Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Portrait of Jenny

My dear friend Jenn is a professional artist and she has done the most beautiful portrait of her son. It inspired me to ask her to do one of Jenny. She came over and took some pictures of Jenny to gather inspiration for the portrait. She did a couple sketches for me to help me decide what I'd like.

I'd like all of you to weigh in on this for me. You all know me and know Jenny. What do you think would be best? Please vote in the poll in the sidebar.

Option #1: Mother and Daughter. I love the way this captures the relationship, and think it would make a beautiful painting. However, I do already have some photographs of me like this with her, though admittedly most of them are when she was an infant and not a toddler. It would show more detail of her face than the next one.

Option #2: Jenny and Bear. I think this one shows her personality a little more, and I love her posture and the way she drags that bear around. This one would be more of her profile, which I have to admit I love.

What do you think?

It is a Truth Universally Acknowledged That . . .

Autumn Colours

The vibrancy and crispness of the outdoors during Autumn always thrills me. Who doesn't love it? And crunching leaves beneath my feet? Delightful!

I think it's somehow God's gift to us to make up for the dreariness that is soon to follow. We know that soon everything will be brown, grey, cold, and nasty. For months. And then a couple more months.

Could God possibly be saying "I know you all suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. So sorry about that, but natural laws must be obeyed and whatnot. Perhaps one last bash before the grey settles over your life, hmm?"

Yesterday it snowed. The decline and fall of beauty has begun. I wished to hold on to the colour just a little while longer, but alas, natural laws must be obeyed. The earth must rotate. The seasons must change. The gloom is inevitable.

Memories of Fall colours and hopes of Spring life serve to sustain me during the winter. True, I have the holidays to look forward to, but those last only through the first couple months of winter. It's January - March that make you want to abandon your life and responsibilities and run away to Belize.

Anyone want to come along? Let's leave January 2nd.

The Apple and the Tree Part II

I have heard reports from my mother that as a child I screamed in my sleep. I only recall two specific epithets being described to me.

Get down, Jip! (Jip was our beloved yet counter-jumping dog who loved to steal forbidden food.)


I hate you! (With the occasional variation of I hate you, Davy!)

Apparently tantrums weren't enough of a release, and so I had to purge myself during unconscious hours too.

Jenny does the same.

Usually her exclamations are something like No! NO! NOOOO! or I WANT it! or STOP IT!

She wakes me up usually twice a night, sometimes more, with her screaming. I used to go in her room to see what the problem was. Then I realized she was asleep. Now I try to ignore it. But it's hard. It wrenches a mother's heart.

My poor overemotional girl. Just like a true toddler.

Just like a true girl.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Fun Project

Granny invited us over to her house a few weeks ago. Brent was out of town and I was trolling for something to do.

Grandpa was also out of town, and so JaeReg and her kiddos were babysitting Granny. As the evening's activity, Granny had baked and frosted cookies to paint.

Here are some of my and Jenny's creations.

Jenny never ate a whole cookie. She enjoyed gouging the frosting and nibbling the edges, though.

Thanks again, Granny, for the fun night!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Apple and the Tree

I believe all mothers have feelings of inadequacy. We wonder if we're doing everything the best way we can for our kids. We are riddled with doubt and fear. Here are a few questions I've been asking myself lately:

Am I handling my child's tantrums appropriately?

How best should I discipline my child?

What can I do to get my child to eat more vegetables?

What can I do to get my child to eat more of anything other than candy?

What can I do to get my child to eat anything at all?

Am I providing enough of a stimulating environment?

How can I give more one-on-one time and still get the dishes done?

How can I suppress the desire to yell "Shut up!" at my kids?

How can I balance my attention-giving so each child has his/her needs met?

Am I permanently scarring my child by the way I'm (fill in the blank)?


What children don't realize is that parents don't have all the answers. We are not the sum of all wisdom. We're not sure how to handle most situations. We just do the best we can.

When I was a kid I thought that my parents' word was law. I thought they knew what they were doing, and when it didn't happen to suit me (for instance, when my screaming reached such a pitch that I was ordered to go to my room) I felt that they were making me suffer on purpose. This belief urged me to scream louder to punish my mother for punishing me.

My mother says that I was a sweet and happy baby. I never made an unhappy sound. Then she says when I turned two I started screaming and never stopped.

I now know how she feels. I have a two year old who has started screaming.

As a child I strongly identified with Beverly Cleary's character Ramona Quimby. Ramona was the little sister. Ramona suffered many injustices in the world, at least in her eyes. Ramona was always making great big noisy fusses. I learned from her how to make my noisy fusses great and big. She taught me, for instance, that when exiled to one's bedroom, the tantrum need not end. In fact, it must escalate in order to serve its purpose. However, a tantrum taking place in a closed room is much more easily ignored by the supervising adult. So the effort channeled into the tantrum must increase.

Ramona's greatest teaching moment for me in this regard is when she put on her Sunday shoes (because they had that hard heel) and laid on her bed sideways so that she could kick the wall. The heel not only make a louder sound against the wall than if she kicked it with tennis shoes or stockinged feet, but they also made rather satisfying black scuff marks as well.

I know I followed Ramona's example on more than one occasion. I don't know if it served it's purpose in making my mother suffer as I was suffering, but now that I'm a mother suffering at the hand of my toddler, I assume it did. Mom never mentioned the wall-kicking though. She probably didn't want to draw attention to it. That gave me permission to keep doing it. And I did. Until my mother kept ignoring it so long that it felt futile. What was the point of destruction if it didn't get me anywhere?

I feel empathy for my daughter. I remember what it was like to be so full of dissatisfaction, frustration, and unmet needs and desires that I was always on emotional overload. It doesn't feel good, and I needed an outlet. My daughter clearly does too.

Jenny screams and whines at the slightest provocation. She never behaves this way in front of extended family. No auntie or grandparent privy to her whining has ever heard what those little lungs can really do.

When Jenny throws a tantrum there is much screaming and mucous flowing. As I remain unmoved by her histrionics, she elevates them. Her screaming becomes strained and forced, to the point that I know she's hurting her throat.

"Good!" She probably thinks. "That'll show mom!"

Ah, poor girl. If only I could explain in toddlerese that these tactics will not prove fruitful. They will only upset her and me both, resulting in neither one of us getting what we want.

Someday I will be the grandparent. She will be the mother with the hysterical toddler. She'll get hers, poor kid.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Positive Reinforcement

Jenny: I want that.

Brent: No, Jenny, I need to use it.

Jenny: I want it!

Brent: In a minute. Right now I need it.

Jenny: I WANT IT!

Brent: Right now it's Daddy's turn. When I'm done you can have a turn.

Jenny: Aaaahhhh!!!! I . . . WANT . . . IT!!!!

[Brent finishes what he's doing]

Brent: Okay, Jenny, I'm all done. It's your turn now.

Jenny: I drawing

[Jenny draws]

Jenny: I writing

[Jenny writes]

Jenny: Good sharing, Daddy!

Monday, October 19, 2009


I've been reflecting on the things I need to change in my life and things I need to give up.

I need to give up Halloween candy.

I need to give up some of the time I spend online.

I need to give up complaining.

I need to give up the idea that I am the way I am and am incapable of change.

Once I give up those things I need to replace them with positive things.

Eliminating negative things/thoughts/behaviors from our lives isn't good enough. They need to be supplanted. In their place we need to substitute positive things, positive thoughts, and positive behaviors.

If every time I went to grab a piece of Halloween candy I did 50 jumping jacks instead and drank a glass of water, not only would I avoid the extra calories from the candy, but I'd rev up my metabolism to burn a few more than I would have otherwise.

If I gave up some of the time I spend online and spent it instead on reading the scriptures or in personal prayer, I would have an added measure of the Spirit to guide me and sustain me throughout my day, helping me avoid temptation and encouraging me to do good.

If every time I found the need to complain about something I chose to find something to be grateful for instead, I would have a greater measure of happiness in my life.

If I give up the idea that I'm incapable of change and instead truly believe that change is possible then I am facilitating my own change. If I truly believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ, and his redeeming atonement, then I must believe in the power and possibility of change. If we couldn't change, then His sacrifice would have been meaningless. Having faith in Him means having faith in my own ability to change, for it is through His power that I can be changed.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Positive Reinforcement

Jenny is watching Super Why!, a PBS Kids show that she loves. This show is completely responsible for teaching her the alphabet. It was effective enough that she could identify all 26 letters at 18 months old.

From the television I heard Wonder Red, who has WORD POWER ask "What letter makes the errr sound?"

I responded "R!"

Jenny followed up with "Good job, Mommy!"

Later on I heard Super Why with the POWER TO READ ask "What would help Spider not frighten Miss Muffet away? Bark at, smile at, or yell at?"

I shouted "smile at!"

Super Why said "Let's try smile at."

Jenny said "Good job, Mommy!"

I felt so good. It's a nice feeling to get encouragement and positive reinforcement from someone you love, even if it comes from a two year old.

Sappy Mama

My son has the sweetest smile I've ever seen. It takes up half his face. It bursts forth like a ray of light and happiness. It makes my heart just melt!

Now I know that sounds totally cliche, but it's true! Whenever he smiles I literally have this sensation in my chest like my innards are turning to jelly. He bowls me over every time. I love that kid.

Yesterday my daughter told me "I love you, Mama." for the first time without prompting. She'll tell me she loves me if I ask her to, but this was of her own volition. :) It was a sweet thing to hear.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Brent come homes tonight.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It Just Isn't Right

After Jenny was born I began to notice my first grey hairs. They seemed to grow in patches. One patch was on the top of my head, right where I part it. Another patch was behind my right ear.

After James was born I noticed even more. Now they are lightly sprinkled throughout. I notice them more because I haven't had my hair done for nearly four months, and my roots are a couple of inches long. Yes, when babies are born mothers tend to neglect their previously lustrous and gorgeous hair. (Except for my mom. I believe she got her hair done when my baby sister was only a few days old.)

I can accept my greying hair. It happens. Colour in a bottle is a happy thing, and I am certainly not too proud to use it.

However, it just does not seem right that I have grey hair at the same time I have acne. Middle-age symptoms and adolescent symptoms should not exist simultaneously in the same body.

I'm 30 years old. Shouldn't I be done with zits by now?

Where's the justice?