Monday, June 29, 2009

kate the great

At any given time, on any given day, there is a good chance you will find Kate on her head. In a headstand, that is.

Kate is, as Emmy would say, a great "gymnasticker". She loves, loves, loves gymnastics, and is such a determined, strong gal that she is pretty good at it too! Once she finds a skill that she wants to master, she works and works at it until she's got it down.

For instance (even though this isn't really a gymnastics skill it's a great Kate story), one time Kate decided she wanted to learn how to jump rope. This was a few years ago and she was just learning. I was in kitchen doing the dishes and Kate asked me to help her count and see how many times she could jump rope without making a mistake. She decided to jump 100 times in a row. Always optimistic, I suggested that she might want to start out with a goal of 10 or even 20 jumps in a row. But no, Kate wouldn't be deterred. She was determined to do 100 jumps in a row, without a mistake. It took quite a while, and I thought she would get discouraged and change her mind. Knowing Kate, I should have known better! She kept on jumping, starting over each time she made a mistake. Before the afternoon was over, she had mastered jumping 100 jumps in a row. I cheered her on, thinking that she would be glad to be done. Instead, she grinned and said, "Now I'm going to count to 200 jumps!" And she did!

So you can imagine Kate's excitement when she received a letter last month inviting her to join the Gymnastics Pre-Team at the gym where she's been taking gymnastics this past year. She carried her letter around for days, showing everyone her exciting news. She was so excited, in fact, that the night of the parents meeting, she and her doll, Emily, both wore their leotards to the meeting!

Kate is loving her time on the pre-team, which means that she will work with the coach to master the skills she needs to compete on the team level. And if we know Kate, she'll master them for sure!

We love our Kate the Great!

miss responsible

As part of my continued effort to win the "Meanest Mom Of The Year Award", the girls receive a list of chores each morning. I write the list on the chalkboard, and they check them off as they go. Some mornings go better than others.

Of course, it wouldn't be fair if Claire didn't have jobs too. Always advocates of fairness and equality, the girls make sure she has a few of her own too.

One thing about Claire, she's miss-johnny-on-the-spot about getting her chores done.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

on the move

My, oh my, little Miss Claire is on the move. It's been four years since we've had one in this stage, and I have to admit, we're all a bit out of the groove!

Although she's not yet walking, she is getting every where she wants to go. This often involves her being in places her sisters do not want her to go! We've had a few disasters. . .and tears.

One morning Ryenne thought it would be fun to put Claire in the baby carrier on her back while she cleaned her room. This was great until she realized Claire's arms were long enough to undo everything she was trying to do. Especially when Claire reached out and tipped over the glass of water sitting on her little table. Drip, drip, drip went the water all over Ryenne's c.d.'s and cd player. She quickly uninvited Claire to the room cleaning. Shortly after she proudly showed me her clean room, where she had carefully organised all of her goods. Unfortunately, Claire was unimpressed with the organization and quickly set about to undo the system Ryenne had created. It was not pretty at this point. I had to dig into the recesses of our one and only scrapbook (I did that once or twice before Kate was born) to show her a picture of another little girl I once knew who had a knack of getting into things she wasn't supposed to. Thank goodness for those "naughty" pictures!

Just days later, Claire somehow managed to open Kate's "special" drawer, where she keeps some of her prized possessions. For instance, Easter eggs that she had blown in craft class and carefully decorated. Smashed to smithereens. Tears again. . .tears and tears. The next morning, Kate gathered up all of the itty, bitty eggshells and placed them carefully in an egg carton. She wondered if she could wrap the carton in tape and save in my cedar chest so she could someday show her children. Sometimes I'll say yes to anything.

As Claire isn't even walking yet, I'm thinking this is only the beginning. While the girls are having a bit of an adjustment, I'm finding (knock on wood) that all of the messes don't bother me as much as they did 3 kids ago. It may be that I've lost all control of my life and that the chaos has become normal.

Yes, I'm afraid that's it.

I keep telling the older girls that they are actually lucky. They have little sisters to help prepare them for all of those "surprises" that come along with motherhood. I'm afraid it all took me by storm. And some days, I still feel like I need an umbrella.

Oh how I wish I could have been smarter the first time around. And the second. And the third. And the fourth. I'm afraid I'll be one hundred and two before I finally get the hang of things. And by then I'll be in a nursing home and won't even know how darn smart I am. I'll tell you one thing- this mothering business isn't for the faint of heart.

Unfortunately for my guinea pig girls. . .having to put up with my learning curve isn't either.

choices, choices. . .

The way I see it, I had two choices tonight.

Treadmill or ice cream.

That's one of the hard things about Courtney being gone. If I could just head out the door for a bike ride or a lovely brisk walk, the choice wouldn't be so tricky. After all- the evening looks so inviting. The garage sure doesn't.

In the end, I chose the ice cream.

Hmmmm. . .If I tell you that I ate a half pound of peas before dinner, would my decision sound any better?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

how we spend a perfectly good summer afternoon

Have you ever walked a lamb?

I have. I can say that now. Well, kind of.

I actually walked alongside Ryenne and Kate and offered encouragement as they walked
(ie: coerced, pulled, nudged, cursed, and chased) the lambs today.

Why are we walking lambs, you ask? Well that, my friend, is an interesting question.

Turns out that Courtney is somewhat of a country boy.

Now, you may think that since I was raised in the country, I am also a country girl. Oh, contrare, my friends. I was raised in a home where the dinner table conversation consisted of two topics: cars and trucks. Being that my family is in the car business, I am well versed in the make and model of most anything with 4 wheels.
My cute husband, on the other hand, was raised in a home where the dinner time discussion centered on anything from, well. . . it's not like they only talk sheep. But lets just say he's a bit well versed on the make and model of these 4 legged friends.

Which is why we now are the proud owners of a woolly and somewhat stubborn 4-H project named Spike. (Kate isn't old enough for her own 4-H project. Of course, this is so much fun she asked to walk a lamb today anyway. The choice? Cousin Kylee's lamb, Evil Tim.)

Here is the lowdown. Seems that this project of ours needs exercising to get the kids and the lamb more comfortable with each other. I'm also thinking I heard something about the walking helping to "finish" the carcase? Something like that. (My carcase could use a little finishing too, but I didn't see anyone taking me out on a walk today.)

Anyway, that explains why we spent a perfectly good summer afternoon doing this:

and this (untangling Spike and Evil Tim):

and this (yelling at each other when the lambs weren't cooperating).

Kate: "Ryenne, you've got to show him who's boss!"

Ryenne: "KATE! Stop telling me what to do!"

Kate: "Now we're going."

Ryenne: "Can we turn around now?"

Mom: "You're doing great. Don't stop. Just keep them moving. Don't hesitate."


(At which point, mom tries taking the halter. The girls are right. The darned things won't move.)

Mom: "Isn't there a button or something you're supposed to push?" (I have watched the in-laws a little bit. I'm thinking there is some little "button" they push in the tail end region that seems to inspire movement).

Ryenne: "Why don't you push it?"

Mom: "Oh, you're the one who knows what you're doing. You push it."

Kate (ever the optimist): "Now we're moving. All is well. We've just got to show them who's boss."

Ryenne: "Can't we turn around now?"

Finally, we are heading home. Fast. Guess those little guys know where the grain is at.


Kate: trips. Lets go of Evil Tim. "Owwwwww!" (Tears. . .apologies).

Luckily, Evil Tim and Spike had only one thing on their minds at this point. Getting back to their home sweet pasture. Ryenne sprinted after the two of them, and got them into the fence. This was after chasing back the escapee lambs who sneaked out . . .something to do with the gate being left open in the process. Chore booted and sweaty, she casually told me all about the little mishap as she righted the tipped over wheel burrow, re-hung the pitchforks, and replaced the halters on their hook.

If I didn't have these pictures to remind me, I would have thought the whole experience was a breeze.

Seems I'm raising a couple of country girls. Awesome.

I can't wait for our next walk.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

somewhere along the way

Somewhere along the way it happened.
You started growing up.

One day you were in my arms.

Now I'm having to start letting go.
Even though it's just a little bit,
It hurts.

They warned me it would happen.
Before you know it.
In the blink of an eye.

I'm getting afraid to blink.

Did I enjoy it enough?
Did I pay enough attention?

I need you.
Nudge me, help me remember.

To pay attention.
To not be distracted.

Help me remember to laugh.
To put down the lists.
To be here.
With you.

Because somewhere along the way

the little girl I once held in my arms

is growing up.

mom and dot date

So, I just attended my first of many, many mother/daughter parties. Can I be old enough for this? Seriously.
We had a great time. Yummy food on homemade by daughter place mats, mommy pedicures, and flip flop accessories galore. What can be better for a bunch of gals, old(er) and young alike?

Thanks Ryenne for a wonderful night. . . I'll go on a date with you anytime!

you've come a long way, baby. . .

In May, Ryenne finished up another year of ballet. The payoff for all that work is the recital, where she gets to perform and we get to watch her. I know I'm her mother, but I just have to say it. She was absolutely charming.

This year, a week or two before the recital, she said, "It's weird. I'm a little nervous but so excited. I told Miss Frederick (her ballet teacher) that even though I get the butterflies, it's like I just can't stop smiling when I'm on the stage. I just can't stop smiling."

The fun part about that is seeing the change that has occurred within Ryenne over the past four years since she started ballet and tap lessons as a five year old. The first year she was a little "duckling". I didn't think we were going to be able to get her on that stage! In fact, a month or two before the recital her class was asked to perform at a community event. She was enjoying ballet and we were so excited. However, as the date got closer, Ryenne got more and more nervous. Despite our best efforts, she never did get up on stage. The only thing we saw that day was a cute little ducky in tears! I was so scared the same thing would happen in the recital. At the time, it seemed like the worst thing in the world! I had waited all year to see her dressed in a little tutu, dancing her little heart out.

My natural instinct was to bribe, make threats. . . whatever it took to ensure she'd be on that stage. But, fortunately a nicer, (too often hidden) part of my mothering took over. I heard myself telling my little ducky that the reason she was taking ballet was not to perform for all of us. She was taking ballet because it was something she enjoyed and was a way for her to learn lots of nifty things. And if (gulp) she didn't want to get up on that stage, that was okay. (All the while I was saying these things, my bigger, meaner, selfish half was screaming, ". . . force her! Do whatever it takes, but get her on that stage!")

Turns out, she did get on that stage that first year. She waddled right out in front of everyone in her little yellow tutu and tap shoes. And I was one proud little mama duck!

(My blurry little duckling, May 2004)

(Ryenne and Miss Frederick, 2004)

Since then, she has gradually gained more confidence. We had our fair share of days when she didn't want to go to class. I had a hard time knowing whether to make her stick with it or not. After all, I didn't want to be one of those moms, living vicariously through their children. Courtney and I discussed it over and over again, each time coming to the conclusion that once she got to class and started dancing, she was completely happy. She just had a hard time getting there. In the end, we felt like it was important for her to learn to stick with something she wants to do, even though it is sometimes hard. I can't count the number of times I cheered her on after class, "Good for you! You did something that was hard for you to do!" But I second guessed myself and felt like the meanest mom in the parking lot every time I pushed my teary eyed little girl out the door.

But you know what? This year it finally started to pay off. I think she is learning that the fun she has dancing is worth the effort it takes to work a little harder and push herself. She has learned that she can do hard things. No pushing her out the door this year! And we love watching her gracefully twirling around the house.

It was so much fun to watch her glide out onto the stage this year, completely confident and proud of herself. Seeing her having so much fun with that big smile on her face made all of those tough moments worth it. All of those doubts melted away as I realized this has been an important lesson learned. Even if she moves on to something new, I think she's gained a little experience with stickin' to it!

Way to go Ryenne Ashleigh! You really did light up the stage!

Monday, June 1, 2009

our country life

We spent last evening in Fielding. We had a great time. . .playing with cousins, laughing, going on a walk, and eating a yummy dinner (courtesy of Grandma J). Fielding is always a good time.

'Til we have to go home.

It never fails. No matter how long we stay, it's never long enough. Tears always, always surface. We witness wailing and gnashing of teeth. Someday you ought to see it for yourselves. It's a drama of astronomical proportions, and last night was no exception.

To top it off, Ryenne lost her shoe. One of her favorites (and mine). It so happens that she decided to play in the sand, at which time her sandal was rubbing her wrong and she decided to remove them from her feet. I know. . . I know, this sounds innocent enough. But she forgot to take Hoot into account. Hoot the dog. Hoot the dog who loves to carry off shoes and deposit them into the sheep corral. We love Hoot.

So needless to say, at 10:00 last night, as a storm brewed to the west, Courtney, Ryenne and I were traipsing about the sheep pasture, armed with flashlights and searching for the missing sandal. Ryenne was serenading us with sobbing, while Kate optimistically called out "A bit of good news!. . .Grandpa says Hoot usually takes the shoes out about 30 or 40 feet into the pasture and dumps them! That's lucky! She doesn't chew them! . . . That's a bit of good news!" All I could think about were the new cute shoes I was wearing. Nothing to break them in like a little bit of sheep manure.

As the thunder and lightning commenced, we decided to call off the search. We never did find the shoe.

We loaded up and headed home. The girls fell immediately asleep, and we enjoyed a peaceful ride home. That is, until we ran right smack over a skunk about 2 miles from our destination. The closer we got to home, the more the smell permeated our senses, and we decided to run through the car wash quick and let the "bottom blaster" wash the smell off the stinky undercarriage of the van.

We pulled into the car wash at 11:00 at night in the middle of a howling rainstorm. Laughing. And we laughed even harder when the desired "bottom blaster" never worked. Out of order, I guess. Courtney just looked at me and said, "now that's good karma for you".

So. . .this morning we have 4 tired girls, 2 tired parents, 1 clean (but smelly) van, and 5+ prayers to find 1 missing sandal. And the moral of this story is this:

Sometimes life stinks.

my very own path

Yes, I know. I've been slacking.

But you see, it's not because I've been sitting around watching Oprah. My oh my. . . we've been busy little beavers around this place. That happens when you live on 2.5 acres. Especially when you're trying to whip that 2.5 acres into shape.

This morning I had a little epiphany. And although I have approximately 1,000,000 things on my to do list, I wanted to think this through.

My mom gave me last weeks newspapers to read, mentioning that there was an article about an old high school friend I might be interested in. Turns out that this friend was back in town last week to recieve a Distinguished Alumni award at the high school graduation. I spent a few minutes reading about her career in Microbiology. Seems she's recieved her PhD, along with numerous professional accolades. She frequently travels around the country presenting her research at various conferences and is often published in medical journals. Sounds like she's been fairly busy. You know, figuring out the segregation process of stem cells, finding a cure for cancer, and other little things like that.

So here is what happened next. For just a moment, I might have wondered what I've been doing for the past 14 years. I may have questioned what it is that I have accomplished. And my answers might have seemed a bit unglamorous. And for just a moment, it may have crossed my mind that my life is not "Distinguished" material. After all, I live just .5 miles from the home I grew up in. I spend my days wearing a pony tail and doing the laundry. Not much to write about.

But then I had a reality check. Moments before, I had kissed a cute boy goodbye and wished him a good day. I'd spent the morning giggling with the girls after singing at the top of my lungs in an effort to inspire them to get out of bed. There may have even been a few cheerleader moves involved. I was feeding breakfast to the sweetest little 10 month old, while cuddling a sassy little 4 year old on my lap.

I laugh every day. I teach, I comfort, I grow. I love my life.

In that moment, I was reminded that we each have our own path. Mine might not be glamorous, and it might not be for everyone. But it's the right path for me. It doesn't mean that my path is more right or wrong than anyone else.

As a good friend once taught me, "There are many ways to do the right thing."

Life is funny. It's not always smooth, and it almost never goes as planned. But I have learned that my Father in Heaven has created a path for me that is uniquely mine.

And I'm happy to be here. To see what is ahead. . .to learn from where I've been. To do my very best.

On my very own path.