Saturday, January 30, 2010

True Empowerment of Women

I believe  in stay-at-home moms. That shouldn't surprise you since I am one. Sometimes though, I get the impression that people feel bad for me or on occasions I feel looked down upon. It sort of goes like this "Oh you're a stay at home mom?"..."Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I could never do it." Or something of that nature. It is extremely frustrating trying to continue to remind myself when I encounter such ignorance that staying at home to take care of my children IS better and not second-rate. Being a mom that stays home to care for children just isn't given any credit in today's world. We are seen as accomplishing less simply because we have chosen not to be a career woman AND take care of kids as if we have chosen NOT to sacrifice so therefore we made a bad decision or we have failed to fulfill some sort of feminist empowerment view.

On the contrary, current feminist views have skewed what truly empowers a woman; things like bringing new souls into the world, breastfeeding, being educated and aware of what is required to nourish the body and then feeding those individuals who depend on us, educating our children, and certainly not least, raising righteous individuals who will someday run the world. Feminism seems to have decided that in order to embrace the "power of women" we have to have do everything that a man does. It "makes us equal" to men and through our careers and aspirations we are able to have a say in what happens in the world instead of standing by at home ready to wait on our husband and children. What a sad occasion that we have forgotten that those children we have left behind are who will make the world later and we leave their care and education to others because we are too busy "being equal" and seeking after some other type of fulfillment to do it ourselves.

Many people think that staying at home is just too easy and stay-at-home moms have chosen the easy route. Such individuals have never been a stay-at-home parent for any extended period of time and certainly do not see the value of the influence of a parent. In some ways it is easier, there's no commute, you can stay in PJs if you wish, go to the park and sit in the sun, laugh with and at your kids. There are no real deadlines, or evaluations in the literal sense, no dress code or politicking, no "climbing the ladder" and certainly no boss looking over your work. At least, this is what people think. Because there is a boss in heaven looking over our work, there is a dress code if you want your kids to emulate it, there is an evaluation at the end of this life that will hold you accountable for the time you had with your children and how you used it. There is a deadline when your kids finally leave home to utilize those skills you have taught them...or not taught them. The stakes are high when you are a parent, much higher than those of your earthly job and I want to spend my time wisely and feel confident when I come before the spiritual Father of my children. My children are counting on me in so many ways that it's often daunting, this task I have before me.

My goal is not to offend people (although I imagine some would certainly be), but to enlighten, or inspire. I only say what I know to be true and I defend my position with zealous indignation. I love my job, my assignment on earth and I wish that all women loved it and saw its value and sacred nature as I know our Father in Heaven does. What a task he has given us as women. What trust He has in us and what amazing beings He has placed in our watchful care. How can we ever doubt His love and intention for us when he has given us the most important of all tasks on this earth... raising righteous souls unto Him.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Jello Fun

Brad is a huge fan of Jello and is always asking me to buy it. I do buy it, I just don't make it. Lately I have decided to make it and then I decided the kids would probably love it if I actually let them cut out shapes which we did. They had all kinds of fun playing with the jello. My favorite is the jiggliness which they discovered:

It's so entertaining to watch kids discover. Unfortunately all that jiggling resulted in a decapitated gingerbread man which Beya referred to as a "little boy." She was quite concerned about his well-being:

Here is a picture of her "little boy" which she covered up with another peice of jello to act as a blanket. Not sure why it's on his head but that's where she said it went.
She spent a lot of time concerned about the little boy. In reality Novan is the one that gave it shaken-baby-syndrome and when his head broke off Novan wanted me to get some tape and fix it. When I said tape wouldn't stick he ran out of the room crying and Beya took over his care. Hilarious to me, not so much to him. =)

Iyov is apparently a big fan of jello and he got in on the action. I de-clothed him because it was just getting everywhere all slobbery and gross. He would look down at it in his hand and squish it a little before putting it in his mouth. I am sure it was a very satisfying texture.

Then, after all the fun was wearing off, I put them in the tub, or rather, the sink which is just easier when bathing Iyov. Beya is still just small enough to make this method of bathing effective so she enjoyed it as much as Iyov. Novan wanted in too but I told him he is WAY to big. He was not at all excited about that. A note about the sink bath though. I specifically bought this sink for the purpose of bathing children. We had a really deep porcelain one in the house we rented in CA and I loved it for giving Novan and then Beya a bath. So when I was shopping for kitchen sinks one of my conditions was that it had to be at least a 9" depth. I got my wish and it works perfectly!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I think it's fascinating to see what the "kids" of today are up to, what they spend their time doing, and what they are capable of, especially on the technology front. Beya was able to scroll through pictures on Brad's iPhone when she was only 14 months old. Novan is using a computer like a pro and he's only 4.

Now that we have 2 iPhones, you may commonly see this in the mornings

However, I am sure it's not just my kids, I am sure any kid today with access to technology is becomming part in this new wave of tech saavy kids. Part of me wants to just shoo them outside to "play ball" or something like our parents used to do or build forts like I used to do but you know, in reality, our Generation Y is going to need to be extremely proficient with technology if they are going to be competitive in a world of growing tech. I feel kind of old when I look back 10+ years and look at "how we used to do it" and I'm only 27! It must be amazing to be much older and really to look back and see the progression of what has become "the norm" even though I'm sure everyone would agree that not everything that is "the norm" should be but that's another subject.

I am sad though that kids are increasingly in front of a computer and less in front of nature, but that's the way of this world, so thank goodness our spirits are eternal and this life isn't "it." A good balance is certainly in order, some time outside is certainly called for, and as parents we face ever-increasing challenges raising children in today's world.

To end on a funny note, the other day I was putting Iyov to sleep for a nap and I hear in the other room the following father/daughter conversation:
Dad: Ok, Beya, Poppa has to go work so I need my phone now.
Beya: NOOOOOO! I need it, I need to play games! (crying continues)
Dad: But Beya, Poppa needs his phone for work.
Beya: I need my OWN phone! (more crying)
Dad: (laughs) Man, you're only 2 Beya, and you need your own phone already?
Beya: YES! (crying as Dad leaves)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Most Good

The earthquake in Haiti has had me thinking a lot about the idea of charity and I am continually amazed at the sheer quantity of need out there for one thing or another. I support any type of charitable giving because no matter what, it will benefit someone else in some way but I must admit I find myself overwhelmed at times by how much need is out there.

One of Brad's favorite shows is Extreme Makeover Home Edition which I am sure everyone has heard of. I like the show and my heart goes out to the families that they feature. Some of the people are just downright selfless if you ask me, or at least, that is how they are portrayed. They are honestly deserving by my understanding of the word but I find myself a little turned off during the reveal usually. The grandeur of the new homes is just a bit much. I always think to myself "they could have fixed 10 homes that were perfectly liveable and beautiful for the cost of this one." They could downgrade a little and really save a lot of money and help WAY more people. I mean, if you are someone that lives in a house with no hot water, drafty windows, and mold issues you would be more than thankful for a brand new house that has new (but not top-of-the-line) appliances, mold free, and maybe a landscaped yard. I doubt you would be saying "where's my 60" LED flat screen in my bedroom?" Or, "where's my energy efficient cutting edge hot water system", or "why isn't my house 5000 sqft?" or, "why don't I have custom made concrete counter tops?"

I feel like there are a lot of charities out there that do really great things for people and they are excellent places to give money but really, can I say giving my money to the ASPCA to rescue abused animals is as worthy a cause as feeding starving children in Africa? My gosh, those ASPCA commercials really make me want to give them money but I just can't wrap my head around saving animals over people. How in the world do you decide what is a "worthy cause" and how do you say no to one thing and yes to another without feeling guilty? What is that thing that will most greatly improve the earth as a whole? These are just my thoughts on something that I have a hard time figuring out. I would love to hear what you think, how you solve the conundrum, or if it's really solvable?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Grandma's Bag

My Mom came to stay with us this weekend and of course like all good Grandma's she brought presents. Novan got a new Transformer and Beya got newly outfitted with a tu-tu, dress, hair clips, and headband. Of course she wanted to wear them all (except the headband which fell on the floor) and yes that's her PJ's underneath and yes, she went to bed like this.

Grandmas are great for letting little Granddaughters get away with things that Mom wouldn't have the patience for like going through your makeup bag.
Beya spent a lot of time checking out each item in the bag, opening it, dabbing some on, and putting the top back on. She must have done this with each item 4 or 5 times. She especially liked the contact lense case I think because each side had a little "water" in it which I guess intrigued her. Her intrigue was quite entertaining.

Beya even got to put makeup on Grandma! Oh dear...

Beya thought everything was supposed to be dabbed on her cheeks, even the lipstick although some of it did make it to her lips. Oh, and there's the headband. Totally NOT something mom would have bought but Grandma's can get away with.

Let's not forget to brush our hair! Beya's girlish instincts continue to amaze me. It is hard to believe that that little person is half me, after genetic recombination of course. What's even weirder is that she is half Brad's, where did that half go? I just love watching Beya grow up, she is such a joyful little person and each day she shows me something new about herself. What a wondrous experience this parenting thing is!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Fruits of Novan's Labor

"We don't have enough money for that." is a phrase that Novan has heard a lot and after telling it to him for the longest time I have really wanted to show him exactly what money is. I thought about just giving him a weekly allowance of a dollar or something but I'm afraid Novan's concept of time is still skewed and he'd be asking me every day for money because he doesn't really know what a week means. Further, it wouldn't really teach him that money has to be earned. Then one day when we went to a book store and he of course had to hear the no money sob story again as to why he couldn't get something he actually finally asked "Can I get some money?" Finally, he was starting to get it and I knew he was ready to start to understand how money works. About the same time I was fed up with changing poopy pull-ups in the morning I decided to have Novan earn his money by giving him a quarter every day that he would not poop in his pull-up. While it has not eliminated the behavior completely it has certainly diminished its occurence on a grand scale. In the past 4 or 5 weeks he has probably only pooped in his pull-up 4 times vs. the every other day that I was previously dealing with.

So after weeks of earning quarters and on occasion a quarter here or there to clean his room he had finally earned $6.50 which I informed him would be enough to buy a small toy. So last night I took him to Wal-Mart after Iyov went to bed and Brad stayed home with him and Beya. He was so excited. We grabbed his money jar and stuffed his pockets with his quarters and few dollars that I had changed out over the weeks for quarters because well, I don't generally keep $6 in quarters lying around. When we got to the toy section he took his time examining each toy that interested him. He was so good even when he would choose something that was way over his budget as I would say "You don't have enough money for that" and then I would show him the toys that he did have enough money for. He had really had his heart set on a "gold" star wars battle droid he had seen online but Wal-Mart of course was out of all the good action figures and while I could have ordered it online I really wanted him to have his first purchasing experience in the store where he could physically hand over his money in exchange for something he wanted.

He actually settled on something much quicker than I had expected. I was so impressed that he was grasping the concept of "enough money". So he picked out a transformer that was actually under budget.

Then I said, "Novan, Beya will probably be sad if we don't get her something also, should we get something for her?" "Yes!" he said and I led him to the "girly" aisle where he would pick certain things and I would say whether it was too much money. I pointed to some little fairies and Novan picked a Tinkerbell out. He was so excited to give it to her. When we went to the register he just put all his money on the counter of course but wasn't all that interested in helping me count it out. Oh well. In any case, he was so good and so cooperative.

So when we got home we gave Beya her toy which she gave her customary, "OOOOOOOOOOOH!" when she is excited. The unfortunate part was that they stayed up later playing in their room. AND I woke up at 3:45 because I could hear Beya out in the living room and could see that the lights were on. Apparently she was too excited to sleep. I don't actually think they went to sleep because Brad went to put them back in bed at 5. Gotta love the excitement of children! Novan is already asking me if he can earn more money so I am very pleased with his experience.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sacred Sleep

I have come to realize over the years that sleeping is something I am passionate about. I know it sounds a little weird but in reality I spend a lot of time planning out sleep such as: when the kids will go to bed if we are out and about, how I will plan the nap schedule into a particularly busy day, how I can get Iyov to sleep more quickly, when he will go to sleep, how long he has been awake, how long the other two kids have been awake, counting how many hours of sleep I got the night before, how long each child's nap was, worrying when the kids don't get their naps, worrying that the naps will be too late, worrying that Brad isn't sleeping enough, and on and on. I realize now on virtual paper that I sound a bit obsessive but I think I have an appreciation for sleep that most people don't. I wrote a really excellent research paper in highschool on sleep and I wish I had it now to reference all of my fun facts but alas, it probably went in the trash years ago.

Anyway, for me sleep serves 2 purposes:
1) Away-time from my kids either by their or my unconsciousness or a combination of both
2) Emotional and physical rejuvination

Number one may seem disposable but I find that my sanity level can be better maintained when I send the kids off to bed which I spend a lot of time meticulously planning so that they are all in bed for naps (Novan and Beya's only nap and Iyov's second nap) at the same time. There are a few days every once in a while in which Iyov's schedule gets off that I only get a half hour or so kid-free but he quickly reverts back to his schedule. Novan, on rare occasions does not actually sleep but plays quietly. I have observed that a dark and quiet environment does a lot to wind him back down emotionally and physically which he benefits from tempermentally anyway. Speaking of dark and quiet, these are things I am a 100% believer in when it comes to encouraging sleep or at least neccessary for quiet time. Just consider your own mood and how you feel on a cloudy rainy day vs. a sunny day. Your body reacts physically to darkness because it believes it is time to sleep.

A lot of people think I am "lucky" that Novan takes naps still but it's not like he would fall asleep in mid-play like he would when he was a baby and sleep was so essential and it's not like he wants to take naps either. I worked hard to get Novan to the point where he can soothe himself to sleep and to ingrain in him my expectation that he must be in bed when he is in his room for a nap or bedtime whether or not he sleeps. I plan to have mandatory naps for him as long as it is beneficial to his sleep schedule and me. I know plenty of Moms whose kids Novan's age and younger don't take naps and that's cool but at least for your sanity don't overlook the possibility of instilling an hour or two of "quiet time". Novan naps because napping is high on my priority list. But don't worry if it's not high on yours, I am sure you are much better than me at other potty training for instance =) not to mention your kids probably go to bed earlier (mine go at 8pm). I think it's a travesty that they don't do naps in elementary school anymore especially considering all of the behavioral problems in which kids get so wound up and overstimulated easily. A nap or at least dark quiet time would really make it a bit easier for them to handle I think. Furthermore, babies need even more sleep than adults of course so I spend a great deal of time sleep "training" so that my kids as babies get the right amount of sleep for their development. Sleep begets sleep in kid world and if we start off committed to our kids getting the right amount of sleep, it carries over into later childhood.

Sleep is essential for health. Brad always says when he has stayed up too late too many nights in a row that he gets sick. This is because our immune system is better up to the task when our bodies have had time to sleep. It is truly a rejuvination process and what is more important health-wise than a healthy immune system to prevent and fight things like viruses, bacteria, and cancer? You simply cannot live without sleep. I know that science backs me up on this.

Finally, my sleep issues also revolve around the difficulty I have with sleep. It may be true that my obsession with it may have resulted in the difficulty I have in actually falling asleep, in a small part. I say "in part" because I remember having issues with falling asleep when I was a teenager as well before I ever spent any amount of time actually thinking about sleep. If I had a lot going on I found it immensely difficult to fall asleep even if I was extremely tired because I just couldn't shut off my brain. I think that difficulty has increased now because I have even MORE going on in my life for my brain to focus on. Conditions have to be just right for me to fall asleep, darkness, right temperature, a little light white noise in the background, a calm and peaceful spirit. If I wake up in the middle of the night for something more than just using the bathroom it takes a good bit of time for me to go back to sleep. The white noise is important because any irregular sound no matter how quiet will wake me up or prevent me from getting to sleep. In our rental house last year when I was pregnant when we didn't have a ceiling fan for noise the sound of my own breathing would keep me awake (I am always slightly congested when pregnant). Brad would laugh at me and tell me it was all in my head. I say, of course it's in my head, where else would it be?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The absolute WORST job of a Mom

So here's a subject that may or may not interest you. If you aren't or have never been a parent then it probably won't. Potty-training, or I would say "potty-coaxing" because if it really truly were potty training then it would be over and done with quickly, is the bane of my existence as a mom. Potty-coaxing is almost neck and neck with getting kids to eat and only surpasses it as the worst job of a mom because of it's gross-ness and possibly slightly higher frustration level, which well nevermind, is actually due to gross-ness after all.

As most of you know I have a 4+ year old and a 2.5 year old. I have said for years now since Beya was born that eventually she would be potty-trained before Novan and I think that may actually be the case now that I have started Beya. Novan is still not potty-trained and when I take him for babysitting I still leave him in a pull-up for fear that he will have the babysitter changing his pants 3 times or peeing on their carpet. To this day, I still have to tell him to go use the potty when I see him dancing around. He does go by himself from time to time but usually only after he has leaked all over himself. I feel like I have tried everything in the book. I have spanked, yelled, bribed, done the chart thing, taken away privileges like using the computer and watching TV, sent him to his room, made him clean up himself, run him under the cold shower, and put him back in a cloth diaper. He just doesn't seem to be motivated by anything.

I know he doesn't do it to spite me or to be difficult. That much is apparent because when his pants do get too wet he goes to his room and gets new ones all by himself in hopes that I won't notice. Often I don't until I see that he has new ones on. He usually will do #2 in the potty just fine, UNLESS he still has his pull-up on from the night. I always try to get that thing off pronto before he goes in it but sometimes he does it before I wake. We go over and over and over and over and over the night before. "OK Novan, so what do you do when you wake up in the morning?" "Take my pull-up off" he says. "Ok and where do you go poop?" I ask. "In the potty." he says. I think the only reason he doesn't poop in it sometimes is because I get it off before he can. If he's in it when he's got the urge though, he goes. So when he does I stick him in an empty bathtub with a trash can and some wipes and tell him I am not cleaning poop anymore. I just started this one actually. He has had to clean himself twice after tantrums and crying of course. We will see if that sticks but I certainly am not betting anything by it. I have even tried for a long period of time to put him to bed with nothing on. Well I got sick of his room smelling like pee and washing sheets daily. He would wake up smelling head to toe of urine. It was disgusting and I think some form of child abuse to let my child lie in his own pee all night. Of course it fixed the pooping in the pull-up problem but created another equally distasteful problem.

He has even pooped in his pants on rare occasions. He is very ashamed when that happens but it only does happen because he tries to hold it too long. Usually with no pull-up on he goes just fine in the potty. Peeing in his pants is the worst though. It's never an all-out soaking episode but like I said before, he leaks because he is trying to hold it too long. I couldn't get that kid 100% potty-trained if my life depended on it. He is simply not motivated to stay dry. My laundry schedule revolves around when that kid runs out of pants. It's pretty rediculous. I know people are like "oh don't worry, he has to get potty-trained eventually, it's not like he's going to go to school in diapers!" Yeah right, and don't you tell me that other kids making fun of him is gonna motivate him either because that kid marches to the beat of his own drum just like Brad. The only thing that is gonna motivate him is the development of higher reasoning skills in which he understands that it is actually more comfortable to be in dry clothes and having to change his pants all the time actually takes MORE time away from what he wants to be doing than running to the toilet when he has to go and thereby staying dry. He operates like Brad who never does anything unless it makes logical sense in his head.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Children's Museum

This has been a long time coming. I have been wanting to document their comings and goings at the Children's Museum here in Winston-Salem but I have always been terrible at having a camera at the right times, actually I never have a camera but ever since I have started blogging I have managed to keep my camera handy. Go figure. Anyway, thanks to Gammy's Christmas gift of a year family pass the kids have been able to frequent this local kid wonderland and here are the pictures. Be ye warned! There are a LOT of them.

This is the Amazing Library, home to many costumes which of course is the kids' favorite part. What in the world is that over there lying on all those pillows?

Ah, now I see. This is Novan's favorite costume in the dress up area, actually, it's the ONLY costume he'll put on and he wears it the entire time he's in that particular area. We watched Bee Movie this weekend and now he has started trying to sting people with his stinger by backing up into them with his little tush in the air...pretty hilarious!

Beya of course loves the dress-up too and has usually tried on many different dresses by the time we are ready to move on to the next area.

The 'Build It' center with a way cool, uh, jungle gym I guess? Well it kinda makes you wish there was a great big adult sized one.

Mom! Lookit me!

Cool magnetic shape things for building. Beya finally figured them out.

Novan decides he wants in on this action. After Beya does all the work of course.

Gotta love those little girls so keen on helping other littler kids around. The little girl in the brown shirt helped Beya climb all over. Very sweet. No idea what Beya was doing here.

The Donut Factory, very cool, donuts travel a series of conveyor belts operated by kids turning several wheels.

The Big Donut for babies =)

Grocery Shopping, every kid wishes they could pull whatever they want off the shelf without Mom saying no.

In reality I actually wish they would skip the whole grocery store part because all they do is throw everything in sight into a basket and then I am stuck putting it all back when they're done. =P

Enchanted Forest, this it the bridge of the three billy goats gruff

Apparently Beya just notices there are trees everywhere and the ceiling is even decorated.

This is actually a weird display, I mean a cow you are supposed to pull on the teats in the middle of an enchanted forest?

Cabin of the Three Bears

This is not acutally a slide, it's a conveyor belt for dog bones but I suppose it works for little boys too.

Another terrific play area for babies, my little guy is so cute =) On a side note, isn't this outfit just the best? can you believe it is 30 years old? It was Brad's when he was a baby.

Beya examines an x-ray at Clifford's vet office.

Life-size clifford which I don't think Novan will actually be able to climb up.

Boat to Birdwell Island

Big giant climbing beanstalk. This is the very top.

And then on our way out we always have to sit on the alligator, and Novan always insists I have to take a picture. I think it's because when Brad took them he made Novan sit for a picture and now Novan thinks the world isn't right unless he's had his picture taken there.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happiness is a Choice

So lately (as in the last couple months) because of our current financial situation I have been quite an emotional roller coaster. We have finally run out of our cash reserves with the exception of our retirement accounts which I sincerely hope to not have to touch. This has made our situation somewhat dire as we have to depend on Brad's unpredictable income to pay our bills every month. Each month we somehow seem to squeak by with I am sure lots of help from our Heavenly Father.

We have been here before, in a new market of prospective clients trying to build Brad's reputation as an investment advisor. When Brad started this business in California we went through the same thing. It was a long hard 2 years of cutting our spending, prayer, and supplication, doing without and looking forward to the time when Brad would finally be the "go-to-guy" for financial services. We did see that year finally in 2007 and the 6 figure income did much to boost our confidence and pay off the debts we had accumulated while living on little to nothing. We also managed to save up the down payment that we used to buy the house we now own. We then made the decision to move back to NC to be closer to family and to be in a less expensive area. We managed to buy a house and then the economic crisis hit. Brad's client accounts were hit pretty hard and in consequence, our income. As people became more and more terrified of the market it became harder and harder to find new clients. And so, with our move here we have faced the dregs of financial stress and strain more than anyone realizes.

I don't write this to stress anyone else out or entice pity but to give you an idea of my mental state these past few months. I think it is safe to say that I have mired in my own self-pity. I have been difficult, anti-social, and probably pretty obnoxious to Brad who struggles to make money so that we can live a self-sufficient life.
Yesterday, the lesson in relief society was given by the Stake Relief Society president Sister Bills and I am sure that Heavenly Father was thinking of me when he inspired her to give us this lesson which focused on the idea of happiness and how it is a choice, not a state of mind that we have no control over. I remembered the chapter in Alma in which he glories in God over the conversion of so many of the Lamanites. Every time I read that chapter I can't help but experience a small measure of the joy that he must have had. Alma 21:27 says "Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness." I think the key words here are 'humble seeker' because happiness isn't just something that we can turn on and off in our mind but a result of our actions and if we are "humble seekers" we can take steps in our lives that will result in happiness such as service, prayer, listening to and doing uplifting things, and working to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I realized that I had ceased to do some of the things that had carried me through the previous months of financial strain. One simple thing that always made me happy was listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I haven't done that in months, actually I haven't listened to much of anything in the last couple months and I certainly haven't encouraged the Spirit into my life by all of my negative thoughts. I still was reading my scriptures but I had failed to prepare myself to recieve inspiration and to feel the spirit. I am sure I felt despair and simply didn't have faith that something as simple as listening to good music would lift my mood. I didn't give Heavenly Father any credit for having given us more than enough tools to achieve happiness. I relished in my own sad state and should have spent that energy doing things that would have made me happy.

So I am so thankful for the Church that I get to attend every week and thankful for Sister Bills for living by the Spirit so that she could impart a message that I so desparately needed to hear. So from now on I am going to be doing the things that will bring me happiness because happiness is a choice.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Baptism in Boone

I have a friend that served his mission in Spain and at my baptism he gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. In his talk he told the following story from his mission which he served in Spain:
Almost next to the ward building which he served in was a soccer stadium.  Well in Spain, as you know soccer or rather football is a BIG deal. Hundreds of thousands attend the games and it just so happens that the day of one convert's baptism there was a football game going on. As this individual came up out of the water in the font after being baptized a tremendous cheer went up from the neighboring stadium as obviously the home team had scored a goal. It could be heard from within the ward building. My friend said that it was perfect timing because he had always imagined that whenever someone is baptized a tremendous cheer can be heard in heaven as well.
I have always remembered this story and every time I witness a baptism I imagine in my head this great "cheer" that is heard in heaven. Today, Brad was able to baptize his college suitemate Zach.

So today we traveled to Boone, NC in order for Brad to be able to perform that ordinance. Zach has been in contact with Brad for sometime asking him various questions about the LDS faith. Brad was super excited about being able to baptize him.  I love to attend baptisms because it prompts me to reminisce about my own baptism. Our kids like baptisms too because they always think the font is an indoor swimming pool. =) I can't believe that it has been 7 years and I can't believe how wonderful my life is because of it. I never could have guessed how different my attitudes and ideas would be because of that choice I made.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Marriage: The Refiner's Fire

I can still remember meeting Brad for the first time in college and how amazed I was by him. That amazement still continues today. When I met him I thought almost immediately that he was going to do something really great. I just got that feeling and today I still think that. He is the most driven person I know. In psychology they talk about the personality characteristic of high motivation. They say that only 1% of the population actually has this characteristic and I would totally buy that. Most of us are procrastinators. We wait until the last minute, we hate the effort it takes to get started on something. A lot of the time we do the bare minimum to get the job done in a satisfactory fashion. Brad is like an energizer bunny that is in your face constantly. He is always looking for the next task and always getting things done way ahead of time.

In some ways his drive is absolutely wonderful and as many of you can probably attest, it can also be a huge pain in the rear, exasperating, and downright obnoxious. Trying to align myself to someone who is so beyond my level of functioning is seemingly impossible at times. We are so different. We reason differently so when we have a disagreement about something it takes quite a while for us to "meet in the middle" because we are just trying to understand each other's reasoning. Brad functions in his own sphere and it's like pulling teeth to get him to see things from my point of view because to him everything has to be logical. However, I have come to understand and respect the idea that not all logic is created equal and just because it makes perfect logical sense in my head does not mean it does in someone else's. Brad would not agree with that statement but nevertheless I stand by it, and I hope to live by it.

My marriage is freaking hard work. That is no lie; BUT and there is a huge BUT =) I have an appreciation that knows no bounds for Brad and for the differences that we have that seem insurmountable at times. They are not insurmountable though. In the 7+ years that we have been married we have climbed mountains and there is a companionship here that I want never to be parted from. Marriage is certainly not about being in love or simply "living together".  If you want the most out of it, it is about growing together and it is the sweat and tears that plunge us into the refiner's fire so that we can emerge steadfast and immovable in our committment to our spouse and to our God most of all. In short, were it not for that obnoxiously driven fanatic of a man that I married I would not be the person that I am today. I am glad for the huge differences between us, I wouldn't want an easy marriage. I don't know what kind of person I would be but I know I would certainly not be as close to where I want to be and because of that I am so thankful for a marriage and for a man that pushes me to my limits.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Zealous Mom

I suppose I could blog every day recounting what happened that day but I am afraid that would most likely bore me as well as you. It's not that every day is the same because there are always little blips on the radar but there is pretty much a routine that follows on most days. So, I thought I would let you know how my super exciting day goes.

I wake up anywhere from 6am to 7am. Iyov of course is the one that wakes me up so I go and nurse him for 20-30 minutes while the rest of the house is sleeping. During that time the other two wake up or are even often awake already themselves but they usually play in their room until they hear me up and about. About every other day I take a shower after I nurse Iyov and he plays on the floor sometimes happily but usually unhappily. I have taken to putting him in my closet to play so he doesn't bother anyone else and so I can enjoy my shower without hearing his customary screaming that starts about half-way through it. I then go into the kitchen to get everyone fed. Novan and Beya either like grits or oatmeal and/or cereal. Once or twice a week I make pancakes or french toast (which is a big winner with Novan) when I am feeling awake enough.

From that point I get a lot of whining that they want this or that. Novan lately always wants to play on the computer so he usually does that. I am generally trying to get Iyov and myself fed when this happens so usually I will turn cartoons on so I can get my breakfast in peace, or relative peace anyway. Iyov is usually attached to my hip during this whole process. I try, but do not always succeed in getting the dishwasher emptied so that the breakfast dishes don't start a pile in the sink. I make smoothies mostly for Brad and I and later have some toast or a bagel.

Once everyone is fed I am either in the kids room while they play and Iyov is content or cleaning up something that didn't get cleaned up the night before. I am changing diapers, getting children dressed, picking up the living room, blowdrying my hair if I took a shower, getting dressed (although recently I have lived in sweatpants if that can be considered getting dressed), or checking my e-mail.

Depending upon when Iyov got up, he takes a morning nap somewhere between 8 and 9 am. I spend about 20 minutes nursing him and putting him to bed. While nursing him I read about 3 chapters of scripture thanks to my IPhone which is much easier than reading the paper copyI can even highlight and make notes

Then I am focused on whatever the days tasks are. Sometimes laundry, sweeping or mopping, cleaning up the kids room, helping Beya change her clothes for the 3rd time already, taking out trash or compost, cleaning up my closet because Beya has taken all my shoes and/or skirts out again, or sometimes I just sit on the couch and watch some cartoons with Beya climbing all over me. If I am planning on taking them somewhere after Iyov's nap I am getting them and myself ready. I usually go to the Children's Museum each Monday thanks to a year family pass from my Mother-in-law although the last 2 weeks I have not gone because the bitter cold has made me somewhat of a hermit. Usually once a week I am planning the menu for the week during Iyov's nap and making my grocery list.

Iyov wakes up usually between 10:30 and 11:30. If we are going somewhere then we set off immediately. If we are home, I start getting them lunch 11-11:30. After all they do eat their breakfast around 7. I spend a lot of time holding Iyov I realize or trying to play with him to keep him happy. This generally takes place in one of the kids' bedrooms. Everyone is fed by 12 if we are not out and about. I often play with the kids after lunch, building train tracks, reading a book, or helping Beya with her clothing fetish =). I think about feeding myself but it generally doesn't happen until after kids go to sleep.

I try to get everyone to take their naps around the same time. Novan and Beya always do and I start getting them in bed at 12:45pm. Beya sleeps in my bed and Novan in his room because if they are in the same room sleeping just won't happen. Lots of moms are quite in awe when I tell them Novan still takes naps at 4 1/2 but he does and on occasion he won't sleep but he will usually succomb when confronted with a dark and warm and quiet room. Usually their (Novan and Beya's) naps are 3 hours but sometimes less depending on if they slept in that morning at all.

I try to get Iyov to sleep right after that so that everyone is in bed by 1:05 because at 1:12 I am starting the Magnum Opus Financial's broadcast segment. Brad sends me the copy around 1:05 to read before I broadcast. I start the broadcast right at 1:15. This takes about 10 or 15 minutes. If Iyov did not go to sleep at 1 then after the broadcast I try to get him in bed. Again he spends time in my closet if he is still awake so the broadcast doesn't have a screaming kid in the background. Perhaps you are a little sketchy on the closet deal but it's actually quite pleasant in there. I like to hang out in there myself to get 5 minutes peace from time to time =) It' all cushiony carpeted and it's always warm. Plus, Iyov likes to chew on my shoes in there.

So once everyone is in bed and the segment is done I have my time. I usually do my once a week grocery shopping at this timeb by myself while Brad is upstairs working and the kids are in bed. If not I find something to eat first and then I may check e-mail, facebook, blog, read a book, watch a little TV but by 3pm I have to think about dinner. It may seem a little early to some people but I have learned that if I start early and get things prepared like chopping veggies, defrosting things, getting ingredients onto the counter, the actual dinner-making process goes a lot smoother because that time for me is rather chaotic when all 3 kids are awake and demanding something from me. I also like to eat around 5:30-6. I also spend more time making dinner than most people because I make everything from scratch. It's called being on a budget =). I like to make good stuff, and I don't mind taking the extra time to make something really yummy like empanadas or blintzes. When meals require cooking multiple things at different times, it really takes a lot of time so it pays to prepare early.

I like to watch online episodes of the TV shows I like while preparing because I never am available to watch TV when they are actually on plus think commercials raise my blood pressure too much, no patience =). I like House, NCIS, and Bones and I love that I can just plug my laptop into the overhead sound system and watch it on my counter in the kitchen.

So Iyov is usually the first to wake up although the end time of his nap is rather unpredictable. He sometimes sleeps an hour, sometimes 3 so I can never count on him to be sleeping when I need him to be. If he takes a short nap then he will take another short one later in the after noon around 5 or so, otherwise that's it for the day and he's in bed around 7:30. From 4 to about 6:30 I am making dinner, on occasion getting Iyov down for a 3rd nap, eating dinner, trying to get the kids to eat dinner, and then cleaning up after dinner. Phew, just thinking about that exhausts me. It is by far the most hectic part of the day.

Afterwards I am doing the before bed routine. The kids are almost always watching some TV at this time as the day has left me rather exhausted and I just need them to sit still so I can catch up on cleaning up after them because while I am doing the dinner thing I am pretty much in a zone and the other parts of the house suffer their frequent onslaught of destructive behavior. I get their PJ's out, rush their teeth and they may take a bath. I do not do daily baths for them, especially in the winter when they really don't get dirty because they aren't outside much. We are also a family of dry winter skin and baths just exacerbate that problem. By 8p kids are usually in bed. Iyov sometimes isn't if he had a particularly late nap but he is by 9. Then lately I have been going up to the office to help him with whatever needs doing. Lately I have been working on the taxes and then by 11pm I am in bed, or at least I try, sometimes it is a bit later.

So there you have it, a day in my life, at least a routine day. Not all days are this way if I have something out of the house that needs doing. Summers are notoriously non-routine because we like to be outside a lot. I am not bored by any means, there are new little things to experience every day like what new article of clothing Beya will try to put on, or what new thing Novan will be lining up in his room, or how much closer Iyov gets to crawling. I do love it, I love to be a mom, and to take care of my family, it brings me a great deal of satisfaction and I know that one day I am going to miss this.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Old Houses

So as most of you know I live in a very old house. It was built in 1924. And is a continuing project. When I was on the market for a house in March of 08 I looked at dozens of homes. My secret hope was that I would be able to buy a home in Ardmore but the reality was that all of the homes that were big enough for our needs were out of our price range.

Towards the end of my looking I started to accept the fact that I was going to have to buy a newer home (1990+) in a newer neighborhood. While perusing a real estate magazine I came accross this house and saw it was a duplex (2 bed 1 bath downstairs and 1 bed 1 bath upstairs. I thought it might work because the upstairs 1 bed could be Brad's office but didn't really like the fact that there were only 2 beds downstairs but I thought I should take a look at it anyway and maybe the bedrooms would be large enough for me to cope. Well, when I walked in I saw that there in fact were3 bedrooms downstairs! I was so psyched and well we'll just say, I was possibly blinded to the condition of the house by my sincere desire to own an older home and this one was in the neighborhood I wanted for the price I wanted. I grew up in a very old home and my dad was always making repairs so I suppose I didn't really see all of its issues because that's what I was used to.

Well you all know how that went down. Even with all of the hardship I am more than thrilled to be living in an old house. There are still projects that need to be done of course and to me there is just something great about that. I am sure that is because my Dad always had a project going, well multiple projects actually and was infamous for leaving one project half done to go work on another project. I thought I would include some before and after pictures here because I thought readers might appreciate the differences. There are about a million improvements but I that might get kinda boring looking at after a while. The ones that say they were taken 03/24/2006 were actually taken in September of 2009.

I love the idea that there have been many families before me living in my house. Old houses have this smell about them, the old wood perhaps, or maybe it's the plaster that just gives me a good feeling, a lived in feeling, a feeling of home. I would venture to guess that it reminds me of my childhood home so it just feels like home when I smell it. Old homes also have little eccentricities as well. Way back before the whole burst pipe business Brad and I were under the house looking for a leak in one of the pipes and we saw a tree stump under there, yes still rooted in the ground. The builders of the house just chopped that tree down and built the house right over the stump. I thought it was hilarious (Brad, not so much) and I could just picture how that would have happened. I have also found lots of old things like a receipt from 1940 something for oil to fill the oil burning furnace the house used to have. I know plenty of people who would never in a million years live in an old house. I am sure they think I'm crazy but, seriously, it's hardwired in me or something. I hope I don't ever have to live in a new house.