Thursday, June 9, 2011

A weekend away

A few weeks ago, Mark and I had a much needed get away. When we were first married and during the years of infertility, we often would take off for the weekend, go to the city, shop, eat in nice restaurants, and indulge our cultural side. After having children, it has been years since we have done anything like that. Last year was our 10 year anniversary, but because Mark was unemployed at that time, we were too poor to do anything fun. We decided to make up for it this year and have a late 10th anniversary/early 11th anniversary trip. One of our favorite musicals, Les Miserables, was coming to the city, so we purchased tickets and scheduled a trip.

We got one of my former students to babysit for the weekend. I was really nervous about leaving my children because I have not left them overnight with anybody other than my mother or my mother in law, but they did great and our babysitter was awesome! I am really lucky to have a plethora of former students who are willing to babysit (usually without compensation - their idea, not mine - but I made her let me pay her this time).

We left our kids in good hands and headed out early in the morning. We stopped at a specialty cupcake shop on the way down where we purchased expensive cupcakes so we could say we have now joined the fancy cupcake craze. Mark and I then checked into an old, romantic hotel that is over 100 years old. The elevator never worked, but I thought it was fun to climb the three flights of stairs because the staircase is so grand and really appeals to the history lover in me. We were right in the heart of downtown which was perfect. We could walk to all sorts of restaurants, shopping, and the theater we were attending.

We enjoyed shopping and a leisurely dinner on the night we arrived. Mark had flowers delivered to me at our table at the restaurant, which was a lovely surprise and made me feel special. The next morning we got up and ate our pricey cupcakes in bed. We pretended to be the judges from Cupcake Wars, rating each cupcake as we ate them. In the end we decided that none of them were really all that great and worth the money. We took our time getting ready that morning, but finally headed off for some lunch before the play. After lunch, it was off to the theater!

The musical was all that I remembered and craved. We've seen it twice before, once in the same theater about eight years ago and once by our local high school about ten years ago. We both love musicals and listen to a variety of musical selections on a regular basis, but it has been years since we attended a professional performance. It took my breath away to listen to the music and watch the story line unfold again. I forgot how much I enjoyed live theater until this event. Both Mark and I were enraptured during the entire performance. After the musical was over, it was time to head home, but we could not stop talking about the play and the music on our way home because it was that refreshing to enjoy!

We didn't set up any concrete plans for most of the weekend, but just basked in each others company. It was so nice to reconnect sans kids. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in work and being a parent and it becomes even easier to forget about being a proper spouse to our partner. This weekend gave us much needed time and we came away closer as a result. It was also nice to put away some of the hats I so often wear. For a day I wasn't "Mom" or "Mrs. D". I was just myself, Rachelle, and the spouse of Mark. What a refreshing change to wear those hats exclusively and remember who I am when I am not playing all those other roles. I loved the entire little get away and hope it won't be six years before we do it again!

When was the last time you took a trip with just you and your spouse? How do you reconnect during those times you can't get away together? I always love to hear from others!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Be Present

Wow, it has been longer than I thought since I last blogged. Sometimes time just gets away with me.

I have been thinking a lot about what kind of mother I am and what kind of mother I want to be. I have found that when I am home from work, my thoughts are often still either on work or on my classes. Instead of getting my full attention, my children have been getting only partial attention. That is not fair to them at all. They are my greatest blessing and as such, deserve my full time and attention. It's not their fault that their mother works and they should never come last on my list of priorities.

The quote from David O. McKay (one of the former prophets of my church) that reads, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home" has been on my mind quite a bit. Reading this quote, I was once again reminded that no matter what I do at school, it will never be as important as what I do at home. I know that, but sometimes I forget.

I set the goal to be present when I am home. No more thinking of work, the state of my house, the classwork I need to finish, or other distractions. All of that can wait until the next day or when my kids are in bed. In the time I am home with my kids, they get all of me, as much as possible, every single day. They need that and I need that.

Since doing this, I have found my relationship with my children is blossoming more every day. On the drive back from Grandma's house (she watches the children for me), we turn off the radio and talk. I hear what is going on at school from Camden and enjoy the small talk from Easton. We talk about the best and worst parts of our day and as a result, we are all looking for the positive more. Sometimes we sing, sometimes we tell silly stories, sometimes we just chat, but I love every minute of that. I treasure this quiet time with them, free from worldly distractions.

Because I am working so hard on being present, I notice the small things so much more. I notice the crinkles that appear around the eyes of my boys as we have a tickle fight and they laugh and laugh and laugh until they finally give in and say, "Mommy is the best" (the only way tickle fights end in our house). I memorize the peals of laughter that ring out from the jokes and stories told. I treasure the deep conversations as I teach my boys life lessons that help that help them become the men I hope they will be. I admire their growing bodies and notice how Camden is turning into a long, lanky boy that is all arms and legs while Easton is losing his baby face and looking more like a little boy. I delight in the funny things they say, like Easton praying for, "A baby sister and a ghost" and Camden telling me, "I'm much skinnier than you Mom." I love it all.

These years fly by way too fast. My oldest is six and my youngest is three. It won't be long before they won't need me in the same way. They won't want to cuddle me, give me hugs, or give kisses daily. One day Camden won't tell me that I am the most beautiful girl he knows and that he wants to marry me when he gets older. One day Easton won't want me to kiss his owies better. Before these days slip away for good, I need enjoy every moment. I need to savor the simpleness of each day and to suck the marrow out of the beauty and joy they create. I need to always be present for them and in their lives. It is the most important thing I can do each day, taking mental snapshots of my boys and their daily lives, putting aside all other cares and focuses, and giving all my attention to them.

To any readers out there, how do you try to be present each day? What do you notice when you are fully present?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What nobody told me about raising boys

Thus far in my mothering career, I have been blessed to have only boys. This has been rather a shock to me since I never saw myself as a boy mom. I dreamed for years about a daughter and felt sure that while I would have one boy at some point, girls would dominate my world. When I found out my first child was going to be a boy I went into a bit of a panic because I had no idea how to be a mom to boys. My mothering fantasies had always involved girls and so I was entering unknown territory and it terrified me. Mark told me I would learn as I went (and he was right), but I felt sure I would fail at being a mom to boys since I had no clue what to do with a boy baby. Although I still have dreams of having a daughter one day, I LOVE being a mom to two little boys. Along the way of mothering these two precious souls, I have learned a few things that I wish I had known about mothering boys. So in no particular order, the things nobody told me about raising boys.

1. There are only three basic styles of shirts for boys - t-shirts, button front, and polos.

2. Even if a boy has never seen a gun or heard of a gun, they will fashion anything into a weapon to point at others.

3. With boys, you will have more Lego's than you ever thought possible.

4. Said Lego's will frequently be scattered throughout the entire house, which you will step on and then curse.

5. Boys love to collect rocks and sticks. Random sticks and rocks will be found regularly in the laundry, bedrooms, and other obscure places in the house.

6. As a result of #5, you will regularly carry a small forest and/or rock garden out in your garbage.

7. Bugs are fascinating! So are snakes, lizards, frogs, and other creepy crawly creatures.

8. Wrestling is a daily occurrence and as a parent of boys, you must master various wrestling moves, throws, and holds to protect yourself.

9. Laying on your stomach is always an invitation for boys to jump on your back.

10. Your young sons legs will always be covered in a mass of scrapes, bruises, and scars.

11. The fascination with the male anatomy starts very young and never ends.

12. There is no such thing as too dirty.

13. Boys will be on the go from the moment they wake up until the moment they collapse in bed. Their energy is boundless!

14. The ability to pee anywhere at any time is incredibly entertaining. You do not know how many times you will tell your sons, "We don't pee there!"

15. Farts and burps are always funny.

16. They can never have too many balls or cars.

17. Boys can wear through a pair of shoes/socks/pants faster than you can buy them.

18. Why walk when you can run? Why walk down the stairs when you can slide on your butt?

19. Water is always meant to be splashed in, especially if it is muddy.

20. Boys love to create and build. Anything can turn into an object to build with.

21. Everything is a contest to win.

22. There is no such thing as too loud.

23. You will be the queen of the castle! Hugs, kisses, and compliments abound with two little boys who think their mother rules the world.

24. The responsibility of raising strong, faithful, hard working, and loving boys will weight daily on your shoulders. You will always wonder if you are doing all you can to raise the kind of men you want in the world.

25. You will love your boys more than you ever thought possible. You will thank God every day that those precious souls were sent to you.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Camden's 6th birthday party

Although Camden's real birthday is not for a few more days, we celebrated early. Camden wanted a Mario themed party (because he loves the games so much), so Mario it was! We had a good turn out of friends and family. We sure enjoyed the kids. They were all so polite, friendly, and helpful. I am grateful Camden has been blessed with such good friends. Here is a smattering of pictures from our Mario fest.

This is Camden's cake. I made all of it, except the figurines. My friend Sarah helped me freehand some of the fondant work. Camden loved his cake!
When the kids arrived, they colored Mario themed pictures until all the kids got there.
The kids were all given a Mario mustache to wear if they wanted. It was so much fun to see these little kids with these huge dark mustaches.
We played a matching game first of various Mario characters. The kids earned a coin for each match they made. After that, we played Smash Boo. We blew up white balloons and drew Boo's face on each of them. The kids were each given a Boo to sit on to squish. When their Boo pooped, they got another coin. It was hilarious watching the kids sit on these balloons.
While we were smashing Boo, it decided to rain outside, which meant the kids got a little wet during the next game, Yoshi egg hunt. We hid eggs stuffed with candy and coins around our condo and once the rain let up, we sent the kids out to find them. They got to keep all the eggs they found.
Then we did a Goomba Stomp. This was the favorite game of all the kids. We drew Goomba faces on balloons (blue because we could not find brown ones in our town). Then we dumped them on the ground and let the kids have at it. They stomped and stomped until all were popped. They got a coin for each Goomba they squished.
Look at the ground just littered with popped balloons (and all the kids pitched in to pick up the scraps without being asked - these kids were awesome!). After this, the kids got to change in their coins for their reward bags. The bags included bubbles, punching balloons, candy coins and regular coins, Mario fruit snacks, Cosmic brownies, and assorted other candy.Because it was still wet and slightly muddy outside, we came back inside for our last game, Mario, Mario, Luigi (like duck, duck, goose). Our space was a little too small for this game, so the kids were hopping over each other and all over the place. It was pretty funny to watch them and they were pretty creative!
After all the games, we opened presents. Camden got royally spoiled. He loved everything he got.
Finally, after presents, we ate pizza (Mario is Italian after all) and had cake and ice cream. Then the kids just played until their parents picked them up. It was a great time! Everything went smoothly and other than a little rain, it was a perfect day! Here is Camden, thrilled with his party and his day (notice the 2nd missing tooth?). I love that tomato sauce smeared face!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another great sale!

For all you couponers out there, right now Smith's is having a great deal on GM cereal. Combine it with the coupons in almost any Sunday paper and you have fabulous deal! I am a cereal-a-holic. I could eat cereal for every meal of the day (and have before), so this kind of sale makes me happy. I walked out with 20 boxes of cereal, eight bags of chocolate chips (also a coupon) and a $5 gift certificate for my next purchase. Not bad for $40!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bowling with the family

Nights that Mark has off are infrequent and so when they happen, family becomes top priority and we try to do something fun as a family. On one of Mark's very rare Friday nights off, we decided to go bowling. I had to capture the joy and excitement on my boy's faces. I'm no photographer, but man, I love my kids and the faces they make!

Here is Camden letting one of his balls go.He watches eagerly to see what will happen.I love that tongue poking out! It's a sign of concentration for him.So much anticipation!Yes! He knocked some down!
Then of course we have Easton. I love those tiny little hands on such a big ball.
Easton is not as expressive as brother. Like personalities, he is more shy and reserved, so we see his semi smile here. That's a good thing!
Here is real excitement!
Pensive (or just picking at his lips, but we'll go with pensive)
And back to his normal, subtle, shy smile. (Ignore the dirt on the corner of his mouth - not sure what that is). I love that face!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Camden lost his first tooth!

Ok, it actually happened a few weeks ago, but I am just now getting around to blogging it. It's been loose for awhile, but because of his SPD, I knew I would never be able to pull it, no matter how wiggly it got, because it would just freak him out. I figured I would have months of waiting until that sucker finally got loose enough to fall out on its own. A few weeks ago, we were helping clean the church while he ran around with a friend. In the middle of cleaning, he came up to me holding his tooth. I am not sure if he bumped it running around, but it was out and with no trauma - thank goodness! The tooth fairy left him a dollar bill, a new toothbrush, and a pack of sugar free gum. I love his toothless glory!