Dec 31, 2013

Life from a child's view

Over the past year, I've collected hilarious things that my children have said.  I thought it might be fun to share some of these.  Jacob was 6, Gabriel was 5, and Jarod was 3.

Gabriel (to Daddy, who squashed a mosquito):  “Are you petting the mosquito?”

Jacob (to Caleb, who's learning to say sounds):  “Say guh.”
Caleb:  “Guh.”
Jacob:  “Say juh.”
Caleb:  “Duh-duh.”
Jacob:  “Say microwave!”

Mommy (hiding and jumping out at Jacob):  “Boo!”
Jacob (jumping):  “You didn’t scare me.  I just bounced up for fun.  I was trying to see past you.”

Jacob:  “Why, instead of graduation hats, were they ingenious hats?”

Gabriel:  “Are giraffes made of meat?”
Mommy:  “Yes.”
Gabriel:  “Then why are they yellow?”

Gabriel:  “So, after garbage gets taken to the dump, the garbage turns to newspaper?”

Jacob (talking about Christ's manger):  “All the animals live there, except for bats.  And vampires.”

Jarod (watching movie on Christ’s resurrection and seeing nail prints in His hands):  “Jesus need Band-aid?”

Gabriel:  “I hope Santa gives me a hook for Christmas so I can cut off my hand.”

Jacob (hugging Mommy):  “Your hair smells like a dirty diaper!  You need to wash it.”

Mommy (to Jacob, who’s fanning himself):  “Are you hot?”
Jacob:  “No, it help me not be tired anymore.  When I swish myself, it gets me smarter.”

Gabriel:  “Is there whirlpools in our necks?”
Mommy:  “No.”
Gabriel:  “Then how come our food goes down to our tummy?”

Gabriel (watching Mommy put on eyeliner):  “Does that make you see better?”

Gabriel:  “Is one throat a yelling throat?  Do we have three throats?  One is a breathing throat, one is a cereal throat, and one is a yelling throat.”

(Mommy was explaining necks to Jarod)
Jarod (looking down shirt):  “Go?  Where neck?”

Jacob (examining hands):  “Am I glued together?”

Jacob:  “Belly buttons don’t talk, right?”

Jacob (asking about T-ball):  “Will there be any older kids?”
Mommy:  “No, T-ball is only for 5-year olds and 6-year olds.
Jacob:  “How about any tall-year-olds?”

Mommy:  “Did you brush your teeth?”
Gabriel:  “Yes.”
Mommy:  “Let me smell your breath…Gabe!  You didn’t brush.”
Gabriel:  “I drank some water, and my breath went into my tummy.”

Jarod (pulling on head):  “My head’s stuck!  Can you take off my head?”

Mommy:  “Jacob, will you bless the food?”
Gabriel:  “What?!  He said the blessing tomorrow!”

Gabriel:  “What’s in the bag?”
Mommy:  “Carrot skins.”
Gabriel:  “So are carrots alive since they have skin?”

Mommy:  “Did you write ‘hi’ on the bathroom wall?”
Jacob:  “No.  I never learned it in school.”
Gabriel:  “I did it.”
Jacob:  “That’s not fair!  He’s smarter than me!  No, I’m just joking.  I’ve got more brains than him because I go to school.”

And this was my all-time favorite:

Jacob:  “After I go pee, I’m making a fairy house.  I just love fairies.”



Dec 26, 2013

Burn Out

Sometimes I check my blog, just to see if a new post magically appeared.  It never does.  It's hard to find inspiration and time with things as crazy as they are.  I always wish that I could be one of those bloggers, faithfully posting away and inspiring many with their wit or life-changing insights.  However, I'm a mom to four very rowdy, loud, and very tiring boys, so it's hard to want to sit and write.  Maybe I'm not the writer I always dreamed I'd be, or maybe the timing just isn't right.  Either way, that story that I thought was finished ended up not being finished.  I read it again with a fresh perspective, and realized that it lacks a certain charm.  I think I've got an idea that will make it unique, based off of an idea I got from another book I read and fell in love with.  If time and sanity allow, I hope to revise my book, and add in some spice to make it better.  It's pretty shallow and bland right now as it is, and that's not something I'd feel proud of sending off to an agent.  It might be a couple of years before the end product is something I can be excited about.  Or at least a progress of some sort that I can be excited about.

I wish I had some insights to share, but the only thing weighing on my mind currently is the cheese ball I indulged in after wrestling the kids into bed.  And the fact that I have the next two days with my husband for his days off, and he'll get the pleasure of getting everyone down for the night.  Boy, it's tough being a mom, especially on nights like tonight.  Thank goodness I had that cheese ball to get me through it.

Nov 1, 2013

Halloween Frights

Halloween frights for a child are completely different than for an adult.  Well, okay, different than a parent, anyway.  I no longer have to face the horrors of haunted houses (thank heavens), but there are others that are longer lasting.

The day before Halloween, I learned that instead of having Grandma join us for some trick-or-treating, I was going to have to take all four boys out...by myself.  I put on a brave face, and said that it wouldn't be a problem.  But anyone with four young children knows very well that it was going to be a huge problem.  

Another fright I faced happened just before dinner on Halloween night, and one hour before we left for trick-or-treating.  My 3-year-old's most favorite costume, the one he's been wearing all week, was NOWHERE.  Absolutely, positively, nowhere.  We looked all over the house, beneath beds, behind couches, and inside toy boxes.  I suddenly realized with great horror what had happened to it.  Just the night before, I had been thinning out our totes of baby clothes, keeping only what I really wanted for a possible future baby.  The main light in our bedroom had stopped working (no, it didn't need a replacement bulb), so I was working by the dim light of a lamp.  My kids, of course, as hyperactive as they were, were jumping on the bed, messing up my piles of clothes, until I finally ordered them out.  Annoyed, I quickly stuffed all of the clothes into a garbage bag, then e-mailed a lady who was in need of baby clothes.  We arranged a pick-up time for the following morning, Halloween morning, at 11 a.m.  The only place Jarod's costume could possibly be was inside one of those two garbage bags, which were currently down in Brigham City.  Had the light in my room been brighter, or had there been less chaos, I can't help but think that I would have been more careful, double-checking what went inside each bag instead of quickly stuffing a pile of unknowns into bags.  So, yes, my young child had no Halloween costume.

Okay, I might be acting a little dramatic.  Technically, we had a whole tote of costumes downstairs, but that's beside the point.  I gave my child's beloved costume away.  Go me.  Luckily, we had a really cute caterpillar costume in the tote, and Jarod quickly forgot about his dog costume.  He looked a bit silly with a painted on nose and freckles in his big, fluffy bug costume, but with a runny nose that he kept wiping across his cheek, the makeup quickly wiped off.  Disaster averted...until we went out for the night.

I always am unsure of when to take the kids out.  What time is appropriate?  I didn't want to go knocking on doors when no one was even ready, but one place that was a sure bet was a townhouse complex we've been to for the past two years, where hundreds of kids trick-or-treat.  I took the kids, only to learn that my greatest fear had been realized.  Not even half of the houses there had their porch lights on, which meant we wouldn't be knocking on their doors.  Thirty minutes later, after we'd knocked on the last door, my kids only had probably 15 pieces of candy.  

I remembered that a ward was having trunk-or-treating at our church, so I headed over there.  We parked on the opposite side of the parking lot when I saw that only a few cars were there, and decided it hadn't started quite yet.  I took the boys down the street to hit a neighborhood or two before heading back into the parking lot.  As we approached the corner, I tried herding the boys onto the lawn of the nearest house, which was a bit of a problem since Caleb (my one-year-old) was more interested in picking up leaves then collecting candy.  When I finally convinced him to walk towards the house, I realized that my wonderfully independent Jarod had somehow appeared across the street on the corner, waiting for us!  Another Mom-of-the-Year award should have been given to me.  I called him back, and luckily, he obeyed. 

We trekked around the busy neighborhood, collecting juice bottles, miniature popcorn bags, and tons and tons of candy.  My children were eager to say thank-you and "Happy Halloween" to everyone who filled their bags, and little Caleb got a few extra sometimes just because he was so gosh-darn cute.  However, what lurked down the street, glowing with red and yellow lights, was a haunted house.  Gargoyles, ghouls, and the Grim Reaper greeted the hordes of children both young and old, who swarmed the house like a beehive.  At the driveway, we were greeted by a gypsy, who not only handed out candy, but a blue ticket as well.  "Take this to one of the booths to play a game," she said.  "Then you can go in and get your prize!"  We followed her finger to the carport, which had been transformed into what looked like a spook ally.  Reluctantly, I gathered the kids around a booth for games.  Honestly, I just wanted to continue on.  I was anxious that the kids were going to start getting tired and grumpy, but I wanted my kids to have a really cool experience.  They spun a wheel or chose a floating duck, then got a prize ticket.  I led the boys into the prize room, where I pushed aside a wall of beads.  We found ourselves in a dark room, beneath the gaze of hanging monsters, and walked over to the prize table.  That was when I realized that Jarod was not with us.  Oh, no, not again!!  I raced through the curtain of beads, and luckily found my son standing nearby, looking around for us.  I brought him in the room with us, and he and Jacob chose miniature bottles of bubbles, while Gabriel and Caleb received silly glasses.  I couldn't believe how these people had gone all out!  The boys all enjoyed themselves, and I was grateful we'd stopped there.
We hit several homes, and things were finally going smoothly...until we came to a house on a corner.  The front porch light was off, so we dismissed the house, only to see that around the corner, they had a back porch light on, with a back porch that was decorated.  I noticed that the gate to the backyard was open, and also saw that there was another open gate on the opposite end of the yard.  To me, it was an open invitation for trick-or-treaters.  Self-consciously, I took the kids through the yard, and my oldest knocked.  Nothing.  We headed out of the yard quickly (before anyone caught us), and then my 1-year old Caleb decided that he didn't want me carrying him anymore.  As I put him down, his trick-or-treat bucket spilled into my arms, and my kids all ran off, leaving me in the yard alone to clean up.  I cradled his bucket while trying to awkwardly tip the candy from my arms into it.  I suddenly heard a noise, and when I turned around to see what it was, I was terrified to see an adult-sized gorilla approaching me, arms outstretched.

Now, normally, I'm a pretty big scardy-cat.  Had I been all alone, I'm pretty certain I would have screamed and taken off running.  But, as a mother with an obligation to her young children (and feeling totally embarrassed for both being in a forbidden yard as well as picking up spilled candy), I simply said, "Oh, hi!"  It clearly made gorilla-man bored, and I was safe.  But then again, how would Jarod feel when he saw this massive gorilla on the dark streets?  We couldn't even get him to go into a costume store without him freaking out.  What was I supposed to do when he saw it?  Well, the beauty of trick-or-treating for young kids is that they're either too busy looking down into their candy bags or searching for the next door to go to to even notice what was lurking above their heads.  We all escaped the gorilla without any problems.  

Finally, we reached the final house on our route.  The way the door was situated was pretty strange.  In order to get to it, you had to follow a narrow sidewalk up against the house, with a railing between the sidewalk and the yard.  Because it was such a narrow path, I had to wait on the other side of the railing on the grass, holding Caleb, while my other three boys got their candy.  The plan was wait until they were done, and then lift Caleb up over the railing so he could get his candy.  Everything went according to plan, until, when the door was shut, Jacob suddenly yelled, pointing across the street, "Oh, no!  Jarod's way over there!"

I looked across the dark yard, the dark, wide street, and onto the dark grass of the churchyard, where a fuzzy green caterpillar was standing, clutching his Halloween bucket.  OHMYGOSH, how did he get across the street?!  My first instinct was to take off running and carry him back to safety.  But then that would leave my three other children.  What if my one-year-old took off after me?  I yelled across the street to tell Jarod to stay where he was, praying he'd listen and not try to cross again without me.  I gathered my other children, and we quickly crossed the yard and into the street.  How that little boy made it across the street under the dark, cloudy sky all by himself without getting killed by a car is beyond me.  But, there he was, safe and sound, and completely unaware of the fear he had just given me.

We finally headed over to the church parking lot to pick up a few more pieces of candy (the boys had been dying to go trunk-or-treating), but when we turned the corner, I saw that no one was outside.  Maybe they took it into the gym, like they'd done last year in the rain.  We went inside, only to learn that there was no trunk-or-treating, but a Halloween carnival, instead.  Well, it was getting late anyway.  I was honestly relieved that we would be heading home, because frankly, I was getting tired.  My boys weren't too happy, but they quickly forgot their disappointment when they looked down into their bags, which were bulging with candy.

Despite a frightful Halloween night, we all made it home, safe and sound.  Everyone was happy, and everyone got to enjoy some of the fruits of their labors.  But, just as all scary movies have one last terrifying scene, so did ours.  It was time to put the kids, all high on their sugar rush, down for bed (cue the scary music).

Oct 30, 2013

Overcoming Writer's Block

The first time I wrote my book, everything just sort of fell into place.  Everything felt brilliant, hilarious, and it was a project I fell in love with.  But when it got rejected over and over again, it was time to adjust some things.  I rewrote my book, doubled its size, and ended it in a completely different way.  Ah...NOW it was perfect.  Again, I sent it out, only to have it rejected once again.  Hmmm...I was sensing a problem.  I sent it out to a trusted friend, and found out some suggestions that would require a total rewrite, and that would introduce a character that I was reluctant to add.  I mulled it over for months, and at last, came to terms with what I had to do.

 Rewriting my book from humorous non-fiction to young adult fiction was no easy task.  Instead of a bunch of funny anecdotes, I now had to have one long, continuous plot.  People had to actually talk to each other, and I needed more characters.  Because I was no longer reminiscing, I had to actually make up scenes and conversations, and that took some brain power, trust me!  There were many, many times where I reached a road block, and I had no idea what on earth I was supposed to do.  I did everything I was supposed to do:  I took a break from it, I did a freewrite, but nothing was working out for me.  I finally decided that the reason I could no longer move forward was because I didn't like where the scene was headed, or I was bored by it, and didn't like reading it.  It's always hard deleting several pages worth of story, but in the end, it was worth it, because I opened up another path, and that ended up being one that allowed my story to move forward.  If you're not in love with what you're writing, no else is going to love it, too.  Sometimes, you have to accept the fact that your plot is dry, or just simply wrong.  You can't be afraid to start over.

Another road block can come from lack of character personality.  By knowing your character's personality, you can let them direct your story.  My favorite parts in my books are when my characters created their own scenes, and where I felt that they were in charge of what was happening.  When I feel like I don't know how my character is going to react to a situation, or don't know what they're going to say, it's time to reevaluate who they are, and develop them better.

And finally, freewrite, freewrite, freewrite!  This can sometimes be hard for me, because I feel like I can only write when I know what I want to say.  I've forced myself to just write what I'm thinking, even if it looks completely dumb written out.  This is my "thinking out loud" process, because I write exactly what's on my mind, even if it's my dumb little inner conversations (please tell me others have them, too!).  I've actually gotten a lot of my problems solved this way, and have developed a more interesting plot.  Most of what I write is garbage, but every now and then, something huge pops out, and that's what makes the freewrite so valuable.  I also like to go through my freewrite, and highlight parts that I definitely want to put into my book, then make a list in chronological order of events I want to have happen.  It's nice having a road map to look at!

I just read an article on writing novels, and it said that if you aren't absolutely completely in love with and devoted to your book, you'll never get it finished.  If you've reached a road block or writer's block, or whatever it is that you want to call it, make sure you're loving what you're writing.  Don't be afraid to start over.  Cut and Paste is one of my most favorite Word features, because I've been able to rewrite without having to start from scratch!

Writing a novel is hard, but with enough passion, it can get finished!  Good luck, and happy writing!

Sep 13, 2013

Writing from a different perspective

It's done.  At least I hope it is.

I started my book over three years ago and had two different agents request my manuscript...only to have it rejected by both.  I've rewritten this book countless amounts of times, but this time, I think I may have gotten it right.  I've been told that the market to publish in right now is young adult, but have been hesitant about rewriting my book to fit this genre.  I started rewriting my book about three months ago, flew through it, actually, and was thrilled with how easy it came together.  Characters who weren't even supposed to be in my story suddenly popped up, practically developed themselves, and changed everything.  It's almost as if they came alive.  I'm hoping that this experience makes my book feel more authentic as I come to know these characters.

As I came to a crucial part of my book--more specifically, the ending--I suddenly reached a barrier.  I was incapable of resolving a conflict that had come up.  It was a huge, daunting road block, and I had no way around it.  I lost all inspiration, and tried everything I could to clear the path.  I tried re-reading my book, trying to capture the essence of my characters to find a resolution they might come up with themselves, but suddenly, everything felt like a big failure.  I hated my characters, I hated the idea I had come up with in the first place, and I hated the whole dumb book.  Nothing worked.  I sighed, gave up, and walked away from my book for two entire months.

My husband suggested that the reason I hit a road block was because I haven't been reading like I used to do.  Maybe I might get some ideas by reading again?  But reading takes too much effort, I protested!  But...he was right.  I needed to read again.  I picked up a book called, "Woman in the Wall."  I'm glad I read it, because I was suddenly inspired with different possibilities of conflict resolution.  It felt good to read again, and get my creative juices flowing.

Now that I have been inspired, I was able to start writing again, and my story has finally come to an end.  I like where it went, and I like that I learned to brainstorm in different ways again.

As I was looking online to double check the standards of young adult fiction, I came across this really, really good site.  It's a cheat sheet that tells you how to write for young adults, and ways to make sure your conversation sounds authentic.  I figured I'd blog about it so others can take a look at it if they wanted:  YA cheat sheet

Hopefully, if everything goes the way I'm planning, I'd like to continue my story as part of a series.  I have lots of great things I still want to write about.  If it doesn't work out, there may be an upcoming blog entry on self-publishing. :)

Aug 8, 2013

The Harvest

Gardening has never been my strong point.  When I was growing up, the extent of my experience included picking grapes, raspberries and blackberries.  Gardening was my Dad's job.  We weren't allowed to weed, due to my sister's accidental picking of the carrots instead of the weeds.  So when I got married and we moved into a house with a massive garden, I was
a bit intimidated when my husband plowed the ground and we planted rows upon rows of seeds.  Since we water with irrigation water, weeds explode about ten million times the speed of others'.  You let a week go without doing anything, and lo and behold, you're suddenly submerged into a jungle.  I wish I could say I'm exaggerating, but I'm really not.  The first year we were here, we had a young infant, so keeping up on the weeds was an adventure, to say the least.  We practically had to dig our way into the garden.

The second year we planted, I once again had a young baby, so weeding took bottom priority.  We had a family reunion here, and I was embarrassed when one of the activities was weeding our garden.  It was thrilling when rows of green were actually revealed beneath the sea of prickly weeds and tangles of morning glory.

We tried again a third year, and once again, we were defeated by the weeds.  Years four and five, we gave up completely.  We planted pumpkins, and that was it.  No more defeat.  There was no more war to fight, and we let nature have her way.  This year, however, we discovered that our green beans we had bottled from four years ago were just about gone, so we knew it was time to plant a garden.  My husband rototilled faithfully all throughout late winter and early spring, so when it came time to plant, we'd felt like we'd gotten control over Mother Nature.


I knew how awful we were at weeding, so I told my husband that I only wanted to do a small garden, something that we could keep on top of.  We planted peas, beans, carrots and tomatoes.  That was it.  Every week, I faithfully spent hours caring for my plants.  This year, our family depended on it.  I hoed down each row, digging up the tiniest little weeds, and was proud to see that for once, my little green plants were growing bigger than the weeds.

At last, it was time to harvest.  Our peas had somehow survived an adorable yet pesky rock chuck, which was eventually defeated by our neighbors' poison.  After an hour of picking, our large, white buckets were filled to the brim with tender green pea pods.  We carried them inside, turned on a movie, and podded peas while watching "Despicable Me."  The kids helped, in a way.  They carried handfuls of pods to their own section of the sofa, then after several minutes, returned the empty pods.  The peas had made it to their stomachs instead of the bowl we were supposed to be collecting them in.  I didn't mind too much, since the whole purpose of planting peas was to provide nutrition for my children.  Eventually, when our bowl was filled with peas, tiny hands, dirty from muddy pods and leaves, scooped up the peas by the handfuls, and shoved them into their mouths.  I tried again to appreciate that they were eating healthy, but felt a sting of annoyance at watching all of my hard work disappear in a matter of minutes.  We ended up freezing only four pints of peas.

Not long after, the green beans came in.  Harvesting them was my favorite part. One of the times I picked, it started to drizzle.  Between the tapping of the rain as it hit the plants, the chirping of the crickets, and the sweet smell of the tomato plants, the experience was unforgettable.  I almost didn't want to go back inside when I was done.  We ended up getting buckets and buckets and buckets of beans.  We were so desperate for them that I didn't mind the hours of work I was faced with.  I had also just gotten a new pressure/canner, and knew I needed to make good use of the money we had spent.  In the first two days, we bottled 60 quarts of beans.  Not bad, if I do say so myself!

Despite all of my weeks of careful weeding, I had gotten caught up in the harvest and all that was associated with it.  Looking back out into the garden, it's hard to see where our rows of plants are, because, once again, they are hidden behind a wall of weeds.  But at least the weeds are outside of the garden this time, and not inside!






Jul 19, 2013

Find and Replace

I've been revising my book for the past several weeks now, changing it from nonfiction to young adult fiction.  That in and of itself was a difficult decision, because it was hard to want to rewrite a book that took me two years to finish.  It was hard to decide to change point of view, as well as putting others into the situations that I myself had faced.  It felt like I wasn't being true to myself.  However, I am really wanting to get it published, because I feel like there's some really funny things to share, and so I tried re-writing.  It actually wasn't as daunting as I thought it would be, because I have a basic outline.  The only thing that really took the time was letting my characters converse with each other.  Normally, I've struggled with conversations in stories.  So many people have the talent of telling stories just through conversations, and I've always been one to tell stories through descriptions.  When I wrote my first conversation on page one, I suddenly realized that it wasn't as scary as I had thought, and I learned just how much a character's development depends on what he or she says.  It also creates depth to the story, and can move the plot along without having to come out and say so.

About halfway through my book, I suddenly realized that there was a problem with two of my character's names.  One of them didn't work because it needed to sound similar to another character's name (which in turn resulted in a really funny misunderstanding).  I then realized that I absolutely hated one of my character's names, Buck, and knew it had to be fixed.  As I went about finding and replacing these character's names, I went back to proofread, and found absolutely hilarious typos that resulted from the changes.

*Note:  I changed Buck's name to Brent, and I changed someone's last name from Pine to Oakley

"She giggled as she reached into his popcorn Brentet."

"...she suddenly noticed a figure standing a ways off, leaning up against a Oakley tree."

"Brent came by, and ended up throwing Oakleycones."


I've learned that when doing find and replace, I need to select "whole words only."  Still, it was pretty hilarious to me to find these typos.

Jun 30, 2013

The World is our Stage

The stage curtain rises, and the stars step out into the spotlight.  All 7.1 billion of them.  Each actor has been told that they are the main characters, that they determine the outcome, and that they call the shots.  But each actor is pushed aside by all of the extras, whether intentionally or by mistake.

In the play called Life, we know that the world doesn't revolve around us...but we think it should.  Each one of us IS the star of the show.  The problem is that all the other billions of people are the stars of their shows, too.  Each one of us has our own idea of how the world should be run.  For me, cities should be cities, and the country should remain the country.  Open space shouldn't get ripped out for storage facilities, condominiums that bring in hundreds of ever-changing faces, or roads expanded for an explosion of vehicles.  For politics, opinions can be different, but they're supposed to bring the community together, not rip them apart.  Religion should create love between people, not create hateful enemies.  And when I'm driving, I expect a good three seconds of open space both in front and behind my car.  I expect to get mostly green lights, others to obey the speed limits, and not to have to wait for others so I can make a left-hand turn.

This world is changing, but I'm not ready for it.  I hate how everyone is so obsessed with their cell phones.  Human interaction is getting interrupted by a dumb text, or replaced by a meaningless e-mail.  Heads are lowered as fingers fly across keypads...texting while in the company of a forgotten friend, or carelessly behind the wheel.  Conversations that are supposed to be private are shared over grocery stores, behind bathroom stalls, and at the cash register...where the cashier stands awkwardly, wondering whether she's allowed to tell you that you need to either pay or leave so she can ring up the next customer.

I'm tired of people who don't share my beliefs think that I'm wrong, or being uptight, or being unreasonable, disrespectful, or even ignorant.  In my life, as the star of my show, of COURSE I'm right!  I believe things because they make me who I am.  My play is based around my beliefs, because without them, my play would have no plot.  But on the other hand, I understand that THEY'RE right, too, in their eyes.  What frustrates me is that they're the ones who seem to be calling all the shots, changing the scene in MY play that I was actually enjoying.  It's a feeling of helplessness, knowing that if I say something, the audience is going to turn on me, and ban me from my own play that I worked so hard on.

In a play of over 7 billion actors, I know that things are going to get messy, and that things aren't always going to go my way, but I want so desperately to keep the plot the same.  It's hard letting go of a scene that I was so looking forward to, and it's hard realizing that the props I've been given aren't as great as others'.  It's hard seeing someone else take over and direct my play, someone I don't trust, but someone who's trying so hard to make the play into what they had envisioned.

It's hard to share the stage with actors who have a different vision than me, who are in a bigger hurry than me, who have more spotlights than me, and whose voice carries further than my own.  But still, here I sit, in a small, small corner of the stage, continuing on with my scene whether others actually notice or not.  The show is going on as it always has done, and the name on the director's chair will continue to change.  The play of Life will never keep to one scene, because how would the characters develop?  With the villains, tragedies and triumphs, it's what keeps the audience interested and on edge.  And when the final curtain falls, we will all take a bow, whether we've fallen or remained standing, because we were the stars.  All 7.1 billion of us.



Mar 28, 2013

The Trouble with Boys

What are little boys made of?  Slugs and snails and puppy dog tails...and nothing but trouble, trouble, trouble!  A couple weeks back, I awoke to use the bathroom, only to find that someone had drawn all over the bathroom wall.  I'm not talking about a simple line or two.  I'm talking preparing-a-canvas-to-be-displayed-in-an-art-museum type of scribbling.  This took a serious amount of time and effort.  I could tell by the circular patterns just who the culprit was...until Spencer noticed the word, "hi" written as well.  I was shocked.  There is no way Jacob would have done that...and yet, the pencil autographs all over his bedroom wall from months earlier said that he did.

It was time for a little talk.  Jacob denied the graffiti.  I showed the word "hi" to him, and told him that no one else knew how to spell.  He was utterly shocked.  "But I don't know how to write 'hi'!  I only know how to write the words they teach us in school!"  Surprised, I took Gabe into the bathroom.  After much pushing, he finally admitted.  Then, it was Jacob's turn to be surprised...and ashamed.  "That's not fair!  He's smarter than me!  No...I'm just joking.  I've got more brains than him because I go to school."  It's hard to be mad at one kid when you're doing everything you can to stop from laughing.

After a while, I was able to lecture Gabe on why we don't draw on the walls.  I was just dumbfounded that at age 5, he decided to do it suddenly.  He may have used a bit of crayon on the doors at age 2, but that was just one or two times.  Why the sudden regression?  After a lot of soapy water, I was able to scrub the wall clean, and all was forgotten...until YESTERDAY happened.

I thought I had been going slightly crazy when I suddenly caught a whiff of paint in our house.  Odd, since it's  not a common smell, but it wasn't logical either, since we hadn't been painting.  I pushed the thought aside, and just assumed that something in our house smelled bad, like a dish rag or something.  Since it was a nice day outside, I talked to Spencer about bringing Gabriel upstairs to go play outside instead of taking his nap.  We decided that since he had been up the night before with a bad cough, we should just let him sleep, and hopefully get better.  About an hour later, I left the house to pick up Jacob from school.  When we returned, as soon as I walked in the door, I was blasted with paint fumes.  Before I  could say anything, Spencer asked, "Does our house smell like paint still?"

"Yes, and it's really bad now."  As Spencer headed towards the stairs, I suddenly knew what had happened.  "Oh, no...what's Gabe been doing?!" I shouted.  We rushed downstairs, and found that instead of sleeping, Gabriel had been busy at work...redecorating.  His feet were painted gold up to his ankles, as were his hands.  I glanced at the walls, and red paint streaked across one wall.  The kitty litter box was improved with a generous helping of my expensive laundry detergent, seasoned with a bit of red spray paint.  Okay.  Not too bad.  But then Spencer walked into Jacob's room.  I quickly followed when he mentioned some of the things that were painted.  How he stayed so calm, I'll never know, because when I entered, I began hyperventilating.  In the doorway was piles of detergent powder.  His mauve carpet was covered in gold paint from where Gabriel stood, painting his feet.  Papers from the floor and dresser had been painted, as well as Jacob's alarm clock, ceramic lion statue, and treasure chest he had gotten from his birthday.  His magic set box was all gold, as was a huge ugly spot on his favorite stuffed animal.  His enormous leopard had been painted red, as was his sword, pillow case, and sheet.  His bedspread was painted gold in spots, his red journal was now gold, and his walls were streaked with both red and gold.  Clothes that had been left on the floor were forced to participate in Gabe's madness, as were a few stray afghans from Jacob's bed.  It was terrible.  It was awful.  But...Gabe's work didn't end there.

As we ventured into the other rooms, we discovered their play kitchen that was going to be sold at our summer yard sale now had a big red spot on it (as well as piles of laundry detergent inside).  My microfiber recliner that was going to be sold was covered in sparkly silver paint.  Our huge swivel computer chair, also for the upcoming sale, now had a red spot on it, as did our computer speakers and printer.  Somehow, the computer moniter had been spared.

When we entered Gabe's room...nothing had been altered.  The little stinker destroyed all but his own room. At lease we know he's not all crazy. :)

I was so mad, I forgot to yell.  I sternly scolded him, but I was in such great shock that real anger never really came.  As part of his punishment, I ordered him upstairs and into the bath, where his job was to scrub all the paint off himself.  That was when he realized with great distress just how permanent paint actually is.  When it came time for bed, he was the new owner of a freshly painted Spiderman comforter, and Jacob got his clean one.  Again, he felt the impact of his actions.  I felt hopeless, wondering what on earth had happened to make him do all of this.

With all of the chaos that our little boys bring, Spencer and I decided that it's pointless for all of us to try to suffer through Sacrament meeting together.  Our new plan was to trade weeks with one staying home the first hour with the younger boys while the other goes and takes the sacrament with the older two.  Last week was my turn to go to church.  I was confident with the set-up, and had each boy sit on either side of me.  I had packed a bag full of activities to keep them quiet and entertained...but Gabriel had other things on his mind.  He's going through a defiant stage right now where he doesn't like being told what he can and can't do.  Especially by an adult.  Needless to say, sacrament meeting was a total disaster.  Between him crying, whining and shouting out that I was making him touch my private part as I hugged him near to whisper to him to quiet down, I finally had had enough.  We left in complete humiliation, with the entire church echoing out with Gabe's cries.

If Fate had any mercy, this would be the extent of our problems.  But with so many little boys, that's just not possible.  Last week, Jacob and Gabriel decided to aerate our grass with Spencer's shovel.  Jarod has decided against napping, and instead, takes off all of his clothes and screams at the top of his lungs while lunging clothes and toys across the room into Caleb's crib, who, by the way, is now at the age where he likes joining in on the chaos.  Caleb's mischief comes not only from spilling his sippie cup drink all over the house, but pulling out diapers from his garbage can, and flinging them around his room, which open while airborne.

It's funny how life has a way of changing happily ever afters into what-have-I-dones.  And while I'm being buried alive in all of this insane chaos, somehow, a mother's love overcomes all obstacles.  I guess with the little things in life, such as Jarod asking me for lettuce for the first time in his life and not only eating it but asking for MORE, it gives me the strength to face another day.  Life, no matter how challenging or painful, will always provide some small, tender mercies.  It's just a matter of being willing to look for them.

Mar 23, 2013

Flash Fiction Entry

A while ago, I entered a flash fiction contest.  I've had some ask me what flash fiction is, so I'll explain.

Flash fiction is a super short story.  Different contests request different word counts, and the contest that I submitted to required 250 words or less.

Below is the story I submitted called, Steam.

Yes, I'll admit that The Race is cheesy, but with all that's been going on in the world, I thought a change for the better was what I wanted to do.  Sometimes, we all need happy endings in our life. :)

This is a really fun challenge, and since it's free, you should give it a shot next year!


Steam

The hard tip of the green bean fell into the metal bowl by my feet.  My red painted porch was littered with the ones that had bounced out. Snap!  Snap!  Snap!  I quickly broke a handful of beans into thirds, dropping them into an almost-full bucket.  Across the street, spectators from the high school football game roared to life, their cheers echoing in the cool evening air.  A loud horn sliced through the commotion. Touchdown, I suppose.

I wiped my wet and dirty hands onto my jeans, then brushed some strands of hair away from my eyes.  Two hours of snapping beans meant an hour and a half of bottling them.  I loved the hot, sweet smell of cooking beans that saturated my house on summer nights.  The steaming of the pressure cooker took me back to the old times, when Tom was still alive, and little ones swarmed my feet like ants to honey.  I regret now ordering them outside with a stern finger, eager for some silence and space.

They say that nothing big ever happens in this town, and I guess they’re right.  Nothing big to the right people, anyway.  But for my little family, a cell phone and a speeding SUV were monumental. 


I don’t need to bottle beans anymore.  It’s just me, and I’ve grown tired of eating them.  I guess I do it for the memories.  I stand up, stray bean tips falling onto the porch, and I stretch my aching back.  I pick up the bucket, heavy from my day’s labor, and swing the squeaky storm door open.  As I enter the kitchen, sweet, hot steam envelops me, reminding me of the arms of my little family, and the hugs I’ve been missing out on for four long, eternal years.





Mar 22, 2013

Why I hate "achieving" "goals"

I always laugh every time I come across a place where I've mentioned a goal I had in mind, because frankly, I religiously flop at goals.  I am not a goal setter.  I hate goals, I hate the pressure of achieving them, and I hate the words "goal" and "achieve."  I swear something from my youth must have turned me off to them.

Committing myself to doing something has always terrified me.  I can't stand the pressure, knowing that I told someone I'd do something, or be somewhere.  I get stressed out over the simplest things, such as planning on going out with friends, or even planning ahead when to go grocery shopping.  While I love having plans, I hate having commitments.  I've turned into a spur-of-the-moment kind of person.  Maybe having kids does that, with the last minute diaper explosions, sudden meltdowns because naps didn't get taken at the typical times, and everything else that always seems to come up when you've got four little boys.

One of my goals I came across was to write every day.  Ha.  I try to work from home every day, I try to exercise every day, I try to do something every day, but something always seems to take higher priority...like watching TV.  Yeah.  It's always TV.  Maybe I should make a goal to watch TV every day.  If I can do it, then I will have achieved a goal.  Win.  If I fail, that means I've done something productive.  Another win.  So there we have it:  I plan on watching TV every day.  If that's not a lofty goal, I don't know what is.

One of my many unreachable goals is to get healthier.  I tend to start exercising, then a few days later, give up, because I don't want to do it anymore.  I've started this diet, and the only thing that got me through it was what my husband told me.  "Don't do it because you think you have to.  Do it because you say you're going to."  I can't believe how much that has empowered me!  Saying I HAVE to do something puts me in the hands of fate, as if I'm a prisoner, and I look for any way possible to escape.  Saying that I'm GOING to do something gives ME the power.  There's no pressure, but self-determination.  I've made it 12 days so far, with a ten pound loss.  Yes, I have been overpowered by temptation (throwing away a HAMBURGER, cheese, chocolate and tater tots that my kids refused to eat), but because I'm going to get healthy, I have had the power to overcome it.

My diet isn't a restriction.  It's a cleansing.  I'm taking better care of myself, and slowly, I'm becoming stronger with every little victory that I achieve.   By taking away the commitment of dieting and replacing it with a willingness to improve myself, it has given me the power to stick with it.  Nothing is more powerful than the words, "I WILL!"

Mar 18, 2013

The Sky


Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the sky.  There's something so fragile about looking up and seeing the blue that is really a small barrier to an eternity of the emptiness of space.  At night, it's as if the earth's shield is let down, and we are able to catch a small glimpse of what lays out there.  It makes me feel so insignificant...and so significant, too, at the same time.  Something about the sky draws me to God, makes me more aware of my existence, and provides enlightenment about my purpose and worth.  When I look up, I can feel God's eyes on me.  It's a deeply spiritual experience for me, whether I'm watching the passing clouds, searching the stars, or just staring into the deep blue expanse.  

I love the sky.  I love the colors, the way the clouds drift by, or when they build up and darken before a storm.  To me, the sky represents freedom, peace, and beauty.  How the world looks is dependent on how the sky looks.  I'm so thankful for such a gorgeous, ever-changing, ever-present part of life.  The love of God is shared through the beauty of the sky.


Paint Me A Sky

The sun sets
     Dripping wet
Down below the horizon
Purple painted skies
Dabbled with dusk
     And dusty clouds
Foretell that heaven’s beauty
Is not laid to rest for the night
But only just beginning
The pallet of colors burn
As they rush to sink into sleep
Beneath the folds of the sky
Then gently
     Ever so gently
A bashful diamond glimmers
Growing bolder as the night wanes on
Until at last
The sky glitters above
With such remarkable brilliance
That I’ve already forgotten the beauty
Of the sunset.

Mar 15, 2013

What would YOU do with millions of dollars?!

I've always wanted to be rich.  I have this vision of what my dream house looks like, and it's not gonna happen with the salary that we bring in.  I don't want to be filthy rich, but having extra money to get a new outfit when I feel like it would be nice.  As I realistically think of ways to earn this money (such as trying to get my book published, or having my husband FINALLY get his degree and get an actual career), I also enter sweepstakes every so often, with the hopes that I'll be that one-in-a-billion winner.

Yesterday, I entered this sweepstakes where the winner brings home one million dollars...every year for the rest of their life.  Wow.  Talk about being taken care of.  As soon as I entered, I got this sinking feeling.  What on earth would a person DO with one million dollars every year?  I suddenly regretted entering, worrying excessively about the overwhelmingly monstrous amount of money.  I knew that the first thing I wanted to do was buy a new home.  I don't want one of those multi-million dollar monstrosities where you'll never see your family members for an entire week as you get lost down the hundreds of corridors or fifty different rooms.  Maybe we could just buy this house that we're renting, rip it down, and have a gorgeous new house built in its place.  Or better yet...we could just buy my dream house.  However, I wanted to still live in a place where my child can attend the same school.  So..I began stressing about that, wondering what we'd do with our new house once my husband graduated school and got a job.

And then I got hit by reality.  If we became multimillionaires, would my husband still be working?  Yeah...probably not.  So what on earth are we going to do all day, sit on our rears and read?  I started stressing about how pointless our lives would become.  And then, I began worrying about what to do with this never-ending supply of money that would constantly be pouring in.  The thought of it made me feel like drowning, as if this money would somehow become a plague.

Obviously, if we came into this amount of money, we'd have to become philanthropists.  There's NO WAY we'd know what to do with it all.  I began stressing about how I'd start donating to charities, or the city, and wondering how best to use the money to help my community.

It was hopeless.  Having that much money wouldn't bring me any happiness.  I don't know how to be wealthy.  My husband and I don't want to own boats, we're not business owners, and we don't want ten different homes.  Getting a million dollars a year would be disastrous.

This morning, I talked this over with my husband (somehow still plagued by my fantasy), and he knew right away what we'd do with the money.  His dream is to own and operate his own farm.  With the land and all the equipment, it would definitely cost well over a million dollars.  It comforted me to know that an actual plan could be made.


It's funny how such a silly fantasy affected me so much emotionally.  I guess it really made me appreciate what I had.  As overwhelming as life may sometimes seem, it's what builds me into who I am.  Money is never the answer to happiness.  What matters most is living, loving, struggling, and holding on together.  But if I do somehow walk into a million dollars someday...at least I'll know what to do with it!

Mar 11, 2013

The Phone Call

It was the type of phone call that made your blood curdle, your heart stop, and your cheeks flush to a deep, hot crimson.  Luckily, it wasn't meant for me.

I was sitting at the break room table, along with three of my co-workers and Brent, my boss.  We were waiting for a fourth to join us for a 12:30 meeting.  Joe was late.  My boss' cell phone rang, and he answered it, eager to hurry the time along.  The four of us girls quietly talked, politely ignoring Brent's conversation.  At last, he hung up, but the meeting couldn't start yet.  Joe still hadn't arrived.

Brent dialed a number, then spoke casually to a machine.  None of us cared to know what he was saying, until suddenly, a bomb of the juiciest information was plunked down in front of us.  "Oh, and by the way, the current renter found a letter of yours behind a cupboard, and the police would really like to talk to you about it.  They didn't say what it was about, but they need you to call them immediately.  Uh...good luck with whatever it is, and I'll talk to you soon."

Our mouths slammed to the table in disbelief, and our wide eyes darted from one to the other...each avoiding his gaze.  Did we really just hear that?  

I couldn't help but be overcome with feelings of guilt and dread as he spoke those words, as if somehow I had been involved.  And yet, at the same time, I was filled with exhilaration at overhearing the most scandalous conversation ever told over the phone.  Talk about being in the right place at the right time!  

When Brent ended the call, I couldn't help myself.  "There's a message you never want to get!"  With the tension now broken, laughter replaced shock, and we mused over what the letter contained.  A suicide note?  Information regarding drugs?  Really...it could be anything.  

Randy,
I saw what you did last night.  I followed the trail of blood, and found where you buried the body.  Leave $50,000 beneath the pine by the school's flag pole next Tuesday at midnight, or I go to the police.
Tom


What do you think it said??

Mar 2, 2013

It's the Little Things

Life is not supposed to be easy, or fair, or even something that makes a whole lot of sense.  It's not some huge singular event, and you're not meant to be perfect at it.  Life is made up of billions of tiny moments, and who we have become is a result of how we have chosen to respond to those moments.  Just as life is made up of billions of parts, I as a person am also made up of billions of parts.  Every minute that I have lived is a new thread to the tapestry of who I am becoming.  Sure, I'm going to mess up (a lot), and sure, I'm going to do lots of good, too, which may or may not go noticed.  It's not for others to see who we have become, but a journey of self-discovery.

A lot of the moments in my life feel insignificant, but probably because I'm aware of the incredible magnitude of responsibility that has been handed to me in the raising of four children.  Who I am is going to influence who my children will become, and that's a pretty daunting task.  I used to stress out by all of the things I wasn't doing for my children, comparing myself to other moms who had it more "together."  But lately, even though I've been falling behind in my responsibilities with my housekeeping, I've been doing a little bit better in being more tuned in into my children's needs.

I realized that expressing love for my children was more important than having all of my chores done.  I've started embracing the little moments with my 2-year old, and instead of being frustrated with him all day long, I'm learning to sit down and let him climb into my lap and give me wet kisses.  I love it, and I can't believe I was missing out on them.  I used to get frustrated because he wouldn't let me read to him, but now, I'm okay with him choosing a book, sitting in my lap, and letting him look through the book at his own pace.  He never was a child who enjoyed being sung to, so I guess I kind of resented him for telling me "No!" when I tried to sing him lullabies.  Now, I ask if I can sing to him, and I ask him what songs I can sing, and I can enjoy him looking into my eyes as I sing one dumb simple song, because I'm showing him love the way he needs it.  Even though he can't communicate very well with me, I'm learning that he can sit quiet while I softly talk to him, because this is something he needs.  Just because he can't tell me stories doesn't mean that I can't tell him stories.  As child number 3, I'm afraid that I've been leaving him to entertain himself like the older 2 boys while I focus my efforts on my baby.  I need to refocus on him and his needs, and make sure that our bond deepens as I show him that I love him.

For anyone who knows my 5-year old, he can be pretty obstinate when he wants to be.  I'm learning to apologize to him when I've frustrated him, and I can explain why I've gotten angry with him, or why I've taken away his privilege, and he's starting to come around more.  Just last night, when I took him to bed, he ended up getting angry at me for something (I wish I could remember what!), and he ended up throwing some toys off his table that I  had just picked up.  Instead of yelling at him, I punished him calmly, and while he cried, I explained why he had made me upset.  Sure I was angry, and I told him to get into bed.  I didn't want to bother with his prayer.  But when he cried louder, I asked him what was wrong, and he said that he needed to say his prayer.  Humbled, I knelt down beside him.  Instantly, his demeanor changed, and he said the sweetest prayer, asking to not only be nicer to his brothers, but that I could start feeling well.  I couldn't believe how he thought to pray for me when just a minute before, he had been so angry with me!!  I hugged him, and told him how grown-up he was getting.  I'm learning that despite his stubbornness, he can still be a big softy as long as I'm willing to humble myself, and to explain myself.  Today, he showed a lot more affection towards me, and I loved it.  I guess all he really needs is gentle communication to feel safe and loved.




As a mom, I still have lots of flaws that I'm working on overcoming, but I'm happy to say that in the past few days, I've been improving little by little.  We bought "The Magic Treehouse" series to read to our children, and I have read one book a night to my older two for the past 2 weeks.  It's a nice time where we sit together, read, talk, and enjoy a quiet 35 minutes together.  I let my 6-year old know how much I loved him by making him a card (since he loves making me cards), and I am trying to sit with my baby and read with him.


It's hard trying to meet the emotional needs of four very young children, but if I can make a conscious effort to view them as little individuals who want to feel wanted, loved and important, then I think I can do a little bit more than I did before.  I shouldn't beat myself up for the kitchen floor that desperately needs to be swept and mopped, or the laundry that is once again turning into a towering monster.  As a mother, my first priority is my children's well-being, and if having a messy house for a few years is a result of my efforts towards them, then so be it.  After all, it's the little things in life that add up to make a great life, and in the end, it won't matter if my children had to re-wear a pair of dirty socks.

Feb 27, 2013

No Fair!!

There are some days where I literally think that my head is going to explode.  Wait, did I say some?  I meant most.  Being a mom is one of the most frustrating jobs on Earth.  Usually, my 6-year old is pretty obedient, and tries his best to be as helpful as he can.  But there are those times when for some reason, the words I say fly right past over his head.  Take this morning, for instance.  "Jacob, please go downstairs and get dressed for school."  He comes upstairs, and instead of his school uniform, he's wearing his torn play pants and a grungy tee shirt.  "What are you wearing?  Please go back downstairs and get dressed for SCHOOL."  He comes running upstairs a few minutes later, tearing into the living room to continue his golf game.  I peek in the living room between applying lipstick and mascara, only to find him in his school pants, and a different grungy tee.  Cue explosion.

Water is another source of frustration in my house.  Every day, there is a water mess to clean.  My 1-year old splashes in the cat bowl, causing me to not only dry the floor with one of my kitchen towels, but to change his now soaking outfit.  With the dishes on top of the counter, I think I'm safe...until I find my 2-year old standing on a chair, and lapping the cat's water, as well as pouring water onto the counter from a cup he pulled from the sink.  Ugh.  But that's on a good day.  On a typical day, he's standing in the bathroom, filling the sink to overflowing. He's pouring water from one cup to another, splashing over the counter...and all over his clothes.  Another outfit is always necessary.  Then, on a bad day, he's filling the bathroom cups and pouring them onto the floor.  He literally made a lake in my bathroom the other day.  I felt about 10 gray hairs pop up at that very moment, probably from the steam that shot out from my red ears.  Today, I found him under our roll-top desk...playing with the dish of water.  I'm beginning to really hate water.

Last night, all four of my boys were sick.  My 2-year old woke up after an hour, crying and miserable with a cough and fever.  He couldn't sleep, and refused to lie quietly in bed.  Instead, he screamed and cried until after an hour of trying to ignore it, I finally got him.  Somehow, the baby stayed mostly asleep.  I tried cuddling with him in my bed.  Most children can lie quietly and cuddle with Mom.  Not Jarod.  He shot up repeatedly, talking (loudly) about everything he saw, everything he thought about.  He is still learning to talk, and tends to repeat himself. A lot.  Finally, I gave up and took him back to bed.  He was quiet for another few minutes, but once I turned in my bed, sighing deeply and ready to embrace sleep, his sweet little voice called out miserably, "Mama!"  By that time, it was 1 a.m.  I shuffled into his room, applying Vick's vaporub to his feet.  At that time, my husband came home.  He lovingly peeked into the room, only to set off both the baby and Jarod into a frenzy of angry excitement.  Great.  Now I had 2 screaming sick kids. I tried comforting each one (which I secretly loved), but was frustrated because I was TIRED.

Eventually, my husband took Jarod, and Caleb finally fell asleep.  I was able to crawl back into bed while Jarod snuggled with Spencer on the couch, watching cartoons.  I was ripped out of my sleep at 3:40 am to my 5-year old crying in the bathroom, because not only did he have a cough, but he didn't want to wipe himself.  I did it myself, gave him more medicine, and collapsed once again into bed.  Of course, the next morning, Spencer had to wake up at 6:40 am for his early class, and the little boys only slept in until 7:40.  Sometimes, I just want to lie down on the floor, kicking and flailing my arms and legs, and yell, "No fair, no fair, no fair!!"

Jan 22, 2013

I Remember When...

For writing prompt #2, find an old photo album and turn to picture #14.  Look at it for 2-3 minutes, then write down for 10 minutes all of the feelings that photograph made you feel.  Don't censor yourself, just write. (From the website creativewritingprompts.com)

"Do you have the ring yet?" I asked my fiance again.  He was living in Logan and I was down in Provo, working at my new career that I had just started a few short months earlier.  Our wedding date was quickly approaching, and we had scheduled to have our engagement photos done that weekend.  I was terrified, because I still didn't have my beloved ring yet.  Spencer was determined to buy that ring with cash in hand, and I was terrified that I couldn't get engagement pictures taken without a ring.

I don't remember what his vague response was, but we ended up going for a drive, and found our way to the Provo temple.  I knew it was coming.  We didn't typically walk around the temple grounds in the evening.  We found a bench and sat down, talking quietly and enjoying each other's presence.  It was in this position that we suddenly heard a woman exclaim, "Excuse me!"  We turned around, and saw a woman approaching us.  "I'm sorry to bother you, but do you happen to have a truck?  I really need help getting a piece of furniture moved, and I had a feeling you might have one."

Yeah, lady.  That feeling you got was right.  However irritated I was, my sweet Spencer said, "Sure!" and jumped up to help.  There is nothing more attractive than a guy willing to help, and I was grateful for his willingness.  We ended up wasting--I mean--spending a good hour helping, then eventually returned to our spot.

"She almost messed up what I was going to do!" he laughed nervously when we were back on our bench.

"What do you mean?" I asked, playing dumb.  This was it!

Spencer suddenly got down on one knee and pulled out a ring box from his pocket.  He held it open for me, and asked for me to be his wife.  While I knew it was coming (I practically forced him to give it to me for the past few weeks), I broke into laughter and tears, bending down to hug him.

"So, is that a yes?" he asked.

"Yes!  Yes, yes!"  I laughed.  I held out my hand and he took it, gently placing the ring on my finger.  Holy cow, it was gorgeous!!!!!  I could barely take my eyes off of it, and anxiously thrust it into my roommate's face when I got home as she and her long-time boyfriend cuddled on our couch.  She actually scowled when she saw it, shot a death-stare to her boyfriend, and I happily bounded into my room.  This couldn't have come at a better time, because the next day, we were getting our pictures taken by my good friend.

I remember wandering around BYU campus, finding the perfect spots to take our pictures.  We found some great places, and then made our way to the Provo River trail, where we took even more great pictures.  It was exhausting, exhilarating, and I was so proud as cars and others passed us.  I was finally the one getting married, and it felt great.

Picture number 14 in my album was the one of Spencer and me sitting on a bench by the bell tower on BYU's campus.  It was the picture we used as our engagement photo, the one that was slipped inside each gorgeous burgundy-lined envelope.  It was the picture that didn't even show my engagement ring, which had caused me so much stress the weeks before.  Picture number 14 was the beginning of a beautiful life together, one that I will always remember.

Jan 21, 2013

Write-A-Day Challenge

In one of my past posts, Empty  I wrote how I had the desire to write, but didn't know what to write about.  A great website was referred to me, and I am going to try my hardest to write one prompt a day.

Creative Writing Prompts

Day 1:  Close your eyes and think of an object in the room and focus on it.  Without opening your eyes, recall as much detail about it as you can.  After 3 minutes or so, open your eyes and write about that object without looking at it.

In the darkest corner of my living room stands a grandfather clock, tall, proud and majestic.  Its pendulum has stopped swinging since 4:36 this morning, and the slender, golden weights are resting at the bottom of the clock.  It needs to be wound, but I often forget.  Somehow, I'm bothered by the job of pushing the minute hand around and around the clock until I reach the correct time, and so I wait until the time is the same as when the clock stopped.  It usually stays this way for several days until I happen to catch the time just right.

This clock with the moon and ship that slowly, ever so slowly, sail around and around with the passing of time has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  It was in the house where I grew up in, and it was given to me when my parents upgraded to a newer model just a few years ago.  Its simple color and design are nothing compared to others, but to me, it represents a wonderment that I carry with me from childhood.

The door to grandfather clocks has always fascinated me.  It's long and narrow--just tall enough for a child to step through.  I pictured it opening up to another world, and as a child, I frequently saw myself stepping into it and finding myself in another place, although I was never brave enough to step inside.  I suppose I wasn't ready for magic, nor am I to this day.  I like to think that it's still possible, that hidden behind the glass and the frozen pendulum is a gateway, leading to who knows where.  I'm too afraid to find out.  I only hope that one day, one of my children are brave enough to step into the beyond, and tell me of the adventures that I've sadly missed.

I remember listening to scary stories on tape that my father recorded in the 1970's, usually on stormy nights with the house lights off.  Mom would be away, and it was just Dad and us kids.  One story's ghost seems to linger, though my mind feels thick with cobwebs as I try to recall it, and I'm uncertain of anything except that a clock kept chiming and a ghost made its presence known.

One night, when the children were sleeping and I was lying in bed, waiting for my husband to return home from work, I suddenly realized that the clock had been chiming for some time.  I often don't notice it, having grown accustomed to listening to it as a child, but on this night, it suddenly caught my attention.  One...two...three...I counted along with the chimes, waiting for it to stop.  How many times had it rang out before I kept track?  I reached twelve, anxious for it to end, but still it continued, over and over again, as if a doorway to a ghostly realm had just been opened.  Would it ever stop?  Was my house being possessed?  I frantically called my parents, anxious for an answer.  I was instructed to remove the weights.  As I lifted one from off its chain, the clock continued to ring, echoing loudly as the sound reverberated from the cherry wood and glass.  I took the second weight down, fearing that the clock would scream all night long, but then only the ringing from my ears was what was left.  Never before had I felt so scared about a clock.  Ghosts don't exist...but this night tested my belief.

In the corner of my living room sits my grandfather clock, older than me, yet just as magnificent looking as I remember from my childhood.  Whether or not it's a doorway to the beyond doesn't matter; what matters is that I believe in the possibility, and with that possibility is a magic that will forever remain with this clock, stuck for the time being at 4:36 with the moon-face knowingly smiling back at me.

Jan 18, 2013

Drowning

It is said that a person who is drowning isn't typically flailing their arms around, catching everyone's attention, but slowly, calmly, sinking, head bobbing up every so often for air until it completely submerges.  Right now, I feel like I am drowning in my life.  Nothing significant is causing me to flail around frantically, but the everyday undertows of motherhood are slowly pulling me under.

I've written before of my woes of having a 2-year old, and I had sort of hoped that they would be lessening by now.  Oh, it is so NOT the case.  While Jarod's communication is improving (using 2 or 3 words instead of "Uh!  Uh!  Uh!"), he still fully takes advantage of his volume.  When he doesn't like what he has to do, he releases this shrill, ear-piercing shriek that sounds identical to those screaming fountain fireworks that most cover their ears for.  The only difference between him and those is that those eventually die off.  His screeching lasts all day long, pulling at my nerves and twisting them until they are completely shredded, and I have lost all sense of self-control.  When he's angry at his brothers, he screeches in this awful, high-pitched squeal, sounding identical to a piglet's screeching.  My head hurts, my spirit hurts, my willpower hurts.

Telling Jarod "no" is about as useful as sweeping leaves inside a tornado.  "No" to a 2-year old is just interpreted as, "Whatever you're doing, do it quickly before I stop you."  All day long, I'm turning chairs over to prevent Jarod from climbing up and turning on my kitchen sink full blast.  All day long, I'm shutting the door to the bathroom so Jarod doesn't play in the sink and cause a swimming pool on the floor.  All day long, I'm telling him to turn off the TV, to get off the table, to get out of my bedroom since he's playing with my radio at full-blast.  I'm chasing him down around the van when I'm desperately trying to get Jacob to school on time, I'm re-zipping his coat, pulling his pants back on, putting his hood back on that he screams when is off, but insists on pushing off anyway.  He's throwing toys at his brothers, smothering his baby brother with hugs, throwing toys down the heat vents, screeching, squawking, and causing all sorts of mind-blowing havoc that I've lost the ability to control.

If it were just one boy, I might be able to handle it, but I've got FOUR boys.  And two cats.  My boys thrive on noise.  The louder it is, the better.  I feel like I'm trapped inside a cage of screaming monkeys.  No matter how desperately I try to solve problems, send them into time-out, and scream desperately for them to be quiet, it is all to no avail.  Pirate growls, whining, tattling, screaming, blaring music and the cacophony of three different singing chipmunks flood my home constantly.  And then there's my cats, always wanting to eat whenever I put the bowls up to the safety of the counter tops, peeing on my towels, on my books, in my bathtub, and driving me crazy, crazy, crazy.  Is there no end to this madness?

I always thought I was a calm person until the strains of motherhood hit.  My first son didn't sleep for the first YEAR of his life.  I never knew irritability until I was denied my precious sleep, and kept awake with a crying, inconsolable baby.  I never knew irritability until I had two boys, then three boys, and then four, fighting for the spotlight, fighting for toys, fighting, wrestling, whining and tattling.  I never knew irritability until I had finally gotten everything I ever wanted from life:  a husband and children.  The only problem was that I pictured a big, beautiful house filled with quiet, obedient children and a cat who stayed out of my way.

Sometimes, I think to myself that if I had to do life over again, knowing everything that I know now, I most definitely wouldn't repeat it.  Being a mom is the toughest thing I've ever had to do.  But then, on the other hand, it's the most wonderful thing there is.  I know that I'm growing, even though I feel like I'm faltering and drowning.  My heart  belongs to many instead of just myself, and the love that I've grown is immense.  Holding a new baby, smelling the sweetness of his skin, listening to the calm rhythm of him drinking is incredibly wonderful.  Hearing "Hi, Mama, Mama, Mama!" from my two year old, and getting his arms thrown around me in a tight embrace is one of the sweetest things, only getting better when he says, "Kiss, Mama," and feeling his wet lips press against mine.  I love hearing those rare words at dinnertime from my 4-year old, "Wow, Mom, this food is doo-licious!" and when I come out of the bathroom after getting ready for the day, and he says, "You look so beautiful!"  I love the feeling of appreciation when my 6-year old draws me a card with a picture of the two of us, with a heart drawn on it.

 
Nothing is greater than the love of a child.  Despite their faults, their noise, their chaos, and the millions of gray hairs they have given me, I absolutely, without a doubt, love my children.  They are greater than the world to me.  I love their smiles, their laughter, their shining eyes, and their rough, often-dirty hands that wrap around me daily.  Being a mom is tough, and probably will be the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  But despite the downfalls and insanity of motherhood, I think that it is one of my absolute greatest blessings.  Someday, when the kids are gone and my house is empty and clean, I know that I'll be remembering these crazy times, and I'll probably be laughing.

Jan 15, 2013

Never-ending Cycles

Just as the sun rises every morning and sets each night, so it goes with the rest of life.  Cycles are eternal, and make up just about everything, from the phases of the moon to the behavior of society as a whole.  But just as these macro-level cycles are unchanging, so are the cycles that make up my singular life.  I'm referring to the cycles of motherhood.

It doesn't matter how many times I shout, "Jarod, don't turn on that T.V.!" because I very well know that he's going to do it again for the 100th time for the day, despite any punishment I may have given him.  It doesn't matter how many time outs I give my older two children, because they're going to keep on arguing, keep on whining, and keep on tattling.  It also doesn't matter how often I pick up the cat food so my 1-year old Caleb doesn't make a huge mess, because as soon as those bowls go on top of the counter, that's when my cats decide that they're finally ready to eat.  And, just as all cycles repeat themselves, once Caleb spots the bowls in his territory, he makes a beeline for them at supersonic speed.  I'm getting really sick of stepping on pieces of dry cat food all day long, no matter how frequently I sweep the floors that day.

Doing dishes is another unwanted cycle that I wish would somehow end.  After finally catching up with the dishes that some had been waiting around all week for me to get to, I have to cook dinner (seriously, again?!), and something always comes up that prevents me from washing them again for another week.  It's like there's an alarm system in my children, where each time I pick up my soapy scrub brush to tackle a dish, I have to suddenly throw it down to stop a fight or pick up a crying baby...or relieve myself, which I suddenly remember I've been putting off for hours now.  And then, by that time, I've lost that small window of opportunity.


I'm stuck in a relatively new cycle where I'm tired by 10:00 p.m., but I can't bear the thought of giving up my free time to waste away in bed...sleeping.  Who does that?  I'm so used to waiting up for my husband to come home at night around 11:15 p.m. that I've forgotten that I really need to go to sleep instead, because he in fact comes home much later than that now, and my children wake up MUCH earlier than he ever will (which, of course, means that I'm the one waking up).

Newton's Law of Motion says that an object in motion stays in motion, unless an external, unbalanced force acts on it.  Cycles are pretty much the same.  It takes a significant step in stopping one, or altering it in any way.  Next year, I'll have two children in school, one in Kindergarten, and the other in all-day first grade.  My two year old will then be three, and my baby will be entering the terrible twos.  I'm not sure if the school thing will be enough of an unbalanced force to break this cycle, or if two years old supersedes everything else.  I'm have a feeling two is more powerful than...well, the at the rate things are going...everything else.