Monday, March 14, 2011

I'll Tell You What Crazy Is...

In January, on my trip home, I went out to dinner with my brother, Dan, and his wife, Marni. We were with some other friends, too. They were recently engaged and will be blending their families. They were talking about how wild it could be when all of their kids got together. I think together they would have five kids within a few years of each other in age. They said, "Yep, it can be pretty crazy sometimes." Then, my brother chimed in, "I'll tell you what's crazy: Caroline's house at Christmas." He had just spent some days of Christmas vacation at our house, and I guess it seemed pretty crazy to him.

I'm not gonna lie. It is crazy around here. Let me just describe the scene that pushed me over the edge (after staring down the edge several times during today, the first day of Spring Break) tonight. (It's also the reason Tim is avoiding me downstairs right now. Sigh...) While I was nursing the baby upstairs in the rocking chair, Lindsay was downstairs finishing making pudding for the Family Home Evening treat. It was Julia's turn for the lesson, but Lindsay wanted to help her to get credit for a Value Experience for Young Women. As I finish feeding the baby, I hear, "Oh no! Mom, I think I burned it." I hurry down the stairs, deposit the baby in her arms, and check the pudding. All is well. While she helps with the baby, I start dinner. Miles attempts practicing the piano, but he gives up and heads outside after minimal effort. Multiple children pour in and out of the back door with various amounts of dirt and sweat (It's been warm this week. Spring is coming!!) covering them. Dad gets home. The soup has another 10 minutes of simmering before I add the pasta. I convince Miles to come back inside for another try at the piano. He takes 5 minutes to come inside. I decide I'll sit down and play while I wait for him (My therapist says that one way to encourage your children's interest in any task is to show them your own enjoyment...doesn't work with my kids, but I still give it a try now and then...). He finally saunters in and impatiently waits while I put away my music. We sit down to practice (I know, I know. Why don't I let them practice themselves? Well, that ended successfully 15 minutes ago on his first try, AND I've tried to let them do it themselves. I let Lindsay play her recital piece on her own last Spring, and then, I got to listen to it played wrong for 2 months!!! It almost killed me. I find if I just sit with them for the first two or so days of the week, their accuracy improves tons. Judge me. I dare you.) Anyway, I'm trying to drag myself through all the attitude that my 10 year old can muster and remain calm enough to help him successfully play through a song that I now see he's had for 2.5 months, when the multiple children who have been coming in and out decide to fight over a game right next to us. The noise distracts my highly distract-able 10 year old boy, and I find myself getting drained of the last bits of emotional energy in me. Then, Lindsay comes in and, panicked, informs me that the Library has sent her $42 bill to a collection agency, and Dad expects her to pay for it. System overload. Dam breaks. Mother starts to yell.

Even in writing this down it doesn't seem like that much, but the situation just totally overwhelmed me at the time. The sad part is, Miles shaped right up: no more attitude, totally focused, finished his lesson successfully in no time. Why can't he do that before I totally lose it?

Well, now the baby's crying. He's supposed to be asleep. I hope he's not up 4 times with a fever again tonight like he was last night. Or wait, it was Calvin 3 times, and Julia once. Well, up once, but in our bed for 30 minutes tossing and turning, until I couldn't take it any more and kicked her out back into her own bed. Do you think maybe my lack of sleep is the cause for all of my overwhelmedness? I know that's not a word, but it just feels good to say. Kind of like "unwearyingness" from the Book of Mormon.

Good night! Here's hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

On Being A Mother To Kids That Are Way Too Smart

Okay, I had a total moment of "Who is this strong spirit that I get to parent?" the other night.  I had another one of those "emotional tailspin" kind of days last Saturday that lasted through Sunday evening.  Loud kids + messy house = cranky Mom, is usually the status quo around here.  Saturday, though, it seems that poor Tim had had enough.  Loud kids + messy house + cranky Mom = Dad criticizing pointing out the truth about Mom's crankiness and how much it is a drain on everyone = Mom going into a massive emotional down spiral.  So, I tried the silent treatment (can you even imagine me being successful at that?)  Anyway, then we had Stake Conference.  Enough said.  Finally, I had a choir performance.  That might have been what finally broke my yuckiness.  By Sunday evening, I was in repair mode.  I was also feeling sorry and wanted to apologize to my kids.  I sort of pulled each one of them aside and apologized and asked forgiveness of them.  Aren't kids amazing at being forgiving?  Anyway, I finally got to Lindsay.  A simple apology didn't seem enough for her, so I thought I'd be a little more explanatory.  I said something like, "Linds, I may not be the perfect mother, but I am a really good example to you of someone who falls down, gets back up off the floor, brushes herself off, and tries again."  She replied, "Yes, but sometimes you like to writhe around on the ground a little while you're down there."  Yes, folks.  My 12 year old pretty much knows me as well as my therapist.  I couldn't believe it.  I've had a good laugh every time I've thought of her wise analysis of my behavior.  Sometimes I feel so lucky to be the mother to this wildly strong young woman.  Wow.  She has taught me a lot over the past 12 1/2 years.

You know me.  I always have to put a picture in.  This is the picture that is in the ad that Tim has running in the local newspaper.  We had it taken last summer out in New York.  If the battery hadn't died on my camera this morning, I'd have some pictures from Julia and Wesley's Ballet classes.  It was Parent Observation Week.  They both did a great job and have learned a lot.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Where have I been?

I know you've all been wondering where I've been.  I was actually on a roll there for a while with regular posting.  I have to remember that you are now checking this blog, Grandma Helen, then I will remember to be more regular at posting.

Well, what's been happening?  I went out to Provo for a week to visit my sister, Catherine.  She just recently had the brain bleed and is still recuperating.  It was so great to see her.  Her mother-in-law, who by the way is an angel and has been there for over a month taking care of everything, said that Catherine perked right up whenever I came over.  I just stayed at my Aunt Tami's house which is right around the corner from Catherine's house.  It was ideal.  I would wake up, get Julia and Calvin some breakfast (the school aged kids stayed home with Tim's Office Manager, Riana, as their babysitter), and head over to see what Catherine was up to.  We'd usually go get something yummy for lunch then head back to our respective houses for nap-time.  Then meet up again to go get something yummy for dinner.  There are so many good places to eat in Provo.  YUM!!!  But, I do have to say that their cupcake place is not as good as our Buttercream Cupcakery here in Fort Collins.  Don't worry, that didn't stop me from polishing off the dozen that I, er, Tim bought me for my birthday.  (Tim's so tolerant.  I always come home with things I've bought for myself from him.  Hey, what can I say?  I know the guy's busy and extremely money-spending averse, so I save him the time and trouble and buy it for myself...)  I didn't have my camera with me in Provo, or I did but I didn't use it at all.  She took a picture of us together.  You know, she had to have her head shaved from the brain troubles.  She still looks gorgeous, too.  You can check out the picture of her new do on her blog here.

Then, it seems like all last week was spent recovering from being gone for a week.  And, I have no excuse for why I haven't blogged this week except that it's just the same ol', same ol' around here.  Keeping people fed and clothed.  Putting out fires and putting on band-aids.

Miles had an Autobiography due this last week.  In going through some pictures of him, I could NOT believe the resemblance between Calvin and him.  I know Calvin looks like all the boys, but I think he looks the most like Miles.  Wesley always had those cheeks.  Samuel has a little something different about his nose and face shape.  Calvin and Miles are seriously the same.  I could never tell the pictures of them apart.  (Except for the fact that all of Miles' pictures are non-digital)

Here are some pictures that I haven't posted yet in other posts but that don't necessarily go with anything I've said today.  I just can't blog without putting in a picture.

Wesley playing school and dress-up with Lindsay as the teacher and ringleader

a picture of Julia that Lindsay took from the top bunk looking down at Julia with her blankie where it usually is when she's trying to walk and go somewhere while holding it

the cutest little sous chef, note: those blue sweats were given to us for Lindsay almost 13 years ago from a dear friend in PT school.  Seriously, they've lasted through SIX KIDS!!