Monday, December 26, 2005

Move Over, Billy Joel!

I love Christmas music. I like to start listening to it and singing it sometime near the end of August. (Sorry Lesleigh, you'd hate it at my house.) I also enjoy playing Christmas music on the piano. One of my favorite pieces to play is "Trinity Chimes." It's awesome because it really does sound like chimes, and it sounds especially amazing on the Steinway in our chapel. I've been playing this piece since probably 8th grade, and I was excited to have the opportunity to play it as part of our Christmas sacrament meeting program.

Fast forward to Christmas day, sacrament meeting. Phil and I were sitting on our "assigned bench" in the back of the chapel, near my parents and my older brother. After the sacrament, I headed up to the stand for the program, leaving my three sons in the care of their dad. This has never been a problem before. When it comes to wrestling kids in church, Phil is the master. He takes our two-year-old out into the foyer and helps him rock climb the stone walls. I would never do it, but hey--it keeps both dad and baby happy, and I get to listen to the speakers.

The program started and I, blissfully unaware, accompanied the choir for their first couple of numbers and stayed on the stand for the speaker. Then my turn came. I sat down and began the piece, feeling relaxed and confident. I moved through the beginning to the middle part of the song, which can be tricky to remember. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the top of a little blond head coming up the aisle of the chapel. I remember thinking, "Hmm. That couldn't possibly be T-- because Phil has him in the back." Not half a second later, I could hear little feet coming up the stairs and recognized the red sweater and my two-year-old's arm holding on to the wood paneling for balance. Next thing I knew, he was at the piano, trying to climb into my lap.

The first words through my mind were, "Oh sh--! Where's Phil?" Then, "What am I going to do if he messes me up like he does at home?" Thankfully, a member of our bishopric saw what was happening and came over to get my cherub, and I didn't miss a beat. My dear husband didn't notice a thing until he saw Brother H-- coming down the aisle with babe in arms. I was just glad I could finish my song without further interruption.

Phil was mortified. I thought it was hilarious, especially since I didn't mess up. And it makes for a good story to tell for years to come.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My favorite kid quote from within the last month comes from my second son, but you'll need some background first. He brought home one of those Scholastic "newspapers" sometime around Thanksgiving. It showed images of a Native American family in their home participating in a variety of domestic activities. My son was showing me the paper and explaining what each person was doing.

Here's my favorite quote: "The moms take their girl sons outside to teach them how to cook and the dads take the boy sons out in the woods to teach them how to hunt!"

I think I need to have a daughter.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I've Been Tagged

And not with spray paint. I was tagged by Compulsive Writer, which means I have to "List 5 things people may not know about [me] and tag 5 people to do the same." Could be interesting, so here we go.

1. I once interviewed for a job as Barbie for a Toys R Us store opening. You had to have certain measurements to fit into the dress. I don't think I got it because I was (still am) too small up top. I've never liked Barbie, to tell the truth, so I'm glad I didn't get it. I doubt my brothers would ever have let me live that one down.

2. I went to "modeling school," if you can call it that. That's where I got the interview for Barbie.

3. I used to clog, and I really liked it. I can still shuffle step and chug with the best of them, if I do say so myself. (Chug is a clogging step, not what you do with a beer.)

4. I was born and raised in Utah and have never, ever been skiing.

5. I am one class shy of a Math minor, but I graduated with a degree in English. Go figure.

I'm tagging Leah, Lessel Peeper, Nihao, Lyle, and, since she hasn't done it yet in spite of being tagged, Lorien. Happy blogging!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Yawning in Technicolor

At 2:30 am this morning, my son woke me with the words every mother loves to hear in the middle of the night: "Mommy, I barfed." Those words work like a cattle prod for a mother who is deep in sleep, and it's amazing how quickly one can literally leap into action.

As I'm escorting barf boy to my doorway so we can get him cleaned up in the other bathroom, I asked him where exactly he barfed. "Well, it was all over my bed and in my bedroom. I don't think I got it anywhere el....hhbblloooork!" Mmmmmmmm, tasty. Yet another mess to clean up. This time it was smack dab in the middle of the hallway at the intersection where all the bedroom doors open up. And it wasn't in a nice little puddle either. All I could think of, as I looked down in horror, was that poorly written sentence from high school English: "McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup." (Actually, it was tomato soup with melted cheese sandwiches.)

It's overwhelming to be awakened from a sound sleep and have to face that kind of cleaning job. I just stood there in my bare feet and wondered how the heck I was going to clean it all up by myself. Then I remembered that I had a sleeping spouse who might be willing to help. Thankfully, he was, and he was absolutely wonderful about it. We put Barf Boy in the tub, much to his surprise ("Am I allowed to take a bath in the middle of the night, Mom?"), and divided ranks. I worked on the bedroom mess and Phil took the hallway. Between the two of us, we were able to make relatively quick work of the whole thing.

I'm left wondering today why is it that no one teaches you how to clean up after your kid tosses his cookies? What's the best way to get stuff like that off the carpet? (and walls and furniture) With my first child, I counted myself so lucky that he had never thrown up--I had no desire to clean that kind of mess. But, as we all know, pride cometh before the fall: he turned 5 and got his first case of stomach flu. The scenario was slightly different than last night's: he tried to clean it up himself, I heard him hurling in the bathroom, and I got up to help. I was amazed that such a little kid could throw up that much! It was EVERYWHERE! It was on the wall BEHIND the head of his bed. (Did you know you can vomit backwards?)

Phil had a great idea: barf drills. Teaching your kids how to make it to the bathroom in time or at least how to contain it in the bedsheet is as crucial as teaching them how to exit the house in case of fire. I mean really--you don't always have advanced warning of an upset tummy at bedtime. If the kid knows his stomach feels sour when he heads to bed, you can at least give him a barf bucket. It's when it comes on without warning that you have a problem.

So here are some of my favorite terms for vomit. Feel free to add your own to the list.
1. The technicolor yawn
2. Worshipping the porcelain goddess
3. Hurl
4. Tossing the proverbial cookies
5. Blowing a rainbow
6. Upchuck
7. Hork your guts out
8. Heave
9. Retch
10. Spew chunks

And, on that note, I bid you all a Happy Thanksgiving. May your turkey day meal stay where you put it and not end up on the carpet at 2 in the morning.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Torture Chamber

On Tuesday, my sons and I played "torture chamber." Oh, yes, it started out innocently enough. T--, the 2-year-old, was still in his pajamas, watching Barney in the living room, adjacent to the kitchen, while delicately slurping chocolate milk out of his sippy cup. He had that "just woken up" smell and was cocooned within his blanket and snuggle, reclining gracefully on a pillow. Such the picture of tranquil domesticity.

Now, picture a madwoman carrying a chainsaw (a.k.a. hair clippers) entering the kitchen. With an insanely evil laugh, she captures said 2-year-old and removes his jammies down to a top and a diaper. Suspecting nothing, T-- giggles and gives the woman a hug as she carries him to the electric chair (a.k.a. the high chair). Upon realizing that he is going to have to sit in said chair and (heaven forbid) be STRAPPED IN, he begins his struggle.

Alas, he is firmly entrapped! [sharp and prolonged intake of breath] The madwoman plugs in her torture device and gets to work. Ah ha ha ha ha ha!!!! As the hair flies, the tears and boogers flow as quickly as the chocolate waterfall in Willy Wonka, although the river is perhaps not as sanitary or palatable. The ensuing screams would bring forth a compassionate response from most mothers, but this is no ordinary mom. This is a mom with hair clippers, scissors, and a mission. [cue Mission Impossible music] The mission? To give the 2-year-old a haircut before he looks like a girl or self-destructs, whichever comes first.

The results were pretty decent, if I do say so myself. And it would have stayed that way if he hadn't grabbed the scissors about two hours later and cut a huge chunk out of the front. Of course I had to fix it, much to his dismay. He was thrashing around so much this time that in the end I just had to give him a buzz cut (using the longest setting I could--I didn't want him bald). It was bad enough the first time to watch parts of his curls fall to the floor, but they practically disappeared the second time around. However, after 9 years of doing my boys' haircuts (yes, that includes their dad as well), I know that the only way to get the job done is to strap 'em down, work really fast, and ignore the shrieks of "NOOOoooooo! Mama! NOOOooooo! Hair owieeeeee!"

You'd have thought I'd had enough hair cutting by then, but no...we moms must be either long-suffering or forgetful: I decided that S--, the 6-year-old, needed a haircut too. His hair was even longer than the baby's. I could have put it in little pigtails all over his head and made him look like a Koosh ball. (I actually threatened to do this, but for some reason he was not amused.) He was long overdue, and it was going to be more than a trim.

I'd been easing S-- into the idea for weeks now, but you'd think I had sprung it on him without warning. He pleaded with me to please use just the scissors. I calmly explained that his hair was too long: he'd refused to let me cut it earlier when I could have just trimmed it with scissors. Now we were going to have to use [dum dum dum, long pause] the buzzers. [Enter Mrs. Norman Bates with hair clippers in hand; proceed with high pitched screaming.]

The screaming lasted from the moment I turned on the clippers until the second I turned them off. Any eavesdropping passersby would have thought I was trying to perform an appendectomy on the child using my dullest serrated kitchen knife. Then, as I was finishing off with the scissors, he kept asking me, "Aren't you done yet, Mom? This is taking way too long." Grrrrr. It would have taken much longer to do the whole thing with the scissors (which is why I ousted that option), but it would have been much faster to buzz the whole thing (which he absolutely refused). Here I was trying to compromise and I was getting COMPLAINTS about how long it was taking?!?!?

Maybe next time I should take them to a barber.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Within the last month and a half, I've had three different people ask me if I was pregnant. I find this disturbing, especially since I started working out regularly at Curves 2 months ago. I haven't lost weight, but I have lost inches. I've never been one to obsess about my figure. However, I decided I was at a point where I needed to be more active. Diabetes runs in my family. I know what that entails, and I don't want to have to live that kind of lifestyle with its accompanying risks.

So I wonder what it is that makes people think I've got a bun in the oven? Is it bad posture? Bad wardrobe choices? I'm not sure. We've got three boys, and I often get questions about whether or not we're going to "try for a girl." Why does that matter? Don't get me wrong--I think it would be great to have a girl, but I'd be perfectly content with another boy. I love my sons, and after three of them I think I have the boy thing down. But why is it that people assume that because I have three of one gender I must necessarily have this obsessive desire to have one of the other?

I suspect that timing is a motive behind the pregnancy questions. My "baby" is two years old now. Apparently, that means it's high time to add to our band of ruffians. Who developed this timeline anyway? Sheesh. Do I have to follow the perceived "Mormon standard" of kids two years apart just because I belong to the predominant religion in Utah? Do the math with my other boys and you'll see that I've rebelled against that standard. My first son was 3-1/2 when son number two came along, and son number two was 4 when son number three came along. If I continue that pattern, I won't be thinking of bottles and newborn nappies for at least another year or more.

My sons have been their own form of birth control every since they were born. Neither my husband nor I do well when sleep deprived. I can't be a good mom when I'm grumpy and tired. And unlike those few lucky parents whose newborns sleep through the night from day one, our babies don't reach that milestone until they're at least 5 to 6 months old. Do you know how long it takes to make up for half a year of lost sleep? Those first smiles and coos are a great reward, but they don't give your body the sleep it craves.

Our first son has been a real challenge from day one. First children are always challenging in some way because as new parents you feel like idiots. You have no idea what you're doing or why they let you come home from the hospital with this new little person. What if you feed him wrong? What if you don't put the diaper on right? And heaven forbid you should have to give the kid a bath--you might break him or something. It's really scary. But then you figure it out and the baby survives and you realize that you CAN be a parent--at least until the kid turns about 17 months old. (At our house, the "terrible twos" start early.) Overnight, it seems, your angel child turns into the spawn of Satan. Then what do you do?

I distinctly remember an incident with my first son, A--, when he was about 2-1/2 years old. We were living in Layton at the time, and our back fence (which had blown down in a wind storm) bordered the driveway of our neighbor around the corner. A-- and I were in the kitchen getting lunch ready. We could see out the back door into the yard and onto the neighbor's property. We noticed that the neighbor, an elderly gentleman, was outside getting the mail or something. On his way back up to his door, he bent down to reach something on the driveway. About 5 minutes later, A-- asked me why that man bent down. I told him I didn't know--maybe he picked up some trash or something. I hadn't been paying attention that closely. This launched A-- into a FULL BLOWN FIT! I had never seen anything like it until that point. He literally screamed at me, "YOU HAVE TO KNOW!!!!" He wanted me to go over to the guy's house and ask him what he was doing when he bent down in his driveway. Yeah, right. You can imagine how well that conversation would have gone:

"Um, excuse me, sir. I'm your neighbor to the west. My son saw you bend down in your driveway about 10 minutes ago. What exactly were you doing? He's two and he just has to know."

That was the first of many similar incidents. Once, he asked me, "What does a chair say?" I told him chairs don't say anything. He insisted otherwise, which started a long afternoon (and several weeks following) of kicking, screaming fits about what noise chairs make. Is it any wonder, then, why we waited so long to have another child? Who wants to deal with two out-of-control children at the same time?

So here we are with three kids and questions about when/if we're going to have more. I wasn't offended by the questions--mostly because two of the three people who asked are good friends and the third is one of the girls in my Young Women class. It's only that it made me wonder why they would ask. How do you respond to that question anyway? "No, I'm not pregnant, I'm just gaining weight. Thanks for noticing, though." Kinda makes you uncomfortable. It's one of those "forbidden" questions, like "Do I look fat?"

Friday, October 21, 2005

Have you had your Wheaties today?

The other morning, after eating my bowl of Wheaties, I sighed a satisfied sigh and told my hubby, "I love cereal!" I mean, I really, really love cold cereal. The best is when the milk is ice cold, right out of the refrigerator. And you have to eat really fast, of course, before it gets all soggy. Soggy cereal is just nasty.

Cold cereal is my favorite thing to eat for breakfast, and it always has been. My mom never did the whole eggs, pancakes, and sausage bit while I was growing up. I imagine it was bad enough trying to get Dad and all seven kids out the door to school on time to bother with cooking. I've adopted her habits, and I don't feel one twinge of guilt for it. I have noticed, however, that my preferences have changed over the years.

Growing up, we rarely, if ever, got sugar cereal. Mom bought the standards: Cheerios, Wheaties, Corn Flakes, and Shredded Wheat (a.k.a. "shredded hay bales"). We would often get Rice Chex, Wheat Chex, or Kix as well. I became quite fond of all of them. Kix were cool because you could bite the top off the bigger ones and float them like boats in your milk. (Kix tasted way better back then, before they changed the formula to make them taste sweeter. Now they taste gross. Even my kids won't eat them.) Occasionally, Mom would splurge with something like Honey Nut Cheerios. That box never lasted long. Honey Nut Cheerios called for multiple helpings. The unfortunate result of this feasting was my just-older-brother's inevitable case of gas. He would get pretty rank after Mom bought Honey Nut Cheerios. (And you don't ever want to put him together with almonds for a long car trip. Food for thought, Lesleigh.)

Then there was Christmas: the only time we got "real" sugar cereal. The tradition in our family is that Mom & Dad buy those little tiny boxes of cereal (the ones that come in a variety pack) and put one in each of our stockings along with a banana. That was breakfast for Christmas morning. We looked forward to it all year long. ("It" the cereal, not "it" the banana.) Christmas morning was the only time during the year when we got to experience what Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms tasted like. Golden Grahams were like manna from heaven. And you were really lucky if you got the Cocoa Pebbles because they turned the milk to chocolate milk. How cool is that to eat cereal with chocolate milk?

Cheerios hold a very special place in my heart, and not just because I love the taste. The morning I got married, I chose Cheerios for breakfast. I still remember feeling like I had a slightly upset stomach because I was worried that Phil wouldn't show up, and I thought my nervous tummy could handle a milder cereal. So there you have it: my last meal as a single person came from that famous yellow box with the glue-for-milk splashes coming out of the bowl of cereal and the artistically placed red strawberry nestled in among the Cheerios.

After Phil and I were married, I reveled in the freedom to choose whatever cereal I wanted. While I would occasionally buy the non-sugared standby's, we ate a lot of the cereals my mom never bought. My "personal favorites" list used to include things like Honey Nut Chex, Waffle Crisp, Honeycomb, Corn Pops, Golden Grahams, Honey Nut Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats, and Blueberry Morning. I figured I'd be eating like that the rest of my life.

Not so, Grasshopper. While my kids still get cereal we never, ever got when I was little, I find that my cereal eating habits are shifting. What is it with aging that makes our tastes change? Where I once enjoyed variety I now seem to eat the same thing every morning for months. And my choices have changed too. No more Sugar Coated Chocolate Sugar Bombs for this girl! We're talkin' F-I-B-E-R. For a while, I ate Cracklin' Oat Bran every morning. Lot's of complex carbs in that bowl, I'm telling you. Then I went to Wheaties and alternated between the two for a while. Next I flirted with Frosted Mini-Wheats (or Frosted Mini Hay Bales, as Phil so loves to call them). The Vanilla Creme variety is especially tasty. Now? Back to Wheaties.

I must admit that I have broken my eating streak with a rare bowl of plain Cheerios here and there, and I have been known to indulge myself lately with a bowl of Peanut Butter Cookie Crisp (food for the gods, I tell you), but for the most part, I have deserted my sugared cereal friends. "But," you say, "What about the Frosted Mini-Wheats and Cracklin' Oat Bran? They have lots of sugar in them!" Yes, they do. But have you looked at how many grams of fiber you get with one bowl? We're talkin' major roughage. Way more than Cheerios. I think that pretty much cancels out the sugar.

I wonder, as I look at my past days of breakfast cereal choices, what the future holds? Will I stay with the more healthful choices of my youth or will I return to the glory days of high sugar content? Only time will tell, my friend...only time will tell.

Monday, October 03, 2005

You Gotta' Have Friends

I've noticed something as I've made my novice way through the blog world: I must have had a lousy school experience. There are so many people who are renewing friendships from high school, and it's not just mere curiosity to see what the cheerleader/jock looks like now that they've put on a few pounds and added a few kids to their family. These are real friendships: the kind where you have a lot of common ground to rib each other about and where you know each others' kids.

I was always jealous of such relationships. I guess I still am, to a point. Don't get me wrong--I'm not saying I didn't have friends in high school, but of all the people I grew up and went to school with, there is only one whom I still call occasionally. We grew up next door to one another, and she's my 3rd cousin. Still, I can't say we're super close. The group of friends I hung out with at school ended up being just that: people I associated with at school but not much anywhere else. They would get together outside of school and do stuff, but they rarely, if ever, included me. Of course, I found all this out much later when I was invited to a bridal shower and they all made reference to some common experience. They seemed confused when I didn't know what they were talking about. It hurt me then. It still hurts now. I had come to believe that they were true friends.

I watch my son A--, now in 4th grade, and see him struggling socially the same way I did. Third grade for him was a year from social hell. He played mostly with one friend (a girl). They both got teased mercilessly. This year, thankfully, seems to be much better. A-- has decided that kickball is fun and spends many of his recesses on the blacktop with a variety of boys and girls. But I am filled with dread upon hearing him say that J--, one of the mean kids from last year, likes to pick A-- to be on his team solely because A-- will ask J-- to kick for him. Is it right to let him be happy about being chosen on the basis of his willingness to be trodden underfoot? I wonder if that is why my school "friends" allowed me to be a part of their group. Was I a friend of convenience, like a piece of toilet paper, to be used when you want it but to be ignored when you don't? It worries me. I don't want to see my boy as miserable as I sometimes was. And let's face it: the pain of social rejection, when it occurs during your youth, never goes away.

Thankfully, I now know what true friends are. School was so long ago, and was such a relatively short period in my life. The great thing about being an adult is that I have much more time ahead of me to be the kind of friend and build the kind of friendships that I want. What a blessing to have my husband as my best friend. Next to him, and in no particular order, come Nancy, Katherine, Shannon, Karolyn, Lorien, Dalene, Melody, Marilyn, Stefanie, Regan, Annette, Corrine, Lesleigh, and so many others. You have done wonders to heal past hurts. Thanks.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

There's No Place Like Home...

This weekend my husband and I celebrated our 13th anniversary (two months late). We've been doing this yearly for about 7 years now, and it's great. We pawn the boys off to my sister and take off for a couple of days to a hotel where we get to do things we love without the joys of interrupting offspring.

In the past, we've stayed somewhere in Salt Lake City. (We went to Park City one year, but that was the exception.) This year, our Salt Lake plans were thwarted. The hotel didn't have the room we wanted for the price we needed. What to do? Hmmmm. How's this for a novel thought: why not stay somewhere in Provo? (audible gasp of horror) No--seriously. It's cheaper, since gas prices are so high, and we know where all of our favorite restaurants are. Given that we are on a pretty strict budget, the whole "low-cost" thing cinched the deal.

How was our vacation at home, you ask? It was great! Who knew that staying at La Quinta, with a lovely view of the roof of Walmart, could be so relaxing? Maybe it was going without the kids--that's definitely a stress reduction right there alone. But you can't get any better than getting to take a four hour nap without kids bouncing on the bed asking you every 5 minutes if you're done sleeping. I tell you it was heaven--right here in Provo. We read books outside in their gazebo, set artistically in the lovely gardens, with our backs towards Walmart (of course). We went to see a late movie. We went to the Provo College and got full-body massages (for $12 each). We lounged around and chatted. We slept in. Oh--and did I mention the four hour nap?

So if you and your honey are needing a little time away, why not try your own hometown? It's amazing how different it feels to play the tourist in a familiar territory. Who knows... you might actually enjoy yourselves!

Monday, September 05, 2005

"Y" Not?

A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to hike to the Y on Labor Day (today) with my husband and three boys. I'm sure at the time I was thinking of the joy of family togetherness and the spiritual aspects of communing with nature (as much as can be done while hiking Y mountain). I also thought that being outside would curb the incessant arguing that occurs between sons 1 and 2--at least for the duration of the hike. Such delusions had even me--camping/hiking/roughing-it challenged that I am--looking forward to the hike.

WHAT kind of DRUGS was I ON???? Hmmmm....let's go through the list, shall we? Allergy pills, birth control, multi-vitamins, allergy stuff, anti-depressant, asthma inhaler..... None of them could possibly have put me into such a mental state as to cause me to agree to such nonsense, could they?

Let's just say it wasn't the best hike I've ever been on. Yes, once we got up there the view was spectacular. I loved being up that high and trying to figure out where my house is using the landmarks I recognize. I loved seeing that, from a long ways away, Utah lake is blue. I loved looking down on the city I was born and raised in and seeing the many ways it has changed and just how beautiful it is when seen from above. (There is so much to be said about a higher perspective.) I loved seeing the absolute joy on the face of my almost 2-year-old when he saw helicopters and airplanes almost at eye level. Those parts of the hike I loved. It was the rest I could have done without.

Things I hated about hiking the Y:

1. The climb up. I never knew I needed so many breaks to rest! Granted, last time I did this I was probably 9 or 10, but sheesh! I didn't think I was that out of shape!

2. The climb down. Can you say "rubber knees"? 'Nuff said.

3. Son #2 saying "I'm tired of hiking this already" only 10 yards up the trail and repeating this phrase continually all the way up to the top.

4. Son #1 saying, "Well, actually ...." every time son #2 expressed an opinion on anything and then proceeding to make broad generalizations and presenting them as absolute fact. Must we argue about everything????

5. Getting a blister on the tip of my big toe. I've never, ever had a blister there in my entire life.

6. Listening to son #1 (A---) complain that he was getting hot spots on his heels. In his pre-hike talk, Phil had instructed the boys that they were to tell him immediately if they felt any hot spots so that he could put moleskin on them and prevent any blisters. A--- took it to heart and beyond. When Phil asked if the spots were really hot or just warm, the only answer we could get was "I can't tell." When Phil asked A--- to wait till we got to the top to check his heels (since we were almost there), we had to listen to him whine the rest of the way up about how unfair it was that Dad was annoyed with him for doing exactly what he was told to do. (Of course, he totally ignored the fact that Phil had asked him a direct question which he refused to answer.)

7. Having to change a poopy diaper on son #3 in the bushes just above the Y. Where do you have the kid lie down? And then you have to pack the smelly thing with you all the way back down the trail.

8. Sunburn. I actually suggested bringing sunscreen, but my spouse insisted that we wouldn't need it. I should have listened to my inner voice. I got burned to a crisp. Of course, dear hubby and our three sons don't even look pink.

In the spirit of being fair, I must say there were other things I liked about the hike, other than the aforementioned reasons. My favorite part was when husband Phil instituted a 5 minute no-talking rule. We did this twice on the way down, and it was heavenly! I don't think the boys liked it very much, but Phil and I sure did.

I also loved it when son #2 found a "walking stick" to use on the way down. Let's just say that a more accurate term would be a walking log. He loved it, and he looked so cute trying to use it. (He generously offered to let me use it so I wouldn't fall down the mountain.) The thing was as big around (probably bigger) than his arm!

Son #1 demonstrated his joy in bossiness when he told his brother (son #2) that "S---, since I'm your older brother, and no other grown-ups are around, it is my job to keep you safe up here." This was reported to me by a total stranger when Phil and I finally hobbled our way up the face of the Y to the top with son #3 walking between us. The man was impressed by A---'s sense of responsibility. I was impressed that S--- wasn't in tears because his brother was dragging him all over the place in his efforts to "protect" him.

I guess I must say, begrudgingly, that it wasn't that bad of a hike. It's an easier hike than the one to Timpanogas Cave. Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a hiker. I tried really hard, on the way down the mountain, to picture my little family as the Von Trapp Family Singers, hiking bravely into the Alps to escape Nazi rule, but I don't think "The hills are alive....with the sound of fighting" would cut it in the lyric world.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Muck Walking

Yesterday my second son told me that his big brother is always in trouble. So I asked him, "Do you ever get in trouble?" His answer caught me off guard.

"Only when Daddy's home. When Daddy's home, he makes sure that A-- and T-- and I get in trouble."

I'm wondering what this means. Am I a disciplinary weakling or is my husband a tyrant? I'm not sure. Phil comes down pretty hard on the kids sometimes, so maybe I subconsciously try to be more lax to "even things out" just a bit. Maybe I'm just plain lazy.

Parenting is such a unique challenge when you have more than one child. Each child is different and they each respond differently to discipline techniques. Case in point: when A-- gets in trouble (which is a regular occurrence), he responds defiantly and will argue his case till the proverbial cows return to pasture. Most times, we have to physically remove him to his room to cool off. In contrast, when S-- gets in trouble, he bursts into tears and is quite penitent. As a result, all I have to do with S-- is speak sternly and he'll usually toe the line. He rarely needs a time out.

Sometimes I find myself getting angry at the boys for doing something that I know their dad will be upset about just because I don't want them to get in trouble. On those occasions, the offense is usually something that isn't that big of a deal to me. I know I should present more of a unified front, but I hate conflict, and there's nothing worse than getting "the eye" when I try to explain why I didn't punish the boys for something that I didn't think was that serious. In my defense, however, I try very hard not to interfere when Phil disciplines the boys. I figure that the boys are pretty resilient and will bounce back even if they do get their feelings hurt when Dad gets a bit loud.

I realize it may sound like I don't agree with any of the rules that Phil considers most important, but that's not true. On the whole, we agree on almost everything. We're sticklers about regular bedtimes and having the boys sleep in their own beds from an early age; we insist on good behavior (though we don't always get it); personal cleanliness is a biggie; and we're getting better at cracking down on backtalk. To some, I might be considered a bit of an ogre. (Just ask my oldest--he tells me constantly that I don't parent fairly and that I'm a mean mom. He has the whole "victim" thing down pat.) But I realize that I could be a better disciplinarian in other areas.

I find it interesting how much I used to know about discipline before I had kids. We were talking to Phil's nephew, Jeff, and his wife, Shauni, the other night. Shauni is due to have their first child in just a few weeks. Jeff was talking about all the books they had read about sleep schedules and discipline and what they plan to do with their own baby. I had to smile to myself--not in ridicule but in recognition. I was once one of those "parent by the book" people. I still am, to some extent, but I also recognize that kids come preprogrammed, and their program doesn't always match "the book." Books can be helpful, but most of the time you just have to wade through the muck and find your own way. And let me tell you--when you become a parent, you have to deal with plenty of muck (and poop and urine and vomit and attitude and messy rooms and skinned knees and......).

But as Dalene said about Lorien's garden, the secret to a good crop is plenty of crap (see The Lo Down, "Harvest Plenty" blog). If that's true, I'm gonna have an awesome harvest when these boys grow up! Anyone have a spare pair of Wellingtons? Time to go wading....

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Would You Rather Be Right or Be Happy???

I have a nine-year-old son. Some would say that's all that need be said, but I feel the need to expound. He has developed this habit of contradicting anything and everything that his younger brother says. If S-- says that the sky is blue, A-- will say, "Well, actually it's not blue. At least it's not always blue. It's blue most of the time, but not all the time. So it's not actually blue but ......," and it goes on and on and on.

Each night at dinner, we have to listen to A-- argue every word that comes from S--'s mouth. Sometimes he argues with me or his dad. When Phil has had enough, he will stop A-- and lecture him on the need for this arguing to stop. Inevitably, A-- insists that he has only one more thing to say, but it's always the same point he's been arguing for the last ten minutes. (I find it funny, though, when he makes statements, presented as factual of course, that are completely wrong.) He seems to have this intense need to be right about everything.

I understand exactly what my son is doing because I remember doing it myself. I have always had this intense need for accuracy. I don't like ambeguities or inaccuracies. I used to interrupt stories being told if the person telling the tale left out or twisted what I felt was an important detail. It's a bad habit that I've worked on for years. I finally came to realize that my "perceptions" of the truth may not be the truth for someone else.

A few years ago, a very wise friend asked my husband a question that has become a catch phrase for us: "Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?" Yes, you might be absolutely correct about something, but is it more important to establish your position when it will cause contention and anger or is it more important to create peace and happiness? It's all about picking your battles.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Poopin' Is Cool!

At least that's what it says on the pen I got from some website called (The pen even has one of those yellow smiley faces on it. Does this mean that I should smile every time I go to the bathroom?) I heard about ColonBlow from someone in book club and just had to check it out. I thought, "No way could this be real!" I have one word for you: WAY. They claim that there are up to 10 undigested meals residing in your intestines at any given time. How gross is that?!?! The make their money off of health-conscious folks who feel that a regular, internal housecleaning of sorts is a good thing. A word of warning if you decide to check it out: there are pretty disgusting pictures of actual poop.

So I'm wondering what the fascination is with fecal material? My good friend Lorien had a rather "hands-on" experience with it recently that she so kindly shared on her blog. A comment on that blog mentions a child who grabbed a handful out of his diaper and decided to take a bite. Other children have decided that poop makes great fingerpaints for the walls of their room. One of my former neighbor's kids took a bite out of a dog jobbie that he found on the grass. I've had personal experience cleaning poop out of the bathtub when one of the boys suddenly got the urge during tubby time.

And then there's the story my sister's friend and fellow R.N., Terry, tells of a patient she had once. (Hold on to your shorts, folks, this is a good one.) The lady was old and senile and was convinced that she was pregnant. Every time she had a bowel movement, she'd wrap it up in toilet paper and hide it in her room somewhere. These bits of shit were her "babies" and she would become distraught if anyone took them and threw them away. One day Terry was taking care of her and trying to secret these little bundles into the trash can. She was pretty thorough in her gathering attempts, but she could still smell poop. She bathed the lady, changed the sheets, and did everything she could think of but the smell wouldn't disappear. Terry had her coworkers check her over to see if she had somehow gotten a stray smear on her, but they saw nothing. When she got home and could still smell it, she had her husband check her over again, unsuccessfully. Finally, she decided she'd better shower. When she went to take off her uniform, she discovered something in her shirt pocket. You guessed it: the old lady had tucked one of her "babies" safely inside.

Anyone want some Exlax?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

That's Nutrition!

Guess what my 22-month-old chose for his lunch today? A small piece of bread, some Honey Grahams cereal, and a handful of Reese's Pieces. Hmmmmm. Sounds close enough to a peanut butter and honey sandwich for me. He ate it, too. I felt like I stepped directly out of the Bill Cosby routine where he gives his kids chocolate cake for breakfast: "Hmmm, eggs, flour, milk...that's nutrution!" Sure--bread, peanut butter in the candy, and honey from the cereal--it works. I doubt my husband would agree with my logic.

I hate making lunch for my kids. There--I've said it. I, a stay-at-home mom, go against all conventional images of mom's who choose to be at home and state my position on the mid-day meal. I guess most of it stems from the fact that my three sons won't all eat the same thing, but I think some of it comes from my lack of confidence as a nutritionist. All moms obsess about food with their first child. You know how it is: no cereal until 4 months, start with vegetables and then go to fruit, no milk products until 1, then no orange juice or peanut butter until 2, restrict juice intake, and so on and so on. You'll jump through any hoop to ensure that your child will be as strong and healthy as possible--no early onset of heart disease or diabetes.

I followed "the books" religiously with my first son. He was pretty picky for a while, but he's now nine and will eat most anything I fix. He still has his dislikes, and I try to respect them within reason. My second son got pretty much the same feeding program as the first, with a few exceptions. (Is it normal/healthy to allow your 15-month-old to eat an entire jar of green olives all by himself?) He turned out to be an incredibly picky eater. I don't know how he does it, but the kid survives on cereal, chocolate milk (Ovaltine) and fruit snacks--literally. He'll occasionally throw in a ham sandwich, some baby carrots, and some applesauce, but that's it. I worry that his skinny little body isn't getting what it needs, but he's still growing taller and taller.

So given that my other two sons have thrived in spite of my efforts, it's no wonder that when son number three came along I started to not care. Not that I gave him uncut grapes at 6 months or anything, but I didn't have a heart attack if he took a bite of my peanut butter toast. In fact, he'll be two in October and is the only one of my three boys who LIKES nuts! I wouldn't have know this except that my RN sister, who should know better, has been feeding him nuts at her house and proudly announced to me that Tommy likes them.

Knowing that my kids seem to be healthy regardless what I feed them or what they eat when I'm not there, it seems almost pointless to make lunch a big deal. You want chocolate chip cookies with milk for breakfast? Sure, honey. How about some ice cream on your waffles?