Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Happy June!

This is the blogging equivalent of going to the store in your PJ's, with yesterday's make-up still smeared all over your sleep-worn face because you finally reached the end of your toilet paper supply. I haven't found the perfect system for updating my blog regularly, but by golly, it's important to me so I'm just going to do it without the perfect system. Sometimes toilet paper just needs to be bought.

Polly and her favorite stuffed animal, Sparky. She bought Sparky with her total life savings of $14.36, plus the help of a very kindly grandfather type when we discovered, at the zoo gift shop, that I had somehow forgotten all of my credit cards and cash, and they didn't accept check. Thank you, unknown man who stepped in to help a tearful little girl!

This is my little "Mommy of the Woods," as she calls herself. She loves having me lift her into this tree where she can dream and observe and pontificate safely above the rabble on the sidewalk below :).

Polly, wanting to replenish her life savings now that she has realized how much more cool stuff she wants to buy, decided to open an art gallery in the front yard. She has a lot to learn about market demand.

We try to invite over a set of missionaries to join us for Sunday dinner just about every week, and this was the week of the riots in Baltimore, so the Spanish ward elders were staying with the Baltimore County elders. A great group!

Happy Birthday, Auntie Arielle! Dave's youngest sister is staying with us this summer while she does a super smart internship at Johns Hopkins. She had a birthday just a week after arriving, and we are ALWAYS looking for excuses to eat more cake around here.

Oh, Nature. Everything falls into place in my soul when we are outside (and not in a place where the kids can run opposite directions toward on-coming traffic).

Oh, Nature. Apparently everything falls into place for Dave, too.

I love that look of bliss on her face. She was a happy girl all day long in her native environment.

Polly lives in an intense world of imagination. Not sure what she is here--a pine tree? A witch? A returning conqueror?

Hey look! A family picture? These are few and far between. Too bad Joshey's sort of reaching down my shirt. The woes of a mostly-weaned Mama's boy...

Although really, his woes can't be that great--look at that smile!

Life proceeds well and full around here. Last Wednesday, my wonderful neighbor, a good Christian lady with a very different background than mine but something of a kindred spirit nonetheless, called me over as I was returning home around 8:30 pm from having played the harp at the funeral home (I do that several times a month--it's an evening gig so Dave can handle dinner and bedtime while I escape to play music for 3 hours!). It had been a busy day. We had gone to the gym, then driven around for a couple of hours making visits to the ladies I visit teach. After lunch and some semblance of naps and a shower, we ran out again to go grocery shopping, followed immediately by grocery shopping, driving Sebastian home (he's the little boy I babysit), and changing into harp playing clothes. I was a good kind of tired as I drove home from playing the harp, and a lovely evening outside. Marcia, my neighbor, called me over and said "I was watching you come and go today and chase after your little kids, and I just wanted to tell you that you lead an abundant life." That meant a lot to me. I knew that she was giving me one of the ultimate Christian compliments. And I felt it, too--that abundance of worthwhile things to do while the sun is shining. Not every day feels like that. I'm not that busy every day, for one thing, and some days are slower and more contemplative. Like today, when I'm blogging as a means of procrastinating the necessary task of steam-cleaning the carpets upstairs (Polly spilled honey on the carpet. Honey! Argh!). I think about the people that I love that are in a different stage of life than I am and that perhaps do not feel that great abundance of little kid-busyness and house-keeping. I wish I could share some of this feeling with them. But perhaps they wish they could share a little of their sanity with me :). Okay, little kid screeching at me from his high chair. Must go.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Thinking about last year

Last night (Saturday) was one of those rare and wonderful nights when I was going to bed with a relatively clean house, relatively clean children, and a relatively clean conscience. I even climbed into a bed with clean sheets, as a bonus. And perhaps because I had started fasting for the first Fast Sunday of 2015, I was in a particularly reflective mood as I began relaxing my mind and body to go to sleep. My heart was full of love for the people I was fasting for this month--my sister Rachel and sister-in-law Shayla, who will both be giving birth almost certainly before the end of the month, my sister Eva, who is on her last full month as a full-time missionary in Russia, and the many other family members and friends who are bearing and balancing their individual loads. My heart was also full of love for God. Just that night, I had finished reading the Book of Mormon again. Our bishop had invited us to read it in its entirety before the end of the year, but I always have been a day or two late in finishing my assignments. I read the last four chapters in the Book of Moroni, which juxtapose the most beautiful parts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ--the potential to love as our Savior loves--with the most sickening parts of human history--war, violence against women and children, blind pursuit of power. I found myself aching for the loneliness of a prophet who must witness the fulfillment of his own prophesies. And yet, his final words are truly supernal, as he directly addresses the future descendants of the very people who are destroying the last remnants of his civilization.

Anyway, that's what was on my mind. I don't think it necessarily has much relation to the thoughts that followed, but I guess there was something in the emotional milieu. I found myself thinking about the one piece of unmistakable spiritual guidance that I received in 2014. I should pause to say that I felt a closeness with God much more often than that, as I prayed for strength and love and patience in many situations and received it. But a strong sense of spiritual direction along a certain path came just once, in January 2014 when I saw a teen mom bring her new baby to church to be blessed by the bishop. I had a strong sense of how precious this infant was, and I had a strong urge to help somehow. Within a day, it was arranged that I would watch this little baby when his mom resumed high school and his grandma went back to work. 

That was the start of a wonderful new friendship between our families. Joshey had just turned one, so he and little Sebastian were basically a year apart, and I often felt like the luckiest lady around--all of the joy of cuddling a newborn during the daytime, but no nighttime feedings! My children loved their new little buddy, and I loved the chance to get to know this young woman who was trying to make a better life for her son and for herself. It takes guts to do what she did in church on that January Sunday, and I really admired her for it. I considered it good practice, too, as I was hoping to have another baby sometime in early 2015. 

And sure enough, not long after school got out at the end of June and Sebastian was back with his mom full-time for the summer, I found out that I was pregnant, That was a happy July, as I counted down the weeks till my first midwife appointment and thought about my soon-to-be four children, and whether Joshey would have a little brother or a little sister. But toward the end of July, I started getting significantly sicker than I had been with my other three pregnancies. No worries--that's the sign of a healthy pregnancy, right? And maybe I was having twins! Yea! I started spotting a little bit about a week before my appointment, but the midwife told me that my uterus looked nice and big, and spotting in the first trimester didn't have to be cause for concern. Now I was counting down the weeks until my first ultrasound. If I could just see a heartbeat (or two!), I could bear any amount of sickness. It was a wise and intuitive mother who told me, a couple of weeks after that midwife appointment as the spotting and nausea continued unabated, that I needed to call again and demand an ultrasound. So I did. I called at 8 am on a Monday morning, and by 3 pm that afternoon, I was sitting across from a kind and utterly professional radiologist who told me that there wasn't a baby growing inside of me, only a number of cysts that would continue multiplying until I had surgery to stop this molar pregnancy. They were able to schedule the surgery for the next day, and just like that, I was not pregnant, and I wouldn't be able to become pregnant for another 6-12 months. 

That was right before the school year started. In fact, my mom, who dropped everything and flew out to help me through this, attended Polly's kindergarten orientation in my place. In that first week after my miscarriage, I felt buoyed up by so much love and thoughtfulness from my family and a few friends that knew about it. And that thoughtfulness continued in unexpected intervals for the next month, enfolding me about in arms of love and support as I was adjusting my expectations about the timing and even size of our family. Soon, we were into the rhythm of the school year, and my heart was feeling healed. Part of the rhythm of the school year was watching Sebastian again, and I loved the opportunity to see him learn to walk, start uttering meaningful sounds, and discover favorite places in the house. He's a good baby, and he's a joy in our house. Just a month ago, Dave and I and the kids descended en masse to Sebastian's first birthday party, and I really felt like it was a privilege to be there with his mom and grandma and the assortment of friends and relatives of friends who formed Sebastian's extended family of sorts. 

But as the holidays came, some of that ache from the miscarriage returned. I found out in Christmas cards that friends were having babies right around the time that I thought I'd be delivering. I found out that Dave's sister is having a baby, and I yearned again for my little number four to be part of that bumper crop of cousins. I found out that a woman who is dear to my heart had just had a miscarriage, the second in six months. I thought about my New Year's Resolution from 2014--"Prepare all needful things for a new baby in early 2015"--and the blissful, naive assumption that the bounties of life were arrayed, buffet-style, for me to heap onto my plate whenever I wished. I felt empty, barren, on hold, deficient, lacking, bereft, stalled. 

I don't know exactly why my major spiritual impression of 2014 was to start babysitting someone else's kid. But as I lay in my bed last night, thinking about last year, a new idea occurred to me. Not a particularly comforting one, but it felt true. I wanted another baby of my own. I wanted to keep my every-two-years pattern of childbirth, with its neat stair-steps of siblings, and the constant joy (and yes, constant busyness) of anticipating a new spirit in our home. That was my plan for the year, for my family, for my life. But the message I got from the Spirit was, "I have someone else for you to take care of. He is not your child. But he is also precious to me. You will not get your plan, but this is the work I'm giving to you now." I am not getting my baby, at least, not at the time I'd hoped I would. But God cared enough about someone else's baby to tell me, in unmistakable terms, that my work for 2014 would include caring for him. I guess my take-away is that my life isn't as much about me and my plans for it as I'd been accustomed to thinking it was. This is probably a good thing to learn. 

 I cried into my pillow last night as I thought about these things. I really wanted that little baby. I still do. I really hope that my body cooperates and is able to bear more children. But is it a stretch to say that in a year when I would be experiencing a miscarriage, God placed in my life another baby to love and take joy in and care for? The things that come from God are good. I don't think that my miscarriage necessarily came from God. I think it just came from my somewhat older body and the chance alignment of biological and physiological factors. But that impression that I had in January 2014 to be a part of Sebastian and his mom's life--that did come from God. And I praise Him for it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let There Be Heat

Yipee! Our furnace has been replaced! We've been without heat for the past month or so, ever since we found out that our furnace had a cracked heat exchange and was both a potential fire hazard and a potential carbon monoxide hazard in our basement. Lovely, huh? We found out because our home warranty company had given us a free maintenance visit for our heating system when we renewed our warranty for another year. Little did they know that this nice little thank you gift they gave us would cost them a pretty penny when they would end up replacing the very furnace they were paying to have serviced! Although it cost us a pretty penny, too--the warranty covered the furnace itself, but not the extra duct-work needed to adapt the furnace. All told, it was $850 to us. Still, better than footing the entire bill. To date, the home warranty company has now fixed our furnace twice (last year--probably should have just been replaced then, but oh well--we didn't die of carbon monoxide poisoning, so all's well that ends well), replaced our microwave, and now replaced our furnace. We're getting our money's worth, as well as our peace of mind's worth, out of this policy.

We're also having our two bay windows replaced, along with the front bedroom window. We had a couple of industrious salesmen point out to us that the seal had become cracked around our front bay window, and as a result, the bottom support was starting to rot and disintegrate outside, and the inside caulking was beginning to disintegrate. I had noticed that these particular windows collected a lot of condensation on them whenever it was particularly cold outside, and now I've learned (yet again) that the persistent presence of water on wood doesn't have good effects. These replacement windows are definitely higher-end products. We could have gotten less expensive products, and the Hansen in me feels that I should have fashioned a replacement window myself out of the old glass top table and left-over caulking we have down in the sunroom. But those salesmen demonstrated all of the features of these windows and guaranteed me that what we paid now would be the last money we ever spent on those windows. Even screens, they said, would be replaced for free if we had any problems with them. And, yes, I believed them. I like the idea of paying for something once, and never having to pay for it again. I guess we'll just have to see if we live in this house long enough to make good on that guarantee.

So money for the furnace, money for the windows--all of these big-ticket items have taught me something about myself. I can't bring myself to spend money on things like clothes, eating out, entertainment, even outings for the kids. Once in a blue moon it happens--around holidays or birthdays. But during the normal weeks and months of the year, I just can't bring myself to shell out cash for anything other than groceries, gas, and store-brand household items. But I have no problem writing out big checks for things like replacement windows and new furnaces. I was *this* close to agreeing to the $3000 gutter upgrade that the salesmen were pitching too, until Dave pointed out the not-insignificant percentage of our current bank account that $3,000 represents. So anyway, this all goes to show that I don't know how to have fun with my money. I'm only capable of spending money on extremely boring things. I'm guessing that as I get older and money becomes a little more available, I'll loosen up about that. But for now, my poor husband is stuck with a cheap wife and a new furnace.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Story for Ferguson

A few weeks ago, a new kid started coming to my Sunday School class. I teach the 16-18 year olds, and even though he was 21 and supposed to be attending the adult class, he hadn't been to church since he was a teenager, and I guess he felt more comfortable with us. Plus, I have candy every week, and I think he has a little crush on one of the girls who sometimes comes.

I start each class by asking the kids about the best thing and the worst thing that happened the past week, and a couple of weeks ago he said that he'd started a new job. "That's great, what is it?" I'd asked. Turns out he was one of the young men running behind garbage trucks emptying trash cans into the compactor in the back. "We love those guys," I'd said enthusiastically. "Joshey always runs to the window when he hears the truck coming!" He smiled and nodded, and we moved on.

Four days later, on a rainy Thursday morning, I wasn't thinking about Sunday School. I was coming back from the gym, and I was in a bit of a hurry because Cici's bus was due to arrive soon. I was driving in my blue minivan with two good little boys in the back, and I was undoubtedly preoccupied with the thick of thin things in my good little stay-at-home-mom life. Needed to start the laundry, had to find a babysitter for my eye appointment tomorrow, was Polly doing any better with her have-to's this week? As I turned onto my street, the garbage truck was making its slow way up, a little later than usual. It was driving smack dab in the middle of the road, and the two guys running behind, hoodies up against the freezing rain, were jogging slow figure 8's up the road as they grabbed and dumped and returned. I was impatient. What if the bus was already there? I nosed my way in between one of the guys and the truck, and gave an apologetic little wave as I cut him off at the curb. I may have even said something like, "Sorry guy! I know, I know, I'm a jerk!" And truly, I was. I was sitting warm and dry in a heated car, yet I couldn't wait 45 seconds for the garbage truck to pass me so this poor guy wouldn't have to abruptly stop jogging in order to avoid getting run over. I felt a little guilty, but when I rounded the corner and saw that the bus wasn't there yet, I forgot about the feeling in the resumption of my internal narration of my to-do list. Get the boys down for naps, unload the dishwasher, decide what to make for dinner...

Fast forward to yesterday, Sunday School, all of us sitting around in Sunday clothes and smiles. Antoine starts the best and the worst of the week. "Well, the worst is that I missed work on Saturday. I was just so tired. And I didn't have my boss's phone number. But I was wondering-- did I see you on Thursday?" I looked at him again, and suddenly--yes. My Sunday School student was my trash guy. He was the one jogging behind the garbage truck, the one I'd cut off. And I hadn't even recognized him. When he was in my Sunday School class, he was Antoine, the kid who had started coming back to church because he'd felt like his life wasn't going the right way, the kid who felt like getting that job was an answer to prayer, evidence that God was looking out for him. When he was on the other side of my minivan windshield, he was just another young black man, slowing down traffic when I had laundry to get home to.

I have listened to the news coverage out of Ferguson, Missouri with deep feelings and deep interest. I have a sister who lives in St. Louis with her husband and four kids, and her oldest daughter is just about the age that I was during the LA Riots following the Rodney King case. When I was in junior high, and I came home to see my mom watching some breaking news coverage with images of a man and a truck and an intersection crowded with police cars, I had zero idea what was happening (except that my mom never watched TV, so something must have been going on). When I was looking out from my junior high balcony at the distant smoke and flames from South Central off on the horizon, I had zero idea what was going on. Afterward, when my parents drove us through the fire-charred neighborhoods and past the empty store fronts graffitied with protest slogans, I had zero idea what was going on. I was kind of a clueless child, and I didn't know how to start understanding complex things.

Now I am as old as my mom was during the LA Riots. I am no longer a child, and, to misquote the Apostle Paul, I no longer "see as a child." I am the one glued to the news, wondering what's happening, wishing I could do something. I am heartsick that social conditions, race relations, structural poverty--everything that's been part of this tinderbox--have been taking the St. Louis area down the road of dejavu all over again (to misquote someone else). But I have to say that I'm glad I have the opportunity to experience this national upheaval as an adult. I don't want to be clueless again. I don't know what I can do--I don't even know what I would do if I lived in that area instead of in Baltimore. Probably just pray and agonize internally and pray some more. But I'm glad I have a chance to give a damn about it.

Of the demonstrations I've heard about, the one that touched me the most occurred at the St. Louis Symphony, on the night that they were playing...oh, what was it... Brahms Requiem? I think that was it. Anyway, just after intermission, as the conductor stood ready to give the orchestra its downbeat, someone started singing from the balcony. Soon they were joined by other voices throughout the audience. What did they sing? I can't remember. Maybe "We Shall Overcome," but maybe something else. When they finished singing, they unfurled a large banner from the balcony, there was some applause from the other audience members and even some of the orchestra, and then the protestors filed out and the concert continued. The banner read "Black Lives Matter."

Black lives matter. All lives matter. But not just in the aggregate. All lives matter because all lives are individual souls, dealing with the set of cards they've been dealt starting with birth. Yesterday after church, Antoine asked if I could give him a ride to his foster mom's house. She lives off of Harford Road, and since I almost ran over Antoine close to that very street, he knew I must live relatively close. We had 20 minutes to talk as we drove, and I found out that he lived in foster care when he was 17, and then transitioned to a series of group homes. At one point, he even lived with his bishop for a number of months, and then he followed a job to Kentucky. Now he was living with his mom and sisters and a few nieces and nephews, and he was planning to use his next paycheck to buy Christmas presents for the nieces and nephews. I found out that on Sunday, he gets up around 8 am, puts on his suit and purple tie, and takes the bus to Church. That morning, the fare machine on the bus was broken, so he got to ride for free. I found out that when he was still a teenager, he went to stake youth conference, a retreat for the 14-18 year old teens in all the congregations in our area, and the theme was "Disconnect to Reconnect." Whenever I ask a question in Sunday School--"How has prayer made a difference in your life?" "How have you seen that gratitude makes you more spiritually and temporally self-reliant?"--that's always his answer. I found out that during the week, he gets up at 4 am in order to walk the half mile to where he starts work, and he only takes the bus when he has the fare handy. "What do you think about your work?" I asked him as we were driving down Harford Road. "It's not too bad," he said. "I ask my boss if I can do commercial, so I just have to do dumpsters all day. So I try to take it easy."

There's a lot I don't know about Antoine. I don't know why he was in foster care. I don't know the story behind all the tattoos on his arm. I don't know what job was in Kentucky, and how it ended. I don't know how he came to join the church. I don't know what Thanksgiving is going to be like for him. I don't know whether he's ever going to start attending the adult Sunday School class, like he's supposed to. I don't know whether the girl in my Sunday School class with her Coach bags and new clothes will ever find out that he has a crush on her. I don't know if he'll stick with his job through the long, cold, dark 4 am winter mornings when he doesn't have bus fare. But I have learned that the young man on the other side of my rainy windshield, running behind the trash truck, is the same young man praying with me and reading holy scripture with me on Sunday. And I hope I will always recognize him for who he is.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Detoxing Ungracefully

This weekend, for the first time in a long time, we didn't have any Saturday-gobbling plans. Ballet in the morning for Polly, church activity in the evening for which we would leave around 5:15 pm. Which meant a good long stretch of hours in the middle of the day for getting back on top of the flotsam and jetsam of Sloan Family life. This was good, because between parent-teacher conferences and American Education Week visits to the classroom and playing the harp in the evenings and having relatives and missionaries over, we'd been doing a lot of getting through things and not much getting on top of things for the past 2-3 weeks. So I was ambitious to do the following things:

  • rake leaves
  • pay bills
  • finish/make progress on the crocheted rug for the girls' room
  • scrub the bathtub
  • do the Christmas letter
  • file papers
  • clean off my desk
  • clean off the art desk
  • move out the broken dryer and hook up the (hopefully) functional dryer
  • go to the gym
  • record and analyze our family expenditures
  • finalize our December calendar
  • catch up on my Book of Mormon reading
  • make cookies for my neighbors
  • do family history
  • floss
  • find a wheat grinder and grind the 50 tons of wheat we inherited from a sister in the ward.
(Okay, I may have employed some hyperbole in that list. Flossing, for example, might be expecting too much.)

Anyway, I actually got a reasonable amount done. After ballet, the kids and I made a Walmart run, and when we got home, I did a whirlwind cleaning of the house and then cranked out the bills. In the meantime, Dave went out to find some games from Goodwill for game night that night and do a couple of errands. The kids played played played (and by that I mean made a huge mess in the basement while intermittently gorging themselves on PBS Kids on the computer). After the bills, I tried to get up the energy to go rake leaves in the upper 30's gloom of a November afternoon, but I ended up curling up in bed to try to shake a headache and a bad mood. As I lay in bed drifting into a nap, I found myself wondering why I was so grumpy. Wasn't I glad that we weren't crazy busy? Wasn't I glad that we had a relaxing day with not much planned? Why couldn't I just be like Dave and take it easy in the morning and just enjoy a day off? As I pondered this, I found myself wondering if I was going through a detox process. It's not that I want to be busy all the time, or that I find myself depressed and without a purpose when I'm not busy and scheduled. I don't want my bow tightened all the time, and I look forward to the end of a busy season because I know that I need to regroup and get ready for the next round that will be coming soon enough. But I just don't really know how to detox gracefully. Detoxing for me means releasing all of the tensions and worries and nagging to do's that I've been thrusting aside while the Sloan Family Machine is functioning at full capacity. I've heard that when you start drinking a lot more water, it flushes toxins and impurities out of your system, and as they're flushed out, they make you break out and feel a little ill. But that's all just part of the process of getting them actually out. I don't know if the physiology of that is accurate, but it felt true to the emotional and spiritual process of coming off of a busy season. 

Anyway, this insight didn't necessarily change anything for me, but it gave me a framework for being patient with myself and for explaining to Dave why I'd been grouchy-ish all day. And it gave me the challenge of finding out how to detox more gracefully. Perhaps make sure that I'm listening to good music all day. Perhaps make sure that the gym happens before Walmart, since Walmart on a Saturday saps the life force out of anyone. Now the big question: will any of this help me to make the Christmas season more worshipful and meaningful?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Homework Time

I had parent-teacher conferences last week for the girls, and one of my take-aways was the need to give Polly more experience at home with focusing on tasks, practicing sight-words, basically becoming a more disciplined student. She's got a ways to go in developing those executive functioning skills, and evidently letting her draw elaborate storyboards for princess adventures and roller-skate around the house isn't facilitating them. I have to admit that I haven't taken her homework too seriously before now. SOmetimes Dave would do it with her, sometimes I would, sometimes we'd do it in the afternoon right after school, sometimes we'd do it in the morning before school. So Dave and I decided that it's time for some structure. The plan is that I will feed the kids dinner around 5 pm, when they're hungry and whiny and clingy anyway, and then when Dave gets home around 6, I'll sit down and do homework with her, and Dave will play with Joshey and Cici and get them ready for bed. We tried it out on Monday, and I learned a few things.

  • Dinner isn't any easier when I'm the only one waiting tables. It's not tremendously easy anyway, with Cici and Joshey as the World's Messiest Eaters, not to mention the World's Pickiest Eaters (Cici, anyway). I feel the need to be training my kids in proper table manners (we have a little song for it: "Sit on bottom, use your forks! Chew your food and don't be rude!"), so by the end of dinner, I'm feeling grumpy and stressed. Then I need to clean up the table in order to do homework on it--reference the world's greatest mess above. Dave usually walks in around this time, and the only thing I have for him is stress and grumpiness. 
  • Now that I'm thinking about Polly's homework in terms of a practicing ground for improving her performance at school, I'm more heavy-handed about how she does it. I want her to be sitting still, focusing, doing her best work, not being silly. Every lapse of attention, every resistance to my feedback or help translates in my mind to the reason she's not getting into a good groove at school. Which means that she's feeling a lot of emotional pressure from me, because I'm feeling a lot of emotional pressure about trying to help her succeed in the classroom. 
  • Which all adds up to: argh. My instinct is that I'm not approaching this the right way. It's okay for family life to have intense times, times that kids need to learn to do things simply because they need to be done. But there also needs to be time to just enjoy each other's company, time to not have the emphasis be on constant training and correcting. At least, I think there should be. And I wonder if I'm crowding out the enjoyment by the stress I'm feeling and conveying to my children about their behavior. Shouldn't dinner be about reconnecting with everyone, processing our days together? Not about "Cici, sit down! Joshey, do NOT throw your water! Yes, Polly, you're the neatest one." 

Well, I have more thoughts, but it's now the end of the evening, and I'm tired. More on this later, I'm sure.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Hey, I have an idea!"

It's 8:06 pm, and I'm here in the girls' dark bedroom, Old Testament stories on (we're in the middle of Elijah right now). But it's anything but quiet. Polly decided that she wanted to rearrange her bedroom so she could be closer to the portable DVD player, so for the past 10 minutes, she's been wrestling her mattress off the box springs and hauling it across the room. I'm actually very impressed with this feat. She asked me for help, and I said, entirely remorselessly, "Nope! I'm doing my computer work!" She didn't need my help after all, as it turned out. And as she tugged and pushed and shouldered it around, she'd punctuate her efforts with "Hey, I have an idea!" and then she'd run over and throw a blanket or a pillow on the mattress. Funny girl. I like that she's getting to know that wonderful feeling of having an idea and having the power to carry it out--and having that confidence boost of having done it.

This is apropos of very little, but I've been recently thinking about the fact that Polly's physical build is like mine--tall for her age, and strong and solid. Cici is built like Dave, tall and skinny, with a lot of natural grace. I've wondered if Polly will ever wish that her body were different--more like Cici's, perhaps, or more like one of her friends or cousins. I certainly went through that, wishing that I were shorter, more slender, had a different shaped face, had different colored hair. Polly has already wished that she had "golden hair" so that she could be in the "blond hair club" on the bus (that's a subject for another night). As Polly grows up, I want her to come to value her strong, capable body. I have been grateful for the ability to pitch right in and move pianos with the best of the men. Being strong and able to bear a lot of physical stress has become an important part of my identity, and I wish I'd arrived at that place much earlier, in my insecure teens. We'll have to see. In the meantime, I'm glad that Polly now knows she can move her mattress wherever she wants in her room. Now to convince her to move in back in the morning...

Today was a normal day. Rainy, which I always like. Although I've started using cloth diapers again, and yesterday I hung a load out on the clothesline, then neglected to bring them in before the rain started. Ah well. They'll just smell extra fresh, I suppose.

Our line-up today was doing morning work, going to the gym (yes, we've become a gym membership family. It feels like the height of luxury to drop Joshey off at the kids' club and then go use a bunch of expensive fitness equipment for as long as I want), playing with little Sebastian after his grandma dropped him off, lunch for two little boys, naps for two little boys, a very little bit of bill-paying and mail-opening for me, then getting Cici off the bus and, for once, giving myself over to playing with her. Cici is such good company, I love her dramatic intonations ("Do you want to be CROCODILES with me?" she'll sing, her voice going up and down the treble clef), and she is so very easily pleased. She also put herself down for a nap in the afternoon, which meant that she was good company all the way till bedtime :). Which was a good thing, because we spent most of the afternoon in the car, dropping off Sebastian and then taking dinner to a new mom in the ward. If I were my neighbor, I would take a seat by my front window and just laugh every afternoon around 4 pm, when I'm loading up the car to take Sebastian back. First, Joshey gets strapped in, a look of resignation on his face. He always is the first in and the last out. Then back in the house for Cici, inevitably followed by a sprint back to the house to bring out handfuls of apples for the kids. I badger Polly in, and finally, I bring out Sebastian and his bags. Efficient I am not.

Tomorrow...I'm going to New York City! Dave gave this trip to me for my birthday in July. I'll be visiting Benjamin and Shayla, arriving on Friday evening and leaving Sunday afternoon. I'll have over 6 hours on the Megabus to read any book of my choosing, and I can even sleep in! This is going to be wonderful. The country mouse going to the city, with the best of city mice to show her around.