Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Totally Two but Totally Loved

So last week was Jane's 2nd birthday. We had a party for her on Saturday at Wildflower Park. When I asked her who she wanted to come to her party, she was clutching her little stuffed panda bear that she sleeps with (that is just one of the many things Jane sleeps with – every night, she has to have her panda, her teddy, her blue blanky and her pink blanky…all four things…always. The rocking chair gets kinda crowded when I sing her to sleep) and so she said “panda!” I said, “Okay then, let’s have a panda party!” So we did. Unbeknownst to me, panda paraphernalia is a little hard to come by, so I did tablecloths and balloons in black, white and pink, made a panda cake (my first real cake making/decorating experience - KayLyn, are you so proud?) and found little panda cut-outs online that I printed up and colored (I felt like I was in kindergarten again…and I still am horrible at cutting along the dotted lines!). All in all, I think it turned out pretty cute. Cousins came from both sides, grandmas too, and even Jane's little friend Peyton. He is in our ward and Jane has a serious crush on him. On sundays, they hold hands all the way to nursery.

Jane had a fabulous time at her party and of course, loved that so much of the attention was focused on her. The whole gift giving and receiving part of the party was a little confusing and overwhelming to her, but she has since had a blast with the toys she received, namely her REAL vacuum (from Grandma and Grandpa Tayler), her tiny bopper car (from us), and a set of keys from Becca and family that she takes in the car everytime we drive anywhere...thanks Becca and girls! Allison also had a good time, mostly because of all the attention she received from her uncle Thomas (don't be deceived by the word "uncle"...he is all of 11). I think she sat and played with his hair for about an hour. Towards the end of the party, Thomas came up and told me:
"I don't think is a single part of me that Allison doesn't like!" He's a crack-up.

All in all, the party was great fun. There was only one incident of biting and only a few handfuls of sand thrown at people (sand throwing compliments of Jane).

I can't believe that 2 years have passed since Jane was born. She has been a true joy in our life. Although she is totally into 2-year old behavior (her new favorite sentence is "mine..dis"..translated "this is mine!") she is so much fun and keeps us laughing continuously. She is clever, courageous and tender hearted, always giving me spontaneous hugs and asking me if I'm okay. My life has been truly blessed by her little presence. Here's to lots more happy years for my little curly-haired, blue-eyed charmer. I love you!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Who the heck is Jim?

So we're driving in the car to my mom's house, and Jane starts singing "I am a child of God". She listens to a CD of church songs every night to go to sleep to and that's the first song. Because she's only 2 and all her song lyrics are strictly phonetic, she often has some interesting versions of songs. Anyway, as she is coming to the conclusion of the first verse, she sings out "Teach me all dat I muss dew, to live wif Jim someday." So, the question is... who is Jim? Is Jim somehow related to Marsha? Or perhaps Jim is the name of the now-missing seahorse. Marie, looks like you might have some competition!

Speaking of random Jane-isms, she has now found bats in our vents and spiders in her high chair. If either of these things are true I am moving.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Just What I Needed....

After I posted "Identity Theft" (which, by the way, made me feel a little dorky when I read it again the next day...I sure made myself sound all enviro-cool and outdoorsy...but I still say I am a pretty weak attempt), my good friend emailed me something that had been forwarded to her. It really hit home with me. I especially needed to read it today because Jane has been sick with a nasty flu bug this week and I have been up to my eyeballs in yucky bodily fluids all day (it's her birthday today too...poor little thing...) So, see what you think.

I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone? Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude- but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To you, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.' I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn> pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.'That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

All of a Sudden...

Have you ever had one of those moments when you suddenly notice that your child has hit a major "developmental milestone" without you realizing it? One day they are just this adorable lump that when you sit them on their bum on the ground, they instantly fold in half and fall over sideways. Then somehow, it seems the very next day they are just sitting there happily, fully upright, waiting for you to take notice. Sorry, Allison - it's been a crazy week...but look at you! She looked so cute and proud today that I had to take a picture.

Last week was a crazy one. My little brother finally decided to get married...and I tell you what, I would just like to send out a great big thank you to all my siblings for participating in my wedding because holy cow, they are a lot of work....and even more work with little ones. You have no idea what is going on behind the scenes when it is your own wedding. You are in total la la land. But your family sure knows. Showers, parties, rehersals, more showers, buying gifts, buying suits (Jevan now actually owns a suit! It was a big step for him..I was really proud), you name it. The wedding day was wonderful...and very busy. From temple ceremony to wedding luncheon to wrestling Jane in an attempt to beautify her in her "pretty dress" (she was a flower girl) to ring ceremony to reception to...collapse. No naps and no idea what is going on lead to two little girls that are completely FRIED by the end of the night. They were troopers though and Jane looked really cute in her dress...of course, I would say so because I'm her mom. My brother's new wife is from Louisiana/Georgia and her family flew in for the wedding. They were the nicest people, complete with that charming southern drawl. They were great sports through all the wedding madness but a little taken back at subdued nature of an LDS reception - they were ready to drink up and let it all hang out. We did do a lot of dancing however, especially Jane, and she is not shy about going at it alone. We caught it on camera. All in all a fabulous event.
Photo right: Jane with her cousins as flower girls

Jane has had this imaginary friend for a while now. Her name is Marsha. She talks to her all the time on the phone. Marsha is very polite and always asks Jane how she is doing and how her potty training is going. That is about the extent of their conversation...oh, and Jane also tells her that Daddy is at work. The other day, a tall, blond saleslady came to the door selling children's books. Jane watched her very intently as she gave her spiel. After Jevan told her that we really couldn't spend $200 on a set of books (what happened to the days of buying single things? Why can't I just buy one book?) and was closing the door after her, Jane yelled out "Bub-bye Marsha!" Ah-hah! So THAT's the mysterious Marsha! She really exists! Nice to know that my daughter isn't completely crazy. I must admit however, I am still a bit puzzled as to why a lady book salesman would be interested in whether or not Jane went poo poo in the potty. Wait a minute...Marsha always wants to know if Daddy is at work....I think I am catching on here...I better go talk to that husband of mine....:)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Identity Theft

Yes, my identity has been stolen...not by some faceless thug mind, by someone I love. (Don't they always say that you hurt those you love the like that...). Actually, by TWO someones I love. Yup, my kids have stollen my identity, and I think it is causing me to have a off-by-a-decade mid-life crisis. Have any of you mothers out there felt like this? Do you ever feel like you got lost somewhere once your mom role started? You now measure your weeks by diaper genie refills, gain insight throught the little antecdotes on "It's a Big, Big World" (it's okay to move through life slow like a sloth, and don't be in such a hurry to grow up, like Smooch's sunflower), and count yourself as a success in life if your toddler says "thank you" without being told to the retail clerk who has just handed her a balloon (which ended out popping in her face 10 seconds later when we left the store...did you know those things can leave a welt?). Point is, I love being a mom, but lately I wonder...who am I?

I can tell you who I used to be before I had kids. I was a bit of a hippy/granola/whatever the politically correct term is for someone who is way into environmental issues and outdoor adventuring. Back before it was cool. I grew up wanting to be a park ranger. I still do. I used to spend way too much money at REI. I turned vegetarian after watching some films in school about what goes on at meat farms. It's beyond inhumane. I used to plant trees along the Jordan River. I used to backpack, hike, and sometimes rock climb. I used to worry about all the horrible acts against humanity going on in the world. I worked for a non-profit organization that fights for National Forests...we mostly just fought with the Forest Service. (It's called the Utah Environmental Congress..check out their website and join them... even rallied at the Capitol. I used to fantasize about maybe, you know, getting my belly button pierced and growing some dreadlocks. Of course, I could never get myself to do either...but that didn't stop me from thinking about it. Mostly, I was just way more GREEN and spent lots more time outdoors. I was a LOT more carefree.

Sometimes, I miss that me.

Now, I feel like I am so far from that me that it makes me laugh. My backpack has a coating of dust and a family of spiders living in it. My rock climbing shoes were given to someone who would actually USE them. I have absolutely no idea what is going on in the world at all, let alone in the environmental sector. People still ask my opinion on certain things, knowing that I have been environmentally minded in the past, and I think I shock them when I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. "Who are you voting for for president, Em? Do you like so-and so's take on the enviornment? Do you think so and so is too liberal? Is Al Gore still running for president? What is Obama's take on global warming?" "Uh...hmmmm..." I answer. "I think I will be voting for Elmo because I think Dorothy would make a fine secretary of state...and he is well versed in the "Ears" song. I do know that Al Gore put out a pretty good movie, though. You should see it." Seriously. I know nothing. I still try to recycle everything I can but I feel like I counter any effort everytime I throw a bunch of plastic diapers in the garbage can. I let out a sad sigh everytime I pass the organic produce section of the grocery store, knowing that I really can only afford the pesticide-laden, mutated fruit and veggies. I am not even close to being vegetarian and actually had a bag of hot dogs in my fridge this summer. I hate hot dogs. I mean, what are those things made of? But Jane likes them. And she likes meat. So does Jevan. So we eat it.

And that, my friends, is the problem. I have found I now follow the path of least resistance. Sadly, having kids has left me so tired at the end of the day that I just do what is easy...whatever is enough to get by. Being vegetarian, following current events, doing environmentally friendly things, taking my kids on a all takes work. Lots of work.

But, I've decided that by following that path of least resistance, I have lost myself, my soul, along the way. Does this sound crazy? I NEED something else to be PASSIONATE about other than my kids. My number one priority will be and always should be my kids and my husband. But I need something else. I need a little of the old me back again.

Don't get me wrong...I am not going to grow dreadlocks now or go to Burning Man or go spend a week backpacking through the Uintahs. But I am going to do something. And I figured that by blogging about it, those who read this can help me stick to it. I want to be vegetarian again, even if the rest of my family isn't. (I am not sure how to do a vegetarian diet with kids, for fear they won't get the nutrients or protein they need. If anyone has insight on this topic, let me know). I want to start taking my own bags to the grocery store and buying certain things organic (produce that is part of the "dirty dozen"). My SIL does a farm co-op where she gets fresh produce from a local farm every week during the summer. I want to do that. I want to have my own garden by next spring. I have the perfect spot for it in my yard, a little area that used to be a dog run, but first I would have to conquer the little amazon jungle living in there currently. I am going to try to do some reading each week on current events. I am going to find out what activities are going on in our area that are environmentally minded (like tree plantings..etc) and for kids. (Again, if anyone knows a good website/other venue that gives out this kind of information, let me know). I am going to take my wee ones up the canyon more often..even if it means just playing in the dirt at the bottom of a trailhead.

Along with it, I am going to add a main component that I have learned since having kids. This is COMPASSION. Humanity is every bit as important as the environment and I want my kids to grow up with concern for both. I want to try to do more service for much as can..without losing too much sanity. Both around me locally and also globally. I want to do one of those programs where you "adopt" a child in Africa and send them money and letters. More service, more service. I KNOW this will make me a happier person.

So, there you have it. I wrote this all during naptime and I now hear the stirrings of a little Allison. I hope I can stick with some of this. Hopefully, writing it all down will help. I will still back Elmo for president, though...with Snook as vice president....and Mr. Noodle as head of homeland security...fitting no?