Monday, September 27, 2010

Which Part Is Mine?

As my son stomped out of the house this morning in a full-blown rage, with the only provocation being told he had to go to school, I couldn’t help but wonder what part of this growing personality is mine?  What part did I plant in him in infancy and feed and water and nurture until it grew into this frightening monster that appears from time to time?  I get so discouraged when I see my kids do things or hear things coming out of their mouth that I know came from me.  And I think, “Oh, I’ve cursed them – they’re doomed.”  On the other hand they will do something wonderful and helpful and I think, “Yea!  They’re learning.  We’re getting something right!”  But as I see all of the very different personalities of my children, who are all raised differently, but by the same two people, I wonder if I have anything to do with it at all.  And I know I do, but how much?  How much of my son’s explosive tantrum this morning was my responsibility?  It’s the whole Nature vs. Nurture question.  And it’s a question I struggle with constantly.

At what point do you say to your child “I’m sorry you’re struggling with this.  I hope you can figure something out,” and at what point do you assume responsibility and do everything in your power to fix the situation?  Sometimes I feel that I am not expressing enough love to my family, so I cook.  I make pancakes for breakfast, veggie platters for afterschool snacks, a feast for dinner with an ice cream covered dessert.  I do most of the dishes because I don’t want them to be put out and I pick up after them constantly just so they won’t have to hear my nagging voice.  They just get grumpier and grumpier and I get more and more frustrated, so the goodies subside and the jobs increase and everyone seems happier after a few days of complaining about the job increase, and then it all starts falling apart again.

We make a million decisions in our lifetimes regarding our children.  The things we do with them; when to push and when to let it go; what to encourage or discourage; when to fix it and when to let them learn how to cope.  All these decisions have an impact on the development of these little people, their memories and sense of self-worth.  It seems there are endless amounts of worry in child-rearing.  In the end, what really counts?  In the end, how much is my responsibility? and how much is my child’s?  And do I really care how much is mine or his when I just want him to be happy?  But you can’t make a person happy – it’s a personal choice.  But am I doing everything I can to help make that choice just a little bit easier for them, or a little more natural?  And is all of this just a matter of not getting enough sleep? 

Does anybody really ever really figure this stuff out?  Or do you just get through it?  And if it’s just a matter of “getting through”, is that really how I want to live my life, and how I want to teach my children to live?  It seems like there must be a better way.  I’m truly grateful I have as many kids as I do because I hope I will finally be the parent I want to be by the last one.  Djeryd, you have my sincerest condolences and appreciation for blazing the “childhood trail” in our home.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life, Lately

Amidst all the craziness of school starting and our ever-dying van, life has been full of a lot of wonderful, regular, day-to-day things:

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my sleeping baby,

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Djeryd’s Train Show (only $10 a head),

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Star Wars everything (including a trip to the local Lego-trading store),

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homemade Lego Star Wars games,

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making a Star Wars dinner (it was not very appetizing, but it was fun – and the kids liked it - photo credit goes to Erik on this one),

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reading silly children’s stories together,

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and lots of staring at each other.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Movie Review: Tinker Bell

I know it’s silly, but the Tinker Bell movie makes me cry every time I see it.  I think it is beautifully drawn.  I love the wonder of the seasons.  I love the creative use of natural elements.  I love the music.  I love the voices.  I love the story.  One of the things I really admire about John Lasseter films is the way they portray the human condition.  From Toy Story to Finding Nemo to The Incredibles.  They are all stories that teach us something about ourselves – about who we are or who we were or who we want to be. 

Tinker Bell is the story of an individual trying desperately to find her place in the world.  After being told where her talents lie, she rebels, trying to be something she isn’t, something she was never meant to be.  It is not until a tremendous amount of damage is done to others and herself, that she finally turns to who she really is.  I could get really philosophical and relate all this to the Plan of Salvation and our eternal identity as children of God and the horrible mess of “identity crisis” we go through in this life, but I won’t.  Suffice it to say, when Tinker Bell finally embraces her true identity she creates miracles.

I love watching this movie with my daughter (my boys, too, but it is kind of girly).  I love that somewhere in her subconscious the message of this movie is sinking in – that being the best at who you truly are (a daughter of God) is what will bring you your greatest joys.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Day of School

First off, I have absolutely no recollection of a photograph ever being taken on my first day of school – ever.  Consequently, I never know what kind of pictures I’m supposed to take on the first day.  Some years I photograph everything, from waking up in the morning to, well, to when I get tired of taking pictures.  Other years, like last year, I took a total of three pictures of the kids eating cookies after school.  That’s it.  This year, for the first time ever, I took the camera to school and got pictures outside their classrooms (I did not post them because Djeryd would not be happy with me, and the pictures are kind of crazy, panicked looking (my panic – not the kids’).

So after an incredibly intense selection process (I jest), I present to you the most noteworthy first-day-of-school photographs.

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I got up really early (6:30am – I know - I’m amazing) and made the kids muffins for breakfast.  This picture is telling me my kitchen needs an overhaul.  Actually it makes me really happy to see all of us up so early eating breakfast together as this NEVER happens due to my warped definition of “early” (does anybody else feel like 8:00am is the absolute earliest anyone should ever get up?).

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I love the walk to school.

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And I love the pink detailing on those pockets paired with that fuschia  hoodie.

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Since I could not follow the boys around school and take pictures of them doing their thing on the first day of school, I followed Anna around and took pictures of her doing her thing on the boys’ first day of school. 

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I think I may have fallen upon a tradition: this is the second year in a row I made cookies for the kids on their first day.  I hope I remember to do it again next year.  (Don’t hold your breath.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010


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Anna spruced up her wardrobe as part of the whole back-to-school thing.  We got home kind of late, but Anna wanted to show Daddy all of her sweet scores.  Oh, my gosh, I love this girl!  She was so cute.  Sean had to work on the computer so Sean drug the mirror into the office so Anna could check herself out.  She actually changed her socks for every single outfit!  It was so cute.  The thing I love about the picture above is all the black and blue and white in the mirror with Anna’s burst of pink.  I love that it’s kitty-wompas.  I love that I can see that wonderful man loving his sweet daughter by honoring her “Take a picture of me, Daddy” request.

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Anna is the best big sister.  I’m the big sister in my family and I don’t think I internalized my responsibilities very well as a child.  I am always telling Anna what a great big sister she is and how lucky Alyx is to have her.  She is always singing songs to the baby or dancing around the living room to delight Alyx.  Man, I’m lucky!

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And I couldn’t pass up posting this one.  Girls, I love your eyes.  Oh, mama loves you!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Garden Walk – Phase 1

For our Labor Day weekend project, Sean and the kids began the installation of a garden path that will eventually wander across the back yard.  Last weekend they focused on simply getting the path installed as it runs along the grow beds in the side yard.

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Sometimes we really worry about our kids not knowing how to work.  I will be kind and not mention the name that causes us so much worry.  The little one above is AMAZING when it comes to digging in on a serious work project.  Erik shoveled gravel all day long on Saturday.  And he was ready bright and early Monday morning to dig in with the cement work.  I don’t think Sean could have done it without him – seriously.

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After lunch on Monday Djeryd and Erik switched places and Djeryd put in a couple of hours working beside his dad.

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Then, of course, Anna had to get in on the action.  Actually she was begging all morning.  I finally talked Sean into letting her try to help.  He agreed and then Anna spent another three hours complaining about the required wardrobe.

Anna:  But I hate these pants!

Mommy: That’s why you’re wearing them – to get yucky cement all over them.  They will be ruined and you’ll never have to wear them again.

Anna:  But I hate these pants!

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My job was to keep everyone fueled with food and drink and “It looks awesome!  You guys are doing a great job!”

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We Sean & co. will mortar the spaces between and head on to the next section.  I think it is going to look absolutely fabulous.  (Just wait until we get the meandering path through the flower garden in – yea!!  I can’t wait!)  Sean, you are wonderful!  Thank you!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend in the Woods

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Every year my family gets together to hang out with each other.  It is the most anticipated vacation of the entire year (at least for my little family), hands down.  We love it!  We love playing with cousins and staying up late and talking and laughing and getting reacquainted with each other.  We normally do this for four or five days in Sunriver, but Disneyland is slated for next year, so we decided to do a family vacation on the cheap this year.  Welcome to my brother’s back yard.  We all pitched tents on their acreage and settled in for two days of fun, fun, fun.

The hottest attraction was a water bottle rocket contraption that my dad and brother made.  It began as this:

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Air from a bike pump gets pushed into the pop bottle half-filled with water, you pull a cord, and yippee, a rocket shoots into the air.

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(You can see the air being pumped into the bottle on this one.)

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The kids all made a rocket and then the dads got involved.  The rockets started getting pretty elaborate after that.  Sean’s swirly ones were my favorite.

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Eventually they upgraded to a foot pump, “cemented” down the launch pad, and moved the rip cord several yards away from the launch site (much safer).  Check out that jet stream.  ;>

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All the little girls sat on the trampoline and screamed out the launch count-down.  They were awesome cheerleaders.

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Love that baby!  I’ll also take a moment here to mention that on Friday night we celebrated Erik’s birthday with cake and ice cream, had a campfire and watched a movie on the side of the house.  Fun!

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My brother also put together an “Amazing Race” for all the cousins to go on.

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They got clues and zoomed around to all kinds of fun activities, like cannon building, golfing, and b-b gun shooting.

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This is my very favorite picture of the weekend.  We are fortunate to live pretty close to one another, and yet a moment like the one above is very rare.  Between kids and spouses and general activities it is very unusual for the four of us to be together – like in the same room, in the same conversation – at the same time (sitting around the dinner table on Thanksgiving does not count).  I have so many wonderful memories of growing up with these people.  I can truly say that my favorite people in the whole world are my family.  Mom and Dad, you done taught us good.  I love every last one of you.

And I love my brother’s shirts – seriously – where do you find stuff like that?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fashion Shoot

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As an end of summer treat my sister and her kids came up for the day.  Her girls wanted to do a fashion shoot, and their camera-happy aunt was tickled to oblige.  They put on about a bazillion outfits, but here are just a few of my favorites:

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(This one is actually Anna – and Djeryd dressed her up.  The walkie-talkies are supposed to be guns – in case you were wondering.)

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This was my favorite outfit – hands down.  Don’t you love that combo?

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This little girl loves the camera.  I have about fifty shots of her with a great smile, perfect eyes, comfortable body position – so easy to photograph. 

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Here is a beautiful picture of my sister who patiently styled all the little girls’ hair.

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Blue-haired monster baby!!  All the kids thought this was sooooo funny.

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Last, but not least, is my ethereally beautiful niece.  I love being an auntie!

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010


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We did swimming in a two week stretch this summer and I think it worked out much better than the two-days-a-week-for-eight-weeks thing that we usually do.

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Item of note:  Annaliese braved the water with nary a problem.  In fact, while doing the rope swing, she let go before her instructor expected and went completely underwater before he grabber her.  She later informed me, with smiles all over her face, that she “drained [drowned] in swimming lessons today!”

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Take Me To the Fair

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A few weeks ago we wandered on down to the county fair.

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Each of the kids chose one ride to go on.  Anna chose the four wheelers.

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Djeryd chose hang-gliding.

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Erik chose this crazy ride that went up and down and in circles and completely ruined Sean’s appetite for the rest of the night.  (I think Erik’s face is priceless!)

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This is my favorite picture of the evening.  Sean’s nice, but casual shirt and jeans paired with beat-up sneakers and, dost mine eyes deceive me?  are those khaki dress socks? Fair and swimming 096

Then we used up the rest of our tickets playing obnoxious games.  Daddy is saving the day here on Anna’s game choice – that ball ramp thing that has to go into circles to get points – think Chuck-e-Cheese’s.

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Djeryd actually won a prize throwing a dart at a balloon.

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We trotted through all of the animal pavilions.  Some smelled like nice, clean wood shavings.  Others –  like the pigs – were horrendous – yuck!  It made me so glad I don’t live on a farm.  This turkey was puffed up and snapping at everyone.  As entertaining as it was, I felt bad for him (I hate the zoo for the same reason).

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Last, but not least, I spent my fair money on a nice hot doughboy.  Yum! (And forced Sean to take a picture of me so that five years from now my kids will know I was actually at the fair with them.)

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