Birth Day

I was supposed to be a boy.
And I’m not saying I have gender confusion. “I enjoy being a girl.”
I’m saying my mother carried and birthed me under the careful and watchful eye of her own mother: a registered midwife. She took every legitimate test to predict the gender of her fourth pregnancy. Her three oldest were all boys -all beautiful, wonderful, cute, squirrely, stinky, BOYS.


My mom relied on Old Wives’ Tales gender prediction tests, and every single one of them pointed in one direction: boy.
I was a boy, my mother was sure. She resigned herself to the idea that she was destined to raise up a small platoon of boys and waited for August 11th to roll around.
August 11th was her husband’s birthday AND the baby’s due date.
It came and went, and my mother wasn’t the happiest pregnant woman in the world.
“Well, maybe the baby will come on the 17th,” my grandmother told my mother. The 17th was my oldest brother’s birthday.
Again, they were wrong. Everyone was wrong about everything about me all along, you know.
I wasn’t born on the 11th because I was either too considerate to ruin my dad’s day… or I wasn’t done saying “see you soon” to every single soul I knew in heaven.
I think it was the second one, and I think my husband would agree with his whole patient “when are we going to leave this party, Alicia?” heart.
I wasn’t born on the 17th because… well, I wanted my birthday first, obviously. The day after I was born, my brother turned 5 and so began a lifetime of me stealing his birthday thunder. He never got his own party after I plopped into the picture.
Except for the day I turned 16 and he asked my permission to announce his engagement to our family. Family? Psh. I wasn’t worried about FAMILY on my 16th birthday… I just wanted to go to school where all of my friends were waiting. Go ahead, man. Have a heyday. Announce away. Congrats, by the way.

I was born around 4:30 in the afternoon on a Friday. I wanted the weekend, what can I say?
And I picked the perfect time to come to earth. I have an obsession with the end of summer.
It’s the sunset of summer -it’s sunflowers, it’s everything golden, it’s school and long days and warmth. I get giddy when I see the first sunflowers pop up on the roadsides.
I even went so far as to get married on September 4th and everything was sunflowers, sunflowers, sunflowers.
Photobucket
Sunflowers!

Boy, was my mom shocked. The son she planned on naming James Delbert Hansen was…
NOT a son at all. And she wouldn’t make a very good James.
Brittany? Brittany! Should would make a great Brittany! And so my aunt phoned all the family.
“The baby is here! It’s a girl! She weighs blahblah and is blahblah long and her name… is Brittany.”
So many calls were made, so much background business was going on… and there I was, brand new, cradled in the arms of my mother.
She had me at home, because my mother is a supreme CHAMPION, and while the world around her swirled with commotion… she just looked at me.
A girl.
Brittany.
Brittany.
Brittany?
It just didn’t sit right… so she renamed me something a little like Alicia and THEN she renamed me -for one final time -Alicia, after my great-grandmother Alice.


And the phone calls went ’round again.
“The baby’s name has changed. It’s Alicia.”
“The baby’s name has changed. It’s Alicia.”
“The baby’s name has changed. It’s Alicia.”
We have a lot of family…

So the baby’s name changed, and my family’s life changed. I was a swirl of pink in a world of blue, and The Brothers became my temporary enemies and life long supporters.

Every little girl should have three older brothers in her corner.

Every year for my birthday, my mom would take me on her lap and tell me my birth story. As I got older, I pretended I was annoyed but I loved every second of it.
You know me and stories…

I can’t believe that day was 27 years ago. I can’t BELIEVE my brother just turned 32. I’m sure my mother is looking around her wondering what in the devil is going on… but the grand kids are always around to remind her that her own children growing up and leaving is a good and great thing.

Because my house was cleaned up on the 15th, I spent my birthday doing whatever made me happy. I woke up early, got ready for the day, was scared out of my mind by my daughter sneaking up behind me ridiculously early in the morning and saying, “Happy Birthday, Mom!”
I may have had my back to her.
And JUST have gotten out of the shower… you know…
I jumped outta my skin.
And then I got dressed and took her shopping with me. She talked me into buying Oreos, and we had a great time together buying the gear for a fat chocolate cake and fish tacos. I even pulled some cash out of the food budget to spend at the School Book Fair that night. I’ve a sort of obsession with Book Fairs since I learned how to read.
We came home, ate breakfast and started making a cake. My husband went to work and I kicked back with my lap top, writing to my heart’s content. Eventually, I got my daughter off to school.
I went and got my hair cut.
I came home and gave myself a pedicure while my son slept.

I answered the door and was handed THE MOST beautiful bouquet, ordered by my husband who knows how much I loved MIXED bouquets.

I taught piano lessons and took my daughter to her very first EVER school open house.

I came home to TWO plates of goodies on my porch and then I took the kids up to my Mom’s house (you know, to remind her why my moving out was a good thing -as if her getting her sewing room back wasn’t good enough). I came home to an empty house (my husband sent me a message that he would be late for the stay-in date night we had planned) and I cleaned up the messes of the day, frosted my own cake, and JUST in time… my husband walked through the door and we ate fish tacos, recipe compliments of my brother Mike.

And oh MY those were the BEST tacos ever. We had just enough time to share a slow dance together and then we took my frosted cake up to my parents house where my kids could finish frosting it properly.

Gotta love kids with frosting.

We came home after a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” and put the kids to bed. We thought we’d stay up and watch a movie, but after flipping through our options seventy or so times, we decided sleep would be much cooler than staying up to watch a movie.
As we crawled under the covers, my husband apologized for “missing” most of my birthday (on account of work). I took a deep breath, inhaling the orchid scent coming from the headboard above me.
Bollocks.
He hadn’t missed my birthday. HE SENT ME FLOWERS.
My birthday had been such a perfect, perfect day.
We could stay up late and watch a movie any dang day.

I woke up the next day and replied to birthday greetings sent via text and facebook and I was overcome with GUILT because so many people had remembered my birthday -had sent goody plates, dropped by gifts, given me CHOCOLATE… and I’m HORRIBLE at remembering birthdays. I’m bloody horrible at it. I remember my family because after living with someone for over ten years you start to get the hang of things…
I’m so grateful for my good and forgiving friends and family. I’m so grateful for my life, my twenty seven years, my babies, my husband,
my supreme champion of a mother, my stalwart father,

(awwwwww, Dad…)

my siblings, my good inlaws, my… everything.
This is gonna be a good life.
A good, good life.

“When you’re happy like a fool, let it take you over.”
(sorry about the swearings in the video.)

Indulgence is Exhausting

I really, truly mean that. For the past 18 months, I’ve been working hard on making myself happy. It’s a revolutionary concept that involves a lot (a TON) of introspection and self-evaluation and self-care. When I say “self-care” I’m not actually talking about the nice, posh, easy (ahem -expensive) stuff like pedicures and chocolate eating. I’m talking about the un-fun stuff… I’m talking about making sure your spiritual, physical, and emotional needs are met every day. It’s hard work! Sometimes I think it’s TOO hard and I don’t do it and then I find myself at the end of the day completely overwhelmed.

I just can’t handle LIFE! (Can you see the back of my hand pressed to my forehead? I’m about to faint, really.)

But when I wake up, pray, read something to feed my soul (scriptures, conference talks…) and then I eat a healthy breakfast (no Fruit Loops involved, sadly). I take time to WRITE something every day (usually it’s blogging), and I try to end the day with an evening walk. The walk generally doesn’t happen, and I’m learning that the road to flab is paved with good intentions.

Anyway, all I’m trying to say is that I think I’ve spent almost my entire marriage waiting for my husband to make my birthdays awesome. And guess what? He rocked it for a good 2 years. I think we were happy letting each other make each other happy (follow?) because we’re both so smitten with each other that it’s down right FUN to spoil each other.

But then.

Kid.

Job.

Kid.

Shift work.

Hormones.

And at the end of that story is a weepy wife, wondering why her husband doesn’t CARE anymore. Sorry. Not that the end. At the MIDDLE, because right after the wife mopped up her tears, she cranked some Loretta Lynn, put on her big girl pants, got a new hairhairstyle and BLAM-O! Made HERSELF happy.¬†

{happiness start with you!}

The whole thing makes me want to burn a bra, or something.
Anyway, last year on this day, I had just finished up mopping up my mess of tears and was trying -REALLY trying -to make sure I was happy on my birthday no. matter. what. But the kids weren’t concerned about whether mom was happy or not, really. Because if they were, they wouldn’t have fought. constantly.
By the time my husband came home and was ready to take me out, I was forcing a smile and saying as brightly as I could, “Let’s just not talk about today, let’s just have fun…” The problem is, if I don’t TALK… I essplode.
And I did.
I burst into tears on the way to the Redbox and my husband turned around to go home (per my orders) and then turned BACK around (things can get pretty hairy when you’re on a highway doing all this) and insisted that WE WOULD HAVE FUN. And we did.
He made me happy. Well, as much as I appreciate that this year is going to be different.
Yesterday I went a little crazy. I was taking my morning bath (showers are for weenies) and I got a sudden urge to completely revamp my bedroom. Now.
Imagine a small, cottage-like community…

RIGHT after it’s hit by a raging tsunami.
THAT’S what my bedroom looked like. And if you think I’m kidding, ask my Dad about the one time I spent a year as a senior in high school and nearly forgot the color of my bedroom carpet (just kidding, who could forget that awesome orange shag?).
I had already made a goal that I would spent August 15th cleaning my house so that August 16th could be spent without a heavy feeling of failure lurking all around. I wanted to rest. Enjoy. Inhale.
Naturally, I had decided I’d just… stay away from my bedroom. But there I sat in my terribly small tub, fairly ITCHING to put on a hazmat suit and dive in. And so. I did!
Guess how long it took… just GUESS. (No fair asking my Dad, either… his answer will probably be the closest.)

SIX BLOODY HOURS.
And I don’t know about you, but I don’t clean up after my husband. I guess maybe I SHOULD, but I hold firm to the belief that it would upset the delicate wife/husband balance in our relationship and turn it into more of a nagging mommy/irritated teenage son. When it came to cleaning up his stuff, I got a bag.
And (you guessed it) FILLED it, deposited it next to his night stand and wiped the sweat from my brow.
Whew.
But you really have NO IDEA what I went through to clean my room. And once I started, it was a huge tornado effect. I took pictures off the walls. I filled a 50 gallon trash bag to the brim. I hung a huge mirror… all by myself. And then I went outside and started grabbing wood. Then I started sawing, sanding, painting, drilling…
On a side note: if you spend an entire day cleaning and your husband comes home and sees how much you did while pregnant, he won’t be super mad that you broke a dill bit off in a piece of wood. Instead, he’ll gently take the drill away, point out that there’s such a thing as torque, and ask nicely if he might finish the project for you. And you’ll let him… AFTER you point out where the broken bit is and he says, “Oh that’s never coming outta that wood…”
After I finished the room at 5 pm, I did the dishes. Then dinner. Then I tackled the laundry on the couch (no small feat, I assure you). And then my son choked on a fake oreo and puked in the middle of the living room floor.
And at the end of the day, when I poured into my big bed… my husband rubbed my messed up lower back. It was all worth it.
TODAY.
TODAY I have a clean room.
TODAY I went shopping and bought stuff to make fish tacos for dinner. I even bought Jones soda, for crying out loud. TODAY I’m going to bake the fattest, thickest, richest chocolate cake this planet has evah seen, and then I’m going to give myself a pedicure (while I still can). I even SET UP AN APPOINTMENT TO GET MY HAIRS CUT. I couldn’t care less if my husband forgets all about my birthday! I’ve successfully MADE myself happy! Shouldn’t someone be playing the theme from Chariots of Fire, or something? My room isn’t exactly the kind of place and space that magazines drool over. But I’m going to share some pictures with you any way. I should have taken before pictures. Ahhhh, it’s like a half-finished painting. There’s more work that needs to be done for sure. I’m going to make some more of those hanging Mason jars, fill the bottoms with salt and add a tea light. I have a similar one in my bathroom, and it is lovely. Three cheers for my headboard, by the way. My Dad made it when he was in High School. Isn’t that awesome?! I didn’t even have to fight my siblings for it (probably because they don’t know I have it, mmmwahaha). I didn’t spent a lick of cash yesterday redoing everything. Everything I needed I found in my back yard and around my house. See the chalk board I made? I found that piece of wood by the side of my house, just sitting there. It used to be part of something. Of what? I don’t know. If whatever it was ever wants it back, they can have it. But I’ve upped it’s value significantly. The Willow Tree figurine was given to me from my husband. It was a Mother’s Day gift. I had JUST miscarried, and he handed it to me and said, “This is us before the miscarriage. This is us now. This is us forever.” Oh my heck, I’m making myself cry. Moving on.. I found an old fishbowl (because doesn’t everyone just have a fishbowl lying around?) and an old candle stick from Goodwill. I married them together to bring us: I put our date ideas in it. Spiffy. Our closet is pretty big. Buying curtains for it would have cost a fortune, but it didn’t have doors or anything and it needed SOMETHING. For Christmas, I bought myself a rod, some curtain rod clip thingies, and a huge canvas drop cloth (set me back a whole $20. I can live with that). I came home, measured and sewed. Then I wrote one of my favorite poems on my side of the canvas curtain cover. I’m still debating on what to put on my husband’s side… it’s a serious commitment, people. For someone who obsesses over words as much as I do -it is not to be taken lightly. Here’s a not-so-great shot of a hanging Mason Jar. The wood piece it’s hanging from is from my old piano. It just needs some salt and a little candle! I can’t wait to make a bunch more of those little guys and hang them all over the wall! I would have made more yesterday had the handle of the hack saw not been sun-rotted. Remind me to put “hack saw” on my shopping list… right next to “drill bits.” I made something similar to those last year and put dried flowers in it. The flowers were a gift from my husband after our daughter was born. He snagged them in the hospital gift shop. And I can’t talk about my bathroom without bringing this little lady out to play. Best vintage post card EVER: And finally… here is the project that has a drill bit buried in it. After I bought a canvas drop cloth with my Christmas money, I bought myself some awesome knobs. Because I loved them so much, I didn’t want to use them for just ANYTHING (again, commitment issues), so I kept them with my crafty things until yesterday. When I craft, it tends to be spontaneous and completely reckless. I grabbed a piece of my old piano (how would I ever decorate if I hadn’t thought to chop that thing up? I shudder to think) and then after many failed attempts to put put the knobs on them, I set them aside and let my husband do it. Once we get some printer ink (which HAS TO BE SOON or I’m going to essplode again), I’m going to print off one of our wedding pictures, one of my parents’ wedding pictures and one of my husband’s parents’ wedding pictures… mod podge them to a piece of painted wood, attach a ribbon to the back and hang them on the knobs! And one last shout out to Dad’s head board. And yes, that is my 9-foot pillow thankyouverymuch.


Yesterday about killed me, but it was worth it. There’s nothing a mother wants more on her birthday than to feel good about herself. I worked hard yesterday so I could feel good about myself.

Like a pirate!

I’m off to bake a cake. Later on I’ll be at the Book Fair, which still gets me as giddy now as it did when I was in grade school.
I may or may not have stolen $20 from the food budget to spend on books… but hey.
It’s my birthday ;)

Focus, Focus…


He was practicing his aim while I was folding laundry and watching a French movie:


(image via imdb.com)

Do you know how much laundry doesn’t get folded when you’re reading subtitles? Still. I wouldn’t have traded it. The movie was well worth watching, mostly because the main characters look REAL. You love them because they’re flawed and natural and one is balding and the other isn’t plastered in professional make-up.

All I’m trying to say is that you have Netflix instant, you should watch it. Preferably while “folding” laundry.
This morning I’m not nearly as focused as my son. Watch:

Here’s some soup my daughter made me. The broccoli and fries was a surprisingly delightful combination:

My sister ate chicken intestines. I’m mostly just happy she wasn’t directly hit by the tropical storm they just had down there. But I’m still grossed out a little.
Okay, a lot.

Last night I had two dreams.
In one, we were living with my parents. It was Christmas morning, BUT there was NOTHING Christmasish going on… there was no tree! no gingerbread house! no decorations! no stockings! I was a having a tiny panic attack, and everyone around me was gloomy and bored with me.
“It’s no big deal. We’ll get all that out next year. It’s just a pain to go through getting it all out only to put it all away again.”
What a disaster!
The second dream, I was suddenly in the middle of an episode of “Prison Break” and I was escaping out of a house with the hot brothers that star in the show. We were breaking windows and jumping through them, sliding on roof tops… and then we STOLE a semi, trucked down the highway where a sports car in front of us was blown up by a team of feds behind us (who, incidentally, wanted nothing to do with us). We ended up at a Comic Show where there were outdoor showers and my friend, Jay. I was so excited to see Jay… and I couldn’t help but wonder: what was he doing in a comic show, comforting a crying baby someone had pitched over the fence to him?

After my husband buzzed his head (*insert “Taps” here*), my kids decided they would play barber shop.

A few days ago, my husband went for a quick jaunt into the city without telling me. He thought he did, but I just thought he went into work ridiculously early which is why I didn’t expect him to walk in the door at 11 am.
If I would have known he was coming, I would have been standing at the sink or something.
As it was, I was sitting at the table with a jar full of green olives (or “yuckies” as my kids fondly call them), teaching my kids how to suck the pimiento out of the middle.

I’m happy to report that they are both pros.

We have a gigantic pumpkin plant growing in our garden. We did not plant it. It just popped up on day on the side of our first row. We could tell it was some kind of squash or something, so we just let it grow. and grow. and grow. and grow.
And now we can see green pumpkins sprouting. But seriously. This plant is huge.

It reminds me of life’s trials… you know, the kind we can’t control… the kind that take our pregnancies, our loved ones, burn down our houses, or send diagnosis our way that we never wanted to hear.
Theses kinds of things just POP up on the side of a row without any warning. We didn’t put them there. But they grow. They grow and grow and grow, and what we never once gave the slightest thought to suddenly takes over 1/3 of our entire life, pushing out things we actually PUT there and WANTED there.
And in the end, when the plant has grown and festered and choked out things we thought we really wanted… we are given fruit -bigger and juicier than anything we ever expected.
What’s more: we find out we love it more than what we actually thought we really wanted in the first place. And we’re so glad that someone knew better than us. We’re so glad that someone PUT that plant in our garden.

If I’m not making any sense it’s because you’re the lucky one who hasn’t had a festering pumpkin plant plopped in the middle of your garden. If I am making sense, it’s because you’re feasting on pumpkin pie.

Lastly: today is my last hurrah as a 26 year old. As my daughter said as she raised her plastic princess cup filled with Kool-Aid this morning (and I’m not making this up), “to LIFE!”

Hair Today

My husband has amazing hair. It’s my favorite thing about him. When he asked me to borrow my mother’s hair clippers from her so he could buzz it all off I told him rather unkindly that if he wanted to get rid of his hair, I would take NO part. I told him I would not help borrow, and I hoped it would hold him off for a few months at least (because he REALLY hates asking to borrow things).
I underestimated him.

My kids stood by his side the entire time.
“Are you going to get the hair off your armpits?” My daughter asked.
“Why did you not get the hair off your nibbles?” My son asked (nibbles meaning, um, chest).
By the way, the day my husband gets rid of his chest hair is the day I’m moving permanently to the couch. Men OUGHT to have chest hair. Isn’t it in the Bible somewhere?
Anyway, at least hair grows back. But to get rid of what I love most about that man’s physicality just DAYS before my birthday?!?!
There’s only one word for it: cruelty.

Second Child

Being a second child in our home is not easy. It doesn’t help that the first child is abundantly social, outgoing, attention demanding, AND starting school.
She’s getting all new clothes and approximately one million pictures taken of her. She’s getting hair bows and nails painted and special attention EVERY DAY to make sure she looks the best she can.
And here’s the sweet, side-lining second child who is NOT abundantly social, does NOT demand attention (as much, anyway) and is NOT outgoing.

It helps immensely that I get about 4 hours alone time with JUST him while the Girl is at school, but that will only last about 20 more weeks (give or take).
My husband and I are making sure to do our best to make sure he doesn’t feel lost or forgotten about. I make a big deal out of our time together. My husband took him out shooting a few days ago -just the boys. My son came home with a bullet burn on his neck (a hot shell landed on his neck). He went on to show his burn to his Primary class and say, “I got this from a BULLET.”

Which is fine. I mean, his sister had just got done telling the entire Junior Primary that she eats dirt.
Classic.
Anyway, we’re doing our best to make the best of it, but his behavior… oh, his behavior! He’s been SO naughty! It doesn’t help that I’m terribly pregnant. I don’t remember EVER being this moody or impatient, and I. want. to. stop! But I can’t seem to. I feel bad for people who have to be around me (except my husband -half his fault).
Yesterday while making apple dumplings for my dad’s birthday dinner, my husband ATE an apple slice and I went into outright hysterics. I had a dream last night that I was throwing chocolate chip cookie dough into the garden rows (cuz that’s normal, right?) and my HUSBAND, without any regard to my dough, started WATERING the garden!
The audacity.
I screamed obscenities at him, threw chocolate cookie dough in his face, and when that ran out… the stainless steel bowl I was holding was launched directly at his face.
This is the kind of crazy subconscious I have to battle every day, dang it. It’s awful hating yourself when yourself really isn’t YOU at all.
How grateful I am for a friend down the road (isn’t everyone in town just “down the road” from each other?) and her daughter that is just my son’s age. Her name is Jaydianna and my son has told me on multiple occasions that he’s going to marry her.
“What are you going to do when you marry her?” I asked him.
“Give her yellow flowers,” he said, matter-of-factly. That’s what marriage is, right? Yellow flowers!
Well, Jaydianna and her mother made some lemon zucchini bread. They had an extra loaf, and Jaydianna’s mom asked who they should give it to.
“Trenton!” she had said. So she did.

He literally TORE into it, as you can plainly see. I thanked Jaydianna’s mom and told her now much it meant to have someone think of JUST Trenton. She went on to tell me that Jaydianna prays for Trenton every night.
“Why do you pray for Trent?” Her mom asked her.
“Because he’s going to marry me,” she said.
Oh, sweet children. Sweet, sweet, children.
They always have a way of reminding us and teaching us. Yesterday was my worst attitude day thus far in this pregnancy, and as my daughter said family prayers before going to bed, she prayed for us each by name -that we could feel the Spirit… because, really: we couldn’t. Not with me around.
How humbling.

Here’s to my Number One Boy -who helped me husk over 5 dozen ears of corn. They’re all safely bagged and frozen now.
Thanks, buddy. We all love you so much.

What I Love About Country

Yesterday evening, I had a few errands to run. I stopped at the stop sign on Porter and Main… looked to the right for cars, caught a glimpse of Uncle Doyle standing in my great-grandfather’s truck with the sunset in the background… looked left for cars…
Turned left onto Main.
As I pulled farther and farther away from Uncle Doyle, I couldn’t stop thinking about the scene. The old white truck, the sunset, his signature blue coveralls.
It really was a great scene.
I drove farther.
Probably one I’d never see again.
But a great memory…
The sunset was coming through the clouds so perfectly.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I did a U-turn on Main and headed straight back for Uncle Doyle. I pulled into his drive, hopped out of my truck and asked if I could please take a picture of him. I’ll never forget the sweat beading down his face and the funny look he gave me. I didn’t care. I really didn’t. I’d face any and all amount of embarrassment if I could JUST capture that one moment.

Thank goodness phones are now cameras. Otherwise I would have had to ask someone nearby to borrow a camera -and don’t you think I wouldn’t have.

I now have THE picture that features not only the man who sealed my husband and I in the Temple… but my great-grandfather’s classic truck as well. ¬†Priceless.

Green with Envy. Or Greed.

Every once in a while, something terrible happens to me. I don’t know if it’s a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde thing or if it’s more like a Edward Norton/Incredible Hulk thing.
Basically, the awful monster-like qualities that I battle to keep across the way come out to play. They’re irritating and ugly and I really hate how much I indulge them.
Basically, I want stuff that costs money.
I know. I could just kill myself.
Alright, so it isn’t THAT bad, but I feel so horrible about it!
Guys, I want a house. I do. I want a house that I can decorate using inspiration from my “For the Home” pinterest board. I want to take a BUNCH of cash and spend it on cute maternity clothes so I can feel pretty instead of feeling, well, swollen and fat and frizzy. Also: I want to buy enough dresses that I can comfortably walk around without maternity pants that happen to sit RIGHT on my bladder and keep me from adventures because “oh, that’s no where near a bathroom.”
Too much info? Fair enough. Moving on…
My husband was the one who first raised the whole “Shouldn’t we have another one?” question. As I examined my feelings on the matter, I made him swear he’d hire me some housekeeping help.
That still hasn’t happened because (surprise!) we’re super poor. I thought the house was in bad shape when I had morning sickness.
Ha.
Ha.
Ha.

It’s so bad right now. I remember when I had hobbies and stuff. Those were fun days. Now I clean and gestate and eat. Lather, rinse, repeat. A friend recently pointed out a housekeeper in the area that charges $10 an hour. If I hired her for 3 hours and HELPED clean… oh the planets just might align!

Next: I want my blue wallpaper gone. I’ve had it for 3 years, and it bums me out. Maybe because it’s blue? As a homemaking mother, I get bummed out that no matter how beautifully clean the house is, that blue wallpaper smashes any and all fancy out of my dinner settings. I tried removing a small piece of it only to discover, much to my horror, that the upper half of the wall had been texturized and the bottom half (under the wallpaper) hadn’t. And they’re two different shades of white which you might think was crazy talk, but I know you’ve all been to the paint sample section at Wal-Mart. Shades of white, there are many.
I want this:


via designyourwall.com

It’s paintable wallpaper! I also love the paintable wallpaper that looks like bead board. But again: we don’t have money for things like that. These days we’re standing in the middle of Sam’s Club wondering if we should get toilet paper OR chicken (guess which ones wins out every time?). The farthest thing from our minds is how many yards of wall paper our dining area “needs”.

I used to make two week menus. I would sit down every day before pay day and make a two week menu and shopping list. It was a gloriously fun time for me, flipping through my old school cookbooks and jotting ingredients down.
Rosy were the days.
Now our budget is just big enough to cover everything we use up. Period. I want to make romantic dinners for two that involve pretty centerpieces and pretty lighting and gourmet food!
But I guess even if I DID have all of that, the wallpaper would giggle tauntingly as I light tea candles.
“You think that’s going to go with alla ‘dis?” It would say, snapping it’s fingers that were created somewhere around 1992.

I’m pregnant, so I want babyish things. I want to buy my own baby STUFF for once. We’ve always been on the receiving end of used baby stuff which is fine… I mean, how else does the world pay for babies? They’re bloody expensive! But I’ve never bought my own crib or stroller or play pen or bassinet or anything of the sort. I feel like I’m missing out on some kind of Parenting Right, and I wish I had $5,000 to play Gear Up for Baby. That’s a game, right?

I pretty sure this all stems from the fact that my husband and I are doing Dave Ramsey’s money blahblahblah stuff. I’m not really high maintenance, and I don’t love spending tons of money. But when you put rules where you don’t usually have them, all of the sudden you WANT EVERYTHING THAT COSTS MONEY.
It’s kind of awful.
1) because you don’t have money.
2) because greed makes you feel yucky inside.
3) because feelings guilty because you feel greedy makes you feel yucky inside.

Thanks for listening. You’re a pal. Getting that off my chest makes me feel like I can handle a few more hours of cleaning.

Alicia

First Day

As I drove my daughter to school yesterday, I thought about how cruel God is.
Eve was formed from Adam’s rib.
Children, I surmise, are formed from a piece of their mother’s heart. A chunk of it falls off, makes it way down to the womb area and there a child grows from it. Pieces of me -the life-giving, blood-pumping pieces -are walking around on four little feet, and I AM SO IN LOVE WITH THEM.
What if they get hurt? What if they break my heart? What if they DIE?! The emotions I feel toward my children are overwhelming, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them because my children are made up of me.
Dear God,
Why is parenting so hard and wonderful and hard and hard and hard?
Love,
Alicia

On the drive to the school, I started to tear up but I pulled it together. All I had to do was think about my first day of Kindergarten. I was so excited. I was ready. I’d been WAITING to go to school with all of my friends, and here was my sweet daughter in the same boat: feeling the same emotions, going to the same school in the same classroom with the same head of blond hair.
And once I remembered how I felt -the newness and excitement -I was able to stop the tears and feel her excitement instead.
HOWEVER, I still believe every Kindergarten should install one of those fancy rooms where the people in the room can see out but the people on the outside can’t see in… because I could have really used a room like that yesterday to camp out in. As it is, I had to be content with 90 billion pictures and a 7 minute video when she got home of how her day went (one of those minutes is made up completely of me filming nothing and yelling “I SAID GET YOUR BACKPACK! LACE! LACE! WHERE DID YOU GO? GET YOUR BACKPACK!” And it’s so irritating that I want to reach through the video and slap myself. But other than that, it’s pretty awesome.)

See how big that piece of my heart is getting? How in the world am I going to handle the day when it doesn’t need me anymore and walks out the front door and loads it’s luggage in it’s bumper-sticker covered car? HMMMM?!?!

She insisted on two ponytails, low, in the back, but still high enough to sit off her neck. And in an unexpected change of events, she wore the bow she made instead of one I had made.

My husband stopped by to see her off (sweetest dad ever).

The Girl’s best friend is in her class and her cousin is in 1st grade.

“I’m swimming, Mom…” she said, posing in front of the mural outside her classroom.

When I picked her up from school, she BOLTED out of line and ran toward me. See that little pink blur? It’s mine:

And speaking of my heart breaking off and sprouting new people entirely… the doctor says my daughter’s ultrasound was perfect. Her only concern? The baby is BIG.
I’m still ravenous and my dream last night was about me holding up a buffet line because I couldn’t get enough of everything… but then Tommy Lee Jones came in and gave me a cell phone -it made everything better.

This picture makes me look like I’m jutting my hip out and being sassy. I’m not. I’m just standing there trying to hide my second chin.
The Baby is very strong and very active.
I’m worried about the changes a baby will bring to my home and body, but I was able to stop by my friend Jewel’s house very briefly last night on account of my husband getting a bug stuck in his ear.
Jewel lives a few miles away from the Walk-In Clinic (don’t worry, my husband is fine).
Jewel just had her third baby, and Jewel looks amazing. Her house was clean, and after I left I felt confident that I COULD DO IT… everything will be okay! If Jewel can do it, I can do it!
Friends are awesome. Where would I be without them?
Without them, my eyebrows would still be one, my clothes would still not match, my house would be infinitely dirtier without their tips… oh, the list goes on.
I’ve been truly blessed in the area of friends. Bless you all for your unending patience.

The End of an Era

My daughter starting school is a milestone of not just her little life -but mine as well. I feel the youth of my motherhood slipping away.
Growing up, I planned my life in my head. It went like this: school, graduate, college, graduate, marriage, babies.
Period.
I didn’t plan beyond babies because I think I honestly didn’t believe I would age past Young Mother. I couldn’t fathom it. Now The Future is staring at my face, grimacing and growling and I’m cowering in the corner with the tattered sock monkey my great grandmother made for me when I was younger than my youngest.
No longer is my time mine. I’m entering the scheduled world that mothers of children in school lead. No longer is my daughter constantly under my eye where I know exactly where she is, what she’s saying and who she is saying it to.
She’s going… OUT there!
I’m staying here to gestate and feign a housekeeper.
Time is marching on despite my valiant efforts to hault it at every turn. I’m not one to roll with change or with punches or at all, actually. Have YOU ever tried rolling a pregnant lady? Impossible.
I’m going to miss her terribly. Yes, it’s only a few hours. Yes, I’m being dramatic.
I know, I know, I know.
But if you knew my kids like I know my kids, you’d have your panties in a wad too. I said to my daughter, “When Mommy takes you to school, I will probably cry. It’s okay though… don’t worry. Mommies always cry over nothing. I will just miss my little girl.”
“But I’ll come home on the bus,” she said, giving me the What’s Your Deal, Mom? face.
“I know,” I said, “And you will have so much fun at school.”

I wanted to make yesterday special for her. I wish I was one of those On Top Of It All moms that makes banquet dinners for their kids, complete with matching place mats and gourmet desserts. I can’t even put together a small “Back to School” bash. I can’t afford to spend any extra cash… my daughter actually EARNED most of her school clothes money HERSELF and she’s FREAKING FIVE.
Besides, my house was still recovering from camping. I’d been trying to clean it up. I’d been trying to get everything back in order.
But I’m Alicia Version .5 right now. I do half the dishes and collapse on the couch whereas I’m normally able to knock out cleaning my entire kitchen in less than an hour -dishes included.
I really didn’t want to spend our last day of summer cleaning. Then something miraculous happened, and The Miracle Maker doesn’t even realize what he did for me.
Dad took my kids for part of the morning, and I cleaned, cleaned, cleaned. By the time they got back, I was able to spend time with them. When rest time came, I popped a movie in for them.
“When brother falls asleep, you and I can paint our nails for school,” I told my daughter. Well, the second her brother fell asleep, she went to work. She pulled out her table and made a beautiful spread of decorations (candle included). She pulled out her fake food and we went to work.

She painted my nails.
“When you take me to school and you start to cry,” she said, “You can just do this”
She pinched her lips together and closed her eyes.
“And you will stop crying and then you can look at your nails and they will make you SO happy!”

Well, she’s got a point.
My boy was still sound asleep (my daughter never sleeps… nightfall rarely stops this girl), so I thought I might pull out all my hair bow/flower making stuff.
Again: I’m not one of those moms who makes adorable hair thingies. I have enough stuff on hand to get by. Sort of.

Usually when I make something for my daughter, she hates it. Normally, I choose something I would like and make it for her. THAT’S why she hates it. I guess she isn’t me (light. bulb.) and so when I was picking through my fabric scraps I tried to think of what she might like… and I came up with the flower on the bottom right.
And guess what? It’s by far her favorite! I want to do some kind of happy dance.
I’m not like a regular mom… I’m a cool mom.
My girl made the bow on the top right all by herself! We were watching a bunch of made for TV girl movies, and while we were watching she picked up my felt and just started going to it! All I did was hot glue a center on (she picked it out) and hot glue the clip on the back. I am so impressed with her!

At the end of hair bow making, Lacy was beside herself with excitement. She gathered up her favorite hair flower and took off running. A few minutes later, she came back into the living room wearing the outfit she had picked out for the first day of school.
“Can we please go outside and take lots and lots of pictures?” She asked.
Could you have said no?

Half way through the shoot, she noticed that she still had the sizing sticker on her jeans. So she peeled it off and put it to better use.
On my belly.

Once we got back inside, we cleaned up our huge mess. She changed out of her clothes and into some that weren’t brand spanking new, and then Dad came home.
After eating a dinner of ribs (that my husband had cooked himself on Sunday), I talked the kids into playing a NEW game called “Foot Rub Game” where they each rub one of Mom’s (extra swollen, yipee!) feet until they hear the whistle. Once they hear the whistle, they switch feet.
They thought it was so awesome, and I was laughing so hard over it all (first of all that they BOUGHT my CRAP and second of all because they were having so much dang fun doing it) that I couldn’t pull it together enough to actually whistle.
The harder I tried, the harder they laughed at me which made me laugh harder… and on and on we went.

After The Foot Rub Game, it was PJs time. And we all gathered ’round for Lacy to get her first ever Father’s Blessing.

The Spirit was so unbelievably strong last night as my husband gave her a blessing. Heavenly Father loves Lacy SO very, very, VERY much! She’s so small! She’s only been here 5 1/2 years! And His love for her is, wow -breathtaking. It’s so humbling to sit next to someone so small and feel just how small they aren’t to our Heavenly Father.
The blessing was beautiful… absolutely beautiful.
And I couldn’t help but peek at her through the blessing and just fall in love with her and her hugging that giant Pooh bear in her flannel nightgown. Lovable.
After the blessing, Lacy said our family prayer and she BURST into tears. Daddy comforted her, and she went off to bed where I could hear sobs coming from her top bunk. I went in her room, made my way up to her top bunk, and took her in my arms.
“Mom, you might just be too big for my bed.” She said.
I assured her that the bed was SOLID wood that it would hold Mommy just fine. I asked her what she was so scared of.
“Bullies and missing my mom,” she said, her face was red and splotchy as tears ran down her cheeks. I went on to tell her about when I went to Kindergarten (in the same room at the same school) and how there were no bullies and how wonderful everything was.
“You will learn all about numbers and letters and reading! And there will be prizes if you read a lot of books! And you will have your own special chair and get to know tons and tons of new friends… you will LOVE it! You even get to have play time and you get to learn new songs and come home and teach them to me.”
After a few minutes of me explaining what she could expect at school, she settled down.
“Do you want to have some alone time and cry some more… or do you want to hop down and watch a movie and eat candy with me?” I asked, kissing her forehead.
“I’ll come down,” she said.
“Okay,” I said. I made my way to the foot of her bed and started to climb down the side of the bunk. There’s no ladder because the way the bed is built the beds serve as a ladder.
“Mom?” She asked.
“Yes?” I said and waited for her to say something like “Thanks for talking to me” or “I love you” but no.
“I just hope my bed doesn’t fall over while you climb down,” she said, her eyes wide and wild with concern as the bed creaked.
I laughed out loud.
Hey, hey, hey! I’m Fat Mama!

One and a half hours until the Era Ends.
Unless YOU can stop time…

Away, Pt. II

Each night, we gathered ’round our fire and talked. Trenton took up telling us a series of stories titled, “When I Was a Little Boy.”
Danny would tell a story about when he was a little boy. Trenton would wait patiently for him to finish and then tell us his own story which was generally untrue, wacky, hilarious, and involved a lot of falling down.
Then Danny would tell another true story about when he was younger.
And Trenton would wait patiently for him to finish before starting in, “When I was a liddle boy…”
The trick was: we couldn’t get him to tell these stories while the sun was shining. He let me know, in no uncertain terms, that his Little Boy Stories were only to be told in the darkness of night.

Besides, who wants to listen to stories in the daylight when there’s cloud watching to be done?

Okay, one of those pictures is of a rainbow. You have to look REALLY close to see it.
And then there was the Supreme Cloud of Cowness… my son found it while he was fishing.
“Dat cloud is a cow, Mom,” he said.
“Okay,” I said, without turning around to look.
“Mom, LOOK at dat COW CLOUD.”
I thought he was just being a crazy kid. While we are driving, he’s always telling me how the clouds look like noses and bad guys, and I can usually get away with just saying, “Oh really? Cool.”
Not today. Probably because he was making a really good point.

Before tuning in to Trenton’s Nightly Story Series, we would make s’mores. The first night we didn’t have roasting sticks, so we wrapped them up in tin foil and threw them on the hot coals. It worked out really well -I think I actually prefer that method. The second night we had roasting sticks (compliments of the highly expensive country store down the road from the campsites).

The kids took some time to star gaze:

(Trenton hates the LED flash on my phone’s camera.)
And on our last morning, the kids had compassion on the myriad of washed up dead crawdads. I was glad. It was a fresh change from the cigarette bud counting they had been doing the day before.
“MOM! FOUR! FOUR CIGARETTES AND THAT MEANS SOMEONE WAS SMOKING AND SMOKING IS BAD FOR OUR BODIES!”
Well, it’s true.
My kids became professional crawdad hunters. They would find one (or pieces of one, either way the burying process worked wonders).
They would dig a very shallow hole and place the dead crawdad (or crawdad pieces) in it.
They would cover it with a rock and brush dirt over it to the best of their abilities.

We all returned to camp where the kids used tent poles to make “magic” tricks and my husband and I packed everything up.
It was a great trip. We were rained on everyday -but not to the extent that we had to hole up in our tent. Mostly, the rain just gave us pleasantly cool weather and a gorgeous cloud cover (mooooooo).
As we drove home, my husband pulled over on the side of the road to pick me a wild sunflower (my FAVORITE!) and the kids eventually fell fast asleep.

I made it home just in time to bounce in and our of the shower and make it to Primary.
I hope we can get away with just our little family more often… we never do. We always get away when it’s for something like a family outing with more than just “us.”
This last weekend make both my husband and I realize that WE need to make more time for our little family -and that time shouldn’t be in front of the TV (even though we all adore “Top Shot”).
I mean, if we hadn’t have gone camping we would have never known about Trenton’s past as a “little boy” and all of the monumental things he WENT THROUGH (hopping over fires, falling down four times, getting “fwee” scrapes that didn’t bleed but still had to be patched with band-aids).
I sure do love my family.
Good thing too because I’ve got one dirty house to muck up. Camping is not easy on the living room area -THAT’S for sure!