How Did Mommy Do?

Guess what?  My kids aren’t grounded from movies anymore!  I should be hopping up and down, you know.  I should be lining up all of the movies we get to watch today.  But my daughter -and this is totally classic -blew my expectations out of the water.

See, I EXPECTED her to be absolutely ROOTED to the television when I let her watch one movie during rest time.  Before you judge me (which I’m pretty sure you’re not) listen to my story.

Tuesday night, a family friend called and asked if I’d be available to watch her kids (ages 6 and 4) the next day while she worked.  My schedule is open! I said.  I woke up Wednesday morning to a clean house (thanks to my ratted petticoat), but I had one concern: how do you entertain a six year old boy when the only tricks you have up your sleeve involve petticoats?  So I called in reinforcements: my cousin -nearly five years old -Seth.  Just before Seth arrived, my cell phone’s calendar reminded me that I had offered to watch my friend’s children that morning.  I didn’t cancel because her son was just the right age to entertain the 6 year old boy and her daughter was just the right age to play with my daughter.

We planted all manner of seeds in egg cartons (carrots, beets, basil, squash, peas!), and then the kids -all seven of them -played.  You know what’s great about having seven well behaved children play at your house?  It’s simple and easy and cute.  I did have to stop a few squabbles, but no full-on fights.

And here’s lunch:Photobucket
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was wearing out. You know how it is -when you’re smack dab in the middle of something, you’re all go! go! go! But when you’re finished and you’re left to a plush couch… you’re powerless.
So I popped a movie in, and what happened next is what blew my expectations out of the water. She was supposed to be GLUED to the screen! She was supposed to sit on her back side, ne’er again to move!
She watched the first ten minutes. Maybe. Then she was over it.
I didn’t mind too much, really. I was impressed with her. A girl who rarely goes a day without a flick was totting along, completely happy to have her movies taken away. She’s like one of those addicts who says, “I can quit whenever I want to,” as they flip their hair and flick the end of the ciggy. EXCEPT SHE CAN.
That afternoon, I set to cleaning my house. The kids I’d had during the day were so well behaved that they cleaned up their own messes, and all I had to do was clean up mine. When I was done, I got everything out for the mutual project I was doing with my Beehives.
That’s right! I traded in 7 little kids for 7 older kids (one ended up not showing up)! A few hours before, during the lunchtime rush, my husband popped in to say he wasn’t coming home for dinner.

I need to know: Am I the only wife in the universe who loves to hear that? Not coming home for dinner, babe? Aw, sad. I’ll miss you. *peck* You’re wonderful for working so hard…
Then I turn around and pour out bowls of cold cereal and enjoy being praised as the Best Mommy in Town. Also, I take my make-up off. ALSO I put my sweats on.

Our craft went well, just so you know. We covered three-ring binders in a fabric of their choice and filled them with page protectors and file labels. Now they have their own little cookbooks! I can’t wait to start filling them with recipes.
I mean the books. Not the girls. Although maybe in this case it doesn’t matter.

(the little girl in the front row all the way to the left wants you to know that isn’t her REAL smile.)

After the project was done and I had picked my kids up from the sitter, I was pretty much DONE. I put the kids through their bedtime routine and then I put them in bed. They didn’t want to go so… I CAVED AGAIN. This time I won’t blame you for judging me.
They wanted Mary Poppins.
I popped it into their player and ran off to change into my PJs. I came back and heard the music for the main menu playing. I was going to press play and I would have had they not BOTH been fast asleep.

My expectations? Blown out of the water.
So to answer my own question: how did I do with the movie grounding? Shoddy. Terrible.
How did my grounded daughter do? She passed with flying colors. And she MIGHT have even reminded her mother twice yesterday that she shouldn’t be watching movies because she was grounded. Bad mommy. But learning from our children is a given, right?

Take yesterday, for instance:
PLEASE stop reading here if you have a weak stomach when it comes to any potty training issues.

The boy insists on potty training. He isn’t very good at it, mind you, but he refuses to wear a diaper. Did you know that when it comes to smelling, mothers of young children have superhuman powers? I can smell bleach from a mile away.
I can smell poop from five miles away. When I caught a faint whiff of poo, I ran to find the source.

And there he was. Absolutely fraught with anxiety. He needed help but he couldn’t stand the thought of asking because he was embarrassed. He’d tried to take care of the problem himself so I wouldn’t find out, but because he’s two… he just couldn’t. In the end we got him squeaky clean, but it got me thinking about how sometimes I find myself in a mess and try to clean my own way out. But I can’t.
Forgive this fairly AWFUL comparison, won’t you? My college roommates adapted themselves to my weird gospel comparisons (“Have you ever noticed how much the church is like a fully-grown fetus?”).
But really! Seeing my son there, trying in vain to clean up the mess he’d made and only succeeding it making it worse reminded me that when it comes to wiping the slate clean (pun intended), we can’t do it alone. The hard part is asking for help. Whether it’s because you’re embarrassed or scared of getting in trouble, no amount of negative emotions can compare to what you’ll feel when the weight is lifted off your shoulders. To have someone come in and clean up the mess you made is a humbling experience that you’ll always looks back on with gratitude. It’s also pretty good at making you NEVER EVER want to get that messy again. I’m hoping that’s how my son feels, anyway. No offense to my vigilant potty trainer, but that was nashty.

And so, if you’ve read this far without gagging, bravo. And I’m sorry to have written about potty training in detail. It goes against a rule of mine, but I felt this time that I should share.
I hope you’re not eating breakfast right now…

One last story: while we were planting seeds in egg cartons, the boys all asked me what I had in the bag next to me.

“Is it dirt?” They asked.
“No,” I said, “It’s potting soil.”
They all nearly busted their guts laughing.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“YOU SAID POTTY!” They cried.
“I said POTT-EEN-G. Like… for a POT.”
“Oh…” they kind of hunkered down.
“I didn’t say POTTY,” I continued. Then I looked them in the eyes and said, “But now I did.”
And the laughs continued.
Oh, boys… I love them.

Desperate Times

There comes a time in the life of all mothers when they get desperate.  For me, it came around 2 pm yesterday, when -after being up since 4:30 am and trucking my two small children across a small city and then coming home to a TV-less home -my son found the old Easter Egg Dye.

Apparently Easter’s not over until Trent gives the say-so. Hide your dye.
As I washed his little hands off, I took in a deep breath. Thanks to my bout with food poisoning, I still hadn’t completely unpacked from our trip. I also hadn’t been able to completely finish the dishes.
I was desperate for some sense of… what’s the word I’m looking for? I’m trying to say, “I have it all together.”
Did you know it’s impossible to be desperate AND have it all together? Proof:
I turned on Pandora Radio to the Walt Disney Kid’s Station, and I told my four-year old princess that it was “time to tidy up!” For this scene, I took my inspiration from Amy Adams as Giselle.
“Clothes on the floor? This just won’t do!” I cooed to my daughter, and she twirled around the room gathering them up.  I actually made a big to-do over a trash bag, and she thought it was so special she wouldn’t let it go.  It was “hers” and picking up trash was ever so important.  I slipped out of the living room while she was gathering toys in a basket (much like Sleeping Beauty gathers berries) and went into my room to change. I emerged an absolute wreck of a princess. In high school, I wore a beautiful homemade prom dress made from cotton. I took a pattern from the 70’s and I modified it into my prom dress. Underneath it, my neighbor helped me fashion a petticoat. It was black so it wouldn’t show under my dress. I left the dress in the closet (never to fit these hips again) and opted for the friendly elastic-banded petticoat. Ahhhhhhh, comfort.
When I emerged from my room, the kids’ eyes lit up. They were in the palm of my hand, and in less than ONE HOUR we had the house completely clean. During that hour, the girl had changed into her princess clothes. Not to be outdone, my son cabbaged onto one of her black and blue skirts (Halloween clearance special).
I tried to vacuum, but they just wouldn’t let me. So I let them! Photobucket
They took turns (not very well) and soon enough… the kids who I couldn’t pay to clean (I tried) were actually fighting over who got to clean more! See his pouty face? It wasn’t his turn.

Waking up to a clean house always makes for a much nicer day. I guess I’d better get out there and start it.

Am I Woman Enough?

My daughter is EVER getting into crap.  Ever, ever, ever.  Her brother has never quite been able to match her, er… talent (tenacity?)… for mess making (PRAISES!) and to be honest, I think that’s exactly the way she wants it.  For years, we’ve been trying to keep her out of the DVDs unless we’re there beside her to show her how to treat DVDs with the respect they deserve.  If we’re not right there and she’s bored, she’ll help herself every time.  The aftermath is a true constant in my life: mayhem, scratched DVDs, a myriad of empty cases (a few of which are whimpering in pain from having their paper covers violently RIPPED from their lazy “protective” plastic covers), and a scattered pile of uncovered DVDs sitting on the floor in front of my daughter.

It never makes for a particularly close bonding moment for us.  Every time it happens, I get mad.  I swat her on her bottom and sent her to bed, like a good mother would.  A few days later, we’d go through it all again.  A few days later?  Again!  We’re both getting rather good at our parts.  A few weeks ago, I think I was really missing a certain kind of passion in my character.  Adding it has enhanced the overall performance nicely.  And really, as much as I complain about our little routines, I think I secretly enjoy them.  I must!  Or I’d do something that would really put an end to them!

My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t share my sentiments and in a fit of glorious passion -It nearly moved me -GROUNDED Lacy, who had two little ankles absolutely swimming in DVDs. The verdict? No movies for TWO DAYS. To which I replied, “DAD!  WHY?!  YOU DON’T LOVE ME!”

And then we all went to bed early because we all had to get up early to make it to the city for doctor visits.  And in my blissful trip to the city -grand host of my favorite fabric store -I completely forgot about last night’s incident.  Even as I pulled into the driveway and unloaded my happy bag full of CUTE (soon to be aprons!) fabric, I was in Heaven.  My husband hugged us all goodbye and headed to work.

He turned in the doorway and said, “Remember…today is Day 1 of no movies.”  He pointed at the girl.   My jaw dropped, my eyes widened, my bottom lip quivered.

“But… DAD!” I whined.
“No movies,” he repeated.

Validate me: isn’t he being a little unreasonable?! I mean… I didn’t even get a WINK of notice! Then *BLAM!* my alone time and sanity was chucked out the front door by the ONE MAN who promised NEVER TO DO EVIL UNTO ME!
Wretch that I am, I will sack up. As best a woman can, I mean.

Anyway, he did tell me to try going outside and doing yard work with the kids. So fine. I’ll show him! Have you ever tried to do yard work in the wind with two little kids begging you to turn over rocks so they can hunt “matado” bugs but end up finding CENTIPEDES instead?! HUH?! Bloody ridiculous.
But I’ll do it.
And then he can help me with the dishes when he gets home. Cackle, cackle.
Now… who wants to keep the kids out of the movies while we wash enough dishes to make dinner?

Eating Out

We went for two months without eating out.  We had one paycheck that was short, and we issued the challenge to ourselves: no eating out this paycheck.

I say “challenge” because it sounds more adventurous than “rule.”
We stuck by it, man. I cooked this and whipped up that. I was amazed at how much food we really did have in our cupboards. It isn’t like we eat out all the time. We tend to order pizza about once every two weeks. During a particularly hairy time, we might average one take-out meal every 10 days. But because we did so well NOT eating out, we extended the challenge to the next paycheck and the next and the next.
Before I knew it, we had gone TWO MONTHS without eating out (except for the one time the kids and I ate hot dogs at the food court in Sam’s Club, but I don’t really count that since there was no way around it. Also it cost me all of $5.)

Last week on Thursday, I had HAD it. I was tired and the kids were tired. I was hungry and the kids were hungry. I’d had a hankering for cheese sticks and I didn’t have any appropriate cheese on hand to make any, so I asked my husband if we could eat out. He was fine with the idea, so we decided to eat at Denny’s. I felt terrible about it, really. All this time, I’d saved and saved and saved and cooked and cooked and cooked, only to be overthrown by a hasty decision essentially made by my stomach.
I tried to shake it off, but I couldn’t.
Even when my plate of cheese sticks was placed in front of me and a voice inside was crying out, “YOU DESERVE THIS!” I still couldn’t shake it.
The next day, we went shopping. It’s been a while since my husband went shopping with us, and he really hates watching prices go up. By the time we were done checking out, he, ahem, wasn’t the happiest camper in the world. So I took a slight detour on the way home. That is to say: instead of depositing our car on the highway and heading home, I deposited our car at Sonic and ordered up some greasy grub. Food always makes my husband happy.
After we’d eaten (for only $8! Can you beat that?! If you’re not Sam’s Club, I mean…) we drove home. The next morning, we woke up, packed up, and headed to Thatcher.
My sister was graduating, and after her ceremony we… ate out. As a family.
I didn’t even come CLOSE to finishing my three creamy chicken enchiladas. Something just tasted… off.

And something WAS off. I tossed and turned all that night, falling in and out of sleep as my stomach would allow. The next day, I woke up and the family and I made our way to Denny’s again -this time with the rest of the family. We had one more family meal (breakfast) before we all split up and headed our different directions. I ordered one Grand Slam for me and the kids.
The kids ate more than I did. I mean… the kids ate more than I COULD.
I tried all day to shake the ache in my stomach. We stayed with my good friend, Stephanie, and I felt like the biggest jerk ever -plastered to her couch sipping on Sprite and cursing Casa Manana and their chicken enchiladas.

We finally made it back to our own house around 10:30 at night. My poor husband took the wheel for the long ride home, and I sat passenger, clutching my trusty Sprite and a pillow.
I collapsed on the couch when we got home and woke up a few times in the night with a roaring stomach ache. I’m not exactly proficient at.. purging (shall I say?) so the stomach ache simply stayed with me with no way to really work it’s way out.
I did make it to church, but only barely.

But I will tell you this much: the challenge is BACK ON.
No eating out! NO EATING OUT!!

In other news: here’s the only picture I took this weekend. I only took one picture for three reasons: my camera is dead and I can’t find the charger, my phone camera’s zooming function quit working, and I was plastered to poor Stephanie’s couch.
It’s a nice, relaxing picture though. Isn’t it? The kids were enjoying an afternoon splashing away in a kiddie pool. I enjoyed the sunshine and the green grass and the mountains in the distance.

As for yesterday, I snapped a couple of pictures with my zoom-less camera phone. My grandmother has a merry-go-round in her backyard. She’s had it for as long as I can remember.
When it comes to company, the merry-go-round has never been found wanting.
(no, I didn’t let them ride around like that. But I did have to get a picture before telling them to dismount.)

I left the kids to their playing and made my way into the house where I was greeted by THIS:

A necklace my aunt had made that I admired. I’m not big on jewelry, but my aunt’s taste is FANTASTIC!

Am I planning today’s hairstyle, make-up and outfit around this necklace?
Of course I am.

Just before heading to bed, I snapped this picture of two of my favorite people sharing a late night snack while they watched the game highlights on

That, readers, is my weekend report.
Today will consist of wearing my necklace (priority!), cleaning the house to get it ready for a day of fun with my nieces, taking the kids to the cemetery to clean-up, taking the kids swimming for an hour, and then heading to a friend’s birthday BBQ.

Days like today should always begin with a necklace like mine.
Please excuse me, the boy is drinking from the toilet.

Eggs for Breakfast

Growing up, we bought a lot of groceries. There was a time when Mom would come home from the grocery store with 8 gallons of milk. They would completely fill the top shelf of the fridge and then -one week later -they would all be gone. We could go through one gallon during breakfast alone. Needless to say, grocery shopping could be stressful for Mother. When she got home, all of us kids knew it was our job to bring everything in so Mom wouldn’t have to. I always had a competition with myself to see how much I could carry in at once. I got to be fairly adept at grocery-toting, a skill that has come in handy all my life. One night, as I joined in the bustle of bringing in the groceries, I carried the eggs inside. But being the pro grocery-toter that I was, I also had about three other bags on my arm. By the time I reached the porch, the load was too heavy for me and I…

dropped the eggs. They didn’t go flying over our concrete porch or anything. The bag just fell flat on it’s bottom. The cartons stayed closed. Instead of instantly cracking a carton open to see the damage, I hurriedly picked the bag up and decided to mentally deny to myself that the dropping had ever occurred. But the guilt could not be denied. Why didn’t I just TELL Mother? Because Mother was already stressed out from spending an absurd amount of money on food that three preteen boys and two girls would easily throw back like it was nothing. In a few days, everything she had payed for would be totally gone. I didn’t want to tell her that something might have happened to the eggs! Can you imagine the wrath that might have been unleashed on the girl who may or may not have broken 3 dozen eggs?!?!
Well it turns out I DID break them.
And I never, ever spoke up. I carried that guilt with me for years. In fact, I never told my mother until a few years ago. By then she wasn’t mad anymore.

Well, guess what Mom? Groceries cost more now. I only have two small kids and I only need to purchase TWO gallons of milk instead of eight, but grocery shopping can really get me sometimes. We went last night, you know. I haven’t taken my husband with me in awhile, and he cursed just about everything for going up in price. To soothe our souls, I took a detour home that included Sonic. Sonic always helps everything.
As we all unloaded groceries -the kids are old enough now and LOVE to be “big and strong!” helpers -I dropped the bag with 18 eggs in it.
Just as I was gingerly plucking eggs from the bag they spilled in, my husband came up behind me.
“What happened?” he asked, surprised.
“Karma,” I sighed, “It was bound to happen someday and I deserve it.”
“Eggs for breakfast?” He laughed.
Yes darling.
Eggs it is.

The Lovely Morning After

Mother’s Day did something unexpected for me: reaffirmed my belief in what I’m doing.  Lately, I’ve lost sight of that.  I’ve been impatient, intolerant, short tempered, and really really tired.  Yesterday was a different story -due in large part to the two amazing Sunday services I attended.

Yesterday, the kids and I truly enjoyed each other.  My husband was able to come home from work for maybe 45 minutes before leaving again, and as much as I love having him home, I was grateful for the opportunity to hog my children.

We made no bake cookies.  What can I say?  After my post yesterday, I got a hankering for them.Photobucket
The kids were really good about cleaning up after themselves (despite the cocoa on Lacy’s nose), and the house stayed pretty much clean all day which I think is a HUGE factor when it comes to my patience.

The girl doesn’t take naps anymore. She vetoed the whole idea a couple of years ago. I instituted “rest time” instead. She has to lie down and watch a movie for at least an hour during nap time. Lately, though, I haven’t held strict to the rest time rule. Sometimes she’ll rest, but sometimes we’ll use that time to play while the boy sleeps.
Yesterday after Trent fell asleep, I told her we would make strawberry jam. She jumped with excitement.
“Go put the strawberries on the counter,” I said.
She did. Then she went to work “making” jam. When I went to the kitchen to make jam, I found that she had taken a butter knife to the strawberries.
And her mouth to the better part of them.
“Honey,” I said, “I don’t think there’s enough strawberries left to make jam.” Her head dropped to her chest.
“I thought you would be so happy about I already made da jam,” she said.
“I AM!” I said, immediately repenting that I hadn’t been initially enthused about the strawberry shortage, “You did a GREAT job!”
“Thank you,” she said, looking up. But her head went down again, “But I thought you would be mad about because I ate too much strawberries.”
“I’m not mad,” I shrugged, “We just can’t make jam now.”
“But we can get some more…” she said.
“Not today,” I shook my head, “It’s way too windy outside. Maybe tomorrow.”
“I’m sorry about eating too much,” she said.
“It’s okay, Lace. We just can’t make jam.”
I told her we would crush up the strawberries anyway to see how much we would have. We needed 4 cups of crushed strawberries.
We got one.
Needless to say, a trip to the store is in order today. Thank goodness strawberries are in season!

Trenton woke up while we were crushing berries, and he snacked on a few blackberries. Later that night, we huddled together and watched:

The kids loved it, and I realized that I don’t remember the last time I sat and really watched a movie with them. I’ve always got my hands filled with a crochet project or something of the like. But last night, I just watched with them. Photobucket

After our bedtime routine, I told the kids they could watch one more movie (hey, while Dad’s away… we get to play). Trent threw a tired-boy fit, so he went to bed. But Lacy stayed up. I fed her warm milk and crackers, and she asked to watch The Lone Ranger.
It didn’t even take ten minutes for the warm milk to kick in.
(Do you like her hair? She doesn’t like having her hair braided. But she likes having “stones” in it. That’s what she calls braids. If I ask her, “Do you want me to braid your hair?” She says, “NO!” But if I say, “Do you want stones in your hair?” She’ll say, “YES!” I don’t know where she came up with “stones,” but I love it. She loves it when I braid her hair at night while it’s wet because she knows that when she takes the stones out in the morning, her hair is all “spidery.” Gotta love that kid.)

Why Not? aka My Mother’s Philosophy

Mother’s Day was yesterday.  Do you know what that means?  That means I can finally show you what we got our mothers for Mother’s Day 2011!!  But first:

My husband was asked to speak in church on Sunday, and he did a great job.  He always does a great job, but yesterday was special -not just because it was Mother’s Day.  Lately, he’s been studying up on teaching by the spirit.  He studied his topic (Mothers, of course) by reading talks and researching and then instead of writing a talk, he just got up and GAVE a talk.  No notes.  No outline.  He just spoke the words that came to him because of his studying.  He did do some reading from the pulpit because he printed out a couple of the talks he’d studied, but he didn’t plan out what or when he was going to read from them.  He did an amazing job!  I would have been so lost.  I would have surely said something to embarrass myself because that’s what I do when I get nervous.  While he spoke, he talked a little about his wife.  That’s me.  Hi.

He remarked to the men in the congregation that they should always do whatever they can to help the women reach their potential.  He then went on to say that his wife (me.  hi.) likes to learn new things and that whenever she sees something she likes to learn, she googles it and then does it.

I realized that he’s right. I love to learn new things. I love getting my hands into a project and learn along the way. Then I thought about my sister. She’s the same way. Then I thought about my brothers. They’re the same way! We’ve always got our noses in some kind of informational book.
Bee keeping.
Healthy eating.
Rocks, rocks, rocks!

Why is that? I wondered. Then I realized it all has to do with something we all have in common: our sainted mother. Whether she realizes it or not, my mother has a philosophy that she passed onto all of us. I like to call it The Why Not Philosophy.
As she nurtured the six of us under her wing, she encouraged us to fly the nest even before we were completely ready.
“Do you think I can fly to that branch?” We’d ask in essence, pointing to the next branch over.
“Why not?” She’d ask. And so we would.
“Do you think I can make it to the top of the tree, Mom?”
“Why not?” She’d ask. And so we would.
“Do you think I can fly away, Mom?” We’d ask, shaking in our beaks.
“Why not?” She’d ask, and nudge us to the edge of the nest.
We always came back, and we still do.
Because my mother has never doubted me, I have never doubted myself. My husband has reaped the rewards (? consequences?) of this. When through my reading and researching I come across something I’d like to learn or try, I hold the picture up and pronounce that I CAN do it! And I SHOULD! Because… why not? And one day and a messy kitchen later, I have a loaf of French bread. One day and a terrified sewing machine later, I’ve got half of an apron.
My very first apron, I might add, went to my sainted mother. She regards it the same way a mother might regard a child’s first hand painting… so messy it’s too cute to toss out.
I went through my journal a few months ago. With each entry, I had taken the time to write ten things about myself until I’d reached 100.
I read through them and laughed.
“I hate my nose.”
“I have long legs.”
“My favorite animal is tigers.”
“I don’t know how to thread a sewing machine.”

Say what? That was just a few years ago! Four years later, I made my daughter’s Easter dress. Was it crappy? Yes! But did I thread my own sewing machine? Yes! And all because I looked at three yards of pink poly/cotton and thought, ‘why not?’

It all started when we were little kids. My mother always encouraged us to increase our understanding of anything we were particularly interested in.
With Steve it was nature. He’s now a geology major -soon to be graduate.
With me it was music and writing. I’m now a piano teacher with a degree in Music Education. And I sometimes blog. I guess.
With Ju it was horses. She now has a trained horse and a brilliant agricultural career looming: after her mission.
With JC it was cars. He’s now working the family mechanic business brilliantly.
With Mike it was anything hands on: cars, fixing things, woodshop… he’s now a carpenter with an amazing knack to do anything he sets his mind to. He’s the go to man! The can do man! The one everyone wants a piece of! Just ask any of us.
With Jim it’s art and creativity. He’s still in his formative years, and Ma is slowly coaxing him around the nest, whispering to him words of self-confidence and encouragement.

Steve happened to remark to one of his professors a few months ago that his mother has taught him everything he needed to know to live comfortably while away from home.
“Have you ever thanked her for that?” He asked. Steve called home almost immediately.
I’d like to take that a step farther and say my mother gave us the wings of independence and experience. Did she teach me to cook? In her own way, yes she did! She didn’t sit me on the counter next to her and show me what teaspoons are. She let me open the drawer and discover the teaspoons for myself.
“Can I make cookies, Mom?” I’d ask.
“Why not?” She’d ask.
And so I would. On my own. As I measured out the flour and oatmeal for the no-bake cookies I made for about 5 years of my life, my wings spread a little farther and Mom’s Philosophy instilled itself deeper into my soul.

And now that I’ve left her nest and started carefully building my own, I find myself reverting to The Why Not Philosophy daily.
Can I get married, Mom?
Can I make a studio apartment a home, Mom?
Can I live with you for a little while, Mom?
Can I actually push this little baby out of me, Mom?
Can I make it on my own for a few months while my husband leaves for training, Mom?
Can I have another baby so soon?
Can I move again?
Can I sew?
Can I make that?
Can I grow that?
Can I learn that?
Can I have the world, Mom?

Why not?

Her two words of subtle challenge and encouragement will follow me forever -a constant beckon to never let anything stand in the way of my journey.
“Thank you, Mom” seems ridiculously insufficient.
So maybe you’ll accept this nest. Think of us when you wear it. Think of all six of us. Remember the days when we could only fly to the next branch over. Remember the days when we could fly to the top of the tree. Most of all: remember that we owe our wings to you.

(Granny, Mom, Me and Lacy ~~~~ 2007)
VW5uYW1lZC5qcGc-43.jpg (Granny, Mom, Me and Lacy ~~~~ 2011)

I love you, Mom.

Buyer’s Remorse and Piano Hacking

Last summer, I unwittingly bought a piano at a yard sale.  Well, that’s not totally true.  I bought the piano on one condition: if it didn’t work, the owners would buy it back.  I hired a piano technician to come take a look at it, and lo! it would not could not should not be fixed.  The owners paid me for it but declined any interest in taking it back.

It took about 6 big men to get the antique upright piano into my home.  After we settled it against the wall, my husband swore, “That piano is NOT leaving this house unless it’s in pieces.”

I smiled when he said that, thinking… ‘how naive he can be… thinking I’d leave a piano behind.’

I researched my treasure.  I found it was American made -in Missouri, 1918.  I was enthralled with my 1918 treasure.  I told EVERYONE who asked about it.  Soon, my father came to know about another -fully functional -piano.  We secured it, and put it against another wall in the house.  Have I mentioned before that my house isn’t all that big?  Having two pianos around just hasn’t been ideal or comfortable or ideal.  Pretty soon, the novelty of the piano wore off.  With a saddened heart, I put her up for sale.  Imagine my surprise when no one wanted her!  I finally took her off the market (after six months), and resigned myself to the fact that I was stuck with her.

Until… looking at it one day, my dad said, “you could really make something out of that wood.”

BRILLIANT!  After that comment, I spent approximately 6 hours total just STARING at the piano and mentally chopping it into pieces, dreaming of the possibilities.  My husband called yesterday morning to let me know he’d be home early from work.

“Feel like chopping up a piano?” I asked.Photobucket
He did.
As we chopped it up, we came to realize just how much this piano wasn’t worth. Most everything had been redone! The ivories on the keys -which most likely would have been real ivories in 1918 -had all been recovered by someone in Arizona.
Anyway, I didn’t want to toss them out. Even if they had lost significant property value.
Before you go and report me to “hoarders” (can you imagine what they’d say to the woman who had TWO pianos in her small house?), hear me out…
These keys are going to make some of the MOST AWESOME frames -not to hang pictures in, mind you… just to hang.
I was so delighted with the idea that I showed my Dad, who happened along about that time. He was excited too and started instructing me as to how it would be done, since (let’s be honest) I have no clue.
We had to vacuum the area under the keys on account of the mice nest. A mouse actually BIRTHED BABIES in this piano. You can practically hear the antique value crashing down.
No mouse babies were found -thank goodness.
What happened next wasn’t anything I’m terribly proud of. As I was removing the FAKE ivories from the keys, just to see what it would look like, two of my piano students walked through the door.
Two students catching their piano teacher in the act of hacking up a piano? FAIL!
But they were terribly nice about it and even started helping. I needed all the help I could get. I’m not exactly cut out for this kind of thing.
This is more my husband’s line of interest -tearing things apart.
I was absolutely thrilled to find things that actually did originate in 1918. We’re talking hardware. And these amazing pedals!
They’re going on the wall, you know. Just like that. Coat hangers, anyone? Don’t doubt my decorating! I’m only saying that because my husband always does until I get it all done. Then he says, “Wow.” And I say, “Don’t doubt my decorating!” It may never be featured in Pottery Barn, but there was a reason I was voted “most original girl” in my senior class…
Last week, I hacked up a dictionary. This week? A piano. What’s next? My self respect? I feel like I’m hacking up everything I believe in.
But look at the cool wreath I made from the piano strings. All it needs is a little t-w-e-a-k-i-n-g and some spray paint.
This took us a total of six hours. And we had buckets of fun. I’m glad we did it. The piano wasn’t worth much and it would have cost thousands to get it fixed. There really wasn’t any point since the only thing that was original was most of the wood, the hardware and the thick metal interior harp.
My husband’s prophecy was fulfilled.  The piano left the house… in pieces.  Thankfully Dad popped in to help haul that out. I could not. The strings -I might add -had mostly all been replaced.
My keys are now my special project. As soon as I’m done with the wreath, I’m going to start on the keys. They all fit nicely into a drawer, and the drawer fit nicely under my bed. Photobucket
I feel like my old piano somehow has donated her organs to us.
And oh! the things it will be! A bench, two shelves, a myriad of hanging frames (not to mention my ultra awesome piano key frames) and so many other things I could bawl with happiness. And I just might bawl, if we don’t get the projects done and OUT of my living room so I can move my functional piano into her right and proper place.
It’s sort of dysfunctional really -treating our pianos like some antiquated Royal bloodline. Out with the old, off with it’s head… in with the new.

Also, if you’ve got a spare minute, send a quick prayer my way. I’m going to be getting my house ready for an unfancy (not a word) dinner party tomorrow and I’m feeling a bit harried about the whole thing.
Also, happy Day before Mother’s Day. Soak in the beautiful weekend, and if you’re bored… find an old practically worthless piano to hack. It’ll be just the medicine you need to get your creative juices flowing.
PS: can I have the keys and pedals?

Lowering Expectations?

Last night I went to bed and thought about two things:

#1) I can’t seem to live up to my expectations.

#2) One day, my kids won’t need me for everything.

Let’s start with #1.  I’m really being too hard on myself, and I need to lighten up -I just don’t quite know how.  I want my house to be clean, my waist line to be a few inches smaller, three meals a day on the table, my stupid wreath to be done, the laundry folded and put away (all the time, of course), my scripture reading done daily, and I’d also like to be really active in family history and temple work.  OH! And can I please write my book?

At the end of the day, when I’ve accomplished about .5% of that list, I lay in bed and beat myself up for everything I’m not.  I know it’s foolish -I’m not a total idiot.  But there it is.  I know the system needs to change.  I just don’t exactly know how to muck myself out of it just now.  I’ll try harder today and take comfort in the fact that I’m doing okay.  Waistline aside, I’m doing okay!  I think I might even just push everything out of the way and write my book for a couple hours.  That always helps me out.  If ever you’re feeling incomplete, do that one thing that makes you feel like you’re a success -worthwhile -and truly, TRULY happy!

Onto #2: I’m feeling bittersweet about this.  Last night, it was more bitter than sweet.  I got to thinking about Heavenly Father.  I’d love nothing more than for him to just TELL me what to do.  All the time.  I’ve even gone so far as to tell him that.

“Heavenly Father, I don’t want to go on faith today. Can you please just tell me what I need to do?  I don’t want to grow today.”

He didn’t.  To his credit, of course.  But yesterday I was on the receiving end of about 1,000 “MOM!”s.  And by 8:30 pm, I lay prostrate on the couch, completely paralyzed.  I couldn’t move.  But that was no excuse for me, my reader.  I had to get up and take my contacts out.  I had to get up and get the kids in their PJs.  I had to get up and put dinner away.

So I did.  Then, after our nighttime routine of scriptures and prayers, and deposited myself back on the couch and I realized something.

NO WONDER Heavenly Father never tells me every little thing I need to do!  It’s downright exhausting!  My children, at this point in their life, need my help every step of the way.  They can’t get a drink or poop without my help. Welllllll, hold on.  They can get a drink.  But if they want a drink from the SINK and not the TOILET, they need my help.  And yes, I prefer to give it.  They can’t eat meals without my help.  Every step of the way, I’m there.  When my husband took me to a Bed and Breakfast in Flagstaff, the owner asked me if we had any children.  We told him that we had two toddlers.  He smiled and said, “At that age, you spend about 5% of your time loving them and the other 95% saving their lives.”

How true.  And don’t get me wrong: I absolutely treasure these days.  I do!  But that doesn’t mean that they are easy.  That doesn’t mean they pass by like nothing.  Sometimes they’re long and hard.  Sometimes I’m completely paralyzed by the end of the day because I’m needed by everyone and everything.  What a blessing that is!  But what a trying one it can be at times.

Today, Heavenly Father, I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.  I promise not to ask anymore for a play-by-play of my life.  I promise to just LIVE it.  And by “LIVE” it I mean I’ll cast off about 50 pounds of guilt today.

There.  That oughta help my waist line considerably.

I went through the pictures on my phone yesterday and I found this one.  I had to share it.  I walked into Grandma’s living room one Sunday and found Trent watching TV with Grandpa:PhotobucketToo bad Grandpa’s not sporting his cowboy boots like Trenton!

Motivation in the Form of Inspiration

I’m still working on that wreath. I actually took a day off yesterday, and I’m hoping my motivation will return today. Today just MIGHT be the day I finish it! The thought makes me a little giddy. To finally have it done would be heavenly.

Because I’m running out of movies to stream on Netflix, I started streaming a cooking show called “Pantry Raid.” There is one BIG downside to being a stay-at-home mom. It’s simply the ability to manage time all on my own. I realize that this isn’t a bad thing for most mothers. But for me? It goes something like this:

I need to do the dishes, then I’ll start on my wreath. OR I could work on my wreath and worry about the dishes later. What movie should I watch? I’m sick of movies… OH! Here’s a cooking show. I’ll stream that. Wow! Look at that! He just made a three-course meal out of that woman’s pantry. It looks amazing! What’s in MY pantry?

Three hours later, I’m left with an unfinished wreath, half-done dishes (with more dishes made dirty -thanks to my impulsive cooking), and a dinner that I’d like to be proud of -but I’m not… because it’s so thrown together it’s rather sad.

Everyday isn’t always like that. Just some days. Yesterday, for example.
HOWEVER, one of the great things about being a stay-at-home mom is that I can cook whenever I want to. I absolutely love cooking, even if I don’t love it everyday. My husband came home a little early yesterday and thank goodness. I told him what was on the menu for dinner. He wasn’t all about it, so I flipped on “Pantry Raid” and didn’t even make it through one episode before I had the courage YEA EVEN THE CONFIDENCE to wreak havoc on my pantry.
And we all ate like Spanish Royalty. Disregard the paper plate…

May I suggest “Pantry Raid” to you? If you’re in need of kitchen inspiration, it’s well worth looking at.
Here’s their recipe for pork chops.

Aaaaaaaand if you’re looking for some sewing inspiration, I HIGHLY suggest you check out this lady:

She makes all of her own clothing. While I’m not that motivated (I wish! And maybe someday!), her style is absolutely adorable! I found my fashion icon, ladies and gents. I found someone who loves to dress like an old lady as much as I do. She pulls it off much better, though. Probably because she makes her own clothes and they all fit like they should.

I LOVE the dress on the left. I want to make my own. Right now. But I need to do the dishes…