Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hot, Buttered Rolls and other acts of betrayal

My lands, that was a rough one. Dentist appointment, doctor’s appointment. Tantrums from teenager and elementary schooler (both of strikingly similar tone and rationale). Gnashing of teeth over math problems, by two children. I drove about five loops around the neighborhood, doing Pikov Andropov (you know, a la Car Talk with Click and Clack).

But it’s not the busy that makes it exhausting. It’s not even the pushback—the stalling, the arguing, the backtalk. It’s that my children seem to spend so much of each day feeling that I am somehow failing them. Not being available enough, responsive enough, permissive enough, generous enough.

For example. Last night I baked rolls, and at one point in the evening, carried a hot, buttered roll on a plate downstairs to Logan in his room. He took the opportunity to chastise me for, as far as I could tell, both 1.) not helping him with things he needs and 2.) hassling him by involving myself in his life. It seemed unjust for him argue both sides. “At least pick one,” I thought.

The “conversation” culminated with his passionate pronouncement, “You really don’t help me with anything at all.” Which stung at that hour of night when I felt pretty depleted from a day’s worth of helping with things.


Only later did I realize that all this had transpired when I was in the act of delivering a hot, buttered roll. An act which I believe is universally and in all epochs and eras recognized as generous and helpful.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

In which I demonstrate a firm grasp of the obvious

Okay, 2014 was a bit of a slog. The endless disappointment of Mark's foot never healing was only the most visible of several challenging, energy-sapping struggles around here. I worked hard to soldier on, but by the end of year, my mental image of myself was of a shrunken, shrewish hag. Rushing from one task to the next, barking orders.

(Of course, that's not a totally fair assessment. But that image is reflected back at me from my children's eyes.)

Around New Year's, as I was driving across the valley to refill pain meds following Mark's surgery, I told my sister on the phone that I was in search of a New Year's resolution--or theme, or word of the year--but I just couldn't think of something that would save me from being such a horrible person.

After much pondering (and more chats with mom and sisters), I did choose a theme for the year and accompanying resolutions.. But here's my favorite. For me, it feels the most revolutionary. And it's the simplest.

Ready?

Stop trying to do impossible things.

Genius, right?

Impossible things like being three places at once. Like doing everything everyone wants me to do, all at the same time. Hard things, yes. Many things, fine. But impossible things. No.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hopes

Logan:
I hope one day he looks back and realizes that in his greasiest, grumpiest, prickliest teenage days, his mother was always happy to see him.

Levi:
I hope one day he looks back and notices that his mother came to very nearly every single one of his many, many games. And that every time he looked her way after an especially awesome play, he could catch her eye, watching him.

Haley:
I hope that one day she looks back and can see all the encouragement, instruction, structure, consistency, and correction from her mother as a form of love.

Jesse:
I hope that one day he looks back and is grateful that his mother made him believe he was a special gift (no matter how rowdy, disregulated, or behind the curve he fell).

Betsy:
I hope she's always my best friend.

Roscoe:
It is a huge bright spot in my heart that he now sees his mother as the wind beneath his now spread-wide wings.

Notes

Jesse is trying to teach Betsy math:

Jesse: What's 1+1 ?
Betsy: I don't know.
Jesse: So if I have one, and then I get another, then I have two. So 1+1=2. So what's 1+1?
Betsy: I don't know.
__________________

I usually work on my resume business for a few hours a day. Maybe an hour in the morning responding to emails and taking client calls. Two, maybe three, hours during quiet time in the afternoon. More if Betsy has preschool, some work in the evening if I'm swamped.

Today I didn't work at all. And it's amazing what I've done around here. A couple coats of paint on the stairs. Mopping floors. Washing walls. Cleaning the laundry room. Even an episode of Project Runway. And it's only 3:00!
_________________

Also, this morning Mark and I went to another doctor's appointment regarding his torn tendon. Which has caused to him be on crutches since January. Today we scheduled a surgery.

Boo: Surgery. Painful. Expensive. Long recovery.
Yay: A plan. An end in sight. Hope for recovery.
_________________

More pros and cons:

Boo: Yesterday I completely lost my temper and hollered at a recalcitrant kid.
Yay: I realized I couldn't remember the last time that had happened.

__________________

I took Jesse out for lunch today to have a little heart to heart. Highlights from our conversation:

"I know the first kind of bug you should eat when you're trying to learn how to eat bugs. Ants."

"Have you ever eaten an eyeball. You should; they're good. But don't use a fork. The fork would get nasty."

This was not actually my planned topic of conversation.



Friday, October 31, 2014

School pics

It's Halloween evening, and really we're just waiting for trick-or-treating time and the kids are hyper and need supervision but can't be persuaded to do anything productive, so here I sit putting final touches on this year's "school" pictures. Taken against an old sheet draped over the piano.


This year, I decided to let the kids' pictures show their personalities. And we seem to have plenty of personality around here.

Starting with this one. Look at all those faces!



Betsy
3-year-old preschool
This girl has soo much moxie. She loves preschool, playgroup, stuffed animals, books, Barney, and her family.




 Jesse
2nd grade
Jesse is an orange belt in karate, is on the 5th Magic Treehouse book, and thinks about Legos day and night.




 Haley
5th grade
Miss Haley takes piano lessons, plays flute in the school band, and takes a tumbling class. She loves experimenting with hairstyles and reading spooky books.



 Levi
7th grade
This dapper dude plays on soccer, volleyball, and basketball teams and plays percussion in the school band. He is constantly scheming grand social plans.



Logan
11th grade
Logan is a busy young man, who keeps solid grades and works five days a week. He dutifully practices screamo vocals. Every. night. His band is called Sunshine Pizza. They practice in the garage.


Roscoe
halfway through his mission to Neuquen, Argentina
Roscoe has had an unbelievably positive first year. He loves what he's doing and is learning and growing. I think so far his favorite area has been "the balsa," a remote neighborhood where he worked to establish a branch.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Saturday Vingettes

Along the sidelines of a breezy, sunny soccer game, I'm chatting with another soccer mom. We agree that it can be challenging to be a less-than-uber-conservative Mormon in Utah. I suggest the strategy of keeping a book such as this in your church bag. Then when the conservative rhetoric gets too intense, you can pass it along the pew for your children's enjoyment.

She suggested the added strategy of sharing the book with the children on adjoining rows.

Yes, We Can! A Salute to Children from President Obama's Victory Speech

~~~~~

Walking across the parking lot after the game, we overhear from a passing car, "Parker, I'm disappointed in you. You played horrible. Just horrible."

Levi and I agreed, that Dad is horrible. Just horrible.

~~~~~~~~~~

Choretime scenario:


Child #1 is singing sweetly to herself.

This annoys Child #2, who decides that loudly chanting "Blah, blah, blah" is a helpful solution.

Child #3 enters the room and begins yelling at Child #2 to be quiet.

It's a win-win-win.

~~~~~~~~~~

Among the many reasons it is foolhardy for me to leave the house: the mysterious tangles my family makes in my absence.

Exhibit A:
Who (and why?) unloaded the dirty dishwasher, filling the cupboards with neat stacks of crusted dishes? 

Exhibit B: 
Who (and why?) took the recycling bin, and what are we now to do with this empty milk jug?

Exhibit C:
Why is my blow dryer strewn across my bathroom counter, cord suspended over the sink? Is this a trap laid by a disgruntled progeny? 

Answers:

A: Jesse. (As it often is.) Jesse believes he had been assigned to unload the dishwasher, though Mark swears it isn't so. The milk smears and jelly smears did not deter Young Jess from his alleged mission.

B: Unsolved.

C: Apparently Logan has taken to blow drying his hair, but has not taken to putting the blow dryer away.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Other days...

Sometimes, I send the kids happily off the school and buzz through the day completing tasks with pleasant efficiency. When the kids come home, they finish off their homework then disappear for some screen time or friend time.

Other days, I rush from appointment to errand. Things run late. Kids have emergencies. By three o'clock it occurs to me that no less than 11 kids and teens have been in and out of my van. Homework requires much hand-holding and a few tears. It's all accompanied by a screaming fit by Bets. Demands for homework help, snacks, and pick-ups overlap. The prospects for a delicious, healthy dinner are waning fast.

Today is an other day.