June 28, 2010

Funeral Thoughts

I am blogging to you from Orem Utah at my sister's home this evening. I should be sleeping. I must have caught a cold on the airplane ride over here and every time I lay down I get stuffy. Today my voice started to go and you know that feeling when you get cranky because your voice is failing? You can't visit with relatives properly or tell your kids what to do from accross the room, and answering a boat-load of questions from your 3 year old is irritating as heck? Well- I've got that.

JoAnn's funeral was yesterday and it was very nice. Her brother did a very nice but lengthy (30 min) tribute to her and I found out a lot of things I never knew before. Like she was class president of her elementary school. And she invented the "freeze bell." It's where when you hear the first bell a recess you have to freeze and then the second bell calls you inside. This solved the problems they were having with kids not coming in from recess. She was a thinker that JoAnn! Her four living children all spoke and they did a great job. Now that must have been tough. I felt closer to them afterwards. I never knew them too well before since they were all raised before JoAnn married my Dad. They've kinda kept to themselves for the past 21 years. I guess we have too. When we parted I told them that if they were ever in DC that they had a friend in me.

The thought in the forefront of my mind during the funeral service is that it was a shame that we weren't closer. It was a shame that we didn't see this good side of JoAnn more while she was alive. I mean, I know we glorify the dead and speak highly of them at funerals but there were a lot of nice things said about her that I had no clue about. I kept thinking "who is that woman? I would have loved to have had her for a step mom!" It was sad that she didn't know our good sides either. We were in a difficult situation when she married my Dad just four months after our mother passed away. We tried our best. That is all we can do I guess. It was hard for me not to wonder what might have been though.

The other weird thought is that the two mothers I have had are now on the other side together. I wonder what that meeting went like? "So, I liked what you did with the kitchen remodel.... Thank you for taking care of my husband for so long, I know he snores and watches too much television. Now about that sweater of Kelly's that you threw out : )

June 23, 2010

In the Calm of the Morning

This morning, all is calm.  No one is awake but me. (Although T is long gone.  Left for work about and hour ago).  The power was out last night as we went to bed and then just as everyone started to doze the lights came on, waking us up.  So instead of doing my work-out this morning (I always seem to find some excuse not to do it these days) I am writing.  I need peace and quiet to write.  I can work out while they eat breakfast right?

I am also attempting to balance the checkbook, pay bills and file things away here in my messy playroom/office.  Since my lap top bit the dust (hopefully to come back to us soon with a new hard-drive and a 3 year warranty), I have to blog from this room and it's really put a cramp in my style.  So my apologies if my blogging frequency has been less than up to par.  Actually I have a new attitude altogether about my blogging lately.  My attitude is that I will get to it if it works for me and I will not let it interfere with my main job as a mother this summer.  So, sorry if I don't comment on your blogs that often.  Its not you, it's me.  Whew!  Glad I got that off my chest.

As I put scratch paper where it goes (so that Big Girl will use that instead of my printer paper for her artwork), I see that we have some new artwork drawn on my new IKEA shelves.  A pencil zigzag that needs to be wiped clean but not before a stern talk with Little Girl!  I am brought back to another age when Big Boy was just a toddler and had taken a set of markers to his play table.  His unfinished wooden play table.  We novice parents decided that even a 2 year old could learn from his mistake and we forced him to sand the table down with heavy duty sand paper.  Video footage reveals how much fun he had sanding away with his pants around his ankles (too focused on his sanding to remember to complete the job he'd just been working on in the bathroom.)  Modesty shmodesty- there's sanding to be done here!  What silly parents we were.  Tricks are for kids!  What a funny memory for me to have this morning.  Reminding me how life is a journey where we just don't know what the heck we are doing most of the time.  And yet somehow things work out alright in the end don't they?  I hope they will.  Big Boy has a lot to learn in the area of hard work still.  Maybe a job this summer will help him there.

I am almost all packed and trying to resist the temptation to buy a new purse I saw before at the Navy Exchange after today's appointment with the Occupational Therapist.  I instinctively forget my appointments with her since she massages the hell (sorry it has to be said) out of my elbow until I want to cry.  Don't you think my showing up for the torture today will warrant a 60.00 purse from the store?  It's such a cute purse for not that much really.  Well- I better be good and just-say-no.  Maybe paying my bills before I leave will help me out with that.  Am I the only one who likes to shop before a trip to see relatives you don't see very often?  Won't they like me just as well with last year's purse?  Maybe I can put it through the wash.  It's looking dirty.

Tomorrow I am off to Utah for about 5 days.  I am so excited to see my family and hug my poor Dad.  I love him so much and he is a great example of faith to me.  I hope you have a good week without me out there in bloggy land!  Until we meet again my virtual friends : )

June 21, 2010

The Latest.... And a Family Dance.

Well the big news here is that my stepmother has passed.  It happened much sooner than we all had thought it would.  She had been working feverishly on a sewing project for each of her grandchildren.  She was always sentimental with her crafts.  She'd cross stitch something when you got married, another item when you had your babies with their names and weights at birth, a baptismal book mark comes when a child turns 8.  This last project isn't a cross stitch.  It is for the temple and cannot be mentioned publicly due to it's sacred nature.  It's very nice of her to do for the grandkids.  I have one from her from when I went through the temple as a young adult.  They are a lot of work!  Especially when you consider that with her natural grandchildren and her step grand kids the numbers are up in the 70s.  So I heard that she finished the last one on Tuesday, took a physical nose-dive on Wednesday, and passed away on Thursday in her sleep.  I am so grateful that she wasn't in a painful awful state for long.  My mother who died of cancer 21 years ago hovered in that state for way too long and it was awful for everyone.

So I am off to Utah for about 5 days to go to her funeral.  It will be nice to see everyone.  Nice to see the mountains and feel the dry heat.  I am coming to grips with my feelings about this loss though.  Like I have said on the blog before, JoAnn and I had our ups and downs.  Most of them downs, but overall I am trying to see the good side that she did have.  The problem was that anything good was always salted with her many criticisms.  Her own mother once told me that her biggest problem was her tendency to criticize.  Even in her last phone call to me (and we had had some really sweet last conversations) but during the last one, she said something mean about my brother's family.  She was most critical of them.  Sigh!  It will be weird to be there with her real kids and trying to figure out what to say or not say to them.  I better work on something mentally before I see them.  "Sorry for your loss" makes it sound like it's not my loss too.  Maybe just "sorry"  or "how are you holding up?"  They all have to speak, so I don't envy them there.

On to something else- We had a very nice Father's Day yesterday despite the fact that our older two boys had just come home from New York for youth conference and had gotten home at 1:00am due to a flat tire on the bus.  Then they had to turn around and leave for scout camp early the very next morning (on Father's Day!  Hello planners... stop ruining Father's Day for the 3rd year running please!).  So T and I were very tired on Sunday falling asleep during our meetings.  We noticed a lot of folks ditching church to go home and sleep.  Nice!  And why didn't I think of that sneaky idea?  We had a new member who moved in over for Sunday dinner.  He will be here all alone until his family joins him in a month or so.  Sounds like he may have a cute daughter for Middle Boy and a son for Little Boy as well.  For a friend that is : )  I don't even care if he's cute.

After our guest left the kids did some Father's Day performances for Dad.  There was piano playing and poor singing, piano pounding by Little Girl with her so sweetly announcing what song she'd be pounding out next "This one's called 'I Love Dogs'" she'd say, then pound away.  We also heard the tunes 'I Love Cats', 'I Love Flowers', and the ever popular hit 'Let's Make a Bunk Bed'.  Still, the bunk bed making day sneaks it's way into our daily lives in one way or another.  During the dance portion of the show a most funny event happened and was compounded by drama when we all thought Little Girl had hurt herself by tripping over littered shoes.  Instead of crying she made an excellent save of her fall and with pointed toes in the air proclaimed through body language that she meant to do that.

Yeah, families are awesome.... The End.

June 18, 2010

The Curse

Just now during breakfast there were a couple spills, so far that is.  They are still eating... I know you are thinking it was Little Girl who just recently decided she is too big for a lid on her cups.  You would be incorrect.  In fact the most likely candidate in our home would be Little Boy.  The poor kid suffers from impulsive clumsiness.  I love him like my luggage, but there is a dark dark spill-cloud hovering over him at all times.  It's comical really.  Comical, and sad, and frustrating for him.  Today as luck (bad luck) would have it, he opened a new box of those individual sized packs of instant oatmeal (cinnamon roll flavor).  After getting the box open without incident he went for a pack from inside the box.  Wouldn't you know that the package he selected was already open!?  A bad seal from the factory, or a  mad prankster working at Quaker- you decide.  And of coarse he had to pull it out so that the opening was down and all the contents went spilling out from counter to sink to floor.  The spills around here are never contained to one small area.  As we cleaned it up I couldn't resist in commenting that this kind of thing just had to happen to him.  I asked if his curse followed him to school too.  You see, my curse is my lack of a filter.  I am working on it.  It probably wasn't the best timing on my part.  So we get the mess cleaned up and he pours a new packet of oatmeal into his bowl and goes for the milk.  Not sure how this one happened, but he dropped the full container of milk to the ground, and now we had milk spilling out all over the floor.  Good thing Abby (the dog) likes licking up milk : )  I am afraid this mishap elicited a full on exasperated cry of his full name with middle included.  But we cleaned it up and moved on ending in a hug and a promise that I loved him no matter how many times this happened and could he please forgive my shortness with him?  It's all good (until next time).  And that is just it, I am sure there will be a next time within the next couple hours.  Don't even get me started on all the broken items in our house courtesy of Little Boy.

Yesterday morning, while he was eating his German Pancake he impulsively grabbed it so fast on his fork (the entire thing, not just a bite) and it went flying to the floor.  More food for Abby.  The saddest thing about this spill is that I had just finished telling the kids that I hadn't made the usual double batch, so they couldn't have their usual gluttonous portions.  I thought I noticed a small tear filling up in his eyes as he watched the dog lap up his breakfast.  We gave the one remaining extra piece to Little Boy.

So today, as I wiped up milk from the floor, I pondered the sadness of this situation and a new thought crossed my mind.  You see, Little Boy is a unique personality.  He is a highly worried, determined and self motivated kid.  He's spent his entire life running to catch up to his two older brothers and it's made him stronger than steel.  He is also a great student.  Last night on the first night of summer he had his math packet out doing his self-imposed goal of '2 pages a day.'  Then as he was reading his new library book (another summer assignment) he asked me to please remind him to practice his violin tomorrow as he had skipped it on accident that day.  I had purposely been giving my kids a break from practicing since they don't have lessons for a couple weeks.  I mean seriously, what kind of kid does this?!  And then the whispered answer came.... "The kind of kid who has been faced with lots of trials, and turns out all the better for it."  With every put down from his brothers he rises again, with every challenge of a physical nature he gets up and goes at it again, and with every spill, he gets mad, and then cleans up the mess even with a mocking frustrated mother.  This curse may actually be his blessing in life. Amazing!  I just need to recognize it.

Right at this moment (as I type) he is in the next room trying to teach algebra to his 7 year old sister.  I can hear solving for X going on... that is Algebra right?  Don't ask me.  They aren't even out of their PJs yet and they're solving for unknowns.  I don't mean to brag- but this 3rd son of mine is truly a gift from the Gods.  A gift with a curse.  A blessing/curse.  That is how I am going to try and look at it from now on.

PS Now he is unloading dishes (his brother's job as Middle Boy is at youth conference) and 
singing "keep your eye on the grand ol flag"  Oh my heart!

Little Boy about 5yrs ago

June 14, 2010

Summer's on the Way

Yes we still haven't let out for the summer.  The last day of school is Wednesday June 15th.  I am ready for it... I think.  I am ready to sleep in and make yummy breakfasts for the kids.  Ready to start a good book with them to read aloud.  Ready for late movie rentals with popcorn allowed downstairs.  Ready to pack lunches and take them to the pool.  Ready for T cooking on the BBQ.  Ready to invite friends over.  Ready to get tan.  Ready to slip and slide!  Ready for a vacation to the beach.  Ready for the fresh tomatoes from our yard.  Ready for sprinklers to run through. Visits from out of town friends and relatives.  I am ready!

However one can never have all the pleasure without some pain right?  So here is what I am dreading.... I'm dreading having bored kids in the house without any cable.  Dreading the conflicts that will most surely arise more often with kids at home full time.  I'm dreading teaching Big Boy to drive.  Dreading the hot muggy air you can swim through here in Maryland.  Dreading the clutter and mess that comes with kids at home messing stuff up.  I'm dreading the role of  the entertainer.  I'm dreading the funk my Middle Boy gets into when he's bored.  I dread the craft mess that Big Girl makes every chance she gets.

I just need to take deep breaths and remember the fun we can have if we turn our frowns upside down and smile all the while.  What are your great ideas to get through the summer with kids at home?  I'd love to hear.

June 11, 2010

Following... Or not.

So apparently I have lost a follower. I went from 30 to 29. It's too bad because I like the nice round 30 number. I lingered forever at 12 and so 30 seems like the big time for this blogger! It took me a while to recall just who it was who stopped following. I think I know now. Not sure if I offended this person (or worse just bored them to death). I also know that sometimes there are glitches in the system and it could just be a mistake. I am not rushing to judgment. We all know what a rush to judgment can do. It can free OJ Simpson when he's really guilty that's what. Or maybe I have that mixed up. I am not rushing to judgment with my bad memories of the OJ trial either. I did, however rush over to this person's blog and leave a nice comment. It hadn't been that long since I'd commented there. I sway between feeling an obligation to comment to keep up friendly cyber relations and then just feeling like if I have nothing to add then there isn't a need to say anything. I read far too many people's blogs to comment on them all, but since I appreciate when people leave me a comment, I do try my best to be a contributer. What I don't really get is when I make a comment and then they make one back and then we keep up the commenting back and forth all day. I think that is what a face to face conversation is for. Unless you are having a very important or juicy conversation (I don't have too many of those-maybe I should).

And what about those bloggers who have fun and interesting blogs and you leave them a comment but never hear back? Is it business, does my blog suck? Is it unfriendliness, or a holier than thou attitude? I don't get those folks. I always say hi back at least once. Is it rude to not to? I don't know all the rules yet. Maybe they feel stalked and are just playing it safe on the internet. Why not go private then? Why do I even care? Not sure. I still read if I find the blog interesting. Why not? I just don't comment too much because, hey- I am not that into opening up myself for repeated rejection.

I have a few followers who I like to, shall we say play a bit with. Like I know if I blog about a certain thing that entry will definitely get a comment from so and so. It's like fishing and I know which ones prefer which bait. Then there are a few lurkers who no matter what I say will never come out of the woodwork and make a comment. Even if I call them out and write about them they still won't just up and say "gud day mate!" Yes I am speaking of you Mr/Mrs Aukland Australia! I see you coming round every other day or so, but you never say boo. Well I hope you keep reading even if you aren't officially following or commenting. It's a safe place here at We Don't Mean to Brag. Sorta like Cheers without the bar or Sam and Diane pretending to hate each other. And please come back S. I will miss you terribly. Really! Look I even added birds to my blog today!

June 08, 2010

Being Fair

As a parent of multiple kids, one is always put into tricky situations. Situations where you are accused of being unfair. It is next to impossible to be fair at all times. Each kid is unique and each requires different treatment. Someone may need a new pair of shoes right now and another may have to wait while watching their brother with the new shoes strutting around like a peacock.

I have tried to teach my kids that we have to wait for things we may want until we actually have a need. But I also hear that voice in my head while I am shopping saying "for the sake of peace, love and all that is holy at home couldn't you think of a little something each kid needs today?" Sometimes I give in to the voice. Sometimes no. The other day I came home from Target with new summer PJ's for Baby Girl. She's been sweating her heart out at night in her flannels lately. Then I bought each boy in the family a new swimming suit. They each had that need as well. Nothing for Big Girl this time. I actually looked for a bracelet-making kit like one she used to have that brought her hours of joy but couldn't find it there. So nothing for Big Girl.

Even after explaining to her the situation, she still looked pouty. I decided not to pay attention to that kind of behavior. Even when she told me how sweaty she was in her PJs at evening prayer. I told her to go and get one of her Big T-shirts to sleep in. "They aren't real pajamas" she told me. "They are real to me, go and get them on if you are hot." was my reply. Then at bedtime I saw a note on my pillow. It read "Dear Mom, I am a member of this family too! Love A.T." And as a member of this family I hope she will get that simply writing me hate mail will not get her a new pair of summer pajamas. For at least a week or two anyways : )

From these photos it seems someone clearly has the better set of glasses!
I should really point this out to her don't you think?

June 07, 2010

A Temporary Sneak Peek

I purposely shot this portion of the concert with only my son in the shot. I just want the Grandparents to hear and then I will be taking it down in a few days time. Enjoy!

June 06, 2010

Final Countdown

I have been a slacking blogger lately. One reason is that T has been out of town and I didn't want to divulge that on the internet until it was at an end. There are one or two local readers that may or may not have it in for me and I didn't want to risk tempting them to come and break in to my house during my husband's absence. Actually I don't think that would happen but you never can be too careful. Since I have no filter I didn't trust myself not to mention that T was gone, so I just didn't post as much. Now we are in the final stretch of his two week absence. Only 2 more days. So I guess if my enemy did want to do me harm then they better hurry. Time's a wasting! I am tired of being afraid in my own house so I am just going to own it. I am home alone tonight with 5 kids and a dog but I have 911 on speed dial and Big Boy is getting pretty big and muscly these days, so... bring it!

I can't wait to have my man back. Being the only adult around reminds me all too much of what it was like when he was deployed last year and it makes me feel weird. I haven't slept well, we've been eating cereal for dinner now and again, I'm not getting along with Big Boy, and my dreams have been awful. The other night I dreamt that T left me for a perky young thing who he just couldn't stop talking to me about. Yes T and I were still on speaking terms despite the separation. I spent half of the next waking day feeling upset by this disturbing dream. And without T around to punch in the arm for no understandable reason made things all the worse. Oh he's used to me and these occasional dreams. "What did I do now?" Is all he says when I give him a good strong pinch first thing in the AM. I think I need therapy.

I took Little Boy to see a movie for his day-date today. We rotate turns for individual time with parents around here. He chose to see Prince of Persia. After looking into the parental screening information online, I decided it would be okay for him. Lots of violence very little in the sex and nudity dept. Call me a bad parent but I am just fine with that. It was an okay movie. I'd call it a modern update of Aladdin mixed with par core. And Jake Gyllenhaal did some serious working out for this movie. He really made me miss my husband even more. If you don't mind snakes and a lot of stabbing, go and see it.

A real treat for me today was seeing my oldest son perform in a violin concert. It wasn't just any old end of the year performance. It was the Mark Wood experience. Oh, let me introduce you to Mr Wood.... Here he is.
They surprised me by charging 10.00 per seat for us to see it! This was a first in my experience watching my kids play in a concerts. I had only brought Big Girl and it was a good thing because I may not have had enough cash. Mark Wood graduated from Julliard and has a serious non-Julliard edge to him. Although he did keep expressing to us the importance of family and support. I suppose he wanted us to support our kids by buying them his electric violin creation he named 'The Viper.' They rocked their violins to the tunes of Crazy Train by Ozzy Ozborn, Elenor Rigby by the Beatles, Viva la Vida by Cold Play, and a rock version of Hoedown. I couldn't stop smiling. I wish I could post video of it but he said not to. It was amazing though.

I am beat today so I think I'll end this post non creatively and just say good night. But first I am going to make sure we are all locked up : ) So don't get any crazy break in ideas.

June 04, 2010


Like many women I am trying to shed unwanted pounds and my biggest downfall is when I make cookies. I love the dough before it's cooked. I can't resist one or two hot out of the oven and by the time the batch is made I have consumed 4 cookies. Personally I think I should probably have stopped at one or two. I haven't baked cookies in a while for this reason. Yet within the last couple weeks I have been invited to events where I had to bring cookies. Then I felt the need to thank a few people for helping me out while I was sick. So I baked them cookies. Currently there are 9 left over cookies sitting on a plate in my kitchen. I think they are calling to me now in fact.

This morning I did my new workout routine (Pilate's on the the ball for beginners) and felt that afterwards I deserved a treat. So I ate a cookie. Even while eating that one cookie sitting at my computer, I knew half way through it that I would be getting up for another. Then after the second one I ran to the shower before I could be tempted yet again. It's torture I tell you!

I guess I never should have made a double batch yesterday. But like I said I was giving away several plates and so I needed to make a large amount. I told my children they could each have two cookies after school and no more until after dinner then I ran some errands. Not really trusting the kids I counted 19 cookies on the cooling racks before I left. I came back to only 14 cookies and no one willing to confess! So I shamelessly punished one and all by declaring that unless the guilty party came forward no one would be getting any more cookies that day. I really laid on the guilt trip by saying that I would not expect someone who steals cookies to be able to honestly admit to stealing them but that I had my suspicions as to who took them. No, this did not get any confessions. Big surprise. I am not even sure why I was making such a deal over it. I myself having no powers of resistance over home made chocolate chip cookies. Why oh why did God curse me with such a gift for baking? It's tearing my family and my waistline apart!

The funny part of this is that this morning, when Big Girl was in the kitchen and it was almost time to leave for school, I caught her cautiously counting how many cookies we had left. I guess she knows she can't trust me with them while she's away. And she is probably right.