Sunday, July 29, 2012

Healing the Hurt

In the previous post I introduced you to Thor, the Bunny of Thunder.  I told you Thor was here to stay.

Sadly, I was mistaken and Thor has passed on to a better place.  I would like to think that it's short life was due to the fact that Thor was the runt of the litter and he wasn't eating and drinking much.  But I'm afraid that wasn't all there was to it.

You may recall that I was not in favor of Bethany getting a bunny and as per parental command, this bunny was not going to live inside the house.  Abe and Bethany set up the bunny's cage in an area where it would get morning sun, but the first shade of the afternoon.  Bethany was concerned that the bunny was sweating, it was too hot.  Both Abe and I assured her that Thor would be just fine.  We were sure the bunny was in no danger.

We were wrong.  Oh, there were tears.  It was terrible.  We killed the bunny.  Abe felt horrible for Bethany's sake but also he'd had a similar incident happen in his childhood so it was rather traumatic for him as well.

For the record, he was the runt and I never wanted the bunny in the first place.  But still, it was sad.

I was so thankful to Clark for preparing the grave and conducting the loveliest, most respectful funeral service for a pet that I've ever attended.  I cried.  And since you know how I felt about Thor, that is really saying something.
Fortunately, rabbits have a lot of babies. And as much as "Thor was a good bunny who can never be replaced" (quoted from the funeral service),  Thor had a brother named Zeus (pictured here) who will help to heal the hurt.  I expect that this rabbit will be much longer lived because it's a lot bigger, it eats and drinks, and it will be living in the house.
I'm not about to give Zeus any kisses, but after all the trauma I can't be quite so snarky about the bunny.
Emi's birthday is today and George's is tomorrow so we did a double 2nd birthday party for them on Friday night.
But that wasn't the only thing we were celebrating on Friday night.
We were also celebrating the opening ceremonies of the Olympics!
Our kitchen area is lined with about 20 more flags.  We've got to get our geography in and the Olympics are the perfect excuse!
They are  two!  And it appears George is going to have a terrible twos like I have not seen the likes of yet. 
The kids think he's hilarious.
I have had Georgie's birthday present hidden in my closet for months.  I found Little People superheros and couldn't wait to give them to him.  And his reaction did not disappoint.
The pictures won't quite capture it, but he was making the funniest faces and would scrunch up his nose and raise his eyebrows.  So funny!  He also sings the Batman song-- na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na--- BATMAN!!!
Happy 2nd birthday, Georgie!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thor, the Bunny of Thunder

When I'm old and gray and I look back fondly at my years of raising my children it will be scenes like this that bring a smile to my face.
I think my favorite sound in the world is listening to little people laughing and shrieking with delight on the trampoline.  Clark, Bethany and Elinor are getting older and playing different kinds of games than they used to when they were smaller.  It does my heart good to see my younger kids coming into the fun ages of playing outside with neighborhood friends.  Let the laughter and shrieking live on for a few more years.
It's almost here.

And I'm ready.  Do you wonder how I prepare for the Olympics?  I will share.

It is important that I get the house fairly well organized because I plan on completely neglecting it for the next 2 1/2 weeks.  Except for the laundry.  My laundry will never be washed dried and folded in such a timely manner as it will be during the Olympics because it is the only household chore I can do while I watch.

We don't have cable because ... well, I'm sure you can figure out the many reasons we don't have cable.  I won't go there.  But for the next month we will gladly pay for cable and 2 DVR boxes (one upstairs, one downstairs) to record all things Olympics. The opening ceremonies are Friday night but over the last couple of days they've been rebroadcasting the U.S. Diving Olympic trials and I'm already hooked.  Cannon said, "What?  You are watching Olympics again?" 

But my laundry is folded.

This is Thor, the Bunny of Thunder.
A friend of Bethany's has a rabbit who had bunnies.  Surprise, surprise--a rabbit had bunnies.
Bethany thinks that bunnies are the cutest things ever.  Surprise, surprise-- an eleven year-old girl thinks bunnies are the cutest things ever.

You see where this is going, don't you?
I have allowed Clark to have masses of all manner of weird reptilian pets over the years.  And  I realize that I am totally unfair, but I'm sorry, I don't want rodent pets.  I say, no way, Joselita!

Fortunately for Bethany, she has a seriously nice daddy.  Too nice, in my opinion.
I am not... I repeat... I am NOT in favor of Thor, the Bunny of Thunder.  
Hey, I'll admit he is kind of cute, but all pets are cute in the summer when they can live in the backyard.  They are not so cute during the many months of winter when they have to come indoors.  I told the conspirators (Abe and the kids) that while I would not forbid Thor's presence, I would not lift one finger or spare a single thought on Thor's well being for the duration of his life.  

How cruel of me.

But at least I'm fair.  I don't care about the well being of the reptiles either.  Oh, listen to me.  I really am heartless.
So here we are.  
Should I have held my ground?  Refused Thor's admittance onto the property?  Oh, well.  Point for kids.
Can you guess what Clark is thinking?  

Let me try.  Girls are so ridiculous.  I wonder if my snake could eat that bunny?  Should I see what happens if I put Thor in the snake's tank?

 Well now, that is just cute.

Grrrr.  I guess Thor is here to stay.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Play's the Thing

This was the scene we left on Thursday morning.  Happy children, happy grandparents.  We could only pray the smiles would still be there when we returned Saturday night.  To celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss Abe and I treated ourselves to 3 days at the Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. 
Do you see our big smiles in this picture?  Well, I'm going to be frank with you.  In a way, they are very real smiles because we'd been looking forward to this trip for a long time. It had been five years since we'd taken a trip together.  We were excited to be going away and to take a break from real life.  But we'd exerted a lot of energy getting the house ready to function in our absence and clean it up for grandparents to stay over.  Our house was about as clean as it ever gets, but it took a toll.  We were exhausted, irritated, on edge, annoyed, and very snippy.
Our first stop was the Manti temple.  Oh, it was exquisite!   And of course going to the temple did help our snippy-ness.
The first night we saw The Merry Wives of Windsor.  Neither of us had ever read or seen this play before and it was so charming and delightful.  It was performed on an outdoor stage and although there was a little bit of rain, it wasn't a problem.  We really like to go to plays and you get some great talent at local theaters, but the actors at the Shakespeare Festival seem to be super-human!  It's hard to believe there are people that can do what they do so well.  What a treat!
I know all these pictures look the same, but, that's what this weekend was-- just Abe and me together a lot, with no one to interrupt us and draw us away.  It was lovely.  This picture was taken Friday night at Les Miserables.  We had close seats and it was MARVELOUS!! It is Les Miserables so it is always marvelous, but I was just mesmerized throughout the performance.
Years ago Abe and I saw it on Broadway.  At the time I was pregnant with Clark and very sick with the worst cold of my life.  I went through an entire roll of toilet paper Abe had swiped from the men's bathroom for me. We had the worst seats in the house.  I wept hysterically at the end-- but did I cry because I was so moved or because I was so sick and wanted to go home?  I don't know.  I just know that on this night I was happy to be in full health with a good seat.

I did cry at times, but not audibly and not hysterically, unlike the very emotional girl a few rows over from us.  I was stoic compared to her, poor girl.
Besides seeing the plays, the biggest thrill of the trip was strolling between the festival and our charming bed and breakfast one block away.  We did this numerous times on Friday.  We came back and napped twice on Friday just because we could!!  How glorious!  How relaxing!
Well, look at this-- here we are again, just Abe and I.  ALONE!  Eating a meal at a restaurant with no crayons or kiddie menus!  
This was after we'd attended a literary discussion and actor's seminar Saturday morning.  The day before we'd attended another literary discussion and costume seminar.  Oh, didn't we feel high brow!

But who are we kidding?  We couldn't get away from our roots-- we did still make a couple of stops at the local Walmart.  Drawn to that place like a moth to the flame.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Kind of Camp-Out

When Clark, Bethany, and Elinor were little we camped fairly regularly.  I was pretty proud that although we had little kids, we could still be brave and adventurous.  We camped when I was pregnant and with newborns.  But then Elinor burned her hand on a lantern and cried all night.  And then somebody set off fireworks near our camp and it coincided with a dream I was having and it FREAKED me out.  And then an 11 year-old boy was ripped out of his tent by a bear near the area we liked to camp.

And then I didn't like camping anymore.  

Now I've got issues.  I can camp in a tent in the backyard, but I would definitely prefer the backyard be fenced.  

This is why I am so grateful for good friends who camp every summer and they occasionally invite our family to join them up the canyon for dinner and smores.  I can keep my camping anxiety in check for one evening, especially when we're in a drought year and the river is not running high.
And the kids loved being up there and begged us to PLEASE take them camping.  I am considering.  A camper/RV would definitely sway my decision.  Bears can't get into campers, right?
And I would like to bring Matthew with us to be George's caregiver.  He is so patient and good with little kids and George loves him.
Oh, and if I can take my friend, Michelle, with me to plan and pack all the food then I'm definitely interested.
If I could just sit back and enjoy all the good things of camping without all the work and worry then I think it would be just lovely.
S'mores are certainly one of the good things of camping. 
Georgie's bum got a little wet so Abe was helping to dry him off with the heat of the fire.  Don't worry, there was no joking or danger of Abe harming him.  Cannon thought this was hysterical.  He was cracking up and said, "That is so funny to roast a baby bum instead of a marshmallow!"
And Clark's safe arrival home from scout camp was the happy sight that awaited us when we got home.  I think coming home is always the best part of going away.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rattles and Drums

As Clark's love of nature and reptiles has continued to grow and develop over the years, I've had a fear lurking in the back of my mind.

Scout camp.

Someday the man-child would go to scout camp where he might encounter snakes-- venomous snakes.  He is super good at handling snakes.  He's the snake whisperer.  Wherever he goes he finds them and picks them up, without fear.  That's great for the little garter snake by the neighborhood canal, but not so good for rattlers at a Boy Scout camp.
And sure enough, just as I feared, there were rattlesnakes at the Bear Lake Aquatics Camp.  This charming specimen was discovered and killed by Clark's scoutmaster about 20 yards away from his camp.  I am so grateful Clark was not the first man on the scene.  I really like to think he would have more sense than to try to pick it up.  But I'm afraid he's cut from the same cloth as Steve Irwin.

Okay, do you want to be really grossed out?  Here's the cut off rattlesnake head.  Snakes don't bother me much, but this picture gives me the heebeejeebees.
Clark was thrilled.
The only two boys I know in this picture are Clark and Jacob (in black next to Clark).  They are in our ward, but neither of them were going to be able to go to our ward's scout camp so they tagged along with another ward.  Clark said the other boys were great and he didn't seem to suffer from any homesickness.  Should I be pleased about that or not?  Isn't he suppose to kind of miss his mother, just a little?
Although this does look like a lot more fun than we had here at home this week.  I guess I don't blame him for not being homesick.
I think maybe I need some time at scout camp.

Not that we didn't have some fun while Clark was gone.  Cannon discovered the drums.  He set up his drum set and announced, "Look!  I'm Dave Young!" 
Dave Young is our drummer friend who played with my students at our recent piano recital.  
Cannon was taking in more than I realized because when Faith did her practicing Cannon was right on beat with her and they made beautiful music together.
Do I have a place in my heart for a son who plays the drums?  I'll have to think about it.
I'll have to think long and hard because the drumming continued for several hours that day.  I thought I was going to lose my mind.  The upturned metal Tinker Toy canister has tormented me for years.  It just begs to be banged on and it's so dang loud!

My Cycle

This post is all about my cycle.

No, not that cycle.

This is my cycle of housekeeping.  By housekeeping I mean the cooking and cleaning that are, unfortunately, so vital to keeping a family and household of any size running relatively smoothly.  Or at least not warranting a visit from your friendly, local division of child protective services.

Let's start with my cycle of cleaning.  Now listen, I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I am not a clean freak.  I totally appreciate clean freaks and I live in awe of them and wish I was one.  I have very good friends who are and I love to be in their homes.  They are lovely, clutter-free, dust-free, and they ALWAYS smell good.  I could probably eat off their bathroom floors and rest easy.

Sometimes I wish I had just a little streak of OCD in me.  Not enough that my life functioning would be impaired, but just enough that I just had to have a clean kitchen floor or clean showers.  Not so much that I had to line up my drinking glasses by height or organize my clothes by color.   

But I am as healthily far removed from OCD as possible.  Oh, I'm alright at keeping up with the clutter, but as far as a deep seated need to have everything shiny and sparkly clean--- nope.  Nada.  I don't consider myself lazy, but I just cannot imagine caring that much or expending that much energy on cleaning.

I take more of a Steven R. Covey approach to cleaning:

Just where does cleaning fall in the four quadrants of time management?

In quadrant III it would be important, but not urgent.  Yeah, that describes it sometimes.  But the ugly truth is, that for me, cleaning very regularly fallls into quadrant IV-- it's not urgent and it's not important. 

But this summer we will be having some house guests stay with us and while I clearly lack any trace of OCD, I do have some pride.  I would prefer if our guests were not nauseated by the condition of the bathroom and they felt our food was safe to eat.  

Geez, I'm making us sound horrific. I hope I exaggerate.

The point is, I do have a little more free time in the summer and I am working my way through the house doing some deeper cleaning in preparation.  Normally, every few months I do try to delve a little deeper into recesses of the cleaning supply caddy.  And I don't do it all myself, rather I rope the kids into doing their fair share (whatever that is).  We WORK!  We CLEAN!  We take pride in our home!
We're looking good.

For about 24 hours-- 4 days at the most.

And then WHAMO!  We're back.  And I mean it's all back--the dishes, the ring in the toilet, the crumbs on the carpet, the sticky spots on the kitchen floor, the games, toys, and puzzles, the dirty clothes, the disordered book shelves, toothpaste on the bathroom counter, dust on the piano, debris on the front porch.

It does not matter how clean it was, within days, hours, only minutes the mess is back, threatening my peace and sense of accomplishment.  I ask you-- IS THIS FAIR?  Is this to be endured?  It's a losing battle!  

Which is why I so regularly choose not to engage.  How ridiculous to fight a losing battle!  Why would I allocate such a valuable resource as my time, to a battle I cannot win?

Where does this leave me?  Quite obviously it leaves me with a dirty house.  But why do I care?  I'm off reading a book somewhere.  Until, even in my oblivion, I look around and am horrified at myself.  In my mind I start to hear my future children-in-law discussing their spouses and lamenting the kind of pig-pen they must have grown up in.  Didn't their mother (me) teach them how to clean?

Once again my pride is pricked and I rally the troops and We WORK!  We CLEAN!  We take pride in our home.  We're looking good!

For about 24 hours, 4 days at the most.

You see where I'm going with this.  It's a vicious cycle.  

Please feel free to comment, but I'm not soliciting advice.  Truth be told, I don't think I really want to change.  
Maybe when my children are all grown?  But you know what, I hope to have many, many grandchildren whom I will welcome with open arms to my house.  I figure I'll probably be nicer to them than I was to my own children, so what makes me think I'll all of a sudden care more about cleanliness than story time?  No, I think I'm doomed to live this way for the rest of my life. 

And if you still want to be friends with me after this shocking expose, stay tuned for when I write about my self-defeating cycle of cooking for my family.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Birthday Week

We are in our second birthday season of the year.  Elinor, Bethany, and Faith have their birthdays within a month of each other starting in February.  Now it's time for Clark, me and George-- we're the July birthdays.
 Clark turned 13 on Thursday and Bethany and Elinor made him a cake, but I claim credit for the remarkable decorating on the cake.  Stunning isn't it?  That's a lizard-- you could tell that, right? 
Clark did his big overnight backpacking camping trip last weekend, so we just enjoyed a nice, quiet evening at home watching the newest Muppet Movie.  We love the Muppets!
Bethany and Elinor bought Clark a Lord of the Rings Lego set and a candy bar.  This has put them both in Clark's good graces for which we are all grateful.
Abe and I gave him a box of trash bags and an assortment of tape.

What?  Is that weird or something?  Isn't that what every 13-year-old boy wants for his birthday?

That really is what he wanted!
He's rebuilding his basement space camp and he needed these supplies.
 He also got a remote control helicopter he has wanted for a while.

It's already not working.

Maybe it just needs new batteries.

Tomorrow is my 35th birthday and I threw myself a birthday party this evening.  It was a kickball birthday bash!!  We met up at the diamonds where the girls play softball. 

Abe and I were the team captains and we chose teams playground style.  It was brutal, but this was an adults only, show-no-mercy game.  If the players couldn't handle the stress of picking teams, this game wasn't for them!  We were out for blood and there was in fact some blood involved.
This was most of my team-- a few others came later so they weren't in the picture. I guess we were the "B" team.
Here's Abe's team.   They were the "A" team.  "A" for Abe, "B" for Betsy.  You'd think the A-team would be a better team than a B-team.

You'd be WRONG!

Ha ha!  My team skunked Abe's team!!  
Okay, technically we played two games and we each won one.  So I suppose we tied, but our first win was so dramatic that I think we were just the better team:-)  And now you can see why this had to be an adults only game.  I didn't want the children there to hear all the trash talking we did (I did).
Abe got me a donut to put a candle in so the gang could sing happy birthday.  I felt so loved!
As it turns out there is actually a league called the World Adult Kickball Association.  We were pretty good tonight-- I think we might try to put a team together and compete around the world.  We'll leave our families behind and just travel the world playing kickball.
Thank you to good friends for making my birthday celebration so much fun!