Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pre-decking the Halls

Well, Merry Christmas! It only took me a week to get the three or four evergreen garland swags outside my house properly connected and lit up. This is still less time that it took my neighbor across the street to deck his halls in seven million lights. I and reasonably sure you can see his house from space. Every year, the outdoor lights (such as they are) make me swear I will not be doing them the following year and every year, my boys get all excited about the go-getter neighbors who have their lights up by Halloween and bug me relentlessly about decorating our house. I figure that someday I will make THEM do it, while I sit inside with a book and hot chocolate (and Sis does the dishes). That's how it works with older kids, right?

Last night, he decorated the inside of the house and put up the kids tree for Family Home Evening. The kids tree evolved from the year that we bought a real tree, which shrivelled up and died about 6 minutes after we had it fully decorated. By a week before Christmas, it shed dry needles at the vibration of anyone walking by and threatened to burst into flames when we plugged the lights in. It was too close to Christmas to justify another tree and too far away to just deal with it. So, I bought a cheap little white tree in its place, which then became the kid tree. Each one gets their box of ornaments and they get to decorate however they want.

This is why most of the ornaments are concentrated on the lower branches and Bubbas karate belt is acting as tinsel. They boys were not satisfied with the amount of ornaments they each had collected, so they tossed a few toys in there as well.

Such as Monkey

And Belle

Sis didn't want to put anything at all on the tree. Nor did she want her brothers to. We witnessed the first of the Christmas season tantrums. They aren't any different than the tantrums from the rest of the year, but they are generally accompanied by the soft blur of Christmas lights and the knowledge that there is egg nog in the fridge. Makes them extra special, you know? ;-)

After we put scrooge to bed, Junior requested paper so they could make their Christmas lists, while eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate and watching a Spongebob Christmas special.

And then he asked me to make sure I took pictures of it all, so he could remember it. I think he definitely has inherited my supreme sentimental junkie tendencies. As soon as I am done here, I'm going to draft an apology letter to his future wife.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful Thanksgiving

We are so full! My sister and mom pull together a good feast. I asked the kids what we are particularly grateful for this Thanksgiving. There were many things, but these came to the top of the list.

Junior: 'My family and that my friend Josh gets to spend the night.'

Bubba: 'Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets'

Sis: 'Meow'

Me: That I was smart enough to stay in my comfy bed instead of getting pepper sprayed like the black friday crowd out in front of Toys'R'Us. Also, Junior's new cartoon: "Raffi and the Banana Muffin.' (Raffi is his stuffed giraffe and the banana muffin is Raffi's conscience who guides him in his many adventures.'

Happy Thanksgiving! Safe travels...

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I realized last night that next month will be a year since the final mediation to solidify the divorce decree.

It has been...a really long year, and I haven't written much about it beyond kid stuff. Mostly because I just have not been able to find the words. I cannot adequately describe how devastating it feels to attend your own divorce mediation two days before Christmas and sign that paper knowing it is the end.

The end.

The very end of the family that was your greatest treasure and that your best efforts couldn't save. I couldn't bring myself to relive just how it felt to drive home while pulling over multiple times to cry, knowing that the person who caused it all is likely celebrating. I would love to forget how it felt to want nothing more than to crawl into bed and disappear forever, but instead force myself to brave the holiday crowds because Santa still needed stocking stuffers. Writing wasn't an option because it took all my energy to face another Christmas (the second of many) as a single mom, keep up the usual traditions and show a happy face to my kids. I learned the hard way that even if you think you are prepared for something, the reality can still hit you like a freight train when it actually happens.

There have been no words to illustrate how it really feels to get the news that the divorce is finalized and then get the text (yes, a text) a week later that your barely-ex husband has officially made his long time mistress the stepmother of your children. The feelings of betrayal and humiliation connected to that are endless and overwhelming and (unfortunately) still constant. There is nothing I have ever experienced that is harder than handing my kids over every week to spend time with the woman who was a sneaky third wheel during my pregnancies with all three. Having her be part of my children's "family" ignites every protective instinct I have because I don't trust her. What is worse than feeling that way? Not being able to do a damn thing about it. What is worse than that? Knowing that my job is to make sure my kids feel comfortable loving all the people in their lives. Even her. Some things just plain suck, but I do it because I love my kids far more than I hate her.

Ironically, with the exception of some events and elements regarding the day Sis was born, I rarely dwell on my ex's affair during my marriage. In so many respects, I have moved beyond the many details and forgiven him for them. They don't keep me up at night anymore. It's the choice he made to leave and everything since that keeps raking over my raw emotions and reopens wounds. He brought cancer into our family and then married us all to it and we are dragged along in the wake of his decisions trying to find footing. Particularly as long as our children are little, I don't get the luxury of distancing myself from what often feels like emotional torture. I am just trying to get used to it, but for now, it is still a constant ache in my chest.

Time with my little guys is going by so fast. I begrudge the time they have to divide between two homes. I begrudge moments the DLS gets with them that she doesn't deserve and that I have to miss out on. My heart sinks every single time the kids drive away with their dad because every part of me shrieks that I don't want this for my kids or for me. It still digs pieces out of me to hear about their time away from me with a world of people, some of whom I have never met and will never know. My heart breaks every time he misses a 'moment' with the kids and again when I know that I did (Sis took her first steps at his house.) I have a daughter who I have almost no memories of parenting together with him (and it was a lonely, bewildering, self conscious pregnancy as he became increasingly distant and disinterested.) Because of this divide, being married and half of an 'us' feels like a dream or another lifetime. Most days I feel like I have always been a single mom. At the same time, the memory and comfort of happier days with my best friend is ingrained in me enough to miss it like an arm. Like an amputated limb, I suspect that you never actually stop missing it as much as learn to live with and accept it.

There aren't enough words in the world to describe how badly I want to shed this burden and wake up each day without it being the first thing on my mind. I have as many active steps as I can this year to try to do just that (another post for another time.) More than anything else, I wish I could just choose to never have to see him again. I wish I could treat our demise like a bad break up and store away the good memories, work my way through the bad and eventually wish him well wherever he is. After the last few years, I wish I could have him be no part of my life and I have no doubt that he feels the same. This path of triggers, pitfalls, painful reminders and humiliating new elements seems much harder, especially since we have to see each other weekly and I think it is important for our kids to see us interact amicably. I haven't missed the irony that the person who was once my most comfortable place is now the opposite. That always makes me sad. I wish I didn't have to hear 'her' name in my home, or casual (painful) details from the kids about the life they live, or wonder how much longer I am going to be bearing the brunt of his choices with limited options. Unfortunately, what would be comforting for me right now would be the opposite for my kids and ultimately, I would far rather that I be the one to suffer. While I might daydream about being free of my connections to him, I don't really want that for my kids sake. At the end of the day, I am glad that he is there for them as much as he is but, I often wish I could at least see the light at the end of the tunnel for me.

I do have my moments here and there of pure, warm comfort that wraps around my anxious mind and I am startled by the unfamiliar emotion that everything will be fine. It's a snippet of the overwhelming contentment I had when I cradled my baby girl the night she was born, thought about my three boys and genuinely felt "now I have everything I ever want." I was under no illusions that there weren't rough times ahead because something was clearly wrong, but ultimately I was comforted that we were a family and we had everything we would ever need to make it. Not making it was never even on my radar. Someday, I want that feeling back and the glimpses I get keep me keeping on. I adore my children and treasure my time with them. They make even the worst days bearable.

When I write posts like this, I sometimes feel like I should wrap it up with a reason why everything will be fine or defend my reasons for still going to bed most nights with such a burdened heart. But, sometimes things just are what they are and keeping from a destructive path that might numb temporarily is the best you can do. Some days, weeks or years are going to be incredibly difficult for different reasons and there is something to be said for acknowledging that, feeling it, concentrating on digging out and not letting the junk define you(while counting your blessings and hoping for better times of course :-) This is where I am now. I know that my goal is to get to where I can keep the good and make peace with the bad, but it's a bummer that horrible experiences don't have an expiration date. Enduring isn't as hard as enduring well and enduring well is an even bigger challenge when you don't know how long you will have to do it. :-)'Fake it til you make it' plays a big role in my life these days. I am grateful for the people in my life that let me put that facade aside when I need to and let me just 'be.'

I had hoped for a less stressful year, but I can't say that I will be sorry to see 2011 close. But, my issues aside, how stinking cute have my kids been this year, right? Plenty more where that came from :-)

Fingers crossed for 2012. Thank you to everyone for your love and support and encourangement this year. You know who you are.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Yet Another Good Cause

Several of my blogging friends have been asked to help promote a campaign for LDS Philanthropies and LDS Business College to raise money for single parents attending a 2 year program. As a single mom who is minutes away from jumping back into the school scene myself (although at a different establishment) I can personally appreciate anything that makes the process easier or less of a financial drain. I know I am extremely grateful for the programs and policies put into place to help me succeed.

The goal is to raise enough money in November for 4 full tuition scholarships. Do it in the spirit of the season. Do it for the struggling single mother or father you know. Do it because the people who will use it are so much more in need of a boost than you could possibly comprehend. If you want to know that your donation is needed and appreciated, then this is the one for you.

If you are a blogger, follow the link on my sidebar, download the widget and pass on the word.

LDS Business College Single Parent Scholarship Fund

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October (the one with all the pictures because I have been too busy/lazy to upload them until now...)

October is my favorite month because it combines my favorite season and my favorite holiday. But it is always a busy one for us. We have our yearly traditions to check off the list, but these days they have to be scheduled on one of my weekends or days with the kids which adds to the hectic pace. But, I am proud to say that we managed it all and I think the kiddos had fun (and if they didn't, then I deleted the pictures ;-)

One of our first stops is always the pumpkin patch and hayride (by our old house) followed by BBQ at a place my kids love because they are served little cups of green jello with their food. This year, along with Britny and the crew, Michelle W joined us with her two sweet girls. Thank goodness she brought a camera because mine ran out of batteries the minute we got there and we all know that if you didn't take pictures of it, it didn't happen :-)

True to tradition, Junior picked out the greenest, most misshapen, mushiest, ugliest pumpkin in the field and had to be directed toward one he could actually carve. Bubba picked the one furthest from the tractor and Sis just wanted to help carry hers.

Cornbelly's, the local pumpkin maze and play area was next on the list and honestly, I could have played there all day (and we might have if it hadn't been so cold).

Life sized lincoln logs, bouncy houses, pumpkin cannons (which scared Sis almost to death), pig races, slides, corn mazes and kettle corn.....it was our first time there, but it will make our list every year we live in this state. It was that awesome!

In between all this, Junior found the time to sacrifice the body every week at Jr. Jazz Basketball. His specialty was diving for the ball regardless of floor burns and bruised knees. There is a good chance I have him in the wrong sport :-) He has improved a lot over last year though, and likes it enough that he asked to play in the Spring as well (which is huge for him!) He got to end on a high note when he scored the last basket in the last few seconds of the last game.

Pumpkin Carving, doughnuts and hot chocolate with our favorite neighbors.

Despite the fact that Bubba doesn't have an ounce of fat on him, he remains oblivious to the cold. Despite the fact that Sis lost her pants along the way, her fat legs keep her well insulated.

Uncle Jeff, who lives in Japan, likes to send funny things to the kids like ninja shaped cookie cutters and fake mustaches, which were a huge hit! Bubba and his BFF Q took their mustache wearing very seriously.

When the Bradshaws joined us for the weekend, it turned into a 'fun mustache party' as was suggested on the packaging. Who knew? The two 60 inch diameter Mrs. Fields cookies Britny brought with her only added to the awesomeness (and hyper-activity) of the coolest kids party ever. For the record, I never look at this group of kids without wondering how in the world we have 7 kids between us and why in the name of everything holy do we ever try to take them all anywhere? One of these days we are going to be pleasantly surprised at how easy an outing is, but it hasn't happened yet. It doesn't help that I have no second pair of hands and hers has been in Alaska for work for the last five months. 2 against 7 is never great odds, but you also have to factor in our sheer awesomeness...

I haven't dressed up for Halloween in over a decade, but the boys kept asking me what I was going to be. So, I was a witch for Sis' black kitty. I hope they enjoyed it because it probably won't happen again.

Halloween Dinner (who am I kidding, no one in this house eats anything but candy on the big day.) Good mommy rules dictate that I at least offer it though.

Indiana Jones, Black Cat (who HATED her costume until I put 'make-up' on her face) and a Ninja

We did a few streets in the area until Sis got tired and I took her home, while Grandpa kept going with the boys (who wimped out long before their old grandpa did!) Sis really liked helping me pass out candy except she flat out refused to part with any of the lollipops in the bowl. Those she carefully placed in her own bag.

Learning the finer points of sorting and trading the loot from Grandpa.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Do Some Good with Libby's and Habitat for Humanity Utah

A year or two ago, my kids and I were the recipients of a canned food drive from someone in our neighborhood. As a newly single mother coping with a tiny baby and two small boys, it was understandable that others might think that we had been left high and dry in other areas as well. Since we were fortunate enough to not be in that boat, I couldn't keep food that was meant for someone in actual need.

I had the boys help me sort the cans as I told them how we had received it because of kind hearts and giving hands. We talked about the way we feel when we give and what kinds of things we can do for others. We chose some favorite things from our own pantry to add to the lot and delivered everything to another local food drive. I hoped it warmed someone’s soul to receive it as much as it did mine.

We may not have needed canned goods, but the experience fed something else in me and awakened a desire to make sure I am also aware of others. I view food drives differently now. Store front food collection displays that I used to walk right by now catch my eye every time. It is such a simple thing to buy a few extra cans of something and donate it on your way out. When local church groups come to the door asking for donations, I remember now to reach for something that would be universally enjoyed as opposed to the zesty style re-fried beans that have been gathering dust for 6 months and need to be rotated.

Libby's is encouraging shoppers to stop by their local Fresh Market between now and Saturday, October 22 and donate their non-perishable items to help Habitat for Humanity families make mealtime a reality. Whether you go shopping in your own food storage or at the store, take the opportunity to get your kids involved. In a season of excess, they are never too young to tangibly learn the joy of giving. There will always be people in need and starting a habit of giving among your family is part of the solution.

Libby's (whose canned pumpkin is a key player in my amazing chocolate chip pumpkin bread) has also started an initiative that encourages families to sit down and eat meals together. Studies show that regular family meals help promote confidence, self esteem and good grades in children. It aids conversation skills and can train you to eat healthier.

Visit GetBacktotheTable.com for a variety of recipes and tips for making mealtime even easier!

Libby’s believes the table is the heart of the home and that families suffer in more ways than one when they are struggling to put food on it. Because of this, they are teaming up with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Three homes will be completed this year and given to less fortunate families. Libby’s will provide the recipient families with a place to enjoy a meal together and everything they need to make it happen. Each home will be supplied with:

-A pantry stocked with Libby’s products to make simple, easy meals for the family
-A dining table for 6 to have a place to enjoy a meal together
-Place settings for at least 6 family members

Do your part for these worthwhile causes by remembering to take your canned goods to a local Fresh Market between now and Saturday, October 22. Small efforts by many make a big difference.

You can also catch up with Libby's on Facebook or Twitter. Take a moment to help get the word out.

Disclosure: Although I am being compensated by Libby's for helping promote this campaign, I am a huge fan of good causes and helping others. The opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cooking 101

"All this time I spend slaving over a hot stove and I bet no one will eat it again..."

"I don't know why I even bother. It's not like anyone in this house notices what I do for them."

"It is SO exhausting being the only person around here that appreciates culture and fine food and just how adorable and talented I am."

"You know what? I QUIT! These peasants can eat pbj's and chicken nuggets forever. I'm going where I know I will be appreciated."

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Facebook has been wierd lately, so I liberated a few more of my old kid-centered status updates in case they all just disappear one day. Since I don't currently have these recorded anywhere else, I thought I would put them here for the blog book. It's the thousands of little things that make up my days and I know that these are things I will want to remember, even if it is just for a laugh.

For the record, thank you to those of you who have been there all along for me to share these things with in the first place. Here they are, from oldest to newest:

Junior started his Christmas list. So far, he wants a pink bikini, a plunger, a Nintendo DS and a set of walkie talkies. 50% normal!
July 18, 2010 at 12:17pm

Junior: (sheepishly/apologetically) "Mom, I am not trying to say you are a bad cook, but this popcorn you made kind of smells like puke."
October 29, 2010 at 10:52pm

Just extracted 35 cents from Sis' mouth...
November 15, 2010 at 1:51pm

Junior requested a spray bottle and some gel and has very definite ideas about how he is going to do his hair tomorrow before he chases and tries to kiss his girlfriend on the playground at recess. Has anyone seen my baby boy? He seems to be gone.
December 6, 2010 at 11:50pm

Tonights bedtime story? 50 ways to kill a slug (cartoony gardening manual)...chosen by Junior, enjoyed by all!
December 8, 2010 at 8:32pm

No Bubba, decorated Christmas trees do not "just fall down on their own"
December 13, 2010 at 4:37pm

Among the dental work Bubba had done this morning is a silver crown on one of his molars. I told him it was a pirate tooth. He asked me if the dentist killed a pirate to get it for him. I said yes, he was thrilled.
December 18, 2010 at 6:57pm

Makes my day to hear my four year old sing "if you like it then you should have put a ring on it..."
January 14 at 7:06pm

Bubba and Sis had a tug of war over Bubba's sucker. Sis totally kicked his butt.
January 21 at 1:39pm

Junior asked if he could stay up with me after the two little ones were asleep to spend "special time." We ended up reading "The World's Most Deadly and Dangerous Creatures." What ever happened to fairy tales? I am so out of my element with sons.
January 24 at 10:20pm

Bubba just came and proudly showed me the two pennies, one dime and one nickel that Junior 'traded' him for his four quarters.
February 6 at 4:12pm

Just pulled enough playground wood chips out of Junior's jeans pockets (one pair) to fill an entire quart jar.
February 17 at 11:27am

Bubba just sprayed carpet cleaning foam all over Sis' head like a hat...moments after I got her out of the tub and dressed in her jammies.
February 19 at 6:42pm

Junior spilled yogurt on the kitchen floor. Instead of cleaning it up, he carefully wrote a sign that said "Don't Step Here" and placed it next to it.
March 8 at 10:28pm

Sis dipped her entire head in the toilet this morning. So, now we know she can open doors...
March 11 at 12:35pm

Junior lost his second tooth last night and accidentally swallowed it with his dinner. His note to the tooth fairy said "I'm sorry I aksadidley (accidentally) swallowed my tooth. Can I still get money?"
March 16 at 10:39am

Tonight, Junior wanted to tell me a secret. Usually it is something genuinely secretive. He made me come into another room and bend down to listen while he braced himself to say: "Mom, did you know that a story generally has a problem and a solution?" My lips are sealed...
March 21 at 10:10pm

Bubba: "Mom, I am going to call the cops to put you in jail!!"
Junior: (contemptuously) "You can't do that...you don't even know where mom's phone is"

March 25 at 9:42pm

Just made the 4 year old sprint around the backyard three times. I'm assuming it is excess energy that is making him pick fights with his brother and sister?
April 11 at 2:15pm

Bubba says he is going to be a rock star. I've been assigned to guitar, his dad will play drums, Junior will play the piano and Sis is his back up dancer.
April 18 at 2:00pm

The title of Junior's new comic book is "The Roaring, Screaming Monster Penny" and it is seriously awesome. I think I have a genius on my hands.
April 23 at 10:03pm

Bubba learned to ride a bike with no training wheels today :-)
April 27 at 4:06pm

Junior's newest cartoon features a half penguin half pigeon. A Piguin.
May 9 at 7:09pm

You would think that when you are living with a kid like Junior, you would be prepared to find the rotten easter egg that he had hidden away under his bed (for a 'science experiment') but you just never are...
May 19 at 9:31pm

Tonight as I carried Sis inside from the backyard against her will, she hollered to her brothers "guys...help!!!"
May 19 at 11:51pm

Junior: Bubba, can I have one of your chicken nuggets?
Bubba: No
Junior: Please?!
Bubba: Ok
Junior: Thanks! I'll pay you back when I'm 30...

June 6 at 12:55pm

The kids and I just rescued a hummingbird from the garage when it couldn't get out. It let us hold it while we took the cobwebs off its wings :-)
June 10 at 11:34am

My five year old just brought me a portable CD player and asked me what it was and what it did. Someday I am going to show him a record player like the one I listened to at his age and completely blow his mind :-)
June 13 at 8:21pm

Junior requested that I get a new couch because he is tired of the black remote blending in with the black couch. He is frustrated that it forces him to have to look harder. I feel like I am doing something wrong...
June 27 at 10:46pm

My daughter can't speak in full sentences yet but she CAN sing a song in Hebrew, thanks to The Wiggles.
July 6 at 11:50pm

I really wish Sis would stop handing me live bugs. And I really wish I knew where she is finding them...
July 12 at 11:13am

Bubba to his cousin: "You know what would be so cool? If we didn't have any parents...then we could do whatever we want. Even steal stuff from stores!! *sigh
July 21 at 3:33pm

Sis can sing "We Will Rock You." Already keepin' it real :-)
July 22 at 9:43pm

Taking Sis grocery shopping has been upgraded from 'difficult' to 'one of the outer rings of hell.'
August 10

Junior: 'Mom, I'm hungry, can I have cereal?'
Me: 'Why are you guys always starving right before bed? Why don't you eat more of your dinner?'
Junior: 'Maybe we should have dinner right before bed then...'

August 15

Bubba: 'Mom, I want a hang glider for Christmas'
Me: *sigh* 'Don't think so buddy. Maybe when you grow up.'
Junior: 'Don't worry mom, I only want a parachute for Christmas.'

August 25 at 8:55pm

After unwrapping an entire package of gum and carefully taking a bite out of each stick, Sis concludes that they are all, in fact, spicy.
August 27 at 11:49pm

(What I overheard today when Bubba volunteered to tell Sis a story) "Once upon a time, there was a man named Jared, and he went down to the ocean and he walked and walked and walked and walked and SIS!!! YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!! And he walked and walked and walked, SIS!!! COME BACK AND HOLD STILL!!" And he walked and walked and walked and kept walking and walked some more. SIS!!! YOU'RE MISSING THE STORY! And he walked and then he got where he was going. The End"
August 29 at 12:35pm

Bubba refuses to be "baby-sat" but will agree to be "kid-sat"
September 1 at 3:03pm

Sis: (crying)
Me: "What's wrong Sis?"
Sis: (looks at me like I am stupid) "I'm crying...."

September 6 at 10:06pm

Bubba hit Junior and got sent to bed without reading Harry Potter with us. Halfway through the chapter, Junior got teary and said that he felt so bad for Bubba missing out that he wanted to join him in going to bed early so he wouldn't feel left out. I let Junior be the hero and get him out of time out. I was too touched to stick to my guns on that one.
September 12 at 9:40pm

On the way to church:

Bubba: "That's it Junior!!! We are NOT friends..."
Junior: (scornfully) "Of COURSE not. I'm your brother."
Bubba: "Oh yeah. Hey mom? You know those weapons that are a ball on a chain at the end of a stick and it has spiky things all over it?"
Me: "A Mace?"
Bubba: "Yes. I think I would like to have one of those."
Me: "Not until you and your brother are best friends..."

September 18 at 1:39pm

Sis just rolled her eyes and me and said "okaaayyy, okaaayyy...."
Excuse me, but did I miss her 16th birthday somehow?

September 20 at 1:16pm

I love how every picture Junior draws of himself has him saying "Booyah!"
October 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

6 a.m. with Junior

Those of you on facebook with me will already be familiar with the content of this post. About 6 months ago, I started posting some of the funny conversations Junior would have with me in the wee (wee wee) hours of the morning. He is my only early riser and for awhile did not like being the only one downstairs. So, he would climb in on my side of the bed and cuddle and chatter his awesome brand of stream of consciousness. I would struggle to stay coherent and decode his thought process so I could answer intelligently. I don't know if I pulled it off. Someday he might write a post entitled "6 a.m. answers from Mom." Eventually, he figured out how to work the remote control, so he doesn't come hang out as much as he used to. I am glad I recorded some of these conversations when I did and wish I had them all.

These are my "6 a.m. conversations with Junior" status updates from Facebook dating back to February. They were too precious not to record here and too good not to share...

February 22
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
"Sooo, Mom. I have been thinking about taking us all on a cruise..."

February 23
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
"Mom, I think I am going to gather some wood and build myself a science lab in the backyard...You won't be able to come in though. You're not a scientist."

February 25
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
"Mom, I really wish that I had freckles...and braces...and glasses!"

March 8
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
"Mom, I think I am going to check myself out of school today. I have a really loose tooth on the bottom and I am really sure that I won't be able to focus." (For the record, he decided he would be able to focus after all when he remembered that it was library day...)

March 14
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
...upon finding out that he was wrong and his neighbor friend was right regarding the name of Bubba's preschool, he asked "can't we just switch Bubba to a new school so I can be right?" (yes, he was completely serious and completely ticked about being wrong.)

March 15th
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
(excitedly) "Mom!!!! Did you know that Harry Potter was a book before it was a movie?"

March 19
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
"Mom, when I am a little older, I am going to invent a microwave that has a microphone attached to it, so when you cook food and open the door, I can make you think the food is talking to you."

April 5th
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
"Mom, I feel like I am going to throw up and can I wear my swimsuit today?"

April 6
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
"I'm going to make a day and call it hamburger day. I think maybe on June 23rd. Can you go put it on the calendar in the kitchen? And also say that I invented it."

April 29
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
J: 'Mom, you know the souls in our bodies that keep us alive?"
Me: "Yes"
J: "I'm going to try to get some souls and put them into some of my toys so they can be alive."
Me: "Where will you find them and how do you put them in?"
J: "I will probably find them in a graveyard or something and then shock them in somehow."

Some boys want to be firemen when they grow up. My son wants to be a God. :-)

August 19
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
"Mom, can I go and invent a recipe in the kitchen and use the microwave to cook it?" (I stayed conscious long enough to remind him not to use anything metal.) When I got up, he had written down his recipe for me to add to my book: Peanut butter, sugar, chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup and milk. Cook for 8 minutes.

August 18
10:00 a.m.:
J: "Mom!!! I was putting my pants on and I kicked myself in the eyeball."
(I snort in laughter)
J: (offended) "How is that funny??!"
Me: "How is that NOT funny?"

Bubba: What is that smell? (I burned something)
J: It’s just mom cooking, Bubba. Remember how we are used to this smell?”

September 4
6 a.m. conversation with Junior
J: (who is a little obsessed about the idea of us potty training sis) "Mom, maybe Sis could ask for one of those little toilets that play music when you go for Christmas."
Me: "I don't really like the idea of cleaning one of those out all the time, but we'll see."
J: *sigh* "well...I suppose I could just install a real little toilet for her."

September 8th
6 a.m. conversation with Junior:
J: "Mom, can you help me put this t-shirt on this pillow? I tried putting underwear on it already and it didn't fit."
Me: "whaaa?"
J: (fed up) "Oh, never mind"
Me: "K"

Monday, August 22, 2011

This was me 26 years ago...

Junior started second grade today (with definite opinions about what he would wear. The days when I could pick out his school clothes are long gone.) This is a wierd mom milestone for me because although I have snapshot memories of kindergarten and first grade, second grade is the first year that I have detailed memories of. It is strange to look at how little I still feel he his and remember how grown up I felt then. It is the first year that I can relate on some level to what is going on in his head because I remember being that age myself. I remember discovering boys and who I had crushes on. I remember thinking the dumbest things were hilarious. I remember having one foot firmly in a world of my imagination and the other in a reality of really wanting to feel grown up. And at the end of the day, it really doesn't feel that far away. I know that in another blink of the eye, Junior will be sending HIS second grader off to school and remembering how he spent the summer before practicing his running ("because this is my year to kiss the girl I like and I have to chase her really fast, mom")and worrying about whether he would like his teacher and the fact that he doesn't know multiplication (despite everyone's reassurances that he doesn't need to go into second grade knowing it.)

I hope he finds good friends. I hope he likes his teacher. I hope that he is challenged and can find satisfaction and confidence in overcoming something hard. I hope that he will be able to grasp on some level what a great kid he is and how valuable to the world. I hope that as this first little bird of mine hops a little further from the nest that he likes what he finds. I hope he has a great year.

***By the way, for the record/sake of posterity, he chose strawberry ice cream (with no chunks) a bacon and egg sandwich, bacon and diet coke for his first day of school/choose anything you want to eat breakfast.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

This explains...

...all the little toe prints I keep having to scrub off of the doorjams all over the house...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's not a party unless I spend three days cooking AND accidentally dye the fence blue...

I have a few recipe websites that I love and a few months ago, I came across these little guys (root beer float cupcakes.) I thought 'those would be fun for Bubba's birthday party.' After too many evenings with my mind wandering rather than focusing on work, the idea snowballed into 'how about I have a party with a soda pop theme where EVERYTHING is made with soda products.' So, that is exactly what I did. It's times like this that I wish I knew how to take extra fancy pictures with my extra fancy camera because I was so happy with how it all turned out. But, I was lucky to get these because Britny remembered to take a few, in between helping me referee a million children and sous cheffing, before the other guests showed up.

For the last three summers, my family has rented one of these jumpers (with water) for a collective summer birthday party. Bek's little N has a birthday near Bubba's and they were going to come out and join us for the party, but were unable to come at the last minute, and they were missed. No one can jump with as much energy as her Cubby and Bek is ten times the cook I am. The company we rented the bounce house from is awesome and they let you keep it for the entire day. My boys and the neighbors were almost worn out by the time the party rolled around.

The Menu: (in case you are curious how many soda based recipes you can use in one meal)

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
Root Beer Pulled Chicken
Coca Cola BBQ Wings
Sprite Biscuits
Cherry Coke Jello Salad (thanks to Phread...)
Greek Pasta Salad (normal recipe I'm afraid)
Watermelon/Cucumber Mint Salad (ditto)
Root Beer Float Cupcakes
Coca Cola Cake (which my old roommate used to make all the time! Yum.)
Root Beer Bundt Cake
Orange Crush Cupcakes
Despite how it might sound, the soda factor/taste wasn't all that prevalent in any of these recipes, but they all fit the theme (remember my obsession with themes? Good.)

I made homemade root beer and it turned out surprisingly good (as long as you were expecting the homemade taste and not the super carbonated store taste.) I remembered the root beer of all my childhood ward parties being darker but this is how mine turned out. It tasted right, but looked more like cream soda. The biggest hit was the dry ice. I may get some more soon just to play in it. Junior is also lobbying for that activity.

A few of the guests. We had a great turnout and it was awesome to see some folks we haven't visited with in awhile. Thanks to everyone who made it.

Birdie and the twins taking a break long enough to eat. About the time everyone was settling down to their food, the skies opened up with thunder and lightning and we had to temporarily deflate the bouncy house while 40+ people took refuge inside my little house to wait it out. Fortunately it didn't last long, but it did soak the blue streamers that a friend had decorated the entire fence with. Did you know that wet streamers will bleed dye all over everything and IT DOESN'T WASH OFF!!? Me neither. I was able to return the fence to normal with a bottle of bleach, but that was a lot of fence (even more fun because it blew over to the other side as well. It was a very effective way to get to know my new neighbor, who was very understanding.) **No worries landlord's daughter-in-law!! The fence is no longer blue :-)

Bubba opening his presents and generously letting Sis help. For the record, this picture was taken moments after Sis handed me a cup with about ten potato bugs in it that she had collected. Grandpa W was the most pleased with her :-)

Party Favors: bottles of soda and bottle cap candies.

The rental company wasn't able to get back to us by the end of the evening, so they left it overnight. The kids were up bright and early to get a little more jumping in.

Happy Birthday Bubba!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Copy Cats

Yesterday, as Britny and I had our usual late morning catch up chat, she mentioned that her three year old daughter had spent the morning copying her by pretending to be on the phone. I was just in the middle of laughing and saying that Sis does it all the time too, when the dame in question walked past me with her hand up to her ear (like a phone) casually chattering in her own special language. As I watched, she flopped into the chair I had just been in (still 'talking on the phone') crossed her legs, glanced up at me and put her hand up in the silent 'wait' sign I give the kids when I don't want to be interrupted. I laughed at her dead-on mimicry of me and ruefully considered that when she is a teenager that I can't manage to get off the phone, I can only blame myself :-) For the rest of the morning, she insisted on doing everything I was doing. I vacuumed and she pulled her little toy version out and copied me step for step. When I used the hose, she did too. When I stopped to pick something up, she did too. Ditto for the sweeping and floor steaming. Silly dance steps? She nailed it on the first try. I watched her kiss her dollies and pretend to change their diapers and tuck them in the way I do to her every night. She was a chirpy, affectionate, determined shadow at my heels for hours.

It both amused and scared me that she watches me so closely even when it isn't as obvious like today. Because I watch her watching me, I know that my logical future conclusion when she makes a bad decision will be that I did something wrong in my parenting, even though in general I don't believe that we have quite that much power. However, it does remind me that now is the time to show my kids my good choices because they are so eager to do as I do. If I show them that I exercise and eat right and tell the truth and get to church on time and clean up my messes and know how to apologize while they are still little copycats, there is every hope that some of that stuff will stick when that darn free agency really kicks in.
Of course, this also means I need to curb things like my temper and my chronic tardiness and going over the speed limit, my occasional nail biting and my massive caffeine intake, etc. etc.

It is both intimidating and also an honor to be able to parent these three little people. To answer their questions and fix their owies and teach them right from wrong (even if the process is certain to remove years from my life in the end.)

I love being a mom. I don't love being tired. I don't love being a constant referee. I don't love the countless sleepless nights up with sick kids or wide awake babies. I don't anticipate that I will always love dealing with teenagers or last minute science projects and girl drama. And I REALLY don't love doing all of this as a parent with no daily backup or way to recharge. But I do love my kids and I love serving them. I love the love notes and the cuddles and watching them learn something new or gain confidence. I love watching them befriend and watch out for each other, even after being mortal enemies the day before. I love tucking them in and then coming back to check on them after they are asleep and sprawled out in positions that only kids can be comfortable in.

I may have many regrets about the demise of my marriage and especially the way my life has to be now, but I don't regret for a second anything that led to my little buddies. They are my heart and center and I love them, probably more than they will ever know.

But I really hope they have never yet observed me eating the cake directly from the pan without bothering with something as proper as a plate...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Born Cool


From the day you were arrived and your head of full, dark hair naturally waved into the cutest faux-hawk, we determined that you were just born cool. Now that you are 5, you still have cool naturally cornered and I think you always will.

You have been a delightful child to mother. You are sweet and spunky and imaginative and one of my favorite things to do is listen to you play whatever character you are being at the moment. This year you have gone from Hurcules to Peter Pan to Captain Hook to Luke Skywalker to Darth Vader to the Karate Kid to Michael Jackson to Spiderman to your current fave; The Green Lantern. You love to tease your brother and sister but generally just to get them to notice you. In a moment, you will switch from a pesky brother to their BFF if they encourage it. You idolize your big brother and can make Sis laugh like no one else in the family can. She runs to you for comfort and loves as much as me these days.

You are my sweetheart cuddler and not a day goes by without several hugs and spontaneous "I love you's" from you. You have grown a lot this year and have learned to conquer many of your fears. Last week you walked through the dark front room and ran to find me in excitement. "I went into the dark and nothing happened" you said, and I was as proud as I have ever been because you have come so far.

Your questions and statements amuse me, your progress heartens me, your enthusiasm and love for your family comforts me and your hugs sustain me. I adore being your mom and I adore you.

Happy Birthday Bubba!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why the trampoline is already worth every penny...

Because Sis's hair stands straight up the minute she steps on it and I never get tired of laughing at it. The boys invite her to join them in jumping just to see it do that.

Because they are nicer to each other when they play on it than in any other activity.

Because I get to listen to them laugh and play together through the open kitchen door every evening and it reminds me of how much I love my little ones still being little.