Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why I applied for a demotion

A while back I wrote a post called Apple Pie or Applesauce basically comparing apple pie to being a stay at home mom, and applesauce to my position as a mom who works full time. Both are tasty ways to eat apples, but I admit, I'd rather eat apple pie. There's going to be a change on my menu next month. I call it apple cobbler, which is to say, I'm going part-time. Since there are no part-time positions in the area I work in, I've applied for a demotion. Yes I had to apply to get demoted, and get a pay-cut. Interviewed and everything.

Someone recently said to me,

"So instead of being a full-time mom, and full-time employee, you're going to be a full-time mom, and part-time employee." Wow, I had never thought of it that way. Now, I think of this decision as being totally rational despite the downsides (pay-cut, demotion, etc). I did question for a long time whether this was a crazy thing to do. People loose their jobs every day, and here I am complaining I don't want to work as much, but here's the thing I learned from that comment, being a mom is a full time job.

My entire life I've always worked two jobs. In high school I worked as a receptionist for work release, and taught piano lessons after school. In college I worked in two stores at the mall. Then I did one mall job, and got an on campus job at the gym. After college I worked full time doing telemarketing and at my current job. The day I had Hunter was the last day I worked as a telemarketer. At the time I thought it was going to be so nice only working one full time job. I can't believe I never realized being a mom and working was still like having two full time jobs.

Naturally my biggest concern with going part time was the money. I like to think that I'm not wrapped up in who has what, but it made me sad knowing it might be years before we can afford to install a dishwasher in our kitchen, or finish our basement. For once in our lives we finally seemed to be at a point where we had a little cushion at the end of the month, and it was really hard to decide we were going to scrimp by again.

It's a good thing I never stopped coupon shopping. Yes I'm that crazy lady who goes to the grocery store with a binder of her clipped coupons. I also could never get over spending more than $20 on a shirt or a pair of jeans. I still head to the back of the store for the clearance racks, I still accept hand me downs from cousins, and I still shop at the thrift store. Cheap must be in my blood.

Last November I wrote a post called Palpitations where I was also contemplating taking an available demotion for part-time. That was six months ago. Sometimes I wasn't even sure this would ever happen, so I'm really excited to be stepping into this part of my future. It's one of those futures you're not sure will happen, and when it does you feel incredibly lucky that the future is looking pretty bright.

Five reasons you should love your crappy car

Growing up we owned old cars. They were vintage and fixed up by my Dad, like his Mustang and El Camino, or they were beaters like the Bronco we bought for $900 and gave a new coat of paint. So it hasn't bothered me that we've never had a new car. I'm used to it. So in no particular order, these are my top 5 reasons you should love your crappy car.

The closest we came to buying a new car was before we had kids. I wrecked this awesome little turquoise green car we were given by a family member when we got married, and we needed a new one ASAP. We bought our Mitsubishi Lancer from Low Book Sales for way too much right before the economy tanked. Within a year it was worth half what we owed, but it's never broken down on the side of the road. This brings me to reason #1: The more you pay for a car the more reliable it is.

Now that it's been almost a decade since we bought this little gem, I'm beginning to love it even more. I don't mind so much the huge dent in the trunk I got when pulling out of our carport and ramming my father-in-law's truck. It will always be the reminder that I forgot to look, which is reason #2: You will be a safer driver if your car has dents they will remind you to look before you back up.

The little dent over the passenger side wheel well Mike made with his butt. He was trying to use his behind to push us out of a snow filled ditch next to the curb at my Uncle's house. This is reason #3: Dents can also be a reminder of your hubby's nicest asset, which will make you smile every time you see it.

There was also this time I was run off the road into construction barrels by a semi. He decided to exit the freeway from two lanes over. My passenger side mirror hit a barrel and the mirror popped off, exploding into the pavement at 50 mph. I don't think the semi ever saw me and I was too happy to be alive to think to get his license plate number. Mike cut out a new mirror and I glued it on myself, the edges are kind of rough, but at least it still functions. This is reason #4: If anyone ever hits you and runs, you will have the good sense to memorize their license plate number.

The last thing I love about this car is the awesome knob. The temperature knob had always been a little sticky until one day I turned too hard and it broke off. For a while we adjusted the air with some pliers until more of the inside of the knob broke off. Then finally last year it was completely stuck on a/c. When the temperature outside started to dip, my handy husband took off the panel, disconnected the a/c and voila somehow we had heat again in the car. It's about time to have him take that panel off again re-connect the a/c wires which he will lovingly continue to do each spring. Reason #5 is: Your crappy car will help you appreciate how handy your husband is.

Yup, I think we're pretty lucky to have this little gem.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I'm starting to wonder if we're crazy for raising chickens

I thought I would make the announcement that we are now owners of 8 chickens and 4 turkeys, and share some pictures of our almost finished chicken coop which has turned into a monster of a project. You know, the kind where you're like, oh this will be easy, no big deal, a weekend project. Then it turns into a never ending project you couldn't have dreamed would create so much work, your asking, how did I get myself into this? Yes, it's that one.

Originally we'd planned to make a tiny movable coop, then our neighbors gutted their house and let us take all their old beams. So we decided to use them to build a shed, This way we could park the quad in it, and I would finally be able to use our garage for car parking. Sounds like a great idea right?

I guess in theory it still is, but had I known all that goes into building something that big, I think I would have backed out immediately.  First we had to demolish a huge pine tree, because chickens have to be a certain distance from the house.

Then once the thing was built we realized we couldn't just paint the plywood, we had to add siding first of course. Let's not forget we learned that chickens like to be outside. I know, how dumb are we for not figuring this out earlier, and we thought, silly us! Instead of also building an outdoor pen, let's just fence in our yard. Surely that will be more efficient than building a pen.

Did I mention a few weeks after we bought the chickens in February we began to suspect I was allergic to them. I had the most severe allergies of my life for three weeks before I finally found a medication that worked, hallelujah for Allegra D. So we are now on the countdown as the chickens are getting pretty big. They seem to enjoy their coop, but we still have to finish the fence, their nests, and their chicken door to the yard. I must give props though to my handy husband for building all of this. Yes he is pretty amazing, I picked him myself, can you believe it? I know, I'm an extremely lucky girl.
The inside of the coop
A few of the chickens

One week old Turkeys
8 week old Turkeys

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The older I get the more I worry. . .

The older I get the more I worry. I'm told it's because with age comes added responsibility which equals more stress. One of the things I find myself doing when I have a quiet minute to sit and fret is look outside my bedroom window. I never expected when we bought our house six years ago, that the view from my bedroom would have such an effect on my sanity. I never cared much for views before, like when making a cruise reservation I chose a room with a tiny porthole where all you could see was water. The time we stayed at a bed and breakfast, I'm sure the description of the view, lake or mountains, had no bearing on which room I chose. But for now, I'm really attached to the sight of our neighbors trees against the red brick background of her house.

Last winter I was worrying about whether or not to change departments at my job. I would wake up and see the branches sparkling as light began to filter in against the icy blue sky. Then I'd wrap my blanket tighter against my skin and wonder what to do. I felt weighed down like the tree branches, crusted with snow. I hunkered down in my position at work all winter, and it was cozy for a long time. Now that it's spring I'm ready to make that move within my company, but I still feel wobbly with anticipation, as I stand on the brink. The landscape around us grows so much during the spring.

Early this spring I was studying with Hunter. He asked what the word 'bud' meant. I asked him to remember what the trees outside my window looked like covered in leaves. I explained the tiny leaf buds he saw now would soon become big leaves by summer. As I watched him grasp this new concept I remembered last fall, the leaves had started to turn crinkly and orange when he brought his first phonics book home from kindergarten. It was called "A School". It has the word "a" next to a pictured object on every page. I was so frustrated. I'd tell him the word is "a", he'd repeat it, then I'd turn the page, point to "a" and he would scream he didn't know what it was. We read that book for two weeks until he could remember the word "a".

I still worry about the rate at which he's learning new things. I have to keep reminding myself that we're making progress. It may not seem like it when I'm comparing yesterday to today, but when I think about where we were last fall compared to now, I realize he is reading those phonics books with minimal help. We only have one month until summer. The closer it gets the more I dread the possibility he will begin to forget what he's learned while he's out of school.

I question my organizational ability to make the lesson plans without the sheet sent home from Kindergarten showing me what he needs to learn each week. Will he take spelling tests seriously when I'm the one giving them? Am I taking away from his childhood? Are summers just for fun, or should I expect his mind to grow, just like the branches grow during these hot months to reach the top of our roof. Things are going to change and I'm fearing it. It will be so hot outside, we'll become lethargic. When we study we'll forego our nice view out the window from my bed, to sit on top of the air conditioning vent. We won't be able to see the blossoms next door. If the flower buds had feelings, would they also fear the process of change? Or would they realize they have to grow, to constantly change, until they bloom?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Whose related to the most amazing maker of handmade bags, aprons, pillow case covers, dresses, and well everything? Yup it's me

I have to say I'm incredibly lucky to be the niece-in-law of my husbands Aunt Stephie. I had heard all these wonderful things about her while she lived in Iowa, like, Aunt Steph loves to make things, loves to decorate, loves little kids, is writing a children's book, and helps out in an elementary school. I'm so glad Stephanie has moved to Utah so I finally get to know her and witness all these wonderful things she does.

Right off the bat as soon as she heard about Hunters struggles in school she offered to come once a week and tutor him. She is amazing with him, and he looks forward to his Tuesdays with Steph. He adores her and she adores him equally. Then I noticed she was always making cute things for the kids. First there were these knitted mittens.

My kids love them so much they refuse to wear any other glove. Even though it's warm outside now, Amy claims she needs to wear them in her bed because her hands get cold at night. Now she's added her purple Easter bunny Steph made to the bedtime routine. She says she just can't fall asleep unless her bunny is next to her pillow. Stephanie is also making dresses and gave two to Amy last week.

I let her wear it to a tea party with my cousins and now she calls the yellow one her tea party dress. The other one she wore to church last Sunday and also wanted to wear it the entire day. She begs that we let her sleep in it. I did give in once. . .

Then I discovered Stephanie has a huge collection on Etsy. EmiesCorner has stunning unique items for the home like throw pillows, hand painted tablecloths, towels, scarves, aprons, and little girls dresses. On TheBauerCollection she has tons of clutches, purses and my favorite, super cute totes. I don't think there's anything she can't make. I wish I could buy every single item, seriously. So so lucky I am related to this super talented woman! I love giving handmade gifts, but I always run out of time to make them, so I've already started picking out what I want to buy for Christmas gifts. Can't wait!

Just some of my favorites. . . .

Friday, April 18, 2014

The parents we try to be

Last year I began to notice for the first time that we had birds living in our yard, and not just any birds, the same birds who continued to come back every spring. The first one I noticed was a starling, all black with a small yellow beak about the size of my hands with fingers intertwined. She used a hole in our neighbors brick wall to build her nest. Every time our car pulled into the driveway her babies chirped with fervor, and she watched us warily before making the mad dash back to her nest. Still, I like to think the more she saw us the less daunted she was by us. We got to witness the delicacies she carried in her mouth to feed her babies, and then the day she kicked them out of the nest and forced them to fly. I think I saw her again today building her nest in the same place.

This last week I've also seen two blue jays rebuilding their nest in the tree at the back corner of our yard. They are also visitors from last year. Often they would perch on the tree just a few feet outside my bedroom window. One of my favorite things to do, is bask in the sunlight that hits my bed in the afternoon while reading a book. I count it a good luck charm if I am able to have sunlight and see the blue jays at the same time.

We also have a new family of Quail this year with four babies. I have to be up early in the morning, no later than sunrise to see them; sometimes marching in a row through the back lawn, or other times scavenging for breakfast in our lawn. I love how they always stay together like a family should.

I would not classify myself as a bird watcher. I've never gone out of my way to see birds. I maybe considered how bird watching could be interesting a decade ago when I read Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams, but quickly forgot the idea. Last year when I was in Oregon visiting my Aunt I found my favorite place was reading a book on her pergola. But instead of reading, I would find myself watching yellow finches who came to rest on her marigolds, and black birds with red striped tails who fed out of an antique bird bath. From her kitchen, doing dishes, hummingbirds would come right up to the window to sip out of the feeder. I could stand so still in front of the sink, with nothing else on my mind, but intent on watching their tiny wings blur next to their fat green bodies.

Our neighbor who will have passed away a year ago next Saturday built bird feeders. He told me he needed a hobby when he retired and he liked wood working, so he decided to build bird feeders. His carport is lined with at least 20 feeders which he regularly filled. Inside his kitchen he also kept a collection displayed on top of his kitchen cabinets. I used to come over to borrow the coupon section of his newspaper, and he would tell me stories of when he did munitions in the Korean War. He always had a kind word for my kids as well. This time last year he boiled two eggs, one for each of them to take home and paint for Easter. I couldn't believe he had taken time to boil eggs with us in mind. It was such a small thing, but it said so much about how he cared.

Dons house has become a hollow shell, gutted for renovations, just as his bird houses in the carport are also empty. I am missing him, but I'm glad our bird friends are back rebuilding their homes.  I'm hoping they will continue to come back each year, or that their children will come back to take over the nests and raise the next generation of chicks. Mike and I are not much different from the birds when it comes to homes since we are raising our kids in the same house his parents raised him in. We are not very different from the birds at all, protecting our kids, feeding them, building our home one twig at a time, frantically flapping our wings to stay afloat, trying to suck the most out of each moment, and forcing our children out the door when it's time to fly. I've been saving milk cartons the last couple of weeks so the kids can make bird feeders for our spring dwellers. I hope they know they are welcome to stay and remind me of the home we build and the parents we try to be.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why I hate historical fiction

Have I mentioned before how much I love to read? Well, I do love it, although my life doesn't allow much time for it. Usually I listen to 2-3 books per month while I'm in the car, folding laundry, mopping, washing dishes making breakfast, showering, pretty much during any mundane task I have my little bluetooth speaker nearby. Actually reading is still preferable, but time is so limited I get through about 1 book a month the old fashioned way.

I've been thinking it's been a long time since I read anything I really loved, you know, when you read a book and it makes you look at the world in a completely new way you never considered before? I just finished listening to My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliviera. I'm just going to openly admit right now, I hated it. This is what always happens when I pick something up off the shelf without doing my homework on Goodreads first. I think it's safe to say I hate historical fiction with a passion and I'm determined never to read it again.

If I wanted to read about history, I would read non-fiction. How can historical fiction teach you anything except how dull and boring a story can be when the author attempts to throw in so many historical details it actually detracts from her story rather than adding a richer authenticity to it? Nothing, the story flat lined in my opinion, underdeveloped characters, weak storyline, ambiguous love triangle, did he love her as a daughter or as a woman, because if there was a love story going on I missed it until the very last page. This book had no pulse.

On to greener pastures. I've begun This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, which has actually been extremely enjoyable since page 5, although still not sure how the title fits into the book, and Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool which is turning out to be an easy read and a good page turner. I think even if the ending turns out to be stupid I will still like this book because the story keeps me thinking about it even when I'm not reading. Next up is Wonder by R.J. Palacio which I've heard is really great too, maybe I'll get on a lucky reading streak, knock on wood, but seriously, Mary Sutter was bad enough to leave a bad book taste in my mouth for at least a year.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

DIY Roman Shades

A few weeks ago I finally succumbed to the urge to make my own blinds. Our kitchen is very tiny, maybe 8x10, but has huge windows.

Like clockwork, by Wednesday, all the laundry is washed, and piled in unfolded heaps downstairs, sometimes until the next Wednesday. This requires me to very often streak through the kitchen to get to the basement and find some clean underwear. This was working quite well for me, I had a system of poking my head in to check for people walking their dogs or jogging, before I made the mad dash.

However, last year our neighbor passed away, and his house was quickly bought, then half of it torn down to be expanded, which I think is ironic because when our original neighbor bought the house he also expanded it's backside before moving in. All signs point to an insatiable social need to expand and conquer our suburban lots as the next generation moves into society, which bothers me, but that's another story.

So next door construction by default, has brought a lot of contractors near my house, and let's not forget to mention the lovely blue dumpster accompanying the yellow brick wall which entertains my kitchen view. My chances of being caught in the buff are significantly higher than they used to be, so this time I acted.

There's not a single cookie cutter shade in existence that would fit these windows, believe me I've looked everywhere. I'm incredibly cheap so there's no way I was going to pay to have custom blinds made either. Instead I scoured Pinterest for the most detailed DIY Roman Shades which lucky for me also required no sewing, since my sewing machine broke last year and I'm dragging my feet to replace it because I'm so cheap.

Anyways, here are the results, please excuse my unpainted walls, the kitchen remodel is scheduled to begin in T minus 18 months, right after we finish the chicken coop and fence this summer, and basement bedrooms this winter. I'm really happy with the way they turned out. I now have a cheery yellow to greet me as I make breakfast, and I won't have to risk flashing any constructions workers.

Anybody else think it's weird they made windows lower than counter top height in the 1940's? Just sayin'

Don't you think the ugly yellow wall compliments the chevron print?

Ahhhh privacy

Here's a glimpse of that lovely dumpster.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I sold my piano, and maybe a piece of my soul.

My piano is officially sold. After months of having it listed I finally accepted that I would have to let it go for a reasonable price. It sold the day I lowered the price.

The day the movers came I sat down and muddled my way through some favorite pieces, acknowledging that I can't even play the piece that got me accepted to the University of Utah Piano Performance program. Can't even play it to vaguely resemble what it's supposed to sound like.

I realized, or maybe accepted, that I will never play that well again. Sure, that's obvious, but in the back of my mind I would always think, maybe when the kids are grown I will take lessons again and build up my dexterity and practice scales and Hannon for hours a day again and become better than I ever was. Possibly there's something about selling your first and last baby grand piano that makes you realize those days are never coming back.

When I was studying music, I always hesitated to tell people that was my major, out of fear they would ask me play and upon hearing me wonder how I had ever gotten in. Now when people find out I play, just that I play, a hot flash of embarrassment practically knocks me over when they say, "oh, play something," because I think they will be disappointed. Truly, the one who is disappointed is me.

I just finished reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, who forced her daughters to practice piano hours a day because as she puts it "Nothing is fun, until you're good at it." I actually found myself wishing I had a tiger mother who had forced me to practice. I played for hours when I was kid because I loved the sound of the piano. It forced me not to worry about anything else as I focused on getting the notes right. Even though I am competitive, I didn't have the drive, or a parent driving me to play for excellence, I always played to escape whatever was bothering me at the time. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I should have known it wouldn't have led me to greater improvement.

I did swim team for the same reason. I loved to swim. But somehow it never bothered me that I was the slowest person on our team. I always did what the coaches asked, and swam as fast as I could, but I knew I would never be great at it, and I was okay with that. So it doesn't make sense that it bothers me so much knowing I always played for enjoyment, but wasn't that great at it. I think it's the knowing that if I had continued to practice I would always get better, there was no limit to improvement, but with swimming, I could only go as fast as my arms would move, no matter how hard I pushed, there was a limit to what I could do in a pool.

As I get older, I think I've learned to cast off all inflated ideas about myself. I have to be enough for me, not for any other person, and if I'm happy with where I'm at, nobody can tell me otherwise. My focus is no longer on practicing piano, or swimming, or anything else I did when I was young, well except maybe writing, or I wouldn't be blogging today. And I'm happy about that.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

When your child has Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

I was outnumbered five to one, at the most recent parent teacher conference last week. I've done a few posts about Hunter and his progress in school, mentioning, maybe it's dyslexia, maybe it's ADD, etc and now he's been tested. Hunter has Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). When I first heard the name I had no idea what it was.

They explained that Hunter has a great vocabulary, and speaks in long sentences and has a very good understanding of language. When long instructions or a story was spoken to him, he was able to understand the general theme and answer questions about the story. When a single sentence was read, or short directions were given, he was unable to answer the questions. Hunter was using his language skills by listening to words in context to understand, but was unable to hear enough in short directions to follow.

I came home and wanted to know more so I went to Wikipedia which said:

"Individuals with APD usually have normal structure and function of the outer, middle and inner ear (peripheral hearing). However, they cannot process the information they hear in the same way as others do, which leads to difficulties in recognizing and interpreting sounds, especially the sounds composing speech. It is thought that these difficulties arise from dysfunction in the central nervous system (i.e., brain). APD has been referred to as dyslexia for the ears."

This explains so much about Hunter, especially how he combines sounds backwards, yet is able to read letters in order. And short term memory! Since he has trouble distinguishing sounds, it makes sense why it took him so long to learn all the letter sounds, because he had trouble differentiating sounds. The same letter would sound different to him every time he heard it, so it took longer for him to recognize them. The good news is Hunter doesn't have ADD. I'm really grateful about that because it would really complicated things if he had ADD in addition to APD. So this last week we've been making some changes.
  1. Eye Contact. When Hunter needs to memorize, i.e. sight words or spelling, we repeat them over and over again, first looking at the word on the wall, then face to face with eye contact. Sometimes it takes a few reminders for him to get focused on my face, but once he does it had made all the difference. 
  2. Visual aids. He's still really young and developing his skills. So far he's relied on his language skills, we need to work on strengthening his visual learning to compensate for his hearing disability.
  3. Routine. I've made a chart for our morning and evening routines. Having the chart for our routine has alleviated a lot of stress off both of us. Now he knows what needs to be done with a lot less nagging from me. The routine also helps reduce confusion and chaos in his day when he knows exactly what needs to be done and when.
  4. Rewards. I used to waste so much time and energy trying to keep this kid in time out, it just didn't work for him. Then a friend told me about her marbles. Now we have a marble jar, and he can earn them for a chore, daily tasks like getting ready, studying, and listening and following directions. Then he can redeem his marbles for different prizes. For example, 1 marble will buy a stick of gum, 3 marbles will buy 20 minutes of game time on the computer, 5 marbles and he can pick out a toy from mom's dollar store box. 
  5. Repetition. I feel like now that I understand what his struggles are, I'm more understanding and less frustrated. I expect to have to explain things to him more than once and in different ways, and once we find something that clicks for him, repeat, repeat, repeat.
  6. Kinesthetic Learning. Hunters strongest form of absorbing information is hands on learning. He learns new words and sounds more quickly by writing them out, over and over again. When he learns a new sight word, I will have him fill a page with that word several days in a row for him to memorize.
I'm no expert on APD, I googled a lot, and made this list based on things I thought would help Hunter. Every kid is different, these are just things that have worked for us. In case you found this helpful, click here for a copy of the charts I made. I laminated them and keep a dry erase marker next to it so Hunter can check things off as he goes.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why I'm still a college drop out, and I'm okay with that

I've mentioned several times on this blog that I want to go back to school. Just see this post, that post, and this one. But I'm biding my time. I know several people who are in school and doing it with little kids, and I don't know how they do it. I dropped out of college because I really wasn't dedicated enough to push my nose to the grind in order to work full time and be a piano performance major. I had just gotten married, and I figured I would be raising kids the next few decades, what would I need a degree for? Yes, how little I knew back then. If I had a do-over, I would take out student loans, not work, and we would eat top ramen every night, while I studied, practiced, performed my heart out, and graduated. Oh well, thinking about the past is not progressive.

I do know I wouldn't go back for music. I just sold my baby grand piano last week. I've never been so attached to an inanimate object before. It seems strange to me that I care so much about a piece of furniture. But I do. I played it one last time before the movers came over, and as I stumbled through Erik Satie's Gymnopedie, I thought, selling my piano will be like accepting that I will never be able to play like I once did when I was a performance major. That dream is now closed, final.

Now I have my family to help support, so not working and doing school isn't an option. Working full time, raising two kids and doing school sounds like a recipe for failure. I've been known for taking too much on my plate, only to implode later on. I don't want to make those mistakes again. For now, I'm testing the water, dipping my toes in, slowly acclimating to the water. Choosing English is a no-brainer, but I'm open to any path it may lead to. Another nugget of wisdom I've learned is not all paths are straight. I can't carve my way from point A to point B without some twists and turns.

My Uncle teaches Chinese at BYU, and offered to get a syllabus from an English professor, so I could study a course on my own, as a kind of test to see if I could keep up. Instead, getting my feet wet happened when the stars aligned, everything fell into place, and Shelah graciously allowed me to sit in on her Mormon Lit class at BYU Salt Lake this January. Amazingly, I kept up with the reading, and then two weeks into the class, it was cancelled. I don't understand I thought, this was meant to be! It's not often I get that right place at the right time feeling! Since then I've often asked myself, what did I learn in those two weeks? I learned that I felt guilty spending more time away from my kids, and that I'm not ready to take that enrollment leap.

Maybe you're reading this thinking, oh she's just letting fear hold her back, you can do it!! Just work hard, it will all be worth it!! But as I get older I'm feeling more and more that I do have time, lots of time, and I need to wait until the time is appropriate for me. So now that's off my chest. I won't mention college again, not until it becomes a reality, then I'll give you an update on how wonderful and difficult it is.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Why we're done having kids

Last week I was talking to a neighbor about having more kids. She said they decided to have another because she was getting older, so it was either, try to get pregnant now, or loose the opportunity. On the other hand, my reaction, even though I am 29 and my husband is 31, was for him to get a vasectomy last year. She is a stay at home mom. I am a working mom, so I rationalized to her that it just wouldn't be fair for me to have more kids knowing I couldn't stay home with them. But as I said it I thought, fair for the kids, or fair to me? Was this a selfish decision? Yes and no. Yes because I am eager to get onto the next stage of my life where I get to go back to school, unencumbered by little ones. No because I've had major hormonal depression with each pregnancy. For my health, we are leery about what another pregnancy would do to me. With pregnancy out of the question, I do think we would adopt if the opportunity came to us, but I don't think we'd seek it out.

Now I contradict myself. I always wanted a big family. Ever since I started spending weeks at a time at my Uncle's who has 9 kids, I loved big family life. I loved that there was always a playmate, laughter, and this community within a home. Plus there was enough of us to play sardines. I am an only child. Never having a sibling, I knew I wanted to make up for that by having a large family. Then I had my first child, and I realized I was totally unequipped with the know-how for raising children. I had assumed that having children was natural, and I would know exactly what to do in every situation because it's inborn in all women, otherwise why would God entrust me with such a fragile life? I guess he intended for me to learn with on the job training.

Even basic knowledge like if the baby is crying it's either, hungry, poopy, sick or tired, took growing pains to figure out. So I have come to the conclusion that those who come from big families, breed big families. Why is this? Because they've been trained since childhood. I on the other hand, had no training, zero, unless you count the two weeks I babysat for a lady down the street when I was 13, that's it. My husband also comes from a small family, he has one brother. So now I think it's a bit of a triumph that we have managed to have two kids, and not screw them up too bad. I mean Hunter will eat Mayo straight from the jar, but what kid doesn't eat weird stuff right?

So I'm always a work in progress, and I'm still working on getting over my "I chose to only have two kids, but I'm a Mormon" guilt. Which is kind of insane, because it's not doctrine that you must have as many kids as your fertility allows. So I chalk it all up to living in Utah with all the cultural stigma's associated with Utah Mormons. Maybe if we lived in China where one kid is the norm I would feel differently. Anyway, the thing I'm trying to remember is that I'm doing the very best I can, and nobody is judging me but me, so I'm going to get off my own back already and enjoy the amazing kids I already have.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Princess Tea Party

I think Amy's 4th Birthday Party was a success! I may have gone a little overboard with the decorating, but can you blame me? It was too much fun. Of course I searched all over Pinterest  for weeks until I found how-to's galore. So if you're planning your own Princess Soiree, here's the links for the decorations.

First we let the girls decorate their own princess crown. I found the template here and traced it onto foam paper, then when they were done I held them around the girls head, used a stapler to secure the two ends together and voila! Don't they look royal!

Then we had our Tea Party part of the party. I will admit, I used the 100 year old china inherited from my Grandmother-In-Law, and maybe 3 and 4 year old girls wouldn't care if they got to use real china, but I couldn't help myself. I know, risky, but I'd rather see it used than sit on a shelf 12 months out of the year. We told the girls Cinderella had lent it to us from the palace, they were really excited about that. We had pink lemonade, skewers with berries, and pb&j sandwiches.

Next they played pin the lips on the frog. I take no credit for this at all because my husband is the artist. I simply printed a picture of a frog I liked and asked him to draw it on a giant piece of paper. Here is the link where I printed the lips from.

Our last game was hot potato. I played Disney music while they threw around a ball of tissue paper with prizes wrapped inside. When the music stopped, the girl holding the hot potato got to unwrap a layer and find the prize. Sorry no picture, but I think you can imagine tissue paper balled up in the shape of a potato.

At least one thing has to go wrong when you plan something, and mine was the cake. I'm not artistic when it comes to baking, so I ordered the cake from the grocery store. Which would have been really cute had they used the colors of icing that were in their display picture, green lawn with pink trim, but no, it was a really really red and green cake, it didn't match a single decoration. Fortunately, all the girls cared about was that it was chocolate on the inside.

Then Mike decided to have a Duck Dynasty moment and join in on the tea party. . . .

After presents were done, we had run out of time, so Mike entertained the little girls with duck calls and letting them pet all the stuffed ducks and heads in the living room. I know, we're just strange like that.

I think they were plenty entertained. I hope you've enjoyed the Princess Tea Party with a little Redneck flair. 

Next week is Hunters Birthday, but don't expect quite as much preparation to go into his. He chose to have a swim party at the rec center, and I am so happy I don't have to decorate or scrub my house floor to ceiling for that one. Sometimes I wonder what were we thinking having our kids birthday's in the same month!?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Amy is turning four

Amy is turning four. She chirps "up, up"
when she's cold outside, needs her heart
and body warmed. I still give in she's my last
child. When my arms are tired she clings legs
wrapped tightly around my waist arms
around my neck holds herself with monkey strength.

When she climbs out the bath I use the hooded
towel bundle her wet shoulders scoop
her in my arms. I try to hold her like a baby
as long as she'll let me, her clean wet face
looking up at me. I ache for chunky baby legs,
for years ago when I could swaddle
and bounce her, smile silly faces until she laughed.

I tell her never grow up, as if she can
help it, but I mean what I say. Never stop
loving your mommy, cling to her, give her kisses,
cuddle up as she holds you. When she turns
four she will enter the little girls world
beginning with a dress up princess tea party.
Her court of four year old friends will surround
her, she will begin to feel grown up.

During which I will look at her baby
pictures on the wall, and pine for her chubby
round face, replaced by a mane of long brown
hair too big for her body like a caricature.
As I stare at her, a phantom teenage
Amy will flash in my eyes like a camera
snapping a picture of her all grown up.
I mourn time, the baby thief.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back in the Swing of Things

I feel like life is finally beginning to become normal again. The biggest relief is that work has slowed down a bit, and I'm feeling more comfortable with our merged departments and new duties. Don't get me wrong there's still a lot of bugs to be worked out which may take the next year, but I have reached a level of comfort and confidence that makes work less stressful than it was four weeks ago.

One thing that has made all this transitioning a lot easier (for me, probably not for Mike) is that Mike has been working at night, so he's been home during the day to be with the kids when I wasn't able to work from home, which happened a lot this month. So I'm very grateful he often graciously offers to drop somebody at preschool or swimming and play Mr. Mom for me. Although part of me, the evil part, secretly is getting her revenge on days when he works all night and then watches the kids all day.

Two years ago we were in reversed roles, and I was working all night, watching the kids all day, hoping I didn't fall asleep in the procession of cars at preschool drop off, hiding my puffy eyes behind the biggest pair of sunglasses I could buy. I whined and moaned all year long about how hard it was to try and get eight hours of sleep in two hour increments while the sun was shining, so I get to say, see know you know what it feels like, don't you wish you were nicer to me? Ok so I haven't actually said that out loud, because I'm not that vindictive, but I can't help it if the though crosses my mind. Sometimes I feel like Anne Shirley who says " I know I chatter (in my case complain) on far too much but if you only knew how many things I want to say and don't. Give me some credit." 

On the other hand, I really miss him. It feels like I say hello to him in the morning when he gets home, we go our separate ways for the day, then he's asleep, and at the end of day, I wash my face, hop into bed, and say goodbye to him as he leaves for work and we do this dance all over again. Two more weeks to go, and he'll have a permanent day shift Monday-Friday and I am counting down the days to when we will get to spend more than five minutes together.

Anyway, my schedule won't be changing for another five months, and it's good I'm starting to feel settled after the first four weeks. I'm getting back into my workout routing, yes I know it's bad when this is the first week I've worked out since the week of Christmas, but hey give me credit for starting again. Speaking of starting again hoping to get back into my blogging habit, my apologies this probably isn't very entertaining, but I've got to start somewhere, and if I worry about what I write, nothing would ever get posted. I'm doing a writing group with a couple friends, so hopefully I will have some more interesting content to post soon. Happy end of January, I'm so glad it's almost behind me!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"The Law of Undulation"

Work has won the battle of my time, again. Today felt like I fried my brain attempting to keep up with changes within my department and the effects of new FAA rules for pilots (if you don't know what that is, you should click the link to find out before the next time you take a flight). This resulted in tears silently dripping onto my desk as I continued to work. Flight cancellations are piling up, and I can feel the need for mandatory overtime growing and beckoning.

I am so grateful though for the caring people I work with, especially when they text on days like to today to see how I'm doing, and drive into work to help the operation and rescue me. You know who you are, I'm so lucky I get to work with you. So these pages might see some neglect again, but these things are always temporary, chaos cannot last forever.

As CS Lewis says in the The Screwtape Letters, "Has no one every told you of the law of undulation? . . . . the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks...." For the full text click here. Even though CS Lewis is writing about spiritual lows and highs, I think the same concept applies to times of stress and contentment, we are constantly switching between the two for the duration of our lives. I know after this trough of stress, a peak of contentment will eventually follow.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sledding redneck style

I've been MIA all week. In my defense, even my family hasn't seen me much either. Probably anybody who works for an airline hasn't had time for blogging let alone breathing this past week. Work wise it's been a challenging New Year! I was looking forward to cutting back on my hours in 2014, but the opposite has been true so far with mandatory overtime implemented six days straight. I feel like I can finally take a breath today and relax. In the spirit of being lighthearted, I thought I'd share what we did on New Years Day before all this chaos began. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Overdue Acne Update

My first post about this was back in October, so I'm a a little overdue, but to be honest I wanted to wait until I had better results, and I do. Although, the stuff I tried did come with side effects. The two topical creams not so much, but the testosterone suppressant was full of unexpected surprises.

I was warned that my potassium level could dip and if it did, I would feel "weird" and to watch out for that. My experience instead was nausea. I actually wondered if I was pregnant after the first few weeks, okay not really, but the nausea did rival morning sickness. Still, I decided I could handle a little dizziness.

Then it started to mess with my cycle which was great because that month somehow my body bypassed it's cyclicatory PMS mood swing/depression, bonus! After the first month I was pretty happy with the side effects (the nausea was also making me want to eat less and I lost a few lbs). The next month, nausea was in full force and I couldn't keep my cookies down.

That's where I draw the line. No amount of puking makes any of that worth it, so I stopped taking them until I felt like myself again. They also did a great job of clearing up my face, which is why I began taking them again in a lower dose, and so far no nausea at all this time. Now I'm just praying it lasts.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year Resolutions Updated

If you can remember a month ago,which I cannot, and had to re-read this post  all over again to remember what those five resolutions. I know, I'm not off to a good start if I can't even remember what my resolutions were, but not matter how behind I am, here's the update to those goals.

#1. I stopped tracking calories after a week, using the excuse that it's too time consuming and I would just make better choices with food. That backfired with all the Christmas goodies floating around our house and I gained one pound since said goal setting. So my re-resolution is again to make healthy choices and not track calories, but I've printed out motivational quotes to tape to the fridge and around the house to help me remember to make the better choice.

#2. The Monopoly store is in full swing and Hunter loves it. We have been more consistent, and made substantial progress. He's learned all 26 letters, got a handful of sight words under his belt, can count to 100, and write to 20, this is major progress!

#3. I did pretty good with this one and stayed on track until last week, the week of Christmas. Missed a workout, got a cold and didn't work out the entire week. I'll get back on track this week.

#4. Haven't gone to the temple yet, had FHE, or done family scriptures yet. Beginning next week our work schedules both change so we're going to try early morning reading, so we'll see if we're more successful. I get to go to a wedding this week, does that count as temple attendance? FHE will still be tricky, Monday night I'll still be working, but working at home, so we'll see how well I can multi-task.

#5. The last grateful list in my journal was December 11th, so clearly I need some extra work in this area as well.