"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Monday, February 28, 2011

Mom's Buffet

I don't know how long this has been over the entry to my kitchen.  Just looked up and saw it there.  It does, however, explain the breakfast short order demands of late.

Yes, I know there's still a poinsettia on my kitchen table and it's now March.  It grows so easily and seems a shame to kill something that is so happy simply because Christmas came and went.  I just don't know what to do with it now.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

All the world's a stage

I'm a huge advocate of siblings supporting siblings in their various activities.  Flying solo one night this week however, I couldn't resist taking advantage of my teenager's needs to complete homework and their willingness to keep the short-attention-span baby as I dipped over to the elementary school for a musical performance.

I think Janie was a little disappointed not to have a stocked cheering section at first.  The world is her stage and our family, her audience.  However, having my full concentration and that of her best frienemy, had it's advantages.  

That child's eyes never left my face once through the entire performance.  She was completely honed in to whether or not she had my full attention.  I could have been the only person in the room and every picture I took reflected that.


Looks like I need to make sure she gets more positive recognition. 

Grant just had a hard time seeing through the eye holes in his mask and could have cared less.  Such a boy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

High School Orientation

She came home brimming with excitement.  I came home riddled with fear.  She floated to bed on the wings of anticipation.  I dived into mine with a bowl of ice cream in which to drown myself. 

She's ready.  She's eager.  And most importantly, she knows who she is.  But all of those "have I done enough" moments converged into one for me.  It was a reality check leaving me questioning "Will I be ready to parent the challenges ahead?"   

Walking down the main hall between rows and rows of lockers, I could smell the lingering scent of fear.  Will I sound stupid?  Is my hair right?  Are my grades adequate?  Was that laughter pointed at me?  All of that stuff turned to mole hills what seems like ages later, but in those few short years, can be daily mountains.  An adult knows four years is nothing but to a teen, it's everything and more.  No mother is ever ready to throw her child to the wolves.

In our rotation of subject orientations, club and sport sign-ups, and elective sales pitches, we listened to a guidance councilor spell it out in plain terms.  "This is where it counts.  This is all on you.  No more mommy and daddy.  The last person your teacher wants to hear from is a parent so be your own advocate.  Parents, let your children fight their own battles socially as well as academically."  Good advice.  Scary advice.  I know this one measures up to the challenge but I thought about other children that I have and how much is needed to reach such independence.

We looked at the rigorous course paths required over a four year period to attain entrance into the college of her choice.   We listened to authority figures advise the need for extracurricular activities and service hours for resumes.  I suddenly missed the days of having four in elementary school together at one time with one home in diapers.  I thought those days were busy.  The ones ahead look harder.

I feel like I'm seeing the end from the beginning.  With children so close in age, once one starts those final four years, they all will.  One after the other and then they'll be gone.  I went right home and begged for another baby.  I didn't get very far. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just Rosy

I remember everything about growing up with rose colored glasses.  I hope my kids will too.  Whenever I say to my mother, "I don't remember us fighting much as kids." she snorts.  She remembers it.  I could rosy it all up too, but one day, when my nest is empty, I think I'll appreciate looking back with a bit of a glimpse of reality rather than with tears of loneliness and longing.  Maybe ... and maybe not.

We are a competitive family.  I don't know why.  I just got sent a passel of really fiery spirits.

(One is missing -- he's loving the snow free pavement on his bike)

Sometime during our President's Day weekend, I stood at the kitchen sink washing straggling pans as I listened to two children play in the living room.  The play escalated to a "Don't touch me, you idiot." I've intervened a thousand times.  Those words have been condemned a thousand times.  This time I hung my head and took a deep breath.  I thought of all of the neat "family rules" and "motto" signs I've seen lately, especially at a cute shop I visited on Friday.  All I could think was, if we had a family sign it would say, "Don't Touch Me, You Idiot." **sigh**

Saturday hit 56 degrees -- rare for February -- and I scuttled children outside.  I took quick advantage of the momentary silence to do an indoor tidy up.  Children kept opening the front door asking if I was coming out.  I cursed that mental to-do list that keeps me from just letting go.  And then I just let it all go, grabbed a camping chair and headed out to bask in the warmth and watch children do what they do.

It was addicting.

This three day weekend, we:  

Remembered that 16 years ago, two college kids skipped town to California to get engaged.
Tried to take the family ice skating but found it closed.
Went to Deseret Book instead and fell in love with everything.
Stopped in at the mall which we never do.
Fell in love at the pet store while Dad made a return.
Walked away without a pet which made our Dad happy.
Drank Orange Julius with the treat money Grandma sent for V-day.
Didn't have to share which made everyone happy.
Hit the park for a game of "Zombies Attack" with Dad.
Cried because we didn't want to be "it". 
Enjoyed a little pay back from years gone by.

I hope I remember it all rosy, too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Never out in front

I think most women feel at least a little self conscious.  I know I do .. and more than just a little.  I remember my mother hiding from the camera as we pointed it in her direction.  She still does.  Now, I'm the same way.  Pictures just show me getting older every day... among other things I'm self critical about.

Celia made the comment on Saturday that one day as adults, my children will look back at all of the photographed memories and recall that they were raised by a Dad and that person behind the camera.

So, I let her take it and vowed to no longer try to be the invisible force behind our family.  I'm sure I'll still cringe at every shot but at least they will remember I was here as I try to allow myself to be out in front more often.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Once a girl, always a girl

I'm feeling misrepresented.

I've worked hard to make certain changes in my life.  A lot of which, I've only succeeded in shaving off the rough edges.  I get that.  However, years ago I used to be really bad at being on the phone more than necessary and now -- and maybe it's responsibilities at church that have sent me into hiding more than I used to -- I am not on the phone all that often.  I've successfully cut that way down.

And so I say again ... I'm being unfairly misrepresented here. Hey, give a girl some credit will ya?!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm sorry Mom

Lately, I've been getting a lot of this.

I never really thought it would happen.  At least not with this one.  I'm in denial.

I remember being this age and mentally rolling my eyes at my mother.  I recall my dad sitting me down and reminding me of all that was good in my life including a mother who loved me and made every effort to be home when I walked through the door with a smile and a listening ear.  I remember mentally rolling my eyes at him, too.  

Once upon a time, my favorite cousin who was a year older than I, needed a lift across country from her freshman year of college. We'd made the trip to retrieve my brother at the same university and she would be joining us for the return trip.   Though I was like a cat in water to have to get in a car and transverse this country with eight other siblings, I was looking forward to the return trip and the time I'd get to spend with her.  Man, -- did we whoop it up in the back seat.  With adult eyes now, too much so, I think.  Obnoxious would be putting it gently.

I remember my mother being so irritated by our antics.  At the time, I couldn't see why.  She just didn't know how to have fun any more.  Why, we weren't behaving any other way than our usual selves -- couldn't she see that?

Recently, I took my own teen and her posse to the movies. Suddenly, I was out numbered by girls who would have been just as happy to tear through a grocery store all clinging to a cart at break neck speeds.  Where had the child I'd known all her life gone?  In the course of the evening -- and I don't know exactly what was said or why -- my daughter patted my shoulder in response to some remark I made, with a head tilt and a tone that set my hackles up and left me swallowing my irritation in the moment.

I instantly saw myself through my mother's eyes that long time ago and all I could think was "I'm sorry Mom".  What's that word Dad always used -- comeuppance?  I'm gettin' mine now ain't I.  I've heard it said many times that mother's job is to teach as a parent and not as a friend.  I've counted my blessings that up to this point, I've been able to be both.  I guess now it's time to trust in our teachings and pray like there's no tomorrow.  Just as years ago, she let go of my hand to take each carefully placed step, I too have to let go and watch her become who she is and was meant to be.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

She's my Valentine

Okay, too late for Valentine's Day but we're headed to St. Patrick's, Easter, and some of the other most darling springy fabrics I've ever seen in the store.

So, If you've got a little girl and you're a beginner with a machine ... or you just want to give a cute gift -- give this one a try.  It's fun and easy and non-threatening.  I'd give credit to the gal who created it but I have no idea who she is.  When I saw these in a craft shop, I couldn't resist recreating her beautifully simple idea so -- to whoever you are -- thanks for adding to my fun with my last little girl.

Pillowcase dress:

Need:  3/4 to 1 yard of fabric.  
             spool of 1 inch ribbon in coordinating color

Step 1:  The fabric doesn't have to be fancy and cost you an arm and a leg.  I've fallen in love with the seasonal prints as you can tell -- even some of the quilter's fabrics.  I get 3/4 of a yard for the height of my daughter but that will vary depending on the measurements from the base of the neck to the mid calf of the girl you are sewing for.  Add one inch for the top and half an inch for the hem.  The width of the fabric folded in half is perfect since it will be gathered up on the ribbon.  Just line up the selvage edges and cut on the fold to have two pieces.

Step 2:  Turn under the long vertical edges and sew.  I do have a surger but you don't have to. Just turn under once 1/8th of an inch, iron, turn under again 1/8th, iron and sew down the length.  Just like you would if you made a cloth napkin.  Do this to both pieces, both vertical edges.

Step 3: Now you have what looks like two napkins with two vertical finished edges.  Match them up with the right sides of the fabric together and pin the edges.  Measure down from the top 7 inches to leave room for arms and begin sewing there.  I sew this time on the inside of my finished edges.  Do both sides.

Step 4:  Now turn down your top front 1 and 1/8 inch if you have 1 inch ribbon.  Again, I surged mine but you don't have to.  You can just turn it and sew it as is (though the fabric may fray in the wash), or for a more finished edge, you can fold 1/8th inch, iron, and fold again 1 and 1/8th inch, iron and sew.  Sew right along the edge to create the encasing for the ribbon to go through.  Do the same with the back side. 

Step 5:  Cut lengths of ribbon.  I cut them 20 inches because I always like to tie them and then trim so I'm sure to have enough.  To insert them into the casing, put a safety pin through one end of the ribbon and inch it through the casing to gather.  After I'm completely finished, I'll fabric glue those ends to prevent fraying and pay no attention to my dry hands.

Step 6: All that is left is to hem to your desired length.  I like to sew an extra piece of ribbon over my hem stitch to embellish the bottom.  In this case, I just happened to have the right color of a smaller ribbon on hand.  Don't worry about keeping your sewing straight.  That will come with practice and as you can see, even mine isn't straight as my girl was impatient to try it on and climbing into my lap.

Fun and easy.  I miss the days when I had time-a-plenty to make gorgeous dresses with tulle underskirts, piping and sleeved embellishments.  This one feeds my need to sew and puts a smile on my face in no time at all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love hurts

I can't possibly be the only Valentine curmudgeon can I?

Watching, nay forcing, a first grade to boy etch his name into 25 Valentines has been downright painful -- for both of us. 

My house looks nothing like the one I spent Friday cleaning in prep for the weekend.  It's a pink paper, glitter, marker, candy wrapper explosion -- and the Valentine's boxes haven't even come home yet.

The late night last night, because kids couldn't settle down after loading up on the candy extras, made for just a little bit less of a loving atmosphere this morning.

I sent a long faced thirteen year old out the door this morning because her brother had carefully prepared a candy gram for his heart's crush and she knew for a surety this day would hold no surprise for her from a secret admirer.

We missed the bus this morning enjoying our heart shaped muffins and toting backpacks laden with Valentines, boxes, and party supplies.  "Why couldn't we do this Friday?", I thought, as I rolled my eyes at what seemed a foreshadow of our week.   I quickly hurried to catch up at the bus's next stop.  We sat there alone until it arrived when I kissed my sweeties goodbye and waved at their departure.  Seconds later, two cars bearing late children pulled up and pealed off to catch the bus at yet, the next stop.  I started to feel a little better.  Not really to glory in the downfall of others, but to know that quite possibly I might not be alone.

However ...

The house will easily be put right in no time and nothing compares to the infectious excitement.
I've loved watching the baby discover holiday candy and sugar cookies.
I've loved talking with each child about school crushes and love interests.
I've loved helping some muster the courage to give secret admirer gifts.
I've loved hugs over muffins made "the best ever" for their shape.
I've loved brightened expressions over pink and red decorations.
I've loved expressed creativity with whatever crafts we have handy.
I've loved a teenage brother who secretly purchased a student council valentine to brighten his sister's day.
I've loved an eight years old's rationale for giving a box of chocolates to a boy at church, complete with a list of his qualities that make her smile.
I've loved talks with my sweetheart over ways to improve our family together.
I've loved listening to Valentine making laughter and love.

Not perfect but real, that's just how love is.  The kind that makes a house a home.  A home that I love with the people I adore.  Happy Valentine's day!  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Everything but the kitchen sink -- My View

A kitchen sink is a place where a mother serves while her heart swells as she watches the children she adores play beyond her reach.  I remember the view from the window over the sink in the kitchen where I grew up.  My mother stood there watching our baseball games or filling jars with water to place our lovingly picked weeds, hastily washing her hair because nine children left little time for a leisure shower, or simply scrubbing dish after endless dish as dishwashers and paper products were simply unheard of.

Beyond my kitchen window is a lilac bush that blossoms purple into a heavenly smell until spring hail storms strip it to green.  This time of year, through the dry bush twigs I spend many a night watching the sledding hill and it's enrapturing fun.  My heart too, swells at the view.

A blogger I enjoy asked readers to post their view from their kitchen sink.  I loved her idea so I tried.  Really I did but between the dirty windows and the frosted pane, my efforts kept turning up inadequately.  My view of my kitchen sink is every bit as telling as my view from my kitchen sink so with children off to school and no hilarity on the hill beyond, my kitchen sink today, gives another view of motherhood.

  • Clearly nobody loaded their dishes before leaving for school today.
  • We are getting so used to snow days and rolling out of bed in the hopes of not having to actually go, that the peeps are dragging and cereal rather than our usual hot breakfast was the order of the day.
  • The cereal is still out and it's almost 11:00.
  • At least those Rubbermaid juice boxes got returned from school lunch boxes this morning and I didn't find them abandoned in the bottom of backpacks with fuzz growing on them weeks from now.
  • Yes, my baby is still taking a bottle.  She's only 20 months and I don't have to take it away from her yet, do I?  Transitioning to a sippy cup just hammers the toddler nail home and I'm not ready.  I'd rather pay for braces.  I'll probably have to anyway.
  • No one knows how to actually put the phone back on the phone stand around here.  No one.  Not even when it's conveniently close.
  • The paint on that cookie sheet is residual damage from a first grade project nearly eight years ago.  Since then, that pan has been washed hundreds of times, I'm sure.  Every time, I remind myself to get steel wool from the grocery store.  The paint was non-toxic and just on the edge, so we've still used it to bake cookies.  Hopefully we aren't all poisoned and if we are, at least we had some good cookies ...  And it really is time to put steel wool on my reminder list that reminds me to remember to put things on the grocery list that reminds me of what we need if I can remember to actually take it with me to the store.  See what I mean?  Probably poisoned.
  • Those pictures on my sink remind me of some of the greatest memories with my children.
  • The spout on the sink is wiggly because children hang on it to get a drink with their mouth completely covering the faucet after every cup available in the kitchen has been used.
  • See that Tupperware container by the flowers?  That's a meal worm science project sent home by a fifth grade teacher.  Yuck.  It's supposed to be metamorphosing into a beetle.  I think it's dead.  Nobody else will believe me and let me throw the darn thing out.  Why couldn't they do butterflies and how long is long enough before I can call time of death?
That about sums it up.  Thanks for helping me remember that one day the view will be of just two bowls in an empty sink, and for inspiring a nearly burned out mom to get off her can and actually do the dishes.  Guess I best go get a better view of the kitchen floor now.