Tuesday, May 29, 2012

And The Award Goes To...

'Tis the season for awards ceremonies, parties and the like.  

What did we do during all these exciting events before smart phones?

This was followed by a mind-numbing scintillating hour of poetry reading in her classroom.  

Once again, I give you evidence of why I should be your next mother of the year.  

Hey, I'm at every single event.  And in charge of half of them.  But it doesn't mean I always like it.

A mother's dirty little secret. 

Shhh!! Don't tell the kids.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Welcome to My NEW Home!

Hi friends!  This is the new spot for raving (and the occasional rant!).  Please bookmark this new address and add it to your readers.

May is always insane!!!

In addition to getting this up off the ground, planning end of the year gifts and parties, this last week I:

Monday: Had my first colonoscopy.  Don't recommend.  Felt like crap all day and Greg was out of town. That didn't stop me from having to do laundry and clean the house and feed small children (thank you pizza guy!).  Grace chose to be insane during Family Home Evening which resulted in an epic tantrum and Derick throwing the Swiffer at her head.  The big vacuum Swiffer.  It was awesome (and I use that term with all the sarcasm I can afford).

Tuesday:  Taught Seminary.  The kids were so dead, I ended class 20 min early. That was a first. The church came back to video me again.  Yes a fourth time. I am very over-exposed and I am pretty sure INCREDIBLY old news, but there it is.  It was an all day thing, which was fun but also incredibly exhausting.  When I mentioned that to one of my seminary kids, he said, "Try going to high school."  He wins.  I did sound like a bit of a brat.  "Oh, sitting in front of a camera for 4 hours is SOOO hard!" Stayed up till midnight trying to get my seminary slideshow to work.  A nightmare. Pretty much.

Wednesday:  Last day of seminary. Got up at 4:30 to finish slideshow. It worked in the end and was super fun to relive the last year. We had breakfast and goodbyes.  I miss them already.  Had my last day of volunteering at the hospital until next fall.  So love holding sweet babies.  That aren't mine.  It's awesome (no sarcasm). Wednesdays are so crazy with piano, dance and church, but we had the night off from one, so it was only sort of crazy.

Thursday:  Went to the temple with Katri and lunch.  That was a super fun day and I haven't had much time to myself these days, so I was all over it.  Greg came home that night. Very happy bunch of people in this house. 

Friday:  Jane's Field Day.  So fun and hot.  It's already in the 90s.  It was interesting to observe the 6th graders at the end of the year.  There are still some who are very young and some who are 12 going on 20.  Jane is without guile and I am so grateful for that.  She is just so sweet. Next year is 7th grade and I'm pretty sure everything changes. Or so I hear. 

These are some pictures of last week's boat regatta, where Jane and her team built an amazing boat from cardboard and duct tape. 

Speaking of 7th Grade: my mom finished her last week of teaching 7th graders forever!!  27 years of teaching, baby.  HAPPY RETIREMENT, MOM!!!  I'm soooooooo proud of you and so excited for you.
Also in 7th grade news:  Last week, the boys had their awards ceremony at school.  They did it during the 7th grade assembly.  When they honored the life skills kids, the gym went WILD!!!!!  When Derick walked up to get his medal, the kids stomped their feet so hard, it was thunder.  Had to fight back the tears.  Gave me hope for the future of America.  Especially since I had just caught a glimpse of some girl's panties because her skirt was so short.  Ah, me.

Ok, there's my first official blog post at the new home of "The Ravings", 39 Rochelle FM.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The "Beauty" of Mothering

Mother’s Day is certainly a lovely day if you are a mother.  Who doesn’t like gifts and poems and naps?  That is, if you get those sorts of things on Mother’s Day.  And I’m not one who deludes myself into thinking it’s all sunshine and lollipops for everyone.  Heck, my nap started; 10 minutes later it ended with first Derick screaming, then Grace, and finally Jane playing the piano.

We went to the Botanical Gardens, which was crowded but beautiful.  The kind of Texas spring beauty that calms and infuses you with peace.  It’s a different kind of beauty than that found in the realms of motherhood.  I find much beauty in being a mother, but it isn’t calming and it isn’t peaceful.

I think the greatest source of the beauty of motherhood is it’s ugliness.

Many times, on these blogs, women present this very unrealistic picture of their lives and motherhood. I think we all like to be positive.  I certainly do, but do women do each other any favors by only focusing on the pretty aspects?  I find it fascinating that after all the feminist enlightenment over the past few decades, women are still pit against one another.  Ann Romney never ‘worked’ a day in her life, if you don’t breastfeed for 5 straight years,  you are not ‘mom enough’.  What are we doing to each other!!?  It is sick.  On this blog, the children never fight, on that blog, the children are dressed head to toe in J Crew each day and not complaining about it.  On this blog, she’s mother of the year, on that blog, she’s running a successful business from home and still playing legos on the floor with her kids each afternoon.  It seems that the only way to present motherhood in today’s day and age is to white-wash it.

Even I have been presented that way and it totally makes me laugh.  My friend, Chanda, texted me the other day to say that our video had been featured on Facebook and I’d been billed as a “Rock Star of a Mom”.  Since I’m not on Facebook, I lurked with Greg’s account and saw it.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I told my kids this week that “I’m a Rock Star”.  Grace rolled her eyes and exhaled rather dismissively.  They know the truth and their opinion is all that matters.  I know I am not a rock star in any sense of the word and so do they.  That’s not to say I’m a failure.  I just know that I’m not what people try to make me out to be.  Because motherhood is NOT a competition.  I am only looking to God and my children for approval (and even then, I don’t much care if the kids always approve).

Beautiful mothering is not made up of perfect lives with perfect children.  To say it is only does other women a disservice.  We all have to do our best in our own families with the limited talents we posses.  They may or may not be better than our neighbor, but it does not matter.  Beautiful mothering is made beautiful because it is full of ugly moments.  When your daughter sasses, rolls her eyes and is generally full of bad attitude all week, the card she writes you for Mother’s Day wherein she apologizes is made all the more beautiful.

When your other daughter screams and says you are mean and life is unfair, when she writes you a beautiful Mother’s Day poem with the line, “She loves movies, books, and her Mr. Darcy”, you smile and even cry because she actually knows you as a person and not just the Wicked Witch of the West.

When your son won’t let you dress him for school and keeps signing for his dolls and you have to say, “You can’t have a baby until you get dressed!”  You laugh out loud at the absurdity of that statement.  Taken out of context, it is insane.  Sometimes mothering my children is just hilarious.  That’s the beauty of it.

When your other son won’t get out of your face and stop saying, “Oh hi, mom.  I love you mom,” after about the 50th time in a row, you stop and say, “He couldn’t say any of that for the first 4-5 years.  Why am I getting annoyed at him?!”  There is beauty in remembering how much I wanted to even hear the word “mom”.  Sometimes, I have to remind myself.  Because I am not perfect and I forget.

I talked to my mother yesterday on the phone.  She told me of taking care of her mother with dementia.  She told me of the indelicacies and some of the things she now has to do.  The same things I have to do for my Derick. I asked if it was hard for Grandma.  She said it wasn’t.  She doesn’t understand anymore.  I thought of the beauty of her story.  Even though on the surface, it is ugly; the beauty is in the love.  My mother loves her mother because she first loved her.  And now the roles have reversed.  And it is very very hard for my mom.  It is not pretty or clean.  But it is beautiful.  Because it is motherhood in it’s purest form.

It is service.  We love because we serve.  We serve because we love.  Service isn’t perfect and it isn’t always received that way.  But it is beautiful.  Because it isn’t.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hi -April 26, 2012

More Special Olympics last week.  We had Area over the weekend, which is 8-9 hours of heat, waiting, and about 15-20 minutes of actual competition.  It’s fun, but long.  They have a fun tent where the kids can go play games and get big prizes.  Derick chose to dance to the karaoke.  He did very well in competition and got first in both his categories.  Unfortunately, in his race, he ran so fast that they knocked him down to silver because his previous race was so slow.  Like he was cheating, or something.  And Ethan came in dead last of 7, but he somehow got 4th.  It’s Socialist Special Olympics.  Good thing the boys don’t care.  I’m still working on not caring...

That night, Greg and I gave the big closing presentation for the Youth Conference for our church.  We were exhausted and so were the kids, but I was happy that it worked out really well and the energy level was still pretty high.  We had a great time and have I mentioned before how much I love teaching teenagers!?  I do.  Even on days where I don’t.  Part of Youth Conference was a dance, and we took our boys.  They were SOOOOO cute dancing.  Mostly Derick.  At one point, he walked over to a girl, grabbed her hand and led her out on the dance floor. It was so darling.  He held both her hands for 2 seconds and then dropped them and walked away.  I died laughing.  Looks like we’re going to have to work on the social etiquette.  It’s hard when your 14 year-old can’t talk, but we’ll work on it anyway...

Monday, Grace got sent home from school vomiting.  Poor thing. She planted herself on the couch and didn’t move from the spot for the next 18 hours.  During that time, I had a phone interview about our Mormon.org video.  I had to leave my room in the middle of it and pat her back and hold her hair out of the way.  It’s all glitz and glamour around here, folks!

Later that day, Greg took Jane to the Rangers game.  He was surprised when the Lexus Valet Parking was full (if you come in a Lexus, they park you for free).  That has never happened.  Then, he drove around and all the lots had long lines and were still full.  He was too cheap to pay the $40 valet.  So, he parked at Walmart, bought something, and then walked to the stadium.  When they got in, they could hear lots of noise, but assured themselves that it was some pre-game stuff.  Then, they saw playing on the monitors and they asked someone what was going on.  Turns out, the game started 45 minutes before the time printed on the tickets.  They were in the 3rd inning.

At the end of the game, he went back to Walmart to discover his car had been towed.  He and Jane walked a mile and a half to the lot and paid $250 get it out. It was then that the $40 valet didn’t look so bad anymore. They got home at 11:00 pm.  Greg was ticked and exhausted and Jane was thrilled and energized with the adventure.  Sweet Greg never let on to Jane that he was annoyed.  He let it all out once he was in our room.  He’s an awesome dad.  On the way home, he told her, “Jane, I just saved you $250.” She asked how.  He said, “In the future, when you are tempted to park somewhere that warns of towing, you won’t do it because of tonight.  And you’ll be $250 richer.  You’re welcome.”

The next day, was Grace’s first state-wide testing and she missed it because she was sick. She was SO sure she could do it, but she was grey and shaking and I told her she couldn’t.  She slept for the next 2.5 hours.  The next day, she was able to go to school for her first (everyone else’s second) state wide testing.  Every year, I have made Jane a special breakfast for her tests.  This year, I was teaching seminary, so I just couldn’t.  Rather than be disappointed, Grace got up at 5 am, got her dad out of bed and had him take her to the donut shop, where she picked out Jane’s favorite donuts and drinks.  Then, she set it all out on the table with a little sign that said, “Good luck on your STARS test, Jane.  Love, Grace!”

80% of the time, she may send me to the brink of insanity, but the other 20% of the time, she channels The Little Princess and it almost makes up for the other 80.

Good times.  Good times.

Here We Are Again - April 16, 2012

Grace celebrated her 9th birthday Saturday.  It is weird that I haven’t been pregnant in almost a decade.  Don’t think I miss it, or anything.  Just strange how fast time marches on, isn’t it?

We celebrated with a little trip to American Girl for lunch, where she spent her birthday gift card and Grandma money.  In the evening, we had her friends over for a birthday party, complete with a backyard movie.  Compared to Jane’s party last week, however, I was surprised to find that I prefer 12 year-olds to 9 year-olds any day.  Who knew?  Maybe it was just this group, but I found the lack of manners of about 3-4 girls to be appalling.  Greg and I both looked at each other at the end and couldn’t believe some of things we had seen and heard.  We were exhausted!

We had a nice, relaxing Sunday, with family games and a long, beautiful walk around the park.  The weather was perfection in the afternoon.  I finished reading Nie-Nie’s book.  I haven’t had much time to read this last week, because I was teaching, so it was nice to have a bit of a break and take a smidgeon of time for myself.

Alas, today’s reality has smacked me in the face.  The girls woke up so cranky this morning.  They hadn’t completely cleaned their rooms last night and were very much opposed to the idea of finishing this morning.  When they left, I felt all kinds of tired and cranky myself.  Then, I got the boys off to school, got working on my laundry, and soon received an unwelcome phone call.  Ethan had gone crazy on the bus.  He hit many, many people, including bus drivers, teachers, and students.  I rushed to the school to pull him out for the day.  He’s been sitting in his room all day.  And I’ve been a prisoner to my house all day.  Not the end of the world. I had to cancel a lunch date for my girlfriend’s birthday, but she was very gracious and we rescheduled.  Sometimes, life with Ethan is one day at a time.  Actually, all my children are like that. But, I’m channeling my inner Scarlett O’Hara and hoping that tomorrow is another day.  Or maybe Anne Shirley’s philosophy is better. Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it.

Somedays I wonder if this will ever end.  We have been dealing with this since kindergarten.  But I realize that it probably won’t. I just need to appreciate the good days more.  And maybe, I’ll eat one of those left-over Symphony bars from Grace’s party.  Please tell me chocolate really does make everything better!!  Either way, here’s hoping Ethan can keep his violence under control tomorrow!

Here’s what our girl has been up to the last couple of weeks:

She was Sacagawea for a school project, her dad took her to Mary Poppins and she entered the science fair with a project about left brain vs right brain including info about Ethan’s stroke. She also had dance pictures in anticipation of her recital coming up.