November 25, 2009

Simplifying the Holidays

I say I am going to do it every year. My husband prods repeatedly "Let's just have a simple Christmas this year." Then what happens is that I start preparing early, forget the things I have purchased and squirreled away. Then on the night before Christmas I see all the stuff and get that sinking embarrassed feeling in the pit of my stomach. I glance nervously at my spouse and seek his approval with questions like "It isn't that much is it?" But I already know the answer. It's always too much. And when I look around the house and the crap we have sitting here piling up dust it's enough to make me nauseous. I think about the kids in the world who are happy on so much less. I think about Mary and Laura Ingels playing with an inflated pig bladder having the time of their lives. And I don't think my kids are the blessed ones. They are perhaps at a disadvantage having been given too much... So this year I am determined-things will be simple. Braces on two kids and expensive violin lessons have stretched our budget and I'm certain that this is a good thing.

We have been verbally warning the kids that this year will be 'practical.' No flashy things that will only be played with for a week. We are getting things that we need. We are making things instead of buying. Now if I only could buy some time in a bottle for the quilts I have in mind for the girls and the photo albums I plan to put together for the boys. I know... when you were a 13 year old boy you really craved a photo album catching up on the past 3 years didn't you? Not to worry- there will be legos. But no fancy race-tracks that break too soon, no telescopes or ipods.

When I asked Big Boy last night what he desired most for Christmas his response was "I can tell you what I don't want this year... my very own nativity. That totally sucked as a gift last year..." He just won't let that go. Which is even more reason I am determined. The spoilage needs to end. Just like T's family used to say when he was a boy. "We're going to have a lot of love this year for Christmas." I must admit the cockles of my heart really warmed towards Little Boy when I asked him the same question I asked of his brother and he said "How about a new mattress for my bed" Now that really shows those practical wheels have been turning. Something he needs and will put to good use every dang night! His Christmas wish just might come true. If he's really really good.

November 21, 2009

My Morning

It's Saturday. About 8:15 am eastern time. I feel like I have already had a full day. Perhaps because Big Girl was up several times last night peeing nervously. Turns out what we thought was a UTI is really just stress related peeing. Didn't I just post about all the pressure she is under? I did! She is also under a lot of strain at home with 3 older brothers who no longer find her cute. They adore 2 year old Little Girl but 6 year olds don't hold the same charms of word mispronunciation. 6 year olds just get on their nerves, and dinner time is an eye-roll-fest each and every time. It would seem that my constant requests of "just be nice to you sister" fall on deaf ears. But now I have a pediatrician to back me up. "You guys have tortured her into a fake UTI! You should be ashamed of yourselves!" So things have been a bit better and I actually overheard Big Boy giving her bully advise in the playroom yesterday. He offered to come and put that pushy Taylor into her place the next time she tried to make Audrey be her paper-cat-maker for her.

So on with my morning (since that is the title of the post I better stick to it). At 6:00 am T and the Older boys had to rise and shine to head for a local food shelter for a Young Men's activity. They won't be back until 11:00 but the really important thing here is that they woke up Little Girl. No service to me -thanks. Little Girl has an odd obsession with wanting to be dressed from the moment she wakes up. I think she thinks the world will pass her by if she's not dressed for it. It even bugs her a little bit if she sees me lounging around in my PJs for too long in the morning. She also likes to lay out her clothes the night before like she sees her school-aged siblings doing. The problem here is that she has no sense of fashion or any idea what matches, but her opinions are strong none the less. And she also has a father who doesn't have the foresight at bedtime to see a problem with letting her lay out neon floral leggings a red heart T-shirt, jean overalls, AND a brown printed knit dress that she will at some future point (6:15 am today) want to wear all at the same time. T just smiled at me while zipping up his jacket and wished me luck with that. I must have used the words "they don't match" to her one too many times because at breakfast when I poured milk over her Life cereal she told me her spoon didn't match her bowl. Just her little way of getting back I guess. Instead of crying I laughed good and long at that, then got her a plastic spoon to match her plastic bowl and she was satisfied.

Now the kids are playing nicely at my feet with Legos miraculously not begging for TV and all is well. When there are 2 less of us (kid wise) in the house it seems like the eye of a tornado (which is calm and peaceful btw). Little Boy made me laugh pretty hard at these word play things he drew on his white board last night. Some of them are Little Boy originals. See if you can find his (clip on tie) and his older brother did the 'seven seas.' Just one more affirmation to myself that motherhood can be really great sometimes... Now it's off to the showers. OH my L-O-L... Baby Girl just asked me if I was going to take a "baby shower" no- not a baby shower, a big girl shower. I threw that baby shower a month ago!

look for I understand, high chair, banana split and skating on thin ice...

November 15, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

I really shouldn't be blogging right now because I need to finish my book club book. The book is one that I actually chose and so I will be hosting our group for the month. I often come to book club having only read half of the book. But this time I have to lead the discussion and it will look pretty stupid if I don't know what to talk about. I just did the math and I have to read 30.5 pages each day to get it finished in time. I don't know what it is lately but I seem to have a serious problem with distraction while reading. I bring my book to violin lessons. I have a full 30 minutes to read sitting there on her slouchy love-seat while my boy plays violin. But I am so distracted by the playing that I maybe get 2 paragraphs read if I am lucky. Maybe it's all the asides this book seems to take that make me lose interest. I just want a good story with a plot I think. Maybe my IQ is going down as I age. (Just had that birthday you know).

The story of the book is quite admirable though and I feel myself warming up to it. It's the story of Greg Mortenson. He's a mountain climber who's life is saved when he stumbles down from K2 into the village of Korphe in Pakistan. They save his life, make him drink stinky tea and he, in turn, falls in love with these poor people and promises to build them a school. After many trials he finally gets it done. That's it in a nutshell. I do recommend the book. I just don't recommend reading it in a houseful of noisy children.

The humanitarian nature of Greg M is inspiring. It reminds me of my brother E. He is a DDS in Provo and has an organization called Share a Smile. They have traveled far and wide providing dental care for the poverty ridden. I was lucky enough to be able to go with them on their last trip to Morocco. I think about that trip often. It was life changing for me. Several of my family members are in the dental field and a few if them were there for this trip, but it was a first for me.

The day we arrived I recall being overwhelmed by the poverty. The begging children in the streets were heartbreaking. After dinner in our hotel, we walked across the road to buy bottled water at this hole-in-the-wall shop. The children swarmed around us asking for coins. Suddenly my eyes filled and I was so emotional. I was completely overwhelmed. How is it that we are dealt the hand we are dealt in this life? My sister understood my feelings and told me it was the same for her on her first Share a Smile trip. "You get used to it" she told me.

By the end of our week in Zagora I was amazed at my change of attitude. These people were poor, but not poor in spirit. They had been opening up slowly to us and it was beautiful to see. In the beginning of our week you could see the hesitance when they would look at us. But as we worked hard providing care they began to warm, especially the children. We'd teach them "head shoulders knees and toes" and they'd sing it back followed by another english word they knew "bullshit!" So touching.... By mid-week we had a long lunch hour to shop at their local market. I still remember the baskets made out of old tires. Brilliant! I bought some fruit from a vendor for my lunch.

At our departure it was amazing to see the happy smiling waves out the windows of our bus. It was like we'd made a village full of BFFs. Then I spotted in the street the man who'd sold my sister and I bananas on the previous Wednesday. He called out to us "I sold you a banana!" and it made us feel like rock stars. If I'd had a sharpie I would have signed that banana peel for him. I hope I get to go back some day. For now I will just read about Greg Mortenson and think about what to make for book club refreshments this Thursday. Maybe in remembrance of my market friend, some banana bread...

November 12, 2009

It's My Birthday Too Yeah!

I turned 41 today. I know- really! The nice thing about this year is that my husband was home to celebrate with me. Last year he had just deployed to Iraq and that kinda sucked for me (and him). This year he had the day off even (he always does being in the military). We went to celebrate at my favorite pancake house for breakfast. I haven't been there since we were residents back 5 years or so ago. Still tasted great! It's called the Original Pancake House. I was so full I haven't eaten much the rest of the day. T had to leave for a young men's activity at the temple tonight, so we will have a birthday dinner tomorrow with cake. My presents were modest but nice. I don't feel so guilty now about the leaf blower I got for T in August. I got wool socks, two kinds of lip gloss from my girly girls, glass canisters to store our sugar and flour so I can stop scooping directly from the bags thankyouverymuch. I didn't feel that the wife of a neuro-opthamologist veteran should be stooping to such levels every time she made snickerdoodles. Does that seem cocky? Sorry! Also we have an ant problem from time to time, so I am glad he got me what I asked for. I also wanted a certain cook book that the store was sold out of so he got me another one. I am happy that they tried and it does look like a nice cook book, but I think I will be returning it and ordering on Amazon. Snotty again! I know! But it is my birthday and I will be using this cook book to serve a family that deserves the very best right? And actually the one I wanted is cheaper T says- so double score!

I got 36 (but who's counting) happy birthday wishes on facebook making me feel ultra popular. One lesser known high school acquaintance sent me a male belly dancer birthday video. I am thinking of putting it on the blog. I got a lot of calls from family and a couple friends so that was nice. One friend who I have known since before kindergarten was texting me while delivering a baby. She had her 10th baby on my birthday at around 4:00pm. So nice of her! I just hope she doesn't name the baby Gemma. Pronounced like gem, but still, you know what people are going to call her. You just shouldn't do that to someone with a veteran's day birthday, you know?

Here's a bit of trivia, I was born on Veteran's day, my due date was actually Halloween, and my mother found out she was expecting me on April Fools Day. Which I am thinking makes the date of conception probably close to Valentines Day.... Yes, and you thought it was a jolly holiday with Mary Poppins didn't you? There should be another version written with lyrics like "It's a jolly holiday with Kelly, Kelly makes your blah blah blah..." What do you think? If they ever do a sequel I hope it will be considered.

And one last bit of birthday information for you... While running errands with my T today (11/11) in the Crayola isle at 11:11 (and 11 seconds) we kissed. For it was my birthday after all. I hope the security cameras caught it.

Hope 41 will be a banner year!

November 10, 2009

Wild Things

It was Big Girl's night out with her parents last Saturday. We take turns with the kids so they can have some alone time with their parents once every 5 weeks. It's a real treat! She wanted to go to the movies. So we took her to see Where the Wild Things Are. I think I have told you that every time I see the trailers for this movie I start to cry. I don't really get it myself. I listened to a radio show (or the tail end of one) with Diane Rehm interviewing a couple guests who were talking about Maurice Sendak's works and the upcoming movie. During the interview, on the drive home, I was again a sobbing mess. The book is timeless. The illustrations perfect. My favorite pages may be the ones without words. Where one can make sound effects to the wild rumpus if one desires. Where the child decides when it's time to turn the page. It's a story of unconditional love. A story of being just a bit afraid of one's own wild side. A tale of a child's boundless imagination. And it makes me cry. Maybe I am remembering a time when my own mother read this book to me. A mother who in my early twenties abandoned me when she passed away. Leaving me mad and wild. Maybe I am internally longing for my own childhood. Maybe I am afraid of my own wild things at home and the fear that is under that wild behavior.

Anyways, watching the movie really did remind me of the dark and sad side I sometimes see in my own children. And it reminded me of a great truth. One that I have always known but somehow it slips away consistently. That when your kids act wild it is usually because they have fear. They fear loss of your attentions and acceptance. They crave validation and act out to get you to look in their direction again. When we feed them the attention and love they crave, it soothes the savage inside.

I think that Spike Jonez did a great job of capturing the emotions of childhood in this movie. Childhood fears of abandonment, being ignored, and left out. Childhood wildness, danger, love, humor, and imagination. I cried several times and went through 2 tissues during the movie. I also am feeling a bit raw after a week in bed with the flu though, so that could have been an contributing factor.

When I spoke with a friend on the phone last night and told her my thoughts on the movie she agreed and told me that several of her friends have said how bored they were with it. Bored? Are you serious? That is so weak! Did they not see the symbolism? It was deep and funny and sad and in the end happy. What's not to like!? I know that everyone has different tastes. But for the record Where the Wild Things are tasted just fine to me!

November 08, 2009


Poor Big Girl... She's the shortest in her class. She is the last to loose her teeth as well. I didn't truly appreciate the gravity of the situation until I had my first time visit to her classroom the other day. There's a lot of pressure in first grade. Pressure to do your own work, pressure to be big, pressure to learn all those slap-hand rhymes about your 'boyfriend behind a magazine' and the 'local law enforcement in Mexico peeing in the streets.' Pressure!

Pressure to lose teeth didn't cross my mind, but when I thoughtfully noticed that Samantha has a horizontally positioned upper central incisor (it looked like it wasn't mobile and needed an extraction- I'll leave that good news for her next dental visit), the response of this girl to my "you have a tooth that's trying to come out" surprised me. "I am already on the top teeth-your daughter is still working on the bottom!" Now I could have gone into a lecture about how lessening the length of exposure is actually a good thing in the mouth. The longer a permanent tooth has to be exposed to the damage of poor oral hygiene and sugar the more likely that tooth will be to develop dental caries. Instead I just said "every one's different Samantha." And took mental note to avoid play dates with that kid.

I was also I bit surprised by my daughter telling us to please please please pull her tooth. "I don't care about the blood and I will even clean it up" she said. Was that the girly inclination to be tidy talking or the desperation to be like everyone else? Maybe a bit of both. Anyways- here is her happy happy end to the story. And a bit of good news- we didn't have any blood stains to clean up!

November 05, 2009

Hand Sanitizer Let Me Down

I've been sick with flu-like symptoms for 5 days now. Tried the garlic, honey, cayenne pepper remedy Ginger- and all I can say is-yuck! It sure added gagging and nausea to my symptoms. Maybe if I'd used the raw honey instead of the Giant-brand honey that comes in a bear it would have been more bearable (ha!). I have no idea if it helped. Somehow I just felt I smelled more of garlic.

Despite copious amounts of hand sanitizer use in the last month, I still got the bug that has been my biggest fear. You know what the upside was? Suddenly I could kiss and hug my two year old who I'd been keeping at arms length when she came down with a cough. We snuggled in bed and watched lots of TV. By the way I don't recommend watching the movie 'Outbreak' with Dustin Hoffmin when you are sick in bed with the flu.

Another upside? (I'm always an pessimistic-optimist), Now I don't have to live in fear of getting this swine flu (if that is what it was) ever again. Whoops- since I'm not sure what it was, maybe I do have to live in fear still... It's funny because in the beginning I kept saying to myself 'this isn't the swine flu because I have no fever and it's just a small tickle in my throat.' Then as I got worse and felt like a truck ran over me, I hoped it was the swine flu so that I could have it and be done with it. Never had a fever, but I googled symptoms and found out fever isn't a criteria. Well I am going to choose to believe that I have had it already. And I was given the nasal mist for the seasonal flu, so I'm good right? Can I hear ya say "right!?" NO more getting sick this year.

During the week, at times I felt pretty sorry for myself. I kept thinking of a resident's wife I know of who got this same bug and her husband (in his residency mind-you) had the balls to tell my husband (his chief) that he would be taking a couple days off to care for her. This couple days off he granted himself sure made for some longer hours for my husband and his family to deal with. Did I get that kind royal treatment? Let me hear you say "no!" Not a two way street there my friends.

Lets just all be reminded that life is not fair. And when the primary program is coming and things need to be done, a flu-like symptom week just cannot get in the way. Laundry still needs to be done, milk still needs to be bought, teens still need to be put in their place. Breathe in breathe out.... Let enough time pass and eventually normalcy will find it's way back again. I saw a glimpse of normalcy today. I can't wait for her to come back. In the meantime my hands need lots of Curel for all the symptoms of dryness caused by useless hand sanitizer.

November 02, 2009

Field of Dreams

I am home from church today with a cough. AMC was running the movie Field of Dreams. What a great movie. I decided it was an uplifting spiritual movie and totally Sunday appropriate. l love that we lived in Iowa (and we've seen the actual field in Dyersville). I find the corn fields so beautiful. The sky in that movie is so inspiring! Big Iowa sky! I was so taken by the sky and not Kevin Costner that I noticed the inconsistency of the clouds when they cut from scene to scene. I miss that sky!

When I left to Utah for my sister's wedding and saw the mountains again I realized how I missed those too.

But they don't have the sky that is present in the midwest. They don't have the massive trees that exist here in Maryland either. When I returned to the east after my trip I was struck by all the fall colors that were only starting to change when I left. My gosh the trees are spectacular here! Poor Utahns and Iowans don't got nothing when it comes to the trees in fall out here. Sorry! I'm so glad to have lived in places where I have come to appreciate nature's beauty in all forms. Maybe if I blog about it you will come.....

And on that note I am going to take a nap.

November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009 in Photos

Her 'parade wave.'

His 'parade scowl'
What a poser!
Little Boy and his little scarecrow.
Big Girl and our Big scarecrow 'Joe' (real name used).
Big Girl is all about Peace (notice her pumpkin is the symbol for peace).
Baby Girl has been taking pointers from her sister on how to pose... I suppose. (ha!)
An asian princess, Cat in the Hat and a fortune teller!
A mad scientist (truly!)
His first potion of the night! (Water mixed with leftover grape juice).
Hey, he's a Mac!
Middle Boy as a skeleton in the hood. After wearing this mask for about one second he claimed an urgent need to go and brush his teeth before leaving home. That really made us laugh!
Middle Boy and his loot. That kid really loves candy!
Only one Twix! What a rip off.
Chowing down (and posing) before bedtime.