Monday, November 23, 2009

A Healthy, Happy Holiday

While sitting in the waiting room of the doctor's office this morning waiting to get a CT scan of my sinuses (which, by the way, is no fun--they tell you to lie on your stomach, prop your head up so all your weight is on your chin, and then DON'T swallow, which of course is all your throat wants to do when it's concentrating so hard on not doing it), I randomly picked up a magazine, flipped it open and started reading. Although I don't usually find much helpful information in magazine articles in waiting rooms (two weeks ago I was reading all about the latest gossip in Hollywood when I suddenly realized the magazine was over a year old. Great, I thought. Now I'm not only uninformed but the information that is floating in my head is outdated), this article caught my attention.

"Want to stay healthy and happy this holiday season?" it prompted.

Healthy? Yes! Happy? Even better. I read on.

The article began with mentioning how important it is to get plenty of rest. "Don't feel guilty about wanting and needing rest," it said. "Good rest is vital for a person's immune system to be strong and for a person to maintain overall good mental, physical and emotional health."

I agree, I thought wholeheartedly. I am going to bed earlier, and I'm not going to feel bad about it; in fact, I think I'm going to start scheduling a personal afternoon nap, just to be sure I'm in the clear. Yesiree, the experts say rest is vital, and I'm not about to dismiss this important piece of advice.

I couldn't wait to read on. I was sure the next pointer would mention chocolate on some level; maybe it would even suggest it would be a good idea to eat at least one cordial cherry chocolate after each meal throughout the holiday season (okay, so that's not the healthiest habit, but it sure makes me happy). There was no discussion on chocolate, but I loved what they did say. It was surprising and simple.


The article said adults need to play more and mentioned three different types of play. I can't remember the exact terminology, but we need active play (like playing on the floor with our toddlers or going outside with our kids), creative play (like scrap booking), and play that involves our brains (like board games and such). That's right. To be perfectly happy we need to schedule time to play. I love it!

In this competitive, busy world, I have been feeling the need lately to push real life aside more often and simply spend time with my kids--reading, snuggling, watching movies, listening, doing art projects and more. I had no idea I was actually following advice from experts on how to be healthier and happier. But I will say I have been happier. Life demands so much of our time, resources and energies, and too much of it is non important clutter, yet I find myself getting caught up in it anyway. Well, not anymore. My kids are really what matter, and they are growing up all too fast. So, I've decided this holiday season, I'm going to follow the advice of the experts and simply . . .


I've been almost giddy as I've made my mental list of stuff to do with my husband and kids: sledding, building snowmen, playing board games, reading Christmas books, listening to music, dancing and singing, making treats . . .

I feel healthier already!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Questions, Questions . . . and More Questions

My ears are tired.

I have had a persistent ear ache the past few days, and it didn't dawn on me until this morning why that might be. I think my four-year-old and now three-year-old made a secret pact to see who could say the word "Mom" the most times in a day and who could ask mom the most questions in a 24 hour period.

Let me explain. Yesterday was my youngest's three-year-old birthday. Here's how the day went, from the moment he woke up until I tucked him in at 9:00 last night.

"Can I have some birthday cake?"
"Not right now."
"Because we have to wait until after dinner when everyone is here."
"When Grandma and Grandpa come?"
"Are they coming for my birthday?"
"Are they coming to our house?"
"To see me for my birthday?"
"That's right."
"And eat some cake?"
"Yes, to eat pizza and birthday cake."
"And go swimming with us?"
"But not at the deep end, huh? I'm too little for the deep end."
"Are you too little for the deep end?"
"You're big?"
"Because you're old?"
"Kind of."
"And when you were little, you didn't swim at the deep end?"
"Cause you didn't want to drown?"
"That's right."
"Cause drowning is scary?"

And so on, and so on--the same conversation repeated numerous times throughout the day. By the time the grandparents actually arrived and it was time to eat the cake, I felt like I'd already had it. My four-year-old asked me at the beginning of the day yesterday if it was going to be a long day or a short day (I have no idea what she was referring to). I quickly summarized my day's agenda in my head and answered . . . "Long." I didn't realize how prophetic my answer would be.

Driving home from the swimming last night my children started peppering me with questions about unimportant stuff I was sure they already knew the answers to. Finally, I said with as much kindness and patience as I had left, "The next person who says, "Mom," or asks me a question is going to get their lips ripped off." (Okay, I realize that's not a real kind, patient, or appropriate threat to make, but it was how I felt. And besides, my children thankfully know me well enough to understand I wasn't completely serious. They simply giggled and reminded me there was probably a nicer way of asking for a peaceful ride home.)

When all my children were finally sound asleep last night I heaved a huge sigh of relief and took a moment to soak up the peace and quiet, sure I had survived the worst of it since the birthday was over.

Then I woke up this morning.

"Can I watch a movie?"
"Not right now."
"Because it's almost time for preschool. Maybe you can watch a movie later."
"After preschool?"
"Hannah Montana?"
"You getting tired of Hanna Montana?"
"You want to watch a different movie?"
"I don't care. I probably won't watch a movie, so it's not a big deal."
"You want to find the princess movie?" (I had been looking for Princess Diaries all morning, hoping to take it back to the library. My nine-year-old finally found it--in the VCR. Why didn't I think of that?)
"You don't know where it is?"
"You've looked everywhere?" (Must have heard that from my conversation with Dad)
"You even looked under the couch?"
"You have to take it back to the library?"
"Yes. I hope I can find it soon."
"The princess movie isn't ours?"
"It's the library's?"

And so on, until not only does my ear hurt, my whole head is pounding, wishing this persistent little voice that will not stop asking me questions will just take a little nap or something.

But then I have this sudden moment of realization that this little voice will grow up to be a big voice all too soon, and that I might even wake up one morning wishing a little voice would ask me non-stop questions all day to break the terrible silence of an empty home.

So, although my ears are tired and aching, I can't help but keep listening and answering, grateful for the little voices that fill my home. . .

But I have to admit one thing: bedtime is happening a lot earlier at my house for a while!

Monday, November 9, 2009

You Know You're A Mother If . . .

I've started paying closer attention to mothers lately. Maybe it's because there have been 6 babies born in the past couple of months in my husband's and my families, so I've had lots of opportunities to see mothers starting over again with new babies. In a conversation with one of my sisters-in-law yesterday, she made the comment, "Everything about motherhood is just plain hard!"

I had to laugh inside. I've had that same thought on many occasions; in fact, just today I had one of those moments when my two grade-schoolers arrived home early from school (it's early-out all week due to SEP conferences--a minor fact I had completely forgotten) and began fighting non-stop. In the midst of trying to referee the arguing, I accidentally poured milk on my two-year-old's bowl of popcorn, rather than his bowl of cereal. I would probably never have known except that he looked at me with an extremely quizzical look, which forced me to look down at his two bowls in order to see what his problem was. My four-year-old was nearly gagging by this point, but I simply shrugged, poured milk in his cereal bowl and told him he might as well try the soggy popcorn. "Maybe it's delicious--who knows?" Another suspicious look from my little guy (you know, the kind that says, "I'm pretty sure my mom is crazy" )and I couldn't help but think, "You know you're a mother if life is so chaotic you accidentally pour milk on the wrong bowl of snacks, and it doesn't even phase you." Hence started this list:

You know you're a mother if . . .
1- Your vertical leap increases by six inches when your toddler poops in the potty.
2- A productive day means you showered before noon and made your bed.
3- A date with your husband means he tags along with you at the grocery store.
4-A clean house consists of a cleared path from the front door to the bathroom.
5- All you want for your birthday is two hours ALONE, without interruption.
6- Cooking mac and cheese counts as making dinner.
7-You cry with joy when your baby sleeps through the night for the first time.
8- You cry even harder when your child actually gives his/her part at the Primary Program.
9- You wear your clothes eight times before putting them in the wash to conserve on laundry.
10-You wake up relieved you still only have six children, after dreaming you were pregnant with twins.
11-Ice cream and chocolate make everything feel better.
12-You hide in your closet with your bedroom door locked to talk on the phone so you can actually hear your conversation.
13- You fall asleep saying your prayers at night because you are so exhausted.
14- Exercise consists of walking (jogging on a good day) to the mailbox and back.

And lastly, you know you're a mother if . . .

15- No matter how bad the day before was, you wake up every morning thinking you're sure glad to be a mother!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?

I was just thinking recently how adorable my little two-year-old is. Famous last words. I've learned as a mother that as soon as I think a child is wonderful, he or she turns into Mr. Hyde and I end up eating my thoughts or words. As ridiculous as it sounds, it's a natural phenomenon that seems to occur every time. This was no exception. One day I was laughing at my sweet little guy, thinking of how quickly he's growing up; the next, I was ready to accidentally leave him at Grandma's for a few extra days so I could get a small reprieve from his whining, screaming, hitting and fits.

Here's my sweet, funny little guy:

1- I have made it a habit to grab his hand when we get out of the car to go into a building or anywhere in hopes of avoiding an accident. Not feeling particularly fond of this routine, he would always resist and I repeatedly explained I grabbed his hand so he wouldn't get hit by a car. Recently, we were walking down the hallway at church, and I reached down to grab his hand as a gesture of love. He looked around in confusion as he withdrew his hand. "There are no cars." His simple statement made me giggle.

2- My older children are fond of eating chocolate pancakes for breakfast (healthy, I know), aka "brown pancakes." My little guy is not so fond of them. He came in the other day begging me for "blond pancakes" instead. Clever!

3- I snuck in his room to give one final goodnight kiss the other night. He asked me to turn the ceiling fan on, to which I explained that it was now cold enough outside that we didn't need to turn the ceiling fan on anymore. "I said to turn it on in my bedroom, not outside!" he replied, as if to say, "duh!" I just get a kick out of the way he thinks.

4- We stopped by my husband's work the other day to say hello. Of course my two young children begin running the halls, speaking in "kid tones" (the opposite of "church mouse tones"). My husband and I both told them to speak quietly. "Why?" my two-year-old asked as he looked around? "Nobody's sleeping." We both got a laugh out of that one.

See, a funny, adorable little guy, right? Absolutely! Except for the times he isn't.

Like today, for instance . . .

I was teaching preschool, an activity he usually joins in, but with both him and his sister being under the weather, I instructed them to stay downstairs and watch a movie instead. With 20 minutes left of school, he suddenly appears. He's butt naked except for his shirt, which is now soaked at the sleeves and saturated with poop as well. In his hands he was holding a wet wipe covered in poop. Upon further discovery I notice the smelly stuff all down his legs and, of course, all over his hands and under his fingernails. Apparently he had missed the toilet and had tried to take care of the mess himself--Ugh!

At this moment I realize I'm in a bit of a predicament, as six other children are in my care, but as I quickly weigh my options I realize I can't let this child stand there covered in poop for 20 more minutes! For one thing, he stunk! For another, he was a huge distraction. Yes, it was obvious I had no choice but to take care of the problem. I left my diligent preschoolers working on their coloring project and darted down the stairs and into the bathroom where I found a poop-smeared mirror, rugs and toilet. This was really not a 30-second clean-up I was facing. But since 30 seconds is all I dared leave my students, I threw my son into the shower, furiously scrubbed him, Clorox cleanup-ed my mirror, toilet and floor--all in a record one minute and twenty seconds!! The part that frustrated me the most is that he was screaming bloody murder the whole time, being very uncooperative, as if he was the victim in the whole scenario, which I have to say, I strongly disagreed with.

Needless to say, I didn't have my happiest mom face on when the ordeal was over, and my thoughts of my son had quickly turned from the good, wonderful Dr. Jekyll to the infamous, naughty Mr. Hyde.

I need a serious break from this child, I thought to myself. But then, less than two hours later, I found my arms wrapped around him in a giant bear hug and kiss, whispering my undying love in his ear after he handed me a picture he drew just for me and flashed me his winning little smile. And I couldn't help but wonder as I smiled and cooed at him if my little boy asks himself the same question about me--Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?