Monday, December 21, 2009

Cover up attempt

I spent the morning reading Love and Logic for Early Childhood. Its the best parenting book out there and I find myself re-reading it regularly to avoid strangling my children. Jack is lucky that I was in the Love and Logic frame of mind when I found this:

There was this strange note posted on the door reminding any bathroom users to turn off the lights when they are done. I knew immediately that this sign was more than a five year old's attempt to encourage energy conservation in the household. Upon closer inspection I found this:

He accidentally punched a hole in the bathroom door with a big stick. This particular stick has been recently outlawed and I specifically told him the reason for banning the stick was that something will be damaged.

There are a number of things I could say about this cover up attempt. Its an interesting insight into his little brain. I think he was hoping that I would just leave the sign on the door forever and never see the hole. Also I would like to point out the use of exclamation marks that continue on the second line. It would have been really hilarious except that the door is destroyed.

My first instinct was to beat him senseless with the above mentioned stick.

Instead I had the following conversation:

"Wow, this is a very sad situation. It looks like you made a choice that ended up ruining my door. What is your plan to make this all better, Jack?

"I don't know how to fix a hole in a door! I'm only five! You have to fix it!"

I would fix it if I were the one who did it but I'm not. In fact, this is the very reason I don't swing sticks around in the house. Because I don't know how to fix holes in things. This door has to be replaced and so you'll need to get the money to me as soon as possible."

"But I don't have any money!"

"Maybe you can sell some of your toys or earn money doing extra house work. I'm sure you'll come up with something. You're a smart kid"

"Great. Now I have to write another letter to Santa asking for toys and money."

So I put a new bathroom door on the list of Christmas expenses. And for the sake of everyone I have removed the big stick from the premises permanently. On the bright side of things, maybe he will be more likely to turn off the bathroom light when he's done now.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Questioning Santa

Jack is five. He is at a really fun age for the magic of Christmas. He believes in Santa wholeheartedly, but he is also a really smart kid who thinks everything through. Lately he has come up with a few practical questions about how this whole thing works and I have a feeling that his days of believing in Santa Clause are numbered.

This morning I sent him to school with a new unwrapped present to donate to the toy drive that the school is hosting. It was a really cool motorcycle that makes noise and runs when you push a button. He wanted it and totally refused to give it up. He threw a big fit about wanting to keep it. I was ticked. I explained to him that it was never his to begin with, that it wasn't purchased with his money and that he already has plenty of toys and will be getting even more at Christmas. I explained that this toy would provide Christmas for some child who would otherwise get nothing. We have so much and so many people have so little. There are families in our own community who don't even have enough to eat, let alone toy motorcycles.

He looked at me and scoffed "Why don't they just get what they need from Santa Clause?" his wheels were turning. "And why do you always tell me stuff I want for Christmas is too expensive if you're not buying it anyway?"

"Uuuuuhhh..... Well Jack, Thats a good question..." I was totally stumped. I want to answer his questions honestly and I want him to have an appreciation for the things he has and the money spent on him, but I don't want to squash the magic of Santa for him at five years old. He wanted to know what a parent's income has to do with anything if we all get all of our presents from Santa anyway. He wouldn't let me change the subject. He was thinking hard about it and he wanted answers.

I told him that yes Santa brings the stuff and yes he makes a naughty list and a nice list and stuff but theres no way in the world that one guy could afford to buy all of those toys for everyone so we pay him money for the toys he brings. By donating the toys, we are helping Santa bring toys to the kids whose parents can't pay anything. Jack countered that Santa makes the toys in his workshop with his elves. I explained that he has to pay the elves and it costs money to run the North Pole so he needs the parents to pay and some parents just cant afford it.

The whole answer was awkward and unsettling. Jack could sense that something is messed up with the whole program. I wish I had had more time to think about it but even then I don't know what is the best way to explain this without ruining it. John was listening in to the whole conversation and he was horrified. He says I "used the nuclear option" but he didn't have any better ideas either. In my defense, I didn't tell Jack there is no Santa, I just turned him into a capatalist. He's jolly and generous and magical but he doesn't show up unless his invoice is paid in full.

So toy drives are a great thing but I'm starting to realize that maybe we should leave the kids out of it. I think I will try to find other ways of fostering holiday generosity because Jack is too smart for his own good sometimes. This is one of those parenting challenges that I probably screwed up on and I will know better with the next one. The oldest child in every family is the guinea pig in a lot of ways. Sorry Wack, if it makes you feel any better, we will screw up less on your siblings.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Nightmare

Last night at about 2 am I heard a blood curdling scream coming from Jack's room. As a mom you get to where you know all of your kid's screams and what they mean. This one I had never heard before because it was so full of pure terror. I went running into his room honestly expecting to find a masked gunman kidnapping him. As I ran down the hall the thought crossed my mind that I should have grabbed one of John's guns.... that's how bad the screaming was. When I got in there he was standing on the bed. I grabbed him to see if he was hurt or sick, "What is wrong!?!?"

His screaming answer: (and this is an exact quote) "I want candy and presents!"

Candy and Presents? Apparently he had a nightmare that Christmas had come and he didn't get any candy or presents. My first thought was that perhaps I have been threatening the naughty list a little too much. My next thought was that if this is the worst nightmare the kid can come up with, his life is pretty good.

He then laid down and went to sleep. Actually I don't think he ever was awake. He doesn't remember any of it this morning.

Jack doesn't need to worry about Christmas. Santa is bringing an X-box much to my dismay. I'm a little worried that video games will become just one more thing to police around here but I have heard that the built in parental controls and timers are awesome. Now I just have to set it up so that I have the password and no one else does (including Santa and Santa's co-conspiritor John).

My christmas present this year is that one of my dearest friends, Diane Vernizeau is coming to spend a week with us for Christmas. She was a person I taught on my mission and she is the most intelligent, beautiful, spiritual, kind person I know. We haven't seen each other for years, but she is in the states doing post docterate work in international law at UC Berkley, and we get to have her here for the Holiday. I am so happy about her visit I can barely contain myself.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Trimming the tree by the light of the full moon

I never intended this blog to be a chronicle of inappropriate nudity but how could I resist posting this shot?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Random Pictures

My dad is my most loyal blog follower and he let me know today that I need to post more often. Here is a post to keep my fan happy. Enjoy dad....

When Grandpa comes over, Abe can't get enough of him. Its no secret that Abe is my dad's favorite grandchild. He loves all of his grandkids but these two have a special bond. Its precious.

I walked in the other day to find Ham like this. There is nothing like watching cartoons in the nude.

Yet another incident of nudity in precarious places.
I love this picture of my handsome boys. I swear Abe wears clothes occasionally, even if I don't have any photographic evidence of this claim.

This is a sample of Jack's sidewalk chalk drawings. Can you tell that he is the son of a police officer? His drawings usually involve bad guys getting busted by cops. He reads Highlights Magazine and he really wants to have one of his drawings published in the section where kids send in artwork. I encouraged him to draw something and promised I'd send it in. Lets just say that unless Highlights magazine gets taken over by the National Rifle Association, his drawing will probably not make the cut.
This is one of Jack's favorite pastimes. This is probably as close as any of my children will ever come to having a tan.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Amazing Marolyn


I want to take a minute to brag. I have the coolest mom in all the history of moms. I am not exaggerating to make her feel loved on her 63rd birthday, I am simply stating the facts. If you know Marolyn then you know that she is in fact one of the most amazing people on the face of the planet. If you don't have to good fortune of knowing her then let me give you a brief overview of this spectacular human being.

She is incredibly smart. She has a doctorate degree in Education and a Masters in counseling. She knows pretty much everything there is to know about child development and child discipline. I have an expert (literally) a phone call away when ever I need any advice about anything. She manages to always give helpful advice without being intrusive or making you feel judged, and she is always tactful and loving. We are best friends and I can talk to her about anything. She does paid public speaking gigs where she imparts her life wisdom to hundreds of people at a time, yet I have her at my disposal 24 hours a day. She is there for me whenever I need her. This is such a huge comfort to me. She is my rock.

Marolyn is the most devoted grandmother I have ever seen. She gets on the floor and wrestles with the boys and she spend hours playing dolls with the girls. She can always be counted on to bring presents and to read books. She connects with each child and takes the time to really know them. She is full of games and fun but she is also no pushover. Emma used to call her "Grandma time-out" because no matter how fun she is, she doesn't let those little ones get away with anything. She has an endless attention span for kid stuff and each of her grand kids know they are deeply loved.

My mom is a spiritual giant. She took four children to church every Sunday our entire life all by herself. I am only now beginning to understand how hard she worked. At the time it seemed so effortless but now I can appreciate what hard work goes into raising kids. Her testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ never wavered. She set an example of spiritual living that was real and accessible. I never felt preached to, it was just obvious that mom's strength and peace came from being anchored in Christ and as a result none of her children ever wanted to go another way. All four of us are married in the temple and three of us are returned missionaries. Instead of telling us "Don't smoke and drink." She would have long meaningful discussions with us about the freedom that is inherently found in righteousness and that our bodies are precious and the commandments are to protect us. She made the Gospel make sense and she never underestimated our ability to grasp doctrine. She is humble and real.

My mom gives without measure. 42 years of marriage, four children, fifteen grandchildren, a full time job, church callings, charity work, you name it. There is nothing this woman can't do. Last year she traveled to India to train teachers in leper colonies. This year she went to Argentina as part of an exchange program after winning the very prestigious Fulbright Award. The year before that it was Mexico. She has been selected as Teacher of the Year twice. Once for the State of Arizona and once for her school district. She wrote a book. The woman has a resume you wouldn't believe. It gets so ridiculous that it sounds like I'm making this stuff up.

My mom wrote me a letter every day of my entire mission. She literally never missed a day. ever. They weren't just postcards either. She wrote a long single-spaced typed letter every single day. Other missionaries would go months without a letter from their families but I never had an empty mailbox even once. Her letters were legendary. She never missed a day on my sister Stephanie's mission either. I have never questioned my mom's unconditional love for me.

She accomplishes feats of service that others only dream about. I will give you an example. The other day I was at her house and saw big bags of stuff in the garage. When I asked what was in there she showed me how she had single-handedly organized more than 1000 hygiene, newborn and school supply kits to send to impoverished nations as a humanitarian project. She told me about it in passing as if it was no biggie. Keep in mind that she accomplishes all of this while holding a very demanding full time job as an assistant principal at a K-8 school with over 1000 students. Serving others is second nature to her. This year alone she has extracted over 300,000 names to the family history center of the church and she teaches primary every Sunday to boot. In addition to this impressive resume her house is always clean and she is always dressed cute with accessories matching he outfit and her makeup done. She is hilarious too. Always optimistic and easy to entertain. I could go on for hours.

The most spectacular part about her is that she pulls it all off and still manages to be completely likable and approachable. You can't help but get sucked into her orbit because she has an uncanny ability to put people at ease and make them feel important. In high school I had friends who would come over to my house even when I wasn't there because they wanted to hang out with my mom. I dream about being this kind of mother to my boys.

I marvel at how lucky I am to have a mother like this. I am so proud to be her daughter and so grateful that my children have such an amazing grandma. I amazed that a person can be so wonderful yet so unpretentious and down-to-earth. I want to be just like her in every way when I grow up.

I love you, Mom. Thank you for being my perfect example of womanhood. Strength, courage, beauty, intelligence, faith, humor, and humility. I am so happy to be your daughter. Happy Birthday from your #1 fan.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween chez les Kramers


I was pretty excited for Halloween this year since it would be Abe's first Halloween where he is old enough to grasp the concept of going door to door for free candy. Turns out I jumped the gun a little in my excitement. His attention span for this tradition lasted exactly one house. He enjoyed the unhindered knocking and he liked the dogs that came to the door, but he absolutely refused to accept candy from a stranger. Perhaps he was afraid of contracting swine flu, or it might have been that he was too busy offering open mouthed kisses to two Terriers. I should also note that he was dressed in a heavily padded dragon getup and that right before we began he took the liberty of stepping into the shower fully costumed. He was sloshing around in the cold night air leaving wet tracks everywhere he walked. It made him a little bit cranky but I'm hoping he will think twice about sneaking showers next time.

Jack made a haul of candy. Every year in our house we get a visit from the Candy Fairy. If you leave all of your Halloween candy on the back patio, the Candy Fairy will come and take it and leave you money. Jack gets to go to the store and buy a toy and we don't have to have tons of sugar hanging around the house for weeks. I have heard that the Fairy takes it and puts it in the break room at the Police Department. We don't care what she does with it, we just want it gone. If you read our Halloween blog post last year, you might remember that the Candy Fairy left a twenty dollar bill. This year she spent all of her money on sod for the backyard and was forced to leave considerably less, with most of it in quarters. She may have borrowed these quarters from Jack's piggy bank because by the time Jack left the candy out it was way too late to run to an ATM, but we know the Candy Fairy is good for a loan.

I love passing out candy to Trick-or-Treaters. I love making a big fuss over every cute costume and I love to make snide comments to the teenagers who come by without a costume on "Is it politically correct to dress up as a retarded person? You are brave! Here's an extra treat for realism!"

My kids love passing out candy too. Jack got so involved with the customer service of it all. He waited by the door to open it before they knocked "so that it would be easier for them". Then he moved his set-up to the driveway "so they wouldn't have to come all the way to the door". Eventually he was on the sidewalk "so they could just get the candy while they passed by". He also gave away his own candy after we ran out because he couldn't bear to turn a customer away. His generosity may have been motivated by the above mentioned fact that he was going to sell it all anyway, but I was still impressed with his sweetness.
Free access to the root beer dispenser was pretty much the greatest thing that has ever happened to Abe. Isn't he a cute little dragon!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

we chased SUPERNANNY away

If you read my last post then you know that I volunteered our families to be on the show Super Nanny. Before I go on, let me just say that I recognize that I am probably crazy for wanting to do this. I realize that I am like Lucille Ball on I love Lucy. Always cooking up harebrained schemes and getting myself into cartooninshly ridiculous situations. All I am ever really after is a little entertainment.

So back to Super Nanny, the casting director and one of the producers were interested in featuring Kristen's and my family for an episode because we have an interesting situation with the two households right next door. The kids have to deal with four different parents and two sets of house rules. The six of them are kind of being raised like siblings which brings a very unique set of advantages and problems. Like any family we have lots of issues we could use help with and I think we are a good mix of relate-able and entertaining problems. I have been corresponding with the producers for a couple of weeks and they decided to come film us to see if they could catch anything on film. In addition they have asked us to get home video of any behaviors that we would like to address. We have not been officially selected for the show, but we are very far along in the process. ABC flew two people out to get footage of us so at this point I would be surprised if they didn't go ahead with it. They are very hesitant to tell you that you will be on for sure because there is always the chance that when they tape the kids behave perfectly, or the parents don't pass a background check or a number of other things that are highly unlikely.

They came on Thursday afternoon and the plan was to film the after school routine and then do something that we would like to do on a regular basis but are prevented from doing because of our children's behavior. Kristen took all four of her kids to the grocery store by herself with a camera woman in tow and then we all met up for dinner at a restaurant. The Gartner's have literally never eaten out as a family. After dinner we were going to come back to the houses and film the bedtime routine. They told us to plan on them being with us until 9 or 10 pm.

Let me just cut to the chase: dinner went so awesomely horrible that before the food even got served Kristen and Rob had to pack up and leave the restaurant. Her kids were so crazy and all over the place that we couldn't even stay long enough to eat.

The best part was the two women from the show. They were so clearly horrified and just wanted to get away from us. Candra and Shannon are their names and they are ultra professional show-biz women. They are young (in their twenties) and gorgeous L.A. gals with graduate degrees and high paced careers. They travel all over the country and work 90 hour work weeks climbing the corporate ladder. They are both single with no children and are terrified of getting sick. Every time one of the kids sneezed or coughed you could see the two women recoil in fear. I don't blame them. These kids are a walking bio-hazard.

Here's a little breakdown of the dinner mayhem:

Emma threatened to puke because she wanted to get her way on something. Ella was at the tail end of a cold and had been on a field trip to a farm that day where she had contacted farm animals which triggered an allergic reaction so she was coughing and hacking so hard across the dinner table that the entire restaurant was staring. Between coughing fits she would get up and just wander around. Christopher cried and/or screamed literally the entire time. This is not an exaggeration. He hadn't had a nap that day and he absolutely would not shut up. He has some developmental delays and can't talk so he generally uses screaming as a means of communication. The camera seemed to make him turn the volume to eleven. After a while my husband couldn't take it anymore and hauled Christopher out to the parking lot even though its not his kid. Abe and Clark each took turns choking on pieces of tortilla chip and spilling drinks. I think in the 20 minutes we were there we spilled four full glasses of water and administered the Heimlich maneuver three times. The grand finale was when Emma made herself throw up. The camera was fixed on her and she vomited about a gallon of barf all over herself, all over her plate, and into a glass. I think I caught Shannon gagging a little. I know I gagged. I asked her if she got that shot on tape. She looked at me and said in disgust "Unfortunately, I got the whole thing"

The puking was the money shot. Especially in light of the fact that Emma wasn't even sick and had previously threatened to throw up if she didn't get her way. This is SuperNanny gold right? Well it will be if the producers can stick it out with us. We may have been too much. After Kristen and her family left the restaurant it felt (and looked) like a tornado had just passed through. Candra and Shannon told me that since there were a lot of sick kids they would rather come back when everything is normal. Little do they know that this is normal. They are coming back on Wednesday and I guarantee that someone will have a hacking cough and someone will puke. The problem is, it just might be Candra or Shannon.

There are so many things I could write about in regard to offering up our child rearing problems to a national audience. It is nerve wracking to scrutinize every word that comes out of my mouth. Am I being too lenient? Am I being too strict? My kids were pretty well behaved for the camera which is both a relief and a disappointment. I never thought I would be hoping that my child would throw a temper tantrum. Luckily Kristen's kids came through for us in the tantrum department. That twenty minute dinner had enough reality show material for an entire season and I didn't even see how the grocery store went. Kristen said her kids were "out of control", so that's good. Kristen and Rob's tolerance for naughtiness is higher than anyone I have ever known so it must have been bad.

I'll keep you updated on what happens. At this point I would be totally fine with it if we got rejected or accepted. I have yet to watch an episode of Super Nanny besides a few snippets here and there. I was thinking of going online to see what they are like but then I figured I would probably just freak myself out and decided against it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Super Nanny is coming to town

I have a few blogging pet peeves. One of them is people who only blog to complain about how crazy busy they are and the other is people who only ever blog about how they are so behind on blogging. I am about to commit both of these blogging sins. I am going to complain about my crazy busy life as an explaination of why I haven’t been blogging lately. I know, annoying, right? If you share my pet peeves, you should click away right now.

First of all the whole family has been sick. By whole family I mean my kids and Kristen’s kids, so that’s 6 pair of constantly runny eyes and snotty noses. Yesterday Jack and Abe were diagnosed with pink eye and ear infections and of course they refuse to take the medicine or let us put drops in their eyes so we have to literally sit on their chests and hold their heads between our knees and restrain their arms while the other parent tries to pry open their eyelids and drop in the antibiotics. This must go on every three hours for the next seven days. Its pretty awesome. I haven’t caught the cold yet but my joint stuff is flared up so bad right now I can barely function. I was supposed to go in for a third biopsy this week but I haven’t been able to make myself go. They take a little scoop of skin out and then cauterize the wound. They numb the area while they do it but the problem is the gaping festering wound that lingers for weeks and weeks afterwards. I need to just suck it up and go in.

I have also taken on the job of liquidating hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of spa equipment for my brother after he closed his spas down. When I agreed to do it, I guess I had forgotten how hard it is to actually accomplish a grown-up task (like a phone call) without being interrupted by screaming children. It has all come back to me now. If you are interested in a microdermabrasion machine of your very own or a storage unit full of really nice furniture, I’m the one to call.

Speaking of working, I have an opportunity to go back to work doing commercial leasing. I would be renting office space to businesses. This is what I did for years and years. I have enough experience in this exact niche that I could do it in my sleep. It pays on commission and the money is ridiculously good but it is time consuming and I’d have to figure out childcare two days a week. Its not something I can do half way and I am struggling to decide if I want to commit to this. It’s an amazing opportunity in an economy where jobs are hard to come by, and the whole thing just fell into my lap. I do miss working sometimes and we do need the money. John works weekends and Jack is in school all day so all I would need is care for Ham two days a week, maybe even just one day. I am sure my in-laws would help. I would hire a cleaning lady to pick up the slack in the household and I could do a lot of the work by phone and computer. I would have to drive a lot and I hate thinking about being away from home for long. Can you tell I’m agonizing over the decision?

We had houseguests this week. A good friend from my mission, Elder Steve Smith and his wife and three kids came into town for a wedding and stayed with us for a few days. It was so much fun to get caught up with him and his family is absolutely delightful. They have boys similar in age to my boys and then a tiny three month old baby who was born two months premature so she is the size of a tiny newborn. They drove all the way from Texas and we had so much fun with them. There is a bond that you get with mission buddies that you just can’t get anywhere else. They know you on a certain level that no one else can and you share a common experience that is impossible to explain to a person who wasn’t there experiencing it. Steve and I served together in Metz, France at the beginning of our missions and then again in Brussels at the end of our missions. He was a great missionary and one of only a handful that I keep in touch with. It is so fun to see how everyone’s lives have turned out so far.

Have you ever watched the show Super Nanny? In our house Super Nanny is a verb. As in: These crazy kids need to be Super Nannied, or My friend has a hard time disciplining her son, she needs to be Super Nannied. (Incidentally, we are also always threatening to “Ceasar” our dogs) My point is, we are being Supernannied. Yes, you read that right. Super Nanny is coming to our house on Thursday to film our family and see if Nanny Jo can help us with our parenting challenges.

It’s a long long story. One that I may eventually take the time to write, but right now I don’t have time because I would rather die than have my house look messy on national television. The yard is not done and for that we may be doomed to look like white trash, but until this whole thing is over, I am obsessed with cleaning. The producer was very adamant about “acting normal” and just letting the house look like it always does on any given day… Yeah right. I am more than willing to exploit my children for five grand and fifteen minutes of fame, but look like a crappy housekeeper on TV? No. Freaking. Way. It’s a good excuse to do some spring cleaning.

I have never even watched SuperNanny. They were looking for families who lived close by one another to feature and when they heard that Kristen and I are sisters who are right next door with connected yards they were all over it. Between the two families and six kids, I’m sure we will provide plenty of material. I’m hoping the whole thing will be good fun and family memories. Years from now I picture us saying, “Hey remember when we were on Super Nanny! That was so funny! Lets watch the DVD.” And not “Remember when we went on prime time television and they showed me pooping my pants? My therapist says I need to forgive you for that.” We are far too committed to the whole thing to turn back at this point so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t end up looking like total idiots and my kids don't end up scarred for life.

Alrighty…If you got this far reading then you are a true friend. Either that or really really bored. Now you have heard my excuses for not blogging more regularly. I swear I will never blog about not blogging ever again. Thank you for listening to my long rant. I am open to any advice, suggestions, criticism or comments so lay ‘em on me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

1990 2nd place family doubles bowling Trophy


Jack and John went "hiking" in the orchard behind our neighborhood this week. They do this often and usually come across a lot of really interesting items. To my dismay, these items are usually brought home for display or further study. Last time it was an animal skull and a backpack full of rocks. You get the idea.

This time was different. Jack found the greatest treasure he has ever found (his words). Two 1990 2nd place family doubles bowling trophies. You have never seen a person so proud of a trophy that they didn't actually win. He has carried them around the house for days and moves them to different prominent places. He doesn't really even know what bowling is but he is now planning a championship bowling career.

Can you believe that someone would throw away such a treasure!?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Incentive to be good


Most of you know I'm a big fan of behavior charts. Jack responds so well to them. When I know he wants something I like to milk it for all its worth and get him to earn it. He has been begging to walk to QT, so I decided to make a chart where he could earn points for any good behavior. I gave him a list of things that could earn a point. Going a day without a potty accident, doing good deeds, sharing your toys, not fighting with your cousins, going to bed without arguing, eating vegetables, etc. The chart was posted on the fridge and hopefully we will soon be enjoying the spoils of QT.

A few minutes after we talked about this new chart, Jack got to work on a project of his own. It was a chart for me. He told me that I can earn a special present if I fill my chart. The present will be a slushee from QT (you can see this illustrated on the side) I suppose that's fair. He can monitor my behavior and give me a present if he wants to, I guess. "How do I earn points, Jack?"

He didn't hesitate at all. He knew exactly how I could fill the chart. "By not fighting with dad."

Wow.... There's a guilt trip like I have never known. Ouch.

So, I am repenting of the petty arguing that goes on in our household and I am committed to earning Jack's special present. There is nothing like a 5 year old to put you in your place.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pee Pee on the Potty

Any parent can attest that where and when their child goes potty is of great importance. Its not glamorous, but it is pretty monumental. Abraham goes pee on the toilet. At any given moment if you set him on the pot he will grunt and push and produce a little stream. The effort he puts in to it is hilarious. We all cheer and he beams with pride and then he pushes really hard and the whole process is repeated. I have never known anyone to be so good at urinating on demand.
He gets to flush as a reward which, as you know, is pretty exciting.

We have also discovered that Abe is pretty talented with a shop vac. He gets the excitement of using a loud tool and we get our cars cleaned out free of charge. He may have a future in the car wash business.
In other news, Rob found yet another giant tortoise walking down the road and brought him home. Check out how huge he is. This picture is not a trick of the camera, he really is that big. We found him a new home because he was way too "friendly" with the other tortoises. He also had an unhealthy attraction to the soccer ball. He was fun for a few days but I'm glad he is gone.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dog Door

My sister Kristen lives next door and we recently took down a section of the wall between the two backyards so that the kids can go freely between the two houses. This is a great convenience and one more step in our grand Haws girl commune. I love having the two households combined. I feel like my boys get the advantages of living in a big family without actually having a big family. Kristen and hang out every day and share the mothering workload. We take turns cooking and watching the kids and running errands. John and Rob take turns mowing the lawns and bitching about being married to strong willed Haws girls (I'm just kidding, even though that's probably true) I don't know how anyone functions without their sister next door. We often joke that we have all of the benefits of polygamy without that pesky husband sharing business.

There are only a few disadvantages to our compound set-up. In removing the wall between the two yards we have sacrificed privacy for convenience. Each adult has been caught by the opposite family in their underwear at least once and they have learned to expect to have an AR-15 pointed at them if they enter after bedtime.

The other day I saw 3 year old Christopher in the back yard. He wanted to come in but I was on my way out to run errands so I told him he couldn't come in and instructed him to go home. He loitered near the back door, clearly intending to come in as soon as I turned my attention away. I locked the door and told him once again to go home. With that I left and thought it was handled.

Later I found out that a few minutes after I left Kristen came looking for him. She started to get worried when he wasn't in the backyard and found my door locked. She searched everywhere a second time and then looked through my back window to find him happily playing in my house locked in all by himself. He had waited till I left and then used the dog door to gain access.

The dog door has become all of the babies' favorite method of entry and exit lately. At first I tried stopping them but then I realized that its a losing battle so I just let them crawl in and out as they please. The huge advantage is that I don't have to constantly yell "Shut the door!". The double flap action takes care of that for them.

Unfortunately the other kids are absolutely incurable when it comes to closing the door behind themselves and numerous lectures about the outrageous expense of air-conditioning have done little to convince them. Luckily it is cooling off a bit so I look forward to a time soon when we can open the doors and let the air flow freely.

Speaking of yelling at kids to conserve air conditioning, I remember being a little kid and my Kindergarten teacher telling us to shut the door because we don't want to air condition the world. I clearly remember thinking "All we have to do to air condition the world is leave the door open? What are we waiting for? Let's air condition the world!" If only that worked. Our power bill would be through the roof but it would almost be worth it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why did God invent tonsils?

This was a question that Jack asked me yesterday and I had no answer. We don't know why God invented them but we do know they need to go. Yesterday John had surgery to remove his tonsils, uvula, part of his palate and straighten his nasal septum. Ouch. He will be down and out for at least ten days. Jack is scheduled to get his tonsils and adenoids out at the end of September and if I had my way, we would take Abe's out right now too.

Here is a picture of my patient right after surgery. He was on Demerol, Morphine and Lortab so he was pretty out of it. Now he is healing up but in a lot of pain. His parents took Abe for the day and Jack is at school so I am doting on him with my undivided attention. Its going to be a long recovery but it will be so worth it if he can sleep without his breathing stopping or go through flu season without getting strep throat.

This surgery has been long overdue. He has sleep apnea and he has chronic tonsillitis. The surgeon said that his tonsils were deeply rooted with infection and obviously had been for probably the past 30 years. In addition to the giant chronically infected tonsils, he had an anatomically low palate and a crooked septum. Any one of these things in likely to cause major sleep and breathing problems. I don't want to get my hopes up too much but this surgery could be a magic bullet to solve a lot of problems. The recovery is hellish but with the help of otter pops and narcotics he will get through it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Healthcare Bill

I am terrified of the healthcare reform bill. It keeps me awake at night and makes my blood run cold just thinking about it. As a family we have used our health insurance a lot recently. Its not perfect but John works hard for it and we can afford it. The thought of letting the government manage my health is deeply disturbing. Last year before my grandfather died he was briefly hospitalized in the VA hospital. For anyone who thinks that the federal government is capable of running healthcare, please go take a walk through the halls of the VA at Indian School and 7th Street in Phoenix.

Please take four minutes to look at this youtube video. This congressman hits the nail on the head.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cortizone injection

Yesterday I was at my rheumatologist complaining about my wrist. It just froze up a few weeks ago for some unknown reason and will not budge. I can't bend it at all and its starting to really interfere with my diaper changing, dish washing, laundry folding life. More than anything I'm afraid that the thing will never unlock. My Grandpa Arnett had a similar problem in the same wrist and had to have his wrist surgically fused. As a child I was fascinated with his unbending wrist. I got a kick out of watching him lift his elbow above his head just to get something out of his shirt pocket. These past few weeks I find myself moving exactly like him but this time around its not nearly as cool. I'm terrified of losing movement in my wrist for good.

So the rheumatologist was suggesting some different oral meds etc. and then he said, "Or we could just inject it and fix that thing right now." You all know my love for immediate gratification so I said "Lets do it!...Will it hurt?"

He told me that it wouldn't hurt so I agreed and gritted my teeth and looked away. It did hurt. He injected lido cane first which burned but numbed it all up pretty quickly. Then he injected a substance that was the consistency of peanut butter into the deepest part of my wrist with a giant fat needle. I made the mistake of looking at it at one point. Gross.

He was done and within literally 5 seconds the whole joint was free again. It was like turning a key on a lock and opening a door. Now my wrist is a little sore but I can bend it however I want. Hopefully I wont have to do that again but its nice to know that its an option. Modern Medicine really is miraculous. The doctor told me that I need to go easy on the wrist for a while. He told me to have someone else do the housework that involves using my hands for a week or two. This was hilarious to me. It did get me out of a couple of dirty diapers yesterday but I'm here to tell you, if my crippled wrist doesn't do the laundry, then this family will go naked. Well, at least very dirty.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Jack doesn't understand women but he has a good healthy fear of them


Today I gave myself a french manicure. It would have probably been wise to use my spare time sweeping and mopping the kitchen since that hasn't been done in an embarrassingly long span of time. Plus now that my nails are perfectly manicured I don't want to mess them up by using the mop. Oh well. If you come over to my house today, please focus your attention on my pretty white tips instead of my grungy floors. Better yet, if you come to my house today, please mop my floors.

Today when I began my manicure by filing my nails, Emma looked at me and asked what I was doing. Jack butted in and said, "Duh.... She's sharpening her nails so that she can use 'em as weapons." He said it like everyone in the world knows the reason for filing nails. I decided that I am going to leave this one alone and let him believe that I possess razor sharp fingernails that are readily available for cutting down bad guys or disciplining my children.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sloppy Joes. Slop, Sloppy Joes



The big day came. Jack earned 5 smileys (finally through honest means) and I went to his school for lunch. I have no pictures of the event because I forgot to bring the camera. I am kicking myself because there are a couple of things that I would like to have captured forever on pixels. First, it would be the look on Jack's face when he saw me there in the lunch line. Pure and utter elation mixed with surprise and unparalleled love. I get goosebumps just thinking about how happy he was to see me. He wanted me there more than anything. I love these kids I'm raising so much and to see the reciprocation in his chubby little face was almost enough to make me cry.

The second thing I would have liked to capture on camera was this little blonde girl in his class who has a crush on him. He has been telling me that there is a "girl who won't stop chasin' me on the playground." and I have explained to him that that's how some little girls show you they like you- by chasing you. "Oh, I already know her likes me. Her tells me every minute that her likes me. Her won't leave me alone. Her is so annoying." (Yes, Jack has yet to master the proper use of the pesky pronouns she vs. her. Perhaps this is what makes him irresistible to women his age)

I had wondered if Jack was exaggerating about this little girl and her obsession for him. When he came walking into the lunchroom, there was indeed a tiny little blonde all up in Jack's personal space. They came walking through the line and she was trying to hold hands with him and put her head on his shoulder and touch his face. He was totally irritated and kept trying to brush her off which seemed to make her try harder. When she met me and discovered that I'm Jacks mommy she got really excited and said "I REALLY like your boy! Your boy is the best boy in class! Sometimes I chase him and sometimes he lets me hold his hands and touch his face like this!" then she reached over to caress Jack's red cheeks and hardly noticed that her hand got batted away. The thing is, this little chick is adorable. She will be a KNOCKOUT hottie is about 10 years. Jack has no patience for her affection right now, but I guarantee he won't be nearly as irritated come 2019. I told her that I really like Jack too and commended her for her nice taste in men. I was about to make a comment about how if the two of them grow up and get married they will have the prettiest blonde haired blue eyed grand babies in the world. I stopped myself because A) its just inappropriate. And B) I want Jack to enjoy my lunch visits and this kind of motherly embarassment is a bad road to start down. It was interesting to see my five year old as a romantic target.

The lunch went well. We were served Sloppy Joes by hairnetted lunchladies. The most iconic of all school lunches served by the most iconic lunchroom people. They could have passed for exactly the same people that served me lunch everyday from 1982 to 1988 at Park Meadows Elementary School. Some things have changed, like disposable lunch trays and utensils instead of the dirty dish conveyor belt, and all of the money exchanged is from a credit card, instead of those paper punch cards that were so advanced when I was a kid. Also they have abandoned the practice of handwashing in favor of hand sanitizer gel, which sends a shiver down my motherly spine. But most of the school lunch experience is exactly how I remember it.

This time around I was horrified by the mass quantity of food that was left uneaten and thrown out. My instinct was to wrap it all up for leftovers and lecture everyone about eating the healthy stuff in addition to the rice crispy treat, but my kid ate it all and wasted very little so I kept my mouth shut. I'm just saying, we could probably solve the hunger problem in some nations by digging through the trash for leftovers at this school. It is such a waste of food I can't even think about it.

At the end, the teacher came by the table and released the children to recess. Jack was pretty excited to go play and he ran off without even saying goodbye. Blondie was right on his heels so he had to run pretty fast. I know he loved having me there and I can't wait to go again. Jack is now working on filling a chart with SIX smileys to earn a visit from DADDY. If he is really good dad will wear his police uniform and show the kids his tazer and handcuffs. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Forgery

I came up with a new incentive program for Jack. If he goes five complete days with no temper tantrums or fights with his cousins, and if he does his chores and homework without complaining then He gets a prize. I knew I needed a reward that he would really want bad. I had an idea that I think was inspired. I offered to go to his school at lunchtime and eat school lunch with him among his friends in the cafeteria.

I am sure the time will come when having his mother come eat lunch with him will be more effective as a punishment than an incentive but for now he is so excited about the possibility of school lunch with me that he will do just about anything to earn it. We made a chart on the fridge and at the end of each good day I draw a smiley face in the box. If I see him getting into a disagreement with a Gartner child or I hear him start to whine I say "Ooohhh, I would hate for you to lose your smiley face for the whole day over this! I am really hoping you get your chart filled soon because I can hardly wait to go to your school for lunch!" It has so far worked like a charm. He shapes up immediately upon threat of losing his smiley face.

I looked at the chart this morning and noticed something odd. He has three smiley faces and we have only done this program for two days. He forged the third smiley face. He honestly thought I would be fooled. He went to the trouble of finding the same marker in the cabinet to make his forgery look authentic. I give him credit for his inventive way of speeding up the process but at the same time I am horrified that he would miss the point so entirely. I think its hilarious that he didn't fill up the chart. He just added one extra. He thought he'd just slide it in under my radar.

I considered abandoning the whole thing as a punishment but decided against it. Instead I pulled him aside and said "Hey Jack, I noticed that you added an extra smiley face to the chart today. I assume that you did that because you have set a goal to have a great day today and you were putting the smiley face on there in advance to help you reach your goal."

His face turned red. He was embarrassed to be caught but relieved to have an out "Yeah. I was just putting it on there in advance."

"Oh, that's what I thought. I understand that you really want to fill up that chart but in the future you should know that you are not allowed to add smileys on your own. It is my job and I always know how many there should be on there."

You will notice in the picture that I have started to add a signature to each smiley face in an effort to thwart counterfeiting attempts.

My Cussing Days Are Over

Jack said the "S " word. We have had false alarms about bad words before. The kids love to tattle on one another for obscenities. Most of the time the conversation goes like this
Tattler: UUUMMMM.... Jack said a bad word!
Me: What word did he say?
Tattler : I can't tell you because I'm not supposed to say it. It was the S word.
Me: This is a safe place. I need to know the word in the name of investigative integrity. Go ahead and whisper it in my ear.
Tattler: He said.... "Sucker".
The word varies but the conversation rarely does. Once the offending word like sucker or idiot or butt is revealed, I feign shock and say something like "I'm not really offended by that word. When I am offended by a word I usually just ask the person to not use it. That's always worked for me." The tattler gets the point that I'm not going to intervene and the conflict is over.

Yesterday I was in the bathroom and Jack was in the next room playing video games with John. He was apparently losing badly at the video game and getting frustrated. I heard him say The S Word. No it wasn't Sucker, or Stupid even the forbidden Shut up. It was The Real S Word. My cherub faced five year old has stumbled upon one of the words in the hierarchy of real bad words. I listened closely to hear how John handled the situation. "Hey buddy, Do NOT say that word. Do you understand? Its a Bad Word and I don't ever want to hear you say it again." Case closed.

At this point I would love to say that he picked up this new word at the kindergarten playground, or from the neighbor boys or something like that but there is a truth that I should probably confess. This won't be a shocker to anyone who knows me well but I am indeed the source of Jack's new vocabulary word. He learned the S word from me. I have always been a big fan of the S word. Not that I drop it gratuitously, but there are moments in life where uttering a swear word seems to dilute pain. For some reason a stubbed toe hurts just a little less when accompanied by a tiny obscenity. When an entire box of Rice Krispies gets dumped onto my freshly mopped floor, I resort to cursing rather than violence. Today after Jack's brush with illicit language I have vowed to stop cussing completely.

Let me give you another example. This one happened in the wee hours of the morning and sheds light on the question of why I am blogging at 3 am. Petit Jambon conquered the crib this week and is therefore in a big boy bed. The problem with this is that he now feels free to get out of bed anytime he wants. Naptime has been all but destroyed, however our nights have been pretty unchanged...until tonight. He was feeling sick and I could hear him crying and trying to get out of his room. I was so deliriously tired that I just got him and put him into bed with me. Normally I have a strict policy against this. He snuggled in to sleep but a few seconds later I felt him sit up and lean over my head. He then threw up all over my face, ear and head. This was not harmless baby spit up, It was full blown, stinky, chunky, multicolored vomit. It went directly into the inner reaches of my ear canal. I jumped up immediately, clamoring for the baby wipes (as if baby wipes could help me at all) and dropped The Word of the Day. Half a dozen q-tips, one hot shower and two loads of laundry later I feel clean but I just can't sleep. Go figure.

So my point is, do not be surprised if Ham says the real S word sometime soon also. He has, after all, learned it from his own mother.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Safes Are Ironically, Very Unsafe


As most of you probably know, we have a very large and very expensive gun collection. To match our large expensive gun collection we have a large expensive safe. We have installed it in the giant closet under the stairs. The whole point of the safe is to lock things into it in a manner that they are very difficult to get out unless you know exactly what the combination is and exactly how to work the very complicated locking mechanism. I do not know the combination nor have I ever cared to know. This was all well and good until Jack got locked inside by his cousin Emma. John is the only person who knows how to open it and he was twenty miles away at work. In case you are wondering, yes it is airtight. Yes, Jack was panicking inside there in the dark, and yes, I was frantic.

I was on the phone with John getting instructions on opening it but I could not open the thing. I tried fifty times. I tried everything I could think of. I could not open it. John was headed home going code 3. These are the times I am so glad that John has lights and sirens at his disposal. I considered calling the fire department but I don't even know what they would have done about it. I guess they could have busted out a grinder and the Jaws of Life but I knew John could get to us and get it open quicker anyway. Plus I really preferred to leave the thing intact. Finally John got here and opened it on his first attempt. I still have no idea how he got it to work. I did that combination so many times unsuccessfully that I was starting to think it was broken. I was relieved when John opened it on his first try.

When I got my hands on Jack I couldn't decide weather to hug and kiss him or lecture him about not playing in the safe. I did a little of both. Actually, I did a lot of both. My mom was here for the ordeal and she handled the lecturing of Emma. She made Emma apologize to Jack. When she did Jack said "You need to tell my mom sorry." I think he recognizes that having your five year old locked in a dark safe is almost worse than actually being locked in a dark safe.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Harry Potter and the Five Hours of Your Life You Will Never Get Back

You know a movie sucks when half way through it you are reviewing your grocery list and thinking about chores at home. By the end of the movie I was just mad that they took so long to tell their story and then didn't even finish the damn story. There should have been a warning with the opening credits that said: This movie is twice the length of a normal movie and will then will fail to complete a plot. Do not watch it unless you have religiously read the books and love teenage relationship drama.

Spoiler alert. I was told before I went that the film ended with the shocking murder of Dumbledore. By the time we were into the THIRD HOUR I was thinking "Come on, people. You gotta get on with the business of killing this guy if we are ever going to get out of here."

Also, It drives me nuts that they market this movie to children despite the fact that it is so clearly inappropriate for kids. I'm not one of those people who has anything against the witchcraft and wizardry theme but I do have a problem with the all out focus on "snogging" and characters hooking up and all of the boyfriend/ girlfriend angst. In addition, the scene where the skeleton creatures come out of the water and attack Harry was way too visually horrible for a child to see. I may be retentive about kids and movies but I was shocked.

I have an issue with the fantasy genre in general. If you don't have to adhere to the rules of reality then your character can get out of anything. It seems like kind of a cop-out for the writer of fantasy. So lets say that our hero has a big problem. How will he ever work it out? Oh... he is going to use the good luck serum or maybe use a spell that reverses time or fight the bad guy with his magic wand. At first glance this stuff seems all very creative but then when you think about it you realize that if you are rewriting the laws of physics, then anything goes.

I know a lot of people who worship these books and movies and will disagree with me on this negative review (you know who you are, Lisa). I am interested to hear what everyone else thinks. Were the characters and their love interests as totally under-developed as I thought they were? (Why was Harry into Weasley's sister?) Did they not start a million random tangent storylines and then leave them all unaddressed? Was the climax as anti-climactic to everyone else? By the way, why are we supposed to care that Snape is the Half-Blood Prince? Because he made some helpful notes in a textbook?

Couldn't they have told this complicated rambling story in an hour and a half? I could go on forever. We never go to the movies anymore so I was really disappointed when this one turned out so lame. Luckily we had free babysitting and gift certificates for tickets so all we were out was the five hours of our life. At least I got to be on a hot date with my hubby and snuggle with him in a dark theater with buttery popcorn and caffeinated beverages.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Drama



Sunday evening was an eventful one. All of the kids were out back playing on the playset and Ham fell off of the top platform right on to his head. I was standing in the kitchen with Spencer and Christina and Spencer saw it happen. We all ran out there right away. I could tell that his head had been hit hard. I was terrified. He didn't lose conciousness but there was a huge goose egg above his left eye within 5 seconds of the fall. He also had a scrape on his crown and I couldn't tell how bad the injury really was. I thought he had broken his skull or bruised his brain or something. I scooped him up and ran into the garage to strap him into the van and rush him to the ER. I was thinking I could get him to medical help before they could get out to us. John came downstairs and told me to stay put and call 911. John put him on the cround and immobilized his head and neck while I talked to 911. John is so much better in an emergency than I am. Abe was not showing any signs of serious head trauma or concussion but I was still scared. Really scared. John gave him a blessing while we were waiting for the paramedics and the blessing said that he would be totally fine and that the whole incident would be nothing more than a bad memory. I was comforted.

The paramedics arrived and did their thing. They strapped him to a board and wrapped him in a stiff thing so that he couldn't move at all. by that time he had totally stopped crying and was just interested in all of the straps and machines.

We took a ride to Gilbert Emergency Hospital. John drove down in his car and I rode in the ambulance with Ham. The Ambulance driver seriously drove about 5 miles under the speed limit the entire way. Like to the point that he was causing a traffic jam behind us. At this point I knew that everything was going to be okay and that all of this was precautionary but I wanted to yank the dude out of the driver's seat and floor it to the hospital.

Eventually we got there. Abe's good mood didn't last long. He got sick of being immobilized on his back and he was hungry and tired and thirsty. They wanted to CAT scan his spine and head before they would let him get out of the restraint. It took half an hour before they could get him in for the scan. They had told me that once they got the pictures they needed they would let him out of the thing. He was crying so hard. They had me put on a metal apron and hold his arms and chin while they did the scan to try to get him to hold perfectly still. Even though he couldn't move because of the device he was so upset that he was shaking and they couldn't get a clear scan. I was singing to him and holding his arms and chin and promising him that if he would just hold still for a minute then he could get out of this thing. When we were done they said that he couldn't get out yet until they had the results of the scan which would be another half hour. Ham totally understood what was going on and he was so mad not to be let out as I had promised him. He was over the edge emotionally. It was so hard to see him so upset and totally unable to move. I felt like crying too. Every minute felt like a year.

Finally they got the results and gave the all-clear to liberate him. He was soaked in sweat and tears and he was so happy to be held and to have a big cool drink. I have never been so relieved to hold a baby before. I couldn't snuggle him hard enough and I was so happy that he was fine and that his little noggin was only bruised. Ultimately he didn't need to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance but when it comes to kids its always better to err on the side of caution.

Right before we left the hospital I looked up and saw Rob and Clark. Apparently Clark is sick and they brought him to the ER to get him help with his breathing. It was a family affair. Maybe we can get a group rate.

All day today I can't get enough of my Babyham. There's nothing like a good scare to make you appreciate what you have. I am so thankful for the health of my children. We are putting up netting on the playset today and I'm not letting Ham anywhere near the thing for a while. Clark is feeling better too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First Day of School

Jack's formal education has begun. Yes, I cried when I dropped him off (afterwards in the car). Yes, I have been relishing the time I have during the day now.

The great news is Jack LOVES school. He is the kind of kid who doesn't like change. He tends to get shy is a group setting and nervous about new situations so I was a little worried that it would take a while to get used to school. This picture is a perfect illustration of his hesitation.I had Kristen snap a picture of the three of us in the classroom. She didn't think that it was worth mentioning that Abraham was totally pulling my dress off without my knowledge. This combined with Abe's totally soaked shorts and my slightly disheveled hair is a great example of how motherhood challenges you but you just suck it up and keep on rolling.
Jack's teacher is named Mrs. Knighton. After school when Kristen asked what his teacher's name is he said "uh...Mrs. Darkton" I thought that was so funny to see how his brain works. Mrs. Knighton seems very nice although she made no attempt to hide her irritation at the fact that we named our child John and call him Jack. I apologized profusely and explained to her that the damage was already done and she would just have to make the mental adjustment because we are not going to start calling him John and we are not going to legally change his name to Jack. Deal with it. Here are our two little scholars after a long day. They didn't see each other until they were released and it was cute to watch them get call caught up with each other. Ella told the harrowing tale of being yelled at by her teacher to get a paper towel after spilling a bottle of water. We tried to explain to her that the teacher was probably not yelling, per se, but just expressing a sense of urgency with her voice. She wasn't buying it. Finally we resorted to telling her "Sometimes people yell. Get over it."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Baby is All Grown Up

I went shopping this afternoon for school clothes for Jack. I am still in shock that he will be starting Kindergarten on Monday. That is 42 hours away. Yes, I have an hourly countdown going. I have everything ready. His brand new clothes and backpack, the camera is ready to go, I have tissues in my purse for when I bawl my eyes out. I'm ready.

Sending my oldest child off to school is a huge milestone for both of us. I vacillate between the following two sentiments in regards to him being gone all day every day:

1: How did you grow up so fast, my precious baby boy? I'm not ready for you to leave the nest.

2: Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Okay, that's a little harsh but he really is ready to end the boredom of summertime and I can't wait to have only one child at home. Hambone has no idea that his life is about to change. What will I do with myself?

Years ago John and I talked hypothetically about the possibility of homeschooling our children. At the time I couldn't imagine leaving the education of my little genius to someone else. This homeschooling fantasy is what I like to refer to as "a crack-smoking pipe dream". Now I realize that he needs school. He needs the structure, the social experience, the learning, the stimulation.... everything. He is ready. I am ready. It will be hard to see him go but I know he will thrive in school.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Myrna Pratt

I just found out that Myrna Pratt died yesterday after a long battle with cancer.

Although this is sad news, a person couldn't ask for a better life. She was in my opinion, practically perfect in every way.

I was one of the thousands of friends of Myrna's children who traipsed through her home over the years. She had so many children and yet I never heard her get upset or angry or even mutter a negative word. She was the quintessential example of the peace the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring into your life. She was fun and funny, she was spiritual and accessible, she was perfect but approachable. I feel honored to have known her.

Her example was so important to me when I was an adolescent. Her testimony was so authentic and her love of the gospel was so real and she showed by example that it was totally applicable in day to day life. She played a huge role in the development of my own testimony and for that I am eternally grateful.

I have no doubt that Myrna's reunion with the Savior was a gloriously happy occasion.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

God Has a Sense Of Humor

Part of my testimony is that I know God has a sense of humor. There is an experience that I often think about to illustrate my point.

When I was 18 I lived in Provo for the summer with a few roommates. Our singles ward was doing baptisms for the dead at the Provo temple one evening. I was very excited to be participating in the baptisms but I was running late after work in Salt Lake. Also, I needed to pick up my friend Sara and give her a ride.

At this point in the story, I should tell you that I am an animal lover. Animals love me and I love
them back. I am particularly anguished by the thought of animals suffering or dying. I have been known to cry real tears when passing roadkill. real tears.

I am also known to be a speeder. Yes, this is why I married my husband. It was all an attempt to get out of speeding tickets. by the way, it worked. I get pulled over for speeding all of the time and now that I'm in the law enforcement family, the cop usually walks away from my car having left directions to his house for a barbeque instead of a citation. Cameras are a whole other story, but suffice it to say that I am a lead foot and always have been.

So back to the story: I picked up Sara and headed for the temple. There I was speeding down Canyon Road, stressing out about being late for the temple and a cat darted out in front of my truck. I didn't even have time to tap the brakes. Thud thud. The cat went squarely under my front tire and then my back tire. I instinctively looked out my rear view mirror. I literally saw chunks of feline fur flying all over the road behind me. The sun was down but the street lights caught the gleam of atomized kitty guts. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and asked Sara if I should go back and see if I could help the cat. She had had an even better view of the incident and informed me that no, I should not go back because there was definitely nothing that could be done for the cat. he was dead. I cried and cried. It was the single most traumatic thing that had happened to me in my 17 years. I couldn't drive because I was crying too hard. I didn't want to go to the temple anymore, I was too devastated.

Sara was so sweet and was trying so hard to make me feel better and knew that I would be better off if I went to the temple and did the baptisms rather than sit all night and ruminate about the carnage I had caused. I remember I kept thinking it through and then I would come to a part in the thought process where I would say "Maybe I just clipped him. Maybe he is okay." or "Maybe we should take him to an animal hospital." Each time Sara would gently say "Staci, the cat is dead." She suggested that we say a prayer. In the prayer she said "Please bless the cat, who is dead." Eventually I got calmed down and we got to laughing about the line "who is dead" because it was said exactly like they say it when they do baptisms for the dead. The laughter broke through the sadness and we went to the temple.

When I got to the baptistry that night I felt a little better but was still shaken. I prayed for comfort and for the burden of guilt to be lifted. I also prayed for the cat.

It was my turn to be baptized and they assigned me an alphabetical chunk of the list of names. The entire list was people named Cat. I swear to you that this is not an exaggeration or a tall tale. They were all Cats. Some of them were Caterina or Catherine and some of them were literally just plain Cat with no last name even.

I laughed out loud when I realized the coincidence. Sara and I couldn't look at each other when the person performing the baptism would say "I baptize you for and in behalf of Cat, who is dead."

It was more than coincidence. It was a tender mercy. It made me feel better. God knows my personality and my sense of humor and He was messing with me in good fun. I have a testimony that God is hilarious sometimes. He is perfect, afterall.

I have never since hit an animal in my car. well, probably a few lizards and there was one very suicidal pigeon with what had to be Al-Qaeda training, but never a cat or dog.

This lesson I learned about God's sense of humor comes in handy every day. Especially when I am raising children and trying so hard to do everything right. It helps to know that God is laughing along with me when things are funny and crying along with me when they are sad. I know that we can always get exactly the thing we need emotionally from Him if we ask and look for it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Tub Full of Cuteness

Could this trio of babies be any more cute? I really don't think its even possible. Clark is one, Christopher is three and Abe is a year and a half.
Here they are toweling off after the bath. These three are hilarious together and we hope they will all grow up to be best friends. With the taking of these pictures we now have good blackmail material for all of them. Especially Abe's pink flower getup. Not that he chose it, but dang, he sure is pretty in pink.

Raising our right-wing nut job

Today we were watching Noggin and they had a little in-between thing about the Earth. It said things like The Earth gives us everything we have. She gives us a home and makes us happy etc. etc.

Jack was watching skeptically and then said, "That not the Earth that they are talking about....that's Jesus who gives us all of that.

"Well, keep in mind that Jesus did give us the Earth" I answered helpfully although Jack's scowl didn't fade.

"They didn't even talk about Jesus. They totally got it wrong."

Before walking away I heard him mutter "Freakin' Liberals."

Wow. I didn't even know what to say. I just let it go. He is already suspicious of the leftist agenda that seems to invade all of these so called kids networks. I wonder why.

here is a good article from the Wall Street Journal about Noggin's political slant. The claim of political neutrality is a lie that even a five year old can see through.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Motherly Guilt: Perfecting My Technique

Being a mother is full of guilt. Not just feeling it, but inflicting it too.

When I was first pregnant with Jack I got a bad cold. I got out all of my pregnancy books to see what kind of over the counter cold medicine I could safely take. Everything I found said basically to stay away from all drugs in the first trimester unless it is absolutely necessary. I remember telling a woman at church who had five kids that I had a bad cold and she suggested I take a dayquil or something. I explained that it just wasn't worth it because once the baby was born if he ever had any problems I would always wonder if it was the stupid Day-quil I took early in pregnancy. She looked me in the eye and said "Welcome to motherhood." I laughed thinking that she was so funny and clever. She stopped me and said earnestly, "No, seriously. Welcome to motherhood. You will spend the rest of your life wondering if you are screwing your kids up." She was dead serious. I thought it was the most hilarious exchange at the time but now I get it. I really get it. Cammie Smith, you are a wise woman.

So Jack has taken to punching Ella and Emma when he gets mad at them. Its summer and they are bored and they spend all day pushing each other's buttons and picking fights. Jack seems to always escalate to violence. I feel like I have tried everything but I just can't get him to cut out the hitting. Time outs, spanking (yes I know its ironic to hit a kid for hitting) positive rewards for not hitting etc. etc. I feel like I'm just not getting through to him. So the other day he had been sent to his room after a fight and I decided I would just level with him. Here is our conversation:
me: Do you think I'm a good mom?
Jack: Yes, you are a really good mom.
me: Well, when you hit your cousins I feel like a really bad mom. I feel like a total failure.
Jack: (completely shocked by this information) You shouldn't feel bad about yourself, Mom, you aren't the one punching anyone!
me: Teaching you to be a good person is the most important job I have and if you grow up hurting people then I have done a bad job.
Jack: I wont hit anyone anymore. You are a really really good mom.
Me: Promise?
Jack: Yes, I promise.

And maybe its too soon to declare victory on this one but I can tell you that he hasn't hit anyone since and he seems totally committed to peace.... just so that I won't feel bad about myself. Why did it never occur to me before to use the age old tactic of guilt. Next thing you know I will be mentioning to him how many hours of labor I went through to bring him into this world or telling him how far I had to walk to school uphill in the heat. Whatever works....

There was also a hilarious conversation between Ella and Jack and I that I though was worth sharing. Ella was explaining to Jack (as she often does) that the devil whispers in your ear and tells you to do bad things, but Jesus whispers in your ear and tells you to do good things. I interrupted and told them about the Holy Ghost and gave them a little lecture on listening to the Still Small Voice and shunning temptation. I asked what are some things you guys can think of to help the Spirit speak to you? Their answers: "Say a prayer! Tell the devil to shut up!" They were really into it. I mentioned that what has always worked for me is to sing a hymn or a Primary song in my head and that invites good feelings and temptation leaves. It was a good little lesson. A few minutes later Ella approached me with a very frustrated look on her face. "Staci, do you know any Primary songs?" "Sure, I know a bunch of good ones." Very solemnly she said, "Well, its time to sing them because the devil is telling me to do something really bad." Alrighty then....I can't imagine what in the world the devil was telling her to do and I guess I really don't want to know so we busted into a rousing round of Book of Mormon Stories complete with Indian drum beats and hand motions. It worked like a charm. Afterward she told me that the devil did not like that song and that he took off immediately.

Kids are so literal. It cracks me up. Ella often taunts Jack by saying "Jesus is in total control of everything I do and the devil is in total control of everything you do." This is usually about the time she gets punched.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I'm just not a candidate for amnesia

Yeah, I can stop dreading my colonoscopy! Its over with and everything looked good! I can't express what a relief it is to have it done with and I can't express how happy I am to eat again. Yesterday I thought I had it so hard because I could only have clear liquids but today I wasn't allowed even water and I was so dehydrated and thirsty. All thoughts of food left me and all I could think about was having a nice drink of cool water. The waiting room at the hospital featured a big gushing fountain. I know I was probably the only one there that felt like they were dying of thirst, but it seemed cruel and taunting. I was so glad to have a drink after the procedure.

So the colonoscopy itself was interesting. I have talked to a number of people in the past few days who have had one done and everyone said that they were totally knocked out for it and didn't remember a thing. Most people describe the experience saying that one minute you are lying on the table and the next minute you are waking up afterwards. Only one person (my mom) said that they were awake for it and it hurt. My mom is kind of a wimp when it comes to pain though and her colonoscopy was done in an emergency when she got appendicitis, so I figured that her experience was probably odd.

I brought up the issue of being put under with the doctor last week when I scheduled this thing and he assured me that he would make sure I was totally knocked out and the whole thing would be painless. That eased my fears but I was still anxious. I hate pain. I know that's probably a stupid statement to make because by definition it is undesireable, but I really really really hate pain.

I did a bunch of reading on the Internet about colonoscopies and everything I read said that they don't really put you unconscious because they need you to be in a semi conscious state, but they give you a drug that makes you forget the whole thing. This brings up a very interesting philosophical question: If you feel pain but don't remember it does it count? What is suffering if there is no memory of it? Its a fascinating concept to me.

I digress... the whole issue of being awake or asleep for the ordeal had me the most nervous. When I got checked in at the hospital I kept checking with the nurses and then again with the doctor if they were in fact going to put me to sleep. They all assured me that I would be knocked out and I wouldn't remember a thing. In fact, they told me that I probably wouldn't even remember getting dressed and being driven home. Now that I look back on it I realize that they all skillfully avoided answering me directly but just gave soothing reassuring responses.

After they hooked up the IV and got me ready they wheeled me into the room for the procedure and the doctor came in. We talked for a minute or two and then they put the drug into my IV. I got a little woozy and was waiting for it to kick in and to fall asleep but I never did. They just started with the colonoscopy. I was saying "Aren't I supposed to be asleep? Hey guys, I'm wide awake. What are you doing?" They all kind of ignored me and kept telling me that I wouldn't remember anything and just went on with it. Let me tell you, I remember it. All of it. Every single detail. Its not even a little fuzzy. I felt tired and a little dizzy but not even close to unconscious. The drug obviously calmed me down enough that I didn't run screaming out of the room but the whole concept of being on the table one minute and waking up the next is total bull crap. And by the way, it hurt. Enough to scream out in pain at one point near the end. The pain only lasted about 10 seconds but it hurt bad. I kept thinking, "When do I forget all of this?" The answer is never. It wasn't horrible and if I ever have to do another one in my life I will do it but next time I will be aware that the entire staff is in on this big deception and that they don't really put you out, they just hope you don't remember.

The screen was right in front of me so I watched the whole thing. I was fascinated by it so I asked a million questions about what I saw. Whats that? Is that normal? etc etc. I could totally tell that they just wanted me to shut up and were answering my questions to just placate me. After all, why do their responses matter if I'm just going to forget the whole thing? I could tell that they were all annoyed by my going on and on about still being conscious. They were exchanging looks between them that said "we got a feisty one, here."

Afterwards the doctor told me that everything looked great. There was nothing out of the ordinary and everything looked healthy. I was very happy to hear that. They took tissue samples for biopsy and those results would be back in a week or two but there was nothing abnormal so he just took the biopsies from random places. He felt very sure that all the results would be clear which was a huge relief. He said that someone from his office would call me to go over the results because I wouldn't probably even remember this conversation. He vastly underestimated my memory.

So a clean colonoscopy doesn't explain my symptoms but I'm really happy to rule out a lot of bad things. I am feeling like my health is on the upswing and this will all be over soon. Thanks so much to everyone who has been supportive and understanding through all of this. I have been so touched by everyone's concern and prayers for me. I have amazing friends and family.

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys