Sunday, May 31, 2009

Big Fish in a Little Pond

So the morning after the disappointment of the comp tryouts, Josh scored three goals in his last game of the season. Maybe this big fish/little pond stuff isn't so bad...

(Isn't he cute? I dig the kid.)

(Should I be calling him cute anymore? He's almost thirteen...when do I have to stop calling him cute?)

(But he is cute.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bubble Wrapping Not Available

Let's face it, parenting has its moments of both sheer joy and utter despair. Tonight may not fall in the range of despair, but a lot of it has been just plain yucky.

Here's the backstory. Josh loves soccer. He played rec soccer for a few years with a wonderful team and a couple of great coaches. He wasn't a star on his team, but he played with a lot of heart. Two years ago, he made the second tier competition team for our club, and he loved it. LOVED it. The boys and parents were great, as was his coach. He learned so much, grew leaps and bounds as a player, and did I mention he LOVED it? By the end of the year, though, I could see that his skills were not quite matching those of the strongest players. He wasn't quite as aggressive as them, didn't have quite the skill level that they did. He was on the bench more and more frequently, and I just got a pit in my stomach when I thought about tryouts in May. I encouraged (kindly and supportively) Josh to practice frequently, to go on training runs, and to work hard to move forward in his ability, but when the second night of tryouts came around, it was totally obvious that Josh was being cut from his team.

That was a yucky night.

He handled his disappointment with grace. I kept a stiff upper lip, but I was devastated for him. He tried to shrug it off, and he felt like it was the right thing at that time, but it still stung, and we both knew it.

He decided to play with some other friends on a rec team this year. He's been able to really shine as a striker, has made lots of goals, and enjoyed seeing his buddies. But he wasn't really being trained, and his skills weren't really improving. He has just had a good time. (Really, in the long run, isn't that what sports are for?) It's been a very pleasant year for all of us. It's been cheaper, less stress, less travel, less car-pooling, and less time-commitment. All in all, it was a good year.

But he wanted to get back on his team.

So tonight was the last night of tryouts. He was scrappy, more aggressive than he had been last year. I had high hopes for him. And then they called numbers for the final scrimmage and it was clear who would be in the two comp teams.

Not my sweet boy.

Sometimes I want to bubble wrap my kids, to keep them safe from pain. I want to protect their bodies from being hurt, their hearts from being broken, their spirits from being crushed. But I can't. And I know it's not healthy to keep them from heartache and disappointment. Being disappointed is part of living. Pain is part of living. Without it, we never really grow. We never really improve or become better people.

I know that. And I know that it is better for my kids to learn to handle disappointment when I can still be there to help pick up the pieces, to model a good attitude, to take them out for ice cream and let them have a double scoop.

But it still stinks. And I still wish things were different.

Doesn't This Scream Summer?

Bring it on. I'm ready.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Retiring of the Boots

Must all good things come to an end? I noticed that Ben's little sweet kissable feet have been getting blisters. I blamed his sockless boot-wearing, but even adding socks to the mix didn't help them heal. It's time to face sad facts. The boots and Ben must part ways.

Lucky us, though...just in the nick of time John and Katy found an old pair of Cole's rain boots that they have passed on to little Ben. They probably can't be worn to weddings, but they'll make us all happy whenever we see Ben tramping around in them.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

All is Well

Don't despair. I am alive and kicking. The "aaarrrggghhh" of the last post was simply cosmic angst. OK, not so much cosmic angst as earthly hair-pulling. Preparing a house for selling is like the first couple weeks of braces...way worse than you think it's going to be, with pain that lasts weeks longer than it should.

I have amazing friends who have helped me through the process (and of course a husband who does more in one day than I accomplish in a week.) Thank you Malisa, and Prisca, and Christina, and Liz, and everybody else.

I'm going to cast a little special praise Malisa's way, though. Amazing woman...she installed baseboards (YES! She knows how to DO that!) in my sunroom one Saturday, and came back the following Monday to paint the baseboards and the walls. That Monday, she stayed from 9:15 until 3:00, helping me and Prisca throw things into closets when the realtor's photographer came two hours early to take pictures of my home. Then she came back later in the week, WITH LUNCH, and reorganized my entire toy closet. Remarkable.

How did I end up with friends like these? Grace. Pure and simple.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reason Behind the Insanity?

I just had an exciting thought...

I've been trying to be more organized for most (OK, all) of my adult life. I've been praying to be more organized for years. Now, I don't live in filth or anything, but I will admit that my desk is rarely (never) cleaned off, my closets are rarely (never) all cleaned out at once, and let's not even talk about my laundry/storage room (or as I fondly refer to it, The Pit).

So MAYBE the only reason we've felt inspired to move forward on this house thing is so that I can get organized! Wouldn't that be great? I'll have a cleaned up, organized house that has to be buyer-ready every day, and I'll learn all kinds of great habits that will carry over into the rest of my life.

And my house won't sell, but that will be OK, because we'll be so in love with our clean, hip, decorated and organized home that we won't even need to add on, let alone move to this scary new place.

So that's my new idea for the day. Maybe it will help me get through the mountains of tasks I have ahead of me.

(My neighbor keeps telling me I should get excited about the move. I'm just not there yet. Can you tell?)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cast out of Eden

So it's been mentioned that I have some pretty strong feelings about my neighborhood in general and my street in particular. It is with strong feelings that I reveal that we might be leaving my little inch of paradise.

I know many of you already are privy to this news, thanks to many tear-filled phone calls, word of mouth (news travels fast through the third grade grapevine), and a late-night Facebook confession.

But here's the whole story, nonetheless. Warning...I'm afraid I can't tell this story without veering into the spiritual realm. If that's off-putting, feel free to click here for a more secular (and much funnier) story about househunting. Actually, click on it, anyway. It's super funny.

You're back? is the story:

David and I love our home. However, a few years ago we started thinking about the little things we'd really like in our house, like a two-car garage, a master bathroom, more space for entertaining our big families and for our eventual teenagers to hang out. We've met with an architect, we've drawn up countless plans, and we knew just what we wanted to do to make our current home our forever home. That's been the plan. That's what we wanted.

In the last few months, we've started praying for some guidance in other areas in our lives. I've been praying for Heavenly Father to make our life path crystal clear. This was not about a move, but about some work-related issues, or at least that's what I intended the prayers to be about. At the same time, we've been talking about plans to start the add-on process. We figured that with interest rates as low as they are, there couldn't be a better time to take the equity in our home and make it all happen. But as we moved forward with those plans, we started hitting a few roadblocks, and we decided we'd better look at what existing homes were in the price range we'd be at after pouring money into an addition.

So we eventually ended up looking at two homes: one in Harvard/Yale, and one in North Salt Lake. We love Harvard/Yale. We actually got engaged on Yale, and we always thought if we left this area, that would be where we'd end up. North Salt Lake has been completely off my radar. I think I've been in the city once in my whole life. Somehow, though, we felt drawn to this certain house, and since NSL is so close to downtown, we thought we'd consider it.

We walked into the house on Laird, and knew it wasn't right. We walked into the house in NSL and I felt like I'd been hit over the head with a baseball bat. Within five minutes, I knew we had to make an offer on the house. It wasn't because it was spectacular (although it is lovely), it was because something bigger was pushing us in that direction. I felt it over and over again as we walked through the house.

I felt peaceful about it as we left the house, but I was really disturbed. I'm not a big fan of big houses on big hills. I'm not a big fan of non-walkable, non-diverse communities. I'm not a big fan of anywhere that's not similar to MY neighborhood. (Sorry, NSL people. No offense meant. I'm sure you're lovely people, and I'm looking forward to meeting you.) I fasted about it on Sunday, and felt like it was time for me to be stretched, but I was throwing an inner fit.

Monday I was a mess, and Tuesday was worse. David said he thought we should walk through again to decide if we really felt like we should make an offer. We did, and as we walked into the house again, I felt a spirit of peace just wash over me. So I signed the papers, and the rest was history.

Except then we had to tell people. Like Eric and Christina. And John and Katy. And Liz and Jeff. And...well, you all know who you are. It was AWFUL. AWFUL, I tell you.

And the kids were devastated. And then we told them the story, and then they were OK.

And then we drove up on Thursday night to show the kids. And afterward I sobbed for an hour. I don't want to leave my house, or my street, or my ward, or my neighborhood, or our schools, and especially not my friends and family. But apparently, this is what we're being directed to do, so I somehow need to adjust my attitude.

So that's the story. How it will end, I don't know. If our house doesn't sell, I don't have to move. The bishop threatened to take the sign off my lawn tomorrow. I figure if the bishop does it, it's totally OK, right?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Let's Just Pretend It's Still Mother's Day and I'm on the Ball

If it indeed was still Sunday, I might have posted this picture and said something like:

"Here's the proof. I get to celebrate today."


"Why did looking into the sun sound like a good idea?"


"Holy cow. How did I get here? I have HOW many kids?"

But it's not Sunday anymore. So I'll just say this. Being a mother is the most beautiful part of my life.

(It's also the dirtiest and hardest, but this is a Mother's Day post, so we can be uber-positive.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not Again

I took Ben to nursery on Sunday.

He's sick today.

The end.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Our Little Piece of Eden

We moved onto our street nearly nine years ago. We were excited to be in this area, especially after living in an area that can I put this?....unsavory. Unsavory might mean that there were 3 murders in the 3 blocks around our house in the 5 years we lived there, that our street was blocked off by SWAT teams more times than I can remember, once (or was it twice?) even trapping Eric & Christina at our house overnight, that I once walked into my backyard holding Josh to find a strange man looking back at me, and that our home was invaded by a gang that vandalized and burglarized us, leaving behind a gun for me to find a couple of months later. Yeah, it was unsavory.

So we eventually decided to find a new house, and moved onto our circle on July 3. The next day, on the Fourth of July, I walked to the park with my brother and the kids in the stroller and I was blown away by the people sitting on their porches, visiting with neighbors, exuding 1950's camaraderie. It just felt like I'd moved to a different planet, not just a neighborhood only three miles away.

And the love affair with my neighborhood has just bloomed. I love our school, and how so many moms hang out at the kindergarten gate and chat. I love my ward, and how we have original owners of the homes mixed with young couples just married. I love that there is a decent amount of diversity here (yes, we're still in Utah, and the majority of kids at our school are blond, but there's still more diversity than I expected.) I love how close we are to the mountains. I love how close David is to work. I love running up and down the streets and seeing so many other people doing the same thing.

But most of all, I love my neighbors. I LOVE MY NEIGHBORS! (Hey, guys! I know you're reading this. Didja catch that? YOU ARE AMAZING.)

When we had moved in, there were great people living on the street. Josh had plenty of playmates, and we had a wonderful time. We have loved so many people on this street, people who have come and gone, who we still love dearly. But it has never been better than it has been for the last few years. We are surrounded by amazing families who I trust completely, whose parenting meshes with mine, who have rescued me time and time again in so many circumstances, who have been there in horrible times and in great times. These are amazing people.

My favorite thing ever? Starting in the spring, as soon as it gets warm enough, night after night after night, we sit outside on the lawn, let the kids play until all hours, talk about everything and nothing, and just soak in the beauty of simple pleasures. Liz will make her zucchini chocolate cake. The babies will sit on blankets. John will bring out the portable fire pit and we'll make smores. David will set up the volleyball net and the kids will play badminton. The rollerblades go by, the bikes go by, the soccer ball comes out, the sidewalk chalk comes out. Summer barbecues, sleeping in tents in the backyard, Fourth of July picnics and watching fireworks on the lawn...there will never be anything like these nights.

I don't want to take this beautiful thing for granted. I know we are blessed. I think paying attention to the good things make them even more valuable. So here's my payment: Life is good. I recognize it. I honor it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Sweet Girls

This morning I walked in from a run to sounds of screaming and yelling from the general direction of my girls' room. This is not how I like to walk into my house. I would prefer to walk into a house full of happy, smiling children who are fully dressed with their teeth brushed and hair combed, preparing breakfast and setting the table (since I'm apparently living in dreamland, maybe they would also have finished their practicing and cleaned their rooms.) Has this ever happened? Of course not, but that doesn't stop me from fantasizing.

The girls were at that almost-fever pitch where they're not entirely sure why they're so mad, but they're just bugging each other more and more and spiraling nearly out of control. I let them know that they would be doing many extra jobs if they didn't quit it immediately. They didn't quit it immediately (why do I think they will?) and Kate will now be putting away laundry after school.

But three minutes later, Kate had made Sophie's bed, and Sophie was hugging her and saying thank you, and they were all of a sudden those happy, smiling children I would always love to have.

Life with these children is never boring. And sometimes it's so sweet.

(And sometimes it makes me want to hide somewhere dark and quiet for a few hours.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Boy and His Boots

Ahh, the joys of childhood obsessions. I LOVE the passions toddlers have for the most random things. Josh used to have a plastic fish that he called Gill (ha ha) and it slept on a tiny plastic skateboard for a few days next to Josh's pillow...

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Ben. Ben and his boots. This boy loves (adores) his boots, given to him by my friend Linda, whose son Andy also loved (adored) these boots. For the last six months, he has worn these boots 95% of the time that he's wearing shoes. They have been to church, on walks, to a wedding, to Disneyland, to bed, through snow, through rain, and everywhere else a little blondie boy can take them.

But, alas, sometimes the boots go missing. This is dreadfully disturbing to all of us. But Ben has found a way to survive without his cowboy boots. He borrows his sisters' boots.

These are Ben's boots:

These are not:

And neither are these:

How does he manage to pull off the hot pink snowboots or the gray and purple snowboots that go up to his knees? I'm not sure, but the kid has style.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

David and the Grocery Store

It will be a while before I send hungry David on a late-night trip to the grocery store for fruit:

Man, I love that guy and his adoration of all things snack-like.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

More on Fear

Communal fear has obviously been on my mind. Today as I drove Josh to soccer, I happened to turn on NPR and they happened to be talking about fear How about that? It was actually a discussion about This I Believe, a radio broadcast that ran for quite a long time in the 50's with personal essays about peoples' deep personal beliefs. A few years ago, NPR decided to bring back this broadcast, and I've always loved listening.

The broadcast today was a discussion about the basic attitude of fear in the 1950's and how closely it corresponds to the kind of national spirit we feel today. They replayed some of the essays, and I was touched by the intelligence, the wisdom, the goodness of these people who were doing their best to fight ignorance and hatred, just as we need to today.

Edward R. Murrow was the host. Here is some of his essay which opened the series:

We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion. A lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism, or a for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the marketplace, while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply. Around us all—now high like a distant thunderhead, now close upon us with the wet choking intimacy of a London fog—there is an enveloping cloud of fear.

There is a physical fear, the kind that drives some of us to flee our homes and burrow into the ground in the bottom of a Montana valley like prairie dogs to try to escape, if only for a little while, the sound and the fury of the A-bombs or the hell bombs or whatever may be coming. There is a mental fear which provokes others of us to see the images of witches in a neighbor’s yard and stampedes us to burn down his house. And there is a creeping fear of doubt—doubt of what we have been taught, of the validity of so many things we have long since taken for granted to be durable and unchanging.

It has become more difficult than ever to distinguish black from white, good from evil, right from wrong. What truths can a human being afford to furnish the cluttered nervous room of his mind with when he has no real idea how long a lease he has on the future. It is to try to meet the challenge of such questions that we have prepared these broadcasts. It has been a difficult task and a delicate one. Except for those who think in terms of pious platitudes or dogma or narrow prejudice—and those thoughts we aren’t interested in—people don’t speak their beliefs easily or publicly.

Couldn't that have been written yesterday? Substitute "biochemical warfare" for "A-bombs", and it fits perfectly.

We just need to remind ourselves that people have battled evil and fear for eons, that we've been threatened with destruction countless times in the past. My faith teaches me that we work for good, we put our trust in God, and live with the belief that we can make it through anything we're given, even if it feels like we can't.

So there. I'm done discussing fear now.