Friday, June 26, 2009

I Heart Clorox Wipes

I'm always slow to embrace new-fangled things. I was the last person that I know of to get a cell phone, a Facebook account, a digital camera, etc. My general philosophy is that if we could do without it when I was a kid, then we can do without it now.

But oh how I love Clorox Wipes. They eliminate the very tedious step of having to spray a bottle of cleaner. Now all I do is pull and wipe. Genius.

Also amazing are Magic Erasers. And disposable diapers. I don't know how my mom managed for so many years without these wonderful modern conveniences.

* * * * *

On a separate note, I'm still pretty new to the blogging world, and I don't want to do anything that would offend. And so, may I ask a question about blogging etiquette?

When people leave questions in the 'comments' section, what is the appropriate way to answer?

Do I:

a) leave a comment in my own blog to answer to their question?

b) email them the answer?

c) assume that these questions are just rhetorical, and do nothing at all (which is what I have been doing by default)?

And in case you are still wondering...

...yes, Angie, Allison Gagon is my cousin, she did serve her mission in Catania Italy, and she is every bit as awesome as you've heard.

...yes, Marcia, we are coming to Boise this summer, during the first part of August. I would love to get together again; I have to see that sweet baby girl of yours!

...Jennifer, the reason you haven't found my blog until now is because I haven't had one until a few months ago. Also, I'm not sure how to advertise that I have one; I never want to make the assumption that people will want to read it. But I'm so glad you found me!

Monday, June 22, 2009


A gratitude entry is way overdue, especially after that last whiny entry I made. Sorry about that. I've been keeping a little list of 'positive experiences' over the last several weeks, and I think today would be a good day to just pound them out. So please, pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable. Here we go.

I am grateful for...

1. ...the Perfect Preschool Mother, who recently complimented me on how 'collected and calm and together' I always was. (Okay, you can stop laughing now.) This came from the mother at Andrea's preschool who always looks beautiful - perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect figure. Think Barbie doll.

I'm quite certain that she said this out of pity - pity that would no doubt arise from seeing the train wreck that unfolded every morning as I herded my 3 tiny kids in and out of the preschool - some kids wearing shoes, some not; my hair always a big fuzzy mess; Ethan in his jammies half the get the picture.

But she said it. And I cling to it - to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I'll be just that someday - collected, calm and together.

2. ...curly hair. I've never cared for my own curly hair, but Ethan's I love!

Also, did you know that "deer with curly hair are really mooses?" Natalie explained this to us the other day as we watched a deer eating grass at the D.C. temple. Which brings me to my next item of gratitude:

3. ...Father's Day. We had such a lovely Father's Day together as a family. No meetings. Nothing scheduled. Just family time, which is rare and precious around here. We took the opportunity to visit the temple and enjoy the beautiful grounds and the beautiful weather...and of course, the beautiful deer.

4. ...Anders. I can't mention Father's Day without mentioning my fabulous, amazing husband. He is another whole blog, so I will save my personal commentary for another time, but I will share something from Natalie's point of view:

Natalie often asks for Daddy during the day while he is at work, but she apparently understands why he works. According to Natalie, "Daddy works to get money to keep the Big Bad Wolf away so he doesn't blow down our house; and also so that the wolf doesn't blow away our bathtubs, because then we couldn't take a bath, and then we'd be stinky forever!"

5. ...that I have the number to Poison Control memorized. It comes in handy when Ethan drinks Woolite OxyDeep carpet cleaner, which he did yesterday. Fortunately, he did it just as Natalie had a little accident while trying to go #2 on the potty. (She missed the potty by a couple of inches. Yuck.) So it was really helpful that I didn't have anything else that needed my urgent attention while trying to save my son's life.* Good thing I had the number memorized so I didn't have to waste any time looking it up.

6. ...that Andrea wants to be my twin. The other day she realized we were both wearing brown Capri's. So she changed her shirt to be the same color as mine, and laid down next to me, with her legs crossed the same direction as mine, and said, "Look Mom! We're twins!!" It's been our little inside joke ever since. Nothing - nothing - is more flattering and encouraging than your daughter wanting to be just like you. Not even compliments from the Perfect Preschool Mother.

*Ethan is fine, by the way. I don't think he ended up with that much Woolite in his tummy. When I found him, he was trying to wipe off his tongue with his little hands. Apparently it doesn't taste all that great. The worst thing that can happen from drinking Woolite is vomiting, which we luckily avoided. The Poison Control number, should you ever need it, is at the top of this entry.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm gonna be honest with you...

Warning: This blog entry was written by a girl named Debbie Downer. Or maybe it was Negative Nancy. Whoever it was, I hope you get the point, and you do not have to read any further.

So I notice that a lot of people primarily blog about the good and the fun and the happy things that happen in their families. Cute things their kids say. Fun family outings. Darling posed pictures.

This is great. No one wants to read about the other stuff.

But today I'm going to blog about just that. The other stuff. The unpleasant side of family life. The day-to-day, I-didn't-sign-up-for-this, how-am-I-going-to-survive, no-one-said-it-would-be-this-hard kind of stuff. Most of it tedious and mundane. But the collective effect of it all is enough to drive you insane.

For example, right now I have poop on my shirt. For the second time in a week.

Also, there are ants in my kitchen. These ants are smart - they skip the counters and the sink, and go straight to Ethan's high chair, because they know it is impossible to keep clean. There will always be a yogurt splatter or a banana slice for them to nibble on. No matter how hard or how often I scrub, I can't seem to get it clean enough.

Then other things happen, like Natalie getting Lyme disease. (Remember my old friend, the tick?) It's simple enough to treat, but it means skipping nap time, finding someone to watch your other kids, spending an afternoon at the doctor's office that you despise, cleaning up the little accident that Natalie had in the car on the way there, wrestling with a screaming Natalie so they can weigh her, and antibiotics 3 times a day for 3 weeks.

Do you remember how in Young Women's, you'd have lessons and activities to help prepare you for motherhood? Well, they should have an activity where you learn how to clean up an exploded diaper. Ethan has one every morning. It's tricky trying to get all those little silicon filaments off of sticky wet skin, even in the tub.

They should also give lessons on how to referee. Not a basketball or soccer game, but little kids. Every mom-to-be needs step-by-step instructions on how to make the call when two kids are fighting and you have no idea what happened or who did what first. Because this is how I spend most of my day, and I am completely at a loss.

People blog about the sweet things their kids say. Well, tell me how sweet this is:
Ethan said his first sentence the other day. It wasn't "I love you, Mommy" or "Cookie please." It was, "I poopy. Ew." And speaking of poopy, Natalie likes to tell me, at least daily, that "stinky" and "pee-pee" rhyme. Multiple lectures about appropriate conversation have yet to sink in.

No one tells you that the only time you'll have to exercise is when you're carrying a kicking and screaming child up the stairs for time-outs at least 3 times a day. No one tells you that the constant barrage of questions will make your head spin and cause brain cells to die. No one tells you that the sound of a screaming toddler will cause your hair to start turning gray before you're 30.

My two daughters haven't slept through the night in over a month. Which means that neither has my husband. And neither have I. They are terrified of the thunder, and on the 95% of the nights when there isn't any thunder, they are terrified of the possibility of thunder. Bedtime is painful; it lasts about 2 hours. It eats away at the precious little time I have to get certain things done - things that can't possibly be done with children around.

Like preparing a Relief Society lesson. This has been a hard calling for me, because it requires me to complete sentences and sound coherent...something I haven't been able to do since having kids. The only time I can work on my lessons uninterrupted is when they are asleep. So anytime after 9:30.

Where is my husband? Can't he deal with the kids so I can get something done? The answer is 'no.' He's at work. Or travelling for work. Or at home, working on work. And when he's not working, he's at church meetings or interviews or hometeaching. Saturday is the only day that is ours, and that's the day we try to get all the things done that I couldn't get done during the week.

And since it's been a while since Anders has been home for dinner, may I confess a few things? My kids have hardly eaten anything for dinner besides chicken nuggets and hot dogs for the last couple weeks. Vegetables? No. Fruit? Rarely. Also, I have this great new babysitter. It's called High School Musical 3. It tends my children for me at least once a day.

As I've been writing this, I've had two thoughts come to mind:

1. Being a parent is hard, and on those horrible, rotten, no good, very bad days, it helps to remember that the positives really do outweigh the negatives. I love my kids to pieces. I adore them. I think they are amazing and beautiful and smart. When I think about my options in life, there isn't anything I'd choose in place of this. I choose this over a career; I choose this over daycare; I wouldn't change any of it.

2. "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." This line is from the hymn "Praise to the Man." It has been running through my head for the last several weeks. I think sometimes people who don't have children don't get what is so great about it. It's easy to see the ugly side of things - the side I just wrote about - and be deterred from having kids at all. It's hard to believe that the kisses and the hugs and the fun times really do make up for the hard work, the insanity, the relentlessness of it all. But truly there are few things that require greater sacrifice, greater selflessness than having children, and I honestly believe that the blessings and the joy that come are proportionate.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I am beginning to notice that my 3 items of gratitude tend to center on my family. Today, I am grateful for my kids:

1. Andrea lately has become Super Child. She walks around the house saying things like, "What can I do to help you, Mom?" Or, "I just made my bed and cleaned my room and set out my pajamas for tonight" (and her jammies will be laid out perfectly on her perfectly made bed).

Or, "Can I sweep the kitchen floor?" "Can I vacuum the living room for you?" "I'll put away my laundry!" "I'll help you clean up the basement, Natalie."

And then she does all these things. I am amazed, and I'm loving all this extra help.

2. Natalie has also been suspiciously helpful the last few days. "Let's clean up the basement before we play the driving game (Mario Kart Wii)." Or, "Look Mommy! I made my bed!" But I am especially grateful because Natalie helps me to feel like maybe I'm not failing as a parent after all:

She tells me that when she grows up, she wants to be a mommy.

She can tell me that it was King Benjamin who said, "...neither will ye suffer that [your children] transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel with one another, and serve the devil..." (Mosiah 4:14). This is the first time she has ever let on that she has been paying attention to scripture time.

She tells me at least once a day that she loves me without being prompted.

Natalie playing with play dough in her jammies and dress-up, with 102 degree fever

3. Ethan is such a boy; he does such manly things that crack me up:

  • He 'pounds some fist.' This was really cute until he started pounding faces and arms as well.
  • He turns anything and everything into a gun/sword/fighting thing, complete with sound effects. I have no idea where he got the idea to do this.
  • He crushes his empty yogurt containers like beer cans

    A few pictures from our Memorial Day T-ball Tournament:


Monday, June 1, 2009

Not My Finest Moment

Today Andrea is home sick with the same lovely illness that afflicted Natalie and Ethan this weekend (sore throat, fever, general crankiness). And so I had to cancel the 47 absolutely mandantory errands I had planned, and instead just hang out with the kids. It's amazing what happens when I have to take a time-out from the busy-ness of life - I realize how much of my crazy life I inflict upon myself. It's nice just to be still every once in a while.

Today I have one thing that I am very thankful for. So thankful, in fact, that it is going to take the place of my usual 3 things. Drumroll, please.

1. My very patient husband.
So I can be a pretty smart person. I did well in school, made good grades, got a scholarship, etc. But sometimes, for no apparent reason, I can be incredibly dumb. My common sense is a little flighty. Here is an example:

Last Friday was one of those days I should have stayed in bed. It was hectic and filled with tantrums from just about everyone in the house (myself included). The chaos culminated with a quick, last minute trip to the pediatrician's office because of Ethan's 102 degree fever and hours of screaming. 3 kids+1 small doctor's office+1 hectic day=1 very stressed, frazzled mommy. Anyway, we got back home, and the chaos continued. And then the phone rang.

I answered, and, because of my impaired mental state, proceeded to GIVE OUT MY CREDIT CARD NUMBER OVER THE PHONE to the Fairfax County Firefighters and Paramedics something-or-other. Come to think of it, it was my debit card. Even better.

Didn't I want to help support those brave men and women who run into the burning building when everyone else is running out? Don't worry ma'am, this call is being recorded for your safety, we don't keep your card number on file, my boss is right here making sure I type in $10 instead of $1000, no you can't mail us a check because it is too expensive for us. And if you're still unsure about the safety of what you are doing, here is my boss. His name is Jason Upright. Spelled U-P-R-I-G-H-T.

Since Jason's last name was 'Upright', I figured he must be a person of intergrity. I hung up the phone after giving this perfect stranger the keys to my family's financial life. And then I forgot about it until last night. Around midnight. The first quiet moment in our house in a few days.

I all of the sudden remembered what I had done, and the severity of what could happen began to sink in. I woke up Anders. I told him the bad news. I didn't think he'd be mad at me or anything, but I didn't think he'd be thrilled to know about it, either. But do you know what he did? He laughed. He laughed at me. He laughed a long, long, time.

We talked it over, did a little digging on Google to determine if it was legitimate or not (it was) and checked our bank account to make sure they didn't clean us out (they hadn't). We determined that I should immediately cancel my debit card and get a new one. He also reminded me that it is never, ever, ever, never, ever okay to give out that kind of information over the phone. Ever. Especially to someone with the last name of "Upright." Which I already knew. I just...well, sometimes I do really REALLY dumb things.

In conclusion, thank you, Anders, for your patience with me. And for not taking away my credit cards.

(In my defense, I really did want to support my local firefighters. They sent a whole team of firefighters and paramedics to our house once when I accidentally locked the kids in the car in the middle of the summer.)