Saturday, May 31, 2008

Seven Questions...Motherlove

Labor pains don't end in the delivery room.

As my children get older and more independent, I realize that helping them make good choices (and, even worse, watching them suffer consequences for bad ones) is a whole different kind of pain and labor. Without anesthesia!

So, I really enjoy learning from moms who are a bit further down the parenting path. Their wisdom inspires and encourages me.

One of my new mommy-blog friends is Jenibelle. The mother of five, including a severely handicapped daughter, Jeni's parenting path has not been easy, but she has a completely wacky sense of humor and a great long-term perspective. This summer she will be the mother of the bride for her second daughter and add a son-in-law to the mix. (I love reading her Wednesday Wedding Planning posts each week.) Jeni is fun and funny and I was excited to pick her brain.

Here are her thoughts on surviving all types of labor pains...

#1--What have been your biggest challenges as a mother? What have you learned from them?
Truthfully, the hardest part of parenting for me was not the ‘dog days’ of little children, it was high school when my older kids were making some choices that I knew could effect their eternal salvation. This was beyond hard for me, I love my children, as we all do, and to see them struggle was sometimes more than I could bear. I had a hard time letting go of my expectations for them and of them.

Another part of my experience with my children has been all the major health issues. We have had everything from retardation, epilepsy, ADHD, hearing loss, speech problems, you name it, and we’ve seen it!

What have I learned? Nothing you don’t really already know:

*Pick your battles. Ask yourself if this is the cross you want to die on. A haircut will grow. Funky clothes can mysteriously disappear. (I haven’t got an idea --Mitch-- where those lime green pants ended up….) Laziness will come back to bite them in the rear end.
*Encourage good friendships; make your home open to those good friends. I firmly believe that the most important choice a teenager will make is their choice of friends.
*I have learned that free agency is hard on parents.
*I have learned that you really can’t control much, as hard as you may try. So learn to trust (and verify).
*Laugh--find the humor because there always is something.

#2--What is the best thing about having teenagers? How would you encourage young moms who are just facing their children’s adolescence?
The BEST thing about teenagers? Their friends!
Friends are always nicer to you and think you are great even when your own kids don’t.

Teenagers are a tough bunch! I loved how involved my kids were, I love going to all their activities and rooting them on. I am sure I was so obnoxious about my bragging about their accomplishments, but it was just so fun!

Mitch’s senior year he tried out for the school musical. Les Miserables. I laughed!
Well, guess what? He got a big role and really has a nice voice.
I went to every performance and the dress rehearsals and smiled the same goofy smile every time.

When Lauren was a junior she had to emcee a rally in front of the whole school, 2800 kids!! This doesn’t sound all that bad except for she has a profound stutter. I held my breath and she didn’t stutter once!

I cried I was so proud.

Experiences like these are what I loved about my teenagers. (Jeff is in Guys and Dolls next weekend. I am polishing up my goofy smile.)

I believe the evening before a child turns 13 their parent should get a visit from a heavenly messenger. He should bring them a military flack jacket to keep their kids harsh & angry words from penetrating too far, a refillable prescription for anxiety drugs to get you through this time. And last of all, knee pads…you'll be praying a lot!

How to encourage young moms? My friends, in the eternal scheme of things, adolescence is a short dark tunnel. They will emerge from it!

You have to love them but you do not have to like, tolerate or appreciate poor behavior. Be firm, be fair, and again, don’t forget to laugh.

#3--What do you wish you had done when your children were little? What are you most glad you did?
Oh, I am horrified to admit this-- I wish I had read to them more!

I was SO bad at it and now I have three kids who don’t really like to read. That makes me sad, because I would rather read than just about anything!

We were really good about taking our kids everywhere and taking lots and lots of pictures. Byron and I devoted our weekends solely to them, nothing else. We went places, played games, put together puzzles, watched movies, we spent all our time with them. Even now with just two of them at home, we do spend a lot of time with them. Some of my favorite times now are when Scotty curls up in my lap and snuggles.

When Lauren was graduating we made a video for her of pictures throughout her life. After watching, she said "I’ve had a really good life, haven’t I, Mom?" I hope all my kids can say that.

#4--How do you balance the needs of your disabled daughter with the hustle and bustle of the rest of your family? How has the rest of the family pitched in to help?
First of all, let me say that I am so thankful for Rachel. She has added such depth to our family in a way "normal" kids don’t always do.

My children are patient and kind. They are accepting of everyone. They aren’t afraid of others; they are always the first to help. She gives our family an eternal perspective and hope. She has such a personality that just brings out the best in people.

Rachel can do nothing for herself and in some ways; this makes her easier than some children with disabilities. She doesn’t talk at all, she can not feed herself, toilet herself etc…this is hard. I do all the bathing and such, but everyone feeds her, plays with her, and makes her laugh.

When we are doing something, we just can load her up and go!! (She does live in a care home now and is home on weekends.)

When she was younger she just went everywhere...friends' houses, sporting events, school stuff. Brentwood is a small town. I think people came to know her and appreciate her!

Believe me, we have had some funny experiences and some that just made me want to be instantly swallowed up in the earth, but, for the most part, we are all grateful for our little "Beana".

#5--You seen to have such a fun sense of humor. What makes you laugh? What are the other things that lighten up your life?
I love to laugh! Nothing, absolutely nothing is better than a gut busting, ab-burning laugh. Even chocolate isn’t that good!

Laughing is about the only exercise I get --so I try to do a lot every day. Life just strikes me as fun. It is meant to be savored, enjoyed and loved not merely endured. Things people do or say strike me as funny. I think some people think my sense of humor is bizarre, I prefer to think of my sense of humor as varied.

The difference between a disaster and a great story and laugh is a couple of weeks. We can laugh at just about everything in our lives, even if it’s a bewildered painful laugh.

Even Rachel’s experience has its very funny times. Once she swallowed the top of a Bic razor. Seriously!! The funny part was the hospital, people crowding around to see the x-ray. It honestly was like an episode of ER.

My job totally makes me laugh. Oh... I wish I could blog everyday about it! I have surrounded myself with wonderful friends who love life and that makes things fun. And my kids, they have given me a TON to laugh about!!

#6--What do you do when your children make poor choices? How do you know when to push and when to let go?
I cry. I am a world class crier! Nothing, nothing is more painful than a child who goes astray. When I have said this people say, "Well, what about Rachel?" Oh, Rachel is fine, her salvation is clear, she has been blessed beyond belief. With Rachel, we think eternally.

But a child who goes astray, you fear for them. What if they don’t come back? What will happen to them eternally, I will miss them!!

What do I do? I hang on, I pray, I don’t for one second let them believe I will EVER, EVER accept their behavior. I let them know that while I love them more than anything, I will never be okay with certain things.

One day one of my children said to me, "Mom, your problem is that you love your children too much." I thought of this as a compliment. That child will never doubt my love for them.

I have never purposely pushed my children away. I tried to keep them close.

When to let go? I don’t know. I am still learning that.

About a year ago, I received the most marvelous note from one of my children. "Mom," the note said, "thank you so much for fighting for me. I know now that that is what you were doing, fighting FOR me, not WITH me".

Trust the Lord, pour your soul out to Him. Trust your instinct. Trust yourself when you don’t trust them. And learn to laugh!

#7-- What lessons did you learn from your own mother? Who are the other mothers you have learned from? What have they taught you?
My own mother…that’s interesting. From my birth mother, I learned what real love is. In her case it was being brave enough to let go and let some else do what she couldn't.

When I was 14, I went to live in a foster home with amazing parents who taught me more than I have words for. They taught me to trust people, to love others, to work, to forgive.

They taught me the gospel. They taught me to believe in myself--something I struggle with to this day. They gave me confidence and the ability to believe I can be happy. They taught me joy.

I have been blessed to have known great women as my friends. I try to learn from them, I watch them, I emulate them, I lean on them! Vicki, Pam, Margo, Rachel, Carol, Kim, they have all set such good examples for me. I love them for their willingness to love me despite of my faults and to love my children.

I have learned that sometimes others can help your kids more than you can. I have learned to stop and think before you go ballistic. I am reminded of the eternal nature of families through the tragedies of two of my sweetest friends. I have learned the value of service to my children from friends. I have learned that the load of motherhood is lightened through sisterhood.

Amen! Thanks, Jeni.

Jenibelle's blog--Where's My White Picket Fence? --is one of my favorite stops.

(This amazing story had me sobbing at the keyboard.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Is it Summer Yet?

Although the kids still have two weeks of school, no one's heart is really in it. After a long, fickle, spring-like May, we are ready for June to bring on the heat and relaxing summer days.

There's a lot to look forward to this summer--Jake's first sleep-away camp, a month-long trek Out West, day trips to the beach, and plenty of hours poolside.

But before all the fun, we have to endure the END OF THE YEAR drama. You moms know what I'm talking about--field trips, field days, class picnics, spring concert, young author festival, art show, fun fair, soccer champs, etc. etc. etc. This time of year is crazier than Christmas--volunteering at all the events, collecting money for class gifts, baking for the bake sale...

...the kids don't realize that I'm even more excited than they are for school to let out! (Except when I read last year's whiny summer posts and remember that summer isn't always a day at the beach, either.)

In the meantime...

... my peonies are blooming!

...the Memorial Day picnic was a success!

...field day didn't get rained out!

...we've been dining alfresco!

...we caught two pets in our yard!

Summer fun? Bring it on!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Loved This Book!

My little sister gave me a copy of Bella at Midnight with her high praise. It got lost in the pile on my nightstand for a few months--yet once I started, I could not put it down. Clean and clever. Written for a young adult audience, but not at all juvenile. A twist on the Cinderella story--so it is familiar but brand new, too. Two thumbs up!

p.s. I started logging all my latest reads on Have you joined yet?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lesson from the Vegetable Patch

Someday I will pick green & yellow squash.
Crisp butter lettuce.
Sugar sweet melon.
A great big salad bowl filled by my own backyard.
Someday I will make zucchini bread and BLTs with fresh tomatoes.
I'll pickle my own cucumbers and bottle strawberry jam.
But today I'll just dig in the dirt.

Someday I'll finish my master's.
Write a book.
Organize the attic.
I'll go to an Eagle Court of honor and be the mother of the bride.
Someday I will have a kitchen with granite countertops, glass-front cabinets and no sticky fingerprints.
I'll read the complete works of Shakespeare and learn Spanish.
But today I'll just dig in the dirt.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pick a Winner

It used to be sooo easy choosing my favorite child. Whoever slept the most, pooped the least, made the littlest noise and/or mess was guaranteed to have top status for the day.
Now they are growing up and I am finding that suddenly I am the mother of four darling, hardworking, independent, fun and funny children.
Which one should be my favorite?
Please help me decide...
Should it be the darling 7 year old who gets up early Sunday morning to fix scrambled eggs and peanut butter toast for her little brothers so her parents and older bro can catch a few extra winks?
Or the four-year-old who has finally embraced his BIG BOY status and will now independently fasten his own shoes, take himself to the bathroom and pour his own milk?
How about the third-grader who was chosen to play in a select "recorder band" for the Spring Concert and who completed his first at-home babysitting job last night?
And don't forget...the family monkey who climbs walls, refrigerators and swingsets for fun. He has the biggest grin and most contagious giggle!
Tough choice, huh?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Things For Which I Choose Not to be Responsible

    Barbie shoes

    People shoes--left under the trampoline during a rainstorm

    Library books

    DVDs/CDs/Computer disks which get scratched within 15 seconds of unwrapping

    Money left by the tooth fairy

    Dollar store purchases which prove defective the minute they are removed from dollar store premises

    Anything that comes home in a party "goody bag"

    The microscopic light saber that came with the Lego Darth Vader
    Items that need batteries or recharging

    Loose change and half-eaten lollipops

    Puzzle pieces
    Crayola marker caps
    Did I forget anything?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Feelin' Cheeky

This is what I look like today after a little oral surgery "procedure".
Direct quote from the surgeon: "Your molar had longer roots than any woman I've ever seen before...except one patient from the Congo."
Thankfully, Ilene shared this delicious frozen hot chocolate recipe. So I'm enjoying that.
The Vicodin isn't too bad, either.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Seven Questions--The Long and Short of It

Everytime I pay to get something hemmed, climb onto the counter to reach the medicine cabinet, or realize that I am indeed at my goal weight...if only I were over six feet...I wonder what it would be like to be TALL. What would the world look like up there? Would people treat me differently? Would clothes-shopping be a dream come true or a total nightmare?

Today I'm featuring my cute online friend, Lindsey. She is a whole foot taller than me...yet we still see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues...humor, motherhood, special needs kids, food and family!

Here are her thoughts on standing tall....
#1--How tall are you (officially)? And how old were you when you reached this height?
I am officially 6'2" tall, without shoes. "How tall ARE you?" is the most common question that I am asked follow by, "Did you play basketball?" Most people would tell me that I needed to follow that question up with one of my own like, "Yes! Did you play miniature golf?" :) I never really had the heart.

I can tell you one thing I have learned from experience and that is... ALL guys lie about their height. Get out the measuring tape and see! They believe that their shoe heel should be included in their height measurement because that is what professional basketball players do.

For the record, my husband did NOT lie about his height, but I totally accused him of lying anyway. Most guys who are above 6'3" don't lie about it, but guys who hover in the 6'0" area think they need the extra inch or two. (I am certain about this because guys were shorter than me, but always claimed to be the same height or taller.)

I was 15 years old when I reached this height and even before then I was always the tallest in my class at school. I was forever on the back row on picture day with all of the boys in the class

#2-What are the greatest things about being so vertically blessed?
There are a lot of great things about being tall. I can reach the top shelf, I can see people in a crowd, people can see ME in a crowd, I can reach my children in one swoop of my arm even if they are 4 feet away! :)

#3- Did you ever do the things tall women are expected to do? Play basketball? Model? Eat forever and never gain weight? Did people have unreasonable expectations because of your height?
I did play sports, but it never crossed my mind until two Jr. high 9th graders decided my height would be wasted if I didn't come try out for the volleyball team. I had never played before, and they didn't care. Neither did the coach. They were happy if I just held my arms in the air. Luckily, I ended up having SOME talent in that department and I received a college scholarship to play volleyball.

The basketball coach wanted me too and although he had not formally recruited me, he told me he would give me a jersey on picture day if I would just play for him... but the truth is, I hate to run. So I turned him down. As a matter of fact, a few friends and I had a motto about running.. the only thing we would run for was . . . food.

I didn't model (but thanks for thinking of it!) and, although I would like to say it is true, I cannot eat anything I want and not gain weight. I don't remember struggling with weight issues when I was younger, I just remember struggling with staying awake because it was hard on a body to grow so fast.

Nowadays, after 3 babies, etc. I have to work my tail off just like everyone else. However, carrying 20 extra lbs. does look a little bit better on a person who is 6'2" vs. 5'2".

I never felt like people had unrealistic expectations. BUT my dad, who is 6'8", did warn me that people can see you and recognize you better than others, and for that reason, you need to always be doing what you SHOULD be doing because people will remember who you are, and what you are doing! (It was good advice)

To this day, my dad will have people recognize him and know his name.
I will say, "Who was that, Dad?" and he will say, "I have no idea."

It just happens when you are tall... people remember you.

#4--Did your height ever keep you from doing things you really wanted to do?
My height never kept me from doing things I wanted to do ...except maybe buy expensive clothes. I am definitely NOT a sample size and even when I was at my gangly skinniest I was not a sample size! So, I claim to use that as my excuse for not buying expensive clothes. But really, I don't know if I would anyway.

Other than that, I never really let being tall STOP me from doing something that I wanted to do. If anything, it was enabling!

#5--What was dating like? Did you date shorter guys? How tall is your husband? Was his height an issue?
Dating was a nightmare. I pretty much developed a crick in my neck from posing at high school dances. I was taller than all the boys in my grade until our senior year. Can you imagine?

So, I did end up dating some older guys, and guys in general always mistook me for an older girl which has its advantages when you are only 15. I did go out with a few shorter guys, but never seriously.

I just personally didn't like feeling "bigger" than the guy I was dating. I think everyone wants to feel like they are on at least EQUAL footing with the person they are dating... and if I thought I could take him in a wrestling match... I wasn't really interested.

I know there are plenty of tall women out there who will date a shorter guy.. i.e. Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes.. but, I just couldn't do it. (My husband is 6'5".) Maybe it is because those ladies are kind of waif-like... I am not.

#6--My personal fantasy is to be tall....the clothing possibilities seem so wonderful! What are your favorite "tall outfits"? Do you think you would dress differently if you were shorter? Do you have a hard time finding clothes that fit? Where are your favorite places to shop?
Hmmm, "tall outfits" I am not sure that I have one of those! I guess showing a little leg back in the day wasn't bad.. except for the fact my legs were pretty toothpicky.. and now that they are a little curvier, I have lovely varicose veins to show off.. So, I can't say that I have a tall outfit.

Unfortunately, I fall into the "freakishly" tall category of being over 6 feet tall. It is fairly difficult to find pants that are long enough and I generally have to order my pants on-line (Thank heavens for on-line shopping. When I was 16, it was VERY difficult to find pants). I cannot just walk into a store and buy a pair unless it is summer and I am looking for capris.

I usually order pants from the Gap, Eddie Bauer, or J. Jill which all have a great selection of pants that come in 34" length or longer!

Pretty much, I am happy when summer rolls around because I have more options then. Shirts aren't hard to find. But I was ELATED when longer shirts came into style because a regular shirt on me looked like a midriff. I guess that wouldn’t be so bad if I was still 16.. but tack on the mom belly and the stretch marks and suddenly it isn't so pretty.

#7--What advice would you give to young girls 5'10" and up?!
This is my favorite question, Gab, and thanks for asking it. I wish I could take all of the tall girls in the world and take them by the shoulders and tell them to STAND UP STRAIGHT!

You will be tall forever, and hunching over isn't going to make you any shorter--it will only make you look ridiculous and draw more attention to yourself.

Instead, find ways to make yourself "special". In some ways, you already are! You have a perspective no one else has. There can be a lot of teasing, and a lot of dateless nights, BUT, if you find things that bring you joy in your life, you will be able to bring that happiness to others and they won't see you for being tall, they will see you for being YOU!

People are drawn to you if you are happy and if you look like you are miserable, people will avoid you and not make the time to get to know you.

We all have our own challenges in life. EVERYONE does. The challenge is to not focus on being tall (or whatever your challenge is)as being a negative thing, but focus on the things you love or are passionate about and bring that passion and love to others. Then, they will not see your height, they will see YOU.

I have MANY people that I have known for years tell me that they forget how tall I am until they look at a picture, or if they haven't seen me in a while because my height is not who I am. I am just me. I enjoy being me. I think ultimately that is what people see when they look at me! They don't see a number, they just see me.

Thanks, Lindsey! No wonder everyone looks up to you...

For Lindsey's unique perspective...visit Tall-Tales from the Life of Lindsey Long Legs.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

How to Become a Domestic Goddess in 18 Easy Steps

Want to impress someone you love? Show up anywhere with a freshly baked loaf of crusty French bread. Heaven with garlic butter, delightful on a picnic with fruit and cheese, divine with strawberry jam.

This is my favorite bread recipe, because it looks very complicated but only requires five basic ingredients. Best of Bosch, KitchenAid, bread machine is necessary. Stir it up in the morning, check on the rising dough a couple times during the day, roll it up and pop it in the oven. Enjoy tonight!

Here's what to do...

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon yeast into 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Let stand for a few minutes; stir until yeast is dissolved.

Measure 1 tablespoon shortening, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 tablespoon salt into large bowl.

Pour one cup boiling water over this. Then add 3/4 cup cold water and cool to lukewarm. Add dissolved yeast.

Gradually add 5 to 6 cups white flour.

Stir to form a moderately stiff dough.

Turn out on a floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes until dough becomes smooth and satiny. Add more flour if necessary.

Dough will be easy to shape into a ball.

Place in a greased bowl. Cover.

Let rise until doubled (1 to 1.5 hours).

Punch down and let rise until doubled again. (30-45 minutes)

Turn out onto lightly floured surface and divide into 2 portions.

Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each portion into a rectangle.

Roll up tightly into baguette shape, beginning at long side.

Place seam side down on greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until double. (1 hour)

Brush with water for crispy crust. (For softer crust use egg white beaten with water.) With a sharp knife, make three slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 45 minutes--until lightly browned. Bread will sound hollow when tapped. (It is ok if the loaf does not look WANT it to look homemade!)
Slice and slather with topping of your choice. have achieved carbo-nirvana.

Friday, May 16, 2008

You are...

a real-life kewpie doll,

a Campbell's soup-label kid,

a 1950's character named Buzz or Biff,

an aspiring engineer,

a ham actor in search of an audience,
the all-American boy next door,
a little devil in denim and dimples.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Brad's Version of Blogapalooza

He can have his sweaty bike rides, sore muscles & sharing a bathroom with 5 guys...
I'll take dressing up, eating out and chatting with the ladies any day.
But, boy, we were sure glad to get him home in one piece...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Go Jazz!

Aside from my kids' little leagues and BYU football, there is only one team I have ever really loved.

And, if it weren't for a few special people, I probably wouldn't even know a free-throw from a rebound.

First, Grampa Jiggs and Grama June, pioneer Jazz fans. They always had season tickets and in an effort to spend "quality time" with the grandkids, took us to the occasional game.

I had no interest in basketball, but loved the VIP treatment. Staying up past my bedtime, eating popcorn, and falling asleep to Hot Rod Hundley's voice on the ride home.

Somewhere along the line, I picked up the basic rules of the game. Names like Darrell Griffith, Adrian Dantley, and Thurl Bailey became familiar. I sang and cheered along with the live Jazz band that played in the Salt Palace.

But I didn't fall in love with the Jazz until a certain point guard from Gonzaga came along...
Oh, Johnny boy!
It broke my heart when I learned he wasn't a Mormon and that (sob) he was already married!
Still, the Jazz games became a little more personal for me whenever #12 was on the court.
Once, my little sister, Heidi, and I actually got to sit in Grampa's coveted courtside seats, right under the basket. (The Jazz must have been playing some loser team that night.) We had our pom-poms and our popcorn and were just sitting wide-eyed watching the pre-game warmups, when one of the players dropped the ball. It landed at Heidi's feet, so she picked it up and tossed it back to the player. He winked, smiled and bounced it back to her! The two of them played catch for a few minutes, then he waved and went over to the coach.
Imagine our surprise when we learned that this was no ordinary player. It was...

Karl THE MAILMAN Malone!

(He could deliver our letters anytime....)

Jazz games are some of my most vivid memories. One of the top ten happiest days of my entire life was sitting beside my husband watching the Jazz play against the Denver Nuggets in a play-off game. The place was full of celebrities and the excitement was tangibly electric. It was the closest I ever came to feeling illegally intoxicated.

In contrast, the last game I attended was just a few days after Grama June's funeral. I was Grampa's date to the Delta Center. Realizing Jiggs would never again sit beside his courtside sweetheart in this, their home away from home, made it tough to cheer through the tears.

I live across the country now. Stockton and Malone have long-since retired. The Delta Center has a new name and I don't even know any of the current players. But when I heard about last night's win, I got just a little flutter in the pit of my stomach.

And so, Wednesday night, I'll tune in to watch my Jazz.

And I really hope they win.

For Stockton, Malone, Horny Hornacek, Big T, Mark Eaton, AD, Frank Layden, Hot Rod, June and Jiggs.

And for a Utah girl, far from home, staying up past her bedtime, eating a big bowl of popcorn.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Anyone Else Out There...

...get up late this morning? ....raise your voice at the breakfast table? ...wonder how many more days til Daddy comes home? ...use gentle force to get kids on the schoolbus? ...ignore a pile of dirty laundry? ...snag your stockings? ...smear your liquid liner? ...pawn your youngest two off on an unsuspecting friend? ...break the speed limit? through the rain? ...slide (panting) into the school cafeteria?

All so you could burst into tears at
the First Grade Mother's Day Tea?
(Wasn't it the cutest?!)
p.s. Did you also have difficulty finding yourself in portrait form?
Happy Mother's Day, Everybody!
(Here's hoping that someday we'll all be as pretty as our portraits...)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Yada, Yada, Yada...

Ordered a big salad lately? Worn a puffy shirt? Purchased a babka or a mansierre?

If are probably living in the past. The last new Seinfeld episode aired 10 years ago this month!

I don't know why this fact makes me feel older than my fast-approaching 20 year reunion.

Maybe because Brad and I started watching Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George during our poor student/newlywed days. The Fab Four gave us something funny (and free!) to look forward to each Thursday night. They became our friends, and over the years, have been well-represented and oft-quoted at all extended family gatherings.

Seinfeld & Co. was the last cast of characters I really cared about. Soon after it went off the air, we became parents and our tv viewing habits changed dramatically. Sure, now I enjoy Top Chef and Dancing with the Stars, but until Padma says, "No soup for you!" or Edyta dances with Elaine's spastic kick, they will always pale in comparison.

Do you miss them too? What's your favorite episode?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Seven Questions...Living Happily Ever After

Meet Lisa-Marie. One of the cutest redheads I know! I love her happy personality and optimistic take on family life. In a world filled with whiners and husband-bashers, I think it's refreshing to hear from a woman who thinks her husband is a real-life Prince Charming.

Here's proof that happy endings aren't just for fairy tales...

1. What are your top three tips for keeping a marriage strong while raising young children?

#1 --Team work. Kendon and I don't believe in parenting 50/50. We believe that we both need to give 100% to the raising of our children. Raising kids is a tough job (THE toughest job) and if we aren't working as a team then we are working against each other, not for each other, and that never works; it only causes contention.

On those same lines: be on the same disciplining page. Kendon and I have differing ideas on how to raise kids. I think all spouses do. However, we both have the same goal in mind. We want happy, healthy, well mannered, children. We have found that disciplining our children works better when we find a plan that we both feel comfortable with and are committed to that can help us reach that end result by working TOGETHER. Just last night I checked out a Love and Logic book that Kendon and I are reading together as a refresher course. It is much easier to have a strong marriage if you aren't battling over how to raise the kids. Cause that could be a constant fight.

#2 --Be together. While raising little kids it can be tough to get much alone time. So, instead, we spend a lot of time together as a whole family. We go on dates and take the kiddos with us. It might seem easier to just stay home, but we have found that once you make the effort to get out and do something fun, it is always well worth it. Just because you have little ones around doesn't mean you can't have a good time. Of course, we do get out and have dates with just the two of us, because that is very important as well.

#2 1/2 --Keep Your Own Interests. As strongly as we feel about being together, we feel just as strongly about getting some time to ourselves. Just because you now hold the titles of spouse and mother, does not mean you need to lose the title of SELF. I am a much better parent and spouse when I have had some time to do something for me. If you never give time and rejuvenation to yourself, pretty soon you will run out of time and energy to give your spouse as well.
#3 --Learn to Read Between the Lines When Kendon does the dishes after dinner, I know that he is saying, "Thank you for taking the time to make a yummy meal." When he puts the kids to bed at night I know that he is saying, "I know you've had a long day and I want to help out." When he takes the time to be with his family and incorporates us into his hobbies, I realize that he is saying, "I love you and I like to be with you." When he gives me Mommy breaks, I understand that he is saying, "Your job is tough and I appreciate what you do."

Kendon's actions speak louder than words. This is the language he speaks. I have learned to understand Kendon's language and I am learning to speak it was well. I would be very remiss if I didn't appreciate his actions and only expected words. Every spouse has their own language. It is important to learn how they speak and to communicate that way.

I know you said three reasons and I've already given you three and a half, but here's one more. It is short and sweet but I believe it with all my heart.#4 --The family who prays together, stays together!

2. How have you managed to successfully balance your husband's personal interests with your own? What have you had to sacrifice? Was it worth it?

I think in order to balance each other's interests, you have to have an open mind and be willing to try new things. For example, I never would have thought that I'd enjoy hunting, but I gave it a shot because that is an important part of Kendon's life. While, the kill is NOT fun for me, getting to spend time one on one with Kendon, in nature, watching him feel so passionate about something is very fun.

I think that Kendon has sacrificed much more than I have. He was a bachelor until he was 30 years old. Giving that up was a sacrifice in and of its self! He has given up many of the activities that he loved in order to spend more time with his family. He also gave up a career that he loved as a cop to find a career that is more family oriented. I think that having a willing heart to sacrifice can create great strength in a marriage. When you sacrifice something of importance to you for a cause as great as family, you always come out on top!

3. What would be your dream date with your husband?In the morning we would go hiking in a beautiful spot called Darby Canyon. We would take a yummy lunch (croissant sandwiches would be divine! Or something yummy I don't have to make. Millhollow sandwiches would do.) and eat it under the waterfall. We wouldn't rush the hike back and would take our time to explore and enjoy nature.

On our way home we would go to Heise Hot Springs and soak in the hot tubs. We would stay til dark, cause it's much more relaxing and romantic under the stars. Before heading home we would get Chinese Take out, some really yummy ice cream and a video. Actually, instead of going home, we would go stay at a hotel with theme rooms. I've always wanted to stay in one of those. So romantic. (Unless you stay in the Star Wars room...No thanks.)

4. What is your favorite no-cost (or really really cheap) date with your husband?

Homemade picnic and the outdoor archery range. This will be even more fun this summer now that I have a bow too!

5. Who are your happy-marriage role models? What have you learned from them?

I am so blessed to have so many GREAT role models. I have a very close relationship with all of my grandparents and they have taught me so much through their examples. My Grandpa Bigelow just passed away last October. I miss him dearly but my grandma feels lost without him. He was her other half. They were married for nearly 60 years and they did everything together. When my grandpa was sick in the hospital my grandmother was so sweet and gentle and kind with her husband. She would say, "It is so hard to watch your sweetheart like this." I remember thinking that I was blessed to witness these special moments of tenderness between my grandparents during their last moments together. Then I realized, I have been watching them treat each other this way my whole life. I had never seen my grandfather treat my grandmother with anything but utmost respect, EVER.

My mother's parents are also celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. What great examples they have all been. They taught my parents what makes a happy marriage, and they have in turn shown Kendon and I. What a great legacy my grandparents have created for generations to come!

6. How do you keep your marriage a top priority in the hecticness of childrearing, housekeeping, church work and other personal responsibilities?
Take time every day to ensure that your spouse knows you love and appreciate them. This will be manifest in every relationship differently. Find out what makes your spouse smile and do it every day.

7. What advice will you give your daughters when they meet Mr. Right?

WORK! If you want a happy marriage there is work involved. You don't get happily married and expect it to magically stay that way. Life gets in the way. Everyday you have to deposit something positive into your marriage bank account or, before you know it, you'll be bankrupt. I believe that you could marry almost anyone and be happy if you are willing to put in the effort. (I don't recommend this, I'm just saying....) Anything worth having is worth working for.

Thanks, Lisa-Marie! You are soooo right!

Check out Lisa-Marie's happy thoughts here...I love her romantic tribute to her parents today!

Monday, May 5, 2008

For Your In-Flight Entertainment

So my weekend was simply fabulous. Women's Conference did not disappoint. Mom's talk was a highlight. She was wonderful (I knew she would be)! I loved hanging with the women in my family and meeting so many old/new friends at the 1st Annual Blogapalooza Party! (Click here and scroll down a few photos to see me and the ladies at my table....thanks, Jill!) It was such a fun night.

Besides all the learning, listening, talking, giggling, eating, shopping and primping, I did a lot of reading. Mostly on the plane trip. Heaven!

Here are my in-flight recommendations:
Julie and Julia by Julie Powell is a real life story about living in New York, cooking and blogging all about it. Of course, I loved it. Also, it's being made into a movie with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep playing the Julia Child role!
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos is another book that reads like a movie...set in my new hometown. This is one of those improbable fairy-tale type stories that require suspended reality, but make for great chick flicks! Very very cute.
And, last but not least, What Would Jackie Do? by Shelly Branch & Sue Callaway. Who isn't fascinated by Jackie O? This book uses historical research to dissect Jackie's style, diet, parenting and decorating strategies --then applies them to life in the 21st century. A little light, silly fun. Perfect for a cross-country flight. (Don't worry Mom, I already mailed it back to you!)

And, now my plane has landed. Time to face reality...
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