Friday, May 30, 2008

A happy ending to a bitter battle

Dylan and I have been at war recently.  Nothing atypical of your run of the mill 2 year old and exasperated mother.  He has simply decided he no longer requires naps--except that he does.  He desperately does.  Not only can he open doors on his own, he can also remove childproof door knob covers.  So, there is no containing him.

So here's how nap time goes.  I tell him, "Dylan its time for a nap" (mind you, I have already given him a 15 minute, 10 minute, 5 minute and 2 minute warning), to which he promptly replies, "No!" and then shouts, "I donwanna!" all the way up the stairs while crying.  Soon after I leave his bedroom, the crying stops.

About ten minutes later, I hear his doorknob turn and say very loudly and meanly, "Dylan, get in bed!"  Another ten minutes go by and the door opens about a half an inch, enough for me to see one of his eyes peeking.  So I lumbar loudly towards the door, it shuts quickly and I hear his little feet run for his bed.  Then in about five minutes, the door starts to open again and I charge into his room, pick him up, give him a light swat on the butt I doubt he can even feel through his diaper (and to which he replies with a violent scream) and tell him, "Go to sleep!" while placing him in his bed.  A few short minutes later, I hear him dump out of his bucket of cars, which he proceeds to play quietly with for an hour and a half before emerging from his room, faking a yawn and giving me a big, all too charming smile.  

So why go through this little dance if he doesn't even nap?  Because I keep thinking he might.  By 5:30 every night he becomes unbearably grumpy or has trouble keeping his eyes open.  He has even fallen off his stool while eating dinner before because he fell asleep mid bite!

So today, it was about 12:45, and we had been through the first 20 minutes of this little production when I thought, "This is incredibly stupid.  He's been up since 6am, he's been yawning for half an hour, he's been running around all morning, I know he's tired."  So I open his door (which sends him running for his bed--as if that's ever solved anything), pull up his quilt and sit down on the floor next to his bed.  I say nothing else, but just start to stroke the side of his face and sing.  After 4 or 5 primary songs, he was fast asleep and snoring just a little bit (he's had a slightly stuffy nose the last couple days).  

He's never had any trouble going to sleep on his own.  The first day we sleep trained him, he cried for an hour before he finally gave out and went to sleep for a nap.  That night, he cried for 30 minutes before going to sleep.  The first time we decided not to get him out of the crib during the night, he woke up once, cried for 20 minutes, went to sleep and has pretty much slept through every night without interruption since then.  He can soothe himself to sleep just fine.  But if he needs a little attention to wind down in the afternoon and go to sleep and it means a better evening for all of us (not to mention not having to play this silly game every day), I'm happy to give it.  And I'm happy to have him asleep!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Joy. . .and not so much joy

I was telling Doug this weekend that a lot of times people look at me funny if I tell them that I remember my grandma's funeral as a time of joy.

He remembers well what an emotional wreck I was in the weeks leading up to my trip home that fall.  One night, trying to be goofy and make me laugh, he made a comment about my button nose and then started singing, "Frosty the Snowman". I burst into tears, thinking about how I wouldn't get to decorate Grandma's tree and watch old Christmas cartoons at her house any more--so many of my fondest Christmas time memories revolved around her warm little home.  

So, make no mistake, I was sad.  For me.  I knew how much I would miss her.  I was home for more than two weeks when she died, and I remember that time, more than any thing else, joyfully.  Whatever her flaws, my grandmother had led such a life in how she treated people that we could spend that time in unity, celebrating a life well led and the love we all felt because of her.  So many people that week told my mom and aunts and uncles, "She was my best friend" or "She was my mom's best friend", and I'm sure it was true every single time.  She had been a wonderful mother, a phenomenal grandmother, and a true and steady friend.  In her wake she left almost nothing but love and appreciation and happiness.  It was exactly what a time of mourning should be for a family.

All too often, that's not what happens when someone dies, even someone who is deeply loved by those around them.  As human beings, we are full of flaws, contradictions and pride.  I have seen too many families where the result of losing a loved one is a trail of broken hearts and unanswered questions, and consequently fractured individuals and fractured families.  All too often, we can't get beyond ourselves enough to heal those wounds before we leave this earth.

In the book "Xenocide", by Orson Scott Card, the main character is Andrew/Ender Wiggin.  He comes to a world to speak the death of a father (a violent, abusive man), and in the process he heals the family and becomes a part of it.  The mother is a brilliant scientist, and all of her children follow in her footsteps and become scientists as well, save for one: Olhado, her middle boy.  He marries young to a beautiful woman, takes a job in a local mill, and spends nearly all of his time simply being a happy husband and father.  When it becomes apparent, through various events, that he is just as brilliant as his siblings, who define themselves so strongly by their professions and academic achievements, his brother asks Olhada why he didn't pursue the same path.  His response?  "I thought: If I could just make a good family, if I could just learn to be to other children, their whole lives, what Andrew was, coming so late into ours, then that would mean more in the long run, it would be a finer accomplishment than anything I could ever do with my mind or my hands."

He saw something better and he went for it. Not to spite the father who did him wrong, not to prove that he wasn't the same kind of man as the one who raised him.  He did it because it was good, and meaningful, so the world he came from didn't matter as much as the one he created.  In mortal life, we waste so much time and energy on anger, disappointment and frustration.  We spend so much time trying to justify, or find some retribution.  What does it matter that our mother or father or brothers or sisters did things we wish they hadn't or failed to do things we wished they had?  How does wallowing in self-pity or justified anger serve us or our spouses or our children?  Too much time spent focusing on what we didn't like in life often ends up hurting us or our children or spouses in ways that are perhaps different, but often no less severe.  

We live in a fallen world.  The people we love will occasionally (or perhaps often) hurt us.  Get over it.  I don't mean that we should suppress our feelings and not work through them, I don't mean that our feelings of neglect, abuse, disappointment or anger aren't understandable, but we are better off working towards forgiveness and bettering ourselves than seeking justice or punishment for those who have done us wrong.

I guess that's part of why the thought of my grandmother starting all this is powerful to me.  From what I can gather, she didn't have a world class father.  She spoke endlessly about her mother and brothers and sisters, but I only remember her mentioning her father once.  From what I have gathered, he was not always kind to his family, and was a bit of a drinker.  I give my grandmother much credit that all I heard about her family were the happy memories of her childhood and the continued friendships throughout her life with her mother and siblings--I was told nothing about a stern father and frequent poverty, and most people weren't.  She married a good man that she loved, had a successful marriage and raised her own happy family and moved on in life.  

Its much more effective in life to forget about what you're owed and focus instead on what you can give.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Tahoe Trip

                                  This is a glimpse of the Lake from Emerald Bay.  Its smaller than Flathead   in surface area, but the average depth is 1000 ft--so it holds WAY more water.
                                    I don't know the name of these beautiful falls just above Emerald Bay on   the south west side of the Lake, but they're in full spring glory.
               A lot of the lake is surrounded by cliffs and peaks like this.  Those clouds were               everywhere.
LOL. I just realized Doug looks kind of angry in this picture.  He's freezing.  This is about 4:30pm on Saturday up on Donner Pass.  It started snowing minutes later.  You can see a giant rock wall behind him, along with one of the snowsheds (necessary for protecting passing trains from snowfall and avalanches during the winter).  Both were constructed by Chinese rail workers in the late 19th century.

We dropped our kids with Amanda on Thursday morning and after Doug finished a quick meeting at McDermont, we headed north.  It always amazes me how short a five or six hour drive can be with no kids in the car--no frequent potty breaks or needs for snacks, with uninterrupted conversation nearly the whole way.  [Ok, so maybe occasionally we interrupted ourselves to sing pieces of Flight of the Concords songs or sing along to the iPod, but that's not the same thing.] And all weekend I was amazed at how light my purse is when I do not have to have on me at all times an extra diaper, a small case of wipes, and various assorted snacks of the goldfish-graham cracker-granola bar variety!

We had a late lunch at In-N-Out (been a while--so delicious) in Placerville, then continued on up Hwy 50 to South Lake Tahoe.  We arrived at the Marriott Timber Lodge at about 4:30 (check in time being 4pm--not too shabby) and I immediately remembered how much I like Marriott's.  I've really liked all the ones we've stayed at, and been impressed with the staff every single time.  I have also come to believe that valet parking, though perhaps overpriced, is a really great part of staying at a nice hotel.  We got everything into our rooms and then went downstairs to wander outside.  The Heavenly Gondola was literally just outside the door, and on the other side of it is a large shopping center called, of course, Heavenly Village.  After realizing how butt-freezing cold it was outside, we walked over to the theater and caught a late matinee of the new Indiana Jones (side note: great flick.  Just all the classic fun of Indiana Jones.  Lots of nudge-wink completely-lacking-in-subtlety references to older Indiana and other Lucas Spielburg movies that was all quite funny).  

Unfortunately, though we had planned to spend most of our trip doing day hiking and just lounging at the lake, the weather turned drastically from the week before, as it is wont to do in high country spring.  Last weekend, it had been in the high 70s and even hit the 80s up there. I'm afraid for all of our stay it was in the 40s and usually raining.  So what did we do?  What any reasonable couple would do:  went to a lot of movies and did a lot of driving.  Ha ha.  We did go to two more movies (Prince Caspian and Iron Man, both fantastic), which makes 3 movies in one weekend.  That's as many movies as I go to in a year, usually.  And I don't regret it one bit.  It was really nice to snuggle down in a dark theater with a big tub of popcorn and watch good movies.  Especially without having to say "Keilana, if you want to talk you need to whisper," every 10 minutes.  

We also went up to the Nevada State Railroad museum in Carson City.  Its a very small museum, but has some beautiful old classic trains and a lot of amazing pictures and maps of the process of getting  the railroad into and through Nevada and the Sierra Nevada mountains.  All the trains they have are older ones, from the 1880s thru the early 1900s, mostly.  Several of them were used in the movie Union Pacific.  

We did drive around the lake a couple times and really enjoyed some of the views from the dry warmth of our car, stopping occasionally to take some picture or climb to a better view.  I was bummed we didn't have appropriate clothing for hiking in the cold and wet, but judging by the cloud cover, we probably wouldn't have gotten very good views from the peaks at all.

We drove up to Truckee on Saturday afternoon and started to head up Donner Pass to try and get some shots of the snow sheds.  We got a few, but decided to turn around when it started to snow pretty steadily.  Heading up Donner Pass in a potential snowstorm just sounded like a bad idea.  So we tried again the next day, earlier in the day.  We checked out in the morning and headed north again.  This time it was clear and sunny, and actually fairly warm down in Truckee where the Emigrant Gap Park and Museum are.  We went through the museum and watched the Donner Party film "The Longest Winter".  It was just depressing (not to mention slightly creepy).  I'm pretty sure I would starve to death and even let my children starve to death before resorting to eating another human being's flesh.  :(

We drove over Donner Pass this time, and it impressed me that anyone made it over that rocky, unfriendly terrain with wagons intact.  It was a beautiful drive.  We made one last side trip, down Emigrant Gap road in search of a camp that Doug went to with his family several times when they were living in Sacramento (their ward did campouts at it).  After a lot of driving on a very narrow Forest Service Rd, a couple wrong stops, and a rather leisurely walk through very, very wet woods beyond locked gates, we did indeed find it.  Even in the rain and cold (lots of large patches of snow still on the ground), it made me want to go camping.

Most of the rest of our trip was just driving, but it was a delight to pick up our kids last night.  Keilana talked all the way home (and then for 30 minutes after we got home), telling us all about everything she did while we were gone.  Dylan didn't say much, but did do a lot of smiling and laughing.  Of course, the answer to every question I asked was either "No" or "go".  Always with a smile.  They are both napping now, recovering from their own rather eventful weekends, and I think we're all glad to be home again.  Even if its raining here, too.

Tag! You're it!

I've been away from the computer for a while, and just realized that Sam tagged me in her last blog, so here goes.

Here's how to play:  List 3 joys, 3 of your fears, 3 of your goals, 3 current obsessions/collections and 3 random, surprising facts about yourself.  At the end of your post, tag 5 more people.

3 Joys:
1.  Rainy days spent cuddled up inside reading books or watching movies.  There is something so cozy and delightful about an overcast sky and the steady drip of rain when you're all snuggled up in the warmth inside.  Same goes for quiet, still, snowy days.
2.  Being in the mountains--somehow the dirt and pine needles under foot and the smell of pine and fir trees and a crackling campfire always puts me immediately at ease.  Maybe its the lack of other smells, other sounds.  Walking in the woods makes my heart happy.
3.  A sleeping baby--whether my own or one I've momentarily borrowed.  The best sleep medicine in the world is holding a peaceful, sleeping baby on your chest and sitting in a comfortable rocking chair.  With a silent, cherubic little baby all cuddled up on me, I can't not be happy.

3 Fears
1.  Chipping teeth.  I'm always paranoid about the thought of running into things or tripping and chipping my teeth again.  I also have an irrational fear of my children running into coffee tables, bars on the playground, etc, and chipping their own teeth.
2.  Car wrecks.  Every time I see someone blow through a stoplight or stop sign or pass in a stupid way or place, it makes me edgy for the rest of the day.  I hate driving hwy 137 because it seems to be populated with the world's stupidest truck drivers and I am nearly hit by some idiotic  semi-truck driver on a fairly regular basis.
3.  Losing one of my children.   When we are in a public place, particularly if its crowded, I nearly panic if I suddenly lose sight of one of the kids even for a moment.  Flying with my kids if very nerve-wracking for me, but not because of them.  My mind starts racing with thoughts of who could be in the airport and where they might be headed, and I rarely take my hands off the kids during lay overs because of that.

3 Goals
1.  Read my scriptures daily.  I used to do it in the morning, perhaps I should try that again. I always think I'm going to do it after the kids go to bed and its nice and quiet in the house, but all too frequently I fail to because I'm so tired and brain dead by then.
2. Clean my blinds.  Because of our proximity to major roads, all the big trucks in and out across the road for the construction of McDermont, and the railroad and packing houses, we get a lot of dust.  My blinds desperately need to be cleaned, and it is one of the only chores I hate worse than laundry.  
3.  Get Dylan potty-trained by summer's end.  I don't know how this will be accomplished, since it's already almost June and he seems to have zero interest.  But somehow I will make it happen--I will figure out a way!
3 current obsessions/collections.
1. Hot Wheels.  It is difficult for me to pass a checkout stand and not purchase a small car or two.  Dylan's collection of cars steadily grows much bigger than it ever need be because he has passed his obsession on to me.
2. Trains.  Again, this is an adopted obsession.  At first I thought Doug's train fixation was kind of funny, but I'm afraid the longer it goes on, the more interested I become and on our weekend trip to Tahoe, we drove up to the Nevada State Railroad museum in Carson City at my request.  There is just something very cool about trains and railroads and they have a fascinating and colorful history.
3.  Orson Scott Card.  I've liked him since the first time I read Ender's Game as an 8th grader, but I've come to enjoy his fiction so much that lately its all I want to read (yes, me, the girl who always spoke of sci-fi with great disdain).  I also enjoy his online essays and reviews.  I wish I were intelligent enough to command the kind of skill that he does.  At any rate, I enjoy that he gets the wheels turning in my own head, even if they'll never turn as fast as the ones in his.

3 Random, surprising facts about myself
1.  I can curl the third toe of my right foot without curling any of my other toes.  It has been speculated that this is perhaps due to tendon damage incurred during multiple bad ankle sprains on that foot.  Can't say for sure, since I can't remember if I had this ability before the sprains or not.
2. I like both bugs and lizards, with the exceptions being cockroaches and horseflies.  This doesn't surprise many guys, but women often find it odd.  But I enjoy catching bugs and checking them out and photographing them.  I find the insect world endlessly fascinating.
3. I have a somewhat subversive sense of humor and often don't deal well with authority.  That is something about myself I have always tried to conceal, but its true.  I have trained myself to respect genuine, righteous authority and even to hold it sacred, but I still have very emotionally (and occasionally physically) violent response to what I perceive as unjust authority or abuse of authority.  

Ok, I tag. . .um. . .the Clark girls I suppose.  Looks like Sam already tagged everybody else I would tag.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chef Keilana!

Keilana got this set (along with a cookbook) from my mom for her second birthday.  Its gotten a LOT of use since then.  Yesterday she came up stairs wearing the whole ensemble and said, "Mommy, I'm ready to cook sketti with you."  When I told her it wasn't quite time to make dinner yet, she said, "Cooking with Chef Pig Keilana!"  Her favorite TV show is Word World, and pig is always the Chef.  So now she seems to think that Chef anything must also involve Pig.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So lucky, so blessed

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who's having a particularly hard time in life right now.  After we talked for a couple of hours, she thanked me and said, "I knew I'd feel better if I could just talk to you; I knew you'd understand."  I was grateful for the trust and confidence she had in me--very few things bring me as much satisfaction and happiness as being able to meet another's emotional needs--but I'm not sure I do understand.  I have enough intellectual and emotional wherewithal to empathize on a somewhat intellectual level, but I'm not sure that means that I truly understand emotionally what it is she's going through.  I have experienced some of the same feelings and challenges, but at a much different age and stage of life, and that makes a big difference.

The fact is, I think my life is pretty easy.  Doug and I were talking the other night and I got off on this tangent about how I think I used to be nicer.  I used to, as my Grandma was fond of saying, "attract a lot of stray puppies".   My closer friends certainly didn't always understand why I put the time and energy into some of the people that I did.  I had lots of friends and acquaintances who called me "Sunshine" and one friend--my relationship with whom made no sense to anyone who knew both of us because our opinions and beliefs on pretty much everything were 180* apart--used to frequently tell me that I would "glow".  He somewhat begrudgingly admitted that that was a compliment.  At the time, that seemed odd to me because that was a point in my life that I viewed as rather difficult, but the more I thought about it, the more that made sense.  I struggled a lot and was challenged a lot, and so I had to rely very much on the Lord and made a great effort to do so--to pray consistently, to listen to the Spirit for answers and comfort, to do all the things I should always be doing but often fail to.  I had to either try harder or quit, so I tried harder.

Trials and challenges and heartaches have not been absent from my life the last five years.  In fact, many of the same ones I had 6 or 8 years ago are still very much a part of my reality.  But they are not the same kind of challenge they used to be.  Part of it is just growing up and maturing and learning how to handle disappointments and set backs and a broken heart, but much more of it is my marriage.  Having a successful and rewarding intimate relationship that is happy, balanced, consistent and reliable makes all my problems or trials in life seem much smaller.  Even when difficulties abound, it is relatively easy to be happy when I have someone in my life to love deeply and who loves me deeply, where there is mutual trust and respect.  Consequently, I don't have to be as consistent in all those other hugely important things in order to be happy and content, so I'm probably not as nice as I once was.  I don't think I'm as patient as I used to be.  

I'm spoiled.  This is simply a fact I have to accept about myself.  Sure, we live paycheck to paycheck and when we do anything fun its usually  because work is picking up the tab, but we do get to do all those fun things just the same.  My kids are busy, but relatively easy children.   I have a nice, air conditioned (thank goodness) home.  I have great friends.  When something does go wrong in life, I have a tremendous support system I can rely on, something many people don't have.  When the choice was sink or swim, of course I swam--who wouldn't?  But when the choice is swim or lounge on a float, I have a tendency to pick the latter, I'm afraid.  

Being blessed is not an excuse to be lazy--or lazier than I otherwise would be, anyway.  I express gratitude to my family and friends often, but I am probably not as diligent in thanking the Lord as I ought to be.  One of my favorite people at BYUH was Brother Kongaika, the president of student life at the university and a man I like to refer to as "the Tongan Santa Claus"--he had a great round belly and a huge, friendly smile that rarely left his face.  One afternoon, a group of about a half a dozen of us were working at the Stake Welfare Farm and he started joking about wards serving a free lunch after service projects.  "We work all day and lunch is 'free'!" he laughed.  Then he continued, "But that's how it is, really, right?  We work day in and day out but could never earn our reward.  We work all day, but in the end salvation is free.  The air we breathe is a gift."   

That is one of my fondest memories, because in a place like BYU-Hawaii where you are so busy and the Spirit dwells so frequently, it is becomes easy to take it for granted.  To take for granted that amongst 2300 students, more than 60 different countries and cultures are represented, and yet all those individuals live together peacefully, with love and respect for each other, genuine friendships.  It became easy to take for granted that I could see the temple from the front door of my apartment and walk there in literally less than two minutes.  To take for granted that if I needed bus fare to get to a doctor's appointment or we were out of food, even if we were broke that need would be met.  I was grateful for Brother Kongaika's reminder, because moments earlier I had only been weeding a taro patch and salivating over the ripe mangos hanging in front of me, but as soon as he said it, I was doing something much more important--I was serving the Lord, trying to give back at best a penny to a debt I never can repay.  And because of his reminder, I did so with a grateful heart.  I was about six months pregnant with Keilana at that point, so a few years have passed now, and when I stopped to think about it, I marvel at how blessed we have been. And I am grateful.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another list. . .

I'm grateful for:

*Keilana's proclivity for ditching her shoes, like myself and my father before me.

*swimming pools (104 in May? you've got to be kidding me)

*health insurance

*finding cute clothes on killer clearance deals

*flip flops and Crocs


*Doctors who are good at what they do and don't talk to me like I'm an idiot


*Clean floors

*Double strollers

*Pledge--oh how it makes my piano shine!

*City parks

*Good children's books

*Pictures of home

*the internet (thank you, Mr. Gore!)

*stupid movies that make me laugh

*the smell of jasmine on a warm night



*oak trees

*baby wipes

*disposable diapers

*good books (and time to read them)

*people who have good senses of humor about themselves

*a fun job

*Keilana's verbal skills


*latex gloves (for keeping my hands free of kitten poop!)

*clean drinking water

*air conditioning

*solar panels

*Dylan's bellybutton obsession

*free furniture (thanks for the mattress, Christa!)

*girly little girl stuff

*good friends, near and far

Friday, May 16, 2008

The perils of a new bed

Last week we finally got Keilana a new bed. . .well, I guess technically I should say we got her on a real mattress, since I haven't actually put up the bed yet.  Anyway, we got her on a twin bed, so i finally took our crib down for the first time in nearly 4 years and put Dylan in the toddler bed.  For the most part, its been a very easy transition, as he loves it (especially since there's a big race car on the top) and is happy to sleep there.  Last night Doug and I were sitting downstairs talking when we heard a tremendous THUD! right above us.  When I went to check on Dylan, sure enough he had fallen out of bed.  However, he didn't seem to mind.  When I picked him up to put him back in bed, he sat up enough to pull his quilt up and went right back to sleep.  Its nice to have at least one good sleeper in the family! 

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bed Bugs

Amazing what a good nights rest will do!  Dylan slept all night last night and Keilana stayed in her own bed all night, so I actually slept and so did they.  We all woke up much happier and ready to play.  While Doug was showering, they decided they wanted to snuggle up together in Keilana's bed, and they looked so cute, I couldn't help but take a few pictures.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sometimes you just wanna break!

I cannot emphasize enough how excited I am to be going to Lake Tahoe in a couple of weeks.  Of course, it could be a hotel room in Fresno or a tent in the woods for all I care, so long as I get away from my life for a few days. 

My kids are making me nuts.  I don't know how those homesteader women survived--out there all alone day after day, with their children every waking and sleeping moment and no adults to talk to.  I tell ya, its no wonder that beating children was more common back then! ;) J/K (mostly, anyway).  If I ignore Keilana for a mere five minutes (to, oh, let's say write a blog), she has a melt down.  So its been rather difficult to get just basic household chores done, since I hate some of them anyway and listening to an almost-four-year-old scream the whole  time makes them so much more unpleasant.  Dylan has learned four or five new words in the last couple of days, so he finally seems to be picking up language quickly now, and yet he has taken to grunting constantly, "Uh, uh, uh, uh" and pointing all day long.  Its so annoying!!!  

Yesterday, he refused to take a nap.  Then last night at about six, while I was trying to eat my dinner, he grabbed a blanket, crawled up on my lap and fell asleep in about two minutes.  He didn't seem much interested in waking up, so I made the mistake of just letting him go to bed.  He rose bright eyed and bushy tailed at 3am.  He allowed me to get away with putting in Bob the Builder and then Cars, rather than play with him, but he would get mad and scream if I went upstairs.  So I got very little sleep--especially since until 3am, Keilana was in our bed.  

She has been getting in our bed every single night for the last several months.  She's also started insisting that she have the door open and the hallway light on when she's in her own bedroom.  This wouldn't be such a big deal, except she is and has always been a very busy and restless sleeper.  She moves constantly, wakes up a lot and tries to sleep sideways (and she's getting tall enough--45" and counting!--that even in a king sized bed that's becoming a problem).

So its been weeks since I've had a decent, uninterrupted night of sleep.  Of course, again that wouldn't be so bad except that napping is nearly impossible (at the very least dangerous)  with my oldest monkey unsupervised in the house while I sleep.  That wouldn't even be so bad, as I've had times in my life where I have been far more sleep-deprived (for example, nearly all of high school), but I'm afraid that I'm to that point where I'm so sleepy that if I close my eyes I get dizzy.  But I've discovered I kinda like that feeling--all floaty and weightless.  Makes me empathize a bit more with people who like to get high.  I'm always worried that if I do it too long I will pass out and fall over on the floor, though.  

If I had nothing to do but tend to my currently overly-ignored children, this would all be quite tolerable and non-problematic.  Unfortunately, my husband is gone all the time, I have a job, a fairly major calling I need to stay on top of, and I really ought to get my visiting teaching done soon (since I have 3 inactive sisters and one who also has a husband who's often MIA and four children, one of them a very-high demand autistic daughter, getting it done is a little important).

And its not just kids.  I've been sick a lot lately, making the fatigue and sleepiness that much more annoying, being interspersed with frequent headaches.  That makes everything else seem much more taxing that it should.  And sometimes the people we love just make us a little nuts and we need a break from them.  I am so grateful that I will have four days away from everything, where I won't really have to think about my calling, my kids, my friends, my job, Doug's job, his calling, either of our families (we love them, I think we'd just prefer not to talk about them for a while) and all of the 9,000 other things it feels like we're juggling right now.  Actually, one day would probably due, but I'll take four!  I know I'm a little spoiled, but I've decided I'm okay with that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Curls and Mother's Day

So here's my little princess all ringlets and pinks.  This was taken before I got her ringlets all twirled right so that they were all going the same direction, but you get the idea.  She thought it was beautiful.

Mother's Day is always a day that reminds me how blessed I am.  I've had a life filled with strong, wonderful women and now have beautiful children of my own.

I am grateful for my own mother.  Whatever her faults as a mother or a person, I think I can safely say that none of her children has ever truly doubted that they were deeply loved and cherished by her, or felt that they weren't a top priority in her life.  She is so energetic and hard-working, which I so admire.  As a mother, I appreciate now more than I ever did before her patience for and devotion to her children.   I am grateful that I inherited her goofy sense of fun, her love of children and her down-to-earth attitude.  Many of the things I love most about myself are a direct result or a reflection of the mother that she has been to me, and I can't ever thank her enough for that.  And when her children grew up and didn't need as much mothering, she transitioned wonderfully into one of the world's greatest grandmas.  She loved me enough to have expectations.  She loved me enough to let me bear the consequences of my own actions.  She loved me enough to say, "No" sometimes, but to always say "yes" if she possibly could.  She gave me both boundaries and options--a difficult balance to reach as a parent.

I'm grateful for a wonderful mother-in-law, who loved me almost instantly (despite only meeting me a few weeks before my wedding) and has always treated me as one of her own (actually, "her own" would say she's always treated me better than them;)  ).   She has been a wonderful support to my husband and I throughout our marriage and been a great grandma to our kids.  It sometimes seems to me that she's been asked to endure more than her fair share of trials in life, but has always amazed me with her devotion to the Lord.  She has been a tremendous example to me of righteous perseverance even--no, especially--in the face of adversity.  I consider her not only family, but one of my friends and love having the opportunity to just sit and chat with her sometimes.  She's a great person.

And who doesn't know what love and respect I have for my grandmothers?  Grandma Gilbert was one of my closest friends, and I miss her terribly.  She was so much fun with her continual hunt for a great bargain in life, always with a pocket full of candy at the ready.  She was an adventurous spirit when I knew her, always up for a trip or a new experience.  A wonderfully service-oriented woman, she was always taking care of someone--whether it was one of  her numerous grandchildren, or the 90-year-old neighbor that she called "Grandma".  At the family viewing the week she passed, I think the officiating bishopric member put it best:  "I'm sure as soon as she got up there, she walked right up to the Lord and said, 'Alright, I'm here, put me to work!'".  Even in her old age she was rarely idle if she could help it, even if all she was keeping herself busy with was watering her petunias and checking in on her grandkids.  She loved people, and I will forever be grateful of the incredible example and driving force that she was for me in my youth.  As a child and adolescent, I lived with a constant, nagging paranoia that sooner or later, everyone in my life would get sick of me and not want me around anymore.  But not with Grandma. I always felt completely and utterly safe and confident in her presence.   Unbeknownst to many besides she and I, she was often the one who gave me the confidence I needed to succeed in life--whether it was at school, in sports, as a young mother.  She always believed in me, so I did, too.

And I must give a few words of praise to my Grandma Umphrey, as well.  I didn't have the opportunity to spend as much time with her as my older brothers and sisters did, but the time I spent with her certainly has left its mark on me.  Some of my earliest musical memories are of her singing hymns when I'd visit her house, or playing the fiddle with Grandpa Vic.  I have always had a special love for violin music, largely because of her talent.  I say a silent prayer of thanks for her every time I make popcorn balls with my kids because it reminds me of a grandmother who did her best to spoil her grandkids with the little she had.  What I love most about my Grandma Elda, though, is something I didn't entirely appreciate until I grew up.  She has made a lot of mistakes in life, non of which she denies.  Her personal flaws are the stuff of family legend (or at least my dad's silly jokes).  But she has a faith that is simple and pure.  No matter how many times she slips, she stands up, dusts herself off and pushes ahead.  And just in my short life, I have seen many of the results of that, of the personal progress she has made and I admire it so much.  My sweetest memory of her is from just a little over a week after my 19th birthday.  I went to the temple to receive my Endowment, she stood at my side and served as my escort, and her presence in the Celestial room at that moment was every bit as important to me as was my fiance's.  The beauty of that memory will never fade, and my gratitude for that act of service is inexpressible, so I will do you all a favor and not try.

And, lastly, I am supernally grateful to be a mother myself.  When my children are sad or hurt, and I can make them feel better with a hug and kiss or a lullaby in my arms, there is something about that magic of mothering that is healing to me as well as them.  My greatest blessing is my marriage, and they are the crowning jewels of that blessing.  I love to hear them laugh--especially with each other.  I love watching them kneel down next to each for our nightly family prayers in their little zippered pajamas and their strawberry blonde mop tops--there is hardly a more precious sight in the world.  Motherhood is always demanding, often exhausting and occasionally exasperating, but I can't think of anything more rewarding, more filled with smiles and giggles and genuine joy.  I am grateful for the blessing of being a mother.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Curler Head Keilana

I love to get Keilana all dolled up on Sundays, but since I've been working many a Saturday night lately, and often have an early meeting Sunday morning, Daddy has been in charge of grooming most of the time, which means very little "dolling" is happening.  So, since we were home at a decent hour today and I have no meetings in the morning (I decided even if the Bishop scheduled one I wasn't going to go, but bless his heart he knows better than to do that to us on Mother's Day), it was a good Sunday for curls.  This is my smiley girl just before bed.  Hopefully I'll remember to get pictures of her tomorrow before her curls go flat.  Stay tuned. . . .

Thursday, May 8, 2008

a night full of talking

that hurts. my worst held back secrets. everything has to do with loving and not loving. this night will pass. then we have work to do.  ~rumi

I have a love-hate relationship with conversations about difficult subjects.  I know that they can be productive and healthy.  On the other hand, every emotion but happiness annoys me.  I think I'll go back to ignoring the rest of them.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Hanging out at the park

I was taking some pictures of Keilana today, and she said, "Mommy, we need a picture of both of us, of me and of you."  So I snapped one for her.  I love pig tails in her hair.  They look so cute with her little round face and pretty blue eyes.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Home again, home again!!

The kids and I are taking a trip to MT.  We're very excited (especially Keilana) to see Yaya and Papa and all the cousins.  Keilana told me her best friend Maysa will be there and she'll get to see Israel and "Red Grandma".  I'm sure that Dylan's excited, too, but as I've already mentioned, its harder to tell from what he says.

We are flying home on June 15th.  Hopefully, we will be there for a surprise birthday party/family reunion for my Grandma Umphrey (or Joy, I guess).  Her 80th birthday is in September, but apparently it was a lot easier for my aunt's family to come up in June since they were already going to be in Idaho for the Iron Man (yes, they are those crazy people who swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles and then run a marathon).  So hopefully it will be an Umphrey event.

Bless my dear, patient mother for trying to plan something nice for her mother-in-law, despite hitting a lot of snags and hurdles along the way (including me stalking her about final plans so I didn't miss the opportunity to purchase affordable plane tickets for my tots and I).  That's a lot of people's schedules to try to plan around and its been pretty tricky, but she's been great about all of it.

Even if it all falls apart and the family reunion doesn't happen, I figure the worst case scenario is that I get to take a two week trip home (which includes my birthday--which I haven't spent in MT since I was 19), see my whole family and my grandma and be gone during the McDermont grand opening.  So I'll miss all the hectic, crazy busyness and stress of those two weeks when I probably wouldn't see my husband even if I was here.  

So hopefully I'll see some ya'll in MT!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dylan the sly talker.

Dylan still doesn't talk much.  His most clear and consistent words and phrases are "No" "yeah", "mine" and "I donwanna".  Figures.   

But I never hear him attempt to say words.  He just speaks his Dylanese constantly, then all of a sudden a word I've never heard even pieces of before comes out, clear as a bell.  I'm starting to think that the reason he isn't talking is that he doesn't want to say anything until he can say it perfectly.  

He had his second birthday 2 1/2 months ago now, and here is a list of all the words he can say:
Nana (Keilana)
Wuv oo (love you)
I donwanna
I do
Popcorn (or an approximation of that, anyway)
My turn

That's it.  I'm still getting used to his lack of language, as Keilana was regularly speaking to me in three and four word understandable sentences by this age.  

"Doggy" was new today.  We were at the park and when we loaded up in the stroller to come home, we passed a woman and her seriously obese chihuahua (seriously, that thing must've weighed as much as Dylan), and he just pointed and squealed, "Doggy!" clear as day.  He's never said anything even close to Doggy before.  All his new words just "appear" like that.  

In the meantime, he speaks to me in fluent Dylanese, complete with oddly mature mannerisms, tones, inflections, etc.  He does sound very much like he's just speaking a foreign language we don't understand, rather than like he's babbling.  Sometimes, however,  he will get quite upset when he says something that is obviously a question and I don't know what the answer is.  

Doug keeps telling me Einstein didn't talk til he was 3, but even if Dylan's smart, he's no Einstein.  Of course, he does seem to see the world a little differently than the rest of us do--I wouldn't be surprised if he were a little bit of an alternative thinker.  I just wish he'd talk to me like a normal little human being!