Sunday, September 22, 2013

Firsts

Did you have a nice Labor Day? I did!

I started out the day by attending an Improving Birth rally with some of my friends in Washington DC in front of the Capital Building's reflecting pool. The focus of the rally was to get women to learn more about birth. To let women know that there is a lot they may not know about labor and delivery! If you know me, or have read my blog for a while, then you know I have some strong opinions about this. I thought I had educated myself before my first and second births, but that was very shallow research compared to what I underwent with my third birth, and it made all the difference. With birth, knowledge really is power. With birth, ignorance is not bliss. With birth, if you don't know your options, then you don't have any! (I could go on all day.) 

The rally was small; it is only in its second year, but I hope it continues to grow each year! It was really fun to spend time with other moms, dads, and kids who share many of my same viewpoints. I saw lots of babywearing and got some good tips on different holds to try when I get serious about wearing Alice on my back instead of my front. I even ran into someone who used to live around the corner from me in Indiana. What a small world!

I love how pleased with herself Alice looks in this picture.
She's all, "Yeah, I gave my mommy an awesome birth."


Alice is not as pleased in this picture. Oh well!
We got the Capital Building in the background at least.

I obviously took Alice with me to the rally, but Jill and Daniel got to stay at home with their daddy. The rally itself was only two hours, but I didn't want to drive in and park, and my friends let me be in charge, so we took the bus. Well, we were supposed to take the bus. We ended up missing our bus on the way back, so for the return trip we took the metro and the bus. That made it take a lot longer than I had anticipated.

At dinner that evening, Jill and Daniel had already finished and were playing in the living room, leaving Jeff and I to talk. An absolutely gratifying moment occurred when Jeffrey turned to me and said, "How do you do that every day?" What a wonderful thing to hear. I am glad it wore him out like it wears me out!

This Labor Day, I attended a labor rally, and I also rested a bit from my regular labor of parenting three children. What a great day!

Here's a picture of my kids. 
Because I think they're cute.


This catches me up to this past weekend. I ran in the Peanut Butter Run Against Hunger here in Reston on the local Day to Serve. (Day to Serve is something the leaders of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and DC decided to start doing last year. We're supposed to transcend our political and religious differences to serve together. For example, my local ward (congregation) did a food drive in our neighborhoods.)

The Peanut Butter Run was a first for me. You may remember I had signed up to run a 5K last year in Cincinnati, but it ended up being the same day as the BYU vs. Notre Dame game, and we randomly were given free tickets to the football game, so my family went to a park the Saturday before the 5K would have been, and I ran an unofficial 5K by myself in the park, and then during the real 5K drove to Indiana to watch the football game. So, this was my first official 5K, where I got a number and a time and everything.

There were some surprises. It was organized by a local church here, so not a running organization or something. You had two options: to run on a paved loop three times or to wind through hiking trails. I decided the hiking trails would be more interesting in comparison to running in circles, so I opted for that route. (The paved loop was specifically for younger children and for people with jogging strollers. I have never seen so many jogging strollers in my life.)

Well, the route I chose definitely was more interesting, but I was not prepared for it. I have only been running around the track at the YMCA, so on a flat surface in an air conditioned gymnasium. This was outside and humid, and it was not flat at all. There were roots, rocks, dips, hills, and a bridge or two. I tripped twice (luckily caught myself on the person in front of me!) and landed wrong on my foot once. There was a lot of up and down, sometimes even between each step. Naturally, that was very jarring to my system.

Some people give themselves pep talks as they run. This was the only thing that ran through my head over and over again: "Keep going. Don't fall. Don't pee your pants."

Sadly, all that I achieved was the "keep going" part. Women, when people advise you to do Kegel exercises, I suggest you take them seriously. My pelvic floor is not the same since giving birth three times. This gets better right? Note to self: Only run on flat surfaces from now on . . .

Jill took this picture. Didn't she do a good job?
You can thank me for cropping it. You don't want to see that.

This picture was taken by the people at the race and put on the website. Either they edited it out of the kindness of their hearts, or they caught some magical angle, because trust me, it was noticeable. Sigh.

My cheerleaders


Danny and Jill were really excited about running in their races. That morning at breakfast, the race was the big topic of conversation. Danny was convinced he was going to run super fast, because he was wearing Lightning McQueen underwear. Jill was wearing Wonder Woman underwear, and she was not sure how that would affect her performance. I interrupted and asked whether they thought Mommy was going to be fast in her race. Apparently my underwear was not up to the task of making me super fast, because Danny just looked at me and shook his head solemnly while Jill tilted her head and kindly said, "maybe."

Here is Jill's race. She was with the 4–7 year olds. She definitely can run faster than she did in the race, but she had a lot of fun (or so she claimed afterwards). During the actual race, she just seems a little unsure of things, like "what are we all doing?" "why are we running?" "I've never run with this many kids before."


Here is Danny's race. He was with the 2–3 year olds. He was pretty busy looking at the other kids, and haha wasn't ready to stop at the end.


And no, I did not have a change of clothes with me, so I was still in my stinky clothes. I tied my long sleeve shirt around my waist. Sadly, you could still see the evidence in the front, but I decided life is too short to hide in the car when my children are running in their first races! (Now that's definitely not what people have in mind when they say YOLO!)

Now I am left to ponder: Would it have been worse to have my fellow runners see me peeing in the woods or to have had the pee leak out a little bit on every bounce and jar? If only I had been wearing camouflage instead of pink . . .

My little runners!


After the race, we went into Washington DC. The Library of Congress puts on The National Book Festival every year, and it was this weekend. Obviously, that is something I could not miss. There were a lot of cool writers who I would have loved to meet and have them sign their books for me, but my kids rule my life, and they were only interested in the PBS Kids tent. Many of their favorites were there: Clifford, Curious George, Super Grover, the Cat in the Hat, Buddy, and Princess Presto. And all you had to do was wait in line, and you got to hug them!! I love all of the "free" (tax funded) stuff I can go to in DC!

Jill loves Word Girl.

Danny loves Super Why!

It started to sprinkle at the end. When we were driving home, it was really pouring. I'm glad we weren't walking in that. Here's a picture, because my husband is handsome, and my kids look cute with their Thomas and Dora umbrellas.

Alice was clearly not as excited about books as I am.
I'll just give her a few years . . .


My ward's Primary Program is next Sunday. (The Primary Program is when the children, ages 4 to 11, lead our main worship service, what we call sacrament meeting.) My current calling in church is the Primary Music Leader, so I've been helping the kids with the songs they've been studying all year long. The past two Sundays have been spent practicing the program. Last Sunday, the kids just went up to the microphone and said their names. Jill yelled her name into the microphone. That was typical of quite a few of the younger children, to yell instead of talk. The leaders tried to show them how to talk into it instead of yell.

This week, we practiced again. This time, instead of speaking into the microphone (or yelling), Jill started to cry and wouldn't walk up to it.

Then during closing exercises of Primary, Jill was supposed to give a talk. She had been working on the talk all week (she wrote it with me), and she had it memorized. But she made Jeffrey carry her up, and then she wouldn't let go of him, and she wouldn't say a word of her talk.

In the car, I made the comment, "Jill is the most outgoing shy kid I know." How strange. Jeffrey talked to Jill about how she and I could go over to the church during the week and practice talking into the mic, so she could be ready.

Later I was asking Jill about it, and she told me she didn't want to talk into the mic, because she didn't want to yell. Awww. I thought she was being shy, but I think she was afraid of getting in trouble. Poor girl. 

Below is the talk I wrote with her. We talked about what she would say, and she told me what pictures she thought would describe her ideas. The talk below that is the first talk I ever gave in Primary. My dad wrote it with me.




This is a super long post! And I'm going to make it longer. Here is what we are all working on right now.

Jill is learning how to read. I am using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, based on the DISTAR method. I am enjoying it so far. It is neat to watch the world really open up for her as she sounds out all the letters we see. She used to say "I see a J!" "There's a D!" Now she says "I know that sound! That's a tuh (T) sound!" There are some small words she can already sound out and read. She is also very hungry for "worksheets." She has told me many times she does not want to go to preschool, but she really loves "playing" school at home.

Danny is working on using the potty. He is doing really well. He will sit on the potty by himself, and he will tell me when he needs to go, and he isn't fighting me anymore when I tell him he needs to sit on it. The only area he has not accomplished yet is putting his underwear back on after going potty. I'm sure he'll figure that out soon though. I LOVE not having his diapers to change anymore. When Jeffrey went into nursery today to sit Danny on the potty, it was snack time. Jeff went and told him that he needed to go with him to sit on the potty and then he could come back to finish his snacks. Danny let Jeff pick him up and then he turned to his buddies and said, "Okay guys, I'll be right back." So cute.

Alice is working on crawling. She moves all over the place now. She will get on all fours, with her stomach in the air, and will crawl backward. Today she has started picking her hands in the front up and down like she could go forward. She definitely leans forward, and with her stomach on the ground, she scoots all over the place. I've had to rearrange some of my shelves, because I caught her eating paper twice. So now the coloring books are on the top shelf, and the stuffed animals are on the bottom shelf. I'll have to get Jill and Danny to understand the rules about when they can play with their small pieced toys, too. Wish me luck on that!

Jeff is working in Laos for the next two weeks. He's in the air right now. He has a seven-hour layover in Paris!! How lame to be in Paris for that long and spend it all in the airport. He gets home from Vientiane, Laos, on October 6. 

I am working on a book for my sister, continuing to type up my grandma Homer's life history, and primary music activities. Yay me.

Oh yeah! Daniel's punishment for peeing his pants was getting a really short cold shower to wash the pee off of him, so my hilarious husband asked the kids if I had to take a cold shower since I peed my pants.

So, lots of firsts. My first rally. My first real 5K. The first time I remember peeing my pants. (I am sure I did it when I was potty training.) My kids' first races. Jeff's first trip to Asia/Indochina. Jill's first reading. Danny's first undie-dundies (because they're not panties!). Jill's first sacrament meeting talk. Alice's first movement.

And on that note, I'd love to hear any of your embarrassing stories! :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Smaller body or bigger family?

Jill and Daniel are really sure that our family needs a baby brother. So sure that Jill is actually pretty convinced that I am pregnant. I have told her many times that I am not pregnant, but I don't think she believed me until the other day (I hope she finally believed me, or she is going to be disappointed in a few months). I wish I had used different words to convince her though.

Jill: "Mommy, I think Orangey will like carrots."
Mimi: "Who is 'Orangey'?"
Jill: "That is what our baby brother's name is going to be."
Mimi: "Your dad and I were thinking more along the lines of Gordo or Gordie."
Jill: "Nope. Orangey."
Time passes.
Mimi: "Jill, you know I'm not pregnant, right?"
Jill: "No, you are."
Mimi: "Jill, there is no baby in my belly."
Jill: "Well, not a baby baby."
Mimi: "No, no baby at all."
Jill: "Well, you're, you know, making a baby, just growing the bones, but it is our baby brother."
Mimi: "I'm not even growing his bones; there is no baby starting to grow inside of me at all." (Thinking in my head: Is today the day I explain where babies come from?!)
Jill: "But, your tummy is big."
Mimi: "Tummies can be big without babies inside of them."
Look of complete disbelief from Jill.
Jill: "Why is your tummy big if you aren't making a baby in your belly?"
Mimi: "It just is."
Jill: "Why?"
Mimi: "Because I already have grown babies in there, so it has more room—it's bigger."
Jill: "But why is it still bigger with no baby inside?"
Mimi: "Well, it's just fat. My stomach is fat." (I said that calmly.)
Complete silence. Jill seemed stunned. She then sat up straight and looked down at her stomach.
Jill: "Mommy, is my stomach fat?"
Mimi: "No, no, Jill, your stomach is perfect!"
And then she didn't say anything else, and I was too busy worrying if I had just taught my daughter to hate her female body for the rest of her life because I used the word 'fat,' so the conversation ended.


Here is another conversation from a few days ago.
I am on the bed with Alice. Jill comes into the room, carrying my makeup. 
Jill: "Mommy, can we put make up on?"
Mimi: "Sure, if you want to."
Jill and I help each other get dolled up.
Jill: "Can I put on more?"
Mimi: "Nope, I think we're good."
Jill: "But I want to look pretty."
Mimi: "Do you think we put on makeup to look pretty?"
Jill nods.
Mimi: "Sweetie, we put on makeup because it is fun. We are already pretty without makeup. Makeup is just for fun. It's art, like painting or coloring a picture."
Jill looks at me and doesn't say anything.
Mimi: "Always remember that makeup is just for fun, and that you are beautiful no matter how you look."


Jill, you are so beautiful, because of your smile and your joy and your kindness. Because you help "babysit" Alice, and you share with your brother, and you welcome new friends into your life. Because you sing with gusto and you dance like no one's watching. Because you tackle challenges fearlessly. You are so beautiful.
And I would never trade my bigger body for a smaller family. I am so grateful that I have been blessed to "grow the bones" of four babies inside my belly, and I am so lucky to have given birth to three of them, and I am proud of my softness.


Wish me luck. I didn't expect discussions on true beauty to already begin when my daughter is four years old. I thought that would be middle school or something.

Do you have any advice on how your parents did it well or on what you are trying to do with your children?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Heartbreaker

I broke my son's heart today. I hope I never break his spirit.

We had a doctor's appointment this morning. Danny was SO brave, and all he did was whimper when he had his vaccine. I think that Alice made a big impression on Daniel and Jill when she had her first vaccine last week (I have created a delayed schedule I use). She just sort of whimper moaned and that was it. Jill looked at me with big eyes and said, "Mommy, Alice is sooo brave." I kept reminding Danny all morning of how brave Alice was, and then he handled his shot like a champ!

We arrived home after the appointment, and Danny and Jill went into the house before me. I was slower, because I had to gather Alice and my other belongings. When I entered the house, Danny looked at me with wide, sad eyes. He was standing next to his little froggy potty and was peeing his pants.

I put Alice down and helped Daniel. I put him on the potty, and asked, "Daniel, why didn't you just take your pants off and sit on the potty before you peed? Now you've peed on your Queen shoes. Should I just throw them away since you'd rather pee on them than use the potty?"

Silence.

The shock at possibly losing his Queen shoes couldn't even be met with a tantrum or tears. Just shock.

Jill, upstairs, yelled down, "But, Mom, you could just put them in the bathtub. And then you could wash them and wipe them, and they would be clean again. You don't have to throw them away."

Jill has obviously already graduated from potty training school and knows the drill.

Daniel still had no words.

Right now, as I am typing this, Danny is playing next to me with Queen and Mater. I keep hearing Queen tell Mater that he needs to go to the bathroom. Pretty cute.

Here is my sweet little boy. He is at his happiest, when he has Lightning McQueen shoes on his feet, a Mickey Mouse baseball cap on his head, a Superman shirt on his chest, and a Jake and the Neverland Pirates sword in his hand. He can conquer anything when he's equipped with those buddies.


(Queen is what we call Lightning McQueen in this household.)

Also, before I knew that Danny would handle the immunization like a champ, I threw out a bribe of slurpees/slushies. Daniel forgot about it, but Jill remembered on the ride home. "Mom, aren't we going to go get our slushy drinks?" My reply, "Oh, well, maybe that would be more fun to do tonight when Daddy gets home from work." Jill: "Well, Daddy is not at work."Me: "Oh, really? Where do you think Daddy is?" Jill: "He's not at work. He's at the store. The slushy store." She would not be convinced that her father really and truly was at work right now. Oh, four is a fun age.

Have you broken any hearts lately? Or, what "buddies" make you feel like you can conquer anything? Wearing my contacts with black eyeliner and a blue shirt makes me feel pretty confident.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Magic of Make Believe

Here are parts of conversations I've had with Jill recently. I'm not ready for her "childhood" to end.

Jill: "Mama, are mermaids real?"
Mimi: "No, sorry, sweetie. They are just a fun thing to pretend."
Jill: "Oh. . . . Are seahorses real?"
Mimi: "Yes! Those are real."
Jill: "And crabs?"
Mimi: "Yes, honey, those are real."

---------

Jill: "Mama, is Jesus just a story?"
Mimi: "No, sweetie, He is not just a story. Well, I believe in Jesus. There are people who do not believe that Jesus is our Savior, but I believe he is, sweetie, and the decisions I make every day are based on that belief. Whatever happens, know that your mommy believes."

----------

Jill: "Mama, why are those kids swimming? Don't they know it is Sunday?"
Mimi: "Well, honey, some people don't think Sunday is special like we do. Some people think Saturday is a special day."
Jill: "They think Saturday is special?"
Mimi: "Yeah. And some people don't treat any days as special, but I believe that Sunday is a day we should try to make different than other days, a day where we try to grow closer to God."

----------

Jill: "They're bad to swim on Sunday."
Mimi: "Jill, it isn't bad to swim on Sunday if you don't think Sunday is a special day. And even if you do something bad it doesn't mean you are bad. Did you hit Danny yesterday?"
Jill: "Yeah."
Mimi: "It was bad to hit Danny, but you aren't bad. And the people swimming right now aren't bad either. They just believe differently than you do."

----------

Jill: "Mama, is Bo on the Go real?"
Mimi: "No, honey. She is just pretend. But isn't it fun to use your imagination and play with her?"
Jill: "Yeah, she's a lot of fun. Even pretend. But . . . is the dragon real?"
Mimi: "Nope. He's just a fun story, too."

----------

I really hope she doesn't ask me if butterflies really are just butterflies. Right now, our story is that some of them are actually fairies, but their magic makes us unable to see them as they are.

I, haha, wouldn't actually mind if she asked me about Santa Claus. I dislike that guy getting all of the credit for my hard work. Ha. At least, I used to think that. As I've watched the magic fade from her eyes as she discovers what is and isn't real, it makes me kind of sad. But I hate lying to her, so I'm stuck.

I just hope that she is my daughter in that she ends up loving stories, imagination, and pretend even if it isn't real. I think you can learn a lot of important lessons with the fake, and that it can be a great way to cope with the real. I hope she learns to love the make believe like I do.

I wish we were back to the questions about plant and animal cells. Even though I didn't know all the correct answers, I would have preferred that to this new awareness. She loved mermaids. I hope she can still find a way to love them.

Jill, slow down! Let's keep some childhood magic alive.
These pictures were taken at the Boling family reunion at Shenandoah Crossing in July.
Our fabulous photographer was Peter Davis.

Do any of you remember when you were told that Santa Claus wasn't real? (Or any other "magical thing" of childhood that you especially loved? How did that go for you?