Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hello Again!

If you grew up like me on the "oldies" music of the 50s-70s, that title might start you singing the Neil Diamond song.

I both can and can't believe it's been over two years since I posted anything here. In that time I've probably posted a few hundred pictures on Instagram and who knows how many Facebook updates. It seems silly to wax nostalgic about blog posts, but I do. Blog posts were usually longer and more insightful than Facebook and Instagram posts. More like a conversation over coffee and less like passing quickly in the grocery store. I remember the delight of seeing that a friend had updated their blog on my little blog reader widget. I honestly can't remember the last friend's blog that I looked at. It makes me sad. And I know that for me, personally, planning and composing blog posts was a lot more satisfying and challenging that just quick updates and posts on social media are. I guess I do maintain the boys' homeschool blogs for their required weekly reports, but it just isn't the same.

I've really been struggling lately. Feeling rather overworked and underpaid and just all around burnt out on this whole mothering/homeschooling gig. It's been hard to get motivated to get this next year figured out. Everything I would start to think of just sounded like work and I have felt completely devoid of any spark at all.  I have been feeling like the daily grind had finally ground me down to a point where there just wasn't enough me left. And of course in that mindset, everything feels worse and I have struggled with an unusually high amount of negative self-talk.

Looking over the past few years, I have come to realize just how much having the twins changed me. I honestly don't feel like it is an exaggeration to say that it broke me. I had so little contact with the outside world during their first 18 months and the crazy intense survival mode of the first year had me so inward focused that in some ways it feels like I forgot how to be a part of the world. I have had a lot more social anxiety since they were born, and often feel profoundly uncomfortable in groups larger than about 10 people. I also feel more different from others than I used to, which I am pretty sure is just a lingering effect of having spent so many months inside my own head as my only real companion. That and chronic sleep deprivation can change a person.

I have more to write, but am messaging my sister-in-law as I try and compose this, but I hope to get back on here soon. I need it. Even if no one reads it, it is good for me to put thoughts to words.

<3 p="">

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Farewell, Old Friend

One of my last pictures of Rudy

We took Rudy to the vet yesterday, which was no small endeavor as he has never been a fan of riding in cars. Our last attempts (several years ago) resulted in either poop or barf in the back of the vehicle, sometimes both. So I got a sedative from the vet, gave it to Rudy, then an hour later loaded him up in the back of the Vanagon with Zion's help.  The reason for the trip was the new and sudden appearance of a wound on his stomach. We hadn't seen it the night before and had no idea what could have caused it. A couple weeks ago he had an incident outside and came in and seemed really out of it and weak, and he spent the entire next day in his bed. We really thought that was the end, but the next day he got up and ate some food and acted like a slowed down and older version of his old self. 

It turned out he had a large abdominal/chest tumor that ruptured--there were no outward signs of the tumor prior to the rupture. The vet said that our options were very limited. Of course they could do surgery, and the vet was willing to do the surgery if we chose that option, but he said there was really no way of knowing what they would find once they were in there, and that given the size of the tumor, there would likely be more. He also said the likelihood was high that it had been a fast-growing one, which also has a reduced chance of successful treatment or recovery.  He said that euthanasia was also an option, and one that he felt was acceptable in this case. We knew that we weren't going to put our sweet old friend through the risks and stress of surgery at his age, especially one that had so little chance of giving him a longer life, so the choice was pretty clear. But that certainly didn't make it any easier. 

I called David from the vet's office and tearfully discussed the news. David felt strongly that we should try and have Rudy euthanized at home, as kind of our last loving gift to this friend of ours. He has been a member of our family for over 8 years, and the kindest thing would be to help him leave his life of pain in a place where he feels safe and loved. After we got off the phone and the vet came back in, I spoke with him and he said this was a service he offers, so we scheduled it for this morning at 9:45.  The vet gave him a steroid shot with some morphine to help with his pain for the duration and we loaded him up and brought him home. 

I broke the news to the other kids (minus the twins) and we all cried together. We planned to discuss that night what we should put on Rudy's epitaph plaque that will be returned with his ashes. We spent a lot of time petting and loving on our sweet old dog. And more tears. We remembered funny stories and nicknames for him. We counted the characters in the different ideas we had and finally settled on something that we felt was a loving tribute and also a bit of a nod to Rudy's quirky side. I'll share it when we get his ashes back. 

Last night Rudy seemed every one of his 10+ years, and acted like a dog with cancer would be expected to act. He seemed uncomfortable, walked around and leaned to the side, favoring different feet at different times.

This morning, though, he was happy to eat the pampered breakfast and leftovers that we gave him. (He stopped eating much of his kibble several days ago, which was completely out of character for him.) Still moving slow, there was a bit more spring in his step. It made it easy to think that maybe it wasn't the time to say goodbye. My heart yelled to have more time with him. But my mind knew that with the state of his wound and his cancer, things were likely going to get worse fast and be really difficult in the meantime. He was in no condition for surgery of any sort, even to close up the wound, and he would have had to be on medication and steroid shots to try and keep the tumor from growing. It all was just too much to ask him to go through so we could get maybe another month or two with him. But to have to make the choice to say goodbye to a friend and hold that responsibility is positively heart wrenching. I do believe that we made the best choice for Rudy, to save him the suffering of what was ahead, but I still feel so much anguish over having had to make that decision. 

The vet arrived at about 10:00 and gave Rudy the sedative while David held him and Zion and I caressed his head. The boys went upstairs with the twins as they didn't feel like they were up for being present during this time. After a few minutes, Dr. Bott gave the injection and it wasn't long after that before he passed. We brought the kids back downstairs to say goodbye to Rudy one last time. 

I'm sure reading this, you can sense my sadness, but those words hardly seem to be able to convey the depth or breadth of my feelings. But you can't really write all the tears that were shed or the many many thoughts and questions and fears that race through your head when you are overwhelmed with emotion. Trying to balance my own grief while helping my kids handle theirs has been a challenge. I reached out to a friend who has had experiences with pet loss and I really appreciated her support today. Another good friend brought us lunch, which was wonderful as when noon rolled around, I was not any more productive than I had been since yesterday's vet visit.  Yesterday I shared a brief account of what was happening on Facebook, which I had debated doing because I hesitate to share really personal things like this. I was glad I did, though, as the kindness and love and support I received made a difference in my feelings this morning. I felt understood and less alone, and that was nice.

This afternoon while cleaning the kitchen, I was cutting up a piece of leftover pizza from lunch to toss to the dogs, and it was so weird that there were only two of them. And Zion and I took Orbit and Daisy out on a walk (while the twins rode their scooter bikes) and I commented that it was weird and sad that we were out with all our dogs, and that only equaled two. We've had three dogs for 6 years, so it feels empty to only have two.

After his passing, I started making notes of fun memories or particularly Rudy things, as I'd like to make a memory book of pictures and fun thoughts about him. I filled up three pages in my Moleskin book. It was therapeutic and something to do when I didn't have the energy for anything else. We also made some paw prints with Model Magic clay and are planning to make a little memorial in a shadow box for him. In my sadness today, I wanted to order a memorial rock, a mug with his picture on it, and a blanket with a collage of pictures, but I opted to hold off and let my emotions settle a bit. Not that those things wouldn't be lovely tributes to him, but sometimes it is probably better to let the sadness settle a bit. 

I'm grateful to have this day come to a close. So many tears and so much sorrow and a lot of feeling empty. But also bits of joy and love recalling his years and being grateful that we got to have him. I feel completely spent, but I didn't want this day to end without recording my thoughts somewhere, and while this blog is very neglected, it still exists, and that's something. 

This is Rudy the summer after we adopted him from the Utah Friends of Basset Hounds rescue. 2008

He had gotten so white the past couple of years. Still the sweetest eyes. 

Sweet Rudy, waiting for a treat. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Since I blogged last, I have had three friends pass away and a beloved uncle. My friend Pam Williams, who commented here quite often (when I would post something--rare the last 3 years), was diagnosed with breast cancer last February. She went through chemo and had a mastectomy, and it seemed she was going to mend and be with us for more time. Then things took a rather sudden turn for the worse and they found cancer elsewhere. Only about a month after her mastectomy, she passed away. Though she and her husband Roger had only lived in our neighborhood for the past several years (5 or 6, I think) I had gotten to know her especially through book club and she had also generously shared her time with Zion as a writing mentor and tutor. I have missed her a lot.

That same month, I found out through Facebook that my childhood friend Cassandra (Cassie/Cass to me growing up) died. She had dealt with a lot of health issues over the summer and had dealt with diabetes since she was about 19, I think, and had also battled cancer in her late 20s, but with her positive outlook and zest for life, I didn't know that things were so serious. We had lost touch after elementary school, but reconnected several years ago on Facebook, and it had been a joy to get to know her again. Our elementary school friendship is filled with so many sweet memories. She had one of those large "tricycles" with the basket in the back, and we would give each other rides in the basket. We called it our Buddy Bike, and we called ourselves Best Buddies. I remember setting up an intercom system that I'd built at school in our rooms so we could talk to each other from our rooms. We made up our own dance routine to the oldies song "Lollipop." We loved playing Popples as well as with other toys in elaborate worlds we would create. For the first day of 4th grade, we dressed as matching as we could, complete with denim skirts, colored suspenders, and side ponytails! We had such fun times. When she died, it felt like those parts of my childhood somehow died, too. It made me sad that there wasn't another person who shared those memories with me anymore. I believe that she is still existing somewhere, but it felt like a profound loss. She also was the sort of person who brought joy and delight to everyone she knew, so I know that her death has affected many who were closer to her than I. It's just sad when people like that die, and even sadder when they are still quite young.

That same month, I heard that my college friend Aaron Boyce was diagnosed with a very difficult to treat brain tumor. The family was looking for options to treat it, and they did pursue some of those options, but by Thanksgiving it was pretty apparent that there wasn't anything more to be done. He passed away around Christmas.

My uncle Bill Wagstaff, in his 70s, passed away unexpectedly just a couple of weeks ago.  My memories of Uncle Bill are of his love for jokes and silliness and laughing. His family owns a couple of cabins up at Lake Couer d'Alene in northern Idaho, and they have always been so kind to let family visit there and use their cabins for visits and reunions.  My siblings and parents were able to travel up to Washington for the funeral, but I couldn't make the trip.

It all makes thoughts of mortality and what kind of life I want to live swirl through my mind. I have come to realize over the past couple of years that somethings are much less important to me than I thought they were. I've also come to let go of most of the certainty I felt earlier in life about big questions about the purpose of life or the nature of God and eternity. I used to take comfort in the feeling that I KNEW what the purpose of life was and what awaited us after death. Now I find the ambiguity and uncertainty more comfortable. I am okay trusting in what I feel is a loving God, even though I don't know the particulars of how it will all work out. I feel most confident that my own role is to love others and try to make space for others to also feel loved and valued.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Battered but not broken

Back in March my sister Rebecca (who runs all the time and has run a few marathons) asked me if I wanted to do a half marathon with her in September. That sounded like a good motivation to run again and plus it was so far I agreed. I didn't get into training for it as early as I should, and I've ran into a few health hiccups along the way. Today I did a 9.5 mile run (with a fair bit of walking) and I'm feeling ready for next week. Or at least ready enough. There were a lot of runners on the trail today, and a lot of cute, really fit runners. They are kind of intimidating to me, but oh well. With my very fair skin, any exertion at all turns me rather tomato-red, which is annoying. But I did my run and it felt good and I didn't feel like dying at the end. After I got home I was thinking back over the past three years and I remembered the very end of the pregnancy with the twins when I literally couldn't walk around the block. I got about 1/4 the way around and the discomfort was so bad I had tears in my eyes. I remember feeling like my body was broken and wondering if I'd ever feel "normal" again. Post twins, my body will never be the same as it was before. That has been hard to accept. The squishy extra stuff around my middle isn't going anywhere. But I'm not broken. Just battered. But strong, nonetheless. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's been too long...

I used to blog when I had time to sit at my computer and think a bit. Now free time seems so fragmented and most of the time when I am sitting at the computer I'm doing STUFF that needs doing. 

So I'm going to give phone-blogging a try. I do miss posting, even if it's mainly just for me. 

I've been enjoying podcasts more the past few months and one I recently started listening to is Happier with Gretchin Rubin. Every episode she has a "try this at home" tip for happier living, and the one I listened to today had the idea to do a one sentence journal. I liked that. It sounds doable. Maybe I'll try for a few sentences of blogging every week. I think the pressure is there, in journaling and blogging, to catch up, but that is so daunting.

I spent a good part of this week getting the music room rearranged and cleaned out. David really wants to redo it, but that leaves me to do it and I'm not sure I'm up for that. Especially since I found what I thought was a great idea (a DIY IKEA storage bench in front of the window) that would give us some storage for games but also some small footprint seating. He went off on how he keeps wishing we will just get rid of stuff instead of storing it, so that kind of deflated my energy for the project. Especially since I have plenty to get ready for school starting in a few weeks and we have a family reunion the first week of August. Heaven knows I don't need another thing to try and do in my "free time." He's working a lot lately, both at Convirza and on his side project/company, so all of the house related stuff ends up falling to me and it takes a lot of time and energy. I had to spend hours with the sprinkler repair guy this season and it looks like there is a leak in the back yard now... Sigh. Being an adult is obnoxious. 

Let's see if the picture posting has improved since last time I tried mobile posting. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Busy busy busy

I can't believe we are two months into our school year, the twins turned TWO, we had a super fun family Staycation and I haven't blogged about any of it! I tried to post from my phone on our homeschool blog, but it kept erring out so that didn't happen, either.

In the past few months, we have definitely turned a corner in our post-twin-arrival life. We can actually DO things, and plan things, and have them go somewhat as expected. The twins go to a sitter who lives down the street from us three mornings a week while we do some of our homeschool, and after the first few times of crying for 5 or so minutes, GubGub was just fine with it. Now they look forward to playing with "Hayla" (Makayla) and Peyton. It has been so nice to have the time to do school uninterrupted, and to not feel like I'm just shuffling them to the side while I try and do things. Noodle is a pretty fantastic babysitter, and can manage for 2-3 hours without a problem, so David and I get to go on DATES again! They go to sleep around 8 o'clock and the vast majority of the time they sleep until at least 6 a.m., often 6:30.  GubGub is the early bird, sometimes waking too early (5-6:00) and not going back to sleep, but overall it's pretty good. Sleeping well is something I will never take for granted again as long as I live. Okay, I probably will take it for granted because that's how humans are, but I certainly have a new appreciation for it after the 15 or so months of lousy to awful sleep I had after they were born.

So now that I am feeling human again, I am trying hard to find some parts of the old me that kind of went into hiding the past couple years. It's hard to feel just sort of broken, and realize you've been feeling that way for a while but there just wasn't time to really look at yourself and assess the damage. I've also come to the somewhat painful realization that some areas in my life that need attention and improvement aren't going to just get better on their own. Some things you don't grow out of, no matter how old you get. You actually have to dig in and do the work yourself. Talk about disappointing! I guess there really aren't a lot of automatic perks that come with aging. Self-improvement requires effort. Boo. (Imagine a somewhat sarcastic winky face here.)

I'm feeling hopeful about life, generally, though. David is totally rockin' the data science world and it is neat to see him excelling at something that suits his interests and talents so well. I'm grateful beyond words to have him doing something that he both enjoys and provides for our needs and many wants. It was a long time coming.

Well, I'm sure I could go on a bit more about various things, but it's past eleven and I'm trying to be responsible and get enough sleep. Most nights, anyway.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Older, Wiser Me

For my status update tonight I posted, "Man, sometimes I wish there was an older, wiser version of myself that I could ask for advice. I could sure use that time machine. Or a Tardis would do the trick, I guess."

It's true. I know plenty of wiser (some older, some not) than myself, and plenty of older people (some wiser, some not) but none of them ate able to give me the advice that I feel so desperately in need of, which is how to be ME living MY LIFE and trying to do well at the things that I feel are important. I have homeschool friends and associates, but not many of them have toddler twins, or a particularly challenging student who challenges them in a similar way. I have friends who have twins, but they don't homeschool. I could come up with additional examples but you probably get the idea, which is that it is really tricky to forge your own path in life precisely because you are having to forge your own path. (Is that a phrase that is used? It just occurred to me that forging seems more like a blacksmithy thing than clearing a path...) I was talking to a dear friend the other day and we both shared how a particular challenge in our marriages was that we didn't have an example of how we wanted our marriage to be to look at. Both her and her husband's parents divorced and remarried. My parents and David's parents have stayed married, but I don't look to either of their relationships as something I want for myself and David. I hope ours lasts as long as theirs, but the dynamics of their relationships are not anything I'd want to emulate.  

I feel similarly with how I was parented. I am grateful to my parents for all they did for me growing up, but as the youngest by six years with both parents working full-time (until my dad's retirement), I felt kind of like I was left to raise myself. We never had the type of relationship where I felt comfortable talking with them about problems or challenges in my life. We saw very little of each other, and kind of did our own things. I also only remember two of my 5 siblings living at home, as the others are 12, 14, and 16 years older than me. To contrast that with my current situation: 5 kids within a 10 year span, homeschoolers, stay-at-home-mom. I have a hard time knowing how best to respond to the normal sibling squabbles because there really weren't that many that involves me as a kid. I remember we got sent to our rooms on occasion, but most of the time the parents weren't around. And by the time I was 12 (Noodle's age), I was the only kid at home, so I can't really relate to how irritating younger siblings are, especially when you are a moody adolescent and MANY things are irritating. 

So I'd like a role model, an actual real person who has lives my experiences and knows what works. I don't want to pick through the many gems of wisdom from a variety of sources to pull together my own brilliant plan. I've been working on that, though, with David's help, but the real problem is that every day the execution is left up almost entirely to me, and with so many people involved, each little hiccup or disturbance seems to wiggle the supporting beams of my vision just enough that by 4 pm I feel like it has all crashed down around me. I look at the mess and the casualties and my vision and hopes for my family just seem insanely ambitious and likely to do more harm than good. But yet it's time to muster up some energy and try to get goodwill summoned from myself and "the troops" so we can push forward and I can make dinner and maybe we can tidy things up enough so that David won't be too irritated when he comes home. And after they are all in bed there is still more cleaning that could be done, it would be so lovely to wake up to a clean counter, but its been a long day of cleaning and re-cleaning and picking that thing up again and changing the diapers and rotating laundry and answering the requests and pleas and whines and tears that I just want to claim that last hour or two for myself and maybe read or watch a show or do some homeschool prep work, even. And I go to bed and sleep deeply until 5:30 or maybe 6 if I am lucky, when Gub Gub's internal alarm clock must crow like an over eager rooster regardless of what time he went to bed, and he tells me that it's time to do it all over again.

Sunday, July 06, 2014


Sprout sat down next to me while we were eating our dessert and said, "I want to talk about cars and motorcycles and how they work."

Me: "Hmm. Okay, well I don't know very much about that."

Spud: "Okay, well just tell me about how engines work."

Me: "How about we find a video?"

So we watched these two videos and I learned quite a bit! 

Hooray for the Internet and YouTube! 

what counts as evidence?

A friend of mine is moving away. She expressed a lot of sadness and discouragement to a group of us, largely stemming from the dreams and ideas she had about how her life would be when they moved into their present home, and how few of those have been realized, and some of them are as close to 180 degrees opposite how things have turned out. Her life is not what she imagined it to be. I think she is feeling fearful and hopeless that moving to a new city in a different state will not improve things, because this situation she was in didn't improve her life like she had thought it would.

I was talking to David about this and he brought up what he thinks are the three keys to living. He calls them Mindfulness, Thoughtfulness, and Flow.  I will hope to get into those more later (in future posts), but the thought I had while we were talking was something he has frequently said before, which is "What counts as evidence?" meaning, "What metric are we using to demonstrate progress and/or success?" (He is kind of a mantra/catch-phrase kind of guy, so yes, he really does say things over and over and over again. It can be a bit annoying, but I have to admit that many of them are quite astute and useful, so overall I appreciate it...maybe not at first but eventually.)

So, what counts as evidence? For myself and many of my peers (I am thinking primarily of my friends who are stay-at-home-moms), we were raised with an achievement mindset. The vast majority of us went through the public school system, spending the bulk of our waking hours learning and being tested.  What counted as evidence was good grades. I also took piano lessons and what counted as evidence was good performance at the recitals as well as performing in the Music Festival.  I had jobs after I was old enough to work, and what counted as evidence was the paycheck. Then there was more school for me, so grades and projects again were the evidence. Grad school required a larger demonstration of understanding and completion of work projects rather than simply grades, but it was still obvious what counted as evidence.

Then we entered into the realm of Motherhood. What counts as evidence in this effort? Is it good behavior from your children? Is it good grades once they enter school? Is it happy kids? Is it well dressed kids? Is it a clean house? Is it nutritious meals? Is it great family portraits every year? Family vacations? Awesome birthday parties? Achievement at sports? Being service-oriented? Having a good work ethic? Having a good sense of humor? Staying active in your religious community? Marrying and having their own family? Getting into a prestigious college? Graduating from college?  Successful careers for your children when they reach adulthood? I could list many more, but I think you get the idea.

The above list includes a lot of events. Events feel like good evidence because it is obvious that they are completed. Events are difficult as evidence because there are many days, weeks, months and maybe years before they materialize, which can result in days, weeks, months, and years of stressing over the likelihood of desired event happening or not happening. Additionally, I doubt that most parents would only have one event on their list of evidence, so at any given time you are stewing about a host of future events, over which you actually exert very little control. What little control/influence you can exert could be easily overthrown by something that is not even on the radar this far away from the goal. If even one of these evidence-of-success events doesn't materialize, will that mean failure? Will you recast all the years of effort and love and time and energy as being largely a waste because the end result wasn't what you determined counted as evidence? That would be a true tragedy, but I have seen it happen.

I posit that we need evidence that we can see regularly. We need evidence that doesn't get undone after a crazy weekend. If I'm only succeeding at Motherhood when the house is clean, then I feel like a failure after a week of vomiting kids who kept the laundry perpetually cycling so there was no time to do the usual chores. If I'm succeeding at motherhood when my child graduates from college, how do I feel if she takes a year off to work at something or to do some travelling?

For me, I think what counts as evidence has been a loose conglomerate of many of the things in my list, as well as some that I haven't articulated.  It's so loosely defined that even if I am succeeding in one area, poor performance in another area makes me feel sufficiently deflated that I can't get any satisfaction from the success.  Being a cluttered person, my house is pretty much never the house that I imagine a successful mother having. Being a homeschooler, we are not focused on grades, so I don't get the external validation of someone telling me my child is doing well in X and Y areas. Due to financial strains, we've not consistently done family portraits or family vacations. It is easy to see lots of areas for improvement and to downplay anything at which I might be doing well.

Another problem with these types of evidence is that they are very much dependent upon the individual child. Some things about your child you have very little control over. I have one son who manifests "happy" in ways that are very different from what I imagine happy kids to be. What if your child doesn't want to go to college, or get married, or doesn't feel a connection with your religion, or has a disability that makes some of your goals unrealistic? Have you failed at Motherhood? 

I think what is necessary is a redefining of success. Success as a mother is an outgrowth of success as a person. What makes a successful person? Money? Family? Faith? Friends? Prestige? Those are all used as evidence, but many have some or all of those things and do not feel happy or content. I would think that most would agree that for their own definition of success, happiness is a key component, more than any of the other things listed. And the keys to happiness are those three things listed above
  1. Mindfulness
  2. Thoughtfulness
  3. Flow
This is getting pretty long, so I think I will save exploring these for future posts. Hopefully I can get to them later this week.

So, what counts as evidence for you? Do you feel generally satisfied and productive as a mother (or human in general, even if you aren't a mother)?

Saturday, May 03, 2014

"It's life, Jim, but not as we know it…"

I was very surprised to pull up my blog and see that I haven't, in fact, blogged EVEN ONCE this year! Wow!  I actually did start another side blog to kind of vent about things and work through some thoughts, so maybe that counts for something in the grand blogosphere of life.  I also haven't read most of the blogs I used to follow in that time.  And it isn't that I'm not online, because I am.  I just do 99% of my online time on my phone, because I'm either nursing toddlers & putting them down for naps or sitting near kids who are working on school and need me "on call," so I will go days without sitting at my computer.  And another factor is that Noodle has become quite the Scratcher  and so it can be a challenge to even get a chance to sit at my computer. And when I do finally have a chance, Gub Gub thinks he needs to climb on the chair, on me, on the shelves next to my desk, so it's a bit of a circus and not conducive to sitting and thinking or writing.  Or really anything for that matter besides going a little more crazy.

But life is pretty good.  The twins sleep through the night most nights, though there's been something unknown going on this past week which has disrupted that, so that means I get a fairly good chunk of uninterrupted sleep and now feel pretty human most days.

We are trying out something new with homeschooling, called "Project Based Homeschooling," which basically means you allow your kids more unstructured school time and assist them in working on projects that interest them and help them develop the skills needed to do what interests them.  We are still just kind of dipping our toes into this approach, but hope to be going pretty well with it for next Fall.  We will still do our core subjects of Math & Language Arts together, and probably History (as I'm  planning a sort of LA/History combined) and do project time in the afternoons.  Noodle has shown me how great this can work with her Scratch stuff.  It's amazing how much time kids (and people generally) will spend on things that call to them and fulfill their interests and desires to create.  Spud also has been working a lot on very interesting Lego creations as well as origami.  And just tonight we started a blog for Sprout so he can participate as well.  My hope is that this will be a good approach, especially for Spud who you could call an intractable learner.  You can not lead that horse to water, even, let alone make him drink.  It's more of a "make him aware that there is water and hope he understands that water is really important," and then there is a decent chance, but no guarantee, that he'll drink.  It is a real challenge to work with him, but I am feeling hopeful.  I feel that raising him to be a useful and mostly happy individual will be a very challenging task (it has been so far) but will probably result in a tremendous amount of satisfaction for me, as I know just how #$&% hard it has been.  Some personalities are just tough.

My 36th birthday is just 3 days away.  My friend started (last year) thinking of a list of X things to do each year that she is X (I think she is 44 this year, so 44 things) which I think is kind of neat.  I'm not sure I'm up for that this year, though.  I guess they wouldn't have to be really challenging things…  I'll mull it over.  It is a "Perfect Square" number, though, and I won't have another of those for 13 years.  That seems notable.

I do hope I can get a bit better at posting.  Life is busy, but we are doing mostly okay most of the time.  It's been such a blessing to finally get some springtime weather, as the twins are loving being able to play outside, which means fewer messes INSIDE.  Hooray!!  And just for fun, a couple of pictures from Easter of my littlest ones.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


This Christmas reminds me of reasons I love my kids (well, a few of the reasons). Due to mucho $$$ spent on van repairs this year, there wasn't a huge budget for Christmas. I'd told the kids that things were going to be tight, and they were okay with it. I was able to get some books and logic/math games using some of our curriculum allowance from MyTechHigh and found some things they really like (Angry Birds plush) on a really good deal, and they each got a Mario Bros character they'd wanted and a mom-made monster (a Christmas tradition now). The three older also exchanged gifts (we didn't include the little ones in the sibling gift exchange) and that was pretty much the total of what they got. And they are so delighted with their treasures! It's really sweet. One thing that I'm glad we have done is not encourage our kids to make wish lists. They might think of a few possibilities to tell their Nana & Pop Pop, but they almost never ask for things over $20. I am glad that they are so happy with gifts that aren't extravagant. And I am glad that Noodle hasn't yet lost her delight in toys. A couple of her friends have, and all I can think is that I'm kind of sad for them. They have a long life ahead of being interested in makeup and clothes. Hang on to the fun of childhood a little longer if you can. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

One Year Pics

A little late getting these up, but better late than never they say.  There are also some Halloween and miscellaneous Fall 2013 pics included as well. 

gratitude attitude

Thanksgiving is only a couple days away, and I just haven't been "feeling it" this year.  Which of course makes me feel kind of guilty.  It isn't like I don't have plenty to be thankful for.  But I have mostly been feeling kind of sorry for myself (I know, lame).  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas and shopping and finding great deals and perfect gifts and also sewing something fun (the past few years it has been monsters or, one year, a doll) for each of my kids.  At the end of October we had to take a hard look at our finances and realized that, largely due to the $$$$ that it cost to get the Vanagon all up and running again, and ALSO due to some old bad business debt that came back to haunt us and is requiring monthly payments, we needed to do some serious belt-tightening.  So just when I was about to get into the holiday spirit, I needed to get into the penny-watching spirit.  And watching the money go to needed new tires for the van and then a replacement tire for a blow out on the Scion was so depressing.  And both of the older kids and myself are in need of new eye prescriptions that'll have to wait.   Gratefully, I was able to do a couple of photography sessions this month that helped out a little with a couple of the costs. While I know that holiday spirit is more than spending money and all that, it's still a stressful time to be watching every dollar.  And we still haven't been able to fix our upstairs shower that has been nonoperational since last September.  Sigh...

BUT, I am grateful for my family.  I'm grateful for David and his hard work to provide us with what we need.  I'm grateful for each of my kids and the craziness that has to be somehow making me a stronger and better person.  I'm grateful for good friends who make life more pleasant, and for friends who lend an ear and/or a helping hand.  I'm grateful for the things I've realized the past year about Christ and his love for us, and the supreme importance of learning to love others.  I'm grateful that the twins are older and that I'm not nearly as exhausted and sleep-deprived as a I was a year ago at this time.  I'm thankful for all the beauty of nature, and particularly the mountains that I can see out our windows and as I drive around the valley.  And even though it cost us a lot of money this year, I'm grateful for my VW Vanagon and the fact that it is so comfortable to ride in and still costs so much less than a newer van would.

So, when it comes down to it, I know that life is pretty good, and I have a lot to be thankful for. :-)

Friday, October 18, 2013


One of the biggest challenges over the past year had been loneliness. I have mostly relied on facebook to give me some daily adult interaction, but that definitely has drawbacks. I have some awesome friends, but only have time to get together about once a month. After David comes home in the evening, it is busy busy busy until the twins are both in bed, and within an hour we need to turn in to ha e a chance of being functional the next day. With the morning and afternoon naps, it's hard to plan times to get out to see anyone, and with homeschooling, it's not like we can have people over really. So all the factors combine to leave me feeling really alone and isolated. I am not one to call people on the phone just to chat much (I always worry about interrupting their lives),and even if I did, my life now is not conducive to phone calls. I wish I had a friend who I could see regularly, even if just for 20 minutes a few times a week, who was "up" enough on my life (and vice versa) that it could be an ongoing conversation. I wish I had the time and energy to cultivate such a relationship. I wish I didn't feel like I was running in circles all day long trying to meet all the needs and demands of my family. I wish that for a period longer than 6-8 months we'd have a predictable, reliable income so I could actually feel somewhat stable and secure. I wish that I was a naturally more organized person, so maybe I would know how to tame the chaos a little more. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Mooberry and Gub Gub turned ONE this past Wednesday!  We celebrated then, and are celebrating some more with David's family tomorrow.  So then I'll go through the way too many pictures and get some online to share.  :o)

I'm so glad we made it to this very BIG milestone!  And I was able to nurse the twins the whole year! And I didn't go completely insane!  And David and I are still married! (I know a LOT of twin parents who are really does a number on your marriage.)  I actually think our marriage is stronger, even though things like date night and sleeping in the same room have been put on such a far back burner I think they may have fallen off the stove.  But we have tried to go out on dates when we can, and usually take the twins along.


The post below (C is for Clive) is a photo book I made for his 9th birthday coming up in December.  He has admired one I made for Noodle when she turned 6 and has mentioned several times that he would like one of his own.  I am making a dedicated effort to improve our relationship (we have pretty different approaches to life) and it was really sweet to look through my photos and remember so many happy and fun times with him. 

C is for Clive

Click here to view this photo book larger

Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

the daily grind

I think anyone who has cared for an infant can attest to the overwhelming monotony of it.  Sleep, wake, feed, change, play, repeat.  Over and over.  Again and again.  Day in and day out. In talking with other moms of twins, the sheer effort of getting through the very basics of the days (listed above) takes so much time and energy because of the x2 factor, that getting anything else done seems like it will necessitate a Herculean effort.  And if you are running on a perpetual sleep deprivation cycle, there just ain't no energy for that! 

Back in June I was asked to take a meal to a family in the ward.  In theory, I was happy to help and to be able to contribute a bit, as so many had been so helpful to me during the uber stressful first 2-3 months after the twins were born.  I can imagine that the compassionate service committee thought that now that the twins are 8 months old, surely I have things together and could make this contribution. I was able to rise to the occasion and planned ahead and made a pretty decent meal (some for ourselves as well) but it was a major deal and source of stress.  And that, plus the reaction I got when I inquired if there might be someone who could come sit with the twins during nap time once or twice a week so I could take my older kids on a bike ride, made me realize that perhaps people thought I should be "over" the life changing chaos that having twins created for me.  I've been visiting teaching exactly once in the 11 months since they arrive.  I am lucky to get out of the house once a week for 2 hours without a baby (and that has only been possible in the last 3 months since Mooberry started taking a bottle).  Even now, they were playing happily on my office floor, but now Mooberry is poopy and screaming at me, so I have to cut this short.

My point is, though, it's hard.  It's still hard.  Some things are easier, some things are harder.  But I'm not "over it," and I don't have everything figured out. 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

LIfe as I know it

I sit at my computer very rarely, though I spend quite a bit of time online.  It's almost always from my phone or iPad.  And I've tried "mobile blogging" and found it to be less than awesome, so I haven't done it much. 

I've actually started a couple of complainy, whining posts, but didn't ever finish them.  It's probably just as well. 

BUT I miss blogging.  So I'm going to try and get back into the swing of things. 

The trickiest thing right now is the fact that the weather is nice and it's summer so we want to go out and DO things, but we have two babies who take naps.  Now, something that most moms of twins will say saved them was keeping their twins on the same schedule.  This has not be successful for me.  I'm guessing there are two main reasons for this. 

1.  I'm not a very good scheduler, and my life is pretty flexible most of the time.  So we don't always get up at the same time or have to go somewhere at the same time everyday (yay for homeschooling!). 

2.  M & M have quite different sleep "personalities," for lack of a better term.  Mali is a long napper (usually 2-3 hours, 2x/day).  Max is a shorter napper, ranging from 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, occasionally a 2 hour nap. And he often takes 3 naps/day, Mali takes 2.  Even when I put them down within 20 minutes of each other for a nap, Max will wake up much sooner, and it just seems dumb to wake Mali up so early when she will sleep so much longer.  So then we are "off" for the rest of the day, and there really doesn't seem a way around it.  Max also typically goes to bed earlier at night, and likes to wake up earlier, too.  SO, I've just decided to go with it.  Which is really fine, except it makes it pretty difficult to actually leave the house, because if they DO happen to be awake at the same time, one of them is likely to be needing a nap within the next hour. 

They turn 9 months old on Tuesday and are at such a fun age.  They can sit up great and are somewhat mobile, Max more than Mali.  He is almost crawling.  He does a combination bum scootch and crawl.  He really just needs to get the other leg out behind him and he'll be set.  Mali does a bit of rolling and bum scootching to get around, but isn't quite as good as Max yet. 

In other news, Noodle turned 11 earlier this month!  It boggles my mind that she is one year away from turning 12, so I try not to think about that too much.  She is such a delightful girl to have around and such a huge help with the babies.  I'm so very grateful to have her around.  We do run into issues with her trying to "parent" Spud, but I think it is mostly because she tries to be so diligent about getting her own responsibilities done that it stresses her to see him not doing them.  Which is often the case. 

Spud turned 8 back in December and has been enjoying cub scouts.  He almost got third at the Pinewood Derby this past week--his average time was 1/100 second slower than the third place car.  For his 8th birthday he got a cat, whom he named Bandit.  I'll try and do a picture post here in the next week and show some pictures.  He's a handsome and very soft gray and white cat who loves to snuggle.  It has been a good fit for Spud.  Our two resident cats, Minnie & Noni, aren't sure why we wanted to add a young pest to the bunch, but we think they secretly like having someone around to mix things up a bit.  Bandit loves to pounce on them and wrestle.  A fun fact about Bandit is that he was born just a few days after M & M, so they are the same age.  (Cats grow up much quicker than humans.)

Sprout has been going to preschool this year.  His first teacher lived across the street which was awesome, but they had to move suddenly in December so we enrolled him in a preschool a few blocks away.  It has been good for him, as we don't get out very much.  When Noodle and Spud were little we did weekly play groups with our homeschool friends, so they had that time for interaction and fun with friends.  I miss having the opportunity to that, but it gets harder as the kids get older and need more time for formal schooling. 

Well, I'm not going to pretend this is super interesting for most people, but it's a start back on the path to more frequent updates, so hopefully that counts for something! 

Here are some 8 month pics I took of the babies on my birthday last month.  

This is what we call his "rawr face".  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

6 months!

We made it six months!! 

Some things have gotten easier.  Some things I've adapted to.  Some things I'm just resigned to, for now.  (Poor sleep being the main one in the latter category.)  The warm weather we've had has helped tremendously, though!  We've been able to go on walks (the babies do great in the stroller) and I've also been able to lay them on a blanket outside or put them in the exersaucer on the lawn.  It is nice to not have to be inside all the time.  And I'm excited for warmer weather so they don't have to wear such warm clothes and we can more easily admire and smooch all their cute little babyness! 

I have a kind of whiney, "this is my reality" post that I started a week or so ago, but haven't been able to finish. Some days are still pretty rough, but they aren't as common now.  Maybe one or two ROUGH days every couple of weeks now.  And even on those days, M&M are so cute and fun, we just can't help but love them!  And usually they aren't the hardest's one of the other three hoodlums we have living here.  ;-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blessing Day

The picture on the other post was from my phone.  Here are some taken with my REAL camera.