One of the things I love about having a toddler is seeing his imagination blossom. It's like I get to watch his world unfold as he makes new connections and tries new things. It's simply amazing to be a part of the process. The other day, after work, I realized that it had been quiet for a little too long, if you know what I mean. Immediately, I sought out the little mischief.
Working with children of all ages leads to some pretty interesting conversations. Today, while working with one of our kindergarten students, my fellow speech pathologist noted that he was missing a significant number of teeth - more than most kindergarten students, and the remaining chompers were cavity-ridden.
Concerned, she asked him, "Buddy, what happened to your teeth? Did they fall out or did someone pull them out?"
With the perfect innocence of a kindergartner, he said, that he wasn't sure. He was opening a jar of jelly and a tooth just fell out of his mouth (as if the act of opening a jar could cause a tooth to just fall out). My colleague said, "I'm just a little worried about what happened to all your teeth."
And then he said, with worry on his face, "I just don't know how many I have left!"
We've been laughing about that all afternoon. "I just don't know how many I have left!" This is just another reason I love my job!
So, it's been a while. Sorry to all 3 of my readers who have been waiting expectantly. Let's just say that I lacked the mental and emotional fortitude to even think some days. Much better now. I seem to have found my gumption in one of those boxes that I'm still trying to unpack.
I've decided today that I only have one real need this school year. I have a full time CFY, so I'm good in the help department. I have an office that has a few more supplies and is slightly more organized than last year. All I need now is a good pair of extendable ears.
I know they look a bit disgusting, but they would be the perfect addition to a speech pathologist's bag of tricks!
I have so listen to and observe so many children, and they always know when I'm there to see them. And that makes them nervous (because, let's face it, knowing that you're being watched makes anyone nervous!). And then I'm not really observing a naturalistic context.
Brent, if you're listening, I want a set for Christmas. Thanks!
1. If nothing else, having some time to just be 'mom' this summer, has made me realize how precious this time is. I love getting to see the ins and outs of my darling boy's day. I love the way he loves to read, to sing (complete with . . . piano . . . accompaniment?) - the way he's learning a new word daily (usually 3-4), the way he giggles, the way he knows who his favorite people are, the way he dances, the way he jumps, the way he has moments of pure sweetness.
Just today, I was sitting on the couch after working at the hospital. He climbed up, and say "ees" which translates to "squeeze" and proceeded to give me a big hug. Then he snuggled his way down between me and the couch and just laid with his head on my arm, like we were the best of pals.
Tonight, as we were driving home from Brent's mom's house, Bruce was babbling in the back. All of a sudden I heard him say, "Happy, blsi bla sgli, meow meow, li bifel pomef, 'du'(meaning 'juice') sdljlj weml 'Ene' (meaning Jene)." A loose transcription - forgive the gibberish in between. I marveled at the way he was trying to tell me that he was happy, and then proceeded to tell me why he was happy. (Jene is Brent's mom's husband, and he's one of Bruce's absolute most favorite people on the earth). It was a moment of connection for me and my boy. He has such a sweet, happy personality.
2. Jene has graciously been helping us with our challenges of late. Basically, we're having car trouble. Not major, but enough that we probably shouldn't drive the thing until it's fixed. It's due for a tune-up anyway (much to my husband's denial). For the past few days, I've been pondering the wisdom of Jene. He said, off-handedly, that when you're facing a problem with the car, it's always smart to pursue the easiest solution first.
I think this little gem is a life lesson that I need to ponder more deeply. I think, far too often, when faced with a problem, I look at every possible solution, and I'm usually guilty of trying the difficult ones first. What a waste of energy! This is definitely something I'm going to have to work on.
3. Speaking of pondering, I've had several interesting experiences lately to remind me of the value of taking time to be still. Brent graduated a couple of weeks ago (Huzzah! [pictures to come as soon as I find that camera charger . . . ]), and the commencement speaker mentioned specifically the importance of taking time to be quiet. To be free of distraction. I know that, for myself, when I spend even ten minutes quietly contemplating, I always feel more centered and focused. Ten minutes. I do even better with longer. That's one reason I love to journal. It's a time for me to stop, and ponder, and feel, and breathe.
I'm concerned that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to make the time and mental space to do this. There are plenty of things to distract us. Both external and internal. I've been interested to see self-help books all over about being 'mindful' or 'fully present.' The biggest way for me to do this is to un-plug. To turn off the television, to close my laptop, to put my phone on silent and just focus on what is right in front of me - be that my garden, my projects, my son, my patients/students, my husband, my friend, my sister, my mother, my father, my brother, my neighbor, or even myself. Technology is amazing! There is so much we are enabled to do because of what we have at our fingertips. But if we can't be away from it for more than an hour, then it's an addiction. And addictions limit our capacity. Addictions bind us in chains that grow thicker the more we feed them. (Audrey II, anyone?)
All I know is, if we don't engage with our lives, we miss out - on the chance to learn, to form friendships and bonds that last longer than the time you spend perusing Facebook. I see it all the time in my line of work. As a Speech Pathologist, especially one who works with children with autism, I constantly aim to connect with my students. To teach them how to connect with another human being. Some people have to work so hard to gain a basic skill that is intrinsic in others. Others who too often let that skill lie dormant, unused, under-developed.
But engagement benefits all of my students, not just those with autism. If a student becomes an active participant in their treatment, they improve faster. When we become active participants in our lives, we are able to grow and become more than we ever could passively sitting on the sidelines. "Your life is an occasion: Rise to it!"
I suppose the simplest solution is to consciously make time every day to be still. To ponder. To commune. To connect to another human being - spirit to spirit, not across wires. Make time to rise to the occasion that is your life. I know, for me, the more I consciously make time to be still, the easier it becomes. Like all things, I have to plan for it, or it is far less likely to happen. I'm sure there will be more to come on this topic as I study it out, but in the meantime, thank you for being patient with my ramblings.
Strive for her son to seize my careless heart; When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air, Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart: Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright, And fright him as the morning frightens night!
-"To Hope" by John Keats
I had a wonderful conversation with a dear friend this weekend, a friend who is currently struggling with infertility. This wonderful woman is someone exemplifies what it is to have a 'mother heart.' Sadly, someone who is so qualified for the job, must wait.
As we spoke, she talked of dealing with the Disappointment that can lead to Despair. They were at a great place in their marriage, they had a new house that was bereft of the little feet for which it was bought. She had prepared. The time was right. And yet it wasn't. That was a bitter time for her. I could feel the ache in her words. And my heart pondered that bleak plain. I know that I cannot adequately understand her pain - we have been blessed with such a happy little boy without the trial of waiting that many couples face.
She told me that she knows that she and her husband will have the opportunity to be parents. She even said that she knows that she will have the opportunity to be pregnant. She has faith that these blessings will happen for her and her husband. But, I was struck once again how we may have knowledge of certain things, or have faith that all will work out, but we still must bear the trial. Some call it "enduring to the end" - a nice phrase until you're in the middle of an unbearable trial. Even with faith, we can find ourselves giving in to despair (the parent of disappointment) if we do not hope.
Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness.Its absence—when this desire of our heart is delayed—can make “the heart sick.”
I may not understand her trial exactly, but I understand what it is to feel heartsick. I understand the bleakness that is despair. In listening to her, and supporting her, sister to sister, I could feel hope swelling in me, as I hope it did in her. When hope does take root, the weight of despair is lessened. I think "hope is sure, unwavering, and active." We spoke of her plans, her action, to combat and cope with her disappointment and sorrow, many of which involved serving those within her sphere of influence.
Once again, I was reminded that hope is what carries us through. Hope is the bulwark that protects our spirits from sorrow and despair. Hope helps us keep proper perspective. And, I also learned again that we need each other in order to fully hope. We need to be able to share what we know, to express what we hope for, and to express wherein we place our hope. And sometimes we need to rely on the strength of others to help us through those bleak experiences (easy to say when you're not in the middle of it, I know, but if I say it aloud, maybe I'll remember it when it's my turn to need strengthening).
In all the craziness of the last several months, I have neglected the blog. I'm looking forward to catching up in the next couple of months. One major event that I omitted was Bruce's first Father & Sons outing (also known as 'Mama's first night away from her munchkin').
The boys went out to Hart's Flat for some manly bonding. The highlights included s'mores, horseshoes, barbecuing, sleeping in tents, campfires, and lots of friends. And dirty socks. The boys had a great time. Brent even took another neighbor's son with him because the neighbor was out of town. They are now buddies for life.
I didn't sleep at all. There's a difference between quiet house and empty house. I don't like the feeling of empty house. But they had a great time. Camping is definitely in the plans for this summer!
With the end of the school year, Brent promised me that I could sleep in yesterday. That's right, I got to sleep in. All the way to 8:00. Which is amazing, considering that I haven't gotten up later than 6am since who knows when.
So, today, when I woke up at 7:40 (which still feels like sleeping in), I was amazed that my house is still silent with slumbering boys. Bruce never sleeps past 7, so I was sure he'd be awake at any moment. Not so, it's just me and the happily singing house finches outside me window.
I appreciate the quiet. The time to study and ponder without any darling little distractions. Or just as darling big ones. I am amazed at how much lighter I feel without all of my looming end-of-the-year deadlines. The only deadlines I really have for the next couple of months are self-imposed ones.
Books to read, projects to finish, letters to write, days to swim, walks to take, piano pieces to learn, a cello to practice, research projects to start, food to make, family vacations to take, memories to make.
Mostly, I'm excited about having some time to devote to becoming a happier, healthier me. Call it mid-year's resolutions. I'm very excited to see what this summer holds.
Well, we're all moved in, and currently our home is "decorated in the style of 'Early American Cardboard,' but now that school is out for the summer, I'll have some real time to work on opening everything. The kitchen, bathroom, and washing machine are functional, so we can go on living here happily for quite some time.
The front of the house was a mess, which is to be expected when the house has been vacant for over a year. Hooray for foreclosures! The previous owner (there's a story about her for later, remind me) moved into a house across the street and a few houses down. Apparently, when she walked away from this house she took all the landscaping with her. She told us it was just going to die anyway, so she might as well take it. Funny thing is that there were several plants left that are still doing quite well. Tell me how that works.
Anyway, since she took everything and left the weeds to take over what was left of the flower beds, we spent the first Saturday in the house cleaning out all the dead plants and the weeds. Then, later this week we went to Lowe's just to get some color for the front yard. And some trees. And a lawnmower.
Anyway, we went after I got home from work late. By the time we got home, we had to feed the baby and get him in the tub. Basically, by the time his nighttime routine was complete, it was dark. We decided to plant anyway.
In the dark.
I just kept thinking about Willy Loman, out planting his garden in the middle of the night. And I thought about how our neighbors must think we're crazy. We planted with a frenzy of flung dirt and mulch. And we talked. That's probably my favorite part, the spending time with our fingers in the dirt, deep in conversation about anything. We laughed and contemplated and reminisced and planned, and all the while we created something beautiful together (not that we could see it until the next morning).
I'm sure there are some deep spiritual implications for this. I'm still pondering. In the meantime, I'm enjoying spending the time together to make our house our home. Pictures to come, eventually, . . . whenever we find our camera charger . . .
The picture is old, but it exemplifies his, ahem, distaste so well.
So, Bruce has never liked to sit still to have his nails cut. About 6 months ago, I discovered that if I used YouTube as a distractor, Bruce didn't even seem to notice that I was cutting his nails. Score one for Mom!
The video that works the best is, surprisingly, a cat video. See, Bruce had a really great first experience with cats. At Christmas, we were visiting my parents. Their neighbor across the street has this uncharacteristically cuddly cat. When we were playing in the front yard, the cat came right up to Bruce and sat on his lap, purring like a jackhammer. Bruce was in love. Little did I know the deep-rooted seeds of terror that would be planted that day.
At first, the cat videos were harmless. I could use them as my crutch and leave happily once the shearing ceased. Alas, we have walked into a living nightmare.
If the computer is anywhere that Bruce can see it, he immediately stretches forth his hand, and loudly proclaims, "Meow!" If his cries are ignored, or denied, they exponentially increase in volume and intensity. So much so, that at least temporary hearing thresholds shift if his cries go unheeded. "MEOW! MEOW! MEOW!," he plaintively wails, accompanied by frantic bursts of fury.
The unfortunate thing is that most videos use absolutely ridiculous and un-felinelike music. I mean, do cats really evoke the need for Smashmouth? We hear it so much, that Brent has taken to chanting in his sleep: "What a concept! I could use a little fuel myself . . ."
So, gentle reader, please notice this for the cry for help that it is. Where can we turn for deliverance?
It's been a crazy week. I was sick last week, and couldn't afford it, but had to take 3 days off of work (not that I was terribly productive the other 2 days). I hate playing catch up. I hate feeling behind, especially when I see no way out.
I am so looking forward to Spring Break next week. It cannot come soon enough. I just hope I can get enough done to enjoy it. Looking forward to spending time with these boys.
Brent and I snuck away for a bite to eat today ("eat to bite" . . .) because, for one, I actually felt like eating (I've been sick all week - today was actually my first day off the couch!). And for two, Bruce was still at the sitter's after Brent's class, so we got a mini date in. Wahoo!
Anyway, we went to this little deli around the corner from where we live, and they have a little magazine stand in the corner. As we sat and enjoyed our sandwiches, one magazine cover glared at me. Did I just read that right? "Teen Moms: Addicted to Surgery (Implants, Lipo, & Nose Jobs!)" It made my stomach turn.
Seriously? There are three things about that cover that disturbed me. Still disturb me, actually. Hence the posting.
First: "teen moms." Yet another instance of the media supporting, no, promulgating the idea that teenage girls can and should be mothers. Glorify those choices. Celebrate that they can handle being mothers when there's no talk about family responsibility. It's glamorous to have a baby. It boosts your image - and apparently your ratings.
Second: "addicted to surgery." I guess this just stems off the first. No responsibility. You can look exactly how you want to look without the work. All you need is some cool, hard cash and you, too, can have a cool, hard body. I think it's interesting that bodies are increasingly treated as those watches that we used to wear in the 80's - you know the ones where you could change out the strap to match your outfit - instead of an incredible gift from a loving Heavenly Father to be treated with dignity and respect. Also, this supports society's mindset, or rather obsession with body image. We have to look perfect. No matter the cost.
Third, and maybe the most subtle: "Moms addicted to surgery" Maybe this is just an extension off the other two, but it struck me the hardest today. It seems to me that this statement is in direct contrast to what a mother should be. A mother is someone who learns to put the needs and desires of others before herself. These girls are portraying just the opposite mindset: " I can have what I want, when I want it. There are no consequences. " Mothers teach and shape their children. The lesson portrayed by these girls is that we live in an age when we can have our desires instantly gratified. We don't have to be grateful for what we have because if we don't like it, we can just trade it in. Upgrade. What a spoiled generation!
We live in an age when you don't have to be who you are. People who live like this are fake. Plastic. The thing is, yes, with money, a person can change the way he or she looks. But, in the long run, that doesn't change the way you feel about yourself. Six to eight months later, they're going to find something else they don't like about themselves, and then it's back to the chopping block. It becomes an addiction. You're always going to find something you don't like about yourself.
I find it interesting that I'm learning, as I posted earlier, that the real way to have self-confidence is to have self-discipline. I have a wonderful mother who helped to teach me this. I'm grateful for her example. I'm grateful that, to her, I wasn't just a status symbol but an eternal inheritance. She understands and teaches her children that we can do hard things. That some of the best things in the world take honest, hard, sweat-producing work. And oftentimes, sweat-producing prayer as well. I'm grateful to have a mother that knows her role, and who lives up to that role. I pray that I can live up to her example.
It's spring, and all I can think about is how much I wish I had a garden. Oh, the woes of apartment living. We don't get enough sun to really have pots, but we're trying. Last year, we had them all over the ledges, even out on the ledge over the stairs, but they threatened to evict us if we didn't remove them. As we're in the process of buying a house, I don't really care this year. It's not like they can kick us out. We're moving anyway (hopefully!)
Anyway, if I did have the space and the means, this is what would be in my garden this year.
First Confession: I've been working on this post for the past couple of months, but I've found it extremely difficult to divulge.
Second Confession: I have never thought of myself as a fit person. This discouraging thought has plagued me the past several months. I think it stems from my ill-conceived notion that "fit" meant "skinny" and I most certainly never was that, at least, not in the modern-day sense of the word. Also, I believed that "fit" meant "athletic." Sure, I played tennis and basketball in high school (read: freshman year), but being the perfectionist that I am, average just wasn't good enough to make the grade. I suppose that I did have times when I was fit. I had a wonderful aerobics/strength training class in high school that I loved. In college, I always liked to take dance classes, and usually a volleyball class or something on the side. There was a time when I played sand volleyball and tennis weekly, at least. But, I couldn't go run every day like almost every other person in Provo. And stepping on a scale made me cringe.
Sadly, moving away from college meant leaving some of those active habits in Provo. I never fully could get back in the saddle. Leading me to be the least fit I've ever been in my "unfit" life. Now I truly fit the "unfit" description (pun intended).
So, I decided in January that I was sick of the person who was living in my body. I know she had some semblance of me, but the real me was a bit, um, buried. I had tried running, but I knew that that was not going to be a viable option for me. For one thing, I don't really like to run. For another thing, there was nothing to hold me to it. I think I managed a total of three or four 2-mile runs, and then I just fizzled. Having a husband in night school and a baby at home meant that I couldn't go use the exercise facilities in our apartment complex. (Little fingers just get into to many dangerous places). I knew that I needed to just buckle down and get a gym membership.
Here's the other thing about me. I can do anything for two weeks. It's the third week that really tests my mettle. So, I signed my husband and I both up for a gym membership. For two weeks, I went nightly after the baby had gone to bed. Then I got sick and couldn't breathe - not such a good idea to go exert myself and starve my body of oxygen for an hour. And then there was another 2 week drought. And then I remembered all the things that I needed to do in the evening but couldn't because I was trying to be at the gym. And then there was the sleep deprivation that came with working out in the evening because it would take me forever to relax after a workout, and I would stay up way later than was prudent. And then, there was the vertigo that accompanied sleep deprivation. I know my body. That's never a good mix.
I began to feel discouraged. Like I was fighting a losing battle, so I might as well quit while I was ahead.
But, I'm too competitive for that. I felt that if I could get up early and go before work, then I would be able to use my time more effectively and actually accomplish more in my day. Sounds good, right? Well, for the timing to work out, that means that I have to get up by 4:15 in order to still be ready for work on time.
I prayed earnestly for strength and support that first week. I set my clothes out every night so all I would have to do would be to slip into them and out the door. And miracle of miracles, I was awake before my alarm clock went off every time. I worked really hard to get to bed on time (this is what really takes discipline), and I was out the door by 4:30 every day that week.
Last week (week three) was the hurdle. I only made it 3 days that week. But, I still got in my minimum, and now we're past that.
I've learned a valuable lesson in that time. My clothes don't fit any differently. I have no idea if I've lost any weight. But, I feel better. I feel better about myself. I feel stronger. I feel like I have more control over myself, like I can accomplish what I set out to do. And, while the endorphins may have something to do with it, I have a feeling that mostly it's that I'm learning how to "conquer the flesh," as they say. I'm learning that it's not outside the scope of reality that I can, and will, be a fit person. And I have a new definition of fit now. It's not about being skinny. I want to be strong - strong enough to be able to take care of my family's needs. I want to have endurance - to be able to play a game of basketball with my kids and keep up with them the whole time. I want to be flexible - to really feel like I have pushed my body to it's limits and made the most of the precious gift of having one.
I still have a long way to go, but getting started is the hardest part. One of my favorite quotes growing up says "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness in life is trading what you want most for what you want at the moment." I'm trying to better live by that.
Our spontaneous drive to the beach last weekend was not without consequence. We loved spending time at the ocean. Truth be told, I could have stayed there all day. There's something so mesmerizing about the gentle undulations of the water that laps against the sand, and the heedless sun, and the feeling of timelessness. It's no wonder to me that so many poets and scribes have written about the ocean, the inexplicable draw.
Unfortunately, our camera felt that same draw. Straight into the salty foam it dove. Frankly, I'm lucky to have pulled the pictures off of it before it died completely. I guess maybe I get to convince Brent that we need a good camera now. We'll see.
The other casualty of the night was my purse. Bruce's juice cup was in my purse, and somehow the lid came loose. By the time we got home, the whole thing smelled of fermented, ocean-water infused apple juice. And the sticky! Ugh! I inherited from my mother a disliking of all things sticky - at least that's going to require extensive cleaning. Thankfully, my wallet and phone weren't affected, but everything else had to be tossed. It was time to clean out anyway, right?
The other unfortunate occurrence was that we didn't plan ahead, therefore, we didn't have dry clothes for after the beach. And it's still pretty chilly at night with the sea breeze in Santa Monica. So, we headed a block over to the 3rd Street Promenade - a fabulous outdoor mall, of sorts. There are shops lining both sides of the street, and there's only foot traffic the whole way down for several blocks.
The happy happenstance was that in our quest to find warm clothes, we happened upon some great music. It was like icing on the cake of an already great day. I love finding new music. I love the exposed, intimate setting of a street performance. There was just such a fun, happy vibe. Even Bruce danced with us. Since our camera had taken a header into the ocean, I've relied on youtube to bring you a taste of what we found.
Yesterday I was feeling cagey. Restless. Like I was starting to go crazy. It had been a busy week and then I'd had to work yesterday morning. I came home at noon and told my husband to pack the car. I didn't care where we went; I just knew I needed out.
Thankfully, we live just 2 hours from the ocean. We had plenty of daylight left to take us there. Without realizing it, we drove straight there. It was paradise!
I had to laugh as Bruce discovered the curiousity of walking on sand. He took two steps and just started to giggle for the wonder of it. Even when he lost his balance, he just laughed. He loved to pick up big handfuls and just let it slide out of his fingers.
Our little boy was also mesmerized by the ocean. He ran straight for it. It didn't matter that the water was cold. He laughed as the waves lapped at his feet, and then as they crashed into us. It was pure magic! I can't wait for the summer!
1. When God created the earth, I wonder if He sometimes experimented.
Speaking of the lemon: "Hmmm, this is good, but what would it be like in green?"
2. Speaking of citrus, my little boy loves it! The more tart and sour the better. We gave him a slice of lemon the other day which he immediately stuffed in his mouth. Then he pulled it out and just giggled because the taste was so new. Over and over he licked the lemon and then giggled. Once he'd sucked that slice dry, he reached for another one. Now he'll go to our stash and bring me a lemon or a grapefruit to cut open for him. What a ham!
3. Sundays go so much better, life goes so much better, when I've adequately prepared. Organization - of my time and my space - is not my strong suit and is something that I'm trying to work on. Amazing that I made it through grad school, right? I'm realizing that for most things I have to start preparing MUCH sooner than I would usually start. I'm still pondering and learning. This article from the Ensign has given me much to think about how my physical preparation mirrors my spiritual preparation.
4. I speak differently through a pen and a sheet of paper than I do to a screen and a keyboard. Funny that I should have this epiphany now, but I suppose it's a matter of audience.
5. My little boy does not like the song, "My Heavenly Father Loves Me." Every time I sing it around the house, he breaks down in tears which quickly turn to sobs if I don't stop. I was asked to play a duet with a friend at church for a special musical number. We decided to play a gorgeous arrangement of that song. I was worried that today's number might be a bit rough for him. Turns out my concerns were realized. Brent had to take him out. We used to sing it to him to help him sleep when he was just new. Now he thinks that it means bedtime, and the hysterics begin.
6. So grateful for music in my life. I was honored to participate in the number at church today. I was blessed in my preparation of the number. I was blessed to be able to create something beautiful with someone else and feel our relationship grow. I hope those who heard it could feel the testimony in our hearts that we endeavored to share, and that I was not the only one who left strengthened.
I know I should like, or at least tolerate Pachabel's Canon in D. I've tried to love it, honestly, I have. In fact, when I was younger, there was a point in my life when I could have said that it was among my favorite songs. That all changed when I became a cellist. And had to play that blasted song at a wedding. Cellists do not like Canon in D. It's torture. Pure agony. I know of cellists who invent ways to keep themselves engaged in the song - including eating a banana while playing, and switching hands. I have a feeling that if I ever go mad, it will feel just like being stuck in a never-ending loop of Canon in D. Pandora actually had the audacity to try to sneak that one into my Bach playlist not once, but twice today. Disgusting.
It feels so good to finally get that off my chest.