26 January 2014


We have moved six times in the last five years.  I have been pregnant during all but one of those moves.  If you are looking at my family and thinking that those numbers don't quite add up, it's because we crammed three of those moves into one pregnancy.  We are efficient like that.  Prior to getting married I was also quite transient.  In the last thirteen years I have had seventeen different addresses.  (And I only count my mission as one address even though I lived in several different places.)  I have learned a few things about relocating.  

1.  No matter how well I try to plan and organize, I will not be able to find my shower curtain upon arrival at the new address.  Whatever suitcase or box that I carefully packed and clearly labeled will somehow get lost in the shuffle.  It will stubbornly refuse to resurface until several days after the move.  I have decided that it is much more efficient to just plan on buying a new one.  In our most recent move, all of my shower curtains were easily located within the first few hours of unpacking.  This stroke of good luck was unfortunately wasted because the shower in our new house has a glass door.   

2.  Mail forwarding is kind of amazing.  The post office says that they will forward mail to the new address for a year.  I have forwarded my mail multiple times in a year, and somehow everything eventually finds it's way to my current mailbox.  I find that impressive.  

3.  Packing will always take more time, more boxes, and more tape than I anticipated.  I know this.  I try to make plans accordingly.  Somehow, despite the fact that I have moved all of the exact same stuff only a few months previous, I have absolutely no ability to accurately estimate my packaging needs.  

4.  Hot water is luxury of the industrialized world that I simply cannot survive without.  I don't much care if my lights turn on when I first move into a new place, but if my curtainless shower is not warm I am likely to be very cranky.  

19 January 2014


My kids almost died this week.  They were blissfully unaware of their near demise, but they almost died.

We have a backyard and a sandbox.  Both are awesome.  My carpet desperately needed to be vacuumed.  The kids were playing some charming combination of peek-a-boo and hide and seek in their closet, so I left them to it and went to work.  I finished the upstairs and unplugged the vacuum to take it downstairs.  Once I turned the vacuum off I noticed that the house was suspiciously silent.  For a brief moment I wondered if my kids had fallen asleep.  It was almost nap time.  I went to check.

I was hoping to find them asleep and expecting to find them in the middle of some adorable, innocent, and mostly harmless mess.  Perhaps lotion spread across a mirror, or diaper cream painting the bathroom counter, or brown sugar ground into the dining room carpet, or applesauce jars poured out on the pantry floor, or silverware propping the freezer open, or laundry dumped into the bathtub, or toilet paper strewn up and down the stairs, or permanent marker artwork on the kitchen cabinets, or the garden hose dragged in from the back yard in an attempt to fill the fish tank.  Instead, I found them in the attic buried in insulation.

I like to think that I'm not a panicking parent.  I have seen my little boy try to eat pieces of a broken glass jar, watched my little girl jump off the top of the tall slide at the park, scooped my two year old out of a pile of fire ants, and seen my toddler knock one of her front teeth completely out of her mouth.  I have cleaned flooded bathrooms and flooded basements, and I have taken both kids to the emergency room to have their stomachs pumped when they got into the medicine cabinet.  I feel like I have taken each of these events in stride and handled them with poise and equanimity.  And no one else was really around to tell me otherwise, so I continue to believe it.

This time, however, I completely panicked.  My heart rate went through the roof, my palms started sweating, and I started to get a little dizzy.  I was simultaneously baffled that they had even gotten up there in the first place and horrified that they were going to crash through the ceiling while I stood and watched.  I wanted to shout "Get out of there right now!" but I also wanted to order "Nobody move!"  I don't know what actually came out of my mouth.  I scooped them up, brushed them off, and sent them to bed for a nap.  I also developed an irrational fear of vacuuming.

I decided that the best solution was to avoid vacuuming anything, ever, for the rest of my life.  My little redhead thought this was a bad idea.  Apparently a proponent of the "get back on the horse" theory, he dropped a glass on the tile floor.  It exploded sending slivers of glass shrapnel all over the tile and adjacent carpet.  I put shoes on everyone, swept the tile, and avoided vacuuming.  For about 24 hours we had the thorny carpet of death.  Finally I caved.  Because food is the thing that keeps their attention the longest I set my kids at the table with a snack and got out the vacuum.

When I finished vacuuming the family room I decided to go ahead and vacuum the hall.  When I finished vacuuming the hall I briefly considered vacuuming my bedroom.  I turned off the vacuum for a moment and heard an eerie silence.  Frustrated and worried I thought "Seriously, they've been out of my sight for less than a minute," and went to investigate.

But instead of finding chaos I found this:

And this:

And while peace and order were briefly restored to the universe, I still fully intend to never again vacuum
anything, ever, for the rest of my life.  

13 January 2014

Kindness: Part 2

I play the organ at church once a month.  Usually the easiest time to practice is after the kids are sleeping.  Occasionally it occurs to me that I am all by myself in a large, dark, empty building.  The church building is in a safe area, I never go very late, and I never feel unsafe.  If I did feel unsafe I would stop going by myself.  Still, once in a while, I wonder if it's the smartest thing in the world.

Last week while I was practicing an gentleman came in and told me he and some friends were on their way in to play some basketball.  He said, "I came in to tell you first.  We just didn't want you to be scared."  I thought that was very considerate of him.  I'm not sure that hearing some people playing basketball in the gym would have been more frightening than a stranger showing up in the chapel to talk to me, but I appreciated the gesture anyway.

Kindness: Part 1

05 January 2014

Parenting and Holidays

Early in October I took the kids to a pumpkin patch.  It was pretty awesome, and we all had a great time, until the two year old got lost.  He saw something that looked interesting, and took off running.  For the next twenty minutes I had no clue where he was.  I didn't completely panic, but when it took me more than three minutes to find him I did briefly recall every awful child abduction story I have ever heard.  And probably a few that I haven't actually heard, but imagined.  As I pressed through the crowds searching for my little redhead a few things occurred to me.  First, it was unwise to put him in an orange shirt.  He was dressed exactly the same as every other child within a five mile radius.  Second, I have not taught him what to do when he gets lost.

I found him at the exit of the straw maze.  He can't read, so the sign that said "for children 8 and over" didn't deter him.  He didn't even realize that he was lost, and I guess he's pretty good at mazes.  Still, I started to teach him some things about personal safety.  And all was well until Halloween.  Our church had a trunk-or-treat event in the parking lot.  I think this type of thing is perfect for the age of my kids.  They still get to dress up and beg for candy, but the whole ordeal is early, short, and safe.  We were going to be home in time for dinner.  I was super excited about it.  And then I heard myself essentially say to my kids, "See that strange man over there that you have never met before.  Yes, the one wearing a hat and a mask.  Walk right up to his open car and take that piece of candy he is dangling in front of you."  I felt more than a little hypocritical.

With the large number of holidays crammed into the subsequent months, my duplicitous parenting has repeated itself with regularity.

Thanksgiving wasn't too bad, but I certainly didn't reinforce any healthy eating habits.

At Christmas I told my kids about a stranger who spies on them throughout the year, and knows everything they have been doing.  I told them that he watches carefully for them to fall asleep and then sneaks into our house in the middle of the night.  And I told them to be very excited about it.

Until last week we lived in an apartment, and I spent much of my time trying to teach my kids to be courteous in close quarters.  We talked about using inside voices, and not shouting because the neighbors don't need to hear us.  Then on New Year's I again tossed all of my careful tutelage out the window and asked my kids to stay up late for the purpose of making as much noise as possible at an hour when most sane people are trying to sleep.

Last Independence day we went to a parade.  I asked my little boy to run into the street to pick a piece of candy up off the ground so that he could put it in his mouth.  Later that night I gave him a burning stick and told him to wave it around.

I think the term "holiday" can be correctly translated as "a break from responsible parenting."