Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ode to the Front Porch

On the next street over from me lives an elderly widow, who lives alone. Her name is Mary Lou. I pass her house frequently as I come and go- sometimes several times a day as I take kids to and from school, errands, etc. On nice days, she is almost always sitting out on her front porch, sometimes reading or chatting with neighbors, but often just sitting and watching the world go by. I find myself jealous of her at times. With 4 small children, I often feel I am losing control of my life- constantly running from one thing to the next and constantly having a huge list of things to do around the house that never gets done. I so strongly wish I could find more time to just sit on the porch, watch the world go by, read and chat with neighbors. It would especially be nice to be able to do so without feeling guilt over what I "should" be doing. Everyday, when I pass her house and see her sitting there, I always smile and wave. On days when I am especially busy and extra tired, I always feel that longing to not have to do whatever it is I have to do and just go home and sit on my own front porch. Sometimes, when I pass her house several times in a day from multiple errands and she is sitting out front watching me come and go several times, I have to wonder what she is thinking about me.

However, there are two sides to every story. I have gotten to know Mary Lou a bit. She is a very sweet, and somewhat feisty, woman. Sometimes, when I go on walks and she is sitting outside, I stop and visit with her. My kids and I have made cupcakes for her and taken them to her in the past. We have also exchanged phone numbers and she calls me from time to time, just to chat. I suspect she is lonely. Her husband died about 10 years ago, I think. Also, I know her only child, a daughter in her 50's, has been dealing with breast cancer and has had several surgeries. Mary Lou goes to stay with her from time to time, especially after a surgery, to help her out. That daughter has no children and is not married, so I know Mary Lou has no grandchildren which is probably part of the reason she likes my kids a lot and likes it when we stop by and asks about them when she calls. So, though I am sometimes jealous of her being able to enjoy the weather on her front porch, I know it comes with a price.

I truly love my life and don't want to trade it. And, really, I know that the time will come- probably all to soon- when the kids will be gone and my husband is retired when we will find ourselves sitting on the porch watching the world go by and wondering where all the craziness went. So, I really don't want to change things in my life- it would just be nice to occasionally find that time to just stop- sit outside and enjoy the weather and watch the world go by on the front porch.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Weekend with Grandma

This past weekend, I had the privilege of going to a family reunion with my dad and my grandma. My grandma was really wanting to go and this was the first year without my grandpa, who passed away a few weeks ago. It would be a two day trip because there was the reunion as well as grave decoration in honor of Memorial Day for those who have passed on. She doesn't get around well herself anymore and would need some assistance. My mom and my aunt both had to work all weekend, so I gladly went so I could help Grandma. The rest of my family stayed back so they could attend an important gathering going on in Aaron's family as well. He was so wonderful to keep all the kids and take them to see his family so that I could focus on helping Grandma.

Here is myself with Grandma and Dad at the reunion:
The reunion took place in Portsmouth, Oh- for those not from around here- it is way down in the most southern part of Ohio, right on the Ohio River. My dad and my mom both have roots in Portsmouth and so both sides of the family have deceased members buried there. In addition to the reunion, we visited 4 cemeteries! This is the reason we made it a two day trip- it would be hard on both Grandma and Dad to do all of that in one day. (They aren't young and energetic like me...ha ha!)

I think it is kind of funny that both of my parents are from this area. I have asked them before if they are cousins, but I know they are not- my mom is way into family history and would have found the connection by now if they were. I just think it is funny to joke about it if you know the whole southern Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky region.

Anyway, it was a really good trip. It was a great chance to visit with Grandma, be able to serve her a little and learn a lot about the family. It was really neat to hear the stories as we visited the graves and drove around. Here is an example of what we did:
This is my mom's grandparents. For years, my great-grandfather would go around this cemetery every memorial day and put flags on all of the graves of those in the military, even though he was never in the military. My parents found it disappointing that the same wasn't done for him after his years of service in putting out the flags, so my dad put some there for him. We would also put a small bouquet on each one.

Here is a sad story:
This baby was my dad's cousin and, I forgot to ask the date details, but died as a baby about 60 years ago. The baby was a twin and both babies became violently ill and this one passed away and the twin survived. This little hand written stone is the only marker. My dad says he doesn't know why it is the only stone- maybe the family couldn't afford it at the time or something- but he wishes to someday put a proper stone there.

The weekend was filled with stories like this. I find myself wanting to absorb everything lately- I so strongly wish I could meet these people and talk to them- find out what their lives were like.

To end this post on a funny note, we stopped for gas on the way home at a little podunk gas station in the middle of nowhere. It didn't even have "pay-at-the-pump" gas pumps! Can you imagine?!?! Anyway, it had this sign that just cracked us up- I had to get a picture!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An Amazing Weekend

For those who are curious, I have not posted in so long for two reasons- I have been incredibly busy- more so then usual. Also, despite being busy, I just haven't had much to write about. It has been busy, but boring busy.

I am returning to the blogoshpere with a thoughtful and reflective post today. Last weekend, I went to another "Time Out for Women" conference in Cincinnati with my mom and my sister, Emily.

What an amazing weekend!! If nothing else, I knew I was looking forward to a weekend away from the world as well as hanging with my mom and sis, but I also think I needed a little spiritual uplifting. Well, I got that and more. I would like to share a few things that struck me during the weekend.

My disclaimer to anyone who actually reads this entire post- if you ever hear my Relief Society lessons, I may include some of this sometime, so forgive me when you hear it repeated someday.

The conference went two days this time- Friday evening and Saturday. On Friday, we were privledged to hear presentations by Sheri Dew and Wendy Watson Nelson (married to the Apostle, Russell M Nelson)-who also happen to be best friends. I found their stories fascinating- especially their playful banter back and forth as they told part of the story of how Sis Nelson came to marry an apostle. We listened to amazing violin music by Jenny Oaks Baker- I highly recommend a CD by her! (I bought one!)

Saturday included presentations by Emily Watts, Michael Wilcox, Kim Nelson, Kris Belcher and music by Hilary Weeks. Most of them were hilarious and thought provoking at the same time. While every presentation said something to me, Emily Watts and Kim Nelson were speaking directly to me. Emily spoke a lot about how we often stress about "keeping up appearences." We worry about how things look to others. I have sometimes been embarrased by my small house that isn't perfectly clean or decorated. I worry about how I look to other people. She reminded us that "the inner committment is more important than the outward appearance." She also talked a lot about our frustrations with our children. She reminded us that we just need to realize that, just like unripened fruit is not enjoyable, sometimes we get frustated with our children and we need to remember that they may just not be "ripe" yet but will someday ripen into beautiful and delicious fruit. She used the example of her stubborn 3 year old daughter, who when 13 years later was getting ready for her first prom was more insistent then her mother at a dress that was perfectly modest. That stubborness, while annoying when young, had blossomed into a morally strong and determined young woman. She reminded us that God loves our children just as much as we do and has a plan for them. We just need to be patient and love them and teach them while we wait for them to ripen and the results will likely be beautiful.

What Kim Nelson taught was like a much needed slap in the face. He taught about the depth of God's love for us. I have always known that God loves me- I don't think I have ever really doubted that. But he demonstrated it in a way I had never thought of. He asked this powerful question: "If you saw a mother treating her daughter the way you treat yourself, what kind of mother do you think she would be."


I realized if I saw a mother treat her daughter as I treat myself, I would likely call Children's Services. I would never tell my daughter that she was fat, ugly, stupid, not good enough, hopeless or the many other things that cycle through my head daily. Nor would I ever want my daughters to think that way, because I would want them to know how beautiful and smart and loved they are. That is how are Heavenly Father feels about us. We need to allow ourselves to see ourselves as Heavenly Father sees us. I love my children more than absolutely anything. He pointed out that that is why Heavenly Father gives us the blessing of parental affection- to understand how God feels about us. I need to change my thinking. I need to see myself as he does. My other way of thinking is what Satan wants me to believe- that I am not good enough. Anyway, it was an eye opening and humbling statement to me.

Kris Belcher is completely blind after a life time of eye problems. She became permanently blind after a sugery to remove a tumor from her retna- she had a 1 year old child at the time. She spoke about how hard it was to deal with, the depression she faced because of it and how she managed to move on. She said she always hated it when people told her "God won't give you anything you can't handle" (I know I have said that before) because she wasn't/couldn't handle it. She explained that if we could handle it all on our own, there would have been no point of a Savior. Wow- a good point, I thought! She said it was when she began to rely on God that she was able to handle it and move on. She feels the statement needs changed to "God won't give you anything you can't handle without God's help." Oh how true that is. If we would just put things in our Father's hands, we really could deal with anything He put in our hands.

So, it was a very powerful weekend. It was so fun to get to hang out with my mom and Emily- just chatting, eating out and just enjoying our "time out." I left there on a spiritual high, determined to be a better wife, mother and daughter of God. Of course, it only took about 24 hours for me to raise my voice at my kids again and only about a couple hours to think badly of myself again, but I am trying. With God's help, I can do anything right? I am His loved daughter!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

As a Mother, I am Rich!

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful moms out there! Just so you know though, I have the best mom in the world! You can read for yourself just how wonderful my mom and my "moms-in-law" are just by clicking HERE. I love you all and hope you have an AMAZING day!!

For today's post, I thought I would post an email I received from a friend a few days ago (thanks, Karen!). We have heard about the cost of raising a child and how as parents we will never be "rich." While that may be true in the monetary sense, this story points out how children make us rich in so many other ways. Being a mother is so totally worth the cost. I could not imagine life without any one of my babies. I love them all so much and I am honored to be there mother.


Here is something absolutely positive for a change. I have repeatedly seen the breakdown of the cost of raising a child, but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way. It's nice.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140.00 for a middle income family. Talk about price20shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition.

But $160,140.00 isn't so bad if you break it down.. It translates into:

* $8,896.66 a year,

* $741.38 a month,

* $171.08 a week.

* A mere $24.24 a day!

* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is; don't have children if you want to be 'rich.' Actually, it is just the opposite.

What do you get for your $160,140.00?

* Naming rights . First, middle, and last!

* Glimpses of God every day.

* Giggles under the covers every night.

* More love than your heart can hold.

* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.

* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.

* A hand to hold usually covered with jelly or chocolate.

* A partner for blowing bubbles and flying ki tes..

* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the

boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140.00, you never have to grow up. You get to:

* finger-paint,

* carve pumpkins,

* play hide-and-seek,

* catch lightning bugs,

* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:

* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,

* watch Saturday morning cartoons,

* go to Disney movies, and

* wish on stars.

You get to frame rainbows, hear ts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay forMother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.

For a mere $24.24 a day, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:

* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,

* taking the training wheels off a bike,

* removing a splinter,

* filling a wading pool,

* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and

* coaching a baseball team that never wins ; but always gets

treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat in history to witness the:

* First step,

* First word,

* First bra,

* First date,

* First time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, n ursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match..

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, so one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price!!!!!!!

Love & enjoy your children & grandchildren & great-grandchildren!!!!!!! It's the best investment you'll ever make!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Learning Compasion

Despite the fact that it is spring, we have had an icky bug hit our house. I thought we were done with all this for the season, but apparently not. On Tuesday morning, Meghan was just not herself- really grumpy, but otherwise okay. We went to play at a friends house, where she seemed okay and played all morning. Close to lunch time, she was getting whiny and clingy and I realized she felt warm. She then proceeded to throw up in my friends house. I felt awful! She also complained of an earache. Her fever was 102 all that day and the next. So, I called to make and appointment with the doctor, though I was quite hesitant after THIS appointment. But, I figured this was the first time she has ever complained of her ear hurting. Before we left for the appointment, I noticed these blisters all over her left hand. We went to the doctor and she confirmed my suspicion of an ear infection- her first ever!

And, as far as the blisters? Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease! Yikes! It is a common preschool illness where they have a fever and get these blisters all over their hands, feet and mouth (hence the name....). Where she got it? Who knows- but it is just a virus that has to work it's way through. Luckily she seems to be handling it well. Her hand looks awful and I think she has a few in her mouth, but it doesn't seem too bad- her fever is even down already and she doesn't have the blisters anywhere else. Here is what her hand looks like (this isn't her hand- this is from the internet, but it looks just like this):I know they are painful because she says "ow" and rubs her hand on her pants. Ellie is starting to complain of an earache, but no fever yet.....

One of my points in writing about this is to record something Ellie said. When we went into the doctor's office and the nurse was trying to get information and take her temperature, Meghan was very upset and scared. Ellie looked at her and said so sweetly, "I know, Meg, I know..."

The nurse and I both just melted! So often, I feel like I do so many things wrong as a mom, but that helped me see that maybe I am doing maybe one thing right if they are learning compassion for each other. Kenny knew when I dropped him off at school that Meghan was sick. When he got in the car, the first thing he said was asking how Meghan was doing. I was just very touched.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Oink Oink

Anyone who can breathe has heard about the swine flu and the "impending pandemic." The country seems to be in a panic over something so tiny that no one can see it with the naked eye, yet has the potential to kill. The news seems to have very little else to talk about other than the latest update of how many affected and how to protect ourselves. They make you want to run to your bed and hide under the covers (oh, wait, I want to do that anyway....). But, that is how they get ratings.

I have not been even a little worried about this problem. I do feel really bad for the people of Mexico and those in America who have been affected by it. I can't imagine how scary it is in areas that have been so strongly affected- I would probably feel the same if I were there. Here in Ohio, there has been ONE confirmed case. Just one. 3 probable and a few dozen suspected (though the CDC ruled out something like 70 already just in Ohio- people with the sniffles who panicked). The one who has become sick was a 9 year old boy. His entire school shut down for a week. The superintendent of our district has already been on TV with their plans to shut down, should it strike. Ok... Really? (For one, we have already used more than our calamity days and have to make up days- my kids don't want to be in school until July....)

The annual influenza that makes it rounds every year kills thousands, yet we rarely hear about it. Maybe because we do have access to a flu vaccine to help prevent it where as with the "swine flu" we do not. Still, it is usually the otherwise sick, elderly or young who have trouble weathering the standard influenza. Though the swine flu is a stronger virus, I suspect it is the same-those with normal immune systems will likely recover okay after feeling crappy for a while. It has been mild in America, I believe, partially because of more sanitary health conditions and stronger immune systems. I could be wrong- maybe Armageddon will strike in the form of the swine flu and prove me wrong- but I doubt it.

All of that being said, one of the "probable" cases in Ohio is an employee (a doctor) at the OSU Hospital. When they said that on the news, it did get my attention- my mom and my sister, Julie both work there. Julie got an urgent call from her supervisor yesterday telling her the person affected is a man who she works very closely with. She would need to watch for symptoms. It occurred to me that right there was actually a direct link from the virus to my home. Let's say it ends up being a confirmed case in this man. Say maybe he sneezed on Julie and she gets it. My kids adore her and see her often and climb all over her and she spreads it to them. Makes it feel a little more like hitting home. Plus, Julie has asthma and we suspect Ellie may, which could make even a mild flu serious. Still, I am not worried. Really, how often to we sneeze on, cough on or kiss our coworkers? (Julie is happily married...) And, unless she does become sick, I will certainly not limit my kids exposure to her- she is just too darn good of an aunt. So, we will take our chances and go on with life and continue to roll our eyes at the doom and gloom news while praying for those affected.

However, should anyone around here start oinking anytime soon.....

**UPDATE**As of Sunday 5/3- there are a total of 3 confirmed cases in Ohio- including the doctor my sister works with. But, if she had gotten it, she would have had symptoms by now. I am still not ready to join the panic. :)