Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Letter to My Dog

Dear Neurotic Canine,

First things first. I know that it was your owners who made the decision not to have you neutered. It was your owners that thought, "We have a great idea! Let's breed this furball and make him earn his keep." It is now your owners who feel like, at almost ten years old, the neuter ship has sailed. You might keel over and die next week for all we know so paying for you to lose a couple parts seems cruel.

I also realize that we aren't really the dog park kind of people. Trail people. Lake people. Camping people. Sure. So maybe if we'd taken you to a dog park before you were nine years old (and had you neutered) this conversation wouldn't be happening. When you were a little guy we had no other little guys to love and raise. So you were our only baby and we took you everywhere--just not to dog parks. Then the kids came and we realized that, "Whoa, this furry thing is just a dog and we have tiny humans to raise." So, sorry, but you took your rightful place as family dog and lost your status as golden boy. But you are, literally, a golden boy and, figuratively, my most well behaved child by far. Except that neither of the kids try to hump schnauzers.

Which brings me back to the point of this letter.

BECK! Seriously. Yes. It's our fault for not neutering you and it's my fault for taking you to a dog park for the very first time when you are old and set in your ways but OH MY GOODNESS AND GOLLY. You're humiliating. Why? Why can't you just run and skip and jump with the rest of the dogs? Why must you chase a poor, unsuspecting schnauzer mercilessly, repeatedly sniff her girly bits, and get "that look" that you get when you're about to mount? Why must I sound like a broken record howling for you to knock it off?

I know that you only want to sniff and mount for five minutes and then you're done but, dude, the other dog owners (not to mention the schnauzer) don't know this. When I could get you away from her you were so sweet and adorable running and frolicking and sniffing and playing with dogs that, for some reason, you had no interest in climbing atop. But, pal, your one track mind is exhausting. For me. I can only imagine how tiresome it is for you.

So there you'd sit, giant retriever tongue hanging out of your mouth while I quietly chastised you. Panting. Your eyes searching mine as if to say, "I don't know. I don't know why I do it. It's no fun being on the leash. Let me off. I promise not to get in that stance that suggests I'm about to try my paw at defiling this much smaller animal."

So I'd let you off.

And you'd play for ten minutes, completely ignoring the tiny, gray dog that was running alongside her owner (somewhat antisocially). You'd play with other dogs and you'd wear that big, stupid grin that we all love so much. And you'd say with your eyes, "Thank you. All my nine years I never knew of dog parks but boy oh boy oh boy is this ever fun!"

Then that little schnauzer, with all her feminine wiles, would inevitably come running by. So, after an hour, I decided it was time to go. The boys were devastated because they were busy throwing the tennis ball for a champion fetcher who defied the very law of gravity. But, Beck, I really can only take so much of your libido.

And, also, a schnauzer? Really? I don't think goldenauzers would be an attractive breed. At least stick to your own kind.

So I love and adore you. That's not in question. You are such a good dog and I couldn't have asked for a better canine to call mine. You've raised two babies who learned to stand by crawling over to you, clutching fists of fur, and pushing up on unsteady legs all while covering you in sticky baby drool. You've let them pull your tail. You've played so gently with them. You're worth it all, is what I'm saying.

But I am begging you to stop the incessant mounting.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fruits and Veggies

Matthew will eat anything.

Except avocado. I certainly don't make him eat it because he'll happily consume everything else in sight.

So today I took him to Sprouts and we stocked up on our fruits and veggies. For some weird reason, he didn't want to go to Sprouts. "Mommy, turn around. I want to go to Walmart instead!" I don't know why he was set on Walmart but, while their produce will do in a pinch, it isn't my favorite place to shop for it. I told him that if he was really good at Sprouts, I'd buy him a treat. This means that I let him pick out a small amount of something that they have in the bulk bin section.

So, there we were, shopping along. I was debating between getting broccoli or cauliflower. While I love both passionately, cauliflower is my favorite between the two. Troy and Garrett prefer broccoli. Of course, I could have selected both delicacies but we've had both within the last week so I decided we'd just go with one of the two today.

So I asked Matthew.

He said we should get both.

"Well, let's just get one today," I suggested.

"Okay. Broccoli."

I walked over and filled a bag with two smallish heads.

"WHOA! WE ARE GETTING TWO?" he squealed. "Oh yay! Is one of them my treat for being good?"

"Sure!" I said, wanting to keep up this vegetable enthusiasm. Of course, I also let him get several gummy worms because I'm not a crazy health nut.

But it reminded me of what healthy eaters I have. Of course they love chips and candy and cookies because what red blooded American kid doesn't? But they love fruits and vegetables and fish and great big salads.

I'm sure that, in part, I got lucky, but it took diligence and hard work when they were teeny to achieve this level of peace and harmony at meal time. So, mama of that baby who is spitting green beans at you, persevere. Fight the fight. It is WORTH IT!

And, who knows, maybe one day that green bean spitter will happily declare in the middle of the store that the broccoli is his treat for being good.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Rocks & Remorse

On Friday night, we went to the University of Utah v Oregon baseball game with friends. We were invited to gather there for our friends' son's birthday party. The weather was nice, the game was bad (Oregon dominated the entire time), the ice cream was good. The teams played at the Salt Lake Bees stadium which has a great play area for kids and a train ride they can enjoy.

Matthew was sitting on my lap and Garrett was over playing with the older kids in the play area which is in the outfield. We were on the third base line. Suddenly, a bunch of boys ran up yelling and hollering that Seth (the sixth grade son of our friends) had been hit by a rock and he was bleeding and it was all at the hands of that Garrett kid.

I blinked in what felt like slow motion.

"Garrett?" I said stupidly. "Garrett? Are you sure?" See, Garrett doesn't throw rocks at people. Especially his friends. Matthew, sure. He's been known to nearly take out a ten-year-old with a rock to the head but Garrett? He's my passive child. Also, the kid doesn't really have a very good arm. (Again, Matthew, yes.)

We all went running and, as we headed toward the outfield, Garrett came to meet us. He saw us and burst into wracking sobs. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean for it to happen! It was an accident. I'm sorry. Do you forgive me? I feel horrible. I've never felt more horrible in my entire life." His sentences tumbled out of his mouth, one on top of the other with no space between.

As I rounded the corner I saw a crowd of people--at least twelve--huddled around Seth. It took me a second to get a good look at him through the group. He was in the arms of a random lady, sobbing uncontrollably. Believe me when I tell you that he was absolutely covered in blood. It appeared to be pouring from a golf ball sized egg just above his eyebrow. He face and hands were coated in blood.

Thankfully, his mom's a nurse. Also thankfully, his parents are a lot like we are. "Toughen up. Let's see what we're really dealing with here. Calm down." We got Seth to the bathroom where we were able to get all the blood washed away. His mom had already determined that it wasn't deep and wouldn't need stitches. Once the excess blood was gone and he'd calmed down, all that was left was a huge egg with a cut that, sure enough, didn't require a needle and thread.

I kept apologizing profusely.

Everyone kept telling me that it was an accident. These things happen. Blah blah blah.

"If Garrett's telling the truth," I said.

It didn't take long to fit everyone's stories together. Seth and his little brother had gotten into a fight. Garrett had gone to the defense of the younger brother (who is still older than Garrett and probably didn't need his help). "Get outta here! Leave him alone!" Garrett had yelled at his sixth grade friend because Garrett has high ego strength and doesn't know that you don't try to pick a fight with a kid five years older than you. When no one listened to him (go figure), Garrett picked up a rock. His intention (confirmed by eye witnesses) was to chuck it at a nearby tree. Angrily. To show everyone that he meant business and they'd better leave his friend alone.

He threw the rock. A combination of poor aim and the fact that Seth turned and took a step straight into the oncoming rock made for a bloody outcome.

Seth spent the last two innings sitting in a chair with an ice pack on his wound.

Garrett spent them crying.

And he whimpered himself to sleep that night.

We explained that he was lucky the rock hadn't hit Seth an inch lower and taken out his eye. We told him that we never, ever, throw rocks in the vicinity of people.

We saw Seth at church yesterday. He was back to his normal self with only a Band-aid over his eyebrow to tell his tale.

And, with any luck at all, Garrett learned an important lesson.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Painted Hands

For Mother's Day, I got painted handprints of both my boys. Matthew's came with a little questionnaire about me which was hilarious because it said, "My mom is pretty because she's a girl." Matthew was so excited to give it to me that it absolutely could not wait until Mother's Day. I got it the Thursday before. He'd drawn a picture of us on the back of the homemade envelope. We had legs and arms coming out of our heads. Our hands were clasped, holding one another's. There were a few scribbles on one of Matthew's legs. "Yook! It's us. We ah ho-ding hands. I have food on my yeg." He stuck to this story about food being on his leg when he showed the drawing to both his daddy and his brother. I'm still not entirely sure of the significance.

Garrett's gift was a big square piece of pink paper. His painted handprint had his kindergarten photo in the middle of it. Next to that hand was a poem.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm really not a crier. That's not to say that I don't enjoy a good sob every now and then, in the privacy of my own bedroom, and it's not to say that I don't have my moments of crying in front of people or losing it over a movie. It's just that these things happen more rarely than they seem to for your average, emotional girl. But as I read that poem I got choked up. I fought back tears and Garrett looked at me and said, "What's wrong?" thinking, I'm sure, that there was some enormous flaw in his gift.

I took both gifts down off the fridge today and put them away for safe keeping. I read that poem again and shed a tear or two on account of the thick lump that would not dislodge itself from my throat.

It doesn't have a poet listed so I cannot give credit where it is due. But you just tell me if this doesn't sum up motherhood.

Every day I am exploring
Touching everything I've found
I leave behind my little marks
And handprints all around

You clean up those handprints
But someday when I'm grown
You'll wish you had just one
Handprint to keep for your own

I made this handprint for you
So that one day when I am tall
You'll remember what my hand looked like
Long ago when I was small

So much of this parenting thing is teaching them how to go be adults. We get so excited when they walk and talk and sprint and read. We want them to make their own beds, brush their own teeth, get through elementary school, go to prom, get a good college education, get married and give us grandchildren. I clean up after my kids all day, every day. I pick up shoes. I clean up art supplies.

I wash away the smudges they leave on the walls.

And one day, in the not-so-distant future, they will be taller than me (fingers crossed) and all grown up. Life will be still where once it was perpetual motion. Walls will be clean where once they were filthy. Floors will be clean where once urine puddles sat at the base of my toilet. (What is it with boys?) And I will mourn my little men turned big ones like I mourn my babies turned little men. I want them to grow and change and mature and soar. That is the natural progression and desire of things.

Still, I am thankful for both of their tiny painted hands because I will miss these little fingers entwined in my own. I will miss my children.

But I will not miss the urine puddles. Because who in her right mind would?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Little (Dirty) Loves

These are my kids on Mother's Day.
Oh man. I love them something terrible. Like, rip my own heart out of my chest and let them walk around squeezing it and using it like a kick ball. That's how much. Sometimes, when I see them, they take my breath away. 

And then, sometimes, when I see them, they're standing in the middle of an incredible mess, they've broken 43 rules, and attempted to maim one another. Then I wonder what went through my tiny, pea brain when I concocted this idea of being a mom.

But mostly they take my breath away.

The oldest one just moved up to a level G today in his reading. That's getting pretty close to a second grade reading level. He also swims now. He can do a 25 freestyle and a 25 backstroke. I joked with his dad the other day that his backstroke looks better than mine. While not entirely true, it isn't far from it. In my defense, I'm a terrible backstroker. (I'm not actually sure that's a defense but I'll take what I can get.) He's a pretty great kid.

But, of course, he thinks passing gas is gut busting hilarious, he finds dirt and mud every which place and insists on wearing it, and, yesterday, at Matthew's field trip, declared to all the other moms in a very loud voice, "MY MOTHER IS SO WEIRD." So, I mean, in case you were starting to think it was all great all the time, well, it isn't. Apparently they only make it to six before you start to humiliate them by your mere existence.

Speaking of finding mud every which place and insisting on wearing it...



One day, the boys were playing together in the backyard. We were inside. This is what we found. I don't know little girls who would do this. I'm sure they exist but generally aren't they all about painted nails and tea parties? Not, like, rolling around in a mud puddle like a little piggy? 

In other news, this kid read several two letter words yesterday. I had no idea he had it in him. I was pretty floored. He also appeared to be the social glue that was holding his preschool class together on their field trip. You might have been able to knock me clean over with a feather. As he saw all of the other kids in their matching shirts he went running up, waving frantically, "Hi Ehwa! Hi! Hi Emawee! Hi Beckett! Hi Ehwee! Hi you! Hehwo!"

What an incredible difference nine months makes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Name Game

I'm no stranger to the fact that people make up names for their kids. Also, I completely understand that this is how all names came into existence. From the dawn of time, when Adam and Eve looked upon their firstborn son and announced, "Doesn't he look just like a Cain?" people have been making up names.

But, this day and age, it seems heightened. Trendy names seem so much more...trendier. Shoving two names together to make a completely different one is also popular. Especially here in Utah where there are so many kids running around that parents have to get really creative just so their daughter doesn't end up being Emily S. number two. In Garrett's class, there happens to be a boy and a girl with the same name. So, his teacher refers to one as Mr. Taylor and the other one as Miss Taylor. Except their names aren't Taylor. But you get the idea.

Substitute teaching is a great way for me to hear a whole bunch of names. Here are just a few I've come across.

Brecklyn (a girl)
Breson (a boy)
Harlee (a girl)
McKinsley (a girl)
Zaden (a boy)

And the list goes on. And on. I saw this video before I started to sub but it's been authenticated by my experience. Although, in total fairness, I've heard different names everywhere so I definitely don't think it's purely a Utah thing...

I said all of this to lead up to the name I encountered yesterday. It was in a high school class. Before I tell you the name, just let me state that most of the names of the high schoolers were fairly normal. Some of them were clearly trends from fifteen years ago but they weren't bizarre spellings. Apparently that party only started recently.

I was once a character in a drama sketch (written by myself and two friends of mine) and the character's name was Steph6anie. The six was silent. If I remember correctly, this resulted in the other characters, who thought she was ridiculous, referring to her as Stephsixie (without the an). Every so often I think about how we're probably not terribly far away from silent numbers infused into names for "creativity" sake.

Anyway, back to the kid I had yesterday. His name was neither trendy nor recently invented. Nope. He was named after a most famous Greek philosopher. When I hear "famous Greek philosopher" I think of Plato, Aristotle and Socrates. And, yes, it was one of those. Care to guess which one?



I also had an Elizajo. My mom later pointed out that this girl was most likely named Eliza Jo but with no space. Unfortunately, my southern-California-everything-is-a-Spanish-name roots came shining through. When I took roll, I pronounced it El-ihz-ah-ho. No one laughed. No one corrected me. But, yeah, the girl was as Caucasian as I am so, chances are, her name wasn't Elihzahho. Whoops. I'm kind of still embarrassed and I'll never even know what her name really is.

I think I'd like to live life as a professional baby namer. I promise I won't confuse any substitute teachers with names like Elizajo and Breson.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mrs. Becks Comes to Utah and Stays Forever

Do you see this haircut right here?

Everyone in Utah has this haircut. And by everyone I mean a very high percentage. I hadn't seen it much until I moved here. Oh sure, there was the occasional Victoria Beckham. Some other celebrities had, at one time, sported the look. I'd seen it on a head or two in San Diego a few years back. Then we moved here.

I saw it. "What a cute haircut," I thought.

I saw it again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

My mom noticed that everyone had it.

We began to refer to it as "The Utah Haircut."

It's not that I don't like it. It's just that I don't look favorably on anything that everyone does (says the girl with the long hair and the side swept bangs because no one has those things). So, even though I liked this cut on the right person (it does not work on everyone) I decided I would certainly not do it. (Especially because, what if I was one of the ones that it did not look good on?)

It was the same thing with the Miche bag which I loved and adored. It originated here in Utah and some of my friends were among the very first to have them. I saw them on my friends. So cute. I saw them in the malls. So cute. I decided I wanted one. Then, just before I was set to buy one, I started looking around. They were everywhere which is great for business but I didn't want the purse that everyone had--even if you could change the shell and make it more unique. I felt a little sad for my friends who'd been among the pioneers of this item. Although, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and kudos to them for helping to start this trend.

So back to the haircut. It's everywhere and the weird thing is, I've lived here for five and a half years and it hasn't changed. In California it doesn't seem that any trend lasts that long. So it's taken some getting used to on my part, this fact that things come to Utah and tend to stay for a good, long while. 

It's fine.

It's really, adorably cute on Matthew's teacher and she should maybe have it forever.

But now I'm seeing it on preschoolers and first graders. This once-upon-a-time Victoria Beckham hairstyle on tiny little girls? It's just so severe. So the question I pose here is this: Do we really want our grade schoolers looking like Posh Spice? Is that what we've come to here in Utah?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

'Cause I'm Keepin' It Real

When I was thirteen or fourteen, the movie Clueless came out. It weaved into the very fabric of the lives of girls my age. Containing phrases like As if! and I'm outtie, the film became a sort of instant cult classic. Clueless was a then modern day adaptation of Emma, except with better one-liners and that girl from the Aerosmith video. 

There's a scene in the film where the crew goes to a party in "The Val" (also known as Sun Valley). While there, Donald Faison's character decides to shave his head. His girlfriend finds him, mid shave, and they have the following exchange.

Dionne: Why did you do this to your head?
Murray: Because I'm keepin' it real. Because I'm keepin' it real.
Dionne: What!?
Murray: 'Cause I'm keepin' it...cause' I'm keepin' it real.
Dionne: Look! Look what he's done to his head! Can you believe this?

And from the time I first saw that movie, back in 1995, the phrase, "'Cause I'm keepin' it real," has gone through my head so many more times than I could ever count.

It's almost a slogan for how I want to live my life. Ask me a question in Bible study that I don't know the answer to (which happens a lot more than I'd care to admit) and I'll tell you I don't know but that I'll find out. Or I speculate an answer with the caveat that I don't actually know. Why? 'Cause I'm keepin' it real. Ask me if motherhood is all daisies and tulips. I'll probably tell you no. Why? 'Cause I'm keepin' it real. And, truthfully, sometimes motherhood is daisies and tulips but a lot of the time it's vomit and blood and dirt. So much dirt. I try to be genuine. I attempt to admit and own my mistakes. I believe in authenticity. I believe in keepin' it real.

That's why there's a label on this blog for Things I Probably Shouldn't Blog About. 

And this is one of them.

For some really strange and inexplicable reason, I decided long, long ago that there was something inherently disgusting about canola oil. I have no idea what happened or why I made this decision. Recent research on my part has led to the discovery that canola oil is actually a healthier choice than my trusty vegetable oil. I love vegetables. Perhaps it was this very piece of information that led to my conclusion that vegetable oil was somehow a less fattening and disgusting option than canola oil. Like I said, there's really no actual explanation--at least, not that I can remember.

Over the years, I've purchased and used bottles and bottles of vegetable oil. In my pantry, next to the golden child also known as vegetable oil, has sat a partially used bottle of canola oil. The reject. Truly, I haven't touched it in forever and a day. And a half. 

Last night, I decided to make popcorn for the boys. Armed with my recent information, I decided to try popping the corn in canola oil. I pulled the bottle down. It felt old in my hands. And ickily sticky. I checked the date.

And...only because I'm keepin' it real, I took a picture.

What the? 


Oh. Oh. The humanity.

I'm going to just go ahead and point something out ('cause I'm keepin' it real). That EXPIRED bottle of canola oil has survived not just one but two moves. In two thousand SEVEN (a mere three and a half years after it expired) we moved to a completely different state. In two thousand EIGHT we moved to a different house in the same county. Still, the grossly expired oil made its way off of a shelf, into a box, and back onto a shelf because, apparently, I'm super disgusting like that.

Folks, in just eleven months that oil would have been a decade past its expiration date. A DECADE. And I'm the one my family looks to for nourishment. Now, I've got a sneaking suspicion that oil can live well past it's shelf life. I mean, it's basically liquid fat so I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that it can take care of itself but I'm also fairly certain that a near decade is way, way past acceptable.

I'm also going to confess that when I initially read the date, I missed the '04 because of the lighting in my kitchen and the way I was holding the bottle. I thought it said March of '07. I almost gagged up my dinner. Then, and only then, did I realize it was actually '04. How does that even happen? I mentally berated myself. This bottle wasn't even buried in the back of my pantry. No. It was front and center for all the world to come over and see.

My parents.

My inlaws.

Dinner guests.

Any of these people could have happened upon my rancid canola oil and suspected some form of inventive, albeit horrifying, spousal or child abuse.

I'm ashamed, people. I'm ashamed.

So, I did what any humiliated-at-her-lack-of-domestic-skills woman would do. I put it back in the pantry.

'Cause I'm keepin' it real.

No I definitely didn't. I dumped that nasty fat down the drain faster than you can say, "Year of our Lord two thousand four." Even though I totally know that you're not supposed to put oil down the drain. Double fail.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to go tear apart my pantry in search of other heinously expired items.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I was standing in the parking lot at Garrett's school talking to another mom. A car pulled up, the window rolled down. A woman I did not know said, "Hey there! Ella wants to say hi to Matthew." Smiling, I picked my own brain trying to figure out who these people were and how they knew my son.

It happens.

All the time.

Matthew stands out in this place of people who resemble the summer clouds, the snow, coffee creamer. People remember him. But it's not just his skin color. It's his breakaway runs and subsequent soccer goals. It's his infectious (albeit loud) laugh. It's his big, bright smile. It's his sense of humor. He's kind of larger than life, that one.

Clearly, Matthew knew who these people were because he instantly began jumping up and down, waving his hand over his head and screaming, "Hi! Hi! Hi Ehwa! Hi Ehwa!"

She beamed from her seat, "Hi Matthew!"

"Well, okay, we'll see you tomorrow!" her mom said with a wave and drove off.

"See ya ta-mah-woah!" Matthew yelled.

I bent down, "Was that Ella from preschool?" I asked him because otherwise I had no idea where I was supposed to meet up with these people. And while I might not have been able to pick Ella out of a lineup before yesterday, I've certainly heard all about her. Every boy at preschool wants to grow up and marry Ella.

"Yep!" he smiled. "I did not see that comin'!"

I don't know where he came up with that but he said it with such enthusiasm. It was pretty hysterical. Today, when I walked him into school, Ella's car was the first one in the drop-off line. She waved frantically at him. He grinned and shook his hand back and forth.

And I saw a glimpse into the future. My little boy might be smitten.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Importance of Pants

Did I ever tell all y'all about the time I was subbing and a kid took his pants off?


Well, one day, I was filling in for Garrett's teacher. There I was, sitting up at the front of the class, reading a book to the students. As I paused to turn the page, I glanced in a particular child's direction. It took me approximately six seconds to assess the situation and begin processing what I should do about it. There, in the middle of a kindergarten classroom, sat a child wearing no pants. He had his knees pulled up to his chest, his shirt stretched out and pulled over his legs and down to his ankles where his pants were resting comfortably. For the briefest of moments I thought he still had his underwear on but, no such luck. I quickly realized I was staring at the naked tukas of a six-year-old.

Come to find out, I was one of the last people to realize this kid's wardrobe malfunction. And I use the word malfunction here very loosely. I use it exactly the way Janet Jackson did to describe her Superbowl exposure. As in, yes, clearly I chose to expose myself willingly but we'll go ahead and call it a malfunction. My own son explained, later in the day, that several of them had been pointing to the pantsless wonder and whispering, "Naked!" Apparently I was very enthralled with the book I was reading and missed all of that. It's moderately concerning to me that the district allows me to monitor classrooms.

I remember feeling hot and angry very suddenly. I had no idea how I was going to get this kid to put his pants back on before the rest of the students or, more importantly, I saw him in all his natural wonder. I set the book down, instructed (in a measured and eerie voice) the class to continue facing forward (this kid was in the back row), walked over to the little hooligan and quietly hissed, "Pull up your pants right now."

He looked at me with big eyes and whispered, "I can't." I understood his dilemma. How was he supposed to pull up his pants without the entire class seeing his, er, self. Of course, I was wondering how this hadn't crossed his mind before he'd wiggled his clothing down to his ankles. I spun around and faced the wall.

"Everyone face forward," I said loudly. "Pull. Up. Your. Pants." I whispered. Once they were up I turned back around and gave the kid a lecture on the importance of keeping ones clothes on and never, ever do that again and oh boy are you ever losing your stamp today, Buster.

I explained the episode in a note to Garrett's teacher. I emailed her and gave her more information. Honestly, I didn't know if I was supposed to send him to the office with a note, "I'm in trouble for taking off my pants." Or if it was something that had happened before and there was a specific punishment for it. Or...what. I asked her to please let me know how I should handle something like that in the future. Although, I sincerely hope never, ever to have to deal with that in the future. Needless to say, we shared a pretty good laugh about it.

Fast forward to today. Garrett had a field trip to the children's museum. Since we parents are all about holding our babies hands for just a minute longer, there were massive amounts of us on this trip. Garrett's class had 20 students who went and there were eleven parents. We're pathetic awesome like that. His teacher assigned us our own child and one other. Of course I got Sir Pantsless.

As we sat eating our lunch, I talked to several other moms, Garrett's teacher, and another teacher. Suddenly, I realized that it had been a few minutes since I'd seen my other student. "Hold on," I interrupted. "I need to find Billy*"

"Yeah, you've gotta keep an eye on that one," Garrett's teacher said.

"I know," I paused. "You never know when he might take his pants off."

Garrett's teacher laughed out loud and then regaled the other teacher with the story. Once I'd located Captian No Pants I turned back to the conversation. "There's a reason I put him with you," she smiled.

"I figured," I said. "Thanks." I guess when you become a district employee you get charged with making sure everyone keeps his clothes on. To be fair, he was perfectly fine and I never had to remind him of the importance of wearing pants.

*Not his name. You have to do something to protect the innocent--naked as they may be.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The One With the Boys

He is Huckleberry Finn. Eventually, he'd get hungry or cold and come crawling back to the Widow Douglas home but it would take awhile.
He explores. He's brave. Sticks and rocks and rivers and the expanse of nature are his friends. He was born, in a word, content. Of course has his moments. He lost his stamp today at school which means he did something to completely aggravate his teacher. I told him to go up to her tomorrow and say, "I'm sorry that I'm turning into the kid your professors warned you about." He didn't think that sounded like a good idea. He's far from perfect, is what I'm saying. But he has a gentle, peaceful spirit and I often find myself envying his nature. 

Every day my heart swells with love for that kid.

This one is, in a word, exquisite. He is a gorgeous, talented little man. I find myself watching him when he isn't looking, captivated by his smile. Not infrequently do I find myself mumbling about his beauty.
He's four. He can do headstands, score soccer goals, outrun anyone his own age, do a somersault in the pool, hang from anything for any amount of time--it seems--and the list only continues to grow. His muscles are incredible. I should have known when he lifted his head off my shoulder to stare at me in the hospital on the very day of his birth that he was special. What baby has strong enough neck muscles to do that? He's getting braver, venturing farther from my side, growing up.

He, too, is far from perfect, but he is so...exquisite. So...yummy.

(I should note that my mom took both of these pictures. I take no credit for them.)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Boys Who Made Me a Mama

These two.

Yep. They've pretty much got my whole heart twisted around their little fingers.

It's not the breakfast in bed, the flowers, the new CD, the lunch out that let's me know they appreciate me. Honestly, it's nice but it isn't what matters.

It's the morning snuggles, the kisses, the hugs, the smiles over dinner. It's in the sweet things they say when they aren't being prompted. It's the way they let me know, in little ways, throughout the course of the year (when they aren't busy actively trying to beat each other up) that they love me.

That's what matters.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I was frying ground turkey in the kitchen--because it would have been weird for me to do it anywhere else--and preparing the fixins for tostadas when I heard my youngest son crying at the door. He'd been in the front yard playing. All the neighborhood kids were out because Mother Nature has finally seen fit to give us sunshine and happiness. It's not at all unlike Matthew to sob his everloving head off at nothing in particular. Matthew's range of emotions is big. Small things are, apparently, life and death situations for the boy. Armed with this information, we don't usually respond in huge ways to Matthew's crying. We've learned to carefully assess the situation before showing any emotion on our own faces. Still, the crying I heard from the the other side of the door sounded different. Wounded. Traumatized. In fact, I couldn't honestly decide which of my children was crying until just before I opened the door.

It took me awhile to figure out what he was saying but then, in a moment of clarity, I realized that he was sobbing out the words, "A doggie bit me."

And sure enough, on the back of his arm and the back of his leg, he had teeth marks. The arm bite was broken through the skin but wasn't bleeding. It turns out, our neighbor's dog had bitten him.

The story, when pieced together by two four-year-olds, is that the dog bit Matthew in our own yard. We still don't really know if Matthew did anything to provoke the dog, if he was playing and a playful nip turned into a broken skin bite, or if the dog suddenly got angry and went for blood. Matthew was fine, aside from blubbering and carrying on for a good long while. And, since I like my neighbors and didn't want to jeopardize our relationship, I simply told them what happened and said that Matthew was perfectly fine--wailing and gnashing of teeth notwithstanding.

He hauled the dog into the house and she apologized profusely. She even instructed her four-year-son to apologize. "Tell Matthew you're very sorry that happened." He looked at her, bewildered.

"But, no, mommy. I didn't do it. It was the dog. I didn't bite Matthew."

"I know, but just say sorry."

"BUT I DIDN"T BITE!" (It was really quite hysterical.)

Later, when Garrett came inside, he heard us talking about the situation.

"Wait, what? Matthew got bit by a dog?"

"Yes, the little one next door," we told him.

"Oh! I love that dog. He doesn't bite!" Garrett went to the dog's defense.

Matthew looked at him and declared, "Well, he bites me because I'm made of chocolate."

Then I doubled over in the kitchen, laughing almost uncontrollably. Thrown by my laughter, Matthew looked at his dad. "Right? Daddy? The doggie bit me because I taste like chocolate."

Oh. Man. Priceless.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Help Me Find It

It was probably a year ago.

I was in prayer, about what I don't remember. I simply (and not so simply at all) felt Him speak into my soul. It had nothing to do with what I was saying and I felt thrown. My eyes flew open and I stared at the wall. Asking for clarification, I got nothing in return. Just a five word sentence that, if truly from the Lord--and not down deep in crevasses of my own mind, would change everything.

And it wasn't something I wanted.

Not at that moment. Maybe not ever. My world was turning just fine and this promise seemed impossible.

"When?" I asked because a time table seemed necessary.

"One day."

That's how God is with me. "Hang on, you little control freak. Chill out. Live a little without knowing a lot." Because I am mostly convinced that, in Heaven, I'm referred to as "The Little Control Freak" and whenever the moniker is uttered, the angels (and probably Peter) nod because they know exactly who He's talking about. And also, sometimes I think God is Hawaiian and He wants me to take off my watch, burn my calendar and wriggle my toes in the sand for a few minutes.

I've spent a year wondering if it was truly from God, weighing whether to speak it aloud or wait on it, and then contemplating what to do about it. Because sometimes He tells us something and we really need to take action. If He called me to be a nurse I wouldn't sit around and wait for a degree to come ring my doorbell. But sometimes He tells us something and all we have to do is wait for Him. Sarah conceived and bore the child of promise but not until after she took matters into her own hands, threw her handmaiden at her husband and screwed a lot of things up.

I don't want to be Sarah. But I understand her desire to rush the blessing because now...

It is something I want.

But only if it's really from God. Only on His timing. Only if He reveals the exact same thing to my husband because we're in this thing together.

Discerning the Lord's will and discerning His timetable aren't always the easiest things.

The other night I was driving alone. I prayed that God would give me clarity. I switched on the radio and I heard the Sidewalk Prophets singing, "If there's a road I should walk, help me find it. If I need to be still, give me peace for the moment. Whatever Your will, whatever Your will, can You help me find it?" I'd never heard the song before and I suppose you can accurately guess that I burst into tears.

Just the day before, I had been reading Angie Smith's book, What Women Fear and I came to a section where she was talking about conquering our fears. She writes, "Trust Me, daughter. I have beautiful things in store for you..." Then, just a few sentences later she says, "I don't want to miss it, Lord..."

And so. Here I am. Waiting on the Lord. Calling out His name. Drawing ever close in prayer and hoping for revelation. If He leads me through it without calling me to it, nothing much will change. And if He calls me to it, there will be fear and second guessing. But there will be blessing.

And oh how I don't want to miss it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me...

(April 24)

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

(May 4)

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

(May 6)

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

"Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your Heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to Him than they are?" Matthew 6:23

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Zion National Park

My oldest son is off track. Insert me continuing to kick, scream, and hate almost everything about year round school. The only upside I see so far is that we were able to plan a trip to Zion. In April/May. And I didn't have to pull my kid out of class.

We went with my parents and stayed outside the park in a beautiful RV resort. Troy, unfortunately, needed to go to Denver on some church business, but the boys and I had a blast.

We hiked. And swam. And explored.

My boys were pretty much filthy for five days straight.

They were covered in dust, grime, and red rock.

They continued to amaze me with their ability to play with nothing but sticks and rocks for close to a week.

I love to take them camping. They remind me of simpler times when video games were not all the rage. A time when little kids played outside, found things to do, and entertained themselves.

Garrett's motto has got to be, "Life's a journey, not a destination." That kid takes forever and a day to get from point A to point B but he sure has fun doing it. I honestly think he's a modern day Huckleberry Finn minus the incredibly unstable home life and the proximity to the Mississippi River.

One day, we hiked along the Virgin River. We had lunch with very brave squirrels. Despite the fact that the adults insisted that the children did not feed the squirrels, the squirrels were determined. My dad shooed them away from our food. Repeatedly. Still, one particularly strong willed squirrel dashed up and stole the least nutritious part of our lunch. He's probably still lying in the foliage somewhere, suffering in a diabetic coma.

We fed animals in a petting zoo.

I traveled back in time, apparently. All the way back to the time of Manifest Destiny. Except if I'd been part of a wagon train, I would have been headed toward the California Gold Rush. I would not have stopped in Utah with its ridiculous winters. I'm told it snowed in Salt Lake while I was gone.

Though, to be fair, I was still in Utah and we enjoyed some very nice days.

We need to build Matthew a mostly broken covered wagon. He played in that thing for a very long time. The "ghost town" was a great source of entertainment for the boys.

So was the Virgin River. My dad and the kids floated down it in tubes, splashed in it, swam in it. Then they got out and took three hours to warm up because it was C.O.L.D.

We had a fantastic time. It was beautiful. There is nothing quite like getting out in nature and enjoying the fingerprints of God.