Friday, December 20, 2013

Home for the Holidays

The Syracuse house that we were planning on didn't work out. It was a bummer. First, because we had already began building dreams around that house. The girls had already planned out their rooms. I was strategically organizing the kitchen and craft room. Mike was plotting out the garage; Second, because we needed a place to live since Eli, whose house we were living in while we searched for ours, was coming home. He wasn't kicking us out, but we weren't sure how long it would take for us to get into a new place and we didn't want to trespass on a friend's generosity too long.

So we started looking again and we found this place out in West Point. It wasn't finished yet--when we first looked at it the carpet and cabinets weren't in, but we fell in love with it. (Was it a rebound? Probably. But it's a good rebound!)  We negotiated, and got under contract. Our realtor warned us that it might take up to 60 days to get in. So we moved to Mike's parents. They were wonderful. Someday I will be as wonderful as them.

We ended up living with Reid and Shirley for only a couple weeks. They were a couple of educational weeks though, in which we discovered that #1 and #2 were not going to room together. EVER. EVER. AGAIN. Something to do with incessant fighting all hours of the night and pouring water on pillows.  Despite this, and other fun events which may or may not have involved yelling and tempers lost and food everywhere, Reid and Shirley still love us.

Our house finished up fast and we were able to move in the first week in November. We love our new place! It's fantastic. Way better than that Syracuse house. :) And despite originally thinking we didn't know a soul out this way we have since discovered about 15 people that we attend church with that we are either related to (Mike has three cousins and an aunt and uncle out here), or know from high school, college, or other random life events.

We're home.

P.S. Remember those ridiculous nicknames I gave my children. I can't use them. They're too hard to remember. So, while I'm still not going to use names, I'm just going to refer to them as whatever fits the moment. Kind of like Mike with his younger brother Scott, also known as Lance, Nigel, Ryan or Links, etc.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Buying a House is like Dating

I was reading through my old DRAMA!ACTION!DRAMA! journals last Saturday, while I was supposed to be organizing my files and packing to move. It was so hilarious, I trucked it upstairs to read to Mike about when we first met. Keeping a journal is totally worth it, just so you can laugh maniacally at yourself and how wise and wonderful you were in your earlier years.

There was a lot of drama and angst in those journals about my dating years. And I swear selling and buying a house is just like being in the dating world. Except in the dating world, you don't get an agent. (Maybe people should consider getting agents while they date. Just to smooth the whole transaction. That would be a fun job. Or not.)

Here's how our "Dating the House of Our Dreams" is going. When we first started looking around there were tons of possibilities. So many houses to see! So many wonderful qualities in them-- beautiful kitchens, nice bathrooms, craft rooms, landscaped property, ginormous garages. So we had a great time going out.

Then we narrowed it down to what we really wanted in a house. And we started to get anxious. Maybe nothing like that existed! Our ideals were perhaps too high. We expected too much. And we were doomed to live destitute and despairing, in a rental forever. FOREVER.

We'd start to get serious with a house and then we'd find some horrible flaw--like a cramped laundry room, or a cabinet shop with toxic fumes in the backyard, or it was located on a busy road. And we'd start all over again.

Finally after much hand-wringing and over-analyzing (I never did that while dating. Never.), we decided on the house of our dreams (ok. It was the house closest to our dreams we could find. This is unlike how my dating ended. I totally found the man of my dreams.) We were so excited!

And now we're possibly in the heartbreak stage. They might not sell it to us, because it appraised far below its value. (I'm not sure how this particular aspect transfers over in my analogy. Maybe it's like your mom, or your best friend doesn't approve of your choice or something.)

I should probably hold the phone, dial it back a little and just wait. Because maybe it's like the time Mike told me on our second date that I was a "fun girl." (The previous death sentence of many a relationship.) Maybe it will still work out.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Back-to-School Jig

I am almost staggering under the amount of free time around here these days. I get almost two hours a day of quiet time. TWO! HOURS! And did I say "free"? I meant child-free in the sense of "children are sleeping or pretending to sleep in their bedrooms." But let's be clear that these "free" hours are being used productively.  This productivity will probably return to unabashed wastefulness when the new Downton Abbey comes out, but until then I am doing laundry and packing boxes and other productive things.

This summer was an exercise in self-effacement. I am happy to report that it was much better than last summer. Not so much better that I cried heartily when my two oldest returned to school, but better enough that I felt a moment of wistfulness as #1 and #2 headed into the halls of learning. Thought process: "They are growing up?" Thoughtful, sad pause. "They are growing up!" Begin dancing.

Now that summer is over, I want to review what worked for us and what didn't so next summer I'll be crying hysterically when they return to school. (Because our summer together will just be that awesome.)

Our routines this summer were a good way to keep some semblance of normalcy and control and I think they contributed to our overall happiness. We did pretty well at sticking to them until our week-long vaction in mid-july and then we kind of just hung on until school started. Here's is what worked and what didn't work and why or why not.

In review, biking 100 miles did not happen. But we did make it 30! It just got too hot mid-July and we never got back into the swing of it. So maybe next year we'll have to try doing 50 miles all in June.

Also, I feel like it was a good call to only have one major chore and incorporate more cleanliness into our lives with the routines. For instance, having dinner clean-up be part of our routine instead of a "chore" worked well. We still don't always clean up after ourselves, but we're a little better.

The Pass of all Passes was a good thing, we used it almost weekly. We need one of those for activities up North. Honestly, will someone get on that please? The gas was killing me. Our pass is still good for June of next year, so we'll do it through June, but after that I'm not sure. 

Summer School did not occur as regularly as planned. We did make it through Road Dahl's "The BFG" and Betty Brock's "No Flying in the House" and then somehow we devolved into watching movies.  I think we'll have to be better about this next summer. I had the girls do a drawing book report of their favorite part of "The BFG" and put it in a special notebook and planned to do that for our other books, but that just didn't happen. I found a nice website about family theme days and would like to have Thursday Theme Days or something like that next year. I like this everyday theme idea too.

Hiring a babysitter in the mornings to exercise and grocery shop once a week was a fantastic thing I will do until I feel comfortable leaving the chilies to fend for themselves. I'm guessing that's in about two years, when my youngest can get her own cereal in the morning and my oldest is 10. Or maybe when my youngest has learned enough karate to defend herself from the often ill-intentioned advances of her sisters. I guess we'll see.

If I can find enough spare change I think I will hire a babysitter during the day so I can finally write a novel and become a rich and famous writer. :)

So now I've developed a whole new series of routines for school. They seem to be going pretty well so far. More about those some other time. I have to go gargle salt water. I have strep throat and my throat is on fire.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Wildflower Pedalfest 2013

It wasn't what I was expecting, but it was still fun. On Saturday I rode the 50-mile course. I started out with a friend from Weber State that I ran into at the starting line and ended up riding mostly alone. Which was kind of lame. I definitely want to do it with a friend or group of friends if I do it again.

It was my first organized ride, and I expected large pelotons of competitive cyclists, even though the ride was advertised as non-competitive and not timed. (I know, silly me.) I was hoping to be able to jump in with a group and be able to push 20 mph or above, but the course was more hilly than I expected and the groups of riders were either non-existent or long-gone by the time I started. For a mile I thought I found a group (with capes on too), but they made a wrong turn, despite my yelling, and I never saw them again. I probably should have chosen the 75-mile route, which would have scratched my competitive itch a little more (the hill-climb on that course is the only timed portion of the route), but I'm really not ready for 75 miles.

I liked the course, which climbed to East Canyon and then headed back. I made it to East Canyon (26 miles) in 1:47 (that's minus feed zone stops, with stops it was 1:57) and then because of the awesome downhill, made it to the finish (26 miles) in 1:23 (with one stop figured in, because I reset my computer without looking, whoops). My last 10 miles I was able to average above 19 mph. My overall time, with stops figured in, was 3 hours and 20 minutes. Not what I wanted, but passable.

I got a good training ride out of it, loved catching up with the friends that I ran into (Selsa, Candice, Erica, Charlene), and the dessert bar at the end was to die for! Not literally you people, but metaphorically. Every kind of brownie and cookie imaginable. It was fantastic. Mike and the girls met me at the finish and they helped me sample the desserts and played on the playground and were generally unimpressed with my biking skills and more interested in the desserts. (The girls, not Mike.)

Today I am fighting off the runs and some body soreness (Mike had this earlier this week and it may have started with Ellie on our camping trip), so I think I am more sore than I normally would be.

I'm a little worried for my leg 3 in LOTOJA, but I hope to do well. I just need to get some good climbs in a few more times before we do it.

Friday, August 16, 2013


On Saturday I took my eight-year-old to get her ears pierced. She had been noticing a couple of her friend's ear piercings for a couple years, and I had told her that if she swam across the pool freestyle she could get it done. After our swim lessons this summer, she's swimming confidently across the pool, breathing and everything.

As we entered the mall, her hand tucked safely into mine, I started to get a little panicky. (The mall and I have a history of mutual hatred, but I watched a guy at Walmart pierce a girl's ears and decided that was definitely not the place to go for ear piercing.) I began to think about my little girl wanting to come to the mall, and dealing with peer pressure, and going through puberty. I almost grabbed her hand and ran out.

"You're too little!" I wanted to shout at her. But I was the one who made the promise and she fulfilled the terms, so I tried to keep smiling as we walked past trendy stores and trendy people.

Suddenly, I felt like I was pushing my child to grow-up too soon. Why had I ever brought up ear piercing? Why was I pushing her into the world of self-decoration so early? Wasn't ear-piercing just another time and money-consuming activity that objectifies women?

"Will it hurt?" She asked me as we passed a cell-phone hawker, stylishly dressed with a Fossil watch and sharp haircut.

I shrugged, "Yes. But not too bad."

She pursed her lips and looked worried, squeezing my hand.

"You don't have to if you don't want to."

"Will you go first?" Her cornflower blue eyes looked up at me widely.

"Watch where you're walking. Yes. I'll go first." I had said that I would re-pierce my grown-in ears when she did hers. I stifled my feminist voice and decided to keep with my re-pierce plan, because I eventually want to cut my hair super short and earrings can soften that a little. And my little girl wasn't pondering the social and political implications of ear piercing. I just needed to relax. It was just for fun, right?

"Is it like a shot? Or a beesting?"

I stopped in front of a shoe store, loudly blaring a song about dancing all night. "Here, let me show you again." I took her earlobe in between my fingers and pinched my nail into it, kind of hard.

She grimaced. "That's not bad."


We entered Claires and watched another girl get her ears pierced and checked out the available earrings. She choose blue flowers and I chose small diamonds. The chatty clerk told us a story about a girl who came in that had lied to her mom about having her ears pierced before. And then, quickly, my ears were pierced again.

I can't decide if I like them or not. I've had my ears pierced before, but let them grow in. It's an easy way to look like a girl without too much effort.

My eight-year-old sat in the chair and tensed her shoulders and closed her eyes. The two clerks closed in on her and on the count of three, she was pierced. She is thrilled at her new earrings and can't wait to get "dangly" ones.

I can't decide how I feel about this "milestone." I didn't consider any of the implications of pushing her to puberty or teaching her about beauty until we were there in the mall. And by then, I felt like I had walked out on the tightrope, and the crowd was already roaring.

This is the problem with my parenting. I don't think things through until it's often too late and then I think, "Wait a minute! This doesn't fit in with my life philosophy. I object!" But I'm already sitting in the chair with an ear-piercing gun to my head. I have thought about tatoos though, and my answer is definitely no. I don't care how many times she swims across the pool.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Thirty 30-Day Challenges!

I am continually questing to "Try a little harder to be a little better." Okay, sometimes I give up and lie on my bed and eat a bag of chocolates and read Mistborn: The Well of Ascension, and I have to trick myself into trying harder. One trick I have been obsessed with lately is the "30-Day Challenge."

My good friend (and sister-in-law, I am so lucky she is both!) Summer, introduced me to them. Her family is always doing little things to improve. They tell each other about, and sometimes join each other in challenges like, "Do 30 push-ups every day," or "Read your scriptures every day," or "Don't yell at your kids."  And they do these for, you guessed it, 30 days.

The 30-Day Challenge has two advantages.
1. Duration. Previously, I would challenge myself to do something with no end date in mind. I would say, "I won't eat chocolate." And then of course in a few days or weeks (or sometimes hours), I would fail and feel like a loser. But 30 days? I can do that.
2. Simplicity. The contest is with yourself.  I used to think I needed to have some sort of competition with points and prizes to be motivated. With the 30-day challenge, I have realized self-improvement can come without the cost of having a loser and a winner. I knew that before, truly, but I have to be reminded sometimes.

Here is my list of Thirty 30-Day Challenges that I am going to undertake over the next year or two. Sometimes I might get brave and run two simultaneously. I will do each of these things daily for 30 days!
1. Take vitamins
2. Don't eat after 9 p.m.
3. Exercise for 30 minutes or more (minus Sundays)
4. Eat only one treat
5. Eat 2 or more vegetables  (yes I know this does not meet the DRA, but baby steps are good)
6. Eat a fruit as part of breakfast
7. Give a hug
8. Read my scriptures
9. Write 200 words
10. Do recommended PT for knee
11. Organize something
12. Don't swear/yell and definitely no Yell Swears.
13. Try something new
14. Do 10 push-ups
15. Go to bed at 10 p.m.
16. Sweep
17. Play the piano
18. Don't eat treats
19. Count my calories
20. Have dinner planned
21. Be on time
22. Compliment someone
23. Do an out-of-ordinary act of service
24. Write in my journal
25. Write a thank-you note
26. Do Yoga
27. Eat only vegetables and fruits for snacks
28. Don't buy anything but necessities
29. Do 10 minutes ab work
30. Practice doing a backbend.

Okay I'm starting with #1 and #10. GO!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Best Books and Products/Tools for New Mothers

I originally wrote this letter to my little sister, but wanted to put it on the blog, because someday I will recommend these same books/tools to my children (because they will totally want my advice about parenting, right?) and the librarian in me wants to recommend them to new mothers everywhere. 

I wish I were some awesome parent with everything put together, but it's just me, your older imperfect sister with four crazy kids. I've got nothing but some of my favorite books, my favorite products, and personal, unproven, highly-suspect opinions about how everything should be done. I'm sure you can form your own opinions as you go, so I'll try to leave those out. But here is my advice on the all-important subjects of sleeping, eating, and surviving.


Best books:

  • Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby by Marc Weissbluth provides lots of research based, good advice. Although, his philosophy seems to focus entirely on the baby's sleep, and doesn't take into account that you must live. I liked his charts so I could look and see what the "norm" for hours slept was each age. And he's right about sleep being a HUGE factor in how happy your baby is. 
  • Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg  This is one of my favorites. I like her sense of humor and practicality. Her EASY (eat, activity, sleep, you) philosophy is a simple, easy to remember (because your sleep-deprived brain needs simple things) method that really works. I definitely struggle with parenting my children once they get past two, but I have had happy babies and I attribute following this method as the reason why. 
Tools to help you succeed: 
  • White noise machine. I didn't use this with Kenzie or Hannah, because I didn't really need it yet. We were mostly quiet people. But once we got to Ellie and Norah, there was no quiet. If it is quiet, there is trouble brewing. So they definitely took longer naps when the white noise machine was on. Maybe you'll want one now because it's noisy with the dog, or someone snores (Ali?). But nothing is worse than waking up a baby accidentally. Okay, maybe if the baby got hurt it would be worse, but really it is a terrible, terrible tragedy to wake a sleeping baby. And for traveling or camping, the white noise machine can be your best friend.
  • Benadryl. Just kidding. That's for desperate, desperate times and only when they're older. And it can backfire. (Not that I have any experience with this. I've just heard. From a neighbor.) 
My Two Cents:
  • Start as you intend to go on. It may seem silly because she's so little right now, but if you begin a routine before bed she will learn when it's time to sleep. Choose what you like to do and then do the same thing every time. We keep it simple. With Norah, I give her her binkie, swaddle her in a blanket, sing her a song and lay her down. Then I walk out and she goes to sleep. When she was tiny, obviously this didn't always work, but now it works like a charm. Mike's routine is a little different than mine, but the key is that we do the SAME thing every time. I've added a story, and I just put her blanket on instead of swaddling her, but it's still the same 10 min routine every night. (Even my older girls love routines.)


Best books: What to Expect the First Year This book is a general book about almost everything, but I like its section on feeding the baby and I like the Q&A format. Also they talk about how to mix nursing and bottlefeeding, which is great. I muddled through a nursing/bottlefeeding mix with all of my kids and never found a non-crazy book about breastfeeding. They all seemed to say "Feed your baby, whenever wherever she/he wants." Crazy. The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer is much more practical about setting up a schedule. I'm sure there's a good feeding your baby book out there, maybe someone else can tell you what it is. 

Tools to help you succeed: 
  • Medela Breast Pump -Seriously those hand pumps are for people who like to grind their own corn into flour with a stone.
  • Formula- Some books/people might make you feel bad about using formula, but if you use it, try to block them out-it's food, it allows your baby to be full, grow and be happy. Yes breastfeeding is awesome and wonderful and bonding, but so is formula. No one I know has ever said to their mother, "It's because you didn't breastfeed me when I was a baby." 
  • Burp Cloths --You need like 47 of these. At least. Because who has time to do laundry when you have a baby? And spitting up/throwing up is normal. Babies do it a lot. 
  • Awesome Nursing Bra -- I already told you about these Bravado bras, but it's worth repeating. Take care of the girls and life will be better.
  • Good Bottles-The Playtex Drop-Ins are my favorites. It is kind of a bummer to buy new liners, and you're ruining the environment, but at 2:30 a.m. when all the dishes are dirty and the baby is wailing and for the love of everything holy, you just want to find a clean bottle, the liners are fantastic. 
  • Sippy Cups-- Eventually your child will grow and it's time to ditch the bottle. Find a sippy cup that is spill-proof and doesn't use a removable valve. We just use the removable valve ones, since they leak the least. But I always lose the valves. I swear, they should have spill-proof cups until they are 18.
  • Baby food Grinder Buying baby food is fine, but it's so much easier to just plop some of your food into a grinder and feed it to them. Plus, it introduces them to the kind of food you will expect them to eat eventually. (Start as you mean to go on!)
My Two Cents:
  • Routine. Follow the EASY routine and you will be happy. Once she turns two you can start making her clear her plate and sweep. Ok, maybe not sweep yet. 


Best books:

Tools to help you succeed: 
  • Chocolate
  • A good husband (oh look, you already have one of those!)
  • A good sister (wow! You have one of those too!)
  • A good friend to talk to
  • Your mother 

My Two Cents: Find a routine for yourself that involves exercise, spiritual nourishment, service, and set some goals in the major categories of life: Physical, Spiritual, Mental, Emotional.

Don't be afraid of feeling down sometimes, talk about it, share what you're feeling or it becomes bigger than it is.  

You are doing great! And when you don't, it's ok, you get another chance tomorrow. And the next day, and the next. . .


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Spudman 2013 Race Report

The Spudman in Burley, Idaho is one of the best triathlons. The one mile swim is manageable (down river!), the bike course is flat and fast and the run is partially on a canal-dirt road and ends on a downhill. 

This year was good. I haven't been running much, but I have been swimming and biking pretty well since June, so I decided I could do the whole thing if I just lowered my expectations during the run. I figured I would swim hard, bike harder and survive the run. 

Mitch, Cristina, Adam and Mike were also doing it, and we all got to start at the same time. I wanted to swim 17 minutes in the swim, but when I got out of the water, my watch read 18:34, which is close to my best, but not it. I was the first one out and right as I was leaving Mike ran up out of the water. "Darn you!" I said to him as he asked how long I'd been there. 

"Just a minute or two," I said and then took off with my bike. I heard Adam's dad yell, "Mike, you've got to beat Steph." And I heard Mike say something about beating me out of T2. "We'll see about that," I thought as I ran out of the transition. I carried a banana in my mouth and put my gloves on as I biked. It was a good strategy, although I lost half the banana while I was eating it on the road. The banana is my favorite "during workout" fuel. Chocolate milk is the best after. 

I hit the bike hard, hoping that I could give Mike a good chase at least. My goal was to make him work to catch me and to not be caught for at least 10 miles. After I ate my banana I settled into a 19miles/hour pace, but whenever anyone passed me I tried to stay with them for at least 30 seconds. Most the people who passed me were in full tri-bike, aero-bar, weird-helmet attire. I've got to get me some of that. I ate most of a small Cliff bar about 30 minutes into it and drank some Powerade. I probably should have drank more Powerade earlier. It might have prevented the slight calf and foot cramping I felt at T2 and at the end of the race.

Mike didn't catch me by 10 miles and I was feeling good, so I kicked it up. I also ran into a group that I couldn't get rid of. It was about 4-5 guys drafting, which is cheating. I rode out to the side, I stood up and sprinted, I dropped back a little, but I could not get out of them. I didn't want to slow down too much, but drafting is cheating and I wanted to ride fair and square, so finally I backed off enough to let them go. 

By this time the course was more downhill and the wind was at my back, so I was averaging above 20. It felt awesome to go so fast. I still hadn't seen Mike or Mitch, and I had expected both of them to catch me on the bike. I started to cramp in my calves just a bit the last mile, but made it through and transitioned fairly quickly without seeing anyone else from our group. Woot! Woot! My bike ended up being 1:10.12, a PR.

I tried to kill it during the bike because I didn't want to feel too ashamed of my performance. I knew the run was going to be crappy, so I figured, "Why not kill yourself during the bike?"  I think this is a good triathlon philosophy, even if you're not injured: Full effort, every event. No saving for the next one. 

I started the run by walking up the hill and then, because I'd lost half my watch band in the T1 transition when I ripped off my wetsuit, I counted to myself and used a run-walk method of run two minutes, walk one minute. Mike caught me before the first mile and quickly thereafter Mitch ran by. Darn it all. I felt competitive about it, but not strong enough to do anything about it. Counting made the miles go by quickly. And the run/walk method was actually pretty awesome for keeping my form together. It was cloudy and a little rainy, so the weather was awesome for a race. 

Cristina passed me at about mile 3, maybe a little before. She was in great running shape and had had a good bike too. I finished off the run by running the whole last 800 (had to at least run continuously that far, right?) and then had a nice sprint finish. I felt tired, but my knee held out. Today I'm sore, but my knee is about average.  My final run time was a 56:50. Yeah, college running friends, I know. I know. 

Overall, it was a good race, considering the most running I had done previously was 30 minutes of run/walking. I reached my biking goal and still managed to be #9 in my age group with a final time of 2:31.26. 

Mike did it in 2:27:55. I get to give him crap about beating him in the bike and swim, though. :) 

Next year I'm doing the bike in 1:03 and the run is going to be in 46 minutes. I'd like my swim to at least drop into the 17s. I think I'm going to have to make me one of those tri-buckets that people had to carry their stuff in. 

Here's my lists of what is needed for each transition in the triathlon, to help me remember what worked for next year. 
Outfit: (Mike will make fun of me for calling it an outfit. Oh well.) I wore my Athleta tri tank, which I like about 3 on a scale of 1-5. The rouching on the side was a pain. I need to buy a different tank w/ built in bra, because not changing clothes saves tons of time in the transition. I love my tri Pearl Izumi shorts. They are just the right amount of padding to take the edge off in the bike, but not be bothersome during the run. I had my hair in a bun, which during the swim was painfully digging into my head, so I need to figure something else out for long hair. Braids perhaps?

Starting Line: Wetsuit, ear plugs, googles, flip flops, and of course, the clothes on your back. 

T1 (swim to bike): Banana, cliff bar, towel, helmet, bike, bike shoes, socks (almost forgot those this year!), garbage bag with number on it, bike gloves, sunglasses, water bottles already on bike, one with Powerade, one with water.
T2 (bike to run): Hat, running Shoes (in plastic sack if set out night before)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Vacationing with Children

Family vacations always remind me that I like to be alone. Especially when family vacations involve everyone ages 1-34 sleeping in the same room. During the day things are pretty good. We’ve managed to plan activities around naptimes for the older kids so the younger two can nap, and we're having a good time hiking, playing, swimming and swimming some more together. But bedtime is still tricky.I imagine that someday when we are all on roughly the same sleep schedule, it will be a lot better.

I’m sure as I write this some mother of tweens or teens is laughing hysterically preparing her, “Honey, just you wait,” comment. Right now though, we are spending our evenings from 8:00 p.m. on, in the dark, holding our breath, hardly daring to move, for fear that Ampersand, tucked into the corner in a pack-n-play, will arise and begin wailing.

Usually after lights out it’s quiet for a minute, until Ellipses and Apostrophe start kicking each other maliciously in their shared queen bed and Exclamation makes angry noises about lumps in the sleeping bag.  (The girls have been taking turns sleeping on the floor, which we’ve managed to paint as a privilege until Exclamation indignantly declared, “I have to sleep on this yucky old sleeping mat?!”)
After about 30 minutes to an hour of angry hissing noises (some of them coming from Exclamation and most of them coming from Mike and I), everyone quiets down and falls asleep.  

Some of the nights, after everyone falls asleep, I tiptoe very quietly to the freezer (which is right next to Ampersand’s pack-n-play), and holding my breath, I open the door and get the ice cream. And ever so quietly, Mike and I head out to the balcony to read and talk and wonder that civilization managed to progress from the time when families slept in the same room/bed, because surely someone would have snapped if they had to sleep every night for their whole lives in the same room as their offspring.
I guess it’s like anything else, first you abhor, then you endure, then you embrace. We’re still at the endure stage, but I guess if I had to do it long enough I’m sure I could embrace family togetherness at bedtime.  
Or not. I think I’ll stick with the endure phase and then happily go back to abhorring sleeping in the same room with my children until our next budget vacation.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gems of Sisterly Love

We got our air conditioning fixed in our maroon awesome van. Now that we don't have to roll the windows down, I can hear Ellipses and Exclamation in the backseat. I didn't realize how many great conversations I was missing out on.

"I am a really good scratcher, so you better watch out!" said Exclamation, bragging about herself, and accompanying this observation with a hiss and a clawed hand darting out toward her older sister, trapped with her in the back seat of the van.

"When I grow up I'm going to put a sign on my door that says, "No Exclamations Allowed!"  (I hope she prints it up all cute in vinyl, maybe with some little flowers around it and she can change the background for each holiday.)  (Sorry this story is much funnier if you insert a real name in there)

We have all sorts of sisterly love going around this summer, and not just in the van. This morning, Exclamation and Ellipses were trying very hard to say nice encouraging things to Apostrophe about learning to ride her bike with no training wheels. They even made up a little song about how she would get it if she just kept practicing, practicing, practicing, practicing. It was really quite sweet. Apostrophe kept pouting her three-year-old glare at them. "Don't tawk to me! No! Don't tawk to me! I hate you."

Summer has been a bit difficult for everyone to adjust to. We all have to figure out how to be around each other every day, all day. And everyone is vying, all at once, as loud as they can, for my attention. Our routines are helping, but sometimes we have to lay down our bikes on a busy road and have a good old-fashioned slap fight.

One morning on our bike ride, as we rode down a slightly busy road in front of our neighborhood, Exclamation stopped suddenly and did not warn Ellipses she was stopping. Ellipses ran into her tire.

"YOU DID THAT ON PURPOSE!" Exclamation yelled. She glared at Ellipses, got off her bike, laid it down on the road, and walked back to swing her open-handed fists at Ellipses's own open-handed fists, making a great picture of family love. I pedaled away from them, pretending to not know the homeless-looking children fighting in the road.

Sometimes I guess you just need a good slapfight to make yourself feel better. I haven't tried it yet, but maybe I'll ask Mike if he wants to argue by standing two feet away from each other slapping our hands at each other in the air, kind of like we're giving each other angry high-fives, or playing a super-charged hand game of Zing. Zing. Zing.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Introducing Ellipsis, Exclamation, Apostrophe and Ampersand

I read that rabid wolves will eat your children if you use their real names on your blog. I don't really believe this, but somewhere deep down a primal fear of wolves eating my children combined with some of my neuroses about the Internet is combining to bring about a change in my blog. I'm just not going to use my kids' names anymore.

Besides my fear of wolves, there's another reason:

Storytelling is a powerful way to shape your life. Stories are how we know each other, how we know ourselves.

I believe my children have the right to tell their own stories-- to make their own way not overshadowed by my short-comings as a mother, my need to laugh at them and their craziness. In this small, small world where everyone googles their own name, and facebook stalks each other, stories are even more powerful. Little things live on.

We live in two worlds--the real world and the online world. I want my kids to be able to write their own story in both.  Of course, they may need a good edit now and then, but mostly I feel that their real-life selves have the right to not be overshadowed by the online persona that I create for them when I tell stories about them.

I used to snort at the people who used nicknames for their kids. What was wrong with real names? Blogging is about real life, right? Well, it's just one little part of life. It's one piece of the puzzle, maybe just an oar of a boat that sits on a big, big ocean.

It makes sense to use nicknames. Not that I think it won't be easy for people who know us to figure out which child I'm talking about, but putting up that one door between their real identity and my blogging will keep them from someday googling themselves and seeing themselves as slap-fighting, horrible children. Because they're not. Just sometimes.

And maybe it will give them the opportunity to tell their own story. And maybe one day when they write about how I locked them out of the house and threw away their toys in their memoir about their awful childhood, they will give me the same courtesy and use a pseudonym for me.

It's kind of hard to come up with nicknames. I'm thinking about just using numbers. But that seems so impersonal. And it's hard to write dialogue or stories that seem real when I'm writing.
For instance, look at this funny story and how weird it is with numbers.

"When I grow up I'm going to put a sign on my door that says, "No #2s Allowed!" said #1, emphatically.

Yeah, not so much. I thought of dressing up the Spanish word for the number. So we could have Una, Dosa, Tresa, Quatra. Or, I came up with a punctuation mark for each of them: Ellipsis, Exclamation, Apostrophe and Ampersand. I wish I would have thought of really naming them those names. Wouldn't that have been awesome?

I think that's it for my creative nicknames. I'm sticking with the punctuation.

Here's a breakdown:
Ellipsis-- Eight years old. Smartie, loves reading, tumbling and is pretty mild-mannered

Exclamation- Six year old. Determined, determined and more determined. She likes bike riding, crafting, and bossing her little sisters around.

Apostrophe-Three year old. Loves to play in water, sweet-tempered and sometimes sassy. Likes to help.

Ampersand--One year old. Loves screeching at her sisters, signs 'banana' and 'dog' and is the last hold on growing hair.  So far, she is somewhat predictable.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Swimming vs. running

I've been swimming a lot lately. My knees, which were going to magically heal once I stopped breastfeeding, did not read my goals and expectations for them and continue to ache if I even pretend to exert myself by pulling the wagon around the block with two children in it.

And by swimming a lot, I mean very little. Because with all of the activities that make swimming possible (dragging myself out of bed at 4:51 a.m., hitting snooze once, or twice, getting ready to go, arriving at the pool, showering so my hair won't turn green, showering again after the workout so I actually get to shower that day, getting dressed doing the secret towel dance in the locker room, rubbing vaseline into my disgusting, cracking heels, and then driving home), there is very little time for actual swimming.

I'm up to half a mile, which takes me about 20 minutes. All those other activities take 1 hour and 40 minutes, so that pretty much shoots my extravagant two hour workout time to heck. And notice that drying my hair is not on the list of events. It takes too much time. But I hear that frizzy, half-wavy hair is all the rage these days. And so are cutoffs and baggy t-shirts, and zero make-up.

I miss running. Running is far superior to any other activity. Let's compare:

Running: Grab your shoes and go.
Swimming: Grab your cap, googles, ear plugs, swim suit, flip flops, towel, shampoo and conditioner (does anyone else call conditioner "cream rinse"? I do and Mike thinks I am the craziest person ever), and go.

Running: Walk out the door. Run.
Swimming: Find a pool within 20 miles of your home. Find out when the pool's lap swim hours are. Go during the hours and hope someone will share their lane with you, instead of rudely telling you that there is not enough room, they were there first. (Roy Complex, I'm talking to you!)

Running: Breathe.
Swimming: Don't breathe, except at regularly scheduled intervals-- unless you enjoy water burning through your nasal cavity, then breathe all you want.

Running:  Enjoy the fresh air.
Swimming: Smell the chlorine.

Running: Ahhh! Sunshine, clouds, beauty all around.
Swimming: Fluorescent lights, cinderblocks, peeling pool bottom with someone's gum floating lazily on it.

Running: Smile and wave at the people you pass.
Swimming: Squint through your goggles at the feet of the old lady passing you in the next lane.

Running: It's just better.

Please knees, please stop hurting. Or at least retreat to a bearable pain that I can ignore while running.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Summer Survival

Last summer was rough. In fact thinking about this summer has given me chills of terror for the last month. I think I have actually lost a few hours of sleep thinking about my eight-year-old (#1) and six-year-old (#2) home all day, every day, slap-fighting each other, grabbing the poor, defenseless one-year-old (#4), whining incessantly, stealing toys from the three-year-old (#3), etc.

I would prefer to be one of those moms that looks forward to summertime, so I have a two-pronged attack this summer for a better time, or at least less memory of bad times.

1. Take up drinking. Not really. That might help with the memory part, but I don't think it would actually improve my summer or my children's lives. Plus, there's no money in the grocery budget for alcohol.

Real 1. Lower my expectations (isn't that kind of like drinking?). I've been warning the girls in my sternest, most-depressing-voice-ever that summer doesn't mean fun, it means extra chores. Three chores every day! Before anything fun can happen! AND I MEAN IT. And then I glare at them scarily. I do believe that I am setting myself up for an epic failure. Since summer started this week, I'm officially dialing it down, taking a step back and dropping the three chores expectation. I'm also not planning every minute and I'm going to chill out. My children will learn the value of hard work, but it doesn't have to be over my dead body. I still expect them to help and do at least one chore a day, practice their piano, read and not become too stupid.

2. Routines, routines, routines. So now that I've claimed to be all relaxed and super chill, my second prong involves routines that are set up to help me succeed. But I'm not going to freak out about my routines not being followed. Maybe just a little. In my head only though. And Mike is giving me Thursday evenings off, so if I freak out too much I can re-balance.

a. Meal time Routine: Help with preparation when possible/desired (by me), wash hands, set table, eat with manners (most of the time), clear plate, wash hands and face, help clean-up including sweeping and washing off table.

b. Morning Routine: Wake-up all children by 8:30ish. They are usually awake by then anyway. Breakfast (mealtime routine observed!), get ready for the day, bike ride (We copied my friend Kim and have a goal to ride 100 miles this summer, stopping only every few feet for a slap-fight when #1 accidentally runs into #2, who stops suddenly and was sure #1 did it on purpose), snack, piano practice, tv show.

c. Lunch Routine: I will make one item for lunch, if the kids don't like it, fine, they can make their own lunch. Today #2 ate grapes for lunch. She may have some stomach issues. This is fine. After lunch is free play time. 1:00p.m. begins the wrestle to get #3 to nap.  I'm going to fix that though. I'm going to get me a nice nap routine going on too. 2:00p.m. #4 naps.

d. Summer School Routine: I'm doing a small summer school for #2 and #1. Once #3 is napping, school begins. They have mats that we made a couple summers ago from paper that I laminated and they get those and sit on them. We sing a little welcome song, I read to them from a chapter book. I've chosen The BFG by Roald Dahl to begin with and plan to checkout other classic read-alouds from the library to read with them this summer. After a chapter of me reading we have private reading time. #2 reads to me (reluctantly with hatred and much cajoling) and #1 heads to my room to read her choice (she loves reading, but I remember she was once difficult to persuade.)

After about 15-20 minutes of this we fill out our reading charts and I present a short lesson on something. So far we have had lessons on menu-planning (graphing skills, right?) and music notes. I pretty much make that up right then. I plan to develop some plan for this, but haven't yet. After the lesson it's time for chores and then recess. Recess ends with a snack (#3 is awake by now)and then we are supposed to do something awesome. I haven't yet made it to this portion of the day without some interruption, so I'm still refining this. And that's okay.

A. Welcome Song
B. Read Aloud by Mom
C. Private Reading Time
D. Short Lesson
E. Chore
F. Recess
G. Snack
H. Project

e. Daddy Home Routine: Mike plays with the girls for a bit while I fix dinner, dinner routine, more play time, whatever.

f. Bedtime Routine for #2 and #1, (#3 and #4 should be having a bath at 7:30, at least every other day) 8:15 baths, get ready for bed, prayers at 8:45, family scripture reading, bed.

g. Leaving Routine: Warning 5 minutes to leaving. "Please get shoes and things needed for travel", Go to van.

Do you have routines? Running a household of six people seems awfully complicated to me. I'm hoping these routines will simplify my life, not make it crazier.
Now that I've got all these routines laid out, I just have to work in things like swim lessons and park day and playing with friends, and swimming and vacations. Fun times!!
Here's to a summer full of duck walking in regimented lines. I mean, a summer of fun and relaxation.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Why I keep this blog (intermittently, but still)

After having a baby, I tend to wander around in my life, lost and purposeless. Reading that sentence, I would think it should be the opposite. Which, of course, makes me feel even worse.

My form of the baby blues, occurs about 4-6 months after having the baby, right when I should be pulling it together. Right when I should have the baby figured out, be wearing my old jeans again, sporting a stylish haircut, and be on top of everything. Right when I should be demonstrating my ability to hold it all together, I lose it.

It usually involves feeling like nothing matters. It feels like I have been cast into space and all stars and pricks of light have disappeared. My baby blues are a void. The closest thing I can summon to an emotion is anger, which seems to flash out from me. And while on the outside I mostly hold it together, I am empty---empty from absence, not empty from not being filled.

During my worst times the blackness piles and piles on me--and I wonder if it is possible to be pressed to death by emptiness.  I tend to lose my sense of humor and instead of finding laughter and commonality and a sense of community with others, I mutter bitterly, "That's so typical of my life." I feel expunged by incessant demands and a frittering away of my soul to menial tasks.

And I forget. I forget that I'm not the only one muddling around. I let my trials loom over me. And then I think about how silly my trials are and I feel guilty for even calling them trials and I beat myself up even more.

I think, "I should write. I should write. I should remember." And then I think, "Why bother?" That becomes my motto. "Why bother?"  I feel powerless. I can't even manage to look presentable.

In the past exercising, a refocus on spirituality, service and goal-setting have helped. But in the moment they feel so silly and pointless. I've made it a year with four kids, and I'm on my way out of this pit; I'm grabbing happiness one rough handful at a time as I climb out of my blues, but I need something to help me keep climbing up from the pit. And I'm choosing writing as my stepping stool. Writing will be my hand hold.

It's been almost 9 months since I wrote my "Summer is Over, Good Riddance" post. It felt bitter and hateful and depressing when I wrote it. Oh so depressing. But, I added the part about not really wanting to remember the bad times, and I posted the good time pictures.

Writing is like a stick on a tightrope, it helps me balance. Writing helps me put things in perspective. Its a reticular activator that reminds me there is good and I choose what I see, what I make of this life. Writing is important.

Purpose and Vision for Excited and Confused Blog, Steph's Space: Connect, Laugh, Dare

1.If you want to be good at something you practice it. This blog is to help me practice my writing, to continue putting one word in front of the other. Anne Lamott said you have to do it "Bird by bird."

2. This blog is a connection to the outside world. It is a jumping off point for conversations with real people. It is a way to connect with other writers, mothers, runners/swimmers/exercisers, women. I can remind myself by blogging that I am not alone--that six-year-olds that have major catastrophe fits, which are awful and hard to deal with, are not unique to me. That other people have trials. That I am not the only sane person here in this house.

3. This blog is a way to keep my sense of humor, to remember that laughing at trials can make them smaller, that laughing burns calories.

How I plan to do this:
I want to start small again, blog once a week at first. Highest hits are on Sundays?
1. How about publishing new content every Friday at 7 a.m.?
2. Content areas: Exercising/Running/Health, Motherhood/Parenting, Writing, Getting out with Kids, Life Survival Skills.
3. Write enough posts to keep me going for a couple months, 8 posts ahead.
4. Instead of eating, I will reward myself during quiet time with blogging. (Maybe eating and blogging, because it is so nice to sit down and eat without doing a stand-up every 10 sec. workout to get things for children)

So now that I've alienated all my readers by not writing for months and months, I'm back at it. Stick around, it's going to be good. :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lost: Sense of Humor

One of my children is going through a very, ummm, how shall we say? Let's say, 'difficult stage.'  That way I can tell myself that she is going to outgrow it. And difficult implies that it is not impossible, just incredibly hard, and manageable. I can handle it. And it implies that I will not forever and in perpetuity be holding my hands clenched at my sides, because otherwise those hands might be throttling her.

So, I've lost my sense of humor. Maybe in the future I can relate a hilarious account of why and how I locked myself in the bathroom and cried all my mascara off before family pictures. And someday I will be able to tell you of that oh-so-funny time that my lovely child locked my mother out of the house for a half hour because she wanted some ice cream. Hahaha. I can picture it now, how we'll all be laughing.

But right now I've lost my sense of humor and instead of making you laugh I think I am probably depressing you and making you feel uncomfortable. So here's some funny videos that will have to hold you over until I can find my stinking sense of humor again.

Haha. I think Mike has some bromances going on. Jim Gaffigan nails it. My favorite line: "It's like your drowning and somebody hands you a baby." "I'm going to punch your car."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Going to Church

Hypothetically, I enjoy going to church. I love listening to the lessons and talks, I enjoy thinking about the Savior. I look forward to taking the sacrament, and I enjoy seeing my friends and neighbors. This is a hypothetical because these things rarely happen the way I picture them. With four small children in my and my husband's charge, I've ended an hour and ten minutes long Sacrament meeting in tears (and not because I felt the Spirit, but because I felt that cheerios spread all over the pew was possibly the last straw in my life), spent the whole meeting in the foyer cajoling an angry, yelling child, and looked longingly at the clock more than once while holding an exhausted-because-it's-naptime child.

For the past eight years, I've learned the same lesson from church: "Endure to the End." (People around our family are probably learning a different lesson about Loving Your Neighbor Even If Their Kids Kick the Pew and Spit Water on Your Suit.) Since having my first child eight years ago on Tuesday, I have gotten the same message every week in one form or another. Since we are LDS (Mormon) and the speakers are different each week, I'm pretty sure that other messages have been presented, but every week I get the same message--"Endure to the End."

Today was especially harrowing as it was our two hour Stake Conference. The speakers were prepared and entertaining with relevant messages  (At least that's what I thought from the few sentences I managed to catch between constant demands for a sucker punctuated with the two-year-old trying to get a concussion by violently laying backwards on my lap; reverently reminding the eight-year-old to use her quiet voice and not sing opera style during the hymns; Mike and I constantly pushing the chairs forward that had crept into the knees of the people behind us, and taking turns rubbing the five-year-old's back and reassuring her that it would all be over soon in an attempt to keep her from throwing herself on the floor in an all-out fit of hunger and boredom.)

We brought snacks, but apparently you need to bring five times as many snacks as for a regular meeting. Crayons were good for about 20 minutes, and at the end when the two-year-old dumped them all over the floor Mike declared, "You are all allowed one crayon apiece next time." And one sliver of bread and a straightjacket with muzzle attachment.

With five minutes to go, my six-year-old niece who had been quietly coloring in her chair came over to Hannah and whispered sweetly, "Hannah, I have good news! There are only five minutes left!" That good news was almost as good as the Gospel, but not quite. Which is why we keep going back to learn the same lesson, armed with cheerios. In a world that tears families apart and that teaches that the most important thing in life is gratifying your selfish self, the LDS Church is a harbor and a safe haven for our family. Mike and I know that at church is the best place to find answers to how to raise your kids. And even if the only lesson I learn each week happens to be "Endure to the End," that's not a bad lesson to learn.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Years Goals

I'm about 25 days behind in my life right now. And really, I think my new year will begin March 16, when Norah turns one and the breastfeeding ends. Finito! It makes me happy just to think about it. Because I'm pretty sure all my problems will end with the end of my self-imposed time schedule of breastfeeding.
Knees? They will miraculously heal and I will be running a 19 minute 5K by June.
Writer's Block? I will be running again so that will take care of that.
Bad Mommy-ing? I'm sure that will be solved when breastfeeding ends.
Yelling? I'm sure it's directly correlated to a chemical released while breastfeeding.
Not enough time in the day to get everything done? Not breastfeeding will free up at least 1 hour a day, right? And in that hour I'll do a load of laundry, load the dishwasher, create a small craft, and read my scriptures. Since that is what I do with free hours around here, in reverse order of course. I never just sit and stare at the wall, or watch Downton Abbey, or make myself a cup of hot chocolate and relish the silence-ABSOLUTE SILENCE--when I get a free hour. I am always very productive.

I do have some New Years Goals which are totally measurable and have deadlines:
1. Be More Awesome--Deadline: midnight March 16, 2013
2. Eat less crap (not real crap, but you know sugar and fat and all things that make life worth living, like chocolate. Although I'm sure I've accidentally ingested some sort of crap since I have changed thousands of diapers. Now excuse me while I throw up a little.)-- Deadline for completion: Tomorrow, always tomorrow
3. Get out of bed--Deadline: 6:30 a.m., every morning.
4.  Cut Ellie's bedtime routine down from 1.5 hours to 10 minutes. Seriously, that child can milk a bedtime like no other. Deadline: Jan 28, 2013
5. Beat Mike in the Spudman. Deadline: July 27,.2013 If only I can figure out my knees. Oh, wait. That's going to be solved on March 16, so watch out Mikey-boy! I love you, but your reign will end.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Playing in the Snow

Sometimes raising children is like walking through the desert, half-delusional with thirst. You certainly think that's a shady tree and a nice cool pond of water just over there in the distance, and if you can just keep going, you might reach it. But then you find yourself thirstily shoveling sand into your mouth.

Today we decided to go and play in the snow. No school + tons of snow=fun, right? I was at least smart enough to tuck Norah into her crib for her morning nap before venturing into the land of gloves, snow pants, and other miscellaneous snow items. With her safely dreaming away, I grabbed all the snow stuff from the back of the van (because what better place to store your snow clothes?) and began assigning boots, coats, gloves, hats, scarves, snow pants, and other miscellaneous items.

Kenzie, the seven-year-old-almost-eight, was pretty good at getting her own stuff on. So she went at it, while Hannah (5) was able to put on her snow pants and coat but was waiting (somewhat impatiently) for me to help her find a sock. (Since I have yet to purchase my 270 pairs of socks to make my life easier.) Ellie (2) is still hopeless at dressing herself. So I tried very patiently to stuff her in her snow pants, put on her scarf, push on her hat, pull on her gloves, and maneuver her boots into a walking position. Then, since we got the girls gaiters for Christmas, I had to put on her gaiters. They are quite nice for keeping out the snow, but take some time to put on. Kenzie began bugging me to help her get her gaiters on. I gave Ellie a small lecture about her hands falling off if she took her gloves off and then turned to Kenzie.

I was already sweating, but managed to not speak crossly as I finished stuffing Kenzie's oversized snow pants into her gaiters, wrestled the velcro shut, and then ran upstairs to find a sock for Hannah.

I was trying to preserve my mood because this was going to be FUN! We were going to build snowmen! Walk in our snowshoes! Lay in the snow! Pull each other in the sled! FUN! FUN! FUN!

Next Hannah. Her boots were bugging her, so I pulled them off and readjusted the liner.
Kenzie was ready so she started trying to open the door. With her mittens on, this was impossible.

"Mom. Can I go out now? Can I go out now? Can I go out now?"

"Yes." I said smiling. Fun mom. Fun mom. "You and Ellie can go out if you keep an eye on her. Ellie don't take your gloves off! It will hurt really bad. Badly. Whatever. Don't take them off." I interrupted fixing Hannah's boots to open the door. I glanced at the clock and noticed that it had taken 20 minutes already to get ready for this adventure.

I put Hannah's boot back on. "It's bugging me! It's bugging me!"

Five sock and boot/snow pants adjustments later I began to be cross. Just as I pulled on Hannah's last glove and patted her on the head to send her out the door, Ellie pushed the door open, the door handle hitting into my back as I was trying to pull up my snow pants.

"I'm all done. I come in now."

"Oh no you're not!" I retorted, shutting the door on my sweet two-year-old. "I want to come outside and I'm almost ready."

"I cold! I come in!"

"No!" I said desperately, my vision of fun in the snow evaporating in the face of the reality of the attention span of a toddler. I glanced at the clock. She'd been out for 10 minutes-- half the time it took to get her ready.

I use my prowess at bargaining to try to win at least a few minutes of my child-mommy-snow-love-fest vision: "I'll bring out some fruit snacks!"

I throw on the rest of my snow gear and run upstairs for fruit snacks. I grab a water bottle for good measure and run outside. I am ready for FUN! EXCITEMENT! JOY! GOOD MOM-NESS!

"M-om! My gloves are falling off," claims a frustrated Hannah.

"Will you put these snow shoes on me?" says Kenzie.

"Fruit snack! Fruit snack! I want a fruit snack!" says Ellie.

I snap. "I just want to play in the snow! Just give me a minute! You guys are asking too much of me! Here's your dang fruit snacks! Can we just play in the snow for one minute without anyone asking me for something?"

"But M-om, you said. . ."

"I'm cooooooold. I want to go inside."

"It's bugging me!"


Everyone starts crying. Good Mom-ness abounds. 

Eventually I apologize to my children for my little fit, I send Ellie inside to watch Sesame Street, and Hannah and Kenzie and I make tracks with their snowshoes, fall in the snow, and build a small snow fort.
It wasn't exactly the oasis I was dreaming of, but it was better than a mouth full of sand.