Thursday, January 30, 2014

Inner Life Therapy.

I just need to take a study break and mentally vomit all over this blog right now.

Does that ever happen to you? Information overload? Thought overload? Worry overload?
It's a regular occurrence for me. I suppose, in many ways, I ask for it. I'm becoming too much of an information junkie. Is that even possible? To be indulged with too much information too often? I think it is actually. I kinda picture it like being a computer that's been jammed with too many files. Once you've overloaded the storage capacity they start intermittently freaking out and slowing down and swearing at everyone.

Oh wait, the swearing part? That's just me I guess.

I have a problem with swearing. It flares up in its greatest severity when I'm annoyed with my studies. I am almost done with my degree, but not really because I'm just going to keep moving directly into my next one so this will be a never-ending track for me. And every time I finish a course I hope that I will be closer to something objective, something objectively true. So if you are like me and searching for a myriad of well mapped, integrated, comprehensible, discernible, objective truths -- complete with clear proofs and solid theories - then psychology is not the subject for you. It is fascinating and complex. Its history is simultaneously replete with remarkable discoveries, insights, and total bullshit. This combination can be frustrating. I recently listened to a podcast where a world renowned astrophysicist remarked that we know more about the earth, other planets, space AND distant galaxies, than we do of the small three pound human brain. It's incredible. And incredibly annoying.

Because, when seeking an education, you set out to know things. And after all that work what do you end up with? The stark realization of how much you really DON'T KNOW.

And for know-it-alls like myself, this is like a horse pill of annoyingness to swallow every damn day.

There I go again. Swearing.

Which as a Mormon, I might as well admit, presents another cultural identity crisis in and of itself. Get a handle on your divine nature, Rae. Sheesh.

The other day, Lily had a friend over after school who also goes to church with us. I kid you not, this happened:

The kids were working on homework and this little friend made an error on one of her papers and proclaimed, "SHOOT!"

Lily corrected, innocently: "You mean SHIT. That's what my Mom says."

Oh shiiiiiiii&.

I mean...oh NOOOOOOOO.

I countered: "What?!!! No I don't, Lily! I say SHOOT too!"

Lily looked at me, squinting knowingly: "Yes you do. When something really bad happens."

I said: "Well, you may have misHEARD me, I was saying SHOOOOOT."

Lily: "Nope. You say shiiiiiiiiit. And now you're being a liar."

Lily and her little friend just looked at me. And I looked down.

"Brownies anyone? They're homemade! Please don't tell your Mom?"

Swearing is really such a degenerative behavior. It is just so trashy. I have never seen another woman who swears and thought "How attractive" or "She's so intelligent" or "Yes. yes. Profound." So why do I do it so easily? It's mostly when I'm frustrated. Nothing gives me a release like dropping a host of expletives when civilized language fails to do the trick. I think that is what is at the heart of the matter: it doesn't sound good, but it can sure feel good.

Anyways, I'm working on it. So, please, don't be a little bitch and go judging me over it.

heh heh.

Back to thought/mind overload. Some days, I am living so inside my head. Between reading or podcasting or searching the internet for more information on my current subject of the day, I just think I'm getting way too weird. Or maybe I'm not weird? Maybe the fact that people don't regularly exchange about substantive issues is the really weird thing? Who knows. There are so many subjects I would like to have conversations about outside of a classroom, with regular people and friends. Oh well, a girl can dream.

But, I also think that thinking can be over-thought. Does that make any sense? Sometimes, we need to de-board the thought train and go wander around outside. Smell the air. Splash around in a stream. Enjoy the scenery instead of constantly talking about it or observing it or analyzing it or measuring it. Because there is nothing like rollicking in the actual scenes of your life. To THINK and to LIVE.

Think. Live. Reflect. Relive.

That is a good cycle, in my opinion.

Some ways I try to 'de-board the thought train" often involves my children.

They are like the wise prophets of The Present. They teach and model enjoying life with abandon and immediacy. Any time I'm too caught up in the responsible, thinky, worry business of adult life, nothing can unwind me like getting down on the floor or going outdoors with my kids.

Another way is to listen to music. I have actually had to ban myself from podcasts on certain days. I find myself tempted and say NO. NO THINKING ALLOWED. Just MUSIC and BEATS. That helps too.
Other times, it is sex with my husband. Because nothing shuts down my brain quite like him. It's also a time when swearing is permissible and even encouraged. Ha! Ha! Oh NOoooO she. didn't.!!!!. What is going on right now?!!? You stop in expecting a photo of a craft or a meal plan idea and BLAMMO, what do you get? Mind assaulted.

That paragraph right, actually, this ENTIRE BLOG... is my insurance policy against ever being called to be the Young Women's President. Ward bulletin organizer for life for me! Now that is objective truth.

I'm sorry. This post has no business being in your head right now.You did nothing to deserve this. Another victim to the senseless, free internet.

And oddly enough, I feel better now.

Have a great weekend! Don't think too much.

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's Great To Be Eight: The Party.

Lily Lu Bug had her birthday party last week.
Our house was over-run by energetic {crazy!}, cute little girls.

I had asked Lily if she wanted to select just a few friends to go somewhere special with {dinner? movie? trampoline park?}, but she chose a birthday party at home instead. It made me smile and remember a few of my own childhood birthday parties at home. I remember my Mom hanging streamers and letting me pick what kind of birthday cake I wanted. It's amazing what a few colored balloons and a cake can do for a child. Magic!

She specifically requested pin-the-tail on the donkey...

hot potato...
{we used hot Mr. Potato HEAD because I was out of potatoes? random.}

and....A pinata.

I have ambivalent feelings towards pinatas. The pressure is so high. I remember the sheer thrill coupled with the wide-spread panic that errupts the moment you see candy flinging from the flaps that have been punctured open. I get ulcers just thinking about it.
Personally, I think all psychological research on mob mentalities should be conducted with pinatas. It's amazing to watch the utter deterioration of human dignity in the desperate lurch for a tootsie roll...

I was like the ultimate buzzkill of the party as I shouted "MANNERS! MANNERS, LADIES!" as 17 screaming little girls descended, climbing over each other and stomping through the last remnants of the brutalized butterfly pinata whose innards lie scattered all over the porch....

Rest in peace.

Imagine our surprise to notice it was the highlight of London's six year-old existence....

{Our much loved babysitter, Aleah. Who Ellie fondly refers to as "Yeeah.}

{This pic of Ellie Jane and her "best fwend Aubwee" slays me. They are the cutest little pair and get along so well.}

Over all, it was a splendid day for our Lily girl. Sometimes I wonder if its borderline pathological, how much I love my children. This can't possibly be normal.

Children really are such blessings. 
Worthy of multiple celebrations indeed. Here's to many many many more birthday parties to come.

The post-party damage...
if only you could feel the stickyness of the floors. Frosting EVERYWHERE.

The End!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Personalized Tiny Dancer silhouette Tutorial.

For the girls' new room, I decided to repurpose our old silhouettes,
from their previous bedroom:

Previous room:

I came up with a new version of silhouette based on seeing a few ballerina forms in a store.

I thought, wouldn't it be cute to take pictures of my OWN girls' dancing forms?!



If I had a son I would go CRAZY with this idea too, boy style.

I'm talking side silhouettes of your boy in a cowboy hat, or pushing a dump trunk. I think it would be so fun to modify this concept into a boy's theme. So there you go. I've got nothing else for you.}


Bye Bye, old silhouettes...

General how-to:

1. Select frame you like. Take the background photo support and Modge Podge paper background of choice.

2. Photograph your tiny dancers doing whatever it is they love to do.

3. Enlarge and Print photo. {Hi Costco! Very cheap.}

4. Cut out silhouette.

{as you've probably noticed, London was totally into this project. der...}

5. Trace silhouette cut out onto dark cardstock of choice.

6. Modge-Podge dark silhouette cut out to frame background.
When dry, put back in frame.  

7.'re done!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

wisdom nuggets.

Today, Emerson is sick. Poor baby. I was greeted this morning by vomit and other satanic fluids shooting from multiple orifices. Did this just make you sick? Welcome to motherhood in 3D!

 I happen to think the most supreme mind/body mastery strategy ever attempted in parenting is The Clean up your Kids' Vomit WITHOUT Vomiting Yourself technique. I've mastered this challenge only a handful of times. I've found that a combination of rubber gloves, clorox fumes, nose pinching, visualizing the clear blue ocean, spastic levels of hee heee heee heee breathing while intermittently repeating out loud this is not my life. this is not my life. this is not my life. tends to provide the sort of  psychomotor deception that becomes necessary for survival as you sprint back and forth between the laundry room and bathroom for the entirety of your day {or week}.

This past week was kind of a brutal one. I was a pretty low grade, loser kind of mom. It was just hard, ya know? I lacked patience. I got pity-potty and pouty and snarky. My most consistent sentiment towards my children could be summed up as please stop making so much sound and when is it bed-time?. We got through it. Homework was completed, meals made, baths given, stories read. But I struggled through so much of it. Trying to feel the joy. There are weeks like that, I've discovered. When you're on a round-the-clock kind of job like this, and you just don't get the sort of breaks that you need as often as you need them, there are going to be some days that you just ttttttrudge and dragggggg yourself through. Then there are the nights. The nights can be the worst. When you lie in bed and cry and feel so guilty that you aren't enjoying it like you should. You have sweet, beautiful children, and you feel like you are failing them. Those nights stink. But, after a good cry, a pleading prayer, and a decent night's sleep (sometimes an impossibility), I've miraculously awakened feeling renewed and ready to try again. Perspective tends to rise with the morning sun and I forgive myself and recommit.

But, occasionally, I like to cry and vent about this stuff to my Mom. She's like the patron-saint-of-emotional-wisdom to me. She'll help me cut through the crap and adjust my perspective. And she's a great solution finder. Sometimes I call  her just wanting to complain and whine and feel sorry for myself. But she's a pro-active one. She tends to comb the recesses of the universe and find that one avenue of change or enlightenment you ought to consider. She reminds me that solutions are possible. I love that about her.

I also have wise women mentors who have come into my life. Some, for a brief time, and others who have remained close friends. Women, from all walks of life, have pearly gems of insight to share. I especially treasure the wisdom of women either older than me or with even more children than me. I see some of them and they are like the soldiers who made it through the crazy, sacred, mine-field. I always like to hear about how they do it.

I'm going to share a few nuggets of wisdom that have become ingrained into my being along the way. Maybe you'll find one or two that will help you when you're having a rather exhausting week too.

Rae's favorite nuggets:

Lighten Up.
This one is pretty straight forward. But hard to practice for someone like me. Chill. Out. Is it that big of a deal? 99% of the time, it's probably not.

The Three Minute Rule.
You can do anything for three minutes. All day, your children will hound you with big requests. When your three year-old daughter asks you to play barbies and you need to get dinner started, the laundry is piling up, you have bills you need to pay, the 6 year-old needs help on her book report, you still haven't showered, etc etc etc, the last thing you can fathom doing is sitting for a good fifteen minutes in rather mind-numbingly boring child play. But you can do three minutes. NOW. You can play Barbies. You can  read a book. You can pause and snuggle. You can color. You can listen. You can sing a song. For three minutes. Three solid, focused minutes of uninterrupted attention for that individual child. 3 minutes right now is better than endless empty promises of 20-30 minutes later. You'll find that if you spend multiple intervals of three minute chunks, you end up giving more than one 20 minute block of interaction a day anyways. And you'll feel really good about it. It's makes more of an impact than you might think.

Live your life in such a way that The Spirit can instruct you on your children.
This is a spiritual practice. The Spirit is Mormon lingo for the Spirit of God. I believe that the inspiration of God is in each one of us. Trying to live my life in a way that aligns and plugs into this undercurrent, this channel of inspiration, is something I'm trying regularly. I fail miserably. But! I believe that I won't be in a position to receive good insight about what my children really need from me if I'm caught up in garbage. If I'm speaking hatefully. If I am dwelling on the negative. If I am unkind or reading trashy books and filling my mind with bankrupt entertainment instead of enlightening words and important information.

You're a Better Mom than you Think you Are.
It's true. Maybe not for me, but definitely for you. ;)
Okay, FINE. No more self-deprecating. I'm a good mom too. If you're trying to be a good mom, that is being a good mom.

I did not raise Wimps.
That's a straight quote from my Mom. I used it the other day when I took my girls for a little hike and heard nothing but I'm hot, I'm tired, my shoes are dirty, when are we going to have a snack?, yada yada yada. Ladies! I said, I am NOT RAISING WIMPS. Now keep moving! They ended up loving the hike and the views.
However, I still apply this phrase to myself. Quit being A WIMP, Rachel. Enough with your FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. You live in America. You are free. You have more rights as a woman than any other woman has had in the history of the world. You are loved. Your body functions. You have a washer and a dryer. You have access to antibiotics. You don't regularly worry about your children contracting smallpox and dying before your eyes. Wah, wah wah, you're crying because you're feeling "stressed" keeping up with your children's PIANO PRACTICE or because you still need to make a meal that will most likely include some sort of fresh produce ingredient that has been FLOWN IN FROM BRAZIL to your local grocery store? Or, because of your schoolwork assignments from your University that gives you access to a wealth information and expertise from ANY LOCATION at your convenience?!!

I sometimes wonder if we went back 200 years in time and selected  25 random women to come back to our day and sit with us in one of our therapy sessions. What would they say? I imagine it would be something like:.... what IS therapy?...... Wait, women ARE VOTING?!,.....What is this magic contraption you speak of that cooks your food for you (AN OVEN)?...... You've actually tasted a real, actual GRAPEFRUIT?.... BIRTH CONTROL?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Keep sippy cups filled in the fridge where your kids can reach them.
Self explanatory. It's amazing how many "self-explanatory" tips I have actually needed explained to me throughout the course of motherhood thus far. Right!, I thought, as this mom further clarified that then they don't have to interrupt constantly asking for a drink. This tip alone was a massive, existential A HAAA moment for me.

Last, divorce your gadgets.
Put away your phone. Quit texting, social media-ing, pinteresting, computer-ing, and all the like during your children's waking hours. I'm working on this. Getting slightly better.

And with that said, the irony is not lost on me...I should be going now.

You have a great week.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Birthday Summary.

To Lily.

If you ever wonder what it was like living with you when you were an EIGHT year old girl, I would tell you the following:

You asked for a metal detector for your birthday

and fringe high knee moccasin boots

and I threw in a spy kit as well, just because I knew it would intrigue you so.

You like to wear lots of rubber bands around your wrists, and Good Luck Charlie is your favorite {permitted} television show. Although truth be told you'd watch way more iCarly and Wizards of Waverly if your mother didn't protest that those kids were too darn sassy and kept smooching each other all the time. You say you don't like the smoochy parts but I know my daughter. Girlfriend, you love it and I plan on capitalizing on that weakness for romance someday when I'm menopausal and you're an adult, when we can cry and eat brownies together watching The Notebook. Sigh, a Mom can dream. However, let's not rush the inevitable and save that for later? Because, OH DANG IT SHOOT ME NOW, I have a feeling there will be lots of boys who will want to play smoochy with you one day. Dad just died reading this.

You're becoming an excellent reader and as of late you prefer non-fiction books about animals. Last night we read about fish and agreed that the hagfish is the ugliest species known to planet earth. You still have a mild lisp and I explode inside every time I hear you reading out loud with your cute voice. You stress about homework, sometimes to the point of perfectionist insanity. I had to calm you down this week when you thought you weren't understanding a math problem. But it's GOING TO BE ON THE TEST, you kept repeating. I saw the anxiety escalating and had to intervene. You just forgot to carry the one. CRISIS AVERTED! She is now carrying the ones, people!!!! We will survive!!!

You love amassing large fortunes through coin collecting and chores. Nothing makes you more giddy than binge shopping at The Dollar Tree. But, you aren't a cold-hearted little capitalist. You frequently share, or will purchase a snack for your sisters. You excitedly fill out tithing slips at church. And as we exited the grocery store one day, you saw a volunteer from a local organization trying to collect money for a homeless shelter. You pulled out your prized money and slipped it into the bucket. And when I told you that you were helping someone to stay warm that night, you beamed with a light brighter than any shopping splurge I've seen so far. You are gold kid, pure gold. That kind of stuff just knocks a mama out cold, when I witness the development of awareness and empathy stemming from your pure little soul. 
You are constantly impressing me with your ever expanding moral development and sense of wonder about the world. You ask delightful {and tough} questions sometimes. Your prayers are beautiful and honest and thankful. 

You are a funny goofball too. An amateur gymnast in the making. You thrive on taking risks: tree climbing, wall scaling, and systematically and deviously sneaking downstairs into the kitchen to raid the pantry after you've been put to bed and Dad and I have retired to our room. I've found you asleep with empty rice krispy wrappers stuffed into the sides of your mattress covers more than once.
{this is the front of your invitation for your upcoming birthday party. you picked these pictures and designed it yourself. you were a rather specific little client, but it was nice working with you}

You have a penchant for sarcasm. To which Dad will rather accusingly probe, hmmmm, I wonder where she gets that from? oh rachel, wherever did she inherit that from? 
Your latest indignatious response to situations you find unacceptable is to repeatedly ask, 
"Really?.. Really?"
Like when I asked you to help pick up the messy playroom, which unbeknownst to me you had apparently not set foot in all day and had no responsibility in destroying . You squinted your eyes and tilted your head,  
You asked that I not curl your hair a certain way the other morning because it made you look like Michael Jackson. What?!! In fact, I think I repeated back to you,
 "Really?... Really?"

Today, you are at Disneyland with Daddy. One on one. Just so you can be sure to hit all the craziest rides, free from the demands of younger sisters. I think Dad has been most excited for this date, because he prefers the same rides too. May you indulge in California Screaming, The Tower of Terror, and Splash Mountain to your heart's content. And afterwards, we'll meet up for your requested birthday dinner: Panda Express. Then, you can open the packages you've anxiously anticipated from your Grandparents, and Gigi. You are blessed, Lily. 

And we are so. incredibly. beyond words. in love. and grateful. and blessed.
to call you ours. 
If you're wondering what life was like with you as our eight-year old I would tell you it was better than Disneyland. Beyond Magical.



Love always,

Mom and Dad


A peek into the past {cue Mom's tears.}: