Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Go Fail Today!

I watch Isaac pull himself up and fall down over and over again.  Often he hurts himself.  When he does it's usually right on the face.  I watch in wonder as he picks himself up again and again and keeps trying.  It's it really worth all of that? Shouldn't he want to take a break for a day or something and come back to it later? If I were a baby right now isn't that what I'd do?

Then it hit me.  I'm failing all the time.

Like a LOT.

Everyday, every hour, I am straight up, fall on my face failing every minute.  Yet, I'm still trying.  I know I'm still trying, because the only way to fail is to try.  For example, I've never failed at computer coding, because I haven't tried it yet.  I have failed many times at scripture reading, keeping a clean home, crafting, parenting, cooking, praying, song writing, and yes, even now and then, I fail once more just trying to walk.

Everyone of those fails was once a try, and usually it turns into another try.

The only way to stop failing is to stop trying because if you never tried to begin with, you haven't failed.

I know I've heard this one a gazillion times, but today it was my epiphagin.  (An epiphany that you've had before and then have again: epiphagin. I coined that one. :)

The End.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Just James

An few themes have arisen in James' world.  Whichever parent isn't present at a moment of pain is the one he'd like comfort from.  Mommy is the favorite for getting him in and out of the car, but Daddy wields the power, evidenced by statements like this one, "no talk a me mommy, daddy a put you in time-out." and this one, "Daddy give you a hug and mommy be happy."

When I'm frazzled or upset James will say, "calm down mommy, take a big breath."  When Isaac is having a hard time James will say, "no be sad Isaac, I sing you a song!  'lead me guide me, walk a side me, help a find a way.  Teach all da I can do, a live an I love you.'"

I'll never be able to describe it in writing, but he says a few words in the cutest way:

"oookaaay mom."

"and be cuties!"

"no get me!"

"member dat?"

"yummy good!"

"daddy no go a work."

"oh my goodness!"

"and have chocolate cupcapes"

Favorite foods: melon (any kind, with a toothpick, the whole thing in one sitting), all fruit.

He is still a singer.  There is an inside joke song in the Brown family that goes like this, "go potty, flush, wash, turn off the light."  It has lingered from a FHE lesson, never to be forgotten, when a few of us, I won't mentioned names, needed a reminder of all the steps to that particular event.

The song resurfaced this year and James knows it by heart.  His favorite place to sing it...is sacrament meeting.  yup.

The latest running joke: replace words, at random, with the word "carrot" We'll be reading a book and he will request that we interject the word carrot, "Goodnight carrot," "All by my-carrot" and "the pokey little carrot" are pretty hilarious.

He's chewing on everything.  He's like a puppy wearing down his teeth.

He loves Isaac, but he's taken to closing him into rooms lately. When I protest that Isaac needs to be able to come join us or I need to be able to hear him, James says, "Isaac no get me!"

James enjoys dishing himself up food at dinner, stirring bowls of batter or dough, making Isaac laugh, reading books with daddy, discovering lost items, and telling stories.  Often in the middle of telling a story about his day he will randomly insert, "and fwoooosh I throw it up in the tree" Not sure where that came from.

Every so often he has a tidy moment where he becomes concerned that his room is messy or I discover he has hung up his jacket without my asking or put his socks into his shoes on the shelf all ready for next time.

The other night he woke at 4:30 soaking wet and after changing him and stripping his bed I asked him if he'd like to come sleep in our bed for the rest of the night.  He nodded very excitedly.  I told him he could if he was veeeeery quiet and went right back to sleep.  He stated determinedly, "okay mommy, no wake up daddy, veeeeery quiet."  True to his word he said only 5 words before settling in sleeping.  It was so cute that last night when he woke again I let him join us.  Yeah, we are all done with that idea.  Now I remember why we have no kids in our bed rule.  If I had a nickle for every time he kicked me in the stomach...

We are buddy's him and I.  We talk stuff out and ask each other questions.  He's quick and persistent and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

He's learning to come up with explanations. Yesterday I reminded him that the apples in the fridge are for daddy's breakfasts so he needs to leave them alone.  This morning after getting Isaac up I found James in the living room munching on an apple.  He looked at me and said, "mommy, I just got a apple, but I save one for daddy breakfas', so daddy say it's okay."

Same concept at the grocery store.  I reminded him that things need to stay in their packages until after we check out and pay for them.  He gradually inched a new toy out of the packaging.  When he saw me looking he hastily shoved it back in and said, "mommy I just put it back in!  no take it out mommy just put it back in."  And somehow I end up thanking him for his good deed.  This kid.

The boys and I went to the mall yesterday to return an internet modem and James was starting to wander. I resisted the urge to chase him down and instead said, "okay we are going now."  I set off down the mall without looking back, straining for the sound of his shoes, hoping he'd follow.  Sure enough behind me I hear, "I commin' mommy!" Then halfway back to the car he started singing, "follow the mommy, follow the mommy, follow the mommy don't go astray."

Best story of all and then we will call this a post.  Yesterday he hurt Isaac and I rescued the littlest brother and huffed off to my room so I could cool off before addressing biggest brother.  When I came back out to arrange an apology he said, "mommy, I no sad!  I say a prayer and Jesus help me be happy."

Never in the history of our family has he gone from being in so much trouble to none at all so quickly.

Just Isaac

I keep thinking I've figured this little boy out and then he surprises me.  Isaac is my snuggle buddy.  So careful and kissable.  Being held and tender touches calm him right down.  If he is already sleepy I can kiss his face over and over and he will relax and fall asleep. He is also the SQUIRMIEST baby ever. I've had to dust off some old judo skills to get him pinned down for diaper changes and jammies. He has no idea that normally those activities only take a minute or so.  After he has twisted both feet back out of his pants for the 15 time I often just let him go pants-less.  Pants are over rated anyway, am I right?

Generally easy-going, he can be left behind in a room (after James has shut him in) and take a very long time to care that we aren't there anymore.  Maybe he enjoys a little peace and quiet away from bouncy older brother?

He is on the move. Stealthy and quick.  It took him a little while to decide it was worth it to crawl and he thought out his game plan very thoroughly before attempting, now he's a pro and crawls completely by the book. Two hands planted on the carpet, two knees where they should be, the only trouble he encounters is crawling right out of his clothes and getting a foot stuck on the wrong side of his outfit.

I keep touching on this but he is so deliberate.  Only rarely will he launch himself somewhere he didn't intend or topple over because of poor planning.  He looks first, tests the area, and then commits.  The first time he pulled himself up was the bathtub and it continues to be his favorite place to practice his pull ups, yet, he hasn't slipped once!

That being said, he has his fair share of bonking because of the a fore mentioned big brother.  Isaac and James are starting to play together which is stressful, but completely adorable.  I'm always nervous if they are out of sight because Isaac will put up with a fair amount of abuse before tapping out and calling for back up.

His generally chill disposition makes his moments of action all the cuter.  For example, his bouncer.  He works that thing!  Those legs no how to go!  The same thing happens when he is excited or scared.  The first thing to respond is his little frog legs.

He loves to eat, but only a little bit at a time, so my favorites are things that take a while to gnaw on.

Nursing... oh Isaac and the nursing saga.  The only time he nurses well is right after waking.  If I miss that window it's a total fiasco. Those legs for one thing.  It's like the bottom half of him switches into triathlon mode.  Second it must be dark and we must be alone.  The world is much too interesting, and if James' voice can be heard that means there could be a Hobbs style pounce being plotted and eating will have to wait.  Third he's a chomper.  Thank heaven he doesn't have teeth yet, because when they pop through our nursing days may be over.

My dear sweet boy, with his smooshy lips and big blue eyes.  His cheek to mine as we look at the world together.  These are precious days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reflecting on Motherhood: an Unrepeatable Story

The dust is clearing.

We have a new home, it's adorable.

Nothing fancy, just a little old three bedroom cottage, but it's painted red and white outside and the kitchen and bathrooms have subway tile, so what more could I ask for.

Austin is settling into his job, enjoying it for the role it now plays in our journey.

I almost every way my dreams are complete.  I have a husband I'm crazy about, two vibrant children, a home, and enough of everything that we can share.  I'm living the dream.

Someday's my dream is really hard.

I'm entering the world of sibling interactions.

Few things are as precious as watching my boys give each other a big hug.  The giggling and squealing are pure joy, few things are as horrifying as watching that hug turn into a strangling headlock with fistfuls of hair, scratching and biting.

I'm working on finding the right balance that allows them to be in the same room but keeps Isaac out of the ER.  We'll get there.

I've also developed a new theory.  If you've had a conversation with me in the last month you've probably heard it already.

Parenthood is a completely unrepeatable experience.  Let me explain.  Not ever again past or future will James Luther Fife be born to Tikla Virginia Fife.  This means parenting is nonscientific.  It can't be repeated therefore it can't really be explained.

I remember being rather unimpressed by the advice a received before becoming a mom for the first time.  It seemed the more experienced the person the more generic the advice.  The mom with 12 kids had little more than a shoulder shrug and a thumbs up.  The mom of 1 said "just love them."  Even my own mother, the fountain of wisdom who can do it all, came up with few nuggets for me.  Come on people!  That's the best you can do?

Now I get it.  My mom has never raised James or Isaac so she had just as much experience raising them as I did.

Sometimes I will get into a groove or have a successful teaching moment and I think to myself, I did it!  I figured out how to encourage healthy eating habits, or teach politeness, etc. but then I remember, nope, I learned how Tikla teaches James to do those things.  An unrepeatable, one time use skill, that applies to only me.

Now don't get me wrong.  There is a lot of good advice and genius solutions out there, and sometimes I come up with some pretty brilliant ideas, but there is no one size fits all solution for any given parenting challenge.  There is a reason babies don't come with a handbook.  And it's not because everyone is holding out on me.  It's because things don't work the same way twice.  I always thought the skills I'd learn as a parent would be, how to potty train, how to teach a child to put their toys away, how to encourage sharing.  That's not what I'm learning.

At first this was a depressing discovery.  What am I gaining if these skills are worn out after one wash?  Of course my children benefit, but what did I gain? Imagine the frustration of a chef who found that every time he cooked with onion it had a different flavor and texture.  How could he ever write a recipe?  He can't, all he can do is taste, smell, and poke his ingredients until he knows what he's working with and then create what he can.

That's when I realized it's not about writing a handbook, it's a story.  An unrepeatable story.  Uniquely mine.  Every piece of advice every possibility must be carefully weighed, prayed about, and tested.  I'm not learning how to teach someone else to do what I do, I'm just trying to become a better person.  I'm learning problem solving,  listening, and patience, selflessness,  and most important of all, listening to the Spirit of God.

Most days I learn the same virtues over and over and over.

And guys.  I think I've said this before, but mothering little boys is so physically taxing.  It's hard heads to the nose and fat lips.  It's pulled hair and poked eyes, tripping over toys and getting kicked in the gut.  The other day I was wearing a light flowy skirt and James came up and bit me on the behind. what!?!

Yet, somehow, it's the best thing I've ever done.  As a very wise cousin of mine shared recently, of all the ways there are to learn hard things and grow, aren't you glad this is the way we get to do it? By raising children of God.

It's spectacular.  It's the sound of "I love you," it's the outreached arms of a baby who doesn't want anything but the touch and smell of his mommy.  It's watching them sleep and kissing ouchies, it's giggles and songs and wonder.  It's listening to rain and flying kites.

James wanted a turn taking pictures.  I said he could and carefully put the strap over his wrist.  "Say cheese, mommy!" Surprisingly, he managed to take my picture!

Then he took off the strap and threw the camera into the driveway...

and that my friends is how it goes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reflecting: Almost 6 Months of Motherhood

"Yummy, good.  A lishious" I come into his bedroom to find James stringing an entire roll's length of floss through his teeth.  Apparently that minty fresh flavor was just too good to pass up.

New words, so many new words.  Hilarious and wise and everything in between.  A few gems include,

"Boom baby" after we had picked up all the toys in his room.

Singing along with the church hymns replacing each word with "DINOSAUR!"

Then tender moment when he sang most of the words to I Love to See the Temple at Family Home Evening.

Making up words, "have some goo-ja a dinner?" you got it buddy.

In the car Austin will often turn to me when we arrive and ask, "who do you want?" and I'll answer either James or Isaac.  Lately James will answer the question by saying, "mommy get a James!" (be still my heart.)

 The best one of all.  I have had a couple mommy melt downs when James comes over and says, "mommy sad? Daddy help mommy be happy?  Get daddy a fix mommy?"  Oh how true it is.  Daddy can fix everything.

I think Isaac is teething. Maybe not, but it makes it easier to be patient with his crabbiness if I think he is. ;)  Funny how that is.  If there is a reason it's easier to put up with. 

And it got late...and I'm tired.  So that's all for tonight.  Here are some cute pictures and I'm off to sleep.  TO BE CONTINUED

Monday, July 13, 2015

Reflecting: Mother of 2 for Almost 5 Months

"Mommy!!  I awake!!  I sleep-ed!"

It's always with a tone of surprise.  Well what do you know!  you're awake!

Then with perfect memory he reminds me of the activity I promised before he went down for a nap.  "Play a Ashley's house?" "go a swimming?" "make some play dough?"

Oh yes, and the latest, "buy some?" when we are out of a favorite food is classic.

These days he is known as James "The negotiator" Fife.  (pointing to the clock) "five more minutes, okay, five more minutes."  "one more then all done." (squinty-can't-resist-that-face, face)"have a tiny one?"  Sometimes after I've explained why he can't do ____ activity.  He will get really animated with his hands, rattle off some complete gibberish and then say, "okay?" and head off for the prohibited activity.

He is SLOWLY learning how to be soft and still interact with Isaac.  Baby steps my friends.  We've gone from attempted body slams and constant bonking to the occasional freak out kick him in the head moments and stealing his pacifier.  He tried to take him out of his swing the other week and dropped Isaac onto a pile of legos.  sigh.  Mom's weren't given 8 arms and detachable surveillance eyes so this must just come with the second child territory.  That poor little buddy.  Note James' bunny ear antics below...

Speaking of that cutie chub, he is getting a personality folks!  A super cute one at that.  Even his pouting is expressive.  He looks at me with a face that says, I don't like this mom!  You understand right?  You're going to make it all better, thanks mom, yup, I just wanted to be right here in your arms where it's safe and I can see the world, and everything is good. You doubt me, but I'm telling you he says it with his deliberate pouty bottom lip and arms and fists that grab on oh so tightly.

So much of the time he is smiling.  Just grinning ear to ear and then burying his face into the nearest surface only to pop back up again with his smile unchanged.

I'm improving in so many ways.  Most of the time it can't be seen because as I'm improving the tasks are getting more difficult.  The expression, "cleaning a house with kids in it is like brushing your teeth while eating an oreo" couldn't be more true.  Unfortunately, cleaning a house with just Tikla in it is a little oreo-tastic, so it's been a struggle.

It's funny, when James was a baby everything felt like it would last forever.  The good and the bad.  When he was fussy, I felt like I would never sleep again.  On the flip side it was as if his thighs would always be chubby and his kisses drooling.  Now I know better.  I'll sleep again.  Nursing gets easier.  I'll be able to do things with two hands someday.  I also know those middle of the night feedings are fleeting, his needs will become more complicated, his tiny body will grow into a little boy.  So I'm savoring more.

A few favorite phrases from James: (how's that for an alteration?)

"Ooops!  I dropped me."
"Isaac awake!"
"Mommy get it."
"Go a door? buy some?"
"Mommy, Daddy, Isaac, James, a family!"
"Play a nursery? toys? fruit snacks?"
"Eat some chex a breakfast"
"stay here"

Other notes: James can't keep his shoes on to save his life, I pull slivers out of his feet almost nightly.  THROWING, EVERYTHING, ALWAYS.  Rocks at cars, cars at Isaac, Isaac at the ground.  It's a problem, but he is going to make one heck of an athlete.  Yell/singing at the store is a regular thing.  I'm talking the whole store is wondering what's up and strangers start laughing.  That kind of yell/singing.  He still loves his pacifier.  I should really do something about that...  and his silky (a random peach colored satin pillow case he found and became attached to.)
He is fully potty trained for #2.  When he goes any number he gets 2 M&Ms.  Pretty soon we will go for completely trained, but for now I don't mind letting him run the show.

Isaac has a pretty quick cycle through sleep, eat, play.  Short naps, short feedings, short playtime before becoming exhausted again.   He loves "horsey," watching daddy work, blowing bubbles, being held nice and close.  He nurses best right after waking when he is still a little sleepy, otherwise he is too distracted by the interesting world.

This post wouldn't be complete without a paragraph for Austin.  Oh, but where do I begin?  He is something else.  I never expected to be so emotional watching him teach a FHE lesson, or bounce our baby while explaining the consequences for biting to our toddler.  He is taking it all in stride.  He is happy in the midst of our chaos and it's inspiring to watch.  He is my rescuer, my teammate, my problem solver, and my very best friend.  Little-Miss-jimmy-rig and Mr. do-it-right-the-first-time are building a family and it's pretty fun.

Monday, June 29, 2015


I don't usually write to you, this time I am. 

It's almost midnight and you are finally tucked back in for bed.  You woke crying hysterically and daddy got up and held you.  Nothing was soothing I tried to help but you were still so sad.  Maybe it was a bad dream maybe gas pains? who knows, but I sure couldn't understand you and nothing seemed to help.  You finally settled into my arms and stopped the wailing.  Dad went back to bed and I held you.  You usually bouncy wild body was still and snuggled.  I smelled your hair and kissed your forehead and wondered and how you possibly got so big.  Wasn't I just holding you like this yesterday the day you were born? No, it wasn't yesterday it was two years ago.  Now your big boy body doesn't fit in my arms.  You're heavy and strong, but you're still my James.

I've always been confused by the expression, "eyes stinging with tears," maybe it's a mom thing because I get it now.  Those tears that come so unexpectedly to my eyes as I watch you grow and do good.  My loving, awesome boy who shares everything, loves to be doing and moving, and is learning to be soft.  You are incredible, from your double cowlick to the perfectly round birthmark on the back of your calf.  Thanks for coming to our family buddy.  We sure love having you.  You fell asleep in my arms.  You never do that.  Maybe when you were itty bitty tiny, but very rarely since.  Your lashes rested on your cheeks and your breathing was heavy, your paci stopped moving and your silky was under your chin. 

After some more stingy tears and lots of gratitude prayers I carried you back to your bed. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Reflecting: Mother of 2 for 4 months

I'm not a runner.

Never have been, but I do know that in running it's important to pace yourself.  You don't start a marathon in full sprint because you'll wear out before the race is over.

I've realized I pace myself as a mother.  Then finish line? When Austin comes home. That sweet, sweet man who wrestles with James while Isaac watches from his swing with big, perpetually surprised eyes.  "I'm so glad when daddy comes home" is an understatement.

Today Austin installed a window air conditioning unit in our window (this week should be in the 100 degrees.)  James was all over getting the tools and fixin' with dad.  I don't know where he picked up dad instead of daddy, but it's about 50/50.  Today he took a break from hammering his screw driver into a piece of wood to inform me, "Mommy!  I banged it!  Uh dad n fixin' it! Come see? I did it!"

He is a talker these days.  The latest phrase, "Stay there."  As I tucked James in for bed the other night I used my finger to draw numbers and letters on his back.  Before I could get to each number he said it for me, "eight, nine, ten."  While coloring today he drew a long wiggly line and said, "M-E-S, James."  Guys he totally just almost spelled his name!!!  He's 2!!! You know how everyone thinks their kid is a genius....yeah, I have that problem.  My children are the cutest, smartest, bravest kiddos out there.  I couldn't be more proud of them.

There are so many cute things he says and it's impossible to describe his animated face as he says those cute words followed by a pouted bottom lip or sneaky side eyes or round surprise lips.

Today he and Isaac had a full on brotherly interaction, actually two of them.  I was holding Isaac on my thighs while sitting on the couch and James came over to "snuggle." (Snuggling is code for getting to have his pacifier and silky outside of nap and bedtime because he knows I'll give in if it means a few non-bouncy cuddles.)  Isaac had pulled out his own pacifier and was chewing on the side of it. For some reason James could not stop laughing.  "Isaac eat a paci!" (bursts of laughter)

Later James lay down next to Isaac on a blanket and his little flailing baby arms managed to find his big brothers shorts.  "Stop it Isaac!" (squeals of delighted laughter)  I think James might be even more excited than I am for the day when they can actually play and wrestle.

Did you know Austin and I can now carry on a full conversation about deep life changing topics while driving in the car, one hand holding in a pacifier, to the tune of E-I-E-I-O bellowed from the back seat? Oh yeah, we can.

I remember when we couldn't even talk about lunch if we were a little on the tired side.  I'm telling you this whole parenting thing changes you.  It's shock therapy, and somehow I'm turning into a better person.

Though in many ways I feel like I'm walking the wrong way down a moving sidewalk.  I'm making so much progress in so many areas and yet because the demands are keeping pace it appears like I'm getting nowhere.

There will be a day when the kitchen sink will always be shiny and the underwear folded, but today is not that day!

There will be a day when I can lie down on my carpet with out fear of being body slammed or having heavy books dropped on my face and then go to the bathroom with out fingers poking under the door, but today is not that day!

There will be a day when my babies will be grown-ups, my life more quiet, and my nights more restful.  Gratefully, today is not that day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Reflecting: Mother of 2 for Almost 3 Months

You know the feeling you have in school when any free time you take for yourself technically could be used for more study or homework?  Motherhood feels a little bit that way.  Right now both boys are asleep and I could be doing dishes, folding laundry, creating fun homemade activities for James, meal planning, showering all of which would make me more prepared for life when they wake up again in a few short minutes.  However, just as I did as a student, I'm claiming this time as my own for some reflecting.  


Oh Isaac, my beautiful, snuggly, happy baby. He is so strong and healthy. He LOVES sleeping on his tummy which makes for a super strong neck, but unlike James he never uses his strength to launch himself toward the ground while I'm holding him on my shoulder.  In fact I've managed to undress James for a bath, sat him on the potty, wiped, chased him down after he escaped the bathroom and plopped him in the tub all while Isaac clung to my shoulder.  It's not a death grip, just a sweet little clasp on my sweater or neck. 

His world can be so chaotic.  I remember when bumping James' carseat too hard while clicking it into the car could ruin my whole day.  Isaac lives in almost constant noise unless big brother is asleep.  It feels like it's been way longer than three months. 


James turned two and is suddenly speaking in complete sentences.  "I dropped me" (after falling down) "I love you too" and "I eat it, yummy good!" being a few of my favorites.  

I showed him how to clean crayon off the walls with a mild soap solution in a spray bottle.  I was feeling pretty good about teaching him consequences.  I went to check on him after it took a suspiciously long time to put the dirty rag into the laundry room and got an eye full of stain remover.  Note to self: James can reach the top of the dryer.  

He is into books, be still my heart, and I'll sometimes find him snuggled on the couch with the Hungry Little Caterpillar talking about oranges and an egg on a leaf.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Permission to be Awesome, Granted.

I'm feeling good about myself these days.  Not in a cocky way I hope, but in a content-with-who-I-am-today-and-my-efforts-to-be-someone-better-tomorrow kind of way.  Life isn't easy right now, nor am I without my disappointments, discouragements, and failures, but over all I'm comparing me to myself instead of others. I don't always feel like this, I'd even say this is the exception to the rule, but I've noticed some things that have contributed to happiness and helped me avoid harmful comparison.  

I wrote them down so I can reference them when I need a reminder, this is a good place to store them, and who knows someone else might find this useful. So here it is.  My tips for Tikla when I'm tempted to compare myself to awesome people around me.

Say these words:

1. "That's awesome!  It's not really my style, but how cool is that!
When I'm feeling lame-o I might say, "oh wow, I should do that and I don't" but this positive statement allows me to admire without feeling like I need to be the same.  It also reminds me that I have a style, and I love things they way I do them because it works for me.

2.  "Wow, that is inspiring, I can totally to do (be, create, enjoy) that someday."
This one takes the pressure off.  I don't have to do (be, create, enjoy) that right now, but I can be inspired by goodness I'm seeing and aspire to it.

3. "I bet that took a lot of work, I'm using my time for other things right now, but this is super cool!
This one is similar to #1, but allows for me to opt out of self judgement when the comparison involves something I actually would love, but don't have priority on right now.  It also reminds me that whoever was being cool took their valuable time to be that way.  They didn't just snap their fingers, they worked at it.

The second part of feeling good these days is giving myself permission to be awesome.

When I forget my 3 tips for Tikla observing the accomplishments of others can cause me to be critical of myself and for that reason I'm often tempted to avoid looking awesome to help out my fellow sisters.

Granted there is a time and place for that (there is no need to go on and on about the marathon you ran to a friend who just had an amputation and showing up to clean a friends house in your grubbies with no make-up is a fantastic idea) but at the end of the day, the difference between being an unpleasant reminder of failure versus an inspiration to be better is in the eyes of the beholder.  Playing small to help someone else is like deciding not to eat anymore because children in Africa are starving.  It's a nice thought but hurts you and doesn't help anyone else.  It's okay for me to improve my talents, make beautiful things and try to be a good mom openly.

I struggle with this.  Just yesterday I spent a slightly silly amount of time on an invitation to James' 2nd birthday party.  It is ADORABLE.  It was fun to make because I don't have many excuses to use photoshop now that I'm not working and frankly I'm stinkin' excited to throw James a little party so he can open presents, squeal about them, eat cake, and be a kid.  The whole thing also reminds me of my mom because even when she had seven kids and was moving every 2 years she somehow managed to create wonderful birthday memories.  One time she had me draw a picture and then recreated my artwork on the surface of my birthday cake. I know. pretty sweet.

So, anyway, before I passed them out today I had a moment of hesitation.  What if someone feels like I'm trying to prove something?  What if I ruin someone's day by giving them a "should" moment?  What if? What if?  I shook it off and gave myself permission to be awesome and passed them out.

I don't like making people feel bad. ever. it's just the worst.  There are few things that steal the joy away more than knowing my efforts had the opposite affect than intended, but in the end, I can't choose happiness for others, I can only choose it for myself.

Stop comparing, choose to be inspired, and reach to be better!  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Reflecting: Mother of 2

Remember when you drove a car for the first time?  Maybe your experience was more comfortable than mine.  I was stressed out of my mind.  That little, blue, Echo, stick-shift was a weapon on wheels and had more moving parts than I had limbs.  The deserted streets my dad and I practiced on might as well have been teaming with semi trucks carrying land mines.

That's how having James felt. 

Only bigger.  

I'm still driving, but now I'm totally comfortable behind the wheel.  Apart from the occasional melt down over the dreaded parallel park I'm a capable driver.  

Now here comes Isaac.

I'm driving through a winter storm, at night, with bald tires.  

Only bigger.  

 So many things are easier this time around.  Midnight meltdowns are few and far between. Clipping fingernails, swaddling, bathing, blow-outs, weird rashes, rapid baby breathing don't even register on the mom-o-meter.  (Nursing is still disastrous because I'm stocked enough for three and Isaac is only one tiny baby drowning in the oversupply.  Bless him.)  However, now I'm nursing while fending off blows from a large stick that was somehow smuggled inside after our walk.  Changing a blowout while watching a very drippy nose smear onto the throw pillows. Shushing a tired infant to the soothing lullaby of screaming and thunks on the door.  Rushing to comfort the little one who was woken from peaceful slumber by a board book to the head, only to have the offender rush to the kitchen and dump dinner on the floor.  

I'm told that my capacity for patience and tolerance for chaos will increase and this will be the new normal, but for now it feels like the bald-tire blizzard fiasco.  

If I have learned anything so far it's this: Perspective and priorities.  
When I'm thinking about the fact that not a single room in the house is tidy and all I have for dinner is day old toast and a can of garbanzo beans then it's impossible.  There is no light at the end of this tunnel of diapers and sad baby faces who need me.

But let me tell you folks, when I remember how stinkin' short my time is for kissing cheeks and breathing in that precious baby skin.  When I really look into James' big blue eyes and see his wheels turning.  When I do that, there is no tunnel.  It's one glorious meadow of sunshine.  

I've been so humbled by each of these boys. I mean like the "compelled to be humble" kind of humble.  

Before James I thought I was pretty hot stuff.  I was going to be rockin' mom no sweat.  But one, ONE little baby rocked me instead.  If one was hard how was I going to have the 20 I wanted and look like a babe, cook like a champ, magnify the heck out of my callings, and run for mayor? 

Then I got cocky.  James was getting easier, I was showering again and I was so on top of the laundry we almost never ran out of clothes. ;)  2 babies?  We've got this!

The melt-downs are the same as last time.  "Everyone else is doing this? What's my problem?" "How am I ever going to handle three someday?  That's the time people claim is the hardest!" "I thought I was going to be so good at this!"  "I think I've changed my mind!!"  Sleep deprivation and hormones can really do a number on me.  

That's where perspective saves the day.  It's okay if the house is a mess.  It's okay if we eat leftover, leftovers for dinner.  It's okay if James throws tantrums and Isaac gets toughened up.  My children need my love.  That's not hard.  They need to know they are loved by the Savior.  That's not hard.  


I wrote this a couple weeks ago.  Things are already so much better and easier it's hard to believe I was that overwhelmed just days ago.  Babies sleep a lot and James is getting used to not being the center of attention.  He even plays by himself for a few minutes here and there. *gasp*

The main problem now is simply keeping Isaac safe from the unrestrained love coming from big brother.  Tickles easily turn to scratchy grabs, kisses to full on body slams, and every so often, out of the blue, James will lick him.  why???

That and the measure of my day's worth is different now.  It used to be productivity, now it's character.  How patient, loving, aware, present, etc was I, versus how many things did I check off my list.  I pick one thing to do for the day (sometimes it's as simple as folding laundry) and the rest is all extra credit.  

This crazy life of mine is SO GOOD!