Friday, August 23, 2013

Public School Mom (and tired of the judgment)

My oldest starts First Grade next week...He is pumped. We got to tour his new classroom and meet his teacher today. She seems enthusiastic, welcoming, and sensitive to the individual needs of each of her students-- perfect for our boy. This is actually a multi-age classroom our son will be in, with 1st and 2nd graders combined, so he will be spending the next TWO years in this same classroom, first as a "newbie" and then as an "old fogey." This will be a great experience for him. He is in the right place.

And yet, I feel a sort of peer pressure among many of my mom-acquaintances-- a sense of being judged (not directly, of course, but indirectly) for my choice to send my child to a public school. Homeschooling is apparently a big thing up here, and several of my friends homeschool their kids. They have their reasons, and I'm sure they're good ones. They are doing a great thing for their children, as long as it works for them, as it certainly seems to. Their kids are smart, happy, kind, sociable...I admire these moms' hard work to educate their own children in their own home, 24/7 every day...

But I couldn't do it. Okay, okay, I could, if I really had to, if it was what worked best for my child over the public system (and I suspect this may turn out to be the case in the future for my middle son, but time will tell). But it would take more focus and energy than I feel capable of putting into it at this time in my life. And that is okay. My children will be fine.

I was visiting with one of my home-schooling friends one day and we got on the subject of her decision to homeschool her kids (her oldest had started out in public school), which I fully support. But at one point as she was talking, I caught the implication that she believed that mothers who sent their kids to public schools were mostly just being "lazy," that it was "easier" for them, that parents who put their kids in public school were not as involved in their kids' education as she was as a homeschooling mom. While she may be right in a way (see my above paragraph), I think it is unfair to judge all (or even most) public school moms in this way.

I don't send my kid to public school because I don't want to be involved in his education. On the contrary, I am still very involved in his education-- his personal education. I can and do teach him things at home that he will never learn in public school. And I regularly supplement what he does learn in school with at-home discussions (which he often initiates himself) about what he is learning.

As for public school being easier, ha. I don't have the luxury of letting my kid sleep in (which I would totally do otherwise, not to say that's what homeschooling moms do, it's just what I would do)-- or myself for that matter-- in the morning, as he has to be at school at a certain time. And that also means fighting him at night to go to bed early (though to be fair most of the fight is with his younger brothers, who make it hard for Big Brother to sleep if they are not also in bed). Before I send him out the door, I make sure he has everything he needs. And when he comes home, I make sure he still has everything he left with. We had to walk back to the school several times last year after discovering he'd left his lunchbox, or a hat, or a mitten behind. I go through any paperwork his teacher has sent home, keep track of dates and events, and of course supervise his homework. This is not the labor of an "uninvolved" parent.

Then, there is the attitude many well-meaning homeschooling moms seem to have, that homeschooling is best, and any mom who truly wanted the best for her child would homeschool (or send him to Montessori*); that kids educated via the public system have received an inferior education and will never be allowed to reach their own individualized potential or to think for themselves but will rather simply become mindless drones in society, accepting whatever information is fed to them. Hogswash.

 If I did decide to homeschool right now, I would not be doing my kid a favor...I am so terribly disorganized and undisciplined (this could and likely would be different if I didn't have small children, imagine that), and G really needs more consistency and structure if he is going to thrive education-wise. In other words, the classroom setting is definitely better for him than what I could provide.

Any child, no matter what kind of "school" he attends, will always be able to thrive as an individual, provided he has support from the adults in his life-- mainly his parents-- to do so. And this is something that parents can and should give their children regardless of where they go to school. And I strive to do exactly that for my own children.

In fact, I believe as a public school mom, that in many ways my job is actually going to be harder than that of a homeschooling mom (so much for being lazy).

When you are homeschooling, you have control. You can teach your child whatever you want him to learn, when you are ready to teach it; and if you think he is not ready for a certain topic of discussion yet, then you simply don't bring it up. You can still teach your kid about "the facts of life" (and I'm not just talking about sex) but in a much safer and more controlled environment.

As a public school parent, on the other hand, I expect my son to come home having been exposed to many different, and sometimes shocking, ideas and experiences that he may or may not have been mentally or emotionally prepared for. But this is why I work hard to cultivate a relationship with my son, to keep communication channels open and inviting and my attitude non-judgmental. So, I hope he will feel comfortable sharing these experiences and ideas with me, so that we can discus them openly and without embarrassment, so that I can help him to think critically and come to his own informed conclusions about the world, even if (and perhaps especially if) they turn out to differ from my own.

The most important thing I can do for my children is not to homeschool them, but to make their home life-- when they are home-- a pleasant and inviting one. They will go to school, but they will always come home, and I will be waiting for them with open arms and a smile. I will be their "home base."

I just spent a whole summer with all three boys at home with me all day every day, and I will tell you I really am a better, more pleasant, and more patient mother when I have had a break. So, off to school they go (well, my oldest anyway), and may we all benefit from the intermittent separation. It truly is the best thing for our family.

You do what's best for yours.

*which I casually looked up the other day and discovered that the monthly tuition for such a school is almost as much as the mortgage on our new house! Yipes! Umm, I would have to get a full-time job to send him there...then I really would be an absent parent...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The House Hunt

We are buying a house!

While I've posted a bit on FB about this, the thought of writing a blog post has felt a bit daunting...what to write? Where to start?

Remember that post I wrote a while back about being content with the space we had (our 2 br condo), and just doing what we could to maximize that space? We tried really really really hard to do just that.

It didn't quite work...Not long after we decided we needed to rent a storage unit (sometime in late May/early June), we decided rather suddenly that it was simply time to seriously explore our options as to finding a larger home for our growing family. In our research, we found that it was actually more possible than we had previously thought. So we started moving forward. We are fortunate in that Nick's parents were able to qualify for a home loan to buy a house for us, until we are able to qualify ourselves, so we don't have to wait until we sell the condo; but we will be making the payments (like we're "renting" the house from them, only when we take over the mortgage the amount we've already paid towards the home will be deducted-- it's a pretty sweet deal for us, as it will cheaper still to do it that way than to rent). I am ever so grateful for my in-laws, and touched that they trust us that much.

As a note, because some might wonder why we don't just rent our condo...We have looked into renting our condo, and will end up doing that if we can't sell it by early September (which is when we move into our new house). However, new lending regulations require a home to be rented out for at least two years before the mortgage on that home no longer counts against the loan limit. So, we will try to sell the condo first; if that does not work, or we cannot get a high enough offer (we owe more on the condo than what it is currently worth, but are prepared to make up the difference up to a certain amount), then we will start renting.

It was a little stressful, putting our condo on the market and beginning the house hunt, not knowing if/when we would manage to actually sell our condo or find a new home. We worked hard, repainting our condo and doing minor repairs, filling up a small storage unit with stuff to make our condo less cluttered for showings. I had anxious visions of us selling our condo, but then not having a new home to move into; or on the other hand, finding the house we wanted to buy but then not being able to sell our condo and ending up with two house payments. But we prayed and did our best to do all we could and follow the promptings of the Spirit.

We ended up viewing seven or eight houses total, but none of them felt quite right. We did find a large house in a good neighborhood, a foreclosure and a major fixer-upper. We did make an offer on that house, but with little hope of success as there was already a previous offer on it. Nick really liked that house...I never really felt quite right about it, worried about the amount of work that would need to be done and wondering how we would be able to make the time to work on it in order to make it just livable. All of the homes we viewed that would actually be suitable for our family would have required a good deal of fix-up work. All of the homes, except one...the final home we looked at...

Last week, Nick was gone on a fifty-mile hike for five days. We had not discussed before he left what I should do in his absence. I figured I would continue to house hunt, just in case, but didn't expect to find anything...I tooled around on the MLS and hammered our buyer's agent with new listings, which she looked into but told me she didn't think they would work for us (based on previous homes we'd visited with her). On Monday afternoon, I found a new listing that had been up for just a few days; it looked promising, so I called my agent about it. She thought it was worth looking at, so we scheduled a showing for the next day.

Prior to the showing, I said a prayer for guidance. With how quickly all the good and affordable homes were being snatched up, I realized it might be necessary to make an immediate offer on a home if it turned out to be suitable. While my agent assured me that I could make an offer on a home, and we could still back out later if Nick did not approve, I was still pretty nervous about making a mistake and Nick being upset with me. So before I viewed this home, I prayed to God to let me know-- to give me a feeling-- right away whether or not it would be a good home for our family.

I drove to the house and the first thing I noticed--which had not been apparent from the pictures--was the very steep driveway, which was not a good first impression. But, I was already here and figured I'd go ahead and view the rest of the house. I pulled up onto the driveway and put on my parking brake. The boys and I got out of the car and explored the yard while we waited for our agent. She finally showed up, and we viewed the rest of the house.

It was a nice enough house. A bit of a fixer-upper, but nothing insurmountable, and in better shape than the previous house we'd made an offer on. Generally, I would have been inclined to like it-- it certainly had everything Nick would want in a house, including a fireplace in the living room and a wood-burning stove downstairs. The boys would have enjoyed the yard. It had four bedrooms, and plenty of room. The kitchen was not exceptional, but I could have been happy in it...But even as I registered all its good qualities, I could not forget about that steep driveway, and the sinking feeling I'd felt upon first pulling up. I knew it wasn't the right house for us, and I finally told my agent, who seemed a little disappointed (even she thought it was the perfect house for us), but was supportive of my decision and we left. I got the boys back into the car, and pulled out. My rear bumper scraped the road as I backed out! Yet another confirmation that I had made a the right choice...

After this experience, I was starting to feel a little discouraged. At this point, every promising listing had been explored, and there was nothing left. And yet, that same afternoon, I once again found myself perusing the MLS, willing myself to find something I'd missed before. I was little obsessive about it, really. I must have done the same search four or five times that day, with still the same results, until...

I found a brand new listing! There it was, with "New Listing!" in bold green letters. I clicked on the listing and began to read the details...I immediately called up my agent and asked her to schedule a showing, which she did for the following day.

As I had done with the previous house, once again I prayed for guidance, and for good measure spent a whole hour the next morning in scripture study and meditation. It felt good, and I was at peace. Even before I actually saw the house, I had a good feeling about it. Once I finally walked into the place, all my good impressions were confirmed and I knew it was the home for us. I called up my mother-in-law, and she and our agent wrote up and submitted the offer the evening of that very same day (it was Wednesday).

Ours was the first offer to be submitted. We learned after that that there had been several other showings after ours. This house was in huge demand, and we were ever so lucky to be the first offer in line...Though I don't really believe it was thanks to luck alone, but God guiding me and my desire to follow His promptings in my efforts to find a good home, that led me to find that listing when I did.

Still, I was apprehensive about what Nick would say, how he would feel, when I announced to him that I'd made an offer on a house without him...Sure enough, when he finally got back home and I shared the news with him, he was a little upset, and understandably so. I was nothing but accepting of his feelings and apprehensions, though, and did my best to reassure him and be sensitive to how he must be feeling (I would have had similar anxieties had he gone and made an offer without me). He, too, generously granted me the benefit of his trust as much as he was able, and we had an open dialogue over the next few days as we awaited the time he would get to view the house for himself (the current residents didn't want the house being shown without one of them present to keep an eye on things). He finally did, yesterday afternoon, and officially gave it his seal of approval.

We are scheduled to close on or before September 6th. We're pretty excited :) A detailed description of the house itself will be given in another post, this one is long enough ;)

And if all goes according to plan, we will never have to move again...that will be sweet...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

So you think you know what it means to be a Parent?

Being a parent is more than just childcare; it is more than providing discipline, structure, love and nurturing, protection, education and behavioral modeling. You may have studied all these things. You may have read every "parenting" book on the market. You may believe you know exactly how you plan to raise your children, when you do have children.

But until you actually become a parent, you cannot fully comprehend what it is to be a parent.

Looking up "parenting" on, I found myself latching on to one particular idea: the adjective "parent" is defined as "being the original source." Biologically speaking, this means that if you are a child's parent, you are the "source" from which that child came. But there is so much more than biology that goes into being a parent.

Being a parent means being the First: the First to love your child as your whole world, and the First to wish he'd never been born (fleeting though those thoughts are, they can still creep in unbidden); the First to help your child, and the First to hurt his feelings; the First looked up to when he needs a role model, and the First to disappoint when he realizes you're not infallible; the First to cheer him on, and the first to criticize. You get the idea...

A child has many adult influences in his life-- teachers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors...But none of these people has as much inherent power to influence him as does his own parent. When you are a parent, you realize (either consciously or subconsciously) that every single thing you say or do to, with, or for your child, has the power to affect the rest of his life. This is the awesome responsibility and burden of being a parent. Now, you may believe that you shoulder this responsibility for a child in your life who is not your biological offspring, and if so then congratulations (or condolences)-- you can consider yourself a Parent. Otherwise, you just don't know...

It is so easy for some other adult to observe my children and think he or she has the perfect answer to how to deal with their problem behaviors. For example, it's easy enough for a well-meaning individual to suggest to me that I put my baby in a crib to "cry it out" to sleep at night, and that this will cause him to start sleeping through the night and our whole family will be able to sleep better, be livelier, etc. etc. But when I consider this option as a parent, suddenly it all becomes much more complicated. Maybe crying-it-out will help my child to sleep better-- but maybe it will also have other effects, not all positive. Maybe he will come to believe that I won't respond to him when he needs me. Maybe he will be sick one night but he won't cry to let me know. Not to suggest that parents who use this method of getting their children to sleep are bad parents, or that their children will necessarily grow up with abandonment issues. Just that for me, personally, the worry associated with this method was not worth it for me to try, so I didn't-- the consequence being (perhaps) that I now have a 3-year-old who still struggles to sleep at night (then again, my 6-year-old has always slept just fine).

But this is not a post to discuss the ups and downs of sleep training. And I will confess to not having all the answers there-- even after having my third child, I'm still figuring it out.

Parenting is not a static process. What is often referred to as a "parenting style" will constantly change and evolve over time as a person "grows" into his or her role as a parent. I am not the same person now as I was when I had my first child, and I have "parented" each of my children a little differently so far. I made mistakes with my first child, that I tried not to repeat with my second (I did some things right, too); I made a whole lot of mistakes with my second, that I vowed not to repeat with my third. Oh gosh, did I ever mess up with my second...Of all my children, he is the one I worry about most, and the one for whom I am most sensitive whenever anyone tries to "advise" me on how to parent him. Not because those people might not be right in their advice, but because I already know what I've done and am doing wrong, but they are not in my shoes and cannot understand the particular dynamic that has brought me and my son to where we are now.

With my third, I finally am getting to a point where I more or less know what I'm doing, but even there I worry about the little mistakes I've made...

Being a parent means constantly second-guessing every word and every action. It means being painfully aware of your child's misbehavior, and feeling powerless to stop it. Or finally figuring out how to fix one problem, while being immediately presented with another (sometimes as a direct result of "fixing" the first). Being a parent is learning to accept your child as his own person, and learning to let go of the need to control him because you were under the faulty assumption that you could, in fact, take full control over how your child turned out. Yet at the same time, you will always feel responsible; you will berate yourself over and over again with the belief that every bad thing your child has done is somehow a direct result of something you did (or didn't do) sometime in his early life, and you will feel a sense of accomplishment every time you witness your child doing something good.

See, I've only been a parent for six and a half years, so the above paragraph is something that even I do not have a full grasp on yet, but my realization of these things sprouts a little more every day as I watch my children grow.

Being a parent means exuding confidence as you teach, discipline, and guide your children, while inwardly cringing at your own ineptitude and wondering if you're really doing the best thing for your child.

Parenting a child means learning to understand him as an individual-- to be responsive, and to adapt your "parenting style" to his particular personality and needs. One of the mistakes I made with my second child was to assume that everything I did with my first (which for the most part worked pretty well) would work equally well with my second. This kind of assumption-- that all children are the same-- may work in a classroom or daycare setting (indeed, I assume it pretty much has to be this way, because employing thirty different methods of dscipline and care all at the same time would be impossible for one person), but it doesn't work as well in a parent-child relationship.

Of all the adults in my child's life, I believe my husband and I are the ones whom our children should be allowed to feel the most comfortable with, to be themselves (warts and all). I would rather have my child be himself with me (where I can still have some influence to gently guide him and help him to change if necessary) and employ his skills of tact and facade with others, than to put on a front of good behavior for me but secretly misbehave when I'm not around (or believe that he can't express himself in front of me because I might get mad).

So, you really think you know what it means to be a parent? Good for you. Do share. Because I'm still trying to figure it out.

Maybe we can figure it out together...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Five Daily Habits Every Boy Needs to Learn Before He Becomes a Man

If you are already a Man, developing and maintaining these habits are guaranteed to make your wife or girlfriend very happy. If you are a parent raising a Boy, help him to develop these habits now so that they are well-ingrained in him by the time he moves out.

 They’re not difficult tasks, nor time-consuming, but they will make a world of difference.

 ONE: Once a day, after using the toilet and before flushing, wipe down the toilet bowl rim with a wad of toilet paper. Then use a cleaning wipe to wipe the floor around the base of the toilet.

            --These two areas can get really nasty really fast. But a little daily maintenance can make the job of whoever is assigned to clean the bathroom weekly a little easier and less disgusting.

 TWO: In the morning, before leaving the house for the day, clear your bedroom floor. It isn’t necessary to put everything back exactly where it should go (but you can if you want), but just clear the floor. Put stray items into a designated bin to be sorted out at the end of the week or when you have the inclination.

            --A clean floor makes the whole room and house feel cleaner, and may just save your wife’s (or mother’s) sanity. It also makes it easier for the floor to be vacuumed regularly.

 THREE: After eating, clear your own dishes. Scrape off excess food into the garbage (or disposal if you have one), then place the dishes into the dishwasher if possible, or on the counter next to the sink.

            --Makes the job a little easier for whoever is washing the dishes that night. I say place the dishes on the counter versus into the sink, because for me personally I don’t like having dishes just thrown helter-skelter into the sink as I just end up having to rearrange everything before I can wash them (but I currently don’t have a dishwasher so am washing everything by hand).

 FOUR: At the end of the day, when you undress, place your clothes directly into the hamper, or hang or drape neatly if you plan to wear them again. If there are use-again clothes that have been draped or hanging for more than 24 hours, put them away in your closet. After a bath or shower, hang up your own towel back where it belongs. Put your shoes somewhere out of the way so they don’t get tripped on.

            --There is no quicker way to make a place look untidy than by throwing around some old laundry. And it takes hardly any more effort to hang up a shirt than it takes to drop it on the floor. But if you don’t take care of your clothes yourself, no one else is going to want to have to handle your used laundry—at least not until it’s time to actually do the laundry.

FIVE: If you generate a piece of trash (gum wrapper, clothing tag, etc), dispose of it properly right away. And while you're at it, if you go to throw something away and the trash can is full, empty it out.

            --Litter is bad enough on the street. Who wants to deal with it in their home?

That's it. As a mother of three boys (so far), I plan on beginning to develop these habits in my own sons NOW. They're still pretty young, but it's never too early to start, and my oldest is definitely old enough for most of these (maybe not taking out the trash yet).

I need a good picture now so I can put this on Pinterest haha...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Top Ten Reasons Why I Don't Wear Makeup

Top Ten Reasons Why I Don't Wear Makeup:

1. The cheap stuff is awful.
2. The good stuff is too expensive.
3. I like my face the way it is.
4. I believe my facial skin is much healthier-- and doesn't require special cleansers or creams-- because I don't wear makeup.
5. Ever tried to take an afternoon nap with makeup on?
6. I don't have a job that requires it.
7. If you're used to seeing a woman in makeup and then one day she doesn't wear it she will look awfully tired and worn out. Everyone is used to seeing me without makeup, so I always look the same.
8. My mother never wore makeup.
9. I have more time to spend on other things because I'm not spending so much time fussing with my face.
10. My purse is a whole lot lighter and less cluttered.`

Monday, May 6, 2013

We Have a Talker

C's Top Ten First Words
(in no particular order)

Dad ("da")
Mama ("muh")
Bye-bye ("buh buh")
No ("nuh")
Stuck ("duhk")
Dance ("da")
Up ("uh-p")
Bath ("ba-f")
Milk ("muh-k")

I know it's not unheard-of for toddlers to talk at 14 months, but considering neither of my older boys said more than a handful of words before 18 months, it's really exciting and different for us to have a kid talking this early.


Friday, May 3, 2013


I cannot keep my 14-mo out of ANYTHING! As a prime example, we've had to progressively increase the security/barricade around our computer desk; he's worked his way around every single obstacle and we are out of options (he's even figured out how to push stuff out of the way and crawl under our bed). Just today, he climbed up onto the stool, pulled out the keyboard tray and climbed onto the tray, then climbed onto the main desk, just to get to the telephone.

We can still keep him out of a room as long as the door's shut tight; but it's only a matter of time before he figures out how to turn a doorknob (he's already attempted it). He's figured out that he can bring things over to stand on to boost his height to get onto high furniture or (hasn't done it yet, but probably will soon) climb over a gate. This kid is sharp. And we're barely one step ahead.

And he is darn determined. It doesn't matter how many times he falls and bumps his head, he'll get right back up and try again and again to do the impossible (like climbing a vertical bookshelf, yes he's tried that too) because it's his destiny!

Neither of my other boys was nearly this difficult. I thought Z was difficult, but I had no idea...

He used to be such a laid-back, happy, enjoyable little guy. And often he still is. But more and more it's just getting so frustrating for all of us, because he has no concept of danger, he's too young to discipline, and distraction only works if it involves nursing or food or going outside (all of which require my complete involvement). My other boys are frustrated (especially my oldest) because he's always getting into their things and breaking their Lego creations or tearing their books or interfering with their video game etc. He has a royal fit every time we remove him from a dangerous situation (either dangerous to him or dangerous to whatever he's trying to get into).

Yesterday he pulled the stroller down on himself. He's knocked over the coat tree and our floor lamp. He still tries to eat everything and we're having to box up more and more stuff (particularly books) because there is nowhere else safe to put it. Our house is a disaster area. And every time I think I finally have it toddler-safe again, he figures out some new trick to get into a place I thought was secure.

So if you see me around with missing chunks of hair on my scalp, please be sympathetic. And lend me your cap.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


My brain has been nagging me to "post something." So I will. But I'm not in the mood for an update on my kids, or a serious discussion, or my latest creative endeavors. So I'm just going to ramble on a semi-random topic of my choosing.

I've been thinking about the color green. You might remember a post of mine a while back about the color white. Well now it's green's turn.

When people ask me my favorite color, I usually say "green." If I'm honest with myself, this is probably not entirely true (more on that in a later post on another color to-be-announced). But, I committed to this color many years ago, and kinda like a marriage partner, I'm stuck with it now ;-)

But I do love green. In all its many shades and hues. My living room walls are painted a kinda minty green that feels very refreshing. It's actually pretty close to the color of this blog's background.

Green is an earthy, natural color, which I like. I am an earthy, natural girl. I also like green coupled with one of any number of different colors...Some favorite combinations include green and brown, green and purple, and green and white. And, since marrying Nick-- whose favorite color is orange-- I have also gained a deep appreciation for the green/orange combo-- especially the more rusty orange we've often come across on our drives through the Northwest Montana forest ranges in the Autumn months.

Green is technically one of the "cool" colors, but it always feels rather warm to me. It is relaxing yet energizing at the same time; very few colors can claim that distiction, I think. Maybe this explains the origin of "green rooms" in live theatre. Something for me to look up sometime...

And if course frogs are green, and those who know me know how I love frogs (both literal and figurative)!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Brown Stuff

I was reading a magazine about fifteen minutes ago. Z and C were playing quietly in their room, until Z called to me and said "C just spit up." C had come out to the living room at that point and I looked at him and there was brown stuff all over his face.

I looked at his feet, and there were little droplets of brown making a trail across the floor, and right outside the entrance to the boys' bedroom was a pile of regurgitated brown stuff. I grabbed some baby wipes and cleaned off his face, then started on the droplets.

My first thought was not actually poop (bet that's what you were thinking). I had been baking with chocolate chips earlier, and so my first thought had been that he had somehow gotten a mouthful of chocolate chips, though it seemed impossible since the kitchen was closed off to him (and I'm not that messy when I cook).

I made my way to the pile and realized it wasn't poop, thank goodness (yes, that had been my second thought). But I still couldn't figure out what it was.

Then I came into the bedroom and realized there were jumbo crayons strewn on the floor amid the other toys. I quickly picked up all the crayons I could see. But the brown crayon was not among them. I eventually found the brown crayon after a more thorough search, and sure enough one end had been bitten off.

C has had his four front teeth (two top, two bottom) for a while now. He just broke through one of his top incisors yesterday.

He chews on everything. Nothing is safe. It's only a matter of time, I suppose, before he tries to eat his own poop. But thankfully, today was not that day.

Monday, April 1, 2013

How my opposition to gay marriage is fueled by Love

Our nation is being gravely divided right now in a civil dispute over the rights of homosexual adults to marry and enjoy the legal benefits that heterosexually married couples enjoy. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have been advised by my religious leaders to oppose the legalization of gay marriage.

 The church has come out with various official statements about and related to this subject. These statements will serve as the framework from which I compose the rest of this post. I refer you to the following links to read more about what my church believes concerning marriage, the family, and homosexuality:

 On the flipside, various statements have also come out from other groups and individuals in support of gay marriage, including evidence that children raised by gay couples fare no worse in life than children raised by heterosexual couples. Whether these cases turn out to be the norm or the exception may be too soon to tell. But I am mostly satisfied, at least, that from a temporal perspective, I can continue to be loving toward all my fellow human beings, and accepting of the diverse lifestyles of all peaceable individuals regardless of their life choices. I don’t believe in contention; I don’t believe in hate.

 Nevertheless, from a religious standpoint and eternal perspective, I must oppose gay marriage. Not out of hate, but out of love. How can that be? I will endeavor to explain my position.

 I believe gender is more than just a manifestation of physical traits. Gender is also spiritual. That is, each one of us is a spiritual being, a divine son or daughter of our Heavenly Father (otherwise known as God).

 Heavenly Father has a gender—male. And though He does not specifically mention our Heavenly Mother (no doubt out of love and respect for her and a desire to protect Her name from being abused as His has been), I believe we have one. Together, these two Heavenly beings gave “birth” (via what process I do not know) to every spirit in Heaven prior to these spirits—our spirits—being born in the flesh to an earthly father and mother in similitude of our Heavenly origins.

 While I will not be discussing the specifics of the process here, I also believe that it has been made possible for each one of us to one day become as our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother now are—to be gods ourselves, to propogate our own spiritual offspring and help them to achieve “goodhood”—or Exaltation—as well, in the same manner as we have done.

 This is the loftiest goal to which our souls can aspire—the goal of Eternal Life. But it can only be achieved through faithful diligence, acceptance of our Father’s Plan and our Savior’s Atonement, receiving sacred ordinances along the way, and no man or woman can do it alone. We need each other.

 I believe in Eternal Marriage—that is, a marriage performed as a sacred and binding ordinance, administered by proper authority (we call in the Priesthood), between a man and a woman who are to remain faithful to other and to God to the best of their ability in this life and in the life to come. Only in this way can one hope to attain full Godhood—as a team, a man and a woman.

 Now, many if not most of us will in some way fall short of this ultimate goal. But if we do, it will come as no surprise in the end.

 What do I mean by that? I mean that God and Christ (through the Atonement and Resurrection) have ensured for each one of us that we will be granted the opportunity for eternal progression. If one does not receive that opportunity in this life, it will be offered in the next. None will be disadvantaged in the eternal scheme.

 But, it has to be our choice whether or not to accept the invitation to begin and to endure upon the path to Eternal Life. And many people—unfathomable as is seems—will choose not to follow it, and will instead accept their place in a “lesser glory” or kingdom. And while it is a sad choice for God to see one of His children make, He allows that child right via the law of Free Agency to make that choice to halt his Eternal progression.

 A quick note here, but without going into great detail: I believe (as per the teachings of my church) that having a physical body is an essential part of God’s plan for each of His children. And furthermore, those sacred ordinances which I mentioned earlier which must be performed along an individual’s path to Eternal Life, must be performed physically before they can be valid spiritually. If a person is not privileged, then, to have these ordinances performed while living on this earth, a worthy member (having had his own ordinances performed already) may stand in as a proxy for that deceased spirit to receive the necessary ordinances and fullness of his promised blessings, should he be found worthy and willing to receive them.

 There are several ordinances which must be received in order, and receiving any one or more of them allows an individual to progress along the path. The highest ordinance, and the one necessary for Eternal Life or Godhood, is the sealing ordinance of Eternal Marriage. And Eternal Marriage as ordained by God, can only be between a man and a woman.

 As things currently stand, if a man and a woman are legally married in this life, but did not receive the sealing ordinance, proxies can be authorized to perform that ordinance for them, allowing that man and woman to progress toward Godhood together should they so choose.

 Also, after a couple is sealed together under the proper authority, any biological or legally-adopted children can also be sealed to those parents.

 But a legally married gay or lesbian couple cannot be sealed together in this way, nor can any children they have borne or adopted be sealed to their gay or lesbian parents.

 Here is the sad dilemma:

 If, while still in this life, a gay individual in a gay marriage were to gain a testimony of the Church and desire to join and partake of the ordinances necessary for spiritual and eternal progression, he could not be permitted to do so while his gay union stands. This puts the individual in the unfortunate situation of either divorcing his partner (whom he loves and with whom he chose to spend his life), or staying in the relationship and halting his spiritual progression. This choice becomes much more difficult if there are children involved.

 If this same individual were to come to a knowledge and acceptance of the Gospel after death, earthly records would not be such as to permit a proxy sealing of any kind. Though this same situation would occur with any unmarried individual—gay or straight. We are told in the church, that a lot of proxy work will be done after the Second Coming of Christ, and that all will be worked out in the end for anyone faithful who desires for their work to be done. If a posthumous union can be arranged for worthy straight individuals, I can only assume that the same will be true for those gays and lesbians who have repented of their earthly sins and are willing to accept eternal mates of the opposite gender. I personally do not know how it all will be worked out, but I believe that it will, because God is just and merciful.

 So why do I oppose gay marriage? Ultimately, because it causes a lot of unneccessary spiritual heartache; because it halts the progression—either temporarily or permanently—of otherwise worthy individuals; and because any family formed by a gay union cannot last into Eternity, no matter how much those family members love each other, and that is the saddest thought of all.

 I don’t expect those who do not believe as I do to accept as truth all that I have just shared. I have no real empirical evidence, aside from the witness of the Holy Spirit which has affirmed the truth of it to my soul. I do hope that it can at least serve to help others understand my position and how—believing as I believe—I must oppose gay marriage.

 For if I believe—as I do—that God’s greatest desire for each of His children is to one day become as He Himself now is, how can I desire or encourage any less for my Brothers and Sisters? For me to endorse gay marriage would be for me to imply to these people that I do not care if they achieve the same eternal rewards as I myself strive for.

 In closing, I offer up a final thought, that right does not always equal good.

 From a legal standpoint, is allowing gay marriage the right thing to do? Yes.

 From a temporal/earthly perspective, is it good? I believe the evidence for this one way or the other has yet to be seen.

 But from an eternal perspective, is gay marriage good for God’s children? To that, I can say that the answer is a definite and resounding NO.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Lego Quest" challenge #1

A while ago, a friend on Pinterest posted a link to a blog titled Lego Quest, with a weekly Lego challenge, one per week for a year. The official Quest is already over, but people can still use the ideas for inspiration. I gave my boys the first "challenge" a couple weeks ago and G has been on my case to post the pictures as promised, so I'm finally doing it (and he is reading over my shoulder as I type this-- Hi G).

The challenge was "build a car." Here are the pictures of the boys' creations:

 G calls his creation "the Astro-onic." He wants to point out that he used both Legos and Mega Blocks (a Lego off-brand, because we are cheap like that).

Z calls his creation "Super Gabe Kart."

Link to the original Lego Quest:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Invisible Good Guy Ghost

I had the opportunity on Sunday to substitute teach Z's Sunbeam class at church. Our discussion for the day centered on the Holy Ghost, and how the Holy Ghost can help us when we are sad, afraid, or in need of guidance; and how when we have happy, warm feelings that is the influence of the Holy Ghost letting us know that everything is okay. After church, during lunch, Z said something about the Holy Ghost (can't remember his exact comment), and it sparked a second discussion to reinforce the lesson at church.

This morning before lunch, Z had a meltdown and was having a hard time calming down and being rational again, even after many hugs and snuggles and calming words on my part. I managed to get him to the table for lunch, but he was still screaming on-and-off. I offered up a prayer before we ate, and in the prayer I said, "Please help Z to be able to calm down and be happy." Almost immediately after the prayer, Z finally stopped crying and said, "I'm happy now!" Oh, good. And then he added, "The invisble good guy ghost came and made me happy!"

"You mean the Holy Ghost?"



Monday, February 4, 2013

Eleven Months!

Wow, only one more month and we will have a one-year-old!

C is growing bigger; I haven't weighed or measured him lately, sorry. I will be sure to do that around his first birthday...

He sidles along the furniture now. He can also stand for short periods unsupported. A couple times he's tried to take a step, but then fell.

He has at least two recognizable words that he speaks: "da" for "daddy," and "ba" for "bye." He likes to babble-talk a lot, but we can't tell if he has any other "real" words in his vocabulary yet.

He still likes to bite things. And people. He laughs about it too, little imp. He reminds me of Sunny in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

For a while we were working on transitioning him from our bed to the pack-n-play (we bought a foam mattress to make it more comfortable), but noticed that he was waking more frequently and harder to put down on the nights when we started him out in the pack-n-play. So we're back to just having him start the night in our bed and he sleeps longer stretches that way and is easier to put back down after night-waking. Right now, it's just more important for us to all get a good night's sleep since we're in the middle of tax season. We'll try the transition again in April. We might even have a double bed for him in the boys' room by that time and he might like that better than the pack-n-play.

He loves to splash in the bath. He loves to eat solid foods, though he is also still very much into nursing. He loves music and dancing. He wants to follow his big brothers around everywhere and do everything they do.

He plays this "game" with us where he tries to get into the bathroom. Usually we keep the door closed or have the baby gate up. But once in a while we forget, and C delights in taking these opportunities to try to speed-crawl to the door and sneak in there before we can get to him. He laughs about it whenever we catch him. But a couple times now he's managed to sneak in there and get into stuff before we realize it. Once he got his hands into the toilet; and just a couple nights ago he got a hold of the toilet bowl scrubber and had dragged it across the floor and was sitting banging it on the stool in front of the sink when we finally caught him. Yuck!

In short, life is never dull with this kid. But he is such a happy-go-lucky baby that it's easy to forgive him for the messes he makes. He cheers us all up, and we're so happy to have him in our family.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I am crazy! Or maybe I'm a genius. You decide.

It all started a while back when Nick and I began discussing what we're going to do when C is ready to be moved into the bedroom with his two older brothers (he currently resides in ours).

A little bit of factual information: We live in a two-bedroom one-bath condo. The images below will give you some rough visuals (which might or might not be useful):

The back half of our living room. To the right is where we keep coats, boots, a desk, and C's diaper-changing "station"--

The front half of our living room. Between the piano and the wall with the window is a medium-sized chest freezer. As you can sort of see, the chest freezer and piano are more often than not covered in junk-- there's just nowhere else to put it!

The boys' room. Along the wall you can't see is a set of bookshelves and some toy storage. There is also a walk-in closet to the left, along the same wall as the bunkbeds. The dresser holds the clothes of the two older boys, and the "armoire" holds C's clothes, and has some room in the top half for hanging clothes for all three boys.

The "master bedroom." There's about a foot and a half of space between the foot of the bed and the loveseat (bottom right corner). Along the right wall is my dresser and C's pack-n-play. We pretty much use the p-n-p for naps only, though he also starts the nights out in there (but doesn't last very long before joining us in our bed). Along the left wall is a closet spanning most of the length of the wall. To the right of the picture is a second walk-in closet used for storage of various things.

There, you have a basic visual now.

So, challenges we currently face:

A. With the baby (almost a toddler!) in our room, Nick pretty much has to dress in the dark every morning (sometimes I do, too). Once in a while, Z is even in there sleeping, having joined us partway through the night (he's a light sleeper like his mom).
B. With a younger brother sleeping in his room (eventually two younger brothers), when G gets up in the morning to get ready for school, we have to quietly get his clothes and bring them out to the living room for him to get dressed.
C. With the pack-n-play in the back corner of our bedroom, it's just not a very handy daytime playpen anymore. And there are definitely times on a daily basis when I really miss it during the day to keep C out of trouble; but he's not keen (and I can't blame him) on being left alone in our room to play while we're all out in the living room or kitchen.
D. Once C moves in with his brothers, he's going to need his own bed. How are we going to fit another bed in that room and still be able to fit the clothing storage?
E. Ummm, we have really noisy neighbors next door. Just last night, they kept us awake past midnight.
F. Our neighbors also have to hear our baby crying in the middle of the night when he's having trouble sleeping due to teething or illness or general discomfort.

So, what would moving our king-sized bed accomplish?

1. With no-one sleeping in the master bedroom anymore, it will be much easier for all of us to get dressed in the morning without waking each other (we'd move the boys' clothing into the master bedroom, too).
2. The pack-n-play would be easier to move around. We could have it in the living room near our bed at night; and during the day, we could either have it in the living room, or move it to the master bedroom for naptime, or for when I'm working in there (because I intend to have a sewing/craft station where our bed used to be).
3. With ALL clothing storage moved into the master bedroom, making space in the boys' room for a double bed for C to eventually sleep in (and either Nick or I could join him briefly in the middle of the night if he got fussy), and also for a guest bed.
4. We wouldn't have to listen to our noisy neighbors in the middle of the night, making noises we have no business hearing (but currently can't help it). And they would no longer have to listen to our baby scream in the middle of the night.

Challenges of having the king bed in the living room:

a. It would take up a lot of space (obviously). We'd have to figure out what to do with our big couch. Also, there would be just barely enough space for someone to sit at the computer desk.
b. Entertaining company would be a bit of a challenge (though we'd still have a little space in the front half of the living room for some folding furniture, and we could maybe turn part of the bed into daytime seating).
c. Privacy and presentability (you mean I'd actually have to make my bed every single day? haha). This could be addressed, though, by hanging curtains from the ceiling to conceal the bed (and also shut out light).

So, weighing the pros and cons, I think it's at least worth a try! What do you think?

Anyway, I might be able to talk Nick into trying it, at least for a little while, since we'll have to move the bed out anyway in order to paint the walls in the master bedroom. So, stay tuned! You may be hearing more about this little adventure in the future...

It's fortunate for Nick I can't move the bed all by myself...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Movie Review: Les Miserables

I looked forward to this movie with much anticipation. I was introduced to the "Les Miserables the Musical 10th Anniversary Concert" as a young teen and have loved it ever since. I've watched the concert video numerous times, as well as listened to the CD recording and also the Original Broadway Cast recording. But for years, I desired to see the actual play/musical and never had the opportunity.

When I heard it was going to be made into a movie at last, I was thrilled. And on Christmas Day, I finally got to see it with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

It wasn't all I'd expected. Some parts were disappointing, though overall I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it, though there were a few minor issues that I had a hard time getting over. Yesterday, I took Nick to see it. I wanted to see it a second time, to see if it improved upon second impression (I was so used to the Broadway and Concert recordings, maybe I was just being biased). I have to say though that my enjoyment was about the same the second time around. Nick enjoyed it thoroughly, and it managed to bring tears to his eyes (as it had to me the first time I saw it).


Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean. This was the biggest obstacle I had to get over and it was not easy. He did fine with his acting, and the emotionality he put into his part was incredible. To fully appreciate all that, though, I first had to get over his singing voice. He was too nasal throughout, and I got the impression in many instances that the pitch was too high for his natural register-- like he was being forced to sing in "head voice." It's not really his fault; I'm sure he did the best he could. But the folks casting the role should have made certain before they casted him that he would be able to sing the part well. He never would have been given the role on Broadway. Also, I couldn't help noticing his tendency to cut off the ending consonants at the ends of phrases; makes me wonder if those not already familiar with the lyrics might have been left in the dark a few times as to what he had just said/sung.

If Valjean had been a more minor character, all of the above wouldn't have been such a big deal. But I think the whole opening sequence of the movie rather suffered due to Jackman's weak vocal performance, and that is unfortunate as it has such a powerful musical score.

Russell Crowe as Javert. I have similar complaints here as I did with Hugh Jackman, only to a lesser degree. Overall, I liked Russell Crowe's performance ("Stars" was one of the highlight scenes for me); only it was pretty apparent to me that he hadn't done much (if any) professional singing before this movie, and his vocal immaturity shone through in several spots. But he has a good voice in general, and all-in-all I'd say he did quite a good job portraying the straight man who just doesn't realize until the end that he happens to be on the wrong side.

Enjolras' voice was also on the weak side; they should have found someone with a more powerful voice to lead the band of "school boys" to the barricade.


Gavroche was incredibly endearing; I think his was probably my favorite character through the whole movie. Daniel Huttlestone's acting was superb, and I just couldn't help but fall in love :) He was just so cute!

I was really happy with Eponine. She's my favorite character from the novel and I was glad they found someone good to fill the part. I understand Samantha Barks has played Eponine on stage, and it was obvious her vocal training had been extensive. In addition, her acting/facial expressions were right on; I teared up several times over what her character was going through.

The ensemble cast was amazing! I absolutely loved every single chorus number. The chorus really carried the whole show, in my opinion. In fact, it makes me recall what one of my high school theatre teachers said once (to paraphrase), that the chorus in a musical can make or break the performance; that it doesn't matter how good the leads are if the chorus is bad. In the case of Les Miserables, the chous most definitely made the show.

My Favorite Moments (and there were several):

Fantine's reaction as Valjean is carrying her to the hospital and promises to send for her daughter.

Valjean and Javert sparring in the hospital; I always love a good "sword fight." :D

Seeing Young Cosette with her rag doll, her only and her most prized possession. Poingnant.

Valjean requesting to help Cosette with her bucket of water :)

One song that I think Hugh Jackman performed beautifully was "Suddenly," during his flight with Cosette from the Thenardiers' inn.


Seeing the "White Elephant" statue for the first time brought a thrill, as that is something that is taken straight from the novel: Gavroche and his urchins live in that statue.

One of my favorite, most tear-jerking scenes from the novel is when Marius has enlisted Eponine's help to find Cosette and promises her anything she wants in return (assuming she'll want money since her family is dirt poor, not realizing what Eponine really wants is his love), then once Eponine has followed through Marius places a coin into her hand and Eponine lets it fall to the ground and simply says "I don't want your money." So it was also thrilling to witness her saying this in the movie, realizing all the unspoken feelings behind that simple statement.

"On My Own." This song will always hold a special place in my heart; I well-appreciated Samantha Barks' performance of it (and relieved they didn't cut it short like they did "A Little Fall of Rain" later on).

I loved the moment when Valjean reads Marius' letter to Cosette and realizes-- as all fathers of daughters must someday-- that she no longer belongs to him. Both times watching this movie in the theatre, when this happened I could hear chuckling from many of the audience members. A very relatable moment in general.

I felt deeply impressed by the scene where Enjolras is finally left alone facing all the rifles aimed to kill him, and Grantaire climbs up the stairs and walks through the soldiers to join his comrade in a final stand. I think it takes having read the novel to realize what an incredible gesture that really is on Grantaire's part.

Another scene which brought tears to my eyes was Javert's gesture of placing his badge of valor on the dead Gavroche's lapel. This is probably the first time Javert acknowledges to himself that there is something more to life than upholding the law of the land; I also imagine maybe Gavroche reminds Javert a little of himself as a boy.

I loved seeing the Bishop standing there at the end to welcome Valjean into Heaven.

So, yes. Overall, loved the movie. Definitely glad I went to see it-- twice! Probably will not be investing in the DVD, though, at least not for a long time (maybe someday I'll feel like watching it again). For now, I'll go back to my old favorite Tenth Anniversary Concert edition with the more superior vocal performances. But it was nice to finally see the whole musical, since I've never had the privilege of watching it on stage.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ten Months

To quote my husband, "It's like having a puppy!"

C is standing up to all kinds of things now on a regular basis. He especially likes to stand up to a desk or table and reach as far as he can to grab whatever he can get his hands on-- boy! that kid can reach!

And still, everything goes straight to the mouth. I know I've said it pretty much every update, but it's so so different from our experience with our first two babies who rarely put anything besides food or a pacifier into their mouths. Our first two babies really spoiled us that way, and now we're still getting used to having to keep stuff like paper and books out of reach. All our top shelves are cluttered with stuff as we've had to move it up higher from where it originally sat.

We have two baby gates-- one to keep C out of the kitchen (because the floor is-- more often than not-- dirty), and another that can be moved among doorways to keep him out of the bathroom, our room, or the boys' room (when they are playing with their Legos). It's funny, though, because whenever C perceives that the gate is not there and the door is open, he makes an immediate beeline to get into the room (especially the bathroom) before we can block it. I think he thinks it's a game now :)

He especially loves the bathroom because he loves to take baths. He'll have Nick pick him up, point to the bathroom, then once he's in the bathroom point to the bathtub. Sometimes we will just put him in the bathtub fully clothed without any water and he has fun with that for a while.

I am so so so ready to get him out of our bed, and am working on finding a good mattress to put in the pack-n-play that will be comfortable enough for a baby used to sleeping on a pillow top. Hopefully we'll have it all figured out in the next couple months. The biggest question is where to put up the pack-n-play at night: putting him in the boys' room is out while school is in session because G would have too much trouble falling asleep with a still-awake and potentially fussy baby in there; he'd be all alone out in the living room; but in our room there's just so little space, though that's probably what we'll end up doing anyway.

He's eating solids now 2-3 times a day. He loves it. But he's at the point now where he's not content to just let us feed him purees, but will fight us to hold the spoon and feed himself even though he's not really coordinated enough yet. So I need to find some more good, healthy finger-foods for him to try. We've tried bananas, but he's more interested in squishing them between his fingers :) He likes bread. Last night I gave him a few bites of my bean burrito; at first he reacted by sticking out his tongue, but then he kept taking more bites so Iguess he liked it.

He has his two bottom front teeth now. And he likes to bite. Yesterday, he kept trying to bite me-- not while nursing so much, but on my leg as I was resting on the couch, on my back as I was helping the boys clean up their toys, on my belly while we were playing on the floor. I've never had a biter like this before, either...

He still gets so excited when Nick comes home from work, and wants to be held by him all the time whenever he's home, except when he wants to nurse. When he's ready to be handed to me, he will make the "milk" sign to Nick and Nick will hand him to me. We're not sure, though, if he uses the sign to say "milk" specifically, though, or if it's just his way of asking for me, because sometimes I will start to nurse him after he does this and he doesn't seem that interested. I really need to start doing more signs with him, I just keep forgetting.