Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Love the Whole Wide World

Pinched this from Kara Jayne's blog and am dedicating it to our newly-imported Congolese cousins. Can't wait to hear the new harmonies and rhythm they'll add to our extended family song.

Welcome, Joseph & Solange!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Everything That I Am Thinking About Right This Very Minute

You know when your stomach hurts and you're just so nauseous you actually WANT to throw up? Because as soon as everything's out and not just churning inside, you'll just feel so much better?

That's how my brain feels right now.

So I'm just going to do one giant blog upchuck and share my brain nausea with the world. Hopefully having it out and not just churning inside, I'll feel much better...

  1. Turning Five. Sam and Luke turn five tomorrow. And, clearly, the best way to celebrate the fifth anniversary of your emergency C-section is to invite 20 hyper four-year-olds to your house for a magic show and balloon animals. (Note to self: See if magician can possibly bring an anesthesiologist to party.)
  2. But No Seriously. I am having mixed feelings about my babies turning five. How many long days and sleep-deprived nights did I think to myself, If I can only survive the first five years... And I did survive. And it was harder than I thought it would be, but better too. And now I don't have babies anymore. So who am I?
  3. The Home Office. Remember how worried I was about Brad working at home? Well, I love it. Really. It is great that he can come home for dinner right when it's ready. And that I don't have to hurry home to meet the schoolbus anymore. He leaves me alone and vice versa. It is an ideal situation. 99% of the time. Unfortunately, today was the other 1%. Enough said. Love you, Babe.
  4. Dressing for the Derby. I have finally decided upon a dress and even found a hat to match. Some cute spectator pumps too. Now I just need a few final accessories and a cute bag to tie it all together. Since it is work-related, Brad is unusually interested in the whole thing and actually encouraging my shopping habit. Frankly, I don't know how to handle his involvement. One question for all my fashion savvy friends--stockings: yes or no? Brad doesn't have an I need yours.
  5. And, of course, All Roads Lead to Hair. So the next question is what to do with it? You know, as soon as I put that hat on, my 'do is dead for the day. So should I try to be smooth? Or should I just carry the hat and attempt Big Hair? It is the South, after all. My stylist, Danielle, suggested that I spend the next few days experimenting. Hello? Does she think I'm in ninth grade? Danielle dear, I should have said, the only hair experiment this mother of four can handle is the one where she counts how many days she can go without shampooing before people begin to complain. (FYI: Two and one-half days. I have very fine hair and I'm a head-sweater, like my mother. Thanks, Mom!)
  6. I Have Got To Go To Bed.

Thank you all for listening. I DO feel much better. I just need a couple saltines and some ginger ale.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April ADD

I have got a serious case of Attention-Deficit-Disorder, these days. Or maybe it's just old-fashioned Spring Fever. Whatever it is, it's making it extremely difficult for me to concentrate on any one thing. Just typing right now I feel all antsy and jittery.

It's not all my fault. The weather has been completely unpredictable. I had to scrape my windshield this morning before Seminary, but now it's dinnertime and the kids are all barefoot and certain areas of the house are wafting the unmistakable fragrance of Warm Boy.

Also, a lot of extended family excitement. My brother's amazing recovery from a hit & run accident. My bro-in-law's trek to deepest Africa to bring home my new nephew & niece.

Baseball games, bridal showers, friends having surgery, a trip to the races, not to mention a huge, magical birthday-times-two extravaganza in the works.

And then there's the pesky day-to-day feeding and clothing and cleaning business. No wonder I just want to gaze out the window...

Instead, I will post these photos of the PreK field trip to the farm. Enjoy.

This is my favorite...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mother Earth's Capricious Daughter

Spring, in this part of the world,
is definitely a woman-child.
Moody, fickle, often hiding in a sulk.
once she finally pulls herself out of the pout,
and emerges in all her sunshining gloriousness,
you instantly forget how annoying she can be,

and feel more beautiful just basking in her presence.
Welcome, Miss Spring.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Exhaustion...Through the Ages

When I was seven years old, exhaustion meant Wizard of Oz had been on tv the night before. And, because there were no VCRs or DVDs in those olden times, Mom had let me stay up to watch the whole thing. With popcorn. Of course, I would be exhausted after all those nightmares of flying monkeys, but Mom would tuck me into bed early the next night and I'd sleep the whole thing off.

When I was thirteen years old, exhaustion meant I had spent the night at my girlfriend's house the night before. We'd stayed up til the wee hours trying on each other's clothes, eating Skittles, calling boys we knew and hanging up, because there was no Caller ID in those olden times. My eyes would be puffy and I'd be extra-grumpy with my little brothers and sisters in the morning, but Mom would make me go to bed early and I'd just sleep the whole thing off.

When I was nineteen years old, exhaustion meant midnight movies with my roommates--and, hopefully, some cute boys-- the night before. Or it meant finals. Or pulling a late-night in the library, doing research in books, because there was no World Wide Web in those olden times. I'd, perhaps, nod off a little bit during Geography 110 and need an extra touch of under-eye concealer before my evening study group. But I'd sneak into that bathroom in the McKay building, the one with the "sickbed" in a tiny room separate from the toilets, roll up my jacket, put it under my head and sleep the whole thing off.

When I was twenty-eight years old, exhaustion meant I'd been up all night with my new baby. Rocking, singing, shushing. Feeding on demand, of course, because I had not yet read Babywise in those olden times. Or it meant staying up past bedtime folding a mountain of little white Onesies and burp cloths, because I hadn't yet learned to multi-task and I wanted to hold my precious one every minute he was awake. I'd look a little haggard in the morning, but after a long stroll pushing the Peg Perego, Baby J would be ready for a nap, so I'd tuck him in and then sleep the whole thing off.

Today I am thirty-eight and exhaustion means another late-night date with my washer and dryer, because although I can now multi-task with my eyes closed, the laundry mountains have somehow grown bigger and the days have mysteriously grown shorter. It means getting up at 5:00 am, teaching a lesson and then coming home to start the Breakfast Shift. It means my kids have half-days at school this week, which is truly worse than no school at all. It means filling out a huge pile of paperwork for kindergarten registration. Twice. My eyelids are heavy and my patience is shot. It's only 6:45 you think it's too soon to try and sleep the whole thing off?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Northward Bound

Hoping for a taste of history, some Legal Seafood and a few Cadbury eggs.
Wishing you an old-fashioned Easter, too!

Monday, April 6, 2009

If I Ran the Library...

  • I would not be surprised that the newly-installed automatic door-opening buttons attract the attention of noisy four-year-olds. I would not say "That's enough, boys!" and give the stinkeye to helpless mothers who find themselves powerless in the wake of such tempting and addictive new technology.

  • I would keep a freshly-stocked basket of the newest Chick-Lit books, as well as some non-parenting magazines, on a shelf near a cozy armchair in the kids' computer zone. Also, I would install a Glade Plug-In.

  • I would recognize the importance of oiling the wheels on all those squeaky rolling-step-stool-library-thingies.

  • I would lobby for a Children's Wing bathroom.

  • I would not stare blankly when asked for read-aloud suggestions. Instead, I would smile kindly, ask a few thoughtful questions and lead enquiring readers to some of my favorite recommendations:

For your high-and-hyper-on-life almost five boys:

All Jamie Lee Curtis books are sheer delight. But this one is my absolute favorite! Even if all the pages were ripped out, just looking at the illustrations in the front and back endpapers could provide a worthwhile 20-minute bedtime discussion. So good! So good!

For your first or second grader:

A classic. Girls love it. Boys love it. They can read it themselves--the chapters are short, interesting and well-illustrated. But it's also fun to read together. Best of all, once you get 'em hooked, there are a couple more books in the series. Enjoy!

For your nature-lovin', animal-crazy ten year old:

If you don't wanna buy a pet, the Dimwood Forest series is the next best thing. Charming, but realistic animal characters. Funny, with just the right amount of kid-friendly earthiness. Lyrical. A pleasure to read-aloud. Still, don't be surprised if your li'l bookworm finishes the whole thing under the covers after you've tucked him in!

And, if I ran the library, there would be no late fees. But I would give you a fresh-baked cookie if you returned my favorites and brought along a few of your own.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Seven Questions--Living the Beautiful Life

We all know beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But sometimes day-to-day mom-life leaves the beholder feeling bewildered. Peering over a dirty bathroom sink, gazing into bloodshot eyes and looking forward to a day full of carpooling or potty-training, the land of beauty can feel light years away.

Today, the lovely Martha, is going to lead us back to gracious living. If you've ever met Martha or read her delightful blog, you know shehas an eclectic elegance and eye for finding beauty all around her. Here are her thoughts on living beautifully...

#1--Martha, every glimpse into your life is lovely. Tell us a little about your background. Are you an artist? A decorator? A photographer? How have you educated your eye to find beauty and to create it all around you?

Martha's Disclaimer: First, I need to let it be known that the answers to these questions are my ideal; I wish that I practiced them 100% of the time, but I often fall short. But I do believe and try to apply these beliefs to my life.

I only play a decorator and photographer on the internet. I, really, have absolutely no training in these fields. I am only beginning to photograph my little life, and am learning by trial and error (digital photography quickens the learning process thankfully). As far as decorating goes, I’ve always loved to create and surround myself with beauty, but my desire has always extended beyond my budget, so the need to “create” forces me to dig a little deeper than my pocket book.
I do consider myself somewhat of an artist. As a child, my brother and I spent hours drawing on endless roles of paper my father purchased from the local paper plant. I loved escaping to the world of enchantment which sprang from my pencil. I am grateful that my father nurtured this desire.
In grade school I did win the local fire hall’s art contest (two years in a row) which promoted fire safety and in high school I won first prize for painting the best birch trees, so, as you can see I do have an illustrious background as an acclaimed artist (circa 1989, and the accolades spanned at least 6 people).
Really though, I did study graphic design but I do very little with it at the moment. I do however have a list a mile long of all of the things I plan to create once my arms are not filled with a breast feeder and when I once again acquire Illustrator for my new computer.

One of the things I love about your interviews, Gabi is that you ask the right questions. Although I have always been drawn to beauty and have been a passionate idealist, I believe you hit upon something in the word “find”. I don’t pretend to be an expert in these matters but I have found that as I have worked hard to exude more beauty (become a happier more service-oriented woman) my life encompasses greater beauty. I am able to internalize the beauty that already exists abundantly around me.

It’s a cycle. I am able to see greater beauty when I feel beautiful and I feel beautiful when I include beauty in my life. Part of it is sentimentality and gratitude. When I am grateful, things I hadn’t noticed before take on a new life of beauty, and because I am sentimental about the tarantula crossing the road after a cold night or the prisms of light that dance in the late afternoon on our dining room wall, enthusiasm and romance fill quickly passing moments that I have with my children.

#2--What are your top five favorite ways to make a space more lovely? Where do you turn for inspiration?
Hmmm, top five, well, #1 would be that I surround myself with what I love, which means, I need to know what I love. The things I am aware of loving are: whimsy, romance, color, light, family, and history. I incorporate some of these things into my home by not having window coverings on my main floor. The warmth from the sun invites happiness and seems to allow for a more welcoming atmosphere. I will give a few more examples in the remaining points.
#2. This may be a bit redundant but I believe a beautiful space reflects who you are, where you’ve been and what you’ve done. I love a space that tells me a story. Intimacy is welcoming. Also, passion can be breathtaking and endearing. Having bits of my loves and my life surround me reminds me of what is important and allows for opportunities to teach my children what I think is important.
#3. I like to bring the outside in. Dissolving the line between nature and manmade is not only healthy but very aesthetically pleasing. I actually feel more beautiful when I am surrounded by Mother Nature’s beauty. I often refer to it as “beauty by association”. I’m not really sure how to articulate it, but there is a whisper I find in the presence of flora and fauna that reminds me that we are created by the same hand. What I am trying to say is, I have a number of plants. My daughters and I also like to purchase flowers in the winter, or pick them in the spring and summer and place them in bud vases all around the house. They need not be expensive, just happy colors in jars brighten and cheer.

#4. I like to mix it up. I am very eclectic and am drawn to spaces that don’t follow any rules. I really enjoy vintage and antiques and I like to place them with/next to something modern or contemporary. I will be working on this theme for the next 20 years. I am currently seeking investors. Would your readers be willing to donate?
#5. I like the romance of adding a little bit of family history to my surroundings. Being aware of where I came from and the shoulders I stand upon grounds me and helps me to internalize the scope of my calling as a mother. I don’t know if there is any art more priceless than photos of my children and ancestors. My #1 project is to liberally place photographs which depict our family history about my home.

I gather inspiration from all over the place. Nature, books, other’s homes, catalogues, magazines, and mostly, the internet. I download images regularly and save them for future reference. Be careful, it can be a time suck.

#3--How do you balance the desire for beauty and order with the everyday reality of four young children? What compromises do you make? What are your indulgences?
I am still working on the balance, but I find greater beauty now with four young children, then I did when I had one.
I say this because I have learned (am learning) to embrace my choices and what it is that I do as beautiful. It is beautiful to teach my child to sift flour, put their shoes on, identify shapes, clean(sheer beauty), use the toilet(crazy beauty), and share. Of course, there are moments when it doesn’t feel beautiful, but the fact that I am learning to identify the beauty in these moments in and of itself is beautiful.
I’ve also learned to appreciate and embrace the beauty my children create. My daughter is a budding artist and I love her work. It is hung with pride. I love to notice the little moments of genius children have in their creativity. There is a certain freeness in their expression and I have been trying to capture some of it in photos so that I can frame and place these moments around my home as a reminders of their beauty.

Compromises, well, I have to allow for some dirt of course. Sometimes I have to let the OCD go. The OCD keeps me sane sometimes, but I have to understand that I cannot control it all and it’s OK. Also, there are things I just can’t do now. I need to be grateful for the season I am in, and not focus on what I am unable to do. The time that I have with my children is fleeting. There is a choice to be made moment by moment, and sincerely there is so much joy in just enjoying a simple quite life with my husband and children.

My biggest indulgence is food. I don’t know who said you can’t find love in food, but they were totally lying. I feel love when I am fed well and I like to show love by feeding well. I spend way too much on my grocery budget (sorry Brad), and I do spend a bit of time cooking, I very rarely look for a quick meal. Food is the perfect vehicle for conversation, eye contact, laughter, affection, and learning. What can I say; food makes me happy and fills my life with beauty. It is totally debatable whether or not food actually makes me beautiful.

#4--Along those lines, how do you teach your children to appreciate beauty in the world around them? What are your some of your family's favorite beautiful images, music and words?
Seriously Gabi, great questions! One of the things I appreciate about my upbringing which I believe has taught me to appreciate beauty, is placing value upon all living things. I know this is not a popular point of view, but I really believe in it. My parents were very compassionate and earthy. I try, and teach my children to have respect for and to be gentle with all creatures. I like to use crickets, spiders, bugs, bats, mice, cats, and dogs- whatever, to teach my children about life and compassion. They are curious and I would hate to teach them to dislike or be frightened by something because it is different and unknown.

This, of course, carries over into our relations with humanity. It’s not OK to speak poorly about someone else or to criticize. When you are gentle and merciful with all that is around you, you are able to be more gentle with yourself and you invite beauty in instead of repelling it. I believe it’s easy to find beauty when you are looking for it. I also believe it’s important to be vocal when I notice beauty. I hear my daughter repeating many of the things I say, so my husband and I point out the rainbow, the sunset, the blooms, and the shadows. I really want them to be open to the truth that beauty absolutely surrounds them. I think the more open I am, the more willing they will be to embrace.

My children are still very young, but there are a few images that we enjoy together. The back of our home faces north-west. We see some pretty spectacular sunsets from our family room. My children are quick to point out the variations of pink and magenta. We also watch for deer, fox, and all sorts of wildlife in the gully that sits in front of our home. I have to say that my children’s favorite images (at the moment) are their parents wedding photos and the temple that we were married in. They love to hear the story and talk about the temple. They also love to hear the stories of their births.

As far as music goes, they love just about anything their father plays on the guitar. They love to dance while he plays a Johnny Cash or Elvis tune. I grew up with a father who played the guitar while singing folk music and a little rock and roll, so I’m grateful to have a husband who can do the same for my children. I’m guilty with indoctrinating them with the soundtrack of my youth. Currently, their favorites are Willie Nelson’s Angel Flying too Close to the Ground, Joni Mitchell, a whole lot of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and some Xanadu soundtrack thrown in for good measure. I hope to turn them onto Bach and Mozart and the blues.

I was raised on the classics and currently am loving many nonfiction works. I love Dickens. I hope to share A Christmas Carol with them every year as my family did. I tried this last year, but they are still a little young. I’ve tried to read them some of the stories and poetry I loved, such as Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee but it may be a few more years until they appreciate it. I suppose the words that I most try to represent to my children as being beautiful are those of Jesus Christ. If they follow His words, I know they too will find beauty. I also believe it’s important to listen; not to who can yell the loudest, but to the gentle, thoughtful and graceful. I think we live in a world that is so bombarded by loudness and those who try to promote fear, intolerance, and indifference. I value and appreciate those who are able to listen without prejudice. I have really learned to be grateful for the blessing of public radio and television. They are true treasures. The education I glean from them is priceless. There is a depth of humanity that is vividly displayed in public programming that network media disregards and lacks. I hope that doesn’t sound too pretentious, because I like Project Runway too.

#5--How about beauty for Mom? What are some things you do to feel pretty yourself? Do you have any beauty secrets to share?
Sleep. Mom and sleep is probably an oxymoron right? But, I need sleep. I not only look “pretty” but I act “pretty” as well when I am rested. So I give up late night shows, sleep is precious. I also am a big believer in getting my kids to bed early. That way, I have time to myself and for my husband. We don’t go out on dates much; it’s hard with all of these little babies, but I can say, “Meet me in the basement at eight”.

Exercise. I love to run and workout. Energy augments my ability to feel beautiful and appreciate beauty. These are elementary answers, but eating healthy also is a beauty boost. My skin looks great and I feel great when I eat several servings of vegetables.

Sunscreen. I’ve always been pretty diligent about wearing sunscreen on my face. I’m sorry to say I haven’t been very diligent about wearing it on my arms, but the contrast is a testimony of its importance.

Smiling! Seriously, remembering to smile always is something I remind myself to do. Red lipstick and mascara don’t hurt either.

#6--Everyone is budget conscious these days. Any cheap tricks for home or self? Where do you find beauty on a shoestring?
Yes. Two things I do to remain creative, but thrifty, are paint and recycle. I paint everything. If it’s boring, I paint it. Picture frames, furniture, and walls can all be painted when things get dull or I need something new. If I find something at a second hand store that is just OK, I imagine how it would look in one of my favorite colors. Projects are fun and they help me feel good.
One of my favorite areas in my home is my children’s play area. I painted this table after I became bored with its original color. The chairs were natural wood until I painted them red. I have at least 10 things in my home I would like to paint if my husband would let me. One of the things he will let me paint is this crib. My baby needs a crib. It is insane for us to buy a new crib when we have 2 already. But they are both elderly and abused. With some turquoise spray paint, this crib will be hip and happening (that is as soon as I can convince my 4 year old that she can live without it).

I recycle what I already own, what my mother owns (could be referred to as theft and not thrift) and what is available on eBay or in second hand stores. Sometimes things just need a new perspective. I often have an idea and I will go through what I have or my mother’s basement to see if there is something that fits the bill. While doing this, I found a needle point that my great grandmother, my grandmother and my mother had each contributed to. I plan to finish it off, frame it and admire the work of four generations.

Whether you have a large or small budget, patience is a sincere virtue when trying to create beauty. Layers of richness evolve when I have to consider and reconsider. Imagination goes further than the dollar when trying to create an atmosphere that not only looks beautiful but feels beautiful.

#7--Even more than lovely clothes or furniture, I think we most want to create beautiful moments. What are your suggestions for creating beautiful memories with the people we love?
You are completely right. What does a lovely outfit or a beautiful home matter if the possessor isn’t happy? All roads seem to lead me back to gratitude. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by temper tantrums and diapers or long for what is out of reach. If I spend very much time in these places, I only find dissatisfaction and unhappiness. I know I’ve partially already touched upon this, but I try to be aware of always keeping my thoughts in check. When I think humble, selfless, loving thoughts, my actions follow, and so follow my children (most of the time). They learn how to be happy or how to be critical by watching me.

One way I keep my thoughts in check is by focusing on how I’ve been blessed. I’m not going to lie; it is hard work in the thick of whining, complaining, and fighting, to patiently count my blessings with my children. But I find that if I try to be present in the moment and understand that I have a choice to either complain (react) or be cheerful (act), then there is momentum to turn the moment around.

The soft strokes of gratitude silken a difficult path. In the hurried moments of the morning, I peer over my upstairs railing at my baby who is watching me from below and realize she will not always seek me so diligently. Love it, cherish it, hold it as tightly as you can while you have moments to make sacred because they are quickly evading your grasp.
Beautifully written! Thank you, Martha.
Get everyday glimpses into Martha's beautiful life at The G-Train. Part poetry, part artistry. You'll love it!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Eyes on April

This month is a big one for spectating. Here are a few things we'll be watching...
  • Ball games. Jake's, Em's and, of course, the NCAA Championships. Brad is ready to rip up his March Madness bracket worksheet. His picks have not fared well.
  • I-95. As we drive north for Spring Break. Easter in Boston. Warm and sunny? Probably not. But we're excited anyway.
  • General Conference. The trail mix is ready. The couch is ready. I am ready--for inspiration.
  • The Kentucky Derby. A grown-ups only trip, courtesy of the new company. Brad will be watching the horses. I will be watching for celebrities in fancy hats.
  • Ecclesiastical Excitement. We're getting a new Bishop at church. And the Relief Society President is moving. All you Mormons out there know this is much more exciting than any horserace. Too bad they don't pass out bracket worksheets. I've got my Final Four picks all ready...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Backseat Drivers

I predict a whole lot of twinkie posts coming in the near future. My guys are almost five. And is there anything cuter than an almost-five-year-old-boy?

Only one thing.

Two of them.

These two are just so bloggable right now. They remind me of little tourists venturing into the Land of BigKid. Wandering around with wide, wondrous eyes. Trying to speak the native tongue with just a trace of an accent and a few endearing mispronunciations. Their excitement in the everyday is contagious.

Typically, our days together consist of morning cleanup (me) and Curious George (them). Then we go to the gym where they do dance class or gymnastics and I try to reach my target heart rate. On non-workout days, we stay home and make cookies, effectively undoing all gym time. While the cookies bake, we construct a supercool marble track or Lego tower, and then I drive them to afternoon preschool.

Driving with the boys is quite an experience. There's the whole sock/shoe/schoolbag/jacket obstacle course. Then seat assignments, stowing luggage and belt fastening. Actually a flight attendant would be helpful.

The twinks are very definite in their travel preferences. Luke has opinions about road music. (His current playlist: Barenaked Ladies, the Cars soundtrack and Auntie Min's mix CD.) Sam watches the gas tank. Other areas of interest include: the GPS (Show map, please, Mom!), the windshield wipers (Back window, too!) and climate control. (Turn on the fan. We're sweating!)

As they critique my driving, warn me of yellow lights and abuse the automatic window privilege, I can almost imagine what it will be like to drive with them when they are two almost-seventeen-year-olds. Is there anything more obnoxious, expensive and scary than a new teen driver?

Only one thing.

Two of them.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...