Thursday, October 23, 2014

What I do all day

Well, it actually happened.  I got asked the question dreaded by all stay-at-home mom's everywhere.  "So, what do you do all day?"  My response was flustered and not very impressive due to my shock at actually being asked this question.  The lady asking me had a two-year-old and was expecting a second child in just a couple months.  She wasn't necessarily being condescending or rude; she was honestly curious.  Having recently quit her job to stay home with her toddler and soon-to-be new baby, she was apparently struggling to find ways to fill her daytime hours.
I remember staring at her, wondering if she missed the fact that at that moment all four of my kids were running around causing all kinds of mild destruction, and wondered if she was serious.  I think I said something that I assumed was obvious, "believe me, I have plenty to keep me busy."
Since then, that particular question seems to be bouncing around in my head.  I've pondered it quite often.  It seems to pop up whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed, and it also appears during those rare occasions that I am actually bored.  What do I do all day?
Initially I felt really bothered.  Truthfully, if you ask me to give a run down of the productive things I do during my typical day, I come up blank - or at least - I have to give it some thought.  It bothered me that I must dig so deeply for my answer.  It seemed to me I should have a ready and available answer like, "oh, I cooked three delicious and healthy meals, trimmed the hedges, built some shelves, volunteered at the school for the PTA, and privately tutored all my children in their advanced music lessons!"
I'm not a super mom, at least I don't consider myself to be one.  I mark my successes one day at a time, and some days, I don't feel I have a single one.
I remember years ago when I learned I was expecting my very first baby.  My husband and I sat down and discussed just how we would manage this plunge into parenthood.  As united partners, we made the decision that I would stay home with my daughter.  I had been working as a veterinary technician; it was a job that I truly loved.  It was a job I felt like I was good at, and had a lot of success with.  I had worked very hard and was a good employee.  I had earned my way up the ladder and had been rewarded with raises and promotions. It was a hard decision to leave that behind.  Besides a job I loved and would certainly miss, it was also going to be a major financial sacrifice.  This was significant and we questioned whether or not we would realistically be able to get by.
I remember going to my boss and telling her my decision.  She questioned my sanity a little bit.  She offered to simply let me take a extended break, and come back after a few months. I appreciated her offer, but I was committed to my decision.  I remember the look of deep concern on her face.
Since that time, I have been at home with my children. I never went back.  The road was rocky at times.  We did struggle to make ends meet from time to time, but we remained committed, and somehow, things would work out.
So, back to the original question - What do I do all day?  Well, I'm completely consumed by raising my children.  When I left my job to stay home, I thought of it literally as a career change.  I consider being a full time mommy my career.  I devote everything I have (probably even more than that) to my chosen career.  I work hard and I work long hours, but I also see the reward for my efforts.  At times it feels thankless.  Some days are just hard.  In fact, just like any job, there are days when I just don't feel like going to work.  But I do, and I give it my best.
I have days full of nothing but kitchen duty and living in the car.  I have days when I can't believe how many diapers I've changed, and then I have to change another one.  I have days that everything I touch is sticky.  I have days when all the kids do is squabble and fight with one another and I just don't feel I can stand another minute of it!  I have days when I feel like the maid - I clean and I clean and I clean - and every room I walk in there's another mess waiting.  I have days when the laundry kicks my butt.  I have days when I feel sick, but I have to get up and go to work anyway.  I have days when I feel overwhelmed and inadequate.  Some days are lonely.  Some days are long.  Some days I just try to survive.
One the other hand: I have days that the baby sleeps just a little longer, and I get to have snuggle time with my girls in the early morning.  I have days when I find little pictures or notes on my pillow from someone who thinks I'm the best mom ever.  I have days when I receive extra hugs and kisses "just because."  I have days when I learned that after a long night of studying, she comes home with an A on her test. I have days when I think I couldn't possibly love them any more than I do, and then I do and it's awesome!  Some days are silly and full of laughter.  Some days are kind and full of love for one another.  Some days we serve others less fortunate than our family.  Some days are wonderful.  Some days are too short.  Some days leave memories we cherish for a lifetime. 
What do I do all day?  I raise my family.  I devote myself to it completely. I make chore charts.  I look on Pinterest for birthday party ideas.  I practice braiding hair.  I go to the grocery store...again!  I make a delicious meal that my kids all eat with enthusiasm (most days!)  I clean, and I clean, and then I clean some more.  I go shopping with my mom.  I love my husband and leave little notes for him in the car.  I call another mom and work out a playdate.  I laugh at all my daughter's jokes (even the ones that aren't very funny!)  I bake cookies for the school wonder day.  Sometimes we start heading to dance only to return 2 minutes later because we forgot the tap shoes.  Sometimes my kids astound me with their intellect and insight.
I sew pillowcases for a special Christmas gift.  I take my baby to the doctor because he stuck something up his nose.  I make apple juice and we have a tea party. I remind them that baby brother is not a toy. I push my daughter on the swing...for what seems like hours.  I play Barbies...I'm always the "mean" girl who learns to be nice. I remind them to share...I yell at them to "please share!" I pick up Squinkies constantly!  I shower when I have time.  I exercise when they nap.  I get them snacks...10 million times a day. I forget to feed the dog, but she reminds me. I wait three minutes sitting in the car in the dark garage because my favorite song comes on and I must listen to all of it. I put on make-up and do my hair...sometimes.  I pick them up from school.  I help another mom jump her car.  I smile and say thank you to the cashiers and the baggers at the store, because I'm trying to be a good example.  I sing silly songs.  I dance and embarrass my oldest daughter.  I read Harry Potter to my girls at night with such intensity and excitement that we lose track of the time.  I put a bandaid on every "ouchie." I kiss and hug them every day.  I love and I love and I love some more.
I worry about them, each individually.  I pray for them, each individually.  I take them to church.  I study my scriptures.  I try to do a little better every day.  I learn and I learn some more, and then I seem to need to learn the same lesson again.  This is what I do every single day.
And I love it.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Family Photos

Finally!  At long last, we finally had some family photos taken that included ALL of us!  So long overdue!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hannah's "Frozen" Party

I just knew, given Hannah's obsession that just won't die, that we'd be doing a Frozen birthday party for her this year.  She's been planning on it since...well...since the movie came out, really.
Since any creative idea I have comes from Pinterest, I found myself there - searching, searching, searching through pin after pin for Frozen party ideas.  After a few searches I had to snap the laptop shut and go take a long bubble bath to ward off the depression that was creeping in.  That little Pinterest voice that sometimes pops into my head was telling me that I'm a terrible mother for not doing these unbelievably magical parties that might include a live Elsa and Anna and decorations that could easily trump Disneyland.
Once I got over that, I went back to the basics.  I don't have to do anything grand.  My daughter just wants a fun party with Frozen attributes, simple.  I had a discount offer for a bounce house rental, so I started there.  Lucky for me, they had a Frozen themed bounce house - so I booked it! The majority of the party was set!  After that a plan began to formulate, and I never went back to Pinterest.
We sent out invitations, which I got off Etsy and printed at Costco.  We invited several little girls, probably too many, but Hannah has so many friends these days, she was stressing about leaving someone out.  I figured with the bounce house, a large group of kids wouldn't be that big of a deal since we'd be outside for most of the party.
We turned the backyard into "Olaf's Summer Land."  Along with the bounce house, we had a game of "Pin the Nose on Olaf," a Frozen piƱata (I found online), danced to Frozen music, and played "Elsa-style" Freeze tag.
The party was perhaps a tad on the chaotic side, but the kids all had fun, so that's what matters right?
As they arrived they got to color a Frozen picture of their choice (most of them choose Elsa). Then we went out back to play in Olaf's Summer Land.
After bouncing until we thought we'd drop, we came back inside for presents and Frozen cupcakes.


 I think the pictures make it pretty clear there was a lot of excitement at this party!  Hannah was overjoyed to have all her friends at the party and have the day focused on her.  She's been perhaps a tad jealous at the fact that Adell's birthday preceded hers and it seemed like it would NEVER be Hannah's turn! Finally she got a day to shine.
She's been talking about her party for weeks now, so it would appear she loved it.  Her friends at school keep asking when her next birthday is so they can plan on it.  Let us forever be known as the "coolest parties" house.
Happy Birthday to our Frozen princess, Hannah!