Thursday, July 21, 2011


Today I was watching my friend Taya's two kids. When they got here all of the kids started making a blanket fort. I taught them to use duct tape instead of masking tape for a better hold. Apparently the duct tape was not a sufficient hold for my ten pound cat, because he jumped on it, and much their dismay (and Harvey's utter surprise) it caved in. Three kids went on their merry way. Claire was devastated. I tried to fix it. It didn't help her. I gave them Popsicles. Kyle and the two guests went outside. Claire stayed inside and yelled at me that her popsicle was "too cold." Huh? I bet she's had 500 popsicles in her life. She had to know to expect that one. Her little friend Kayla was darling and kept trying to console her, but she carried on being mad at everything.

At this point I sent a text to Taylor. "I'm watching Taya's kids. Claire's being a peach. I'm really angry about it." He's going to have them for the evening, so I wanted him to be aware of what he was getting into (read between the lines: you may have to walk on eggshells with Claire at bedtime). Two minutes later my friend Taya replied to the text, mentioning that I probably meant for that text to go to someone else. Oops. Taylor and Taya are so alphabetically close! Kind of embarrassing---mostly funny---and I am so glad I wasn't complaining about one of her kids---that would have been so awkward. (Her kids were angels, by the way.)

I'm a repeat offender when it comes to sending texts to the wrong person. Do you do this? What's the worse thing that's happened to you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Teach Me Tuesday

Here’s a little different try at my Teach Me Tuesday series. As we all know, I was an English major. I once read a quote about how great it was to major in English because you can think of sonnets and Shakespeare while you iron. To be honest I don’t iron a lot, but I do think of Shakespeare a lot, and of sonnets, and I think a whole lot about words and how they create emotion. Today I’m blogging about song lyrics. Your lesson for the day is that you should put song titles in quotation marks when you are writing. And that poetry and beautiful words are everywhere[see that incomplete sentence?]---you just have to listen for them.

I love song lyrics. I like the poetry in the really good ones. Some songs are written by true writers and poets, and their songs speak to you with flowing elements of poetry that seep into your soul without you ever once realizing that structure and word choice and alliteration have all played a spell on your mind to suck you in. Sometimes it’s the idea behind the song that gets me. Sometimes it’s a line or two that resonate in the background of my days.

Every time I hear Tim McGraw’s “Where the Green Grass Grows” my mind floats to days of my youth riding my bike on the “back roads” of Lehi. See the elements of poetry in the lyrics: Green Grass Grows (alliteration), Corn pops up in rows (forget what it’s called, but see how they were so tricky and reversed popcorn to corn pop?), Concrete growing in the city park (personification), Six lanes, taillights, red ants marching into the night (imagery). Kudos to the people who wrote that song (not Tim!). I know that not everyone loves country like I do, but the lyrics are such great poetry!

I love it when I hear one line of a song that just sticks to me. I have a great Pandora station going right now. It started with Five for Fighting’s “100 years” and is altered perfectly by giving a thumbs up to a bunch of great songs, and especially by giving a thumbs up to every single version of “Hallelujah” that comes along (love those lyrics too!). I have realize that John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting is my favorite singer-songwriter. (Okay, top five because a ton of other people just came to mind. But he did write a song about Superman, so maybe that defaults him to #1?) In his song “The Riddle” there’s a line that has been the background to this entire summer, “Batter swings and the summer flies.” Don’t you love that? It’s such a beautiful blend of images and words and so perfect yet unexpected. That has totally been our summer. We started with Claire in Tball at the end of May. It seemed like that would last forever when we got the packed game schedule, but it was over way too soon. Isn’t every summer like that? When I think back on summer growing up I can feel the sun on my back as I stand at 2nd or 1st base. I can smell the leather of my glove. I can taste the chewing gum and snow cones that always accompanied our baseball games back in the day. And it all went by so quickly. Batter swings and the summer flies. Perfect.

Also in “The Riddle” he refers to someone dying as his “heart ran out of summers.” Love that too! And that “100 Years” song? It deserves an entire post. Everything about it is gorgeous…the lyrics, the piano playing. It’s my favorite. Literally my favorite song ever.

What do you like? What songs speak to you? What lyrics do you think are absolutely perfect?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Swimming Lessons

IMG_3943 Claire

We just finished two weeks of swimming lessons. We sent the kids to a different pool this year (Lorin Farr for you local peeps). I liked it because it was cheaper ($15 cheaper per kid!) and I loved it because they pushed the kids to really do things instead of just play around. Both kids passed their classes. I wasn’t surprised with Claire, she’s fearless and tries hard. I was surprised that Kyle (who will be 4 in October) was able to listen and follow directions and actually do swimming stuff. I can’t believe that next year he’ll be doing what Claire did this year (guess we should have started her earlier).

I was amazed at how much I liked watching swimming lessons. I had planned to enjoy my 45 kid-free minutes in the sun. I brought a book to the first couple lessons and planned on taking full advantage of some “me time.” It was intoxicating to think that we are at a point in our child raising where I could sign both kids up for something and not have to keep track of someone. I also found it to be dangerous, because I had little thoughts creep up that had me wondering why I wanted more kids. If we stopped now we’d be basically home free. We don’t have diapers. Everyone sleeps through the night a couple times a week. They can feed and dress and wipe themselves. If we had no more it would be so easy. And yet, just as quickly as the thoughts enter, I realize that if we quit at two I would always feel like I cheated---this was too easy. And like I was cheated---it went by way too quickly. Obviously I can’t control what happens in that department (we’ve now been trying for a year), but my little taste of freedom, of not chasing kids every second, was intoxicating.

Anyway, I did bring a book, but I never got to it. I loved watching the kids too much. I loved seeing their faces when they tried new things are were actually able to do it. Kyle was hilarious. He is a people watcher like me. If the teacher wasn’t speaking directly to him he was looking at every other class, finding his sister through the splashes. If a leaf floated by, it became his person mission to catch the leaf. But when it was his turn he did great---probably because he’s a big flirt and had a crush on his teacher. Claire was so determined to swim to the bottom of the pool. She puffed her cheeks so big during the backstroke. She struggled with keeping her hair out of her face and was delighted when her teacher showed her how to keep it behind her. My favorite thing about Claire was how serious she took it. I appreciate that she was conscious of the danger of water and that she wanted to learn to do new things.

I was thinking about how adorable she was with how serious she took lessons, and it reminded me of a line from a book that I read a while ago. I couldn’t find the exact quote, but it was from a book called Mother Daughter Revolution. It said something to the effect of:  Whenever we look at a little girl’s world we think that everything is so little and so cute. But when a little girl looks at her world, all she sees is things that are life-size and real.

It was a good reminder for me to think about that as she begins kindergarten. Everything about her life right now is so cute and little and adorable, but it’s serious to her, and it should be serious to me. Do you remember how it felt to be little? I remember practically everything since I was 2. (I do! Ask my family---they make fun of me constantly because they think I couldn’t possibly remember, but I do.) I remember wanting so badly to learn to do things, to be older and wiser and more responsible. I just remember a strong feeling of yearning to do and be more. As she grows older and experiences so many new things this coming year, I want to be part of it, to take it seriously and not just be entertained by her. Does that make sense, or am I just weird?

Can you believe school is almost here? She’s growing up. I’m going to have to grow up too!

Sunday, July 10, 2011



Princess and three of her kittens (#4 is under the others) when they were hours old.

This morning I was getting ready for church and heard one of our kittens crying. I thought little of it and blow dried my hair. After I finished my hair more than ten minutes later I noticed the kitten was still crying, so I went to investigate. When I got to their room I saw that one of them had somehow escaped the box and was wandering around. The mother cat was in her box nursing the other three although she had her eye on the escapee. Upon seeing me she meowed in an abrupt manner which I interpreted to be: Help me out here! I picked up the small kitten (which in 5 weeks will belong to our friends Rebecca and John) and returned him to his box. Both he and his mother seemed grateful.

I walked away wondering why the mother hadn’t simply picked up the kitten by its neck with her mouth like all the cats I’ve ever seen can do and returned it to its box. It occurred to me that she just doesn’t know how to do it. So much for animal instinct!

We weren’t home when the kittens were born. We returned from Father’s Day dinner late one night to find an exhausted mother cat, one freaked out male (fixed and not the father) cat, three healthy kittens, one not-moving kitten, and one kitten soaking wet, freezing, and meowing loudly in the corner of the box. I don’t know if they came too fast, if there were problems, or what else, but for whatever reason, she’d only managed to clean up three of the babies and get them nursing. We let the kids peak at the kittens and promptly sent them to bed. We picked up the non-moving cat and with heavy hearts realized that it had already passed. Our attention quickly went to the forgotten kitten in the corner. I sent Taylor to Wal-mart for kitten milk and a kitten bottle and set to warming and cleaning up the freezing little guy. I warmed up a rice pack and nested him in it. I kept trying to get the mother to pay attention to him, but she refused. In desperation I even tried to get Harvey (our boy cat) to lick him (he licks everything and everyone!), but he wouldn’t.

By the time Taylor returned the kitten was ready to try the bottle. I kept the rice pack warm and tried to bottle feed him for hours. Sometime past 2am I returned him to his mother and hoped for the best. The next morning she had cleaned him up ,and he was nursing, and now he’s just fine.

It has been interesting to see Princess (formally known as Queen Princess Fiona) try to mother these kittens. She’s terribly inadequate. And I think she’s terribly reluctant at times. For the first few days we had to lock her in the room with them otherwise she’d head outside to lounge her day away in the sun. She’d try to nurse them sitting up, I’d correct her and help her lay down. It got so that every time I peaked in the room she’d lay down and roll to her side (sometimes on top of the poor little things), begrudgingly allowing them to suckle. (Can you blame the poor thing? Nursing one hungry mouth has brought ME to tears; I can’t imagine four mouths at the same time, each mouth accompanied by four sets of claws!).

And yet now, three weeks later, they thrive. They are healthy, clean, fat, and adorable. She still goes outside, but she runs back in whenever they call. She’s still honing her mothering skills---apparently some (how to pick up your kitten) she’ll never gain.

Watching her I imagine it must be that way with so many of us. Some women seem to be natural mothers. They get pregnant seemingly without effort, easily blossoming as a fertile flower in springtime. Their skin and hair radiate throughout pregnancy, and they deliver a nine pound bundle of joy with minimal effort and without medication. The baby nurses immediately, they leave the hospital in their skinny jeans, and make dinner for their family the next night.

I honestly never considered how I would be as a mother. In my later teenage years I excelled at everything---school, pageants, anything else I put my mind to. I was good at everything I wanted to be good at---beyond good---top of my class and top ten at Miss America. I probably naturally assumed I’d be an excellent mother. And I’m not. It’s disappointing sometimes. It didn’t come naturally. Sometimes I really struggle. I think Princess and I have a little bit in common.

Here’s me: It takes me a year or more of testing and temperature taking and trying before I get pregnant. Then, if I stay pregnant (I’ve lost two already this year), I throw up for twenty weeks, then blow up for the next twenty. Then sweating, and throwing up (again), and swelling from water retention---and only with help from an epidural---I deliver my (admittedly beautiful) babies. Claire probably almost died it took me so long (five days!) to figure our how to get her to latch (and even then I suffered for three months until we figured it out). Although I had read the books and babysat and talked people’s ears off about babies, I had no idea how to nurse, how to soothe, how and when to diaper, or how to feel like I was keeping my head above water at the end of the day. Most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing. In fact, once I handled something badly with Claire and I literally thought: Your real mother would have handled that better. Realizing too late that I was her real mother, and (sometimes too bad for her) I’m the only one she gets.

And yet, nearly six years into being a mother, my children thrive. They are healthy, clean, fat, and adorable. (By fat, I mean healthily fat. We don’t do stick-thin at our house---none of us!) I don’t know exactly how I do it, but somehow they are smart and responsible and extremely well-behaved in public (99% of the time at least). The kittens certainly haven’t made it this far on their own (do you know they can’t even poop by themselves for weeks? The mom has to make that happen for them!). And I’d like to think that my kids haven’t made it this far on their own either (they even poop by themselves now, that’s lucky!).