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I Am... Mama and Writer

First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary to ME!

Okay, so the anniversary wish is actually for Jess AND me, but still. You get the idea. Can you believe we've been married 6 years today. We've been together EIGHT, but married 6... how time DOES fly!

It could be a late Christmas or early Anniversary present... my treadmill was delivered by the giver and my hometeacher yesterday evening. WHAT a blessing! I'm so excited to have it. I will, hopefully, be able to use it tomorrow. We have a bit of an electricity routing problem currently (no pun intended... heeheehee), but hope that will be rememdied in the next couple days.


I hope, if you had plans for this Eve, that everything went/goes off without a hitch. Regardless of your plans, I hope you're able to celebrate as you enjoy and prefer it. As for me, Jess is working and the girls were in bed long before now.

May your New Year be full of joy (and enough sorrow and difficulty for you to recognize and revel in the joyful and peaceful times). And may we, together, be full of gratitude for the good as well as the rough and difficult. They all make us who we are!

A favorite Ensign story of mine pointed out that the journey the Jaredites endured, well over 300 days, was made possible in that amount of time BECAUSE of the difficulties. The story/essay asked how much longer that journey would have taken if they'd made it with OUT the winds and waves that tossed them about TO the promised land. Would they have ever made ANY progress!?? The obvious comparison helps me understand WHY I really should and, even, want to express my gratitude in ALL things... even those that don't feel wonderful in the moments of experience.

And so... I am grateful for marital difficulties endured this year of 2008. I'm grateful for the pregnancy related trials I waded through. I'm blessed to grow (and hopefully improve) as my children were obnoxious and disobedient at various - and far too many - times during this past year. My teeth grind together, a grimace on my face as I express my thankfulness for the fiscal difficulties that brought Jess and me, once again, to seek assistance from family and my Church this past year.

With much more ease and pleasure I raise my voice (fingers to type) in thanks for the MANY merciful and plentiful miracles that have been apparent to my fallible discernment in this last year. Among those I would like to highlight some that stick out in my memory:
the gift that finished payment of our midwife for Tea's home birth,
the assistance of Jessie's Dad to fix our van when we were desperate and broke,
the peace and joy of the temple experienced with EVERY visit,
and our van (actually given to us in 2007, but a blessing EVERY day this year!).
The "smaller" miracles are wonderful and have answered my heart's needs throughout the year and I am every so grateful for them!


I hope this coming year is, on the balancing scales of life/justice, weighted heavily on the side holding joy and peace for you and me!!! ^_^

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Think I Forgot To Share This

I was thinking about this second year of miracles I've experienced and I realized I hadn't shared another one that I experienced just in this month of December. I think many miracles come in small packages and that they are equally as important as some that seem bigger.

Well, a while back I received a gift card for Target (birthday present for Tea). While I was at the store looking among the things and trying to decide what I would buy, I longingly fingered a couple blankets. One was an old style Winnie the Pooh (I think I mentioned that one of Jessie's co-workers, Robin, gave us one almost exactly like what I'd wished for) and the other one was a really frilly PRETTY blanket, almost like a 'Sunday best' sort of blanket. Well, just last week my friend, Oz, gave me that VERY blanket. If it wasn't the one I touched, it was one exactly like it. I started balling when I opened the package because I felt like I was being hugged yet again.

Recently, probably after receiving the ridiculous amount of clothing I was given for Tea, I was wondering what I was going to do for clothes for me. The big problem is that my favorite pink pants are developing holes between my legs. I'm not terribly picky. While I would love to wear 'stylin' clothes, I also don't think that such things are necessary. And, thankfully, I don't deeply feel the pricks of the people in the large and spacious building when they comment and deride (as I have heard them do) my clothing, appearance, and/or beliefs. I do feel concern about my ability to adequately and appropriately (meaning modestly) array myself, though!

Well, I'm sure you can guess what I'm going to say, but I'm going to tell it anyway. The same friend, Oz, gave me a few bags of clothes for my girls to grow into. Her daughters are a few years older than Ria, so we have some wonderful items for Ria to grow into. This is especially a blessing as it seems her growth has sped up a tiny bit. Since she's pretty small, I suppose I should expect this at some point.

Anyway, among those clothes, in the bottom of one of the bags, were 2 pairs of pants and a few blouses that FIT ME!!!! I was so excited. These things were brought over the same day she gave me the special blanket for Tea, but I didn't go through the bags until a couple days later. I felt like crying, again, but didn't. I did, however, have to send up a prayer of gratitude! Isn't it amazing!!?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Blessing and Miracle for 2008

A few days ago I was thinking about "things" again and how Jess seemed to want to get something for me for my birthday. I still didn't want anyTHING. We'd gone to the temple. That was ON my birthday and FOR my birthday, as far as I was concerned. I was thinking that there really wasn't any THING I wanted. I even considered telling him that as long as we continued to make it to the temple once a month I would consider that my gift. I didn't mention that simply because I sort of hope that he does (or will) do the temple trips just because... the girls love them, I love them, and maybe he'll come to (or does??) love them!?!!

It popped into my head, during that pondering time, that there really was someTHING I wanted. I'd wanted it for a while. It would have made my life easier at the end of the pregnancy, but at this point it would be a REAL back-saver. So, I went and told Jessie, in a very off-hand, but direct manner, that there actually was 1 THING that I wanted - eventually, when we could afford it..

Are you just itchin' to know what it is??

Well, I haven't thought about it much because I figured the "cheapest" one I could find on craigslist or in the pennysaver would be around $100 (that would be functional given my weight and all). So, I figured I wouldn't be able to get it for many moons. I didn't think about it after I told Jess about it.

I was on the phone with my Mom today when I asked if she would like to talk to Ria. She did, of course. But then she asked if I wanted to Skype and that way she could read a book to Ria. I agreed, but told her I would be a minute because I had to get everything set up and work on the waffles I had going. (Yes, waffles for dinner! I actually made them from scratch this time and they were crispy and yummy. Aren't my girls SO lucky!! ;) heehee)

This really does pertain!

The cooked waffles were taken out, new batter in place when the phone rang. I hadn't been off for more than 2 minutes and I was wondering if my Mom was antsy. I went over to pick it up and decided to answer it, even though the number was definitely NOT my Mom.

A brother from my Ward, Peter, was calling. He told me that he'd just called and talked to Kelli to see if they could borrow Joey's truck to move something. Kelli told Peter that I'd been looking for something like that and that I might want it. So, he was just calling to see if I DID want it.

I felt GIDDY! I almost started crying because I felt so excited and happy! I couldn't help but feel that I was receiving (yet ANOTHER!) big hug from Heaven!!! ^_^ After I suggested that we might be able to pick it up in the van because Jess could take the back seat out, Peter told me that he didn't want to inconvenience us (!??) and that he was going to try to have it over to me probably by Wednesday.

So, what is this something that is a hug from Heaven? Are you just bouncing in your seat wishin' to know?? Well... I guess I'll tell you now and then explain why it's such a boon at this time. I told Jess that the only THING I wanted for myself (just ME, not like the piano that was for me so that I could feel like a good Mama, the kind of Mama I want to be... so that my girls could develop the talent and ability of playing the piano and maybe I could try to learn a little along the way) was a treadmill.

WHY, you may wonder, is a treadmill SUCH a gift/boon/hug right now? Well, the answer lies in the numbers. Tea was 10.4 pounds when she was born. In her first weeks of life, she gained 1 pound each week. On top of the 15 pounds (give or take some ounces) that she's leveled off at for the past few weeks, I've gained back some weight! :( I'm sure SOME of it is water retention, but I'm equally as sure that some is NOT. ARGGHHH... ahwell.

I have gone out walking with Ria and Kat in the trailer and wearing Tea in a sling. Okay, so I've gone out all of 4, MAYBE 5, times. I honestly dread it. Not only do I have the chore of getting the older girls to cooperate, but wearing Tea for a long walk... GUH! My back STILL hurts from the last one we went on.... I've been feeling frustrated and wishing that somehow I could justify buying the triple stroller that I found (it has adjustable seats so Tea will be able to be in it before she can sit up on her own - my traler does not), which we'll buy with some tax return money, BEFORE the tax return arrived just so I could get my WALK ON... but I couldn't. And so I was trying to get it in my head that I would just have to DEAL with some pain in my back to get the weight back off and GET FIT and healthier.

And then THIS! This boon and HUGE hug from Heaven comes my way!! WHAT A BLESSING!!! Now, my back will be preserved AND I'll still be able to walk.... My treadmill will go just next to Jessie's "cave" his "guyrage," you remember? The spot in our garage that I got ready as my Daddy gift to him before /for Tea's birth? That way I won't add another thing to STAY AWAKE doing in my bedroom and complicate me sleep issues further (the only other option as a place to keep and use it) AND I can tread on my mill while the girls watch movies in Daddy's area, which they LOVE to do because it's extra special to them! Isn't that the AWESOMEST!!!

Thanks to Peter and Sherry for their generous gift (not only the THING, but the delivery, too)!!! ^_^ They are so kind. (I'm pretty sure they were a secret santa of ours last year... and now the givers of THE best "thing" gift for me this year!!!) Isn't it WONDERFUL to feel the surety of Heavenly Father's love. I know I'm nothing extrordinary... so if He loves me this much, I'm SURE He loves YOU like this, too!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Stove

We finally had the ORIGINAL stove/oven in this house replaced. Talk about going from uncomfortable to plunked right into the fire.... So, the original stove was problematic. Only 3 of the burners worked. The oven was iffy, but I managed to work with its quirks. I've got plenty of experience with making do.

The new one is much better on top. All 4 burners work AND the knobs to turn them on are in place AND function in the designed way. The old stove only worked with a pair of plyers to manipulate the knobs... it was an art I had mastered well. Anyway...

The new stove works well. The new oven, however, doesn't work at all! :( So, I've been boiling a lot. It's all right. I'm making do. We won't be able to make our turkey until the oven works, me thinks. ahwell... at least we receive turkey roasts from the Church. Did you know practically all of our food if from my Church right now? Yep. Even though Jess has 2 jobs again. It's rough to feel the need to continue to ask for and accept assistance when he's working so hard! If it weren't for Jess selling his Uzo and an AMP, we wouldn't have had any money to purchase the gifts (scooters) that Jess seemed dead set on getting because he wanted to see the light in Ria's eyes when she saw that the one wish she had for Christmas was realized. He's a good Daddy.

Anyway... that's the "big" frustration in the house right now. Thankfully Jess is working quite often so he's not cooking or wanting to bake as often as he was when he was home a lot more. I'm all right with making do. I'm going to attempt some baking in my toaster oven... it has a setting for such things. And, Heidi, we do try to unplug it when not in use. ;)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas

Okay, so for the rest of the world I'm about 2 days early... but for our family, today is a bit of "Christmas" because of Jessie's work schedule. Part of our family tradition surrounding Holidays is to celebrate them sometime right around the actual holiday date because Jessie works ON the holidays (almost all the time). The only exception to that rule is birthdays. Even if Jess works, we celebrate birthdays all day on THE day of birth!

Santa has visited our family, this year, a few times via a few different people prior to today. So, even though Jess and I have purchased "only" a scooter, $1 goggles, and 2 large ruled writing pads for Ria and Kat, those are not the only gift they are receiving from "Santa". We are so thoroughly blessed! I'm actually getting excited about the girls waking up to open presents because I have NO clue what is hidden by the wrapping of most of their presents!!! Isn't that funny? Most parents are up all night wrapping.... Like I said, we're SO blessed!!!

Even though I'm not sure where I stand on the passive lying to my kids about Santa thing... I did feel sort of excited when I was preparing the cookie plate and eating the granola from the bowl we're leaving out for the "reindeer" that Jess and Ria talked about and decided needed to be done. Ria's VERY excited about all of this! She didn't get to lay anything out because I wasn't totally on the ball (she could've at least done the granola because we DO have it). We didn't have cookies in the house! How annoying. That's partially due to the fact that our oven doesn't work. Have I shared that story? I can't remember if I have or not... you know my memory issues as of late! If I haven't shared it, and you would like to know, please leave a comment and I'll fill that blank. ^_^

The Final Decision on presents to open later today
I was feeling concern over having a mountain of presents for the girls to find on Christmas morning for a second year in a row. My greatest fear is that such a sight would become expectation rather than joy and surprise. I was actually developing present presentation plans. One consisted of hiding presents throughout the house so the space under the tree would be mostly empty. Also, this could add to the fun... ? Another plan consisted of saving presents to give the girls bit by bit (on different days).

Yesterday, being Christmas Eve for us, we started a tradition of reading the story of Christ (there's a guide for it in the December Friend magazine this year). This was super important to me to establish as a tradition when the girls are young because my parents started (or tried to start) it when we were rather old and I always felt really resentful and agitated that, not only did they stay in bed WAY late and make us have breakfast together, but then they wanted to add reading scriptures to the time BEFORE we could open presents! Perhaps my bad attitude was simply because I was a teenager... I do regret it now. A bit late, I'm sorry!

It was a difficult thing, the reading time with the girls today. Kat is not much of a sit-down-girl in general, but especially not if the reading has NO pictures! Ria was agitated because she just wanted to get to the tree decorating. (I didn't know we were doing Christmas on Tuesday until this weekend. I would've planned for tree decorating on a day much earlier, had I known.) We did get through all of the reading, though. I hope in years to come it won't be something to "get through," but something we do and ENJOY! I'll be working on that!

As soon as we finished reading, Ria wanted to go right to the tree decorating. Instead we had a conversation about the purpose of gift giving and how she feels about receiving presents. During that conversation, I asked her how she would feel if she did not get the scooter she's been asking for (almost exclusively) for the last 6 months. She said she's be happy. I felt perplexed. Again, the same question from me, this time putting a great deal of emphasis on the "NOT" part of it. When she answered she said, "Mom, I'd still be happy even if I didn't get the scooter." I felt all my concern about her perception of gifts on Christmas totally melt away.

The girls with the tree after decorating.

So, instead of camouflaging the amount of gifts the girls are receiving by following a "plan," we've put them all out under the tree for them to see AND open in the morning. I feel confident that they will be happy and excited over it AND accept it as the gift it is rather than feel that they are "owed" what they receive. Entitlement really burns my shorts!!!!

More pictures available in Facebook. :)

Did you know I really LOVE to watch movies? I do. Generally I may get to watch a few a week, but when I'm trying to be kind to myself I may watch more. I'm pretty out of the loop on up to date movies to get excited about. Many learn of new movies by watching trailers on TV or at the movie theater, as I don't/can't do either I lack that way of knowing the up and coming thing. But I have a favorite movie site that I check regularly. They have new releases. Granted, the quality is NOT movie theater... but it's been SOOO long since I've been in a movie theater that I can more easily pretend watching on the computer is not lacking.

I don't really go to the theater because I would most prefer to go with Jess as a date.... However, when we HAVE gone I feel SO upset during and after the movie because we pay $8 per person (how much are they now, anyway?) and he takes a nap! Almost without fail he falls asleep sometime early in the movie and wakes to watch the credits roll. That's at home as well as in a theater. I would MUCH rather stay home so he can nap for free.

I'm definitely not a chick who minds going to the theater alone. I've done it before and it's quite nice. The quiet. The aloneness. But, truth be told, I have a hard time being away from my kiddos for more than 1.5 hours give or take an hour! and with travel time in my area any movie would take at least a little bit longer than that to watch. Also, and of course, there's the actual money issue. Affording the gas for the trip to the theater, plus the actual movie... sort of out of the question. And, honestly, I don't mind. I watch my movies online.

For instance, Seven Pounds is REALLY amazing. What do YOU think pounds refers to? I think it has something to do with weight of the donations... if you haven't seen it, that may not make sense. But, if you have... do you agree?

Delgo is rather predictable, but still enjoyable.

I'm totally excited about Yes Man... and check every day, right now, to see if it's on "my site" yet. It's not. :( I know about that one because I check the titles of the movies I'm interested in on yahoomovies to see what their ratings are. I do watch PG-13... but prefer PG and G movies.

The Day The Earth Stood Still was quite good. I REALLY like Keanu Reeves. He's hot it's true, but I enjoy him most because he does quite a good job of pulling off sci-fi, which is awesome to me because I love that genre. I watched the afore mentioned title before trying to watch The Day The Earth Stopped. I did try to watch the latter, but the former was SO much better I couldn't get past the first 3.5 minutes!! How horrible!

Four Christmases was good. I liked the two leads together. Often funny.

Ghost Town was GREAT. I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was funny and had sad bits... I really liked that one!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Praise for My Man

In my life I've had the experience that when I'm feeling a cruddy way, it's sometimes good to focus on the opposite and then that will become the most predominant reality/feeling. And so, I'm going to focus on how wonderful Jess is and can be right now. This is meant to be public because I have, regularly enough, complained about him. So, you can remind me of his good qualities if ever I complain. However, if I complain I probably just need someone to commiserate with for a few moments. I usually get over it pretty quickly... usually.

Some Wonderful Things About Jessie

Jess is a wonderful Daddy most of the time. He plays with our girls in a way I feared he wouldn't when we were dating because he wouldn't goof off with me. He is silly with them and rough houses with them.... The rough housing is REALLY good for them, but beyond that, he stops before anything rotten happens almost every time! In my memory of the same when I was a kid, something rotten happened to stop the play EVERY time. At least, that's what I remember.

More than play, though, Jess actually sits down and cuddles and talks with our children. Even Tea, though she doesn't say much back as yet. She certainly tries. Kat is in the stage where she says a lot, much of it understandable, but key parts totally incomprehensible. Jess still listens and tries to understand.

Jess is totally on board with homeschooling! There are plenty of Dads out there who agree to the program, but don't DO anything to support it. While that's understandable, in a way, I'm sure that's not how it was when our Founding Fathers were almost all homeschooled! I am certain that Mamas and tutors did most of the educating, but I'm equally as certain that Daddys of that day were very involved in some way, shape, or form.

When I was less able during the end of the pregnancy, Jess took over almost all reading classes with Ria. He also helped her with some Math when it was available. He picked all of the reading books, so he would make sure there were some Science as well as History-type reading books in those that Ria would (and did) read! I hadn't even really focused on diversifying and multitasking her education in that way!

Obviously, helping with the homeschooling is support. But Jess also supports me in various other ways that many/most guys wouldn't even consider if they were asked! My most special birthday present from Jess this year was his service to me first thing in the morning. Usually I get everyone except for him ready to go to the temple each month (a HUGE support thing he does that most any non-member husband would NEVER do!), but this time - on my birthday - he got everyone except for Tea and me ready to go AND had plenty of water and snacks ready as well!!! I was totally thrilled, touched, and well pleased by that gift of service!!!

I've missed church a lot in the last few months. I was Primary Secretary and missing many Sundays because of illnesses of varying types. Jess basically took over the distribution and collection of roles during the last 2 months of my pregnancy as well as doing it whenever I wasn't at church. He also remembered to knock on doors as a reminder to go to the Primary room most Sundays when I was there and couldn't run around to do it anymore (at the end of the pregnancy).

Already mentioned, but bearing repetition, Jessie helps me go to the temple every month with my family. This is SUPER special and valuable to me because I want the temple to be a REAL place to my children. I want them to know it's importance to me by my efforts to get there consistently, work there, and treasuring their presence with me. Ria spontaneously starts to sing "I Love to See the Temple" as we approach it, often enough. That song is Kat's very favorite Primary song. And they both are SUPER excited when we tell them we'll be going to the temple the next day.

At first Kat just sort of observed the excitement over the subject of the temple trip. But she has become just as excited and vocal about her excitement to make temple trips. In her pretend play she often goes on trips. Where? Almost always she's leaving to go to the temple! Jess makes their knowledge of and excitement about the temple possible. I've taken them by myself only 1 month and that was simply because of confusion and difficulty in scheduling our trip amidst Jessie's full schedule of work.

Even when Jess was working 4, 5, and sometimes 7 days a week (between TWO jobs!), he still helped me get to the temple. We'd leave around 5 in the morning on a morning he had off and get home around noon-ish and he would have to leave for his night work at 2:30pm. This service to me is super precious because I know how much this man wants and enjoys sleep! Granted, he would sleep on the way there and home, but still he was there making the trip possible and spending time with the girls while I was IN the temple. *Just as a note, the trip is 2 hours one way. While there are longer trips, I think this one is the most I could get out of Jess (God is good!).

To Provide for our Financial and Spiritual Needs
Most of the time, Jessie really tries hard to fully provide for our family. He rarely complains about the amount of work he needs to do. He tries to work as much as possible to make the money necessary to fully provide for our family. He tries to make provide (the Princess Scooter as a good example) for some of the wants as well as necessities. He wants to provide for our family completely and works hard to that end.

Tries to be the Peacekeeper
Jess really tries hard, a good deal of the time, to avoid confrontations. For whatever reason, I actually want to argue some times - so this can be bad.... Not that I want the Spirit of contention, but, rather, I want to know that he is expressing himself fully and allowing me full expression of opinion when they differ. Often enough, in his effort to avoid contention, he will just shut down rather than hear me or express himself. VERY FRUSTRATING and sowing of discord in my heart, at least. But I do recognize that he's trying hard to be kind and loving in his effort to avoid confrontations... at least, I think that's why he does it! ;)

Tries to be a good Husband/Partner
He tries hard to be a good partner. He does ask me how I feel. He asks about my day. He tries to listen, most of the time, I think. He tries to respect my wishes and help me as much as he's able. He really tries hard. Many men I've heard of hardly try... I guess it's human nature to always want more... to always strive for perfection. This is good. But it's also frustrating and sometimes depressing.

Tries Hard to Become Better
Change is difficult. Jess is trying hard to make good changes. He has made a few strong attempts to become a non-smoker, which is AWESOME. He tries hard to be completely virtuous, completely honest, honorable, and full of integrity. It is in the human nature to be contrary to these things... and in Jessie's nature to "protect" me from things by being contrary to some of these things. But he is striving. And therein is the most wonderful gift he can give me... EVER... is to continue striving. I just hope he will have hope enough to continue his efforts to discontinue the cigs because I believe that each time he does try, he gets closer to being done for good. This last time he quit for longer than ever before! That's progress in my book!

A Good Man

Man, he's a good man! I'm blessed beyond measure to know that he's THE one for me and to have such hope in my heart that we will be an eternal family. He's certainly on the path. I just hope he will desire to know....

I'm blessed that he's my man - even when I'm mad at him or generally frustrated. Even more, I'm blessed to know that he's THE man for me... confirmed to me before I was back in the Gospel (I wasn't praying and being sensitive to the Spirit at the time). You know it's right when the Lord speaks to you through the only mouth you'd listen to!!!

I hope this hasn't been too disgusting for you. And, perhaps you'll remind me of some of these points in the future... after commiserating with me a bit (at least). ^_^

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Santa, The Crud, and Trivialities

Jess worked on a small writing class with Ria the other day to complete a letter to Santa. It was in the mail before I got to see it... they were both very excited about it, apparently. Jess was excited for Ria to tell me the "ONLY" three things she wanted for Christmas. Because my memory fails me SO regularly, I can only recall that she asked for something (?) for Kat, books (of course I would remember that!), and a scooter (which she's been asking for for the last 6 months or more).

The Special Gift from Daddy/Santa
I suppose these things are not terribly unusual or spectacular. The parts that are amazing to me are what transpired in the days following. A few days ago Jessie got down his old (at least 5 years old) bottle of Uzo, still mostly full, and was dusting it off. I just kind of eyed him until he volunteered that he was taking it to work to give to a co-worker who expressed some interest in it. This was interesting to me because this is a bottle of alcohol that was sort of special to Jess as he'd purchased it IN Greece when he was there on his last cruise with the NAVY. I expressed some confusion that he was giving it away. He said something about how he wasn't going to drink it, anyway, since he wasn't drinking anymore. Now, that last bit is a sort of heart lifter every single time I hear it because I don't actually believe it! (One of the things along the lines of coffee, tea, and so forth.... you get it if you know me!)

I think it was that same night that Jess came home from work and told me to close my eyes so he could show me something. When I'm allowed to open my eyes, Jess is standing there in front of me holding a large pink box... a PRINCESS scooter!!! He is SO pleased with himself and the only thing I can think about is what money he spent AND the fact that we've already been given more gifts for the girls than I wanted them to have for Christmas. I express both concerns. The first is easily mollified. The money came from the SALE of his bottle!!! I know Jessie is just SO pleased about that! The second is relatively easily soothed (in me) by the decision to have Ria open the scooter gift as THE present she opens for Christmas. The other gifts will be staggered out over a little bit of time. That was Christmas isn't about a huge pile of present again! YEAY for that "C" word we are supposed to do all the time when we're married. OH... I'm REALLY getting annoyed at my memory!!! You know, when we make concessions that work together.... Well, I hope you know what I mean because I honestly cannot remember that one word right now.

A Reply
A couple days ago Jess and Ria wrote the Santa letter and mailed it out. Well, yesterday they received a response, as previously mentioned. Jess brought the mail in when he got home from work (= kids asleep). The return address was USPS, so I opened it, not sure what I would find (even though there was a stamp on the front that said "We're helping Santa" so I should've guessed). I didn't read it, but Jess was SO excited that he sat down and read it allowed. At the very end it makes mention of how Santa is so thankful when Ria and Kat are kind... that really touched Jess. Well, because we got the letter in the house when the kids were asleep, I let Ria read the it out loud to me today. The awesome thing about that was her reaction to it while reading it. She read a bit at the beginning about Santa eating cookies and giggled, and then the same reaction when Santa wrote about the reindeer and elves getting ready for and being excited about the imminent trip. She was just SO tickled to receive a letter from Santa! Jess had prepared her with the idea that she probably wouldn't hear back from him because he was so busy. After finishing the letter, she put it aside and did something else. A few moments later found her rereading the letter a bit more slowly. She was THRILLED!

What precious moments! What would Christmas be without kids!!?? Well, in my experience... not NEARLY so wonderful and magical.

The Santa Issue
And how do I feel about lying to my children about Santa? Well, I don't. When asked questions about him, I tell the truth. Thus far questions have not tended toward "real vs not real" and when the question is iffy... like today when Ria asked something about Santa, I honestly told her I didn't know (because I REALLY didn't know!). I'm determined to continue in all honesty.

The Crud
Didn't skip me, afterall. Thankfully, so far, I've only got the beginning of the KAT version of the crud. She's had more of a cold with fever than the barf fest of Ria and Tea's experience with it. Hopefully it will only remain so.

Trivialities and Random Thoughts
Did I mention that someone gave Tea a stuffed giraffe? It was among the many things in the basket given to me as a gift from my Relief Society sisters. The wonderful thing about it is that I haven't been able to crochet a giraffe for her (along with all the other bits I haven't crocheted for her as yet!). My Mom did one for Ria, I made one for Kat, and Tea has a stuffed one! I DO plan to crochet one yet. It just may take a bit longer than I'd like.

Kat has taken a liking to this particular giraffe. And, like the others, referrs to it as "Raffy" or "Jaffy" I'm not really sure which... perhaps it's both at alternating times! :) Ria AND Kat have named their giraffes the same. I'm sure Tea will follow in her sisters' vocalizations, too.

At the Library
One of our library volunteers, here in town, is alwasy Santa. He loves it and we appreciate him! Ria was specifically the first child to receive her gift from Santa this year. Why? Partially because she always wants to and tries to sit in the front row and they know it, but even more because they'd specifically purchased a book especially for her because of her reading ability/level! All the other books were pretty much interchangeable... board books and/or alphabet books, but Ria's was for an older child and/or higher reading level with comprehension! As the Santa Letter story hopefully conveys, she has TREMENDOUS comprehension of what she reads. That's mostly all her... I check for it once in a while, but she's mostly just REALLY smart! What a sweet and thoughtful pair of volunteers we have. Don't you think!?? I believe they were in charge of that particular present. Our staff at the library are SUCH a gift and blessing to me! My librarian almost always watches out for me. She stopped by my house to bring a gift for the baby AND 2 books for my other girls, too!!! ^_^ SO thoughtful!!!

Once again, if you're my friend and haven't made the connection via Facebook, I encourage you to do so. I'm planning to upload a bunch of pictures very soon, but most of them will be to Facebook since the process is barely painful in that program. It's a tooth pulling experience for me here... thus the written (barely any pictures) blog. Also, and of course, I love to write. And since I have little to no adult conversation on a daily basis it's a way for me to express myself beyond direction, reading (to my kiddos and/or myself), discipline, and listening to Jess.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How Do YOU Teach Your Child to Love Serving

I saw my Mom serve my whole life. I saw her love service my whole life. I knew she loved it, but I didn't get it. I didn't GET it until I was 30! Why? Well, I think it has to do with the fact that I'm one of those people who learn best by reading, watching, AND DOing! If I get the first two, I might GET it, but if I get all three... it's almost for sure that I will GET it. If you've made the jump (not a big one) that I only learned to love service after I started to do it with an open heart, then you'd be right. I think that's one aspect of serving that most people won't learn through observation... and most people wouldn't think to explain. I know I wouldn't have if I'd not been writing about it!!!

I didn't hate my nursery calling. Nursery worker was my first calling. It was quite good. But I didn't have an open heart in the doing of it, so I didn't love it, either. The move away from my nuclear family of youth back in 2006 caused me some HUGE changes in many, many, MANY ways... among them was a willingness and desire to perform service with an open heart. So, now I enjoy it. AND I understand better that serving others really does increase love for them.

Well, as a result of my furthered education on this subject I desire for my children to understand these things as soon as possible because I'm certain that it will improve their lives. Thinking along these lines AND because I don't have a calling in my Ward right now, I've been searching out ways to serve others. I found that on Craigslist there is a sectioned titled "WANTED". Now, I think this section was originally intended as a place for people to list things they would like to buy. But given the economy at this time, it seems that this particular section is now a majority of ads asking for help in one way or another (at least in my area). This is also, I'm sure, due to the proximity, in time, of Christmas and the idea many people have that their kids won't have a good Christmas if there aren't a good many presents under the tree because of our capitalist society resulting in our materialistic culture.

I'm CERTAINLY not one to say a mountain of presents under the tree is nothing. If you know me outside of the blogging world, you'll remember that last year we were so totally inundated with presents from a couple of people that we LITERALLY had a mountain of presents. The feelings I felt as we received THREE black garbage bags FULL of Christmas presents from one of my friends are truly indescribable. Did you know that the person who receives service, the person who gives service, AND anyone watching an act of service each and all have a release of a chemical (I believe it's oxytocin, but I'm not absolutely positive anymore) that physically causes them to feel uplifted and, even, joyful and loved? It's true. Well, that's how I felt. Tingly full of joy. I went through some deep self-analysis after that Christmas because I was wondering if I was really MUCH more materialistic than I thought. I realized that I truly wasn't, but that I was so totally touched BECAUSE I felt the love and care of my Father in Heaven as well as the angels He'd sent us to provide = the people involved. Prior to that Christmas, I'd felt pretty down that we weren't going to be able to do more than our $10 spending limit of the Christmas before. $10 isn't huge, but it's SOMEthing... I was just feeling sorry for myself, really. But Heavenly Father showed me that He knew my heart and wish, which was a desire to do better by our kids... so, He did it FOR us!!! And, really, isn't that what He always does anyway... we just sort of take credit along the way because we're doing what He's telling us to do when He tells us to do it! :) That's what I think, anyway.

Having said all that, the fabulously full Christmas tree is something I seek after or even value for itself. Quite the contrary. I'm striving to have a VERY small Christmas - if measured by the number of gifts under the tree - THIS year. You see, I want my kids to GET it sooner than I did.... and I think... I believe that service is one of the greatest ways we can feel Charity... and isn't that why Christ came, to fulfill his greatest act of love, which is a service to all of humanity = pure love = Charity!??

So, being thus selfish, I was EXTATIC to find someone in the WANTED section who was asking for help with cleaning and laundry. Somehow I missed and/or didn't understand that she was asking for the help because she was blind. I didn't realize that fact until a couple of days ago. I just saw someone asking for something we COULD do!!! Can you imagine my pleasure and, even, joy in realizing that we would have the opportunity, not only, to serve, to give our daughters the chance to serve, but also to expose them to someone with a totally different life experience!? WOW!!!

Krista and I made a plan for my family to come to her apartment Monday morning (today) to clean and do laundry. This was, of course, before we came down with "the crud" with which we'd been inundated in the last week or so. So, I was hoping all would be well and we could go ahead with the plan. It worked out. IF any of us are still sick it was only Tea. Krista didn't hold or touch her so....

I haven't had a sit down talk with Ria about her thoughts and feelings on the activity of the morning, but while we were there she helped vaccuum, pick up little bits of trash, did some laundry, and played with Krista's dog, Pepper (that was her favorite part). As she was helping she would say little things like, "I love to help do things," and, "I'm going to tell Daddy I helped with the vaccuuming!" That last bit was a big deal because she'd been too afraid of the noise of vaccuums to touch one for more than a few moments before today. Today she actually moved the thing back and forth quite a bit. AND she was able to get it to move in a line parallel to her position... she was VERY proud of that accomplishment as the vaccuum was quite heavy. Anyway... she was quite pleased with herself and I believe I could see that she felt the value of her work. She's happy and even excited to come back to Krista's house in about a month to help some more, too! So... perhaps she's well on the way to feeling the joy in serving?

Kat was very shy. Krista actually said to me (after Jess and Kat left to start the laundry), "I thought you had 3 little ones. Where is she?" I didn't understand what she meant. I was confused because I thought Krista still retained part of her vision and would see Jess holding a child. Come to find out, she's completely blind and Kat was so quiet she couldn't hear her! How funny! Okay, the thing that's funny is only funny if you know Kat... she is totally NOT quiet. At least, she's not quiet when she's comfy. She's VERY much like Jess initially... but then she turns into a sort of Tori once she's comfy! ^_^ Funny, right? I don't know that Kat got much from the service experience. By the end of our visit, she was a little less afraid of the dog who was completely uninterested in her. My funny girl!

Tea was sleeping most of the time, so I don't think she got much out of the experience. ;) But as long as we perservere, she'll get it just like her big sisters... I think. I hope. I pray!

Wish me luck (and say a prayer for us, if you think about it) that all stays as it is and we keep on the well side of things for tomorrow, at least. Tomorrow is my temple day and our Family Temple trip and I REALLY want to make it! I feel like I need the trip even more this month because I've been missing so much regular Sunday service due to pregnancy issues, birth, and subsequent illnesses lately!!! Missing church is such a bummer. But... at least we can go to the temple sometimes, right? :) I'm so grateful for such a supportive husband who's willing to make these family jaunts and watch our girls while I spend some time within the walls of The House of The Lord! He's a good man. And that's true even if you know our problems. I happen to have a problem... I focus on the negative too much sometimes. Of myself AND others... especially those closest to me. I'm working on it!

Tomorrow is a big day all around. Temple trip, then take Jess to his second job (Piazza) so he can make sushi for the Holiday party, back to our town for Ria's piano class, then back to the Piazza for the party.

Wednesday morning the missionaries will come to see us. They are AWESOME! Such sweet sisters!!! The lesson is about how we can recognize The Spirit. I'm excited. I'm sure Jess feels the Holy Ghost, but I think it will be helpful for him to learn how to recognize it.

Thursday: Story Time and Ballet. This week a couple friends from Church are going to come over at 10am so we can hang out, go to Story Time, and then have lunch together at my house afterward! I'm so excited!!!

Friday looks like it'll be pretty quiet.

Saturday might be quiet, too.

So, we'll have some recooperation time before Sunday. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sick Days

I don't know if it's better to be sick ALL at once, or stair-step it.... but I CAN say that I'm exhausted after the stairs I've been treading this week! Ria barfed Monday night during the night. She didn't know it. We didn't know it. Until Jess saw some on her night gown! UGH! All day Tuesday she was fine. So it seemed like just a random night barf, which used to be relatively frequent when Ria was younger.

It wasn't random.

It's not often that I think or feel that the forgetfulness I've been coping with lately is a blessing, but Tuesday it definitely was. Ria seemed fine all day, but I'm sure she was contagious. Given that, it's a HUGE blessing that I TOTALLY forgot about her piano lesson! We completely missed it. I'm SO glad (now) because we would have given this crud to Mary Kay!! :( BUT we didn't BECAUSE God's mercies abound!

Wednesday Ria woke up with a pretty good fever and threw up 2 or 3 times during the day. Kat was fine.

Thursday both seemed fine (Ria had no more fever, it broke during the night). We didn't go to Story Time or Ballet because I was worried that Ria might be weak because she had REALLY dark circles under her eyes. THANKFULLY we didn't go out! We would have passed the crud to untold numbers.

Thursday morning Jess went back to bed with a headache (which is how the crud started with Ria and Kat), but seemed to be completely better by the time he needed to leave for work. WHAT a blessing!

Friday, Kat came down with the crud. In her, it manifested as a fever and congestion. Makes sense to me since she had breathing complications at birth... so to my way of understanding, her breathing system could be weaker and, thus, more susceptible. She never threw up, but did have some loose stools (TMI?). Her version of the crud continued on through this (Sunday) morning!

Tea seemed to have a fever last night and threw up then as well. It was definitely throw up and not spit up! I know because it was projectile AND smelled of illness... Illness smells sort of rancid to me. At least, that's the best way I can describe it.

I've had so much stress as a result of all this because it's really difficult for me to have and deal with my kids being sick. But I'm trying to thank the Lord in all things, as we have been commanded to do. I think it's easier to be grateful for trials when I compare my old self with my current self in coping with them. I'm definitely not perfect and have HUGE strides in progress yet to make. BUT it is nice to see that I'm getting better... not QUITE as short fused when under the stress of the situation, not QUITE as quick to shed tears and/or break down completely, not QUITE as frustrated in general... Progress is good. I'm grateful to have an opportunity to see and measure it.

That said....

MAN, I hope this coming week is more relaxed, well, and just easier! ^_^

We have many plans and it would be REALLY wonderful to go about our activities well and feeling peaceful... especially on Tuesday when we're going to the temple AND Jessie's second job's Christmas Party! Big day... that one.

Life is good. God is GREAT! Can you believe 2009 is just around the corner!??

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Full Monday

Yesterday was a full day. Ria talked about how much fun she had during each step of our adventures. Kat was happy, I think, just because Ria was happy! And Tea was super calm, quiet (except for a few complaints a couple of times), happy, and just overall wonderful just because she IS that way. :)

We left the house around 10 am. Our first stop was WalMart for our first professional family pictures in almost 2 years! The girls were amazingly well-behaved even though we had to wait quite a while once we arrived. The pictures turned out wonderfully and we're very excited to pick them up and share them.

From there we went to Pizza Hut with lots of coupons! During some homeschool research, I found the Pizza Hut reading program and signed up. In a very short period of time I received the supplies. We would read anyway, but this program makes it a LITTLE bit more exciting for the girls, overall. Each month that they/we accomplish our reading goals (reading classes), they get a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. So, the girls' meal was free. In addition we got pizza with a coupon for Mama and Daddy. It was nice (and inexpensive). This was our second month and the girls loved it this time as well as last time. So, it's a great program. I'm thankful that they have the program for homeschoolers as well as public schools!! ^_^

After lunch, we headed to the mall to spend the rest of the Macy's gift card we received from one of Jessie's co-workers. Jess got another new tie! It's a gorgeous all blue tie... my favorite color. Then we went to do our phone upgrade and re-contract with T-Mobile (also in the mall). Jessie's old phone was on the fritz. His phones endure a lot of punishment. The back lighting for the screen of the phone was completed shnockered. And, on top of that, it blinked out every 5 seconds! Pretty tempermental. We've been up for a re-contract and phone upgrade since July or August of this year, so we did pretty well. The funny thing about Jessie's phone is that it was suffering some serious quirks after it's battered life... my phone was recently dunked in water and was still performing perfectly! Strange, but true!!!

A bit of an emergency arose and we resolved it, but ended up late for the children's Christmas party at The Club (the job Jess has had for just over 2 years now) as a result of the emergency. Thankfully Ria and Kat weren't too aware that we were late. They were just happy to be there. It was nice. They had activities and crafts set up for the children. Ria and Kat really seemed to have a GOOD time. Kat was inextricably drawn to the music (much too loud), but would simply stand next to the dance fear. This causes me some fears of paying for dance classed in which all she does is stand and watch the teacher. Hopefully she'll warm up and get involved pretty quickly. The thing about Kat is that she is slow to warm up (like her Daddy). Once she's comfy, she's VERY comfy (talkative, active, take-charge... more like me), but it takes a while for her to get to that point. There was not enough time at the party for her to get comfy enough to "get down and boogy" on the dance floor alone OR with her Daddy. She would step out on it, stand there for a second, run back to Mama or Daddy's legs, hug the legs, and then run off back toward the table at which Ria was stationed (working on a craft and/or eating). It was really funny.

We had a goal to be home just before 8 pm because a guy was planning to come to see one of Jessie's AMPs. Jess advertised it on Craigslist in hopes of a sale. The guy never showed, but we did get home in time to accomplish our goal! :) YEAY!

Believe it or not, Ria and Kat were in bed by 8:45 pm and asleep VERY soon thereafter. Jess followed soon and Tea and I not long after him. Tea and I were in bed very soon after that, which is much earlier than usual. Amazingly (to me) Tea slept most of the night with only a few nursing times. Even when she nursed, she didn't wake up entirely. So, she slept WELL! I rather expected that she would wake up earlier this morning than usual. Her usual wake-up time is around 11am. Well, this morning she woke up earlier than normal.... by about 10 minutes! Unbelievable, right? But true! She's SUCH a sweet and easy baby!!!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

We Don't NEED Any THING More

The title of this post is a very specific thought I had a few days ago when considering all the blessing in the form of gifts we've received since Tea has arrived. A few people told me they wanted to have a baby shower for me. Initially I asked to postpone it until we knew the gender of the babe. Once we had another girl I sort of hoped it wouldn't be mentioned again. By the time it was, so many people had given us gifts that I asked if I could NOT have a shower just because I had everything from the two girls before... Anyway. I thought the subject was sort of done. Come to find out, it wasn't.

I mentioned that I was released from the calling of Primary Secretary. I have mourned the loss of the calling as well as the sort of camaraderie I felt at the end of my time in that calling. I know I'll receive another call, but I RARELY ever feel like I belong. I was in that calling for around 18 months and it was only in the last 6, maybe, that I felt that camaraderie. I went to Relief Society with not much excitement because I really wished to still be in Primary.

The sister conducting started the meeting by saying that the guest of honor was actually in Relief Society. I was looking around wondering who was new when what to my wondering ears should I hear but my name!! I felt this weird shock... like, "How did they know I was going to be in here!" I now know they didn't, actually. Anyway, she continued by telling me that the items on the front table were for me for Tea. They wanted to give us(my family), as a Relief Society, a gift because they loved me and my family so much. At first I didn't think or feel anything, I was just sort of in shock. Before she was done talking I burst into silent sobs and covered my whole face with Tea's hat. I think my reaction really surprised and slightly upset the small group of ladies present.

A few of them immediately came and surrounded me to touch and comfort, as sisters do. When I could breathe again, I choked out that I was just so grateful for such a gift that felt like a "Welcome Back" because I'd been mourning the loss of my Primary calling so poignantly. There were some noises of understanding and then some comments about using Tea's hat to collect my tears (I'd gone from covering my face with it to mopping up the wetness there).

As I reflect upon it now, I'm amazed at the miracle of the Lord's timing! You see, the Primary Presidency had submitted my release (and the replacement call to a new sister) around THREE MONTHS ago and it only just came through to me and my replacement last week. While my sisters in the presidency were anxious to have the change occur, the timing of my transition was perfect for me in two ways. #1 If I'd been released any sooner, my sadness would have been tremendously magnified by the horrible hormones I'm feeling less cumbered by currently (though, unfortunately, still experiencing). #2 The other part of the miracle of timing is that this gift my sisters prepared for me in secret was set out in the front of the room for presentation to me TODAY (they were going to get me from the Primary room to present it) on my FIRST day back in Relief Society. The Lord knew my need and He orchestrated it all to play so nicely for me! I'm SO grateful. I don't need any of those THINGS (except, maybe, the diapers and wipes), but I definitely needed to feel the love of my Ward Family in the way they hoped to communicate it through those gifts.

A New Friend
As an added bonus I resumed my self-determined calling (for when I don't have an official calling) of introducing myself to anyone I don't recognize. Is that sometimes embarrassing when I find out that they've been there longer than me and I've either never noticed them, never spoken to them, or have been so far gone and self-centered during my pregnancy that I didn't bother to try to meet them and they've been coming since then... well, yeah, ALL of those situations would be really upsetting to me. Thankfully, I haven't experienced them, though it's TOTALLY possible!

Today I met 3 groups and I think I completed my goal for my "calling" because I DO think I met everyone that was new. What a nice feeling! One of the groups I met was Dominique and her boys. She has THREE. Neat, huh? Her boys are all older than my girls and may be closer in age as well. The similarities continue. We both lack consistent transportation of our own. We both feel, intensely, the loneliness of being at home 24/7 with few to commiserate with or even to have adult conversations with.... Additionally, I learned in Relief Society that she may have some of the same hormonal freak issues that I have during the postpartum period.... She's also VERY spiritual. I'm not sure that I am. I think, often, than I'm not. But... I'm told pretty frequently that I others consider me very spiritual... so, that may be a similarity. I would like to think so, at least. :) She's just seems like a really neat person.

During Relief Society Dominique actually contributed a really pertinent and thoughtful comment to the lesson. I was so impressed and excited and almost immediately I asked her when she was going to get baptized. She seemed embarrassed and asked me if I thought she should. I'm pretty sure I told her I thought she should. A little later I added that she should pray about it and make sure that she didn't let a lack of knowledge stop her from getting baptized because she can learn specifics along the way.

I had a silly little thought... but hopeful. I thought that perhaps, even if I seem unable to help my husband recognize the truth of the Gospel, I can help someone else along the way. And then I thought something about how funny it would be if Dominique was baptized really soon....

I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the physical manifestation of the FULLY restored Gospel of Christ on earth today. I'm grateful for the hope and joy that the knowledge of that truth provides me. I believe all those who truly want to know, search, ponder, and pray on the question of its truthfulness will come to know that it IS true as I do (or with an even surer knowledge!). I'm grateful for the peace and comfort that the Book of Mormon brings me. I also believe that anyone who hopes to experience peace from reading and studying the Book of Mormon WILL! I know Jesus Christ IS our Savior AND He lives! What joy that sweet sentence gives and provides me... and CAN for you, too (if not already). ^_^

Today has been a good day....

Mouse Interrupted

Last night Jess made a Wal-Mart run on his way home from work. (This is pretty typical as Wal-Mart is about 30 minutes away from home, but only about 10 from work.) With milk for the girls I also mentioned that it was okay with me if he purchased a rat trap (on top of all the other traps we've had) to try to catch this wiley mousey. He was TOTALLY happy.

If you read comments this next bit will be redundant, I apologize.

My Mom mentioned that she hoped we found some pleasure in the movie MOUSE HUNT that Jessie borrowed as a sort of joke on the situation we'd been dealing with (a way to find some humor in something he'd been royal aggravated about). She, my Mom, also mentioned that when he was sorting out ways to deal with the mouse, ie: KILL IT, she'd totally thought of that movie, but didn't want to mention it at the time. (Jess gets really agitated... even angry over the buggers that torment him whether they be gnats, other bugs, or the mouse we had in our house.)

Well, we didn't even watch the movie, but that wasn't really the point. Jess remembered how it ended (I didn't!) he just got it as a lighter way to look at the situation he was so anxious and upset about.

When I initially (only moments ago) started writing in the bit about my Mom and the movie, I had a purpose and a destination for that train of thought, but it jumped its tracks and the whole thing completely disappeared. I can NOT remember (as is often a HUGE problem lately) the actual point for all of that. I'm leaving it, though, because I think it's sort of funny in and of itself.

If you haven't seen it already, here's a little video from my YouTube channel of Jess feeling smug and embarrassed while I teased him about "THE TEMPTATION TRAP" he'd made to GET the mouse.

Did you hear him say I'm so weird? WHO made the crazy tricky trap that the wiley RAT didn't even touch?? I say, WHO!? ;) heehee

Back to the main story. Jess brought the rat trap home last night and was trying to set it so he could put it out to trap our wiley mouse. It wouldn't set! No, seriously. He either chose the one poorly constructed one of the lot or the lot were all poorly constructed. We'll never know the answer because Jess was SO determined that this new trap should be up before he went to sleep that he took a huge wrench thing (for plumbing, I believe) and bent the wire that wasn't meeting the "set" point on the trap.

Have you seen a rat trap? I'm talking about the kind that is spring loaded like the mouse traps. If you have, then you'll know that the part that you pull back to "set" is made of some sort of metal wire that's as thick as an older child's finger! ROUGH STUFF. Jess almost hurt himself a couple of times (and I REALLY think this thing could break the finger of a man!), but managed to fix the problem so that the trap worked.

As it happens, mere hours after setting the trap and actually getting into bed (for Jess, it was only minutes after I went to bed) the trap went off. Well, that wasn't too surprising in itself. At least one of the mouse traps we'd had set out went off at least once a night every night since we've had them out. (SO annoying!) I didn't want to even attempt to set the trap so I woke Jess up to deal with it. I honestly thought the mouse had set it and run off as s/he'd been doing.

No so lucky, mousey. Come to find out, the mouse in our house was actually a brown rat! UGH! For some reason, the idea that this thing in our walls was a rat is SO much MORE revolting. Why is RAT so much more problematic for me than MOUSE? Let's take a comparison gander to see:

Even a rat mother (I'd had a feeling that the "mouse" was female and preggie: the reason for my hard time with the idea of killing it around the time Tea was born!). At this point, I simply hope that the imagined babies either never came to be or are too young to sustain life on their own!

Okay, so the trap was set off. Jess went out to ascertain, with my flashlight. dum-dum-da dum-dum-da.... DA DUM... He's a little breathless when he comes back to tell me, "The mouse is knocked out and coughing on the floor. I'm gunna go take care of it." What does 'take care of it mean,' you may wonder. Well, Jess has had a dream... a dream that came true last night (actually VERY early this morning, but I dicker). He's had a dream that when he caught the being in our wall, he would take it in the van, hold it over the side of the bridge into our town, revel in his triumph over it, and drop it into the river to be eaten by (he hopes) a tarpin. Why a tarpin? Well, I think it's mostly because tarpin are great fighters, so lots of fun to land for a fisherman and I guess he wants to feed the fish he fights? You don't eat tarpin, you drop 'em back... they're just fun to catch, apparently.

I, personally, think it's cruel and unusual punishment to WANT to catch a fish you have no intent to gut and eat... if you're gunna scare the bugger, you might as well finish the job! But I'm pretty sure I couldn't do anything with something I caught (one of the MANY reasons for choosing a man who COULD!).


A note before I close this LONG post... going over the bridge on the way to AND from church today, Jess wanted SO badly to tell me the exact point on the bridge that he dropped the rat from. I couldn't take it. I felt REALLY bad about the whole situation. I don't want a rat in my house, but I really didn't want to kill it either! I actually shed some tears (I totally hid from Jess!) over killing the potential mother of more mammals. *sigh* I could go on, but I really won't... I don't want you to know how totally and completely weird I am over the whole situation involving hurting and eventual death of the rodent that really didn't treat us well, to which I am an accomplice.

Another will follow as soon as I can manage to write up a much more joyful situation (at least for me). Hopefully with a picture or two.

How to Get Your Child to...

do just about anything? Well, it could depend on their position in the family! Recently, I found that with Ria, a really good way to encourage her to practice piano is by showing her some footage of a child just a little older than she is who can play phenomenally (Emily Bear). It CERTAINLY doesn't hurt a bit that the girl happens to have the first name that Ria seems inextricably drawn to.... She had a friend named Emily right after we moved here, but the girl had to go to school so we haven't seen her in about 1 year. Ria still talks about her, names stuffed animals after her, and is SUPER excited when she meets or SEES anyone with the same name.

So, rather than coercing or threatening Ria regarding piano now, all I do is suggest that she take some time to practice. Often she'll say something along the lines of, "Yeah, cause I want to play piano like that six-year-old!" Sometimes, as she's playing she'll remind me (and herself?) that she wants to play piano like Emily. It's REALLY wonderful!!!

Of course, then there are children like Kat. You ask them to do something and they immediately refuse. Then you ask their hero older sister to do it instead and OFF she (Kat) runs to do it herself! It's the funniest thing. Of course, if Ria were to refuse, Kat would be even happier in her refusal, too. Thankfully, if I've asked Kat to do it... Ria is even more pleased to be asked to do it in her stead. WHY!??? Well, at least it works! ^_^

Strange kids. But they SURE are wonderful!

Oh, I have some video of Ria playing our piano. Not up, yet, but it's-a-comin'... someday!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

6 Weeks

Not only does 2008 seem almost like a dream, but the last six weeks seem to have gone by with a blink! I'm almost mourning the loss of my newborn as Tea is becoming ever more a baby (rather than the curled up newborn). However, I can't mourn it too much because she is SUCH an amazing, sweet, smart, and beautiful BABY! She's already working on her hand-eye coordination. Of course, she doesn't necessarily know that's what she's doing, but I do. ;) It's so fun and special to see the progress she's making already... how they grow!

Ria, Tea, and I went to dance class this morning. Our normal cl ass is on Thursdays (we went this past Thursday, too). Kat comes along on Thursdays. Today was a makeup class for the first Thursday I should have taken my three princesses to dance all by myself. I didn't chicken out. All of us were, actually, at various stages of wellness from the cold we'd caught AT dance class! My Mom was there to hear the mother announce 'how sick' they'd been and that they were still not completely well. You can ask her if you don't believe me. Those kinds of inconsiderate parents REALLY BURN MY SHORTS, I'm tellin' you!!!!!!! ahwell What can you do?

Anyway. The teacher for this class was awesome! Her form was REALLY beautiful and "ballerina-like" for the whole of the class. I REALLY appreciated that because Ria is amazingly good at mimicking body postures, hand positions, and so forth. So, the fact that the teacher this morning, Amy, was holding herself like a ballerina was REALLY good for Ria. I wish we could switch classes, but this morning's group is a bit younger AND they don't do Tap. I don't think Ria would miss Tap, but I'd rather pay for a dance class that has two forms rather than one and tumbling (as the class this morning did).

After Dance
Mary Kay and Tim came over for another hair cutting lesson. So far this is Mary Kay's 3rd and Tim's second. Mary Kay came over with her Dad for a lesson/practice once without Tim. Mary Kay is doing REALLY well and will be cutting Tim's hair all on her own before too long. I'm so impressed. I don't think I picked up the whole process as quickly as she is (especially the clipper cut portion!).

The girls and Jessie went to our room while I worked with Mary Kay on Tim's hair. Jess and Tea fell asleep while Ria and Kat watched a movie. It was a free movie because Ria had only completed 2 chapters of her reading class and no other school stuff. So, after the movie and Daddy's departure she started on her Math. She completed Math and a letter (for writing class).

Mama's Feet Hurt
I was standing for the whole hair cutting lesson.

While Ria did school I started pie crusts (enough for 4 single crust pies). Still standing. I planned to make 2 pies and some meat dinner pies. Well, I DID make the 2 pies: ANOTHER pumpkin pie AND a sweet potato pie made the same way as the pumpkin. I wanted to try them side by side because Jess told me a while back that often the cans labeled as pumpkin are actually sweet potato. I wanted to see how they could get away with it. Well, I DID try them side-by-side and it's amazing that they can get away with it because, for most people, they taste amazingly similar! Of course, if you get a can and check the ingredients and it says it's pumpkin it is supposed to be (by law) pumpkin, but if you don't check the ingredients, you may be making a sweet potato pie after-all! :)

Interesting stuff I learn here in a Chef's home! ;) I teach him things, too. Just in case you were wondering. For instance, he used to end almost all of his sentences with prepositions. He doesn't do it nearly as often now! I do it more, though. (Couples...taking on one another's characteristics in the good AND bad.)

In addition to those 2 pies, I also made my own version of a pasty. I stood for all the prep for it. MAN it smelled soooo GOOD while it was baking!!!! ^_^ And the finished result was pretty wonderful, too, if I may say so of my own preparation! I'm pretty excited to try my experiment as a cold/cooler version of what I had (straight out of the oven).

Have you heard of pasties? Click the word to visit a History of the U.S. pasty.

By The Way
This is pretty random, but did you know that China has made a loophole through which it is able to sell some of its China-made goods and label them "made in 'USA'"? I know, I didn't think it could be. Jess told me China had named an area within its country "Usa (no periods after the letters) so that it could make things & stamp them "Made in USA." In looking around, it seems that the mark should be "Usa," but I'm not sure if it actually IS. Either way, as long as they don't insert periods after the letters, they're not lying. I DO think using "USA" is misleading. Even "Usa" is stretching the ethical limits, in my opninion!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mouse Stories and Thanksgiving Dinner

Have I mentioned "our" mouse? I don't think I've really gotten into it, but I feel the need to work through some feelings here, in a very SHARING way! ;)

So, we discovered a mouse in our house in October. How? you may ask. Well, it ate my very best potholder. Silly thing to be upset over, really, but that pot holder was PERFECT for handling my stoneware (from my Pampered Chef Consulting days). I have very sensitive hands... and heart, but that isn't pertinent for the story... so the GOOD pot holder was wonderful for me. Well, it is no more. It has gone the way of all the stuff - sent to the landfill. :( I could have started to become angry about living here, but I've decided to see the mouse as a trial to overcome and try to remain positive through. (NOT easy... especially when Jess has been campaigning to move for many reasons - for a while now.)

The funny thing about the move issue is that I felt really strongly that we were supposed to be heading to Orlando, so I felt like we should be preparing to move - a few months ago. Now, I'm not saying that we will stay here forever, but I don't feel that we're going to be moving as soon as I thought, either. I think we may end up in Orlando eventually, though.

Anyway... the mouse.

Well, Jess has this thing. He becomes determined to rid himself of annoyances. Like gnats. It's like the things (gnats) can TOTALLY tell they've got his gander up and they just torment him all the more. Well, the mouse is CERTAINLY no different. And, to top it off, it's SMART as all get out! Jess has spent a ridiculous amount of money (relative to trying to catch a mouse) we really don't have, to catch the mouse. Only one of said traps is humane, unfortunately... but the mouse is waaaaay too smart to be got by that thing! Jess even set up "THE temptation trap" with a cookie and banana (because this mouse likes bananas and banana bread - found out when it ate some of my homemade banana bread and the top of a whole banana -2 seperate nights!) surrounded by mouse traps. Do you think the mouse was fooled/coaxed/temped/trapped? Nope. And Jess IS vexed. Well, for the past 3 or 4 nights Jess has successfully FED the mouse some peanut butter and oatmeal, which he set out ON a mouse trap (the traditional kind with the spring set guillotine sort of thing). The trap was not set (because the darn mouse stays away from them when they are!!!). He's tried to keep it in the same place each night... let's see how habituated the mouse is... tonight is the night to see if the mouse can be caught/killed. If not, we're going to resort to poison. It's down to the wire now. You see, the mouse has put a hole in something that has made our dishwasher unusable! :( How rotten, right!? Well, if that's not bad enough... the dishwasher is BRAND spankin' new!!!! ARGGHHHH! Unfortunately, I don't know that our landlord will do anything about it at all. But I certainly wouldn't, were I him, unless the darn mouse was TAKEN CARE OF (ie: dead and accounted for!). How frustrating, right!??

Given that I shared that Jess is ready to move, I'm sure you can imagine his feelings on the whole situation after the plumber told him this morning that the dishwasher is NOT covered on warranty now because it's "an act of MOUSE" not a problem with the machine. How annoying! Well, he was ready to start packing up the house himself. I'm not opposed to the idae of moving iteself. If we could find another house in our town for what we're paying, I would go through the trouble and annoyance of moving everything a few blocks to try to make my husband happy... we just can NOT find the deal we have here in another house in our town! I HAVE looked. *sigh* I've looked a LOT and for MANY months. There just isn't this sort of deal out there.

So, instead of moving... I had a talk with Jess about choosing to see the positives and striving to feel happy (CHOOSING happiness) because of them rather than focusing on the negatives and trying to run away from those. He used to be a natural at that and I was pretty horrible at it. I recognized my lack and have been striving to become more like he was... and he's been taking up my lack slack. :( I certain don't think that's necessary! I guess, though, since I wasn't as good a person, there was a certain dynamic and it take a HUGE conscious and concerted effort to change dynamics... in general, but especially in marriages! So, I don't know if it's worked... but Jess didn't gripe about moving for the rest of today, at least! :)

Oh, and on top of the AWESOME deal we have on rent/utilities for our house, we also have Ria's piano teacher AND dance class right here in town. I can walk to both of them easily when Jess is at work - even with all three of our babes. If we moved out of town, we'd have to pay for gas to get to classes, which would increase the overall expense of the move/new rent! :( So... it's just not in our best interest.

Thanksgiving Dinner
We had it tonight! It was joyful. Our sister missionaries were already scheduled to come to teach a lesson to/for Jess and our family. When they called to confirm I asked if they had a dinner engagement. They didn't, so we invited them for dinner. It was SO nice to have a fuller table for our Thanksgiving meal! It was a tastey meal, too. Jess made a succulent turkey, gravy, bread stuffing, warmed some peas, and I made some mashed potatoes. For dessert we had THE BEST pumpkin pie (I DID make another one!!) and apple pie that I'd made yesterday just because I really felt a hankerin' for that other traditional dessert a'la Farrell family holidays. Can you tell I miss my family?? I do.

P.S. on the Mouse Stories
Jess took Kat to the library while I was with Ria for her (our ^_^) piano class today. He did it last week, too. So nice since he's available anyway! Well, he was tickled with himself when we were riding home together after class when he held up a movie for me to take note of. When I could finally look at the title I was a little confused. The movie he'd chosen was "MOUSE HUNT"!!! Can you imagine? I was wondering, in a worried way, if he was looking for some mouse catching tips via Hollywoodd! Thankfully it was his way of finding the humor in a situation he's very frustrated about (by getting a movie that sort of mirrors our situation). Kinda cool, right? :)

It just struck me as I was scrolling down my own blog to look at others' blogs... I saw the emboldened words "THE temptation trap" and a thought crossed my mind. "This mouse is an AWESOME example of resisting temptation and choosing the right (relative to a mouse)!" And then I thought, "Oh, my... how STRANGE I am!!" I thought it was funny, though, and that you might get a little laugh at my silliness. :) Also, I didn't have anyone to verbally share my thoughts with right now as it's rather late and Jess is already in bed (YEAY!). So, there ya go.

December Already!

2008 seems to have just flown by. There were times when it felt like it was ever so SLOWLY creeping (like when I was overdue!), but overall I feel like the year is gone and WHAT have I done??

Thanksgiving in the Gollihugh home was very quiet and much like any other day of the week. We did school stuff with Ria (and Kat to a lesser extent). The turkey was still defrosting (finally done now) and Jessie had to work, which is why I didn't pull the turkey out until the night before. Bummer. Yes, I know.

I spent much of the day, between dealing with the older girls and Tea, making a Pumpkin Pie. That was my one food from "tradition" for the day. I was determined that we should have pumpkin pie. That's really strange, if you know me, because Pumpkin Pie is totally NOT a favorite of mine. I found a recipe, though, that I was excited to make and taste. It involved sour cream and beaten egg whites folded in. As it happens, the pie is AWESOME! It's not heavy and dense and I didn't use as much spice as the recipe calls for, so it was just right. :) I'm actually planning to make another one... it's THAT good!

The Piano
It is a joy to have a piano in my home! I feel so happy about it each time I see it, which is quite often. The fact that I've wished for a piano as long as I can remember (and I've been actively striving to bring one to my home for more than a year) is probably the reason the thing gives me so much pleasure. I've practiced on it each day and I feel my form and dexterity is improving rapidly. It's so exciting! I just have to work on theory a lot more (like memorizing treble clef lines and spaces so that I don't have to think about it when trying to play something). I know it's a process and I'm happy to be patient with myself because I'm just so happy to hope that I might play our FHE songs!!!

It is getting a good deal of use, in general. Ria and Kat want to play it quite often. Ria has had practice time on it and Kat plays on it as much as possible. :) The picture of the piano I shared was actually one of the two original Craigslist pictures... so the piano isn't in my home in the picture. Just in case you were wondering... I don't have any window sills high enough to be above the piano in the main part of my home. ;)

I mentioned that it's sort of fragile. It doesn't just look that way. I don't know how to describe it for non LDS, but I would very much like to have a solid piano more like the pianos in the church buildings. There are pianos (like Mary Kay's) that have the shorter back (like mine), but are also very solid. I don't know brands and stuff... and really couldn't discern from the picture that mine was NOT that kind. I'm still happy with it, but worried that the kiddos will be the death of it sooner than if it was of the more solid variety. :) All will be well. We're getting good use of it already!

I guess is was inevitable. When you receive a calling there is, in the call, the knowledge that there will be a release from it at some point. I'm pretty bummed because I am starting to feel more normal again and I was looking forward to getting back into full swing with my calling. As Primary Secretary there are a BUNCH of balls to keep in the air and I'd dropped all but the most important (actual roll taking) during the course of my pregnancy.

Believe it or not, (and I think it's totally due to the help my Mom offered during her visit) I'm feeling quite good about the balancing act of Mommy-hood with the new addition. Of course, it's also helped by the fact that Tea is just AWESOME! But my house is really quite together. I have some laundry to fold, but not a TON. The dishes are almost completely caught up (and that's with a NON-functioning dishwasher... AGAIN!). The floors have been swept almost daily since my Mom left (by me because I'm feeling SUPER paranoid about crumbs left out for the darn mouse... have I told you about the mouse? ARGGGHH!). I've done Math class, Reading class, Writing class, and Piano practice with Ria most days (Jess does Reading class with her pretty regularly) AND I've actually made full-on meals about half the week. The rest of the week we have sandwiches, mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, and things like that. So, it just feels REALLY sad to me that I don't have the secretary work to do that I was expecting to get back into fully! I'm sure there's a good reason that I should not be doing it... I know the sister who will be doing it needs the responsibility of it. *sigh* ahwell

So, that's what's new here.

Maybe I'll get into the writing that I really SHOULD do....

I need to finish crocheting Tea's items and a couple of other things....

Plenty to do...

Always plenty to do.

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