Friday, March 25, 2011

You Think You Know Me?

Well, you don't.

But don't worry, I'm not sure I did either until I answered Stephanie's questions for her Find-A-Friend Friday today on her blog, Diapers and Divinity.

Now I know what I hate about motherhood (#2). I know that I can claim to be a homebody (#10) and then say that I love traveling (#4), all in the same interview. And I know that I can tell a whopping big lie*. (# 11). Oh, and also comment on my extreme honesty (intro).

No, I am not a "complicated" (read: confusing) or ironic person. Not me. And I don't much care for parenthesis, either (almost never use them).

To read her questions and my answers GO HERE. (and check out how awesome Stephanie is
while you're over there!!) You'll know you're in the right place if you see her cute button that looks like this:

*Someone once told me that when you are sarcastic/ironic you are lying. Fortunately for me she was wrong.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Most Exciting List of ALL TIME!!!

Please read no further if you have any issues with your heart or if you are not securely seated or standed. Otherwise, the greatness of this post may possibly have the hypothetical potential to BLOW YOU AWAY.

You have been warned.

A bucket list. I'm making one. I'm not much of a bucket list maker, really. I mostly just want to be a better mother and raise amazing kids. I don't care where we go on the way or how many side skills I develop or anything like that. I have no ambition (I believe I have mentioned this lack-of-quality of mine).

So the bucket list I present to you today is things I ABSOLUTELY MUST do before...............
We leave to go to Warsaw tomorrow afternoon.

(if you are still reading despite a weak heart, I beg you to turn away now!)

  1. edit reports written this week and email to client
  2. pack four thousand of everything. A few of each item for each person in the family
  3. bake something to take to the mission president(s wife) since they've invited us to stay in the mission home (bake extra for friends we will hang out with while we're there)
  4. try not to even peek at facebook or Catching Fire
  5. wash all sheets and hang to dry while we're gone
  6. keep Spencer awake, despite the fact that it will be his bedtime so he will sleep for at least part of the 4-5 hour drive
  7. do not explode when Spencer refuses to stop hanging on me/whining while I'm rushing around because he is so tired he can't see straight*
  8. make sandwiches/pack snacks
  9. tidy house after everything (if time allows. HA!)
  10. get as frazzled as possible so the drive and the upcoming fun will be as well-earned as possible

There you have it! Did you survive? I won't ask if that was the best list of any sort you have ever read. I think we all know the answer to THAT one.

This list has been brought to you by Melanie, who, I know I have never mentioned on this blog, so sorry to throw her out at you so randomly. Go here to find out how you can post a bucket list on your blog and get serious entry points to win her book, The List, or other awesome stuff she's giving away.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Add This to Your List

I can tell you right now that if I had made a list fifteen years ago of the things I wanted to do before I got married -- I mean, if I had sat down and really thought it through -- it would have looked like this:

  1. Make sure he's the right one.

Possibly with another short list of qualities that "the right one" might have.

But I never made that list. Because I was pretty sure I'd know him when I found him. And I did.

But not everyone's list would be as boring as mine. Not that mine would have been bad, just lacking in... adventure. Ambition. Interest. (and actual, un-obvious things to do before getting married)

A friend of mine, Ashley Barrett, had a list of her own. A paper on which she wrote 25 things that she absolutely had to do before she settled down to get married. And how much overlap do you think there was between her list and mine? Exactly none.

No, Ashley spent every day after she made her list (at age 18) specifically trying to not complete the task on my (past tense hypothetical) list. And besides, she had her own 25 things to work on. And though some of them were relatively simple things like "read a Russian classic" and "sing karaoke", there were others like, "get a sports car", "learn a language" and ""get a master's degree". And there's also the fact that for Ashley, "sing karaoke" was a harder one to complete than another one, to "climb a mountain".

Watching Ashley climb mountain after figurative mountain as she worked her way through her list was a joy. Besides that she's just a funny, confident and beautiful person, she also happens to be a smarty and a tiny bit of a spaz. Yes, she's fun to keep tabs on.

But I'm pretty sure she never could have guessed how it would all turn out with that list of hers. After 6 good years of slowly but resolutely chipping away at it, she came to the Summer From Hell.

Her hellish summer included months by the beach, an extremely hot surf coach-turned-love interest, plenty of activities, hanging out and Jamba Juice, a fun waitressing job, and an excellent new online friend.

Now how could that be hell, you might ask? That was the summer that her list started to get a little wrinkled. A bit scruffy around the edges. Not just from overuse (though it was certainly being used), but in a figurative sense, too.

Although she was completing more things from her list in those short months than in many years combined before that summer, the list was still in jeopardy. She lost her original, handwritten copy but typed it up again from memory. Still, she struggled not to lose sight of the goal of the list: to have no regrets when she got married. Nothing to look back on with resentment because she didn't do it when she had the chance.

Life seemed to be getting better and better as hanging onto those last few items on her list became harder and harder. Still, this is Ashley. She has a very strong grip.

Very strong.

I really wish you could all meet Ashley!! She is seriously awesome. Of course I've never met her either, but I still consider her a friend.

I know! Why don't you go get your to-do list and add one more item. I promise this one will be far less painful than "cut the kids' hair" or "scrub the grout in the shower". As a matter of fact, it might even be more fun than "go out on an awesome date with husband*" (don't tell him I said that) or "Eat a piece of Adam's peanut butter cup fudge ripple cheesecake". Write in "get this book:

Because it is FUN. Fun, fun, fun. Funny, sunny, with one Hot Honey. Oh my gosh, I just wrote that. And I'm leaving it. The book is clever, charming, and seriously delightful (unlike my rhyme above). And don't you want to know what happens with Ashley? It didn't all play out exactly how I expected (a good thing!) but/and it is a completely satisfying read. I love. I recommend. As strongly as Ashley holds onto 6-year-old resolutions. Or possibly stronger (see how I don't give anything away? I said possibly).

I've already told you what I think of Melanie J the blogger (hmmm, we could use the same adjectives that I used up there for the book! No, not the bad rhyme again, the clevercharmingdelighful thing), but you really need to get a feel for how stuffy and hoity-toity Melanie Jacobson the author is. Check out her author website. Seriously. Stu-ffy. And then click on the book to buy! If you're like me (and you know you are) you will be reading this one over and over to recapture the humor and FUN of it. (I'm sorry to keep going on about the fun, but the book is seriously ef-yoo-en.)
* I had a hard time wanting to sit down to a movie with Greg on Valentine's Day because I was in the middle of The List and really just wanted to read! Or better yet watch it on a screen with my honey. Maybe some day...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Built-in Girlfriend

She didn't get much for Christmas this year. In fact, most of her presents were small amounts of money or tiny little gift certificates. The amount of each gift just about enough to buy a shirt.

She went out to spend her gift money at one store and came home excited to show me what she bought, not because she was excited to wear it to school the next day, but because it was for me. She hadn't found anything she loved so she decided to buy something to liven up our living room, a purple vase and some brown decorative rocks.

The next week she went to another store to get something with a gift certificate. When she came home she showed me the scarf and hat set she had chosen... for me. Again, nothing jumped off the shelf at her, so she chose something she knew I needed and made a gift of it.
I'm not the most physically affectionate person (or the second most, or third, either) and she recently told me we needed to hug more often, and we do. Now before bed she sometimes says, "Let's do this right" and comes for a hug while we say goodnight.
Thursday morning while I made the kids' lunches before school I was reviewing all the things I needed to get done before Greg's sister arrived in the afternoon for a weekend visit. I listed them aloud and Ev calculated that I had a good seven hours to get everything done. I whined that I didn't think it would be enough (I'm a professional whiner).

Without missing a beat she offered this advice, "First just make everything look nice, then worry about all the other stuff."

How well this girl knows me! I want things spotless before we have overnight guests and struggle every time to make that happen. I spend the day or two before they arrive working like crazy and often end up with not a speck of dust anywhere, clean light switches and doorknobs and organized toy drawers but also piles of books that haven't been put on shelves and pots from the night before that haven't been cleaned. And no dinner ready to eat. Whacked priorities.

She knows that, and her advice (tidy first, then scrub) could not have been more sound or helpful.
This morning we chatted while she fed Spence and I made sandwiches. Greg came into the kitchen to get some breakfast and listened in as I bagged the sandwiches for the trip (to church) and Ev filled up water bottles, talking the whole time.

It was getting late and we really needed to hit the road and our gabbing made Greg nervous so he said, "Okay guys. How 'bout no more talking; we really need to go." And then, "A little less conversation, a little more action." (which caused me to laugh, and also caused me to have a non-hymn stuck in my mind for the rest of this Sabbath morning)
Heaven knows I love my husband and my boys, but Heaven also knew that I needed a girlfriend and that's why He gave me Ewelina. I thank Heaven for her!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Same to You but More of It

I don't personally know any bad mothers. I am aware that there are some out there, but only from what I read or see in the news. This doesn't mean that I don't occasionally see or hear a mother doing something that I know is not in her children's best interest (including myself) but as a general rule, mothers are awesome.

We're awesome because every one of us does things right. Not everything, of course. Some days we might feel like we do hardly anything right, but I'm pretty sure we usually do more things right than wrong.

I love seeing when other mothers do something right that I haven't thought to do, or used to do but seem to have forgotten. And I love when another mother thinks I've done something well. I love how we can learn more right things to do from each other.

Two weekends ago we visited a branch that has a few really great families in it. The Zańs are a super sweet clan with a mother who is incredibly patient and takes her responsibility as a mother more serious than most other moms I know. She is also a very good friend of mine and we talk motherhood a lot. She is a super humble person and, despite her awesomeness as a mom, asks advice, always wanting to be better.

She drove with her husband and 3 boys, ages 4 and under, an hour each way just to hang with me and my four kids in our hotel room on Saturday! Being around her made me want to be a better mother. It always does. She is so loving and teaches her very intelligent kids about the gospel and how to be creative in such a motherly way. It's hard to describe, but here's what she and her family look like:

Another family is the Cielenskis, the branch president and his wife and daughter. Agata is a wonderful mother and has lots of experience with kids and is just a logical thinker and instinctive mother. Her daughter is 10 months old but she was already asking me how I get my kids to behave at church.

Well, this is a great question for the wife of a branch president to ask. I asked myself it about ten years ago. Greg has been sitting on the stand for that long (well, only on Sundays. He comes home and goes to work etc. during the week) and, as a Single Sacrament Meeting Mom, having kids who behaved at church was not a luxury, but a necessity for me. I shared my tricks with Agata and then told her what I'd learned from her that Sunday:

Here is her baby chomping on a carrot as a snack/toy (and Aaron staring in wonder). I have never had my babies do that (!). And I really want Spencer to love veggies. I have started giving him carrots to gnaw on (when he is well supervised, of course). My life is better for having learned that.

The main thing other people seem to think is good about my kids is their public behavior. They are mostly pretty well behaved at church, in restaurants and other places where we expect them to be calm and civilized and I am happy, when asked, to share how I try to train my kids in those situations in exchange for information, much of which I gain through observation, such as how to be more patient with my kids or teach them good eating habits.

Thanks, other mothers, for the things you teach me just by being the good moms you are! And also, please never come to my house and see how my kids act in their own environment. :)