Tuesday, August 13, 2013

With a plastic bat to boot.

Weston [approaches Brad, sleeping on the couch.]: I'm Batman. I have to FIGHT YOU!

Brad: No... You don't fight me. I'm a nice guy.

Weston [angrily incredulous]: Are you Kidding me?!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Things we did

We've been busy with house stuff and cleaning stuff (although never seeming to make any progress), but we do fun stuff too. And I think me and my kids should remember that stuff too. So here are some things we did last week:

The kids and I changed the rear blinker on the F150. Never done that before.

I made dinner with Rose on my hip. I do that a lot. Well, whenever I make dinner, which turns out to be not that often, actually.

We fed Rose her first lasagna (a dinner gifted me by a sweet friend who knows first-hand the dinnerlessness of house building).

We Wii bowled.

Brad's brother came to visit and we toured the caverns. I carried Rose in my trusty Moby, and for about 20 minutes or so, I held a very fussy Weston too. Sometimes I think I could have made it as a pioneer. And then Brad reminds me how whiney I've been during the housebuilding ordeal... And I change my mind.

We said goodbye to some of our dear Carlsbad friends who will be moving to Rexburg, ID. Can't blame them. Hard to pass up a professorship at BYU-I.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I've been working a lot at the under-construction-house. Up until yesterday, my sister had been here for the last two weeks. With her at my house to watch the kids, I would leave every morning at about 7 or 8 and work until 5, 6, or 7 with twenty minute breaks here and there to go home and nurse Rose.

I'm still working at the house, but without Karlee here, I'm getting significantly less accomplished. Today I went to the house with all four children, their bikes, a pack of bubbles, some balloons, lots of food, cookies, and Capri Suns. I was hoping to get four cabinets done. Since I average 2 per hour, uninterrupted, I felt like this was a totally achievable goal. Two hours. Doable. And yet, not. It was a massive failure. (You could see that coming, right?)

Rose needed to be fed (twice). Claire stubbed her toe and bled all over the clean but as yet unsealed stone floors. Weston took off his shoes and got stickers (burrs?) in his feet and so had to be retrieved and carried back to the house and comforted. Rose was hot and bored and began screaming her lungs tired from her baby carrier. The neighbor kids wanted our kids to come play with them (which required me meeting their grandparents, of course). Grace fell off her bike and scraped her elbow and hip. And then my drill died. I got exactly one cabinet assembled. Count it--yes, ONE.

It's hard convincing the kids that I'm doing this for them--that this exhausting parental neglect will actually result in bedrooms and a yard to play in and a kitchen big enough for them to help me cook in.

Perspective. They don't have it. And so I feel guilty for being Worst Mother of Summer 2013. I haven't made dinner in two weeks. Haven't folded laundry. Haven't even gone grocery shopping in a month. A. Month. People.

So today, I'm scouring for something to make for dinner without having to drag four munchkins through Walmart. And all I can come up with is bread machine white bread with honey butter. And green beans. I am not kidding. This is what I feed my children.

Turns out that my kids have never eaten so much of one of my dinners as they did tonight. Can't really decide whether that's because I'm starving them or because they actually liked it. But they did fight over the last of the green beans. And so in my current life-season of haggardness and insanity, I am totally counting tonight's measly snack as a hands down motherhood success. Yay for me. Maybe tomorrow I'll defrost some chicken or something.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Craving Certainty

We spent Grace's birthday (this April) in Texas. At Grandma's house. I thought she would have more fun there than cramped in our itty bitty house in a city with almost nothing to do.

And it was quite the eventful trip. But in the wrong sort of way. The night we pulled in, I went to bed feeling ill. I woke up vomiting. And then Claire got sick. And then Weston. And during the entire trip, Rose screamed more than she slept.

So maybe I was on edge. Or maybe there is no excuse and I am always this way (more likely). But at some point, Grace (the only well child) became very slightly mischievous in an effort to find something to do, and I got impatient. Mad. I lectured her. (I don't think I yelled this time, which is lucky.)

When I finished, Grace looked down at the rubber ball she was holding and asked, "Mom, do you think I'm mostly good, or mostly bad?" My heart cracked open.

And just seeing it written here, reliving it, makes me ache all over again.

I can't remember exactly how I responded. Looking back now, I hope I ran to her and told her she was so good. Is so good. I know at some point I told her that just because you don't think clearly before you do something doesn't make you bad.

We talked about natural consequences. Like what would happen if she continued to the throw the rubber ball against the walls in the house. And then we looked for alternatives. Like: where could we throw the ball where it wouldn't damage anything? And what could we do with it to make it more fun?

We spent the next hour together, giddily playing outside with this ridiculous homemade ping-pong ball slingshot that was the result of our conversation.

It made me realize that the main reason Grace gets into trouble is because she's bored and she comes up with creative and sometimes somewhat destructive ways to cure her boredom. It made me remember what I tell people; why I keep coming back to homeschooling her eventually: the girl is bored. And I don't know why it's taken me eight years to really internalize this fact and actually try to help her out.

Motherhood is a challenge. It's hard. And it's lovely. And there's this lurking, hovering, paralyzing fear that I'm messing it all up, that I'm not connecting enough, that I don't know enough. that they'll grow up to be gun-toting drug dealers who hate me and everything I tried to teach them.

To raise these people who have bits of you and bits of someone else and somewhere up in their ancestry bits of people you never counted on... all that is like trying to put together a puzzle without a picture of what it looks like.

Sometimes I feel like I'm breaking their hearts. Or I'm not teaching them what I should. Or I'm lecturing them too much and not teaching them the right way. There's so much at stake; how can I be sure I'm doing what I should be?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Missed him.

Weston is home. My mom brought him back last week.

So the other night, when he asked me to lay down with him at bedtime, after having lived without him for two weeks, how could I refuse?

I slid off my shoes and lay on the edge of the bed. He stuck his wiggling toes into my legs. He wrapped his arms around my neck and with his hands held strands of my hair. He kissed my cheek and said, "I need you, Mom."

Saturday, June 8, 2013


At the end of last month, our families gathered in puny little Carlsbad to help us celebrate and participate in Grace's baptism and Rose's blessing. I love momentous family events. I love spending time together. 

And now, my children are gone. Three of them, anyway. Grace and Claire left with Grandma and Grandpa for a fun-filled month of farm work and bike riding and creek wading. Weston went with my mom so that Brad and I could work on the house that we're building. But because subcontractors routinely break their commitments and because I tend to be way too optimistic about the amount of work that can be accomplished in a day, Brad and I haven't done much that qualifies as work.

So while Brad is at his job, I am home with one little nursing baby, encompassed either by silence or colicky screams. The time with Brad and Rose has been mostly quiet. Still. Nice.

But I ache for my children. 

Years ago, my dad was showing me how to prune a rose bush. He told me that cutting the roses was like separating a mamma from her babies--the rose bush works hard to bring them back. At the time, of course, I did not at all understand his metaphor. I hadn't been a mother. But, man, I feel like that. I miss my babies. 

Friday, March 22, 2013


I was making dinner amidst our nightly family madness when I heard Claire say,
"Mom. I am sorry for saying your leg is fat."

Um... I was confused. I am semi-deaf when I'm trying to accomplish a task (I get that from my dad). So I responded, "What? Did you just say that I'm fat?" (Wouldn't blame her honestly. Baby weight is sure stubborn.)

"Noooo! Loook!" she yelled. And she pointed at her drawing on the fridge, "I didn't mean to be MEAN--I'm sorry, Mom."

She seemed pretty concerned, so I laughed and said, "Oh, Claire, it's no big deal! I make mistakes drawing all the time. I mean, you didn't draw it that way on purpose." I pointed to my left leg and said, "I know this leg isn't bigger than the other one."

She cocked her head, smirked, pointed to my other leg and said, "No, that one is."


Maybe next she'll apologize for decapitating her dad.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wooden boxes

We're building a house. I told you that a while ago. It's been kind of slow because we're trying to do a lot ourselves. And because the person in charge of getting bids is kind of lazy (me).

But today my cabinets arrived. I am excited. What do you think?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Help me out.

Perhaps you will remember that with my third child, I tried to have a natural delivery. You can read a little about that here.

Turns out, with Rose, I had no choice. I made it to the hospital less than an hour before delivery. (Story later for you strong-stomached peeps.) Good news is, this time I actually prepared. I read a book. And practiced natural birthing techniques.

I wanted three things from a natural childbirth.

  1. Pain-free recovery
  2. "Runner's high"
  3. Bragging rights
And here's the thing, friends. Didn't happen. Here's what happened instead:

I had just birthed beautiful Rose, and I held her on my tummy while adrenaline gifted me with the shakes (which had lasted all through labor and for about an hour after), and all I could think was: "I'm gonna drop her" (I didn't), and "Why the devil do women choose to do this without drugs?"

So, dear readers, what's the secret? What did I miss?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Perfectly Presumptuous

My parents have spent the last few months cleaning out their storage locker.

In this process, I found all of my old high school yearbooks.

One of them includes this:
We barely knew each other. And at the time, he claimed it was a joke.

I would argue that time and circumstances have definitively. proven. otherwise.

I love this guy. I'm so glad he was gutsy.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Birds and Bees

Yes. This post is going to be about exactly what you think.

Click away if you blush easily.

I warned you.

I was driving the kids to school on Wednesday when we heard the word "sex" on the radio. (I was listening to Morning Edition on NPR. Don't get crazy, people.) Grace looked at me for a reaction and I realized that she was aware enough to be embarrassed about it somehow.

"Do you know what that word means, Grace?" I asked.

"No," she replied. "Do you?"

"Yes, I do. Do you want me to tell you about it?" She nodded shyly and I told her we'd discuss it after school. We got to school, I hugged the kids goodbye.

I texted Brad to tell him what I had gotten us into, and he casually responded, "Okay. Let's talk with her tonight."

I was totally surprised by his willingness to participate and by his calm attitude. I think I'd kind of hoped he would talk me out of it.

So I started to panic.

I am an adult. I have taken parenting and child development classes. I know that talking to my kids about sex is important. I know that it's an opportunity to open a channel of communication early so they can confide in us later. I know (from experience with my parents) that if I set the stage for safe discussions, my children will come to me later with their questions and concerns.

But have you ever tried explaining sex out loud?

Let's play a game. Try describing sex in terms an elementary student will understand. Say. the. words. out. loud. Then let me know if you get through it without giggling like a five-year-old or throwing up.

Good luck.

I couldn't do it either. So I wrote myself a script. And then I emailed it to Brad and asked him what he thought. I don't recommend sending an email like that. Your side bar ads might start responding in all sorts of salacious ways. Just sayin'.

Brad responded by telling me to chill out.

That night, Brad put the other children to bed, and I picked up some ice cream. Grace, Brad and I sat in our living room and started our conversation by asking Grace what she knew about sex. I let Brad lead the discussion since he was cool as a cucumber.

Until, friends, until. Until he had to describe the mechanics of the subject. And then he hemmed and hawed and choked back a laugh... so it was a really good thing I had memorized my script. I'm telling you, people. Practice this. You'll thank me later.

Grace responded with an expected nervous giggle and a "Gross!" And then we answered her questions and told her about the importance of waiting until she was married and how a baby comes to be and all that business.

And then we ate ice cream and sent her to bed.

And Brad and I actually did a high-five. First major parental test passed. We are awesome.

If "having the talk" is something you may actually consider doing sometime, I highly recommend these people. They're fantastic.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hello again, world.

We have a new munchkin in our house. She is small and cute and her name is Rose. Her skin is still bright red, and when she nestles into my arms she smiles and snorts contendedly and she reminds me of a little piglet.

A new baby makes life a little crazy. It's hard to get as much done. It's hard to get anything done.

The other morning I came out of my bedroom and greeted Claire who was already awake doing something or other. She took a look at me and asked, "Is it church-day?" It was a Tuesday. The kids didn't have to go to school because a windstorm had somehow caused their school to flood. I don't know. Anyway. I told her definitively that it was not a Sunday. She responded, "Then how come you took a shower?"

...Annnnnd that's about how things are going over here.

I will say it's worth it. (Well, for me.) I love this little runt.