Monday, December 31, 2012

And this was December's Creation

Olliblocks-- something I saw on Pinterest and figured I could make. 
I don't know though... it worked and everything, and both kids were super excited when they saw them on Christmas, but now there are three or four blocks out of commission...I  need to fix them. 
But it's such a cute idea! HERE is where you find them.

This was November's Creation

The original source is found here. The site's in Chinese, but the picture tutorial is beautiful. It's so easy.

Anti-Resolutionary New Year

Okay, guess what. I think I'm a tad depressed (don't be alarmed, though, haha!). And I think it's a mom thing. And a vacation thing.
I don't work outside the home, so I'm already with the kids a lot. Then vacation time hits, and...I'm with the kids a lot! Haha... so why is it vacation? Oh, just kidding. But the difference for me, no matter where we are, is that vacation means I get more time with Michael. That's it. That is pretty much the only real change.
I'm not ungrateful for the other changes, like when we're visiting family and we're away from our own home. There are other ways that vacation is nice, of course! I ADORE being with family, and it does give me some freedom from my kids.
Anyway, look at it like this. I love my kids. I love my home. But I am at home with my kids so much that I need some change.
That's all.

I realized this month that I seriously miss running. Who would have thought! It happened somewhere along the way in my marathon training. Running now equals freedom to me. A very wonderfully private time for me.
And now there's snow on the ground. I wouldn't mind running in rain (in fact, I hoped so many times that it would rain during my months of marathon training...and it never once happened). But running in the snow is just not smart. Plus, my shoes couldn't handle it (and to be honest, I need new running shoes because a marathon can kill even the best sneakers).

It has all made me do some thinking, because depression is just stupid. And I know I'm not a sad person. How convenient that I'm taking action just when it's time to make some New Year's Resolutions, right?

Here's the deal, though. I'm sick of calling this stuff Resolutions. I'm looking at it a new way, finally. My aim this year is to create some good habits that I really need to have. Things that will help me to be a happy woman, a happy mom, and a happy wife.

I know making art restores my emotional health incredibly well.
I know exercising gives me really important time to myself.
I know I feel really good about myself when I cook and bake for the family.
I know I stress less when I'm organized with my budget and home.
I know I am happier when I take care of myself.
I know waking up early makes everything easier.
I know I love my church calling more when I prepare for each Sunday.

Therefore, these are the personal habits I would like to enforce:

  • WAKE UP EARLY. And I mean early. Not just early enough to get a headstart. Early enough that I can have time for myself, blogging and reading scriptures and escaping to the gym before having to worry about getting breakfast started. 
  • DRAW/CREATE EVERY WEEK. Seriously! I still love trying to create something every month, but I'm "upgrading" this so that I will make myself draw (or make artwork--not a craft) every week. 
  • CREATE A WEEKLY MENU. Not a monthly or bimonthly one...that intimidates me a little too much still when I sit down to put it together. I'm not going to think about breakfasts except for all the Sunday mornings. A weekly menu of dinners. That's all. 
  • BUDGET MONTHLY. And keep up with the budget during the month. 
  • AIM TO WEAR MAKEUP EVERY DAY. That's a really big deal for me. By aiming that high, I'm more likely to get the other stuff done (shower, hair, etc.). Phew...this really is a big one. But I think it will be really, really good for me. 
  • TAKE SUNDAYS SERIOUSLY. I will use my Sundays to prepare for my calling, and I will make sure things are taken care of for visiting teaching. 
  • GO TO THE TEMPLE MONTHLY. Even if our schedule makes me have to go by myself. That would be better than not going! 
  • TALK TO A FAMILY MEMBER EVERY DAY. Not just text or email. Real talking-- a quick little phone call is good enough. I think that I really need this. 

I'm tempted to make myself choose certain days for certain things. Monday=art, Thursday=temple, etc. But I actually think that's a bad idea. Because I've tried to do that before, and it drove me crazy. I'm kind of a booger about having "freedom" in my schedule-- and to be honest, I think that's a good thing! Not just because I have a couple kids who have no qualms about being cranky on busy days (know what I mean?). If I try and stick myself to rigid calendar, I'll feel overwhelmed, and I will rebel. 

Sheesh, am I really only just learning this the day before I'm 25? 
(And yes, for some reason that feels a bit old to me...mostly because I feel like 25 is happening sooner than I'm ready for it, not because the age itself is old). 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Tender Mercies

This is two posts in one.

I wrote (for myself) about how things are going lately with Ender. We have a hard time sometimes...and I wish I could say it's just a stage or that it's directly tied to his age, but I don't think that's really true. I think a lot of it has to do with who my brilliant son is. Ender is extremely smart, and he is also a bit high-strung emotionally. I know this isn't obvious to everyone...for example, his grandparents generally see his softer side when he's delightfully inquisitive and patient and ponderous. He is, after all, a wonderful boy. What they don't usually see is how he acts on a normal, boring day.
I love my son. I seek to understand him, and I am trying to be humble and teachable as I learn how to be a better mom. But that just doesn't mean that things go smoothly all the time. Honestly, I hog the blame to myself because I believe Ender is innocent even when he seems not to be. I tend to believe that if I could just do things right, problems would get ironed out a lot faster.
Whether or not that's true--I keep telling myself it is even though I know that parenting is not a perfect recipe and not every mistake is my fault--we have hard times here.

So I wrote about it. Writing helps me sort out my thoughts. It helps me be honest with myself. It helps me to think deeper even if I don't end with a solution. Writing has always been a sort of therapy for me. This post will include what I wrote (which is about something that is current and ongoing; for example, today Ender told me he wished he had a different mom...he asked a question, and he didn't like my answer because it meant he wasn't know, that kind of thing). This post will also include something I found today that I consider an answer to prayers. A tender mercy.
It was a simple comment in a post I happened to read nearly a year ago. I happened to be browsing my facebook page today (something I rarely do, in all solemn honesty). I happened to open the post again. And then I happened to read through a few comments. There it was! A sweet old woman shared her feelings. And it touched me, comforted me.

Here is what I wrote for myself followed by that comment that is uplifting me today (along with a link to its source).

And God bless the mommies who are deep in their hard work.

When we stayed with the family in Rexburg, Ender had a terrible tantrum one evening. He had decided we were enemies in the bedtime routine, and he screamed and slammed doors and tried to hit me. One of the things he screamed was that he hated me.
I know better than to be completely hurt by that, even though it's always sad when he says that. I simply told him that I loved him, and I sat by the door while he stormed back and forth from his bed to beating the closed door with alarming fury.
Michael brought Ender a drink of water, and the fight was over. Ender went to sleep, exhausted. 
I remember just a few specific tantrums I've had; one at the age of about 7 where I threw my bedroom furniture around, wanting to destroy everything; one at the age of about 10 when I told my mother I hated her, and I wanted to hurt her when she calmly picked me up and toted me to my bedroom; and one perhaps two years ago when I was babysitting a little baby girl before Scarlett was born (I don't remember if I was pregnant-- that would be a nice excuse, but I honestly don't know if I was), and both the girl and Ender were screaming at me at full capacity, and I went kind of crazy and ran to my bedroom to pound the floor with my fists and scream and roar into a pillow and bawl my eyes out.
I know how it feels. I know how sometimes the anger just takes over (when you coax it on), and suddenly the anger will take any channel for expression. The screaming and the physical lashing out is almost a side effect, something that feels good as a release but awful in the lack of control. It's horrible. Ender and I have talked about that feeling, of how it is so hard to stop.
He gets mad a lot. I bought myself a book, sort of for Christmas, "Dreamers, Discoverers, and Dynamos." Something like that. I'm just hoping that I'll be able to reach Ender better, that we'll have a stronger connection.

As we left Mom and Dad's, Ender said in a matter-of-fact voice "I wish I had a nicer mom, different than you." We hadn't had any significant struggles that morning, and I had been kind to him. Again, it seemed like something I shouldn't let myself be hurt by, but I have to admit it has made me wonder why. On one hand, I could say it's just something kids say. And even though kids can be badly honest about how they feel, their feelings can change back and forth like a chameleon's color. It was pretty obvious to me that he was noticing the juxtaposition of Mommy and Grandma's house, everyone loves to meet his demands and come to his aid the moment he's distressed. Me, I'm a little more willing to tell him to just deal with it and move on.
His little comment has made me wonder if I ought to be gentler, quieter, softer, more flexible. I guess he just feels like I always have the upper hand, always the control and power. And he fights that very naturally. It's exhausting for both of us.

I'm well aware that my son is a wonderful boy. In many ways, I feel like I really do understand him. I remember being like him as a kid in the way I thought about things or the way I wanted to be included all the time. I thought my parents believed they knew everything, and I didn't like that, so I wanted to prove otherwise.
It's kind of the way a lot of kids are, isn't it. Or I should say people, since some go through those feelings later instead of during childhood. I'm not trying to paint my case Unusual. I know it happens like this in other homes. The fact is, it is hard.

There's some guilt in it all, too. Whether rightly or not, I often blame myself for the difficulties Ender and I have. I figure that it's my duty as his mother to learn how to handle rough situations with him, and it leaves me feeling like those rough situations could have been avoided had I only known how to approach it all.
I also feel guilty imagining that someday Ender will read this and feel hurt that I found our relationship...unsmooth.

The bare bones of it all are that I love my son so extremely much, and in all the nearly-five years of his life, I have wanted him to know it. Sometimes I am not very good at being a mom. It is certain my humanness will be very obvious to him as he grows up. I just hope it's also obvious that I love him and have tried to be a good mom. Sometimes I think I am, and sometimes I think I've got it all wrong.

Here is the quote I found today at the end of the post "Don't Carpe Diem" (worth a read):
As one of the older women out there, trying hard to bite my tongue and NOT say those things to the newer moms I see.....I honor you for being so truthful. Not many women admit to their own feelings about motherhood (and there are many conflicting feelings involved in caring for somebody else 24/7). And I'd like to remind other older women that today's moms have MORE work to do than we did - they also work jobs outside their homes when most of us were stay-at-home moms. That makes a huge difference in the amount of stress and lack of time for yourself. My advice to any mom today - take some time for yourself. Give yourself a manicure, take a long bath, do anything that makes YOU happy for at least 20 min. a day (or more if possible). Call it whatever makes it work for you - Mommy's time or Mommy's time-out, whatever. Just give to yourself as well. Keep it up, good soldier. You ARE doing a great job and being honest in the details of what it means to be a mom....the good AND the bad AND the ugly. Your children will grow up to be wonderful people that appreciate their mom's hard work. You'll see! -DianneU 

Update: One last "tender mercy." I saw a book at the family's house called "What Husbands Expect of Wives," and because I was amused that there was such a book, I opened it. I just happened to read a certain phrase... Some women are better wives than mothers. And some women are better mothers than wives. I believe that is true! And while I also believe that things can become a little more balanced over time, I'm pretty sure I make a better wife than a mom (Michael says I am a good wife, which is just one of the ways he is such a good husband). I am not a BAD mom, usually, but I definitely have to work harder on that role of mine. But that phrase has really helped me be a little softer on myself, a little more humble and willing to learn, and I understand myself a little better. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas

We had a really lovely Christmas. :)
The gifts were not all handmade, not even mostly handmade (with all my project goals, we ended up with one handmade-by-me gift under the tree. It was well-received, but it is now out of commission because it is in need of repair. Of course). Michael's mom made a super-soft fluffy blanket for Scarlett, and she adores it.
We had planned for a "humble" Christmas, and somehow we ended up with a very "prosperous" Christmas. Gifts from family were added to the collection we had for the kids, and in the end, we all had a lot of presents. That was very fun. It was a little baffling, to be honest.
More than anything, I hoped that it would be a day that we could really feel the Spirit and stay happy and get along well. We read stories of Jesus all month in preparation, and we shared bits and pieces of testimony with Ender throughout the days leading up to Christmas. I believe he understood enough to see why it's a celebrated day! We even talked about how giving gifts feels at least as good as getting gifts.
So I am most thankful that on Christmas day, we were all cheerful. We smiled at each other all day, and the kids were patient about whose turn it was to open a present. They didn't get cranky if their pile of toys got invaded, and they were excited to play when the present-opening was over.
That was a gift for me.
Michael and I enjoyed seeing the glee on our kids' faces as they gasped over their presents. We loved the feeling of giving our children things that we knew they would enjoy! And it was so wonderful to have a calm and peaceful day like that.

I hope your Christmas was as lovely and beautiful! Merry Christmas!

And since it's around the corner, Happy New Year! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Santa Issue

Dear Santa,
I never believed in you.
Michael and I have known from the beginning that we wouldn't be playing the Santa game with our kids. I'll tell you why...and I'll be very honest. Don't get your panties in a bunch, this is just the way we do things.

Santa is not real, and we won't try to teach our kids that he is, because it is pointless. It really is. You know who is real and should be the focus of Christmas? Jesus Christ. No wonder so many Christian parents wonder how they can help their kids understand the true meaning of Christmas, and they're busy looking for ways to remind their kids...but it's harder because they're also holding onto the tradition of Santa.

My parents would play around with the Santa thing with us kids. If they had to keep something secret, they'd give us a teasing look and say that it was up to Santa or something like that. And we felt like we were in on the joke. There was no stress about Santa for me. I knew he was a fun tradition, and I knew that people liked to pretend that gifts were from him. It was just fun.
I also understood that some kids really thought he was real. My parents tried to help us be sensitive to that fact.

This is where things get frustrating for me now-- why won't other people be sensitive to the way we teach our children that Santa is not real? Do they not realize that it's just not funny to tell my son that he should write a letter to Santa and tell him what presents he'd like? Because guess what...we had to have a bit of the "Santa talk" this morning. He thought that he had to write to Santa, and he felt concerned about it.
I was there when someone was telling Ender he had to do that, but there were other children around, so I couldn't just say "Sorry, we don't play the Santa game!" I wanted to be careful about that since I know there are families who make it a big deal. So it's a little frustrating that things don't work the other way around.
I had to remind Ender this morning that it's only fun to pretend that Santa is the one giving everybody presents, but he knows who is really giving him presents. I had to re-explain that Santa doesn't matter. I reminded him about the scriptures stories we've been reading about Jesus this month and that Christmas is all about Jesus.

Look, I get it...I get that it's fun for the parents to tease their kids into believing something like that. I get how the tricks are just delightfully sneaky as you watch how gullible your kids are. The way I'm putting it might even sound mean, but I understand that it's fun. So don't get mad at me when I say that it's just the wrong thing to tease about. It confuses kids about the focus of Christmas (not just "the spirit of giving" but the life of our Savior). Michael and I personally feel that it's a little too manipulative of children's willingness to believe whatever we tell them, especially when it concerns something so important.

Go ahead and do your Santa thing if you really feel so strongly about it. If you think it's "cute" or whatever. But please, please, please don't try and make my son believe in Santa! That is not how we do things here. I'm not trying to make you feel like we are better than you, I just want to make it clear that in our effort to embrace Christmas, we don't mess around. We center our Christmas around Christ.

Please read update!
UPDATE: Okay, now I feel like the Grinch. PLEASE don't think I'm bitter! I'm worried my writing looks mean and nasty when I don't mean for it to be that way. Santa is fun, and I have lots of fond memories of reading about Santa stories and learning more about the history of how "Santa" came about. Our family had a hilarious "biography" of Santa that we loved reading (even during non-Christmas months!). Mostly, I wanted to express how I feel about making kids believe Santa's real. Because he's not. The magic of Christmas is fun and wonderful, but faking the magic just...doesn't appeal to us.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Primary - The Commandments

This is something I put together for teaching the song The Commandments (pp 112-113) from the Children's Songbook. Feel free to use or share these pictures. Right click and save. The pink corners are a guideline for cutting so each picture is shaped like the traditional tablets we associate with commandments. 
I've added notes for clarification or just to mention what we ended up talking about in our primary. When we had finished learning the song, we talked about how even though it may seem like this is just a tiresome list of rules, keeping the commandments protects us and helps us live a happy life, and Heavenly Father will be pleased with us.

An attempt at the Christus...

Sunshine to remind us of SUNday...

We briefly discussed what "wanton" means (frivolous) and how this commandment is to remember that life is precious (others' and our own). Thou shalt not kill!

For primary kids, it can be uncomfortable to talk about the specifics of adultery! I explained this in simple, clear terms. When a husband and wife are married, they belong to each other (and no one else). The wedding ring is a reminder of that to the husband and wife and to others.

This is pretty straightforward, but you can explain how this type of scale was used a long time ago to make sure that trading at the market went fairly.

That is a heartbeat line (electrocardiogram), and I explained briefly how a lie detector monitors the heartbeat to determine if you're telling the truth. We talked about how we can love telling the truth because we can feel calm and confident when we do (our heartbeat stays steady).

We talked about how coveting is wanting what your neighbor has-- wishing they didn't have something and you DID, or wishing you had what they have JUST BECAUSE they have it. (Not the same as seeing that someone is happy and wishing you were happy too, of course-- junior primary kids might need that clarification).

You could use some scriptures here to reinforce the message of the song.
Exodus 20
The first several verses cover the ten commandments.
John 14:15
"If ye love me, keep my commandments."
Matthew 22:37-40
 "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Scarlett's Appreciation for Literature

It is funny to note that of all the books Scarlett pulls off the bookshelves in her daily tirade, she attacks this one the most:

"The Scarlet Letter"
Sorry-- I posted this from my phone, and I didn't notice the pic was small and sideways. 

Monday, October 29, 2012


I figured it out, guys! Why I am so tired:
While Michael was talking about how hungry he was, it suddenly clicked... I don't eat enough. At least, I haven't since I got sick.
Being sick completely squelches my appetite, and my appetite is really hard to build up again afterwards.
Food....sigh. It's been something I've forced myself to care about lately because, frankly, I don't! For some reason, being sick does that to me!
And I already have a hard time remembering to eat even when I'm healthy.
Yep, there it is! I haven't had enough calories in my body to sustain it in even the most sedentary activities. That's bad. No wonder I didn't gain weight on my forced gym-vacation.

Bad Mommy Slept In

This post goes a little beyond my typical Qusing. It happens to come from my private blog; I realized there was nothing too gutsy coming from this particular "rant," so it gets to step outside the locked gates. 

Do you ever feel bad for sleeping in?

I've been so tired...I'm not really confused over it; we stay up too late (it's my ME time!), I'm recovering from a bad period and a stupid cold and watching 2 extra kids for 5 days (with one kid sick for a couple of those days) and tending to a sick Scarlett and enduring two weeks of ovarian cyst pain. All overlapping or at the same time.
So why would it be surprising?
But it is a little alarming to wake up and feel no conviction to get out of bed at all. No drive, no need, no sense of any urgency to begin the day. Normally, mornings are difficult for me, but there is that guilty tug that helps me finally leave the warm blankets and get going.
It's a little weird not to feel that. Guess how late I stayed in bed this morning? About 10:45. Yesterday we had church, so I got up at about 9:30. The day before? Totally slept in until about 11:30. And guess what happened on Friday? I slept in (maybe till about 10, I don't know), and then I felt so exhausted I decided to take a mini nap. No one seemed to need me at the moment, and everyone was content with whatever they were doing. So after getting a crick in my neck with a 10-minute doze on the couch, I climbed into bed.

And I slept all day.

Michael said he didn't wake me because they were doing fine while I slept, and he assumed I needed it. That is very selfless of him! I woke up baffled that it at night? Maybe it was 6:30...
Who does that? I mean, why do I do that? I don't want to let my brain go into hypochondriac hyperdrive and start wondering if I have thyroid problems or something...because I might start worrying about other things. Like how when I finally did get up, I "stood up too fast" and crashed onto the floor between the bed and the trunk (I hit my fingers on the trunk, but I missed all sharp corners). It's just stupid and funny to me now. But if I let myself worry??? I don't want to go there. I'm embarrassed when I start hunting up all these things it could be when it's really just something simple.

Sleeping in kind of makes me feel like a bad mom, though. Because yes, Ender comes and talks to me and asks if I can help him with this or that. Yes, I can hear Scarlett cry between waves of sleep that hold me under. Yes, I heard my phone ring, muffled under my pillow. Yes, I had plans to go to the gym today...for the first time in nearly 3 weeks. I do miss the gym.
Do I feel like that because my mother never slept in? She never did. Never later than me, at least. Even during the years in high school that I somehow got up at 4am, my mother also did. The only time I can remember my mother sleeping a lot was when she caught pneumonia in Georgia. The house was very quiet and still, and her room was dark. She laid in bed, and we worried around the house as we carried on with our daily doings.

Is it scary for kids when their mom sleeps in? Does it create confusion for kids who have to wait for breakfast while Mommy waits for her eyelids to unglue? Do they feel powerless and alone? I mean if this happens regularly. It seems like there would be some significant disorder in result of such vague, shifty mornings.

I feel bad for it. I must seem like such an irresponsible, lazy, negligent, selfish mother to sleeeeeep while her kids cry or whine or sit around all morning.

October Creation

Original inspiration for Scarlett's costume here
I consider this a success! It's not nearly as fancy as the its "original," but who cares?
She looked adorable for our ward party.
Ender is making a great Batman face (not that he truly knows who Batman is...). The lovely little hands sticking out behind my head are a wreath on the door made by Ender, not a hairpiece. 

Scarlett the Jellyfish! Ender the crazy Batman!

I was a flapper.

Michael was an aviator/pilot guy. The picture doesn't do his outfit justice
(I'm so sorry...I am not so great at taking pictures).
Michael looked fantastic, you'll have to take my word for it.

This kind of sums up Ender's evening! He was hyper. I'll be honest, it was a bit of a difficult night.
But inbetween his bouts of hypercranky, he was hyperhappy.
And what else would you expect on a night that you can fill a bucket with candy and dress up cool?

Here are two pictures of the jellyfish costume. Why? Um, because one picture shows how the fabric is kind of gauzy/shimmery....and between the two, you get the true color...
Oh whatever, I think I'm the only one who cares about that!
But I'm proud of it! I think this is my first time sewing with elastic! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bald Babies

I have to admit that bald babies catch me off-guard a little. Kind of makes me go "Wait, where's their hair? What happened to them?" I'm just so used to Scarlett! She has a lot of hair, and it's crazy hair.
But for all those mothers of bald babies out there, here's some encouragement. A reason to be grateful for your baby's peach fuzz:

This morning, Scarlett cried for a while before I got her up. I didn't mean to take so long to get out of bed, it's just that when I'm sick like this, it's even harder to wake up and separate dreams from reality. I dreamed I got up and put my contacts in and everything, but then I'd hazily wake up a minute later and realize I was still in bed.
So while I was having these reality show dreams ("my life but not really") mixed in with annoying dreams of some guy's dog trying to bite off my neck while I pried away its sharp jaws (yeah, what?!), Scarlett was crying. And she has a cold. That equals lots and lots of snot. Do you see where this is going?
On occasion, we come get her in the morning to find that she has a strand of hair stuck up her nose in the sticky boogers. It's unfortunate and gross, but oh well. We clean her up and that's it. And I do put her hair up for bed most of the time, but that's no guarantee it will still be out of her face in the morning.
When I finally hobbled out of bed, feeling utterly sick (it happens to be "that time of the month" on top of all this), I found her with a web of gooey hair all over her face. Dried and fresh snot and boogers all over the place. Snot down the front of her nightgown, snot making her hair coil up in spiral curlies with boogers anchoring them to her nose and eyes and mouth. It was so disgusting, and I definitely felt bad for having let her cry for so long (I'm so sorry-- I didn't mean to).
What's maybe worse is that all I could do was brush everything out of her hair, clean things up with a wipe, and put her in fresh clothes. I am so exhausted, I don't think I can monitor a bath for her. My stupid cold is hitting me bad today, and my period is actually really painful this time. It hurts. I'm so tired and achy that I'm not even taking advantage of the gorgeous rain to read a book-- and that's a huge deal.
Not to turn this all into a pity party for myself! Really, it's sad for Scarlett. :(

Well, there you go. Bald babies (or boy babies who don't need the hair) have an advantage. And their mommies do too.

....goodnight. I think Scarlett and I will both take a nap. Hopefully her current hair design keeps the boogies out (it's sort of a mohawk of creativity factory is broken) (or on the fritz, which is more likely).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Furnace Guy

As a rule, when I'm home "alone" (the kids don't count for this), I don't let strangers into my house. Maybe that's extreme to some people, but it's the way we do things around here. 
A while back, some guy knocked on the door and asked if he could come in to check the furnace filter. 
He looked legitimate, but it was almost funny to me that he expected me to just let him in unannounced like that. I shook my head. "Not today." 
He gave me a confused look and said "You're not going to let me in?!" 
I smiled (couldn't help it) and said "Nnnnope!" 
He stomped off, annoyed. 
But seriously--no appointment, no warning, and he wants to come in? Is it weird that I was bothered by that? Wait, who cares if it's weird, because I am bothered by it, period. 

Today, our manager came by with a little note. It says: 

Attention Tenants:

Tomorrow, Dan will be replacing the furnace filter in your apartment. In order to do this in the most efficient manner possible, he will come into your apartment whether you are home or not. In addition to replacing the filter, bla bla bla bla. 
Thank You, 
Your Manager

I grinned. Yes! That is what I needed the first time! Some notice, some verification of Dan's purpose! Although I honestly don't like the fact that he's "authorized" to barge into my home whether I'm here or not (you can bet I will be here). I mean, that's kind of disgusting, isn't it? Why do they think they can do that? 
Still. I'm glad to have the note. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mommy Dilemma

Errands with kids are messy. Even when your kids are being good! 
I needed to returns some books and pick up a book on hold at the library. On the way there, I tried to think how I could manage to do that without waking up Scarlett (and having a sleeping baby is a very, very good thing when her brother woke her up at 5:30). Scarlett sleeps pretty lightly, and she'll wake up any time we move her, whether we're actually touching her or taking her carseat out of the car (which we don't generally do because it's so cumbersome). So I was thinking through my options. 

The most "safe" option would be to wake Scarlett up and bring her and Ender into the library with me. Ohhh, but I have a big pile of books to return! The kids would have to be in the double stroller! I'd have to wake Scarlett up, get that out of the trunk and pile the kids and the books in just to return the books and check one book out? 

But there is the drive-thru drop box. So just pile the kids into the stroller all just to check out one book? And wake Scarlett up from her nap? Why isn't there a drive-thru for picking up books on hold?

I suppose I could take the kids in and make it a regular library trip (even though we have a lot of books at home from yet another library--that's how we roll!). But I only need one book...

Maybe...maybe I could...
Leave the car on the curb and dash in to return the books? The car would be in sight the whole time. 
Would people be watching me with scorn? Ah! I'm a good mom, I am!
Oh, but my book on hold is around the corner from the entrance, and I wouldn't see them for that moment. 
Too scary. Just too risky. Am I chicken? Yes, I'm chicken., I'm chicken.
Leave the car running but locked? Since I have Michael's keys as well? 
Yes...maybe...still bad, but maybe acceptable...sort of...
But the car doesn't lock with keys in it. Leave the kids in the car with the window open just like people do for their dogs? 
My kids aren't dogs.
But...just one book? I'd be fast? 

And I was kind of decided on that one. I'd be fast with checking out my one book. It was probably just fine. 

But then I got there, and the library was closed for a random maintenance thing.
Oh yeah, and Scarlett woke up when I closed my car door anyway. 

Meh. I guess it saved me from looking like a bad mom! Hah! 
Do you ever find yourself having this kind of battle in your mind? What errands make you feel especially dragged down by having kids in tow?

If you don't have kids, well, your future list of "Things I wish I knew before I had kids" won't have this on it. Because now you know. The world is a completely different thing when you have to lug a carseat around or hoist your kids with your purse. And a diaper bag. And groceries or books or another kid's hand. What's that quote?-- if evolution were real, Moms would have more than two arms! 
Even then, I think I'd prefer leaving the kids in the car. Ugh, so badmom of me, but it's true.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Marathon

I joked to Rae that this is my marathon's "birth story," but in a funny way, it's kind of true! :) But don't worry, I won't share "embarrassing" details...although your idea of that might be different than mine. 
A medal for finishing.

Turns out this is a bit of a marathon-ly post! It's looong. Even without every detail. Sorry! I guess I could have said: I ran and walked intermittently, and I felt really happy the whole time even though it was stinkin' HOT out there, and then I finished! Woohoo! Time to go home and soak my legs in the tub!

So if that's all you came to read, you're welcome, and thank you for kindly stopping by. 
But here's the real story...

First of all, I felt inexpressibly blessed the entire time. I felt Heavenly Father's love and encouragement, and I felt so much joy throughout the experience. I also felt immense gratitude for the support from family and friends. I had two babysitters to help babysit for the duration of the event, and the kids were extremely cooperative. I had friends who were excited for me and wanted me to do well. I also felt so much love from the family, even if they didn't understand why I wanted to do this (it's okay, Mom! I know you don't get it, but that doesn't hurt my feelings!). Most especially, it was somehow surprising to me that Michael was excited for me even though it meant of a lot of time, help, encouragement and waiting on his part. He is the best husband I could have; he gives me freedom to make goals like this and then encourages me along the way. 

Having had a priesthood blessing the night before, I woke up at 3am feeling very alert and ready. I had set things out before bed so that I could get ready quickly, and we left at 3:30 when the first babysitter arrived. We drove 2 hours to Huntington State Park to pick up my running bib and t-shirt. And then I dove back in the car because it was SOOOO cold there at 5:30am! My teeth were chattering, and I couldn't hold still! So while we waited in the car, I studied my scriptures and relaxed. Some of the runners were getting really serious about everything and doing their stretches--which is good, but I couldn't even imagine lying on the cold concrete just so Michael could push my leg up or something. Brrr. No way. What I should have done, though, was go to the bathroom. :| Yes. You will see how that affected me....

We boarded buses to take us to the starting point. It was strange, but I didn't feel giddy. I just felt smiley. But then to get off the bus and begin the race at 6:30? I started bouncing on my toes (also because it was still SOOOO cold). Runners chatted some small talk, and when the announcer tried to pump us up and ask if we were ready, we gave a rather feeble "Yeah." I think most of us were too cold to make much noise. 

I started out kind of in the front. I thought "Oh, this is nice. I think I can stick pretty close to at least the middle of the group!" And then I realized I had to go to the bathroom. "Oh, this is not nice." 
This is well into the race.
The scenery was boring until past halfway.
About half a dozen men took their turns disappearing into the bushes, and I started to feel a bit jealous (you see, I'm not above camp-style bathrooms, but that is not a particular talent of mine, and I was not feeling up to such risks). I kept my pace, but then my bladder started to rebel. It was so full that I had to start walking or I would explode. So my place in the group of runners started fading to the back. I kept glancing behind me to make sure I wasn't last! At that point, there were 8 people behind me.
One woman came trotting up next to me, and as she passed, I was surprised to see that she was wearing a green and pink tutu over her black exercise clothes! I asked if she was "dressed up" for something special, and she said "It's my first marathon, so I had to do somethin' weird!" I said me too! and then thought but even though you seem fun, I would not wear a tutu for this. I wonder if she and I were the only first-timers. With everyone I talked to, it seemed like marathons were their hobby. Or career...
And after 3 miles, with the sun rising in my eyes, suddenly I saw such a blessed sight: a cheery yellow portapotty. 
Ah, heaven-sent. I have never been so happy to see one of those things. Tutu Girl let me go first, and after that, I bolted off. 

From there, it was a little harder to get back into a good groove, a nice pace. One couple passed me, another couple passed me, an old man who asked how I was, and then a pair of older women passed me. Pretty soon, it was Tutu Girl and me at the tail end. She said to me "Doesn't matter if I'm last! Finishing is all I care." I said "me too!" and then something happened...

It really is beautiful.
But it gets hard to stare at after several hours.
I realized that was a lie. Suddenly, I couldn't stand the thought of finishing last. Throughout all of my training, my goal for the marathon was to finish it. I even figured sometimes that I probably would be the last one! But when I got to that point, a little switch flipped in my head, and the competitive side took over. I abandoned Tutu Girl and made it my mission to pass the pair of runners in front of me. They were a woman in a pink shirt and a woman in ugly Texas-flag shorts (they were very ugly shorts, I must tell you). So, trying not to stare at the flag shifting ahead of me, I pushed myself until I had gone past them a considerable distance. 
The funny thing is, it took me a really long time to solidly ditch them. Texas Shorts had a watch set to beep every 30 seconds (so she would walk 30, run 30, etc.). Her running looked a lot like her walking, but I just figured she was doing what she could. But that beeping sound...every 30 seconds, 6 long and loud beeps! And we were running in a very desert-y area that somehow amplified every sound. I started to go a little bit crazy. As soon as I heard that beeping, I took off and tried to put some bigger distance between us. And somehow it always came back! I would think I was comfortably ahead when suddenly I hear that beeping again! 

I had finally had enough and picked a new mark for myself. The old man was closer than the first two couples who had passed me, even though he was a hazy little finger-pinch on the horizon. So there I went, pushing and driving myself to close the gap. 

It took a long time. 

A long time. 

This "Little Grand Canyon" marathon was touted as being especially scenic, and I was kind of thinking they had lied to us. Or whoever called it that was feeling really sentimental about Arizona. Or Death Valley. Or something. Once in a while, I'd try to appreciate it more and think "What a very...different...horizon...this is..." But once the sunrise was over, it was very boring. 

When I got close enough to see that the old man was slowing down, I knew I could pass him. Running was starting to hurt by then, though. In fact, my feet started to hurt pretty early on. I ran on the side of the road since it was open for the race, and I was on just the slightest bit of a slope. With my ankles already pronating a little, that meant my left ankle was forced inward a lot more than usual. The inner arch ached a lot, actually. And to jog on it even lightly made it hurt a lot worse. I ran or jogged in slightly shorter bursts, walking fast inbetween. I experimented a little with changing the strike of my feet, but that seemed a bad idea. 
So as I finally got close to catching up with the old man, I was grateful that he wasn't going to play my own game and run away when I pulled up beside him. He said "You just couldn't let a fat old man beat you, could you?" I just laughed and said honestly "Nope!" 

Bill and I kept an even pace for about 8 miles, I think. We started talking about what food sounded good to us out there in the desert. Ice cream, smoothies, PLAIN COLD WATER, an In-N-Out burger...and then it got a little crazy, like we were starving people who would never see food again. Our favorite cheese, fancy beef jerky, key lime Oikos Greek yogurt, etc. We did keep coming back to cold water. That sounded really great. And I kept daydreaming about the aid station that had fruit! At about 16 miles to go, there was an aid station that finally had something other than nasty Gu. Bananas, grapes, orange slices. And it all tasted so perfect! So ripe, so delicious, so sweet, so amazing...I bounded away from that aid station feeling like I'd just eaten little bites of heaven. And I wished I could sit at that table and devour their entire bowl of fruit (wouldn't have been hard). 

I learned that Bill wanted to be a composer like Michael is, but he realized he needed to choose a career that would make money. 

Oh. Right,

So he became a psychologist. But he still writes music here and there, and he sang a clip of a couple jazzy Christmas songs he's working on. By that time, the scenery was blessedly beginning to change. It was starting to make sense that it was called the Little Grand Canyon. Huge rock faces loomed high on each side of the gravelly, dusty road. There were even so pictographs on one of the walls. Supposedly, there was a dinosaur footprint somewhere that people had talked about, but I missed it. 

It was really nice to see some green out there;
almost everything was just red and dusty against
the bright blue sky.
Eventually, Bill couldn't match my pace anymore. He'd had a hip surgery earlier this year, so this was only his 3rd marathoni this year. Ha! Right. Of course, because he'd done 88 marathons, with a goal to do 50 State Marathons...for the second time. Some 100-Marathon prize or other. And when I was amazed at that, he said it's nothing compared to some of the more serious marathoners in his club. There's one man, he said, who makes a lot of money as a lawyer, so he just flies around to do marathons all the time; he's in the Guinness World Records for the most marathons in a year. 106. Um, that's like 3 a week, right? And how can you be a lawyer and do 3 marathons a week? And how can you have a life and do 3 marathons a week? And how can you be sane and do 3 marathons a week? I believe you understand my bafflement. 

I was actually glad that to leave Bill behind because I was also escaping Texas Shorts who mysteriously caught up to us (Pink Shirt passed us somewhere along the way, not at a pace I could match and pass). 

I pushed on, thinking I was safely ahead of Texas Shorts. But then I discovered that she snuck up ahead while I took a moment in one of those delightful portapotties! Argh. As I topped off my camelback with some water, she grumbled something that was maybe supposed to be funny (I didn't quite catch it), and then she took off! I mean, she was sort of shuffling, but she was pretty fast! And I was not feeling so fast after 23 miles. But I gritted my teeth and bore down. As I came up next to her, she said grumpily "See you at the finish line." 

A weird rock. 
And I had a mini attitude shift. Poor Texas Shorts. So I said brightly "Yes, and I will see you there, too!" and I kept my pace even with hers and did a little small talk with her. I found out she had done her first marathon at age 55. This was her 44th marathon. She was signed up for 6 more (to complete the 50 State Marathon challenge, which is apparently more common than it seemed at first). You know, she sounded quite grumpy about it all, but I thought that maybe that was just the result of trying to get through a marathon. Anyway, she mumbled and grumbled a few more things, and when her husband drove up on the road to see how she was doing, I took advantage of her pause and cleared the area. 

Some canyon-esque features of Little Grand Canyon.
Now. This part, this very little part of the race where I had only a meager 2 miles left, I started to feel a bit tired. I mean, mentally tired (my body didn't waste any time getting tired). I knew 2 miles was "nothing" in distance, but it was 2 miles after 24 miles. It was becoming harder to push myself any faster, and I wanted so badly to just finish. 

That lasted perhaps 5 minutes? Ten? Fifteen? THIRTY? What is time when you're thirsty in the desert? I don't know, but it really wasn't long. Michael drove down the road to say hello and see how I was! He drove alongside me and talked (and I desperately wanted to listen at least for some distraction from how tired I felt). And most helpfully, he pointed out that the finish line was just beyond a couple curves in the road ahead. That lifted my spirits! He rode along side me for about a mile, and then when I could see the finish, he drove up to get ready with the camera. 
Mammoth Marathons owner
"owning" this picture
(not that I mind).
Going to get food and water.

Even with the finish in sight--yes, even so--it was very very hard to make myself run. But I finally did, and the announcer obligingly changed their bouncy country "Honkytonk Badonkadonk" song to the Rocky theme. Haha! That got me smiling! And I was just so happy to get there, to finish! People started bringing me water and fruit, offering sandwiches and salad. Michael took just a few pictures (there were a few people barging in the way, though, so whatever), and once I got the hang of it, holding still felt kind of good. 

You know how you can see heat waves when it's really hot and dry outside? If there are enough heat waves, like the entire earth is emitting heat waves across the entire sky, it can kind of mess with your vision and make you dizzy. So despite all the "breathtaking" scenery, I watched the road quite a bit, because to look up too much really threw my balance off with my body needing so much focus to move right. So holding still took a little getting used to, honestly. 

And then I started to feel like I might throw up. Some serious nausea kicked in, and then my vision and hearing started to sort of "white-out," a lot like it did when I was fighting passing out after I gave birth to Ender and tried to stand up. I knew that was not such a good sign, so I told Michael to get the car. I wanted to sit there so I wouldn't have to get up again. I made sure I wasn't locking my knees. After sitting in the car, it took a while for the nausea to completely pass, but then I felt just fine. I drank water, scarfed down an enormous salad, pigged on fruit, and sat back to let everything settle a little. 

On the drive down, I encouraged the 2 remaining runners (Texas Shorts pulled in not too long after me), Bill and Tutu Girl. I offered them one of my pulled pork sandwiches and cheered them on, telling them they were SO CLOSE to the finish line! 

I was secretly glad they didn't want the sandwiches because that meant I could have all three. Ha! Yes! THREE! Michael got them for me-- he knows me well. :) 

And it was done!
Me being glad it was done.

Since yesterday, I have been marveling over how blessed I was. There were many, many moments during the marathon that I prayed my thanks to Heavenly Father, and I felt so energetic and happy the whole time. I felt like Heavenly Father performed a miracle on me. 
My hips have been a little troubling from the beginning of my training, but as time went on, my endurance improved. My hips could go longer before they started to ache. But they never seemed to do as well as with this marathon. My hips outlasted everything else! 
The pain started in my feet. Inconvenient, but I felt pleasantly surprised that my hips weren't hurting yet. The pain then seemed to very slowly creep up from my feet. I mentally shoved it down every time I had to think about it, and in that way, the pain stayed below my knees until I'd gone about 18 miles or so. Then it started to creep up my thighs, and I mentally shoved it down. It was maybe around 22 miles that I realized with a mild surprise that my hips hurt, and as soon as I noticed, I pretended I hadn't. 
Because of that, my hips were not the issue of the marathon. Pain was a simple part of it, but it was overshadowed by pure drive and desire. I learned that I could put aside the pain and be successful in spite of it-- and be happy all the while! 
I was so blessed!!!! Here are some of the physical blessings I experienced:

Michael drove down twice; this is when I had about 4 miles to go.
He just wanted to make sure I was doing alright. :)

  • I never felt uncontrollably out of breath. 
  • My eyes never took a bad hit from the dust rolling behind the random cars passing by (I could close one eye and let it cry the dust out, and my eyes would feel back to normal very quickly). 
  • I never fell or stumbled. 
  • My waterpack never felt too heavy. 
  • I had no chafing from my clothes or waterpack (that is perhaps another miracle since I have had chafing during training). 
  • My fingers didn't get too sausage-like and went back to normal circulation very rapidly (if you let your arms hang for so many hours in the heat, your fingers can get pretty gross looking). :)
  • I never had to deal with a lot of sweat. I just sort of glistened (so no sweat dripped into my eyes or anywhere else). My skin felt really salty, though! I think the sweat must have been evaporating off of me and just leaving the salt behind...
  • My mouth never got too dried out. 
  • I never had a moment without water. 
  • I only needed 2 bathroom breaks. That's a blessing, it just is. 
  • I felt so happy. I smiled a lot, I prayed a lot, I enjoyed the event of accomplishing such a big goal.
  • Oh yes, and I didn't lose any toenails (they didn't even hurt). 
  • I always knew I could do it.

Me happily being dorky for you.
It feels so good to have finished my marathon! There is some pleasure in not being the last to finish, too (but good for Tutu Girl for making it all the way)! Judging by all of my training, the marathon should have taken me 8 hours. I am not fast, trust me. I can sprint for about 30 seconds, and if I'm fresh and untired, I can be extremely fast for those 30 seconds. But that's all. My marathon took me 7 hours. Three for the first half, four for the second half. I got a couple bug bites (better than swallowing bugs! At the start, they really liked bumping into my face! Nasty bugs), and I got a sunburn even though I wore sunscreen (and brought the bottle in a pouch so I could use more) (um, even though I didn't use more...I felt like I'd have to stop to apply more sunscreen, and stopping sounded like a crazy idea). 

It will also feel good to return to my normal workout routine, one that doesn't include a 20+ mile run this week. I waddled around for the rest of the day yesterday, but I'm just a little sore today. Amazingly, it's not so bad (but we will be having a freezer dinner tonight. Thank you Stouffer's). 
Just so you know, this was my first and LAST marathon. I am not interested in doing it again. I feel no need. This not a new hobby. 

In June 2009, after examining my feelings about running, I once wrote on this blog, 
"Some day, I will run a real marathon. It will probably take me a few years to be ready. But I will do it."
There. After 17 weeks of training during what has perhaps been the best window of time in my life to make it happen, with so much love, help, encouragement, and many blessings from Heavenly Father, I did it.

Eventually, pictures of the event done by Mammoth Marathons will be posted HERE under "Little Grand Canyon Marathon" at the very bottom. You can also find them on facebook HERE, where they've already posted a few pictures from Saturday's marathon.