Posts Tagged With: enjoy the moment

Mom Days

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5:02. Baby cries.
5:04. Get baby. Feed baby. Really, really hope (but highly doubt) he will fall back asleep.
5:30. Diaper explodes. Everywhere. Change diaper, baby clothes, mommy clothes and sheets.
5:45. Relish in the fact that kids are still sleeping. Think of all that can be accomplished in the next hour alone with the baby!
5:46. Kids are awake.
6:00. Eight boxes of cereal on the kitchen table. Three hungry boys. Get three more boxes out because “none of these sound good, Mom!”
6:15. Orange juice spill.
6:16. Clean up sticky mess.
6:18. Cereal spill.
6:19. Clean up crumby mess.
6:30. Try to cram eleven boxes of cereal into the pantry.
8:15. Lunches made, teeth brushed, homework done. “Go get your socks on! The bus will be here any second!”
8:18. “Ahh! No time for Legos right now! Get your socks!”
8:20. “Seriously, you are going to miss the bus!!”
8:21. Two-year-old on the toilet. Leave two-year-old to take older kids to the bus. Instruct two-year-old to “just stay right there. I will be back in two seconds.”
8:22. Bus rounds corner. Hugs and kisses. Bus starts to stop.
8:22:25. Hear two-year-old screaming at top of driveway. Turn and see a completely naked boy racing down driveway swinging footie pjs above his head.
8:23. Smile because neighbors must think we are completely crazy by now.
8:30. Diaper explosion #2. Change diaper, baby clothes and mommy clothes. Again.
8:35. Search for missing two-year-old, find him in bathroom with camera. Check camera and find incriminating evidence (see below).

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8:36. Have a nice little chat about climbing on bathroom counters.
9:35. Grocery store. “I buckle myself, Mom! Don’t help me!”
9:45. Finally convince two-year-old to take some assistance in buckling.
10:22. Dairy isle (furthest section from bathrooms). “I neeeedd to use the baaaathroooommm!”
10:24. Hold stall door shut for singing two-year-old. Smile at other bathroom goer.
10:25. “Mom! I makin’ poopers! Yay, Mom! I made a pooper! Let’s have a party! Oh boy. (Grunt) It’s a big one!”
10:26. Give a slightly embarrassed smile at other bathroom goer going to wash hands who will no long make eye contact (she must not have kids).
12:00. Pick kindergartener up. Baby and two-year-old asleep. Awkwardly carry car seat and sleeping two-year-old across front lawn, up the stairs and to the kindergarten hall. Feel like arms are most certainly going to fall off because together they must weigh 347 pounds.
12:30. Lunch.
12:35. Spit up everywhere. Change baby clothes, mommy clothes, and clean carpet.
12:40. Fold clothes and listen to the kids playing in the living room. Smile and feel very blessed because kids are playing so nicely.
12:45. Comfort two-year-old because brother poured a cup of soapy water on his head.
3:00. Sister calls to confirm weekend plans to get together (four kids plus two equals six. Wonder if we are gluttons for punishment, but put that thought out of our minds because getting together with cousins is the best thing in the world. Bring on the chaos!).
3:10. Hear toilet flush. Five times in a row, really fast. “Mom, water’s comin’ outta the toilet!” Say goodby to sister.
3:11. Find an inch of water covering bathroom floor and an empty toilet paper roll. Clean up water. Start another load of laundry for wet towels.
4:00. 2nd grader home. Sit at top of stairs and wonder if they will ever grow out of tussling.
4:20. Break up the tussling because two-year-old doesn’t appreciate wedgies. Wonder if it’s bedtime yet.
5:00. Start dinner.
5:08. Baby wakes up from nap, needs to eat. Feed baby.
5:15. Send kids out to run around the house 10 times.
5:20. Send kids out to run around the house 10 more times.
6:00. Give up on attempt at a fancy dinner. Make waffles.
6:30. DAD’S HOME!
6:32. Make feeble attempt at some adult conversation.
6:33. After seven times of being interrupted, give up all attempts at adult conversation. Talk about Star Wars instead.
6:50. Wash dishes while dad tussles with the kids. Smile because, no, they will probably never grow out of tussling.
7:30. Bed time. Tooth paste explosion all over counter and walls. Clean up blue sparkly paste. Brush teeth, pjs, books.
8:00. Lights off. Drink of water, 32 stuffed animals, songs and tucked in. Stand in doorway and look at the four beautiful boys that make life so crazy. Wonder I will ever make it through an entire day in the same clothes I put on that morning, wonder if the neighbors will remember my son streaking down our driveway on their drive to work this morning, wonder if we have enough leftover waffles for breakfast in the morning, wonder if I will ever have time to actually make what I plan for dinner. Wonder what we ever did before kids.

image8:10. Thank God that I get to do it all over again in the morning.

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Categories: Family, little boys | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Unfinished

M came down the stairs this morning in pants that would have been fantastic for some clam digging on the beach. I could have swore that just yesterday I had to roll up those same pants to keep them from dragging on the ground. I used to cringe when sweet ladies at the grocery store would stop me and whisper the old cliché, “Oh, they just grow up so fast!” I’d wonder, does she not realize she is the sixth person to tell me that in this visit to the store??

IMG_20150905_151926_298Then suddenly I blinked and there stood a five-year-old in his clam diggers and over-sized backpack ready for the bus.

In my closet I have boxes and boxes of fabric, each carefully labeled, “Black dress,” “R’s quilt,” “Quiet book,”Giraffe growth chart.” Fabric all cut and waiting, some pieces even sewed together. In the garage sits wood sanded and queued to be built into a shelf, a bench, a frame, a spice rack. Ideas penned in notebooks lay scattered all around the house for a picture book, another blog post, a letter to a friend. Bookmarks keep spots in dozens of started and unfinished books. Clothes fill my closet waiting to fit again, for when I will set aside the time to run and get rid of this lingering baby fat.

Recipes I want to try.
Songs tucked away to be learned on our neglected piano.
A guitar untouched for years.
Pictures waiting to go in scrapbooks.
A list of friends I would love to call and hear their voices again.

Unfinished projects. Sometimes I feel like my life is made up of dozens and dozens of unfinished projects. Skills I would love to learn, chores only halfway accomplished, hobbies and ideas and dreams started and set aside. All waiting. For tomorrow. For the weekend. For when the baby stops fussing, the kids are fed, the spilled cereal is swept, the tickle war is over, the scrape is doctored, the kids are in bed.

IMG_20150909_152418_320And there stands my not-so-little-anymore boy in clam diggers that I’m almost positive fit him just yesterday.

There will come a time when I no longer have the interruptions of spilled cereal to clean. These little ones will eventually brush their teeth without help, and they will no longer beg for the momster to set aside yard work and chase them around the trampoline. Slap Jack will eventually loose its appeal, and scrapes will no longer need mom’s kiss. And when that day comes, when I suddenly have the time for all the projects I’ve started and set aside, I hope I never look back and feel like they, these sweet boys, were yet another unfinished project because I was too busy trying to finish all the others.

IMG_20150921_143823_871They grow up so fast. Their pants seems to shrink from one day to the next. But projects can wait. Someday, moms, the time will be ours. The nights will be longer, the little chatter that fills our homes will come much less often than we wish. And all those unfinished projects will fill our time. But now, now is theirs. Now is about slap jack and monsters and spilled milk. Now is the greatest project, the most amazing adventure we will ever embark on. And I’m sure we will never regret making sure that this one isn’t set aside, put on the back-burner, forgotten and left unfinished. Because, moms, in everything that can wait, this one can’t. Let’s give our today to them.

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Categories: children, Family, Life Lessons, Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sibling Love

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Having a new baby in the house is always such an exciting, wonderful time. Exciting, wonderful, magical, surreal, exhausting, frustrating, confusing…and adding three older siblings into the mix, well, amplifies ALL of these emotions by about 1,324,067%. I can’t tell you the happiness that surges through me when I see my two-year-old quietly singing a sweet lullaby to the baby and gently rubbing his newborn hair. Or when our seven- and five-year-old tell the baby stories and make him smile. Thank goodness for those moments, because the other extremes sometimes exhaust my patience. Having a new baby I’m convinced has had strange effects on my dear boys’ listening skills. In fact, sometimes I’m pretty sure they must hear something entirely different than the words coming out of my mouth. Let me demonstrate. Maybe all you mamas and papas can relate…

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M as a baby and R as a toddler…

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Baby T with M.

When I say…
“Please don’t wake the baby.”
They must hear…
“Go sit by the baby and pat his head and rub his feet and wiggle his ears and wipe his nose. That will help him sleep better for sure.”

When I say…
“Let’s play a quiet game, the baby is sleeping.”
They must hear…
“I know the perfect game to play. Run through the house like a maniac and scream as loud as possible. That sounds super fun now that the baby’s finally asleep!”

When I say…
“Please don’t even touch the sleeping baby.”
They must hear…
“Would you please put your peanutbuttery cheeks as close to his as humanly possible so that you wake him up with your peanutbuttery breath?”

When I say…
“Could you please run upstairs and grab a diaper from the bathroom? We’re all out down here. And try to be quick, he kind of exploded.”
They must hear…
“Could you run upstairs and grab a diaper? Wait. Scratch that. Can you make him a space ship out of Legos instead? That’ll really save the day with this mess all the way up his back.”

When I say…
“Do you want to pick an outfit out for the baby this morning? We have that church activity, so try to find a cute one.”
They must hear…
“Hey, can you go find that one outfit that will serve as perfect blackmail material when he’s 16? Since we’re going somewhere nice we want to really make an impression.”

When I say…
“I’m going to nurse the baby. Bring over some books and we can read!”
They must hear…
“I’m going to nurse the baby. Now would be a perfect time to pretend mom is a human jungle gym.”

When I say…

“Uh oh. Cover your cough so the baby doesn’t catch your cold.”
They must hear…
“Oh, no! Instead of coughing right into the baby’s face why don’t you suck on your finger then stick it in the baby’s mouth. That’ll do the job of spreading germs much faster and more effectively.”

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The good thing is that the baby will forgive and forget. And besides that pesky stuffy nose his brother so generously shared with him, he’s no worse for the ware. In fact, I would venture to even go so far as to say that he might possibly be the luckiest little boy in the world because he has three brothers that incessantly want to give him love. As crazy as it can get around here with three older brothers, there really is no better playmate, no better friend than a sibling.

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Happy Place

I’m typing this one-fingered on my iPad (something that drives my husband crazy!) from the rocking chair. My left leg bounces up and down and my fingers run through a two-year-old’s blonde hair. His blue eyes hidden under heavy eyelids and long lashes. A rare moment I seldom get to enjoy, but today…today I will. The dishes wait, the toys strung from one room to the next sit. This. Nothing in the world could compare to this.

For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about “my happy place,” thanks to my dear friend Marla who writes a beautiful blog, Pendulum World. After being challenged by another blogger and writing about hers, she challenged me along with a few others to write about mine. Let me first tell you about Marla. I’ve never met her in person, but she has a way of making you feel like an old friend. She writes words of encouragement and often reminds me of what this life is really all about. I’m so thankful for her friendship and how she has touched my life.

Last year for the 100th day of school our son was asked to bring in 100 of something. For days I proposed ideas as we sat around the dinner table and watched as my husband’s face twisted in mocking smirks.

“How about we make a treasure box and paint it, then fill it with 100 gold coins? You could wear a pirate costume when it’s your turn to present. Eh?” Brilliant.

Now, here’s just a simple example of how my dear husband and I are complete polar opposites (for what it’s worth, we are living proof that opposites really can attract!).

My husband smirks. “R, Mom is crazy. Here’s a $1 bill. Take it in and say it’s 100 cents. Easy. Done.”

“So typical!” I’d think. “Sure, take the easy, straight-forward route. So engineery.”

Our proposals went back-and-forth for days. Finally a decision was made. R put together a cute little photo album with a title on the front, “100 People, Places, and Things I Love.” Each photo protector held a picture of someone or something near and dear to him with a label of what it was. I was a proud mama, and even my “this project is way too frilly and time consuming” husband thought it turned out pretty darn cute.

I won’t put 100, but I thought I’d share my happy place(s) with you through pictures. Like Marla said in her post, being with people I love is where I find joy. They are what makes life full and happy, and I’m so thankful for those who have shared their lives with me. So, without further ado, here are my “people, places and things I love,” or “my happy place.”

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Being with my family

...and more family

…and more family (thanks, katiejanephotos.blogspot.com 🙂 )

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Sailing on our boat

Hiking

Hiking

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Places that bring back special memories

Here, one of the most beautiful places on earth

Here, one of the most beautiful places on earth

Here, because of all the peace, joy, and completeness it represents in my life

Here, because of all the peace, joy, and completeness it represents in my life

Running (and being) with friends

Running (and being) with friends

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Being with my kids

I’m so glad Marla challenged me to think about what brings me happiness. With the start of a new year, I hope we can all look back and remember those people, those moments, those places that we find joy. And this year I hope we can all share our joy with others.

As these traveling posts go, I have thought about some bloggers to pass the “happy place” challenge to. Of course, I don’t want to make anyone feel obligated to do it, but if you would like, I’d love to read yours.

Shape Up Cupcake— Kristen and I go way back to volleyball freshman year of high school, guitar class, soccer, and sleep overs. She is amazing! I feel honored to call her my friend after all these years. She is such a inspiration to me and so many others.

A prompt reply— Torrie has quickly become a good friend. Being in different walks of life, I love to hear her view from where she stands, with adult and teenage boys. Her advice and words of wisdom is always something I appreciate.

Sensitive and Extraordinary— Leila is such a kind person. I have loved getting to know her through her blog and reading her thoughts on raising children. She has been a huge help to me as a beginner in the self-publishing adventure, always answering my questions and sharing her experience and knowledge.

Categories: Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Terrible/Wonderful Twos–Loving Whatever Life Throws Our Way

Our youngest son recently turned two. TWO! Every time I’ve had a two-year-old I can distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Could I possibly love this kid any more?? If I could only freeze time, I’d freeze him at this age, right here, right now.” I LOVE two. It is my favorite, favorite, favorite age.

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Yesterday was a moment I would have froze if I could. We were putting Christmas decorations up, and N (that cute little two-year-old), enthusiastic about all the festiveness in a way only a two-year-old can be, grabbed the angel from a Melissa and Doug nativity set and ran to my husband. “See, Daddy? See? This Mommy! Mommy a angel.”

My heart turned to mush.

Obviously he’d totally forgot about how I was the meanest mom on the planet an hour before for not letting him try a bite of the uncooked chicken I was cutting up for dinner…

While I would freeze each of my children at the age of two for eternity if I could, There’s no doubt in my mind that the “terrible twos” are real. Oh, so very real. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” It was the age of pure joy, it was the age of temper tantrums. It was the season of laughter and squeals, it was the season of never-ending potty training. It was the time of ‘do it myself’ (hooray!), it was the time of ‘do it myself’ (ahh! No!!). Two is, without a doubt, a paradox. It’s a year thick and thin with inconsistency.

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But, the more I’ve thought about it, maybe that’s just life. We live in a world of ups and downs. Mountains and valleys are ever present in all of our lives, wether we are in the thick of raising a child in the terrible/wonderful twos, or if our children are states away with families of their own. Some mountains in our lives may seem so incredible they touch the skies, some valleys may seem so deep we feel we may never rise again. Regardless of where we find ourselves, a lesson I learned years ago from a talk has stuck with me.

“Come what may and love it.

“…every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring. Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.” —Joseph B. Wirthlin

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Having a two-year-old around again has reminded me of that advice. Most days are the absolute best. My mountain seem higher than the clouds. Others, well, I’ve simply had to remind myself to laugh…

“The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.”

…and “seek for the eternal.”

“Because Jesus Christ suffered greatly, He understands our suffering. He understands our grief. We experience hard things so that we too may have increased compassion and understanding for others.” –Wirthlin

Whatever our lives bring, I hope we can tell ourselves, “Come what may, and love it.” I hope we can laugh at our blunders, at the little frustrations, at the uncomfortable situations. And when our valleys are deep and we are too far down to laugh, may we look up and seek for His help. Only through Him can we be made whole.

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If you liked this post, I’d so appreciate your vote. Just click here. That’s all you do. Thanks!

Categories: children, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Home

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A while back my mom told me about her friend’s son who had entered his school science fair. His experiment was the classic “mouse in a maze” test. The subjects: three mice. The test: going through the maze. The variable: music. For an extended period of time before the experiment, mouse number one listened to heavy metal, the second mouse listened to classical, and the third was left in silence. My freshman year in college I took a humanities class from Michael Ballam. If you are familiar with opera or LDS culture, his name might ring a bell. I spent the semester falling deeply in love with classical music and learning of the amazing benefits of it, so naturally I was sure I knew how the science experiment turned out. “Of course the classical mouse did best! Right, Mom?” She went on to tell me the results.

The heavy metal mouse was a mess. He ran around the maze so confused and totally wild. To my shock, the classical mouse did only slightly better. It was the silence that won. The mouse who sat in silence navigated the maze flawlessly.

But that wasn’t where the story ended. After the maze experiment, all the mice were placed in a box and everyone left the room. When they came back a while later, the heavy metal mouse had killed and was EATING the other mice!

Over the years as a mom I’ve had uncertainties. Who really was playing with the Lego penguin first, if allowing my kids to eat a cookie at 5 will ruin their appetite for dinner at 6, if that bonk on the head deserves a doctor’s check or if mom’s hug and kiss will suffice. But the one that has been the most challenging for me is how much time is healthy for my children to be spending away from home in extra-curricular activities.

Some of my favorite moments with my kids have always been trips to the library, picnics at the park, playing with friends, going to children’s museums, swimming lessons…all of what you might consider the “classical music” type activities. Important, wonderful, enriching. But what I’ve discovered over the years is that we need those silent moments. Those days at HOME. Just us, just being together, nothing busy, nothing complicated. I know as an introvert and a home-body my children and I might need that more frequently than many of our friends. But I really believe all of us need that time. And I’m afraid it’s a need that often gets overlooked.

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Leonardo Da Vinci

I trust that few parents would ever expose their children to “heavy metal” type activities. If they did, Who knows! The results just might be as horrific as the mouse after the maze (heaven forbid!). But I know I have on occasion let life get too busy doing good activities and thinking they are what is best for my kids.

In our efforts to be good parents, to provide our children with ample opportunities, to make sure they’re smart, athletic, well-rounded, socially adjusted, have a plethora of friends, and happy, I hope we can remember that home is just as (or more) important as any museum, any soccer field, any dugout, any library. Those are great. I love those places! They are important. But do we, just as I did in assuming that the classical mouse would win because I’ve been taught classical music is so beneficial to all aspects of life, assume that we must fill every second of our children’s days with those extra-curricular things for them to reach their amazing potential? I’m completely convinced that those quiet times at home are vital to all aspects of their growth.

Remember the quiet moments. Don’t take them for granted. There really and truly is no place like home!

“…we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.” -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Moments That Matter Most

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

To All of My Expectant Friends and Family: Babies (and those 9 months in your tummy) are the BEST!!

The past few weeks I have been bombarded with news of dear friends and family expecting. Text messages, phone calls, facebook pictures, and in-person news have me reeling with joy with the prospect of new babies coming into this world (is there anything in this life better than that kind of news?? I think not!), all going to be born to simply AMAZING people that will make fantastic parents. Even writing this makes my heart skip beats with happiness. Having a baby, whether it is your first or fifth, is a wondrous miracle.

I’ve been thinking about those nine months leading up to that one nerve-wracking, hard, exhausting, emotionally draining, remarkable, marvellous, phenomenal, stupendous, life-altering day and what it meant for me each time. If you’ve been there before, feel free to add any that I’ve forgot. If this is your first time, hold on tight. Here’s a little bit of what to expect when you’re expecting.

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1. Everyone, including strangers, will glance down at your tummy mid conversation. Try not to judge. You most likely did it too.

2. Everyone, including strangers, will touch your belly. When you become pregnant apparently your belly no longer becomes a part of you and an invisible “Please touch!” sign suddenly appears.

3. Nothing will sound good to eat. Or everything will sound good to eat. Or everything and nothing at the same time.

4. People will whisper behind your back, wondering if that little pouch you’re growing is more than the result of a few too many brownies. They will smile, knowingly, but not dare say a word just in case it is simply a result of brownies.

5. You will cry over EVERYTHING. Everything, I’m not even kidding.

6. You will be drawn to the baby clothes and want to buy the entire infant section. And you will cry, because they are all so darn cute.

7. Your husband will, at some point (unless he is much wiser a man than most) ever-so-innocently comment on the incredible weight transformation you have gone through. You will probably take it personally and you will cry.

8. Any organizational skills or memory of where you put your keys or phone will totally disappear. You’ve traded this little, amazing human being for a bird brain. It’s a fact.

9. You might want to consider making business cards to pass out or a large sign to carry around with answers to these questions:

  • Oh! When are you due?
  • Is it a girl or a boy?
  • Are you hoping for one or the other?
  • Are you excited?
  • Are you getting nervous?
  • How have you been feeling?

10. Prepare yourself now to hear all of the horrendous, nightmarish stories of other’s birth experiences. Try not to get scared out of your mind, too grossed out, and try not to judge. You just might be doing that too one day. Few can resist the excitement of telling their unique and very personal story of their sweet baby coming into the world.

11. When that baby is days away from making that début, multiple people will say, “Oh! You’re still here, are you?” And you just might cry because you are still here.

12. You will forever remember that meal that you ate after your child had exhaustingly been brought into the world. And those chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes will be the BEST chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes you have ever, ever tasted. Your dear husband will sneak away to get subway because, let’s face it, the deliciousness of the chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes are just a figment of your delusional, just-spent-the-last-9-months-growing-and-the-last-24-hours-delivering-a-human-being mind.

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Dear friends and family carrying those precious little ones for the months ahead and awaiting their arrival, enjoy it! What an incredibly exciting time. You are in my thoughts and my prayers!

Categories: children, Family, Pregnancy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

In the Moment

“Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. This is why we are here.”

–Jon J. Muth, The Three Questions

Her name is the Caddis, and I can promise you it was certainly not love at first sight. My experiences with sailing up to that point had been tainted with memories of my husband and brother-in-law spending my birthday in the ER for hypothermia. Not to mention the $300 bill from the hospital a month later (Maiden Spring Voyage). “But this one will be safer,” my husband promised. “2,000 pounds of lead. There’s no way this one will ever topple over. Besides, it will be so great for the boys. Think of the experiences they will have!” I finally gave in. The boat was shipped from Michigan a few weeks later.

It took a bit of coaxing, but soon I was spending one evening a week on a sailboat with an instructor and three others taking classes. I never really got the hang of it, nor did I catch the “sailing bug” while under those majestic, white sails. Although it was admittedly enjoyable to feel the cool breeze against my face and watch the sunset reflect on the water.

Every week as a family we took our new boat out at least once. We spent many nights tied up to the mooring watching the millions of stars, many mornings sipping hot cocoa and reading books inside our sleeping bags. On the fourth of July the boys joined in the annual parade and strung lights across the bow and up the mast and silently motored around the lake.

IMG_0649It may not have been love at first sight, but eventually I did fall in love. It wasn’t the sails unfurled under the deep blue sky. It wasn’t even the boat heeling into the water, splashing our feet as we dangled them over the edge. To be honest, it really wasn’t the sailing at all.

It was us.

It was no phones to answer. No texts to respond to. No emails, no TV, no worries of laundry or grass to mow, no dirty floors or prior engagements. No worries of tomorrow.

IMG_0664When we’re on the boat, it’s just those other bodies occupying that small space. Nothing else, simply breathing each other–our real selves–in. We laugh, we tussle, we sing, we read. We play Go Fish, we swim, we grill hot dogs and dangle our poles over the water. We admire God’s creations around us. We count the stars and wake up to the morning sun. We wave at the other sailors as they tack and jibe around our very own little world.

IMG_0672A few days ago as we sailed for the last time this season I was reading to my boys from our “sailing library” and found The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth. When we first put the books on the boat, we tried to keep the theme of boats and all things water. Somehow this one got in the mix. As I silently lamented the end of another wonderful sailing season and wished for more magical moments on the water with my family, this book hit me hard. It seemed so fitting. The Caddis has become a refuge for us, where nothing else matters but the people we are with. Time stands still and we can finally truly enjoy each other, pure and undiluted. Its a unique feeling in this fast-paced technology-run world.

IMG_0663“When is the best time to do things?”

“Who is the most important one?”

“What is the right thing to do?”

Somehow the Caddis puts it in perspective for me. It suddenly all makes sense. I love sailing not because of the thrill or the water, the adventure or the skill, but because of all that it represents for our family. This time, these relationships, this is why we are here.

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All pictures my boys draw have a sailboat. They have fallen hook, line and sinker for every bit of sailing.

All pictures my boys draw have a sailboat. They have fallen hook, line and sinker for every bit of sailing.

What is your refuge from the crazy hustle and bustle of life, where you can give your everything to those you love?

Categories: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Middle Child

“Ok, Mom. Now we’re going to race and you’re going to dribble the ball, and if you win we play soccer. If I win then we race again. Ok? Ok, Mom? That’s what we’ll do.” I’m not sure if he even took a breath before he yelled, “Ready, set, GO!” and raced full speed down the hall. M is always a big ball of energy. Gram liked to say we were built backwards. If only I could muster even a fraction of that kid’s energy, I could do the dishes, fold all the piles of clothes, read my stack of books, and clean the bathrooms without batting an eye. If only…

imageIMG_0844R (our six-year-old) happened to be on a big kid camping trip with dad and grandpa this weekend, so it was just the younger two and me. That moment as I listened intently to his instructions and positioned the ball ready to dribble, it hit me. Little, energetic four-year-old M is our middle child. He never got the one-on-one attention that our oldest did, and when his baby brother came along, he and R could play so well that I was able to give the baby plenty of attention. He is A MIDDLE CHILD. R’s baby pictures creatively scrap booked and labeled, sitting on a shelf while M’s hasn’t even been touched. R’s accomplishments carefully documented in a beautiful album, M’s scribbled on a calendar somewhere under some pile. I hated to admit it, but the reality was staring me in the face. Just the other day while we played dinosaurs I awoke to a t-rex roaring in my face and a boy desperate for those precious moments saying, “Come on, Mom! You aren’t playing dinosaurs with me! Wake UP!”

IMG_0613As I held that ball, I vowed to do better. I’d let life get in the way of really playing with my kids! Most especially one in particular. I’d gotten too busy, too tired, too distracted. My middle child needed those moments where his mom dropped everything, left the dishes in the sink, scooped the grumpy baby up in her arms, and dribbled the swirly ball down the hall in a frantic race to see what we did next. So in that moment I vowed to make changes. For all my kids, but mostly for my sweet, non-stop middle child. Here’s my list of new rules for myself:

1. Dishes can wait. Laundry can wait. He will only be four once.

2. We can play at the park without friends. We SHOULD play at the park without friends on occasion.

3. At least a half-an-hour every day should be spent being really crazy. Dance to the silly songs, sing along, just being plain goofy.

4. Really try to get to know each kid, spend time alone with each one daily.

5. Live in the moment. Stop thinking about the bazillion things going on.

6. Include them in as much as possible (M was so thrilled to help me scrub the toilets the other day. Time with child plus clean toilets=win-win for everyone!)

7. Find opportunities to hug as much as possible. Say “I love you” every chance you get.

8. Don’t let bedtime get frustrating.

9. Don’t cry over spilled milk (…Or orange juice, or hot chocolate, or yogurt, or refried beans, or chicken noodle soup, or cheese, or mashed potatoes, or salsa, or not quite solid jello, or burrito innards, or eggs, or expensive freshly homemade granola, or pasta noodles…)

10. Patience, patience, patience. I don’t want them to remember me always being exasperated with them.

11. Get on the floor and play. Pretend with them. Do what THEY want to do, not what you want them to want to do.

12. Give in to just one more book. It’s a book for pete’s sake.

13. Talk to them while you drive places. Ask them questions, have a conversation.

14. Don’t freak out when they get muddy. It’s what kids should do. Clothes can be washed.

15. Do things that will make them laugh.

imageNo more t-rex wake-up calls. Here’s to better days, less middle child syndrome, and more enjoying life. What’s on your list?

Categories: Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The “Real” Job

Every October my husband has a work party at one of the fanciest restaurants in town. It’s high up in the foothills, overlooks the city lights, and has a vallet to park your car. 23 courses, 32 forks and food from countries I didn’t even know existed. It’s the one time a year that I wear a dress and curl my hair to go out to eat.

Before dinner begins, everyone stands around chatting and eating fancy orderves brought on silver platters. It’s quite a change of pace from our usual $6 Chipotle splerge. Every year as we wait, the conversation goes a bit like this… “So our project… work work work… that one time in the lab… work work work…” Then turning toward me, “And what do you do?” I’m usually caught a bit off guard because I’m busy trying to figure out what I just took off the plate the watress offered and also because I haven’t been able to follow their big-worded conversation for the past twenty minutes.

“Oh!” I say. “We have three boys. I stay at home with them.” They smile, and my husband, on que, chimes in and says, “SHE has the real job.” Ha,ha,ha. Everyone laughs and nods in agreement. I roll my eyes and smile at my husband. It’s kind of him to say, but as the conversation goes back to the big work terms and abstract ideas that make absolutely no sense to my feeble mind, I can’t help but think, “Really?? The real job, huh. I make sandcastles in the sandbox all day. I fix quesadillas and grapes for lunch and watch Dinosaur Train reruns with my kids. Yep. That’s right. I have the real job.”

Don’t worry, it’s always just one of those pathetic stay-at-home-mom pitty party moments that disappears quickly. Every October as soon as we pull into the garage and walk in the door (that is, after our vallet gets our Honda that totally doesn’t fit in with the fancy BMW’s and Lexus cars), I remember that this is what I have chosen. This is what I wanted! The “real” job. I wanted to play in the sandbox, do the laundry, and take my kids to the library.

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It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Stay at home, watch the kids run around, play ball, make beds, do dishes. When our first son was born I admit that I had thoughts many days that I had more to offer the world. I wanted to make a difference, change people’s lives, and I wanted to be good at something. I despirately wanted to be GOOD at something. I wanted more recognition than those adorable goos and gahs. Maybe that seems a bit selfish. I had graduated from college, and here I was, changing diapers while my husband was off saving the world and paying the bills. Some days were downright hard. The “real” job? Really? I had always wanted to be a mom, to stay home and be there for all of their wonderful benchmarks and accomplishments. I hadn’t bet on feeling so alone with no one but an infant to talk to, feeling so helpless when it came time to pull out the checkbook, and so lazy when other moms did it all–went to work, took care of their kids, fed their husbands…

It took a while to get over my envy and realize that while my husband had the “real” job (as he puts it, someone has to pay the bills, right? Plus he’s a great dad), I did too. I was contributing, I was making a difference, and I was just as much an integral part of our family. I realized that I had a unique opportunity to be a huge part of my child’s life. I could see his first steps, I could get to know him in ways I might have missed out on. Sure, it was a sacrifice. But looking back, it was worth every hard day. It was worth all that I gave up to stay home. For me, it has been one of the biggest blessings in my life, as a mother, as a wife, and as plain old me.

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I still sometimes have those moments when I feel like my contribution to the world is so minimal and pathetic. Some days I feel like I don’t even do a good enough job sandcastle building and loving my children. Some days I still just want to be good at something other than dinner. But I honestly believe being a mother and caring for your children (while working or not) is one of the greatest contributions, greatest skills a woman can make and give to society. It is the “real” job. I feel honored and blessed to have three children trusted in my care every single day. To fix maccaroni for, to get frustrated at, to love, to hold when they’ve fallen down, to take pictures of, and to constantly worry about.

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This October I plan to wear my fancy dress, curl my hair, and when I’m asked the classic question, “Oh, and what do you do?” And when my husband chimes in, “SHE has the real job!” I’ll probably still roll my eyes and smile at him. I’ll remember that HE has the “real” job, and so do I.

I’m a mom. I have one of the best jobs in the entire world. The “real” job.

I stay at home. I cook, I clean, I change diapers, take two second showers, sing disney songs, and eat my child’s soggy cheereos off the table.

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It may not seem glamorous, it often goes underappreciated, unrecognized, and sometimes even looked down on. But I know that for me it has been worth it. I’m sure I’ll look back and realize I had the best coworkers (even when they conspired against me), the best hours (even though it’s 24/7), the best projects (like trying to teach a child to blow his nose), and the best perks (nothing to do today? I guess I could stay in sweat pants till three!). Someday I hope I can enter the working world again, but for now I’ll try to enjoy the moment.

Categories: Motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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