Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day of (Home)School Pictures

This is a school year of firsts! First day of 4th grade! First day of 2nd Grade! First day of homeschool!

A Famous Painter in our future!

So, so tall!

 Hasn't he said Paleontologist before? :)

Not too far behind his sister! :)

Happy First Day of School! They're getting so big, I can hardly believe it.

By the way... this has been the least stressful first day of school EVER! Yay for Homeschool!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Bandaid Thing - Parenting Mistakes at 3am

It's a common scenario: 3am. A child's bedroom door creaks open. The looming child-shaped silhouette. The soft voice calling, "Mom?" or "Dad?" The called-for parent startling awake or cringing and thinking "Ugh... why??" The unrequested parent smirking sleepily.

3 AM

Audrey came in this morning (3am is TECHNICALLY morning) asking for her Dad. "I have a mosquito bite. It's really itchy and I need a bandaid."
I was silent, feigning sleep and hoping Ben would wake up and get out of our comfortable, warm bed and deal with the issue.

First, let me say, in hindsight, this is the way it SHOULD have gone: Bandaid acquired, lovingly placed on itchy bump, child sent to the potty, child kissed, child sent to bed, parent goes to bed and everyone is happy.
This is not the way things went.

Let me tell you about The Bandaid Thing.

The Bandaid Thing has become the mountainish molehill involving an entire box of 100 bandaids being used by 2 children in less than a month. 
Scratches (nature AND sibling/self inflicted)
Bug Bites
Sibling Bites
The Mysterious "it's bothering me" Spot
Dry Spots
And the Super Annoying "I feel like it's going to bleed" Spots

So, I became a bandaid hoarder. Ben obligingly joined in the hoarding.

I suppose part of me is bitter because my children never took to my Mom's Magic Kisses administrations. (MY mom's kisses were ALWAYS magic..)

Oh, and the cost! Gasp!!

So, now, on to Ben's Suggestion.
After a brief pause, in which Ben might have been contemplating The Bandaid Thing (I know I was), Ben suggested a damp paper towel placed on the itchy bite.
Audrey trustingly and willingly went to gather the needed item and went back into her room.
The peace lasted about 15 seconds.
Audrey came back, insisting that the paper towel kept falling off her bite and that it wasn't working.

What SHOULD have happened: Bandaid acquired, lovingly placed on itchy bump, child sent to the potty, child kissed, child sent to bed, parent goes to bed and everyone is... mostly happy.
This is not the way things went.

Instead, we entered the Battlefield of Wills. Ben's curt answer was for Audrey to go to bed.
Whereupon, Audrey proceeded to do what made the most sense to her at 3am: a whiny, leg-flapping, foot-stomping tantrum. The one thing I will say about this performance is that it's really hard to take her seriously when one leg is jiggling around like a fish out of water while she simultaneously tiny-hops in place and her voice steadily raises in pitch to a dog whistle. We are usually so put-out by this time that we can't see the humor in the situation anymore.

Ben reiterated his order to go to bed, a little louder, and Audrey eventually obeyed in a loud, choking sobbing kind of way that threatened to awaken the sleeping brother.
Thus, Ben went to the kids' room and a series of fierce whispers, reprimands, sobbing, wailing and threats of punishments drifted out of the room to my ears.
It was then that I decided I needed to get up.

But, first, let's talk about The Principle of the Thing. Sometimes we call it Sticking to our Guns or Teaching a Lesson. I catch myself saying, "I'm the parent! I know better! Deal with it!" This is an interesting concept and I'm sure The Principle of the Thing has an appropriate application, BUT, a bandaid at 3am for a child just doesn't fit the bill.
The sibling of The Principle of the Thing is the unspoken, but sininster, I Have To Be Right.. All The Time. Usually with a mental, snobbish sneer.

At 3am, I had an odd epiphany. All of theses aforementioned sentiments are the ugly faces of Pride. Overwhelming self-importance in spite of being wrong.

So, I got up - not to save the day, but to repair my mistake of refusing to parent at 3am and leaving my hard-working, exhausted, allergy-inflicted husband going solo.

I found them both in the hall. Audrey weeping. Ben silently Bull-Snorting. The bandaid was finally bequeathed upon my child, but talk of grounding floated through the air.
I held my daughter close to me and whispered, "Is a tantrum going to make it better?" She shook her head through her tears.
I instructed her to get her bandaid on and went and sat with my husband on the edge of the bed. I rested my head on his shoulder so that he could see in spite of the darkness that what I said was only meant In The Most Loving Way Possible.

It's 3am, I said. She's tired. You're tired. She came to you with her own solution but still took your advice. When that didn't work, she came back hoping for relief.
What I didn't say but only realized later was that she did everything right. She may not be equipped or experienced to deal with frustration, disappointment and discomfort very well (who is at 3am?) but she asked for help, willingly took advice and then returned when faced with difficulty.
At 3am, is The Bandaid Thing worth it?

What is the value of a bandaid versus the worth of a child? If a bandaid cost $1... or $10... or $1,000, at what point would the pain or distress of a child be worth less than the cost?

Heavenly Father sent His Only Begotten Son - an unfathomable cost at the highest price. All because he believes we are worth it. If the most perfect being in existence believes we are worth the highest price, who are we to disagree?

So, Ben, without any prompting from me, went in to talk with Audrey. I don't know what he said, but he told me he apologized.
In that moment, I became a good wife and thanked him for being a good dad. Apologizing, for me, is one of the hardest things to do. My desire to be right makes apologizing painful. And Pride rears its ugly head.
Ben felt he didn't deserve to be called a good dad. He felt that everything he did that required an apology excluded him from the Good Dad List.
I said the first thing that came to my mind. "A good dad is willing to learn." Translation: A good dad (or mom) strips away pride, becomes humble and does what is right, even if it means admitting he (or she) was wrong.
Some people say that our children need to see their parents make mistakes so that they know it's okay and human to do so. No one is perfect. But, I say, much more importantly, that they need to see how the parent handles being wrong. And they need to see their parent apologize, humble themselves and repent for what they've done wrong. Love and hope comes from seeing that there is a chance and a choice to become better.

As Ben was settling back down to sleep, he said, "All this fuss for a twelve cent bandaid." By all parties, yes.

My last trial came as his words sunk in. I had a sudden need to find out if the bandaid really did cost twelve cents. My need to be right, factual, precise, correct. My own pride.
I wanted to get up, turn on my computer, look up the cost of the box of bandaids. A little simple math and I'd KNOW how much that dang bandaid cost. Was it a big or small bandaid? What is the abstract cost of missed sleep?
Would I feel worse if it turned out to be a five cent bandaid? More justified if it was a twenty cent bandaid?

Then I remembered. It doesn't matter.
So, I refuse to look it up. My daughter's worth, my husband's ability to be a good dad, my need to be right.

It doesn't hinge on a bandaid.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Last Days of School!

I've really enjoyed taking first and last day school pictures with the kids. It's amazing to see how they grow and change over just a few short months!

You can see the inches she's grown in the length of the dress! Amazing!

She LOOKS so much older!

Hank has gained a few inches, himself. Most obvious in the length of his shirt!

My handsome little man loved school so much! He was sad to have to leave.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hot Oil

I was probably about 11 or 12 when one of my brothers taught me how to make pan deep fried french fries with fresh potatoes. Pan, oil, stove, potatoes. What could be simpler?

It was an awful lot of work for a few minutes of artery clogging awesomeness. It was worth it.

I haven't made french fries in this way in over twenty-two years.

I have scars that are reason enough for that.

Typically, about half-way through cooking the fries, the oil would need to be changed out. There's not much that will turn you off fresh french fries than bits of black burned stuff sticking to them.

We would pour the used, gross oil into a container, usually a juice concentrate can or something like it. It was a simple procedure, but one that needed to be carefully done.

I was in the middle of this when for some reason, perhaps my hastiness to cook more french fries or maybe a shaky arm, I poured hot oil on my hand.

I remember my thought process at the time. The kitchen had been recently upgraded and one of the rules was to not put hot pots or pans on the counters. It went something like this:

Ow. Hot.
Put the ow things down.
No pans on counter.
Put oil receptacle on the counter. No rules against that.
Pan. Stove.
Not on hot burner.
Stare at Mom.

It seemed like I was looking at my mother for an eternity. I don't know why I didn't say anything to get her attention. I didn't even walk over to her. I didn't cry. I don't know what my face looked like, but it was probably something along the lines of calm shock.

On the inside, I was screaming.

When my mother finally looked at me, she assessed my expression (whatever it was) and asked me if I had burned myself.

I nodded.

She told me to wash my hand with soap and water.

I proceeded to do so with cold water.

Over the next half hour or so, I was impressed upon by my mother to alternate the application of cold and warm water baths to my burn. The cold to stop the burn, the warm to increase blood-flow to the area so it would heal faster. At least, that's what I recollect.

The cold water was wonderful.

The warm water felt like I was dunking my hand into molten lava.

I ended up with a blister the size of a mouse or a large cockroach on my left thumb. I couldn't bend my thumb or use it in any meaningful way. I was careful with it for several days, knowing that bursting it would result in more pain and possibly infection.

In spite of my best efforts, I did pop it while trying to open a car door. I'm most likely blocking the pain of that moment.

And so, I have a couple of small, hard-to-see scars on that thumb.

The internal scars seem to have lasted longer.

I still cringe when thinking about making deep-fried french fries.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Dog Bite

I was lying in bed last night, and my brain wouldn't shut up.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: Ahhh... just find a comfortable position and sleeeeeeep...
Brain: Hey! Guess what?!
Me: No.
Brain: Guesssssssssssssssss....
Me: Ugh. Noooo..
Brain: I'm not tired! Yay!
Me: Well, the rest of me is. So, shut up and turn off.
Brain: We should totally get up and fill in those egregious holes in your novel!
Me: .....
Brain: You haven't played Diablo in, like, 2 days!
Me: It'll still be there in the morning.
Brain: I just came up with the best blog idea!!
Me: Sigh..
Brain: No, really! You're going to really like it.
Me: Fine. What is it?
Brain: SCARS! No, listen. It'll be epic!
Me: Actually, that's not half bad.

And that is the story of how my tired body gave into my insane brain. I'm going to write, installment-wise, about my scars. Again.

I don't remember how old I was when this experience occurred. The fogginess puts it somewhere in my 7 to 10 years.

I was the Animal Queen. Either my family named me that or I wished they had and I called myself that in my head.

I devoured everything I could read, watch, hear, experience, observe about animals. When I wasn't pretending to be various animals (funny and embarrassing story, that), I was informing everyone around me about the things I'd learned. I was the resident expert, at least in my residence.

I could identify which spiders were harmless and which were dangerous. I didn't mind picking them up in my hand (the harmless ones) and carrying them outside where they would escape the murderous intentions of my family.

So, if I wasn't afraid of a creepy spider, I certainly wasn't afraid of some old lady's cantankerous dog.

My mom was visiting a lady she knew. The reason escaped my self-involved pre-adolescent mind.

This lady had a dog, probably a terrier of some sort. One of those little dogs that my husband not-so-lovingly calls "yap dogs".

I wanted to go outside and play with it.

The lady said I could but not to pick up the dog because it hated that and would probably bite me.

I agreed, already laughing at the lady's warning. Somewhere in the mysterious depths of my mind I was thinking, "I will tame this beast and he will love me and let me carry him around because I am an expert in animals and he will sense that and everything will be magical rainbows and a chorus of animals will sing heavenly music!" Of course I felt I knew this dog better than his owner. She was a silly grown-up lady who saw her dog as a mere pet. I was the Animal Queen who saw him as the majestic diminutive little Lord of His Manor that he was.

So, I pet the dog a few times, until my anticipation of animal magicalness got the better of me and I picked him up.

I think the dog got about 4 inches off the ground before he realized that he hated me. I don't remember any kind of warning from the dog; a growl or attempt to escape. Though, I may have been hearing a chorus of heavenly animals and missed it.

The carnage may well have resulted in the dismemberment of my hand at the wrist. I think I actually saw red. Probably because I was bleeding profusely.

A trip to the emergency room left me with my hand intact and a bandage around my wrist.

I now have two scars on my right wrist, almost two inches apart, probably the exact space between that tiny canine's canines.

I'm pretty sure that event helped enforce my cat-person tendencies and my "yap-dog" aversion.

My identity as the Animal Queen, however, stayed intact.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Better than Sex and Honesty

Occasionally, honesty trumps my tact.

This happened more often when I was younger. It's entirely possible that my general lack of experience produced genuine surprise, and therefore truth, when something happened that I didn't expect. As I said, this happened more often when I was younger.

I sometimes wonder how my current experience would determine situations that I found myself in when I was younger, if they happened now.

For example:

I was invited to a baby shower when I was a teenager. I must have been about sixteen or seventeen. My first baby shower. Probably my first shower, period. (Har, har.)

We played the typical games and ate the typical treats. One of the treats was a perennial favorite, which goes by several similar names. Sex in a Pan, Chocolate Sin, Better than Sex...

I heard the ladies in the kitchen giggling over "Better than Sex" and I asked my friend what they were talking about. She explained about the dessert and told me it was called Better than Sex.

In my surprise, I recall going through several emotions in rapid succession. Shock, incredulity, disappointment and a little disgust.

Now, keep in mind that I had no experience with sex at that time of my life...

My mouth ran away with me, as it often did, and I said the first thing that came to my mind. After "WHAT?!?", that is.

"If they think that is better than sex, I feel sorry for them!"

My friend laughed and I was left with the sense that I had missed out on a joke. I think I also avoided the dessert on principle.

I got older. I got married. I was inducted into activity the dessert was purported to surpass.

And, now, I have to ask myself how I would respond if the situation happened today instead of back then.


I would say the same thing.

But, I would have some of the dessert, anyway.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten

My baby is off to Kindergarten. I don't feel too weepy about it yet, but I guess we'll have to see what happens when I drop him off.

It's hard to see his written name, but you can click on the picture to see it bigger.

Some days he seems so OLD!

In the following series of pictures, I was trying to illicit an honest smile out of him, so I was listing off what he'll be able to do while he is in Kindergarten.

You're going to have so much fun...

You'll get to do so much...

Recess every day! Cutting and pasting!

Computers, music, art!

What a cutie! And so big! I love this guy!


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