Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My mom is a wizard

So everyone who knows my mom knows that she is a doer. She just goes and goes and gets things done. And she does them well...not like Ashley style, like improvise everything just to get it done asap so that nothing bad happens while I am "busy getting something done." She does things but she also does them impeccably, perfectly well. So she came for Halloween last week. And so that Adam and I could go to Taos, NM for the weekend. The whole thing was such a brilliant idea and even more brilliantly executed: Not only did she get to spend Halloween with the kids, not only did we design the baby's room and buy fabric WITH boys in tow, not only did we go away and find that she had made EVERYTHING while we were gone, not only did we have a fantastically wonderful and relaxing weekend away while someone who loves our children was in charge, but my kids were also alive when I got home!! Total win win win for everyone, but mostly me.

Oh, and after a monumental tantrum in which Tate threw up from freaking out so much over his costume at the ward trunk or treat, I had zero desire to press the issue on Halloween night. So he went trick or treating, sans costume, and marched right into each resident's house to find the toys in the basement. Yeah...he is a really delightful 2 year old at the moment.

Also. This is Adam and me at the Rio Grande bridge in NM, which just so happens to be the original bridge to nowhere. Pretty sweet. I tried real hard to find a picture of my face that does not look so pregnant. Alas, this is what it has come to and one was not to be found. But how cute is Nora's room and how awesome is my mom?

To own or not to own a home? I say "TO NOT!"

So after a long fought battle to obtain a short sale for the home we bought when we moved to California, we finally closed and became proud non-homeowners on Halloween. Anyone who has not been through this miserable process can’t begin to fathom how much brain damage and emotional trauma is involved. So I will spare you. But I can’t express how happy I am to no longer be a homeowner, landlord, have no ties to CA, and mostly just be responsible for the house I live in!

So now begins the “Should we buy a house because it is the smart thing to do?” debate. A few weeks ago we went out to visit the home of one of Adam’s work associates. She lives about 30 minutes away from us on a decently sized piece of land…let’s be honest, anything more than the 1/10th of an acre plot that the mass produced homes in our neighborhood sit on is decently sized. But I mean like 15 acres. She has horses and goats and cats and dogs and all sorts of animals that I have no interest in. But I do have interest in the land and space and living a little removed and the ability to open my door and say “GO” to my children.

The boys had a blast, obviously. I mean literally, they were in heaven. It was sort of like being in Lake Powell where I just had this feeling of “ahh, we were meant to be here. This is what boys are supposed to do all day: run, run, run, jump, climb, run, get dirty, chase animals, throw rocks, sword fight with sticks, etc. “ They each got a turn to ride Starr, the nice old well broken in horse who wouldn’t kick even if a certain two year old refused to abide by rule number one of horse interaction: do NOT walk behind and ESPECIALLY underneath the horse. Apparently Tate missed (actually, rather ignored) that memo and spent most of the time running back and forth underneath the horse’s legs. Harmless, really.

So Adam and I go back and forth about what we really want when we have “our” house. The truth is, we may not really need to even discuss the pros and cons because by the time we are ready for “our” house, our kids will be parents themselves and looking for rest homes for us to die in. But nonetheless, we go back and forth about whether we want the land and the space and the freedom or the neighborhood and amenities and social activities for our kids. I really really like where we live. We are renting a home less than a mile away from Adam’s work, Target, Eli’s school, the bank, parks, community center complete with gym and childcare…literally, most days I don’t go anywhere more than a mile from my home and Adam comes home for lunch more days than not. Its awesome. I love the elementary school, and I love that Eli can go outside and find friends to play with. I love how well laid out and efficient the house is built; it makes practical sense on almost every level and isn’t too bad to look at. The yard is small and easy to care for.

But I hate that there is one or two or three of my same house on every carefully laid out street. I hate that my home is six inches away from either of my neighbors, which means they can probably hear me yelling at my kids. I don’t like that everything in the house is generic and practical, even though it makes perfect sense. I hate feeling like everything I do is on display and that I am “supposed” to be friends with everyone here…I know that sounds very cynical and antisocial, but I just don’t always want to be friendly ok????!!!!!! Sometimes ( a lot of times, actually) I just want to be left alone. And I will never buy another house in a homeowner’s association. Been there done that…unless it just makes too much sense not to, in which case….I don’t know.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I can't help myself

I know my blog had a rebirth under the pretext that I was not going to discuss politics or my very opinionated personal views where they don't directly relate to my family. Here is how my views of last night's debate relate to my family: Talking on the phone is a nightmare. It does not matter what I do to try and placate my kids--turn on a show, set them up with treats or a meal or lock them safely in the car or stroller. I get on the phone to discuss the debate with my family or, heaven forbid, make a doctor's appointment and mayhem ensues. I guarantee you my house is still NOT burned down because I severely limit my conversations on the phone. And I do that because even though I know somewhere deep down inside myself, I am truly capable of having an intelligent, adult conversation, my kids just prohibit it. When I get on the phone, I am a rambling, meandering, bumbling idiot. So here are the thoughts I was trying to excitedly articulate to my siblings on the phone betwixt Tate hitting and cursing me for trying to put on his orange shoes instead of his green ones, refusing to sit in the cart, throwing his capri sun that he clearly did not want and demanding that I buy him a new toy...

1-Jim Lehrer sucked. I know the moderator is supposed to be subtle if not invisible. But he got trampled and by so doing gave both debaters an unchecked podium. He had no control of the debate and asked nothing even remotely challenging or controversial; I was shocked by this given the plethora of controversial fodder Romney has provided in the last 4 weeks and that the President has provided in the last 4 years! There was more than enough material on which to challenge each competitor and the most compelling question he asked was "What is the difference between you and your opponent on _____?" Unbelievable. And even more unbelievable was that Romney was the only one to fill that challenge vacuum and take it to his opponent. I have never seen Barack Obama look so lackluster, defeated and downright boring.

2-I am so sick and tired of the President casually tossing around the word "investment." I hate how he talks about needing people to pay more so we can "invest"....um, very few people are investing right now. We are trying to survive and resurge so that SOME DAY we can begin investing again. Especially when he has demonstrated a track record of poor investments ie Solyndra, GM, AIG, etc. I don't really trust him as my financial adviser and it angers me that he wants to ask ANYONE for more money when that money has been so poorly mismanaged (to be fair, not just by him but by government in general). No one should pay more! Government should get its freaking act together. That's why I appreciated Romney talking about the deficit in moral terms.

3-I did not like the way Romney trounced all over the moderator, even though he was terrible (see number 1). He interrupted him and flat talked right over him. I know that contributed to his overall aggressiveness and keeping himself on the offensive but I didn't like that.

4-The truth is truth is relative in politics. Liberals of all degrees today (remarkably enough) are praising Romney's performance and style while dogmatically accusing him of lies and fabrication. First of all, your interpretation of truth depends on your initial values and paradigms; in other words, if you think it is better tax policy, or even more morally sound, to place a heavier burden on the wealthier sector of the population, then you will naturally conclude it is untruthful to assert that the opposite policy will encourage more growth and perhaps even higher revenue. And second, does anyone truly NOT expect their candidate to frame their argument in a way that hides any flaws of said argument? Because if either one of them have a downright, crystal clear, perfect solution to reducing the deficit, guaranteeing the solvency of medicare for the younger generation, making the tax code simpler and more fair, oh and insuring everyone in the country regardless of their health status in an economically viable way...they don't. Each of their solutions depend on very different value systems and are therefore subject to accusations of untruthfulness.

5-I for one wholeheartedly support the continued borrowing of funds from China to prop up Big Bird. That bird is too big to fail!

6-The best line of the night was when Romney said he was used to hearing people repeating things that were not true and hoping he would eventually believe it because he has 5 boys. Amen.

7-I don't know how much of a difference this makes. Romney did just about everything he needed to: He was assertive without being disrespectful. He was knowledgeable, competent and presidential. He even managed to be somewhat funny and likeable, perhaps even a touch empathetic...remarkable given how rich and out of touch he is. The President did everything to assist him in that goal and nothing to help his own image. Romney was extremely well coached on every minute minutae of debating--looking directly at your opponent, smiling without smirking, being witty without being snide, being tough without being curt or condescending. He walked many fine lines with pretty precise precision. BUT, I still don't know if it matters. I can't BELIEVE that it might not, but there has been no indication that the country is ready (again, astonishingly enough) to fire the president.

8-Ann Romney's hair looks 1000 times better shorter. She should never allow her hair to get longer than that and should probably even cut it a little shorter. She looked fantastic in white. And Michelle Obama looked as gorgeous as she always does. Now I feel better, like my conversations I had on the phone are complete. And I cannot wait for the next debate. Oh, and read this. So funny.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Losing Tate

I have plenty of bad mothering moments: yelling at my kids in frustration, not watching them, not feeling sorry when they get hurt because they were most likely being dumb or reckless or just plain not paying attention. So I am happy to own up to it. On Tuesday, I was NOT having one of those moments. And I managed to lose an entire child for an entire hour. I went to answer the door while Tate was playing in the family room with my back door open to our fenced in yard. It was the UPS guy mistakenly delivering a case of wine which was actually, ironically enough, intended to go to Eli's kindergarten teacher. We joked heartily about making sure the stuff was consumed after school hours...ha ha ha, goodbye, maybe a two minute conversation. I came back into the kitchen and started doing the dishes before I realized I did not see or hear Tate--silence is NEVER a good sign in my house. I knew the back door and the garage were open because Eli was outside with friends, which were both plausible escape routes. I checked all the window wells outside, tore through my house screaming his name so all my neighbors could hear and asked the kids outside if they had seen him. I went up and down from the basement to my bedroom 3 or 4 times, panicking and crying before I jumped in my car and started canvassing the neighborhood. Eli, bless his heart, helped me check the parks and yell out the window before reassuring me that Max (our next door neighbor) must have found him by now so we should go back so he could play. I called Adam 57 times, and headed to my community center to see if anyone had turned him into the lost and found. In the back of my head, I knew Adam was working, in the middle of stitching up someone's mouth actually, and that there was not much good that could be done by him--other than what I was already doing. I knew that, logically. But there was just something about hearing him calmly say, "ok, I will come home." He didn't even offer any particularly helpful suggestions but just knowing that someone else shares the burden of your missing child (even for a moment)felt better for some reason. I was ready to call the police and had nightmarish visions of endless days of never knowing what happened to my child. Dramatic, I know but I was positive that the UPS guy was an intended diversion and that someone had come and taken him out of my backyard and I would never see him again. So as I was driving, my backdoor neighbor calls; I answer and say "Do you have Tate????" She chuckled and said "Well, Aaron is not here..." which I was so irritated by because it was a completely irrelevant point since my CHILD WAS MISSING!!! "...I just got home from work and I heard something out on the back porch. I opened the door and Tate walked in and proceeded to go find the toys." So my two year old can climb the fence. Didn't know that! I went to pick him up and he started hitting me and telling me to go away and he was playing at Aaron's house; it was a lovely reunion. When I got home, I realized he had dragged a step ladder out of the laundry room and placed it up against the fence and climbed over. He was such a little brat before and after I lost him, screaming at me and hitting me all day. So it was probably a good day to lose him because then I really really liked him for at least that one hour of the day when I thought I would never see him again. Both kids went to bed at 7 o clock that night...in fact, it may have been 6:57 when I closed\locked (don't judge) the door.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thoughts on begetting a daughter

So here is the very first picture of our very first daughter. To be honest, beyond being excited for something, shall we say...a little different around here and being thrilled that both my sister and I are having girls at the same time, I haven't thought that deeply about what it will mean to add a little girl to our family. So I thought I should think about it more which is the reason for this post. I have had two miscarriages this past year. One was a twin pregnancy. I really intended to have our third child closer to Tate than the space between my first two. And I just assumed it would be a boy--mostly because I always thought it would be fun to have all boys... and that because of that, Heavenly Father would just figure that it would be a funny joke to give me EXACTLY what I wanted and sit back and laugh at the outcome. But alas, this baby girl will be 3 years younger than Tate, just as he is 3 years younger than Eli. And she is, in fact, not a boy. I realized, ultimately, as I began to consider the possibility that I might NOT be able to have any more children that things like spacing, gender and whatever else I stress and moan about during the pregnancy don't really matter. Furthermore, I don't have any control over them anyway! I know these things are fairly self evident but they were good things for me to learn. Heaven knows I have learned much from parenting my two sons thus far--more than I thought I would and definitely more than I wanted to! So as I think about what having a daughter will mean to our family and to me personally, I realize I am less scared than I thought I would be, more excited for her brothers to have a sister and VERY concerned about doing her hair. Other stuff: 1-I really hope she has her grandma Natalie's thick, lustrous hair. In the color of my mother's shiny, dark brown. If she gets my dumb, fine, thin hair then we are both in trouble because it will look awful all the time. I can't even get my own hair done on a daily basis. This is seriously the most troubling thing to me about being a mom to a girl. 2-I don't worry about her being a princess. I am not a princess. I do not care for princess stuff. And if she is born with innate princess tendencies, her brothers will certainly beat them out of her. She is just going to have to like running and motorcycling and hiking and camping. 3-I hope she is sweet. I hope she is a peacemaker, a calming influence on our family which can sometimes spiral into utter chaos. I hope she is a version of my sister Chelsea because we got along so well growing up! I want someone in our family who has the same effect that Chelsea did/does on me and our family. And if she is like me...well, that is cool too I guess. I am not so bad. But Chelsea is awesome and I would think that was such a gift, which if I may be so bold, I sort of think I deserve. 4-In the same way I think someday about sending my boys on missions and relishing/despairing in the wonderfulness/awfulnees that accomplishment will bring, I envision the day my daughter gets married and the same bittersweetness that will bring...already. I am impressed by how important it is to teach her to find the right person and how grateful I am that I can unequivocally point to her own father as the type of person for whom she ought to be looking. What if I could not recommend him? What if I had to tiptoe around the issue of insisting that she respect her father while also ignoring what he really stands for? I am truly thankful as I raise sons that I can point my finger at their dad and say "Aim to be like him," and that I can also say to my daughter "Find someone like him and you will be happy." Makes things a whole lot less complicated. 5-I am excited to have a running buddy. An errand buddy who *hopefully* won't constantly dart away from me. A reader to discuss books the way boys are not necessarily prone to do. A talker. A girl I can teach to like football AND cute clothes. A critic for my attire as I get older. What else am I missing? What is awesome about having a daughter? Or not so awesome?

Friday, September 21, 2012

I am back. For real.

This post is proof. Because I just wrote it down. So I am committed. Why? Well, mostly because I need more things to "do" whilst sitting on my butt listening to the news whilst also getting very large. I have reached that turning point in the pregnancy when my whole life attitude switches from "what can I do all day to maximize calorie burn?" to "how can I get done what I absolutely need to without exerting even a fractional extra amount of energy than I have to because it is uncomfortable?" That, and I have finally come to terms with what this blog is: it is not a political blog. Yes, I care deeply about politics and spend a decent portion of my day listening to political analysis and sometimes fantasize about being the analyst to whom people like me listen. But that is not this blog. This blog is going to be a catalog of the (sometimes boring) things I do with my kids and family and the things I learn while doing it. For a long time, I tried to make it a hodge podge of every thought that crossed my mind. But I am comfortable with this blog being mostly about my kids now...that is what I am doing at this point in my life. Also, I just miss writing. I miss the cathartic release I get when I make my thoughts legible. And I miss recording the wildly maddening, funny, sometimes even cute, and (even more sometimes) sweet things my kids do--which I often try to forget but might someday wish to remember. So that being said, our summer was spent roasting in our house, where NOTHING else was ever roasting because I effectively quit cooking. Pity. Because I became a really good cook last summer when I was bored in New Hampshire. I am counting down the days until I can a) cook in a house that stays below 80 degrees b) wear sweatshirts every day. So we were either roasting outside, or exploring the beauty around us in Colorado and Utah. We did some fun camping trips, went to Zion and Lake Powell and realized how much more comfortable we are in a region where the great outdoors are the museums we explore...as opposed to actual museums. Nothing against museums, but you can imagine what a museum with my kids is like, can you not? Well, I have to gear up mentally do such a thing for months. Eli has started kindergarten and really loves it. So do I. Kindergarten aint no joke, my friends. Do you know how much homework I have every day? But there are few things better for our relationship than a regular break from one another. So for that reason alone, kindergarten is worth its weight in gold--DON'T JUDGE. Here are some summer snapshots, mostly excluding me because I don't really do pregnant pictures.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A more (mostly) positive update

I dislike leaving such a negative post up for so long as the front of my page...you know, for all of my millions of readers. So the carpets are clean, the boys had fun at Father and Sons and I recovered (most of me anyway) from gorging myself on unhealthy eats. I also got to go to California and see some friends last weekend while the boys went camping at the sand dunes. It was so nice to see my friends. It turns out I can manage my life beautifully all by myself!! And sleeping in a dark hotel by yourself is highly underrated. At least for two days, anyway. Adam should get father of the year award for taking both boys and the dog camping AND making it half way through church by himself on Father's day. I also made it up the incline for the first time since my ankle injury...super slow recovery that has been frustrating and made me look like I should be trekking up the incline EVERYDAY. I went with this fun group of ladies from my ward though and we had a good time. 0/2gxChBFuICI/s1600/F%2Band%2BS.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left:1em; margin-right:1em">

Friday, June 8, 2012

I sure earn my breaks around here

Did I just drown my sorrows in a Hot n Ready Little Caesars pizza, crazy bread and a very large Diet Coke? Yes, yes I did. But the coke was caffeine free because I want to go to sleep tonight--let's not get TOO wild here. Tonight was supposed to be my little personal party anyway since it is the most highly anticipated night of the year for a mom of two wild boys...wait for it: Father and sons campout!! Times like these make having only boys so awesome. So I was planning to indulge at the pool with a superficial magazine and some red licorice anyway, but then Eli REALLY made me deserve it, so much so that the pizza and crazy bread got included in my party too. I honestly don't even want to discuss what he did. But let's just say it involved bodily functions deliberately smeared on carpet/wall/dresser/air vent (and who knows what else I missed); and it turned my anticipated happy waves and kisses goodbye into a furious disposition summed up nicely by the phrase "hurry up and get the **** out of here before something really bad happens." Let's also just say that if an all boys campout was not already planned, Eli would have been sent camping. Alone. Without a sleeping bag. So that was lucky. And it was also lucky that I was already planning on borrowing a carpet cleaner tomorrow. And it was even luckier that when I got in the car to go pick up the aforementioned indulgences, my few favorite country songs happened to be playing, most notably "Where the green grass grows." That song always makes me happy and carefree. And then I think it was more than luck that while I was trying to mindlessly drive, and just forget, that I instead started wondering what in the world to do with this kid who struggles so much with bewildering, wildly unpredictable naughty choices, how I am ever going to get through to this kid, get him through his formative years in life and help him figure out how to listen to the conscience I KNOW he has somewhere, wondering if it is possible for him to avoid any of the painful consequences he will certainly incur from making impulsive, impetuous, DUMB decisions...all of this is going through my head and I suddenly had a fleeting vision of the day I would send my son on a mission. And how glorious and awful it will be. And I burst into tears and thought "Really? Will we get there?" And I think Heavenly Father told me we would. Or at least that we could. And I was like "Are you sure???" And then I felt sure. Tender mercy I was not necessarily looking for. I was planning to just marinate in madness until they return tomorrow. But I think the better answer is to forget and move on, repeat as needed. I think that is the answer for just about every day with Eli--forget and move on because there will be something new tomorrow and accumulating frustration helps no one. For all of the things Eli puts me through, I know he is a good kid deep down. He is just learning how to show deep affection and, sometimes even, sorrow for the wacky things he does. Not all of the time, but that is new and good. I know he is capable of so much. He is funny and fun and wild and crazy. But he is smart and sweet and I just haven't quite figured out the best way to help him channel the strengths he has that I know can help him overcome his weaknesses. I am sure that is the universal struggle of every parent--basically, how do I make my kid learn, and more importantly decide, to be the best he can be and rise to his potential? I know it is not unique. But it feels burdensome and heavy to me right now. So I am grateful for every tiny little reassurance I can get that reinforces the idea that he will be fine. I am a little sick from licorice and pizza and coke. But now I am going to go take a bath and watch something stupid like "Pregnant in Heels" or the like. Don't tell, but I actually love that show. And sleep in until, like, 8am! And then go on a walk and borrow the carpet cleaner. Because now the carpets really need to be cleaned. Forget and move on, repeat.

Friday, May 18, 2012

We heart Colorado

Everything we love is here: mountains, sunshine, clear blue skies, dry air, good Diet Coke, parks, hiking and running and trails and--probably most importantly--lots of people who are also raising families and therefore do not hate us simply because we have children. (I realize given the subject of my most recent post, that might seem strange...) So here are some pictures of a few of our favorite things: Park + sand - ocean= better than the beach:
My souvenir from hiking the Incline,
an old cog railroad track that goes 2000 feet up a mountain in 3/4 of a mile. I swear you can see to Kansas at the top. So pretty that it was worth even the torn ligaments I sustained in a fall on the way down.
Some more pictures from the boys' dream days in Boulder working the tractors for Grandpa...does your Grandpa work in the woods???
I really hope we stay here. Being back near the Rocky Mountains makes me realize I never want to live anywhere else but somewhere near them. I have enjoyed, for various reasons, all of the different places we have lived. But there is no place like home, said Dorothy wisely, and it is a simple, true truth to which I wholeheartedly subscribe.