Saturday, January 17, 2015

On Bedtime

A year or 2 ago the boys stopped sleeping.

Maybe it was a move (or 2 or 3) or the summertime sun refusing to sleep and making them refuse too. Maybe it was because I decided that more than they needed structure they needed to know that I love them and I stopped saying things like "get your butt in your bed and DON'T come out again! ever!" and like and idiot said things like "you come and talk to me anytime you need anything and I will always be happy to answer your questions. Or maybe it's because they're little boys and (according to them) sleeping is the boringest ever in the universe and their beds only have 10 million blankets when they clearly need 10 million and 2 blankets. And a lovey bear. Each.

So since we finally moved into a house a started feeling stable and I was ready to stop being in the middle of a big fat breakdown, bedtime was the first thing we tackled.

It's better now, only taking 30-45 minutes and typically ending before 8:30.

But still, when John fell off the top bunk for the 2nd time today, getting him out of bed for the 12th time tonight, I had had it. And (after appropriately comforting him) I told him so. I used all of my most reasonable lines.

If you stay in your bed, you won't fall trying to get out of it.
If you were asleep already you wouldn't try to get out of bed.
If you stay up all night counting your money, you'll be too tired when it's time to wake up for church.
If you cleared your dishes from the dinner table you would have already had your stories instead of going straight to bed. 
If you get out of your bed again your mother will lose her mind and you'll have to eat nuggets and spaghettios every day forever.  (which turned out not be a threat at all.)

After my intense tirade they finally went to sleep.

Sometimes I'm embarrassed to admit that shame and yelling seem to be effective parenting techniques.

Also, while I hate the fight to make them sleep, I love love love that they want to stay up all night doing stuff together. Counting all their money, reading all their books, making forts, and pirate ships, and changing their jammies over and over. I really love that they're friends.

Until one of them pushes the other off the top bunk. Then I hate they're enemies.

The One With the New (Old) Calling

This Sunday I had a mystery meeting with the Bishop.

He called me to be RS Secretary.

Miraculously I kept a straight face while I accepted.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

John and the Toilet

We've been letting John use the potty for a few months now. He likes it. We like it. We give him stickers when he does it. It's a win win win.

A couple of weeks ago he remembered that diapers are uncomfortable and that he prefers cool dude unders. So he started wearing them at home, and we'd diaper him anytime we left the house (which was often.) 

I laughed the first time he peed his pants. Because he was sitting at the kitchen table shouting "mom! mom! It's peein' or poopin'!" He was totally panicked. I told him to "hold it hold it hold it!" and he did. With his hand. I grabbed him and ran him to the bathroom, stripped him down and tried to get him to finish in the toilet. He let go of himself (making a big mess) and we laughed together. Me laughing at the phrase "hold it" and him laughing at me laughing at the pee. (Because, potty humor.) 

He seems to have caught on relatively easily from there and yesterday he went to Aunt Kate's house rockin' the unders. Then to the library for the Read 1,000 books before Kindergarten launch party. AND in the car ride home. 

He's still in diapers at night, and I still remind him often to go, but he's doing it! I feel both wildly successful and weirdly sad to have zero babies in diapers. Tommy and John overlapped their diaper periods for a year, and it seems odd to have so many big kids around here with no babies to protect. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Regaining Control

I learned when we lived in Foxboro that I had a condition known as "being tightly wound" and now that I look back I can see that I really liked to control the stuff in my life. I also like schedules and I like routines and I like familiarity. So when I went from the routine and schedule and familiarity of work to being a stay at home mom, I just transferred those things.

Every Wednesday we went to the library, on Monday we had playgroup, Tuesday was for swimming, Thursday was the zoo or another big adventure, and Friday was for being a bum.

Most mornings we'd go for a walk around 10 (I say "around" to make sure you know I was flexible) and the event was after lunch. Then there was time to come home and play a little, clean up and do dinner before bedtime.

I had a cleaning schedule, a children's outing schedule, a reading schedule, charts and graphs about how we spent our time and I ROCKED motherhood. I made stuff happen!

And then life got hard and I clung to my schedule and resented all of the people who were throwing it off.

And then life got harder and I held on tighter and tighter.

And then life got harder and my hands were too tired of holding on tight and I had no choice but to fall flat on my face and let go of everything and just cry. I felt so broken letting it all go. I felt like I had failed. I stopped doing stuff.

The last few years have been about that. Letting it all go and being broken and not doing stuff. Not any of it. Months between cleaning bathrooms. Days without doing the dishes. Weeks without cook a meal or taking the kids anywhere outside of our neighborhood.

Lately, I can feel myself regaining control. Stepping back into a few of these schedules I find helpful. Trying to clean on any kind of regular basis. Doing more than acknowledging that it's OK to be a big useless pile of broken. It happened around the same time that we bought our house, I want to take really good care of it, I want to be a really good person because I think we'll live here for a really long time and I want to contribute to the neighborhood. I'm invested.

It's kindof scary to return to some of these routines because the last time I did stuff I got a little out of control. But it's also scary to stay in the non-doing-stuff place. So I'm trying again. To do stuff in moderation. Knowing that I'll likely mess it up, but hoping that any damage isn't permanent.

Last week I did all of the chores every day. This week I think I'll do the dishes every night.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tommy Gave A Talk

Last week Tommy came home from Primary with a note that he was assigned to give a talk on Sunday. He has said the prayer, the scripture, the article of faith, all of the other things, but he's never done a talk before, probably because they asked him what he wanted to do and he would never in a million years chose to speak. 

I casually mentioned it a couple of times during the week, and silently prayed that I'd have the patience with him to deal when he had a meltdown about it. 

On Saturday after doing a few chores I told him that now would be a great time to prepare his talk for primary. He freaked. I prayed again, took a deep breath and asked him how he felt about giving a talk. He told me it freaked out his brains because he doesn't know the words. I told him we get to make up the words. He didn't know how. I told him I'd help him to prepare today and that I'd go up with him on Sunday. He calmed a little and asked how he'd know what to say. I told him we would just talk about it today, then he could practice and that I'd whisper the words in his ear. He decided he was willing to look at some pictures if I wanted. I did. 

The topic was that Jesus is the Son of Heavenly Father. Which pretty much seems to me like the whole talk in that sentence. I mean, really what else is there to say? So we looked through our pictures and he picked some that made him think of Jesus (because they are pictures of Jesus). And he told me about them. 

He picked 2 nativity pictures. 1 of Jesus calming the sea. 1 of Jesus praying in Gethsemane. 1 of the Resurrected Christ. 1 of Joseph Smith's first vision. And That One Of Christ That Everybody Knows. 

I asked him to tell me about those pictures and he did. 

"This is a picture of when Jesus was born in a stable. And see all those guys? They came too."
"This is a picture of Jesus and Mary and Dad." 
"This is a picture of that BIG BIG SCARY STORM. Here I'll act it out for you."
"This is when Jesus was praying by a tree."
"This is Jesus and some angels going 'dooo toooo doooooo!'"
"This is Joseph and some guys."
"This is Jesus again."

I helped him flesh out a few of those ideas. "This is Jesus again." became "This is Jesus, his father was Heavenly Father, and Heavenly Father is my father and your father. That means we are all brothers and sisters." and I reminded him of the word "resurrected" for the 'doo tooo doooooo' picture. But beyond that, this was pretty much his talk. 

We practiced a couple of times in front of Dad & Little John (who paid attention almost as well as the sunbeams in primary.) And Tommy even let Josh comb his hair "like a missionary" instead of insisting on his usual favorite style of "this side like a missionary and that side like a rock star!" 

I was probably a little unreasonably proud of him when he stood up and shared his ideas in primary. He even remembered a few of his own descriptions, but mostly listened to me and repeated the talk we wrote in sticky notes on the backs of all of those pictures. He did so with a smile and while looking at the people he was talking to. And when he was done, he hopped off the stool, and gave me a high five and went to join his class.

Meanwhile, Little John sat there on the front row of Sunbeams listening, and smiling and gave me a big thumbs up when we were done and loudly asked. "Now is MY turn mom?" I told him maybe another week. (Heaven help us.) 

Sometimes I really like that church asks us to do things that make us nervous or uncomfortable and I really REALLY like that proud feeling when it's done.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Gift Vulnerability

A few weeks ago I had a really great idea for a Christmas gift for the boys.

This December has been unusually warm. Snowless and cool, but not at all cold. So we've been spending a lot of time in the backyard and the boys really like to play "kick a ball around" which is (of course) a game they invented, where you kick a ball around. But they each need a ball because sharing is hard. And sometimes they like to block each other's balls, and sometimes the fence is a "goal" and I just kept thinking "we need to sign them up for soccer".

So I asked Josh what he thought about ordering them a soccer goal, so they could "kick a ball around" into a goal, and we could get them each their own soccer balls and it would be so rad. Josh like it when I say things like "I have an idea for Christmas" because it means he's off the hook for having ideas for Christmas. So he was on board immediately.

I ordered the thing, I got the balls, and I was all excited knowing it would be the perfect gift. And then it was Christmas Eve and Josh and I put it together (inside, because it finally snowed) and I set it all out and thought "oh crap! what if they don't like it! what if kick a ball is not longer the funnest game in the back yard? What if they hate ball kicking? What if I ruined Christmas? What if they are ultimately disappointed? What if only one of them likes it? I don't even know which one that would be? I'm a horrible parent!"

That's when I realized that I hate giving big gifts. It's stressful, because what if I got it wrong?! I'd much rather give them each some clothes and some books and some toys and it displaces the stress over many small things instead of having one clearly big important gift that might totally flop. But it was Christmas Eve and it was 11:30 and I had nothing left to do but hope it went over well.

Christmas morning was torture. The boys had stayed up WAY too late the night before and just kept on sleeping. When they finally woke up I realized they weren't even going to see the big present (which didn't fit in the living room, so it was all alone in the family room) until we told them to go find it. So we S.L.O.W.L.Y. enjoyed opening all of the other gifts all morning, and once I was sure they were satisfied with their loot, we finally we told them to go check it out. They thought was cool. And they played a little soccer with dad as the goalie and they were both proud when they scored their first official goals.

So I guess it was successful, it will be even better when the only snowflakes that have fallen finally melt and we can get this thing out of the living room (or Josh and I get off our lazy butts and decide to haul it out to the garage).

What I learned (just in time for Josh's birthday) is this. I don't like giving gifts, it stresses me out and when I think I've found something perfect for someone and I don't get a ridiculous amount of overenthusiastic feedback I feel like a failure. So, I want to give up all of my job titles that require me to be a gift giver. I'm not going to do it anymore.

For his birthday? Josh is getting a toothbrush.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Chair

When we were house shopping our wish list was longer than our list of dollars, and we both knew we'd be giving some stuff up. We weren't sure yet which things we'd be missing out on, but the more we shopped the more we realized we couldn't have it ALL. (Obviously.)

Oddly some of the things I would have gladly given up wound up in this house.

Things like a master bedroom with room for a chair.

A chair! In the bedroom! It seems so superfluous and lovely and with the pretty bay window I started saving and chair hunting immediately.

Then Cami found a pillow that I fell in love with and it sat on the floor where my chair would go and the boys started calling it "the pillow where the chair goes" and it made me smile.

Then when my friend (Hi Hilary!) posted a picture of a chair on sale because she's a wonder-shopper and I ordered it immediately because it was perfect with my pillow, and my room, and my life.

It is beautiful. The morning after I assembled it I sat in it staring out the window, and the sunrise just happened to be beautiful. I enjoyed it for a few minutes loving the moment, then Tommy quietly came in and snuggled up on my lap and we talked about how beautiful it was together and about our plans for the day. It as one of those perfect moments that was so perfect I didn't even take a picture.

So it has become my sunrise seat. Eventually I'll get a tiny table to put by it for a cup of tea, and to set down my book when the sunrise gets too beautiful to read through.

And then the next day I came home from work and my sunrise chair of magic and loveliness had gone the way of all the things. It's just another place to pile laundry. Prettiest laundry holder I've ever owned though, right?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Under the Pew

Remember when Tommy was all tiny and a brand new baby and I sat behind my friend Emily in church and her babies were giant little boys with combed hair and glasses and I had a tiny meltdown emotional moment at church realizing that some day he'd be so big he wouldn't be able to sleep with his whole tiny body on my lap anymore? And then he'd get even BIGGER and he wouldn't ever fit on my lap, much less sleep there? And THEN he'd get even bigger and want to lay on the floor under the pew at church?

That day has come. And I took a picture and cried about it.

This man-child....he never stops making me fall for him.

Friday, December 19, 2014

On Being Important

When I was in preschool I my teacher made a photo block for my mom - it sat for years in her headboard, just 6 photos of me at school that year glued to a chunk of wood. Give my teacher a break, it was before pinterest. One of the photos is of me wearing a construction paper hat standing outside at "school" wearing a VIP badge. Maybe it's just the photo, but I swear I remember that day. There was a song

I'm a VIP in my family, I'm a VIP you seeee!
A very important person! A very important person!
A very important person that's meeeeeee.

Deep and meaningful lyrics right? 

Anyway, now that I'm a mom, I realize that VIP probably meant that my mom had to send me with treats for the class that week. Perhaps make a poster about how adorable I am. I don't know. I just remember the paper badge necklace, the crazy hat, and of course the song. 

So you see I was very young when I started feeling important. I suppose I never stopped. Pride is one (of many) of my character flaws. 

One thing I love about my job is that some days it feeds that ego of mine. Some days I come home feeling useless and incapable, but more often than not I come home feeling important and cool and very very grown up. Yesterday was an important grown up day. 

I'd been working on financial projects in preparation for a client meeting. Clients and projections make me feel important. 

I also spent some time editing the website content which really translates to 'finding other people's errors' and if discovering errors doesn't make you feel important I don't know what does. After editing content, I spent some time talking vision, making decisions, and bossing our Site Design Guy around. Site Design Guy is awesome, and is definitely capable of standing his ground and telling me when I'm wrong (which is obviously never). Discussions with people who tell me I'm wrong and then let me argue my point make me feel important. Bossing people around makes me feel even more important. 

After all of that I contacted some potential donors and set up some presentation appointments for interns (more people for me to boss around!). Interns make me feeling important. 

So you see, I was clearly walking around with a head the size of a small country what with all my high powered business importance of bossing people around and preparing for clients. 

It was the end of the day and I gathered my things (important people have things to gather - they take things to and from work every day in an important briefcase or bag, and though I haven't figured out what they do with those things when they go home, I am a willing participant in the habit of taking things places.) and started to head out the door. 

But Site Design Guy was leaving at the same time and I didn't want to walk out "with" him, so instead I stalled all awkwardly hiding by the bathroom down the hall before heading down the stairs. He must have stalled too, then heard me coming because he held the door for me and we chatted a bit while we walked all 6 of the steps to our cars. Which were parked right next to each other. 

His is a space age, sleek, clean car which has probably never doubled as a diaper changing station or housed a car seat. He walked "within range" and it lit up and beeped recognizing it's owner. Because space age cars owned by cool people who don't even have keys KNOW things. It probably greeted him in a computer robot voice when he got in. "Hello Site Design Guy, how was your day at work? Can I get you a cup of coffee or call an important client for you? Or would you just like to relax and listen to smooth jazz while I drive us home using my impressive robot brain?" It must have happened. I know it.

Me? I hauled all my stuff (which suddenly seemed less like an important briefcase and more like a diaper bag) and jangled the million keys on my ring to unlock my minivan. I climbed in, and the radio started blaring Raffi. Because apparently I hadn't noticed during my 30 minute drive to work after dropping off my kids that I was still rockin' the kid tunes. 

I'm going to pretend he didn't notice the loose fries that fell out when I opened the door or hear Raffi singing about baby beluga and that he still thinks I'm a very impressive high powered business woman who just happened to trade her own space age robot car for something else just to blend in for the day. 

Because important people weary of being important, driving robot cars, and eating at tables instead of in their vehicles. They just want to blend in. Princess Jasmine told me so. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Captain Underpants

Once upon a time I was in the 9th Grade at Oak Canyon Jr. High and I was in an honors English class. I drop the honors not only to feed my ego (hello ego! nice to see you all big and overbearing!) but also to paint the picture of academia (ok, fine, I'll just call it nerdiness) that went on in that class. I remember Mrs. Jensen telling us that in a room full of "type A individuals" she expected more than turning in quality papers on time. She fed our egos too. Clearly we were far superior to those in her ordinary classes. 

In case you aren't aware of it, in Jr. High there are groups of people, Jocks, Popular Girls (why there are no popular guys or female jocks I'll never know), Dancers, Stoners, and of course Nerds. I can't tell you for sure about the groups of which I wasn't a part, but within the Nerds there were subsets. Cool Nerds, Goof Off Nerds, Athletic Nerds (not the same as jocks), Pretty Nerds (aka Smart Cheerleaders), Nerd-Nerds (comes with a pocket protector!), Band Nerds, Singing Nerds, etc. 

Of course now that I've grown so mature and adult about things, I realize that these categories serve exactly no purpose at all, but they were alive and well nonetheless. (Nerds Who Use 'Nonetheless' was not at a category). 

Oral book reports were one very important piece of our grade in Mrs. Jensen's class. And though I can't be sure of the reading material requirement, I feel fairly confident that when Mike G. (a goof off nerd) stood up and announced that he'd be presenting his report on the book Captain Underpants, Mrs. Jensen was disappointed. Mike G. had guts. But you know what blew my mind? He actually prepared a real live book report, with a handout, a point and EVERYthing! About a book called Captain Underpants, which seemed to be some kind of comic strip. He gave us laminated bookmarks with the caption "Underneath we all wear underpants" on it. At the time I had no idea that he was impacting the rest of my life. 

So in 9th Grade was formally introduced to Captain Underpants. 


Fast forward some years. Tommy and John are boys. Both of them. And they think potty humor is the best (and funniest) ever. 
For example:
J: Knock knock
T: Who's there
J: Diiiiiie-pah!
T: Diaper who?
J: DIIIIIIIE-PAH booty bum bum!!!! baaa ha ha ha ha
And they laugh and laugh and laugh. 

Or they did until their mother told them that our bodily functions are not for people to laugh at and that if I heard any more potty jokes I'd feed them vinegar. Now their potty jokes go like this. 

J: Knock knock
T: Who's there
J: Diiiiiie-pah!
T: Diaper who?
J: DIIIIIIIE-PAH booty bum bum!!!!
*crickets and the most serious face*
J: Potty word, no laughing mom. no laughing about potty words. 

So, you see my parenting is very effective. 

But the most important piece of information here is that I have the secret. I know how to make my boys laugh. And if I am ever in a silly mood, we can all have a good laugh over a potty word. 


Now Fast Forward to John being interested in potty training. It's about dang time, and honestly I think if I stopped buying diapers and wipes Josh would do backflips and sing my praises forever. 

I made John a potty chart and we very casually let him use the toilet anytime he wants. He gets a sticker when he does and everybody's happy. I don't have it in me to do that "2 day potty training" thing, instead I just want him to do it himself. So, we've been encouraging that. Well, he filled up his first potty chart and kept talking about wearing unders and so I put a clipart of captain underpants on his second potty chart. 

The moment I told the boys that this guy was Captain Underpants!!! I became the coolest mom in the West. When I told Tommy that the quietest place on earth (the library) had a book about Captain Underpants he died laughing and immediately demanded that we all go the library AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!! So we did, and I let him check out Captain Underpants (2 books!) and we read them. 

Disclaimer: I had never read these books before reading them with my 5 year old. 

I cannot possibly de-recommend these books enough. 

I mean it. Really. They are full of potty humor and horrible pranks. (ketchup packets under the toilet seat) The cool kids in the book make fun of the nerds. They use mean words and teasing and more slapstick violence than I find funny. As far as I can tell these books have no redeemable qualities. 

Except of course that my child now thinks reading is the best thing that has ever happened to him and he wakes up early asking if we can read and stays up late quietly "reading" in his bed. He has always enjoyed reading when we do it together, but he has never wanted so desperately to read something so often. And honestly? Anything that makes my kids love books is good in my world. 

NOTE: Also I think it's fine for a kid in 9th grade to read these books because they've already heard all of these mean words (and if he's a nerd probably been called them and if he's not a nerd he's probably called someone them) and he gets that slapstick whacking is not the same as trying to murder your little brother and he probably thinks it's funny to find the grammatical errors. 

So we read. The whole dang thing. 2 volumes of Captain Underpants. 

Except the pages that had booger jokes, which was a lot of them since the book was called Captain Underpants and the Bionic Booger Boy. And on the page where the "idiot nerd boy", Melvin Sneedly sneezed while his combinotron was merging his boy body with a robot the snot also got put in the mix and Tommy started gagging uncontrollably. He nearly lost his lunch and gagged and gagged and gagged and I said "Should we quit reading this totally gross-o book?" and he covered his mouth, put on his strongest and most determined face and said "No, just cover those yuck-o pictures and I'll plug my ears while you read till we get to that funny captain underpants part again. OK?" So we did. 

And that is the long long tale of that one time I read a stupid book to my 5 year old and now he loves reading and I'm afraid he'll never stop checking out these books and I'll be sorry for the rest of my life that I tried to potty train Little John. Serves me right.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dear The Internet

For the first time ever. (I mean really, EVER!) I have Christmas cards! (please hold your applause, something even MORE amazing is coming)

Know why?

Because I have FAMILY PICTURES!!!! (which I love)

Know why?

Because I let the boys (Tommy really, he's more tightly wound than John right now) do their own hair and choose their own shoes and their eyes aren't all bloodshot from crying and lashing and being all crazy!

Know why?

Because all that therapy is finally paying off and I realized that my family finds me much more tolerable when I let them do (some of) the things they want.

And so, I give you..... (drumroll please....)

The Egbert Family Christmas Card:

(and the photos on the back)

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