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Friday, March 29, 2013

There is no better time than March 29th to share my 2013 resolutions.

I wrote down some resolutions at the beginning of the year.  I've intended to blog about them, and I even sat down to write the blog post at least once.  I got bogged down, though.  I could go into the history of each resolution and why that particular goal was added to my list.  I could.  Did you know that my Myers Briggs Personality type is ESFP (Extorvert Sensing Feeling Perceiving)?  That translates to, truthfully, a pretty short...wait, what was I saying?  So I have to find a short and sweet point to make in a blog or I lose interest.
That said, I will just list for you my resolutions in no particular order of importance.
1.  Learn to have the mental capacity to process my everyday life without feeling bored.  Boredom leads to escape tactics.
2.  Keep my business light, free, and fun.  Take projects that inspire me.
3.  No Mountain Dew.
     I'll stop to say this about Mountain Dew.  I love it.  There were days when I would wake up not thrilled about the day but remember that a cold Mountain Dew was waiting for me in the fridge which would help me get out of bed.  I could (and did) drink Mountain Dew morning, noon, night, and midnight for awhile.  It refreshed me like a cold glass of water should.  While I still drink other sodas, I don't find them as addictive.  I haven't had a Mountain Dew except for a reprieve I gave myself from Christmas Eve until New Years Eve since 2011.
4.  Encourage my affection for D'arcy.
5.  Continue to be inspired by others and embrace differences as opposed to comparing myself with others and finding someone superior.  Inspiration was my word for last year.
6.  Journal more.    Guess what?  These resolutions were written in my journal.  My journal has no rules and no format.  Whatever I feel like writing or listing either big or small is allowed.  I'm not even obligated to date the page.
7.  Speak and write out my thoughts of respect and appreciation for people.  If I'm inspired by them in a big or small way, I should let them know specifically.
8.  Connect with people outside my social class without having the specific goal of serving them in some way.  

In response to goal number one, I was enticed to read the book entitled "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin after my friend Christie pointed it out to me in Barnes and Noble and said it was pretty good.  I'm not a big self help book reader, but I was able to enjoy this book because it was personalized.  It's her story about a year in her life when she tried to figure out how to be happier.  Remember that I told you I was a ESFP?  Well, I found this written about ESFPs.
             "ESFPs love to talk to people about people. Some of the most colorful storytellers are ESFPs. Their down-to-earth, often homespun wit reflects a mischievous benevolence."
I put that in there because if a self help book feels more like a memoir than I'm 99% more likely to read and enjoy it.  I included the second sentence because I just like that description "a wit reflecting a mischievous benevolence".  Stephen rolled his eyes and chuckled last night when I read that to him.  
Anyway, there is a lot to think about and absorb from this book.  I wrote a few of my favorite thoughts in my journal.  Yes, I did.  So here are just a few.

"A happy atmosphere isn't created by the absence of nagging and yelling but also by jokes, games, and tomfoolery."
"People who enjoy silliness are 1/3 more likely to be happy."
"What did you like to do when you were a child?  What you enjoyed as a ten-year-old is probably something you would enjoy now."
"Sing in the morning.  It's hard both to sing and to maintain a grouchy mood."
"Money might buy some happiness.  Could you hire a teenager to mow the lawn?  Eliminating conflict is a high happiness priority; spend money if it can help."  (Stephen, do you remember that year when we were both working and together making six figures?  And do you remember every six months when I would instigate a horrible fight because you didn't put up the garage door opener that we had purchased for our new house?  Yeah, this thought might have applied to that situation since hiring someone would have cost, what, a $100.  Sigh.)
"Arrival Fallacy is the belief that when you arrive at a certain destination, you'll be happy.  This is a fallacy because, though you may anticipate great happiness in arrival, arriving rarely makes you as happy as you anticipate."
"Remember birthdays."
"Don't gossip."

Here are some other thoughts that I'll paraphrase.
The process might be more fulfilling than the completed task.
Take your play seriously.
Ask for help.
Stop seeking out gold stars even if they mean so much to you.
Stop eating fake food.

I thought it was interesting that in the August chapter entitled "Contemplate the Heavens" she talks about her deep interest in St. Therese de Lisieux's autobiography "Story of a Soul", a book I just attempted to read that struggled to hold my interest.  I've been to Lisieux and when a friend mentioned that she was entranced by this book earlier this year, I picked it up at the library.  However, Therese's story is pretty dull.  She lives, she becomes a nun, she dies of tuberculosis at age 24, I think.  However, one could also see it as she lives, she falls in love with Jesus, she dedicates her life to His service, she lives out his ways in so many small moments, she dies of tuberculosis.  I might have to try to read it again.

On a side note, she also mentions reading this book which was recommended to me by my friend Joy and loved, Expecting Adam by Martha Beck.

One of the ways I hope to process my everyday life without feeling bored this year is to blog more often.  I have no set amount in mind, just simply to decide to blog instead of watch as much TV.  It's, in my opinion, a better, more engaging, and more fulfilling way to spend my time.  So potentially, I'll be blogging on these resolutions more specifically.  We'll see, but for now I must go read a chapter of Anne of Green Gables to D'arcy (see resolution 4).  We could all learn a little about being happy from Anne with an e.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Schroeder is 4!

Four years ago tomorrow, Schroeder made a fast escape from my womb.  That's how Stephen put it the other day.  After I changed the sheets on the guest bed (my parents were coming into town that night), Stephen and I spent the whole day sitting on our couch and began the process of getting to know this little guy.
This year, I've been slipping into his room when he sleeps, slowly watching his toddler-hood slip away.  This has been especially emotional for me since he is our middle child.  Sort of like Wednesday.  Once Wednesday passes each week, you gear up for the weekend.  Once Schroeder passes through a stage, I begin the process of grieving that stage.  Soon all of my kids will be potty trained and ready for preschool.  Soon I won't have any babies to tag along with me during the day.  That seems a little silly considering I have a brand new baby due in May, but emotions don't necessarily coincide with reason.
This year, I've discovered that he really is a man of few words.  I've told people that he only has 500 words to expend daily.  If you catch him at the right moment, he talks, but he has long spans of quiet.  (I'm praying that despite his few words, he and his future wife will be able to communicate well.)  I'm used to having big chunks of time with him when Maggie takes a nap in the afternoon.  When the big kids were home for Christmas break, I realized that I really missed him since he was expending all his words on his siblings.  When he does talk, it's typical to hear BOY words like vehicle and minion and weapon.  He still loves the word PUNCH, he still occasionally uses the word NEVER! in response to your question, and if you spend very much time with him, you will definitely hear him say WHAT THE????  He just says WHAT THE? and doesn't fill in the end.  I'm not sure where he picked this up, but I want to say his Uncle Jason says it who passed it down to his cousin Gabe.  (Am I right Connie?)
He and Julian play so well together.  Julian is starting to view him as a peer who is up to par in his playing skills and can talk LEGO and Avengers with the best of them.
He's not perky in the morning and many times doesn't say much until he's been up for a solid hour.  He definitely can sleep in later than any of my other kids.  The big kids get on the bus at 8:30 and despite the noise of them getting ready, he's been known to sleep until nine.
We've discovered that he pays a little more attention to detail than our older kids.  D'arcy and Julian typically unload the dishwasher.  They sort of dump the silverware into the drawer which drives Stephen crazy.  Schroeder has been eager to help lately, and one day I discovered him putting the silverware in the drawer so methodically.  So now that is his job.  One time, he pulled the drawer open to find that it was all disheveled and he sighed in frustration.  The older two said, "Don't worry!  It doesn't matter what it looks like!"  I ran into the kitchen and said, "NO!  It does matter, that's why Schroeder gets that job now."  Schroeder patiently put it all back in order.
He's still our sneaky, stealth child.  Today, I discovered the little pot of jelly beans was missing from the top of the refrigerator.  I asked all the kids who had moved it.  D'arcy said, "Mom, none of us have been in the Jelly Beans!"  I looked directly at Schroeder and told him to go get them.  He didn't even try to deny it.  He retrieved the bucket and D'arcy was sort of flabergasted.  He's gotten more punishments this year for sneaking than probably all other things combined.  We have also had to crack down on the blank stares and his bad habit of downright ignoring people including his parents.  Nope, that isn't cute and doesn't fly.
So now comes my hodge podge paragraph of things Schroeder likes.  He likes blueberries and yogurt, his Croc shoes (even in winter), mooning his siblings (it starts early), the song Ghosts by The Head and the Heart, pistachios, coloring, going to the Children's Museum, Imaginext, going to MOPS, perusing the toy aisles of Target, night time conversations with Maggie (his roommate), helping me cook, puzzles, sleeping on the trundle in D'arcy and Julian's room, dancing to Muppet music, and watching Backyardigans on the iPad.
Here he is in all his beautiful four year old glory.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We made a space for you.

I've never really had a nursery.  I've always just carved out a little space for my babies.  I like to have them close to me so that I can easily nurse them at night and make sure they are still breathing (I couldn't tell you how many times I've put my finger just under their nose to feel that little breath).  They sleep in a little cosleeper all swaddled up until about four months when they get too big and start rolling over.  Then the go to a crib that is typically in our room from 4-6 months.  They have all been weaned at night by that six month mark which means they are sleeping through the night and can move into a bedroom with their siblings.
I've never bought a new crib.  I've really never given style of crib much thought until this baby.  I'm all about mid-century modern furniture these days, and I wanted a cool, clean line crib.  When I first started looking for cribs that fit this discription, I was overwhelmed by the prices.  The one that first caught my attention was over $900. Um, no.  That wasn't happening.  I also noticed that most baby stores weren't selling these cribs. I was going to have to buy online.
I found this one on Amazon.  It was originally $400.  I tried to talk myself out of it.  Wouldn't it be more practical to buy bunk beds for Maggie and Schroeder and then use Maggie's crib for Penuly?  But Maggie's crib/toddler bed was the same crib I purchased used for Julian almost seven years ago!  I was finally pushed over the edge when I looked online one day and found the crib on sale for $269.  Stephen's mom had given me $100 towards the purchase.  When I was checking out, I discovered that I had $116 in Discover Rewards points which you can automatically apply to your purchase.  Shipping was free so I paid $53 out of pocket.  I won't say it was meant to be or The Lord wanted me to have it.  I'll just say it was a good deal and I'm so enjoying looking at it and picturing our little laying in it.
I also picked up some gender neutral onesies.  Since both names make me think of the sea, Ulysses or Penelope will don this whale onesie and sweet hat on their first day.  Schroeder called the hat fancy.  Both are newborn size so hopefully they fit for at least a day!
So Penuly, whenever you get here, we've made a space in our home, lives, and hearts for you.

A week from today, this guy turns FOUR!

Oh, yeah, and I cut his hair.  Stephen just shook his head when he saw it.  

Kids say the darndest things...

Stephen and I are pretty big Radiohead fans.  Laura Allen can testify that I listened to them A LOT in college. Definitely, we are listening less often these days.  I've spent a couple afternoons in my bedroom working on making a space for our new baby.  I set up a crib and hung some pictures.  We had a chance to listen to the baby's first CD, Rockabye Baby!  Lullaby Renditions of Radiohead, which was lovingly given to us by our friends Jon and Kelly.
He liked most of the tunes, and told me he thought the baby would really like it.  Forget the music, though.  He wanted to know, "Mom, who is that on the cover."
"Well, Schroeder, that is the Radiohead bear."
A half hour later he said, "Mom, I wonder what the Radiohead bear's voice sounds like."
That is a question I couldn't answer.
Today, as we were hanging some more pictures above the crib and listening to the CD, he says, "Mom, does the Radiohead Bear have a mom and dad?"
We've been reading this barely tolerable repetitive book by Eric Carle called Does A Kangaroo Have A Mother, too?  Eric Carle includes EVERY animal you can think of and we discover that they all, in fact, have mothers.  But that dude left out the Radiohead Bear.
So I said to Schroeder, "Do alligators have mothers?" in the same rhythm of the book, and he instantly understood that despite his crazy appearance, Radiohead Bear was once loved by a Mother and Father.

Monday, March 18, 2013

This is a Craigslist super story.

Several years ago, I came to the conclusion that I would stop trying to resell my stuff.  No more garage sales.  No more trips to Once Upon A Child.  No more posts on Craigslist.  I came to this conclusion for many reasons.  We buy most of what we own second hand making our stuff even less valuable when we turn around to sell it.  Many items aren't just used for one child, but are saved and reused for the next one.  By the time we are done with them they are well used and many times obsolete (think drop side cribs and baby bjorn carriers).  We tend to have cousins or close friends who are one size smaller or one toy phase younger than our own who we want to give our nice stuff to.  My nephew, Gabe, passes down many of his toys to Schroeder who in turn passes down many of his toys to Rogi.
One huge factor is stuff management is a THORN in my side.  I hate the idea of sorting it out of my house into the garage only to have to sort and sticker it for a garage sale in the spring.  Blah.  It's about as much fun as couponing.  When you look through it again at the time of the garage sale you start to question, "Why did I get rid of this?"  Then your kids come out of the house and start crying saying, "Why did you get rid of that?"  With four kids, I have a lot of STUFF and it's just easier to decide I don't need it, put it in a bin by the door, and take it to Goodwill the next week.  Even if it is worth $3.  My sanity is worth more than three dollars.
We are getting ready for another baby.  I've been pulling out what we have and making lists of what we need.  We just put new countertops in our kitchen.  We are still paying for the services of our midwife.  We are currently paying two mortgages each month while we wait for our house in Texas to sell.  That translates to, we don't have a lot of disposable income this month.
I started to notice that many people are making money reselling there stuff.  Three dollars here and there is adding up to a decent sum that could help them purchase something new (or new to them).  I start to reconsider how much my sanity is worth.  I start to wonder if I'm being a good steward by just "throwing away" money.  Maybe I should start couponing, too.  
On top of the things I wanted for Penuly, some mishaps added some other items to my shopping list.  (Alex and Meagan, please consider this an official apology.)  D'arcy was given a DS by her Aunt Meagan for Christmas.  Meagan had one that she didn't use very much and asked me if it would be ok to gift it to D'arcy.   D'arcy has been wanting a DS for YEARS.  I wasn't anti her having one, but I wasn't too eager to buy her one since we already had two laptops, an iPad, a TV, a Wii, and two smart phones at home.  I knew Meagan's gift would make D'arcy's Christmas.  She was beyond thrilled, and has played with it regularly over the last three months.  D'arcy left it on the front desk one day, and when I went in to help Maggie finish up in the bathroom, I found her there with a wet DS.  She said very matter of factly, "Mommy, I dropped D'arcy's DS in the toilet."  I sucked in air.  We put it in rice.  After a week the screen would flash on for a second.  While D'arcy is responsible for putting her things away, I felt somewhat responsible for not keeping it out of Maggie's hands.  I told D'arcy that I would try to find her another one on Craigslist.  She said she wouldn't mind if it was pink and had a cool case and maybe an extra game.  I narrowed my eyes at her.  She walked away.
While I strongly dislike reselling my stuff, I totally enjoy buying items second hand.  When we moved into our house in 2011, I promised myself that I would buy only used items (I gave myself a two new item limit).  Our couches are used.  Our washer and dryer are secondhand.  I bought two new to me dressers.  The only things new from the store were D'arcy and Julian's bunkbeds and a little white table in my front room.  I love that it's a hunt.  I love that you have to be patient.  I love that I spend 1/2 the price for things that look practically new.
I begrudgingly went on Craigslist and typed in DS Lite.  I found that to get a really nice used one, I would probably need to spend about $70 (they are originally $100).  For one that has been all but dropped into a toilet, I might be able to spend $30.  I found one that looked really nice with a cool case for $50 and sent a message.  I told her I was very interested assuming she had a charger and that it worked well.  She messaged me back and said she did not have a charger or battery but would knock the price down to $30 because of the missing pieces. Hmmm...not a good sign, BUT we had a charger and a working battery.  I told her that I would come to look at it, put my battery inside and make sure it worked.  I would hate to drive out of my way and find that it didn't though.  Plus, I hated the idea of wasting someone else's time as ridiculous as that might seem.
When I was going through baby items from the attic this week, I stumbled upon a $20 bill tucked into an old diaper bag.  Score.  I took that $20 bill and another $10 from Stephen's random wallet money and headed out to meet this lady.  I struggled to find the place.  I struggled to get the old battery unscrewed from the sizzled DS.  I wondered if this was all a waste of time.  The hunt is fun, right?
We met at her local Church of Latter Day Saints.  This mormon isn't going to dupe me, right?  Turns out the battery wasn't missing (it was a different unimportant piece).  I was able to start it right up.  Our charger fit.  The DS was in super condition.  I still only paid her $30.  It came with an awesome case and two extra games.  Ok, it wasn't pink, but D'arcy was thrilled with the color.  I got everything she wanted and paid the "all but dropped in the toilet" price.  Plus, twenty dollars floated down from heaven.  Craigslist shopping is so rewarding.
Which made me remember that garage sales are not (at least for me) and that's okay.  I need people to resell so I can buy used, though!
Oh, and I've told D'arcy that I'm no longer responsible for what happens to her DS if it is left out for little hands.

Friday, March 15, 2013

I'm 32 weeks pregnant.

I've reached the point in my pregnancy when Stephen can't give me a hug without first acknowledging the baby since Penuly reaches him a foot sooner than I do.  Sources say that babies this age are approximately 3.5 pounds and 17 inches long.
Many women might say at 32 weeks that they have 5-8 weeks of pregnancy left.  I am confident that I have 9-10 weeks left.  I used to think that being consistently overdue was unfair and cruel, an unfortunate burden for me to endure.  Now that I've seen real burdens like fertility problems and loss of children, I'm beginning to have a different perspective.  It isn't a burden, and really it has only become unusual in recent years with the overuse of induction.  I'm looking forward to having another well cooked, strong, eight pound, 21 inch baby.  Remind me I said this on May 16th or after (I'm due May 9th).
Plus, I attribute my short deliveries to my body being very ready to deliver.  I will trade an hour of labor for a day of pregnancy anytime.
I shared my concern about the length of my labor with my midwife.  I'm afraid that if things don't go as quickly something might seem wrong.  She assured me that labors can be very different and mine might last two, six, or fourteen hours.  Ummm...fourteen hours.  Stop right there.  That is officially not a possibility! Been there, done that.  One hour suits me just fine.

I like picking up my camera for fun.

Here are a few photos of my nieces, Tessa & Eowyn, who will turn two in June.  I had the opportunity to babysit them for the first time ever this month.  That seems a little crazy, but I hope it has something to do with the fact that I already have four kids and not because Connie doesn't trust me. Maggie Lu STILL can't tell these girls apart very effectively even though they are clearly not identical.  Different hair color.  Different body type.  Different personalities.  She calls them both Tessa until I say, "She's not Tessa."  Then she'll say kind of quizzically, "Oh, is that Eowyn."
These girls have never been apart from one another.  One morning when Tessa came down from her nap before Eowyn, she kept pointing upstairs and saying, "Baby, Baby!"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I love her style.

D'arcy had an idea awhile back.  She wanted to take several jars and label them hospital, homeless, and children, etc.  She then wanted to carry them around when we saw family or at church and ask people to donate to whatever cause they felt was important.  She said that we might use some of the money from the children fund to buy needy children Christmas gifts.  She said we might save the money for the hospital up until we just happened to be at the hospital visiting Grammy or Grandma and go to the front desk to donate it all.
My first reaction is an internal cringe.  She's going to be asking unsuspecting adults for money.  They are going to feel as ungenerous as I do for cringing if they say no.  My spoken reaction to her is, "That sounds very thoughtful D'arcy."  I decide if things get out of control I can reign her in a bit, but I don't want to squash her good intentions.  Besides, the ability to fund raise is a skill set.
She came home a couple weeks ago with this box for Pennies for Patients.  She wants to fill it up.  I'm not going to give her the money to do that.  In art class, I believe, they had made these mustaches stapled to straws.  They work similar to a mask on a stick.  When we were at target she asked to get some straws, and since they were only $1.50 and I knew this project would keep her busy for HOURS, I bought them.  Sometime between the time I bought the straws and the next time we went to church, she decided she was going to sell these mustaches for $.75 and donate the proceeds to Pennies for Patients.
Internal cringe.  $.75!  That seemed like a lot for a mustache on a straw.  I said, "Ok, that sounds good."  At least she had a product to sell.  She had even made a menu so you could choose what size mustache you were desiring.  My daughter was now running a non-profit business.
She came home from church (I stayed home with a hacking Schroeder) and asked me to guess how much she had earned.  Me being the most encouraging, supportive mom in the world, I say, "I don't know.  $2?"
She beams and says, "NO! $13.75."  I look up at Stephen who shrugs his shoulders and we both sort of chuckle.  Where did this child come from?  I guess the pastor at our small church let her make an announcement to the congregation which helped boost her sales.  The following week she took her mustaches back again and this time did only make $2 because Stephen and I were rushing to be somewhere after church.
Now she has one thousand five hundred and seventy five pennies to give to patients.
Here are a few Instagram photos of my girl.  My favorite photos of my kids are not those that show them looking beautifully cleaned up in an outfit I picked.  Well, a clean face and relatively tame hair are always appreciated.  I like to capture them sporting their own style, though.  I went back through my phone to find those photos that best show D'arcy's style.  She wants to be comfortable and practical while also having a little fantastic and over the top thrown in.