Wednesday, August 2, 2017

                                      

                                        
The Blessing and Curse of Raising Intelligent Children
(Today's blog entry is a college assignment written by my husband, Ethan. )       

            What does one do with a sugared-up toddler after returning home from a Halloween party? Ideally, it is put to bed after a bit more hassle than usual and a little later than normal. Sometimes, parents believe they succeed in putting a child to bed but the lack of interruption merely means that the trouble has found a different target. Raising intelligent children is both a blessing and a curse.
            We returned home from a Trunk or Treat at church, where instead of decorating one’s house and having neighborhood people come expecting candy, one drives to the church building, decorates the trunk, and have slightly different people come expecting candy. The children were allowed time to perform their candy ritual. In it, the kids dump all of their candy together and then divvy it up making trades for things they like with things they dislike. After the sorting ritual comes the ingesting ritual, followed by the hyper ritual, which is, in turn, followed by the stealing and fighting ritual. Paralleling the completion of these youthful rites are the parents’ rituals of begging, thanking, ingesting, and then yelling at everyone to brush their teeth and get into bed. Once the family observed these sacrosanct candy ordinances, the parents looked forward to some adult time.
Eager to reclaim a portion of the day for ourselves, our frustration mounted through repeated interruptions.  We felt that the children had their fun and the time was now ours, having already put the toddler to bed a number of times. Overhead footsteps raced between bedroom and bathroom. Father yelled to the second floor that it was bedtime, so children should be in bed. Mother visited one room to provide more reading materials. Such was the experience as we sat down for a movie. The youngest child, a toddler at the time, continued to slink down the stairs to the landing, which forced us to pause the show each time and reacquaint her with her bed. A movie of two hours could have lasted three hours at that pace. However, after a period of uninterrupted viewing and not having heard anything from the toddler in a while, we settled into childfree mode. Little did we know, we had simply diverted the youngest child’s attention, and a completely new scenario was just waiting to pounce on our beautiful moment. The dam broke when the toddler clomped down the stairs and said, “You has canny? You has chokkit?” The specificity of the greeting both galled and surprised us at the same time. Had we not allowed time for eating candy before bed? What would ever possess this child to come downstairs, hours after we put her to bed, to request more sweets? We resigned ourselves to our fate and entertained the interloper until we successfully reinserted it into its nighttime habitat.
The next day we learned the rest of the story. As everyone prepared for church, we related to the children the sad but humorous tale of our candy-seeking invader. We recounted the cute but oddly specific introduction, “You has canny? You has chokkit?” of the previous night.
To our astonishment, the oldest child said, “I know, I told her you guys had candy and chocolate for her.” I locked eyes with my wife. A pregnant pause hung while we fought down our desire to strangle him. Through clenched teeth, we pressed for why he would say such a thing. The oldest child rejoined with his harrowing assault by a relentless toddler. After mom and dad made continued forays to the down stairs undesirable, the youngest child found a new, more pliable target. As he lay in bed trying to sleep, the toddler climbed on and smacked him, pulled his hair, and urged him to get back out of bed. The prior evening, while the adults enjoyed a sweet interlude, our oldest child benignly absorbed his sibling’s onslaught. Out of desperation, he finally asked his attacker if she wanted some treats. When she responded in the affirmative, he informed the toddler that, downstairs mom and dad had candy and chocolate. The ruse worked, and the aggressive indigent once again descended the stairs, finally allowing him to sleep.
             The trick with trying to raise intelligent, adaptable children is eventually they will become intelligent and adaptable. Throwing parents under the bus is definitely on the radar when a prowling toddler with a sugar rush is involved. As adults, we were displeased with the interruptions during what we considered ‘our time.’ As parents, we were forced to laugh and admire the ingenuity of our child.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Here I Sit

Here I sit.

There is a lovely breeze blowing. Cars are driving by. People with their dogs of their children saunter past. My children are playing video games or "doing dishes".

I am taking a break. Just a few minutes. Just thinking about my world. My world that is so different now compared to a year ago.

We went from a very standard regular job of 15 years to unemployment. We have had to come up with a plan. A new plan that is going to take a long time to accomplish.

Ethan is going to go to college and become a therapist. That is going to take at least 8 years.

8 years of schooling.

So we got him enrolled in school. He just started this week. He also started a new job. A job that will keep him out till midnight 4 nights a week, but will allow time for school.

Right before school started the car that had taken Ethan to and from work for years died. Right here in our driveway. The timing belt decided it had done its job and was no longer needed. It destroyed the engine on its way out.

In one of many, many little miracles Ethan's co worker was able to take him to and from work today. How grateful I am for that. I am grateful because when I later when to move the van for an errand, I realized we had a flat tire. A flat tire that stranded us at home, not at the store or on the side of the road.

I am grateful that we have had this experience. To grow, to learn, to see God's hand in our lives, to see the out pouring of generosity of so many named and unnamed helpers. We aren't done, honestly, we have just barely started on this new stage of life.

So here I sit wishing I was strong enough to get the lug nuts off of that tire so I could brag about it. But I'm not. (And yes, I tried jumping on the tire iron. I also tried WD-40. )

Sitting here thinking of how good life really is. Even when it seems like everything is attempting to flip upside down. It is still good.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Good Bye

When my sister and I were young children my grandpa had a friend who built doll houses. He made several doll houses for his loved ones. Then he helped my grandpa build a doll house for my sister and me.

One day we went down to his house to visit. I was probably between 8 and 10 years old, my sister two years younger than I. He unveiled his master piece. It was an amazing  yellow 3 story house with black shutters. The front opened, the back opened, the attic opened. The windows and doors moved. It was wired for electricity. It seriously had little lights you could turn on. It even had a tiny little fire place that would flicker. He and his friend wallpapered each room. There were tiny wooden floor boards. The front door had a stained glass window.

It was truly a labor of love.

Because it was such a delicate labor of love and I, being only 10 years old and the eldest of 4 children, my grandmother became steward of the house.

It was decided that due to space and the fact that you can't really trust a bunch of children with something so easy to destroy it would stay at my grandparents house until we were older.

My grandmother loved that house greatly. She went to great effort to make sure it was furnished. She decorated it for Christmas. Putting tiny wreathes in the windows, a Christmas tree in the living room as the seasons changed. She arranged the people in different positions for when we came to visit. She would proudly show us what she had done.

Ya know, what she had done with my toy....

There was to be no touching. You could look, maybe if you were really well behaved they might open the doors to show you, but don't even think about opening it yourself.

When I was in the Jr. High School my grandmother died.  My grandpa decided he would be dying soon also ( fortunately it took him 12 more years to do that.) So he cleared everything he could think of from his house.

So the doll house was moved to my parents house. After all, we were old enough to take care of it now right?

Sadly, also old enough to not really care all that much about it.
There is such a tiny window of when children will lovingly and carefully play with something like that vs either destroying or being uninterested.

The house stayed at my mom's.  Occasionally we would show a visitor, maybe play with it when a friend game over. It was special and important to me, but really only in a superficial way. "See how much my grandpa loved me? He made this really impressive doll house for me."

Eventually my mom decided it was maybe time for it to actually get played with and it was moved to my house. So it came to live here.

My kids loved it. Sometimes. They would go through spurts of caring and playing with it, nearly always when friends had come to play. Ruby played with it most consistently. She tended to horde things inside. Missing a hair brush? Check the doll house. Where is your pen? Did you look in the doll house?

Mostly it sat there. Getting dusty. Getting broken. There was no way to put it away and take it out as the occasion called for. Small children are hard on things. Snap, there goes a porch support beam. Snap, there goes the railing. Humidity had bubbled some of the flooring up and how satisfying it must be to peel them up when mom isn't looking. Or to use it as a practice writing surface because mom never climbs behind to see.

So I had a doll house. What was once a magnificent doll house,a house that was a gift of love. That house was now being torn apart.

There goes another shingle.

I went to an event at my church where we discussed getting our houses in order. Getting rid of the things that we don't need. The extra. I went home and pondered over the whole message. I realized that doll house didn't bring me joy. It was supposed to, it used to. But now it brought me only guilt and irritation. I felt guilty at how much damage it had sustained under my watch. It irritated me to watch how thoughtlessly children played with it even when I tried to show them how to care for it. And it just took up SO MUCH SPACE.

I realized that I loved the idea of the doll house, but not the house itself. I love that my grandpa loved me enough to put in hour after hour of work to present such a wonderful gift. I loved that it reminded me of him. But I didn't love the physical object.

After talking it over with my sister we came up with a plan.

There is a really amazing woman who goes to my church who LOVES doll houses. Who delights in restoring them. Who had been to my house and spent much time admiring that doll house.

So today my doll house went to a home where it will be loved. It will be cared for. It will be restored.

My heart feels so much lighter as I sit and type with a view of where the doll house once stood. The house my grandpa built to bring me joy is now bringing joy to someone else.




Monday, March 14, 2016

Worth noting (at least to me.)

Here are some quotes from happenings around my house in the last 24 hours.

While sitting in the kitchen talking the 6 year old decided she was finished with the conversation. She  then rushed over to me, pulled both sides of my sweater together and announced "Mom, no one should be able to see your nipple crack!" Then she left the room.

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Speaking to the 2 year old-
 
Me: And today we are going to go to the dentist.
2 Y.O.: Why?
Me: So he can clean my teeth and make sure there are no cavities.
2 Y.O. : Cavities?
Me: Yes, cavities. I hope I don't have any.
2 Y.O.: I have cavities. I have a cavity for you. I got one for you.
 
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While cooking some scrambled eggs for breakfast the baby started fussing.
 
Me: Why don't you go give the baby her binky?
2 Y.O: NO, I'll just hit this button.
Me: That button will give her her binky?
2 Y.O.: Yes. Then she will stop crying. (Hand poised over imaginary button.)
Me: (Spoken with great suspense.)OK, I'm ready. Hit that button.
2 Y.O. (Slams finger down on imaginary button and stares at me.)
Me: (Listening to baby cry in background.) Did it work?
2 Y.O. : .... Um... a little?



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New arrival and the after math

I am pleased to announce that our new baby has arrived. Her name is Zipporah Miriam and she was 8 lbs 3 oz, 20 inches long.

Despite the silly Dr telling me she would be here on Nov 14th, my assurances to the Dr that she would not be hereby that date, and my announcing to everyone else that it would be Thanksgiving before we would have the honor of meeting her- she was born on the 19th. Now some of you may think "oh man, 5 days over due." I say "Woohoo! Only 5 days over due!" Seeing as all of my children have been 8 days  or more over unless induced, it was shocking to me how early she came.

For those of you who care about actual labor and delivery details here we go-
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Tuesday morning I started showing signs of actual labor. I figured by Wed morning I would be holding a sweet little baby. Hey, that is how it worked for Ruby. So my mom spent the night. And by morning we all got up and went through the same routine. Contractions had woken me occasionally during the night but that was it.

I spent all day Tuesday doing nothing. Seriously, it was like I couldn't think of anything purposeful to accomplish, plus I was having really painful contractions that were impressively erratic. So I napped on the couch while everyone was at school and my mom took the toddler.

My mom spent the night AGAIN Wed. Finally around 1 am the contractions were painful enough and frequent enough that sleep was simply no longer an option. Around 3 am I woke Ethan and we walked to the hospital. Yes, I said walk. It isn't very far and the weather was quite nice. Plus it was good for labor.

Got in around 3:30 am. Got an epidural. I always have this silly idea I will tough it out and then be so far along we can just skip to actual delivery. Never works. I feel like I am going to die and then just get the epidural so I don't die. You women out there that have several children with out an epidural are like super heroes. I am simply not that tough.

Sadly contractions stopped almost as soon as the epidural kicked in. So they put me on a low dose of Pitocin. Not ideal, but at least I wasn't completely induced.  at about 6:45 am it was time to push. I was holding a baby at 6:52.  I was astounded at how fast I was suddenly holding a baby. I approve.

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Now to non delivery details-

I am really truly grateful for the wonderful capable husband. I am glad that he can keep things running while I am down and out. And that he has been able to stay home with us for a nice long time.

I am grateful for the various relatives that have stepped in to fill gaps. It really helps,


Her name. It is a bit unique. I admit it. Zipporah is the name of the woman Moses married. Study up on her. She was amazing. She was a woman who really stepped up when she needed to. Miriam is the name I had wanted originally, but got switched to the middle. Yes, she also happens to be Moses's sister.

(We did come across the name Sapphira in the bible. I was kind of tempted. Naomi made a good case for it. However, then we actually studied her story and decided Zipporah was a better namesake. Seriously, go look up Sapphira. Kinda crazy.)

Victor loves her and enjoys sniffing her. Naomi is being impressively motherly. Caleb thinks Zipporah is super neat and loves holding her. Phebe thinks the idea of the baby is neat but doesn't interact with her all that much.

Ruby was the one who I suspected would struggle most. She definitely has had the most radical change in behavior. Not horribly but you can tell her world has been rocked. She loves this baby though. LOVES her. So much tender caressing. So much announcing of love. Funny note though, before Zipporah's birth when asked what the baby's name was she would say "Happy". Even now, she frequently tells you the baby's name is "Happy". I am ok with that. It makes me smile.

It feels a bit surreal that I am a mother of 6. I only ever pictured myself with 4 children. But I have simply been extra blessed. I have a great family. That too makes me smile.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Keep Trying

This evening I was studying a conference address from April 2015. I remember thinking it was a pretty awesome talk. I was even more struck by it this evening. Maybe because I constantly feel like I am falling short somewhere. I find " Latter-day Saints keep trying" by Elder Renlund to be incredibly comforting, insightful and uplifting. I highly encourage you, even if you are not of the LDS faith, to listen to the message in this video.


I absolutely love the concept in this quote.:
For us, because of the Atonement of Christ and our repentance, we can look at our past deeds and say, “’Twas I; but ’tis not I.” No matter how wicked, we can say, “That’s who I was. But that past wicked self is no longer who I am.”
I love that you can accept the past, accept responsibility and acknowledge past events, but not be defined by them.


And what a simply beautiful promise here:
President Thomas S. Monson has taught, “One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.”
No failure need ever be final. I need to just chant that over and over in my head. No failure ever need be final.

I love this talk. I will be coming back to it again.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Love to see the Temple, and My Family, and Twirly Skirts


This was a pretty busy and fantastic weekend. Ethan and I had the opportunity to be present when one of my many fabulous cousins was married in the Indianapolis, Indiana temple.



Image result for indianapolis lds temple




 It is so pretty.
So was the bride. 
The groom got to be handsome instead.



Anyway, this was one of those events that made me really appreciate how cool my extended family is and how grateful I am that we can be together forever. 

Here are some of my personal highlights of the whole weekend-

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While setting up for the reception my kids got to hang out with cool older cousins. Evan and Alex both play guitar and found a room to hold their band practice. While Ethan and I helped set up decorations the kids joined that band. Xylophones and tambourines and happy singing accompanied the guitarists. They had lots of fun and learned important songs like  Weird Al's "This Here Anakin Guy." 

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During set up Ethan suggested that we do a bit of rearranging the props that were already there. I agreed with him. The problem was that there were pretty twinkle lights involved and not long enough extension chords to make the move. As we discussed the concept in walked my aunt. I asked her if she had any extension chords in her van. As I fully expected she said no, because honestly, who keeps extra extension chords in their vehicle? She then checked the custodial closet and came up empty handed. Not a big deal. It wasn't as if we NEEDED to rearrange. It would just look a bit nicer. We continued with decorating. 20 minutes later my aunt presented the needed chords. So the rearranging was put into action. While she helped me tape the chords down I asked her where she had found them. Apparently she had simply walked across the street to a random neighbor who was outside smoking a cigarette and asked him if he had some extension chords she could borrow. I want you to understand that this woman doesn't even live in this state. But he said yes, and she solved our problem. I truly admire not only her ability to just get stuff done, but the fact that she didn't even mention how she had gotten it done until specifically asked. I need to be a better problem solver. 


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During the reception my uncle sang a song accompanied by the guitarist portions of the earlier mentioned band. It was Turn Around my Harry Belefonte. In the background mostly little girls, and mostly his daughters and granddaughters took turns walking across the stage wearing white dresses that twirled glamorously. After the song, Phebe and Naomi wore them and spun and spun. In fact Phebe wore that dress the rest of the evening. 

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The large group of young children realized the stage would be an awesome place to show off their dance moves and also realized that they could reach the light switches. So it looked like of like a rave was happening on stage. Children dancing their heart out, Phebe front and center in her twirly dress, and the lights switching constantly . Red, blue, yellow, off, white, green, blue, on and on. 


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Ruby took a bit to get into the dancing as there was a bit of a sensory overload. She decided after a while that this was indeed a place of fun dancing until a fateful moment. The bride had specifically picked a song to dance with all her beloved nieces and nephews and random small children. It was the Hokey Pokey. Ruby took a moment to listen to the music and then folded her arms and walked away with a look of supreme disgust on her face. How utterly degrading. She would look over her shoulder at the group of happy dancers as she walked away from such a humiliating song.
It was hilarious. 
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I love my family. They are fun and entertaining and I am so glad my kids had a chance to just hang out with them.