Monday, March 31, 2014

More random anecdotes

I wish I were better about journaling all the cute and funny little things my kids say.  Hearing what comes out of their little mouths is probably one of the best things about being a parent.  I know that what delights a child's parent isn't as entertaining to others, but since I don't have anywhere else to journal these things, my blog will be the place for it.

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As we sat in church a few weeks ago, Lauren sat on my lap.  She was leaning with her side up against me thoughtfully playing with a mole that I have on the inside of my left arm.  I've been self-conscious about that ugly little mole ever since I was in second grade when I wore a sleeveless shirt to school and some girls mercilessly teased me about it.  

After a few minutes, she looked up at me with those big beautiful blue eyes of her and said, "Mom, I really love this."

"What do you love?" I asked, thinking she was going to say something profound by the look in her eyes.

"Your mole.  It's just so big, and juicy... and fat," she said as she lay her head against my chest, sighing with all the admiration a four year old could muster.

I guess one person's curse is another person's envy.





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About a week ago I was cutting Luke's hair in my bathroom.  He was staring at his reflection in the mirror when suddenly his eyes filled up with big crocodile tears and he said, "Mom, I wish I were normal."

"Normal?  What are you talking about, sweetheart?"

"It's my eyes and my eyelashes," he said.  "I'm so sick and tired of people always telling me how big and beautiful they are!  I just wish they were small like everyone else's and that people would leave me alone."

I was shocked!  His eyes are mesmerizing and startling- his most stunning feature.  Ever since he was a tiny baby, people would stop us everywhere we went to oooh and aaah over his eyes.  I realize as his mother I'm biased, but I think I can safely say that that boy is absolutely gorgeous.  But apparently he sees those "ojotes" (as the Mexican women call them) as a freakish mutation.

I tried to explain to him that when people commented on his eyes, that they were trying to be kind and pay him a compliment.

"I don't care,"  he said.  "I just wish people would stop telling me how handsome I am!"

Again, another person's curse is another person's envy.

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A few weeks ago on a Saturday morning as we were doing household chores and laundry, we heard a loud thump, thump, thump coming from the stairs, followed by Lauren's howling and crying.

We ran to see what was the matter, only to find out that she after we had sent her upstairs to put her clothes away, she then tried to ride the laundry basket down the stairs like a sled.  It didn't quite work out as she had planned as the laundry basket turned head over end with her in it, throwing her out.  In the process she sustained a small buckle fracture in her left wrist.  

After many tears, a visit to Quick Care, the orthopedic doctor's office, x-rays, a splint, and a hefty medical bill, she has since thankfully recovered.

This morning as I set the laundry baskets out to do laundry, I saw her heading upstairs, dragging the  empty laundry basket behind her.

"Where are you going with that?"  I asked.

"Well, my arm is feeling all better, so I thought I'd try riding the laundry basket down the stairs again," she said.

Are you kidding me?!?

After a stern lecture, she agreed to not try her little stunt again, but tried to slip past me several times with the laundry basket towards the stairs.

That little woman!!!  Who would have thought that my biggest daredevil would be my sweet little girl?  She is going to be the death of me!

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For this next little anecdote, I am completely to blame and I take full responsibility.  My three youngest were born delightfully chubby and squishy.  I've squeezed and squished them all until they've reached an age when their baby fat has sadly melted off and they give me a heart-to-heart telling me that I need to knock if off.  But until then, I squish away.

Calista is my last squisher left, but to my dismay my annoying habits are starting to peeve her too.  She'll hold out her little hands and furrow her eyesbrows and say,"No, no, no more squishing me!"

For the most part I've backed off, but in a gesture of retaliation, her and Lauren have taken up squishing me now that I'm the one with the excess squishiness.  Lauren will often come up behind me and grab two large handfuls of bum cheeks and say, "Squishy, squishy, Mommy!" and then run away giggling.

When Calista is sitting on my lap, she'll reach out and squish the closest, squishiest things her little hands can grab.  And wouldn't you know it, there are two of them... right on my chest, right at grab-level.

It serves me right, I guess.

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Several months ago, Calista was extremely irritated with me for some reason, although I can't remember why.  She huffed and puffed and yelled something at me before stomping out the door.  But that wasn't enough, apparently, and she came back into my room several times to let me have a piece of her mind. And I couldn't understand a word she was saying.  Somewhere in the middle of all of her frustration, she had gotten a bad case of the hiccups.  Everytime she came into my room to shake her little finger at me, I had to try harder and harder not to laugh.  It sounded like I was getting chewed out by a cute little rubber ducky... with a lisp.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

These lines

I apologize ahead of time if my posting this makes anyone lose their lunch.  As a nurse I realize that a lot of things that don't even phase me completely nauseate and gross other people out.

A friend of mine recently created a photography challenge blog.  One of the challenges we were given was to photograph texture.  As I was thinking about what to submit as my entry, I happened to look down and see the stretch marks on my belly- deep, wide, and discolored- so I decided to photograph a woman's most prized battle scars.

I wasn't blessed with a beautiful pregnant belly like so many women seem to be.  Mine is covered with stretch marks and an unbecoming layer of peach fuzz.  When I'm not pregnant, it reminds me of a shriveled balloon that has been blown up and then deflated one too many times. But I love these lines and the beautiful little people in my life that they represent.

I love the scar from my appendectomy that I underwent when I was 24 weeks pregnant with Camden.  I remember the prayers and priesthood blessings that preceded what was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life, where I witnessed first-hand the Lord's hand guiding my life, and the life of my unborn child.  Because of my expanding belly during the time the surgical wound was healing, the 4 inch long pencil-thin line became a 1/2 inch wide line of stretched skin.

I love the extra wide stretch marks that grace the side of my belly that came when I was pregnant with Luke.  The thin stretch marks I got from my pregnancy with Camden tripled in width.  I couldn't understand why I felt like I was carrying a bowling ball on my pelvis during most of my pregnancy, but when he was born, he was almost three pounds heavier than Camden had been.  He was such a chubby little chunk of love and I felt a close connection to him from the very beginning.

I don't know if this is my last pregnancy.  Part of me really hopes it is, and the other part just isn't sure yet.  If you had asked me three years ago, I would have knocked you upside the head and told you to not even mention pregnancy to me again!  I was so done!  I once had a theory that anyone who had six or more kids had to have a few loose screws upstairs.  And if they didn't, then they would by the time they were done raising their kids.  And here I am, on the brink of reaching that "loose screws" threshold.  But my heart was slowly changed and I know there is another little person waiting to be a part of our family.  The thought of having another child doesn't terrify me like it did before, but the thought of never feeling the kicks and nudges makes me sadder than I ever thought it would.
My submission to the photography challenge for a self-portrait, taken at 34 weeks.
I had planned on taking pregnancy pictures throughout my entire pregnancy to document the growth of my belly, but I've let the time slip by, taking only two pictures.  I took this one at 27 weeks in my living room on a cold and rainy day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Never enough

The other day I was talking to my sister on the phone and she mentioned that she was getting her 2013 family year book ready to be published.  Are you kidding me?!?  Here we are, only mid-way through March, and she was already putting the finishing touches on organizing and publishing all the pictures she had taken last year.  I was impressed and disappointed at the same time.  Impressed at her ability to stay so caught up and disappointed in myself.  I am years and years behind on compiling our family pictures into something my children can look through and enjoy.  I take pictures by the thousands, but aside from a handful that are enlarged and printed, there they sit on my hard drive.

After hanging up the phone with her, I walked past the living room and realized our leather couches were in desperate need of a good cleaning and conditioning treatment.  I made myself a note, and went into the office to see a stack of papers that had been needing filing for quite some time.  I started shuffling through the papers and came across a note that our pediatrician had given me several months ago with the title of a book he wanted me to read regarding children and sleep, which I have never gotten around to.  The note reminded me that I needed to follow up on what has been a losing battle with one of my children's intestinal issues. As the day went on, I kept coming across things, one after another, that I realized I had fallen behind on or was completely neglecting.

I felt that all too familiar feeling of anxiety mounting in the back of my mind- that anxiety a mother feels when she feels like she isn't doing enough.  But how could I possibly not be doing enough?  I scrupulously organize my day with to-do lists and calendars, run errands, clean house, kiss owies, chase after kids, and go to bed every night completely exhausted.  How is it possible that that still isn't enough?

I started thinking of all the areas that I felt I was falling behind.   I should be exercising everyday, but that has been hit or miss, with more miss than hit lately.  Chicken nuggets and Ramen Noodles grace our dinner table far more often than they should (hence my child's intestinal issues, I'm sure).  I've allowed most of my friendships, with the exception of a few, to dwindle away, consumed by the busyness of my life.  I don't call my mother nearly as often as I should.  I only read with my children a few times a week instead of every day.  The pile of clothes that needs mended hasn't been touched in months.  And the list goes on and on.

And yet I feel like I'm killing myself everyday trying to do enough- to be enough.  Will I ever feel like I'm doing all that I should- being all that I should?  But then I realized, I've never met a mother who feels like she is- that isn't plagued with at least some feelings of guilt and inadequacy.  Maybe they're out there, but I've never met one.

I recently read an article that statistically concluded what the ideal number of children to have was.    And wouldn't you know it, I've exceeded the recommended number... three times over.  A mother's love, they said, can be multiplied endlessly to accommodate feelings of affection for her offspring, no matter how many she chooses to have.  Her time, however, is a finite resource. The pie can only mathematically be split so many ways.  And who can argue with math?  I know I sure can't because I suck at math.  But even when I only had this "ideal number" of children, I remember still feeling like I was always grasping at straws.  I remember telling my husband that I felt like I was president of the Deficient Spouses Club with just two kids, while mothers with four and five kids seemed to be rocking the heck out of carpooling and meal planning.

But my feelings of inadequacy and failure to successfully wear all the hats that are mounted on my head aren't unique feelings.  I think every mother, in one or many ways, feels like she is failing.  Epically so.  And yet those resilient little creatures that we call children have a way of adapting and loving us despite all our short-comings and unfinished to-do lists.

This morning my son was getting ready for a class field-trip.  Before heading out the door, I pulled him aside and slipped him a dollar, telling him it was to buy himself a candy bar when he was on his field trip.  He quietly handed it back and told me he wanted me to keep it because he knew that finances were tight with the expenses of building our house.

Later on, as I dropped the kids off at school, my other son paused before opening the car door and turned back and said, "Thanks, Mom.  I love you."

Then I watched my daughters play together this morning, hugging and giggling as they played with their ponies and dolls.

Somewhere in the midst of all the things I should be doing better, apparently things are turning out alright.  Actually much, much better than alright.

I don't think God designed life in a way that we could do everything we should.  He knew that there would be some things that we would have to let fall by the wayside- and really good things.  That's part of the test.  I think sometimes that the good things in life are like a buffet table, where we have to wander up and down the line, with plates in hand, deciding what it is that we're going to pile on.  But once the plate is full, it's full.  Adding more food to that plate doesn't increase it's capacity, it just makes some of the other food spill off.  Spillage is expected, but what's important is the quality of what we leave on the plate.

Today I decided to start tackling my pictures, and while Calista was napping, worked on organizing and getting them ready to put into a book.  This is going to take a while since I have let myself fall so far behind.  I'm starting to cross one item off a list of what seems like thousands. And when I'm caught up on my photo books, I'm sure there will still be a million things I feel like I'm not doing right or enough of.  But it's a start and I'll keep trying.

Going through and organizing files upon files of pictures brought a lump to my throat as I realized how fast time flies.
I was struck by how much my babies have grown up and how much our life has changed in the past three years.
But most importantly, I realize how happy my life is with these little nymphs.