Friday, April 30, 2010

Older and Wiser

It's interesting to look back on your childhood and take notice of the memories that come to mind. I remember my mom standing at the stove, making hot fudge. I also remember that at the end of a hot summer day, we would bathe and then sit at the counter while she cut up strawberries and placed them in milk. To this day, the smell of strawberries reminds me of summer.

I also remember watching my mom prepare for church lessons, and I can still vividly see the quilt she made before my sister was born. Always present in my childhood thoughts, are those moments when she would smack the wooden spoon on the counter to try and get us to "knock it off". What I can't recall, is if that tactic ever worked.

My mom moved me into my college dorm and in unison, we stared in awe at my roommate who was the absolute opposite of me. She called, she wrote checks and I'm sure she prayed. A lot. She came when my life got messy and she stayed away when she knew I had to learn and grow on my own. She has held every one of my newborns and stayed up late into the night. For better or worse, she has even taught a grandchild or two a potty word.

She has hiked The Narrows in Zions Canyon and she has traveled to Australia, London and Dubai. Each night, before she falls asleep, she lists each LDS temple based on its geographic location. In her normal, everyday communication, she tends to use the word 'anyways' way too much. Oh, and she has an inclination to use a ridiculous amount of bowls when she cooks.

Today is my mom's birthday. I'm thrilled for her, because this year she is an 'even' number. She says she is just one year closer to 70 (which is another 'even' number, I reminded her). But today, as I celebrate her, I also look back at the time she was a mother who was facing the same stages I face now. And in my reminiscing, I don't remember much of the fighting or the times we were mad at one another. I simply remember that she was there. Always. Doing the little things, like cutting up strawberries and placing them in a bowl of milk. Somehow all her little things now seem like big things. And that, is something to celebrate.

Happy Birthday Mom.
Enjoy your Even year.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Works

There is this blog I read here. I look at it daily. Mostly because each post usually contains cookies. Dreamy, frosted, sugar cookies. Sometimes I feel like licking the screen. But I don't. Maybe.

Each Wednesday, this cookie blog links up to 'Works For Me Wednesday'. Today she posted that she always bakes extra cookies. That's what works for her. Then she has them at the ready, just in case she messes up the frosting. I think her idea works for me too. I bake extra cookies. Just about every other night. But, I don't save them for a backup plan. I eat them. All. That's why it works for me.

As I'm sitting here, I've started to wonder what else works for me. I've had to concentrate super hard on this. But, here's what I've come up with:
  • I let my kids play on the treadmill. Yes, I know it's dangerous. It wears them out and they get tired faster.
  • I have specific days for specific laundry. I rarely deviate.
  • When I have a bunch of things that need to be taken upstairs, I walk them up one at a time. This makes my brain feel like I have exercised. But I haven't.
  • I only go to Hobby Lobby when I have a coupon. That way I'm saving tons of money.
  • I wear a headband when I don't want to wash my hair.
  • I buy my peanut M&Ms in bulk. I am saving the environment with fewer trips to the store.
  • I make my kids make their bed everyday. I'm really strict about it. I've even had to take away a cell phone. An unmade bed makes me cringe.
  • When I need to feel love, or to feel like I add any value to the world, I go and see the twins. They love me. They can't help it.
That's enough for now. I've gotta save up something to think about next Wednesday. I think it might involve sugar. Yep, definitely sugar.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Experiment Upon The Word

This morning, I decided to focus on words. An experiment. I decided that for one day, I would make an effort to listen to what was being said all around me. With all the words spoken, I would commit to memory those statements which stood out. Those words that seemed to ring louder in my mind. An experiment upon the word.

In no particular order, here are the words that seemed to find place in my mind today:

"The choices we make everyday have the undeniable power to change our lives."

"Be strong."

"Hey, I just found underwear under the bed."

"In it's light, choose the right."

"You're never dumb. Just a weirdo."

Words can have a powerful effect. We are surrounded by them continually. Today I took the time to really focus on which of those words stuck out loud enough to take up residence in my thoughts.

What words are we gathering each day? I guess that depends on where you're at and who you're with. Maybe that's even more important than the words themselves. Our minds will take in what we hear. So I guess we better make sure we're in a place to hear good words.

But maybe the real experiment comes in the words we speak ourselves. Do the words we offer ring true to those who hear them? Will our words be spoken for good? Will they be spoken to encourage? Will they be spoken to sustain or defend? Will they be spoken with love? I guess that's the real test. Our own, personal, lifelong experiment upon OUR word.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Christmas In April

Great love stories are depicted in many ways. Song, poetry, a romantic movie. My love story can be captured in a snapshot:

It's a s'more maker for the microwave. Charming, isn't it. Todd pulled this out of the closet this week. He giggled as he handed it to me. He said, "Hey, I bought this for you for Christmas. Last Christmas. I forgot." My love story. Summed up right there.

Years ago, Todd and I were driving in the car near our house. I decided to get sentimental, and I proceeded to pour out my love to him. He remained quiet, eyes watching out the window. I could tell he was concentrating. I knew he was soaking in all my eloquent words while at the same time, realizing how lucky he was to have married me. In the middle of my love speech, Todd gasped and his arm shot across me so that he could point out the window. "Oh my gosh, the A&W is now open!!!" I remained silent after that. Words lost all meaning.

On another special occasion, I was again, mid sentence in telling Todd of my love for him. He simply stared at me intently. That was my cue to keep going, so I did. Gush, gush, gush. Finally, he tilted his head to the side and said, "you know, sometimes when you talk, your tooth looks like a little piece of corn." Again, silence.

So, imagine my surprise when Todd pulled out the s'more maker and wished me a Merry Christmas. No surprise at all really. I've grown used to the way my love story ebbs and flows. In truth, I've come to love my own love story. It's quirky and humorous and full of unexpected moments. Not everyone gets a Christmas gift in April. Not everyone has teeth that look like corn. And not everyone gets to have a love story that is so deeply wound together in a perfect fit, and bundled for eternity. I do. And along the way, I just may microwave a s'more or two.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

From My Mother

She emailed this out today. I have no idea where she got it. Maybe she made it up. She can be wise with words. Enjoy:

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY... Women are angels, and when someone breaks our wings..... We simply continue to fly....on a broomstick... We're flexible like that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wax Lips, Anyone?

My mom found a retro candy store. She plopped several packages of wax lips on the counter, and my girls just stared at them. "Ew. What are they?", they exclaimed. I totally got excited. I immediately reminisced about the treats of my childhood.

Big League Chew was the greatest gum ever. But yet, we were banned from the candy cigarettes. I'm not quite sure why we could chew the fake tobacco, but could not eat the fake cigarettes. I loved getting one of those long, huge Laffy Taffys. I can still smell the grape flavor. Several years ago, Todd scoured the internet to find Kit candy. I'd never heard of it until it arrived on our doorstep. Kits were way before my time.

I wonder what my kids will reminisce about? Reese's cups in the shape of christmas trees or easter eggs? Gummy lifesavers? SpongeBob crabby patties? Whose knows...

One of my kids eventually started chewing on parts of the wax lips. They just looked at me, puzzled, "It doesn't taste like anything", she said. "I know, it's kindof like chewing on a birthday candle", I told her. But then again, maybe they do have a taste. One that brings back memories of a more care free time of life. And that, couldn't be sweeter.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pucker Up

Blowing bubbles never looked so delightful. I could eat her right off the screen.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Smarties Light A Flame

Last night was the induction ceremony for National Junior Honor Society. Fancy dresses, everyone was prim and proper. Sam asked me to paint her toe nails to match her dress. Serious stuff.At the end of the ceremony, a candle was lit and then the flame was passed from member to member. All of the students then filed out while holding their burning torch.

Sam told me that during rehearsals, they were instructed to be on the lookout for girls with long hair that contained hairspray. Open flame, and all. Therefore, I closely watched the procession marching out in one long line. Each person was so focused on their own candle, that they didn't notice much around them. I kept waiting (excitedly, I might add) for someone to bump into the back of a long haired girl. I kinda thought it might be neat to see a 'baptism by fire' induction into the Society. But, I was disappointed. I guess this is proof why you have to be smart to be a member.

Just as a matter of record, I was never in the National Honor Society. Shocking, but true.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On/Off Switch

Stress is a funny thing. It has a life of it's own. At least mine does. It seems that when it starts, it tends to grow. Why is that? My brain appears to have reached it's maximum capacity of 'to-do' items. I need to fit more in, but I can't seem to find the space.

Why are there some people who rarely feel stress? Is it because they are swift negotiators of their time? Are they good at simplifying? Or, do they just. not. feel. it. Todd is one of those people. In all the years I've known him, I think I've seen him really stressed 4 times. And I'm pretty sure that 3 of those times involved not being able to find his chapstick.

Maybe some people have an internal on/off switch for stress. Kindof like the child lock on the inside of my van door. I need one of those. That way I could give my stress a marginal amount of time during the day to fester in my head. Then I could turn it off at night and only think about the ways I'm failing as a parent.

Yesterday, I felt a cold sore starting. That's my signal. That's when I know that I've reached beyond my limit of what I can get done. So today, I'm trying to find that switch. I've taken deep, cleansing breaths and then I went to lunch with my friends. Next up--cupcakes. My stress may not disappear, but at least it will be covered in frosting.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some Things Never Change

This is Kellie, 4 years ago.

The hair is a little shorter, the face a little chubbier. But, it's obvious. Still the same Kellie.
Last week was a stressful one for this girl. Actually, I don't know who felt strained more, she or I. It was state testing week. In Texas, that's a big deal. Some years matter a whole lot more than others. For Kellie, this was one of those years.

For a learning disabled child, regular schoolwork can be a chore. Trying to blend in with all the students is an even bigger task. Add in mandated testing that determines a lot of your future, and the anxiety mounts. Thus, a stressful week.

Makell is my child that was given to me to brighten my life. In so many ways. More often than most, she shows me another way to look at the world. One I never would have imagined. She is the one I speak the loudest for, the one that I advocate for the hardest, and the one I encourage the most to believe in herself even when all odds are against her.

Through the stress, the homework, and even the yelling, some things never change. She remains Kellie. The girl who simply sparkles. Her light even reaches out and sprinkles on those around her. A majority of the time, she requires a lot of parental maintenance. Sometimes that maintenance feels far too heavy to carry. But then, when I find a moment to take a step back and notice all that she teaches me, I am humbled. Because, at her very core, she is joy. A kind, enlightened joy. And in our home, that is something that can't be measured by a test score. And in life, it is something that will carry her higher on her journey than any obstacle she may face.

Never change, my Kellie. Forever sparkle.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


It's a Birthsary. Todd's Birthday (45- ouch) and our Anniversary (15). These are both odd numbers, and you know how I feel about them. I offered Todd condolences this morning because he is odd. He replied, "I should be, it's more than half my name". The glass is always half full with that man. Irritating, but true.For his birthday, I thought I'd offer 15 (for the anniversary) random things you may or may not know about Todd:

1. He hates attention. Despises it. That's why I do my best to embarrass him here on my blog. I think it's good for him.

2. He worked very hard to find the ugliest picture of himself for his Facebook profile. He looks constipated. Mission accomplished.

3. When I first met Todd, he told me that he always kept a glass of water on his nightstand during the night. When I questioned him about it, he told me that his eyes would dry out in the middle of the night, so he needed to refresh them with water. True story. I kid you not.

4. Todd hates to wear a tie. He accepted his current job without knowing he had to wear one. He almost quit on his first day. Now he simply carries his tie. If he is in a meeting with important people, he puts it on.

5. He loves chapstick and dreams about A&W rootbeer.

6. I've never really seen him super angry. He just doesn't get riled up about much. One time, when the girls were younger, I saw him get really frustrated. So, he clapped at them. Oh yes, you heard right. Clapped.

7. He can't lie. If he tries, he giggles.

8. He had 2 tickets BEFORE he ever got his driver's license (at the age of 14). I think they were for riding his motorcycle, which didn't have brakes, so he stopped it with his feet.

9. He longs to go back to Brazil.

10. His dream vacation would be to Bora Bora to stay in a hut on the beach.

11. He hates to wear shoes. When he was little, he walked around the farm (manure) barefoot. His mom gave him worm medicine every 6 months.

12. He's patient. Exhibit A-he lives with me. Exhibit B-he got up at night with our newborns more often than I did.

13. He's had a perm. The pictures are exquisite.

14. His best friend told me before we got married that I would never have a dull moment with Todd around. There could not be more truer words.

15. Todd prayed for me before we had even met. He prayed me into his life and I am forever blessed for it.

Happy Birthsary to the man I adore.
Love you lots so many.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Divine Intervention

I just so happened to drop by Target today. Guess what was on clearance? 14 cents. I almost wept right there in the isle. I gingerly placed handfuls in my cart. I couldn't help myself.

When I brought them home, I laid them all out on the counter. I leaned down close to them and whispered, "I promise to eat half of you today and the rest of you tomorrow."

If you must know, I bought 25. I'm debating about going back for more. For food storage, of course. It's good to be prepared.

I think I might serve them along with dinner. You know, in place of a roll. Or a vegetable. Or as the main course. Yum.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

She Bypassed The Gene Pool

This girl comes from a father who didn't know what a verb was until the age of 19, and a mother who thinks that eating dessert should be added to the 10 Commandments. Thus, it's stunning to know that she is now a part of the National Junior Honor Society.Maybe she's adopted and I just forgot. That's the only explanation.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bribery Or Reward

I'm one of those parents that doesn't give much heed to parenting books. Probably because I've failed at all the criteria they cite. I've come to a place where I'm simply OK with my success rate. I get an A for effort, but I no longer judge the final outcome.

Today, I took Addie to get her nails done. Her wee bitty nails that she nibbles on every day, are now blue. With flowers.A few weeks ago I made a behavior chart. She knew that once 10 boxes had a check mark, the nail salon was our next stop. Bribery? Mmm, maybe. Reward? Probably. Either way, she now has nails the color of blue bubble gum.

Somewhere along the parenting journey, we each find our stride. Our rhythm. Are there flaws in the system we use? Absolutely. But, we're trying. We're tweaking. Someone peering in on how our system functions, might have serious reason to judge. It's so easy to point out where other parents could improve. But when you're knee deep inside your own parenting issues, it's a whole different story. Sometimes we actually think we've got it together. But most times, we're simply trying to keep from drowning.

Will the behavior chart continue to work? I have no idea. Have I noticed a monumental difference in behavior since the day it was posted? Not really. But this I do know--for a small, brief moment today, I watched a child enjoy a moment that she KNEW was her own. With each brush stroke, my 7 yr. old felt confidence in herself. She alone had accomplished 10 separate GOOD moments. No matter how brief. And as a result, she got to pick the color of her nails. In my book, bribery and reward aren't even in the picture. All that's there is love. The love of a parent who keeps trying. And the love of a child that is ever unconditional. That love, is a gift. One that is simply disguised under blue nail polish.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Day With Ducks

Good Friday.
Perfect Weather.
Picnic at the park.

Sweet Goodness.