Monday, February 27, 2012

My Superhero...

Who is this hero you ask?  Only one of the most incredible girls I know!  She can't leap tall buildings in a single bound...but she can do many other things that I could never do (passing Honors Chemistry with an A comes to mind)!  She is one of my heros for sure, and she's the cutest girl I know...
It's EMIE!  And this year for MORP, they had a Superhero theme--so they had a ton of fun making costumes and dressing up for it!  Emie and her friends did a little better job this time, making plans by themselves for their date.  They even managed to take them on a fabulous day date, hiking, and a nice dinner OUT (at Fuddruckers)!  Here are some pictures from her date...

We were sad that we weren't there to see them all dressed up, since we took off that morning to go to Prescott to see another Superhero in our family, Christiaan Allen, as he wrestled in the state tournament!  He did a FABULOUS job, and took the title of State Champion!  He has worked so hard this season, and never even got a point scored on him in an undefeated season!  He is truly's a bad picture from my phone.  We had a great time cheering him on, and our section was definitely the loudest in the whole place--with about 30 people!  Way to go Christiaan!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mother of the year? Nope.

I have been off the grid for a few weeks.  Not really sure why my blogging went to crap, I've had plenty to blog about, after all, things are never dull around here. I've just fallen behind in so many things the last few weeks, and the blog has been the last thing on my list.  Sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed with all that I have to do that I want to go hide in a hole and just forget it all.  Generally, that's the point where a vacation comes in--but since we don't have one on the horizon, I'm just going to have to plug along, suck it up, and deal.  Here are a few things that I've been thinking about lately, and wanted to write down.  Someday my kids will look back on this, and laugh (or cry hysterically) at how clueless their mom was when they were growing up.  Have I mentioned that I am in way over my head when it comes to this mothering thing?  Well, I am.  And here are a few reasons why:

First, I won't be receiving a nomination for "Mother of the Year" anytime soon (*shocker, I know).  Last Sunday, we got out of church a little early, Josh had already picked up Jack, and was waiting for me outside of Relief Society.  I saw Abby and Erin come out of their classes, and we headed out to the car.  "We got out of church pretty quickly", I mentioned, as we drove out of the parking lot.  Erin agreed, and we noticed how the car seemed empty since Dad was at work, and Emie was out of town with her friends.  As I pulled up to the gate to go to our house, I happened to glance in the rear-view mirror to see Josh and Jack playing on Josh's DS in the back seat, and then I FROZE.  "WHERE'S ASHLIE?"  Abby and Erin looked at each other, and then looked at me, and said "OH, CRAP!"  As I flipped the car around, and SPED back to the church (you know, before someone noticed we had been gone 15 minutes) I was asking the kids, "How the heck did you not notice that Ashlie wasn't in the freakin' car?"  (As if I had no responsibility in the situation, of course).  But c'mon--shouldn't SOMEONE in the back seat have noticed that their sister was missing?  I swear, my kids are going to need therapy...and of all my kids--we would have to leave the one with NO sense of humor behind. I'm thinking,  "This kid is going to be scarred for life!"  Poor girl.  By the time we got back to the church and looked around, we found out that Ashlie had gone home with my sweet neighbor Tonya, (who is finding out that being neighbors with a crazy lady and her kids isn't such an easy job) and when we drove up to our house we see my sassy little Ashlie jump out of her car and start yelling and wagging her finger at us.  I don't know what she was saying, but it was pretty hilarious.  Tonya told me that Ashlie told her on the way home, "My mom probably doesn't even know I'm gone--she is probably taking a NAP!"  Ha!  All I could do was offer a lame apology, and laugh.  After all, Ashlie has lived with us for 7 years now, she knows her mom is one to forget things, (but this happened to be a first for me--I swear)!  Todd wasn't as amused as we were.  He got calls from several people in the ward, as well as one of the members of the Bishopric, and while he was meeting with a family at work, his phone was ringing off the hook. Oh my.  No one could get hold of me, since I don't take my phone to church.  I always thought that was a good idea (so that I'm not tempted to play Words with Friends during Sunday School).  Anyway, all's well that ends well right?  Ashlie even got out of doing Sunday chores, since I started having the kids clean up when we got home, and she says, ", you left me at church today, I don't think I should have to do any cleaning."  My answer? "Yep, honey you're absolutely right!"  I even had to sit myself in the repentance chair and apologize to her for what I did wrong. Fair is fair, right?  Since then, I have heard several of people's "I left my kid somewhere too" stories, which made me feel a lot better that I'm not the only mother out there who isn't on top of things all the time.  (Oh, who am I kidding, I am never on top of things)!  Do you have a story?  Let's hear it! My favorite was a mom that left one of their kids at Chuck-o-Rama and had been home an hour before the police called them!  It was in Utah--so she said it wasn't a big deal, which got me thinking that maybe this is not a problem with me--it's just a problem of having a few too many kids (dang Mormons-- we are just asking for trouble when we multiply and replenish too much).  I also saw a study this week that the more kids you have--the smaller their IQ (which explains a lot), and I'm pretty sure that the moms who have large families would probably flunk an IQ test as well.  Give us a break people--we're trying!  But I guess that's a topic for another day...

The next clue I had that I wasn't Mother of the Year, came a few days later as I was talking to my teenagers.  I was telling Erin that she needed to do her chores (for the millionth time in an hour), and she looked at me and said, "Are you kidding me mom?  Quit complaining!  Your life is NOT that rough!"  As a side note--don't you love it when your teenagers start throwing your words back in your face, and you realize how stupid it sounds when you say them?  I do. It's awesome.  Then I hear Emie chime in and say, "No, her life isn't rough, it's just monotonous and completely unfulfilling!"  Well isn't that lovely? (And incredibly true at times...HA!)  I have been noticing this trend for awhile now with my two oldest girls.  Emie is at the point where she is almost a Junior in high school, and starting to think about her future.  The thought of being a mother, or a housewife, (or both...*gasp), just absolutely terrifies her.  She looks at my job, and feels sorry for me.  In her eyes, I gave up my life when I decided to stay home.  I think she looks at my job like a prison, that holds me back from real success in life.  Despite the fact that I have tried to tell her that being a mother and a housewife was my CHOICE, I'm not sure she buys it.  It's hard for her to imagine that I was a good student, and could have chosen a different path, and done anything I wanted to.  All she can see is the negative aspect of being a mother (and let's face it...there are many, even when you're trying to be positive).  When she thinks of her future, she wants to have a job, and an education, and to do something of importance with her life, not just raise bratty kids who you have to clean up after and nag all the time.  I just laugh at her, since her attitude was the EXACT attitude I had when I was her age. It's amazing how much your life can change when a doctor lays a little pink baby in your arms, and you feel an amazing amount of love and responsibility for that child.  Good or bad, I have never regretted "giving up my life" (as she sees it), for my children. I have felt God's hand in my life as he has guided me to choose motherhood as my focus, and my profession at this point in my life.  I have always felt like it was what He wanted me to do.  I could have done anything with my life, but I chose to put motherhood and family first, at least while my kids are young.  Are there hard days?  Yes.  Is it frustrating sometimes?  Yes.  But it is also incredibly rewarding to see your children grow and develop and learn, and know that you are their main influence, at least for a time, on how they see the world. 

Then, on the other hand, I have my Erin, who sees things quite differently--but just as mistakenly.  Erin wants to be just like me!  Not because she sees what a great mother I am, or what a great job I do (again...*shocker).  She wants to marry a handsome rich guy, and stay home, and watch TV all day, eat bon bons, and let him take care of her!  There's no need for an education in her eyes--I only got 2 years of college in, and I am doing just fine, right?  When it comes to kids, she might have one, or two--but NEVER as many as I had.  She wants to stay home, have FUN, and enjoy life while her husband supports her.  The problem?  Her memory only goes back so far!  Is my life easy now?  Generally.  I have left the "baby stage", and most of the kids are in school.  We have enough money to buy what we need, and I am able to go to lunch with my friends, shop, or do fun things sometimes. (The last few years have put a real kink in that lifestyle by the way--we are back to scrimping and saving and working our way back up).  Has it always been this way?  NO!!!  What my sweet girl doesn't realize, is that my husband was NOT rich when we got married.  It took YEARS of struggle, and sacrifice to get to where we were able to make a comfortable living.  The first 6 years of our marriage, we had only 1 car.  I was home, with no transportation for most of Erin's childhood. Todd worked 3 or 4 jobs sometimes, and went to school in order to make something of himself.  When Emie was born, he wanted me to quit my job, and was willing to work all hours of the day and night to support our family!  Sometimes it would seem like we would only see eachother in passing!  I was exhausted with child rearing, and staying up at all hours of the night with babies and toddlers--and he was exhausted from working himself to death. The point I am trying to get Erin to realize is that first, not all guys be willing to do what Todd was willing to do to support our family.  I know how lucky I am to have a husband who feels that motherhood is of the utmost importance. He is incredibly supportive.  Second, life isn't a fairytale!  Just because we want a Happily Ever After, doesn't mean we'll get one!  Happily Ever After takes WORK--a lot of it!  Third, it's not an awful thing to have an ultimate goal of being a mother or a housewife--but you need to have that goal for the right reasons--not just because you think it's an easy life, and you won't have to work or go to college. Can you all picture her with baby #1?  Honey, babies are WORK!  Kids are WORK...sometimes the most frusterating, awful, rewarding, amazing work you will ever do!

So, there you go. I have two different kids, with two different views on motherhood that are both CRAZY.  One on one end of the spectrum--and the other on the complete opposite?  What in the world did I do wrong?  Juxtapose those two views, and come into the middle, and there is a perfectly healthy view of what Motherhood should be between them--but I'm not sure how to get them there, especially since whatever comes out of my mouth might as well be French the way they look at me when I talk to them about just about anything.  I guess, just like me, they will have to figure things out on their own. After all, the only training we get as parents is "on the job" training.  It's the best/worst job in all the world, and even when I think I have it figured out these dang kids go and do something else to screw up whatever theory I come up with.  The worst part of this job, for me, is the fact that you can never REALLY know whether you are doing the job right.  There is no measuring stick, no way to see if you're getting through, or if kids are learning what you mean for them to learn--and there isn't a point when you are ever DONE!  Even when kids are grown, I'm not sure you really know whether you parented them right.  Each time they make a mistake, each time they make a choice you don't agree with, you question whether you taught them right, or whether you screwed something up.  And they question it too.  That's why psychologist offices all over the world are filled to capacity with kids trying to get over what their parents did to them--even when they become parents themselves!  As I said before--there is no magical answer.  I don't see myself ever being Mother of the Year.  All I can do is pray, pray, pray.  Pray that if I can't get through to my children, that God will help me.  Pray that they will see what I do every day in a good light, and realize that everything I have done, I have done for them.  And most importantly, pray that I don't leave any of them anywhere...ever again.  Man, that was not my best moment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentines Day Dinner...

We had a fantastic Valentines Day Dinner with all of my favorite people!  The kids loved the fancy table settings, and fake candlelight.  They especially love the plastic wine glasses I found, since they don't have to be so careful--and I don't freak out when we use them.  I sure love these guys--even though sometimes I seem to lose the fun that should go along with parenting.  We are here to have fun, and find joy after all. One of my favorite authors, Erma Bombeck, said this:
"I remember thinking how often we look, but never see ... we listen, but never hear ... we exist, but never feel. We take our relationships for granted. A house is only a place. It has no life of its own. It needs human voices, activity and laughter to come alive."
I don't want my house to be "only a place".  When my children look back and think about our house growing up, I hope they remember that along with the drudgery of housework, homework, and laundry, we also had a lot of fun along the way!  I hope that they enjoy the ride!

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Little Romeo...

Most people think that gifts are what Valentines Day is all about.  I am not one of those people.  Sure, I enjoy it when my husband (or in earlier days, any other admirer) buys me flowers, or more importantly CHOCOLATE!  I am grateful that he buys me a card, and it gives us a chance to express our love for each other on this special day each year.  My favorite part of Valentines Day, by far, though, is to watch my little kids enjoy this sweet holiday!  I love watching as they carefully fill in the names of their friends on their cards, and read each card carefully, trying to pick the "perfect" one for their best friend, or secret crush. Valentines Day is about LOVE, after all, and the sweetest love of all is young love.  Innocent love.  When I remember Valentines Days in the past, I remember going through my box of Valentines, seeing who's name was on which card, and pouring over them trying to find the hidden messages in each one.  I can remember years when I was crushed because the boy I had a crush on would give me the Valentine that said, "Your Nice", instead of "Be mine".  I remember one year picking out the perfect sayings on the conversation hearts that I wanted to put in the envelope of the boy I was secretely and hopelessly in love with.  Little did I know that boys that age probably didn't pay any attention, or care, about the conversation hearts that envelope held.  Or did they? 

This year, we all got a kick out of Josh, who happens to be not so secretly in LOVE with one of his little classmates!  He can't stop talking about her, and this girl must be special, because as of today, she was consuming every part of his little 9 year old mind.  He couldn't wait to go to the store  to buy valentines, and spend his own money on a special gift for his special girl.  He wanted to buy her roses (a dozen...oh wow!), since that's what every one says to give to your Valentine to make her feel loved.  After talking about it, I told him I thought it would be better to just buy her a little heart shaped box of chocolates or something so that she wouldn't be embarassed  by his huge showing of love (what would a 9 year old girl do with a dozen roses--and what 16 year old girl wouldn't LOVE to have my Josh be her Valentine!).  He was a little disappointed, but when he came back from the store, he had found the perfect gift!  A chocolate rose.  He was quite proud of himself, and wrote a little note to go along with his gift.  Dear ______, I LOVE YOU!  Love, Josh   Oh my!  I guess I should be alarmed by his bold pursuit of this poor, sweet girl, but truth be told, we all thought it was the cutest thing in the world!  Even if this girl doesn't share the same feelings for Josh that he does for her, she will sure feel special today--and isn't that what Valentine's Day is all about?

Now C'mon, who could resist Romeo here?  HA!  Happy Valentines Day--I hope your Romeo makes you feel very special today!  Mine makes me feel special EVERY day--I am one lucky girl!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Aww...CRAP! I've screwed up my kids...

I know you're probably thinking, "She just barely realized this?"  If you've read this blog for any length of time, this is probably coming as no surprise to you.  It's apparent in posts like THIS, and THIS, and THIS and I can't forget THIS...(you get the point, it's not all bliss here in my world)!  I have been pondering this subject more than usual lately since I have been reading this for this months book club:

It is a wonderful book, don't get me wrong, it just made me feel incredibly guilty, and incredibly inept at this job called parenting.  Apparently, this whole parenting thing would work out a lot better for all involved if I would have started out with, and stuck to a grand plan.  The parenting plan in this book is a great one--well organized, and well thought out, and the authors are truly experts on this subject having taught seminars on parenting all over the world.  The only problem?  I'm not sure if I could stick to it, and actually make it work.  Like most people who become parents, I'm just not sure that I had this whole thing planned out really well (if at all).  Over here, we are most often doing what you call "winging it".  I'm not sure that is a great parenting plan.  It hasn't always been this way.  When I went to college, (and majored in Child Development, mind you), I thought that I had a great plan.  My kids weren't going to grow up to be brats like other peoples kids.  I had a leg up on other mothers, since I had learned several strategies, and tips on child rearing before my children were born.  I thought of myself as quite an expert on the subject.  Then, my first child was born.  Oh my, how quickly I changed from being an expert to feeling like an idiot.  As the kids kept coming, one after another, I realized quite quickly that what worked for one child didn't necessarily work for the others.  These dang kids were all different.  And not only that, but as they got older, and entered different stages in their development, things that had worked in the past didn't necessarily work on that child anymore.  Crap.    

As much as I have tried over the years to come up with a system of managing this family, and parenting these children, I have ended up just where I began, winging it. Each time I have tried to institute a grand plan, or some sort of organized system, whether it was allowances, or chore charts, or incentive programs, they all seemed to blow up in my face. Either the children weren't excited about it like I was, or they wouldn't cooperate with the plan, or it was too difficult or too multi-faceted to keep up long term.  In fact, once I had an idea for chore charts for each child, with rewards attached that they could earn by doing their basic chores and keeping their part of the house clean and tidy.  As I stood up in family night to present them with their chore charts, (that I had typed up on the computer, and neatly laminated), I had one of my teenagers say to me, "Mom, why do you even do things like this?  You know we never stick to them.  It seems to me that this is a waste of time!"  Sometimes, it's times like these that you want to throw the parenting books out the window, (and slap the said child).  I can't blame her, though.  She's been around long enough to know that her dear old mom isn't the supermom that I wish I was.  *News flash*  This just in: Tami is NOT super mom!!

All of that being said, not all  is lost.  Even though I see some of the symptoms in my children that are described in "The Entitlement Trap", I do feel like there is still hope. No, I am not magically going to become an ultra-organized supermom overnight.  I am, however, more aware of the fact that my children, now more than ever, need to learn to work hard, and be grateful for the wonderful life they have been given. I also need to be aware of the fact that they need to have consequences for their actions, and that it is okay if I do not step in and save them from themselves in every instance.  There are too many parents in today's world that don't let kids feel the sting of loss, or the humiliation of defeat. Kids need to be allowed to fail once in awhile, and learn to pull themselves back up--on their own.  They need to learn to be responsible for their own choices.  How else can they learn what life is all about?  Heaven knows, in the real world mommy is not always there to pick up the pieces, or give you a gold star for your efforts.  Sometimes, life is hard, and our children need to know that!  

Most of all, while I was reading this book, I was grateful that I do have a secret parenting trick up my sleeve that not every parent uses (though all of them should).  I have HELP.  Help in the form of a loving Heavenly Father, who cares not only for my children, but for ME.  I can be assured that if I am seeking His help, and His guidance in this crazy job called parenthood, He will help me when I need Him most.  Thank goodness.  Because as a parent, I need all the help I can get!  Man, this job is HARD!

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