Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bye Bye Baby!

I said Goodbye today to the last of the baby supplies.  The car seat, the training toilet and the last of the electronic entertainment gadgets disappeared into the Big Brothers Big Sisters collection box.  

I admit, there is a bit of sadness in recognizing that a certain part of your life is over.  It is a bit complicated admitting that I now I will never carry a biological child of our own.  The kids fussed as the colorful items disappeared.  "What will our baby boy ride in? See, Meoke wants to keep the car seat.  Just let's keep it for a little longer Mo-om."

But, I also feel free.  Freedom comes with acceptance.  Freedom is accepting the life I have been given, even when it didn't match up with MY initial vison.  Freedom is clearing my life and home of the items that do not match up with my current stage of life.  Freedom is a bit more space to add those canvases Ladybug and I are going to work on together.  Freedom is a deep and abiding LOVE of my Father in Heaven who gently molds and shapes his willful and proud daughter into a lovelier person for his glory.  Freedom is looking forward to new experiences, to OTHER purposes, not better, just different.  

I explain to my sweeties that sharing our good baby supplies with the less fortunate doesn't mean that we don't want or won't get another baby, it just means we accept life as it IS.  So, any of you that find a homeless little baby  that needs a great family, we're always available!  I'll just have to go get a new car seat.  

Monday, February 22, 2010

Groovin at the rink

Briz handed me an article.  "I think we're doing o.k. - we've talked about it a little, but read it and see what you think."

I read of another family who felt rushed, hurried, and over scheduled as they ran from lessons to church responsibilities to activities.  They cut way back and instituted "Club Family".

This resonated with me and as the main chauffer, would love to see a reduction in family activities.  I miss the time time time I had with Little Mother and Sunshine while home schooling.  I was able to include many activities I felt like adding.  Plus I was with them so much.  I LOVED it.  I'm not sure what to cut out yet, but club family can begin. 

Tonight was our first Club Family. 

There was the 40 year old who spends all his extra time at the rink clicking his heels together.  There were mothers and fathers pushing strollers, holding hands, encouraging, or sprawling on their backs.

There were children from 0 to twelve, on roller blades, skates, plasma bikes, or scooters.  And, there were a few misplaced teenagers hand in hand with younger siblings or friends. 

All wore a look of concentration and unconscious enjoyment as they raced, preened, or wobbled under the strobe lights. 

I enjoyed the wipe outs that each quickly pretended never happened.  
I enjoyed the silly looks of happiness on each face young and old as they zoomed by with the wind on their faces.
I enjoyed how the character of my children showed itself on skates as it does in every facet of their lives.  

One skates oh so cautiously.  

One skates oh so wild!

One skates socially. 

I brought a book along to read.  But the drama of our lives that played out in front of me was too fascinating and I couldn't look away.  Seth, from school, was fascinated by my Little Mother.  I watched his family give him a hard time, but he kept coming back.  She was kind but dismissive as she seemed completely unaware.  But I saw her reach her turn and watch a certain cute boy a year or two older a bit too long.

Ladybug on the other hand had no interest in any of them whatsoever.  She stomped out of the skating rink disgusted that during the bracelet slap song, FOUR boys had them and not one of them shared with her.   I understood my people better for stopping and just watching them.... really seeing for just an hour and a half.  

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Midnight Pye

I adore Cats.  Specifically, I love Pyewackit.  I love her long soft fur, her soft belly and the way it feels on my nose.  I love her coloring, the light warm tones deepening into black legs and face.  I am entranced by her predator stare . . .  she measures, calculates, and misses nothing in her observations.  I love her crossed eyes as she delicately licks a Chocolate Creamie.  I am bewitched that such lethal claws, teeth, and athleticism is cloaked in the ultimate in grace, elegance, and softness.  Her former life as royalty has not been forgotten.   Everyone and everything exists for her personal benefit.  She daintily hops on the table and we all run to get her a glass half filled of water so she can dip her paws then lick them off.  I exult when she deigns to rub my legs or very rarely to sit by me.  When she was a wild, frightened kitten, I spent hours sitting quietly in the garage to gain her trust.  Now I am rewarded by her complete confidence.  So complete she will not move off a chair when someone goes to sit down, so certain she is of her right to be anywhere she wants.

Pye is a cat of specific habits and tastes.  She allows pets at certain times and in certain places.  Mainly, while she eats, and second, when she gets lonely in the middle of the night.   Understandably, when she jumps up on my bed in the middle of the night, I wake and instantly move to give the object of my adoration the most comfortable position possible.  In truth, I stay awake for hours, petting her neck, or holding her paws, listening to her purr, taking advantage of this rare privilege.  I don't dare tell Briz why I am so tired night after night.  How could I explain my addiction?

A month ago, Pyewackit made a new habit.  When I leave the comfort of my bed in the middle of the night she hears me and comes.   While I sit quietly in the dark, on the toilet, she lands in one velvety leap on my lap, lies down and begins to purr.  Now, this is joy beyond measure.  Nowhere else will she sit on anyone's lap.  So night after night, we keep our guilty bathroom ritual.  I sit till I am numb and nodding before sadly removing my furry friend and creeping back to bed.

The other night, I had been sitting for some time, with Pye when I heard Briz stir.  I knew he was coming to use my chair.  But I couldn't disturb my buddy.  I sat quietly and prayed he would go to another bathroom so we would not get urinated on in the dark.  I heard him rustling less than one foot away from us.  The light flashed on.  Briz wildly jumped three inches in the air and yelped as four shiny eyes calmly stared back at him. We stared each other down for a few minutes while he processed the scene.  Finally he ordered with disgust, "Get off!"  I meekly shooed off my friend and went to wait in bed for my punishment.  Five minutes later, the bed behind me shook with suppressed laughter.  "How long have you been in there?  No wonder you are always so tired."  He shook his head with resignation over sharing his bed with such a lunatic and kissed my forehead.  "Now, go to sleep before I ground you and Pyewackit."

We obeyed.  And I have tried to do better some of the time.   But, her fur is so soft, and her purr is so comforting, and truly, she is quite a conquest, even if she is a user.   And at least I no longer carry cats around in my shirt against my skin.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Magical Sound Man, Take Me AWAY!!!

When my sisters and I were little, we'd listen to old records of Let's Pretend.  At the beginning of each segment, Uncle Ted asked a child to pick the form of transportation that would take us to the story.  Sometimes it was a space ship, other times horses, or another time by moonbeam.  What was important is that we saw our transportation as a portal that took us to another place where our imaginations ruled.

The current portal of choice in the castle in the karaoke machine.  The joys of listening to one's one voice amplified have brought hours of learning enjoyment.  

It started on Sunday when Little Mother quelled her boredom at church by documenting a cute returned missionary speaking at the pulpit. 
She noticed all the features of a church meeting and flipped to a new page and began to plan.  
Before our walk, Briz and I were begged invited to "council" downstairs.


"Bishop" (Little Mother) led the services and started by introducing her two councilors.  

We were favored with several musical numbers by various members of the "bishopric" then each gave a beautiful talk full of appreciation for parents and their testimony of the Savior.

  All went well till later that day when  Sunshine tattled on the "Bishop" and was released as second counsoler and a friend invited to that position. 
The next day, the microphone took the girls to further lands of imaginary play.  They spent hours typing, printing, and rehearsing 4 WORLD NEWS.  Each anchor drew pictures of a dozen news stories, mostly involving bad men abducting children or children in jail for stealing wallets.  They colored a weather map and gave the weather for the nation.  At a crucial commercial break, we were urged by the commercial to frequent Sally's Salon by a fully set up "salon" with demonstrated manicures.

Yesterday, each family and neighbors were issued printed invitation for a weekly "council".  Currently, my three are shut up in the guest room with Girl Power Music blasting and a decorative sign advertising Sunshine Preschool.  

Where will the karaoke machine take them next?   

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Winter Thaw

We are composing an ode to the winter thaw, to sun, to blue and gold.  Why?  Because the skies are partly blue with bits of sun peeking through.  The scraggly grass is bare of its winter blanket of snow.

Living things are venturing out of their cozy nests to cautiously and joyfully feel the air on their skin.  We too are anxious to peek out of our burrow.

In our excitement over discovery, we find ourselves wandering far into the wetlands before chancing on a sign that forbids our trespass.


Finally! to climb trees, throw rocks, track deer, raccoon, and stray cats.  "Mom!  I LOVE it out here!"

The change in weather effects all of us.  Today, Briz asked me to join him in the yard for a game of catch.  It has been several years since my glove had any use and I clumsily dropped many of his passes.  Yet, I improved.  As the ball repeatedly slapped the leather, we shed years and my heart grew buoyant.  Memories flooded; first of college housing, in the front yard, playing catch.  Then I remembered catch in our Wyoming back yard with the neighbor boys clamoring to join us.  We continued our softball courtship in Denver where without the distraction of kids, Briz and I joined separate competitive softball teams and often practiced together.  Now years have passed and my hand is not used to the slap.  It hurts.  But like magic, the motion loosens our tounges.  We talk of books recently read, and trees that need pruning or staking.  Mostly, we smile.  I watch and am not untouched by his mischievous flirting smile as the ball comes back over and over. 

I promise fifteen minutes of work in the yard. After all, I always tell myself, I can do anything for fifteen minutes.  Soon the afternoon is gone, turned to evening and I am still engrossed in helping my little ones clear the debris from last year's garden.

We loosen the soil and carefully plant seeds, new life will spring from the ground before winter has lost its full grip.  Arugula, Kolrabi, Broccoli, Purple Cabbage, Carrots, and Peas find a nice dry bed in which to stir and grow.

The early spring crop has already started.  Onions, lettuce, and spinach are already inches tall braving the contrary storms and sunny days.

"And why shouldn't all of us enjoy the outdoors so much?"  I ask Briz.  "We are in the environment our Father made for us after all."


We're still learning how to fill others buckets.  We really enjoyed this film.  Watch it then go out and give some VALIDATIONS!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentines Day

Valentine's Day.  

"Let's make a pact honey.  Let's never go out to eat again on Valentine's Day.  We can go out the week before or the week after."

"But Briz, what about when our kids are grown up?"  

"Ah, who wants to fight the crowds anyway.  I'd rather stay home."


Breakfast consisted of high fiber protein Cranberry Muffins with Struesal Topping, Chilled Stawberry Soup, and Turkey Bacon.  Love notes were waiting for each of my sweeties.   Of course this was done in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, and the muffins put in the oven on delayed start.

We spread the love with our friends. Two families delivered valentines, hugs, and musical numbers to our local care center  and our two neighborhood widows.  There is nothing like a hug from someone with no family to get you in the giving mood.  

We had a simple dinner that felt fancy of Shrimp Bisque, Avacado Salad, Martinellis, and heart shaped ice cream molds with chocolate sauce.  Each darling found a Tiffany style heart locket under their plate.  They feel clever that they can have a "piece of my heart" anywhere they go.

I used the loving theme of the evening to present our Family Love Bucket for use throughout the year.

Our family goal for the year is "Love in our hearts, Love in our Home."  The bucket idea is a visual to assist in that goal.  The story available at Amazon, Have You Filled A Bucket Today?, by Carol McCloud and David Messing tells how everyone carries a bucket, whether old, young, parent or child.  Everyone is either a bucket filler or a bucket taker.  Yelling, sarcasm, and unkind words dip from people's bucket leaving them weak and listless.  Thoughtful acts, kind words, and smiles fill others buckets.  Once a month we will fill our bucket up for a family member whose bucket is particularly low and share all the nice things we can think of with them.  After I went to bed, my two youngest rearranged my study and Family Room so they could fill my bucket.  LOVE IN OUR HEARTS, LOVE IN OUR HOME!   Valentine's Mission Accomplished. 

Valentine Strawberry Soup
2 pints strawberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar or 1/3 cup agave (we use agave)
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom

In a blender, combine the strawberries, yogurt, orange juice, sugar, water, ad cardamom.  Puree until well mixed.  Chill and serve. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Road Rally

I had such a marvelous experience being invited to a party that I didn't have to plan!!!! I wanted to share a bit with you all.  So I copied  Mel's blog and pasted it here for myself to have happy memories.  This was our incredibly fun clever group.  

Megan and Tara organized a road rally for adult couples in our neighborhood. I'm not sure that people pushing 40 and beyond should have that much fun without kids. We were given a list of many things we could choose from to take our picture with or in, but only had 90 minutes and could only turn in our ten best pictures.
  • 6 people in a port-a-potty on a construction site. (175 points) VILE!!!
  • Outside a Baskin Robbins, balancing pink sample spoons on our noses with a neon sign in the background.
  • Fountain wearing the same color--should have had a water fight for 40 more pts
  • Pulling faces outside a movie theater, wearing green.
  • Wearing green, eating fry sauce, behind the counter of a fast food establishment.  (Mel wiped some on Briz's poor bald head)
  • Wearing scrubs, holding a reptile (okay, it's an amphibian), in wheelchairs, in a hospital.
  • Next to a Koi pond with a Utah fan and BYU fan together (bonus points).
Also done but not documented here: 
  • All in a dumpster wearing different hats--we found out later that it only needed to be one in a dumpster!
  • Wearing googles, carrying swim noodles, with a lifeguard at a swimming pool. (taken with a fogged up camera)
  • On a tennis court, with rackets, playing musical instruments, wearing sunglasses and sombreros.
  • Pizza parlor all wearing the same color.
Oh the joy of feeling young again!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

For the love of Boys

I was raised with girls.  Sisters, sisters, and more sisters.  By the time a sweet little boy came around, he was more of a doll or a toy than a play mate.  I left the house before he was half way through elementary.  Other than as dates or my husband,  I've always been a bit afraid of boys.  I don't understand their sense of humor and know that they see me as the epitome of that strange breed, the female.  When I get extremely frustrated with my (gasp!) daughter who wipes boogers on walls, Briz laughs and says, "It's a good thing you didn't have any boys."  All the things that drive you crazy about ________ are boy traits." 

Well, I am mothering my niece and nephew this week while the parents are off on exotic locations and must admit I was a bit afraid of Cody.  I don't speak boy.  I'm not fun for boys.  I do tea parties, I don't pass the ball well, or make lewd jokes.  I'm not even funny.  My fears were baseless.  The little fellow has quite stolen my heart.  I trudge downstairs bleary eyed and messy in the morning and am greeted with the most pleased, "Mum! Mum!" My own girls aren't half so excited to see me as he is every few minutes when he has found me again.  He isn't satisfied to watch T.V. unless he has grabbed me by the shirt and plopped me in a chair and crept onto my lap. 

Today was one of those days.  Lack of sleep for 3 nights left me at the edge of sanity.  An angry sick daughter and numerous commitments pushed the envelope further.  Briz wanted to go with friends to the basketball game of the season.  He's been a bit stressed and down lately and I need to care for him too, so although it was the worst possible day, I agreed, graciously I might add.   At 5:00 p.m. tensions had reached their peak.  Play-dates were leaving, Sunshine was off to Tae Kwon Do, homework is starting, everyone wants to craft valentines tonight, everyone is hungry and grumpy.  I hear my name called from  every direction.  I think that this is what schizophrenia is like , except no saving angel is coming to take me away to the happy farm. Near tears, I crouch behind a wall where none of the little voices can find me.  I hear them calling, but I need a moment to compose.  I silently plead for help, once, twice, three times.  I stand up, Cody hears me and rushes in with an excited and pleased, "Mum! Mum!"  He grabs my face and plants several sloppy ones all over me.  My heart warms.  

At 6:30 three of my friend Tara's boys come over.  She has New Beginnings tonight and no one to take the kids and I KNOW how that goes.  I live that story.  So they join us and now we have 8 kids under 11.  One is sick, two are tired, and the rest are so excited that they scream as they race through the house.  I put the three boys to work rolling cookies and making frosting.  

Then I pulled out the peanut butter clay which worked well until Little Mother decided to add extra powdered sugar to everyone's mat and make "wheat".  

We had wheat in every crack and crevice in the kitchen. 

After my little ones were sent to bed for poor choices, I had time alone with the boys.  "They don't want to be with me" I thought.  "I'll just sit near them and read."  But, Braden approached me with conversation that continued in a steady stream as I moved about the house to tidy our construction sized mess.  "Have you read Septimus Heap?  How about Treasure Island?  Do you like black licorice?  Check out my crystal."  As my misgivings subsided, we began discoveries together.  We studied his amethyst and looked up strange facts.  He frosted cookies and made quite the companion.

   Soon, all the boys wanted to join my "club".  So we made paper hats, paper boats, and everyone's favorite, paper water bombs.  I did err significantly on the female side when  I kissed Tyler on the forehead.  I immediately realized my mistake as I did it.  "Oh honey, will you please forgive me?  I forgot how much you hate kisses." I begged.  Very matter of factly he replied, "Yes, I'll forgive you for a spoonful of frosting."  Oh, if everyone were so quick to forgive. 

The boys left just before 10:00 p.m.  Briz returned 10 minutes later, rather surprised to find me still standing.  As I reflect on my day, I realize that I am still in one piece because of the boys in my life today.  They offered love, companionship, entertainment, and wonder with NO DRAMA.    I think I am rather fond of boys.  Some day when my girls bring home some lucky guys to spend their lives with, I think they'll find a rather eager mother-in-law.  I hope they'll like to discuss famous battles, float boats, and watch turtles lay eggs like we did tonight.  I hope they wont wipe boogers on my walls.  I hope they'll let me kiss them, but if not, maybe we'll just throw water bombs at each other and they'll get the message that I love them. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Walk like an Egyptian


As Ladybug has copied her spelling words, cut out valentines, and tidied the kitchen, I have used my oppertunity with a captive audience to talk out loud as I peruse my books about Egypt.  "Did you know that Egyptian royalty could not show their natural hair?  When they wern't wearing the crown, they wore a nemes  (a striped hair covering).  Oooh.  Check this out.  These grave robbers died after robbing these tombs.  Do you think the curse on those who disturbed the tombs was real?  Look at this mummy.  You can see his hair.  Did you know they pulled the brains out of the nose?"  
She was hooked.  We spent a few hours pouring over pictures and wondering how they danced or why they wore white.  Late the other night, Briz and I were cuddled up on his throne watching Lark Rise to Candleford.  Sunshine was sleeping with Ladybug because baby Megan is using her room. A little voice called for our attention.  "You won't believe this!  Sunshine doesn't know ANYTHING about Egypt.  So I had to tell her all about the pyramids and mummies.  She finally fell asleep.  How big was the biggest pyramid anyway?  As big as the mountains?"  

The last two nights, we have designed clothing fit for Egyptian royalty.  I pulled out the fabric paints and a place mat for her breast plate, Briz found a pillow case for her dress, and we designed a nemes out of left over curtain material and added the royal touch of a tin foil serpant.  
"Can I use this as a church dress?"  
"Well, at least I can keep it forever so I can teach my children about Egypt."

STOMP your heart out!

Crazy crazy days.  So many hands to hold, mouths to feed, kisses to give, minds and souls to excite, so little time.

 In 4th-6th grade today, I showed clips of STOMP.  We discussed how music is made of sounds and silence, specially timed.  I explained how some boys from England wanted to explore noise, every day noise as music.  They didn't believe me until they watched.  Our excitement built as we scoured the classroom for "found instruments".  Each found their own amazingly creative noise maker and we began our rhythm add on.  I started with a pulse, then one by one they added on their own unique rhythm until we really rocked the house. 

After a short family home evening complete with lots of finger plays in honor of our two little guests, Cody and Megan, I shared STOMP with my little ones.  After a few clips, I started to hear, "ding, dong, ding ding, rat tat a tat tat rat rat."  Then "grunt" and "ahhhh!"  Then "stomp, stomp, leap leap, twirl, dip, dip, dip, stomp."  My dish washer was adding her own signature to the music and my preschooler couldn't contain her fervor and danced behind us. 

Naturally, within minutes we all had our own "found instrument" of a different timber and tone.

Some beat with hands, others with knives.

Soon our family room was jamin' with drum rolls fit for the Blue Devils!  Each person added their own rhythm and we sounded so professional I thought we should record ourselves and make a CD.  Our jam session was stopped reluctantly when we realized that our volume that could easily reach the neighbors would surely wake our tired babes.  Only with the promise of future STOMP sessions would the musicians be content to put away their instruments. 

I yawn as I switch laundry loads.  I hear "boom, rat, tat tat.  Swish, click swish swish."  Dishes are drawn out as Ladybug continues to experiment with rhythm on each  item she finds.  I should put my foot down but I am too excited to share the joy of musical discovery, even hidden in the other room.