Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Aging Happens

Look at this.

And this.

Yes folks. That is gray hair you see. Lots and lots of gray hairs. Too many to keep pulling out every morning. I guess it's time to face reality. I'm aging.

But I'm only 26!!

Blake Lively Picture
So is Miss Lively here. Think she has gray hair?

Gray hair is for old people. You know, like people in their fifties.
Vanessa Williams Picture

Er....maybe their sixties?

kim basinger hot photo kim basinger hot images kim basinger hot pics 1996x1919 Hairstyle Medium

Okay, okay, seventy. Seventy is REALLY old, right?

Mick Jagger Picture
Ah, Mick. Say it ain't so!

So after this very scientific study of what aging looks like, I have come to the conclusion that I'm allowed to do all the aging I want...once I hit seventy.

Which is why my gray hair is a problem. A genetic problem. Apparently my great grandma was completely silver by fifty.

That might have been okay back in her day, but I'm pretty sure I should just be entering my thirties at that point if Miss Williams up there is any indication.

So what's a girl to do?

I suppose I could just dye my hair for the next 44 years and then "surprise" everyone at my 70th birthday party.

Ta-da! It's gray! Been that color for the last 20 years! Suckers!

But, once I've been dying my hair a rich auburn for 45 years, I might as well take my secret to the grave, right?

The thing is, I swore off dye several years ago after it nearly destroyed my hair. 

So now I have to ask. Is aging really that bad? Will gray hair change who I am? Does it somehow make me less valuable as a person?

Maybe those gray hairs can be embraced. 

Yeah I'm going gray. You know what those gray hairs mean? 

I've lived. Really lived. I've birthed babies and moved around the country. I worried about a sudden job loss and rejoiced over blessings that came just in time. I've celebrated siblings' and friends' marriages. Mourned their children gone too soon. I've loved, connected, left, learned, and loved again.

If all of that living comes along with some (or a lot) of gray hair, so be it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I have a confession to make...

I think I'm a pretty good mom.

Shocking. I know.

Perfect mother's are like perfect pictures. They usually require a lot of photoshopping.

Am I perfect? No. You can ask my mom and husband about the breakdown I had in Early November because I felt like all I did was yell at Max. Or ask me how I feel about my housekeeping skills on Sunday evening when my house has finally descended into complete chaos after the weekend.

But most of the time, I think I'm doing a good job.

I don't think any of us will lose the "mommy guilt" entirely, but we can do away with a lot, if not most of it. And we'll all be better mothers for it in the end.

So here are the things I've learned to help me feel better about myself as a mother.

1. Get enough sleep.  I know I'm not the only one who gets more and more pessimistic the more tired I get. I think it's a pretty common human trait. And motherhood is filled with nighttime feedings, bad dreams to comfort, late-night projects, and just plain ol' worrying.
      I have a great husband who knows this about me. When I start getting down on myself, one of the first things he says is, "I think you need to go to bed." More often than not, he's right and that's exactly what I need.

      So....feeling bad about yourself? What time is it? Do you need to go to bed? Did you get enough sleep last night? Maybe you should take a power nap or go to sleep early tonight. Enlist your spouse's help tonight. But get your rest! In my experience, this solves about 75% of my "mom guilt" related break downs.

2. Decide what kind of mom you are/want to be.  There are lots of different kinds of mom's out there. They're all over the neighborhood, your congregation, and the blogosphere. You know them. There's "Crafty Mom," and "Organic Mom," and "Clean and Organized House Mom." Fun Mom, Gardening Mom, Interior Decorating Mom, Eco-Friendly Mom, Soccer Mom, Classroom Mom, Reading Mom, Sugar-free Mom, From Scratch Mom, and the list goes on and on.

    Guess what? You can't be all of these mom's. You can't. I'm sorry. You just can't. It's impossible. But you can be some of them.

   And now here's the fun part. You get to choose what kind of mom you want to be!

  Now here's the hard part. You have to choose on your own terms, for your own very private, individual reasons, based on your own values. You are not allowed to choose in order to impress anyone or compete with anyone. This will only lead to more guilt.

   To do this, you will need to sit down and think about your family vision. What do you want to spend your time doing? What do you think is important in this life? What makes you feel really good about yourself?

   I'm not "perfectly clean home mom." I never will be. When I look at my list of priorities, a clean house isn't up there. I'm more, "twenty-minutes-to-a-decently-tidy-house Mom. And that's okay, I know that about myself and I'm not going to pull out my hair trying to keep a perfectly clean house. Some people love a clean house and are great at that. More power to them. If that's you, go for it! If that's not you, quit trying to impress "clean-and-tidy-house mom down the street." Let's be honest, she probably doesn't care if you leave the mopping for tomorrow...or next week.

    Here's the other secret to deciding what kind of mom you are. Some of these mom's don't work well together. You can't be Full-time-job Mom, Clean and Organized Mom, Classroom Mom, Soccer Mom, and Everything from Scratch Mom. At least...not without going crazy, or sacrificing something important...like time with your kids.

    You can only pick a few. Look at your values, your vision. Choose wisely.

Which leads me to number 3.

3. Be flexible.  Being crafty mom isn't working out for you? Being Soccer Mom leaves you so exhausted that you end up yelling until everyone's in bed? Being Clean house mom winds up with you at the end of the day not being able to remember a single thing you did with the kids?

   Time to reevaluate and change it up. It's okay. We're all learning and growing in this motherhood thing and sometimes life throws you a curveball. Did you just have a baby? Maybe you need to take a break from being everything-from-scratch mom. Moving across the country this summer? Gardening Mommy has to be packed up too.

    Repeat after me: IT'S OKAY!

4.  Make your goals dependent on YOU! If you look at my list of moms, you'll notice I didn't include "Perfectly-mannered-children Mom," or "Super-smart-kids Mom." You want to be this mom? Let me also introduce you to, "Screaming-yelling Mom," and "Pushing-nagging Mom."

    This isn't to say that we shouldn't try and raise our kids to be educated and well-mannered. But you can not base your self-worth on your children's actions. Or your husband's actions. Or anyone else's reactions. All you've done is handed over the power to control how you feel about yourself to someone else. Someone who has their own free-will. Somebody that, try as you might, you can't control. That's where the screaming and nagging come in.

     Don't do that to yourself. The only way you will feel good as this kind of mother is if you also happen to be "Dumb-luck Mom."

5. Give yourself grace.  As a Mormon, this was a bit of a weird term for me when I started seeing other bloggers use it. I believe in grace, but I don't think we talk about it enough in our church, and I think many of us misunderstand it.

   God gives us grace by forgiving us when mess up. Grace makes up for our many shortcomings. It helps us carry our load. There was an article by Brad Wilcox on Grace in the Ensign a while back. One of my favorite quotes from it is hanging on my fridge.

"Grace is not the absence of God's high expectations. Grace is the presence of God's power."

If we are giving ourselves grace, we are not letting ourselves out of any expectations and eating oreos on the couch all day. But at the end of the day we are saying, "I worked hard today. I made some mistakes. But that's okay. I'll try again. And every day I'll get a little better."

If we are giving ourselves grace we are allowing God a place in our life and letting Him help us along the way. The whole way. Not just at the end or when things get hard. We realize we are not perfect, but He is. And He will make up the difference. 

Are you expecting perfection instead of Grace?

6. Get off the computer. Get down on the floor with your kids. Hug them. Kiss them. Tell them you love them. Play with them. Laugh with them. Look into their eyes and see that little being with so much life and potential.

If at the end day, you can say you have done this, even if it is only this, then you have nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I'm willing to bet it was a pretty good day.

Good night, mom guilt.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The perfect cookie recipe to make with the kids.

Peanut Butter Blossoms!

This is another one of my kill three birds with one stone activity.

Unwrapping the kisses is great for fine motor skills. I counted the mixing by hand and ball-rolling as our sensory activity. And it was some yummy Christmas cookie making.

The number of ingredients are so small that no one will get bored or fidgety and you won't get frustrated. Learning to scoop the peanut butter into a measuring cup is good for their little hands to do, too.

So turn on some Christmas music and get baking!

Peanut Butter Blossoms
makes about 18 cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
18 chocolate kisses


1. Mix peanut butter, sugar*, and egg. Have child mix by hand. It's ooey, gooey, and so much fun!
2. Roll into balls and put on ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
4. While baking (or before you even make the dough) have your child unwrap the kisses. Immediately press them into cookies after removing from oven.
5. Enjoy!

*I like to make this recipe with 1/3 white sugar, 1/3 brown sugar, and 1/3 powdered sugar. Or 1/2 and 1/2 brown and white sugar. So, if you're making this with older kids you can thank me later for the built in lesson on fractions!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Max's tonsilectomy

It all started this summer. I walked in on Max taking a nap. He's fallen alseep in the car and I didn't want him wetting the bed, so I was going to put a towel under him. His face was really pale and his lips were all white. I didn't notice at first, until I lifted his legs up and put the towel underneath. He immediately gave this huge gasp and the color returned to his face and his lips. HE HADN'T BEEN BREATHING.  It was pretty scary, but I wasn't sure when I should cal someone. It was only one time, right?

Nevertheless, I had Rob look in Max's mouth to inspect his tonsils. I have a friend who's sons both had to have their tonsils out for sleep apnea reasons. Rob's not an ENT, but being a dentist, he sees plenty of tonsils. He said they looked pretty big to him. I sat on that for a few months.

Then Max started sleeping in our room because he got scared at night (nightmares about fire, apparently). We have a little camping mat on our floor and he sleeps there. Every now and then I would hear him gasp in the middle of the night.

Tommy came and our life got turned upside down. I kept thinking I should call the ENT, but just never seemed to remember. Well, I finally got around to it and took him in. Dr. Romeo told us that sleep apnea is the number one reason for tonsils and adenoids to be removed these days.

He took one look in Max's mouth and said, "He's really never had a throat infection with those things?"

I shook my head.

"They're really big."

We scheduled the tonsilectomy and Max had it done on Friday. Dr. Romeo came in to talk to us when it was finished. He said he kept scraping out pockets of infection from the tonsils, which was unusual for someone this age because that usually takes years of infection. He also said that when he removed the adenoids tons of pus just drained out.

Basically, Max has had tonsilitis his entire life and we never knew. The kid must have a high pain threshold. I felt awful. But I'm so glad we got them out. Not only will this solve the sleep apnea, but it will stop the constant runny nose all winter, and maybe even help clean up his terrible eczema.

Max is being a champ. Which I can't be too surprised about with someone who's been sick for years and never let us know. The worst part was bringing him out of anasthesia. He fought and wrestled for an hour and kept trying to bite out his IV.

He's such a good boy, and I can't wait to see how much better he feels once he's recovered.

Christmas Bells Preschool

This week was all about bells in preschool! It started when Jane requested that we sing "Carol of the Bells" for circle time. 
Daily circle time: I borrowed my mother-in-law's hand bells and we sang "Carol of the Bells" and played the "ding dong ding dong" parts with the bells. The kids actually did really well with it and seemed to enjoy it. Then we practiced spelling "bell" with these letter beads I found at the store. We also recited "Ride a Cockhorse to Banbury Cross" since that talks about bells.

Day 1: We did a big Christmas sensory tray. It was filled with that fake snow confetti stuff and little doodads from the dollar store. Tiny drums and presents. Cut up pieces of garland. Max played with it for over an hour. You can see how much fun it was from the mess.

I also had the kids do a sorting activity with red, white and green pom poms. They sorted them by size and color.

Day 2: We made Jingle sticks by attaching jingle bells to pipe cleaners and wrapping them around small dowels. Then we sang Jingle Bells and added that to Circle time. These homemade instruments now sit on my piano for anytime we want to sing Christmas songs. Here's a video of the kids kind of singing. We'd already sung it a few times before I took the video so you can tell their interest is waning.

Day 3: We learned about India. We found it on a map and then watched a video of some classical Indian dancing. We talked about the ankle bells they wore, called Ghungroos. I had crocheted some jingle bell anklets the night before. We tied them on our feet and followed a Bollywood dance video. Then I put on a classical Indian music station on Pandora and Jane danced her heart out.

We also did a fun sensory art project. I attached jingles bells to paint brushes and let the kids paint with green red and yellow.

Day 4 was kind of a bust. I was going to do this science experiment with a hanger and string. But then I realized I didn't have a single metal hanger! Not one! I could have done it with a spoon, but by the time I realized I didn't have the materials it was getting late and I had to get Max ready for his tonsilectomy in the morning.

So there you go! A fun, easy preschool week just in time for Christmas.

Thursday, December 5, 2013