Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pie pumpkins - and other traditions

Tom and I don't live close to family. That has advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages - a major one - is a lack of multi-generational traditions. We can't attend our familys' Christmas parties, and we share Thanksgiving with someone different every year. Because of this, we have tried hard to build traditions of our own for our family. We participated in one of those traditions today - buying pie pumpkins from the CNY Farmer's Market. We will now bake them, peel them, and freeze the fruit for use in pies throughout the holiday season. Another one of our favorite traditions is choosing a different country each year, researching what the people of that country will typically eat during a holiday celebration, and preparing a similar feast on Christmas Eve. Our kids love that one. We have some other, simpler traditions - unrelated to the Holidays - that makes our lives predictable and comforting. Things like sushi on my birthday. Going to the waterpark to celebrate the kids' birthdays (they were all born the first week in August), and putting the garden in the weekend after Memorial day. We listen to Christmas music on Thanksgiving. We hide eggs in the clothes dryer for Easter. We go hiking on the first nice weekend of Spring. And we eat orange rolls on Christmas morning. It has to be this way. Life just runs more smoothly if there are orange rolls on Christmas morning.

What are your favorite traditions?

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Eight-Legged Answer to a Prayer

A new family moved into our ward a few weeks ago. They have a young son, a member of the primary, that has some behavior and developmental issues. He has a very hard time transitioning from one activity to another, and the general noise and chaos of primary can be upsetting. This week was the first one that his parents dared leave him in sharing time. I was thrilled to see him there. He has been the object of much prayer and concern over the last few weeks and I was looking forward to an opportunity to work with him.

This just wasn't the best week for it...

Sharing time was my responsiblity this week, and I had too much going on. It was noisy and fun, but not great for my new friend. When he was asked to stop one activity and prepare for another he ran out of the room. Of those adults in the room at the time I in the best situation to follow him, so I did. He yelled at me to leave him alone. I tried talking to him about anything and everything I could come up with, but the relationship of trust I was attempting to build was crumbling at our feet. After several minutes of him running up and down the halls and me feeling more and more helpless, he ran to a door leading outside. I couldn't let him leave the building. If that happened I wouldn't be able to get help without leaving him unattended. I started to pray. What would keep him here? What lessons did God want me to teach today?

And then I saw it. There, on the wall, at about my waist, was a lost spider. Ah-hah! What nine year old boy can resist an arachnid! He was at my side in an instance and we spent the next five minutes carefully collecting our specimen and returning him to the great outdoors. I was no longer afraid of being outside with him. He wasn't going to run off. I took this opportunity to bond with him a bit and to share a very simple testimony. After a few minutes his father came looking for us. I really needed to be back in primary, so I let Dad take over. When my young friend returned to primary his attitude had not changed, but mine had. He is a member of our primary, and Heavenly Father has shown me time and time again that the members of our primary are of the utmost importance to Him. Just a reminder.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

You're the BEST MOM!

Today was a school holiday in our district, which means I had three kids at home and a long list of errands that had to get done regardless. The list included washing the dog, folding the laundry, buying pumpkins for a school project for my second graders and returning overdue books to the library. The kids were excited about going to the library and we ended up with lots of new books (refer to my post on simplifying - sigh...). It was about lunch time when we finished at the library and I had Friendly's coupons in the car, so we headed out to eat - a special treat for my kids.

Friendly's was VERY busy, due to the holiday, and the service was understandably slow. Beside us was a mom with three little ones. The oldest was probably 5, and the youngest was still in a high chair. They were so calm and well behaved. I was very impressed with how kind they were to one another, and how soft spoken their mother was. She was even dressed in nice clothes, wore make-up, and had pulled a brush through her hair.

In comparison, my kids are NEVER calm and very rarely well-behaved, and I was wearing my ten year old tie-dye t-shirt with small holes in it, no make-up, and a pony-tail. In an attempt to keep my children from disturbing those around us too much, I have developed a series of techniques that make waiting time a little less painful. We had most of the books from the library with us at the table, so I read to them. Then we played a version of pictionary together. We practiced spelling words (I really had no idea that "president" could be spelled so many different ways). I told them stories. I have no doubt that I threatened them a few times, too, since that's part of the arsenal. Lunch finally came and we started to eat. That was about the same time the family beside us finished their meal. As they were preparing to leave, the mom came to me, put her hand on my arm, and said "You are the BEST MOM! We all wish we were like you are with your kids."

I laughed and thanked her as graciously as I could. It was a very kind and unexpected comment that made my whole week. It also made me think. It's so easy to judge. How funny to think that my survival techniques had been judged as "good parenting" when I was thinking that her children must live in a wonderful, calm environment to be so quiet and kind to one another without any entertainment at all.

So thank you, my anonymous new friend. I appreciate your kindness. What a great example you were to your kids today, and to mine.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tricking the Tooth Fairy

Jacob lost his first tooth last week. When he first realized that his tooth was loose, he actually asked to use the multi-tool to get it out, but once he figured out that losing teeth can be momentarily painful, he gave up the multi-tool and decided to leave it to nature. Nature came two days later, while eating a crunchy oatmeal granola bar. He came running upstairs to show me that he had a gap in his mouth. When I asked him where the tooth was he became distressed. He didn't know! We looked and looked and finally concluded that he had swallowed it.

This caused a problem. You see, in our family the tooth fairy pays a huge premium for the first tooth - $10. That's a lot of money, and Jacob was very worried that he would miss out. He decided that the best way to handle the situation was to attempt to trick the tooth fairy. He drew a tooth on a piece of paper, colored it yellow, and cut it out. Then he put it in a sandwich bag and put it under his pillow.

The next morning he was thrilled to find that his ploy had worked. He was $10 richer!! Over the last several days he has told EVERYONE who would listen, whether he knew them or not, how he tricked the tooth fairy. Today he told Shelly, our friend from the supermarket, that since he had tricked the tooth fairy a new baby was going to get a paper tooth! I forgot I had read him that book. Oops.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I've been trying to simplify my life. The whole process has turned out to be rather complicated. How simple can life get with a husband who's gone twelve hour each day, seven year old twins, and a kindergartener? Regardless, I've been trying.

You see, this year has been, well, not easy. We have suffered through a job loss that resulted in four months without a salary, the sudden deaths of both my husband's mom and my younger sister, a weakening economy, our daughter being diagnosed with ADHD, and it's been my first year as primary president. My stress level has been at a near all-time high. In an attempt to counteract the lack of control I have in the universe in general, I have taken to controlling everything else. I can throw stuff out. I can cut things out of our schedule. I can change dentists. I can return all of the library books and refuse to borrow any more. I can require that all grain products consumed in our home be made from whole-grains (except for my annual box of ding dongs). I can toss all games and puzzles that are missing pieces. I can do laundry on Wednesdays only...

Except, I can't. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the various ways I could make my life simpler, but then the guilt hits and I fail to follow through. I continue to add to our schedule, because I want to give my kids every opportunity. I feel guilty about changing dentists - even though I hate the guy we have now. I can't leave a library empty handed. And sometimes - just sometimes - Captain Crunch calls to me like a long lost friend. I end up doing laundry nearly every day - at least in some form. And the whole process of simplification has left me feeling more out of control than ever.

Welcome to my life.