Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The logic of a child

Bria commonly mispronounces and misunderstands things. The thing is, if you think about it long enough, her version of things is usually pretty logical.

For instance, Bria has had a sore throat for the past couple days. This morning we are watching her friend, Mason and she told him about her sore throat. (At least I thought she said "sore" throat.) He, being the curious kid that he is, asked, "Why do you have a sore throat?"

Her answer? "No! I don't have a sore throat! I have a SWORD throat! There's a sword in there and it's killing it!"

See? Totally logical. Didn't even have to think about that one long.

Monday, April 25, 2005

An overstuffed brain??

The missionaries called us the other day to invite us to a baptism. Our stake president and his wife have recently adopted some children from Romania and two of them were being baptized Saturday. The missionaries thought it would be nice if we came because their English isn't very good yet and they might enjoy talking to us.

We were totally game to go, and on the way there we practiced speaking to each other in Romanian. I was absolutely horrified at myself. I couldn't remember basic vocabulary and my grammar was a mess. I had to think so hard just to structure a basic sentence and even then it rarely came out perfectly. Romanian used to come so easily to me and now it was like I was just learning it again.

This got me to wondering what has happened to my brain. I used to consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but now? I don't know.

I love crosswords, and when I was in college I could complete the New York Times Crossword puzzle without any help. Even on Fridays I could do this. I recently picked up a copy of the Tuesday puzzle and I could only get halfway through it. (The easiest puzzles are published Monday and they get progressively harder each day.) I think I tried a Friday puzzle a couple of months ago and I could only get three or four answers. Goodness! What happened?

I'm singing in this concert with Joel tomorrow night. I have never had such a hard time learning music before. Part of it I chalk up to time...I just don't have as much time to dedicate to practicing as I did when I didn't have children. The other part is just that my brain seems slow and sluggish when I am trying to learn the music. And we won't even talk about the French.

Joel and I love to play Trivial pursuit, and although I am still pretty good at it, I am surprised at the number of "easy" questions I tend to miss. Especially in the geography and history type categories. It's like I forgot everything I ever learned in all of the 18 or so years I attended school!

I have come to the conclusion that I actually haven't become stupider over the years. My brain cells did not go out with the placenta, as a friend of mine says. No, those brain cells are just being used for different things. I may not be able to complete a crossword puzzle anymore, but I have an amazing ability to know where every single item is in the house at any given time. If Joel or one of the girls is missing something, you can bet I know exactly where it is....even if it is in the furthest corner under Bria's bed. Speaking Romanian and learning French might be a challenge right now, but I am probably the only one who knows what Chloe is saying 99% of the time. (If she is saying a new word, sometimes it takes me a minute to catch on what she means.) History and Geography are useless to me now, so I can't remember them. Instead, that brain power is going to other things that I can use. Things like knowing when the kids should see the doctor, being able to answer all of the insatiable questions Bria asks, and keeping the finances in my home running smoothly.

So it doesn't mean that my brain is so full that half of my knowledge has fallen out my left ear. It's just proof that the human brain is remarkably adaptable. I am sure that if I ever decide to go back to school I'll be able to tap into my music-memorizing, crossword-completing, language-learning abilities once again. For now, I am happy to know that my brain is working in "mother mode" and is helping me be successful at the most important job I'll ever have!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

That's what it's all about

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Cuddlebugs....photo taken March 18, 2005 after the Arizona Aloha Fest

Lately, the girls have taken to "cuddling" like this...while watching TV together, in the stroller, in the shopping cart at Costco. I love it. Because they also have daily screaming matches. Seeing the fact that they actually do love each other just makes me beam with the joy only a mother understands.

The other day we went to storytime at the library. Bria is a "front row Joe" and sits right up in the front, answering every question and doing every activity. Chloe is usually a bit slower to warm up and sits on my lap most of the time, and only participates in some of the activities. Well, on this particular day, sometime in the middle of the hour she got up off my lap and went and sat by Bria. She leaned her head on her shoulder and Bria put her head on Chloe's head. They sat that way for the entire story. I couldn't keep my eyes off of them.

So, on the days when I can barely cope with all of the tantrums and the screaming because Bria took Chloe's toy or Chloe drew all over Bria's picture, I need to remember what motherhood is really about. It isn't about all of that (even though it often seems that way!)...it is about teaching your children to be wonderful individuals. It isn't easy, but it sure helps to see some of the fruits of your efforts every once in a while. Helps to keep it in perspective and it helps me to remember why I signed up for this job in the first place.

Overstuffed = Comfortable

I just needed to clarify that. I am not complaining (usually) when I say my life is "overstuffed"...I've always been this way. One semester in college I took 22 credits. Of course, I thought I could handle it no problem...I just forgot to factor in that I was also working 30-40 hours a week, I was in the opera that semester and I had all kinds of other projects on the side. I am pretty sure that was the same semester that I did the vocals for "The Swan Princess"...oh, and I still tried to have a social life. I about went crazy that semester and I learned for the first time in my life that maybe I shouldn't run faster than I was able...and that I should definitely recognize my limitations. Not that I am so perfect at doing that now.

People commonly ask me how I find the time to scrapbook, be RS President, take care of the kids, teach voice lessons, keep up with the house, participate in Book Club, etc. I have never thought it was so amazing....sure, I am good at not finishing things I start because I get a little overwhelmed--I freely admit that! I also run on less sleep than is probably ideal because I stay up so late doing various projects (usually scrapbooking). I just think I would be bored out of my skull if I didn't have a million things on my plate at once.

I am learning my limitations, but still find myself stretched a little thin. So, for now, I'm working on learning to say "no." I am actually proud of myself when I do. I still need to work on not feeling like I have to explain to people why I can't do something. It is enough to know my own limitations and not feel guilty when I can't do everything...nobody else needs to hear my whole barrage of reasons why I just can't watch their kid tonight or why I can't bring dessert to the ward activity.

But I won't resign myself to a boring life! I enjoy doing many things and being highly involved and I see myself having an overstuffed life for many years to come! It is kind of like one of those overstuffed chairs...it really is the most comfortable thing, once you learn to deal with the lumpiness of it. Yes, I enjoy my overstuffed, comfortable (if a little bumpy), wonderful life!

Friday, April 22, 2005

You're "fathering" me!

When somebody/something is bugging Bria, (it's usually Chloe), she always says:

"Hey! You're fathering me! Stop it!"

It always makes me snicker. I guess it should make me feel somewhat better about my skills as a mother...at least she doesn't tell the offender "you're mothering me!"

(Sorry, Joel. I know she doesn't really mean it like that!)

Tent Work

Last night I attended our Stake Enrichment activity. I'd have to say that it was one of the more Enriching Enrichments that I have been to in a while. The theme was "It's about TIME" we could choose one of the mini-classes to attend. I chose "Motherhood....a TIME of great joy" and I am so glad I did, even though I was reduced to a crying fool driving home.

So, let me just explain what I learned. There is a scripture in Genesis 26:25 and it says this:

"And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants digged a well."

At first glance this scripture doesn't appear to be much....Isaac and his family have arrived in a new land and this is what he did when he got there. The order is what is so important. First, he built an altar and thanked the Lord. I don't know about you, but I don't think that naturally comes first to me...if I had just arrived in a strange land, I would want to be worrying about my physical needs....shelter (tent) and nourishment (well) first. But all throughout the scriptures these great men always build an altar and thank the Lord first.

So, as a mother, I need to go to the altar every day before I even think of doing anything else. That's not so hard for me, but I do know I need to spend more time there. It is the next part that pierced my heart and helped me realize what I need to do in order for me to realize the full joy of motherhood and for my children to be taught the way I want them to be taught.

Pitching the tent symbolizes all of the work we do in the home with our children...teaching them, loving them, helping them, being there to kiss their owies and drop everything when they need a story read or to tell a story. Digging the well symbolizes all the other "housework" we do...the stuff that always takes up the majority of our time and energy...the dishes, the laundry, the vacuuming, the endless cleaning up of toys and books, cooking dinner, watering the garden, grocery shopping....do I need to go on? You get the idea. And notice that Isaac's servants were the ones to dig the well...it wasn't important enough that he needed to do it himself. So I can hire someone to clean my house without feeling guilty, but nobody will ever be able to replace me in the job that only *I* can do....mother Bria and Chloe.

How many times have I basically ignored my children's needs because I wanted to get the darn dishes done? How many times have I said, "Just a minute, let me finish making the bed, and then I'll help you."? This really, really spoke to me. I need to spend more quality time doing tent work...teaching my children, learning from them and just being more present with them than I am now. Which brings me to another favorite scripture, Luke 10:38-42:

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word.

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Now, I have this picture hanging in my den to remind me...Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus while Martha stands over them with her serving bowl. I used to think this scripture was all about The Altar vs. The Well. Am I spending enough time reading my scriptures and praying? Spending time at the feet of Jesus, so to speak? Or am I busying myself too much with a clean home, and being cumbered about? I had a lightbulb moment when it was pointed out last night that The Tent can definitely be considered a part of this, too. The scripture says that Martha was "cumbered about much serving"...making sure the tablecloth is ironed, each piece of silverware is matching and shining, napkins folded perfectly, beautiful flower centerpiece, and on and on...that stuff isn't necessary! We can use paper plates if it means spending more time doing the all important tent work. Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the "good part, which shall not be taken from her." I don't care how many times I do the laundry, it will be there tomorrow. It doesn't matter how often I clean up the toys, they'll be all over the floor again soon enough. Clean dishes, mopped floors, made beds....these are taken away from me every five minutes. Quality time with the Lord and with my children will NEVER be taken from me. Ever.

This is why I cried all the way the home...I begged for forgiveness because I ignore the tent work too often. It is hard for me to sit on the couch watching a Disney movie with my kids when I know the dishes are calling. I have a hard time drawing pictures with them when my email inbox needs attention. Even a noble hobby like scrapbooking sometimes takes too much time out of my life that should be reserved for these precious children. I gotta get my priorities in better line, and learn to live in the chaos, and learn to do the hard things. I must learn to cherish my children NOW, because if I don't, that will be taken from me, too.

Byproducts of an overstuffed life

"It's just been one of those days"

We all say it every now and then, but I have found myself saying it more and more in the last year. In fact, today was one of those days, yesterday was definitely one of those days and it all started the day before that.

Why are those days so typical for me lately? There are so many reasons, including but not limited to:
  1. Sharing my life with two little people (who I love to death)
  2. Being naturally distracted and disorganized
  3. Being easily overwhelmed
  4. Being Relief Society President
  5. Taking on all kinds of extra things that I "think" I can handle

So what are those days like for me? Let me just give you a blow-by-blow description of the last three days and it will all become clear...

I'd say it started just before I left to take Bria to preschool. (Why did I answer the phone?) A sister in the ward called desperate for a babysitter. She is single and her regular babysitter canceled on her. After trying several other women, she finally gave up and called me. I have watched her daughter on several occasions and she is really quite easy. The catch is, Mary works the late shift and this would be from about 1:00 in the afternoon to almost midnight. I could hear the tears behind her voice and I told her I'd do it.

I took Bria to preschool and Chloe and I came home to prepare for Lindsey. When she arrived, Joel came home shortly after (thank goodness) and I actually still could do one thing for myself. So I did a quick scrapbook page. In the meantime, the kids really trashed the house. Oh well....I can deal with it. I got them dinner, Joel left for his Tuesday night late class and I sat down to the computer to get some work done. After they ate, they continued to trash the house. I could not practice the violin with Bria amidst the chaos. Oh well...I guess I can deal with that, too. I finally got them interested in an activity (having a picnic under the kitchen table and pretending they were characters from Dora the Explorer) while I cleaned their mess. Cleaning the playroom and living area took me more than an hour. When it is just my kids making the mess it only takes about 15 minutes. I finally got everyone in jammies, teeth brushed and my girls in bed....At almost 10:00 pm! Yikes! Lindsey stayed up with me and watched every Dora video in the house while we waited for her mom to come. I couldn't believe she never fell asleep.

Next morning, my kids slept in more than an hour. And, since they are my alarm clock, so did I. Unfortunately, Wednesday is not a good choice of a day to sleep in. I got them up, practically threw breakfast at them, dressed Bria and rushed out the door to her violin lesson. Notice I did not dress Chloe...She went in her PJs, although I did change her diaper. Bria did quite well in her lesson despite the minimalistic practicing of the past week. (Did I mention that Tuesday was not the only day we missed? Oops.) We rushed home from violin and I made them go play while I had a phone appointment to set up the month's visiting teaching roster. This is no small job, as we live in a student ward and graduation is coming up. That means everyone is moving out and we don't really know who is moving in. Makes things super difficult. Meanwhile, Bria and Chloe are having a grand old time doing their favorite activity...trashing the house.

After I get off the phone, we rush through lunch and I hurriedly get Chloe down for her nap and stick Bria in front of Snow White. This is so I can actually shower, even though it is 1:00 pm. I get ready and barely have enough time to eat and vocalise before we are rushing out the door again to go to my rehearsal with Joel's orchestra. Campus is 35 minutes away on a good traffic day, but just my luck, it wasn't such a good day. I hit some sort of bottleneck and it takes me 20 minutes just to get to the on-ramp. I call Joel, tell him I'll be late but I'll still be in time for start. Then, the clincher. I'm speeding along on the freeway and I hear Chloe make an unpleasant sound and her little voice say, "Mommy, I just burp." I turn around and move her blanket to see that she has thrown up all over her clothes, her blanket, her carseat, her favorite puppy...oh, boy. Then Bria, who cannot stand for anyone to throw up and becomes very distraught, realizes what is going on and, well, becomes distraught. I call Joel again and tell him of the new development. I will stop at Walgreens because that is the only place I can think of between where I am and where I am supposed to be that might possibly have something for her to wear. I get there and rush Chloe into their restroom, strip her down and clean her as best as I can with paper towels, water and soap. She wants her dress back on, I won't let her (she's very modest for a 2 year old) and we run out to the sales floor to see if they have anything she can wear. They don't. We go back to the car and I try my best to clean her seat so she can sit in it. She doesn't want to sit there (who can blame her) and cries and cries. Bria is still very upset, too.

Well, we finally get to Joel who is waiting on the curb for us...it is now about 10 minutes before start time. We rush to Dan and Allison's house where they have a t-shirt waiting for Chloe (Thank you Joel!) and Dan volunteers to watch Chloe at the rehearsal so we don't have to leave her with the possibility of getting their baby sick. Bria stays with Allison to play with the baby. We literally run to the rehearsal and get there just in the nick of time. I was so flustered by the time I got there that the first run through was nothing short of horrendous. I missed entrances left and right, forgot the French and mixed up verses and had to stop the orchestra. The nice thing about having your husband be the conductor is that he understood why I sang so poorly and gave me the time I needed to calm down. After that, the rehearsal went remarkably well....Joel was thrilled, so I guess I was, too. Chloe sat happily with Dan drawing pictures and flirting with the Trombone section while the Bass section flirted with her.

Rehearsal ended at 5:30, we picked up Bria and started home. Of course, it is now rush hour so it took a while and I had to make a detour to make some copies for Relief Society. So we got home around 7:00 pm. Chloe threw up again as soon as we walked in the door. Bria freaked out and hid behind the chair. Chloe went straight into the tub. Nobody wanted dinner until about 7:30 when the kids saw me hurriedly eating cottage cheese and both wanted some. I wasn't sure if I should give any to Chloe, but I did because she was hungry. I left them eating their cottage cheese and applesauce to go play the piano for some girls who needed to rehearse their musical number. Before I am home from that I get a call from Joel...Chloe has thrown up 4 more times and he just can't deal with it anymore. I came home as quickly as possible to find her crying in the tub, Joel saying a prayer with Bria because she was by now in hysterics over all the throwing up, and vomit all over the place.

What can I do? Just clean it up, calm both kids down and try to maintain some sort of sanity. Let Joel finish his homework, get Bria in bed, make a last minute run to Target to buy Chloe some Sprite that will hopefully settle her tummy. Get a phone call while in Target to solve some minor Relief Society crisis (why do people wait until 10:00 pm to call with this stuff?) Finally drag myself to bed after midnight.

Today was similar, but I just don't have the energy to relive it all! It included more rushing, forgetting to bring the backpack to preschool and making do with whatever was in the car for show and tell, and lots of tears shed by the girls (including Mommy).

Yes, those days have become much more typical around here than the other sort. So I think I will change the semantics. From now on, those days will become the days where everything went smoothly, I spent wonderful quality time with my children, the house was cleaned, we didn't rush anywhere and everyone was as happy as can be. I will look forward to the day when I can say:

"It's just been one of those days."

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Why a blog?

...well, it seems like it's just the thing to do. But I'm not one who usually jumps on every bandwagon, so I didn't think I'd ever find myself blogging. Journal writing has always been so cathartic for me...mostly as a way for me to identify what is really on my mind since it tends to wander oh so very much. I realized the other day that I have not written in my journal since Chloe was 4 months old. Yep, that's almost two years, folks. I figured keeping something on the computer would be more effective, since it won't take as much time, as I type much faster than I write (perhaps my typing will even be able to keep up with my brain?).
So that is why I have started this blog. It will be a way to sort out my life for me and who knows what it will be for those who chance upon it?