Bed Hogs

Four. The average number of times a night I am ripped from peaceful slumber by one of my tiny offspring.

I guess my 2-year-old and 5-year-old love living with a zombie mom because that’s what I have become.

A zombie.

Every night both of them meander into my room and climb up into my bed. Then it’s a tug-of-war-I-don’t-have-enough-room-in-my-queen-bed-for-all-of-us kind of night. For some reason it’s gotten worse the past couple of months.

If it doesn’t change, I am going to end up a wrinkled old hag suffering from sleep-deprived dimentia at age 35.

Occasionally I will awake just as they are wandering into my room and I stumble them back to their beds. But most of the time I don’t realize they are there until I wake up stuck between the two of them unable to move like a fish in a can of sardines.

I want my bed back.

Sometimes they wake up because they are “thirsty.” That’s when I want to take their sippy cups and throw them at the wall. Either that or strap a water-filled baby bottle to their wrist so they can quench their thirst at midnight without me.

I’ve tried to load them up with water bottles by their bed but it never fails. Those nights they’ll scream “milk” and won’t relent until I pour them some cow juice.

I don’t care who you are, after several months of being woken up multiple times a night, you’ll end up with your cell phone in the microwave and your lunch in the shower.

Trust me. I am losing my mind.

You’d think the lack of sleep would be getting to their young bodies too but no. Their little eyes pop open with the sun. How can they survive on such restless slumber when I’m exhausted and ready for bed by 4 p.m. each day?

Something’s got to give. I’m tired. I’m grumpy. And being tired and grumpy only adds to my stress and anxiety.

But I don’t know how it’s going to change. Aside from me locking them in their rooms – which, despite my frustration, I don’t feel right about.

So the cycle continues. Until I can come up with a way to hypnotize them to stay in their warm, comfy beds all night.

That’s all I’ve got.

I can’t think of any other good ideas. I’m too tired.

Dear Mint

20170624_175954

It’s summer. So naturally my second son wants to write a letter to the United States Mint and ask them to create a coin based on a new sketch he has drawn.

What do I do? I buy him a stamp and find the address for the Denver location. And reassure him that they may never write back.

Sure, his favorite author Mary Pope Osborn wrote him back a couple of summers ago. A few years before that the Dinosaur Park in Ogden responded when he wrote them about a fossil that he thought he found in our back yard.

And I still can’t believe he got a large envelope from the White House last year with pictures and a letter from his political hero – President Obama.

He was certain the mint would reply. I was skeptical. But I’m not one to dampen his ambitions. So I kept quiet as he raced to the mailbox day after day waiting for his new coin.

It took two weeks and then he came running in to the house with an envelope from Colorado.

The Denver mint had written back. They didn’t craft him his new coin, but they sent him and his older brother a press kit with brochures, pictures and a mint-condition 2017 penny paired with a completely unstamped, blank penny.

He was on cloud nine.

How can he be so lucky? I can’t even get the swing set company to answer the phone regarding replacement parts to our set.

Maybe I need him to write to Robert Downy Jr. on my behalf, asking for an autographed picture.

Better yet, maybe he’d write the mint back and ask for two newly printed $20s to replace the ones that my dog ate a few months back.

You never know!

Blackened Treehouse, Blackened Heart

Blog Post1I worked my butt off last week in my yard and house getting things ready for a month filled with birthday celebrations. I wanted to have everything done so I could enjoy quality time with my kids.

And then I found myself at the top of an 8-foot ladder Monday morning uselessly scrubbing for hours trying to remove dark stains that someone splattered across the back of our treehouse.

Monday was my 5-year-old’s birthday. I wanted to sit on the couch and cuddle him all day. Instead I was trying to remove invasive vandalism.

Thank you vandal.

I should make it clear that we aren’t certain who did it, but we are positive in what direction it came from.

Sunday night we noticed that one of the trees we planted last summer during the infamous treehouse compromise was dying. My husband went to get a closer look. When he glanced up he saw black splatters and streaks across the base corner of the tree house.

The corner is covered and then the stain branches out with small freckles of black peppered across the wood.

The black webs down the posts and side braces. There are discolored splashes across our new swing set. Our children’s plastic picnic table is covered in brown puddle stains. The tree stump that we built upon is polka dotted with black. Our turtle sandbox and mud-making station were also hit.

And our tree. The fast-growing evergreen that we paid a lot of money for is dying.

BlogPost3

As I stood on the top rung, steadying myself with my electric sander I was fuming. I still am.

I should have known it wasn’t over. But after more than a year of quiet I had gotten comfortable.

How can someone stain my life like that?

And I’m not just talking about physically. My heart has begun to blacken. I know there are amazing people in this world, but the actions of some make it hard to see the good sometimes.

Right now it’s hard for me to see the good.

The police asked us to make a financial list of the damages. How can I put a price on reclaimed wood that we ripped from our fence, pulled nails from, measured, cut and then screwed onto the tree house one by one? How can I replace the giant post and cement cinder block that are bracing up the north west corner? How can I put a price tag on all that damage?

How much is it going to cost for me to have peace in my back yard?

I don’t know the answer. Or even if there is an answer.

What type of world do we live in where a set of parents can’t build a tree fort for their kids in their own back yard without harassment?

It’s absolutely ridiculous. It disgusts me.

But there is a lot that disgusts me these days. This world is making me sad.

Beyond my back yard, what type of place is this where we are treated differently because of the origin of our birth or the color of our skin? Why do some have access to medication and health care treatment while others can’t afford to seek care? Why do I have a roof over my head while others are scrambling for food and shelter?

There is so much hatred. So much indifference. So much sorrow and despair.

I could go on and on about the injustices I see happening in this land of the free, home of the brave. From across this nation to my own back yard and beyond, this world is depressing me.

I’m sad, and I’m tired. I don’t have much fight left in me.

But I keep fighting. Why? I fight to teach my kids that there are some things worth fighting for. Like equality. Like respect. Like Love.

Like tree houses.

After all, they are the reason we built it in the first place.

BlogPost2

Five Years With My Rainbow

1490841_10152099354422889_2016747820_o

“What did you make me when you were born?” I always ask my 4-year-old.

“Happy,” he replies while cackling deep from his gut – the way he always laughs.

And it’s so true.

Next week will mark five years of my little boy making me happy. To celebrate the colorful light he has brought back to my life, I dedicate this week’s blog post to him.

I’m not going to sugar coat things. His pregnancy was one of the hardest times in my life. It took me a while to get pregnant and when I did I worried nonstop that he would die in the womb like his brother before him.

I learned to sit back, take deep breaths and relish the feeling of his kick against my stomach.

467871_10151336849707889_1519287247_oThe day he was born my heart felt happy.

He is my rainbow.

What is it like having a rainbow baby?

It’s like living through one of the darkest storms of your life, wondering if the wind and rain will ultimately consume you, then spotting a streak of color and light in the distance.

You are drawn to it. You cling to it. You thank the heavens for it.

And you never want to let it go.

13524554_10208440581071022_7536633307077381544_nI’ve had five glorious years with my rainbow. And I never want to let him go.

Having him has not only brought me pure joy, but it has taught me to appreciate the good things in life. The times when things work out.

My little rainbow is the happiest kid I have ever met. He loves everything in life and laughs at least a hundred times a day.

10362804_10152738143392889_2736045714292664483_oHe is really smart and will help with anything I ask. He loves to cut down weeds and help stir the food for dinner.

He’s obsessed with dinosaurs, dragons and lava wolfs – his imagination is larger than life.

So to him on his birthday week, I say, “Imagine on little rainbow, for I can’t imagine my world without you.”

14937458_10154607170397889_2447712225968960954_n.jpg

Thirsty Travelers

I know you’ve been there. You’re on a family road trip. It’s hot outside. There are two water bottles with condensation pooling on the sides sitting an arms-length away.

You are thirsty but you don’t know if you want to drink. You don’t know if you dare.

Why?

Because if you reach for one of the water bottles, one of your offspring will see you. They will beg and cry for a sip. And you don’t know if you can handle that again.

Forget the fact that they just had one. Forget the fact that you just stopped at another gas station so they could use the bathroom. Forget the fact that you thought you could sneak a sip without them noticing.

They. Always. Notice.

So you sit thirsty. Wondering if you could pull it off.

Finally you give in. And then you hand the bottle to the back seat.

Then you find yourself hauling your four and two-year-olds into another gas station restroom. Why are you stuck wrestling the two youngest in a tiny stall while each of the three of you take turns going to the bathroom?

Because your two oldest boys are too old to go into the women’s restroom unless they absolutely have to.

So you stand cramped into the corner of a dirty stall holding it while the two-year-old – who is wearing a diaper – insists she goes first.

When you finally get your turn, you have to go at lightning speed. Otherwise one of your kids will flush while you are still sitting and the other will open the door before you are ready.

I can’t tell you how many times my kids unlock and swing the hinges while I’m still sitting on the pot.

It’s awesome.

I also can’t tell you how many times I found myself searching for a potty while road tripping this week. It’s one of my least favorite parts of driving to a vacation destination.

I get so nervous that someone is going to have to go while we are in the middle of a dessert that I limit everyone’s liquid intake until we are all completely parched.

For some reason it feels like my kids ask for a drink ten times as many times as they normally would because they are bored out of their minds.

Maybe next time I’ll leave the water bottles home. But I get thirsty sometimes too.

Maybe I’ll make everyone wear diapers. Now that would be something.

What God Gave Me Time For

csc_0186

Me and my youngest baby right after she was born. That was one of the happiest days of my life. 

 

I struggle with parenting. Always have, probably always will.

I love being a mother. I’ve wanted to have kids since before I could remember.

But with parenting has come a constant inner battle. I am always fighting for more time.

It’s taken me more than a decade as a mother to discover that I need time for myself or else I will never be happy. Time to cultivate my talents. Time to read an occasional novel. Time to take a step back from parenting and a step toward who I am when I don’t have kids underfoot.

I don’t do it a lot, but I have started finding time for myself. It has been nice, even if it is minimal.

But finding time for myself is different than making my time matter.

I still fight with myself about wasting away not making an impact on this world.

I haven’t published a best-selling youth novel. I haven’t written a Pulitzer-Prize winning news story. I haven’t had my blog featured nationally and I doubt I’ll ever be a famous portrait photographer.

I want to learn and study more. I want to get another degree. I want to learn more languages.

There are so many things to do and learn and see.

And so little time.

When I think about all the things I could be doing certain questions arise.

Questions like:

Am I important? Does what I do day-to-day really matter?

I was thinking about those questions when my mother-in-law gave me an article about time.

The article mentions a non-LDS Christian Blogger. The blogger – a mother of five – comments of time and parenting. She is quoted in the July 2016 LDS Visiting Teaching Message.

“… Children rank way below college,” She wrote. “Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get.

“Motherhood is not a hobby, it’s is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for. “

When I read that last line it struck me.

“…what God gave you time for.”

God gave me time to be with my children. That is the most important thing for me. That is what I have always wanted. Why do I discredit its importance?

Realizing that my Heavenly Father doesn’t care what impact I make outside the home, but that he gave me all the time I have to make an impact inside the home, has changed my perspective.

I don’t have time or money to travel the world like I want to. I can’t go buy gelato at 10 p.m. on a whim.

I barely have the energy to keep my house from looking like a hurricane struck so forget about running outside or hitting the gym.

And all of that is all right.

Everyone has different dreams and goals. My goal was to be a wife and a mother.

I may never become famous. I may never visit the far corners of the earth.

But I am doing what makes me happy – I don’t need to reach for a life that is beyond me.

That’s not what God gave me time for.

Giving Back

IMG_1215p8x10Seven years ago I stood with tears streaking my cheeks as a photographer handed me beautiful photos she had taken of my stillborn baby Luca.

She volunteered for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep – a non-profit organization that takes photos for grieving parents.

She gave me dozens of treasured images of my baby boy just days after his death. Images that are priceless to me and my family.

I knew right then that someday I wanted to be able to do the same thing for other parents.

This week I held a sweet little angel in my arms as I started that journey. I don’t volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (although I’d love the opportunity some day) but when I found out they weren’t going to be able to take pictures of my friend’s stillborn baby, I asked her if I could.

It was my honor to capture her sweet tiny baby boy who was born stillborn on Monday.

As I walked down the hall to her hospital room, I walked down memory lane.

I’ll never forget when the photographer came in to take Luca’s pictures. She was so patient. So sincere. She took whatever pictures we wanted and stayed far longer than expected.

I remember my legs feeling like lead, still frozen from my epidural.

I remember my oldest son scowling in pictures. I remember my middle son goofing off.

I remember my parents and grandparents cradling my sweet angel baby as we all got breathtaking photos with him.

When the photographer dropped off the images I remember asking her why she did them. Tears welled in her eyes as she said, “Because I know what it’s like.”

I too know what it’s like. What it’s like to never want to forget the face of a child you have to bury.

I will never be able to express how much it meant for me to take pictures for my friend. I thought it would be really hard for me. But it was strangely therapeutic.

In a way it made me realize that Luca’s death was not in vain. I have learned and grown so much since then.

I wish more than anything that he wouldn’t have died, but his death has given me a chance to reach out to other parents dealing with that same nightmare.

I’ll never forget the angel mothers who stood by me and helped me through those first darkest times after his death. They were some of the only people who knew how it felt to lose a piece of your heart.

And though I wouldn’t wish the death of a child on my worst enemy, I know that more parents will have to live through that hell. And I hope I can help them in some small, simple way.

Maybe I’ll sew some more wraps for tiny babies. Maybe I’ll crochet some more hats. Maybe someday I’ll take more angel baby photos.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: