Saturday, May 30, 2009

Corrupting my neice

As best I can.  Just because I know Christa's not real big on the whole flower headband thing, I thought I'd sneak one of Kylie's on to Alexa while her mommy and daddy were busy playing at McDermont.  She liked it:

But I figured I should take one without the flower, too, so you can see what a happy girl she is without the distraction of a giant red daisy sprouting out of her noggin.  She was pretty happy most of the time she was here today:
And the other three--the twin terrors and Keilana.  Dylan and Keith always make me laugh and make me nervous when they're together.  Please ignore the unsightly trash bag (I had just done a whole bunch of trimming/cleaning and hadn't gotten everything to the dumpster yet).  Looking at these pictures always reminds me just how lllllooooonnngggg my Lowe's wish list is.  *Sigh*

Such serious little ladies--only when the pacifiers were in their mouths.  These two are very happy, easy babies.  We got a good bunch this round.  All four (Kylie, Alexa, Claire and Clark) seem to be pretty mellow tykes. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A little bragging!!

This weekend, I had an opportunity to be reminded that its OK for a kid to be smart.  I have too much of a tendency to see intelligence (anything beyond a bit above average) as a liability, rather than a gift.  I'm working on it.  So now I'm going to be excited about the accelerated pace (so far) of my daughter's progress, rather than be wary of it or hesitant to share wholesome successes.  And everyone I know that reads my blog is pretty darned intelligent, with some pretty darned bright kids, so I trust it will be received with the right attitude.

I just went to an end-of-the-year parent teacher conference for my Keilana bug.  It was so pleasant.  I've been blessed with great kids, and every now and then in the monotony of motherhood (come on now, as great as it is, we all know that's true) and the challenges of parenting, sometimes I forget that.  Its nice to have someone else around to remind me.  Teacher Lili was very excited to tell me that Keilana exceeded all expectations.  She asked if we work on reading skills at home (I almost responded, "Well, of course!", but remembered that simply isn't true for everyone, particularly in our community where frequently both mom and dad have to work), because she knows all letters and sounds very well and can sound out some simple words.  She counts higher than most kids in her class are able and enjoys simple addition (if you get 2 more, how many will you have?), knows just about every shape and color under the sun and has mastered patterns and syllable counting.  When asked to look in a mirror and draw herself, she drew her face with a pink crayon, her hair with a red one and her eyes with a blue one. :)  More importantly,  her teacher emphasized how outgoing, friendly and remarkably well-behaved she is.  She is well-liked by both her teachers and the other students and almost never forgets the rules (and is never consciously disobedient).  Lili sighed and said, "They should just make more of her!"  Then she looked at Kylie on my lap, smiled and said, "I guess you are!"  It was nice to hear that she's done so well and enjoyed it so much.  Its made me less apprehensive about Kindergarten--with 90% of the day conducted in Spanish, its going to be a challenge.  Lili told me that the dual immersion teachers are amazing and she has total confidence that Keilana will do great.  Phew!!

I can't wait for when I go to Dylan's first parent teacher conference.  "Well, he's doing very well academically, but let's talk about his trouble complying with classroom rules and routines. . . . . ."  Oy.  We're working on it.  When he was about 8 months old, I remember telling my mom that I was pretty sure all the things that made him a lot easier than Keilana at that point were going to make him a lot harder in the long run.  Well, we're there.  When a child's will is 10x stronger than most adults you've met, his attention span is unusually (uncannily) long, and he's tremendously self-contained how do you discipline when he has decided on something other than what you want him to do?  Most of the time he's pretty well behaved, or a simple threat will do the trick, but if he's set his mind on something--wow.  Hitting his bottom so hard it bruises has no effect.  Locking him in his bedroom for hours with no toys does nothing.  If he doesn't want what I made for dinner, he'll go to bed hungry--just so he can win.  Pray for us with this one.  I mean, he's tons of fun, but he's going to give us some major headaches, I'm sure.

And in Kylie news, she's mobile! Not crawling, but moving.  She gets up on all fours (bear crawl style), and gets her feet or knees far enough forward that she can flop her upper body a few more inches forward and continues this "floppy inch worm" (as I call it) until she reaches her goal destination.  And she has mastered scooting backward.  Hopefully it won't be too much longer before she's really crawling--her occasional frustration with this method is starting to get on both our nerves.  And she's a piggie!  She's eating real food now and yesterday she had oatmeal, green beans and squash and still nursed about every 3 hours!!  Must be trying to bulk up--her leg rolls have been looking a bit lean lately.  I haven't had much success getting her to take a bottle, but I think that's because I don't have a pump, so I was trying to give her formula.  Can't blame her.  Have you ever tasted breatmilk?  Its very sweet and mild.  It tastes a little like cantaloupe juice, actually (well, mine does anyway).  If you could liquify cardboard, I'm pretty sure it would taste quite a bit like infant formula.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Parenting is a strange thing. It takes its grip on you far quicker and deeper than any other relationship in your life. My kids have been driving me a little batty lately (mostly because Keilana's going through a stage--oy--and my patience has not been up to snuff for reasons having nothing to do with her). Since Kylie was born, I've left her once with her aunt Melissa while Doug and I went to General Conference, and little 20 or 30 minute stints to run across the street to the gym or down the street to the store while she slept. I left the older two with their grandma for about 48 hours when Doug and I went to SF in January, then with Lissa during General Conference, and for about two hours to do some shopping just before we left on our Montana trip.

I don't "take breaks" from them very often, though. It is frequently months between my "no kids" hours, and usually that's just fine. Part of that is simply a matter of money and time: we have no where to go, no money to spend when we get there and no time to go anyway :) When we do go exploring, we usually enjoy taking the kids with us. I love kids generally, and my kids particularly. I don't need to get away from them more often than that. I hardly leave my babies at all, and my older kids only occasionally. Don't get me wrong, once I drop them off or leave them with a sitter, I'm always glad for the break and I'm not a panicky or teary mom when it comes to leaving them. But I always have this tiny part of me that remembers how quickly time flies--five minutes ago, Keilana was spitting strained sweet potatoes at me for the first time with a great, big toothless grin and now she's getting ready for Kindergarten.  My little five month old boy who could growl so well is now telling me off in full sentences as a lumbering 3 year old.  I always enjoy whatever stage my kids are at and look forward with hopeful anticipation to the next stage, but part of me never forgets that I'll miss where they've been and it passes so quickly. Leaving kids after they hit the separation anxiety stage can be so awful--they cry and throw themselves on the ground or race for the door to try to stop you from leaving, and your heart breaks for them a little (or, if not for them, for the poor baby sitter you've inflicted this crying toddler upon). But then one day you leave, and they just smile and happily wave goodbye, and you're so relieved and grateful. And heartbroken. They're not sad to see you go--sometimes they're even excited to leave you.

Parenting is such a bittersweet experience.  You invest so much time, energy, attention, money, love, focus and hard work into these little creatures and then, if you do it right, it becomes a process of making yourself more and more unnecessary.

Well, sort of.

I guess that's how I used to think of it.  And truly, what your ultimate goal as a parent ought to be is producing independent, reliable adults who can take good care of themselves and hopefully families of their own, whether you're around or not.  One thing that parenting has taught me, however, is that even if you can handle yourself and raising your children, you never outgrow the desire to have your parents there, helping you and teaching you.  You never outgrow the need to know that they love you.  I've found that my instinctual action when one of my babies is sick is to call my mom.  She's not going to tell me anything I don't already know and she's more than a thousand miles away, so she can't do much, but just talking to her comforts me--I remember well times when I had a flu or pneumonia and she sat on my bed gently rubbing my back;  I know she's been there and knows how I feel and am grateful to have her.  And I've learned from my mom very clearly that no matter how far from home you may venture, no matter how grown up you may be, your mom is still your mom and wants you to let her be your mom.  

The passing of my grandmother several years ago contained two important moments that taught me a lot.  One I was present for, the other I was not.  When my mom comforted my twin brother and I (who spent as much time in the care of our grandma as we did our mom when we were small children) at the graveside of this woman we had loved so dearly, I momentarily thought, "How selfish of us.  She's just lost her mother, and we're asking for comfort from her."  But then she told me a story about earlier in the week, and I understood.  My grandma spent her last few weeks in the hospital--at 88, she had always been a picture of health, but once her body started to decline, it did so very rapidly.  The fact that she was leaving us was obvious. She was on a morphine drip, but still in a great deal of pain and sleep did not come easily.  My mom asked my grandma one evening if she would like a lullaby.  She nodded, and my mom began to sing, "I Am A Child of God."  The situation got to be a bit too much and my mom--a very strong woman, who I can scarcely remember ever crying--began to cry.  And my grandma, 88 years old and on her death bed, reached her hand out weakly to her 51-year-old baby and said, "Its OK, you don't have to sing."  In her pain and exhaustion, she still felt the need to comfort her child.

Even though we outgrow the need, in an immediate sense, of our mothers and fathers, we still long for them, and they for us, long after that magical 18th birthday.  My first child was only four months old at that funeral, and so it took a while for me to really understand that there probably could've been no better comfort for my mom at that moment than having her arms wrapped securely around her babies.  There is a kind of magic in being the one who can bring comfort, who can aid healing.  When my infant daughter had a horrible flu at 8 months old--hot and coughing and stuffy and miserable--she wanted to be held and rocked.  And somehow, while I snuggled her and attended to her, she felt better. None of her symptoms went away or lessened in my arms, but her misery subsided, and it wasn't just her that felt better.  The magic of being able to heal a broken heart with open arms or an owie with a simple kiss doesn't just heal kids; it heals mom, too.

My kids deserve better from me than they've been getting lately.  My self-confidence got mule-kicked out of me a while ago and with it went my patience, optimism and fun mommy self.  But today, Keilana was the absolute joy I knew was hiding in there somewhere.  She was an absolute delight all day, telling me jokes, reading stories with me, spinning tales about adventures to come.  At bedtime, after I sang to her, she said, "Is Daddy going to play with us tomorrow 'cause its Saturday?"  I nodded and she added, "That will be fun, Mom.  You were fun today.  When I'm a mommy when I'm bigger are you gonna play with my kids, too?"

I promise, kiddo.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

For Becky B

My thanks for being such a fantastic hostess. I don't envy much, but your backyard makes me a little bit insanely jealous--so beautiful. Oh, and the Red Vines are almost gone. I wish I were joking.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I want to go to the beach

Or rather, some thin, sexy version of myself wants to go to the beach, in this.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


My prayer tonight for sleep. . . for myself, with no husband (and 3 kids who all seemed fine this afternoon, now presenting with 3 fevers, one cough, one runny nose, one case of diarrhea and one bad attitude). . .for sick babies, who are restless after a long week. . .for bb (may you find some peace and comfort during this stress and uncertainty). . .for Paul and Christa (may you trust that God will provide and not get discouraged). . . for Mom (may Claire sleep well for you). . .for all others awake at late hours, walking babies, nursing wounds, searching thoughts. . . .may you find enough peace of mind to rest your wearied bodies and hearts.  Many of our fears, frustrations, doubts and insecurities are born of fatigue.  Rest tonight, and know that you are loved and watched over.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

People I wish I could find again

Doug White. . .the last time we talked, he was having a rough time and I was being a lousy support because I'd just had my first baby and was exhausted.  And then he disappeared. I heard maybe Utah or Idaho?  We could stop and see him on one of our trips if we just knew where he was.  Oh, so many Doug memories.  Tap them Rockies. . . . .

Stephen.  Oh, Stephen.  Wasn't allowed to track him down in Brooklyn.  Sicked the Brooklyn missionaries on his address as payback for that.  Haven't heard a word from him in 2 1/2 years, hardly anything in the 2 years that preceded that.  Hopefully he'll get his break with an awesome script soon and is still willing to let Sam and I make a movie with him (or at least hang out on the set and enjoy all the hilarity the three of us would be sure to cause).  Does anyone else miss him as much as I do?

My 18-year old self.  I do miss her.  So adventurous and fearless; six and a half years, 3 kids and 40 pounds ago.  I'd love to get back to that, but I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions, Pt 2

I get really tired of answering the same questions all the time, so I prefer to get it all out here. You can read part one here.

1.  Whoa! How much does she weigh? (in reference to Kylie)
At the moment, about 17 pounds.

2.  You sure hold your babies a lot.
I realize this isn't technically a question, but it is almost always stated in a tone that implies a response is expected.  Yes, I hold my babies a lot.  Most babies like to be held and I enjoy holding babies.  I don't see why this is a problem.  I have no problem putting the baby down if I have to get something done or I'm playing with the other kids, but if I don't have anything that needs my attention at the moment, I like to sit and hold the baby and talk to the baby.  When I don't have a baby of my own to do this with, I will frequently search for someone else's baby to hold.  I also don't leave my babies much--my theory is that babies are designed to be breastfed, so how long baby can go without Mama is roughly the same as the amount of time baby can go between feedings.  I will not judge you if you function from a different theory than this, particularly if you have to work (I do remember what its like to leave a small baby to go back to work), its just how I feel about my babies.

3.  What's the age difference between you and Doug?
7 1/2 years.  I am his young, hot trophy wife (except for the "hot" and "trophy" part).  So he'll probably die long before me and leave me all alone for years.  Thanks for bringing that to my attention again.

4.  Why does your family live on a Reservation?  Are you Indian?
The tribe that the Flathead Reservation belongs to has a long history of being somewhat friendly, if not downright welcoming, to whites.  The land was opened for settlement fairly early (1910) and my farming/ranching forbears came for the opportunity to work some good land.  Most of their descendants never left because its one of the most beautiful places in the whole wide earth.  I am not of native descent.  Both of my sisters, however, married tribal members, so my kids have quite a few Indian (and I've rarely ever heard anyone from the rez use the term "native American" in an informal context) cousins. 

5.  Is it strange to be a twin?
Is it strange not to?

6.  Why does Dylan play with his belly button like that?
*sigh* I don't know

7.  Are you tired?
No, I'm just not wearing any eye makeup.

8.  How'd you end up here?
The short answer:  I believe very strongly in personal responsibility and accountability.  Therefore, I don't think that the decisions of the people around us (or their opinion of our decisions) should unduly influence the course we take in life.  While deeply desirous of strong, emotional connections to people, I have always had a rather independent streak.  Just ask the poor woman charged with the task of disciplining me in my early life.  If you ever want the long answer, you'll just have to ask me in person, in private, when I'm in the mood to talk.  Good luck with that.

9.  Is Keilana always so quiet?
No.  She is never quiet.  She is never still.  Who is this child you see every week in Primary, and how is it that I've never met her?

10.  Wow, is that your handwriting?
Yes. I only write big for you blind people.  Its always that small when I'm writing for myself.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Its official

Kindon is the world's most awesome bishop.  He was in the top 5 going into the day, but he clinched it this afternoon.  For Mother's Day, he had the YM and Priesthood take over all the responsibilities in Primary for the third hour.  Once all the women were together in the cultural hall, he briefly expressed his gratitude for the women in our ward and what we do, and then turned the time over to us to visit with each other--no lesson, no weepy stories about moms, just some time to enjoy each other as sisters, with no kids hanging on us, no calling responsibilities nagging at our attention.  Oh, and there were various types of cookies, cakes and brownies involved.  So much better than a rose or a carnation or chocolate.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ahhh, spring

This has been one of my favorite poems since. . .oh goodness, maybe the 5th grade, I think.  Wanted to pass it on today.

I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I believe in Christ
hard work
chastity and fidelity
doing more than you're asked
and never giving up on anyone.
Because its always worth it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Variations on a theme

What happens when I get one with dark brown hair, a slender little face and a pointy nose? She'll never believe she isn't adopted!

Well-earned praise

Several years ago in the midst of a particularly lonely and frustrating time, when there was already much going on, something bad happened, something difficult.  Just briefly, I thought, "Why do I have to deal with this right now?"  And then I had a moment.  "Why not?" I asked myself.  When things go wrong, we are tempted from time to time to think, "Why me?"  Suddenly I thought, "Well, why the heck not me?  Everyone goes through things like this--many people I know have been through much worse--so what makes me think I'm so special?  Why shouldn't I have to deal with the same miserable crap that so many others have to deal with?" 

When I am blessed (so very frequently and abundantly) I never (well, OK, rarely) stop to ask the Lord, "Why me?  Why have you chosen to bless me so wonderfully?"  All too often, I take his blessings lightly or don't even realize that they're there.  I have tried since that moment to be careful to be grateful, particularly during trials.

The trials in my life that have been most difficult for me probably wouldn't look like much to a lot of people, but because of the particular nature of my personality and the choices I've made, they become my biggest heartaches nonetheless.  I often see people who have what I always wished I had and think to myself, "Why couldn't that have been my place in the world?"  And then I remember why it was so important that I came to the world where and when I did.  All my greatest strengths, all the parts of myself that I love the most--and that my husband, friends and those I serve love the most about me--exist because of what I lacked.  If I had had the ease and comfort that I wanted, I never would've learned so well to rely on the Lord for those things and I would be a timid little girl, a tepid believer.  The relationships and reassurances I wanted in my life, from the people I wanted them from would certainly have made my life easier, but I would've been a weaker person.  I would've been less understanding.  I wouldn't have laughed at myself nearly as easily.

I am so grateful for the things that I lacked--I'm grateful for what my trials have made of me. More so because through Him and the other people he put in my life, the Lord always provided a way for me to be whole.  This has never been more true than in the gift of a temple sealing in my life.  Until I was married, I was sealed to no one.  I can never express in any adequate, meaningful way the gratitude I have for my husband--for the easy, natural understanding we share and generally smooth ride that is our relationship.  But not just for him; I am grateful for the whole family that sealing bound me to.  For sisters.  For a father. For a mother.  The relationships I have with Doug's family are very different than the ones I have with my family members, but have come to mean as much to me in the years that we've been married.  I married into this big, intense family of girls who became my wonderful sisters--how grateful I am to be able to talk with them about many of the subjects closest to my heart and know that they are thinking and working from the same philosophies as myself most of the time.  How grateful I am for the good-natured, good-humored, generous-hearted Chuck--always ready to listen to what's going on in our life, always happily doting on my children, always ready with a hug.

And Katy.  How could words express, as we approach Mother's Day this week, my gratitude for my second mom?  She is such an amazing Grandma (or, rather, "Mimi") to my children.  They've both been asking to go to her house all day, they adore her.  We have very different personalities and there are a lot of things we do in very different ways, but there has been no one else in my life who understands quite so well how I feel in the face of my greatest challenges.  A few weeks ago, I got very frustrated and wanted desperately to talk to her, because I knew she would understand how I felt and why, with no need for defensiveness or exhaustive explanations.  She was far away and so I couldn't get to her right at that moment, but I have never been so grateful that she was a part of my life.  I knew she would give the kind of comfort that only can come from a mom, that she would listen patiently to my tear-filled ranting and make me feel better.  What's more, she knows what its like to be a square peg in a round hole, wanting desperately to fit (and loving deeply those with whom you don't fit), but unwilling to compromise beliefs or principles in order to be more comfortable.  She understands both the strength and heartache that come from standing alone, understands them much better than I do.

I am grateful for her example of sacrifice--she has given much for her children and grandchildren.  I am grateful that I am able to seek her counsel and be the beneficiary of her experiences.  Several years ago, I remember Doug saying something along the lines of his mom being remembered by her kids for the example she set--they'll remember that she made some big sacrifices and did the right thing, often when it was hard, that she was always honest with them and always supported them.  I am grateful for a husband who, despite the challenges they have due to their personalities and some of the experiences they've had, deeply loves and greatly admires his mother and will make sure that his kids know how special she is.

There is a law of compensation in the eternal realm--anything we lack (or have taken from us) here will, if we are faithful, eventually be added unto us again.  I am one of those fortunate few to whom the Lord has made up the difference long before I passed from this life.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Maybe its genetic

"Dylan, do you know who plays the panda?  Jack Black plays the panda.  I lloooovvee Jack Black, Mommy!"

Me too, little girl.  Me too.