And together we learn

Friday, September 29, 2006

Banging my head against the wall

So today was one of those days. Big time. It totally kicked my behind and then some. It was one of those cry on the phone to your mom days.

It didn't start out that way--it SHOULD have been a great day! We went to a homeschool friends house to pick pears and grapes--how idyllic is that? But Hazel was having a day like you can't believe. You know the kind--whiny, mean, belligerent, just went on and on. She was horrible at this friend's house, and normally she's quite well behaved in public. And she's almost 5! This was no cranky toddler fit. She so knows better, and she knew she was being naughty all day. We went back and forth, punishing, time out, extra loves and hugs, one on one time, threatening, bribery--if there's a trick in the book, I've used it today!

So I finally got to the point during dinner where I just snapped, and I spanked her. I don't DO that. I really really try not to be that mom, but I had had it past my endurance point with her little self. I think the problem is that I feel like she's totally manipulating me and just playing me.

Who left me in charge??? Who left all these children in my house and assumed that I would actually know what I'm doing? Doesn't it seem so completely overwhelming? The responsibility I mean, to teach them and help them to mature? I don't want compliance from her because of fear of what I'm going to punish her with, but I want to train her heart to love choosing righteousness for it's own sake. And that is such a bigger task. I feel so unequal to this motherhood thing. I'm approaching it blindly, and I can't help but feel that I'm messing up in a big way.

It's such a good thing I have a mother with lots and lots of wisdom. She put it into perspective that one bad day out of months of good ones is not going to forever warp them. The sum total of the positives in our home far outweigh the bad moments, so that is what I need to focus on. After I cried lots to her I felt much better and a little more able to tackle my job again. Hazel and I talked and she was an angel for the rest of the evening.

Sorry for the soul-spilling. This is just such a great outlet for venting!

And now it's ME time. My sister got me hooked on Grey's Anatomy, so I have a couple episodes to watch, a cross stitch to work on, and ice cream to eat all awaiting me!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Perfect autumn days

75 degrees. Deepest blue sky you've ever seen. Green grass, soft wind, changing leaves, growing kids. What's a mom to do?? Answer: abdicate all housewifely responsibilities and spend the whole day outside. It was one of those good mom/bad mom kind of days.

There's a neighborhood lake where you can rent paddleboats or canoes, a little dock, some fish. It's nice. We spent hours there, soaking up the sun. We laid on our tummies over the dock and looked at the fish. We watched the long-legged water birds stepping daintily among the reeds. We watched in amazement as hundreds of seagulls swirled overhead in an amazing lazy cyclone.

Then after naps we headed to the park, and that's where the bad mom-ness comes into play. I got a pizza and breadsticks and soda and NOT A SINGLE VEGETABLE and we had a picnic. And it gets worse. I kept telling them to go play so I could read my Martha Stewart Living. I DID push them on the swings, but then I sat on the ground and pushed the baby with one hand while focusing on the amazing things that the super bored can do with a pumpkin.

Good mom/Bad mom. My daily struggles.

Then we came home and after I put the baby to bed, we gardened. Most of the day was spent outside, and that's exactly how it should be on picture perfect autumn days. We'll be cooped up so soon with winter, so I want them to dig in as much dirt, ride their bikes as fast as they can, look for as many bugs, and turn as many cartwheels as they can now.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tackle it Tuesday

For my first attempt at 'Tackle it Tuesday' I didn't do anything huge. But the beets, they have been pressing on my mind for weeks. They've been very patient, but all the while sitting in the ground growing larger and more insistent. So I decided that today was the day! I started with this:

And ended up with this:

OK, I know it's a pathetic 2 1/2 quarts. I honestly thought there would be enough beets to make it worthwhile. Oh well, at least they're done!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes...

Confession time: I love Diet Coke. I love it's bubbly, carbonated, fizzy cola-ish deliciousness. And if you happen to throw in a little lime or cherry--oh, hold me back! I've developed a habit of picking one up whenever I'm running errands, and my girls have noticed.

After I grabbed another life-giving elixir today, Hazel started to let me have it. "Mom," she said, "don't you think that is bad for you? You get one all the time, you should drink plain healthy water."


Yes, I should. She had me pretty pegged, alright. Then she said the clincher.

"Sometimes teachers are moms, and sometimes teachers are little kids."

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Steve left today for a looooong trip. He'll be gone for 2 whole very long weeks. Then I think about the husbands who are deployed, or Ma Ingalls who cheerfully sent Pa off to roam around the wilderness for weeks at a time, and I feel all kinds of selfish. But oh, it gets old! It's the nonstop neediness--so many little people with so many needs that only I can meet. But truthfully, I have much the easier job. Steve about kills himself with work when he's on the road. So no more complaining!

Today was the church primary program. It always lasts about 20 minutes longer than the meeting should last, but it was so cute. This was Hazel's first speaking part. She was to recite Matthew 1:21 "And Mary shall bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." We've been practicing it in scripture time for weeks, and she had that thing down so perfectly. But the primary president was kneeling next to the microphone prompting all the kids, so Hazel just waited for the part to be whispered to her. I was a little sad that she didn't get to rattle it off like we'd practiced.

OK, revelation that just barely occured while typing that. She was thrilled with her performance! She felt great about how she did. The only reason I cared is because I wanted other people to see how smart and cute my kid is, and to think that I'm a good mom because I help her memorize. Oh. My. Pridefulness!!!! She did do a great job, so what can I say but I'm ashamed of myself.

Went to McDonald's a while ago, and they had these horrible Pirates of the Carribean happy meal toys. Who takes their 3 year olds to a PG13 rated movie???? So why promote the movie to tiny people?? Doesn't make sense to me. ANYway, we had this repulsive skull toy. Happy Meal toys usually don't even leave the place with us--I trash them on the way out. But somehow this one was rattling around in the van, and the kids were playing with it. Overheard:
"I'm a mean pirate. I'm a bad guy. I hate Jesus."

At this, I whirled around and they could tell by my reaction that that was very not ok to say. So they quickly amended their play.

"I'm a good guy skull, and I love Jesus, I love Jesus."

Seems they know the difference between a good guy's and a bad guy's heart is their relationship with the Savior. So that's a relief, at least!

Friday, September 22, 2006

My life is an open blog

Now that I'm a bonafide blogger, my take on the world has shifted a bit. Now, instead of just appreciating life as it happens, I twist everything I see into a blog entry. Kids doing something cute? Mental post written, complete with darling photos and a catchy title. World events? Oh the insightful comments are flowing thick and fast. Trouble is, I'm never quite in a position to capture the moments when the Muse inspires. Real life, if you will, is too in the way. So by the time I'm actually in front of the computer, genius has passed.

But knowing just what to blog about is a puzzle. There's so much I want to talk about--my kids, homeschooling, cooking, and such. Then I wonder just how honest to be. Do I pick out just the positive moments and highlight them? Or should I be much more open, and really spill out the fears and insecurities that motherhood brings out? Oh well. In Chinese there's a helpful phrase, 'man man lai'. Literally, 'slow slow come'. Little by little I can do it all. Just not in one post.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can I be Italian, pleeeease?

My darling Steve is home for 24 hours. Whenever he's home, I try to cram in all the service and wifely appreciation I can--after all, he is home so very seldom.

Anyway, he requested a simple dinner using our garden bounty. Holy cow, it was amazing!! Fresh tomatoes, tons of roasted garlic, piles of fresh basil, olive oil, hunks of feta cheese, cannellini pesto spread, and ciabatta bread. My laws!! Even the kids mmmmm'd and oooooh'd through the meal. Yummy!

Just don't put her on the witness stand

I was making dinner while the kiddos played. Calvin is just at that point where he can mostly navigate the stairs to the basement, but he's still unsteady and it scares me to death. I heard the dread thump, thump, thump, waaaaail, and I ran downstairs to assess the damage.

Steve came running out of the office and was trying to figure out how hard he fell. He questioned Chloe (3), the only witness to the incident.

"Did he fall from the top? Did he land on his head? What did you see??"

Chloe looked thoughtful, then stated, with arm pointing dramatically downward, "He went....CRASH!"


(Oh, and the baby is just fine, by the way)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Are you one, too?

Don't you just love the different personalities that you encounter? It truly takes all types, and for that I rejoice. There are just some types that provide much more fodder for blogging than others, if you know what I mean.

We went to playgroup today and had a lovely time feeding ducks, riding bikes, and eating picnic lunches. But the part that really made the day stand out was the question posed to me by another mother, who I had just met. She's definitely one of those types that liven up the world. A little quirky and eccentric, but then again, arent we all?

Out of the blue, she leaned close to me, eyes fixated on my face, and whispered, "I'm a radical. Are you a radical, too?"

I must say, that this was the first time I've been asked that!

Monday, September 18, 2006

A September wedding

So as I was outside doing some desperately needed weeding, the kids were all frolicing around me. Calvin was happily eating dirt, and Chloe and Hazel were playing with the little boy next door. I noticed that all the daisies had been stripped from several of my plants. Well, that made me sit up and take notice!

Then I heard Chloe singing "Oh they say when you marry in June." We've been on a rather long classic musical kick around here, and Seven Brides is a big favorite. So Chloe was dancing around, her arms full of flowers, and she was 'marrying' the little boy next door. She would give him a flower, he would kiss her hand, then they would hold hands and walk around in a circle. This was 'dancing'. This process was repeated over and over and over. Only variation was that they took turns kissing each others hands.

It was cracking me up! Especially with the Seven Brides as the background wedding music.

Steve left again this morning. He'll be in and out for the next many months, but mostly out. I'm just grateful to see him when I can. It's funny, but our marriage becomes so cherished during the traveling months. I think we just realize that we're incomplete alone. So my blog for the next several months will most likely be filled with sighs and 'I miss hims' and other such drivel. Sorry!!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I guess I'm blogger-challenged.

I couldn't edit that last post to add my photos, so I'll just do it now! So there, blogger!

An unexpected blessing

Turns out that the baby has a ruptured eardrum, poor little man. Between him and Chloe both crying for hours a day, I've been just a wee bit frazzled. And then poor Hazel has been stir crazy and starved for mama affection, so we're all around a mess.

Then what to my wondering eyes should appear this morning?? None other than my amazing wonderful husband. He flew home this morning so he could hold his sick babies and give me a respite. He was just planning on staying in CA over the weekend, but he flew home as a surprise!!! I'm so incredibly grateful. The kids have been overjoyed, and he gave Chloe such an amazing blessing. She's doing better already. So anxious was the wonderful man to help out, that he OFFERED to change Calvin's horrible diaper--cloth no less (which he normally resists) AND to even rinse it in the toilet!!! Will wonders never end?

So now that my knight in shiny armor came to my rescue, my outlook has brightened considerably.

Before I knew that Calvin's eardrum was ruptured (I just thought he was fussy because he was sleepy), I took him and Hazel to a pioneer reenactment at the park. It was so fabulous! We got to see a bunch of our dear homeschool friends who we haven't seen all summer long. They got to take a ride on a cart pulled by oxen, have a stick horse race,and play in a pioneer kitchen. Who knew a nutmeg grater and a mortar and pestle could keep 4 kids busy for half an hour?

Looking at the covered wagon was very humbling. It was much smaller than what I had always pictured. All your possessions, food, tools, seeds, clothing, bedding, everything, in that tiny little space. We live in such incredible luxury--it kind of makes me ashamed. I love what Owlhavenis doing with her 30 days of nothing. Such a great way to help kids appreciate the abundance we really have.

That was a lot of rambling to say that I'm so very grateful for my darling husband!!!

Friday, September 15, 2006

I went to get dressed this morning and when I came out of my room, this is what I found. Poor baby, he really isn't feeling well. This is the first time he has ever fallen asleep on the floor! I am loving all the cuddles that I get, though. He usually doesn't slow down enough to snuggle much.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Double injustice

The day begin well. Wonderfully, actually. Hazel went to see the play Curious George with her friend, Chloe, Calvin and I played at the McDonald's playland (yuck), and all was right with the world. My dear friend Sarah came over for lunch, and we had an all-around fabulous time.

Then Chloe went down for a second nap, which should have been my first clue that something was amiss. After a fairly large hassle with the IRS and the accountant and sundry forms that I apparently misplaced, I was already quite frazzled. Then my sweet Chloe started complaining of an owie throat and had a fever. Mommy alarms went off! Since I had that horrible bout with strep last week, I hustled her off the the nighttime pediatrician for the magical pink stuff that will make it all better.

She definitely has strep, AND she has a bad case of hand foot and mouth disease. The injustice of it all! Blisters all over her mouth and her throat that has strep? I can't stand to think how much the poor little thing is hurting. But saying hand,foot and mouth always makes me thing of some large farm animal diseases--I guess I read too much James Herriot with all the hoof and mouth descriptions.

Its funny just how fast she went from feeling fine to very very sick. As a result, there are small children all over the valley who have been exposed to not one, but TWO highly contagious childhood diseases. Sorry Sarah!!!

Calvin just woke up--I went in and the poor baby is burning up with fever. Looks like I'm in for it for the next couple of days!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Late summer joys

Steve is officially traveling again, so we won't be seeing him much until December. For a last big family hurrah, we went to the State Fair, aka a place to eat fried foods and look at farm animals. It was fun--I always love the fair, and Steve tolerates it for the kids. The bunnies were a huge hit with all of the kids, as were the piglets and especially a pooping cow. Ahh, to be four and highly amused by potty humor!

And the ferris wheel? There is something so magical about it. Honestly, I've never been that impressed with the ferris wheel. You go up, you come down. It's not scary, doesn't make your stomach drop to your ankles--what's the point? Well the point is to go on it with your entire little family, and watch the way your kids' eyes go wide when the see the city spread out beneath them. Truly magical.

I got a couple boxes of peaches and so I started to can them today. I always remember that it's a lot of work to can, but it's kind of like childbirth. I just don't remember how much work it is! And I've never tried it with three tiny kids. Hats off to Ma Ingalls--she puts the rest of us to shame!

Hazel helped me for a while with the peaches. It's funny, but I have so many memories of helping my mom can. I felt so important handing her things, or wiping the jar rims--all the same tasks she helped me with. I wonder if these are some of the things she'll remember when she's grown?

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Every week we stagger in after church, strip the kids of their Sunday clothes, and tuck them into bed. They are all so exhausted that they sleep soundly for hours. It's one of our favorite Sunday traditions! Steve and I will sometimes nap also, or on really good days, we have an inventory meeting.

This had got to be one of the reasons we are so happily married. This institution has helped to keep us focused on our goals and our marriage, and it gives us a platform to talk about problems, concerns, schedules, and events. We don't do it every Sunday like we should, but when it happens, its awesome.

Today we had Big Long Important Fabulous Talks about our financial goals and plans. We set some huge goals, and we are very excited about them. There is so much power in unity. We open and close our meeting with prayer so we can have the spirit of the Lord guiding us in our marriage and goals. We talked a lot about what it means to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and decided that gratitude is so central to the idea. When we acknowledge God in all things, and are grateful for our abundant blessings, it is impossible to be prideful, because we are so aware of the gulf between us and God.

It is a beautiful thing to be united with your spouse with perfect understanding. I love marriage!!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Honk shooing

Chloe came bouncing out of her room just 10 minutes after I put her down for her nap. I sternly told her to get back and go to sleep.

"But I'm done! I already honk shooed."
"You did what?"
"I closed my eyes and went honk shoo, and dat's sleepin so I'm done!"

Light bulb went on when I realized that if you make a fake snoring sound, it does sound a lot like 'honk shoo'. Kids are so random!

5 years already. Everything changed that day. I look at my little children now and they have never known another world.

I was pregnant with my first baby, and on bed rest. We were living in the Bay area. Steve had just left for the gym to work out, and I was trying to come up with something to keep me busy for yet another day in bed. Then he called from the gym. 'Something's happening', he told me. 'Turn on the radio.' (being the very newlyweds that we were, we didn't even own a tv).

So I turned on the radio, and listened, in the same incredulous disbelief as the rest of the nation, as our world changed.

Steve came home--work was cancelled. We went to my aunts home and spent the day on the couch, glued to the screen. I distinctly remember hearing the name 'Osama bin Laden' for the first time. The towers fell. The Pentagon. United 93. When I think of that day all I can remember is confusion and pain.

I've never tried to write about it before, and it's interesting that the feelings are still so raw.

The close knit feeling in the country in the weeks after is also something I won't forget. We felt united, and that was something very comforting to hold onto.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Calvin learned how to play peek a boo. He still hasn't quite mastered the whole 'my eyes are HERE' part of it, but he'll get there!

Birdy dressed herself. All I didn't capture were the tap shoes. What an ensemble! If there's ever a day with a rogue snowstorm, high temperatures, and the need for a quick dance number, she's got us covered.

We spent the afternoon at the park and it was one of those perfect, mesmerizing afternoons where life couldn't be better. I have so many blessings!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

This being a mother thing--it alternately tears your heart out and fills it with unspeakable joy. Isn't it amazing that these tiny little humans have such enormous power over our hearts?

Hazel is almost 5, and Chloe just 3. They are inseparable and do most everything together. But every so often come activities for Hazel and not Chloe. H is going to a little Curious George play with her best friend and Chloe can't go, and then tonight, Hazel was invited to a birthday party-alone. To watch Chloe's little pixie face was so heartbreaking. She went from sky-high joy at the thought of a party, to complete grief when she realized she wasn't invited.

All I could do was hold her as she cried. Her little body just shook as she kept repeating, 'not me?' She is something of a drama queen, but her pain was very real. I ached for her. I know they need their own friends, but it is so hard to watch your kids in pain. She picked up the invitation and scanned it. 'There's a C, Mama. I think that is a C for Chloe to come!'

Hazel (with just a leeetle bit of coaching) went to her sad little sister, and offered to bring home the treat bag just for Chloe. Well, the sun returned to her world! Her face lit up, she beamed, jumped up and down, and said:
C: "You're my best friend, I love you Hazel!"
H: "I love you so much sister!"

It sounds saccharine sweet, but to watch these two precious girls, saying these words, with their arms around each other and tear-stained faces pressed close--well it was almost more than I could handle! I am so blessed, and these are the moments that make mothering these tiny kids such a joy.

If there was any doubt about the differences between the sexes..

I try to be a very gender-neutral sort of mommy. At least, I started out with ideals like that. You know, not too much pink for the girls, let them have construction vehicles, dolls for the boys, etc. But lately I have come to realize that there are some MAJOR differences between the sexes, and it is not just because of environment.

Most of my experience here deals with girls. My baby boy just turned one, and so really only adds his masculinity to the family during diaper changes. Other than that, he's still pretty neutral. But the girls? What is with their programming?

We have a great big box of toy cars. I called down to Hazel to see what she was doing, and she was playing with them. Great! I thought. So I came down to check on her half an hour later, and she was still playing with cars. How was she playing with them? Each car was lovingly dressed in doll clothes and was being rocked to sleep. Oh, how I wish I had a picture. The expression on her face was so tender and maternal as she lovingly placed each little car in it's bed!

Then Hazel and Chloe were having a snack. They played house for 45 MINUTES with two pieces of cheese stick and a couple of graham crackers! They don't even need dolls to play house! The nurturing and the loving come so naturally to them. I love that about their tender little selves. And I love that they are so inherently female. It is part of their nature to love and care for those around them, even if it is just cheese sticks and toy cars!

How do they know to take care of things like this? How is it such a part of who they are? My little brother is only 9--I have NEVER seen him dress his cars up. He stages elaborate car crashes and pile-ups, and uses dolls as projectiles. They are just different little creatures. How wonderful! In a world where so many people want us to all be the same, I rejoice in the inherent tenderness of my little girls.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Yep, it's strep all right

Now I have the official diagnosis and the requisite pink pills that will hopefully catapult me into riotous good health. But not quite yet. My poor kids have wandered around forelornly for days now, scrounging what food they can. But you know, it's trite, but I wouldn't have the appreciation for my usual health without a blip every now and then. So I'll be grateful for a bug, and very grateful for antibiotics, and very very grateful when I'm well again.

When I feel better though, there's the teensy little issue of the house to deal with. Since I haven't moved a thing to clean since Sunday, you can just imagine the layers of filthiness we're dealing with here. Yuck!

Blindsided by a ferocious bug

So yesterday I woke up to one of those incredibly nasty illnesses. The kind where you truly feel that if the earth could swallow you up, you'd sink into blissful oblivion, so please, just kill me now. I literally couldn't get out of bed. When does that ever happen? FORTUNATELY, Steve hasn't started traveling yet, so he was able to take the kids for part of the day. I haven't been that sick in ages.

I'm feeling a bit better, but still have a vicious sore throat, so I'll go in to get it cultured this morning for strep.

Yesterday, in the middle of my sickness-induced fog, my little three year old Birdy asked me with such exasperation, "why are you not getting me my we-fweshing cool rag for my owie foot?"

When they use words like 'refreshing' with all seriousness, it's all I can do not to bust up laughing right there!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ok, this could get addictive! And it's not like I don't spend waaaay to much time on the blasted internet as it is. I mean, with a laptop and wireless internet, the world is all mine. So much to the detriment of my kitchen floor and laundry, the laptop comes where I do. Check email, check the ebay auctions--all with just a few keystrokes! Why bother with the minutiae of sweeping?

So a quick intro is necessary. I have a life of suburban bliss, complete with vegetable garden and largish patch of grass. Three adorable, perfect, yadda yadda kids who I adore. One fabulous husband who is enormously patient with me. One wild home-based business that keeps said fabulous husband traveling many months of the year. But we can adjust to anything, so we live for the summers and winter break, and deal with the rest.

My family calls me a hippy, but I'm not really. Just trying to be more...concious...of the choices we make. So I homeschool, cloth diaper, homebirth, try to limit the junk that I feed my family (but that one is not my strongest point!), and we're working on biodiesel.

It feels so weird to try to capture a whole life in a few sentences. Inevitably, it feels flat and prosaic. I will diligently try to capture the moments of wonder, of delight, of pure joy that are my life. Those illuminating moments that pierce through the daily round of laundry and meals. I'm trying to choose to let those moments in far more often, rather than watch them pass away while I'm surfing the internet.

An official blogger

So I finally did it. I started a blog. With around 30 blogs on my daily reading list, this would have been a very logical move a loooong time ago. I've been mentally blogging for months! So what was stopping me?

A name. A lousy name. I couldn't come up with anything catchy or clever enough, so I just didn't do anything. Now doesn't that just sum up my personality in one fell swoop! Aaah, perfectionism.

So I decided that enough is enough, it's time to overcome! I will settle for mediocrity if it means action! The first random blog title that pops in my head is the winner. Hence, we have And together we learn. It comes from one of my favorite Primary songs, Teach me to walk. For every one random factoid I teach my little people, I am so richly taught by them in so many ways.

So now I feel pretty much unstoppable, now that I've overcome the first hurdle. What's left now to conquer?

I ask that, then unfortunately, I answer. Organize the pantry, the art cupboard, the food storage room, the baby's closet...the list could go on forever! But I'll be content with this one small step, for now.

Woo-hoo!!! I'm a blogger!!!