Monday, September 26, 2005

Better than I think?

So, our General RS Broadcast was on Saturday night. I love going...it is always just what I need to hear. It has never once failed me. Sometimes I am positive that everyone else has to just sit through talks that I am sure were meant for me and me only. But then I find comfort in the fact that the rest of the women in the Church obviously struggle with the same things I do...I am not alone.

The thing that seemed to be said quite a bit and that really hit home for me was that we are doing better than we think we are, and we need to stop being so hard on ourselves. As someone who is notorious for beating myself up for not getting the vacuuming done or the laundry folded, I thought I'd try an experiment. I had a friend in Provo who told me once that she writes her to do list for the day, but at the end of the day, she throws it away and writes a new list. This list is what she actually accomplished, and helps her keeps her "to dos" and "dones" in better perspective.

So, this is my "done" list for today so far:
  • Got out of bed before 7:00 (This is a major daily accomplishment for me).
  • Got Bria out of bed.
  • Got Bria dressed, hair done, and breakfasted.
  • Made Bria her school lunch.
  • Prayed with Bria.
  • Took Bria to school.
  • Read 2 chapters in the Book of Mormon with Joel.
  • Prayed with Joel.
  • Made breakfast for myself.
  • Answered several emails.
  • Loaded and ran the dishwasher.
  • Paid bills.
  • Chatted with Hilary online.
  • Talked to my mom on the phone.
  • Cleaned up after Chloe when she got sick all over the floor.
  • Did a load of laundry, including Chloe's blankie and clothes worn at the above mentioned.
  • Cuddled with Chloe.
  • Got myself ready.
  • Tidied the living room.
  • Posted a layout on 2Peas.
  • Went to the post office to mail my layout to Memory Makers Magazine and send a couple other packages off.
  • Bought stamps.
  • Ate lunch with Chloe.
  • Bought baby gifts at Target.
  • Looked at the garden center and decided what I will plant in my flower bed next week now that I think it might actually be cool enough to remove the eyesore of my dead plants from the summer.
  • Delivered one of the two baby gifts.
  • Picked up the mail
  • Sorted the mail (threw most of it away).
  • Answered a few more emails.
  • Cleaned the girls' room from the explosion of stuffed animals and books it experienced yesterday.
  • Made my bed.
  • Put new toilet paper in the bathroom.
  • Changed the sheets in Chloe's crib.
  • Finally got rid of the pile of cool brochures Joel brought me back from London that was hanging out by the side of my bed.
  • Killed two crickets that were in my house. (I try to avoid this activity at all costs.)
  • Did an art project with Chloe.
  • Put Chloe down for a nap.
  • Cleaned up after art project.
  • Filled bag for Katrina food drive with canned/boxed foods.
  • Sent 5 layouts in for publication consideration.
  • Read CNN.
  • Read a few blogs.
  • Posted a bit on 2Peas.
  • Cleaned my kitchen for the second time.
  • Called sisters to get visiting teaching stats for the month.
  • Sent a few emails concerning visiting teaching.
  • Cleaned up the playroom.
  • Mopped.
  • Finished reading Harry Potter 6 for the second time. (much more enlightening this time).
  • Made after school snacks for the girls.
  • Practiced violin with Bria.
  • Did an art project with Bria.
  • Talked on the phone with Joel...I think twice.
  • Cleaned up after art project.
  • Answered a few more emails.
  • Put all the books away.
  • Made dinner.
  • Had Family Home Evening.
  • Put the girls to bed...with scriptures and prayers.
  • Put all the videos & DVDs away that Chloe dragged out earlier.
  • Threw all of the stray toys from the day into the playroom.
  • Wrote this blog entry.

Yeah...so you'll notice that I didn't vacuum and I didn't fold the laundry that has been waiting for folding for a couple days. (These are the two most common symptoms of my "I'm failing as a wife and mother" syndrome.) But I think I still accomplished a lot! And I'm not sure I remembered everything, either. I'll try to get to the vacuuming and laundry tomorrow, but today....I am NOT going to beat myself up about it. It'll get done.

Friday, September 23, 2005

What I need


This picture is symbolic of how much I really need my husband. He flies around the country, and in this case, the world, fairly often for a student. And every time he flies I kind of freak out. I obsessively check the flight status (above pic) until I know he has safely landed. And then I worry even more if he doesn't immediately call me when he arrives at the gate. He didn't call me when he arrived in London. It was like 11:00 pm when he landed and I forced myself to stay awake until 1:00 am hoping he would call. I finally gave up and took my phone to bed with me. I found out later that his cellphone didn't work in England (even though we'd arranged for international coverage) and he did call when he finally could. I've never been happier to hear his voice.

When I was pregnant with Bria we were asked to house sit for Joel's brother, Dave. During that same week, Sean (another brother) needed Joel to help him with the computer graphics for the cover of the CD he was about to release. They left in the early evening, sometime after dinner, and as I was quite great with child and very exhausted, I went to bed.

At some point during the night, as all pregnant ladies do, I got up to use the bathroom. I noticed Joel wasn't back yet, but I wasn't too alarmed...it was probably 11:00 pm. I went back to sleep, only to wake up needing to use the bathroom again. This time it was 1:00 am and Joel still wasn't back. I was starting to feel anxious about that, but I realized he was with his brother and maybe they had gone out to eat after they finished or something. I couldn't really go back to sleep very easily this time...instead, I sat up, watching the clock and listening for every car that passed to see if they pulled up. By 3:00 am I was really freaked out (I can't even remember how many prayers I had said by then...but it was a lot) and I wanted to get in the car and go find them. The problem was, Joel & Sean had taken our car and only Sean's car was at the house. Since hotwiring cars isn't one of my skills, I was left to sit up and worry even more. Of course, by 4:00 am, I was sure they were dead in a ditch somewhere and I started concocting all sorts of horrible scenarios. I contemplated calling the police, but figured they would have called me first. And then I realized..."I am not at my home...they won't know where to reach me." So I started obsessively calling the voice mail at our apartment to see if anyone had called. Minutes continued ticking by and still they did not come. Finally, at 5:30 am, I couldn't handle it anymore and I called my dad because I knew he'd be up. He said he'd come get me (my parents lived just around the corner from my brother-in-law) and I could use one of their cars to go looking for them.

Feeling a little better, or at least like I could do something about the situation, I stood out on the front porch to wait for my dad. Guess who drove up? Joel and Sean. In my relief that they were alive and well, I started yelling at them for putting me through such an ordeal. They both felt horrible and admitted the project had taken much longer (obviously) than they had planned, and they assumed I would have been asleep, so they didn't call.

So that was the first time in my marriage that I had been truly afraid I might lose Joel. And it scared the heck out of me. I know I was pregnant, but that isn't the only reason I spent several of the hours he was missing bawling. Since then, I have had many more opportunities to worry about his safety during his travels away from me. And I never really rest easy until he has arrived back home all in one piece. **And for those who wonder, he arrived home from London a few weeks ago safe and sound.**

Joel thinks I am too independent and is under some weird impression that I don't really need him. I assure you that he couldn't be more wrong. I think I need him more than I have ever needed another person in my life...at least my adult life, that is. I'm sure my mother would say I needed her quite a bit during my early years. And to clarify further, I don't just need him to help me with the kids or make dinner for me; I need him to help me be a better person, I need him to be my best friend and I need him to be my anchor of peace in the sea of craziness that is my life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Overstuffed

How I've been feeling today:

Overwhelmed I need to understand why, when I get up in the morning and think of all that needs to be done, I sometimes get so overwhelmed that I am almost frozen. I don't accomplish much of what I set out to do...because every time I think of it I get alarmed. And then I just sit down and read or something.

Overindulgent I bought mellowcreme pumpkins yesterday. I ate half the bag today. I also ate some cookies and some pudding and even a few M&Ms. Not really sure of the healthy stuff I ate...but a good-for-me dinner is cooking as I write this.

Overdramatic Let's just say I've been making mountains out of molehills lately. Whether or not it is because my kids just took every single toy in the playroom out of the bins, or because Chloe drew all over herself, or because Bria would only play "Lightly Row" once, or because I just can't seem to handle life today, I don't know.

Overanxious Basically, see "overwhelmed"...I have so much to accomplish, that I feel like I can't, and then I don't, and then I worry that it won't get done, and then it doesn't and then I beat myself up and then I start over again.

Oversensitive I'm taking things very personally today. From everyone. So, please, if you don't have anything 100% nice to say to me, wait until tomorrow to say it.

Overstimulated I think if Chloe turns on the Baby Monet DVD one more time and just lets it play and play and play the selection menu I will scream. Curse the day she learned how to work the tech stuff...I keep turning it off, but I think the battle of wills is currently being won by the two year old.

Overweight See "overindulgent"...I'm even wearing overalls today (no pun intended) and I feel like they are too tight. Not a good sign...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Why Daddys were never meant to be Mommys

So, I went to a scrapbook convention with a couple friends over the weekend. I was freaking out a little bit about leaving, but Joel assured me he had everything under control even though it was one of his busiest weekends of the school year. True to his word, he managed to set up babysitting (a very elaborate schedule, I must add) and I didn't need to worry about a thing.

I met him on campus on Saturday night a little after 7:00. He was going to drop the kids off to me so I could take them out to dinner while he went to observe opera auditions. I was really excited to see my girls (and Joel, too) and have some fun together eating at Wendy's.

Bria ran out of the car to give me a hug and this is what she was wearing...a swimsuit with black stretch pants pulled over it, a purple jingle bell necklace, 2 baby headbands in her hair (you know, the lacy kind...), another beaded necklace functioning as a hairband, and lavendar flip-flops. Chloe was a little better, wearing her favorite Dora t-shirt coupled with pink courderoy pants that are size 12-18 months, so they looked more like capris, and the Elmo shoes that her cousin Timothy gave her, which aren't so bad except they are way too big. I could see that Joel had made a noble effort to put her hair in a hair band, which is important because her hair was not made to be worn without anything keeping it in check.

I was duly impressed (really!) at all Joel was able to accomplish this weekend....but there is at least one thing children need their mother for, and that is dressing them. I wasn't sure how I could still keep my pride and take them out in public, but I did it anyway. Joel can consider it my thanks for allowing me to leave for the weekend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Yeah, what about ME?

Several months ago Bria asked me "Mommy? Who do you love?" I answered the obvious: I loved her, and Daddy and Chloe. She said, "But who else?" So, I listed off a few more family members, like my parents and siblings, Joel's parents, etc. She thought for a moment, and then she said, "Mommy? But don't you love yourself?"

Woah. Talk about making me really think. At that point in my life I couldn't honestly say that I did love myself, which is probably why her question stopped me in my tracks. I had been putting myself dead last for a long time. All of my energies had been devoted to my husband's happiness, my children's welfare, and trying to lift and motivate and love the sisters in Relief Society as I also dealt with many of their personal problems. I've always been somewhat low maintenance, but at that time, I was really low maintenance...I was not wearing make-up much, I was hanging out in my PJs if I didn't have to go into public, I was putting my hair in a pony tail every day, even barely remembering to take a shower as the needs of others pushed aside my own basic needs. And I realized, I haven't been treating myself very kindly...and I definitely don't love myself enough to do it.

The first thing I figured I'd better start doing was to pamper myself just a bit more. Actually take a shower before I did anything else. Put on my make up. Dress nicely so that I felt good about the way I looked. Do my hair. This was all good, but I couldn't say that I actually loved myself yet. I was taking better care of my physical body, yes, but I couldn't say that I loved who Lara was.

So, I figured I'd start with the example my children had set. Every time Chloe says a prayer she says, "Thank you for me"...and she used to say, "Thank you for Cwoe." I always thought that was so cute, but now I was thinking that perhaps I should start with that. By being grateful for me, for who I am, for what I have to offer the world. So I began to try to remember to be thankful for myself when I prayed. And not just when I prayed, but when I was comparing myself to the wonderful people around me and feeling like I just didn't measure up. I needed to stop that comparing, because essentially, I was comparing my weakest points with the strengths of others. Not fair to myself at all...because I have strengths too. I just wasn't recognizing them.

Slowly, by learning to love myself, I started to pull myself out of the rut that I had created. I still fall into that rut occasionally, and when life gets a bit too overstuffed and overwhelming it is not yet second nature for me to say "I'm an okay person. I can do this." I don't think yet that everything I do is absolutely fabulous and never have self doubt. I still don't always put in my contacts and wear lipstick every day. I still get carried away in helping everyone else and putting myself off to the side. Yet, if Bria asked me today if I loved myself, I can honestly say I do.

The lesson I have learned is that I cannot truly love others and serve them until I am also doing the same for myself. I won't have it in me...I'll resent it all. But when I am allowing myself time for me, when I am trying to recognize my strengths and not just my weaknesses, and even when I am just spending a little extra time on my appearance it is so much easier to go out in the world and love others. "Love thy neighbor as thyself"....the key is you actually have to love yourself.

Thanks, Bria, for helping me to learn a very important lesson.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Remembering 9-11

Today in Church we talked about self-reliance and food storage and emergency preparedness. It was really good for me, because for the last several months, and especially after Katrina, I have been wanting to do better at having my family be prepared. So last Sunday I ordered some food from the Cannery...used my scrap budget. A small sacrifice for something I know is extremely important. Besides, if I was as prepared for emergencies as I am for scrapping then we'd have more than enough.

Kind of fitting that we focused on that today, as it is the fourth anniversary of 9-11. Sometimes I think of it and it seems so long ago...it isn't really something I think about much anymore. It has been pushed aside due to life. My life. But today I wanted to remember that day a bit more, and try to recapture how I felt, and some of what I learned. At the very least, I wanted to blog about my experience on September 11, 2001.

We lived in Provo...right on 9th East. Joel worked at BYU, just down the street. Bria wasn't quite a year old yet. We were having Joel's best friend, Matt, and his latest girlfriend over for dinner that night and I needed to go shopping for a couple last minute things for the salad. So, I took Joel to work and I stopped at the Creamery on 9th (used to be Kent's market) to get those last few items and then planned on heading home to clean the house and babysit my baby nephew, Brayden.

When I walked into the little grocery store, I found it a little odd that they were listening to talk radio. I decided that probably nobody really comes shopping at 8:00 in the morning, and they really liked that particular talk show or something. But as I walked through the store, putting things into my cart, I started realizing what I was hearing. People jumping out of the World Trade Center? Planes crashing into buildings? Fire at the Pentagon? What????? I couldn't make any sense of what they were saying, and I honestly thought it was something like Orson Welles' War of the Worlds. I really wasn't too alarmed, because everything I was hearing was just too improbable....it all had to be somebody's idea of a joke.

But then one of the stock boys came up to me. He had tears in his eyes, and he asked me, "Can you believe what is happening?" I clearly remember answering, "What is happening? I can't understand what I'm hearing." He then explained to me, quite emotionally, his understanding of the situation. Which, of course, at 8:00 am was still laden with unfounded rumors, like the White House had been bombed and the President was missing. Shocked, I hurriedly paid for my groceries and drove home, listening to talk radio all the way.

We didn't have TV back then...we couldn't afford to pay for cable, and our TV had terrible reception as far as local channels were concerned, so I just continued to listen to the Doug Wright show on KSL 1160. Of course, Joel called me to find out if I knew what was happening. He didn't really work much that day...they all just sat in the breakroom and watched the television, only getting up if the phone rang. I think all of America was on hold that day. My sister-in-law brought Brayden to me and stayed and listened for a while. When she left, I just sat on the couch holding him while Bria sat next to me...not moving, just listening. Listening to the horrible thing that was happening to our country.

After Brayden left, Bria and I drove to my mom's house and watched the news there. I watched the twin towers collapse over and over and over again. I was horrified...glued to the television....needing to watch it just one more time in order to believe that it had actually taken place.

I also remember being deeply touched by the many nations around the world who played our national anthem and flew our flag that day. Because this was not just an attack on America, it was an attack on the world. I will never forget a woman in France who declared on the news, "Today, we are all Americans."

Now, it is just "something that happened a few years ago." Something terrifying, certainly, but the horror has been covered by time. And life. And now our country is dealing with something else that is just as horrible in its own right. It makes me think of how the scriptures say that God always sends "something" to make the people remember Him. And if we don't even remember what happened, how will we remember Him? And if we aren't even following the commandment to be prepared, how can we say we are remembering Him? We can't. We need to remember, to not get so caught up in life that we forget the repercussions of 9-11, or Katrina, or whatever reminders we are sent...because if we forget those, we are essentially forgetting God.

Friday, September 09, 2005

"satisfactory"

So Bria came home with her very first "report card" the other day. It was her monthly, mid-term progress report. I was surprised by its arrival, but I am just as new to having a child in school as she is new to being there. I was also surprised by its contents: "Satisfactory" in everything. "Satisfactory" in reading. "Satisfactory" in math. "Satisfactory" in science. "Satisfactory" in effort. "Satisfactory" in working independently. "Satisfactory" in getting along with others. "Satisfactory" in everything else.

Most of all, though, I was surprised by my reaction. Just SATISFACTORY!!!???!! My child is excellent! And then it really bugged me that in the comments section, the only thing her teacher wrote was, "Bria is doing a great job!!" Basically, I was feeling very disappointed in my Kindergartener's report card that isn't really even a report card.

So now, a few days later, I've had time to think about it. What is wrong with satisfactory? Nothing, that's what...satisfactory is not a bad thing! She could have gotten "Needs work" or "Unsatisfactory." Then I might have had cause to worry that she'll never learn to read and freak out about her ability to get into a decent University. But "satisfactory" is just that: satisfactory. And she is, after all, just in Kindergarten. I need to let her have time to be a Kindergartener and not stress about grades...at this point I want her to actually enjoy being in school and learn to love learning. Of course I want her to strive for excellence, but I also don't want to turn into one of those Nazi parents who freaks out over a 98%. "Satisfactory" is really quite wonderful! What a smart little cookie I have!

As for the teacher's comments, again, that is not a bad thing at all that Bria is doing a great job. (At least she didn't say "Bria is doing a 'satisfactory' job!!"--then I would have been really upset). I am still ever so slightly annoyed that the teacher didn't give more specific feedback, but I'll get over that. I will go to parent teacher conference next week and I will find out what "satisfactory" really means in Kindergarten.

(And now I will spell check this blog because I am fairly positive that "satisfactory" isn't even a word...it's looking mighty strange.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My piece on Katrina

A couple days after Katrina hit, we had a pretty big Monsoon here. (Actually, it didn't seem overly large to me, but it made national news, and in the wake of Katrina it had to be big news to make national news...maybe everyone was just going a little crazy over weather stories...who knows?) Anyway, when our little monsoon hit, we happened to be driving home from violin lessons. At first it was just a little windy, and then the sky quickly became overcast and the wind picked up strength. Then the rain started to pelt down. I really hate being caught on the road when a monsoon hits...apparently the girls didn't like it too well either. Bria was noticing that some of the cars were having a hard time driving straight, including us. She also noticed that it was really hard to see with all of the dust and the rain. She kept saying "Oh no...we're gonna get died...we're gonna get died." I assured her that we weren't going to die, but that even though it was a little scary, we would make it home just fine. I had her say a prayer while we were driving. The scariest part for both Bria and Chloe was once we got home and we had to run into the house. Just that few feet that we ran screaming from the carport to the front door drenched us all pretty good!

I took the opportunity to talk to Bria a little more about the hurricane. I felt like the monsoon was a good thing to relate Katrina to for her. Since she was so frightened by our weather, I explained to her more fully than I had done before about the damage that the hurricane had done in New Orleans and in Mississippi. She listened intently, then watched the news with me again.

She has since diligently tried to remember the hurricane victims in her prayers...she says "bless the "hunicane" people that they can get new houses." I am proud of her.

And that brings me to the point of this whole blog: Today. Today she came home from school so excited to bring money tomorrow to "feed the pig" for the "hunicane" people. The note she brought home said they were having a fund raiser to donate to the Red Cross. Before I had another chance to talk to her about it, the phone rang and I left her alone for a second. Right as I finished up my phone call I heard a loud crash and the sound of glass breaking. I came out of the den to see my crystal candy dish in smithereens and loose change everywhere. Bria was immediately upset, as she understands that breaking the crystal is not a good thing. Remarkably, I stayed totally calm and I didn't even feel the need to raise my voice or be impatient. Part of it was because I knew how excited she had been to bring money to school for the Katrina victims. I talked to her about the rule of getting into that dish (I also know it is probably not the smartest place to store loose change...but hey, I rarely have candy sitting around) and the consequences of her disobedience. She told me it was okay...we can just get another one. I told her I got it for my wedding and it was special, and I didn't think I could get another one so easily. I had to snicker at her reply, "It's okay Mommy...when you get married again, you can get another bowl!" And then, when I told her that I didn't think I was going to get married again because I wanted to stay married to Daddy she really lost it..."Am I in trouble??" she wailed.

In the end, she learned that she is far more important to me than a silly candy dish. And I remembered that the hurricane's devastation took far more from people than their silly candy dishes....not only did it take their heirlooms, it also took their cars, their homes, and in some cases even their lives and the lives of those they loved. I can certainly sacrifice a piece of not-quite-heirloom-status crystal to the cause of teaching my child to help others in their needs.

And that is my piece on Katrina.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Getting to know Chloe

I know, I know....I should already know her quite well. It's just that since Bria has always been around, I have rarely had one on one time with Chloe. Now that Bria is in school, I have a lot of that, and I am finally learning who she is!!
  1. Chloe actually likes it when I sing. She asks me to sing songs to her and smiles when I do it. If she is singing and I join in, she doesn't get upset, she is happy to sing with me. (As opposed to Bria, who hates it when I sing. She never wants me to sing and gets angry when I do "Stop singing Mommy!" And when she is singing I am not allowed to join in under any circumstances. Ever. But SHE can sing whenever she wants, as illustrated by the beautiful rendition of 5th Dimension's "Age of Aquarius" interspersed with Beethoven's "Fur Elise" all the way to school this morning.)
  2. Chloe likes to eat fruit and vegetables. Amazingly enough, if given a choice of grapes and brownies, she would choose the grapes. She loves squash, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and carrots...and even eats her salad at dinner. (As opposed to Bria, who kicks and screams at the prospect of eating veggies. Oh, she likes fruit okay, but if there are brownies involved, the brownies will most definitely be devoured before those grapes are even given a second thought. And salad? Don't make me laugh.
  3. Chloe holds a grudge. Don't make her mad, because she just might not speak to you for a couple hours, or at the very least, give you dirty looks every time you look at her. (As opposed to Bria who easily forgives, and will often give me a hug if I am upset with her.)
  4. Chloe likes to be alone sometimes. She doesn't need me to play with her every waking moment of the day. She doesn't like me to be there to help her do everything. She tells me when she needs me, by coming and taking me by the hand quite forcefully to whatever it is she wants. She also tells me when she has had enough of me, by saying, "Leave me alone, Mommy." (As opposed to Bria, who would love it if I played with her every waking hour. She demands my full attention at all times and if I even look away when she is talking to me, I get in trouble.)
  5. Chloe is determined and focused. If she is doing something, she sees it through to the end of it. If she wants something, there is no distracting her determination. Sometimes this leads to temper tantrums and many time-out trips. Sometimes it leads to a happier Mommy as she can be quite involved in her projects and is not even really aware of other things going on.. (As opposed to Bria, who, like her mother, is easily distracted, unfocused and aware of everything to a fault.)
So, these are just a few things that make my children so different from each other. So glad I can see their differences. Now I just hope I know how to use those traits to my advantage!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Adventures in single motherhood

I am a single mom this week. And I was two weeks ago. I really hope that Joel doesn't ever get a job where he HAS to travel a lot, because I will go CRAZY!!!!

Now that I have that out of my system...I have to say, that I stick a feather in the hat of every single woman who has to raise her children alone. I don't know why, but I don't seem to have the constitution for it. Joel has class every Tuesday night, and he has since the beginning of his degree down here. I loathe Tuesdays...it means I have to feed, bathe and put the kids to bed all by myself. I admit that I often just skip bath time on Tuesdays.

Why is bedtime so hard with just me? I'll never know. I think if bedtime didn't exist I would do okay if I was single...but it does, and I only have to do it alone for two more nights.