Monday, November 29, 2010


Duke's perfect day would go like this:
He'd wake up at six and drink a hot chocolate.
He'd then enter his (nonexistent) home office and work, trading stocks, with his really cool (also nonexistent) monitors hanging on the walls. He'd do that until just after noon.
Then we would walk downtown as a family and go out to lunch together. We'd walk home and all the kids would magically take a nap at the same time. He and I would snuggle up and nap.
When we all awoke, we'd have a light dinner and watch a movie together, kids would go to sleep willingly at bedtime and he and I would snuggle up once again. Then we might play some guitar together before bed.

My perfect day:
We'd wake up to sun-shine, with the boys' extra-adorable clothes already stacked and ready. We'd get out of the house smoothly and walk downtown for a bagel. I would take hundreds of beautiful photos, including a family photo to top all family photos.
We'd walk home and lounge on a blanket in the backyard, eating a picnic, and snoozing together in the shade.
Come evening we'd take our bikes to an old-fashioned carnival with rides and lights, and winning stuffed animals. We would eat cotton candy and patron the Ferris wheel until bedtime.
We'd ride home and the boys would sleep peacefully while Duke and I spent the evening dancing in our living room and eating late-night snacks.

We spun these dreams while traveling in our car together. We also planned our retirement, our dream vacation, and our grandparenthood. We spoke our feelings to our children and taught them the songs of our hearts.

I'm realizing now that I lived my dream day. Never before topped. And twice in one week (once driving down and another driving back home).

We started the first day with hot chocolate.
We read together. And comforted our son (when Sparky threw up all over the place).
We stopped the car (to put on chains), taking the opportunity to dance in circles on the ice together.
We talked, a lot. Our kids told us all sorts of marvelous things.
We ate bagels and cream cheese for lunch, driving around a beautiful, new town.
Our car spun quietly in the night, off the road- in what would normally have sent us into a panic- and we felt complete peace and calm. Duke and I worked together as a team to free the car from the snowy ditch and accomplished the great feat, kissing and high-fiving in triumph.
We were a family.

The second dream day was similar. Minus the vomit. Plus some whining. Minus the spin-out. Plus eating Chinese take-out, all huddled in the front seat of the car.

It was as close to heaven as I have ever been.

I hope that even when we can afford to fly, we'll choose to drive.... Unless we ever live that dream Hawaii vacation... Then we'll take a boat.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The top of my list.

Put simply, even my most horrible days in this past few weeks are not so bad when I think of what life was like this time last year. You know, at the time I thought I was being honest and documenting it all very well; the challenging pregnancy, the extreem loneliness, the feeling that I would rather be catatonic than wake up one more day to ALL of it. I thought I was wearing my grief around my neck for all to see. Well, I'm smiling in almost every picture and video from the time. I cannot remember accepting very much help, although the people around me were so very willing to give. I've been told I was sending a vibe that said something like 'just leave me alone.' Yes, I barreled through it, like increasing my velocity while approaching a speed-bump, thinking it could somehow be easier that way.

Eek. I'm only just realizing that all of my laughter and smiles in those clips are so forced. I was crying like Sparky, only on the inside.

Yesterday I was chasing three kids around a church meeting, trying to keep them quiet when I was asked to offer a prayer. The baby in my arms was flailing and happily noise-making so a very nice man, a friend of ours, asked me if he could hold him for me. I answered with a smile, 'no, that's ok.' And bowed my head. A wave of realization washed over me. I was doing it again. I was barreling, all the while telling people to back away from me without actually speaking (like the Korean guy from Lost). I raised my head and said, 'you know what, thank you.' And I handed Fitz over for the 30 second prayer and surrendering of my ego.

The thing is, when my husband is not around, I am both of us. And I don't delegate parenting. But I am learning that I can accept help with my children and still be a very good mother. Aha!

So this thanksgiving at the top of my list of gratitude is my wonderful husband who scoops me up in his arms and tells me it's ok to let the sad show. I can more-than-trust him with that sorrow. Plus now my husband is here with me, regardless of the long hours he spends at work, he comes home and sleeps by my side! Hallelujah!

Just down from that on the list I'll pen my thankfulness for the hard things we go through and the time we have to reflect and learn from them. I know I have a long way to go when it comes to trust and taking down the wall of pride I've built, but I've come further this year than I could possibly have guessed.

I know the source of my blessings is a loving Heavenly Father who watches us pass through the refiner's fire, knowing we are strong enough, and that what we will be thereafter, is something beyond our greatest plans for ourselves.

Friday, November 19, 2010

when I grow up...

Our baby is sure growing up to be a charming, little ninja.

Just don't hit anyone, son.

thanksgiving adventure.

Sparky is the leader of our coming expedition.

We are all VERY excited to cross the map toward Grandma's house.

Sparky will be directing our journey with the aid of what he calls his 'most special present'; a compass tied to a rope for a necklace.

Too bad grandma doesn't live polar north from here, because he sure likes to follow that arrow.

Iggy is more worried about packing his favorite clothes for the trip.

He thinks a wedgie is a small price to pay for fashion.

Grandma Re, we can hardy wait! See you soon!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pretty paper.

Five things I simply adore about modern scrap-booking paper...

1. It comes in big pads of matching variety, making it almost impossible for me to make an ugly combination-paper craft.

2. Using it doesn't involve a sewing machine.

3. I don't get my feelings hurt when kids promptly destroy my creations.

(The above picture makes me smile so much. I think it's because they are all gliding above ground.)

4. Low-cost facilitates constant change in home decor. One week our kitchen is covered in hearts, the next we can have hanging stars.

5. Having pretty paper on hand is like having the ingredients for cookies, only for those of us who are poor bakers. I can make a quick craft or card when I want to show my love to.. really anyone. Plus, paper (unlike baked goods) can be left anonymously on doorsteps without suspicion of ex-lax additive.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What have we been up to, you ask?

Costumes plus trampoline.

Equals five, happy kiddos (and one jolly me).

Who knew that babysitting could be such an adventure?

Not pictured in "What we've been up to":
Iggy's diarrhea accident all over the house.
Duke's countless hours spent studying for the CPA exam.
Sparky's recent regression into crying like an infant over every-little thing.
Fitz's horrible rash.
Megan's middle-of-the-night meltdown over a really messy-house and her prayer that there is more to life than cleaning up other people's messes.

Most folk don't take pictures of the downs.
I do sometimes.
I just hardly ever post them.

Instead I have a special therapy technique to help me cope; dancing with my children to Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time" over and over.

Who else has been listening to Christmas music? Admit it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

we are humans.

Is anyone as else incredibly interested in the analysis of human motive and general personalities as I?

I've been thumbing a book, recommended by my dear sister-in-law, about behavior and tendencies in personality types. Well, Duke thinks it's like a fancy horoscope- where people see what they want to see of themselves in self analysis. I agree to some extent, but I'm still having fun with it. (He is likely to be horrified by this post.)

I say to myself, "I think so-and-so is a 'Type One: Reformer' and maybe I should have them read tell me what they think they are to see if we all just see what they want... Or maybe because what's-her-face is a 'Type Two: Helper' and if I were to praise her just a little more she'd..." Anyway, it's a potentially dangerous world for me; lab coat and superior attitude (because I read a book so I know smart stuff). I've kept it in check, pacing the halls of my own brain, thinking about my motives and tenancies. I am the lab-rat.

Here's the category I put myself into (Type Seven: Enthusiast):
When I'm mentally healthy: "Highly responsive, excitable, enthusiastic about sensation and experience. Most extroverted type: stimuli bring immediate responses- they find everything invigorating. Lively, vivacious, eager, spontaneous, resilient, cheerful./Easily become accomplished achievers, generalists who do many different things well: multitalented. Practical, productive, usually prolific, cross-fertilizing areas of interest. At their best: Assimilate experiences in depth, making them deeply grateful and appreciative for what they have. Become awed by the simple wonders of life; joyous and ecstatic. Imitations of spiritual reality, of the boundless goodness of life."
At an average mental health: "As appetites increase, become acquisitive, materialistic, "worldly-wise," constantly amusing themselves with new things and experiences: the sophisticate, connoisseur, and consumer. Money, variety, keeping up with the latest trends important./ Become hyperactive, unable to say no to themselves, to deny themselves anything. Uninhibited, doing and saying whatever comes to mind: storytelling, flamboyant exaggerations, wisecracking, performing. Fear being board, so keep in perpetual motion, but do too many things- become superficial dilettantes./ Conspicuous consumption and all forms of excess. Self-centered and greedy, never feeling that they have enough. Demanding and pushy, yet unsatisfied, crude, jaded. Addictive, hardened, insensitive."
Mentally Unhealthy: Become offensive and abusive while going after what they want. Impulsive and infantile: do not know when to stop. Addictions and excesses take their toll, leaving debauched, depraved, dissipated escapists./ In flight from self, they act out impulses rather than deal with anxiety or frustrations: go out of control, have erratic mood swings, and act compulsively (manias)./ Finally, their energy and health is completely spent: become claustrophobic and panic stricken. Often give up on themselves and life; deep depression and despair."

Fortunately, I see myself on the healthier side of that scale, but I would say my greatest trials come in the forms I found written among the "average" and "unhealthy," illuminating principles that I already knew; we truly are a human family- living unique lives with similar life-experiences and struggles; fighting our own brand of 'natural-man,' and working to become our best selves. I actually quite enjoy knowing that I am joined by so very many other humans in my strengths and weaknesses. (Steven Spielberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Mozart, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey, Elton John, Bruce Willis, Regis Philbin, and Larry King; to name a few.)

Anyway, I've gotten WAY off track. What I meant to say is this; I have about forty, different, undeveloped hobbies. I get very excited about things in the beginning and then let the ball drop when something new and more exciting comes along. Once I picked up a Ukulele. Then I put it down. Now I've picked it up again. Can I just say, I adore my sweet husband? He is a hobby I will never quit.

I bet you are tired of hearing these little blurbs about personality... but I'm not tired of sharing.

So here's a little Duke for you. (I won't even bother with the unhealthy because he's such a rock.)
Type Six: The Loyalist
Healthy:"Able to engage others and identify with them; steadfast, earnest, and affectionate. Trust important: bonding with others, forming relationships and alliances./ Dedicated to individuals and movements in which they deeply believe. Community builders: responsible, reliable, trustworthy. Good foresight and strong organizational ability: natural troubleshooters. Hardworking and persevering, sacrificing for others; they create stability and security in self-affirming, trusting of self and others, independent yet symbiotically interdependent and cooperative, as an equal. Belief in self leads to true courage, positive thinking, leadership, and rich self-expression."
Average:"Start investing their time and energy into whatever they believe will be safe and stable. Organizing and structuring, they look to alliances and authorities for security and continuity. Make many commitments to others, hoping they will be reciprocated. Constantly vigilant, anticipating problems. They seek clear guidelines and feel more secure when systems and procedures are well-defined./ To resist having more demands made on them, they react against others passive-aggressively. Become evasive, indecisive, cautious, procrastinating, and ambivalent. Strong self-doubt as well as suspicion about others' motives. Are highly reactive, anxious, and complaining, giving contradictory "mixed signals." Internal confusion makes them react unpredictably./ To compensate for insecurities, the become belligerent, mean-spirited, and sarcastic, blaming others for problems. Highly partisan and defensive, dividing people into friends and enemies while looking for threats to own security. Authoritarian, prejudices, and fear-instilling to silence their own fears."

You know who else is like that? (George Bush, Tom Hanks, Jay Leno, Johnny Carson, Princess Diana, Julia Roberts, Woody Allen, Richard Nixon, and Marilyn Monroe.)

Ok, sorry I went off quoting a ton of this book like that! Hopefully you skimmed if it's not your cup of tea!

There is no end to my fascination with all things human.

The end. Finally.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My littlest sister.

In the old days, before husband and babies of my own, there was baby sister.

Over a year ago I wrote of the mystery that was this grown girl I'd not had the chance to know well.

I'm delighted to say that after living close and striving diligently to understand and love the young lady she has become, I count her among my dear friends.

Of course we have years and years to grow closer as sisters. For now she is like a cousin to my boys; a daughter/sister mix of sorts. But I know her now.

I will be there when she overcomes her slight stage-fright and sings her first solo.

I will hear her borderline-ridiculous laugh about a bazzillion times in the next few years and love it more and more (if it's possible to love it more than I already do).

I am excited giggle with her when she sasses and shuts down the boy who tries to give her a kiss for the first time.

On the way to our "just for fun" photo shoot I looked over to her and saw that little baby I'd known before heading off to college so many years ago. And the time we were apart seemed like a blink in the past. We could have always been together.

Yes. I love my littlest sister.