Thursday, February 28, 2008


Claire has been scooting her little tush around our house for the last 4 weeks or so. it's more of an army crawl than a scoot, really. I've attempted to catch her on video several times. Unfortunately, Grace (read "Diva") usually sees this occasion as an opportunity. She stands next to me, looking through the viewfinder, and puts her finger in front of the camera (entirely obscuring Claire, of course). "Look Mo-om! HA! Ha-ha-ha-hahahaha!! It's mmyyy FIRNGEN!" This is how Grace pronounces "finger." She might have added, "Look mom, there's my firngen which is on my narm!" She adds consonants here and there. Like seasoning. Spicing up her speech a little. We tell her to stop.

Anyway. Back to the matter at hand. Which is...

Oh yes, Claire.

I waited with bated breath for Grace to crawl, sit, and take her first steps.

(This really does come back to Claire. Eventually.)

I didn't eagerly anticipate these things out of a joyful wish to see her grow up (sadly enough). I'm pretty sure I was looking for something to say to those other mothers. To participate in those conversations that go like this:

Mommy 1: Tommy is in the 96th percentile for height. He's soooo big!
Mommy 2: Oh, that's great. Did you know that Sarah is already getting teeth at three months?
Mommy 3: Well, our little Duncan is walking SIX months early!! Can you believe it?! He's into everything. He's so adorable.


But I am cured. I don't want Claire to grow at all. She can lie cozily in my arms forever. No rolling. No teeth. No complex carbohydrates. NOO CRAWLING!

It may be my imagination, but I fear she is crawling before Grace did. Grace couldn't grow up fast enough for me, and now I can't get Claire to slow down. The injustice is unbearable. Cruel, cruel world.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Never Say Her Outfit Doesn't Match

She will wear it anyway. To spite you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

We Were Warned

Brad and I watched Utah news last night. They were investigating some business scandal. Again. During this looming recession, we're all looking for a scapegoat. And we're finding them in mortgage companies, real estate agents, investment companies.

But in an economy like this, everyone is guilty. Including investors and naive homebuyers.

Did it have to be this way? Would things be different if all of us Mormons had taken President Hinkley seriously (see here and here) and saved money and built our food storages and watched the pride cycle in action?

I have no idea. But I think this recession will get worse. It will be bad enough to make us remember to be humble when the good times come again.

What I do know is: next time I will listen better. In the meantime, I'm still paying off my credit card.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mixed Blessings

Grace has a thing for scriptures. Sort of. Scripture study is pretty much her least favorite thing ever. But the scriptures themselves, as books--those are different. She packs them around with her, opens them up, claims them as her own. Today she found mine next to the bed. She unsnapped them and let them fall open (undoubtedly to the maps appendix). Then she stated (as if to read), "And it came to pass... that the Lamanites."

It wasn't a complete sentence. But still, it was one of those moments. The kind where you think to yourself that maybe you are more than the sandwich maker and bum cleaner. Not that those roles aren't completely fulfilling or anything.

Maybe things are really sinking in. I'm elated. And terrified.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

For Brianna

Although I haven't seen an episode in a very long time, I recall watching Supernanny--more than once--tape a butcher-paper schedule to a family's refrigerator. "Yo chiwdren need structcha!" She claimed.

We don't have a schedule. I know, Nanny Jo would not approve. There used to be a very detailed plan hanging on our own refrigerator. But I killed it after Claire was born and Grace decided it would be fun to stop taking naps.

We do happen to do some of the same things everyday at approximately the same time.

We wake up, for example. And we usually do that at about 6:45 when Grace stumbles into our room insisting on peanut butter and honey. (I keep anticipating pb&h overdose.)

And then we go to sleep. Not immediately after waking up, of course, but this is our only routine to speak of. We read scriptures while Grace--unable to sit still for five consecutive words--bounces and runs and wiggles and wallows. We say family prayer. We brush Grace's teeth. Daddy puts Grace to bed with a song and a prayer. Claire goes into her swing, and Brad and I collapse. We watch Netflix, or internet TV, or play a game.

And then it starts all over.

There are weekly variations, I suppose: Wednesday is playgroup, Friday is the zoo, Saturday is family-house-project-day... but no concrete schedule.

I used to be so organized. *Sigh.*

Friday, February 15, 2008

Prepping for Play

Yesterday I showered, dressed, and fancied up my hair only to don sweats and a ponytail two hours later. So much for my rare demonstration of responsible hygiene. That's an exaggeration. I actually do regularly shower. Anyway.

I changed back into pajama sweats because Grace and I decided to paint her playhouse.

"Wait," You say. "I thought you briefly mentioned that Grace's playhouse is a cardboard box." That is mostly correct. Ten points. See picture of said box:

Yesterday Grace's house was upgraded and is now composed of exactly three cardboard boxes, two yards of duct tape, one quart of paint, and one drawer knob (which was reassigned from Grace's dresser to the playhouse's front door).

So after our paint job, a coloring spree, and when Claire got sick of watching us...
we had crafted a crude masterpiece. I wonder how long it will survive the brutality of Grace-play.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Like Shoveling Falling Snow

My mom used to call me a pack-rat. This is an unpleasant term for someone who saves garbage. Apparently at four years old even a twisted paperclip can be treasure. I guess.

I don't save things anymore. I have had to move seventeen times and at some point I decided to make friends with the dumpster.

But now Grace is the pack-rat. A scavenging pack-rat. She does not favor only the trash bound items. She hunts for misplaced any things. And then she carts them around with her: in her hands, in the trunk of her tricycle, in her purse. It makes tidying our house close to impossible since there are piles of these things everywhere. And after I clean up, there are new ones.

Therefore, our house is never clean.

Today I took an inventory of her collection as it sat in her bike trunk:
  1. 1 cracked, plastic thermometer case
  2. A set of old Honda keys
  3. 1 small bottle of Mommy's favorite lotion
  4. 3 tubes of Mommy's favorite lipgloss, goobered on
  5. Mommy's missing crochet hook
  6. 2 rocks
  7. 4 broken crayons
  8. 1 of Daddy's business cards
  9. 1 slice of pumpkin bread, crumbled and stale
  10. 1 twisted electric wire
  11. Grace's missing toothbrush, full of pumpkin crumbs


I have spent the last week in a gloomy funk, helplessly anticipating my imminent failure at motherhood. As if motherhood were chess and I could see that I was losing. Just waiting for checkmate. Don't ask me what brought this on. I suppose it could be PMS. Blame the hormones; that's always a winner.

Anyway, whatever caused my dolor, Cheerfulness arrived last night in the mailbox from Netflix. It was disguised as The Nanny Diaries. Sweet relief. I at least want my children. And maybe that single virtue can outweigh thousands of well-meaning mistakes. I am hopeful.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Desperate Measures

Last night at a baby shower one of my new Carlsbad friends referred to me as "Supermom."

Excuse me? Were you referring to me? The frazzled, unshowered woman sitting across from you?

I might have been flattered if the term had actually been grounded in reality.

It happened when my gift was opened: a pair of white crocheted baby booties. Everyone oohed and aahed and passed the shoes around, which I was against. Because there were actually authentic crafters in the room who could rat me out as an imposter. And then my good friend Tanya was kind enough to mention that I'd started making them that very day. Traitor. [Yeah, well, do you know what else I did that day? Nothing. I slumped in the same spot on the couch amid piles of mail, toys, and smashed up popcorn while Grace climbed on my head and I held Claire in nursing position with my knee.] That's when I got accused.

"You Supermom... Is there anything you can't do?" MiYung asked with a degree of admiration and maybe annoyance.

This is coming from a woman I compare myself to a lot. I do this for mainly three reasons: 1) She keeps the books for her husband's pediatry clinic, 2) She keeps her home immaculate and beautifully decorated, and 3) She has been doing her dishes in the bathtub for the last two weeks, for lack of a kitchen sink. And she never whines. Okay, four reasons.

On the other hand, the only things MiYung knows about me is that I make booties, I bake bread, and I keep my monthly grocery budget to $100 (don't ask me how she knows that). She thinks those things are amazing. What she doesn't get is those things are necessities. Besides, the hundred dollar grocery budget means less produce and dairy. Which means fewer vitamins and nutrition. Which I'm pretty sure is the definition of not supermom.

But I do what I have to do. No more than that. Someday soon I will buy baby gifts made by someone else, and I will spend $400 a month on groceries without having a stroke. And then I will keep the house clean and decorated like MiYung.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Being My Best

Sister Ellen Thompson came over today. She is my Visiting Teacher. She quoted the "Proclamation on the Family" to me while Grace hopped on our couches, rode her tricycle up and down the hall, repeatedly yanked me toward her makeshift-refrigerator-box-playhouse, and pulled my hair. ("Does dis hurt, mom?" "Yes it does, honey." Sit. Down. And. LISTEN!)

Ellen wrapped up her lesson and the chit-chat, looked around and announced, "Next month I am coming to baby-sit so you can have a break."

Evidently I am not pulling off the "I have everything under control here" look. I was disappointed and a little annoyed at being discovered. Which is ridiculous. I should have been surprised and grateful she didn't laugh when I opened the door. She was sitting in a room that had exploded with laundry, visiting a woman with dark circles under her eyes and a lumpy ponytail.

After she left, Grace and I made bread. No. I made bread. Grace found a spoon and ate flour while my back was turned.

Sometimes I look at my little girls and the mistakes I am making and think to myself: "I'm not so sure how well this plan was thought through." (We watch Meet the Robinsons so much it is sinking into my brain.) I really don't know what I'm doing. I question myself all the time. What's the magic key to parenting? Will my kids suffer because of my dumb mistakes (even if I love them to pieces)? Does Grace know I love her even when I can only play tea party for one hour (instead of three)? How about when I stubbornly correct her learned lithp? Does she feel loved? AAAHHH.

This is harder than I thought it would be.

Monday, February 4, 2008

How Did Pioneer Women Do It?

Grace has an obsession with lip gloss.

She eats it.

I imagine sparkly-brown cappaccino flavored goo oozing down her throat. Yuck. Whatever terrible consequences await Grace's digestive system, the worst part of her fixation goes to the owner of the lip gloss. Thank you, Grace goober. I have pasted slobber all over my lips more than once.

Today I had planned to get a lot of office work done for Brad. I didn't. This is mostly because Grace is not a self-entertainer. One planned hour of computer work usually turns into an entirely unproductive full day. I sit down and Claire cries to be fed (or changed, or held, or burped) and angry Grace pulls on my arm pleading, "Come here, please, come here, mom, watch me throw pecans at the wall!" (or "watch me climb my closet shelves," or "watch me sit on Claire's head!"). Imagine two hours of that. It resulted in three barely-begun business documents.

Eventually I initiated a game that gave me thirty minutes of the children entertaining each other:

Just enough time to get one of those office things checked off my list. Then I joined in.

And to think that I had "bake bread" and "make granola" on my to-do list too.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Well, I can't ignore it. I love President Hinckley. And his funeral was the best thing that could have happened to me last week. It was a rough week. So to see President Hinckley's funeral and to be reminded of his ever-enduring optimism and hope was... a relief. I feel recommitted to adopting his mantras. Particularly: 1)Be the best you can be, 2)Forget yourself and go to work, and 3)It will all work out.

I keep saying that last one to myself: "It will all work out, it will all work out, things have a way of working themselves out." Prevents ulcers.

[artwork courtesy of McKay Livingston whose mother is my friend and gave me a copy! I am so lucky. The kid will be famous someday.]

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Trustworthy, Brave, and All of That

Yesterday, while Grace and Brad play-doughed:

(making creepy bodyless heads):
I cut tomatoes; chopped cheese; tore, washed, and rinsed lettuce (my fingernails are still green) for 200 people. I am very proud of this salad. It took longer than it should, but it wore out my salad spinner (which we got as a wedding gift and was unwrapped for the first time for this project). The salad (which also eventually included pepperoni, croutons, and spinach) was sent with Brad to the Scout's Court of Honor/Fundraiser. I would have gone too, but Grace fell asleep in her car seat on the way (and even slept through the night, as a matter of fact).
Brad is our ward's Assistant Scoutmaster. Practically speaking, this means that he goes on lots of camping trips. I won't be too specific because this blog is public, you know. I'm scared enough home alone as it is. But I feel safe in saying that the trips are... frequent.

This is not his official calling. It's more of a business partnership/ward conspiracy to increase the intensity of the scouting program here in Carlsbad. The Head Scoutmaster wasn't getting the support he wanted to do more high adventure activities. So when Brad entered the ward (he who hiked and pick-axed his way up Mount Baker at ten years old), he found his right hand man. Brad really loves the adventure part of Scouting. He's amazing at it. I hope someday we have a boy so he can benefit from Brad's involvement in Scouts. As for our girls, I fully intend for us to camp and hike so we can all enjoy Brad's talents. Anyway...

On his last Scout outing, Brad was camping in the snow. It was not an easy trip. Apparently some of the boys thought it would be fun to roll around in a creek before going to bed that night--when the temperature dropped to zero. The boys couldn't sleep, and the next morning they must have been in frozen, hypothermic shock because Brad said he had to order them to pull their bare feet out of the fire.