Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today I Am Grateful


  1. antibiotics
  2. naptime
  3. leftovers
  4. pillow-top mattresses
  5. hot water
  6. soap
  7. Baby Signing Time
  8. mini miracles/immediate answers to prayers
  9. my home
  10. my husband's income
What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Say Uncle!

So I have bronchitis due to a bacterial infection.

It's been one of the worst weeks of my life.

When my best friend died was worse.

The first week postpartum after each of my kids was born (and I had cracked/bleeding nipples and a torn perineum) perhaps ties.

A week ago it was just a sore throat, funky voice, and lots of coughing. But the fun had only begun.

Then I got a fever. I was racked with chills. I could not get warm. Shivering uncontrollably in a hot bath. Then came the sweats. I could feel the heat emanating off my face and neck. Sometimes I would have the chills and the sweats at the same time. How is that even possible?

Then came the body aches.

The coughing intensified, which led to a headache. This headache would increase in intensity every time I coughed so that it felt like I had an ice pick jammed through my skull. That's been fun.

Next appeared a migrating rash on my legs. Incessant itching. Now we're just adding insult to injury. Speaking of insult to injury, the bottom of my tongue is bloody and sore from banging on my uneven bottom teeth every time I cough, and I think I have a cavity. I've got a toothache. I know it's not related, but I don't think I should have to suffer anything additional.

Then the hacking began. Not just coughing, but gagging on large amounts of mucus. I'm constantly spitting it out, but I can never get enough up to feel comfortable.

The mucus just won't come up to my satisfaction, no matter how many fluids I drink and how much I cough. As a result, whenever I lie down the mucus shifts around in my throat, blocking off my trachea, so I jerk awake choking.

So I didn't sleep the last two nights. At all. (A silver lining: now I can better have empathy for my suffering mother who lives with really bad apnea.)

I'm a freaking zombie.

Oh, so dramatic, Maren. Come on. People get sick all the time. Buck up.

Normally, I would think so too. But now I'm a mother of a toddler and an infant. Today when I went to the doctor and he asked if I was getting plenty of rest, I just laughed. No Doc, I'm not.

All day I have to care for two very small kids who have lots of needs. This results in no resting, which results in my sickness getting worse. Luckily my family hasn't gotten sick (yet). My daughter is undressed, unwashed, totally disheveled and gross. My baby is wearing the same thing he has worn for many days. The house is a complete and utter disaster zone. It makes me want to vomit, it's so bad.

I wish I had a wife. She could take care me when I get sick and "go to work" for me too. If Brent was this sick, he wouldn't go to work. Plus he'd have me home all day to entertain kids and bring him food. I get sick, and I just have to wait the hours out until he can come home and give me a reprieve.

I have needed backup so badly this week. I'm not usually one to cry uncle, but


The funny thing is I have lots of friends and family around to support me that could normally give me help. I haven't asked for any because I don't want to run the risk of spreading this to anyone else. I feel like I can't ask anyone to put their health at risk just to let me rest a little.

After this long and miserable week, today is Saturday. Finally. I took myself to the doctor and he asked me if my husband was home for the weekend. When I answered affirmatively he said "Good. It is my prescription that you do nothing but rest and breastfeed. Make your husband do everything else."

Thankfully I have the kind of husband that will.

So I have 48 hours to rest and heal. Praise to God above.

Now that I'm resting and finally feeling some peace for the first time in many days, I'm craving the company of my family. All my brothers and sisters (except one) and their kids and spouses are having dinner at my parents' house. We do this every Saturday.

Saturday Night Dinners at the Homestead are one of the best things in my life. It makes me so happy to be there, surrounded by all the people in the world that I love best. I look forward to it every week.

I need the balm of sisterhood to soothe my cracked and raw soul tonight. I need the delicious dinner that couldn't be improved upon because nobody and I mean NO BODY - not even your mother - can cook like my mother (except for maybe Ina Garten). I need that hug from my Pa that tells me I'm still his girlie, even though I'm a mama now.

But I can't go. I'm in exile. Don't want to expose my dear ones unnecessarily. So I am sad.

Now I know how Emma (the one who isn't here) must feel on Saturday nights.

We miss you, Emma.

Speaking of crying uncle, for your viewing pleasure and because I could really use a laugh, I give you one of the best scenes of of one of the best movies ever made. When Tim Tebow cries and squeals as Scut Farkus pulls back his arm, just imagine me whimpering there. :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Was Unaware . . .

that I said certain phrases with regularity, until I heard them come out of my toddler.

Some examples:
  1. Holy crap.
  2. Does that sound like a plan?
  3. Okay, Love.
  4. No, that's not one of the options.
  5. You okay, honey?
  6. I gotcha.
Now that she's copying me so much, I'm going to have to start checking my phraseology. So far number 1 is as bad as it gets. I have yet heard her say "suck", which I say all the time. And I just really don't want to hear that word coming out of a two-year-old.

P.S. As I write my infant is lying on the floor playing. I just looked over and saw that he has rolled far enough to grab one of my Crocs and is sucking on it. Gross! Man, I'm going to have to start cleaning up my floors.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tender Mercies

I am grateful . . .
  1. that the bludgeoning sensation in my skull only lasts as long as the coughing does.
  2. that the sweats and chills are subdued somewhat during the daytime
  3. for Baby Signing Time dvds and for PBS kids for entertaining my children so I can supervise them with minimal effort and feel like at least they're learning something while I rot their brains out.
  4. for a husband who will come home, feed the toddler, clean the kitchen, and bounce the baby while I lay down.
  5. for a baby who delightfully decides to be content today.
  6. for a toddler throwing fewer tantrums and being more helpful than usual today.
  7. that an entire week of this nasty flu is behind me, so that I am closer to the end than the beginning of my suffering. Supposedly.
  8. that I slept the better part of 13 hours last night.
  9. for frozen dinners.
  10. For the capacity to have multiple windows open at once so Jenny can watch home videos and I can blog simultaneously.
While you may think my tone is sarcastic, let me clarify (since the written word can be confusing on tone sometimes.) I am absolutely sincere. When feeling like you want to die, you count your blessings where you can. I am truly grateful my suffering is not worse. It could be, so easily.

My Pride and Joy

So I just have to gloat a minute about how brilliant my daughter is and share her latest significant milestone.

For Christmas Jenny wanted an easel. Granny obliged.

Jenny has LOVED it. Today as soon as James went down for his nap Jenny rushed up to me (knowing that his naptime is the only time she gets to use her easel) and demanded "I want do paint my art."

"What color do you want."

"Red. No, yellow."

"Okay, yellow." I left to get the yellow paint.

"No, BLUE!!!!!" Jenny screamed in typical fashion, thus completing her usual waffling whenever faced with a decision.

I set her up.

She made a couple typical paintings of nothing but big globs of paint smeared around in an unrecognizable abstract.

She requested a fresh canvas.

Next time I looked up it was because she had pronounced "I made a smiley face!"

Surely not I thought, but wanted to see what in her mind was a smiley face. I saw this.

Well, not quite that. I just saw the head, the eyes, and the mouth. She hadn't completed her masterpiece yet.

Then she said "And a nose."

She painted a nose.

I cheered and high-fived and hugged.

She wiggled out of my hug protesting "AND LEGS!"

She proceeded to paint legs. One and two.

Let's take a closer look.

I'm keeping it forever.

Monday, January 11, 2010

James - 6 Months

My baby is six months old. How the time flies!

Here is a list of his accomplishments, habits, and tastes.
  1. He is an accomplished roller (just back to front. He can't get back yet.)
  2. He is an accomplished grasper. I must always have a toy handy and try to keep them out of Jenny's ever snatching hands.
  3. He loves milkies.
  4. He loves his swing.
  5. He loves to lie on his back and wiggle around, trying to reach whatever is lying nearby.
  6. He likes to use his toys as a hammer. He frequently hits himself on the head.
  7. He loves his big sister. He will watch her endlessly.
  8. He prefers his lion rattle to his elephant rattle.
  9. He makes gutteral moans when he's tired.
  10. His smiles continue to have the power to melt the hardest man's heart.

Thanks to Shelley for the beautiful photos of my boy.

What's Inside

Jenny saw this in a toy catalog.

Human Body Interactive Fact Finder
I tried to explain what it was, saying something like "if you could take off your skin and look inside your body, you would see that stuff."

Then she said "And I take off my body and there's candy in my body."

Yes, Jenny. Most certainly there is candy in your body. Usually is.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Want a Room

I want a room that is all my own.

I place I can read, write, dream, think, be.

My husband has his man-cave, a place for his poker tables and chip collection. It's a room I rarely enter. It is the one room in the entire house that I haven't touched in any way (well, that and his bathroom. If you'd seen his bathroom you'd understand why I've avoided that one too).

It is entirely his. There he can revel in his manness. There he can indulge in all the hobbies and activities that I don't share with him. It is in that room that he plays games, solves puzzles, rearranges his collection, polishes the fingerprints off his plaques. It is there he goes when he wants privacy to wrap Christmas presents, build models, or put something he doesn't want meddled with.

I am welcome there. I can visit him in his den if I wish. Occasionally I venture in and ask about this chip or that. He goes into great detail, giving me a much more in-depth answer than I can comprehend or appreciate. And while I am welcome there, the space remains his.

I want that.

It is true that I have in one way or another, taken over the rest of the house. I choose the paint colors and the curtains. I move the furniture the way I want it. However, in doing so, I always consider his tastes. I decorate in a way that will suit us both, not just me. If I was making decisions only for myself then I would choose differently.

I paint. I hang things. I plan renovations. He says nothing. He lets me do what I want. And if that is the case, isn't the whole house mine, and the Salon Privee his?

I don't think so.

It's in how a room is used.

Our bedroom may have green walls and furniture that I picked out, but it has his mess as well as mine. Not to mention Jenny's clothing strewn across the floor, toys under my bed, and a kitty contaminating my sheets.

The office holds my piano and our desk. I painted a shimmering topcoat on the walls to make it give the illusion that it's glowing. But the desk is cluttered, there is an obstacle course on the floor between the chair and the door, and despite my best efforts I can't keep the closet doors closed.

The bathroom often acts as my refuge. In there I can be alone. I put the entertainment and safe keeping of our children in my husband's capable hands in the hour after dinner and before bedtime. I shut the door, light a candle, and slip into the tub. But the tub doesn't fit my back and the tile and floor is old and ugly. Plus I have to clean toddler grime out of the tub every time I want to use it.

The nursery probably comes closest to being mine. Brent has a couple of things on a high shelf in the closet, but other than that it is entirely my domain. Except everything in there serves the baby. Except the chair. The chair is mine.

So I have chair. A place I read and write and think. But I can only use it when the baby isn't sleeping. And if the baby isn't sleeping, chances are, I can't really have the time to myself to enjoy the chair anyway.

Someday I'll have a room.

In my room I will have a piano. A harp. A little antique desk that will hold my laptop, my stationary, and nothing else. I'll have an old bookcase full of my beat-up paperbacks. My books look so shabby next to Brent's leather bound books, that they need their own space. I don't want them shoved inaccessibly in a box. I want them out. I want their loved and dog-eared pages to be close at hand.

I'll decorate with florals and toile. Or maybe in shades of white. I'll have a large window that will face a garden. I'll have a comfortable arm chair and lots of lamps. The kitty will never be admitted. The children's toys will never encroach. I will be able to shut the door when I need solitude, or open the door when I feel like welcoming my daughter's happy face and energetic play. I will keep flowers on an occasional table. There will be no phone. There will be no television. I'll have a brightly colored rug and a plant with dark, waxy leaves in a terracotta pot that I'll paint with polka dots.

A luxury, you say? Absolutely. In my large house I plan on having many children. Space always seems at a premium, despite how much square footage a family has. Maybe I won't get my room for many years, when my yet unborn children are grown and Brent and I become empty-nesters.

It's just as well.

Until I have the luxury of having time to myself, I suppose there isn't much point in having a room to myself. When that day comes I'll have my pick of rooms. Will I want it as much then? When the whole house is empty, will I even need my own space? I'll have the time to enjoy it, but will I spend that time longing the rooms to be filled to overflowing once more, mourning the disappearance of my babies?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Sampling of the Best of 2009

10. My daughter, the Tiny One, learned to walk. She was about 20 months old before she took her first tentative steps. She was so tiny that she only looked about a year old. Except she could talk in complete sentences and recite the alphabet. She takes after her mother for whom cognitive development supersedes physical development.

9. We bought a membership to the zoo. Jenny LOVES the reptile house. It may be nasty smelling and old and not even remotely attractive, but it houses snakes and turtles and a crocodile. She can't get enough.

8. Watching Brent and Jenny walk home from church together, hand in hand. The tenderness of watching the two people I love best have a quiet moment together makes my heart swell and reminds me that life is good. So, so good.

7. Brent got a new job. A great, albeit boring, job. A well-paying job that is as secure as one can expect in the banking industry in the current economy. He likes his boss. He likes his coworkers. He likes the company. We have income. He is happy. I am happy.

6. A family outing to Silver Lake. We saw squirrels. We saw fish. Jenny had a shoulder ride. She didn't fall in the water. There is something about being in the mountains that feels more like home than any other place. It is comforting and reminds me of teenage summers spent at camp. Plus the fresh, crisp air filling my lungs and invigorating my mind just makes me glad to be alive.

5. I felt for the first time the growing life form within my belly flutter his legs.

"I'm growing fast in here Mama" he seemed to say. "Thanks for providing such a warm, cozy, squishy place for me to play in."

If only you could know how much I love you, Baby.

4. Brent walked in the house with flowers in his arms. He told me that while he was shopping he got to wondering when the last time he brought his wife flowers was. He couldn't remember. He said that was just sad. So he bought me flowers. Just because he hadn't in a while.

3. A walk in the gardens at Thanksgiving Point. It was my anniversary with Handsome, and I had packed a delectable picnic. We drank bubbly, ate broccoli/tomato/almond salad and croissants, savored dark chocolate truffles. We let Tiny One run excitedly from tree to flower to stream to bridge. I pushed the stroller. Handsome rubbed my shoulders and kissed me tenderly.

2. Watching Jenny run into the living room on Christmas morning and have her mind blown away by the fantastic art easel set up. Wait! A bike! A BIKE! Must go to bike first!







Indecision splayed across her lit up face as she was torn between two gifts so perfect, so delightful, that her body was filled with delirious joy. Ah, to see her excitement overload brought back to me the brand of magic that Christmas held for me twenty-five years ago.

1. My beautiful boy

flesh of my flesh

apple of my eye

sweetest darling

captain of the babies

was born.

He came to me after a quick six hours of labor in a peaceful and dimly lit birth center in Holladay. Due to the sacredness of the event, I only allowed my husband, my midwife, and my nurse to share the experience with me. It was intense. It was hard. It was glorious. And at the end of the run-away train ride, I held perfection in my arms. Those first few moments of James's life I will cherish always.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Beginnings

Well, it's that time of year again. The decorations are down (supposedly; I'm actually still working on that one) and the skies are grey. Our waistlines are bigger after all that holiday food. Our motivation is high.

What will I accomplish this year?

This year I will finally get thin.

This year I will finally get organized.

This year I will finally make a habit of . . . .

It seems to me that I usually set goals that have been my goals for some time. The things I want to work on are usually accomplishments that have eluded me for years. This year I'm gonna do it.

Sound familiar?

I don't think the new year is a time for new beginnings. It is a time for inventory and continuing the journey. I'll pick myself up where I am and take a couple steps forward. I'll likely take a few steps back as well, but that's okay by me. As long as by the end of the year, when I total all my steps, I've taken more forward than back. As long as the general direction I travel is forward, I'm happy. I suppose I'll move in a rather zig-zag pattern, but that's still forward, isn't it?

I have been working on my 101 in 1001 list. I'm not setting any New Year's Resolutions, since I've already got plenty of things planned. My 101 list progress follows.

Accomplished: 17
Currently working on: 17
Hired out: 3
Not going to happen: 1
Yet to embark upon: 63

And I've got about 2 years and 2 months left to work on them. Slow and steady wins the race, right? (The operative word being STEADY.)

As I examine myself and my motivation (or lack thereof, as is often the case) I can easily get discouraged or distracted. I think it's helpful to remember that any worthwhile goal is going to take work. And work, as we know, is an eternal principle.

President David O. Mckay said "Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing, that the love of work is success."

I love that.

Maybe that should be my motto for the year: The love of work is success.

I want to love my work more. If I think of my work as a blessing to my family and a labor of love, then hopefully I'll be more motivated, accomplish more, and complain less. If I love my work then I'll be successful in it.

I'll be happier too. And who couldn't do with an added measure of happiness?

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's a New Year

And outside my front door it looks like this: