Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

I went to bed on Christmas night feeling amazingly blessed in every way.
This season was especially meaningful to me.

I will admit that I am happy to turn the page on 2010.
I am ready to move forward.
We had many wonderful memories of this year,
and we had lots of parts I could easily forget.
I wanted the Christmas portion of this year to be a beautiful ending.
Christmas 2010 will be a happy memory.
By the end of it, I even thought,
"We almost have this down."
To sum up the week,
It was really busy.
There was a moment last week when I had to wait on someone ahead of me.
I wondered,
"How on earth does that person get through life moving SO Slow?"
And then I noticed that lots of people move really slow.
I think I would too,
if I could.


My favorite part of Christmas?

A week ago,
Caleb asked why we don't give the homeless presents anymore.
I stopped to consider.
I used to fill 10 stockings with gifts.
  • A orange
  • toothbrush and paste
  • socks
  • treats
  • chocolates
  • a water bottle
  • and a gift card to McDonald's
The average cost was over $100.

And then we would go out the week of Christmas,
searching for people who looked like they needed some cheer.

I believe firmly in traditions,
and I never want to disappoint my kids,
so I did my best to put the gifts together again this year.
Only six this time,
and we used Santa bags instead of stockings.
I left out the toothbrush, toothpaste and orange.
It was still a good offering.

The week of Christmas had been just a little exhausting.
(Remember this is my journal,
and I write to remember,
and never to impress.
Someday,
When I move tremendously slow,
I will think back to these years,
and wonder how we squeezed it all in.)
Dan worked 68 hours,
and volunteered an afternoon with the fire toy drive.
We managed a few trips to the temple,
and spent time with the kids.
There were all the usual chores,
the yardwork,
the car washings,
the housework,
and the extra Christmas needs.
The laundry was a major issue.
I was WAY behind,
and I so much appreciate my mother helping me round the clock for nearly 24 hours so I could finish.
We delivered the remaining Christmas to our final less-fortunate family.
I worked with little sleep all week so that we might have some fun together.
The day before Christmas Eve,
we got a call that a family in our neighborhood was moving at 7am Christmas Eve.
We were supposed to leave by 8.
It made me nervous.
Dan and the boys went to help.
He said it was the highest attended service project all year,
and it brought a great spirit to the holiday.
We loaded up for the zoo a little late,
but still had fun.
My Favorite part of Christmas:
We left the zoo and headed down Van Buren in search of 6 homeless people.
We found a lady,
and then spotted a group of 3 men on a bus bench.
We had to turn around and come back.
By then,
there were 4.
One was holding a paper bag with a bottle inside.
As Colin and I walked over to them,
the one was sharing his bottle with the others.
We handed the gifts to each man.
It's impossible not to notice how worn their faces were from years on the street.
The happy one (with the bottle) gave me a big hug.
I shook another man's hand,
and patted the others on the shoulder.
We wished them kindness,
and left.
As I got in the car,
the kids were chattering loudly.
"Did you know that guy mom?!?"
No.
They burst into laughter saying,
"Why did you hug him then?"
Everyone needs a Christmas hug.
We headed deeper downtown looking for one more.
I finally told Dan to drive towards my brother's apartment,
hoping to catch him outside.
He wasn't there.
I wanted to cry to know that he lives in such a rough neighborhood.
We found our last guy,
sitting on another bench.
He had spread all his things around very comfortably.
Although it was chilly,
he sat barefoot.
Dan said,
"Well, at least we know he can use some socks."
The mood was cheerful,
and the shoeless guy was grateful,
and loud,
and of course the kids noticed.
We drove away explaining why most people are homeless.
I fought back tears.
Why does life have to be so hard for some people?
I have never understood.
The children were happy to have served.
My ambitions for the week were complete.
We were ready for the festivities to begin.
I, with several of my cousins,
ended up sick on Christmas.
It was still really fun.
A wonderful Christmas would not have been possible without all the help from the children and Dan. I love you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letters to Wednesday

Dear Wednesday,

You began at 4:15am. Dan spent the first part of his morning laughing at my expense, until he finally got hungry, and then nothing was funny anymore. Have you seen that new commercial...the one with the guy who turns into a diva when he gets hungry? That's my husband. We had Snickers with us, and he had some at 7:05am.

My house is crawling with kids today. I like kids, mostly. It's been absolutely beautiful this week. Cloudy and warm, with occasional sprinkles. We are wearing short sleeves. It's nice enough to be barefoot out on the winter grass. This is why we live here. And so, I keep kicking the kids out to the curb. Go play little varmints.

I thought I might escape the craziness of this month, but it didn't happen. We were fortunate enough to be involved with helping 3 other less fortunate families this season. My friend Holly taught me to give service, and it makes everything better. She's right.

2 Mickey's left. Still lots to do. Wednesday, thanks for cancelling scouts and youth group tonight. I might like you after all.

Hugs,
Me

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wednesday Eve

Colin kept me up late last night and dragged me out in the cold to see the lunar eclipse.
I hope I always remember those moments.


Today, I am sad.
Can't really explain it.


My phone was missing for 36 hours and dead half that time.
It causes me anxiety to check it after so long.
I missed 29 calls and 11 text messages before it died.


Remember the 80's?
We talked on the phone,
tethered to the wall.
I miss it.

That reminds me,
we were in the hallway at church on Sunday.
There is a phone on the wall,
the old-fashioned kind,
with a long, curly cord.
Cade said,
"Look mom, someone's iPhone."
"Yes son, but you can't check your email on that one."


Cell phones and Internet are great,
but it's getting a little out of control.


I spend most of my time in trouble with most of the people I know.
If they only knew how many times I do answer my phone, emails, vm's, texts, FB, door-which should really be the revolving type.

It's Winter Break.
I welcome the change from the normal schedule.
A few hours ago,
a couple teenagers came in offering to help.
I put them to work wrapping gifts for a family in need.
When that started winding down,
I handed them washcloths and sent them after the fingerprints.
They are now out at the park,
watching Mayhem and Destruction,
who have been 2 steps ahead of me all day.
Thanks a million, girls.

Corbin came to me and said, "That smells gooooddd. What's that smell?"
"Clorox."

Last night I treated myself to something.
What I need is a cleaning lady.
Instead I bought all new cleaning products.
I am not the only one who gets excited about things like that.
Colin immediately sifted through them too,
smelling each one,
and reading the labels for what purpose they serve.
He is my child
(except for the dark part....which he gets from Dan....hahahaha)

As the smell in the house gets better,
my mood is lightening.

It's Tuesday,
the day before Wednesday,
which is the day I do not like at all,
and upon which,
all weekly success is measured.

Happy Wednesday Eve.
Perhaps tomorrow will be mild this week,
even enjoyable.
You never know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

TP and Hammy

One more thing....
I came in last night from being out next door.
We had been laughing around the fire pit again.
There have been a string of TPing's happening around the neighborhood.

I have one son in particular that always gets blamed.
Last night,
all the adults were questioning whether or not I really know my son,
and his activities.
I said,
"Really,
he's probably only ever been out TPing 3 or 4 times."
They laughed, "Surrre....right, hahaha."

We joked about Colin's TP signature style.
He tears a roll, square by square,
and it's kind of messy.
I explained,
"That's because I only give him one roll,
and he has to make it last."
hahahaha
No seriously.

I came in late,
and Colin and Sydney were on the couch.
I asked him to tell me about his TPing adventures.
He named all 3.
One of which,
he and his friends picked up and moved the TP from one house to the house next door.
(They knew I wouldn't give them anymore TP)

And one of his adventures,
he TP'd our own house,
so it didn't really count.

I told him about the reputation.
He said, "That's awesome."
Sydney confessed that she's the only girl in her church class that has never been TPing.
We all laughed to tears.

Oh,
and that reminds me of the new pet we are borrowing.
It's the preschool hamster, 'Hammy.'
He replaced the last 'Hammy' that met with an unfortunate accident over Fall Break.
When I packed up Hammy to bring him home,
I asked about any special instructions.
The teacher said,
"Well, be careful. He bites."
I asked Corbin about it.
He said, "Yes, Hammy bites."
I came home,
handed the fur ball to the kids,
and gave the instructions.
"What kind of a preschool pet bites???"
They were rolling over that.

And so we have Hammy,
who spins around in a little ball all over the house.
Only Colin really handles him,
because everyone else is nervous to hold him.

Yes, Colin,
Hammy must go back.
No, the preschool kids won't kill him.
They are too afraid.

Monday

What a huge difference it makes to have the week before Christmas off.
The last few weeks have been full of concerts, parties, projects and finals.
It's been super fun,
and super exhausting.

My mom did a sneaky thing
She planned a progressive dinner with her kids in the neighborhood.
It was, HANDS-DOWN,
the funnest night ever with our family.

We began at our house with vegi's and music.
Colin played sax.
Hallie played her violin.
Caleb played his trumpet.
Kiersten and Nolan played the piano.
Sydney sang.
We had 3 versions of jingle bells.

It is customary here to sing when the kids are playing.
I wanted to,
but we just listened.
Colin and Caleb owe me another round.

(A side note to my sons.....I absolutely love to hear you play.)
Both have played trumpet,
and what a difficult instrument that is.
Caleb has it this year.
He comes upstairs in the mornings sometimes and plays for me.
He plays and I sing,
and we giggle our heads off.
I am amazed that any sounds come out of that difficult instrument at all.
I am so proud of his dedication to the music,
because it's really tough.
I love. love. love. to hear him play.

After our house,
we went to Grandma's.
She put out an Italian feast.
It was so yummy.
We ate in the garage/dining room.
(It's really fancy, painted and everything.)
And the 14 cousins that were there had a great time eating together.
Grandma dressed the kids up in Nativity costumes,
and we traveled to Uncle Matt's in a herd of excitement.

The church that meets at the school across the street was having a huge, rockin party,
and the feeling in the air was festive.

Uncle Matt read the Nativity,
and the kids acted it out.
Somehow, Yoda made an appearance in the production.
The sheep was a hamster,
and the kids posed gansta style for several pics.
Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Gary and my mom laughed and laughed.

From Matt's, we traveled on to my sisters,
where she had a huge spread laid out for gingerbread houses.
At one point during the construction,
Dan and I looked over to see Cade,
not working on a house,
but instead, munching a huge box of Dots.
We re-directed him so at least the candy was first stuck down in frosting,
prior to being plucked off and consumed seconds later.

At precisely 7:30pm,
as we were walking back to my brother's house,
the church across the street set off their big fireworks presentation,
right over our heads.
It was amazing.

We finished at a fire pit,
drinking coco,
and laughing,
while the kids played together.

The grandma's and grandpa turned in for the night,
and we sat as brothers and sisters around the fire.
I asked what everyone had done that day.
We all had the same response,
"Clean the house for company."

I am pretty sure that my mom was exercising her motherly influence when she planned the party the week before Christmas,
knowing that her kids would probably enjoy the holidays more,
if the "work-part" was finished early.
It's true.
We now have four days till the Christmas Eve,
and the hardest parts of the season are over,
and only the fun is left to be had.
Thanks, Mom.
We will always remember this fun year.


It's 6:51am and still dark.
My little minions sleep late too now.
I am so happy to have them together this week.
My life would empty without them.

I wish I could say that all our work was finished here.
I still have a considerable amount ahead on our quest to organize this house,
but I can do a little every day,
and be ready for a fun holiday.

Christmas this year has been particularly meaningful to me.
Around the time of Maryn's first birthday,
I really woke up again.
I always forget what that first year with a new baby is like.
It's wonderful,
and exhausting.
It drains everything from me,
And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I feel good right now,
a little thin from recent sicknesses,
and there is a serious lack of fitness going on,
but mentally,
I feel awake.
I am thankful it happened before Christmas.

For me,
this season is never a spectacular event.
(It's probably because I am not overly creative.)
I feel the spirit of Christmas quietly in my heart.
Mostly, we celebrate our greatest Gift reverently.
When I look into the faces of the sweet children who bless my life,
I am ever so much more grateful for the blessing of a Savior who makes it possible for us to be together beyond this life.
I love the part of the year where we focus on His birth and all he taught in His life.
If we could only love more as He did.

The women in my life make Christmas a wonderfully memorable event.
They are my best examples.

Grandma Terri makes sure we are properly decorated.
This time of year deserves extra effort,
and she came over a few days to help me over my roadblocks.
I will always remember my childhood house so beautifully outfitted for the Christmas season.
She ensures that every need is met.
It's a talent and a skill that has taken years of honing.
Her endurance is amazing.

Grandma Nancy brings ornaments, hugs and tons of baked goods to the season.
She always remembers our kids.
This isn't anything unique to Christmas for her.
It happens all year long.

Most people would think it odd that my parents were so close to my mother's ex-husband and his sweet wife.
They are my finest examples of unconditional love.

Grandma Donna is kind and sweet.
She is patient with things like sugar cookie making,
and the children explore her house freely.
She has such a way of connecting with people on an individual level,
especially the children,
and they love spending time with her.

I feel truly blessed.

The Gingerbread Mickey Calendar says only 4 Mickey's left.
That's my cue to get moving today.

Happy Monday.
Today is the day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14

I am not sure where the time goes.

Last night,
around 11:30pm,
Cade was coughing so hard that his eyes became bloodshot,
and his cheeks turned red.

Past experience tells me that the nights are the worst part of a sickness.
I was getting a little worried.
It's been awhile since I've been through a respiratory illness.
We aren't equipped right now to treat at home.
For years,
we kept regular supplies of prednisone and albuteral,
but in the last 2.5 years,
I have developed a serious adversity to doctors and medications.
Last night,
alone in the quiet house with my sick little boy,
I battled with my thoughts over what to do.
There have been mid-night trips to emergency rooms,
and dozens of visits to the doctors.
Cade wasn't in any immediate danger,
but he was getting worse.

I set a time in my head,
that if he wasn't better,
I would take him in.
That would require me staying up late to get all the clothes and school needs ready.
I was already so tired.
Today, December 14th, is my very busiest day.
Thankfully,
Cade slept off and on,
and was stable enough to be here at home.

I started the morning late for the 2nd day
after another sleepless night.
Sydney has finals today,
and a concert.
Corbin has his pre-school party,
and we bring home the pet to babysit over break.
The elementary kids have projects to complete.
This day is full,
but it's our last big day before Christmas, I hope.

3 years ago,
I had the worst Christmas Eve ever.
2 years ago,
we stayed at home because I was afraid to go out.
Last year,
we went out,
but I was still nervous.
All I wanted for Christmas was a clean house.
Dan was very sweet to let me finish my chores,
so I could have that,
but I spent Christmas morning cleaning my bedroom.

It's because of bad years,
that I have become somewhat obsessive about Christmas this year.
The years when I was not prepared,
were the years that are hardest on my memories.

What's an ideal Christmas for me?
I find meaningful gifts for the people we care about.
All the shopping is finished early.

I don't stay up all night wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve.
The house is clean and organized.
We have performed significant service.
I actually mail the Christmas cards.
I have food, clothes and shoes ready ahead.
I am not cutting hair on Christmas Eve.
The cameras are charged and ready.
Dan is here.
We spend Christmas Eve morning at the Zoo,
and Christmas Day at the movies.
It's all about the kids.
No nagging,
No hurrying,
No stress.
For me to accomplish all that
will take everything I can offer in the next 10 days.
I want our kids to remember these holidays with fondness.
How many times a year can our time be all about our kids and the family and friends we care about?
Not many.
But if it's possible,
I want to help it happen.
With that,
I am off to the doctor.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday

Plan B worked.

We get in weird funks,
and it really only takes a conversation
to remind everyone of their responsibilities.

Thanks guys.
I appreciate all your help.

Sometimes I wonder why I spend my time repeating the same actions over and over.
For example reading the scriptures everyday,
or attending church every week.
It doesn't matter how many times we have read, heard or attended,
we still find new meaning in the same old messages.
We are blessed for our willingness to try again.

Have a good Thursday my little minions.
I love you.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday

Plan A:

Dear Santa,

For Christmas this year, will you please send an elf or 2 just for a few hours? I really need some help today.

Thanks a Million,
Me



Plan B:

Dear Children,

I don't think the jolly, fat guy will help us with our chores, so I really need you. Please, please, please help me before I go a little crazy. You each voluntarilly traded your designated sectors last night. To be clear:

Dining room - Colin (that means dumb dog too.)
Living room - Presley
Entry - Sydney (door-to-door, big counter and washing slobber window)
Family room - Reagan (don't forget to dust)
Stairs, loft, Powder bathroom - Caleb (yes. Yes. Yes!! I advise against leaving the room early next time we are picking chores)

These are your jobs until you master them. If you do them well, you get to choose first next time.

Remember, you are responsible for the appearance of your assigned room at all times of the day. It needs vacuumed once a day. Dusted, once a week.

And just so you know, you are all old enough to go the extra mile on your cleaning jobs. Beds should be made, pillows arranged, laundry put away neatly, bathrooms cleaned everyday. It's not that much to ask considering I was the means by which you entered this world.....(a super painful experience, in case you were wondering. If you need a reminder, we could watch the birth videos).

And you know I am far nicer than most moms, so please be helpful.

Happy mom = Happy everyone else.

Love you guys,
Mom

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's time for a post about laundry.....

The sensor went out on the washing machine.
It will be out of commission for a few days.

I was already a week behind due to sicknesses,
both me and the poor, overworked, fritzy washer.
(We share many commonalities)

If I were an appliance,
I would be a washing machine.
The old-school, top-loading kind.
The kind that has $.79 loads on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The homely, old reliable type.
I would want to hold more clothes than is recommended,
and end up off balanced when mixing sheets with towels.
New fancy machines make promises they can't keep,
but I would survive for years.

Today is Tuesday.
No one has clean underwear.
That's a big issue.

I made myself a promise to stay away from the laundry mat.
How do I break that promise now??

Monday, December 6, 2010

San Tan Flats

I was calling it a day on Saturday at 4:20pm.
It had been a long week.
I really just wanted to spend some time with my favorite blanket and squishy pillows.
Dan came in,
insisting that I get dressed to go out.
No.
After that week....
No way.
He asked nicely.
No.
He said I had 10 minutes to decide.
He left to gather kids from the neighborhood,
fed the little guys,
and delivered them to my mom.
I brushed out my day-old hair,
found my warmest, albeit, oddest looking skirt,
and a necklace.
I was wearing all black,
with the exception of sparkling silver, flat shoes.
Dan looked at me with raised eyebrows,
and I got in the car.
We drove 30 minutes north in silence.
Dan was content.
Me......just listening.
Peal Jam on the radio.
Breathe.

He took me to my favorite place.
As we walked along the tree-lined street up to the front steps of the temple,
He shot me a sly look when the blossoms in the air simultaneously reminded us of the library where we spent so many nights together in college.
I refused to return his glance.
I wasn't giving in.

This time of year,
the temple looks more amazing than ever.
It twinkles with thousands of tiny lights.
The grounds were dotted with couples,
families,
quiet groups of people looking for some added Christmas spirit.

In the temple,
by chance,
we saw a few of my favorite people.
One old guy has worked in the temple for years,
and I rarely see him anymore.
For about 5 years,
he brought weekly encouragement to my long days.
He is always ready with a hug
and compliments I don't deserve.

Dan and I were the "mature" ones in our sealing session with 3 very young couples.
One newlywed couple wanted to sit next to each other.
I kind of just wanted to sit alone.
Dan kept smirking at me.
When we were all finished working,
We shared a quiet minute in my favorite room of the temple,
and then came back out into the busy world.

It was 9:06pm when we pulled into the parking lot of El Rico's.
The most happening restaurant in south Gilbert was shutting down,
so we headed to Queen Creek.
On our search for another Mexican restaurant,
we drove aimlessly east towards the unknown wherabouts of Serranos.
In our trek,
we happened upon a busy parking lot.
I had always imagined the place as some kind of church,
but it carried the tempting aroma of home fries, soft rolls, and perfect steak.

If it was a church,
it had food,
and we were already dressed in Sunday clothes
so we went in.

No,
It was a restaurant of sorts after all.
There was a burly, tattoo-covered security guard at the entrance,
and a large center courtyard,
speckled with small campfires and picnic tables.
Live country music was playing in the background,
people chatting all around,
and an open air, empty dance floor.
We estimated that anyone within a 25 mile radius,
looking for atmosphere,
found their way to San Tan Flats that night.
It was packed.

We located the restaurant area of the grounds,
and were seated in a little round booth for 2.

The silence in my head,
the music in the air,
the fire dancing,
the peace,
finally settled on my restless mind.

In a distinct moment,
it occurred to me:
He was coercing back into his world.
A deliberate accumulation of seemingly unnoticeable coincidences.

I was caught.
A little angry,
but too weak to resist.

We finished our food,
laughed a little,
talked about my mid-life crisis,
and my ambitions to become a waitress....
somewhere with live music,
atmosphere,
and good food.
He rolled his eyes,
and walked me out.

The country band was playing a Bret Micheal's slow dance fav from the 80's.
A few couples had made their way out on to the floor.
I reminded him that the last time we danced,
it was to that exact song.
If he hadn't been wearing a sport coat
in a place where Harley's and tattoos were standard,
I might have consented to another dance.
The weather was perfect,
the music....not so much.
In the backdrop of the beautiful Arizona desert,
in the faultless night air,
he kissed me outside the car,
and asked if I was back.
Back from where?

A days worth of effort,
an evening of patiently waiting,
all
so the night could end perfectly.

After 15 years,
how is it that he is still able to distract my mind
and capture my heart so easily?
He takes me from unrest
and leads me back to safety,
whenever I feel lost.

Why write all this down?
I never want to forget the way he looks at me,
or how it feels to hold his hand,
and every little detail of a December evening out together.

He is the constant in my little world.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday....again.

I lost a week to sickness.
It's the thing I neglected to account for in my daily scheduling.
(I don't allot for unproductive down time.
It kills me.)

Progress this week:
2 kids are on board with their laundry days.
Thanks, guys.
And that leaves 2 remaining.

I am feeling humbled this morning,
because of the many good things in my life,
and the many hard things that keep me strong.
This morning,
I am grateful for a good husband and mother who taught me how to do yard work,
and a dad that taught me how to clean.
(My mom would question that,
but it was really my dad,
and his second job,
and the many hours I spent helping him).
I am not afraid to work hard.
It's been my biggest blessing.

I also feel really grateful for my hardworking kids.
It's taken many years,
but I see their strength now too.
It keeps growing all the time.

I started a post to respond to some one's question as to how I manage to get my children to help around the house.
The short of it is in this theory:

  • Do As I Say
  • Do As I Do
  • Do As the Spirit Directs
So when they were small,
they protested the work.
I almost gave up,
because I hate forcing,
and really,
it almost requires that.
"Do As I Do" is easier.
Dan willingly does housework.
I help with yard work, shoveling, home repairs, etc.
There isn't much distinction between male/female jobs around here.
The work is all the same.

And as the kids have gotten older,
they help more easily,
because they would also like a clean, organized home.
And to be clear,
this house is far from what we all would like,
but it won't be like this forever.

I appreciate so much what the children offer to our household dynamics.
Without their help,
we could not accomplish anything.
I hope they know that their willingness is very inspiring to me,
and more than anything,
I appreciate it.

So,
with a long list this morning,
it's back to the Saturday responsibilities.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Been sick.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday

Well,
I didn't pet the dog,
because he chewed up both A/C wires today.
And I didn't touch the laundry,
because,
apparently,
I'm not as young as I once was,
and so I took a nap instead of doing half the chores.
Notice I said, "Half."
But the half I neglected are the most obvious.
No one will care that I did the grocery shopping,
and ran the errands.
They will only notice that I didn't clean my bedroom again,
and the kitchen didn't get mopped.
But.....
The presents are purchased and wrapped.
There will be no sneaking of any peeks this year.
Mwahahaha.

And I am officially finished doing the single-mom thing.
I will have to repeat my song all week until I finally finish my chores,
hopefully before next Sunday :)

Things I found interesting this week:
  • The 6th grade boys are circulating the Hunger Games series.
  • Maryn monkeys around saying, "Ma, Ma, Mommm, mom, mom, mom." She is a parrot, repeating the rest of the kids. It's amazing how many times a day I hear my name.
  • People at Walmart are crazy. Colin is a people observer and was way too entertained by the midnight frenzy. Sydney has some video footage she might post to youTube.

Something I found sad this week:
The fire guys worked a few codes (near death/dead).
Our friend worked one that was a two year old on Thanksgiving who pulled a gate down on himself and got trapped. He was dead, and they revived him.....mostly.
He said it was really, really sad.

We can't be too careful with our kids.
Really, more than 2 minutes out of sight is too long.
And for me,
it's an enormous challenge.
There is a constant paranoia that battles my inability to be in all places at once.

Turkey Day...minus all the details.

Thanksgiving in this family started Wednesday after school.
We took the kids to Harry Potter,
and that was super fun.

Did you know that a 12 passenger van comes with 1 of 2 different doors?
One is a sliding door.
The other option is having "Barn Doors."
(That's the technical term btw)
Remember a few years ago when I posted about my van?
It brought me to tears to think I would be driving a vehicle with "Barn Doors."

The latest theory circulating among the kids and their friends is that, "She's a pushover."

The other day,
when the football boys wanted something,
I overheard one say to Colin,
"Dude, ask your mom......you know she won't say no."

And so,
as it goes around here lately,
the children hand me the keys,
open the 'Barn Doors'
and hoards of kids get taken tons of places.

Dan mentioned in his lesson that I was 90% finished Christmas shopping the week before Thanksgiving.
(That kind of embarrassed me.)
I don't want people to think I am some kind of controlling, over-achiever.
Most of my last decade of Christmases have been sub-par effort due to pregnancy or new babies.
Maryn is a year old now,
And I have energy.
I have spent the last few weeks cleansing...my house, my yard, my heart.
I felt somewhat inspired to finish many things and be prepared.

Last Sunday,
we were asked to help head-up a project to adopt a less fortunate family for Christmas.
It was that assignment that helped me understand what I was preparing for.

And then again on Thanksgiving,
when all the cousins were getting excited about Black Friday
and shopping
and Christmas,
I was the one most available to take kids along for their own fun.
And so I stayed up most of the night,
taking kids in shifts for shopping.
It was a hodge-podge combination of cousins,
most of whom I barely know,
and we had so much fun.
I was happy to spend time that way.

And yesterday afternoon,
when I was so exhausted,
the keys were again placed in my hands,
and the Barn Doors opened.
9 girls got in with a destination to the mall.
And these sweet girls took their little sisters to see the new Disney movie.

It was a good day.
It was good because I was more prepared than usual.
And it feels better to have completed some of the harder parts of the season,
so I might have time to focus on the best parts....the service and the time.

Some years that Dan has worked the holidays have been really sad for me.
It's difficult to miss him on these weekends,
when families are all together.
We dropped by the station a few different times.
The kids got to hug their dad,
and the cousins had some fun.

Today is the first Saturday in several weeks that we had nothing of significance on the schedule.
So he took an overtime shift.
That makes 72 straight hours.
And after Black Friday,
it's probably best that he is working ;)

The children miss him.
I miss him.
But,
He is here,
even when he is not here.

There is a part of my life that I could not survive without.
It's the mind-over-matter part.
8 children needing so much love,
and only 2 parents.
Our big kids step into larger roles to willingly help.
I believe they do it out of love.

We woke up Thanksgiving morning knowing that Dan would be gone for several days.
I asked him to move some heavy things.
We had only 40 minutes and it was a project that would normally take all morning.
He worked quickly,
and said goodbye.
I finished the project that morning.
Colin and Presley came out to help me wash the van.
I am sure we looked a little crazy,
washing our car and doing chores on Thanksgiving.
In a large family,
the work never breaks,
even for Holidays.
I insisted that the regular chores be completed,
and I admit,
that I wasn't backing down on those.
But,
I would never ask the kids to help with a bigger project on a holiday.
It was something I needed to do.
It brought me tremendous peace to have my little volunteers out helping.
And we loaded up a little late to Thanksgiving,
but everyone was dressed
and happy.

We spent only 2 minutes with Dan that day,
because just after we arrived at the station,
the tones went off,
and he was gone.

Holidays are the hardest part of is job.
We had a near miss for an emergency room visit.
(Blood is his thing.
When he's not here,
I invoke the mind-over-matter.)
And I missed shopping with him.

I wonder if he were here,
how different the weekend might have gone.
Would the children have had the attention?
Would I have forced myself to stay engaged as long as I did?
Probably not.
Maybe..... just now,
I understand single mothers a little better.

Well,
today is Saturday.
In our world,
it's the day we get ready for Sunday.
There is a little song we learned in Primary,
and I sing it in my head all the time,
(except the words escape me,
so I make up my own.)

"We wash the clothes (all 28 loads),
and vacuum the couch,
and spot shot the carpet,
and find all the shoes,
and scoop up the poop

and water the grass,
and scrub the toilets,
and throw tons of stuff away,
and polish the appliances,
clean out the microwave,
and fill up the van with gas,
and return the movies,
and drop off the library books,
make our beds,
put out the matching towels,
and refill the toilet tissue holders,
and ride our bikes,
and try to make it to the temple without falling asleep at the wheel,

sooooo.......we can be ready for Sunday!"

I love that song.

Do you know who misses Dan the most?
The dog.
So I will also say hi to the dog today,
and pet him,
and take him for a walk,
(well.....maybe,
because that's a work out,
literally.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

To My Mother

Dear Mom,

I'm hacking your blog to tell you how thankful I am.

Thanks for getting up and helping me through the day.

Thanks for inspiring me to be the best that I could be.

Thanks for teaching me mind-over-matter. It has become my motto in life.

Thanks for teaching me the gospel, that I might grow to have my own testimony, and to know the truth.

Thank you for loving me. You have made me what I am today.

Thanks for everything.

Love,
Sydney

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Back

I am finally back on my early schedule.
It took a long, 20 hour day yesterday to kick my late night habits.

Okay,
so something is seriously wrong with me.
We put up our Christmas lights on Veterans Day.
I like them too.
And yesterday,
I wrapped all the Christmas gifts I already purchased which is about half of what I need.
And I hid them.

In a few days,
I will complete the "Gift-Purchasing" part of Christmas,
And I am looking for all kinds of ways to feel the spirit of Christmas.

It all started when we decided to wash the windows.
It took 8 hours,
and involved the blinds,
the window sills
and the screens.
That lead to dusting the high stuff,
replacing the light bulbs,
cleaning the fans,
washing the walls,
and scrubbing the baseboards.
And all that took us out to the yard,
which is finally becoming a yard.

We had about 10 days after football and I seized my opportunity to keep the momentum going.

I do not believe in long breaks.
6 weeks is too long to waste between sports seasons,
and so we organized a little tennis camp.
It filled up super fast,
and Monday we begin learning tennis.
I love the structure of a busy schedule.

I know everyone is different,
but it always works best for me to stay active.
"A body in motion tends to stay in motion."
(That's what rolls through my head all day long)

Today ends soccer.
:(
My girls did a great job.

It's supposed to be Rainy Day Schedule today.
I remember 2 years ago on the last day of soccer,
it was pouring rain,
and they finished the season dripping wet in the freezing cold.
I think I will bring an umbrella today.
I can be taught.

My husband is MIA.

Dear Husband,

Just a little note to let you know that I am thinking of you. You might also appreciate knowing that a text every now and then is not sufficient to maintaining a good relationship with your wife. 48 hour shifts work best when I don't want to kill you at the end.

Love Forever, (conditional upon your participation in the kitchen, of course)
Me

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday

Is it really Friday?
Dan walked in Monday morning,
and we never really quit moving all week.

I spent the week in the dirt,
raking,
hoeing,
shoveling,
pulling weeds,
planting.

Football season ended and I took full advantage of the afternoons.

One of the kids commented that no one else they know does yard work like we do.
It might be true.
But this time of year is too irresistible to pass up.
The weather is absolutely perfect.
We are still in shorts a t-shirts,
and it's hoody weather at night.
I am having to use all my concentrative energy to try to be inside, and today,I desperately need to do some house work.

I put my apron on as motivation.
It's not working though.

Only 2 kids left the house this morning.
The others are sick or sickly,
and they have been remanded to their beds for the day.
Today I am on a mission.
(They know I am a pushover,
and they will try to suck me into a movie on the couch.
Can't do it guys.
Must. be. strong.)

The coolest thing about this crew is their obsession with books.
They would just assume be curled up in their jammies reading.

Before I forget,
I have to recap
(to see how much I am remembering):

Crossroads
Prayers
Scriptures
Meals
Family Night
Read
Do things together as a family
Friends
Teaching
Love
(I missed 2 this morning)

As for my progress:
I am eating every meal.

'Being at the crossroads' is taking work.
I have to be a little more strategic about my daily comings and goings so I can purposefully be here when the kids get home.

And the rest of the list is a work in progress.

Here is something I need to be reminded of this day.
It's one of our favorite stories,
especially when we think about our kids.

It never gets old.


“While we were growing up in a small community, my father saw the need for my brother and me to learn the principle of work. As a result, he put us to work on a small farm on the edge of town where he had been raised. He ran the local newspaper, so he could not spend much time with us except early in the morning and in the evening. That was quite a responsibility for two young teenagers, and sometimes we made mistakes.

“Our small farm was surrounded by other farms, and one of the farmers went in to see my father one day to tell him the things he thought we were doing wrong. My father listened to him carefully and then said, ‘Jim, you don’t understand. You see, I’m raising boys and not cows.’ After my father’s death, Jim told us his story. How grateful I was for a father who decided to raise boys, and not cows. In spite of the mistakes, we learned how to work on that little farm, and I guess, although they didn’t say it in so many words, we always knew we were more important to Mother and Father than the cows or, for that matter, anything else” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, 12; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 11).


This week,
I am especially grateful for my sweet children.
They work hard,
and it's always appreciated.

This week,
while out pulling weeds,
Caleb told us of a story about a troubled kid at school.
I wonder sometimes if that story will be about one of our kids someday.
I really doubt it.
They are very kind and respectful and it is truly a blessing to Dan and I that we never worry about them.

This morning began at 2am.
It's been awhile since I was able to make it to the temple early on a Friday.
I was so happy to be there.

I have nothing very significant to report this week,
except that Maryn took her first steps,
and Dan gloated about it,
because I missed it.
And Cade used the potty,
and I somehow missed that too.

I feel like smiling today,
but I have no apparent reason.

It feels good to be a mom today,
sick kids,
laundry,
lonely bed,
and all.

To the one who steals the covers.....I miss you.