Friday, May 21, 2010

I'm off!

Tomorrow I am flying to CA so I can do this cruise: Yes, I'm leaving kids behind (mwahahaha), and I'm going with my husband, my parents and all of my siblings and their spouses. (Insert Toyota jump here).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Calling the Elephants

Some of you have asked what "calling the elephants" means...Close your eyes, and imagine what noise an elephant makes. Now make that noise. No, really. You'll understand better.

Now imagine your children being noisily exasperated about something they don't want to do.

The noises are one and the same, so I tell them to stop calling the elephants. We don't have enough room. Make sense?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Motivational Signs

As I was vacuuming yesterday morning (in heels and pearls, of course), I was pondering (as I am often wont to do) the many ways I motivate and reinforce positive behavior in my children. It was a beautiful morning--birds chirping, rain softly falling, children cheerfully getting ready for school--and it had absolutely nothing to do with the boogies I found stuck to the back of the couch. Nope, nothing at all.

So I got to thinking about the big trend right now in home decorating to use vinyl lettering to post quotes on the wall. My friend, in her sheer brilliance, has posted above the exit door to the garage the words, "Return with honor". When coming into the house from the garage, her family sees the words, "You made it!" My sister has "Put on your big girl panties and deal with it!" by the door to her garage. I'm thinking I should start my own vinyl lettering company to fill the rest of that snarky void. Examples might include:

Procrastination on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

Remember who you are and what you stand for--and don't just stand there, put your backpack away!

Knowing and Doing are two different things.

You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit.

(For every room, wall and article of furniture) This is a No Booger zone!

Look Up, Rise Up, Step Up, Lift Up (Okay, that's a real one that I actually do want--sorry to throw you off)

Not until you finish your homework.

I didn't ASK if you wanted to.

Too bad, so sad--your dad

Love ya, see ya, bye!

(For above the piano) Practice what Mrs. Fair asked you to practice.

Try again.

I can't hear you when you're whining.

Stop calling the elephants.

Sit down. All the way.

(For the laundry room) Darks, Mediums, Whites. Why is that so hard?

No. (My husband actually has a shirt that just says this. It's the perfect Dad shirt.)

Just think...No more nagging, and my home decorating dilemmas will be completely solved! It's a win-win for everyone. Now I just need to find myself a Cricut...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy birthday to my amazing mother! I'm telling you, you should get to know her. She will bend over backwards to help anyone, and she is the strongest, wisest, smartest woman I know. She'll even give you advice on a Post-it! :) When I think about all of the things (and children) she has endured and conquered, I am in awe. She has traveled the world and even hiked the Na Pali trail in Kauai! She has shown so much strength and grace and a great sense of humor in the face of difficulties (not me, of course--ha ha), and I am so grateful for her wonderful example. I couldn't have asked for a better mother, and I wish her the happiest of birthdays today.
This is a picture of my mom with her mother and grandmother in 1934--Boulder City, Nevada. Her father helped build Hoover Dam.

Now this one is just cute.
This is a picture of her mother and siblings (she's the oldest--top row, middle), which they took to send to her father while he was in the hospital. He died shortly thereafter. Her baby sister was born a few months later. I should tell you about my amazing grandmother sometime!
My parents on their wedding day in 1952. I'm pretty sure she made that dress--or at least helped her mom make it. She's an incredible seamstress.
Happy birthday, Mom!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Not to Wear

There is nothing more humbling (humiliating?) than bathing suit shopping. It stinks. Last night I went to the mall to find a swimsuit for my upcoming Love Boat cruise (yahoo!), and I left home thinking I looked kinda cute. I came home empty-handed and convinced it was an ugly-Cheryl day.

There was a time when bathing suit shopping wasn't quite as bad--that was my past life, of course. It was a life void of supportive cups and miracle panels and prints so loud that eyes are not only drawn up, they are drawn out of their sockets. I used to laugh at bathing suits that could literally stand out or stand up on their own. Now I need one.

To paraphrase Deborah on Everybody Loves Raymond, these were WORKING girls.

Not only that, but I'm built like a T-Rex, with J. Lo's butt. I'm 5' 5" with such short arms and legs that I sometimes have to buy petite sizes. When I was in elementary school, I would get accused of "acting hot" because my rear end stuck out so far. I never went through that storky leg stage, either. Good birthing hips and pioneer stock--that's me. And over the years, since I've worked out pretty regularly, I now have broader shoulders. Who knew I'd end up built more like my dad than my mom (who always talked about her hourglass figure being 15 minutes on top and 45 minutes on the bottom)? I'm a sumo-wrestling dinosaur who acts hot occasionally, while NOT wearing skinny jeans.

The funny thing is, I have finally made peace with my body's shape. It took a looooong time for me to accept it, but I now realize that just because something in the store doesn't fit, it doesn't mean I'm fat. I wish I could tell my 16-year-old self that she looked just fine--that just because I was curvy and some of my friends weren't, it didn't mean I was fat. And you know what? Even if I was fat, or am fat currently, who cares? I wish I'd have understood that I was just shaped differently, and it was okay. But bathing suit (and jeans) shopping still stinks.

I had a profound experience in the temple once, when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant. In LDS temples, we do vicarious ordinances (rites/sacraments/insert religious term you understand here) for those who have passed away, such as baptism, because we really do believe in life after death, and God wants everyone to return to Him. We also believe that families can be sealed together forever, which is why family history is so important to us. On this particular day about 3 years ago, I had very large cankles and about 40 extra pounds of pregnancy weight. I was not feeling pretty. As I was listening to the beautiful blessings and promises made, on behalf of someone who had long-since left this earth, I couldn't help but feel grateful for my body. I could use this body, as big and uncomfortable as it was, to help someone who couldn't help herself. I could provide her with an opportunity that she could not provide for herself, because her body and spirit are separated at the moment. Oh, I felt so beautiful. And so grateful. Then I remembered that I looked the way I did because I was carrying a precious baby boy--who also needed me to provide an opportunity for him to come to this earth and receive his own body. Aren't the tender mercies of the Lord wonderful and perfectly-timed?

I am grateful for a body that can do just about everything I want it to do. I am healthy and strong, and in an emergency, I am capable of running down the street with a child in each arm (which, by the way, has always been my fitness goal). I am grateful that these short arms can reach around my children when they need my hugs, and my short legs are strong enough to run races up the stairs with my boys. I am grateful that although I do not look like any sort of model, I am beautiful in the eyes of my husband, children, friends and God. I am grateful for people like NieNie who help me put things into perspective. (Watch this video about her, too.)

I still hate bathing suit shopping, but I'll get over it. Tomorrow will be a cute-Cheryl day.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Darth Vader, Buddha and Troll Dolls

What do Darth Vader, Buddha and a troll doll have in common?

They all describe my son last month. He was all wired up for a 48-hour EEG and EKG to determine if there was any remaining seizure activity in his brain (or any heart problems). One of the flavors that has added spice to this boy since 2002 is a Partial-Complex Seizure Disorder (yes, it's the same as Epilepsy). He was three years old when he had his first seizure, and he has been on medication since. Up until last summer, according to his EEG's, he had almost constant seizure activity in his brain, even though his meds have done a remarkable job keeping a lid on any outward signs. So when the neurologist told me last August that a recent EEG was normal, I nearly fell out of the chair. I made her repeat it in small words so I could understand. No.Seizure.Activity. Which led us to this 48-hour test, just to be sure. Oh, did this boy love the attention when we went out in public! Here are some pictures in reverse order:

The removal of Darth Vader's helmet
My daughter came home from school and asked, "Why does he look like Buddha?" To which the boy promptly responded with a fabulous Lotus Pose.
This is my personal favorite--he looks like a troll doll. I think he should have blue hair. I also had to restrain myself from twisting him back and forth between the palms of my hands.

So why do I bring this up today? Because I got the best phone call in the world this morning. The EEG was, in fact, normal, and he will most likely be weaned from his seizure meds in the next month.

Oh, how I love miracles. And Dr. Morales. I love Dr. Morales!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

This is how I feel about my job:
"I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor's children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here, and that I really lived." --Marjorie Pay Hinckley (Small and Simple Things)

I love this quote, and I love this woman. She was the wife of the former President of my church, and boy was she wise. One time, someone asked her in an interview what it was like to be married to the Prophet, and she said, "Well, some days are better than others." So funny.

Today for Mother's Day, I have a few thoughts swirling around in my head, but the one that keeps coming back is that this job is a marathon. It is not a sprint. If we take a slice from any mother's life and try to measure it according to the world's success standards, she would most likely fall short. Well, that is unless she's having a particularly good hair day. I know that each day I do some things right and many things wrong. I try to take stock of my trajectory, just to make sure I'm headed in the right direction--even if I'm taking one step forward and two steps back. I think facing the right direction is half the battle. And you know that sometimes it's a battle.

As stay-at-home-moms, we often don't think we are making a difference in this world, because we don't hold vaulted positions, we're not speaking to large groups of influential people, and we don't get paid well. We hear messages that our job is not nearly as important or worthy of praise, and we get confused and sometimes apologize for what we do. I find myself apologizing for the condition of my house, because kids live here (how dare they!), and for those times when my appearance is a little sub-par. Unfortunately, there are also times when I try to prove my intelligence and achievements by mentioning my degree and using ten-dollar words. I'm not sure why. The smartest woman I know--my mother--only has a high school diploma. Now she would make a great Phone-A-Friend Lifeline on Millionaire!

But have you ever seen a mosaic? Each and every single little tile in and of itself is an imperfectly-shaped and colored piece that belongs to a greater puzzle and design. When viewed from afar, mosaics are absolute masterpieces. Motherhood is like that. Folding laundry? One piece. Kissing a boo-boo? Another piece. Remaining calm in the face of a bouncy ball war? Yet another.

All I know is that my mosaic is not finished. I also know that where my pieces are lacking, if I am doing my absolute best, God will fill in the rest. I'm banking on that, because I have a LOT of missing pieces. When I think of my career choice in this way, I realize that every small act I do is part of a much greater whole, and some days are better than others. My sphere of influence is rather small, but very profound. Yours is, too, and I hope you don't forget it. After all, by small and simple means, great things come to pass. (Alma 37:6)

One last quote for you on this Mother's Day from another great man.
"Parents must bring light and truth into their homes by one family prayer, one scripture study session, one family home evening, one book read aloud, one song, and one family meal at a time. They know that the influence of righteous, conscientious, persistent, daily parenting is among the most powerful and sustaining forces for good in the world. The health of any society, the happiness of its people, their prosperity, and their peace all find common roots in the teaching of children in the home." --L. Tom Perry (read the whole talk here.)

Happy Mother's Day, my friends.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How NOT to make cookies for Teacher Appreciation Week

Yesterday, decide to make cookies for Teacher Appreciation Week.
Remember that there are 3 elementary school children, 3 regular teachers, 1 kindergarten aide, 2 special ed teachers, 1 art teacher and several PE teachers involved in 3 children's education on a daily basis.
Ask the kindergartener to make a list of all the teachers he sees daily.
Ask him to cross off the ones who don't personally help him, but are aides to the little blind girl in his class.
Feel slightly guilty for stiffing the aides, but not so much.
Tell kids yesterday that "we'll make cookies tonight!"
Tell kids, "Whoops, sorry. We'll try after school tomorrow."
Tell kids today, "You chose to play outside instead of making cookies, so I'll make them after bedtime."
Start cookies at 9:30 pm.
Decide to double the recipe that already makes 5 dozen snickerdoodles.
Preheat the oven to the wrong temperature.
Follow the recipe correctly (hey, I actually did that!).
Drop the cookie scoop on the floor.
Turn on the water in the sink to pretend to rinse out the beater, so the husband doesn't catch the wife licking it. ("Salmonella!" he always declares. I don't care.)
Decide to preheat the second oven, so cooking will go faster.
On second thought, turn the second oven off.
Place 2 sheets of cookies in oven, forgetting that the top one always cooks unevenly.
Set the timer.
Add 2 minutes.
Add another 2 minutes.
Take out pans. Be certain the top pan looks done, but really isn't, so it's a bit gooey.
Taste test.
You know what? Let's turn on that second oven again.
Place a sheet of cookies in that oven.
Notice that the light is still on in the top oven.
Accidentally press the wrong button, and turn the whole top oven off (with cookies in it), including the timer, instead of just the light.
RE-heat the top oven to 375, and add 8 minutes to the timer for the bottom oven.
Think to self, "I should really set the timer on the microwave, so I don't forget the top oven only has 2 or 3 minutes left."
Go against better judgment.
Watch web videos about proper fitness techniques. Yes, really.
Completely forget about top oven's cookies when the timer goes off for the bottom oven.
Decide to use top oven's cookies as hockey pucks after a taste test. (or decide to include them in children's lunches tomorrow.)
Spill just enough cinnamon and sugar on the floor to walk on with bare feet.
Make sure there is just one kamikaze fly divebombing each recessed light in the kitchen.
Find suitable bags for cookies, thinking that 4 each would be good.
Gyp the teachers out of 1 cookie each, because only 3 will fit.
Notice there are no twist ties to be found, meaning each bag will need to be tied with ribbon.
Heave a big sigh.
Surrender to inept cookie making skills, cover mixing bowl with foil, and place in fridge.
Blog about it, and procrastinate the rest of the work until tomorrow morning when child labor is awake.