Before we get too far into 2011 I want to document what our family looked like in 2010…well, maybe not all of 2010, but at least the last few months. I just desperately want to set into stone a little slice of our life right now. I want to remember what things were like so that I can look back and long and also sigh relief. Things change so quickly and my weak little memory can’t keep up.
So, get through what you may. I’m being real here…..revealing some dirty little secrets of our life. This is, after all, mainly for our family records. And for me. I love this life, even the embarrassing truths of it. I want to remember it.
Hazel and Charlie are still mostly best of friends. Today they played out in the snow for 3 hours together, coming in only when their toes had turned to little ice cubes and their tummies were growling. They come up with all kinds of plans to fill up their mostly unstructured afterschool time. Once they get a plan in mind they embrace and hold hands and run to play or make or do whatever they had devised. They also fight, and I mean fight. I put them on our “fighting step” where they have to figure out what they did wrong and then apologize and make up. Lots of times they’re giggling and tickling and hugging before I come in to mediate. Lots of other times it takes a lot of work to get all the good feelings to come back, but they almost always come and the bad ones are totally forgotten. They are seeming more and more the same age lately. Both interested in lots of the same things.
We get up at 7. Hazel and Charlie’s cd alarm clock goes off playing either stories from story nory or skippy jon jones, or a playlist. Hazel has gotten really good at getting up when the playlist gets to the “get out of bed” song. Charlie either sleeps right through it all or lays in bed and yells at me when I come in. He is no good on low blood sugar. Almost every morning Charlie puts up a big fuss about going to school or doing anything until he gets a glass of orange juice in his system and then he’s happy as can be. Emmeline wakes up about that same time (we’re lucky to have a sleeper!) and says “Mama” or “dada” (depending on who put her to bed the night before) over and over pretty nicely until one of us has a second to go and get her out. The mornings feel rushed (how do people do it with more kids) but I think we have the kinks worked out more than we did a few months ago. Jeff takes Hazel to school and then walks or bikes or catches a ride with us to the T and I load up Charlie and Emmeline to take Charlie to the Rockland. Emmeline is always pretty sweet saying goodbye to her big brother.
Emmeline and I have a lot of time to hang out in the mornings. We do errands, play with friends, she watches Teletubbies so I can get stuff done (I had to really work hard to train her to like TV, and now she likes it a little too much).
Most of the days of the week we eat cold or hot cereal (I bought a 25 pound bag of steel cut oats and when I can remember I put them in the crockpot the night before, it is a delicious breakfast which, as Grandpa Roy would always say to my mom, sticks to your ribs). On Saturdays we eat a real breakfast cooked by Jeff (and sometimes now by Hazel who is suddenly very into cooking anything that she can cook on her own).
I’m pretty cranky a lot lately. I like to blame it on this pregnancy, but I don’t know if that’s really totally true. I think it’s just pretty stretching for me to have these three kids and be baking another one in my oven. There are some days when I just don’t handle it well at all. I say the most ridiculous, childish things to my kids sometimes….even while I’m saying these things I’m thinking, “what in the world are you saying?” but I’m tired and it’s hard to keep the lid on all the time. I thank my lucky stars that my kids are so resilient and forgiving. I think I’m pretty good at apologizing when I loose it. I know my kids see me as a person with real weaknesses because of it, and I’m kind of glad they do. That’s not to say that I’m not trying always to be better. I’m certainly learning a lot as I travel this bumpy motherhood road.
On Saturdays we try to get the kids to do Saturday chores….but we haven’t gotten this figured out quite right. We spend a lot of the morning trying to get whiney kids to do simple little things. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s just pretty frustrating. We’re always trying to figure out good systems to get this going more smoothly, but haven’t hit on the right one yet. After chores Charlie and Jeff and the kids (mostly Charlie) usually spend the day doing “fixer guy” stuff. I often run off to photo shoots. Hazel usually goes on some “dates” (aka errands) with me or Jeff to get some one on one time. We don’t feel like we ever get enough done on Saturdays…..and we don’t have too good of an excuse cause the kids are generally pretty good at entertaining themselves. I guess it’s all just a slow process.
There are always toys all over the place in our house (especially now that I get so annoyed every time I have to bend over with my big belly and pick something up). You’d think with that big space in the attic we’d be able to contain this a little better, but somehow they migrate down both flights of stairs and end up right under my feet. We still have Lego creations all over our book shelves and always a doll stroller to trip on as you walk from room to room.
For half the year (until Thanksgiving) I was pretty consistent about running with some friends at least three times a week. I even made it all the way through the winter last year! It drastically changed me. There is something so energizing and cleansing in a good morning run. The fresh air, good talks with friends, beautiful dawn breaking light. I stopped the day after Thanksgiving because I feel and decided that it wasn’t too smart to run with my expanding belly. I can’t wait to get back into it. I think it drastically improves who I am. It seems so much more real than the work out videos I try to do at home. I know when I run my Grandma Hazel isn’t looking down on me wondering what in the world I’m doing watching that silly Jillian Michaels on TV and flailing my body around.
We’re trying to incorporate family scripture study at dinner time since we’re all in a bad mood by bed time and it often gets skipped. The kids really love listening to us read from the Book of Mormon. I read sort of a combination of the words as they are written and translated into kid friendly language. There are some really exciting stories in that book, especially in mid Alma where we are now. Charlie’s eyes are always wide and we have such great discussions about the characters and teachings in there. When we do do it it’s my favorite part of the whole day. That book just brings in an undeniable spirit.
If the kids are in bed by 8 Jeff or I read them a chapter of a chapter book. When I don’t feel totally stressed out about some dumb thing I need to get done in my only alone time of the day (after the kids are in bed) I LOVE this time with them. Reading good chapter books aloud to my kids and discussing what happens in them is one of my very favorite parts of motherhood. I love it so much. It calms us all down.
The kids have a daily chore of empting the dishwasher. As of the past month Emmeline is a bona fide silverware basket emptier. She is so good and diligent at her task. Charlie and Hazel each take a dishwasher rack and stand up on the counter to get everything put away. So far we’ve only lost 3 glasses and 2 bowls……thankfully no big falls as they climb around with breakable stuff. Probably not the best parenting move, but man is it handy to have the dishwasher emptied not by me on a regular basis!
I’m still doing photography. Last season was my busiest yet and I decided to really cut things down so that I have time to focus on my family and my mothering like I long to. Since January I’ve just been doing a few photo-shoots a month and it’s perfect. I love doing them when I can really enjoy them and not feel like they’re all piling up on everything else in life. I love capturing peoples everyday lives and pointing out to families how beautiful they are. It helps me recognize the beauty in my every day.
One of my favorite things is our family dance parties. Jeff plays the base and the kids rock out. The only problem is that Hazel and Charlie can’t really tolerate my dancing. They always tell me to stop dancing. Am I really that bad? I believe I actually am. I don’t’ blame them for not wanting to watch me get my groove on. Lets remember that I was, in fact, voted the most uncoordinated person in high school my junior year.
I listen to a lot of books on tape. I find it’s the only way I can begin to get through all the great literature out there that I really wish could fill up my brain. Books on tape make me look forward to all my mundane tasks…..I put the kids down or get them interested in something and then put on my headphones and start folding laundry, or doing dishes or mopping or wiping down walls. It’s amazing the things I can think of that need cleaning when I have a good book to listen to. I wish I could get myself in bed at a reasonable hour so I could curl up with a real book more often though. There’s just nothing like a real book. And, I worry that my kids never see me reading.
They do see me at the computer though. Way. too. much. I’m constantly trying to figure out a way to get off the computer, but there are always so many computer demands. And then there is the procrastination, I want to sit down for a minute so I’ll “be productive” and look for this thing that we desperately need to research and buy kind of computer demands, which are so lame and I’m trying to destroy. Slowly slowly.
Charlie plays with his best buddy Saul a few times a week. Hazel bosses a friend around when I get the chance to set up play dates on Friend Friday. Usually they end things on a good note, but boy is she bossy! Last time she had a friend over her cute little friend had to come and inform me that they had broken up, again, quite a few times. She’s learning.
Emmeline still pretty much always loves to go to bed and to nap. When she’s tired she walks around the house and throws her head back and proclaims in her raspy little low voice "I’m TIRED!)” When we put her in her bed she cuddles up on her pillow with her lammie, binkie and baba water and smiles as we say good night. She reminds me to turn on her noise machine and turn off the light (two things that I’m pretty prone to forget). She is one of the sweetest children I’ve ever known. She is kind to all of us, pretty easy to please and distract and so susceptible to the power of suggestion. When she says “no” to something I’ve asked her to do I suggest to her that she say “yes mommy” in my most pleasant voice and she almost always takes the suggestion, says the words and does what I’ve asked her to do. Not sure how long this will last, but so far, the twos haven’t been too terrible at all with this girl. (I’m knocking on wood).
Emmeline also is our most OCD child. She likes to make sure things go back in their places and as we’re frantically leaving the house she reminds me of all the things I need. “Keys mom?” “your phone mom?” “your bag?” I don’t know how I’d function without her.
Hazel is now officially a reader. She even has one of those clip on lamps up in her little bunk bed. I was thrilled the first night I had to fight with her to stop reading and turn off the light. I’ve always wanted that to happen. She’s not quite in the devouring books phase yet and still has a pretty hard time sounding out words that she hasn’t seen before, but I’m confident that if I keep telling her how much I don’t want her to read she’ll get to the devouring stage soon.
Charlie can not stop building and fixing and working things out in his head. He’s addicted to it. I love it.
Hazel is loving kindergarten for the most part. I go into her class once a week for an hour and a half to help out and it’s so great to see how she interacts with her teacher and her classmates. She’s reserved, and a rule follower and very concerned that everyone is doing the right thing. She doesn’t initiate a lot of interaction with her classmates, but they all really love her. When I pick her up from school they all call “bye Hazel!” to her as we walk away. Because she’s the oldest one in the class she’s pretty confident in the work that she’s doing (she’s really not learning too much new stuff academically) so she spends a lot of her time helping other kids, which I love. I still wonder if we did the right thing sending her to kindergarten instead of first grade, but she really is learning so many things about interacting with others and she feels so confident and I’m so happy that she and Charlie will only be a year apart in school. And, on most days I’m really happy that she won’t leave to college a year earlier than she would have if we’d have pushed her ahead.
Jeff is fantastic. He is always willing to work hard so that he can do what we need him to do. He works so hard (just getting to work these days, through the snow) and makes things happen so that he can most of the time get home to see us, eat with us, help me get the kids down. He is my rock (I know, sounds really cheesy, but seriously, I don’t know how anyone can do this job alone or with out the support that I get from Jeff).
Sundays are busy for us. We just switched to afternoon church (which I love) but until then it was me getting everyone up and ready and fed and loading everyone and everything in to the car and then into the church quickly so that we could secure a padded pew. I sit alone during sacrament meeting which has gotten so much easier. I don’t know if the kids have just gotten older, or if we’ve just drilled in the right behavior for them for so long that they’re just starting to absorb it, but for the first time in years I feel like I’m able to listen to at least half of what people are saying and I feel a little recharging going on. I’m on my own for the second and third hour (all three kids in primary or nursery) which is dream. About every other week throughout the year we’ve had people over for Sunday dinner. The past month or so I’ve decided that I just can’t do it, I’m too tired. But there are parts of it that I really miss. It’s a chance for me to cook things (even vegetables) that people will enjoy and not complain about having to eat. And, it’s a good way to get to know the ever shifting congregation at church.
Emmeline is always in the kitchen with me, pulling up the step stool telling me that she “wants to make” with me. I’m trying my darndest to find things that she can do that won’t mess up what I’m doing. I ask her to sort things from bowl to bowl, to peal things etc. She’s never helpful, usually makes a mess…..but I keep reminding myself that one day, ten years down the road no one is going to want to be in the kitchen with me. I think I’ll like having my mind and kitchen quiet as I cook, but I think I’ll also miss my little “maker” at my side. Hazel, on the other hand, is very helpful in the kitchen. In fact, tonight I just sat on a stool with my big pregnant belly and directed her as she made the whole dinner (super simple stuff, but still….it was awesome).
Our basement is the scariest place on earth and we’ve convinced Emmeline that there are monsters down there so that she won’t wander down and find her long lost (loud) toys or get into any dangerous trouble. I’m always trying to clean it out, but it’s just so easy to banish anything unwanted or cluttery down there when life gets busy that we can never stay on top of it.
Joyce Tripp, or dear neighbor is a big part of our lives right now. She really is like a third grandmother. She comes over to watch the kids often so that I can go and volunteer or get some things done. She loves my kids so well and we all love her. I’m so thankful to have her just down the road, and I think she’s thankful to have us.
We have a lot of good friends in the area, but it seems that they’re steadily moving away as time goes on. It has been a sad year in that department. We’re grateful for all that we learned and experienced with the ones who have left and we’re super grateful for the ones that are sticking around. Life is no fun without good friends.
Overall, life is really good right now. We are all healthy (we’ve had our sickest year yet….but nothing more serious than some bad and super persistent colds, weird rashes and ruptured ear drums) and feel so thankful for the absence of any big tragedy in our lives right now. Charlie had some weird leg aches a few months ago and I got really worried because my cousins daughter had leg aches and was diagnosed with leukemia. I set up an appointment for him to go see the doctor and get checked out. The night before the appointment we were eating dinner all together. Just a normal, run of the mill dinner where the kids were complaining about the food and Emmeline was smearing it all over her face. But somewhere in the middle of all that I looked around our little dinning room and time stopped. I realized how blessed the normalness is in our lives. I realized that in one single second, one diagnosis, one misstep, one text while driving everything could change drastically. I decided that this year, in 2011, I want to focus on recognizing the beauty of each normal, monotonous, glorious day in this little life of ours. Come what may.