Sunday, May 27, 2012

On mothering

A urologist recently asked me how I could stand staying home with the kids all day--he said that he bets I just can't wait until I can "hand them over" each evening. I feel sorry pointing him out, because I actually think that he meant well. But how would he have responded if I had asked him how he could stand his seemingly unglamorous job of talking about urine all day? Maybe I should have initiated that conversation--instead, I simply replied, "Oh, no! No. I actually really, really love it." 

It's hard for some people to swallow. One lady asked me, "You went to school for [your degree] and now you're changing diapers?" I eloquently responded: "Yes, well, not all the time. Well, probably that's only 5 percent of my time." What? I wish that I could have that conversation again because I have more to tell her. I would be interested in figuring out other percentages, like the time I spend doing this (15% of my waking hours maybe?)
and cleaning up things like this (maybe more like 35%?).
I'd be even more interested to share a hundred moments about these precious, precious boys and the great joy that they are to me and Eric. Here are some moments, partway for this imagined audience and partway for myself (to remind me about the joy when I really am feeling like I can't wait for Eric to come home--it happens!).

1. For Mother's Day there was a necklace strung with tiny felt flowers, paper airplanes wrapped in copy paper, a poem. Jacob, who earned several tickets for his school's raffle drawing, put all of them in the bucket for the prize that he knew I wanted (a three-month membership to a popular health club). Then he actually won it and gave it to me for Mother's Day!
2. One afternoon the kids and I were outside when I realized that I had left dinner too long. After I went in to get it, Zachary asked for a piece of paper. He wanted to write down what I had said, just as I do for them. 
3. We recently became interested in making homemade ice cream sandwiches. Apparently they impressed Zachary: he talked about our frozen treats for three consecutive weeks during his class's Monday sharing time!
4. Short on time, we had baths in the kitchen sink before school one day.

 5. Jacob took the field for little league opening day! He has been a leader on his team this year--I always hear him calling out something like, "Two outs. Plays at second and first. C'mon guys!"
6. The younger kids and I like to bike and hike near the ballpark during practice. This day we found a sign that had fallen down and the kids wanted to stay and fix it. We also saw a large moth cocoon that day--Zachary said, "Is that a flying squirrel sleeping up there?"
7. Zachary wanted to play soccer this year. He considers two hours a week of soccer a great exchange for a) team treats each week and b) after-game playground time with his buddies.
8. One morning Adam and I walked over to a pond and discovered dozens of frogs. He was absolutely tickled to find pair after pair of curious frog eyes emerge through the slime.
9. Preschool field trips never disappoint! In the last few weeks we've tromped around the zoo,
handled Kenyan tree coral at the aquarium,
poked around at the nature center, and
taken the city bus to the geology museum (we had five total legs of our trip on the bus, and every time we got on the bus Adam shouted, "YEEHAW!").
10. Other preschool days have included homemade raccoon tails  

and backyard photography lessons (Michael felt very grown up!).

11. One morning the kids and I took a two-hour bike ride downtown and back. We stopped at a little beach on Lake Monona and threw rocks in the water and made sandcastles (well, sand mounds). 
12. Jacob acted as the little bear in his play for Spanish class. He worked hard to memorize his lines and radiated confidence.
13. Zachary is very amused at the word "stinky" recently. On the way home from church he told me to "Drive faster! We gotta get home. My feet are stinkin' up this place!" Also, one day when he was collecting the garbage from our trashcans he must have said "stinky" twenty-five times, accompanied by various hyperboles. "It smells like ten thousand stinky diapers in here!" 
14. Michael and Zachary played and sang in their music recital this week. Beforehand they went to the store and spent about 20 minutes choosing the perfect flowers for their teacher, whom they adore. They played and sang beautifully. 
15. I found these guys in a box hanging out and chatting one afternoon.

16. One morning we had to go to the Apple Store and wait for so long that I treated the kids to McDonald's afterwards. Their eyes just shimmered--they couldn't believe that we were playing with iPads and eating chicken nuggets all on the same day!
17. Max has been amazing with his braces. He thinks he's king of the playground now--he'll climb up to the tallest structures and go down the steepest slides alongside the big kids. Sometimes he'll even try to tackle kids twice his size, or he'll just climb on top of them if they're lying on the floor!
18. We can't get enough of the fun playgrounds around here. The younger boys and I find ourselves at the park almost daily, especially as we're waiting for the older boys to finish practices or classes.
19. A few weeks ago we happened upon the very end of the library used book sale. The woman told me that I could take a file box full of hardcover books for $5! I took two boxes and the kids and I unopened them gleefully, setting all the books around the room and playing "bookstore," buying and selling them to each other. 
20. One day last week Michael and Adam were space guys for the day. Oh, and Adam has probably colored himself with a magic marker for the past 50 days straight.  

I was feeling very grateful for my life and these boys before I wrote this post; now I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. Although I enjoy time away for a run in the woods
or a date with Eric (this time we went to the zoo, dinner, and lakeside frozen custard!),
life is happiest at home. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Earlier this month Eric was in the garage repairing his car when his parents--his parents who live 1,355 miles away!--drove up and honked at him! They had driven here clear from Salt Lake to deliver their speedboat to us! 
We told them that we were interested in buying it but were worried about the logistics of getting it here, the possibility of our having to move it in a year, storing it, etc. But now that we have it here and have all the storage squared away, we are just loving it!
The kids are charactaristically pleasant on the lake:

And even though it's not exactly summertime here (the water is about 65 degrees), we have been out banana boating, skiing, and swimming. Ah yeah!
Here our friend Chris demonstrates how tough he is sans wetsuit compared to Eric, who found himself a little chilled. Eric thinks that he fractured his sternum waterskiing that day. He spent several hours afterward resting with rotating packages of frozen peas on his chest. He's recovered, mostly, and still plenty tough!
I'm sure that we'll have more boat posts this summer. Come visit us and join in on the fun!

Third Annual Rainy-day Regatta

The Rainy-day Regatta is an enormously fun but simple tradition: each spring we collect a pile of our most interesting recycling items 

and spend a day boat building. 
I am kicking myself for not taking better pictures of the boys' boats! I love the details like the plastic raisin package that Jacob taped to a hanger for his mast and the margarine tub "lifeboats" that Zachary tethered to his cruise ship. Here we are setting out to sail them:
Adam couldn't bring himself to sail his craft into the unknown: he was traumatized when some boats got away from us.
We were able to recover most of them,
but some boats went so far that we couldn't get them back before nightfall--two spent a night on the pond. Jacob and I went jogging the next morning and rescued them with broomsticks, which we also used to scrape off the (gulp!) leeches that had adhered themselves overnight. Next year I'm going to tie fishing line to each boat so that I can reel them in!

SC spring break!

For spring break we spent seven days in sunny, sandy heaven on an extended family trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina! I don't have the entire family picture to share here, but there were 15 grandkids, 8 parents, and 2 grandparents on the trip--quite a crowd to descend upon the local Fuddrucker's, but a perfect size for a morning sandcastle crew:
Is there anything better than cousins?

The resort allowed us access to three banquet rooms, which we used to for general conference and family devotionals, 
plus playtime!
In addition to several hours each day digging and swimming,
we also hunted for (benign) jellyfish,
biked around the island collecting Spanish moss,
(we biked along the beach one day!),
hosted game and movie nights,
and went shark fishing!
The best part about all of it was that Eric was there! He took his board exam the day before flying out, so after four months of a rigid study routine--"home" (as in, home and not studying or sleeping) for 20 minutes a day--we got him back!