For My Bounteous Blessings

12 02 2013

I walked down to the mailbox a minute ago, slipping some completed valentines into the slot. The wind was cold, so I stuffed my hands into my pockets and wrapped my coat around my body, since it was too much trouble to zip up.

I slammed the front door and shivered–why can’t I seem to get warm today?–and decided I’d best make myself lunch while the getting is still good. (Sometimes I forget to eat until later, and it gets interrupted by kids needing to be picked up from school.) I opened the fridge and looked inside, even though I knew there wasn’t anything in there I wanted to eat. It was more a matter of form.

The coldness of the day (a reminder that, well, it is still February, after all, and what can you expect?) made me want something warm for lunch. A hot sandwich.

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As I made my sandwich I thought about my friend who once promised a story about Sebastian, the French panini maker. I said, “I’m getting one of those for Christmas!” And so I did, although it ended up that her story was about an actual person, named Sebastian, who was French and made paninis, and mine was a panini grill. (Which, naturally, I have named Sebastian in her honor.)

And I thought about how blessed I am to have such an amazing friend, which led me to remember the conversation I had with another friend this morning, who didn’t mind that I stopped by after dropping Eden off for school and she was still in her pajamas. We talked and laughed and hugged and I learned so many things in just one conversation that I have been thinking about ever since.

I thought about the things we talked of while I made valentines for my family. It has become somewhat of a tradition to make homemade valentines the family home evening before Valentine’s Day and send them out, our little love notes to family far away. Last night, as the kids screamed and yelled and poked each other with sticks (figuratively, thank goodness), I was so tired and exhausted and done. But the problem was that the valentines weren’t actually finished, so I worked on them today. By myself. (Which was, I must say, rather nice.)

And even though it seemed like family home evening was just one long fight and a huge failure, I felt grateful while making the valentines and knowing I have so many wonderful people in my life to love. That knowledge lifted me, pulled me from the February dismals and the knowledge that my to-do list is longer than I have time and energy for, and made me happy.

Now, I will eat a hot sandwich and work for awhile and maybe fold laundry and just enjoy the blessedness that is my life.

 

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Me Encanta La Luna

27 01 2013

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The moon enchants me.

It’s not like I want to go there–I’ve never wanted to be an astronaut. But I love to look at it.

This is one of my favorite scriptures from one of my favorite sections in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.”

That’s all I’ve got today. I felt like I needed to touch base with my blog, and I found this picture I took a couple of weeks ago, which reminded me of this scripture. Hope 2013 has been enchanting so far.





Public Restroom

4 01 2013

I went to the Seattle Center with Zack and his middle school band (although I’m not entirely convinced I’m old enough to be a chaperone) before Christmas so they could participate in “Winterfest.” I went to the bathroom at one point while I was there, and found this charming collection sitting by the mirror.

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I think it’s some sort of lost and found.

But tell me truly: would YOU eat one of those candy canes?





My Pet Hoodie

5 12 2012

It has been an interesting blogging year for me.

I have had lots of ideas and lots of thoughts, but not many of those have made it onto my screen, and, in turn, onto yours.

At times I feel like I’m swimming in a giant sea of pork and beans. For the most part, I slog along, trying to keep my head above “water,” and avoiding those slimy pork pieces to the best of my ability. Occasionally, though, I’ll look around and think, “How in the heck did I end up in a giant sea of pork and beans in the first place?”

Anyway, to anyone still out there, who has lasted through my year of pork and bean swimming, I say thank you. I still haven’t figured things out. The older I get the more I wonder if I ever will get things figured out. But you just keep going anyway . . . or, as Dory would say, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming . . .” (That really dovetails nicely into my pork and beans analogy, and I didn’t even plan it. I love it when that happens.)

When I started writing this post, though, it was to tell you the story of this:

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(It’s accompanied by puffy sleep-in Saturday eyes and air-dried hair).

I’d been looking for a new hoodie. My old one is lavender (any guesses on the year? I have no clue) and has a hole in the cuff and a stain on the sleeve. I longed for the warmth and convenience of a zip-up sweatshirt without the attending trashy-looking ambiance I was getting from the pastel.

I did not think finding a hoodie would be difficult: every teenager I know has at least one. And I was right; finding a hoodie wasn’t difficult, but finding an inexpensive hoodie turned out to be a sort of quest. $50, $45, and (bless me) $70 are just way, way too much. I couldn’t believe how expensive they’d gotten. I had one in high school with velux on the inside that I bought at CAL Ranch for only $20! Have I really been out of high school that long? (Don’t answer that.)

Remembering CAL Ranch gave me an idea. I headed to my local farm and ranch store to check out their selection. Again, disappointment awaited me. What kind of a farm store WAS this, anyway? I didn’t need a designer Western hoodie, just a regular ol’ sweatshirt I didn’t have to pull over my head. One I could wear outside to garden. Was that so much to ask?

Apparently so.

I finally made my way over to the children’s section, where I found exactly what I was looking for: a Jerzee’s hoodie for $15. Sadly, the only one they had in my size was a bright royal blue. I was looking for something a little more neutral (see note about owning a lavender hoodie, above).

[Insert sigh of resignation here.]

A hoodie and me. Was it not to be?

Of course, there’s a picture up there. Kind of a spoiler for this story of distress. I found it in the most unlikely of places. Sam’s Club!

Now, before arguing about Sam’s Club being the “most unlikely” of places, let me first say that I have never bought an item of clothing for myself at Sam’s Club. For my kids, yes, for baby showers, all the time. There is nothing wrong with Sam’s Club clothes; there is just something wrong with my size. And apparently I’m old enough and finally wise enough to realize that I shouldn’t buy clothes that aren’t my size because when I do that, I don’t wear the clothes. I will not buy clothes that I haven’t tried on. And Sam’s Club, bless them, does not have a fitting room.

BUT–hoodies don’t require a fitting room. Hoodies, by their very nature, are meant to be worn on top of clothing. Brilliant.

I tried it on in the middle of Sam’s Club.

It fit.

It was so soft inside, I didn’t want to take it off.

It was gray (which is the new brown, which was the new black).

And it was $15.

Sold! To the cheap lady with the tired eyes.

I hardly ever take it off. (Even to swim in pork and beans.)

(I’m still not quite sold on that analogy . . .)

Thanks for reading, even when I’m going on about hoodie crises. Bless you. If you’re nice, I’ll even let you stroke my pet hoodie. Believe me, it’s worth it.

 





The End of the Halloween Grinch?

30 10 2012

I hate Halloween.

I make no secret of it. My kids all know this about me, and they tolerate it well enough.

(That is, if when I say “tolerate,” you think of whining about Halloween decorations, begging for Halloween decorations, and finally making their own Halloween decorations. What is with Halloween decorations? I ask you.)

There are some things about Halloween that I like. Parts of it.

Pumpkin carving. Dressing up. (I’m trying to go with the rule of three here, but I can’t think of anything else.)

There are (and always will be) things about Halloween I dislike. Most of it.

Creepy masks. Any decorations involving guts, gore, and dismembered body parts. Adults who use the holiday to dress up like hookers. Razor blades in apples. (Okay, that’s probably an urban legend.) Having to spend money on candy. Policing the candy intake. (Who am I kidding? I usually let them eat it all in one night so I don’t have to deal with it.) Sugary things that I should know better not to eat but which I eat anyway, which in turn make me feel crummy.

(I’m starting to think the title of this post is a misnomer. I guess that means I need to hurry up and get to the part where I *stop* being grinchy.)

We carved pumpkins last night.

After some arguing about who got the biggest pumpkin (and some threatening that we wouldn’t do it at all if we couldn’t just get along), Rainbow knocked hers out in about an hour. And then, in a fitting tribute to her current love of playing babies (the day after her infusion last week, I found her in her room with about ten baby dolls lined up, receiving their own infusions), she made a baby pumpkin to match.

Eden, of the high-expectation-perfectionist school, cried and stabbed and carved and cried some more as her Frankenstein pumpkin took over two hours to emerge from the gourd. It’s hard being an artist.

Zack won the I-get-the-biggest-pumpkin battle. That means he also won the-pumpkin-with-the-thickest-rind contest. He sawed and jawed and only had a vague idea of what he wanted when he started–so he was, of course, pleased with how well it turned out.

I ended up carving the creepiest-looking pumpkin I’ve ever made personally. Colby chose the face for his from three options. He remembered about “opening” the pumpkins and putting candles inside. “Happy pumpkin,” he said. (When he looked at Zack’s pumpkin, he said, “Oh, it’s crying.” Close enough.)

Of course, when I woke up this morning to this:

I had to remind myself that pumpkin carving is one of the parts of Halloween that I actually like. (And I also had to remind myself that I truly shouldn’t go to bed until the kitchen is clean.)

I went to the store to get candy while the kids were at school yesterday. I found myself thinking, “I can’t believe I just spent $30 on candy!” And then, after paying another $20 for pumpkins which, apparently, weren’t big enough, I started getting a little bit grouchy again. Add another $20 or $30 on for costume supplies (and that’s actually pretty cheap for five people), and I spent nearly $100 on Halloween this year! (Or $70. It just doesn’t sound as impressive, though.)

However, when I hurriedly read (skimmed) the newspapers we were lining the floor with, I found this interesting tidbit in USA Today: “The National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent $6.86 billion last year on Halloween, double what was spent in 2005.” (Emphasis added. You know, for emphasis.)

In six years, the retail value of Halloween in America has doubled.

What does that say to you? Especially in light of the economic conditions of the past several years?

That people are more willing to spend money on this goofy, gory, secular holiday instead of voting to replace the high school built in the 50’s that has a roof that leaks every time it rains?

Newsflash: I live in Washington. It rains a lot.

(Hopefully, the bond for the new high school will pass. But it didn’t last time it was on the ballot.)

I guess I get a little fed up with people complaining about how hard times are that they can’t support the schools in their community, and then they turn around and spend $6.86 billion on stuff like fake graves for their yards.

Oh, right. That’ll last.

Okay, okay. [Stepping off soapbox.] I’m a Halloween grinch, and I’m also cheap. That’s no surprise.

But here is a surprise: I made some Halloween decorations.

I know, right? Wonders never cease.

All it took was a couple of packages of tissue paper from the dollar store (which I already had), some scissors, and some tape.

Viola! See, I’m not a complete grinch!

And it looks even better at night:

Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone!





The Nap

23 05 2012

I told my friend the other day I had a scientific treatise on nap-taking.

She thought I was joking.

Napping, for adults, is serious business.

(Napping for infants and children is serious business also, but that is another discussion for another post.)

Many of the things I’ve learned about napping coming from my father, a man who for the past thirty-some-odd years has come home at noon every day to kiss my mother, eat his lunch, and take a nap.

So with props to you, Dad, I now present the proper way to take a nap.

The setting of my latest nap--on top of the bed, next to my son's Lego garage (not pictured).

I work within specific nap parameters which are closely linked to scientific principles. (Um, just trust me on that, okay?) Before you close your eyes, answer these questions:

What time is it? If it’s after two ‘o clock, you’re better off figuring out a way to stay awake rather than catch up on your zzz’s. Napping later than two can disrupt your nighttime sleep schedule, which I do not advise.

How much time do you have to nap? There are two categories of naps (which I made up–again, through trial and error, so you don’t have to. You can thank me later.): The Long Nap and The Power Nap.

Our bodies continually go through a cycle of introductory sleep, deep sleep (also called REM sleep, if you want to get technical), and then back through lighter sleep. You can mirror it to your exercise: warm-up, aerobic exercise, and cool-down. To cut back on the bleary-eyed crankiness that surfaces when waking from a nap, try to time your naps to wake up while you’re still in introductory sleep, or after you’ve cooled down. That way, you feel refreshed instead of like someone has cleaned out your eyeballs with a scouring pad.

A typical sleep cycle is 90 minutes. Too much shorter than that and you wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle, feeling muddled. Too much longer, and you’ve dived in to another sleep cycle and it will be difficult to wake up.

If you are feeling especially tired and have the time, go for a long nap. If you don’t have that much time, 20 minutes is ideal for a power nap.

Where is a good napping place? I prefer to nap on my bed, although my dad always liked the couch for his naps. Choose a spot that is comfortable, relatively quiet, and dark-ish. It doesn’t have to be as dark as night, but it helps to not have the sun blazing across your face.

Once you’ve decided you’ve got time to nap, what type of nap you’ll be having, and where you’re going to do it, you’ll want to do a few other things to be able to get the most out of it.

First, use a blanket. If it’s too hot, use a sheet. Having some sort of cover over your entire body anchors you to your napping surface and tells your brain to shut off.

Second, take off your shoes. You’ve decided to give yourself this little indulgence, so allow your body to fully relax.

Third, set a timer. There were many years my mom would send one of us to wake up Dad when the microwave went off, but now he’s got a portable Pampered Chef timer that he can take with him. I use my cell phone. Whatever you use, make sure you use it. While using a timer may seem to take the spontaneity out of napping, it helps The Nap keep its inherent promise: waking refreshed. In saying that, I am assuming two statements are true: You take a nap because you feel tired; You do not take a nap to wake up more tired.

And so my little nap-padawans: go forth and nap correctly, wake refreshed, and conquer the world.





A Long Asterisk

17 05 2012

This morning on Facebook, I posted, “I love being a mom” as my status.

Directly after that, though, I had to comment on my own post and say how even though I always love my kids, I don’t always love being a mom, but today was a good day.

Why did I feel like I had to do that?

I’ve been asking myself that question all day.

I think it’s because I don’t want people to think that there is continuously a rainbow over my house and the sound of singing voices tripping out the doors.

No small woodland creatures come and help with the housework.

“Yes, Mother,” is not something I hear often.

(Or ever. I go by “Mom.”)

Parenting is hard. Way harder than I thought it would be. Is there anything so emotionally, physically, and mentally draining than caring for other human beings? No. No, there is not.

But today, as I cut a pancake for someone else’s mouth, as I tickled a leg that was sticking outside the blankets, as I hugged and kissed and prayed them on their way, I was grateful. Grateful to be this person here, the one who gets to give “Back hug for Mom” to my youngest, the one who gets to do twirls and make up silly songs with my girls, the one who gets to talk about what will and what will not poison a person with my oldest.

I’m so grateful I get to be here, now.

It’s not a bad gig, all told. Especially when no one’s bodily fluid is found in places it shouldn’t be.