Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Oh, what FUN.


I like Portland. I like concerts. I like standing-room only. I like screaming. I like lines wrapped around buildings. I like camera crews and excited fans. I like singers who smile like it's the best day of their life. I like being squished up to my sweetheart. I like dancing with total strangers. I like watching teenage girls drool over rock-stars. I like being part of a crowd that sings along. I like when unexpected things happen (like people jumping on stage to hug the artists). I like bands that mean every chord they play. I like passion.

I like FUN.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

servant.

a bit of morning conversation with an 8-year-old I adore and tend...

girl: the rules here are different than my mom's rules.
me: some might be different, but i bet most are pretty similar, right? no hitting and stuff like that?
girl: yeah, but a lot is weird here. you let anyone touch the computer.
me: as long as they ask first and click on the things they're allowed to click on, yes.
girl: well, the main thing that's different is that at home we don't have a servant.
me: (eyebrows go up) are you talking about me?
girl: (tentatively) yeah.
me: (irritated) i'm not your servant. if you start calling me your servant, i'm going to stop loading your dishes in the dishwasher.
girl: okay (sulks off).

"did i seriously just let an 8-year-old offend me?" i ask myself once she's in the other room. "why am i so offended by that?" i realize that the book i've been reading has awakened me to the american "child-king" trend and i reject subjection to the will of a tiny tyrant.

but she is far from a tyrant. she asks nearly nothing from me. and when she does ask she accepts my "no"s with age-appropriate grace (and only an occasionally whiny plea). "she does not see herself as my master, so what did she mean?" i ruminate.

i turn to the scriptures. "And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." (mark 10:43-44)
me: (approaching girl) sorry i was short with you just a minute ago. i was wrong. i am your servant. i make you breakfast every morning. i brush your hair and sometimes i put it up for you. i help you when i'm asked. and i really enjoy doing those things for you. and i know you know that you still have to do what i say. is that what you meant?
girl: yeah (clearly happy)

it's easy to get caught up in the "philosophies of man." i am so thankful for the quiet whisperings from on high that bring me back to God's wisdom and love.

she was complimenting me, that lovely child.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

i've decided to be french.

okay, okay. i know i'm doing it again. but i'm just so enchanted by french culture as presented in the book i'm reading... bringing up bebe.

here are some thoughts that are calling to me, "megan, megan. you're secretly french. a little."

"We Americans assign ourselves the job of pushing, stimulating, and carrying our kids from one developmental stage to next. The better we are parenting, we think, the faster our kids will develop. French parents just don't seem so anxious for their kids to get head starts. They don't push them to read, swim, or do math ahead of schedule. They aren't trying to prod them into becoming prodigies. I don't get the feeling that we're all in a race for some unnamed prize. In France the point of enrolling a child in a Saturday-morning music class isn't to activate some neural network. It's to have fun. French parents believe in 'awakening' and 'discovery.'"
 
"I'm struck by the nearly universal assumption [in France] that even good mothers aren't at the constant service of their children, and that there's no reason to feel bad about that. 'For the American woman, the role of mom is very segmented, very absolute. When they wear the mom 'hat' they wear the mom clothes. When they're sexy, they're totally sexy. And the kids can see only the mom part.' In France the "mom" and "woman" roles ideally are fused. At any given time, you can see both."

(this is megan speaking. for the record I have a neurotic aversion to the word sexy and its implications. but the idea of the quote is what I like.)

"Frenchwomen don't expect men to be their equals. They view men as a separate species, which by nature isn't good at booking babysitters, buying tablecloths, or remembering to schedule checkups with the pediatrician. This outlook creates a virtuous cycle. Frenchwomen don't harp on men about their shortcomings or mistakes. So the men aren't demoralized. They feel more generous toward their wives, whom they praise for their feats of micromanagement and their command of household details. This praise- instead of the tension and resentment that builds in Anglophone households- seems to make the inequality easier to bear." 

it's me again. all those quotes were from the book before mentioned. i could tell you about all of it in great detail (as my husband can attest) but you should just read the thing.

after reading this book...
1. i have a new resolve to be a lovely woman and a mom simultaneously.
2. our kitchen is full of delicious new foods and (after only one day) our kids are substantially less picky.
3. my bebe takes baths.

Monday, May 21, 2012

following the leader.

Our oldest is very well behaved for me. That, along with many other factors, has got me thinking that I might like to home-school him for kindergarten. I like to learn with him and he's receptive to my instruction. I've been wanting to keep him home just a little longer. And, until this last weekend I didn't think the home's dynamics would be very different if he was away at school- I mean to say, he's no trouble at all so having him in school would, I thought, be more of a hassle than a relief.

Dad took him on an overnight camp, which I believe is the first time that he's been separated from his brothers for longer than an appointment or short play-date. Not only did he relish the time, but the boys at home were different. The atmosphere was different. Like Iggy and Fitz could stretch out a bit to occupy the space. They listened more attentively and obeyed when they would normally be "the rebels."

Sparky and dad were in heaven together. And I was able to fit all the kids onto my bike (with a child-seat and trailer). I've not done that in so very long. We rode in the evening to a friend's and in the morning to get doughnuts.

Like I mentioned before, the family dynamic was totally different. The younger boys slid calmly into the restaurant seats when they'd normally run circles around the tables until I herded them. They washed the table after we were done eating- they would have halfheartedly held a napkin and relied on Sparky to do the work.

When he returned it was business as usual.

Follow the leader gets boring after a while if there's no turn-taking. The followers get restless.
I know he'd love kindergarten.

And maybe Iggy is ready for his turn.

cousins.


Cousin Ella gave herself a haircut. She's independent and full of life. And she's an apparent fan of grape-flavored lip-gloss.

Baby Rowan will be holding onto the lovely blue eyes. His little cheeks are filling out quite nicely. And he seems to have a pleasant calmness about him.

Cousins are moving at the end of summertime. Arizona isn't so very far, thank goodness. I am so glad for blood ties and family love to span the distance. They'll always share slivers of their lives. They'll make occasion to cross paths. And we have all summer to build sustaining bonds of friendship.

Plus Arizona sounds like the perfect place to visit mid-winter, no?

Should I Share My Ice-cream?

I can't decide. I really can't decide.

One evening this week we ate a fancy (fancy in that we all used forks and the meal wasn't from a box), in-home dinner together as a family, just Duke and me and our babies. Basking in the pure, blissful brilliance of that time we decided that this should be the "regular" not the "rare." Why couldn't we be home every night, just us? This precious time is the sweetest, most lovely ice-cream.

I have a dear friend who has long been gloriously happy as a homebody. She is kind and always glad to see friends, but she's taught herself to say "no" to certain requests as to protect the rejuvenating home time she so loves. When we met I was looking to escape my more-than-ample home time so I simply could not understand why she didn't come to girl's nights. Now I understand.

A while back this friend of mine was called to be our Relief Society President (head of the women's organization of the LDS church in our area). I watch her bravely sacrifice much of her time for the benefit others, knowing that she'd rather be home. She shares her figurative ice-cream (and literal cookies).

Looking to have our cake and eat it too, Duke and I stew over our calendar. This week is filling up fast with worthy obligations.

"Should I share my ice-cream?" Life's great conundrum.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

my life's love.

Yesterday Duke came home from work mid-morning to help me get a sliver out of my finger.
 
I honestly don't know what I would do without my best friend, my partner, my life's love.

Sticky kisses on my cheeks.

Marjorie Hinckley is a hero of mine. So many of her words correlate directly with my personal priorities and mottoes.

When I picture who I want to be, a sweet old lady is the perfect hero. My discouragement over any human frailties melts away as I picture a long life with time to become.

Enjoy here some of her choicest advice...

“Think about your particular assignment at this time in your life. It may be to get an education, it may be to rear children, it may be to be a grandparent, it may be to care for an relieve the suffering of someone you love, it may be to do a job in the most excellent way possible, it may be to support someone who has a difficult assignment of their own. Our assignments are varied and they change from time to time. Don't take them lightly. Give them your full heart and energy. Do them with enthusiasm. Do whatever you have to do this week with your whole heart and soul. To do less than this will leave you with an empty feeling.”  

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “Wow what a ride!”
  “Oftentimes the thing that makes the difference between a good student and a poor one, a good learner or a bored human being, is just a little curiosity. If you have it, cultivate it, feed it. Never let it go. If you do not have it - get it. Wonder, watch, ask questions, be alive. It's just that simple”

“As you create a home, don't get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for you or your family. Don't dwell on your failures, but think of your successes. Have joy in your home. Have joy in your children. Have joy in your husband. Be grateful for the journey.”
“For it is not requisite that a woman should hobble faster than she has strength!”
“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
“I know it is hard for you young mothers to believe that almost before you can turn around the children will be gone and you will be alone with your husband. You had better be sure you are developing the kind of love and friendship that will be delightful and enduring. Let the children learn from your attitude that he is important. Encourage him. Be kind. It is a rough world, and he, like everyone else, is fighting to survive. Be cheerful. Don't be a whiner.”  
Lastly but not leastly, my favorite of all her wise words...

“I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

the big picture.


to help me to remember the value in the "everyday" things i do for my family, i started a simple progress chart for myself.

at the end of each day i color a square on a piece of graph paper i've taped to the refrigerator. i add a tiny spec of color, whichever color feels right to represent the day. then i remember that each tiny effort contributes to a bigger picture. i remember that we're writing our story one day at a time.

i'm anxious to see the big picture unfold through routine contributions.

Water under the trampoline.

fun with physics.

Pulleys are our new favorite.

Duke and I have decided that we need a refresher course in physics because the kids are heavy as heck. There has to be an easier way to hoist them up the stairwell.

The boys have decided that we need to come up with a better harness system because the wedgies from our "dinosaur-costume" system are the worst.
 
Love these folks.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

today I love...

today i love fenced backyards.
i love the sounds of wild children in a safe arena. i love having one foot in the great outdoors and the other in my home, where we have plenty of extra diapers should the need arise.
we've recently moved to a new home with a very different yard (oh, how we loved our yard of old). but I'm realizing that our hard work, great care and the presence of our family are gradually transforming this space.
today I love having a place to corral the people of our life. that we might encircle them with festive decor and feed their bellies. to play, laugh, and rejoice in the sunshine with them. to sing in unison the songs of happy hearts.
happy, happy hearts.