July 21, 2014

At Five …

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It’s been a whole week since he turned five. Wow.

In that week he’s learned to ride a scooter, eaten a fully loaded taco with sour cream, picked his nose in front of our entire church congregation and told me with absolute finality that he does not love me and doesn’t want to be a part of my family.

Can we go back to four, please?

Granted, the last bit had more to do with the fact that I threw him into an ice cold shower because he wouldn’t stop screaming in anger at the top of his lungs at me that he didn’t want to and wasn’t going to go to bed. So he got a cold shower. It’s what we call “shocking the crazy” out of a kid.

I totally loved on him after he’d calmed down, rubbing his little body warm with a towel, but he’d have none of it. He just kept telling me how mean I was and that he didn’t love me. I don’t care how funny a situation it is or how strong a mom you are – those words hurt.

It told him that it hurt my feelings when he said that.

Mistake.

We had a great day today – lots of loves and snuggles, a few good rounds of Go Fish, Old Maid and Animal Rummy, homemade chocolate chip cookies and lots of play time outside. But then at the end of the night when I went to kiss him and tuck him in and told him I loved him, he told me he needed to share a secret with me that I wouldn’t like.

“Momma, I don’t love you.” he whispered with an impish grin on his face.

What am I going to do with this kid?

July 16, 2014

It Really Is Rather Grand …

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While we were in Arizona for The Hubby’s family reunion, we made the seven hour journey to and from the Grand Canyon with our three older kids to cross of a bucket list item. Owlie stayed behind with cousins because I kept having dreams about him falling over the edge. Serious head case – that’s me.

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For the first fifteen minutes after we got to the Canyon, we all pretty much looked like Big C in this picture. Just staring and trying to take in the magnitude of all the absolute beauty and hugeness of it.

I couldn’t even look at it without feeling a bit dizzy. That combined with the dreams about Owlie made me very nervous when anybody would get even close to the edge. In some places there were railings, but in other places there were not and it made me so uncomfortable! At one point we saw a mom with a little boy – maybe seven – sitting RIGHT ON THE EDGE.  GAAAAAAAAA!

Nerves aside, I really loved seeing the Grand Canyon. I think everyone should see it! It is a national treasure for sure.

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Here’s Hannie B. standing on a little rock wall. The wall was about five feet in front of an edge with a railing and I was still freaking out while I took this picture. In my mind I kept thinking if she fell and happened to jump at the exact same time, she could go right over the edge. She just wanted to look like she’d gotten sort of close to the edge. Super lame paranoid mom moment.

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It is pretty hard to comprehend that this geological masterpeice is due to a river plus millions of years. It is amazing and breathtaking. We were so lucky the day we went because it was about eighty degrees with a slight breeze. We visited the South Rim and it was not crowded at all.

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RedDog loved this little viewing spot. As you moved the scope along the scalloped edge of metal, it would guide you to see another famous formation in the Canyon. He’s such a little explorer and adventurer. I’m so glad we took him – even if I didn’t want him to get anywhere near the edge!

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The sky was so big and blue. The clouds were cottony fluff. We had an amazing time at the Grand Canyon. I will remember it forever. And I will try really hard to forget my kids fighting in the car the entire way back to Phoenix. Seriously.

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July 15, 2014

And Then I Sang My Heart Out …

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When I was in the Sixth Grade we had a Christmas musical. Our music teacher required each and every sixth grader (there were maybe seventy-five of us) to audition for a solo part in the production.

I diligently studied the lyrics to the different songs in the musical. On the day of my audition I stood before my peers, so nervous that I was actually shaking, and gave a wobbly performance of a verse from one of the songs I’d worked so hard to learn.

I was disappointed when I didn’t get one of the solo parts. The kids who were chosen had really nice voices. There were lots of children who didn’t get to be in the spotlight which made me feel a little better.

Then the music teacher asked me to stay after class one day and I just knew she’d made a mistake and now had a part for me. She told me that she had noticed how I knew ever single word to every single song in the production. She wondered if I would like to be the choir conductor who directs the Christmas choir in the town square.

I was thrilled!

Then she shared more about my role. She didn’t want me to sing the words at all, but to just mouth them really big just in case any of the kids in the choir forgot the words. She made sure to tell me several times to NOT SING. Plus, I would need to wear an old lady skirt and ratty sweater with a pillow shoved up it to make me look plump and top it all off with a gray wig.

I left her room and went into the bathroom and cried. I knew then that I was a really awful singer – bad enough that the music teacher needed to shut me up so her musical would sound good. I got up and did what she asked. I never uttered a sound out loud. And I felt very ashamed.

That one moment in my life has defined my relationship with music for years.  I’ve always been a silent observer and deep appreciator of those with musical talent, never able to overcome the fear of singing in front of others. I can recall specific instances where groups of friends in high school or college were singing for whatever reason and I flat out refused to participate. Whenever I have been asked to sing in a large group choral situation (usually at church), I just get up and mouth the words to the song. It probably didn’t help that I grew up with two brothers who have beautiful singing voices.

It is sad to me that this one woman who held a position of trust and authority over me did so much to damage my self esteem in the music department. I’m forty-one and I still think about the pain it caused me. Maybe it would have been more helpful if she’d used her knowledge to teach me to be a marginal instead of horrible singer or just let me blend in with the other sixty kids who were singing.

Last week at my husband’s family reunion we held our big iPod Idol night. I have never participated with his family due to my fear of singing in public. This year was no different. I had absolutely no intention of getting up there and making a fool of myself. Then suddenly in the middle of all the crazy bad singing, something came over me and I just decided, WHO CARES? These people love me. I can laugh with them and be okay if they laugh at me. No one sounds good when they have big old ear phones on and are trying to sing over really loud music.

And then I sang my heart out.

(Royals, by Lorde, in case you were wondering.)

June 24, 2014

Some Randomness Before I Go . . .

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Today’s my nineteenth wedding anniversary. Nineteen years has flown by. I love my Hubby more every day and never get tired of being with him. He makes me laugh and treats me like a complete queen. Look at him photo bombing this picture of Hannah. He’s the best!

Also, why is my daughter taking a picture with a piece of pineapple on top of her head? She’s weird. I don’t know where she gets it from.

Tomorrow Hannie B and I leave for Girls Camp. I am half thrilled, half dreading it. I know it will be fun and spiritually uplifting for all thirty of us going. I also know girls will be moody, sleep deprived and crazy. I want to sleep in my own bed for ever and ever amen.

Owlie has started stealing my iPhone and taking fierce selfies. What a riot! He learned from the master, his sister. I just find these random pictures on the phone and laugh really hard. He’s got the funniest personality.

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This is what it looks like after a teenager has done Pioneer Trek for three days. I tried waking him up for five minutes. Then I had to get the camera. He was late for something and couldn’t wake up to save his life. He will kill me when he sees this picture, but I love it so much. He is a great kid.

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This is what it looks like when I’m in pain. I went to visit a friend from church and when I confessed that I had a horrible kink in my neck that was stressing me out with camp coming up, she attacked it with vigor until I was begging for mercy. To her credit, when she was done working me over, I felt ten thousand times better! I think I carry my stress in my neck and shoulders. Stress, be gone! Stop grinning Erica.

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Hope your Summer is off to a great start. We’re in the middle of a month of CRAZY with back to back to back to back weeks of commitments, but then come July 19th, we’re free for the rest of the Summer.

What’s on your schedule?

June 20, 2014

Pioneer Children . . .

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Big C and Hannie be are participating in a Pioneer Trek for the next couple of days. Yesterday I had the privilege to be an official Trek photographer. I donned my pioneer wear, grabbed my trusty camera and enjoyed a full day of unreal scenery and two hundred fifty amazing kids. Best of all,  I got to see my kids reenacting the journey their ancestors made across the plains hundres of years ago to be able to worship God without persecution.

Enjoy a few photos from my day. (I only edited about twenty. I took almost nine hundred.)

The location took my breath away which helped to take my mind off the sweltering heat and humitidy.

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Two of the horses being ridden by trail bosses were nursing mothers. I wanted to follow this foal around all day. His little tail and new fur were so scruffy.

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In the early evening the sun and heat were replaced by ominous storm clouds which unleashed a cooling rain. Not the best for camera equipment, but certainly helpful for overheated handcart pullers.

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I think this shot will look great in sepia. It’s my friend Norm Bird resting the horses after a morning of riding. Such hard working beasts!

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At various points during the trek the youth get to watch reenactments from the lives of actual handcart pioneers. This story always touches my heart. A husband and wife, weary from months on the the trail feel they can’t pull their cart for another moment, when suddenly they feel they need to pull no more because their cart is being pushed from behind. They look behind their cart but see no one. They know that unseen angels have rendered a tender mercy, helping them along the trail at the time when they needed it most.

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Everything was lush and green due to all the rain we’ve had lately. Such a striking canvas for our colorful youth pioneers grouped in companys.

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June 16, 2014

The First Day of Summer Vacation …

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It is 4:00 PM on the first REAL day of Summer vacation (meaning the first day with no school) and I am patting myself on the back because I feel like it has been a very productive and successful day! When I proudly declared this to Hannie B, her reply was, “Oh no, I can’t live like this for the next ninety days!”

Want to know what she’s talking about? I told the Hubby that in order for me to not go completely crazy this Summer, I had to set down some guidelines that all the kids – older and younger – could follow.  Mostly I didn’t want this Summer to be another day after day of sleeping too late, watching too much TV, not helping me or each other, not getting along with one another and whining constantly about being bored. I am done with that kind of Summer.

So we had a Family Home Evening that consisted of two parts. First, we set up our Summer guidelines. Second, we made our Summer bucket list. The idea of this order was to show the kids that if they can be responsible and follow the guidelines, we will be able to do some really fun things together.

Here are the guidelines we established (but not without complete opposition from the oldest).

  1. You can sleep in as long as you would like. But, for every half hour you sleep in past 8:30 AM, you lose a half hour of time on your technology. Mom will wake everyone up at 8:30, and if you choose to sleep past that, you are choosing the consequence.
  2. Every morning you will do the following things before playing/chilling/making plans with friends: make your bed, clean up your room, eat breakfast, shower, and complete all chores mom has for you. These things will all be done WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY.
  3. We will have scripture study EVERY SINGLE DAY and you will be there, participating with a good attitude. If your attitude isn’t good, expect to lose time from technology.
  4. You may have your technology (iPod, Kindle, TV, computer) from 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM (minus any deductions for sleeping in or bad attitude). This does not mean you can spend eight hours on your technology. It just means it’s available to you during that time. It can be taken away at any time by a parent. Exceptions can be made to listen to music while exercising or mowing the grass before 1:00 PM.
  5. We will visit the Public Library every two weeks. You will be expected to check out a book (or books) and will be expected to read for at least one half hour a day. You will each get to read to Owlie.
  6. You will do your own laundry once a week. If you need help, just ask and mom will walk you through it. Be thankful that you will know how to clean your own clothes when you leave home.
  7. Occasionally, you will get a job off the “Horrible, Awful Jobs Nobody Wants To Do” list. Just suck it up and get ‘er done. Mom will draw jobs from a jar. Cross your fingers and hope you get something like wash baseboards instead of deep clean all toilets.
  8. The older kids will each make dinner once a week. We will meet as a family on Sunday to go over our calender and plan meals. Mom will shop for groceries and help you if you need it, but mostly you’re on your own. Be grateful you’re learning to cook so you don’t starve when you go to college or gain 500 pounds because you only eat fast food.
  9. All the fun things on the bucket list will be possible if you are on board with our Summer guidelines. Be helpful, happy and respectful to each other.

We did this today and it was dreamy. Like, life changing dreamy. We’ll see how it goes. Today we crossed off making homemade popsicles from our bucket list. Everyone did their jobs without complaining. Except for Owlie. He complains for hours about one little job. It makes me laugh.