Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Because Green

The plague has hit our home.

You know the one. It isn't nearly as deadly or tragic as the Black Death, but it has certainly been spreading and infecting homes in my neighborhood with the speed and intensity of the Bubonic plague. I can't complain, really. We have a much more mild case than all our neighborhood, but still, it is miserable.

The girls have been fighting croup for over a week. I get to take them in to see the doctor tomorrow. I am both excited and relieved. I am not sure how much more of Faye's grumpy and irritable energy I can take. Her sickness hasn't slowed her down at all, only made her much more snappy and hard to be around. I will be so happy to have her sweetness back when she is feeling better. 

On the plus side, I have learned something about myself. When I am worried about something, I go into a mad cleaning phase. Our house has been getting quite the over haul. 


Saturday night Faye had a fever and her breathing seemed to be shallow and fast. I took her over to our neighbor who is an EMT and works in the emergency room. He looked her over and told me to take her in to the doctor when I could get an appointment, but to just watch her closely until then. When I got home, I took down all of the Valentine's Day decorations and put up the St. Patrick's decor. Just walking into my living room and seeing all that green makes my heart pitter patter. Green is one of my utmost favorite colors. And since I can't live in a forest, bringing all the green I can into my home just makes sense. 

That and I love to decorate.

And the kids and I are sort of getting very excited for the leprechauns. My friend who made the pants last year is going to make me a jacket to be left behind this year, and I have pranks saved up for them. As odd as it may seem, St. Patrick's Day may well be becoming my second favorite holiday. Because Halloween is nothing but a party, but St. Patrick's Day is full of magic and mystery and wee men who wear a lot of green and play jokes on people. Which is so much fun for everyone involved!

I have been waiting to be able to let the merriment begin for quite a long time. I had to keep reminding myself that Valentine's Day had to come first, and I couldn't decorate in green until it was over. Which leads us back to Saturday night and my worried cleaning.

I also tackled my bedroom, and I am super pleased with it. For the first time of my married life, I have actually put my room together. It is just how I like it.

Until I decide to change it around, again. But see, that is the beauty of owning a house. I can re-arrange to my heart's content. I can swap out furniture, paint the walls (which I plan to do), or do anything I really want to do. Because I can. Merely having that freedom to chose makes me so happy!

This is my bed at the moment.

I absolutely love the angle and the shutters! I am going to have to raise them, and I think I will eventually mount them to some plywood to make an actual headboard out of them. But for now, they make me happy just the way they are. 

And for the first time ever, my wall of pictures!
I know some of the frames are crooked. I don't care. I am going to eventually paint and then I will worry about fixing it.
I am just giddy to be in my room, and that feels so good. 

I have to admit, though, the first time I walked into my room after re-arranging it, my first thought was "Who has been playing in my room and moved my bed?! Those darn kids!" And then I realized it was me, and I had a good hard belly laugh. 

I like to make my life interesting, it would seem.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


I am an eternal optimist. I like to enjoy life, and being an optimist helps me do that. Keith, however, couldn't be more different. He is quite the pessimist, and it is hard for me to see him struggling with little things that really shouldn't be a problem at all.  Little things can really get him down. Because this is something I have watched him struggle through, I have gone to my knees in prayer on many occasions for just this reason.

On Sunday we were sitting in sacrament and by some miracle, I was actually able to somewhat listen to the speaker. The kids were happily looking at past issues of the Friend, and Beth was groggy and content to just be held. Sundays she doesn't get a nap and it is hard on all of us, usually. While listening to the speaker, he began talking about something that really hit home with me and sounded quite like an answer to my prayers about Keith. The speaker was saying that there is no such thing as a bad day. Sure, we have hard days, sometimes it seems we have more than our fair share. But there is never a bad day, because we have been so blessed and loved. Every thing we go through is for our own good in some way. We may not be able to see it at the moment, but somewhere down the line we will recognize that each and every one of our trials is to help us and to better us.

I nudged Keith to get him to listen.

Sunday night as I was reading my scriptures I came across 2 verses that really hit me.

1 Nephi 17:1-2
1 And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth. And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness. 
2 And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.

Holy wow! That impressed me so much. They were wading through trials and afflictions. Life was hard. The women were pregnant and giving birth and then dealing with newborns all while they were hiking through the desert. I am sure food wasn't easy to come by, let alone water. They must have been hot and thirsty and sweaty and stinky. They had to set up camp every night. Things were rough! And yet, Nephi immediately says how blessed they were. They were strong, they were able to have the food they needed to feed their children. The women were strong. They were able to travel without much difficulty. He was able to see the blessings in their lives despite the hardships. 

There is always something to be thankful for. There is always something to be glad about. Always! Silver linings exist and, dare I say, are abundant if only we look for them!

Between the talk and this scripture, I decided that for FHE last night, we were going to discuss, and then watch a movie of the champion of silver linings. Pollyanna. She was orphaned, living with an aunt who didn't want her, and yet she was still as happy as could be because she knew how to play the Glad Game! 

Things didn't exactly go according to plan last night, though. The kids were very much not listening to a thing I said, I was so tired and groggy, and by the time we got around to FHE, it was already 8:00. We discussed the scripture and then I told the kids we would watch the movie after school today.

I am really looking forward to it. I love that movie, but more than that, it will be nice for Keith to have an example of how to play the Glad Game, so when he is having an especially pessimistic day, we can play it and hopefully help him see all the wonderful goodness in his simple life.

And I am going to try my hand at making jell-o popcorn. 

Any excuse to make goodies just makes me happy.

And I am glad of that! 

(See what I did there?)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cleanliness is Happiness

It is true, I am a bit crazy when it comes to cleaning.

Just ask Jeffrey.

When my house is a mess, I just feel disorganized chaos inside and so I am in a constant state of trying to get things clean. That is not to say I am a clean person. I am actually rather messy. But I try hard to keep things neat, so our home has some very interesting dynamics going on. Especially considering my standard of cleanliness is quite a bit higher than a lot of other people's. My mom taught us to work hard and clean hard, and then I was a custodian all through high school, and a bit afterward, so I really know how to clean!

But I am a bit obsessive. I do a fairly good job of keeping the surface areas clean, or the places people will see, all while feeling guilty and anxious inside because I know that even though they can't see it the house is actually a mess. But when the cleaning bug bites me, look out! I go crazy and clean everything in sight until the but wears off, or I crash into my bed from over exhaustion. Last week I was cleaning after I tucked the kids in, and decided to just keep going until I got tired. I deep cleaned. I washed walls, scrubbed the baseboards, mopped, re-arranged, washed spots off the carpet, etc. At 4:30 I still didn't feel tired but decided I should probably go to bed. When I woke up, however, I still felt like cleaning. So I kept going, until I crashed around noon and just began crafting, which made me late for the book club that I was hosting at my house. After that, though, I sort of wore myself out and didn't clean again all weekend. Which eventually, the stress from having a messy house because I wasn't cleaning it, gave me a migraine. Lovely, right?

I guess you could say I am selectively obsessive?

That said, my laundry/craft room has been a nightmare of a mess since September. And the family room gets frightening on a regular basis, but really, I have been so crazy busy, I haven't had a spare moment to just tackle the mess. Which has made my mental state less than ideal. From September until now I have had birthdays and holidays and Primary Program, and school, and the miscarriage and all sorts of stress, impeding me from a good cleaning. Very unfortunate.

Until this week, that is.

Thus far I have had it all week. Monday I cleaned the upstairs which had gotten trashed from my cleaning hiatus over the weekend. I deep cleaned the parts of the house that people don't usually see. My bathroom, bedroom, and Beth's bedroom. I switched out all the upstairs toilet seats and WD-40'd all the doors. Tuesday we did a whole lot of playing with friends, and yet while visiting with Adrienne, I kept cleaning. I began on my mammoth of a basement where it was dangerous to walk. Keith has gotten cut on his foot twice now from just walking through the family room. It is that bad.

I cleaned until 3 this morning, and I got my laundry/craft room clean! You can walk in it now. Things can be created or washed in there now, yo! And, I started a new book last night after I had finished as much as I could do and I was waiting to switch a load of wash before I went to bed. I decided it is high time I read Catcher in the Rye, so there you have it. Hopefully I can give a report on it next week.
After doing the whole run around dropping kids off at school, and rushing to the store because I forgot to buy milk the last time I was there, and then falling to peer pressure and joining a friend at JoAnn's which is Targets smooth talking crafty cousin who gets you to buy things you don't need but want, and makes you feel awesome as you are walking out of the store with projects in mind, but like a complete slacker 3 years later when said project hasn't even begun. After all that, I was finally able to get down to buid'ness again. I sorted through the Christmas/Halloween/St. Patrick's/Valentine/Winter/Easter boxes and organized them. Things had just been thrown in willy nilly, combining and mixing things up so nothing could actually be found. Also, all the dress ups and stuffed animals were intermingling with the high brow decor society and I had to break up a few parties, banishing the dress ups and animals back to their box in the corner where they could glare at me and quietly protest the segregation.

I ended up with 4 Christmas bins, 4 Halloween bins, and small boxes for the rest of the decor. It isn't hard to tell which holidays we favor, is it? I moved all the decor out to the shed and ended with a grand total of 13 boxes of decorations. And I am now so excited for more holidays to come up because I will get to use my fun decorations! But getting all that chaos sorted and organized was lie a spring breeze blowing through my stuffy mess blocked heart. And when I got all of that out and organized in the shed, it was like I became a new woman.

I cannot even begin to explain the relief and tranquility that is now residing in my heart. Tonight after Jeffrey and I did a last cleaning sweep of the kitchen before retiring to bed, I stopped in the doorway and looked around. The knowledge that my house is clean is probably one of the best feelings ever! We were talking about how nice it is, and I realized a slight problem. I don't really know what to do with myself tomorrow.

And then I remembered.

I will always have Faye's room.

Even if we clean it, the very next day it will look as if it were inhabited by her evil twin who is part slovenly hoarder and part ferret. That is her talent. In the twinkling of an eye, any room in which Faye is playing, no matter how clean it may be at the start, can be transformed to appear as if it were struck by a natural disaster.

And so, I am reveling in the fact that my house, for the moment, feels like it has been visited by Mr. Clean, and I finally have some peace.

Until tomorrow.

Today while Keith was practicing the piano, he was telling me that he is learning how to type. He has learned "home row," except he told me that he has to put a 'T" in every word he types. 

"Because if I don't, it just doesn't feel like a real word." 

I asked him "what about the word 'hand'?" 

"I am only on home row, Mom. I haven't gotten that far yet."

That kid cracks me up.

Faye, on the other hand, is growing up way too fast.

Last week while I was playing the piano, Faye came and sat next to me on the bench. She looked so small and sweet, smiling and leaning her head against my arm as I practiced Beethoven. While I paused to go over a more difficult part, she said, "Mom! I can sound like a cheerleader. Want to hear?"

I smiled and encouraged her to go ahead.

She took a deep breath, tossed her head loftily and with an amazing amount of aloofness said "Psh. Whatever!"

I hope she gets all of her teenage angst out before she actually means it.

Over the weekend I was working on the computer in my room when they walked in giggling. I asked them what was up and Keith said "I am the bottom and Faye is the top."

Confused, I asked for clarification, and they informed me that they were being Daddy. Keith was going to be the bottom, and Faye the top. I laughed and told them to let me know how it worked out for them.

Five minutes later they came back to my room and said "Hey, Amy. How is your day going?" I looked up to see Keith wearing Jeffrey's pajama pants, pulled up to his shoulders. Faye was wearing Jeffrey's t-shirt and a hat, and was sitting on Keith's shoulders. 

After they saw that I saw them, they could no longer contain their hilarity and fell onto the bed, the three of us belly laughing. I love how creative they are!

Beth of course is an adorable little angel. She is 18 months and is now wanting to potty train. 

Gosh, I love that girl! We are having intermittent success, but that may be more so my fault. I need to be more dedicated and focused to help her. But the fact that she loves to sit on the potty really gives me high hopes that she will be my fastest potty training baby. And yes, I am bragging. Fingers crossed anyway.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Farewell Afternoon Tea

Friday morning, Faye and I decided we were going to have a tea party.

It was our last day of watching Mimi, and we decided it would be wonderful to celebrate with her.

We went to the grocery store and browsed the isles, carefully deciding what would go best with our impromptu afternoon tea. We invited one of Faye's friends to join us, and we set to work straightening up the kitchen from breakfast and getting out the pretty dishes and everything we would need. I also found some ridiculously large diamond rings at the dollar store I thought would be a fun way to surprise them all with.

While the girls played and Mimi flirted with Captain Kirk on her ipad, I chatted with my friend (Faye's friend's mom) and chopped vegetables, arranged foods and heated up the water for the cocoa and postum. I set the table all fancy like, and then called everyone to lunch.

The girls burst from the family room, exploding up the steps like a cannon blast. There was confusion, clattering chairs, jostling elbows as everyone fought over who would sit where. My friend and I got to intervene to establish peace among the warring nations of who wanted the stool and who would get the purple ring. While they had been playing downstairs, they had been going through the dress ups, getting ready for their elegant and fashionable afternoon tea.

I established the rules for the guests who do not often join us for our teas. No slurping, manners are enforced, pinkies up, and above all, you must use a British accent. It doesn't matter how atrocious it is, no one there will be judging, but you must at least attempt. I would also accept Irish, Scottish or Welsh, but that is all. In fact, if anyone ever actually pulled off a decent Welsh accent, I think they would have won the tea party.

Once rules were understood, we had a blessing on the food (it was our lunch, after all), and the festivities began.

It was so much fun! I love playing dress up and tea party with Faye and the girls. I love helping them feel so grown up and special. It is also delightsome to me to be able to teach the girls a little about other parts of the world. Granted, we do have a very stereotypical afternoon tea. And it is just for fun. But about half the time, questions do come up from the girls about England, or other parts of the world. We talk about monarchies, or governments. It can be like a world Civ. class, albeit much more fun.

We chatted, and the girls laughed and impressed me by eating all of their vegetables. They politely excused themselves when they had finished eating lunch and went downstairs to play.

Mimi loved it. Every second. The laughter, the girls, the huge fake diamond ring. She loved the food and just gushed over everything. I love her so much and we are really going to miss her being around every day.

My friend Kati had to leave to pick up her daughter from school so she left her girls and while she was gone I cleaned up the lunch and got out the dessert. It was arranged all nicely on my dessert trays with doilies beneath the dainty eclairs and cookies. When Kati got back with her daughter and Keith was home from school, I pulled out two more tea cups and saucers, gave them some hot cocoa, and called the other girls up for dessert.

And a repeat of lunch.

I love afternoons like that.

Mimi basked in the energy and excitement of all of the kids. She beamed as they shouted and laughed and quarreled. She loved when they asked her questions and simply glowed with the excitement and joy of the special tea party we had for her.

All too soon it was cleaned up and put away. The kids went back downstairs to play, and Mimi went back to scolding the girls who were kissing her boyfriend, Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. And then her sister came to pick her up, and took her home.

And that is the last time Mimi will be here.

Saturday morning Jeffrey and I took the kids to my parent's house, and then we went to his parent's house. My job was to keep Mimi occupied. Jeffrey helped his mom, sister and uncle move all of Mimi's belongings to the assisted living center she will now be living in. It was a very difficult decision for my mother in law to make. We all just love Mimi, and it will be hard on both her and my mother in law, who has been her primary care taker for more than ten years now, not to mention the years she spent watching out for her little sister who has Down Syndrome, all growing up. But the center is within walking distance of my in law's house, so visiting will be a fairly easy thing to do. It is just hard, is all. To not have her around all of the time. But I agree whole heartedly with my mother in law that it is time for her to have the extra help she needs.

Maybe it was a good bye tea party for Mimi, and maybe it was to appease my own... whatever emotion it is that I can't find a word for. Either way, it was a blast, and I am sure glad we did it. I am plotting out plans in my brain for when the kids and I can take a tea party to Mimi in her new "apartment."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wheezing and Rascals

Today Mimi was scaring me. She is 60 now, which in Down Syndrome translates to so much older than that.

Lately, she has been having.. complications of sorts. She always has a harder time in January, for some reason. January bumps, we call them. Every year in January things just seem to get bumpy for her health wise.

While she comes here, I do everything I can to help her be comfortable and happy, but this week has just been hard. She gets here and wants to lay down. I have to help her up and down and to the bathroom, and all of that good stuff.  Lately, though, especially this week, she has been wheezing when she breathes while laying down. She has been having trouble with lots of things. Monday I called my mother in law to come and check on Mimi. Her pulse was lower and the breathing thing was really weird and worrisome.

Especially today. She had me rushing into the room where she was every two minutes or so with her wheezing breathing. I was so worried about her! I tried recording her breathing to show her sister (my mother in law) and see what she thought about it, to see if she was worried as well.

I wasn't sure if it was Mimi thinking if she scared me enough I would call her sister who would come and rescue her, or if it was actually something to worry about.

When my MIL got there, I showed her the videos of Mimi, and she looked at Mimi, and said "Mimi, are you being dramatic?"

And Mimi laughed.

All the wheezing and whimpering she had been doing was just her being dramatic, having fun scaring me.

That nymph!

She is just a rascal.

Speaking of rascals, Beth has been all over the place lately.  I was trying to clean today, I turned around and found this.

A few minutes later I turned around and she was at it again.

Between those two, life is never dull.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Shovel To The Face

It was a beautiful quiet afternoon today. Just still and muffled with those lovely cotton echoing clouds that were as grey as a noir film. I was working in my bedroom this afternoon, reveling in the rare quiet that comes from the echos of the children playing outside bouncing off the house and a sleeping baby. The infrequent quiet that is always interrupted too soon. Today's interruption came not 2 minutes after the kids went outside. The bright and happy echoing laughter outside suddenly turned sour which was noticable as the whole energy of the house changed and seconds later Keith quietly came in the house. He had tears mutely rolling down his face and he was trying desperately to keep the tears in and be quiet so as not to wake the baby. 

I love that he is so considerate. Had it been Faye, she would have burst into the house, slammed the door, and with all the dramatics she could muster would have stomped down the hallway like an elephant stampede, wailing like an angry banshee, ready to unleash her fury or have me deliver a swift justice to her offender. But Keith, he is an altogether different sort of child. He quietly closed the front door and tiptoed down the hall so as not to wake the baby, and came into my room, whimpering.

I immediately jumped up and gave him a hug, wiped away his tears and asked him what was wrong. 

With tears spilling down the rosy cold cheeks, he whimpered "Faye hit me in the face with a shovel."

"What?!" I gasped in shock.

"Faye hit me in the face with the snow shovel," he repeated. I told him I had heard him the first time, I just didn't want to believe it.

At that point, the dramatic Faye came flying into the room, snow covering her boots, face set in an angry and injured expression.

"Well, it's not my fault! The snow made me do it." she exploded, "He threw snow at my back and I didn't want him to."

It was hard to not laugh at the absurdity. Keith wanted to have a snowball fight with his sister and she quickly turned it into a jailhouse brawl. He threw some snow at her which hit the back of her coat. No snow touched her skin or hurt her in any way. Like an unpredictable tornado she quickly turned on him. Lucky she doesn't know what a shank is! At least we know she can and always will take care of herself. 

Faye and I had a long talk then, about how it is okay to not want to participate, but it isn't ever okay to hit someone, especially not with a shovel! She felt bad and began crying because the gravity of her actions began to sink in.  That girl is going to have a hard time in school if she doesn't get her temper or her violence under control quickly! I have a lot to work on with her.

I admit, when I was telling Jeffrey about it, I had a hard time actually getting it out because I was laughing so much. What a funny story. Her reaction outweighs the perceived insult by so much it is ludicrous and hilarious at the same time. 

And then they made up and were best friends again.

Like always. 

After the drama, we had a Harry Potter party where we finished the first book again. While we were reading, Beth entertained herself in the kitchen.

Because boxes are pesky and slippery transparent booby traps are so much more efficient at home security. A la Home Alone. At least she and the cat had fun today and stayed out of trouble while we were reading. And you can't tell, but she is currently in an anti diaper mood and thinks it is the funniest thing in the world to go around bare bummed.

I would say "at least she is entertained," but who am I kidding? Her sense of humor and particular form of rebellion have me in fits of laughter all day. 

Gosh, I love being a mom!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Irish Pub Potatoes and Romance in the Toilet Isle

Yesterday was our 8 year anniversary. It is sort of surreal that so much time has gone by. I feel like Jeffrey and I have always been together, and yet it seems like yesterday that we got married. Funny how time can do that, isn't it? We didn't really get to celebrate yesterday, though, because Jeffrey is now working 10-11 hour days and is so tired when he gets home from work. Anticipating this, the kids and I got some pizza, enjoyed our dinner, I got them ready for bed, and by seven o'clock they were all in bed and he and I could enjoy a few short hours together before we had to go to sleep.

So we ate pizza and watched Red Dwarf.

Because we are romantic like that.

We did get to celebrate on Saturday, though. Some dear friends of ours set up with Jeffrey for them to come over and watch the kids so we could go on a date. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I figured out something was going on by the way Jeffrey kept walking out of the room when he got a phone call, and how he would smile every time he walked back in. I hate surprises, and so lovingly coerced him into telling me what was up. It was such a sweet gesture, and I am so grateful for them and their help. And because we are so romantic, we got Indian food and then went to the hardware store. Jeffrey got a lock for our shed, we picked out colors swatches to paint the kitchen and Beth's room, and we bought a new toilet seat. It was steamy in the hardware store, I tell you what! Nothing like a toilet seat to get the passion and romance rolling. 

Today was back to business as usual. The girls and I cleaned up the upstairs and then Faye's room, and then I spent the afternoon in the kitchen baking. Cookies, rolls, and a gorgeous concoction I dubbed Irish Pub Potatoes.

Oh my glorious goodness! I had no idea they would be as good as they actually were. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I would pay good money for those potatoes again. And I am not a potato lover. Then again, if you add bacon, guacamole and cheese to anything, it will make it incredible. For the recipe follow the link to my recipe blog. You can thank me later.

Keith and Faye have been making me laugh. 

This one should be a movie poster. Faye is such a poser and cracks me up so much!

They get up to the funniest things, and I love when they come in and demand I photograph them. 

Since Jeffrey dubbed January as "No TV Month" we have been doing a lot of reading as a family. 

It has been so wonderful, and I think every one of us has benefited from it. When we have our family read-a-thons, I don't get much reading from my books done, though. Someone has to read to the girls. 

But I don't mind. I love how Beth will grab a book, hand it to me and demand "tory!" She will then slowly back up into my lap and snuggle there while I read the book times infinity, or until I don't turn the pages fast enough.

I can't wait to see what adventures tomorrow brings. And more of those potatoes!