Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lessons Learned

I have been thinking lately about abandoning this blog and only writing on our family blog. Except there are some things that I want to write about that aren't really about our family. Like the past few months.

The past few months have been difficult. At the beginning of October, I found out that I was pregnant. Right away, I got very sick. I started having terrible headaches and nausea. I had to go in my room and get rid of all stimulus--turn out the lights, shut the door, put on headphones with quiet music--just to feel like I could survive. It was so bad that I told Rich at the very beginning of December, "If I have a miscarriage, we are done, because I can't do this again."

On December 6, I started spotting. A visit to the doctor confirmed that I had a miscarriage. I had a D&C on December 7. That same week, Beth was baptized. Also, I had not done any of our Christmas shopping, so I had a ton of work ahead of me. I am thankful for helpful friends and an amazing visiting teacher who came to our family's rescue and provided meals and did almost all of the immediate errand running for the baptism. After the baptism, I began the exhausting job of doing all the Christmas shopping. Even with on-line shopping, I still had to do a bunch of shopping at Walmart and Target. In addition, Daniel had a basketball tournament and multiple basketball games. Thankfully, again, my visiting teacher helped me sit and wrap all our presents one night. What would we do without great friends and family for support?

During the month of December, my very favorite month of the whole year, I cried almost every day and felt on the verge of tears all the time. I got mad about things I normally let slide, and I snapped at people a lot. Part of my sadness came from disappointment at ending a pregnancy that took so long to begin. Part of me wondered if this was that final member of our family. If you have a miscarriage, has that baby received his or her physical body? (My kids said that would be pretty lame to only get 12 weeks in utero as a life experience.) I wondered if this was a sign that I was too old to have another baby.

By the few days leading up to Christmas, I had started spotting again and was feeling anxious and exhausted. I kept wondering how long it would take for my hormones to at least settle down a bit and for me to heal and feel better.

On Christmas Day, I took a 3 hour nap. The holiday sprint was finally over. Then I took a 3 hour nap the day after that. I have slept in every day this week, and I have laid around reading or watching old movies. I noticed the most amazing thing today. I haven't cried once this week. I have felt cheerful and peaceful. I am also feeling energetic and motivated. Maybe my tears and anxiety were due to hormones, or maybe grieving, but the were definitely due to fatigue.

Anyway, it feels so good to feel better! I feel so cheerful about the start of a new year. And I have learned some important lessons (that hopefully I will remember) from my recent experience:

1. It takes time physically to heal. I'm not sure what I could have done differently, but I obviously didn't give myself enough time to heal. Maybe not everyone needs as much time, but my body heals very slowly, and I have learned that I can allow myself time to sleep in, read and rest without feeling guilty.

2. I learned that people grow in love for us and are blessed when we allow them to serve us. I have been able to do a favor for my visiting teacher since she helped me so much, but mostly I have just been grateful to her and told her how much I appreciate her over and over. Heavenly Father puts people in our lives to serve us and bless us, and I am so grateful for that.

3. I feel peaceful about the future. I don't know what will happen, but this miscarriage has increased my ability to enjoy my family right now without spending lots of time and energy wondering about the future.

4. I feel so grateful for my family. I have taken for granted the ability to get pregnant easily, to carry a baby full-term, and to deliver eight healthy babies. I don't think I will take that for granted anymore. Not being able to get pregnant, as well as having this miscarriage, has made me understand that it is a privilege to have a baby, not a right.

5. Even though I suffered with morning sickness for two months for nothing, and even though I declared we were done and that I couldn't do this again, I still want another baby. And so do our children. And so does Rich, although I don't think he would take it as hard as I would if we can't. I am willing to leave it to the Lord, though. Once my body is healthy again, we'll just leave it up to Him and see what happens. My sister had 8 and my grandma had 8. Maybe 8 is our number. Or maybe not.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Today is all I have. I want my kids to know that I love them. I want to smile at them as many times as I can today.

--Michelle Duggar

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Teenage drivers...who knew?

I have had people ask me for years if I was looking forward to having a driver. I would always enthusiastically respond yes, but it was a far-off dream. Now it is a reality, and I love it!

There are lots of reason why I love having extra drivers in the family. Of course, there are the obvious benefits, like having Jacob and Katie drive themselves (and Daniel) to seminary and school every day. They run to the store for me when I am out of something and need it right then for the dinner I am in the middle of making. They went out and bought their own school supplies this year. They even did a lot of their own clothes shopping. They drive themselves up to the church for 8:20 am youth choir practice!

All this self-driving saves me tons of time. But there is one benefit that I never expected--I am no longer the only person capable of returning library books!

For years, we have been debtors to the library as I would lose books, miss emails, or simply put off returning books. We have always had to rotate which card we used to check out books based on the one that had the least fines. Not anymore! Now I have drivers who run books back to the library for me the day they are due. Or even before they are due. It's heavenly!

But it gets better. Katie volunteered at the library this summer, so she got our library reading logs for us, picked up extra logs when we lost the first ones she brought us, checked out the next book in a series someone was reading, brought home stacks of easy readers for the little kids, and then returned everything the next time she went. Beautiful!

Now that school is back in session, she is no longer volunteering at the library. But, her soccer practice is right around the corner from the library. Alright!

So now we use the library again. One more reason to love that handy teenage license!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Awkward moments in parenting

Pretty much everyone in our family knows that we are "trying" to have another baby. To be honest, that word "trying" makes me uncomfortable, partly because the implications are a little embarrassing and partly because it causes people to make untrue assumptions. What "trying" means around our house is that we are not using birth control. Unfortunately, our entire life style--having eight children--is a very effective form of birth control. My guess is that people who aren't "trying" are more likely than we are to have a baby in the near future, especially now that we are back to school and fall sports.

Recently, one of my male family members (who shall remain nameless so that I can defend myself against the claim that I tell everyone everything) asked me if a woman ovulates when she is having her period. I spent a little time explaining about the menstrual cycle and how ovulation usually falls 14 days after the beginning of a woman's period.

Then he asked, "When you are ovulating, do you guys try every day to get pregnant?"

Uh. . .

So how would you answer that question?

I'll bet many parents, and probably all dads, would respond with "That's none of your darn business!"

That was my knee jerk reaction, to be honest. But I have a couple of good friends involved in family counseling. They have each explained to me that older children need to understand how the intimate marital relationship is something to look forward to, not be embarrassed about, and that, as they show self-control, they will be able to enjoy all these things later, all with no guilt, if they keep the commandments now.

I saw this as a potential teaching moment. An awkward teaching moment, but a powerful one.

So I was honest. I responded with a big smile, "Well, we don't 'try' every day because we have eight children and and can't seem to get any privacy." Then I explained that most people with smaller families would try every day during that time of the month but that we can still get pregnant because sperm hang around for 3-5 days after intercourse. Which means it really only takes one attempt. Then we talked about the difference between male and female sperm, etc, etc, etc, finally leaving the very personal topic of Rich and I.

Several other family members were in the room, so I took the opportunity to announce how great it is to be married and how they have a wonderful physical relationship to look forward to, made even better if they will show self-control now.

Through the whole exchange, I noticed Rich stayed noticeably absent, hiding out in the kitchen. He was probably thinking, "That's none of their darn business!"

Were these questions motivated by real curiosity, or by raging hormones? Was this just a chance to talk about sex? Probably all of the above. But at least this child felt comfortable enough to talk about it at home. I can guarantee they hear plenty of talk at the school, and it's not about how wonderful married life is!

Monday, July 19, 2010

We took these pictures at Temple Square after our family reunion in July. I love them. For some reason, it really touches my heart to see the children as they look at the temple and the reflecting pond with their cousins.

As usual, the idealism portrayed in the pictures is far from what really happened. It looks so peaceful but it was crazy. We had 14 children with us that night. I kept thinking someone was going to fall in as they ran from one place to another and leaned in as far as they could to reach the money in the reflecting pond. In fact, we decided not to take a family picture. It felt like we were pushing our luck as it was.

Just like life. You get snap shot moments, just like the photo of the kids with the sun and the temple in the background, that remind you what you are doing this for and what the goal is. The rest of the time it's busy and crazy. It feels like we have had a lot of those happy, snap shot moments lately.

I love this picture, too, because the Evans' family minus Nancy (one of Rich's step-sisters) went with us to the temple. I love having them in the picture, too.

My big goal in life, the whole purpose of just about every thing I do every day is to get my children into the temple all together one day. The family reunion made me realize, more than ever, that I want not just my children, but the Evans children and the Snyder children and the Keables children and the Walker children (Idaho and California) and the Arellano children and on and on to be there, too.

I guess it's just really being part of the Father's work, 'to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life' of our family. And everyone's family.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Spiritual Food

Katie and I attended Girls' Camp together this summer. I went as a counselor group leader and Katie went as my YCL (Youth Camp Leader). Together with another YCL, we were over eight 2nd year campers. This was my first experience at Girls' Camp as a member of the church.

The YCLs had their own tent, but I was stayed with the eight girls in a tiny cabin. We slept together, ate together, hiked together, and attended all the activities, other than free time, together. Because of this, all my regular personal habits, like kneeling prayer and scripture reading, didn't happen.

I loved being a counselor, but one challenging thing was the lack of sleep. It took until nearly midnight every night to get everyone settled and in bed before I could finally fall asleep. Then, one of the girls was determined to get a hot shower every morning, which meant she and her friends next to us were up at 5:30 am every morning.

I need more sleep than that or I start to get really crabby.

Then, on Thursday morning, one of the girls thought it was funny to pretend she was talking in her sleep. She pretended that she was swimming with Justin Bieber and that he was drowing. She would scream, "Justin! Justin! No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" in a high-pitched voice, over and over again. The other girls believed her and kept trying to wake her up. She would pause for a minute, and then she would start all over again. She did this from 6 to 6:30 am. All I wanted to do was sleep. The camp alarm wouldn't go off until 7 am, and I was desperate for just another few minutes, but I never could go back to sleep.

I was very crabby that morning. I was wondering how I would talk to her about this so it didn't happen again. I was not feeling like using my nice, kind leader voice.

After breakfast, we had what they call Sacred Grove time. We had to find a place as a group, and we had 45 minutes to read our scriptures and write in our journals.

The camp we attend is built on a mountain, and the lodge overlooks the lake below. You can see the view in the picture above.

We settled ourselves on a rock behind the lodge, with the trees and rocks around us, and a clear view of the lake below. A Stake leader had challenged us to read three specific sections of the D&C, so in this gorgeous setting, I settled in to read for 30 completely uninterrupted minutes.

It was as if I had been hungry and sat down to a great, big dinner. I felt spiritually fed. I felt my heart soften, and my mind fill with love for our Father in Heaven and His Son, and for my camp girls. Suddenly, I remembered how the Savior wants us to treat one another and I felt like being kind and patient with the girls, even though I was tired.

That 30 minutes kept me going for the rest of the week.

I was reminded by this experience that my spirit needs to be fed just as badly my body needs to be fed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This is supposed to make you laugh, not post comments about what good parents we are (although we aren't necessarily turning those down)

Last Friday night, Rich and I went to the temple together. I happened to sit next to a pregnant woman. I discovered after the session in the changing room that she is expecting her 8th baby. We visited for a few minutes, sharing thoughts and ideas about our families. Her name is Aurelia.

Aurelia asked me how I handle all the laundry. She expressed, "I don't have the laundry handled yet. I don't have a system that works. The toys? Those I have handled. But not the laundry."

As I left the changing room, I thought to myself that we don't have much "handled." But then I realized that this was pessimistic thinking. We have all kinds of things handled.

Rich and I made a short list:

We have putting our kids to bed too late handled.

We have looking past the over-flowing laundry baskets handled.

We have saying sorry over and over again handled.

We have feeling overwhelmed handled.

We have ignoring the mess handled (well, maybe not handled, but we are pretty darn good at it.)

We have collapsing on the bed in exhaustion handled (which might explain the mess...)

Yep, we have a lot of things handled. I hope the other stuff that we don't have handled doesn't matter too much. ; )

Jacob and Katie turned 16 and the laundry piled up

16 years ago, when we had our newborn baby twins on May 17, three days before my birthday, I was just glad I was able to finish my college classes and get through graduation before they were born. It never occured to me what having two birthdays at the end of May would mean later on. It's not as bad as having two birthday in December, but it is pretty bad.

In the month of May, we attended one track trials, two track finals, two orchestra concerts, three awards banquets, and three graduation/promotion ceremonies. We had my mother-in-law visit, celebrated the twins birthday on two different nights, and held a 16th birthday party on a third, separate night. We also searched for and purchased a used car (after we found out the cost of insurance if we put one of the twins on Rich's car).

I personally went to the DMV three times in one week. In person. For things you cannot do on-line. And I'm not done. I get to go back to the DMV one more time next week. None of these were to transfer the title on the new car.

All of these activities involved our oldest three children who are attending public school. (This is why I always say that home schooling is easier.)

Of course, normal life also went on. During the month of May, we had multiple birthday parties to attend and gifts to buy, and we were invited to three different baby showers. And I had to go grocery shopping and birthday shopping (and baby shower shopping). I was also supposed to be doing laundry, but something had to give. Beth was attending a weekly soccer clinic and Daniel was also playing two sports with its different games/meets, something he will continue to do all summer. (We are against this as a rule in our family but for Daniel--Mr. Energy--we make an exception...)

We also attempted to celebrate my birthday. That didn't go so well in the immediate family, but extended family, friends and Facebook birthday greetings came to the rescue!

Oh, and I need to mention that we all had the stomach flu over the course of the first two weeks of May. All ten of us.

Now my point in writing all this is not to have a pity party. I love our big family, and really busy times come with the territory. However, writing it down justifies to myself why I have about 20 loads of laundry to do and why I cried for an hour after I got home from Stake Conference, telling Rich "I just can't do anything else!" And it explains why all I wanted to do on Memorial Day was sleep.

It also explains why I have about ten different things to post on this blog.

So if you are going to have twins, I wouldn't have them in May or June (or December) if you can help it. Either that, or just get used to wearing some of your clothes for a few days in a row! ; )

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thoughts on throw-up

Have you ever noticed that parenthood is filled with lessons on not controlling things? From when you get pregnant to what you can stand eating when you are pregnant to the sex of the baby (and you didn't even get to know that before the baby was born until about 20 years ago) to when you have the baby to when they do just about everything they do. It's all mostly out of our control most of the time for a long time.

One great, messy example of this is the stomach flu. When a child gets a cold, or even a virus with a fever, often you can just give him some juice and settle him on his bed to read some books or watch a movie. You can just check in here or there to see what you can do to help. Life often goes peacefully along it's way--maybe even more peacefully with one active body out of commission.

But not with the stomach flu. When the stomach flu hits, you drop everything to take care of it, ready or not. It can hit anywhere, anytime, and you can't anticipate how long it will take over your life. It will determine what you do with your time for as long as it hangs around--sitting next to a child with a bowl, washing endless loads of laundry immediately to get rid of the smell, trying to get a child to take tiny sips of clear liquid (never red, anything but red).

Over the years, we have had the stomach flu show up in the middle of the day but mostly in the middle of the night (why is that?), after a trip to the emergency room, while on vacation, while driving home from vacation--twice, with freshly cleaned carpet, with freshly washed sheets, while on a field trip, in the nursery at church, and even once in Sacrament meeting.

For example, for 48 hours last month, Jeffrey was battling the stomach flu. One Monday night, he fell asleep during family home evening. Rich layed him on our bed (big mistake), where Anna had also fallen asleep. Suddenly, Anna woke up soaking wet. Jeffrey had thrown up all over himself, all over Anna, and all over our bed. We immediately stopped what we were doing to deal with the mess and give two children a bath.

Two days later, as he was getting out after taking Beth to soccer practice, he threw up all over the inside front of the van. (He later assured me that he stayed in the van to throw up because he didn't want to get out and ruin the grass. Thanks, Jeffrey.) Again, we dropped what we were doing to immediately clean up the mess.

You either bow down to vomit and clean it up right away, or you pay a pretty serious consequence for a long time after.

Why are there so many life lessons in parenthood that force us to accept giving up control? I don't know. I am thinking it must be heavenly psychotherapy, preparing us for the day that we have a teenager on our hands who will not let us be in control anymore.

You know, that's not a bad theory. Throw-up, and overdue pregnancies, and teething babies, and that baby boy that the ultrasound tech assured you was most definitely a girl, and boys in general, are all here to prepare us to give up control when it matters most, when the teenagers need to grow up and learn to do some things on their own and make some important choices.

Whatever the reason, we sure get a lot of practice.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Post-conference Review

Well, it was just as good as ever. Women's Conference never fails to help me see things more clearly and feel more able to care for our family. This picture of Rich's sister Jen, my roomie, and I was taken after the conference. See how happy and refreshed we look? (What you can't see as clearly are our bleary eyes caused by staying up until at least 1 am every night--all part of the fun!)

Here is the link to the post-conference information, including re-broadcast information and transcripts of selected talks. I would highly recommend Julie B. Beck's talk which is not being re-broadcast. You can only get the transcript. It is excellent. It's not on the website yet but will be in the next week or two.

I thought I would try to record some things that touched me but haven't had the time. So instead, I added some quotes that I love to the sidebar under Favorite Motherhood Quotes. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Top Ten Reasons I Love BYU Women's Conference

This week, I am going to BYU Women's Conference with Rich's sisters, and I can't wait! Here are the top ten reasons why I love Women's Conference:

10. Other people cook all the food.
9. You get to spend all your time with family and friends that you usually never see. (And everyone wears name badges, so when your visiting teaching companion from your freshman ward happens to be there, you remember her name!)
8. You get to attend spiritually uplifting classes and see members of the General Auxilliary Boards, and hear an Apostle speak, all with no children around. In fact, children are not allowed, so you don't even have to feel guilty for leaving them at home.
7. BYU isn't exactly close, which means you get to either drive or fly there, visiting with friends or reading or just relaxing, all without any children around!
6. Did I mention that there is no kitchen so you actually can't do any cooking and must buy all food out? BYU and the surrounding community have a lot of yummy food options.
5. You get to go to the BYU Bookstore. (If I have to explain this, then you mustn't love bookstores, especially the BYU Bookstore, like I do.)
4. You get to attend the Shadow Mountain Music Sampler night in the Marriott Center, which is like going to a free LDS music concert. Also, you can participate in the service night. I never have, but this might be the year! Really, you can do as much, or as little, as you want. (And you guessed it, no children!)
3. You stay up late and talk and laugh and eat snacks and get almost no sleep but have so much fun with people you love who live too far away. (And you can't make the snacks but must purchase them--no cooking allowed!)
2. You get to be back at BYU with its memories and beautiful campus. Everything at BYU is fun. And this only lasts two days. Anyone can get away for two days.
1. You come home motivated and refreshed (and tired). And you feel ready to cook and you love being back with your children again.

So you can see how much fun it is. And you can see why I am so excited. You can still sign up. Here's the link.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Theory vs. Reality

So here is the reality of having children do the laundry for a week.

These are the piles of clean clothes. They are supposed to be neat piles that children can carry back to their rooms.

I am so thankful to be feeling good enough to take it over again!

Friday, April 16, 2010

No Pain, No Gain

This morning, Beth, our seven-year old daughter, asked if she could do her own laundry. A friend came by yesterday to let me rest on the couch while she fed our family lunch and helped get the laundry sorted. I can't lift the laundry basket (and I'm supposed to be taking it easy, remember?) She had the children help her sort. While they were in the laundry room, my friend taught the kids how to run the washer.

I love my washer and dryer. They are a set of those huge front loaders that I got a couple of years ago when our smaller set started putting rust stains on the laundry. I have loved doing laundry ever since, and so I do the laundry for everyone but the teenagers. It never occured to me to teach the 7,8 and 11-year olds to do their own laundry.

Well, last night Josh asked for a laundry basket of his own so he can do his own laundry, and then, this morning, Beth went down and did a load of her own clothes. Amazing!

As I explained in my previous post, I have been ordered to "take it easy" by the doctor--and everyone I know seems to agree except my own family members, who I think at this point are wondering when on earth things are going to get back to normal around here?! Since I have been laying around trying to rest more, I had some time to ponder this strange, but appreciated, request of my children to do laundry, and I realized there is a very practical explanation. It's not because they are concerned about me doing too much or because they have some magnanimous impulse to help more. It's because there is a huge, overflowing basket of dirty clothes in their room, and a bunch more clothes all over their floor that don't fit in the basket. And their favorite clothing items are in that big pile. And they want to wear them. And they are tired of waiting on Mom. So they figure the fastest way to get those clothing items clean is to do the laundry themselves.

It's interesting because it seems to me that, as hard as it is to be unwell, whenever over the years I have been unable to do the work I normally do, like keeping up with the laundry, because I am newly pregnant or just had a baby or have something like this cyst which throws me for a loop physically, my family is forced to pick up the slack. Maybe it's good for Mom to have some things that take her out of the picture now and then.

Now, I'm not saying it's easy. You are supposed to be "taking it easy" and you happen to wander around the house and see all the work left undone. That's enough to make anyone go back to bed. (And it makes you really hope that the nice Relief Society ladies bringing dinner drop it off at the door.) But when Mom is out of the picture, the family eventually gets a little uncomfortable. All those things that are usually just done are not getting done. So they decide to do them, sometimes to be helpful, but more often than not out of self-preservation.

Now I'll admit this is a very, very slow process. And a child's effort is often still a child's effort, which means you have to overlook some of the things they don't do the right way when they try to help. But I love the idea that something so long-term as children learning life skills that they will keep forever comes in the midst of what is really a short-term trial. Because I can't do it, they suddenly have the motivation to do it themselves, and they learn some pretty important things in the process.

This process has been especially painful to me when I have been newly pregnant and am thoroughly sick and exhausted, with no energy or desire to do anything. The house falls apart, and I feel terribly discouraged. But eventually, slowly, everyone helps more. Amazing, afterwards, my fatigue and sickness go away but they get to keep what they gained. They are a little more capable and a little more knowledgeable about how to do some important things like cook, clean and care for themselves.

Often, it 's hard in the swirling of life to slow down and teach. But when life forces you to slow down, then you sometimes have no other choice but to teach (or to have a good friend teach.) In this way, I have taught children to cook while sitting at the table with my head laying on my arms. In this way, I also have taught children to change diapers and do dishes and how to do a good job picking up a room. I have even taught a child to mow the lawn while resting in a lawn chair watching nearby. And apparently, in this way, I am now teaching children to do their own laundry.

That's what I mean by the title "No pain, no gain."

Just a thought.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Taking It Easy

I have been out of commission because I had surgery last week. What looked to be two ovarian cysts turned out to be one very large, twisted cyst up near my fallopian tube. I didn't lose the ovary or the fallopian tube, and I came home the same day. Great news! It was a less complicated surgery than expected, and I figured I would be back to normal in no time. My doctor, on the other hand, warned me to "take it easy" for two weeks in order to have a good recovery. She emphasized this to me three different times.

Last week, it was no problem to take it easy. For the first two days, I felt so lousy that I was only pain-free when laying flat on my back in bed. Then, my mother-in-law came for the next few days. I could lay on my side and get up more and more, but if I ventured out of bed for too long, it caught up to me pretty quickly, and I would stumble back to my room. Over the weekend, Rich was home and I was able to lay around some more.

Today, I face the first day of my second week of "taking it easy." This morning I took a look at our schedule for the rest of the week. Here it is:

5:30 pick up twins from track
7 pm Book Club (optional but they are discussing Amazing Grace which I loved)
7:30 pm Joshua Boy Scout Board of Review
8 pm Daniel basketball tryouts. Rich has been asked to stay and help rank boys.

3:30 pm Jacob and Katie track meet
4 pm Daniel track meet
4 pm Beth soccer clinic
7 pm Relief Society Weekday meeting

5 pm Scoutmaster Review for Josh (wrong order, I know--don't ask)
5:30 pm pick up Jacob and Katie from track
6 pm Daniel basketball game
7 pm Scouts/Youth night at the church which includes Rich, who is a Wolf Den Leader
7:15 pm Drive Daniel up to the church after his basketball game

4 pm YCL meeting for Katie
4 pm Deacon's Quorum campout drop-off for Josh and Daniel
5 pm pick up Jacob from track
5:30 pm Jacob Teacher's Quorum service project, tentative

Of course, I didn't list all the other daily items like homeschooling, doing laundry and dishes, and supervising children as they do their chores. And I forgot to mention that Rich just started a full-time project that keeps him away until 6 pm every night.

So here's my question. Does it count as taking it "easy" when you have to figure out how to get three children to two different locations on different sides of town at the same time? Is it taking it "easy" to have a son involved in two sports at once? How about if you didn't allow him to play two sports but you found out at the last minute that he is going to play off-season basketball and that the team did not miss registration, which is why you let him run track instead? Am I taking it easy if I have to skip the fun, relaxing things that would allow me to sit down and visit with friends, like book club and Relief Society, and instead spend my time driving children from one place to another? Is it considered taking it easy when I am at home taking care of little children by myself while Rich is off doing Scouts or helping with basketball? Yah, I don't think so either.

So I guess I am done "taking it easy." I'm not complaining. I am grateful for all the help we received, and I love our big, busy family. I just hope my doctor doesn't find out!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No longer in the driver's seat

Katie and I went to Utah this weekend to attend the LDS Church Young Women General Broadcast in Salt Lake City. I thought this would be a great way for Katie to get some freeway driving time. She did most of the Nevada-driving, and she learned about how to handle a car in high winds. On the way there, she also took us into Salt Lake City, learning how to manage a busy freeway with road construction. She did a great job, and she actually drove more than I did.

Although I am looking forward to having two additional drivers at my disposal, it is actually nerve-wracking to teach a teenager to drive. You spend the first chunk of their lives as the driver. Then suddenly you find yourself on the passenger side of the car with no steering wheel and no brake pedal. You become the instructor, giving tips and encouragement, but you are really out of control of the decisions they make. All you can do is make suggestions about how to handle things, and then pray. You relax a little as they get better and time goes by. But then you tense up as they come up on heavy traffic or bad weather, anxious about how they will handle something new and unable to do anything about it except give a few tips and clench your hands. At one point, after Katie was tired of driving, I got back behind the wheel. It felt so good! I was back in control! But I couldn't stay there because this was her chance to learn. This was her chance to experience some hard driving situations with an adult around as a safety net. I knew someday soon she would be driving on her own, and she needed the practice. So I got back on the other side of the car.

It occurred to me some where along I-80 that teaching a teenager to drive is not unlike parenting a teenager. For so long, you make most of the decisions as the parent. Then suddenly, you climb into the passenger side--no steering wheel, no brake--and you become more of an observer rather than the driver of their lives. You can encourage and give tips. And you can pray. If you get mad when they make mistakes, it doesn't seem to help and maybe even seems to make things worse. But boy is it hard not to do! They are the drivers now. And you tense up as you see them face something new, worried about how they will handle it. But you have to let them make some decisions and handle some things on their own. This is their chance to face some hard life situations with the safety net of parents around in case they need help. Someday soon they will be on their own, and they need the practice. So you try to stay on the other side of the car.

Maybe all this is why so many parents warn about the teenage years. The problem is that, although you can't control the car, you know how dangerous driving is. You don't want them to get hurt. It's so hard to give up control and to trust them. And your life is at risk, too!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What matters most

Rich's sister, Jen, told me about an interview she saw with Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar of TLC's show 19 and Counting. Jen wrote, "They were answering FAQs. One was from a mother of 8 who said-I struggle to keep my house picked up. Your house is always so clean, how do you keep it so clean? The dad was really cute. He answered with- It's more important for your kids to be happy and loved than it is for your house to be clean."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Remembering to use the Atonement

This is the book our book club is reading this month: Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery
So far, I love it (although I am only on page 32.)

As I was reading the other night, one paragraph really struck me. The book tells of other historical figures who influenced Wilberforce. One of those was George Whitefield, who helped to bring forth Evangelical Christianity. This is what it said about Whitefield's religious beliefs:

He [Whitefield] saw that the Bible didn't teach that we must work harder at becoming perfect and holy, but that we must instead throw ourselves on God's mercy. Moral perfection wasn't the answer: Jesus was the answer. Jesus had been morally perfect and we weren't supposed to save ourselves--we were supposed to ask him to save us.

We know from revelation that we need both obedience to commandments and the Atonement to save us, but I often focus more on how well, or how poorly, I am doing and less on depending on the Savior. For instance, lately I have not been able to keep up with life like I want to. Actually, if I really think about it, I have never been able to keep with life the way I would like. But, in the past, I always recognized that was because I was pregnant or nursing (or both!) and so would rely heavily on the Savior to make up the difference. I remember spending much time on my knees, praying that the Savior's Atonement would make up for my many, obvious weaknesses and shortcomings. But now I am not pregnant or nursing. I don't have any excuses, and yet I seem to be less capable than ever! Or at least that is how it has felt. I have been so discouraged that I can't seem to do better or handle more or overcome these persistent weaknesses.

I was feeling this way the other night when I read that quote from the book. Then I remembered the Savior! That's right--I don't have to do it all on my own! The Savior is still there, He is still perfect, and His Atonement is still at my disposal. Maybe it is even more at my disposal than ever before because I am not justifying why I am not perfect. I am just admitting it and admitting my dependence on His perfection to make up for my lack of it.

Don't you just love the Gospel?!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More food for thought

Last night, I was irritated with my older children. They were tired after an early morning and long day, including track practice. In addition, Katie has a pulled hamstring, again, plus other aches and pains that come from jumping hurdles. So they both went to bed early. When I came into the kitchen later, I saw that they had both ignored their evening chores, even though I had reminded them each several times. I was bugged. I stormed around, thinking that I was tired, too, and complaining in my heart that I am always left to finish the chores if they don't do them, as if I don't have enough to do. I was working myself into a real fuss until a thought came into my mind that really made me think.

"How often do I fail to do the chores I am assigned by my Father in Heaven?"

I thought of all the times I haven't followed promptings to help someone or haven't been very diligent in my visiting teaching. I also thought about all the times I have let thing slip in my church callings. It was pretty easy to see that I am certainly not perfect, either, in this area. That made me wonder how many times Heavenly Father has had to get someone else to do the job I have been asked to do. Tail a bit between my legs, I was suddenly feeling much more patient and understanding towards my busy teenagers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Car trouble...or should I say child trouble?

Three times in the past two weeks, someone has left a light on or the door open in our van, draining the battery.

The first time was two Sundays ago. I had a 7:30 am church meeting. Rich always handles getting the children ready on his own better than I do, so when 9:10 rolled around and they still weren't at church, I began to worry. I sneaked away during the Sacrament hymn, leaving behind the huge portion of empty bench I had covered with scriptures, tote bags, and hymn books, to ask our home teacher to call Rich and find out what was up. He discovered that our van battery was dead because someone had left the inside light on Friday night. That meant it had been on Friday night and all day Saturday. That meant the battery wasn't just dead, it was completely drained. After our battery charger didn't work, Rich was able to borrow a more powerful one from the neighbor. They all filed in just as the Sacrament was coming to an end but, thankfully, before anyone else could claim our empty bench! Did I mention Jacob was assigned to bring the Sacrament bread? (I had wondered why Teachers had been coming up the aisle, one at a time, with piles of individual slices of what I now realize was newly-defrosted bread from a loaf in kitchen freezer.)

The second time someone left a light on was last Sunday. It was Daylight Savings, so we had been struggling more than usual to get everyone up and going. It wasn't until we sprinted out to the van and all climbed in that we realized the van was, once again, dead. Another light had been left on the night before. Lovely. Rich popped the hood and headed to get the charger when Jacob reminded us that he had been assigned the Sacrament bread again, in an effort to redeem himself from the previous Sunday. Oh no! By this time, it was 10 minutes 'til. I jumped in Rich's car with Jacob, leaving him with a completely dead battery, an inadequate battery charger, and no jumper cables for the second Sunday in a row while I attempted to get up to the church with the precious bread. Let's just say Rich was not happy about this situation. (I have to insert here that maybe somebody ought to figure out that you better not give the Pettingill family the responsibility of the Sacrament bread unless you are going to pick Jacob up and bring him yourself or unless you don't mind defrosting bread at 5 minutes 'til.) I drove like a mad woman in an unsuccessful attempt to get the bread to the church on time, telling my permitted driver the whole way that he was never allowed to drive like this no matter how late he was. Then I took a spot on the very back row of the chapel, on the metal chairs no less, and waited for my family to show up. This time, at 9:25, I knew Rich was in for it once again. Why don't I bring my cell phone to church?! I sneaked out, this time after the Sacrament, knowing that no one would take my ten saved chairs (nobody wants to sit on the back row), and called Rich's cell on the foyer phone. Dead battery story, take 2. Except this time, it is Daylight Savings Sunday, so the kind neighbors with the extra-powerful battery charger are apparently still asleep. The family finally dragged in to the chapel at 9:50. The teachers once again razzed Jacob for being late and assigned him the bread again! (What, don't we get any credit for a dead battery, for heaven's sake?!) To be sure that we redeem ourselves this time, I think we'll sneak in during the Stake dance this Saturday night and put the loaf of bread on the Sacrament table before we take the kids home. I also think I am going to send an email to the Teacher's Quorum and ban Jacob from ever being assigned the bread again.

Today, Rich informed me that somebody left the van doors open last night. This afternoon I drive the middle school carpool, but at least this doesn't involve the most sacred ordinance of the church. And at least we know way ahead of time. And at least it's not early in the morning, so we can just go over and knock on the neighbor's door with our heads held high, and a promise that we really are going to get this fixed, to borrow the charger.

Do you ever think that your family would run so much smoother if it didn't have all the children in it? (Just kidding.)

Food for thought

Yesterday, Anna, who is 2 1/2, had set up a little bed for herself and her two babies on the couch. She was siting on a blanket laid down on the couch and then had the babies on her lap. She was trying to get a second blanket pulled up over herself and the babies, but it kept getting stuck on her foot. She was getting more and more angry, and she was shouting with frustration. I finally came over and asked "Can I help you?" She wanted to do it herself, though, and told me so.

As I stood over her, watching her struggle, I knew how easy it would be for me to help her. Something that is so hard for her, to arrange a heavy blanket, would only take a moment for me to fix.

Finally, in desperation and tears, she said I could help. I pulled the blanket off her foot and straightened it on her legs. She was relieved that the blanket was now positioned correctly and so went on happily playing with her babies.

As I walked away, I thought about myself in relation to my Heavenly Father. How often are there times that I am struggling with something in my own life but am reluctant to ask for heavenly help? Do I insist on "doing it myself" when a loving Heavenly Father stands ready to assist? Do I try to handle things that, in my immature spiritual coordination, are difficult tasks for me but would be simple things for Him? How often do I wait until I am angry and in tears with a situation before I think to kneel down and petition heaven?

Just some food for thought.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Keeping the penny a penny

God knows a mother
needs fortitude and courage
and tolerance and flexibility
and patience and firmness
and nearly every other
brave aspect of the human soul.
But...I praise casualness.
It seems to me the rarest
of virtues.
It's useful enough when
children are small.
It is important to the point
of necessity when they
are adolescents.
--Phyllis McGinley

I have been thinking today about casualness. What is casualness exactly? The Mary Engelbreit illustration in the book that goes along with that quote is of a mother leaning back in her chair on the porch, glancing over the top of the newspaper she is reading, as her obviously distraught, pre-adolescent daughter speaks to her with what appears to be great emotion. I think it is staying calm, being the eye of the storm, when emotions or chaos are raging around you. It is being the one to have a clear head. It is smiling in the face of frustration and difficulty. It is keeping things in perspective.

One of the reasons that I have a hard time with casualness is that theory and reality can be so vastly different. For instance, I may think through my day in the morning, deciding that we will get these chores done, and do these fun activities. It all seems so manageable in the quiet peace of the morning hours before the family is up and stirring. Then theory meets reality. I didn't picture the baby being sick or fussy or the feet-dragging and fighting that inevitably occur as we try to get things done. I didn't plan for the elaborate and very important game they are in the middle of playing just as I am ready to do something with them that is important to me. These things all tend to make me frustrated and impatient that my grand plans for the day are not happening like I imagined. Even worse are the days when I don't get up before the children, and I spend the whole day in reaction mode. On these days, I never even get a grand plan for what was supposed to happened and instead am carried from one crisis to the next without feeling in control of anything. On those days, the reality of life is so very, very...well, real. It is so hard to smile and be calm when life feels like it is whirling out of control.

I think another obstacle to casualness is lack of perspective. In Gloria Child's memoirs, she describes a close friend as always doing everything "as if her life depended on it." Sometimes I forget that my life does not depend on being to church or to a child's basketball practice or to an appointment on time. It doesn't depend on whether the chores get done tonight, or tomorrow for that matter. Can I learn to be more consistently casual and not get upset when we are running late and Jeffrey can't, for the hundreth time, find his shoes? Or when the big kids are fighting with a little kid about who gets to sit where in the van? Or when one child says just the right thing to make another child cry and I have to stop, again, and help solve the conflict?

So how do I learn to be more casual in these emotionally charged situations? I know that going to the temple always helps. The temple helps me forget the daily worries and remember the big picture. It helps me shift from focusing on the small picture of daily life to the grand scheme of where I came from and why I am here and what this is all really about anyway. I always leave with a greater ability to be more calm, more patient, more casual. Maybe that is why we are encouraged to go as often as possible--to keep perspective.

Maybe keeping perspective is the key. This reminds me of an analogy I heard in a talk on BYU-TV . The speaker said that if you tape a penny to the wall and put your eye right up to it, it will take up almost your whole range of vision. But it you step back a foot or two, it comes into proper focus. If you step across the room, it becomes even smaller. If, theoretically, you could still see it from the other side of the house, think how small it would become. Or the end of the street. Or the other side of town. The speaker used the penny to represent our weaknesses, saying how we can keep them in perspective. I think it also works to think of it as other people's weaknesses, or the day-to-day problems that can seem so frustrating at the time, or even the crushing life worries that weigh us down. These things can all seem so immense at the time but are often less so when viewed from the proper perspective. How about viewing them from the perspective of our Father in Heaven, or from the perspective of the Savior? Everything changes when we look at things through Their heavenly, eternal eyes.

Writing this reminded me of an example that happened a few weeks ago. I was feeling really down. I had started my period (which could be enough said right there). I was feeling like our current trials, far beyond not having another baby, things like on-going health problems and employment worries, were never going to end. I was feeling hopeless. I had driven the middle school carpool and had pulled into our driveway. I sat in the car, lost in those deep feelings of discouragement and self-pity. Then I looked up. Here is a close-up of what I saw.These are the blossoms on the trees just outside our bedroom window, which I can also see from the driveway where I park our van. I took this picture yesterday, so the blossoms are turning to green leaves now. On that day, the tree was just overflowing with white, cheery flowers. The sky was full of clouds, so those bright, happy blossoms really stood out in the gloom. In that moment, as I sat in the van, I regained perspective. I almost felt like Heavenly Father had made those trees fully blossoms that very day, a little early for the year, just for me. That helped me see things as He seems them. Somehow, all the worries and fears and discouragement receded as I remembered that Heavenly Father is there, that He will answer our prayers, that He is in charge. I was able to remember why I am grateful for these trials and why I have faith that they are happening for a purpose. I remembered how much my Heavenly Father loves me and how He has answered my prayers so many times in the past.

I guess that is why, in addition to going to the temple regularly, we are encouraged to read the scriptures and pray every day. It's why we go to three hours of church on Sunday. It is also why I love BYU Women's Conference, and General Conference, and EFY music. And it's why Heavenly Father gave us the gift of the Holy Ghost, so that He can speak gentle, encouraging thoughts to our hearts and to our minds. All these things help keep the penny a penny.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Today we took our five youngest children to Target. Bakugan figures were on clearance, so I promised one (or the equivalent cash value) to everyone who helped me with some undesirable chores. Rich came along to help because it always takes time for each child to choose his or her heart's desire. Multiple times during the trip, we got irritated glances or wide-eyed stares from other shoppers. In the past when this happens, I am always tempted to casually mention the three children who are still in school, just for the shock value. Today, what I really wanted to announce to each one of the questioning fellow shoppers was that our family is actually quite mainstream.

You might wonder how a family with eight children in California could possibly be mainstream. Well, I read an article the other day about the Duggar Family, a family from Arkansas who had their 19th baby in December. Reading the article made me curious to see the TV show about them that I have heard so much about. Since we don't have cable, I had to hunt down episodes on You Tube. I have to say, first, that they seem to be unusually exceptional parents. I admire how committed they are to their faith and how willing they are to share personal family experiences, in a hope to inspire others. That said, I had a complete paradigm shift when I watched their show.

Often, I have sat in church or gone places with our family and felt so different than other people. We homeschool some of our children. We have lots of children. We still want more children. Because of the large number of people in our family, we can't practically do the same things that other, smaller families can do, like eating out or going on expensive vacations or having our children participate in multiple activities all the time. But taking a look into the life of a family with nineteen children made me look at our life very differently. For instance, we dress like most people we know. We go to school. We go to church. We go to college. We dance and date and even think it's okay to kiss before you are married. Sure, we drive a 15-passenger van, but it doesn't take a used Pro-Hockey tour bus to drive our whole family somewhere. I sat in church the Sunday after I had watched those Duggar shows and looked around. You know,I thought to myself, we are pretty much the same as everyone else. We just have a couple more kids.

So the next time someone stares at us open-mouthed when we are in public, or the next time my neighbor rolls her eyes as she moves a scooter off her lawn to my driveway, maybe I'll shout out with a wink, "Hey, at least there are only 10 of us, not 21!"

It feels good to be mainstream.

Friday, February 19, 2010

One last thing about Valentine's Day

I can't move on from Valentine's Day without preserving in history one last little, but significant, moment from this year. It was 17 years ago this Valentine's Day that Rich first told me he loved me. And it was 15 years ago this Valentine's Day that Rich first forgot to do anything for me. I was patient at first, but after three days had passed with nothing--not even a card--I got mad. I accused him of never forgetting Secretaries' Day but of forgetting his own eternal companion. In hindsight, he was undoubtedly overwhelmed by grad school, baby twins, and his part in starting a new company, and I was too sensitive about my own feelings and not sensitive enough to his. But, being still newly married, I took it personally.

This year, when I was out running errands the day before Valentine's Day, I bought myself a little something for him to give to me. He almost always remembers holidays now, but we had been unusually busy this year, so I thought I would help him out. I brought my little self-purchased treat home and presented it to him, and he thanked me for being understanding.

On Valentine's Day morning, Rich got up while I was taking a shower. He told me he had a little something for me, which I could see sticking out from beneath my towel. It sure didn't look like the treat I had bought myself. It wasn't! He had gotten me a box of See's Candy, my absolutely favorite candy in the whole world. He had even paid full price! When a trained accountant pays full price for something, then you know he really loves you.

So I guess we have both learned a few things over the years. Somewhere along the way, I stopped getting my feelings hurt and learned to give him the benefit of the doubt that, while he really does love me, he just doesn't show his love by making a big deal about insignificant holidays. And somewhere along the way, he learned that, even though something isn't important to him, it probably is to me, and he should make it a priority just in case. : ) I guess we are both getting a little better at this marriage thing!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I made things harder than I needed to today. We have certain fun traditions that we usually keep every Valentine's Day. I hadn't done a great job with Christmas traditions in 2009. In fact, we mostly abandoned them all. So I have been looking forward to Valentine's Day and thinking of what little treat we would get everyone and what we would have for meals and what the little girls would wear to church--you know, all the fun things that make holidays special. So, at 7 am this morning, when I would have loved to roll back over and sleep for another half hour, I instead dragged myself out of bed. I had to get ready so that I would have time to make pink pancakes and waffles before church at 9 am. I also bought toppings for strawberry waffles for those with more refined tastes. Rich reminded me not, however, to turn the syrup and milk pink, which always make little children wary and would not be good early in the morning when we are trying to get to church on time. I was all ready to serve breakfast as sleepy-headed children wandered up about 8 am. I was met with these happy comments:

"Pancakes and waffles? What about cereal?"
"Can we have cereal anyway?"
"What are we going to do with the cereal then?"
"Well, when can we have cereal?"

We recently started another, obviously more-appreciated tradition of having cold cereal on Sunday morning to save time. We banned cereal during the week ever since Rich bought six gallons of milk on Tuesday after work and discovered we were out again on Thursday (although, in defense of the children, I have to add that we also had chocolate chip cookies during that same time period. I mean, what child can have a couple of chocolate chip cookies without a full glass of cold milk to dip them in?) Well, I just figured children who were used to pink pancakes and waffles every Valentine's Day would be upset if they didn't get them just because I was too tired or because it was Sunday and we were in a hurry. I should have asked the children. On the other hand, if I had gone with cereal, I probably would have gotten a bunch of complaints from other children. Sometimes you just can't win.

So the second half of the story came after we made it to church. We did make it to church on time, by the way. Because we were later than usual, we slipped into nine chairs in the back, which was actually enough space for us all to sit together. One of the burdens of a large family in a big ward is that you don't fit just anywhere, so usually we are crammed into a space smaller than we actually fit in, and frequently, someone has to sit in a pew in front or behind, usually one of the bigger, Sacrament-passing boys who come later. Today, despite being just on time, we all got to sit together. When you sit in chairs in the back, you can't really cram. Everyone takes an individual chair (although Joshua did suggest after church that we could probably fit our whole family in six chairs if we just had a few people sit on half-chairs. I'm not going to try it.) It was such a treat after the Sacrament, after Anna had spilled her juice box and we cleaned it up, and after Beth and Jeffrey had a big fight about who got to sit by just Mom or Dad and who got to sit between them, and after Jeffrey and Anna both had to go "pottie", despite the fact that Anna still wears diapers, after we finally got settled, there we sat with our whole family together. Jacob, Katie, Daniel, Josh and Adam were all sitting to my right. Jeffrey got the coveted spot in between Mom and Dad, Rich had Anna on his lap, and I could just see Beth's white tights and black church shoes sticking out on the other side of Rich. I sat there looking at each of our children, feeling how much I loved each one individually so much. I felt grateful for three independent, helpful teenagers who are all working so hard at school and participating in their individual activities. Then, my two best-friend brothers, who can't be quiet in Sacrament Meeting to save their lives, but who are so sweet and good and fun. Then our little Jeffrey. I kissed his head and told him he didn't need to wear red to church for Valentine's Day. He comes with his own red. And then two little wiggly girls who are sweet and affectionate and love to paint nails and wear pretend make-up and push strollers and pretend to talk on a cell phone. I felt like my heart was full to bursting with love. Could there be a better family than this? It's busy and crazy and I'm not always appreciated for my efforts, but it is very happy and full of love. I absolutely wouldn't change a thing!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

All we need is love

Yesterday, Beth attended a long birthday party. We dropped her off at 12:30, and her ride did not bring her home until 5:30. Right around that same time, Rich left to attend a temple session. I hadn't been feeling great, so I was a little crabby when Beth began moaning and groaning to me about what a hard day it had been for her. I had asked her to finish her chores while I made dinner. She immediately started to cry, saying how everyone had so much fun and she never had any fun. The rest of the family had been home all afternoon doing chores, so I reminded her how we had all been working and that she needed to do her part without complaining. I felt impatient with how ungrateful she was and frustrated that I had to work so hard. As I heard her crying and complaining, I thought, "I don't know how Heavenly Father does it with all His children complaining and moaning about this or that to Him all the time." Then I remembered that I am one of the moaners. "I wonder if he ever just gets sick of me," I thought. As if to answer my question, the idea came to think about how my heavenly father responds to me when I come to Him upset or discouraged or with a problem. Almost without exception, when I pray about something that I am upset about, no matter how simple or insignificant it is, I feel loved, understood, listened to, encouraged, and validated. Suddenly, I realized that was what Beth needed. She needed me to just love her.

So I tried it. I stopped what I was doing for a moment, had her come to me, and I gave her a long hug. I told her how sorry I was that she felt tired and sad about her day. Then I asked her to tell me about what had happened that made her feel so sad, while I made dinner. So she began to tell me how the other girls at the party had left her out of some things, and how one girl in particular had told her she was bossy. This same girl had also called her another name during the party. She also felt disappointed that she didn't get to play with the birthday girl as much as she wanted. (This was all a good reminder to me that 5 hours is probably too long for that many little girls to be together!) I listened and tried to understand how she was feeling. I tried to validate her feelings. We talked for as long as she needed, while I made our dinner. It was amazing how quickly she cheered up and went off to do her chores.

Love. Kindness. Understanding. Validation. If only I could remember more that this is what my children are looking for. If only I could slow down before I minimize their feelings, and listen to them. That is how my heavenly father treats me. That is the kind of parent that I want to be more of the time.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why I Am Glad That I Am Not Pregnant

Nearly 17 years ago, when Rich and I were dating and engaged, we decided it would be fun to have nine children. It was just a silly number we came up with. I never thought it really mattered, until now. For some reason, I can't give up the idea that someone is missing. So we have been hoping to have another baby for one year now. Can I tell you what an eye opening year this has been?! I don't know how women do this, the emotional ups and downs, the thinking "this is the month" only to be so disappointed when it's not the month, the thoughtless responses by a well-meaning husband who isn't quite as...well, quite as impatient. I have a whole new respect for women who have experienced infertility. I will say it again--how do you do it?

So for some reason I thought this month was the month. I don't why I let myself get all excited. I kept saying it didn't matter, and then the fateful day came when I knew I wasn't pregnant, and I was depressed. It doesn't really make any sense, to be honest. I have a great family and certainly plenty of work to do! But I have still felt disappointed. So laying in bed last night, I started to think of all the reasons why it is so great that I am not pregnant. Here are some of them:

--I get to eat barbecue sauce, which I cannot eat, or even see, or even speak of, or even have others speak of, when I am pregnant. I like barbecue sauce. Hooray for barbeque sauce! I think I am in the mood for chicken with barbecue sauce!!

--The little black hairs, which grow so abundantly all over my husband's chest, back, arms and legs--but curiously not on the top of his head--do not currently make me sick. In fact, I can clean the shower without even noticing those little black hairs. I can change the bed sheets without wanting to throw up from seeing those little black hairs. I can even admire them on my dear husband without feeling even one little bit sick. Hooray for the ability to ignore little black hairs!

--I care about whether or not the house is clean. Now I am not saying that the house is clean, because I just don't think one woman can fight the apathy of nine other people who don't seem to care if the house is clean. But right now I actually do care about the house and so I make efforts to move it in the direction that I like, which is clean. When I am pregnant, I don't care and the apathy takes total control of the house. Oh, they all pretend to care and make pitiful efforts at doing extra chores in the name of "helping Mom" but they know that I don't really have the energy to care and to be pregnant, and they can let a lot slide. So hooray for caring about a clean house!!

--I can put my head on my bed pillow and not feel like throwing up. There is something about smells that really get me when I am pregnant. The smell of the bathroom, the smell of the laundry, the smell of my husband and the smell of myself (both sad but true), the smell of the bedsheets, the smell of the unmentionable barbecue sauce. All these things make me pretty darn sick when I am pregnant, especially in the beginning. So hooray for a comfy bed pillow and the ability to lay my head down on it (especially since that pillow sometimes also has little black hairs on it!)

--Well, I could go on and on, but here's just one last thing. (And I'll bet this is one that Rich will shout hooray for, too.) I like being able to eat the food that we actually have in the house. When I am pregnant, the only food that sounds good to me is food that is not in our house and has not been mentioned recently in our house. Oh, how good it is to be able to eat peanut butter and jelly or tuna, for instance, for lunch today and tomorrow and then again the next day. Isn't that great?! When I am pregnant, I might be able to stand it today, and I might let you eat it tomorrow with me in the room, but the next day, and for the next six months, it will be completely out as a food option. It's so good to just be able to eat and feel full and go on with the day. (And I will bet you anything that Rich is saying how good it is that he is not the one out hunting for the food that sounds good to me that is not in our house!) So hooray for eating normal, easy-to-access, available food!

See all the reasons why I am glad that I am not pregnant? And I think these reasons will sustain me all month long, and I will be absolutely sure that I am so happy not to be pregnant and not to be dealing with all this, right up until that fateful day next month when I find out again that I am not pregnant. And then I will probably be depressed and have to start a new list! ; )

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Will

Katie and I have a favorite song from the 2009 EFY cd. It's called I Will by Hilary Weeks. I love this song because it makes me want to do more and be better and live at a higher level. It gives me courage to do hard things, and to keep going when I feel discouraged. And I love the violins at the end. The whole cd is fantastic, which you can buy or download here.

Katie copied the words down for me last night:

I made my choice
To mark this day,
The day I pledge
To take His name.
I will be strong.
I will be brave.
Standing for Him,
As I take my place.

I have felt the Spirit burn truth in my heart.
It's in my heart.

I will stand.
I will not fall.
In a world that's weak,
I will be strong.
I'll be true,
I will choose His way.
I know what's right
And I will not change.
In a world where so many will not,
I will.

I may be one,
But one becomes two,
When you stand with me,
And I stand with you.
As we unite,
Our cause is great.
We're not just the candle,
We are the flame.

I will take the light it gives me, and I'll hold it up high.
I'll hold it up high.

I will stand.
I will not fall.
In a world that's weak,
I will be strong.
I'll be true.
I will choose His way.
I know what's right and I will not change.
In a world where so many will not,
I will.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Striking a blow for freedoom

Yesterday, I got a kind comment from a friend, wondering why I don't post on this blog more. I pondered it last night. There are lots of reasons, the main one of which I will discuss in another post. However, I thought for a long time about why I don't make posting on here more of a priority. I started this blog because there are constantly so many things I learn everyday about life and about parenting that I wanted to keep a record of them for my children, especially my daughters. Then maybe they will have something to encourage them later on when they are going through some of the same things. That seems like a pretty noble cause, worthy of some time and effort on my part, I think.

So, for whatever the reasons, I got away from writing down all those inspiring thoughts. Part of the problem is that I was raised by a mother--a mother of two children, by the way--who would never relax until after the work was done. The problem with following that rule in my life is that, if I waited until the work was done, I would never be able to relax. The work is literally never done around here. When I told Rich about the friend's comment while laying in bed last night, he miraculously responded (instead of being sound asleep like usual), saying that she could read his blog. He writes a trader's blog five days a week, and he never misses a post. You can read the blog here. I never do because, frankly, I have no idea what he is talking about. In fact, I tried to post a comment once just to be supportive, but it is hard to comment on something when you have no idea what it means, and I felt dumb saying "Great work, dear!" or "Very insightful, honey," knowing my lack of knowledge would be pretty transparent. At least 49 other people read him daily, though, and they seem to appreciate what he says, or at least feel the need to disagree, because his phone is constantly buzzing with this comment or that after he posts each day. point here is that he doesn't wait for the work to be done before posting his blog every night--and I speak from experience here. So if he makes writing about something as temporary as the stock market such a priority, shouldn't I make writing down inspiration for posterity at least as much of a priority? I think so!

So I am striking a blow for freedom here. I am giving myself permission to write even when the work isn't done. In fact, for this very first post, the dishes remain undone and I wrote anyway. So there!