Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Misadventures of Shattered Dreams

As I sit here enjoying my tradition of reflecting on the past year, missed opportunities, failed goals, misplaced dreams, I am filled with a familiar sense of  melancholy. That's right, Folks, Katie has blown another year. Still, my sense of complacency rises to my defense and reminds me of the many things that I have learned this year. So, in no particular order of importance, I give you the top 13 things that I have learned in 2013.

13. I'll start with the most serious, lengthy, and self promoting: I have a way with words. I'm not sure if it is a good way or a bad way as people just say, "You have such a way with words." This way with words has led me to another important discovery; I am a story teller NOT a writer. A few months ago, I tried to use my words to accomplish something. I networked, I pushed myself, and I dedicated myself to turning my blog into something that it isn't. While pushing for literary success, I realized that I was missing out on the daily misadventures that I most enjoy writing about.

12. Nothing inspires need in my family quite as effectively as sitting down to write a blog post or read a book.

11. I use a lot of words, like complacency, feeling that I have an understanding of their meaning. That feeling of understanding leaves me as soon as one of my children asks me what the word means.

10. Goes along with 11. TheFreeDictionary by Farlex is the BEST APP EVER! (Incidentally, complacency meant exactly what I wanted it to.)

9. Cake bites are not, in fact, delicious and more portable forms of cake. They should be eaten sitting down in a controlled environment. Especially if they happen to be Red Velvet cake bites and you happen to have light beige carpet.

8. Do not go to Bath and Body Works with a stuffy nose. You may be totally unaware of how awful your body wash smells until after you've been showering with it for days.

7. My bike can NOT turn both left and right at the same time. For this reason, it is important to decide which direction I want to go before I get to the turn and try to go both directions.

6. If you play fetch with a dinosaur, don't call it stupid! If you do, then you deserve what you get.

5. My children have complete faith in just one thing: A mother in possession of a clean kitchen floor must desperately want her children to bake something that involves Sweetened Condensed Milk and Powdered Sugar.

4. NEVER, EVER, EVER let the children transport colored Easter Eggs from one location to another. There are very few things more terrifying than climbing into the car in late August and having your four year old ask, "Where are the rest of the Easter Eggs?"

3. Although procrastination helped solve the problem of not wanting to dry my hair, it has never helped me with the problem of not wanting to wash the dishes or fold the laundry.

2. Like pulling a band aid or seeing the first scratch on a new car, it is best to break resolutions quickly. I try to break mine by 12:17 a.m. on New Year’s Day. This has spared me many months of stress and heartache. 

1. Although I usually enjoy the beat of my own drum, sometimes it is okay to be a cliché. What could be more cliché than using New Year's Eve to discover that self loathing and a strange sense of optimism are not mutually exclusive? Here's to a great New Year!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Misadventures of Mommy's Surprise

When the children sent me to my room this morning, it was with a heavy heart that I went. Now, don't get me wrong, usually getting sent to my room is the greatest of delights. So, what made this morning different? Well, it's my story, and I will tell you.

It all started with my road of good intentions. I had gone to the kitchen in search of an apple to start my healthy day. Today being Saturday, everyone was just loafing around without our usual hustle and bustle. When the children saw me, Austin suggested that I should return to my room and soon they would present me with a wonderful surprise. That is when the sinking feeling started. A wonderful surprise that I couldn't be witness to? That never ends well. I took my apple, a small portion of the healthy breakfast that I had intended, and slunk back to my room. I turned on the TV to try to mask the sounds of the mixer, the crazy giggling, the occasional outburst of, "Oh, No!", and my personal favorite, "Cooper, Get down". The TV turned out to be an ineffective diversion as Erika came in every 3 minutes to tell me that they were not making pie. What a relief! Except that I was pretty sure that she was not being entirely honest since I could hear an argument in the kitchen that sounded like this, "No, we can't make the pancakes. We'll have to make the pie".

After about 45 minutes, Austin came in to tell me that it would be at least another hour because the recipe said that the filling had to chill for an hour. Recipe? Chill? I was not aware of any pie recipe that would require chilling for which I had the ingredients. The sinking feeling was becoming more and more pronounced. Since my surprise wouldn't be ready in time to feed my starving body, I asked permission to go make my breakfast. Austin cheered right up and said he would get me some food. I thought I heard something about cooking broccoli as he walked down the hall. Good, the day would not descend into completely unhealthy eating. A few minutes later, Austin returned with what he called, "The Brigham Young University Power Drink". I think that this had more to do with the cup it was contained in than any actual affiliation with the school. I believe it consisted of milk, peanut butter, and a whole lot of Splenda. Trying to drink it through the crazy straw sticking out of the top was like trying to drink peanut butter through a crazy straw. It was sweet enough to power all of Brigham Young University. After the requisite "chilling hour", in which I did very little chilling, I was invited out to enjoy my surprise. What wasn't a surprise was what had filled me with unspoken dread, the mess that I found in my kitchen. Surprise, Mom!

And what delightful surprise had my children lovingly prepared for their favorite Mommy? Berry pie. The ingredients were: berries, Splenda, water, and ..... wait for it ..... butter, all topped with sheets of graham crackers. I confess that I was a little puzzled. I thought that he had said there was a recipe behind this project. When asked, Austin said that the recipe had come from the back of the Splenda bag. Thinking that the butter was probably supposed to be used with the graham crackers to make the crust, I read the recipe. There was no mention of butter anywhere. I wondered, out loud, why they had decided to put butter in what would otherwise have been a delightful berry blend. Austin said, "The recipe called for G-elatin (strong g). Isn't butter the same as G-elatin?" As I explained that gelatin was what Jell-O is made from and doesn't really have a lot in common with butter, Austin expressed the same sad conclusion that was racing through my mind, "That's the trouble with trying a new recipe without Mom's help".

As unsurprising as the messy kitchen was, equally unsurprising was the speed with which the children disappeared when called on to clean it up. Although my Mommyhood did compel me to eat some of the buttery, berry pie, it didn't compel me to clean the mess up alone. So fueling up on some of that good BYU power drink, we surprised each other with how quickly the kitchen could be cleaned if we worked together.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Misadventures Of Five Minute Friday........ Imagine

I pull out of our space station. The roller coaster that I'm driving is pink for my oldest daughter, green for me, purple and yellow for the two youngest, and a rocket ship for the oldest because he doesn't like roller coasters. My four year old gravely informs me that ALL of our Pegasuses (Pegasuses?) are tied to the back of the car. Erika jumps in to correct him. There is no way that all 99 could be tied up, we had to leave some home. "Mom," she says, inviting me in to the game, "You have two Pegasuses. Their names are Glinda and Elphaba. Elphaba is green with a black mane and tail." I asked if she could have a purple star on the bum like A My Little Pony. "Yeth, she does. And Glinda is white and has a pink mane and tail." Of course, I had to give Glinda a pony mark; she got a sparkly, sky blue heart on her bum. Later, as we sat at a red light, we talked about how fun it would be if our Pegasuses would just lift us out of traffic and fly us where we want (never say "need") to go.
Imagine that!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Misadventures of.... 5 minute Friday

View: "But I don't want to exercise!" Cricket screamed, stomping her foot. You would think that my inner voice would sound a little more mature than my 6 year old, but it seldom does. So much of my day is spent arguing with myself over things that I don't want to do, or arguing with my children over things that they don't want to do, or stressing over the things that no one wants to do but we have to do anyway. It was one of those days. Running from one thing to the next; never stopping to enjoy the current activity, just worrying over the next thing that would come up. How will I make it to all of the places I need to be? What will I do? If I could only have some time..... At 11:55, I sit here reflecting on my rear view mirror. Austin was so happy to show me around the county fair at school. Erika and Nicole laughed and laughed when I told them about how their uncles used to tease! And my day started with a good, long 'nuggle with my "baby". Thank goodness that hindsight isn't 20/20, I often find that my day was much nicer when looked at in the rear view mirror.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Misadventures of Lessons Taught

Teaching moments seem to be all around us. I didn't realize that we were having a great teaching moment this morning until I heard Alex chanting, "Keep your eye on the prize. Keep your eye on the prize."

Is Alex training for a marathon? Working towards his black belt? No! He is perfecting the great art of jumping from a bar stool, catching a balloon, and landing on my bed. Teaching him the best way to jump on the bed is probably not my finest parenting moment. I am, however, rather proud of the "Eye on the prize" bit. How did that little nugget of wisdom come about? He was telling me that he could get the balloon if he just kept looking at it. I agreed, "You can do it if you just keep your eye on the prize."

That casual comment has given him a new life affirmation. Okay, maybe not, but he is going to be the best little balloon catcher that this house has ever seen.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Misadventures of Animal Passion

Over the years, we have had many tucking in rituals. They are constantly evolving, causing me to look back and wonder, "What happened to.....?"   I digress. Today I am thinking of a specific tuck-in ritual.   Every night, after Alex says his prayers, I tuck him in with his special blankets. I then get a kiss and a hug, followed by putting love in the ear. This is achieved by whispering, "I love you!" in each other’s ears. There is a catch, though. It needs to be done simultaneously or it doesn't count. After that I tickle his forehead and bonk his nose. Then I say, "Tell me who loves you." Alex responds, "I love you and you love Me." and I say, "So much in love with us are we that you can kiss you and I can kiss me!" Alex corrects me with, "I can kiss you and you can kiss me!"After this declaration, I ask the very important question, "But who will kiss Flippered Alex?"   Who is Flippered Alex? You ask. Flippered Alex is the stuffed penguin that Alex got in San Diego last summer. We love Flippered Alex very much, but he has one flaw. That flaw keeps him from ever being kissed goodnight. After I ask my question, Alex always answers, "No one can kiss Flippered Alex because he has PENGUIN LIPS!" Evidently, PENGUIN LIPS are terrible things to have and are considered to be very contagious through kissing. Flippered Alex usually has to settle for a hug and a pat on the head before he is tucked in, too. Sometimes I try to sneak a kiss, but Alex always covers my mouth with a very stern, "No, Mom!" Last night, when I tried to get a kiss from Flippered Alex, Alex looked at me and his stuffed penguin and said, "Will you two cut it out?!" I don't think that I've heard that since Rick and I were dating.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Misadventures of First Attempts

I recently came across my first attempt at a blogging. At the time, my children were ages: 6, 4, 2, and 4 months.

Musings on Motherhood


When I was a little girl, I had all of the usual aspirations: I wanted to be a ballerina or a princess. As I grew older, my dreams changed; I realized that Queen would have much more power than a mere princess. I went through other career plans as well, doctor (to help people), lawyer (to use my love of arguing, I mean, you can only be a teenager for so long), or teacher (very noble and self-sacrificing since they don't actually get paid for their work). But through it all, I knew that I ultimately wanted to be a "MOM".

I was going to be very good at being a mom. I was going to spend my days playing Candyland and pulling fresh baked goods out of the oven in my immaculate house. I was going to look like the moms in the TV commercials, too. I would be thin, always have a perfectly done face, beautiful hair (preferably thick and auburn). The details of how I was going to manage all of those things stayed comfortably hazy. What would it matter if I hate housework or my hair was stringy and blond? It's done on TV all the time.

Then reality hit. When my oldest was born, I lost a lot of the answers that I was so sure I had. Child development courses and four younger brothers did nothing to prepare me for the uncertainty of motherhood. But somehow I muddled through with a few of my theories still comfortably in place, and then came Nicole. With the birth of my second child I lost all of my remaining answers and was left foundering. I've never found my footing since.

Still, motherhood is the greatest blessing in my life. What other career would have you saying prayers every morning, thanking Heavenly Father for the person who kept you up all night.

Musings on Motherhood, Four Years Later

With my youngest child approaching four years old, and having spent a lot of hours playing Candyland recently, I can tell you that spending your days playing Candyland has been scientifically proven to slow down the movement of time. I'm not talking about the, "I wish this moment would last forever!"time. I am referring to the, "Will this never end?" time. (While I write this, Alex is trying to set up a Candyland meets Parcheesi game. I'm not sure how that will work, but he's a man with a plan.)

Fresh baked goods do awful things to my body and further mess up the kitchen that I still hate to clean.

All of the parenting wisdom that I firmly believed pre-children has been gone so long that I can't even remember what I thought I knew. I have only two parenting theories that I have come to believe, and I'm sure that they, too, will pass.

1. Life was much simpler when I had ALL of the answers and NONE of the questions. I've come to realize this truth as I've asked for advice in public forums. The people who offer advice generally have fewer children at younger ages who have never reached my situation. The people who have "been there, done that" will simply say that I need to figure it out for myself.

2. Having been out of Junior High longer than I usually care to admit, I'm not too concerned with my public image. What I mean to say is it doesn't matter if the people at the grocery store think that it is odd that the children and I are all sporting eye liner mustaches or if my hair is purple because we had a wacky hair day. The grins and giggles of my little ones matter much more to me than the raised eyebrows of strangers.
Still, even on the days that I wonder if the children will ever go to bed and give me some time, I'm thankful every day to be the MOM.

Misadventures of Silver Linings

Today Is not about my folly; it is about finding the good in our lives. With that in mind, I have decided to find things to be grateful for.

Yes, it's 7 a. m. and I can already hear the children arguing. But, on the plus side, it's 7 a. m. and I don't have to wake the Little Dears up.

Yes, the children have to go to school today. But, on the plus side, I don't have to drive them to school today.

Yes, Utah's bipolar weather has us going through a deep freeze that has caused the temperature in our house to drop to 54 degrees. But, on the plus side, my bed is nice and warm.

Looking over these blessings, they all seem to be pointing me in the same direction. I feel that the only way to truly show my gratitude, and good sense, is to lay back down and pull the covers up to my chin. Nighty, night.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Misadventures of R-E-S-P-E-C-T

You know that Rick and I have a very strong sense of decorum, treating all people and subject matter with a great deal of gravity and respect. We have striven to instill this same sense of respect in our children, though, I'm not sure if our teachings are getting through to them.

This evening, during a very spiritual family night lesson, or as spiritual as any lesson can be with four young children, Rick asked if anyone had any questions. Alex, the four year old, respectfully raised his hand and announced that he had a question. When called on to ask his question, Alex asked, "Dad, are you ever going to stop talking so I can play scripture guessing (charades)?"

I'm pretty sure that the respectful way that he raised his hand was due primarily to Rick's influence. I'm afraid that the sentimentality behind the question may be the result of my influence.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Misadventures of Answered Prayers

My soul felt raw. My inner dialogue was un-publishable. My usually sweet spirit was anything but angelic.

The day had started with Alex throwing up in bed. I had asked Austin to put his clothes in the dryer while I was stripping Alex's bed. I ended up speaking rather sharply to finally get the washer emptied. Things hadn't improved much in the afternoon.

Now 5:00 found me driving down the freeway to take my little monsters to swimming lessons. The lessons weren't for me. I wasn't going to be playing in the pool. Why should I have to do it? You can probably imagine the kind of language that I had been listening to. To tell the truth, if today's lesson hadn't been the last, the little dears would have found themselves without a ride.

As I drove, I came to the conclusion that, if I was going to take the turkeys to swimming in spite of their behavior, then I really needed to stop fuming about it. Having made that very mature decision, I tried to figure out a way to get over my anger. I offered up a little prayer. It was a carefully worded prayer. I didn't pray for better children. I didn't pray for patience, I've heard what happens when people ask for patience. I simply asked for guidance on how to snap out of my funk. I had scarcely finished my prayer when a truck kicked up a rock and put a large crack in my windshield.

Feeling that all of my carefully chosen words had somehow failed me, I felt myself slipping deeper into my bad mood. In my mind (because I was driving), I began writing my little rant. Finding the right words to convey just how ill used I felt really lifted my mood.

 I would not normally go looking for tender mercies in a knicked windshield. However, I came to the realization that trying to find something funny to say about my windshield was probably the only thing that could have brightened my day. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Misadventures of the Daily Grind

You know that blissful moment between wakefulness and sleep? This morning found me in such a happy place, lying on the beach of imagination, fully aware of the fact that today is NOT TUESDAY. Thursday is such a nice day; Thursday has no carpools, no responsibility, no need to be anywhere except where I want to be; Thursday would never hurt anybody.

Suddenly, I heard feet thundering down the boardwalk. Wait a minute, there is no boardwalk on the beach of imagination. Trust me; if I'm going to imagine a beach, it would be a private beach, no boardwalk necessary. After the intrusion of the thundering feet on the boardwalk, I slowly became aware that the sound of screeching seagulls was, in fact, the squealing of little children. And, the saddest realization of all, the gentle sound of waves lapping against the shore was actually the sound of the toilet being flooded, thus causing the thundering feet on the boardwalk and the squeals of the gulls children.

TUESDAY! My great and worthy adversary! I thought that there was a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven, that YOU must stay in your weekly time slot. As I refuse to believe that anything bad can happen on a day that is not TUESDAY, I must own that I am not as awake as I initially believed. As I lay back down on the beach of imagination, I put my sunglasses back on. But, this time, I make sure that they are complete with a funny nose and mustache. TUESDAY will never find me now!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Misadventures of Good Manners

If this looks familiar to anyone, that's because it was an old post on my other blog. re-reading it gave me a little laugh, so I thought I would share.

I have always tried to instill good manners in my children. To say "Please" and "Thank You" and "Excuse Me". I have tried, with out much success, to teach them not to interrupt. Overall, I think that I'm just trying to teach them to be good Ladies and Gentlemen. I had no idea of how much of an impression my teachings had made until recently.

Exhibit A:
Austin and Nicole were waiting in the car while I was finishing packing the diaper bag to go run some errands.

Erika: "Mom, you need to be my gentleman!"

Mom: "What?"

Erika: "You need to be my gentleman!"

Mom, not really paying attention: "Oh, I need to be your gentleman. (Whatever that means)"

I finished packing the diaper bag.

Mom: "Erika, you need to run out to the car. I'm coming right now."

Erika: "I can't open the door. I told you that you needed to be my gentleman!" At least I know that Daddy opening the doors has made an impression.

Exhibit B:
We recently read "James and the Giant Peach". When we finished the book, I let the children watch the movie version. After watching it a couple of times and seeing how badly James' Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker treated him, Nicole came to me with the following observation:

Nicole: "James's aunts are so mean! Aunt Sponge burped and she didn't even say, 'Excuse Me'".

Exhibit C:
While watching Star Wars with Austin, I heard:

Austin: "Mom, Anakin interrupted that bad guy! He wasn't even finished speaking and Anakin killed him anyway!"

Now that our manners are well in hand, I think it is time to turn to other lessons: treating people kindly and not killing guys, whether they've finished speaking or not!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Misadventures of a Broken Commandment

This morning found me singing a cheerful good morning song to try to rouse my sleepy minions and declaring what a glorious day we were bound to have. Five minutes before this happy morning ritual, I was in bed using very abusive and near unpublishable language as my alarm tried to rouse sleepy me. At least five days a week finds me putting on my "Good Morning" face to try and start our day on the right foot (as opposed to the left foot?). Today, as my little children gave me their usual morning grumbles, I thought about what a hypocrite I am, singing and being cheerful when I really wanted to throw my alarm out the window.

It reminded me of something that I read on facebook Christmas morning. In reference to a post that Snopes made about Santa, many negative comments were made. This direct quote sums up those negative comments, "For me, lying to children is one of the most disgusting things an adult can do to them. Be the example you wish your children to be." Being guilty of perpetuating the Santa story and realizing that I was lying to my children every morning with my delightful demeanor, I began wondering about what other deceptions I am guilty of. No, Michelle, I wasn't delighted with my new hair color. Though, I am getting used to it. No, Bishop, I wasn't grateful for the opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting. No, Erika, I didn't "get" the joke you made up. No, Children, I don't think going to the dentist is a fun adventure. No, my Sweet Little Girl, I do not find this terribly long story to be totally riveting. And, Alex, I am not, in fact, a tickle monster. Boy, it's true what they say, "Confession is good for the soul."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Misadventures of Sad Plates, a Lesson in Understanding

A few weeks ago, Alex and I were in the car running errands. From the back seat came an excited voice, "Mom, I saw a plate!" Distractedly, "Uh-huh". More excitement, "Mom, I saw another plate!" My response, "You saw a plate?", still sadly unfocused. "Look, Mom, there is a plate on that house." Now more confused than distracted, I responded, "That sure seems like a strange place to keep a plate."

The next day found us driving on a different stretch of road. From the back seat, Alex said, "Mom, I can't see any sad lights." My very helpful answer, "Well, that's good. Isn't it?" A few minutes later, "Mom, why can't I see any sad lights?" I'm thinking, "Sad lights? What on earth are sad lights? We have a Sad Sock Bucket for mate less socks. We have sad toys, whose batteries have died and Mom hasn't replaced them. What are Sad Lights?" My answer to my boy was, "Alex, I don't know why you can't see any sad lights. Maybe the lights aren't sad." Suddenly, with great excitement, "Mom, I see a sad light on that house over there." The clouds parted and a ray of understanding finally came to my foggy brain. Rewind to a lovely September morning when Alex and I walked the big kids to school. On our way home, we walked on "Mom's Bike Trail". As Alex looked at the houses that backed onto the trail, he was curious about those funny circles that stuck up from so many houses. I told him that they were satellite dishes that people used for their TVs. Satellite? Sad Lights?  "Alex, are you talking about the satellite dish?" With great joy at finally being understood, "Yeah, Mom. I see a sad light." With a little more understanding I asked, "And, Alex, when you saw the plates on the houses were you talking about satellite dishes?" Dishes? Plates? it's all coming together. "Yeah, Mom!"

Now, as we drive around town we have fun looking for people's dishes. Some days they're "sad lights" and some day they're "plates", but they're always fun to look for.