Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas and Lucinda

We had such a nice Christmas. I always enjoy being home with my kids and they are always so well-behaved and sweet on Christmas day. We spent Christmas Eve with friends where we had Mexican food, reenacted the Nativity, and then sang the Messiah with laughter (at our ineptitude) and tears (at the beauty of the sentiments -- "Surely He hath borne our griefs" is so lovely). Then Santa came and -- oh, wait -- he didn't leave anything. The thing I ordered weeks ago hadn't come and when I finally got a hold of them a couple of days later, they said they weren't going to have it anytime soon. Were they going to tell me? I guess not. So finally on Monday morning I went out and bought the main Christmas present which was ----- Rock Band. Pros: the kids have been playing all together in one room happily for hours at a time; baby sits on his knees and bounces along to the beat. Cons: Lucy singing "Livin' on a Prayer" at dinner last night.

Lulu has been growing out her hair for years so that she could donate it to locks of love. Her hair grows slowly, but finally we took her in on Friday and her ponytail was 10 1/2 inches long! It would have been great to get a picture at the hair salon, but since my camera is apparently glued to the kitchen counter, I had to bring the hair home and then take it back later. She is also excited about her dangly earrings she got for Christmas. She got her ears pierced a couple of months ago and it was quite dramatic, as things in her life tend to be. She really wanted them pierced, I even had her wait a few weeks to be sure, she told everyone at school and church that she was doing it on a certain day, and then we get there and she starts screaming. I was kind of holding her down and telling them to just go ahead, but she was trying to get off the chair, and moving her head. The place where we were doing this is at the mall and they do it in a little window so the passerby can watch. As I am pinning her arms in place and trying to hold her head still I am sure that everyone walking by was thinking, "Why is that lady making her daughter get her ears pierced when she obviously doesn't want them pierced?" I don't really know. It didn't matter to me one way or another, but I knew she would regret it later if she had to go face everyone and nothing had happened. Finally it was over, but they made her sit in the chair for a while since she had been hyperventilating. I asked her if I did the right thing making her go ahead or should I have let her back out? She said she was so glad that I had not listened to her pleas to not do it. Then she laughed and said "Oh, that wasn't so bad." It wasn't??! Maybe for one of us.

"Lucy-locks" and Ibby got a trim, too.

Hats from Grandma Carolynn -- everyone has been wearing them for days! Baby found a candy cane and looks pretty pleased with himself! Not to mention all the cords and garland in this picture -- it is like an ad for how NOT to care for a baby. I think there is some broken glass and poisonous cleaning supplies right behind him.

Oh my aching back!

This is interesting for baby-wearing mommas -- mostly for Lisa.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Of Resolutions and Mottos

Last night for Family Home Evening we decided to write down our resolutions for the New Year. We sat down with pen and paper in hand and while most of us thoughtfully wrote down a few things, Charles added his customary flair and decided to see how many things he could write in three minutes. Ours are full of the usual things that we are always striving to do while his is filled with the extraordinary such as: get better aim on the toilet (he actually just wrote toilet, but he was in a hurry), eat 50 burritos, and write a book. Ibby was laughing so hard at his list that she decided she had better write down "Not laugh so hard" on her list. She had almost stopped breathing.

I have also wanted to have a family motto for quite some time so I brought that up last night and someone said that it should be, Be Quiet. One would think I say that a lot or something. I went along for a bit and suggested that we make a big banner for the wall that simply says "Shhhhhhhhh!" After a while I said that everyone ought to think about what our motto should be for a few days and then we will talk about it on Sunday. They all said, "I thought we already had a motto." What is it? Lucy said, "Give said the little stream." Huh? Where did that come from? And the older kids said, "Be Quiet." They then proceeded to compose a song, which was actually quite good, about being quiet and how we could sing it at every family event (they were singing quite loudly I might add). No. That motto is not what I had in mind. Ella looked at me and with perfect sincerity asked, "Is it just the wording that you don't like? But you want something along those same lines, right?" No. That is not at all what I would consider a good family motto. It does not even closely resemble what I was imagining. It is not even the third cousin twice removed of my vision. I was thinking of something with more gravity and resonance, something awe-inspiring, something enviable. Yes, I was thinking more in the direction of something that would make people stop and say, "Oh, my. Isn't that something! That is lovely. I wish I had thought of that. Mary, I hope you don't mind, but may I copy you and use that for my family motto?" And I would graciously bow, wave my hand, and reply, "But of course, of course." Perhaps if we write it pretty and put quotes around it. Oh -- and write it in latin. Maybe that will do.


You may all imitate our profundity if you would like. You don't even have to ask.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ho, ho, ho!

A couple of weeks ago there was a man from the high council who spoke in our ward. He was talking about... well, I don't even remember what he was talking about, but suddenly from out of nowhere he says, "... when my 11 year old daughter found out that Santa Claus wasn't real..." and then went on like he hadn't just ruined Christmas!!! I gasped and looked at the bishop, wondering when he was going to get out his hook and yank that guy away from the microphone. I mean really! He let his daughter get to the ripe old age of 11, can't we let my five year old enjoy the magic for at least one more year? I looked around the congregation and saw loads of children. Did he not see them, too? What was he thinking? And then I looked around again, saw various blank faces, and realized that no one was even listening. Whew! That was close. However, not being completely assured that the false doctrine hadn't penetrated my daughter's brain, I was relieved to find out that Santa was coming to her class party. All the kids were taking turns and close to the end Ibby shyly walked up and sat on his lap. He asked what she wanted and she quietly said, "A stuffed animal." "What kind of stuffed animal?" "I want a duck." Well, this was the first I had had heard this, but I smiled as I realized how easily I could fulfill all of her dreams. How nice. When all the kids were finished, Santa looked at me and asked if the baby would like to sit on his lap. I said that I was quite sure that he really would not like that and then Santa proceeded to invite ME to sit on his lap. Umm. No thank you? I think I will just take the kids and slowly back away.

Merry Christmas Bedford Falls!

Monday, December 22, 2008


I have often wondered why people would want to live in Florida. Particularly when the weather gods seem to want to wipe it off of the face of the earth or when one experiences the horrible humidity firsthand, I think that people who choose to live there are a little bit loopy. I am here today to tell you that I take it all back. Oh Florida, you taunt me with your white sandy beaches and your 70˚ days, the palm trees swaying with the ocean breezes. Please forgive me. I am sure that you will with your warmhearted ways. The kids and I could jump in the car and be there by Wednesday. What is behind this change of tune? Can you say -10˚!?! It is quite chilly here. Last week we were walking from the parking lot to a building (and we got a good parking space!) and I thought the freezing rain pelting my face was going to kill me. I was outside for less than a minute! These moments always make me reflect on the Martin Handcart Company. How did they do it? This is not the first time I have thought about them. Last winter we went on a cruise. We had timed things down to the wire -- leave the house to get to the airport in Chicago to arrive in San Diego to leave the port on time. We didn't have much wiggle room so it was quite alarming to wake up to a horrible blizzard here. We normally wouldn't drive at all in such weather, but a cruise was on the line. So off we go, unable to see the roads at all and I am praying, praying, prayi... wait a minute! Is this really important? Oh, please help us get to the airport on time to make our flight that will take us across the country in two hours so that we can make it on our cruise to Mexico. We want to eat ice cream cones at any given moment and order cold soup and the cheese plate for dinner. We want to sit in the hot tub while listening to reggae, attend the midnight buffet, play bingo on the Lido Deck, and there are shows to attend every night! I am sure the members of the Martin Handcart company were praying. So I decided I needed to get some perspective and relax.

As you can see from the pictures, it is very icy here. Can you see the poor little birdies? Click on the photo for a closer look. It is sparkly and lovely and when the wind blows all the branches crinkle and crackle like thousands of tiny bells. Occasionally there is a louder rumble as a glacier slides off the roof generating momentary panic, but not enough to cause us to actually expose ourselves to the weather and investigate.

We are busy with the finishing touches of Christmas. We heard about some girls that just arrived with a foster family with no toys or clothes so the girls are busily engaged getting some things ready for them. We are also trying to get the record label all squared away for a few days so that we can take a break. We were cleaning some things out in the basement the other day and found about 80 addressed envelopes for orders from June!!! I looked them up and only four of them had written to us asking where their orders were. So we sent them out last week. Won't they be surprised? It will be like a little Christmas miracle and I feel honored to have been a part of it. Yep, we are running a tight ship around here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Secret Life of Me

I have been looking for a white noise machine and there are a lot of options out there. I find myself in need of such a contraption because despite all of my best efforts to get the baby used to sleeping through noise and disruptions, he has gotten used to napping while the children are all gone during the week and then has a lot of trouble getting adequate rest on the weekend. I would love to be the kind of mother who would let things like this slide off her back, but the problem is that while I am trying to get the baby to sleep I make plans. I fantasize about all of the things that I am going to accomplish once the baby is down -- I will sweep the floors, I will fold laundry that will stay folded for more than a moment, I will clear the sink of dirty dishes, I will comb my hair, I may even brush my teeth! Oh, the possibilities! I quiver with excitement, yet sit patiently and enjoy the quiet nursing time. Okay, finally dozing off, get up carefully, lay baby down gently, cover with blanket, make it nice and cozy, tiptoe soundlessly across the room, close the door with a soft click. Whew! Made it out, scurry down the stairs, start on my list and -- oh, no! One of the children was acting like a child -- the horror! He is awake. He is standing in the crib wailing. All of my well-laid plans are dashed. And I am not happy. And I cannot have an entire Christmas break like this. I have similar problems in other areas of my life -- a fantasy life, as it were. I tried to learn how to knit a couple of years ago so that I could have busy hands during waiting times. My good friend graciously taught me a basic stitch and I was off. Three rows into it and I am Walter Mitty, envisioning all of the gorgeous blankets and scarves that I create for all of my friends and family. "Oh Mary," they gush, "these are so beautiful, warm, and soft! You shouldn't have!" Well, I didn't. The long, warped, mess that I created could hardly be considered a gift for anyone. Then I thought I would try my hand at writing songs. As I drove around town I would think of little melodies and words, but of course before anything worthwhile came out of my brain, I had already decided what I would wear for my album cover! I took a drawing class and I could just see my studio with canvases lined up along the wall, me covered with paint and filled with enthusiasm as I bring my latest masterpiece to life and I am happy! Finding a new outfit -- ta, pukkuta, pukkuta -- won't that look lovely and won't I be happy? Shopping for dinner -- I could make a gourmet feast and won't I be happy. Every time I go jogging -- ta, pukkuta, pukkuta -- thirty pounds lighter and won't I be happy! Sending a birth announcement, writing a Christmas letter, starting a blog... I could go on and on -- oops, too late, already did. So should I get the noise machine that is also a clock? This is not merely for my benefit. He is only eight months old and needs sleep for pity's sake!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Bouncing Baby Boy

My baby is being so funny lately. Yesterday he was playing with something and I was sitting a couple of feet away from him. I called out to him and he kept playing. Maybe he didn't realize I was trying to get his attention, so I call again, "Phin -e-as," I see the back of his cheek go up as he smiles, but keeps playing. "Phin! Look at me!" He starts to giggle and keeps laughing every time I call his name, but won't look at me. He is totally ignoring me! And thinks it is hilarious to boot! I must say that I find that fairly sophisticated humor and it is pretty cute when you're eight months old, but not when you're eight years old -- just a little reminder for the other four children who pretend I am not talking on a regular basis.

He also is always jumping up and down. When there is a beat of any kind he goes bounce, bounce, bounce. Sometimes for no reason at all bounce, bounce, bounce. When I am holding him legs go kick, kick, kick. At diaper changes kick, kick, kick. And it isn't just his legs it is his whole body from shoulder through the torso and deep bends in the knees. He is a little difficult to keep a hold of and not get my chin knocked, but he is quite adorable, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Serenity now...

I received a new calling at church, but I get to keep my old one as well. I have to wonder, am I not projecting my stress well enough? I need to do better! My friend commented that I seem patient so I decided to respond here so that the other two people who read my blog can benefit from the exchange. I had to laugh because a few other people recently said similar things -- that I seem like a peaceful person, that I have it together, that they cannot imagine me yelling at my kids, etc. I have no idea how I exude this tranquil air, but I assure you it is false and misleading. And almost every little thing causes me anxiety. Take paper for instance. It seems innocuous enough -- thin, flimsy, perhaps a pretty color -- but when you have it floating in through the mailbox and waltzing merrily into the house via children's backpacks pretty soon you have piles and piles of paper overtaking every available surface and it becomes like the rope made up of lots of tiny strings, you could have broken one, but together they are too strong and it can strangle you! So I have an overabundance of paper and some of them require careful consideration, but my overtaxed brain cannot discriminate between what is important and what is not. The papers I like the least come from school. They are always filled to the brim with commands (it is REQUIRED that your child has an eye exam, a dental exam, 50,000 inoculations, but we will not do it here, we are giving you an errand, you need to look up the dentist's phone number, make an appointment, remember to write it down, remember to go, take their piece of paper, have the dentist sign it, return it to the school or else your child will not get their grades-- don't get me wrong, I do take my kids to the dentist, but on my own schedule and my own volition because I can be trusted to be their parent despite what the state of Illinois may think!) or entreaties (please, please, please purchase this for our fundraiser from a company that uses children to sell their overpriced rubbish so that your kids can have 5 % for their school) when all I really like to see coming home are their beautiful Thanksgiving vests made of brown construction paper. It is a small percentage I assure you. Okay, now I don't even remember what I was initially talking about. Oh, being calm. I guess I reserve my tirades for the privacy of my own home. I assume most people are like that so I am always taken aback when I see women completely losing it in more public settings. I just shake my head judgmentally (inside, of course -- I don't want them turning on me!) If they are acting like that in the grocery store where one might be more naturally reserved, what must they be like in private? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they either get really tense while shopping and are unusually stern or they are exhibitionists and save their performances for all of us. I digress yet again. Perhaps it is time to wrap this up and tie it with a little bow (to keep it tightly confined, don't untie it or it may burst all over you, like every time I open the cupboard and things slide out and something heavy hits my pinky toe just right).
Candis has a new blog and website that look so fun! The silhouettes featured on her blog are of my girls so go check it out stat!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new

My friend Amy is doing a giveaway! Go on over and enter at Mommy and Beyond.

Our friends came for Thanksgiving and we had so much fun! I have lots of wonderful memories, but the most lasting outcome of the visit was... Brock fixed my kitchen cupboard door!!! Yea!!! Thank you, thank you! It makes me happy every time I walk by, or sometimes I don't even notice it and then I remember that it used to be a broken, gaping hole, and anyone could see everything spilling out of it, and the baby was constantly crawling in there and wreaking havoc, and that that one cupboard made me yearn for an entirely new kitchen, etc. etc. and a feeling of peace and joy overcomes me because I didn't notice the cupboard for the first time in three months! And by notice I mean grit my teeth, clench my jaw, and scream inside -- I really despise open cupboards at the best of times, but generally one can just shut them with a flip of the wrist and feel better immediately. So, yes, that has made me happy and when I recover from the uncontainable delight it derived it will also bring tranquility.

My new frustration, because I needed a new one to replace the old one, is beautiful fake candles. We cannot seem to manage to put up Christmas lights. I really like tastefully done Christmas lights and would love to live in a house that had them, but it is beyond us. So I bought the candles that look really nice in all of the windows of a symmetrically laid out old house because I happen to live in one. I had about 18 of them with brand new batteries and they lasted approximately 10.5 hours. How completely nice! I see other people have them in their windows. I have tried this before, but thought I got the wrong kind. This time I spent a little more, but no. I will do some research and see if it is the light bulbs, the batteries, the whole candle, or just me!
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