and say, "Welcome to Motherhood."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Farm boy meets veggie burger

Lately I've been trying to really step it up with the health quality of the food we're eating as a family.  In my brilliant attempt to cut back on the red meat but still enjoy hamburgers, I bought some veggie burgers at Costco.  I thought I could  teach my red meat-worshipping husband to embrace the healthier side of protein. Being the good sport that he is, Dennis agreed to give it a shot.

Dennis: "Ummmm....sweetie?  Is this supposed to be green?"


Me:  "The trick is, don't be expecting it to taste like a burger.  If you expect it to taste like veggies mashed into a pattie, then you won't be disappointed."

Dennis:  "I'm pretty sure I won't be expecting this to taste like a burger."

Me:  "Remember...it's not a burger.  It's a veggie burger."

Dennis:  "Riiiighht."

A nibble and a few-dry heaves later, down the garbage disposal it went.

Dennis:  "Ugggh!  You should seriously try to get your money back from Costco on those.  How does anyone eat those things?  I need something to drink."

...as my health mission came to a screeching halt for the day.

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Onto less amusing things, since I returned from Chile our family has been taken through the ringer when it comes to sickness.

After Dennis' 6th run-in with strep throat this year, the recommendation was finally made for Dennis to have his tonsils out at the beginning of April.

What started out as a nasty, nagging cough for Camden turned into pneumonia.  Antibiotics, nebulizer treatment, and steroid treatment all included.

Luke, Lauren, and Calista all caught Camden's cold which after several days turned into ear infections for all of them.  The hardest part has been seeing sweet, mellow Calista, who rarely cries, howl and scream in pain.

Four visits to the pediatrician in one week, antibiotics for each child twice daily and nebulizer treatments every 6 hours... exhausting.  The windy weather along with having all 4 kids cooped up in the house on quarantine hasn't helped much.

But the good news is that we're almost out of the woods.  The boys were well enough to send to school and Lauren is back to her usual cave woman self.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vantage Points

{Disclaimer: Please take this post at face value and know it does not carry a covert or subliminal message of any kind.}

The city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-  I lived there my senior year of high school and it was always interesting to hear what foreigners and tourists thought of the city.

Some saw the gleaming white buildings, pristine beaches, mountains and rain forests creating a breath-taking back drop.  They felt warmed by the statue of Christ, with outstretched arms overlooking the city, felt the energy of a vibrant culture, and were enchanted by the musical cadence of the sotaque carioca (local accent).








Others, however, stood from the same vantage point and saw only bustling traffic with noisy, smoking buses, streets littered with garbage, and the favelas (slums) of unthinkable poverty dotting the mountainside.  They felt the oppressive humidity and heard a garbled language.


I won't lie.  For me, it depended on the day.

And yet the city is what it is.  Magnificent and awe-inspiring in some ways, but tragic and dangerous in others. There is no magical transformation that takes place between the eyes of one and the eyes of another.

Life in my suburban subdivision has a way of feeling crowded and oppressive, or lonely and isolated.  Spring days in Idaho can feel blustery and listless, or refreshing and emerging into life.

And yet there's an unalterable, and at times elusive reality that exists beyond whatever rose-colored or cloudy spectacles I may have put on that day.

Yesterday as I was sitting in sacrament meeting I couldn't help but notice the stark contrast in the deacons passing the sacrament.  Tall and short, red-headed and blonde, heavy and scrawny, cool and awkward, one was markedly older than the rest, and one passed the sacrament from a wheel chair.  And yet what they offered the parishioners was the same despite the assortment of it's delivery. And if the acceptance was half-hearted or with full purpose, whether it was partaken of with a clean or muddled conscience- the token was still exactly the same.

No matter who's looking through the spectacles, whether it's Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, life has a way of moving forward whether we see it or not.  We keep going.  And things seem to have a way of working themselves out in the end.
When I was in New York a few years ago, I noticed a series of billboards that advocated understanding, similar to this one.  I couldn't find the actual pictures on the billboards so this is my attempt to recreate the idea.