Friday, May 17, 2013

Hello from Blackfoot...

We are in Idaho for the weekend because Brian is doing another marathon tomorrow. 

After driving all afternoon we let the kids wear themselves out at a playground, while Brian attended a dinner.

What is it about human nature that makes us want to go up the down slide?

Silly girls...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A growing moment...

Lately my girls have been going through a phase where they have refused to be downstairs by themselves. It's been very frustrating. That is where all their toys and clothes and belongings are. I don't want my upstairs cluttered with all their stuff, mostly because it makes it very hard for their daddy to get around. 

Today I put my foot down and told Lila to play downstairs. I turned on a movie for her and showed her how to push play. (My children are a case study in how gender determines technological capabilities, Jake at age three could run our entire entertainment system by himself and even reprogrammed the tv into Spanish which meant we had to have my dad come over to fix it since neither of us speak Spanish. My girls, ages four and six, still can't turn on the television by themselves... Go figure.) She did really great for about a half hour, but then came upstairs crying and in a panic because she saw a spider.

If you've read this blog for any length of time you might already know that I also hate spiders. So my first instinct was to rush to her rescue. But then I had a brilliant parenting moment, and I fully credit that I probably had an angel whispering in my ear. I held her hands until she stopped crying, and then I explained how sometimes it's a very good thing for us to face our fears. I told her that she was so much bigger than a spider that she could kill it easily. I told her that she was a brave, strong girl, and that it was important that she learn not to let scary things stop her from doing what she wants to do. 

She took a deep breath, then said, "Okay mommy. I am going to put on my shoes and go downstairs and stomp on that spider and squish him all up! Because I am bigger and braver than him... right?"

"Right! But don't forget a tissue so that you can flush him down the toilet after you squash him."

"Okay. Actually, I'd better get two tissues. One to blow my nose, and one to get the spider."

"Good plan."

She came out of the bathroom with a tissue and as she started through the kitchen I heard her whispering to herself, "You can do this Lila. You are a big, brave, strong girl. You can do this..."

And she DID! One minute later she triumphantly carried the spider into the bathroom and gleefully watched him swirl down the bowl. 

She is a big, brave, strong girl, and I couldn't be prouder of her. I foresee easier days ahead getting her to keep the toys downstairs... now if I could only have another brilliant flash on how to get them to keep it clean!

              Lila Faith- Spider Slayer!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Crying in public...

I know this might come as a shock to many of you, but I cry... a lot. Okay, maybe that's only a shock if you don't know me (or another member of my family) at all. I cry when I am happy, or sad, or hurt, or angry, or laughing (the normal or hysterical kind), pretty much all strong emotions are expressed through tears with me. This can be a strength in that I'm usually quite attuned to my emotions which helps me be a fairly balanced individual. It can also be a weakness when dealing with strangers as most people equate crying with something being wrong.

Tonight's SCI Forum had a breakout session just for the caregivers and was led by a social worker. She started us off by asking what were some challenges we face as caregivers and how we cope with the stress of those challenges. (Stinging behind my eyes, lump building in my throat.) I shared how hard and just physically exhausting it was at times being essentially a single parent and not being able to divide the day to day care of a home and family equally. 

We talked about asking for help. How it can be so hard to ask for help, especially when we are so culturally programmed to give service rather than receive. She asked for a show of hands of who had asked for help, and only two of us out of a group of ten or so raised our hands. I choked up as I talked a little bit about our family on both sides and what amazing support we've received from our ward, our neighborhood, and our community. I feel so much gratitude I can't think about it without tears.

We talked about ways to take care of ourselves as caretakers. She shared the analogy of being on a plane and the oxygen masks drop down. You have to put your own mask on first, and then help others. I was going to tell how my knitting group is a huge part of helping me recharge and renew myself as a caregiver, but the gentleman behind me beat me to the punch by talking about how he kills zombies... (I was worries knitting might seem kind of lame in comparison.) But I want to send a big shout out to my Twisted Stitchers (assuming that's the name we vote in next week), you guys really help keep me sane and I love you!

The social worker had us take a quiz to gauge our stress levels and I was pleasantly surprised. I scored 2 out of 20, which means I am coping very well right now. But then I started thinking about how I would have answered six or twelve months ago, and I got all teary because I'm just so grateful that I can see what huge progress we've made in the last year! 

She ended by giving us a list of resources and caregiver support groups, and urging us strongly to seek out professional counseling if we felt pushed too close to our breaking point. I'm not saying she meant that solely for me, but she was making pretty direct eye contact with a worried expression in my direction.
She also expressed some very kind words on the strength of character it takes to be a caregiver, and that was it for me. Sympathy does me in every time.

I left with a handful of papers, a blister on the inside of my cheek from biting it, and a wicked headache from trying not to cry. I should have just gone ahead and cried, as I'm fairly certain everyone in the group thinks I'm a basket case on the verge of a breakdown anyways...

But I'm really not. 
I promise.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

I have had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend. I spent Thursday-Saturday at a cabin at Bear Lake with a wonderful group of women enjoying good food, funny movies, and lots of creative fun sewing and knitting! It was a perfect get away.

But not only did I get the gift of time off from my husband and kids, I came home to a clean house and all kinds of progress in the yard thanks to my sweet in-laws! They ripped out a bunch of overgrown areas and bushes and trees, and they also added rocks to the ramp retaining wall and planted flowers. I'm so happy with how it looks and excited to keep trying to get the yard in shape.

Today has been a very nice, restful day. Brian has been so great about still taking charge of the cooking and the dishes and the kids. I really feel loved and refreshed, ready to start a new week of our busy, happy life. :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My mother's library...

About a month ago or so my dad did me a huge favor and hired me to be his cleaning lady. It is the perfect job for this strange in between stage of my life where I still have a young child at home for 90% of the time and so I can't really find another job that wouldn't involve paying for some kind of daycare, which would render my working pretty pointless from a financial standpoint. But I can take Lila with me to my dad's, pull out the crayons and turn on Mickey Mouse which will usually buy me a solid hour of cleaning time. A lot of the time Lila helps me too, because for whatever reason the chores she balks at doing at home suddenly become fun at Grandpa's house.

I've been slowly working my way through his house, deep cleaning a room at a time. My dad is actually a fairly neat and tidy individual, but men just don't see dust the way women do I guess.

My latest project has been the library, or as I still call it the living room (because that's what that room was my whole life in that house and apparently my brain can't handle the change). My mom was a voracious reader and collector of books, and there are five 7' tall book shelves in that room crammed to the bursting point. My dad prefers to read on his kindle, which definitely collects less dust than book shelves full of books.

It's taken me two weeks, but I went through each and every book in that room. I organized and arranged the books by genre so it's easier to find what you're looking for. I dusted and polished and cleaned the windows, so there is better light for reading. I hauled out two kitchen garbage bags of trash and random papers and pamphlets that were mixed in with the books. I took twenty grocery sacks of books to the book exchange.

At first I felt a little uneasy, like I was dismantling the library my mother had built up, but as I spent hours sorting books and reading the blurbs on the back of them, I realized that she would be happier knowing her books were finding their way to people who would read and appreciate them, rather than having them sit moldering and collecting dust just because they once happened to be hers. And if there is one thing my mother taught me it was to enjoy reading and sharing the love of the written word with others.

I also found journals she'd written, about her garden and her book club. I found letters and cards others had written to her. It was a sweet moment to see her handwriting and read her thoughts, and to read other people's kind words and memories about her too. I feel like it's been a tender mercy to find these treasures the week before Mother's Day.

I think that the library is back on it's way to being what I'm pretty sure my mother envisioned it being, a relaxing place that invites you to browse through the shelves and curl up on the sofa with a good book for an hour or three. It's my favorite place at my dad's house, I like to sit quietly and visit with someone or read to one of my children when we are over visiting.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bad, bad blogger...

I realized today that it has been a week since my last post. I feel this lapse can best be summed up by the statement, "My life got away from me."

I want to post about the awesome baby shower we threw for Caitlin, but I am waiting until someone sends me pictures. Because I was so busy with food and decor and a million little details I completely spaced grabbing my camera! (I know, I refer you back to the title...) It was a wonderful party and we were so grateful for all the people who not only came but did so in some seriously fabulous hats!

I am proud of the fact that despite working my fanny off on about three hours of sleep for two days in a row I only resorted to a single caffeinated beverage to push through. (I'm calling it a medicinal Dr. Pepper and therefore it doesn't count against me in my quest to not drink soda pop.)

I am proud of the fact the Tiffany and her children managed an entire visit to my house without needing to visit an emergency room.

But I don't want to post about how several people in my house apparently contracted dysentery the day after the shower.

I do want to post that I have a simply wonderful visiting teacher. After I ranted a bit about my stressful morning on Facebook (I'm assuming that's how she knew) she popped by with a plate of cookies and a quick hello. Talk about sweetening my day. The cookies had sprinkles! And I don't know about you, but I just smile anytime I eat something with sprinkles on it. Thank you Hailey! :)

That pretty much catches you up on my weekend, and I'm going to try not to fall so far behind again.