Side Jobs

Most exciting things happening here right now: side jobs.

First, Slice was hired on with the Roosevelt City Fire Department, which means he will be attending trainings, meetings, and soon fires.  All Roosevelt firemen are volunteers, but they do get paid for their time.  Slice is mostly excited to help set off fireworks in the summer.  I'm mostly hoping it will curb his pyro appetite.
(Oh, the stories.  Let's just say that we're all lucky we survived high school.)

Second, Slice and I will be taking high school dance pictures next year.  The current photog is done, and wants to sell us his equipment and help us get started.  Apparently he started with dance pictures 17 years ago and took over yearbook pictures after that.  Yearbook pics are a pretty big commitment, we'll see how things are going a year from now.

In unrelated news, MG got her first haircut last week.  She was growing a little rat tail back there.  I cut it off.

Don't worry, I evened it out after that.

Also, I have been trying to decide if eighteen months is my new favorite age, or if MG is just my new favorite person.  This girl is a sheer delight.  She keeps me laughing all day long.  Her communication skills are improving every day (now that I think of it, she learned words in order of importance: bananas, daddy, mama, book, shower, Will, shoes) and so is her manual dexterity.  She loves to draw, on everything, with pen, all the time.  Good thing she's cute.


my Type

I get a blog hit almost every day for Dressing Your Truth (yes I still have a site tracker, entirely for my own amusement), and although I don't have much to say that hasn't been said elsewhere, I can at least share my experience.

As a Type 2/4, I have found Dressing Your Truth to be profoundly illuminating.  Even in a culture where my dominant Type is probably venerated more than others, I still struggle with feelings of self-doubt - especially when I'm thrown into social situations. My double-introvert nature means I am thinking and feeling a whole lot more than I am saying, or even writing.  It means I'm constantly trying to make myself and others comfortable.  It means I am the listener 10x more often than I am the speaker. I'm planning and making connections and forming opinions that I might not ever share.  It means I'm NOT putting myself out there, professionally, personally or otherwise.
(Except on my blog, that is. Ha!)
Today I watched this video and was grateful, again, to find that someone else can relate.  That's the beauty of Dressing Your Truth.

My husband is a dominant Type 1, and I'm fairly certain both my children are Type 1s as well. (MG might be a 1/2.)  My little bundles of energy will never wear out before I do.  We have a lot of fun around here!  Also, messes!

Knowing about the four Types gives me a greater perspective in all my relationships.  It has added another dimension to my life, given me understanding regarding the (often frustrating!) behavior of others, including my children.  It has helped me in my shopping and my parenting and my household-running duties.  It's been empowering to me as a person.
And if all that doesn't convince you to check it out, I don't know what will.


good grief

Two more funerals last week - plus the passing of Sister Monson and the (seemingly) perfect 6-week-old baby of a family friend - and once again I am thinking about life, death and grief, and what it's all about.

I tell myself that eventually I'll be desensitized to it all.  None of these recent funerals were for family members, most of them for people I didn't even know.  But I am still, always, touched by the love expressed, by the hand of God evident in each person's life.

I often think back to my college studies, my "history of the family in Europe" class where I struggled to wrap my brain around infant mortality rates and low life expectancy of people through the centuries.  Some historians rationalize that these people didn't become as attached to their children as we do, knowing they would probably die young.  Marriages ended in death just as quickly as modern-day do in divorce.  They were lucky to survive each winter ... we vacation in Mexico.  Maybe they didn't allow themselves to love as much or as deeply as we do.  It seems perfectly logical.

My heart tells me something different, though.  My mother heart is different than my college heart - and it keeps changing and breaking.  It tells me that people who are often thinking about death might love even more fiercely, more deliberately.  They might not get caught up in the little things. They might see beauty in grief and loss, in companionship and love, in every single day.  They might realize sooner that we are here for each other.

They might be more conscious of who and what they leave behind.  They might make sure that it's extraordinary.


Small Living

Well, it's been a little motherhood-heavy here lately.  Let's talk about something else.

Let's talk about how some people are deliberately living smaller these days, and I love it.  Utah isn't exactly the place to find and live the trend, however, unless you can find a circa-1940s home. Oh wait. I already did.  And standard mattresses, clothes hangers, vacuums, toys, and bathroom products don't fit into it.
I've had to pick up some tricks (all hail Pinterest!) and manage our consumption carefully along the way to make our home more livable.  These are some of the best tips I've found:

Vertical space - this is a no-brainer. Curtains that draw the eye up, storage space over the doorways and bookshelves, organizers in every closet and entryway.  Bed risers under the beds, tall skinny dressers and nighstands (or no nightstands), coat and towel hangers on the walls and doors, you get it.

Tension rods and magnetic strips - I have one or both of these in all two of my storage cabinets. Tension rods are my new best friends.

Clear shower curtain - I've used a couple different curtains in my bathroom and finally decided to leave a clear liner (thanks Jo!).  Et voila!  Doubled the size of the room.

Mirrors - everyone knows.  I have a mirror in almost every room including the hall, and the difference a mirror makes in a small space cannot be overstated.

Window shades - curtains take up wall space, yo.  But I need thermal window coverings because of my old windows and terrible insulation (and living in the oft-coldest spot in the 48 contiguous states).  After three tries I found some Roman window shades for my bedroom which fit inside the window well, and make me feel a little less claustrophobic than the previous curtains.  I think they're staying.

Smaller beds - you know I'll keep talking about that mini crib. Babies do NOT need all that space in a normal size crib.  MG is nearing 18 months and I think she'll be fine in her mini crib for another 6.  She sleeps perfectly in a pack and play (Liam never did) because it's the same size.  Also, toddler beds.  If we stay in this house Liam will be in a toddler bed until the last possible minute.
I wish I could say we moved back to a full-size bed, but no.  My sleep is more precious to me than that.

I rotate the toys in my kids' room regularly, and the clothes by season, of course. Fortunately my kitchen is well-planned and spacious enough for us, and I've never been a beauty product hoarder.  If you have any more revolutionary ideas for maximizing space, please, let me know.

Finally, some questions for you.  If your bedroom is small enough, do you put your shared bed in a corner? If so, who sleeps on the edge?  Does the wall-sleeper climb over or just shimmy to the end of the bed to get out?  And can you ever switch sides of the bed?
Such dilemmas.


Someone Else's Kids

I've been thinking a lot about my mother this week.

Not because of the holiday or the 3000 Facebook posts - seriously -  but because I spent the week "mothering" my sister's five children (in addition to my two) while she and her husband took a 10th anniversary vacation.  Luckily, I had Slice with me the entire time, and he is extraordinarily well-suited to the task of fathering.  This may or may not have been a major factor in my decision to marry him.

There were quiet times when all four children under four were napping simultaneously.  There were crying babies in the middle of every night.  There were meals and messes and baseball games and fevers and muddy footprints.  There was a lot of time to think about my own mother, her decision to have lots of babies and lots of sleepless nights, her decision to give every waking moment to someone else's needs, her decision to live her life by faith.
I thought about stories I've heard, like when my parents were so poor they celebrated by buying whip cream. When Grandma chastised them for getting pregnant again.  When my arm broke and they didn't realize it for a week, when we missed out on the (every) family reunion because mom was having a baby.

It's not that I 'don't know how she did it all,' although I still wonder, pretty much every day.  It's that she did it so well, with so many, all with different needs.  And then she opened her arms to complete strangers and accepted them as her own.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't necessarily like other people's kids.  I hated babysitting when I was younger; I worried about being annoyed instead of sympathetic to my babies' cries.  I taught primary for a year and got increasingly antagonistic toward my class members.  I got called to nursery in my ward a month ago, and am hoping I can make it through.  Excepting nieces and nephews and a few others, I just don't love kids.

So my mother is a constant source of inspiration for me.  She who 'stayed home' and raised twelve children, all of whom still want to be around her and each other.  She who grew and birthed and rocked and fed and loved us, through the hardest of times, and even gave two little Russian boys all she had to offer.  She who is a mother and a teacher to everyone fortunate enough to know her.


Better than One

Every once in a while, one of my kids wakes up before (and without waking) the other one.  Liam will sneak into my room and climb in bed with me, or MG will start talking and I can snatch her out of her crib.  I get half an hour, or maybe a whole one, of remembering what it was like to have one child.  One to feed, entertain, clean up after.  It was so much easier.
Then I remember when I had one child, and I thought it was hard.  There were naptimes to work around, car seats to get in and out of every time I wanted to go somewhere, meals and messes to worry about, diapers to change, noses to wipe, noises to shush.  I had an extra pair of hands to keep me busy.
Now I have two.
MG is almost at the age that Liam was when I had her - and it blows my mind.  He seemed so big!  He was in a toddler bed, he was talking about mom's tummy and having a new baby, he became a big brother.  Now he and MG love each other (some of the time), and fight with each other (more of the time), and keep each other from going to sleep at night (all the time).

I always wanted my first two babies to be close in age. I got what I wanted, and I love it.
I keep telling myself that, when it's especially hard and I'm weary of keeping Liam off his sister and there's poop in the tub again and I have a headache by 8:00 in the morning. I keep telling myself that.
I love it.